WX3N, AG9A & WN4KKN at the Puerto Baquerizo
Moreno QTH, November 1995 |
by Dave Patton, NT1N
What a great time. Mark, AG9A and I joined Trey in the
Galapagos for a Multi-single in the WW CW. This was Mark and my
first trip to South America. Each of us carried a TS930 to the
islands along with many pounds of switching, filtering, coax, and
computer stuff. Likely no different than any other traveling
Trying to save money, Mark and I and my wife rented a car and drove
from Chicago to Miami to catch the flight to HC and then HC8. The
airlines wouldn't open up any more frequent flyer seats. SO after
the long drive we were pretty tired. Then, of course, our flight to
Ecuador was postponed and we spent 7 restless hours waiting for a new
plane to arrive in Miami. This means more schlepping of the heavy
TS930s around the airport. Our flight left at 2 AM.
HC1OT met us at the airport in Quito for a quick car tour of the
area, then back to wait for our delayed flight to HC8!! After
sitting on the floor of the airport for a couple hours, we are
finally on our way.
Guido, HC8GR, guided us through the HC8 tax paying booths and hauls
our luggage out to his home and station where we will spend the next
week. A very nice and comfortable home complete with tin and
fiberglass roofing, roosters and goats running around, and lots of
volcanic rubble to walk across.
There are 4 towers at HC8N. They range from about 25 feet to 80
feet. Evident at first glance are 5 el monobanders on 10 and 15 on
one tower, 5 el on 20 on another tower, and 2 el on 40 with an A4 on
top of that, and a 2 el 80M V array below the 40. the station sits
on the side of a hill with clear, high, unobstructed views to EU, NA,
and JA. the sea is about a half mile in the distance to the West.
The three of us went to work immediately installing all the equipment
and planning antenna work. Everthing is pretty smooth. Three
complete stations are set-up, but we somehow forgot to bring two
keyers and paddles! Only one keyer to share among three stations.
Two notebook computers and a desk top 486 make up the network.Mark
built a couple of keying lines for the computer and keyer. We
installed a 160 inv vee on the 20 meter tower, and reconnected a
ground for the slanted vertical for 160. The inv vee never does come
close to the vertical in the contest.
We also had to change the feedline lengths for the 80M 2 el array to
bring its resonance into the CW band. What a great antenna.
We make good use of our technical advisor, Dave Leeson W6QHS over the
radio. Many problems with the computer network and the power system
are worked out by Dave from California. This man is a true genius.
It was comforting to hear his calm voice instruct us on various
The island's power station shuts down each night at 11 PM and does
not get turned on until about 7:30 the next morning. This means we
need a generator for the night shift. Unfortunately Guido's 8KW
diesel has bit the big one, and is in Guayaquil to be repaired. BY
FAR our biggest concern and problem involved the AC supply. Guido
was able to rent a 5KW honda for the weekend, but that just wasn't
enough. One station was completely shut down. The other two were
drastically reduced in capability. The amps were switched to low
voltage and would put out about 200-300 watts. Sometimes we would
switch the Alpha 78 up to high voltage and get 600W to get throgh a
pile-up or control the pile-up better. But the other station really
suffered. We hope our signal didn't sound TOO bad as the rigs gasped
for power!! We shut off all the rotor controls, and even turned off
the lights and lit a candle to operate by.
Then murphy jumped-in. Saturday morning the power company decided to
maintenance on some of the lines near the house. No commerical power
until about 9 am. Then about noon the power shut down again. Back
to the generator. About 3 hours of lost commerical power. Then
sporadically throughout the rest of contest the power dropped. Lots
of runs outside and downstairs to the generator.
Still, we continued to run, run and run some more. We CQ'ed
constantly somewhere for about 47.75 hours of the 48. We had to
rearrange the station several times during the contest in order to
use the Alpha's greater output power. We managed a couple "seamless"
station changes that moved the running band to another radio across
the room--moving the coax, filters, switching, and keyer in an
instant and not losing more than 20 seconds.
Midday on Sunday all the power fluctuation cost us a blown computer
power supply/battery. We only wanted to use that computer to run if
necessary so it was shut down to conserve the battery till we needed
it. Because we had only one key, and no computer to key the rig, we
hooked up a foot switch to send CW on this station. I made several
contacts as the mult station by squeezing the footswitch in my right
hand to form the characters.
Also we became somewhat adept at using the keyboard function of CT to
send CW. It is much slower than a paddle, and very confusing in the
heat of a contest.
As a group I don't think any of us likes the new interpretation of
the 10 minute rule--which we followed closely. Seems really wrong to
spend 15 minutes searching on a band, then find a multiplier and be
stuck there for another 10 minutes. Instead of passing mults as
easily as in the past, we were forced to make schedules that often
did not work out. I really want to see the old interpretation of the
ten minute rule reinstated that counts listening time as oeprating
Now for some numbers: We had 9 200 hours and only one hour that fell
below 100 (maybe about an 85 hour). I had never even witnessed a 200
hour before. Trey started the
contest with a 237 hour. It didn't let up much after that. 4300 Qs
at the halfway mark was neat.
I have never before heard pile-ups such as we had at HC8N. I never
saw anything close from Zone 24 or 27. The JA path is unbelievable.
NA is great and EU is pretty good too. But we could have run JAs on
40 and 80 for hours longer than we did, but being M/S had to leave
for the high band sin the AM. We worked more JAs than EU on 20,
equal to EU on 80 and slightly less on 40. We even worked a couple
JAs on 10 but did not hear even a single EU on ten. we also worked
JA3ONB on 160--something Trey had never done.
160-- Very good band the first night. We started running here in
the 3rd hour. If anyone missed us here it was beacuse they didn't
look early enough. 85 EU on top band!! Last year Trey only worked
one EU. Lots and lots of DX that never heard us. We called EK6GC
(S9++), 4X4NJ, C4A, LZ9A, and many more with no luck. 432-14-47
80-- 725-25-79. The 2 el vee beam is a cannon to the north.
Sometimes S units better than the dipole. But the dipole much better
to JA. Again called several stations that couldn't hear us. Sunrise
in Zone 21 was productive when we logged A92Q, A71CW, 7Z5OO, and a
couple others I don't remember within seconds of each other.
40-- 1806-36-115. Productive and active band. The 2 el works well.
Could run JA until noon if we were M/M.
20-- 2192-37-120. Lotsa Ws. But good stuff calls-in so we stay
there for the last 4 hours of the contest and distribute the mults to
the other bands. Best pass of the contest came when 4S7TWG calls-in
and goes to 40 where he is S9. Never heard Zone 23 or 40. Where is
Zone 29??? As everybody else experienced, nobody in Zone 12
interested in moving to the other bands.
15-- 1891-29-104. CQ NA. Ws/VEs the best around. Great running
fun. EU wide open for two hours on Saturday, but closed early.
Sunday was poor.
10-- 432-19-42. Interesting that the fringe bands (10 and 160) have
identical Qs and mults. Lots of tuning around a seemingly dead band.
A few Es on saturday allowed decent runs into the states. But
mostly weak, scatter Qs. We were available for anyone that could
radiate. Lots of Pacific stations, and a couple JAs. No EU. Ouch.
Good passes to the band included KL7WP and lotsa CA. AH0T calling in
More big signal QSNs later, but the king of 160 is WB9Z followed
closely by N6DX. Biggest signals out of EU included SP7GIQ on 40 I
think, and OH0MEP on 160--wow.
This was the most amazing contest of my career. Trey is a truly great
operator and we are glad to have been a part of this event. It was
fun to think of all the guys who have been through the HC8 stations
and all the work that guys like N6KT and Trey and W6QHS have done
there. Plus going back to the early operations at El Junco there have
been lots of guys including N6AA, W6NV, WS7I and others.
Now I am spoiled. World record type scores are something I have only
dreamt about. Glad to have the excellent competition from the
4M5Xers. Keeps you going when things get tough.
Copyright 1995 by Dave Patton, NT1N