contest group, led by Trey Garlough N5KO, has become well known for record
setting scores in many of the HF contests. In November 2001 the HC8N group put
in an outstanding performance on six metres, giving many DXers a rare ‘new one’
on the band.
The main six-metre
ops were: Dave KM3T, Trey N5KO/HC8N, Jon N0JK, Mike K9NW, Tim N4GN, and Tom
K1KI. Ward N0AX, Steve K6AW, Bob N6TV, and Dan K1TO also put in operating time.
I have been
fortunate enough to be invited several times by Trey to operate contests at
HC8N. My first trip to the Galapagos was for the May 1999 CQ WPX CW Contest. I
brought a 6M7JHV yagi along; we put the antenna up, but made only one six metre
QSO with it - a meteor scatter contact with HP3XUG. During November 2000, the
HC8N group experienced better six metre conditions and made over 1,000 QSOs.
The majority of these were with stations in North America. About 60 European
QSOs and only 20 with Japan were logged. I returned for the May 2001 CQ WPX
Contest and monitored six metres closely, but only three QSOs were made – a
meteor scatter QSO with TI5KD and two stations in Argentina via afternoon F2
propagation. Trey has installed a six-metre beacon, the widely heard HC8GR/b on
N0JK by the HC8GR/b
and HC8N satellite antennas
Our local host, Señor Guido
Rosilla HC8GR, is a regular presence on the band and maintains the beacon
The HC8N QTH is located an
elevation of 600 metres on Isla San Cristóbal, the eastern-most
island of the Galápagos archipelago. The grid square is EI59. The Galapagos
Islands are located about 600 miles due west of Ecuador, in the Pacific Ocean.
the team's local host,
Senior Guido Rosilla HC8GR, is a regular presence on the band and
maintains the beacon station
The 2001 expedition
November 2001 CQ WW CW Contest I was fortunate to be part of a top-notch crew to
compete for first place in the multi-multi category. During July 2001, when I
began making plans for the fall trip, many of the ‘experts’ felt that Solar
Cycle 23 had ‘peaked’ during 2000 and conditions were predicted to be
declining. I hoped to make some contacts to North America, but did not have
much hope for Europe and Japan. But the now-famous ‘double peak’ of Cycle 23
began roaring back in October and early November 2001; some incredible long-haul
six metre QSOs were being made, including long path Japan – Kansas October 17
and Europeans into the Midwest USA by the first week of November.
group had an e-mail reflector. I posted some of the HC8GR/b spots to it as well
as some of the DX contacts I made from Kansas on six metres. One incredible
HC8GR/b spot was by 8Q7QQ! This served to heighten anticipation among the group
for six metre DX.
We decided that
our primary six-metre goal would be to work Japan and Europe. These two regions
had the greatest need for the Galápagos. The 9G5AN group had a very successful
trip, reporting around 3,000 QSOs on six metres. To encourage the HC8N group
further (they are competitive contesters) I put the 9G5AN total out as the six-metre
DXpedition ‘record’ and challenged them to see if HC8N could top it.
We had two main
groups travelling to the HC8N station for the contest, an early group led by
N5KO and a second group arriving November 21, which I was part of. When the
first group arrived on San Cristobal on November 17th, they began
opening shipping cases, running wires and climbing towers to do antenna work.
It is rainy and misty at the HC8N station, which is located on a hilltop and is
often enveloped in blowing mist.
some of the HC8N
antennas, shrouded in mist
“We hear the beacon in Holland - please get on the radio!”
The HC8GR/b was
left running. Trey brought his cellphone along, which has service on San
Cristóbal. The cellphone number was posted on various six-metre DX sites, so if
stations heard the HC8GR/b they could call Trey’s phone and notify the group
there was propagation. The HC8N group had much work to do getting the station
ready for the CQ WW CW contest and could not spend time monitoring six metres.
The contest was the primary purpose for the trip, six metres secondary.
On the morning
of November 18th at 1300 UTC (7am local) Trey’s cell phone rang. An excited
operator from Holland was calling to report the HC8GR/b was being received in
Europe and could someone “please get on the radio!” Trey N5KO began
calling CQ on six metres and began a three-hour opening to Europe. The signals
were not strong, most about S 5, but the band was quiet and copy was solid.
That evening, a loud JA opening started around 2300 UTC. KM3T and N5KO worked
over 100 JAs during the hour-long opening with signals peaking S9+.
Trey, N5KO running a Eropean
pileup on CW
morning, November 19th, had the strongest opening to Europe from
HC8N, extending all the way to Zone 16 with UY1HY logged. That afternoon the
JAs were ready this time and the pileup was even deeper than on November 18th.
This picture shows both the
M2 7-ele yagi used for all six metre QSO's and the HC8GR beacon antenna
Trip to the Galápagos
with the second group; the trip to the Galápagos Islands takes two days from the
United States. I got up at 5am in Wichita and drove to the airport, bringing
antenna cable for the HC8N station with me as well as equipment for a mode J and
B Satellite station. I flew from Wichita to Dallas, TX, then on to Miami
Florida on American Airlines.
heightened security concerns at the airports, I encountered no problems with my
equipment. Then came the four-hour International flight from Miami to Quito,
Ecuador. At Quito I joined up with K1TO and we were met at the airport by
We spent the
night in Quito, then returned to the airport for the flight to the Galápagos.
We arrived at San Cristóbal late in the afternoon and it was getting dark by the
time we arrived at the HC8N station.
the airport at Quito
landng at the
arrival at San
The first thing I did was
check six metres, but it was not open.
First hand operating six
metres from HC8N November 22nd
morning I was up early and at the radio by 1230 UTC November 22nd. Sunrise on
San Cristóbal is at 1200 UTC, year round as the Galápagos Islands are on the
equator. The six metre station at HC8N consists of a TS-690 putting out about
50 watts to the 6M7JHV yagi on a 18 metre high tower. The rotor indicator was
not working, so had to visually confirm the antenna heading.
At 1300 UTC
European signals began to appear and we were off. Dave, KM3T and I ran several
hundred Europeans over the next several hours. I was in six-metre heaven! Dave
had his laptop PC connected to the audio output line of the TS-690. He had an
mp3 recorder set up, so he recorded many hours of the six-metre QSOs.
50088.0 HC8N BINGO!!!!!!!!!!!!!nr 130...tu 1348 22 Nov 2001
50088.3 HC8N wkd - at last !! HC8 1437 22 Nov 2001
The Solar Storm
A major solar
storm occurred November 24th – 25th, during the CQ WW CW
Contest. I was the primary 160-metre operator during the contest. Thus I could
operate six metres during the day when 160 metres was closed and the other
operators were occupied working the contest. While conditions were disturbed on
the HF bands, some interesting openings developed on six metres.
On the morning
of November 24th there was no European opening, but some ‘short’ F2
QSOs were made into south Texas, the Gulf Coast and Florida. Usually the F2 hop
from HC8 skips over these regions. It was nice to chat with Bruce K2RTH, whom I
had worked from American Samoa on six metres, and Pat WA5IYX in San Antonio,
Texas. I napped during the day and got up around 2200 UTC to get ready for
another night on Top Band. HC8GR/b was shut off during the contest as it
generated interference on the HF bands.
I turned on the
TS-690 about 2300 UTC November 24th and listened on 50.110; I heard a
weak JA calling CQ. I tuned up to 50.116 MHz and called CQ on SSB – then the
whole world came crashing in, with loud 20 over 9 JAs and W6s and W7s! The band
was open to both Japan and the western USA at the same time. I ran stations as
fast as I could write them down. KM3T was using his laptop in the contest, so I
had to hand log these QSOs. To keep from interfering with the other operators
working the WW CW Contest I put a rag around the microphone to muffle my voice.
NoJK working the DX from
HC8N on six metres SSB
I would run JAs
for a while, then listen for the impatient US callers. Many Californian ops
still need HC8, so wanted to oblige them while trying to work Japan. Other
states worked included N0LAN South Dakota (W7XU’s son), N0LL (my six metre
friend in Kansas), Colorado, Nevada and Arizona. Oddly, there were no KL7s.
Then I went
back to Japan. The signals were awesome and it dawned on me that the band might
be open past Japan to China. At 0006 UTC I asked the JA and USA pileups to
stand by and listened for China and Hong Kong ONLY. Unknown to me VR2XMT had
been trying to break the ‘JA wall’ with no success; I worked Charlie at 0008 UTC.
VR2XMT is over 16,500 km from HC8N and was probably our best DX on six metres.
VR2XMT 50115.9 HC8/N0JK 55 Bingoooooooo !!! 0008 25 Nov
I listened hard
for other Asian stations outside of Japan, but none were heard. The JA opening
continued to about 0020 UTC.
On the morning
of November 25th, the band began to open around 1330 UTC and GW4VEQ
went into the log at 1336 UTC. Stations in G, GW and F were worked along with
many stateside stations. From 1510 – 1540 UTC WP4N, WP4U, WP4LNY and FG5FR were
logged amid the stateside callers.
‘Warp Speed CW’
At 1600 UTC Trey took over and
ran many more stations on CW.
Nov 25 16:17 Someone weak "warp speed" ;) cw .103 de N0VSB
Nov 25 16:19 That's HC8N, PC says 34 wpm de N0VSB
From 1700 to 1800 UTC, Trey
switched to SSB and had stations calling in from the entire lower 48 states.
Nov 25 17:58 HC8N still
cqing away, seems to be working whole USA de WA3WUL FM29 “Magic Band”
were extremely loud and many mobile and QRP stations were logged by Trey. With
the opening occurring on the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend, many six-metre
operators were at home and on the air. This was a golden opportunity for the
North American stations who needed the Galápagos Islands on six metres to work
us. The band finally closed around 1900 UTC.
I worked the CQ
WW CW contest on 160 metres up to the finish of the contest at 2359 UTC November
25th. At 0005 UTC November 26th I was back on six metres
and the band was again open to Japan. Not as loud as on November 25th,
but more new JAs were worked. This opening seemed to favour the JA2 call area
and several times I had the pile worked almost the way down.
I was scheduled
to leave San Cristóbal on November 26th in the morning. I was up
early and made a few six-metre QSOs with stations in New England. Surprising to
me was the fact that most of the stations logged were not dupes. Even after all
the USA stations we worked on November 25th, there were still more
to be worked!
K1KI and N0JK working six
metres at HC8N on November 26th 2001
Evening TEP Opening
Trey, KM3T and K1KI worked a TEP opening to South America and Africa. QSOs
included one with Johnny, ZD8KW on Ascension Island. This was the first TEP
opening worked by HC8N on this trip.
travelling with N6TV, N0AX and K1TO on the trip back to Ecuador. We flew to the
Island of Baltra on a charter flight, but after arriving we were unable to
connect with the 727 flight from Baltra to Quito.
We travelled by
bus and ferry to the Island of Santa Cruz and spent the night there. We were
able to fly the next morning from Baltra to Quito. Our night on Santa Cruz is a
story in itself!
Analysis of HC8N November 2001
Final HC8N 50MHz totals (November 18th – 27th 2001)
After dupes, HC8N made 2,625
QSOs on six metres including all US states except Alaska. Adding those made
under my call gives a unique total of around 2,900.
After dupes, 9G5AN reported
“1,298 unique QSOs CW, 1,598 unique QSOs SSB.” (UKSMG announcement page
December 11th 2001 0612 UTC).
Looks like a ‘photo finish’ to
me! Both HC8N and 9G5AN did an outstanding job giving many DXers a new one
during the ‘double peak’ of Cycle 23 on six metres. Look for us again in
The HC8N six metre web page is
UKSMG Six News issue