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Willis Island Amateur Radio Expedition Relies On Honda

2 December 2008 - An international group of eleven amateur radio operators recently visited Willis Island for 18 days to make contact with people all over the world as part of an ongoing global amateur radio competition. Relying on Honda generators to power the entire operation, the team spoke with over 95,000 people from Queensland to the Spanish Canary Islands - a distance of around 18,000 kilometres.

Their mission is known in the amateur radio world as a ‘DXpedition’, and the aim is to visit rare locations and communicate with as many other like-minded enthusiasts as possible.

Highly regarded within the amateur radio world because of its exotic and remote location, Willis Island was chosen by the group – mostly from Germany - after their visit to Norfolk Island the year before, according to team member Christian Janssen.

Willis Island is located 450 kilometres east of Cairns, Queensland, beyond the Great Barrier Reef. The island rises just under ten metres above sea level and is less than 500 by 150 metres in its entirety. Apart from a weather monitoring station and its four staff, it is inhabited only by birds, crabs and turtles.

The group relied on four Honda generators for electricity– two EU30is and two EM65is powered all the radio equipment for five shortwave radio stations as well as kitchen and living facilities.

“During 18 days of operation we had no failure with the generators; they worked perfectly. We really liked the Eco Throttle and used it to save fuel during times of low radio activity,” said Janssen.

“The Honda EM65s were working horses. They had to power five amateur radio stations for 18 days and were only turned off for oil changes.”

Willis Island is ranked 12 in the top 100 most desired locations to make radio contact, as decided by the 2007 DX magazine. The most sought location is North Korea due to the degree of difficulty involved.

DX amateur radio competitions are governed by the ‘American Radio Relay League’ (ARRL), and require radio operators to exchange personalised ‘QSL’ cards through the mail or internet as proof of their communication. Awards are given for making radio contact with large numbers of operators from a wide range of locations.

“Our expedition was a great success. No technical problems, no major injuries, a lot of fun and new lifelong friendships,” said Janssen.

“Our goal was to make 100,000 radio contacts but we just missed out. We had to leave a day early due to bad weather, with another day we would have easily made it.”

“Thanks to Cairns Honda and their reliable generators!”

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