HC8N summary

Trey Garlough GARLOUGH at TGV.COM
Sat Dec 5 06:13:51 EST 1992

A few folks have asked me to give an idea of what the situation was
at HC8N during the contest, so here goes:

The station is located on the island of San Cristobal, the easternmost
of the Galapagos islands.  The population of the island is about 3000
and it is located 1000 km west of the mainland.  There is daily airline
service on the Ecuadorian carrier SAN.  From Quito, it's a 30 minute
flight to Guayaquil, with a 20 minutes stopover, then about 80 minutes
out to the island.  The island is at 89 degrees west (New Orleans is
90W) and at about the equator.  Every day is perfect.  The sun comes
up at 6 AM and goes down at 6 PM.  Island time is six hours from UTC,
like Central Standard Time.

The island is rather big (compared to St. Thomas for instance) and has
a variety of climates.   There are four climate "zones" on the one 
island itself.  Down in the coastal zone, you have the typical balmy
island weather like you would expect in the Caribbean.  The station
is located at the family farm of Guido (HC8GR) and Chelita (HC8FR) 
about 700 meters ASL in a extremely wet, cold and overcast area.  It 
rained a lot every single day I was there and the wind never stopped.  
I saw about ten hours of sun the whole time I was at the station.

I truly sailed in on the coattails of Rich (N6KT).  The fact that 
things worked so well there is mostly attributable to him.  The
station is quite large.  There are three towers, supporting 5-el yagis
for 10 and 15, a 5-el yagi for 20 and a 2-el Cushcraft for 40.  There 
is a 2 el delta loop for Europe and a 1/4 wave vertical for 80 and
an inverted-L for 160.  In addition there are fixed wire arrays on 
the US for 10-40 (which I really didn't end up using).  He left 
everything working perfectly after CQWW SSB.  All I had to do was
tune up the low band wire antennas.

Island power goes off at midnight and returns at 5 AM (theoretically).
Because of the initiative of Rich, there is now a generator at the
house.  This keeps you from having to pay off/reimburse/whatever the
local power people to have them keep the power running all night.
As Mark (WA6OTU/HC8U) discovered one year, even if you pay them to
keep the power running all night, sometimes they forget.

I brought my TS-930S and my 386 computer and keyboard with me to the 
island.  There was already a Drake L7 and a monochrome monitor there.
I also brought a thousand little things I could think of at the last
minute.  The weekend before I left, Dave (W6QHS) fixed about five 
things that were wrong with my radio (no SSB, pitch control broken,
RIT off by 400 Hz, AGC crapping out) and his wife Barb (KK6QM) came
up with the brilliant idea that a TS-930 was about the same size as
a particular style of MacIntosh, one for which they happened to have a 
padded carrying case with internal pockets and a shoulder strap.  I
carried the TS-930 as one carry-on item and my keyer/headphones/etc
and some clothes in another carry-on bag.  I checked the 386 in a 
big suitcase.

The days before the contest, I got great support from Dave, Barb and
Rich on the air, who happily answered my questions like "How do I 
fix this rotator?" and "Which one is the 160 meter antenna?"  On
the mainland I got great help from Ted (HC5K), who was standing by
to put anything I needed on the next plane out, and Pedro (HC1OT),
who took care of everything for me in Quito and arranged all my
SAN tickets and met me at the airport each time I arrived.  Of course
on the island Guido and Chelita were gracious hosts and showed me a 
wonderful time.  There was also a great guy on the island by the name 
of Mark Haeg.  He is about my age and is slowly working his way around
the world.  He helped a lot with everything.  In partiuclar he was able
to iron out many hours worth of communication difficuluties (my Spanish
is virtually non-existant).

The farm house itself is incredibly rustic.  It has no heat (not much
is required at the equator).  It is drafty.  It is wet.  Giant spiders
live there.  At 2 AM during the contest a giant rat walked in from
outside (I left the door open) to check things out.  But the house has 
everything you need.  It keeps the water off you (mostly), it has 
running (cold) water, it has a flush toilet, and it is quite large.  
Taken in the context of a summer house or a lake cabin, it is a wonderful 
place.  In many respects, it is more comfortable than some ham operations
I have observed in the states.  Furthermore, having lived in Alabama and 
Texas for 27 years, I have observed people living their daily lives under 
worse conditions.  Pedro suggested I should talk a little about the place 
so as people won't get the idea I was operating from a luxury hotel.  :-)  

As this has gotten way long, I will sign off.  If anyone cares to followup
with questions, I'll be happy to followup with answers.

--Trey, WN4KKN/HC8N

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