Previous years have seen a contingent of primarily ex Southland DXers descend
on Tiwai around Easter, this year just Paul Aronsen and Steven Greenyer managed to make it two weeks later.
We arrived just after lunch on Wednesday and after unpacking the cars and setting up the radios and EWE antenna Steven set about arranging his bunk, after the great mouse hunt of last year the two intrepid hunters were at it again when a small rat was found under the mattress. Armed with the fire poker and the flounder spear the rat was quickly disposed of and additional poison placed up in the roof.
MW DX opened around 0400 with first in frequencies being 1620, 1600 and 1590 disconcertingly power noise was very prevalent on the X band and around the middle of the bc band, fortunately it disappear after about 0430. About half an hour later signals from Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay were heard at good levels. One mystery was a station on 1680 with Caribbean music and a language similar to French, a text to Bryan Clark identified this as possibly WOKB with a program in Creole. The pattern of noise was present every day and one suspect may be the dairy farms now just a kilometre or so away across the Awarua Bay or the Waituna wetland reserve, fortunately it disappears quite quickly, but compared to twenty years ago the location is now no longer power noise free.
Thursday saw very similar conditions to the previous day, although signals where a little later coming in. The EWE which had been aimed at mid South America was turned to the Deep South and the odd Argentinian was better on this than the beverage. We also found an earth fault with the aerials and this was fixed. Tea was slow cooker chicken via the generator.
On Friday morning we headed in to Invercargill for a shower and to pick up a new cell-phone charger for Paul. After lunch we tried fishing off the beach out from the house with no luck. While signals were in early Friday DX was not as good as the two previous days and Latin DX dropped out early, although X-band US stations were at better strength.
Saturday morning we were up early and fishing at the back beach behind the Tiwai smelter, no cod but four sharks and some crabs, on arriving back at the house we made brief contact on 20 metres with Ray Crawford on Paul’s Ham rig. Broadcast conditions were completely different, while the odd Argentinean and Brazilian could still be heard the band was dominated by Peruvians and to a lesser extent Colombians, unfortunately the signals while good, would fade in and out rapidly.
I had been chasing a couple of tropical band Latins but by this night noise levels were too high to listen. We also took the opportunity to catch Ray again on 40 metres using an Australian Anzac Day callsign of AX4HDX.
The unusual thing about the four nights listening was that apart from the X-band and Radio Marti no USA stations were heard and only one or two Mexicans.
Highlights were the number of Deep South Americans heard and the weather during the four days was exceedingly fine which added to the enjoyable gathering.
I also took the opportunity to test out the Digitech 1747. While I had some initial reservations when I first tried the radio at home, it performed very well on both the beverage and EWE antennas. Sensitivity is on a par with the Palstar and dare I say it selectivity appears to be slightly better.