Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Too much FUN on the "Emerald Isle" of Montseratt

Another terrific "Buddies in the Caribbean" mini-DXpedition trip into the Caribbean, this time to VP2M (Montserrat) on April 8-16th, 2012 with a new group of Buddipole owners who have never experienced the "other side of a pileup"! And if that wasn't enough excitement, we had two of the new Elecraft KX3's (Ser#23 and #24) with us which only added to the pileups, especially when we were beach portable! This was the first DXpedition using the new KX3 radio! What an honor for Buddipole!

Because of severe baggage limits on the Antigua to Monserrat flight segment (only one bag under 50 lbs!), we were certainly limited to 100 watt or less low power radios and the Buddipole portable antenna systems. Yet our goal was to demonstrate "ultralite" dxpeditioning into magnificent "vista" locations, operating field portable, battery-only radios with backpackable, lightweight antennas and most of all "having fun" on the "volcano isle" or before the volcano started eruptions in 1995, better known as the "Emerald Isle".

It was fascinating to visit Plymouth, the now abandoned capital city and once major population center for the island. Just a week before our arrival, restricted Zone C was opened for "approved tours" which took us to a hill overlooking what was once a thriving downtown and major port area but now covered with 15 ft or more of ash and mudflows from the numerous eruptions over the past 15 years. Soufriere Hills is still quite active with several major lava dome buildups and then collapses resulting in more ash and lahar mudflows. See Montserrat Volcano Pictures for some recent spectacular pictures.
The KX3 performed flawlessly particularly while /p from nearby beaches. Steve/wG0AT threw together a few minutes of video that you can see below. This video was at Sand Hill Beach on the northwest part of the island and features the KX3 in a CW pileup! And note how effective the noise blanker deals with some S7 pulse noise encountered on the beach!

We stayed at Gingerbread Hill Villa, a very ham-friendly Villa located in the northwest part of the island with clear shots to NA and EU. The pileups were outstanding in spite of the low propagation numbers. We had evenings where 10m was open well past 11 pm!
Our neighbor, a house about 100 yds away from the Villa, had a "pet" parrot named Jade. Jade became a DXpedition regular at the Villa, coming over to visit us in the afternoons. Maybe it was all the jalapeƱo-flavored chips we were feeding him? Jade would perch on an operator's shoulder and "critique" the operators effectiveness! Or was it the high RF environment? Earphones were required as a "screech" from Jade was at least 100 db! And the immutable law of physics, that "what goes in, must come out", was upheld. But not one operator was "christened"....some near misses however! About 5 pm, the telephone would ring with Jade's owner asking, "is my bird down there?". Can you send her home!" Of course you can imagine the "pun fun" we had with Jade.

The eight operators were: Budd/VP2MFF (W3FF), Guy/VP2MUN (N7UN), Paul/VP2MVO (KB9AVO), Larry/VP2MLR (W7DGP), Russ/VP2MQR (N7QR), Tom/VP2MTM (K2GSJ), and Chris/VP2MYZ (N2YYZ).
There were several Gingerbread Villa stations in operation on 80-10m using CW, SSB, and RTTY or PSK. At the same time, several teams were battery-only, field portable either from Montserrat beaches with the KX3 and signing callsign/p.
If you are interested in going on one of these Buddipole trips, please email Budd ( for more information.
Take a look at our Caribbean Buddies website for more up-to-date information at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Thanks for making the trip to VP2M. Great signal and I hope to work you on one of your future adventures.