Pic of entire EME group in Colombia
Pack Rat Moonbounce Expedition to South America
HK1TL QSL Card
Bulletin Pic of Elleiot and Bill with antennas
Setting up dish on Bill's farm
20 Foot Stressed Dish in operating position
W3CCX - March 1976

The Pack Rats preparing for a trip to Colombia, South America to put the FIRST EVER 432 MHz Moonbounce station on the air from that continent. This made possible the FIRST WAC on 432 MHz (K2UYH). Many other stations were also worked.
(Note: HK1TL is also likely to have been the first EME Station from South America, period.)
These pictures are the installation of a 20 foot stressed dish (donated by K2UYH) in a sheep pasture in Revere, PA on the farm of Bill Olson, W3HQT (K1DY). Operated as W3CCX by WA3JUF, the Pack Rat club station worked the Pack Rat Columbian expedition station, HK1TL, via 432 MHz Moonbounce with this antenna.

Map of Colombia
HK1TL Preparation

HK1TL Graphic
Tierra-Luna

Barranquilla, Colombia

July/August 1976

Pack Rat Logo
Pack Rat Logo

Recollections of the HK1TL Pack Rat Expedition To Colombia South America
Walt Bohlman, K3BPP

The W3CCX Moonbounce station had been in operation for some time using a stressed 20 foot dish and a dual polarized feed along with an 8938  KW amplifier.  This operation was set up in the corner of a barn in Revere, Pa with the antenna located in the corner of a sheep pasture.   The crew to operate the station was Tony - W3HMU, Bill - W3HQT, and Walt - K3BPP.  Occasionally other visitors and club members would show up.  The contact total and continent total were getting to be impressive.  About Dec 1975 at the regular club meeting the monthly moonbounce report stated that we had all continents except South America.  A fortunate occurrence was that Elliot, K3JJZ, brought his neighbors to that particular club meeting.  His neighbors happened to be hams from Colombia, South America.   After the meeting these fellows invited the club to their beach house on the Atlantic coast of Colombia. Of course we accepted.  The club having participated in the June Contest since the late 1950’s knew that we could do it.  El became the project manager and masterfully took care of all of the long list of coordination and regulation stuff.

Bill, Tony and Walt started planning the station and construction details.  Keep in mind that we had to leave our station at W3CCX intact so we could work it.  Airline size restrictions suggested that the antenna packing crates be 6 foot or less in length.  Of course lots and lots of antenna ideas rattled around before finally a design was settled on that would provide approximately 30 dBi Gain.  This turned out to be 16 K2RIW 13 element yagis (See Below).  These antennas are 8 feet long so a method was developed to have them separate in the middle and we would reassemble on site.  Various computer studies at the time showed that a 5 foot spacing would work well.  The computer at the time was an HP 9820 desk top calculator and an XY plotter.  The mounting structure was made up of various telescoping tubing which transported well in the 6 foot boxes.  The design had all of the mounted in front of the positioner so as to be able to rotate polarization.  A very important consideration that was learned at the W3CCX site.  We could instantly switch polarization on the dish and often the  received signal was different polarization than the transmitted signal.

Various volunteered amplifiers were evaluated all of which were found to be inadequate.  A spare 8938 (this is sort of a coaxial based 8877) was found so a new amplifier was constructed using the half wavelength stripline type tank circuit of W6AJF and K2RIW variety (See below).  This is a triode and needs about 100 watts of drive to really start talking.

Thus an exciter had to be built to provide 100 watts.  Also, Oscar 7 was very active at the time and operated in mode B which was 432 Mhz up and 145 MHz down. An out of service 432 MHz 4X150 cylindrical cavity amplifier was resurrected and a few driver circuits were added.  This was then used as the EME exciter and also the Oscar 7 up link.  I think we made 100 contacts on Oscar 7.

The receiver was a Drake 2B with a crystal converter and a low noise preamp located at the antenna.  A low noise preamp in those days was about a 2 dB noise figure.  I believe that we toasted 2 or 3 preamps before the operation got settled down.

A very important aspect of the operation was a 20 meter link which was handled with a KWM2 and a 30L1  and a Honda generator when needed. The stateside liaison was handled by Bert, W3TNP (SK), XYL of W3KKN. and Ernie, W3KKN.

Pre-Expedition Dry Run at the Hilltown Civic Association Field
Hilltown, PA

Tested during the Pack Rats 1976 June Contest Effort

16 K2RIW Yagies mounted for testing
Night time pic of yagi array
W3CL and W3HMU seated in front of EME Equipment
EME Test at Hilltown
W3CL good-naturedly 'supervises' Tony, W3HMU
"Listening for the weak ones" .. N3CX SK
16 K2RIW 13 Element Yagis
Estimated Gain: 30 dBi
'Armstrong' Azimuth, Elevation and Polar Rotation (KISS)
Left to right: Sam WB3AFY/HK1CWB (N3SM), Daniel HK1?, Betty HK1BAR 2nd op, Danny WA3NFV, Sheila HK1CWD, Elliot K3JJZ, Juan HK1JJ, Chepe HK1VM, Bomar WB3AOP/HK1AMW (K4AMW) , Raul HK1JJ 2nd op, Walt K3BPP, Edgardo HK1BAR, Tony W3HMU, Jorge HK1ATE, Rosalba HK1CWB 2nd op, Ate HK1BYM

Photo by W3HQT(K1DY)

Mouse Over for Back of Card
FIRST EVER 432 MHz EME Station from South America !!

HK1TL - Those Whose Help was Critical
K3JJZ, Elliot Weisman

1. HK1BYM – Dr. Atenogenes Blanco - Ate was designated as our Colombian coordinator and made many trips to Bogatá (the capital) to grind through the red tape.
2. Marci Shatzman- The Bulletin reporter who did the story of what we wanted to do while we were still in the planning stages. Her article appears on the web site.
3. VE7BBG- Cor.  Cor issued a complete schedule for the then 25 moonbounce stations throughout the world to work us.
4. RoseAlba Martinez- Sam Martinez xyl. Flew to Colombia to purchase the airline tickets and then acted as cook for the group once we were there.
5. HK1CWD- Sheila. Sheila loaned RoseAlba the additional money since the air fare had increased and we didn’t provide her with enough money to buy the airline tickets.
6. WA3JUF (now W3KM)- Dave Mascaro- In addition to operating the W3CCX moonbounce station Dave was one of the truckers that took us to the airport.
7. W3IIT- Harry Brown- Helped assemble the W3CCX moonbounce station
8. K3YLL- (SK)- Harvey Bartashnik – Also one of the truckers taking us to the airport.
9. W3CXU- (SK)- Johnny Allen- Johnny was the anonymous donor of $1000 for the project. It took awhile until we discovered who the anonymous donor was.
10. W4ZXI- (he has a different call now)- Russ Wicker- Russ in addition to being a moonbouncer, worked at the Miami airport. He was instrumental in seeing that the equipment got transferred from Eastern Airlines to AeroCondor Airlines to arrive on the same flight that we would take. He also rescheduled us when it became apparent that we would miss our connection at Miami airport on the way home.
11. Area 2 Radio Club. They were our official sponsors and they tried to assure that we had everything that we needed.
12. Civil Defense Group (forgot the appropriate title)- These guys were armed and dangerous and assured that we stayed out of harms way. In addition to providing trucks for transporting us and the equipment to the actual site.
13. W3KKN & W3TNP (SK)- Ernie & Bertha Kenas- Their station was our lifeline back home on 20 meters. One or the other was always monitoring for us. Extremely valuable when we had to reschedule a contact.
14. K2UYH- Dr. Alan Katz- In addition to being a well known moonbouncer, the donor of the dish used by the W3CCX moonbounce station , and the first WAC EME on 432 mhz, Al had arranged for us to be able to operate Oscar 7B on a day when it would not normally be operating in that mode.
15. HK1DOY – I lost his name. One of the Area 2 members who went down to the power company and sat there until they agreed to send a truck out to take care of our power problem.
16. Cartegena Radio Club- Traveled to the site with a 3.6kw gasoline generator. Unfortunately we couldn’t use it because it lacked voltage regulation. But a nice effort anyhow.
17. Lorraine Weisman & Jan Souza- My xyl and W3HMU xyl who not only allowed us to make the trip but came with us.
18. California DX foundation- Made a substantial donation to the project and printed the HK1TL QSL cards

HK1TL - Funny Story 1, K3JJZ

In one of my letters to HK1BYM, Ate. I detailed the supplies that we wanted the Colombins to supply for us.  One of the things was a wooden pole to mount the antenna. 10 days after I sent the letter with these items listed W3HMU (Tony Souza) called me and said you have a mistake in the list. He pointed out that instead of specifying a 20 ft wooden pole I had specified a 20 meter wooden pole. We had to make radio communications with the Colombians that night so we could correct the error.  The conversation went something like this :

“HK1BYM this is WB3AOP, Good evening Ate”. “It is very important that I discuss with you the pole.” “I sent you the wrong information”. “Over”.

Ate replied “don’t worry about the pole we have already got it”.”over”

This was really difficult because I tried to inform him about what I said in the letter.

I replied “Ate, I gave you the wrong dimension for the pole’. The pole should only be 20 ft, not 20 meters”. “over” .

He proceeded to come back and reassure me. “Don’t worry, we can cut it “.

I’ll never live that letter down.

HK1TL - 'To Do List' Before the Trip
K3JJZ, Elliot Weisman

Planning this operation was a huge task. Keep in mind that this was before e-mail and cell phones. All correspondence had to be by the mail system. Turn around time was measured in weeks not hours. K3JJZ was in charge of this phase of the operation. Needless to say the results were extremely good.

1. Write letter to the Colombian equivalent of the FCC, The Ministerio De Communications, to get permission to operate in Colombia.
2. We later find that the letter must be rewritten on official stationary that must be purchased from the Colombian Consulate at $2 per page.
3. Determine if 432 MHz is an operating band in that country.
4. Provide a detailed list of the radio equipment that would be shipped to Colombia. We guessed at some of this because it hadn’t been built yet and we needed to keep the W3CCX mounbounce station on the air.
5. Design an antenna capable of being transported to Colombia. You can’t put a 20 ft dish on an airplane.
6. Plan a publicity campaign to make the most out of the project.
7. Coordinate operating schedules with other moonbounce stations around the world.
8. Determine the mechanism for travel to and from Colombia.
9. Estimate the total cost of the project.
10. Design and print a souvenir that will be left with the local hams.
11. Schedule the routine low band communication link .
12. Design and issue a press release indicating to other radio clubs what we are attempting to do.

HK1TL - Funny Story 2, K3JJZ

As we prepared for our trip we had to build packing crates for the equipment to be shipped to Barranquilla. W3HMU, Tony, has a complete wood shop and so the task fell to him. I was with him one day helping as he constructed crate after crate based on the size of the equipment we were taking. He checked off the list as he completed each item until he came to the last item which was a power supply. He said to me, “I can’t build this yet”. I asked “Why not”? He replied, "I don’t know what the size will be because Bill, W3HQT, is building the supply”. “Can we call him”? I asked . “Sure“, and he proceeded to call Bill. “How big is that power supply going to be “ Tony asked. Bill replied “I don’t know yet”,  Tony said “Hold on a minute”. By this time we had used a lot of lumber so Tony went around his shop measuring what we had left. He took the phone back and said to Bill, “Make it fit in 12" x 14" x 8" because that’s the box I’m building”.” Bye”.  And amazing as it may seem - Bill did it!

HK1TL - Funny Story 3, K3JJZ

In addition to the civil defense guys supplying protection for us they also provided transportation to all the places we had to go. These places included the seminar we gave on amateur radio, our newspaper interviews, and also the dinner in our honor. One of these truck drivers was noticeably a very poor driver. On one of these excursions this notorious driver managed to put the front wheel of his truck in a ditch while trying to turn around after leaving us off at our operating site. W3HMU, Tony, came into the cabana asking for help to push the truck. I asked him what the problem was. He said, “Oh ‘S… for brains’ has done it again”. And I said, “Well we don’t want to call him that out loud, lets just name him SFB”. Whereupon we decided that we would bestow upon him the call letters HK1SFB. We are sure he doesn’t know where those call letters came from.

HK1TL - Leaving Colombia 1, K3JJZ

After we finished our operation we broke down the station and crated it up for shipment back to the states. We delivered the equipment to the customs broker in Baranquilla airport and found out how much we had to bribe him in order to be sure that the equipment got shipped out of the country. We were scheduled for some R & R in Cartegena since the Cartegena radio club also played a part in supporting us while we were in Colombia. They treated us royally. But we had to go back to Baranquilla because the Area 2 radio club had planned a big dinner and presentation for us. The dinner was exceptional and we were presented with a beautiful plaque commemorating our operation. The day we were to leave for the airport we had Ate, HK1BYM, schedule a contact with Ernie, W3KKN, to go over any last minute changes. We had planned to go to the airport to pay off the customs broker. However, Ernie informed us that he had been in contact with Russ, W4ZXI, (recall that Russ works out of Miami airport) and Russ informed him that the equipment had already arrived in Miami. I would have loved to have seen the brokers face when Ate told him we knew that the stuff was already in Miami.

HK1TL - Leaving Colombia 2, K3JJZ

At the airport we celebrated by opening the bottle of champagne that we had brought with us for the occasion. Our AeroCondor  flight was scheduled to leave at 5:20 PM. It didn’t leave till 7:10 PM. So here we were on the AeroCondor flight and it was obvious that we would not be able to make our connection with our Eastern flight in Miami which was supposed to get us in at 1AM the following morning. We were seated in the plane when the cabin steward came back and asked if we were radio amateurs. I told him yes and he pointed to me and said that the captain would like to speak with me. I moved forward up through the cabin following the steward and proceeded to knock on the cockpit door. The door opened and I entered. The pilot introduced himself as HK1ABJ and introduced his copilot HK1FMP. (sorry I didn’t get their names). They asked how the project had gone and I told them extremely well. I gave them souvenir QSL sheets that we had made on the Pack Rat printing press before leaving for Colombia. The pilot informed me that he operates aeronautical mobile while flying. He does this on 20 meters. He dialed up 20 meters and we listened around a bit and then he asked me if I would like to operate. I thought Oh boy, HK1TL will operate aeronautical mobile from 35,000 feet. I made several contacts and then decided to call CQ Philadelphia because I thought that this would be an ideal time to get a message through to W3KKN, Ernie, that we were going to be late and not make our original flight to Philadelphia. I contacted W3LTD (again I don’t have a record of his name) who said that he would get the message to Ernie. I thanked the captain and the co-pilot and returned to my seat and told the rest of the group that HK1TL had operated aeronautical mobile from 35000 ft.

HK1TL - Beginning the Trip, W3HQT(K1DY)

So here's another story.. we leave Philadelphia in the van with Dave (WA3JUF/W3KM) driving and another car I guess with all the stuff.. get everything loaded at PHL, then wait for the flight in Philly,... then arrive in Miami and then wait for the "always late" (apparently - it's the "mañana thing")  Aerocondor flight and then FINALLY the next day some time arrive in Colombia having had NO SLEEP and all that partying with the legionaires the night before at the Ben Franklin Hotel. You get the picture. Then we hang out at the airport while they unload the plane. We watch them unload pretty much right in front of us.. it's Colombia after all. The stuff all gets dumped into sort of an "ox cart" and we are counting the boxes 1, 2, 3, ....17, 18, NINETEEN.. Yahoo! Over to the side, Ate (HK1BYM) is talking to some uniformed customs officers using his hands a lot and ultimately some MONEY changes hands. We later found out they told him it would be THREE weeks before the stuff would clear customs.. holy crap. But Ate handled it with a little "green".. "How much did you have to pay him, Ate".. "oh 25,000 pesos".. "holy crap,  how much is that??" "oh about 10 bucks".. Anyway I digress.. After we get the gear and all of us loaded into trucks and cars, they whisk us away to some house in town for our first "press conference". I'm glad Elliot was awake at this point because I sure wasn't!! While he was "telling the story", some one puts an ice cold bottle of "Germania" beer in my hand. Right on the label it says "400 years old" or "founded in 1576" or something like that.. The word as I understood it at the time was that the Germans were some of the first settlers in Colombia, and they had a 400 year old "German Beer" brewery in Colombia. This may have been an exaggeration and possibly the beer was an import, BUT it sure was GOOD and I started thinking (in my haze),  well maybe this is gonna be a REALLY FUN trip!!!

HK1TL - Leaving Colombia 3, K3JJZ

And so it was that we arrived in Miami airport quite late and proceeded to go through customs. Of course by the time got through customs we had missed our Eastern flight. Danny WA3NFV stopped immediately to call his wife to tell her that we would be late. Lucy commented that she knew all about it and that we would be arriving in Philadelphia at 8 AM. Danny couldn’t quite figure it out until we ran into Russ. Russ being one of those super hams who when he sees a need fills it. He found out that we were going to be late and immediately booked us on a Delta flight leaving at 3:40AM changing in Atlanta for another Delta flight which got us into Philadelphia at 8 AM. So as it turned out the people back home knew what flight we would be on before we did. After collecting our luggage we were able to crash for a few hours before going to the Pack Rat picnic.

Restricted Area sign in spanish

HK1TL - Some Memories, W3HQT & W3HMU

This sign (magic marker on plywood) was drawn by our “bodyguard”, Alvaro, and hung over the door to the "shack". He was one of the "guards" supplied by the local "Civil Defense". Many of them were ex-military or paramilitary who had fought the civil wars out in the jungles. Alvaro wore an orange beret. We speculated that he had been a "special forces, or green beret" type guy but probably not, now that I think about it. He was very friendly, very helpful and VERY intrigued by what we were doing..

Then there was the big party in town at the flamenco bar where we met the mayor of Baranquilla who was there with his "niece".. yeah right.. heh heh.. I remember the "trip back from town" that night with the 45 automatic on the front seat (in case of attack from "banditos"..)!

After the party at the flamenco bar the Colombians thought we should go wake up Hymie.  Hymie's house was in a really nice part of town.  So there we stood (Packrats and wives, Colombian hosts and wives ) outside Hymie's second floor bedroom window singing a spanish love song, i.e. sung by those Colombians that knew the song.  The bedroom window opened , a female hand extended and we were showered with roses, then invited in.  Something to drink was offered, a guitar was produced, Tony played, Bill played. We chatted, said good night and got deposited at the hotel.

You know, with all these digital modes and everything these days, they just don't make EME DX-peditions the way they used to!!

HK1TL Short Stories
HK1TL Packing Case #17 with Germania Beer cans on top

HK1TL - Pack Rat Picnic and Summary, K3JJZ

The Pack Rat picnic was a welcome home for the HK1TL group. It is my opinion that were it not for our scheduled arrival the picnic would have been cancelled due to rain. It was pouring. There were people there from ARRL, including the Atlantic Division director. Our life line contacts Ernie, W3KKN. and Bertha, W3TNP. were also there. The presentation was made to K2UYH, Dr. Alan Katz, for achieving the first WAC via 432 EME. All of this was accomplished inside the pavilion while it poured outside.

And so a brief summary-

  • We made more than 75 OSCAR 7B contacts offering Colombia for the first time to OSCAR enthusiasts.
  • We worked sixteen Moonbounce contacts in eight different countries.
  • For the first time in recorded history a South American 432 Mhz EME station was put on the air.
Panorama Picture Baranquilla City
Baranquilla, Colombia

HK1TL - Funny Story 4, K3JJZ

This concerns the packing boxes and their uses. You can see by the photos that there was one box that was hung on the antenna and was filled with rocks . It acted as a counter weight. If you look at the photo from the Hilltown trial antenna experiment you can see that we didn’t have the packing boxes yet so we used a milk crate filled with rocks as the counter weight.

However there is yet another box story. This relates to box “6”. This was one of the wooden boxes constructed by W3HMU Tony. It was 22 x 18 x 12. Yes, I have the box in the back of my garage. What I don’t have is the lid for it.  Box “6” was the one that was left open until last. All last minute items that we thought we would need got thrown in here. As we drove to the airport it was nailed shut.  Now the lid for this box is very important.

It was common practice if one had taken a dip in the ocean to come back into the cabana for a drink. We had a refrigerator, The only problem was that if you touched the door while being wet with salt water you got shocked

It was then that one of our stellar scientists took the top of box “6” and put it on the floor in front of the fridge. This eliminated the shock problem. What a group of innovators!!!

Editors Note: The same time the team was preparing to depart for Colombia (July 25, 1976) was also the time of 1976 ARRL Atlantic Division Convention hosted by the Pack Rats in center city Philadelphia. The ARRL convention was held at the Ben Franklin Hotel in Philadelphia which was also the same week as the infamous 1976 American Legion Convention that was held at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel around the corner. Some of the Legionaire overflow from the Bellevue were also staying at the Ben Franklin. Little did we all know of the events that were to unfold.
W3RJW Editor
Photos by W3RJW
Photos by K3IGX, SK
Updated 12/28/16
HK1TL Operating
Antenna in Colombia
Group operating in moonbounce shack, Elliot upset a loss of AC power
Moon Bounce Station in Colombia
20m liasion station
K3BPP, WA3NFV and W3HQT aiming the HK1TL antenna array using the famous and reliable "Armstrong" system.
HK1TL operating crew ...... The power is out .. again !!
Ate, Tony, Bomar and observer in front of the HK1TL Moon Bounce station waiting for the power to come back on.
K3JJZ operates the 20m liaison station using the trusty Honda generator.
Colombian newspaper article about expedition
Another Colombian newspaper article about expedition
HK1TL Ops Return Home
Crowd under pavilion at Ft. Washington State Park picnic
Posters on wall of Pavilion
August 1976

HK1TL homecoming reception held at the annual Pack Rat Family Day and Picnic at Fort Washington State Park, Fort Washington, PA. A large crowd turned out in the pouring rain to welcome home the team from the expedition to South America.

Job Well Done !!

Some of the many tributes to a "job well done" hung on the wall of the main pavilion!

Group Pic of Ops plus Bert and Ernie
The Team

The HK1TL team and the stateside liaison operators gather during a break in the 1976 Pack Rat Picnic festivites.

Left to Right: WA3NFV, W3HMU, K3BPP, W3TNP, W3HQT, W3KKN, K3JJZ

Dayton Special Achievment Award
Ham Radio Magazine Award
Award from Area 2 Radio Club
Award to Area 2 Radio Club
HK1TL Awards
HK1TL Colombian License
National Coverage
Click on Cover above for PDF of Article
Regarding my thoughts on the HK1TL dxpedition:

In my more than 50 year as a radio amateur, my QSO with HK1TL on 29 July 1976 is the high point. The QSO was the result of my friendship with the Pack Rats. This relationship extends back to my early years in ham radio. I can remember the excitement of checking into my first Pack Rat two meters net from northern New Jersey. I was using an ARC-5 (832 final) and a 15 element Telerex yagi. This was real DX back then!

When I moved to the Trenton area in 1971, I built up a homebrew 20' diameter dish and was able to make my first moonbounce QSO with WA6HXW. This was an exciting moment too. It was not long after that I had the opportunity to obtain a commercial 28' dish, TNX to Dick, W2IMU - rest his sole. I was able to enlist the aid of Doug, WA2LTM and Paul, WB2HHH (then one of my students) with this mammoth project. It is here where the Mt. Airy VHF Radio Club entered in a big way. Back then I was operating on a very limited budget and the problem was how do you mount a 28' dish without a crane? A crew of 28 Pack Rats showed up to help get the job done – see pictures. The Pack Rats left with my old 20’ dish, which they put on 70 cm EME as a club effort and caught the moonbounce bug in a big way. This was in June of 1973.

In 1975, I built up an array of 8 wood boom yagis. I set them up at a home of one of the Pack Rats (I forget who) ed. It was WA3AXV), in his front driveway and was able to work my home station off the Moon. That summer I had to go to Wyoming for a conference and took the yagis with me for what was probably the first EME dxpedition. Unfortunately I had scheduled only one day for operation and it was extremely windy. I never completed a QSO. I learned a lot from this trip that was useful in future dxpeditions. In discussing the dxpedition with Pack Rat friends, the idea of a moonbounce dxpedition to Columbia, South America was born. At the time I had worked five of the six continents required for the ARRL’s WAC award, and there was no indication of any EME activity from South America. This was my missing continent.

It was truly amazing how rapidly the plans took shape and were executed. I ended up giving the dxpedition their first QSO, making it the first successful EME dxpedition, completing the first WAC above 50 MHz and becoming eternally in debt to the Mt. Airy VHF Radio Club for making the trip.

TNX and 73, Al – K2UYH

K2UYH Reminisces
Al adds;

"Regarding HK1TL, there is no question that it was the first EME activity from South America of any type. I am sure it was the first successful 432 EME dxpedition. It was certainly the first international EME dxpedition on any band. "

Last Word

I want to thank everyone that contributed to this project. There were a few I wish I had heard more from, and I know there is still some good material out there, but this is certainly a good start. I want to especially thank K3JJZ who showed the same enthusiasm, cooperation and attention to detail that I am sure helped make the 1976 expedition such a success.

I think it is also important to point out that I think this expedition exemplifies the true spirit of the Pack Rats. Just think about it: Need a kilowatt amplifier for 432 - Build It! Need a portable antenna system with 30 dB+ of gain - Build It! Need shipping crates - Build Them! Need pre-amps - Build Them! And the list goes on. It is such a stark contrast to the way we do things today where the words 'Build It'! are replaced by 'BUY IT'!

Also keep in mind at all times that this was 1976 and we didn't have .2 dB noise figures and computers with programs that can extract the signals from the noise. This was with a Drake 2B receiver with no filters to speak of. Often the only indication of the CW signal was a subtle change in the background noise decoded by the sharp ear of an experienced operator. This was hands on radio. These were real contacts. This was the type of stuff that drew many of us to the hobby back in the day.

Ron Whitsel, Editor
W3RJW

Colombian Farewell Party

Bill Olson, W3HQT (Added Dec 2016)

After we made the final EME contact and took everything apart and packed it all up we were sort of celebrities, REALLY TIRED celebrities. Nonetheless, a celebration was in order and we had learned that our Colombian hosts LOVE a good party.  I remember very little about that day, .. I was probably asleep, but I do remember we were excited because we were to be guests of honor at a big banquet at “the Country Club”. The country club was in a different part of town than we had been to before and seemed to be in a secluded more upscale area.. I remember a drive down a very long winding lane lined with large white painted rocks. The main building where the banquet was to be held was familiar architecture, one story, cement or stone, white, lots of windows, very open. As we walked in we were first stuck by this long buffet table set out with hors d'oeuvres. The center piece was melons carved like swans..  The AREA2 people were waiting for us and soon we were munching, sharing stories, and there were cocktails of course.

Dinner ensued and the buffet table was set with large trays and bowls of every type of delicious food imaginable, all served by male servers in orange dinner jackets..  I remember being quite hungry and started down the line filling my plate until no more could fit on it, only to look down the table to see food I hadn’t even LOOKED AT yet extending for another 10 or 12 feet ..  What a spread!!  We ate, we talked more, I probably went back for seconds and thirds and we were back to visiting, telling more stories and, of course, more cocktails. There was pretty much every type of libation available to us, except one. I think it was at the lunch meeting at the Cartagena marina with the Cartagena Radio Club that we were first introduced to Tres Esquinas and Castalia.. This was a mixed drink that was equal parts “three cornered rum” (Tres esquinas means 3 corners and comes in a triangular shaped bottle) and a grapefruit soda sort of like Squirt. We grew fond of it, but unknown to us this was not the type of cocktail normally served at a high class establishment, more like a drink for the masses. Anyway, we got Ate on it and soon enough some bottles were found down in the cellar! Ate probably told them we didn’t know any better being Gringos and all and we WERE the guests of honor.. They did have the stuff there though.

Everything gets pretty hazy after that.  I do remember how outgoing and gracious our Colombian hosts were.. They didn’t know much about EME, but they helped support us in every way they could AND they knew what a big deal the expedition was and really wanted to show us a great time that last night.  They succeeded.

432 EME NEWS ** AUG. 1976

HKITL GREAT SUCCESS: The Mount Airy VHF Radio Club have done it again! QSO’s were made from Columbia S.A. with 16 different stations: F9FT, W3CCX, K2UYH, I5MSH, PAØSSB. K3PGP. VE7BBG, LX1DB, W1JAA, W4ZXI, JA1VDV, W1SL, WØYZS, WAØTLM, K8UQA, and SM5LE.  Partial QSO’s were also made  with K4VOW, WB5LUA, ON4DY, WA7TZY and possible others as we do not have the complete story at the time of this writing.

 The DXpedition was certainly not all one big fish fry. The group arrived in Baranquilla, Colombia early Monday morning June 26. By Tuesday evening most of the equipment has been set up at the station site about an hours drive from the city. Plans called for initial sun noise and echo tests on the 28th. We listened for them throughout the day, but heard nothing. 20 meter liaison that evening confirmed that they were not on due to insufficient line voltage. During the night a new power line was run to the transmitter site and everything appeared ready to go on Thursday morning.

At 1600 we first heard their signals weakly. However at 1700 HKITL came on with a strong (O) signal for an early sked with F9FT. The sked continued for an hour and although good signals were heard at times from both sides a QSO was not achieved. The problem appears to have been high winds which kept blowing the HKITL array off the moon. At 1800 it was our turn again. This time with four crew members working to keep the array on the moon, a first QSO was achieved working O/O, S3.

432 MHz WAC: This QSO was cause for celebration at both ends as it gave us our 6th continent and the first WAC on a band above 6 meters.

Later in the evening HK1TL made their 2nd contact with their home station W3CCX/3. A number of additional skeds had been setup for Friday (July 31) starting at 1600, to give Europeans who would be leaving on their summer vacations an extra chance to work HKITL. All went well the first two hours, but then the power failed again. This problem would continue to plague the DXpedition throughout the remainder of their operation with failures occurring during critical windows and the skeds of VK2AMW and W5LO. Fortunately many of the skeds missed were rescheduled through the efforts of Ernie, W3KKN and his XYL W3TNP who handled 20 meter liaison. By the time HKITL ceased EME operation more than 70% of the stations originally scheduled had been worked. (~ 0400 Aug3.)

Not many hams outside of the Pack Rat organization (W3CCX) realize the tremendous effort which went in to bringing the DXpedition off… over 1300 lbs. of equipment, reams of correspondence for licensing, etc. The Mount Airy VHF Radio Club and especially the HKITL crew of Bill W3HQT, Walt K3PBB, Elliott K3JJZ, Tony W3HMU, Danny WA3NUF, Bolmer WB3AOP and Sam WB3AFY deserve the praises of all VHFers for their super achievement.

Al Katz, K2UYH

On the Other End ...