QTH of Keko TI5KD and Sophia TI2IY in San Jose, Costa Rica -- and operating site of TI5DX

    To honor the 50th anniversary of the Southeastern DX Club, the club decided to mount a contest DXpedtition to Costa Rica for the ARRL Phone DX Contest weekend.  The mission (beyond trying to win the darn thing!) is to have fun and to advance operator skills.  There's nothing like being DX to gain appreciation for those who are trying to work you.

    But, mostly, it's about FUN!

    The facility chosen is that of Keko Diez TI5KD and his lovely wife Sophia TI2IY.  Their contest QTH in San Jose has been used by contest expeditions many times.  Their place is outfitted with radios, amplifiers and antennas galore as well as Wi-Fi; perfect!  The home sleeps twelve so that was the team size we decided upon.

    The call went out in August 2007 for those who wanted to be a part of this trip and it didn't take long to get the twelve positions subscribed.  Here's the team:


Left to right: Sam AE4GX, Mike ND4V, Randy K4ODL, Don N4HH, Harry W4KJ, Gregg W6IZT,
Paul KG4UVU, Bob K4UEE, George N4GRN, Jim W4TE, Chaz W4GKF and Bill N4NX

 

Keko worked to get our license.  We requested TI5DX and were lucky enough to get that callsign approved.  The "50", of course, refers to the 50th anniversary of the SEDXC.  Each team member was also assigned a TI operating license; before the contest, we'd each be signing like: TI5/W4GKF.

The above photo is from our planning meeting at Bob K4UEE's home on January 5th.  Work assignments were handed out and we talked about each member's expectations for the trip -- and then we unanimously agreed that we wanted to try to win our category.

Tuesday, February 26th

Plane tickets were purchased and the first seven members of team flew down to Costa Rica to arrive by Tuesday, February 26th.  The contests starts at 0000Z on Saturday March 1st (Friday evening, Atlanta time) but there was plenty to do to check out the equipment and especially the antennas.  Though the shack has several rigs we planned to use, several team members brought Elecraft K3 rigs to use as well.

Wednesday, February 27th

The advance party (Bill, Bob, Don, George, Gregg, Randy and Sam) are in place.  The work was to get the antennas checked out, the rigs set up and the LAN working properly.  We're going to be using WinTest software and it really is made-to-order for network use.

The rest of the team is set to fly to Costa Rica tomorrow morning leaving Atlanta at 10:01a arriving in San Jose at 1:00p (Central time) -- a four-hour flight.

Thursday, February 28th

There were four of us on DL 245 together: Chaz, Jim, Mike and Paul.  We were met outside customs by Harry (who was here for a week with bride Penny).  Our hosts, Keko and Sophia picked us all up at the airport and drove us the fifteen minutes to their home.  What a wonderful place!  Multiple operating rooms, radios, radios, radios, antennas galore.

The advance team had done a great job getting everything checked out and working -- and they created an antenna miracle.  One of the towers holds a three-band (10,15,20) quad aimed at the North America.  The guys were able to get the three loops fed in such a way that three rigs, running 1KW, can operate simultaneously with no interaction in the receivers!  Not sure how that's possible -- but it works.

The current plan is to use three rigs plus amplifiers; the operating positions are designated Run 1, Run 2 and Multiplier.  The "Run" stations will run pileups while the Multiplier rig will (duh!) look for Multipliers.

We spent today practicing being DX by using our individual TI5/callsigns and got good practice for the "real thing" that starts tomorrow evening.  We worked more than 1,500 stations (combined) on all bands -- until the wine took over and we all crashed.

If you want a QSL from one of these contacts, please QSL to the appropriate home call.

Friday, February 29th

Meanwhile the operating schedule was refined.  We decided on three-hour operating shifts with two-man teams.  This way, each team gets five three-hour sessions and two teams get six.

Here are the teams:

 
Bob K4UEE/Paul KG4UVU

 
Gregg W6IZT/Randy K4ODL

 
Jim W4TE/Harry W4KJ

 
Bill N4NX/George N4GRN

 
Don N4HH/Sam AE4GX

 
Chaz W4GKF/Mike ND4V

Here's the planned operating schedule; of course, the band selection may change based on propagation:

TI5DX Day One

Time (UTC)  Run 1 TeamBand  Run 2 TeamBand
0000-0300Z  Bob/Paul20, 80, 160  Bill/George40
0300-0600Z  Gregg/Randy80, 160  Don/Sam40
0600-0900Z  Jim/Harry80, 160  Chaz/Mike40
0900-1200Z  Bob/Paul80, 160, 20  Bill/George40
1200-1500Z  Gregg/Randy20  Don/Sam40, 15
1500-1800Z  Jim/Harry20, 10  Chaz/Mike15,10
1800-2100Z  Bob/Paul20, 10  Bill/George15, 10
2100-2400Z  Greg/Randy20, 10  Don/Sam15, 10

TI5DX Day Two

Time (UTC)  Run 1 TeamBand  Run 2 TeamBand
0000-0300Z  Chaz/Mike20, 80, 160  Jim/Harry40
0300-0600Z  Bill/George80, 160  Bob/Paul40
0600-0900Z  Don/Sam80, 160  Gregg/Randy40
0900-1200Z  Chaz/Mike80, 160, 20  Jim/Harry40
1200-1500Z  Bill/George20  Bob/Paul40, 15
1500-1800Z  Don/Sam20, 10  Gregg/Randy15,10
1800-2100Z  Chaz/Mike20, 10  Jim/Harry15, 10
2100-2400Z  Bob/Paul20, 10  Bill/George15, 10
    We had a bit of a surprise this afternoon.  Winston WA4PBW showed up to take photos of the operation.  Winston works for Delta so getting here wasn't a big deal cost-wise -- but he had to ride the cockpit jumpseat and that's not all that comfortable for four hours.  Keko was able to talk him in as he piloted his rental car to the compound.  Winston is an excellent photographer so expect great photos when all is done here.

    The Contest

    Promptly at 0000Z the Run1 and Run2 rigs kicked off with Bob/Paul on 20M from Run 1 and Bill/George on 40m from Run2.  Since you likely wouldn't be reading this if you've never been in a contest, I don't need to tell you that there's chaos when the contest starts.  On this end, it's all about working stations as quickly as possible while holding onto your frequency.

    The Qs mounted quickly and the first 3-hour shift passed even more quickly.

    A wonderful thing about this location for a contest (where working North America matters) is the fact that, without moving any antennas, we have a 50 degree wide antenna radiation angle that covers the entire North American continent.  Really, really nice.

    In between operating shifts (we work three hours on, six hours off) we found time to eat and sleep.  We quickly got oriented mentally to UTC; our bodies, not so much.

    Several of the team members brought cameras so we have a selection of photos (as well as some from Winston).   You can click HERE to check 'em out.

    Saturday, March 1st

    The contest contines in "pedal to the metal" fashion.  The two-man teams are working out just fine.  Each team has a three hour shift on either Run 1 or Run 2 and then are off for six hours.  We're free to use that time to eat, sleep -- and man the Multiplier station.  It didn't take long to get completely disoriented about what time it "really" is.  Sophia (bless her heart) made food happen whenever anyone was ready for it -- and it is all really terrific.

    Sunday, March 2nd

    Today is more of the same.  We didn't have the 10M opening we were hoping for yesterday -- but today we had a pretty good run.  We're all feeling pretty good about our score.  With twelve guys, great radios, great antennas and great facility, we're working all the stations that propagation permits.

    ..And So, It's Over..

    The final session for Run 1 was Bob/Paul and the final session for Run2 was Bill/George.  The rest of us handled the Multiplier station or rested.  Keko made a beer and wine run earlier today so I'm not sure I'll be in condition to write more tonight.

    We think we did really well; time will tell.  Gregg W6IZT got the award for the highest Q rate; in one session he averaged 232 Qs/hour.  And Don N4HH was close behind with 223.   We did well on all bands but 160 where we could be heard much better than we could hear.

    Most of us return to Atlanta tomorrow tired but happy, knowing we did our best.   The team members who had never done this before are now experts.  This won't be their last DXpedition!

    Monday, March 3rd

    Most of us are on the 2pm Delta flight back to Atlanta.  Sophia will be making a series of trips to the airport getting us all there by noon.  Bob and Bill are staying over for another day and Paul is taking a car trip around the country; at least that's the plan -- we've seen the roads!

    Be sure to visit our photos page by clicking HERE and our video page by clicking HERE.

Watch This Space!