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An Okie in the Galopagos

from Ken Adams K5KA on April 9, 2001
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An Okie in the Galopagos 2001 ARRL DX CW Contest from HC8N

By Ken Adams, K5KA

In mid January I received an email from Trey, N5KO inviting me to join him and a few others at HC8N for ARRL DX CW. I viewed this as a once in a lifetime opportunity. After discussions with my XYL (the real boss) I quickly made reservations on American Airlines. My XYL is just a terrific gal and has always been very supportive of my affliction to contesting. After exchanging a few emails with Trey and Bob, W6RGG, we had identified what to bring with us and who to meet where. Bob and I would have our first eyeball QSO in the Miami airport.

Drive to Tulsa, fly to Dallas, fly to Miami, fly to Quito, Ecuador. Bob and I are met at the Quito airport by Fousto. He was invaluable. After going through immigrations and customs we are greeted by hundreds of spanish speaking people who want to help. Fousto to the rescue. We arrive at the Dann Carlton hotel at 10:00 pm after a long day.

Fousto picks us up at the hotel the next morning at 7:00 am. We fly to Guayaquil then the Galopagos Islands and arrive at San Cristobal International. We are met by Trey, Guido HC8GR and Paul K7PN. I hand Trey the 66 lb box of 3/16 EHS I had brought down. That equates to about 900 feet if you ever need to transport that sort of thing. We pile our luggage in the back of Guido's van and make a quick stop in San Cristobal for supplies then proceed to Guido's house on the hilltop. I quickly observe a few young men dressed in camaflouge with AK47's hanging off their shoulders .... I'm not in Oklahoma anymore!

We spend Wednesday afternoon and all day Thursday setting up the rigs, software, etc. I worked on getting the 160 antenna and beverages installed as they had been disconnected during the prior week to install a new 40 meter beam. I quickly realized the value of a machete when I had to go into the brush to inspect or connect radials, beverages, etc. I was attacked several times by the gobble bushes ... they have no mercy. The last step on the 160 antenna was to raise the radials up to about 20 feet above ground. While I was working on the 160 meter setup Trey and Bob were helping Paul repair the feedpoint on the top 20 meter antenna. Paul is very professional and I learned a lot by watching him work. The towers at HC8N are each 42 meters high, homebrew and very rugged.

We do a last minute dry run to make sure everyone is comfortable with the software (TR) antenna switches, bandpass filters, rigs, amps, etc. The final poll of CW operators was N5KO, W6RGG and K5KA so we decided to enter Multi-Single. Paul is a CW operator but is really a mechanical expert. We did however get him on CW and running the pileup before it was over ... what a great moment!

Bob and I spent Friday morning walking around San Cristobal and enjoying the local scenery. It is easy to tell you are in a really remote place.

Bob likes daylight, hates the low bands. I like the lowbands. Trey is anytime, anywhere. Trey starts us off on 15 and is rocking and rolling. Bob picks up 20 and goes till around 10:00 pm local (CST).

I do the night shift. Trey sits beside me as I experience my first really big pileup on 40 meters...WOW!

Every 3-4 minutes Trey will comment to me Zulu Oscar Oscar and I think he is referring to a callsign that I am missing ....not so ... it really is a ZOO when you are fresh meat, rare DX on 40 meters. What a gas. Eventually Trey hits the sack and I settle in for the all nighter. I am continually amazed how good European signals are on the low bands. The US just keeps calling and calling ... very FB! Around 0900-1000 I experience the inevitable slowdown but keep going. I move Oklahoma to 160 for a new multiplier.

I was afraid my home state may be tough on that band since W5TM was single op 40 meters.

Sunrise at HC8N is magnificent ... what more could a man ask for. Trey relieves me about 1300 and Bob begins his daylight duties shortly after. 15 meters is great but 10 meters is just absolutely fabulous. We take turns running all day. Trey and I both work the early evening hours but by 0730 I am exhausted, as I have not slept since the beginning of the contest. We attribute this to adrenaline. Trey does the second night. Bob and I take turns Sunday running on 10 and 15. Rates are pretty good for the second day . With 30 minutes to go we put Paul in the drivers seat, with Trey observing. This is what our hobby is all about ... we all enjoy the next 15 minutes ... probably the best photo I took the entire week! Trey finishes out on 20 meters. Where have the last 48 hours gone ? A memorable experience for this Okie.

We rise very early Monday to catch a small plane to the Island of Baltra, so we can catch the big plane to Quito 4 hours later. The 30 minute small plane flight was exciting, as the port engine would cut out about every 5 minutes or so. The pilot would flip the fuel pump switch a couple of times and the engine would sound normal again. We were happy to land safely. The flight to Quito was uneventful.

Tuesday we toured HCJB, the home of the Quad antenna. They have 47 towers ranging from 240' to 320' and miles of feedline. They still have 4 quad antennas that are used on a regular basis. HCJB runs big smash. The small transmitter cruises at 50KW output while the QRM eliminator runs 500 KW!

These transmitters are large enough that we actually walked through them.

As part of the HC8N experience I was privileged to share the local culture and experience a completely different lifestyle than that of the typical American. It was a memorable trip. Now I am spoiled and look forward to being on the other side again. My thanks to Trey for his hospitality and patience.

Member Comments: Add A Comment
An Okie in the Galopagos Reply
by K8CC on April 9, 2001 Mail this to a friend!

Great job capturing what its like to prepare for and accomplish a trip like you made.

With all the Europeans calling, don't you wish it was CQWW?


Dave/K8CC (@ WP2Z that weekend)
An Okie in the Galopagos Reply
by W4ZV on April 12, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
Nice story Ken! brought back fond memories me of our trip in February 1999...several other stories at the HC8N site at:

73, Bill W4ZV
RE: An Okie in the Galopagos Reply
Anonymous post on April 30, 2001 Mail this to a friend!
This article reminds me about HC8GR, Guido's great hospitality. I was operating from his old QTH 1986 as HC2EX/8 together with a group of local hams from Guayaquil. Unfortunately we could not operate all nite as the power was switched off 22.00 - 06:00. Anyhow, that gave us some well deserved sleeping time. Nice article about a very interesting QTH.
Flying from HC8 to HC2 I REALLY passed the Greyline, a very pronounced and sharp difference between day/night.
73 Thomas, SM0CXU @ HZ1AB
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