It's been said that if you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there. Said another way, it's always good to have a plan. As the K1N expedition was approaching, I had a look at my log to see what bands I would need them on. I was fortunate to work Navassa in 1992, so I didn't need this one for and all-time new one (ATNO), but I did need to fill a few band slots. But what did I need? Oddly enough I needed them on 20m. Navassa and North Korea are the only countries I need on 20m to have 'em all on that band. I also needed them on 160m, 17m, 12m and RTTY for a new mode.
My plan would've been relatively simple however I've been on a business trip the past week which has prevented me from chasing K1N. What's worse the trip was to Europe which is six hours ahead of Central Standard time, where I live. When I arrived back at my QTH at 7:00 Friday night, I was worn out. It was 2:00 am on my body clock and my body was ready for bed.
Ah, but I had a plan. However, to make the plan a little more complicated, my wife had foot surgery just seven days before and was basically confined to bed except for the very basic needs. So when I arrived home I relieved some of our family who had filled in during my absence. So, before I dare turn on the radio, I got her squared away and comfortable then immediately checked the K1N spots. They were on 20m SSB and 160m CW. I figured I would try 20m as I assumed that demand had been worked down during the week. After just a few calls I had them in the log. Next, QSY to 160m for what I would figure to be an extended period. I quickly checked on my wife, all was good, back to the pile. After about 10 minutes of calling I had him in the log. 160m contacts are special to me. I only have an Alpha Delta DX-A attached to my tower at 50 feet. K1N was my 179th country with this set-up. So two bands down, 12m, 17m and RTTY would have to wait until the next day.
The next day dawned. First things first. Get some breakfast for my wife. Not hard, cereal and fruit. Make a cup of coffee, check the spots. K1N was on 17m RTTY and if I could log them there, that would be a two-fer, that is it would satisfy the need for the 17m band and the need for RTTY. I called for about 5 minutes and then the operator called for Europe. He would then work Europe for the next 6 hours. I would check back regularly, hoping he would come back to the states, but it wasn't to be.
During the late morning, there was a spot for 12m CW. I pounced on the spot and called for probably two hours off and on. I would periodically check on my wife, retrieve something she needed and then get back to it. The pile-up 20 kc wide and it was hard to find where he was consistently. Finally I found him and followed him up the band and got a QSO. Cool, now the 17m RTTY QSO would close the book on Navassa for me I could just manage that QSO.
Mid-afternoon sometime, K1N started working stateside again, but for the next hour would have software problems and they QRT'ed to fix that. When they got it fixed, worked stateside for about 10 minutes and then listened for JA. This was a little frustrating as most of the stateside QSO time had been used up by the software repairs. Finally. at 7:04 pm local time, 0104z, I was able to get the 17m RTTY QSO....Mission accomplished, all in less than 24 hours.
I haven't followed the entire K1N expedition, but, at least from a stateside view, the pile-ups are fairly orderly. They are still very large however. Whoever predicted the demise of ham radio, missed the boat. DXing seems to be as strong as ever.
One thing I like about the K1N expedition is that they seem to always have a station on 20m. I think that is a must to help calm the crowds who need a country for an ATNO. I also don't believe that it's imperative to have every mode on every band. I believe a major expedition should work the three main modes and operate on all bands, but not necessarily all modes on all bands. If in the final days the pile-up diminish then start adding band modes. As I mentioned above, the 17 meter RTTY QSO checked two boxes for me, new band, new mode. More thought should be given to this approach.
So I still need them on 6m, but that's asking too much:-)