1995 – VP5C – Turks- and Caicos

This is a copy of the original 1995 website

In the summer of 1994 some active members of Contestgroup Oude Maas PI4COM decided to start an expedition team. Their goal was to contribute to the world wide activity of helping radio-amateurs working new and rare countries.

Here is their story.

The first tryout in 1994 was the small country in Europe HB0. We took all the equipment and drove by car to Liechtenstein. Rented a house and setup a simple station. Unfortunately we were surrounded by big mountains, had very bad weather – it was raining, thunderstorming and a lot of fog – and therefore the results were poor. We also learned that there were better locations up the mountains to rent. It was a nice experience for the future and we learned about it.

Based on this experience, we looked further for this year 1995 and searched for a location to arrange a more interresting expedition. When we learned, that Jody VP5JM had a house for rent, including rigs and antennas, on Providenciales Island, the decision was easily made. This is one of the islands of the Turks- and Caicos Group.

As active contesters we sceduled the period of September 7th until September 23rd, because in this periode we could participate in the Worked All Europe SSB-contest and the CQ WW RTTY-contest. For these occasions we arranged the callsign VP5C. Outside the contests we should use VP5/owncall.

Via Miami Florida we arrived on Providenciales International Airport on September 7th and were welcomed by Jody. She took us to the Hamlet and we could unpack our luggage and supplementary equipment.


We setup the rigs in a way we thought it should be. When we tried to connect the portable computer to the 220V outlet, we had our first problem. The 220V connector of the outlet was not to be the one we expected. Within an hour we solved this problem and were able to start our PC. We had the intention to run 2 stations, so we rented a second computer at the local computer store, which we had arranged in advance. After installing the software packages, we were ready to go.


Bandpass-filters from ICE

Our aim was to run 2 stations on the air simultaneously around the clock. To prevent interference we had bandpass-filters from ICE with us. Unfortunately not for the WARC-bands, so certain combinations were not possible. The filters did a very good job.

Our aim was to run 2 stations on the air simultaneously around the clock. To prevent interference we had bandpass-filters from ICE with us. Unfortunately not for the WARC-bands, so certain combinations were not possible. The filters did a very good job.

We planned to be active on CW, SSB and RTTY. Because VP5 was and is active during almost all major contests, we decided also to concentrate on the WARC-bands and the low bands to Europe. For logging we used CT for CW and SSB and WF1B for RTTY. For RTTY we also used the HAL P38-board, installed into the portable PC and it worked excellent. Unfortunately the rigs didn’t had any SSB or CW-filters, so all filter work had to be done by our ears and the P38-board. Who said you need filters ?! We didn’t …. At least, we learned to work without them !

After our first diner at one of the nice restaurants on Provo, shortcut for Providenciales, we were ready to go on the air. The first QSO was made on September 8th at 01.55 UTC on 40 meter CW by Rob VP5/PA3ERC.

The first weekend we participated in the Worked All Europe-contest with the call VP5C. We enjoyed it very much and had nice pile-ups from Europe. The QTCs in this contest made it a very special contest and it was nice to operate it from “the other side”. We had a lot of fun and made 1.459 QSOs and gave away about 1.100 QTCs to European stations. CT made life really easy. Thanks Ken.

The day after this contest we concentrated on making antennas for the WARC-bands. The Hamlet is mostly used for contests on the regular bands and not for crazy Dutchmen, who likes to operate the WARC-bands. We brought 100 meter thin copper wire with us, so we would be able to make some wire-antennas if necessary. And so we had to make a dipole for 30 meters at 6m height, an inverted-V for 17 meters at 6m height and a 4-element vertical wire beam for 12 meters pointing to Europe. So now we could be active on all band from 10 to 160 meters.

We noticed that VP5 was heavely wanted on the WARC-bands. So it was great to make lots of Hams happy with a new band country. We specially focused on Europe during their grayline and worked lots of them on 40, 80 en 160m.

The last weekend we were active in the CQ WW RTTY-contest, also using the call VP5C. We borrowed a PK232 from Jody for the multiplier-station and made 1.767 QSOs. The multiplier (DXCC) was not so high, due to a lack of power on the multiplier-station, no packet-cluster and the multiplier-station itself. It was only active for the first 20 hours. After that we couldn’t use it anymore, because it switched all the time from RTTY to SSB (Tnx Murphy). The running station used the HAL P38-decoder with 500 Watts. It is one of the best decoders we ever used during a contest.

A lot of Hams, who had been on expedition, said that they could work much more non-Europeans at the same time then they could work Europeans. The European stations (not all of course) had a bad mentality. When we called one station, many others kept on calling and didn’t listen or didn’t care. There were moments we stopped calling Europe, eventhough the band was wide open. They made a mess of it. We worked always split to Europe because of the mess. The solution at that time was working USA. Split was not necessary anymore and peace returned on the frequency with a rate twice as high as to Europe. We didn’t and don’t understand this mentality. One night we had a beautiful opening to Japan on 40 meters. Very weak, but workable. One letter or number wrong and nobody called. That’s the other side of the story.

One of the advantage of computer-logging is, that you can see, whether a station is worked before on the same band. More than 4% of the stations we worked, were dupes. We don’t know why these stations called us for the second time. Maybe because they were not sure, whether they were in the log. Sometimes we asked them why they called us again. Some replied “I want you to know that you are strong”. Our answer “We know that otherwise we wouldn’t have such a pile-up”. Or “Station XXXX is calling you”. Our answer “Let him call. If we hear him, we will work him, but we don’t like lists”Unfortunately they didn’t realise that, when they called for a second time, they didn’t give another station the opportunity to work us for a new DXCC-country. Maybe the Eastern Island expedition motivated the DX-stations to call DX-pedition each day. We personally think, this shouldn’t become a habbit, or is this a way to make “more” QSOs??

The propagations on the high bands were very poor. We worked only a few Europeans there and most of them came from South Europe. We tried it for hours calling on 10 en 12 meters, buth there was no response at all. One day we put a beacon on 12 meters on the air and that signal was heard by a lot of stations, but we were not active at that time. We were trying one of the cocktails on the beautiful beaches of Provo.

We learned a lot from this expedition and we know one thing for sure: Bring your own equipment. For this location it is not necessary to use big antennas. Little wire antennas can do a very good job. It was also unnecessary to use big power. We used 500 Watts during the 2 contest-weekend and the rest of the time only 100 Watts.

During our 16 days stay on Providenciales we made in total 23.471 QSOs (including dupes) of which 9.285 in CW, 12.063 in SSB and 2.123 in RTTY. Most QSOs were made on 20m (8.748). More than half the QSOs were made with Europeans. The other half mostly with North-America.

During our stay on the island, Jody VP5JM supported us whenever she could and we would like to thank her for her support.

This was our first big expedition. We hope to meet you again next year from another location.


From left to right: Peter (PA3BBP), Rob (PA3ERC), Ronald (PA3EWP) and Dick (PA3FQA).


Author: Ronald Stuy PA3EWP
Copyright © 1995 PA3BBP,PA3ERC,PA3EWP,PA3FQA. All rights reserved.
Revised: februari 05, 2000.

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