PT0S St. Peter and St. Paul Rocks DXpedition


The PT0S DXpedition to St. Peter and St. Paul Rocks (IOTA SA-014), was on the air from approximately Nov 10 to Nov 23 , 2012. The expedition was a joint venture of Araucaria DX Group and the TX3A Team.

The summary of the expedition is avalailable for download from further >>>


Dec 21, 2012, Miami

Log correction up to and including Dec 20 has been uploaded. Please note that LoTW is experiencing delays and QSO-s may not be confirmed for several days.

George, AA7JV

Dec 11, 2012, Miami

Log corrections have been made to the on-line log and uploaded to LoTW. These corrections were made up to and including Dec 10. The next correction up-load will be on Dec 20.

George, AA7JV

A summary of the PT0S expedition, written by George, AA7JV is now available for download at

Nov 27, 2012, Natal

The PT0S team has landed in Natal the afternoon of Nov 26, after a 3 day long sea voyage on the not-too-comfortable fishing vessel Transmar II. Everybody is safe and well. We are now catching up on food and sleep. Lots of sleep.

The logs of the last 20 hours of operation were uploaded. Please note that these logs do not contain corrections. (Please also note that it may take several days for LoTW to post the uploaded QSO-s). We will deal with the correction requests during the next two weeks and upload a final and corrected log around Dec 10. (Probably not so final, as correction requests are likely to be coming in for a while.)

We terminated the operation at 10:17 UTC (MM0GPZ was the last QSO), rather abruptly. The Brazilian Navy has requested that we vacate the space we were occupying as they were landing a large number of people for a major upgrade project and simply there was no room for us, either within the facility or outside. Once the decision was made to go QRT, we had to move very quickly to dismantle the station and clean up the site, as the boat had to leave before 2 PM (local time) to arrive in Natal in daylight.

A summary of the operation will be posted here in a few days' time.

George, AA7JV

Nov 23, 2012, SPSP

PT0S has gone QRT at 10:30 Z.

Thanks for all the contacts and support. Sorry about the QRM.

CU and 73,

George, AA7JV

Nov 22, 2012, SPSP

We were hit by a strong rainstorm this morning. As the operating position windows are permanently open, and there are some vents along the upper edges of the wall, we got quite a bit soaked. There was about an inch of water on the floor but we were able to continued operating. No damage to any of the equipment, just a lot of wet clothing. On the bright side, the winds have died almost completely by this morning and the seas have flattened out. Very pleasant, especially after so much rough weather. We just hope the seas will stay like this for the 3.5 day homeward trip..

We continue working the piles ups. During the short openings to JA, the demand is very strong and pile-ups have very high densities that make copy difficult. Still, we are happy as we have over 2500 JA contacts in the log.

There was a very good opening late afternoon on six meters. Interestingly, just a few minutes before the opening 20, 17 and 15 meters went almost completely dead. I was operating 20 m CW and had a huge pile-up. Within one minute the pile-up completely disappeared. There was not even one weak signal to be heard. Almost instantly, the six meter radio cam alive and we had over 200 QSO-s in 90 minutes, mostly with Southern Europe. A very nice surprise! 20, 17 and 15 meters recovered within a few minutes and we had big pile-ups going 15 minutes after the beginning of the disturbance. As we have no Internet access, we could not look at conditions that caused this event.

We may have to go QRT as soon as tomorrow morning (Fri, Nov 23). We will only know in the morning after meeting with the Navy officers in charge of the large project taking place here, and who will be arriving at 06:00 local time.

Low Bands:

We got onto 160 just after sunset at 20:00 Z. We could hear EU stations working each other, but nobody could hear us. We QSY-end to 80 meters, where conditions were worse; 80 sounded like a bad 160. We then moved to 40 and worked both CW and SSB for a few hours, returning to 160 at 21:45 Z, by which time 160 was in decent shape and we were able to work a steady stream of EU stations until about 12:30 Z, when conditions deteriorated. We QSY-end the main station between 40 and 160 a few times, trying to make QSO-s while keeping our fingers in the 160 pie. We finished with 160 at SR but could not hear any JA-s, just the odd NA caller, with mostly weak to very weak signals. We quickly QSY-end to 40 at 07:30 where we were able to work a steady stream of JA-s until about 08:30, when the band suddenly closed to JA. Meanwhile, the second station was working NA, EU and JA on 80 meters, under good conditions until 08:00 Z..

George, AA7JV

Nov 21, 2012, SPSP

Finally we have caught up on some sleep. We rigged up a hammock under the research station that lets us each get a couple of hours of extra sleep during the day. The weather is nice and the waves have moderated.

The pile-ups continue unabated. A lot of people are dupe-ing us despite the logs being on LoTW generally within two days of the QSO. We understand making an insurance QSO, but doing more than that is very selfish. The dupe QSO may take the place of a QSO with somebody with no contact at all, and perhaps a new country! So please, no 'serial duping'.

Some have commented on the fact that we spend too much time on 10 meters. This is a result of our set-up: we have two main stations (with amplifiers) that work all bands. A third, bare-foot, station is for 6 meters. We have added a 10 m antenna for the 6 m station, which allows it to be on 10 meters between 6 m openings; which is a lot.

The improved weather also means that we have not had any antenna problems and were able to catch up on some small maintenance chores. Unfortunately we lost one radio and one amplifier during the night, but we had spares and we continue to be 100% operational.

We are aiming to stay for the CQWW contest but that is not sure yet at all. More navy activities are planned in the coming days and we will need additional permission to stay during the weekend. Otherwise, we may go QRT as soon as Friday, Nov 23.

Low Bands:

160: Conditions have been reasonable during the early part of the night, with both Europe and NA coming in with good signals. On the other hand, we feel that we are now working the smaller stations and signals are generally weaker because of that. Fortunately, noise levels have been fairly low. No JA-s yet. The furthest signal report we got was from KH2, where on a well equipped station our signal was barely detectable. This does not bode well for the possibility JA contacts. Still, we continue listening for JA-s around our sunset and sunrise. (Transmitting on 1825.5 and listening down 2 to 3.) The amount of time we spend on 160 is being questioned. We have two reasons: One, this is a low band oriented DXpedition, and Two, it is hard to install effective 160 (and 80) meter TX and RX antennas here,. It is likely that future DXpeditions may not go to the trouble.

80: The band was wide open to both Europe and NA most of the night and to JA around sunrise.

40: We have worked some much wanted SSB on 40, as well as a good number of JA-s on CW just after our SR.

George, AA7JV

Nov 20, 2012, SPSP

The weather is nice today, and the waves are smaller too. We continue experiencing issues with antennas: anything exposed here gets smashed, flooded or dragged away. We have located our TX antennas close to the water and are paying the price (and hopefully reaping some benefits). Because we could not land on a remote rock we had to locate our RX antennas on the highest part of the rock, near the light, and can not move the TX antennas there. We just simply continue maintaining and strengthening the existing antennas.

Some have commented that this is a poorly planned operation. This is a fact: most of our plans went out the window the day we landed. We had to improvise because things have changed since our July survey trip. We ended up with a totally different basing, antenna and operating plan. To begin with, we had to share the space of about 3 x 5 meters with with a dive team, who used it for most of their dive gear and cameras. Dive gear dripping salt-water is not good company to sensitive radio gear! Operating while somebody is hanging wet-suits right next you is uncomfortable to say the least. Because of the lack of space, we located one of the stations and most of our gear outside. (Later, when the dive team left and the navy team arrived, we gained the entire space, but we had to move the outside station and all our gear inside. Some of us also sleep there on a folding chair.) The 160 - 10 vertical ended up on a high point of a rocky outcropping: the original location was regularly inundated by huge waves at high tide. We ended up installing our 80 - 10 m vertical in a shallow "crater" instead of the planned tip of a dock. (The dock was being used by research divers). By the way, the antenna in the crater gets out very well, as the bottom is always covered by 10 to 20 cm of salt water. We cannibalized our Garden Beam Yagi for materials for the 10 m vertical, as the place it was planned to be installed, is now being worked on by a Brazilian Navy construction crew. Instead of being able to locate our RX antennas on the remote rock of Cabral (where I had no problem landing in July) we had to locate our RX antennas on top of Belmonte, Cabral being pounded by 5 meter waves, that often was over it, around the clock.

Our current operations are strongly influenced by the need to work around the local RF noise, the very limited space and the need to continuously repair antennas. Also, because the Internet service of the research station, which we were planning to rely on, is down, we have to spend 3 to 4 hours every day to get the logs uploaded through a 2.4 kbps, low availability satellite link. (One of those LEO-s!) On the other hand, we have two stations on the air virtually all the time, while a 10 and 6 meter station is on the air about 12 hours a day. We now have over 30,000 QSO-s in the log, including 2400 on 160 and 800 on 6. Please keep in mind: there are only the four of us!

Low Bands:

160: Noise was OK this time, but conditions were mediocre. We were on 160 early in the evening, a few times for an hour each during the night and just before our sunrise. No JA-s. At other times, we were using Station One to work JA-s (and others) on 40 and 30 meters.

80: The band started off very poorly but conditions improved later during the night. No JA-s this morning!

40: The band was open all night to EU and NA with strong signals. Both in the earlier part of the night and for a few hours around SR, it was also open to JA, with some very big and stable signals (JH1GNU).

George, AA7JV

Nov 19, 2012, SPSP

The waves just never stop. The 10 m vertical got swamped again. this time we have filled the gamma match capacitor with Teflon grease. No salt water can get in there any more. Also, the CAT5 control cable to the main antenna tuner got shredded by the strong wave action at high tide and the sharp rocks it was laid over. The cable was replaced (and suspended) this morning. We got buried a few times by some large waves as we did the job at high tide; we did not want to lose the time waiting for low tide. (Low and high tides alternate approximately every 6 hours. The tidal range on SPSP is about 2.5 meters.)

We are all suffering from a lack of sleep. It is no longer just me, others are starting to fall asleep at the key. (We also ran our Coke, now munching on instant coffee powder to stay awake. Chocolate and other treats have been long gone. It is not that we did not plan sufficiently, but we are sharing with our Brazilian Navy friends: their facility and our stuff.)

Last night we concentrated on Japan on 30 and 40 meters. We feel that it is better to make actual contacts than chase elusive openings on 160 meters.

One aspect of the location is that most bands are open to both Europe and North America at the same time. This results in huge and very difficult to manage pile-ups. Also, a lot of Europeans feel that we favor NA, while some North American stations believe that we favor Europe. For the record, the QSO counts are about even, maybe one or two percent in favor of EU. If we could, we would favor Japan and East Asia, as this is a very difficult QSO for them (especially on the low bands) but we can not get enough openings to really make a difference.

Low Bands:

160: We spent only a couple of hours on 160. Noise was high. We were not on 160 at our SR.

80: The band was also suffering from atmospheric noise. (A front passed through late yesterday afternoon and early this morning, with its associated lightning activity.)

40: Forty meters was in excellent shape last night and that is where we focused our energies. (And on 30.) Signals were strong from both Europe and NA. Later, around our SR, we were able to work a lot of JA-s. Their signals, however, were very fluttery and difficult to copy.

George, AA7JV

Nov 18, 2012, SPSP

The winds have moderated somewhat during the night but large waves continue crashing all around us. We have lost the 10 m antenna again: several waves have completely covered it and we are pretty sure the gamma match is full of salt water. A large wave has almost washed away all of our supply boxes this morning: despite the boxes being on an elevated walkway, tied down and covered by a large canvas. We were picking up items 30 meters downstream! We have recovered most of the essential gear and are 100% operational.

Due to the very limited Internet access, we are unable to receive most e-mails, so please do not expect replies. We get a daily summary, put together by Chris, HA5X, so we are mostly aware of your complaints and try to act on them. We are especially working on keeping the pile-ups narrow. For example, tonight on 30 m we have a pile-up all night kept mostly within 3 kHz. Of course, this is not possible to do on SSB. We have spent most of the night working 30, 40 and 80 meters, trying to satisfy the demand there. Will do it again tonight, starting on 80 around 0100z, trying to reach UA9 and UA0.

Low Bands:

160 was very poor, due to a contest or perhaps conditions. Still no sign of JA-s. (We feel that we are wasting time on 160 when we could be giving out QSO-s to JA-s (and other Asians) on 40.) Will post our decision regarding this later. 80 was mixed with a very good run of JA-s in the morning over long path. We will construct a new long path RX antenna, which we hope will help on both 80 and 160 meters.

40 was excellent whenever we were on it. We had a good run of JA-s, but the window was very short. Will QSY to 40 (from 160) earlier tomorrow morning.

George, AA7JV

Nov 17, 2012, SPSP

Winds have further increased during the later afternoon and evening, During high tide the waves were crashing over the south perimeter rocks, flooding the area around vertical No 2 (our 80 to 10 antenna for Station 2). One of the waves has ripped off the coax cable from the antenna coupler, breaking in tow a large male N connector, as well as causing some other damage. We had to wait until low tide to fix it but it is back in operation as of 1600 Z. Waves also took out our new 10 m antenna. It is also fixed now. The combination of swells and high waves makes a pretty sight around the rocks, with lots of white water all around, but it makes working on the antennas (which are naturally close to the water) very difficult. Another challenge we face is noise (the acoustic kind, this time). The huge waves crashing against the rocks create a constant noise, even the rocks under us are tremble at times. There is also noise from the various activities by the Navy, and just simply noise from being so cramped together. On the other hand, the Brazilian Navy guys have been very friendly, accommodating and helpful. Without their support this operation would not be possible.

We are also experiencing failures with our K3 radios. We brought four K3-s and had problems with three of them so far. We have been able to repair two of the problems, but the third one seems to need a firmware download, which is not possible from here.

The pile-ups are large and we are trying hard to hear the callers but it is proving to be very difficult. We are now spending more time on 30 and 12 meters, but there the narrow band makes our pile-ups even more troublesome.

Low Bands:

160: Excellent conditions during the early part of the night, but later, from around 0300Z, we had increasing lightning QRN. Worked UA0 but still no sign of JA-s.

80: We continue working JA-s on 80 early in the morning.

40: Was excellent the short time we spent working it.

George, AA7JV

Nov 16, 2012, SPSP

We have started RTTY operations. We have three stations running most of the time. We now have around 17,000 QSO-s, including 1800 on 160.

Winds have increased to 25 kts and continuing large waves and swells make it impossible to install antennas on the remote rocks. On the other hand, we have installed a new low band antenna that is proving to be very useful.

Our main challenge continues to be the very limited Internet access. Log updates are very difficult to send. Logs need to be broken into small enough segments, which must be individually compressed into files of around 15 kbytes each. On some days we end up with 14 or 15 log update messages. Once these are ready to go, I have to climb to the top of Belmont (a steep, rocky climb), set up the computer and the sat-phone and wait for a good satellite pass. Once I have a connection, generally I am able to send our 2 or 3 files or e-mails. Then wait for the next good pass... The entire process takes 4 to 5 hours each day, is error prone and very time consuming. Log updates generally run 36 hours behind, and some files need to be resent. So please bear with us!

RTTY: We have big RTTY pile ups. Please note that on RTTY you need to work us only once on any band.

Low Bands: 160 m had good conditions most of the night. It started with a super enhancement as the gray-line passed us. Signals from EU were extremely strong. (One of the ops heard the booming signals through my headphones and asked if I was on the right band.) Once the gray-line passed, conditions became normal with a good steady stream of callers from EU and later NA. Conditions deteriorated around 0400 Z and quickly became very poor. No sign of JA-s last night. We would be interested if there were any spots or RX reports of our signals in JA?

80 m started our very noisy, but the noise dropped once the gray-line passed. 80 also experienced a gray-line enhancement, but not as strong as 160. Conditions during the night were mixed.

40 m has been a steady good performer all night and early this morning.

George, AA7JV

Nov 15, 2012, SPSP

Strong winds and large swells continue but the weather is fine otherwise. We are now running three stations during the day and two during the night.

The very limited Internet bandwidth is a major problem as we have trouble (and large expense) uploading the logs. Also, we do not have enough bandwidth (and time) to deal with individual log search requests. We intend to make log corrections once we are back on land, but until then the logs are as published. If you can not find your QSO in the log, please work us again: it will not be a dupe! Also, we are unable to upload pictures at this time.

Today we will do maintenance on the main (160 - 10) vertical, as a large wave has almost knocked it down during the night. Also, we need to move some of the RX antennas as the Brazilian Navy crew is doing their work on the structures we have attached them to. We are also working on a dedicated 10 m vertical to run on that band when 6 meters is not open.

Because of the lack of room, we do not have space to sleep during the day. Because of that, and the daytime workload, we are getting very tired. (I fell asleep at the key on 160 two or three times last night. Sorry if it caused any confusion.)

Low Bands: 160 was good last night. There was some QSB but not as bad as the night before. Also, the lightning crashes have moderated. Signals from both EU and NA have been most good, with some stations being extra loud. On the average, however, it still takes two to three tries to get a call complete. We made our fist JA QSO this morning. The signals were extremely weak and the QSO was marginal, but we hope that this is a sign of improving conditions towards Asia. We will continue monitoring between 1822 and 1825 for JA and Asia, especially during possible openings.

80 meters has been be excellent. (Our 80 meter vertical, which stands almost all the time in a pool of salt-water, is perhaps our best performing antenna.) We have made a good number of JA contacts during the past few days.

40 meter signals have been extremely good.

George, AA7JV

Nov 14, 2012, SPSP

We continue working the pile-ups, which are very large at times. We also continue adding more RX antennas. Our main challenges are limited Internet access, a difficult physical environment and extremely limited space.

The high speed Internet of the research station, which we had permission to use, has been down for some time and we have been using our back-up Iridium satellite phone, which has very limited bandwidth (2.4 kbps -- yes, kilo). As the logs have grown we are unable to send them in a timely manner, even in a compressed format. We hope to have the Internet access fixed and catch up with the logs soon. Until then, please bear with us and do not 'over-dupe' us.

Low Bands: Variable conditions last night on 160. Initially we had very heavy static noise, which improved towards 2300 UTC but returned around 0600 UTC. There is also substantial QSB. Please pay attention to conditions and when we appear to slow down, send the call-sign twice. We continuously monitor for JA-s (and other Asians) between 1822 and 1825 (down 1 to 3 from 1825.5) especially during potential openings. There is a BC harmonic on 1824, which comes and goes. Please avoid this frequency. Unfortunately, no JA contacts yet on 160, not even faint signals. Today we will work on the main (160) TX antenna hoping to improve it. (The antenna sits on top of a 20 rock outcropping that juts into the water. At low tide it is 20 meters above the water. At high tide the large waves wash over its base. (During the past three days the waves have bunched up all the radials and we feel that performance has deteriorated.) 80 meters is doing well and we have worked a good number of JA stations. Conditions on 40 are excellent.


Nov 13, 2012, SPSP

We now have three stations up and working. We are active from 160 to 6 meters. The weather is nice but hot and huge swells continue hammering the rocks, preventing us from getting to Cabral. One wave has completely swamped the base of our main antenna and its antenna coupler during high tide. The point to keep in mind that the antenna stands on a rock about 12 meters above the water. Working on the rocks, erecting antennas or pulling cables, is extremely difficult. We are all exhausted: sleeping 3 or 4 hours per night and working all day in the heat. Once we are done with the major construction items, we hope to get some rest (and perhaps operate a bit more sharply).

At this point we have very limited Internet access and can not post pictures yet. We hope to have something better later.

Yesterday we spent hunting for noise sources and building more RX antennas. We have found several noise sources, which we have been able to filter with some success. A big thanks goes to Jim, K9YC, who, with great foresight, has donated a big number of large ferrite cores (Fairite #31). We have now only 4 cores left, but the noise is down by 25 dB on 160 meters.

6 meters: We had a number of good contacts with South America and Southern Europe, but no major openings so far. We continue monitoring 50.110 and call CQ regularly.

Low Bands: Finally we can hear on 160! Now that we can hear, we can hear the noise! Noise on the TX antenna is around S6. We have two receive antennas: a vertical Flag of about 4 m x 4 m and a horizontal Flag of 4m x 4m. We use a pre-selector and a ultra low noise pre-amp that makes these small loop antennas usable. All three antennas are being used on receive, sometimes one, sometimes the other one is better. We have found that around SR and SS the horizontal Flag is the best, but often, the best reception is on the vertical Flag. The horizontal Flag is now only 2 meters about ground, but it is on the edge of a 25 meter cliff facing north. Today we will try to raise to 10 m, which should improve its performance. Unfortunately, overall conditions last night were poor on 160, with a lot of QSB and hollow sounding signals. 80 m was poor in the evening but has recovered by the 2300 Z. 40 meters was excellent all night.


Nov 12, 2012, SPSP

We continue battling noise. The rocks are covered with scientific instruments that are powered through a number of inverters connected through a network encompassing the entire rock Belmonte. We were planning to install remote RX antennas on a distant rock (Cabral) but large swells have so far prevented us from being able to do so. Winds are down today and we hope the swells will moderate soon. As it is, we got some light injuries, when installing the main TX antenna on the top of a high section of Belmont. One moment we were looking down at the water from the top of a 25 foot cliff, the next moment a huge wave was washing over us. Scary!

The pile ups are large (and somewhat unruly). We will try to do a better job of maintaining them tighter, but we do need cooperation from the callers for that to work. Also, when we are asking for specific regions, we are doing that to make the pile-ups more manageable and put more stations into the log. Please cooperate for your own sake. TKS.

Low Bands: We are hugely challenged on 160 m by noise that is often 20 dB over 9. Anybody who has made us on 160 during the past two nights, has surely got a strong signal! The noise is not continuous, there are some gaps, where it is only S9 +10 dB. That is why we are requesting up 4 sometimes, or some other split number; we are trying to catch a rapidly moving gap in the noise. Yesterday we installed a flag RX antenna on the north facing rock wall. Unfortunately, it had more noise than the TX antenna! That, however, is giving us some hope that we may be able to locate the source of the noise somewhere near the flag. Noise hunting will be the main program today! 80 meters was fair in the morning towards Europe, NA and even Japan. We will be paying special attention to Japan again tomorrow morning (around 0700 UTC). 40 m was excellent this morning, especially towards Japan. Signals were very strong.

We hope that our efforts at noise reduction will be successful and soon we will be more effective on 160m.

30 Meter Frequencies: We will be transmitting on 10,138.5 and listening down. This is to due to local noise.

George, AA7JV

Nov 11, 2012, St. Peter and St. Paul

We landed on SPSP yesterday morning. After many difficulties we have raised our main antenna and have one station operational. Spent last night on 160 with mixed results. Local noise on the main TX antenna is S9+10 dB and we can only work stations with signals above that. It is like listening to the output of a switching power supply. Will try to build RX antenna today. Conditions are too rough to build the planned remote RX antenna. We must wait for calmer conditions to swim to the remote rock called Cabral.

We have very limited Internet access so updates will be kept short.


The PT0S team left port in Natal at 17:00 local time (20:00 GMT) and they are now under way to the rocks.

Nov 05, 2012, Natal

We will be leaving the morning of November 06. This means that we are likely to get on the air one day later, the evening of Nov 10.

Also, based on feedback from Europe, where apparently strong Loran like QRM from Russia blankets 1810 to 1820 kHz, we have decided to change our 160m frequency plan:

TX 1825.5
RX EU/NA: Up 2-5 (1827 - 1830)
RX JA/Asia/VK/ZL: Down 2-5 (1821 - 1825)

Hopefully there will be no further changes.

GL es 73 to all, George, AA7JV

Natal, Brazil

We are scheduled to sail for St. Peter and St. Paul Rocks the evening of Nov 05 (maybe early Nov 06). We expect to arrive on the rocks the morning of Nov 09. We hope to raise the main station during the day and be on 160 m in the evening.

The PT0S team in the port of Natal before embarking on the fishing vessel Transmar II. Our plan is to TX somewhere around 1816.5 kHz and listen up 2 to 5 for EU and NA, and listen for JA-s between 1822 and 1825. PT0S will be very challenging for JA and other Asian stations. They will have to work through a very long path, close to the Auroral region, and over (really, under) much stronger EU signals. To give the JA-s a chance, EU and NA stations please do not call us between 1822 and 1825. Your consideration will be much appreciated.

We will be located on the main rock, called Belmonte, where we expect very high levels of noise from the various scientific equipment. We are planning to build two remote RX antennas on one of the remote rocks (called Cabral) and run the coax and control cables under water. These RX antennas should be up by the 11th or 12th of November. We hope they will improve our ability to copy weak signals.


Natal, Brazil

Most of the PT0S team is now in Natal. Fred, PY2XB, is going to join us on November 3. All our gear has made it and is being stored at the local radio club. Because importation into Brazil can be difficult and slow, we feel that we have passed one of the most worrisome hurdles we've faced. We are now procuring supplies and items that we decided to purchase locally, such as car batteries, camping gear, etc. Local HAM-s, especially Mauricio Barreto, PS7RK, have been incredibly generous helping us to buy supplies and make the final preparations.

We are on schedule to leave for St. Peter and St. Paul Archipelago on November 5. The weather forecast is favorable, which is good news, as seas can be rough along the 620 nautical mile passage. We -- and all our gear -- will be travelling on the 70 foot fishing boat Transmar II, along with 8 fishermen. It will be tight and the lighter the seas the more bearable the passage will be.

We are hoping for a good and productive operation, where in addition to getting a lot of calls into the log, the entire community will have fun. We will soon start publishing operating tips and advice on how to work us best. In the meantime, please keep the following in mind:


  • I will listen,listen,and then listen some more.
  • I will only call if I can copy the DX station properly.
  • I will not trust the cluster and will be sure of the DX station's callsign before calling.
  • I will not interfere with the DX station or anyone calling him and will never tune up on the DX station's frequency or in the QSX slot.
  • I will wait for the DX station to end a contact before I call him.
  • I will always send my full callsign in PHONECTICS.
  • I will call and then listen for a reasonable interval
  • I will not call the DX station continuously.
  • I will not transmit when the DX Operator calls another callsign other than mine.
  • I will not transmit when the DX Operator queries another callsign other than mine.
  • I will not transmit when the DX Operator calls other geographical areas other than mine.
  • When the DX Operator calls me,I will not repeat my callsign unless I think he has copied it incorrectly.

The PT0S team will be making a special effort to put St. Peter and St. Paul Rocks on 6 meters during its November 12 to 24 operation. November is good time for TEP. Furthermore, there may be TEP propagation combining with E openings.
We have experienced 50MHz operators and will be taking high performance gear to effectively exploit openings. The 6 meter station will include a K3 Transceiver, a 350 W solid state amplifier and a M2 6M8GJ yagi antenna. During daylight hours we will have a dedicated SDR monitoring the 6 meter band and KX3 receiver constantly monitoring 50.110MHz. We we'll operate on SSB and CW and an additional effort will be made for 6m EME, during the time when the moon is at the horizon.
Our operating frequencies will be:
CW: 50.101 MHz SSB: 50.115 MHz EME (JT65A): 50.200 MHz, PT0S will transmit the first sequence.

We would like to thank W7GJ, W1JJ and KS7DX for loan of equipment as well as the 6m community for its past and future support.
Fred, PY2XB

Fernando de Noronha, Aug 05, 2012
PY2XB and I have just returned from a survey trip to the rocks. This trip was necessary because of the anticipated lack of level space, RFI conditions and logistics questions that have been causing us concern since the beginning. We wanted to make sure that during the operation in November we do not waste time setting up, or come across unanticipated obstacles that would cause delay. We want to arrive ready and be on the air with minimum delay.
PY2XB and AA7JV at the Scientific Research Station
The St. Peter and St. Paul Archipelago (SPSP) consists of a number large and small rocks located 630 nautical miles (about 1200 km) north east of the Brazilian city of Natal. The largest rock, Belmonte, is about 150 meters long (450 feet) and is very rugged. The only level ground is taken up by the Scientific Research Station and its equipment. Most of the low lying \"level\" ground, including the station building is constantly washed over -- and sometimes hit directly -- by the spray from large waves. Concern about this lack of level and dry space has prompted us to mount this survey trip. We wanted to know where and how we can set up the operating and sleeping tents. We also wanted to survey any RFI environment around the scientific station and its equipment.
The Brazilian Navy, which controls SPSP, has given us permission to hitch a ride on a fishing boat that regularly resupplies the rocks (and fishes in the vicinity). We rode out on the boat call Marlin II and returned on another boat called Transmar I. Each leg took 3 days and with 4 hours on the rocks to complete the survey. We were going along as "supernumeraries", not even guaranteed bunks for sleeping. These boats are not comfortable. They are working fishing boats; small, smelly and wet. There is no room to sit inside, and the outside deck is constantly washed over by spray and waves splashing over the low sides. The boats, on both legs, were crowded, as they were also be being used to rotate the scientific personnel. Seas were rough; July and August being the windiest months of the year. Waves were often 10 to 15 feet (3 to 5 meters) high and the boats were rolling and constantly covered with salt-spray. The crew, however, were extremely helpful and went out of the their way to make our miserable trip bearable.
We landed on the rocks the morning of Aug 1. We were ferried to Belmonte in a small rubber boat. Landing is an experience, as there is a large surge that causes to the boat rise and fall at an alarming rate. There is a steel ladder at the "dock" and you must be quick and accurate grabbing it. Now we know how to pack all the gear: we will be using small, easy to handle water-tight cases. Once safely on Belmonte we immediate started our survey. Our first priority was to fine level space for the operating tent. As it turned out, our initial fears were confirmed: there is no dry level ground on Belmont, or any of the other rocks. The space that previous DXpeditions used has been taken up by two new satellite dishes and some meteorological equipment. Eventually we have located and carefully took measurements of three possible sites, each of which will require the construction of a platform to make it suitable for a tent. Indeed, in the case of the most suitable and largest spot -- which is about 3.5 by 1.6 meters (approximately 12 x 5.5 feet) -- there is an equipment tower in the middle of the space that prevents the erection of a regular tent. We will have make our own, along with fabricating a platform to create a level floor. No matter how successful we will be with that, it will be tight and not very comfortable.
The second most important goal of our trip was to survey for RFI. Many previous DXpeditions with low band aspirations have been stymied by strong QRN, especially on 160 meters. You would think that being this far from cities one would have a perfectly quiet RF environment, but the sad truth is that wherever there are people, there are inverters and other high power electronic equipment that generate copious amounts of noise. The smaller the place, the more they rely on inverters and higher the noise. This turned out to be the case on SPSP. The battery chargers and inverters, as well the other scientific equipment all over Belmonte, generate both wide band and narrow band noise that covers all the amateur bands. Our KX3 receiver, using a short telescoping whip antenna, was showing S9 noise in many places. The bulk of the noise, however, (and strangely) is horizontally polarized and drops off quickly when moving away from its source (which is mostly cables). As it would be quite impractical to "filter" all the equipment of the scientific station (even if they would let us do that), our plan is to place remote receive antennas and filters on one of the outlying rocks. The rock called Cabral lies across the water about 100 meters (300 feet) to the north-east of Belmont. It is the northernmost rock of the group and is very rugged; a jagged outcropping that is about 15 meters tall (30 feet) at its highest point. Most of it is washed over by waves at high tide or in rough weather. A quick swim across the water (and a very rough landing, helped by a large wave) put me on Cabral, where I was able to find a number of good locations for the remote RX antennas. These locations are on the north-east side of the rock and well away from the noise sources on Belmonte. We will run underwater coax and control cables back to operating position. We just hope that the waves and surge will be less in November, as being slammed onto the rocks does not pleasant. Getting the RX antenna gear onto Cabral will certainly be a challenge but we feel that this will be the surest way to get away from the noise.
Our four hours on the rocks were quickly over and we headed back to the boat and what turned out to be three rough days to Fernando de Noronha. We feel that the survey trip has given us valuable information and was well worth the rough and tedious trip. Now we know what to do, and there is plenty of it...
George, AA7JV

More photos of the survey trip in the gallery!

The PT0S DXpedition will be on the air from approximately Nov 10 to Nov 22 , 2012. Please visit check this website regularly for news updates or announcements. (Like all things maritime, the exact dates of our travel to the rocks will be subject to the weather and issues related to the boat.) The PT0S Team (Natal, Jul 28, 2012)

AA7JV and PY2XB set out on a survey voyage to St.Peter and St.Paul Rocks
PY2XB (right) and AA7JV (left) are about to set out on a survey voyage to St. Peter and St. Paul rocks ahead of the PT0S DXpedition. We are making this trip to find a suitable site for a platform to hold our operating and sleeping tent. This is necessary as there is no flat land available on the rocks. We want to ensure that when we arrive for the actual operation on Nov 9, we will already have a pre-fabricated platform and we will be able to set up the station with minimum delay or uncertainty. The trip from Natal to the rocks will take four days. On the way back we intend to disembark the boat on Fernando do Noronha. We will have 5 hours on PY0S rocks to complete our survey, which, in addition to the platform site, will include surveying potential antenna sites and generator location. We will also survey the immediate sea bottom, as we intend to run some of the antenna coax cables under water. (George, AA7JV)

As we have announced elsewhere, the PT0S DXpedition will have a strong low band focus. One of our goals is to give this rare entity on 160 meters to JA operators. We believe that the combination of a strong low band DXpedition and the special permit (which may not be given again for a long time) represent a very rare opportunity for the Japanese low band community to work PY0S. We will be operating for 12 to 13 days. During each day's hours of darkness we will be operating two stations: one on 160 meters and one on 80 meters. TX frequencies will be 1816.5 and 3521.5 (and listening up). Each day we are likely to have a 1 hour opening to Japan on 160 meters, between 19:45 and 21:25 UTC. (There may also be a short opening between 07:30 and 07:41 UTC.) During these times we will be listening to JA stations between 1821 - 1823 kHz. We recognize that the PY0S -- JA path will be a very difficult one on 160 meters. We will have a good TX antenna and 1 kW of output power. Our RX antennas will, however, be limited to small Flags, DHDL-s, or Phased Vertical Dipole Arrays (see Equipment page on this website). We will also have strong noise from thunderstorm activity in the ITCZ, which will be about 1000 km to the north, north-east of us. Furthermore, we expect big pile ups from EU, starting at our sun-set and coinciding with the possible openings to Japan. Still, we believe that well equipped JA stations will be able to work us, and we strongly urge them to be active. At our end we will put in the necessary effort to work as many JA stations on Top Band (and 80 meters) as possible. We will be publishing further information regarding frequencies and operating tips on our web-site at . Please also sign up for our news e-mail service to ensure that you remain fully informed. TKS, 73 and GL, George, AA7JV

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