I had the opportunity to make a brief visit to East Malaysia and recently found on the internet a shack for rent in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, East Malaysia. With some last minute arrangements, my operation as 9M2/PG5M/6 was secured.
I arrived on Friday, November 16, 2007 at 00:30 hr local time at the Langkah Syabas Beach Resort and went straight to the shack to get the equipment up and running. I wanted to operate for a few hours before going to sleep. But this turned out to be a little different.
The shack was equipped with a FT-920 and FT-1000MP. I had decided to work with the FT-920 as I have one at home and more familiar with that set. Moreover, I had a microHAM interface cable for the FT-920 and not for the FT-1000.
At first I made myself familiar with the many coax cables that came through a hole in the wall. Cables were clearly labeled and I carried out some testing as I had received information that the wire antennas were not all in a perfect electrical shape, however this turned out to be better than expected. After rearranging the equipment and connections, I was ready to start to the software.
Unfortunately, the microHAM interface program didn’t work. I tried all kinds of settings and made sure all cables were connected firmly and later also installed the complete interface software again, just to be sure, but still without result. Finally I found that the microHAM box did not get power from the FT-920. This problem I also experienced with my set at home of which I thought was an exceptional case. Not sure if all FT-920’s have this, but the outlet on the rear panel clearly states 13.5VDC and does not provide any power.
With a small copper wire from my small ’emergency’ box and a small piece of sticky security tape from my suitcase, I was able to make a provisional connection with the power supply to power the interface box which solved the problem. I had to be very careful not to touch this small wire as it could easily make a short circuit at the plug and damage the power supply.
Now the software was working, I had to sort out how the antennas were working as I was told that the wire antennas were not in good shape. With the built-in antenna tuner of the FT-920 however, I managed to operate on all bands that were covered by wires antennas.
Friday at noon, I had two visitors knocking on the door. It were Steve 9M6DXX and John 9M6XRO. Steve had e-mailed me some days before my arrival and said he would meet me at the resort. I had worked John that same morning and came along with Steve. I met Steve already some 24 years ago and this was just the second time. In 1983 we both made our first DXpedition which was to Market Reef, OJ0. At that time Steve operated as G4JVG/OH0/OJ0 and I operated as PA0GAM/OH0/OJ0, probably the longest call sign in the world (as Steve wrote in an article afterwards).
We had a dinner at the resort and spend a couple of hours talking about our past activities and what was next. After dinner Steve and John helped me to adjust the 30 meter antenna in order to get it resonant around 10105 Kc. Further they explained some other issues with the antenna situation as they are somewhat familiar with the station. John in addition offered to bring his linear amplifier, which he did the same afternoon.
The Friday did not result in too many contacts but Saturday was much better. Overall conditions were not so good and left me during the day time with many hours to sleep. On Saturday the heavy rain was pouring down and started to have its effect on the antenna installation. The SWR was fluctuating and caused me to shut down the linear amplifier as the SWR was simply too high.
Although power lines were running along the shack and just a few meters way from the antennas, I had no noise or QRM problem at all.
The resort offered internet access via WiFi, even in the shack, but after a few hours, I lost the connection. This was pity as I would have been able to monitor the packet cluster for feedback.
My departure was set for Sunday at 10 AM to catch the plane to Kuala Lumpur. At 9 AM Godfrey 9M6GY came along to collect all the equipment. He is responsible for maintaining the station and making it ready for visitors, which means placing a table, all equipment and checking the antennas. In addition he also repairs all equipment when needed. Unfortunately we could not spend too much time together but as he was so kind to bring me to the airport, we could discuss somewhat longer about our hobby.
This operation resulted in 1381 QSO’s and I operated on all bands from 80-15 meters.
The equipment consisted of FT-920, IC-2KL, Force 12 C4 antenna (40, 20, 15 and 10m) and wire antennas for the other bands. Logging was done with N1MM on a laptop with the microHAM interface.