Topband: W1BB's 100th - Stew Perry "In his own write....."
Tue, 15 Oct 2002 08:22:25 EDT

GM Gang

>From to time, some pretty interesting mail arrives in the 'ZM mailbox.  From 
G3CFV, Frank, I recently received this piece which recites W1BB's account of 
how he worked his 100th DXCC counter on Topband in 1969.  It was actually 
Stew's 103rd country at the time but three of those on his list had been 
worked PRIOR to the inception of ARRL DXCC - so Stew couldn't count them.....

Stew tells a pretty good story about it and I am pleased to pass it along 
here for others to enjoy.  Please let me know directly (not over the 
reflector) if this kind of material is interesting to you - as I have some 
additional material like it in the 'ZM archives.  Thanks.

Now to the story of Stew's 100th - HK0TU/Malpelo Is.  Stew called it "A NIGHT 
TO REMEMBER" - February 23, 1969.

"What a night to remember for W1BB!!  In the middle of the first attempt at a 
contact, things suddenly went kaput, SWR meter against the pin, no radiation 
and "off the air".  Gads!  What a time for a failure - just BEFORE QSL of the 
contact was received from HK0TU.

Checked things quickly and indications were that somewhere in the 235 feet of 
coaxial cable between the transmitter and antenna, there was a SHORT.  
What to do?  How to find it?  Could it be done quickly enough?  In the middle 
of a dark, cold, windy night right at the seashore, temp 33F, wind 25MPH.

However, grabbed my flashlight, gloves, ear muffs and started up the ladder 
on the tower.  There were three joints with fittings.  Removed tape covering, 
uncoupled and inspected joints one by one.  LUCK!  The second one, about 130 
feet from the shack had shorted.  Fortunate to find it so quickly.  Hanging 
onto the ladder with one arm wrapped around it, holding flashlight in mouth, 
had to remove gloves and fingers getting numb, with pliers and cutters and 
jackknife cut the shorted joint out - stripped down the vinyl and braid to 
make a "jury-rig" open splice.

When I stripped the vinyl, my fingers felt wet - I looked carefully with 
flashlight and sure enough, water was oozing out - quite a lot of it - 
between vinyl/braid and the polyethylene center of the cable.  Somehow, 
condensation had gotten in there and was running down inside and into the 
fittings.  This was undoubtedly what had caused the RF short.  How the 
condensation go in is something for future investigation.

Rushed home - 1.5 miles - collected 175 feet of spare coax used for 
emergencies, field days, etc in four sections with connectors already on 
ends.  Rushed back to the TOWER qth, coupled cables together and up the 
ladder again dragging one end of the coax - the rest trailing down onto the 
ground.  Tied coax to the ladder - made the open wire splice between the two 
sections (without connectors) hanging onto the ladder with one arm, pulling 
ends together in front of the flashlight where could see and work on the 
joint.  This done, went back down, unrolled and coupled rest of the coax 
cable out around the tower over ground and into the shack through open door 
and over the floor.  Hooked the end which had connector already on it to the 
antenna relay - then the CRUCIAL moment - tested it - OH BOY!!  SUCCESS!!!  
It worked!!!  With that DRY and new coax, everything was back to normal - SWR 
1/1, fine and dandy!

Waited for a break - HK0TU was still on - gave him a call and he came RIGHT 
BACK.  (So did 2 or 3 other guys right on TOP of him.   Apparently they had 
heard my first 1/2 of a contact and were still QRX on the frequency hoping 
for their FIRST contact.  One said "only one QSO per station".!!  Another 
said "HOG" and still another "COME NOW." )  I could tell I was very unpopular 
all right - but stuck to it - new countries are scarcer than hen's teeth now 
- it might have been a real long time before the next one.  This was a real 
important event for W1BB - the 103rd/100th country!  I did get the QSL (CFM) 
from HK0TU and then QRT'd real FAST - in favor of the gang -- but regardless, 
I wasn't about to miss THAT one -- especially after all the trouble I'd been 

AFTER the contact, I settled back into my operating chair, relaxed, took a 
nice rest, re-living the whole incident again -- then took my pencil in hand 
and wrote these MEMOIRS.  Was even a bit PROUD of myself --at 65 years 
old--being ABLE to climb the tower at night, under adverse weather 
conditions, without a safety belt which I usually always use, but forgot in 
the excitement this time -- and make emergency repairs IN TIME - about 30 
minutes -- to get my 103rd/100th country on 160M and hit the CENTURY mark a 
la ARRL/DXCC rules, all OK!!

HERE's TO "HAPPY HAMMING Always" - especially if it is on 160M!!
73 de Stew/W1BB

K1ZM Footnote:

(I should note that the 1969 160m Dxpedition to HK0TU included Bob Dennison, 
W0DX and Dale Strieter, W4DQS along with HK3RQ and Enos W4VPD.  Of course, 
Bob served as ARRL President and was later known as VP2VI until he passed 
away recently.

Dale is known today as W4QM and can often be heard operating at Diego Garcia, 
Chagos, as VQ9QM.

Interestingly, the HK0TU side of this contact was also beset with its own 
"challenges" - which W1BB tells this way:

"Tragedy nearly struck during landing operations on the dangerous rocky 
cliffs, when two men were washed overboard, requiring hospitalization for 
one.  In the ensuing excitement, their generator was lost in the dark, their 
160M rig had a bum antenna relay and wouldn't work and they had to get on the 
air with a borrowed rig from W4VPD.  Imagine after all that putting up a 700' 
longwire antenna in the DARK - but they did.

Dale sez "I loaded the Ant to the Tx, called CQ and it was thrilling to have 
K1PBW/8 come back at 0615Z - next was W3FE, then W1BB for his DXCC/160M.  
After that Bob operated until the band folded.  All together 28 qso's were 
made on 160M including W2EQS, W9PNE (with his 5 watter!) W8GDQ and others - 
not too many.

W0DX was able to contact his home station on 160, 80 and 40.....

Considering everything, a MARVELOUS piece of Dx'ing.  A real resounding FIRST 
EVER on 160M!"

Hope you enjoyed the story!