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ARRL DX SSB From Antigua

Bob Naumann (N5NJ) on April 14, 2004
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The 2004 ARRL DX SSB Contest from Antigua - V26DX

Operating the ARRL DX contest from the Caribbean is different from most other DX contests.  The major difference is that you don't really need to turn your antennas!  

The hotel-roof-mounted Optibeam  OB12-6 40 thru 10m Beam (incl 12 & 17m) pointed towards the U.S. & Canada

The other difference is that instead of enjoying enhanced propagation to Europe and Asia, you have to compete with stations in those areas, and worst of all, at times when stations you need to work are pointing their antennas towards those other areas.  This can cause frustration, and similar to SS, a big slow-down on Sunday afternoon.

So, what do you do?  In this case, you plan to maximize your fun, and combine operating the contest and a great vacation with your XYL!  Is this possible?  Yes!

WX0B's XYL Sharon, & N5NJ's XYL Margaret having a great time at the Royal Antiguan's Pool

I had operated from Antigua several times since 1995 from the site of the V26B multi-multi operation.  Several CQWW's, WPX CW's, and an ARRL DX CW contest.  On that ARRL CW trip, the meaning of "in-season" became more compelling to me.  The weather in the Caribbean in the late Winter / early Spring is absolutely delightful.  Constant breeze, temperatures in the 70's almost 'round the clock, and at mid-day, perhaps an increase into the low to mid 80's.  What a relief for those who live in the wintry North!  

So what's the deal with this V26DX station?  Well, it's unique.  The station is located at the Royal Antiguan Hotel.  The Royal Antiguan is part of the "Elite Islands Resorts" chain which manages several other resort hotels in the Caribbean.  The operators of the V26B station have been staying at the Royal Antiguan for years, and have established a relationship with the hotel management.  The hotel recognizes the world-wide publicity value of ham radio.  As a result, they have allowed for antennas to be installed at the hotel on a permanent basis - at no cost.  Part of the arrangement includes making these antennas available to Antiguan amateurs should there be a communications emergency.  Those of us who are sponsoring this station, and investing our money in the antennas and equipment, could be considered "club members" although there is no official "club", nor is there any financial gain for anyone involved.  Even the hotel has offered all radio operators discounted rates from their normal charges for the same accommodations.  In addition, the hotel strives to reserve the best room in the hotel for radio operators - the one at the end of the top floor nearest the antenna in the photo above.  The view from that room is breathtaking.

This is clearly a win-win-win for everyone.  The hotel gets more guests, this is definitely an XYL-friendly destination, and we get to run pileups!

This years ARRL DX SSB contest from V26DX was operated by the following team:


Zig KM9M

Bob N5NJ

Jay WX0B

Tom, DF2BO is the owner of Optibeam antennas and has donated the Optibeam OB12-6 antenna to the V26DX station.  This antenna was connected to the station shown in the photos above, and made the majority of our qsos.  Tom's father recently passed away. Tom did not want to leave his mother alone in Germany so he not only brought his XYL Diana with him, he also brought his mom, Rita who also enjoyed her time at the Royal Antiguan.

Tom, Diana and Tom's mom, Rita at the Andes Restaurant

What can you do outside of the contest?

Swim? Enjoy nature?
Have lunch? Shop?

Share 'a' Rum Punch with your friends?

Go for a walk?

See the "sights" or sun bathe?

Do some business with the locals?

Watch the cruise ships come in?

Enjoy fine dining?

Lounge around the pool?

Go on a boat tour?

It doesn't matter, as there are so many things to do, you'll never get bored.

During the contest, we operated on a schedule, where two of us would be operating for a few hours, and the other two would have off.  This worked out great, and allowed us all time to spend with the XYL, and to get a full 24 hours in the chairs for each of us.  Zig and I were one team.


Jay and Tom were the other team.


We operated all 48 hours of the contest, enjoyed good rates most of the time, and did quite well.

Our score as submitted from the Internet kiosk in the hotel lobby.

Will we go back next year?  Absolutely!  The XYL's insist!  Imagine that.

Sunrise over Antigua from the "shack" balcony

For additional info visit the V26DX website.

Member Comments: Add A Comment
ARRL DX SSB From Antigua Reply
by KM9M on April 14, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Absolute accurate accounting of the events/contest there. Great Job Bob! 73, Zig KM9M / V26CW
ARRL DX SSB From Antigua Reply
by N5NJ on November 20, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Regrettably, the above operation was to be the "Swan Song" for this wonderful arrangement. The hotel has been sold to a resort chain and they were unwilling to consider allowing ham radio to continue at the Royal Antiguan. "Remove the antennas immediately, or we will".

Well, it was fun, no - it was incredibly fun while it lasted.

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