ED1R is without a doubt one of the top contest stations in Spain nowadays. At ED5T we have followed the fortunes of the group from their humble beginnings through to the present station they have in the small village of Papatrigo, a rural area in the province of Avila, northwest of Madrid.
The mastermind behind all of this is Jesús, EC1KR, a 29 year old native of the village but resident in the provincial capital, 20 minutes away. Jesús and myself, together with EC2DX Imanol, are the organisers of the 2013 URE team in the IARU HF championship, and since URE approved our proposal last month, we have been talking about getting together. This is not easy, since the nearest common point to the three of us is over 3 hours drive, but as luck would have it, during a christmas family visit I found myself an hour away from Papatrigo and with a morning to spare, so Jesús kindly agreed to come over and show me the station.
I arrived a bit before Jesús and his mum opened up for me so I could see around. The first thing that struck me was that the antennas are all in a relatively small lot. Basically the station has been set up in an old cowshed in the middle of a vegetable garden! There are four towers there, and the second thing a visitor will notice is that the 10 and 15m antennas first installed are really rather low. A fifth tower is "in process" but like many things in Spain, the economic situation means this plan is on ice for now.
I won't go into details about what's there, if you are interested there is plenty of detailed information on www.ed1r.com , but will comment on some things I thought of interest.
First of all the antenna setup is designed to give rapid movement in different directions. There are both fixed and rotatable antennas, plus the addition of a TH5 tribander using the novel 4O3A triband splitter (see http://www.4o3a.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=127&Itemid=509 ). All of this uses custom designed software by Pablo EA4TX (http://www.ea4tx.com/wp/?page_id=59) for easy on-screen point and shoot, plus Pablos software controls stack selection using the SJ2W stack match (http://www.sj2w.se/contest/?page_id=1557).
All of these technological innovations were very interesting to see working, and I was able to sit down at one of the stations and see how easy it was on 20m to use the 4 element DX beam pointing towards the USA, together with the TH5 fixed towards Europe, and choose between one, other, or both, either at the press of a button or at the click of a mouse. Jesús tells me it's even possible to TX all your power through one antenna, but RX through both, a nice option thought out for trying to work the states but not wanting to miss out on EU calling off the side.
Before getting down to business though, in traditional style Jesús brought some "churros y porras" and we had coffee and churros while chewing the fat a bit! Here's a photo of the two of us getting ready for the station tour:
And with that, seasons greetings to all, may 2013 bring us all lots of sunspots, good DX, and fun contesting!