Marion and Prince Edward Islands were added to the list in 1948.
ZS8 is one of those entities that is really special to me because I missed two activations – and then got them on the third try – and even that one was a miracle. The “wonder” and “magic” of radio to be exact. It is the essence of the DXCC program as far as I am concerned.
ZS8 is #10 on the DX Publications “Most Wanted” list, and #14 on the Clublog most wanted (global list).
Pierre Tromp was sent to a newly built Marion Island scientific outpost (which replaced an old facility) – to handle various tasks as a radio technician – and more – between May 2010 and April 2011. He had some restrictions – one was that ham radio was a spare time operation, and the other was that he had antenna restrictions due to the “bird strike” situation – he couldn’t put up whatever antenna he wanted to – so ended up with a broad banded dipole in an Inverted Vee configuration:
Here is another view – from the tower:
Photo’s courtesy of ZS8M, Pierre Tromp.
He ran 100 watts.
What was I using? A “Bruce Array” – which had just a tad more gain than a 40M half square – and was oriented due East – West . . .
I was running about 700 watts with an AL-811H amplifier, and the exciter was my (beloved) K3. My favorite band by far is 40M, so I always have a decent antenna with gain on that band – albeit wire.
I had been “stalking” Pierre from May until about August. I also had missed Glorioso and Palestine the year before and was in a real DXCC Slump. It was the worst of my 11 1/2 year run towards DXCC Honor Roll. At the bottom of the cycle – I just couldn’t work an ATNO for the life of me.
I resorted to doing something I actually had never tried before – begging for a “sked” via email. Pierre actually agreed – and we were about to schedule it when all of a sudden – one night during the 2010 Fall Equinox, magic happened.
I saw on the cluster that the East Coast had spotted him on 40M SSB. Then Central US, and I thought – WOW – I know this sort of propagation – where a signal seems to “march” across the US – its something I have worked before on 40M in the morning – but I wasn’t that great as far as the night time grey line on 40 was concerned.
Holy smokes – his signal now was being spotted from the Rocky Mountain states. I knew I was next in line – but NO ONE ELSE on the West Coast seemed to know – except ONE VE7 and ONE W6!
His signal was barely crackling above the noise, but the three of us worked him. NO pileup, and each of us took our turn. These were very rough QSO’s – just above the noise, and just above ESP, but 100% intelligible and full calls were heard. All three of us went through this drill, and within 10 minutes – his signal was gone.
I did hear him once again on 20M, but having worked him on one band – with that sort of strain – I was happy – and didn’t even bother. I emailed him and he said – 100% in the log. Pierre is one of the nicest hams I have ever met – a true gentleman, and a very good DX-er. He has the style where he sticks with you until he gets your call. This is the style that I revere most in a DX-er in the rare DX location. I remember Martti Lane, OH2BH did the same for me for BS7H, and the crew at ZL9HR also worked this way. But I digress.
There had been a couple of ZS8 activations before – but they were extremely frustrating for me. One was a personal disaster (Ludwig – ZS8MI- because the operator decided to use the “247 DX Net” to handle the duties, and the bozos that ran that net wasted so much time beating their chest – arbitrating who got to “make the call”, that propagation ran out). And I had heard ZS8MI “louder than bombs” before that point – so I could have “throttled” the silly assed DX Net Control Ops. Having to break a pileup to “get on the list” so you can then work the DX is just plain stupid. A total waste of propagation. I did send an email to the pilot – a very nice fellow named “Bushy” – ZS6M (SK), and asked that Ludwig not use the net – or at least try to call on his own. That message did get through, but my only one time of hearing him so well was done and over with. I never had another chance.
The next activation was just not very active – ZS8T (Petrus) – but he made thousands happy with an ATNO. Col, MM0NDX, was the webmaster of the ZS8T and 3Y0E dx-peditions, and gratiously provided this image of the ZS8T operation:
In fact, Petrus also activated Bouvet – and I did hear him once, but he had to QRT because the wind on his tent was thrashing it badly (while I sat warm and comfy in my shack no less – hi hi). I very much appreciate the effort! He was there – and many worked him – so it was “my bad”.
Here is a list of past ZS8 operations:
1948 – ZS2MI
1953 – ZS6ZU/2
1955 – ZS2MI
1958 – 1959 – ZS2MI
1963 – 1965 – ZS2MI
1967 – ZS2MI
1969 – 1975 – ZS2MI
1977 – 1981 – ZS2MI
1987 – ZS2MI
1990 – ZS8MI
1996 – ZS8IR
1997 – ZS8IR
1999 – ZS8D
2000 – ZS8D
2004 – ZS8MI
2008 – ZS8T
2010 – ZS8M
2013 – ZS8[?]
I am sure that there were others – and will update this blog when I get this information.