All major expeditions are chaotic in the first days. Panic sets in as days go by and contacts aren't made, logs aren't posted, propagation doesn't cooperate and on and on. It is a very predictable pattern. However there is also a predictable pattern in the last days of a major expedition and that's comments on the reflector of, "finally made it", "on 14.023 begging", "working simplex", " worked with a wire", "worked first call", "worked mobile!!!" and finally, "worked QRP". An so that time has arrived for the FT5ZM expedition.
I can't say enough about the quality of this team and their operating plan. Amsterdam is antipodal to my QTH and yet these guys have been workable on most bands, I have worked them on six bands using my battleship sized station and yes, I worked them yesterday QRP with my FT-817 on 20m. Over 2,000 miles per watt! It's ironic, but there is power in QRP. There was a small pile-up, relatively speaking, covering 2-3 KC's but my 5 watt signal travelled almost exactly half way around to the world to be copied by a station almost 12,000 miles away. Very cool.
The QRP contact was the first good news of the day, the second was a bonus. The common grayline/shared darkness with FT5 and my QTH in W5 is about 30 minutes. Yesterday around 0028z, with still some faint sunlight, the FT5ZM signal came out of the mud on 3.523 listening up 2. I use only an inverted L on 80m at about 55 feet at its apex, so we aren't talking about a superior antenna. Their signal was in the 339 - 449 range. Very light copy, but solid. I was excited just to copy them. I am usually confident when I jump in a pile-up, but not this one, figuring the east coast would drown me out. However on about the fourth call I could hear faintly but solidly, AD5A 599, I went back, de AD5A 599 599 bk.......AD5A 599 599. Oh no, he didn't hear me come back.....de AD5A 599 599 599 bk.......AD5A 599 TU UP.....Yesssss! An unexpected bonus and a short victory dance and another short one when the QSO was verified in the online log today.
There are so many ways to enjoy radio and yesterday was another fun day in this wonderful hobby of ours.