Andorra (1979)


    (Click on Photo)

My previous expedition to Andorra had been fun, but we were poorly prepared.  We had insufficient antennas, insufficient battery power, and not enough food.  I was determined to do it again.  4 years later I organized a group of 10 people.  We returned to La Rabassa with 3 cars loaded with supplies.


THE RIG:  In these 4 years, technology had advanced significantly. Transistorized 100w transceivers opened new opportunities for expeditions.  Early transceivers were analog.  After disabling the dial lamps, the [original] TEN-TEC OMNI used here only drew 150 mA of current on receive.  I reduced the output power to 50w to save battery power.  The keyer was home brew using "RTL" technology, and the Key is an old Autronic paddle.  My Argonaut 509 and 405 Amp were reserve, but never required.  


POWER: I ran the CW station alone, running completely off of batteries for 10 days. Basically I needed one fully charged car battery per day.  Each day we would remove a battery from one of the cars, use it all day (about 12 to 16 hours of operation), then put it back into the car.  The next day that car drove to Andorra City with 3 or 4 people who visited the local camp site (where they could shower). We rotated cars each day. The trip would charge the car's battery enough to support another day's operations. TRY DOING THAT TODAY WITH TODAY'S "CURRENT-HOG" TRANSCEIVERS!


ANTENNA:  I had only one antenna, a "Lazy Loop" made of wire, and hanging from the trees.  It was an 82m long square loop, fed with home-brew 600 Ohm openwire feedline and matched with a home-brew link-coupled symmetrical matchbox.  It's average height was about 8m above ground.


If you look closely at the picture, you can see the openwire feedline above the tent on the right. The home-brew matchbox is sitting on top of the Omni in the picture.  I also had a DECCA KW-EZee Match symmetrical matchbox as backup.  


THE SSB STATION: was located about 200 meters away from my CW tent. They had the full Monty, including a generator which powered their SB-220 linear amplifier, and a 3-element triband beam. They used a Yaesu FT-101E transceiver.


Despite their superior power, manpower (4 operators), and antenna advantage, I made more QSOs on CW than they did on SSB.