Sunday, September 11, 2022

KONG44 - Preparing For The 2022-2023 Season

So! For those who may have wanted daily updates from the KONG44 mini-DXpedition: Sorry. I’ll try to make a reasonably comprehensive update in this post.

As many will know, we start off every KONG season with a prolonged (or “oval” as we say in Norway) weekend in early September. While my radio gear and most of the antennas are ready, Ole’s and OJ’s stuff needs to be set up and configured. And there is quite a bit of work to set up the Mount Loran remote-controlled 1000-metre beverage site. OJ and Ole are also part of the AND team, a 1200-km drive to the southwest, so days are busy.

I was on site early Thursday afternoon, and all three were present just after 17:00 local, 15:00 UTC. It was really too late for any useful activities, so instead we had a couple of beers and later on we enjoyed a home-made fish gratin served with a Kim Crawford white wine from our favourite country New Zealand! For dessert: Chocolate pudding with custard. And a bit of Grappa.

Friday was Mount Loran-day. It’s a 25-minute drive from here, plus an 800-metre walk with all the equipment. The 1000-metre antenna spool and the 50 antenna support rods had been left there last October. The walk came not without some cost though as I stumbled in my feet and fell forwards. After a little while I realized I had actually broken a rib. How convenient.

Mount Loran beverage starting point

Mount Loran equipment

Back at the KONG HQ, we checked that the Perseus + Jaguar setup at Mount Loran worked well. We then tested a couple of beers, and made ourselves some dinner: Baked fresh salmon, tagliatelle with lots of pesto and parmesan, and a salad. We had a Chablis from Christian Moreau with the salmon, and cancelled dessert due to too much salmon (or tagliatelle. Or was it pesto). But we did have a bit of Grappa.

Saturday became a real challenge. Unlike previous seasons, after the equipment had been set up, we experienced some extreme noise levels. Some of it certainly accountable to the dreary and noisy conditions on the MW band, but certainly not all. It was a massive task, with multiple PCs, multiple Perseus, power supplies, splitters, preamps and what have you. After many frustrating hours, we finally settled on an acceptable noise level, and could move on.

KONG HQ, facing north

KONG HQ, facing south

Not that we heard anything. Enhanced proton levels are the worst the sun can throw at Arctic DX-ers, and it’s been like that for several days. Not even at the quiet Mount Loran location were there any traces of trans-Atlantic or trans-polar reception.

So, what to do? Test a couple of beers maybe! And then dinner, Bjarne’s fish soup based on local haddock, vegetables, and spiced up a bit with red chili. Another white wine day, this time Calles Riesling. We finished off the rest of the chocolate pudding for dessert and had a bit of Grappa.

Sunday was our last full day at the KONG HQ, and we really didn’t do very much. Checking last night’s recordings didn’t take long – nothing heard. Just for the fun of it I checked the 22:00 UTC Saturday full hour and heard RAI’s final moments on 900 kHz, leaving the channel for a much stronger IRIB Radio Quran and the Voronezh beacon “NE” – both indicative of the lousy conditions.

OJ and Ole went back to Mount Loran to do some maintenance and to set it up for scheduled recording until October 21. I will attend the site at regular intervals to replace the battery and the SSD. With some luck, conditions will improve, and Mount Loran will again provide us with premium loggings.

After testing a couple of beers, we had a meat soup made up of “pulled” pre-cooked,dried and salted lamb’s ribs, and various vegetables, spiced up a bit with red chili. This called for some red wine, of which we have a nice selection to choose from. OJ decided on L'Ancien Le Buissy, which was absolutely fine. We opted for a very traditional dessert from this area, fresh cloudberries in whipped cream. And… a bit of Grappa. But moderately so since we are scheduled to leave early Monday morning.