|DJ0IP's 1997 LX9EG "Fiasco" 01.03.2006|
||(dj0ip) The last three days before leaving for LX for the CQWW DX CW contest, I worked
20 hours per day in my QRL. I left Munich early Thursday morning with my
Camper (RV/Wohnmobil), headed for LX. But first I had to visit the Software
A.G. (QRL again) in Darmstadt. Hartmut, DJ1AT, met me in Darmstadt. We
departed Darmstadt at 1600 GMT, finally headed for LX. |
|By now I was so tired, I could hardly keep my eyes open. We took a wrong turn in Kaiserslautern (thanks to using an old map), and lost another hour. At 2000 GMT we arrived at our destination, the Scouts Home, Belvedere, Dudelange, Luxembourg (the site of the 1988 LX9BV - BCC operation).|
We met Norby, LX1NO, who gave us the keys and a quick briefing on the logistics of the QTH. We launched the contest operation with "Gruenbacher Weissbier" (the official beer of the Bavarian Contest Club) which Norby loved, followed by a bottle of LX "Vin Blanc". After Norby left, Hartmut and I planned our Antenna farm. An FB53 on a 20m tower was already there. We would have to climb the tower and untie the ropes securing it from the weather.
From the top of the tower, we would string a heavy duty rope to a flagpole, directly south-east of the tower. We would use this rope as a flexible tie
point for the centers of a Carolina Windom (160m~10m), a "Corner-fed" 40m delta loop, and an 80m dipole rotated 90 degrees from the Windom.
Goodnight Hartmut. Goodnight Rick.
At 0500 GMT I woke Hartmut with the famous words, "The Russians have already put up two antennas today". We had a quick breakfast (it was no "Breakfast at Tiffinys" but enough to give two gray-haired men the strength to climb a 65-foot tower). By first light, we laid all the antennas, ropes and wires out (Hartmut swears it was more material than we had at LX7A in 1989), and chose the material best suited for each antenna.
At 0930 GMT we attacked the tower - Hartmut first (I was being polite). It was about +2 degrees, foggy, and windy - perfect for climbing towers! We
spent about 30 minutes up there, untying the FB53, and securing ropes and pulleys for the other antennas. At some point in time, Hartmut said, "Do you
realize there are 110 years up here?" (Hartmut and I, old timers, total over 110 years of age and over 75 years of ham radio experience). That must have
been some kind of a record, at least for that tower.
By 1015 GMT, we were back on the ground. My legs were shaky but my spirits were high - the hardest part was done. "It's all down hill now" I told
Hartmut. The next task was to string the rope, attached to the top of the tower, to the flagpole across the street. I attached the pulley and rope for the feed point of Carolina Windom to this rope and as Hartmut walked with one rope towards the flagpole, I headed down some (wet) stairs with the other rope.
At approximately 1030 GMT, Hartmut yelled "Rick". As I turned to answer "What", I took my eyes off the steep, wet stairs. A stunt man in hollywood
could not have looked better - as I fell backwards, sliding down the wet stairs on my back (and backside). While falling, I remember thinking "this must look pretty stupid - this can't be happening". It was stupid and it did happen. I tried to get up but fell back to the ground in pain. I tried to yell for Hartmut but couldn't yell loud enough due to the pain. Hartmut looked for me and thought, "Where did he go? He was just here!" When I finally managed to call for him, he came immediately. He didn't succeed in getting me to my feet. I only managed to make it to a sitting position on the stairs. Thank God for Cell Phones (handys).
1100 GMT "Ta-Tu-Ta-Ta" (that's the noise ambulances make in Europe). Hartmut took pictures of me with those three lovely LX YL's (sanitaeters), sitting in
the ambulance. 1130 GMT, hospital, X-Rays (God that hurt, turning from side to side - nothing broken except my pride).
1230 GMT, arrival LX9EG QTH. Straight to bed. I could find no way to lay which didn't hurt. 1400 GMT, arrival LX1NO. I sat up (ouch). We (Norby,
Hartmut, and Rick) evaluated the situation. It would be dark soon. No antennas were up. First op was totally incapacitated. Norby asked, "Which
hurts more, laying down, or sitting up?" I said, "both the same". "Then you can work the contest", he said. Hartmut insisted. I submitted.
"Plan B": Single Op, single band: 40m (my favorite).
As Norby unpacked my equipment, Hartmut put up the 40m dipole for me. Using the pulley which we had attached to the top of the tower, he hoisted the
center of the dipole, together with a 100m piece of Aircell7 coax up about 20 meters. With the help of the famous DJ0IP "Schmeissenstein", he sent the ends
of the dipole flying, each over their respective trees. Result: Resonance above the band. The antenna was last used at 4U1VIC (CQWW CW, 1992) where the capacitive loading of the top of the building at the "Vienna International Center" requires shortening of all antennas. MFJ to the rescue. I hate and
love matchboxes. Actually I hate them, but Murphy always makes me use them.
Equipment: Ten Tec Omni VI, Ameritron ALS-600 (500w Output), MFJ-986 differential tuner, and a DL7AV "QSK Platine" (to time-sequence the keying of the Omni and the Linear).
Starting a contest with busted up ribs and less than 5 hours sleep, 4 nights in a row, is not exactly a strategic advantage. But as the old Mississippi paddleboat poker players used to say: "you have to play the hand life dealt you". Or, as Forest Gump's mom used to tell him: "Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're gonna get." I know what I got:
Let's see...if I want to stay awake, I'd better drink lots of coffee. If I drink coffee, I have to go to the QWC. Each time I QWC I need at least 10 minutes (because of the pain and the time it takes to get up and down and move, inch by inch, cm by cm). Contest decisions: Shall I seek and pounce multis, or run pile ups? Shall I drink coffee and run....., or shall I not drink coffee and fall asleep? Why do I hate decisions?
That was the good news. Now the bad news:
Somehow I had to get my truck back to Munich. I couldn't drive. Hartmut didn't feel comfortable with driving such a large truck. He said, "Driving trucks is not a part of the 2nd Op's job description". So I called my "Honey". Sibylle, my YL, had planned to spend the weekend with her daddy, celebrating his birthday. With me having spent so much time working (QRL) during the past few months, she has not been exceedingly happy with me anyway. Being very polite, using my very best QRP voice, I explained the situation to her. She's a real doll! On Saturday, she spent over 8 hours traveling by train to LX to rescue her insignificant OM. Assessing the situation, I told Hartmut we had better go QRT and take down the antenna, and pack away all the equipment before she arrives. Notice I said "We". Actually I meant "He". I drank a Gruenbacher Weissbier while he did all that.
Norby and his YL, Manu (LX2LX) met Sibylle at the train station in Luxembourg City and drove her to our QTH. We all went to dinner at a local Italian
restaurant and returned to the truck for a couple of bottles of Vin Blanc from LX.
My results were 40,000 points. Everything is relative.
That's about 1 million points less than I had planned for, yet 40,000 points more than I thought I would make as I was riding in that ambulance on my way
to the hospital.
Home again, unable to move or be productive, I have spent my time thinking and planning for next year's CQWW DX contest. I have ordered another 200m of wire and more Aircell7 coax from Andy's Funkladen - from the Radio Works in the U.S. I have ordered more open wire, more rope, and another remote balun - and finally, yes, back to the tubes (although 3 years ago I swore I would never use light-emitting-transistors again) I have ordered a new Linear Amp from QRO Technologies.
For next year we are planning a Multi-Single operation at LX9EG and it will be 112 years on top of that tower (plus 77 years of ham experience). My YL is
taking me out to buy me some new boots with special anti-slip soles. We'll triple the output power and quadruple the number of operators. See you then.
Good Luck in the Contest !