Nov 1, 2017

VU7T DXpedition - A sequel to VU7MS DXpedition

Out of the blue if something beautiful emerges and makes its presence felt all over the globe, how awesome it would be!. Such was our story of VU7T, a DXpedition to Kavaratti, Lakshadweep Islands.

A bunch of DX crazy hams who set their foot on activating #56 DXCC entity. Though in recent years Lakshadweep had seen many activations including most famous VU7AG, it nevertheless remains sought after by many hams across the globe. VU2CPL Manoj, spearhead of this

activation had done a recce on the islands in November 2016 with VU3NXI Siddhu and found that Paradise Hut resort area as suitable for the team operation. Their two day activation -

VU7MS had received appreciation for simple but efficient operation and racking up more than 3000 contacts.

As with many DXpeditions, knowing the geography and people goes long way. So this operation was planned as Sequel second half of VU7MS. VU2WH Sangeeth(A45TT), VU3HPF Gopan(M0XUU), VU2XE Kiran and A65DR Paul were invited by Manoj to join the operation by fixing the dates in October 2017. But that was just the start of our suspense thriller moments to follow. Lakshadweep remains restricted to tourists and all visitors including main landers require permit to land and stay. The process for WPC permission is more streamlined these

days, but paper work is paperwork- with all its uncertainties. Fingers crossed the team submitted all paperwork and waited for the permission along with Paul’s reciprocal license permissions.

Meanwhile, Paul had taken up the major work of antenna and station planning. With our intention to do serious operations, we planned VDAs for 20 to 10 mtrs, Phased arrays for 30/40 and vertical for 80mtr. By around 3rd week of September, Manoj received WPC permission for the team including Paul’s reciprocal permits. We could not rejoice at this moment as most critical for our operation was permission to operate from the Island and it had to be issued from Island Administrator’s office. Manoj had to constantly follow up with the island administration through poor phone lines and an almost non existent internet connectivity! Manoj’s close personal acquaintances and friends helped bridge most of these gaps. Though they conveyed that we will get permit, paperwork was getting delayed and complicated due to presence of a foreign national.

Lakshadweep is an Union Territory coming directly under control of Central Government and it is frequented by high ranking officials from the government. The resort which is one of the few places in Kavaratti to stay had 6 rooms and mostly was reserved for visiting officers. This added another dimension to the uncertainty. Team was undergoing anxious moments and even accessories required to procure such as 750mtrs of LMR 400 had to be deferred due to its cost.

This uncertainty also forced us to keep our plans within our circle. A week prior to planned activation we decided to take a risk and get our Coax ordered from a supplier in New Delhi who

promised to get it delivered to Kochi before 10th of October. That sounded OK as Cargo Ship which will carry majority of our luggage would leave Kochi sea port on 10th afternoon. VU3NXI Siddhu did a road trip to Kochi from Bangalore to transport the heavy luggage items such as Amplifiers, spare Coaxes plucked from our own stations, Spider poles etc. Days went by very fast and on 9th we came to know that Paul will not be issued a permit in time. This was big blow to us. He was instrumental in planning this operation, was our one of our key SSB/ RTTY operator and antenna man!. We had to go forward and salvage the situation with the tough to get permission. Team decided to go public with news of VU7T going on air with 5 operators and Paul as technical support from UAE.

Team had to scramble for the operation plan, alternate antenna plans etc. Also there was a request from the island to familiarise the islanders about this hobby. Happily we obliged their request and planned some demonstrations during our visit. Gopan and Sangeeth had already flown to India, Kiran preponed his plans to travel with team itself on 11th. Kiran and Siddhu did last minute huddle at Manoj’s QTH for taking alternative antennas on the islands and stick to classic single verticals for lower bands.

Due to runway size on Agatti airport, an ATR72 belonging to Air India is the only Airliner to fly there once a day. Manoj, Kiran and Siddhu boarded the plane at Bangalore where they carefully balanced the allowed luggage weight of 15kg each. They were then joined by Gopan and Sangeeth at Kochi Airport. The next one hour flight to Agatti was the most mesmerising!. Small islands with coral reefs, greenish blue lagoons kept us rubber necked most part of the flight.

From the airport after completing the landing permit check formality, we proceeded to Jetty where a small shift boat was awaiting us to carry to the speedboat . These speedboats run between the islands in tune with Agatti airport schedule and that is the only time one can transit across islands. We were told that if we miss that slot, we would have to hire small fishing boat and travel for 4-5 hrs to reach Kavaratti which is 60kms from Agatti.

Speedboat ride on rough sea seemed to be never ending. Sea sickness caught us and by the time we reached Kavaratti, we finally felt a big relief but dehydrated. Short ride on three wheeler reached the resort. Resort was complete with all basic needs and also rooms were equipped with AC !. We were given one large suite with two rooms for our team. That was good enough for our type of stay. We were quickly told that there is group of tourists

visiting the next day. So the beach access remained a challenge for us.

The tourism department organises package tours form mainland and groups of 50-200 members reach different islands and they are engaged in water sports and sight seeing along with good food and other entertainment like traditional songs and dances of the island. This not only provides much needed revenue, but opens up the island life to main landers.

After an hour in the resort, we got the message that the Cargo ship has arrived and our luggage will shortly be delivered to resort. A great news for us but we also came to know that much needed Coax cables did not make it to Kochi on time, so it is not in our shipment. So, we had to work with whatever we had in hand and that just enough for the spiderbeam and two verticals on the beach. We f o c u s e d q u i c k l y o n a s s e m b l i n g Spiderbeam and then 17mtr vertical to be placed on terrace of the resort.

We went on the air at 14:50 UTC on 11 Oct 2017.First QSO was YL2BR on 17m SSB. We continued on 17m SSB and thereafter QSYed to 20m CW. We had plans to put 40m and 30m verticals for the night, but everyone was tired after day long journey and felt it is better to take rest and continue with the antennas the next day.

Next day, there was group of tourists arriving on a continued for the rest of the operation times and only after around 11PM local i.e 17:30 UTC we could observe some quite moments.

This was in stark contrast from VU7MS when Manoj and Siddhu had a very quiet band to work. The team went about investigating the source and found out that there is a major drive by local administration to change all lights to LEDs and this was confirmed to be the source of noise and continued to wreak havoc on most of the low bands through out our stay.

We had planned an operation roster, but due to last minute scramble, operation then turned to be dynamic. We tried to keep two stations ON at night time and tried to listen to NA/SA whenever path opening were sensed. VU7MS experience was that there was lack of JA path, but that was not the case this time as we found plenty of JA on all bands we operated. We also erected 20mtr vertical on the beach on 3rd day which gave us better opportunity to work NA/


Also we did erect 80mtr vertical to have some CW operation on this band, but without a proper Rx antenna, this was not a very fruitful move, but we are happy we could give out some much sought after band fills.

Team went for demonstration at local administration office where the young high ranking officials received our presentation with open mind. On subsequent days we had them visit our operating conditions. We also had demonstration for a group of school children. We were happy with the very positive response from all and are hoping that we will have some native ham on the island in near future. We spent a good amount of time educating Island locals who came to our site about amateur radio as a hobby and also its part during natural calamities. Some of the islanders even recollected past radio activations.

We did not have any expectations about food, but it was far exceeded by resident chef of the resort. Though for fish eaters it was paradise, for vegetarians like Kiran, Gopan and Siddhu, it was a nice surprise as well. They served awesome meals and staff was friendly extending any help we needed.

Lakshadweep being one of the most beautiful destination for Coral reef scuba diving, and our resort having PADI certified Suba instructors and dive masters, we could see some adventure seekers taking diving lessons in the lagoon.

Some of the instructors tinkered us to come along for diving as well. We left them with their oxygen tanks as we had our oxygen somewhere else Hi!.

Then one day our friend Abdu could not resist but insisted us to get on to the sea to check the bounty of this lagoon. We all got onto the glass bottom boat for a slow lagoon ride and man… he was not wrong. We were missing this awesomeness of nature. Various coral formations,  shy  and  gentle  moving  colorful fishes were welcoming us in the reef. Shallow waters 10-15feet were crystal clear and showing its dazzle that day, our hour long ride left us wondering about its abundance and heart full of joy.

As we continued the days, we started seeing  any dupes in the log. We could not upload log regularly from the island. The internet used to appear abruptly after midnight and then no signs later on. We thank DXers who

listened to the instructions while we looked for OC, AF, NA/SA. Still there were some jammers following our course most probably via modern SDR waterfalls, they gave a hard time when we asked for weaker stations. We slowed down time to time when signals were weaker or local QRM was there. This being tail end of Monsoon season, we did not expect major storms, but few days on the island was rough as it poured heavily and we could see lightning bolts around. These were the times we had to disconnect all our rigs.

Overall we could not fully achieve our target of 30K QSOs, but for sure with limited resources we did our best. Probably with directional antennas such as VDA we could have done better.. With Sangeeth and Siddhu leaving on 19th, we dismantled spiderbeam on 18th evening working that night only on beach verticals. On 19th we dismantled 80m, 20m and 17m verticals leaving

30 and 40mtr for the last day. When we wound up all our ops, there was question again on what next… With still ringing ears, we said bye to lovely islanders to our way back to Agatti. Met few
more friendly people on the way, people who want to welcome us back, making us think about these unique “Dweep” (island) and its awesome people!


Manoj VU2CPL on behalf of VU7T team

Oct 15, 2017

A unique rescue / family re-union which HAM's from Chennai/Kolkata facilitated

In this age of information / internet , no one would imagine HAM radio could help unite a lost person found in Kolkata with his family thousands of kms away near Chennai . Keep reading and you will know for yourself. 

This is the story of Dhanasekar ,a tamil boy, about 27yrs old ,slightly deranged, missing from home in Sholingur about 150 kms from Chennai for the last 4 months ,given up for gone by the family.
A few days after the Gangasagar Mela , the annual religious fair in West Bengal, Ambarish Nag Biswas was told by Kolkata’s health officer about a 25-year-old man admitted in a local government hospital , pining to go home.

When we met him, he could hardly speak. He had head injuries,” said Mr. Biswas, secretary of the West Bengal Radio Club (Amateur Club), a group of ham radio enthusiasts.

On 28/3/2017 during the Night Maha meet net , Raju a HAM from West Bengal ,a regular, said that there is a medical traffic , asked to elaborate said he had been to Govt Diamond harbour Hospital in Calcutta and was told a boy has been admitted and nobody can understand his language , however he said Tamilnadu , Raju (VU2JFA) immediately got a recording of the boy and also asked him to write down details and sent it through WhatsApp to my number. 

Could make out a few details and at elephone number was available , tried reaching out but no response , Peter TSF and Clement PQN also pitched in but no avail. The next day Raju again sent some more details on persistent trying reached out to a contact in Padi who was actually the boy’s aunt , she  and her husband who reside in Korattur were very thrilled and in turn gave a tel no. of the boys father in Sholingur, I spoke them and in turn suggested that they go down to Calcutta to get back the boy. Felt they have  a language issue , noticed that there is tamilian Gopinath part of West Bengal Radio society ,he is working with Hindustan motors. 

Spoke to him , Gopitnath assured he will help them out in Calcutta ,Raju promised to co-ordinate and also arranged the doctor at the hospital to speak to their parents . The boys Uncle and cousin left for Calcutta on  2/4/17 , they were received by Raju and his team , in fact Raju has photo document every stage , also co-ordinated with police and also the hospital authorities for successful release of Dhanasekar into the custody of his relatives.

The family arrived back to Chennai on 10/4/17 , they called me up and thanked all for the wonderful help that was rendered. Would like to thank  Biswas , Raju , Gopinath and the entire team of West Bengal radio club for taking their time and putting a great effort in this great humanitarian task.



CHENNAI HAM's provided communications support for this event

Apr 15, 2016

Final Plan : Chennai Hams CARES / ARSI National Field day 2016

The Amateur Radio Society of India’s (ARSI) National Field day will be conducted on 16-17th of April, 2016.

The Chennai Amateur Radio Emergency Services group, CARES, is  participating with details as given below

WHEN: Field day activity time between 12 Noon 16th April to 12 Noon 17th April.
Station setup and antenna Installation will be done from 15th April afternoon onwards

WHERE:  Baker Farms, Anna Nagar, Thenpakkam village, Achrapakkam, Kanchipuram District, Tamil Nadu 603301, a quiet village located about 100 Kms from Chennai. Land mark : Next to Aavin Parlour in NH 45 - Chennai Tiruchi Highway.

HOW: We invite the following type of participants

Visitors : Folks who want to visit the Field day either during 16th or 17th but will not be staying overnight.

Resident participant : Folks who will be participating for the full duration of field day with over night stay.

COST: No registration fee. We welcome donation to defray logistics cost. We also welcome sponsorship in any form like logistics cost, food / coffee.


No food will be provided by organisers. Food purchased from a nearby hotel can be bought AT COST at the location. There are a few vegetarian hotels in a 3 Km radius

Resident participants HAVE to bring their own bedding material and will be provided shelter in the night in either shamiana setup in the mango grove or the guest house terrace. 3 rest rooms are available at the guest house.

Places of interest near by : (For combining as a family outing)
1. Thirumalai vayavoor Hill temple
2. Karunguzhi Hill temple


3 complete stations DC to Daylight class  HF/VHF/UHF Trans receivers with Computer logging and capable of operating all digital modes, with Internet Access, with provision for setting up 1 more station if sufficient interest exists. The location has reliable 3 phase power. We plan to have 2 Gensets and a number of 12 V batterys of 42 AH and 100 AH capacity and Inverter/UPS with similar battery capacity as backup power source

RIGS: TS 2000 HF/VHF/UHF Satellite station, Icom IC7000, Icom IC718, VU2ZAZ SDR HF Transreceiver
ANTENNAS : covering all 9 HF bands (80/40/30/20/17/15/12/10 Meter bands), Top Band ( 160m), VHF 6m and 2m and UHF 70 Cm Installed in a sprawling 35 ACRE Mango Grove
1. VU2ABS Hexbeam - 20/17/15/12/10/6 m band
2. Homebrew Spiderbeam covering 20/17/15/12/10 m band
 3. Butternut Verticals covering 80/40/30/20/17/15/12/10/6 m band
4. Dipole/Inverted V for 40m/20m to be built and tuned insite as a training opportunity for the newcomer/inexperienced.

If sufficient volunteers are identified

1. Full size vertical for 80 with elevated radials
2. 160m Inverted L with elevated radials
3. 300 feet Beverage Antenna Low band RX antenna installed in 4 directions
4. VHF/UHF antenna for satellite working


Opportunity to see a complete HF station with Best in class antenna's with antennas installed without any space constraint.
To be part of antenna assembly and installation
Install, configure and operate the following
1.Computer Transreceiver interface - Audio In/Out, CW, FSK, CAT
2. Contest Logging - N1MM software
3 Station management software - Ham Radio Deluxe - Last free version and DX Labs Suite which comprise of software for
    3a. General QSO logging
    3b Trans receiver CAT control
    3c. Propagation prediction
    3d. Award tracking - DXCC, CQ WAZ ...
    3e. QSL management - LOTW, EQSL, Paper QSL
    3f Rotator control
    3g. Satellite pass prediction and tracking
    3h. Digital modes
4. SDR Software, Hardware installation configuration and operating
4 Digital modes - CW, RTTY, PSK31, JT65, JT9, SSTV

Web resources for the modern ham : Like LOTW and many more ..

Have the opportunity to make atleast 1 QSO in every HF band and every mode.

Learn about propagation changes happening in a 24 hour period. More specifically Grayline propagation. Band opening/closing  to all continents in various bands

How to make, install and tune a simple dipole?

Soldering PL259 connectors to RG213, RG58

Lots of youtube / webinar video's available for viewing and copying/sharing for home viewing

Installation do be done as a pre field day activity. During the field day operating period, rooster will be prepared such that all stations are operational fully making as many QSO's as possible conditions permitting. Remember Field day is ALL ABOUT OPERATING AND MAKING QSO's

Register your participation by filling the form in this link

Any additional info needed pls contact as below:
* VU2MOA-Mohan-9840023391
* VU2ABS-Aravind-9283155706
* VU3VWR-Raghav-9840974543

* Simplex VHF Frequency : 145.500

Mar 20, 2016

CARES (Chennai Amateur Radio Emergency Services) GROUP - Proposed ARSI 2016 Chennai Field Day

Date : 16th & 17th April (Saturday/Sunday) 2016
Venue: Baker Farms , Anna Nagar , Achrapakkam , Kanchipuram Dist (3 kms from Melmaruvathur Temple)  

Below HAM’s joined the planning meeting held at BR Mathsya T.Nagar on 20th March Sunday
o   VU2MOA
o   VU2ABS
o   VU2VAU
o   VU3NKQ
o   VU3VWR
o   VU2CMR
o   VU2DRK
o   VU3GSL
·        Below points discussed and decided as follow-up action items:
o   Organising Team formed ( Would need more people to join/volunteer)
§  Chief Co-coordinator / Overall Event Lead – Raghav (VU3VWR)
§  Technical Team – Lead by Arvind VU2ABS / Deepan VU2DPN / Raghav VU3VWR + Others to volunteer & support
·        Responsible for all technical setup at field day site as well as manning stations
·        Proposed ideas / wish list discussed for HAM Station setup at site for field day
o   2 x HF Low Band Stations
o   2 x HF High Band Stations
o   1 X JOTA Station HF
o   1 x VHF Station
o   Satellite Radio / Digital
o   Orientation session for new HAM’s / SWL's between 4:00pm to 6:00pm on 16th Saturday
§  Logistics & Operations – Lead by VU2MOA Mohan / VU3GSL + Others to volunteer & support
·        Responsible for all filed day related field day site support arrangements  
·        Proposed ideas / wish list discussed for setup at field site
o   Transportation as of now each one takes care of their own , car pooling can be planned closer to date
o   Basic power supply
o   Additional batteries as needed
o   Provision for 3 to four stations across the 10 acre farm house
o   Apart from one residential building , Shamiana’s to be setup suitably across the property 
o   Basic facilities for water / washrooms / whatever available rooms - open areas for stay
o   Food arrangements (To be paid at venue individually need based)
§  Lunch on 16th afternoon
§  Tea / Coffee 16th Evening
§  Dinner on 16th Evening
§  Breakfast on 17th Morning
§  Lunch on 17th evening
o   Proposal to have a basic registration fee of Rs.100 for all participants including HAM’s/SWL’s.
o   Organising team members decided to contribute Rs.1000 each to Logistics team as advance fund
§  Event communications / PR & Publicity / Media – Lead by VU3NKQ Vipin + Others to volunteer & support
·        Responsible for all event related email / whatapp / other medium update communications
·        Creating marketing material for event and sharing it in all appropriate forums
·        Releases to media and trying to also bring in as many dormant HAM’s in Chennai together , new HAM’s , SWL’s to participate in the event 
Same recap also updates on , would like all to contribute their ideas / suggestions also and each of those sections we need more HAM's to volunteers on which portions of Technical / Logistics & operations / PR & Publicity can you join as a team members & support. 

Let's all work together to make this and best HAM field day event organised in Chennai in recent times. 

Thanks & Regards 

G.Vipin Shankar
Team Member 

Mar 6, 2016

Chennai HAM's develop the first India/South Asia based WebSDR for HF bands

Information from SIARS CHENNAI. 

Its great pleasure to announce that South Asia/India's first WebSDR service based in Chennai launched by SIARS on . Currently HAM HF bands can be listened by HAM's/SWL's in a very simple easy to use web format. 

This service in currently under testing and will soon be available to all from 13th March. The initiative's effort is to promote the hobby and homebrewing among the public , whoever wants to support the initiative pls take a minute to visit

Excellent efforts and congratulations to all those involved in the initiative which is a great contribution to the hobby.