Ireland, the Emerald Island
July 25 - August 7, 2005
If somebody watch the actions on the radio-frequency bands, it seems to be that the attractive DXpeditions always will undertaken to small islands somewhere on the other end of the world. And if you look at the Big Guns with big power amplifiers and beams for the low bands, which are logging thousands of QSO's each day, so I am with my QRP station more likely a Little Pistol.
But where should someone like me drive to be also once the hot end of a DX-contact? A long sea voyage to the planed island, on which then because of the bad weather cannot be perhaps landed, separated for me. Likewise the taking along of equipment weighing tons or pedantic procedures in order to get a transmission permission.
Seen with the eyes of a radio amateur an attractive country should be small. Not necessarily with a small surface, but with not much radio amateurs there. In order to go around the tiresome topic transmission permission, I got the current CEPT list out of our club magazine and looked for a suitable country. Ireland? Ireland. Yes, that is it!
In Ireland are only 1700 licenses registered, in Northern Ireland even only 1200 (source: International Amateur Radio Callbook). A comparison: In Germany there are 78200 - nearly 27 times more than in both countries together! Since I did not want to drive into another country only for the ham radio activity, also something should jump out for the mind. And which country would be better suitable than Ireland, who is also called the Emerald Island? A lot of nice pictures illustrate this descriptive. At least the small distance from Germany to the Irish Island gave the excursion to spend the vacation there.
What to use for the travel?
Since I do not possess a driving licence, I always look around for alternative means of transport with my journeys. This time it was again a bus. I knew Rotel Tours from my journey by New Zealand, so I already booked there again. If one arrange themselves with the sleep bunks, so this kind of the travel is a benefit. I think a few saw this unusual looking buses somewhere in the world.
This kind of the travel offers a decisive advantage: One has the hotel always nearby and can nevertheless everywhere drive! As QRPer I am already accustomed the constant construction and diminishing of the radio station of the various portable activities at home. A table with lamp to developing the station and the comfortable armchair for sitting as at home is not bad - in addition, it goes along in a wood bank to it fastened antenna mast or even on the lawn.
Not the mass do it!
When packing the suit-cases radio amateurs place themselves again and again a question: Where and how is to stow my station? For me as QRPer there is a fast answer. Since I did not have to carry a container with equipment weighing tons, everything found place in one traveling bag. Excess luggage? I do not know such a thing! I used only somewhat more than 15 kg of the 20 kg baggage allowance. And there was beside the whole things, which one needs in the vacation, the mast already also thereby!
I stowed away the entire station between towels and trousers in the traveling bag. The mast often goes another way than the bag, there it otherwise on the conveyor belt in airport building hooks itself somewhere because of the excess length (1.15 m). Therefore I must it often also fetch again in a separate place. But lost it did not go however so far yet. You should only go without a mast, if one knows exactly whether at the picked places also trees are present for developing the antenna. Before the journey Seab (AA1MY) advised me absolutely to carry forward a mast, since the trees rather rarely in Ireland. I do not have the taking along repented, there are now and then trees available however were often not accessible without large problems. Only small bushes, were not suitable for tying up the antenna wire.
As station I used: Transceiver Elecraft K2 with 5 W power output, inserted accumulator and automatic antenna tuner as well as DK9SQ-Mast as fastening for a groundplane (Up-And-Outer). Headphones, morse key and a accumualtor charger completed the equipment.
Where with the radio station?
Isn't better to stow away the radio away in the hand baggage? I have now already some flights behind me with the radio station in the luggage and I can say to you that it is best waived in the part of the luggage that not taken into the cab. Why? Often exists a flight with several sections. And one can check-in the luggage at the beginning of the journey over all stopovers away to the goal. Then one has to go only once through the following procedure: On the counter one check-in the luggage and goes to the part of the airport that is only passengers accessible. One looks for a free seat and waits up to the boarding-time. But again my name is called before and I go back to counter. There stands again my bag, which I actually already assumed on the way in the airplane. With the bag I must then still once to a special security check, since one discovered a metal case and wires on the monitor with the transillumination. Thus I open the traveling bag and show the security staff, what the questionable is and answer all questions posed. The security then usually still becomes with so a kind vacuum cleaner examined whether also no explosive is in the metal case (Transceiver).
I find this procedure fine! Thus I do not need to remove for possible dust on my Transceiver. And in addition I feel safer, since all luggage items are controlled correctly. Afterwards accompanies me the security staff again and back to the counter. There my luggage begins then the second travel by the building. You can introduce yourself, what happens, if you must make this procedure with each intermediate stop: out of the airplane, transit area, security check, everything and again pack up, purely in the next airplane. And that perhaps not only once, but with each stop.
Appened to me such a thing not only with the journey to Ireland, but so far with nearly each journey. There I rather leave the luggage in Baggage compartment! At most in memory the face of a woman of the safety personnel from Frankfurt/Main airport remained for me, as I had at beginning of my amateur radio time the Elecraft K2 transceiver during a flight stowed away in the hand baggage. So large eyes I had seen so far only with small Children at Christmas. As I had gotten the transceiver from the backpack and had explained, what it is, the woman snatched it itself it and ran with it very fast directly to the flight captain - and I afterwards, because it was finally my transceiver. In the airplane arrived she asked the captain to the further procedure. Result: I should not switch on the transceiver during the flight. I will guard to switch the transceiver on without antenna! Since this experience I do not stow it away any longer there. I cannot check then, whether my station also on board, however then I can enjoy the flight and must not answer several times questions or run to my station afterwards.
Cross and crosswise by Ireland
Ireland consists of a main island (IOTA EU-115) and various inhabited and uninhabited islands in proximity to the coast (IOTA EU-006, EU-007, EU-103, EU-121 and EU-122). The main island, on which I was on the way, is only about 465 km long and approximately 285 km wide. Although the island small there are two DXCC entities on it, since the respective area different state belong: the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland belonging to the United Kingdom.
With the Irish airline Air Lingus we flight from Frankfurt/Main to Dublin and from there continued with the bus to Redcross near Arklow (An tlibhear Mór). The station remained in this evening in the bag. Only I wanted to become known with the people, with which I would live together now two weeks on small area - naturally with a Guinness in the Pub.
After we went on the second day further toward the south to Kilkenny (Cill Chainnigh), I wanted now finally also to manufacture some connections in the evening. Already during the dinner still on the stove cooked, I constructed my station in the proximity of the bus. I fastened antenna tower with two thick rubber bands to a wood fence. And nearly all other bus-travelers wanted to now see, what there at that 10 meters long and like a fishing rod looking mast happens. But which was that? It slammed every 3 seconds very loud in the headphones. A pasture fence, which was hidden behind bushes, became loudly apparent (for me). Indeed bad conditions for those expected QSO's! But a connection succeeded, even if I had to let some things repeat several times, there it from the bang and the AGC were swallowed. For the indulgence of my ears I stopped then however.
Today our travel ended into Killarney (Cill Airne), where we remained still two further nights and undertook by day routes from there. On the first and third evening some beautiful QSO's arrive crosswise by Europe and also a connection to a station across the Ural. The second evening was reserved to a dance musical. If one already is in Ireland, one should regard absolutely times one this tap-dance conception!
For developing the station I came back only two days later, in Salthill close Galway (Gaillimh) - again a place, at which we three days remained. The first two evenings came I only short to enjoy my hobby, since we returned relatively late from our routes.
But a "quantity" of connections brought the last day near Galway, at that nearly all people of the travel's group made a daily trip by ship to that Aran Islands (Oileáin Árainn). Since travels with the ship my stomach are rather unwholesome, after one city-stroll I built up the station at the beach. A good mounting plate were large stones, between which I got jammed the mast. So that it does not tilt with wind, I secured it still with the rubber bands at nearest solid stone. Now put the transceiver on a horizontal stone and loosely went it. I advise you to carry something soft forward for sitting on stones. With did anyhow after to a few hours of the back pain. I would have the sweater, which I had left to careless way in the bus, very well for it to use know. Occasionally walker climbed over the stones serving as breakwaters and watched curious. A man placed many questions to the station and so far reached QSO's. Yes, right: an other ham! Unfortunately I did not note his EI callsign, when he went.
The remaining days of the journey were not so interesting from the point of view of the amateur radio. From Galway (Gaillimh) we drived also through Clifden (An Clochán). In Derrygimla nearby was one of the two stations developed, with which Guglielmo Marconi starting in 1907 the first commercial wireless telegraphie connection over the Atlantic. The second station was placed in Glace Bay/Nova Scotia. The first wireless transatlantic message (morse sign S) was already transmitted by Marconi on 12nd December 1901 from Poldhu/England to St. John's/Newfoundland.
Over Bundoran (Bun Dobhráin) we lead Ballycastle in Northern Ireland in the next days to Dublin (Baile Atha Cliath). From there it went again by airplane back to Germany.
How many QSO's?
No, I am not a ham, who registers the QSO's with the help of a computer in a cycle of 5 Sekunden in the logbook. Such a thing I does not even make in one of the few contests, in which I participate for a few hours in the year. If I found an interlocutor, me interests rather, his name, where he lives, as he can receive me and which station he uses. There I mostly in the proximity of the QRP frequencies, I was astonished, which were to be found for stations with small transmitting power there was active. In addition a few people also with 100 W stations erred there.
Oh, here still the QSO's rates reached in CW for all statistic junkies: On altogether 6 days I reached 28 QSO's in approximately 9 hours up 30 m, 20 m and 17 m with stations in DL, EA, F, G, HA, HB, I, LY, OK, PA, RAas, SM, SP and W.
Only 9 hours? There I would have had myself to set nevertheless simply only more frequently to the station, in order to reach more people by radio waves! That lay it that I was only so short time in air? The weather cannot have been it, because in so a moderate climate that makes for enjoy the hobby in free nature simply is fun. Was it because of the beautiful country, from which one does not get enough to see? It lay to also in the evening still animated large and small cities? Well-being-possible were also the friendly Irish themselves, with who one fast comes in the conversation? Or perhaps it were those everywhere to finding Pubs, in which nearly always a live-band played? I do not know it. Probably the sum of all reasons was decisive. This reported me also Peter (DL2FI) and Ingo (DH5ST), who live longer time in Ireland. We conversed right after I my return.
Profit or loss?
Now you to certainly ask oneself whether it was worth itself for me to carry a complete amateur radio station forward. YES, SURE! And would it be only 1 QSO, which I would have taken in the logbook with home, it would have been a success. Even with a total fiasko I could have still learn something from the errors, in order to make it better with next time. Trust you therefore once, to take also your station on a journey. You will probably not bring a stout logbook back with home. However I can you give a guarantee for fun at the other end of a DX-connection.
PS. Ireland - a small green island, but with two countries on it. For non-Irish difficulty to understand reasons divided the country and left a border and deep wounds. But in each country live Irish women and Irish men with the same roots. I hope, there are as soon as possible again one nation - without winners and losers, but with equal partners.