HartRAO DXpedition


Marion Island

(Prince Edward Islands)

AF 021

ITU Zone 57 / CQ Zone 38

460 30 - 470 00 S

370 30 - 380 05 E



Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT)

South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP)

HartRAO Space Geodesy Programme


QSL information / Am I in the Log?

Learn more about Marion Island

Our Operations

Our Equipment

HF Propagation from Marion Island

DXpedition photographs



The Dxpedition

Two staff members of the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO) Space Geodesy Programme, Ludwig Combrinck and Pieter Stronkhorst, will visit Marion Island during April 2004.  Backup to update log files and images taken during the voyage and island visit will be provided by Attie.  The SA Agulhas (nice photo) will depart from Cape Town on the 1st of April 2004 and will return on the 7th of May.  We expect to reach the island within about four to five days.  During the ocean voyage, maritime mobile operation should be possible from the vessel.  Depending on offloading of equipment and other work load, IOTA operations will commence on the 7th of April until about the end of the month. This is primarily a scientific trip, so DXpedition activities will be accommodated as time permits.

Ludwig Combrinck

Pieter Stronkhorst

Attie Combrink

(will be a HAM soon!)

Bushy Roode

ZS6M (ex ZS6YQ)


Latest News

12th MarchAttie and Ludwig traveled to Cape Town to ensure that the equipment arrived safely by truck from Johannesburg (about 1500 km).  Fortunately all was in tact, but evidently the crate took a few beatings.  So we can report that all scientific equipment and DX equipment are safe in a warehouse (in an undisclosed location!) of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism which provides logistics for the SANAP program. 

24 March – The call-sign ZS8MI (Marion Island) has officially been allocated to HartRAO, who will administer the call-sign on behalf of DEAT. We will therefore be able to use this web site for future Marion Island DXpeditioners, referring to past visits via links, and warning the HAM community well in advance about future visits to the island.

28 May – Well, finally found some to time update the webpage a bit. Net results of the DXpedition are 190 CW and 1844 SSB contacts, 96 countries.

10 September – We have started mailing QSL cards, thank you for waiting so patiently. We had to wait for your cards to be sent to us first, and finally decided on how many cards to print. In the meanwhile I had to rush off to France, Germany, Norway and Lesotho, so had very little time to even think about amateur radio never mind updating this web page. So once again, thank you for being patient. We received about 600 cards in total. Those who e-mailed about not having dollars etc., don’t worry, if I received a card from you I will mail you a card.


Some QSL feedbacks:

From Bill Leehan N5SUM, Hi Ludwig, received the beautiful ZS8MI card. Thanks very much for #319 and for helping so many hams with a new DXCC. 73, Bill, N5SUM

From Jim Kirk KJ5X, Many thanks Ludwig for ZS8MI card I found in the mail box today. #325. Good Luck and many thanks. Jim Kirk, KJ5X.


Some images from Marion Island (will add a separate page with many photos later)

Marion base as seen from the SA Agulhas.     GPS antenna installed at Transvaal Cove

Killer whale visiting the island



Acknowledgements, credits and expressions of gratitude

We would like to thank, at the outset, and before the onset, our wives and families who smiled when we announced we would be away for six weeks visiting an island in the Roaring Forties.  In addition, we thank the staff at HartRAO who showed such an immense interest in the project and our objectives, especially André van der Merwe, our resident instrument making genius.  To Fritz van der Merwe (Geography Department, University of Pretoria) our gratitude for lending us two Trimble dual-frequency GPS receivers and logger which will enable us to calibrate and improve the digital elevation map of the island.  A special thanks is appropriate to Tilo Schoene (GFZ Potsdam) who contributed an Ashtech Z12 GPS receiver which we will install as a permanent IGS station.  To Dave Stowers and Oivind Ruud,  (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA) who has helped us several times in the past, thanks for the PC and meteorological unit (they make the best jelly beans in the States!). Kobus Olckers from IMT kindly provided our HF propagation maps.


Our Schedule (and this can change anytime)

April 2003

Submit proposal to DEAT to install a tide gauge and GPS receiver on Marion Island

October 2003

Preliminary approval of expedition

December 2003

Receive met unit and PC from JPL

January 2004

Purchase Jasco 15m crank-up mast

February 2004

Receive Ashtech Z12 from Germany

March 2004 

Construct wooden crate and multi-band dipole antenna

Friday 12 March 2004

Book in all equipment to be placed in hold of SA Agulhas

Thursday 1 April 2004

Scheduled anchor aweigh from Cape Town, Quay 500

Monday 5 April 2004

Expected arrival at Marion Island

Sunday 2 May 2004

Expected departure from Marion Island

Friday 7 May 2004

Anchor at the Cape of Good Hope






The official call-sign of Marion Island, ZS8MI, will be used whilst on the island.  En voyage ZS6WLC will be maritime mobile on the 20m and 40m bands. Please do not QSL via anybody else except ZS6M. Historically, Chris Burger (ZS6EZ) acted as QSL manager, or rather tried to sort out the QSL problems with previous HAM operations from Marion Island. Apparently major confusion has existed in the past as to who is the QSL manager for ZS8MI. Chris is not the QSL manager for this DXpedition. He is also not the QSL manager for ZS8MI. ZS8MI is administered by HartRAO in collaboration with DEAT. Therefore please note:

Only QSL’s to ZS6M will be answered.



Primary objectives of the expedition are to equip the island with a permanent GPS station (part of the TIGA southern Africa Research Group (TIGAsA) network), determine its exact position (translated and rotated in the ITRF), calibrate/improve the existing digital elevation map of the island and upgrade the French DORIS station.  The DXpedition is a component of this visit to the island and will serve to promote awareness of the scientific activities and environmental conservation projects on the island. 



 All queries via e-mail must be directed to Ludwig Combrinck .


hit counter