10m, I love you!

SOTA summit: N/A

Location: Lat/Long 10.688425, -85.234327 Guayabo, Costa Rica

Contest: ARRL DX SSB, 48 hours over March 3 and 4th, 2018

Portable operation: Suitecase DXPedition 

Radio: Elecraft KX3, PX3 Panadapter and KXPA100  operating at 100 watts SSB

Antenna: Buddipole dipoles, verticals and “experimental” Yagis and OCF wire dipole

Bands used: 10m, 15m, 20m, 40m, 80m and 160m

Hike:  None….we sat for 48 hours (ouch)

Solo operation: No, contest team was Matt (K0BBC), Chris (W6HFP), Harold (WJ1B) and me W6PNG

Recommend: Yes

ATT Coverage: Yes

Photos: Copyright Paul Gacek 2018

We survived Friday night and for better or worst felt we deserved a descent breakfast that could only be offered up at a local restaurant. Sitting in our Polaris I think we made a comical site riding through town waving at anyone that glanced our way. Finding a breakfast place wasn’t that hard as the choices seemed to be limited to one and so that is where we went. Well, my Spanish is essentially non existent, Chris’s seemingly passable and Harold’s possibly better. However, this didn’t result in us having an overwhelming confidence that we knew what we ordered and after a time decided to shut up and just see what happened.

Us, having breakfast Saturday morning playing cookie from the contest
My breakfast….pretty tasty

Much of the remainder of Saturday we clocked up contacts on 20m and 15m and saw a pattern emerge were the night time bands were yielding much less than we hoped and the day time, especially 15m was unexpectedly good. Day time shifts were 90 minutes each and night time 2 hours. It was a bit of crap shoot how many contacts a shift would yield from lots to very few. Thinking more about this and the impact of being up for long boring stretches at night which could yield very little prompted us to declare another breakfast break on Sunday where we would all eat together and then a revised schedule of 60 minute shifts attempting to divvy up shifts, were a perceived hot one was countered by a potentially boring and light one.

Revised schedule for Sunday. 8:30 team breakfast and then 2 slots each in final 8 hours
Me, W6PNG cooking Sunday breakfast
My concoction….it actually tasted pretty good

Probably late but unequivocally fun, I started calling CQ on 10m for the team early Sunday afternoon. Maybe Saturday would have been a better time but we just didn’t seem to get round to it till Sunday. Part of it is that the ham community has been conditioned that certain bands are open and others dead. 10m falls in the later category and to some existent it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, its dead, why bother trying!

We live in the moment and what is left is a memory. Some good, some great and some worth forgetting. This one was hard to beat. It’s almost as if all of the USA and Canada had been waiting for me. Points come from contacts and multipliers (a new State or Province) and over 75 minutes (Harold donated 15 minutes as I was on a roll) I wracked up about 150 contacts and 35 multipliers. Fast and furious. Rhode Island finally was added to our State list being illusive for almost 40 hours. I broke the 1,000,000 point barrier for us. It was a blast and an adrenaline rush which seems kind of silly but I guess all passions from Tiddlywinks to sky diving all have their own unique highs and this is one of ours.

10m Buddipole dipole. Radiating resplendently as we broke the 1,000,000 point barrier!


World class Elecraft KX3 radio and PX3 which makes operating a contest so much easier

That high can be so addictive you dont want to step aside as Chris almost experienced in this video……


Matt K0BBC – The Leader

and here is Harold on reconnaissance duty……


Million point plus team. Hopefully we will do well in the multi/low power category but we won’t win!!
Hour by hour contact per band. Green is 20m, Orange 15m and Yellow 10m. Nighttimes were tough!!
Did we say we where excited about our contest performance?

Monday and Chris has left at zero dark early. Too much radio leaves really only one other pursuit….beer and the beach!

45 minute drive west to Pacific with Nicaragua in distance
Tasted pretty good. Label was unbeatable too
and these fish tacos ….well, best food of the trip!
The author consuming his well earned La Pelona IPA

Was it all worth it?

Unequivocally yes. I learnt a lot, visited a new country albeit very briefly and walked away with a life time of fabulous memories.

Make everyday count.

Thank you Chris, Harold and an especially big thanks to Matt (K0BBC) for organizing and inviting me on this suitcase DXPedition.


  1. Now that’s what I call “rough’n it” on a dxpedition: gallo pinto washed down with LaPelona IPA …. Rock on! 73’s, Woody/K1LB


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