Tom Medlin, W5KUB, host of the weekly “Amateur Radio Roundtable” video webcast and radio program, is hoping to make ham radio media history. Medlin announced this week that he’s working with the Heard Island VK0EK DXpedition to have the team make live video appearances on the Tuesday night show for the next 3 weeks, starting on March 22. The DXpedition is planning to be on the air from March 20 until April 10, subject to change.
“We hope to have live reports, showing them standing there with the volcano in the background and hopefully seals and penguins around them,” an enthusiastic Medlin told ARRL. “Maybe we’ll catch them in great sunny, weather, or maybe a snowstorm. We won’t know until we connect.”
The Heard Island VK0EK team currently is aboard the R/V Braveheart, en route to Heard Island, and already has logged more than 3000 contacts as ZL/ZS9HI/mm. Medlin said he’s been working with Rich Holoch, KY6R, one of the DXpedition’s pilots, who is coordinating the live connections. Medlin said Holoch has run some tests to make sure a live video connection is possible via Inmarsat satellite phone. “Our show is at 8 PM Central Time, and that makes it about 9 AM or so at Heard Island,” he noted.
Heard Island is an Australian protectorate, part of a subantarctic island group (Heard Island and McDonald Islands) in the southwest Indian Ocean, some 4000 kilometers (approximately 2480 miles) southwest of Western Australia and 1000 kilometers (approximately 620 miles) north of Antarctica.
“This is probably one of the most difficult DXpeditions,” Medlin said. “It’s one of the most remote locations in the world.” Essentially, Heard Island is a snow and ice-covered volcano, and the weather can be severe, not unlike that experienced by the recent South Sandwich/South Georgia DXpedition.
“Will we make it? Who knows for sure?” Medlin said, “But we are going to give it the old college try. Hams have led the way using technology, and there is no way to know but to try it.”
“Amateur Radio Roundtable” is videocast Tuesday evenings at 8 o’clock Central Time (0200 UTC on Wednesdays). The show’s audio track is simulcast on international shortwave station WBCQ on 5130 KHz.
Although “Amateur Radio Roundtable” is only about a year old, Medlin has been doing live webcasts of major ham radio events for about 14 years, and he won the Hamvention® 2015 Special Achievement Award for his coverage of ham radio happenings. W5KUB will be back at Hamvention in May, with Astronaut Doug Wheelock, KF5BOC, as a co-host.
VK0EK DXpedition organizers have posted their operating plan, at least for when VK0EK will be on the air at the same time as the FT4JA Juan de Nova DXpedition, apparently to avoid conflicting pileups. VK0EK will get on the air about 10 days ahead of FT4JA, however.