We got the idea to travel abroad with the PG6G contest team in early 2013. Eventually we decided to go in September, this fitted all the operators and XYL’s who went along. We tried several options like HB0 and C3 but both failed because we could not reach the HB0 spot at that time of the year and it seemed that Andorra(C3) would not issui licences to Radio Amateurs from abroad. I had been active from Luxembourg several times in VHF contests and on HF in the past with the PA1TK contest team(1). What always amazed me is that you can still generate big pile ups when active from this entity. Choice was not difficult and we would go for a 5 day trip last week september 2013(2). This would not be a mega DXpedition, two stations active and enough time to see parts of the country. Weeks of preparation to get the mobile tower ready for the travel and work on the big list with things to bring along. Long story short….on arrive one of our operators got a heart attack and plans changed. One station on the air, low profile activity in the CQWWRTTY contest. The Op recovered quickly and is back on full strength now. We were all determined to return and make this a joyfull event in 2014.
2014: Here we go…September 25th to 29th-2014.
We would be active in the CQWWRTTY and make contacts on the other bands, as much as we could without making this a 24/7 operation. Even with a small expedition like this many things need to be arranged. Rent the houses, antennas , radios, laptops etc had to be packed in boxes to fit our cars.We would not take the mobile tower this year as we simple had no car big enough to pull this heavy structure on wheels. Instead we would take a rotatable dipole and vertical for 10/15/20 meter. A vertical that would cover 17/30/40 meter and dipoles for 40 and 80 meter. Other hardware, two transceivers ( FT-990 and an Elecraft K3), Two homebrew amplifiers, a desktop PC and a laptop. Our team, PA8A, PD2JAM, PA8F, PA4B, PA3GVI , NL-11607 and XYL’s left home on the 25th and at arrive Peter already had the keys for the rented cottages. The weather was absolutely beautifull for this time of the year and after we picked the ‘Shack house’ we started building the antennas. The rotary dipole for 10/15/20 went on a small army tower, manual rotatable, and other antennas quickly followed. One of us, in the meantime, had set up most of the two stations and just before dinner we made the first contacts on 40 meter in CW. This went on after dinner but we went QRT for a good sleep when it had turned midnight.The next morning we were up early and experianced nice openings on 40 and 80 again in CW for a couple hours. Our Group took the time to join the dinner and breakfast meals every day without any compromise. During the second day we build more antennas to experiment, like an endfed and a ZS6BKW. After lunch active again but on 15 meter CW with nice JA runs and little later to 40 meter SSB were we worked many friends from PA. In the evening we went to Vianden(3) for dinner, a beautifull village well know of it’s hilltop castle(4).
Year in year out many tourists visit this medieval Castle and wander through the steep street down to the Our rivier that divides the village in two. When you visit you must take the Chair-lift (5) ride that will bring you from the east side of the River to the west side hill top, far above the castle were you have a beautifull view over the village and far into Germay. At last but not least you can visit the pumped storage plant(6) which is located just a couple of miles north from the village. The power plant uses the pumped-storage hydroelectric method to generate Electricity. The main reservoir is located on the nearby Saint Nicholas Mountain and the lower reservoir is located on the Our River. Latest big upgrade of this plant, finished in 2013, brought the total capacity of this pump-generator to 1,296 megawatts.
We had our dinner in one of the many fine restaurants. As a matter of fact our seats were above the our River in the very left corner of the ‘Du Pont’ restaurant. (see picture)
We returned to our cottages again late that evening but well before the contest would start. Just like last year, we found a compagnion in Paul/LX9WS who agreed to use his callsign during this event. Contest started at 0000z and all seemed to work very well except that it started a little slow. Eventually we got nice runs on 40 meter into NA, SA and EU for a couple hours before we switched to 80 meter. The usual burst with EU stations that jump on you when you start on a new band but later we logged Carribean, NA and SA stations during our Sunrise. Nice multipliers came into our log but we missed the long JA runs on 20 and 15 meter that morning. It pickeud up in the evening with lots of stations calling from the US to switch to 40 meter were we worked nice Multipliers like YD, HK, and others. We took a short brake during the second night and decided to get some sleep. When we entered the shack and switched on the amplifier for the contest station all seemed ok but when returning from the toilet the room was filled with a nasty smell and smoke. A look inside the amplifier made clear that the powersupply had a major meltdown and we had to change our plan.
The second station amplifier was brought into action but when Murphy comes along, she does not leave without inpact. We were amazed to see this amplifier to quite when turning it on. Opening this rig showed a blown fuse which we thought we brought along..NOT! We decided that we needed to have at least an amplifier for the contest to hold frequency in this violent contest and decided to replace this with a tiny wire. This worked throuhout the contest without a problem. All this had cost us several hours but we would not go for a top ten position anyway. After a nice breakfast we focussed again and stayed active till dinner and midnight. Last contacts were made on 40 meter with KP2DX being the last one in our log.
With the second station we kept making contacts on the other bands with just 100 watts during the rest of our stay. The hugh pile ups on 40 meter in phone during daytime, the long runs in CW and many QSO’s in RTTY made us realize that being active from Luxembourg somehow still triggers operators to make a contact.