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TI5N 2006 CQ WW DX Contest

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CREATED-BY: WriteLog V10.61E
NAME: Joe Wilkowski
SOAPBOX: K8FC Comments:
SOAPBOX: I have operated many many contests over the years and enjoyed each and every
SOAPBOX: one for the most part.  I have always been on the US side of pile ups
SOAPBOX: chasing that rare DX that I needed for band, mode etc.  Never have I
SOAPBOX: experienced being on the DX end of the chase.  Let me tell you, if you ever
SOAPBOX: have an opportunity to go on a DXpedition of any kind give it a fair amount
SOAPBOX: of consideration as it will be one of the highlights of your amateur radio
SOAPBOX: career.
SOAPBOX: Having said that, doing one of these is no small feat and requires a ton of
SOAPBOX: work from all the members of the group. Our group consisted of myself K8FC,
SOAPBOX: Dick W0RAA, Phil N0KE and Marty K2PLF.   We arrived in San Jose Costa Rica
SOAPBOX: on November 21st after many delays.  I spent over 12 hours in the Dallas
SOAPBOX: airport waiting for a plane that seemed never to appear.  We all met up in
SOAPBOX: Dallas and had a great chance to get acquainted.  For me, Marty Green K2PLF
SOAPBOX: was the only one of our group I had not met yet so we had a great time
SOAPBOX: getting to know each other.
SOAPBOX: We finally got on a plane and landed in San Jose Costa Rica about 11 pm in
SOAPBOX: the evening.  We were met by our host TI5KD and driven back to the station.
SOAPBOX: Boy I gotta tell you if Keko (TI5KD) would have dropped us off on the way,
SOAPBOX: we would still be looking for a way out of the maze !   After arriving at
SOAPBOX: Keko's home and station, we exchanged some pleasantries and we all passed
SOAPBOX: out in our fine accommodations.
SOAPBOX: You could not ask for anything better for a contest environment.  The
SOAPBOX: station operating positions are in a small apartment complete with a couch,
SOAPBOX: chairs, wet bar, shower, fridge etc.  The sleeping arrangements are in an
SOAPBOX: adjoining apartment not more than 20 feet away.  The station consisted of
SOAPBOX: virtually any antenna you would like to use from 160 through UHF.  It would
SOAPBOX: take a month to describe the antennas and their supports.  Suffice it to say
SOAPBOX: they were plentiful and all working.  Keko had an amazing home brew quad
SOAPBOX: that worked on 10,12,15,17 and 20meters, and was pretty much the star antenna
SOAPBOX: for the contest on those bands (not 12 & 17 of course).
SOAPBOX: There were a couple of HF transceivers available but usually the op's bring
SOAPBOX: their own flavor of transmitter.  I had brought along my newly constructed
SOAPBOX: K2 and made over 700 qso's with that radio barefoot.  If you have not had an
SOAPBOX: opportunity to use a K2 you are missing out on a pleasant experience.  I am
SOAPBOX: using this little gem now in all my daily ham activities including chasing
SOAPBOX: those elusive 160 contacts.  In addition to the HF transceivers we had a
SOAPBOX: number of good working amplifiers ready to use including an Alpha 89.  There
SOAPBOX: were bandpass filters and shorting stubs available for use as well.  The
SOAPBOX: electricity is the same as the US (120 / 240 VAC) and the equipment held up well
SOAPBOX: in the long haul.
SOAPBOX: Keko's wife Sophia, provided the sustenance for us each day we were there.
SOAPBOX: She is a fine cook and paid attention to when we operated and her schedule
SOAPBOX: was timed perfectly to feed all the hungry ops when they got off their
SOAPBOX: shift.  She would also pay attention to not preparing dishes that would
SOAPBOX: normally make you tired after eating so that you could remain sharp.  Sophie
SOAPBOX: is a ham as well and understands the environment.
SOAPBOX: We worked over the next few days to arrange the equipment and antennas for
SOAPBOX: the final contest configuration.  We needed to make all the antennas
SOAPBOX: available to either station at any time so this took some special switching
SOAPBOX: magic that Phil and I concocted, not pretty but totally functional.  We had
SOAPBOX: a lot of little glitches but worked through each and every problem as they
SOAPBOX: came along.  I was in charge of getting the network and logging computers
SOAPBOX: set up.   Phil and Marty having had the experience at TI5N before were in
SOAPBOX: charge of bands and logistics.  We had a couple of rf glitches but all in
SOAPBOX: all it worked fine.  Keko had just installed a DSL connection and as yet it
SOAPBOX: was not hooked up.  I took care of interfacing the DSL with the station as
SOAPBOX: well as distribution to the compound in general.  This provided the needed
SOAPBOX: access to the internet in real time.  During the entire weekend we used the
SOAPBOX: VE7CC AR cluster to feed our telnet enabled WriteLog equipped stations.
SOAPBOX: Writelog was the contest software of choice and provided us with flawless
SOAPBOX: logging and networking during the entire experience.
SOAPBOX: We had decided upon an operating schedule of three hours on and three hours
SOAPBOX: off for each operator for the entire 48 hours.  We had no spare ops so we
SOAPBOX: all had to pull our share of the load.  This worked out perfectly and we
SOAPBOX: were pretty sharp in each team relieving the other at the appointed time.
SOAPBOX: Let me say a little about band conditions and propagation.  First off, Costa
SOAPBOX: Rica is only 9 degrees above the equator and they are going into their
SOAPBOX: summer.  This is the introduction of the "dry season" in Costa Rica.  When
SOAPBOX: we arrived and even as we were landing, the wind was blowing the airplane
SOAPBOX: all over the sky and we were pretty much beat up when we finally hit the
SOAPBOX: runway.  The wind continued to blow that entire week and into the weekend.
SOAPBOX: As a matter of fact, the first two days we were there it got down into the
SOAPBOX: 40's at night which was un-heard of and set a few records. This raised all
SOAPBOX: sorts of radio noise as you can imagine, and the power lines in our
SOAPBOX: neighborhood were no exception.  We had a ton of noise on 40 and higher
SOAPBOX: frequencies.  80 and 160 were rendered pretty much useless because of these
SOAPBOX: conditions.  Finally the noise started to abate a bit but still posed a
SOAPBOX: major problem for the entire contest weekend.  Propagation from Costa Rica
SOAPBOX: is great for JA, US and Europe with only about a 60 degree shift in azimuth
SOAPBOX: from Asia to Europe.  We had a fixed TH6 that provided us with South America
SOAPBOX: and Africa.
SOAPBOX: The contest was wild, as I said earlier I had never been on the other end of
SOAPBOX: a pile up.  When conditions were right, you would hear Europe and US at the
SOAPBOX: same level and it provided a challenge to sort out the calls during the run.
SOAPBOX: We would run the stations and open up on 20, 15 and 10 meters and shift over
SOAPBOX: to 40 and 80 later on in the evening.  We would intersperse some 160 until
SOAPBOX: we could not stand the noise any more.  The JA openings were absolutely
SOAPBOX: predictable and we were there waiting for them on all the low bands.  Keko
SOAPBOX: has an 80 meter dipole at 150' that worked wonders on Asia and Japan.  What
SOAPBOX: a thrill to hear the JA's, VU's, DU's etc loud and eager on 80 meters.
SOAPBOX: Think of that, how would you like to have armchair copy on Asia at sunrise
SOAPBOX: on 80 meters.  Proper planning and band changing (thanks to Phil and Marty's
SOAPBOX: experience) really paid off for us in the long run.
SOAPBOX: I would be happy to provide any answers to questions you may
SOAPBOX: have about Costa Rica in general ( to the best of my experiences) and
SOAPBOX: specifically to the TI5N station itself.
SOAPBOX: Good luck to all, and if you get a chance to go on an expedition do it you
SOAPBOX: will not be disappointed.  In addition, for almost turnkey operation of a
SOAPBOX: fine contest station I highly recommend the TI5N station owned and operated
SOAPBOX: CUL es 73's
SOAPBOX: /joe k8fc
SOAPBOX: W0RAA Comments:
SOAPBOX: Being my first time to operate as DX in the CQWW CW I was really awed by the response that I got when I
SOAPBOX: sent out my first "CQ TI5N" during the contest.  It was, to say the least, mind boggling, to hear the response.
SOAPBOX: TI5N is a great contest station and TI5KD (Keko) and his XYL, TI2IY (Sophia) are excellent hosts and provided
SOAPBOX: great accomodations and meals.
SOAPBOX: If you ever get an opportunity to operate from outside the borders of the US, do so.
SOAPBOX: It will be the highlight of your amateur career.  I will never forget it.
SOAPBOX: K2PLF Comments:
SOAPBOX: From K2PLF - This was my second year In Costa Rica for the CQWW CW contest.  We again were the guests of our
SOAPBOX: wonderful hosts Keko, TI5KD and Sophia, TI2??.  As the song goes, the second time around was even better.
SOAPBOX: Keko helped us get setup for the contest and Sophia kept us well fed with home cooked delights.
SOAPBOX: The most significant factor at TI5N is the multitude of good antennas.  We were able to run the two stations
SOAPBOX: high power with no interference to one another.  Conditions seemed pretty good and we had no trouble holding a
SOAPBOX: frequency and keeping a good run going.  The team worked well together and we held to a three on three hour
SOAPBOX: off operating schedule with no problems.  Having another operator or two would have been nice. We probably
SOAPBOX: should have had all of the computers using the latest Version of XP, as this would have saved considerable
SOAPBOX: setup time.  I can't wait to go back.  See you in the pileups.
SOAPBOX: N0KE Comments:
SOAPBOX: I totally reiterate Joe K8FC's comments.
<--- end highest rate 187

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