A Brief History of KB1H, The Contest Station

I guess it all started around 1983 or 1984.  Having changed my call from WA1DWF to KB1H I became interested in DX contesting.  I had always been active in Field Day and Sweepstakes.  For the first time I had a tower with beams!!  Until around 1983 all I had were wire antennas.  A KT43XA tribander and a Mosley S-402 made me feel loud.  My QTH was about three miles from where I am now.  The shack was in the basement of my log cabin and I had made a soundproof room.  If you have ever contested with me, I need to be in a sound-padded room.  

The first crew that did Multi-Op contesting with me was WA1RLV (now W1MKM), WA1HYN (now K1ZE), WA1DCP, WA1BZS (now KR1U), and a few visitors.  Some calls were quite familiar even though I had a very small station.  K9ZO, who was a member of a team at WRTC-2000 and frequent DXexpedition member, helped in a few contests and also enjoyed east coast propagation many  weekends in my basement.  There weren’t many highlights to talk about in those days but we had fun!

In 1988 I moved to my present QTH.  The property already had a finished barn out back so the second floor was ideal for a contest station.  Thus the team name of The Barnstormers” Only about 200 feet higher above sea level than my previous QTH, the slope to Europe is much better. I looked into a hill at the previous QTH.  The picture at the top of our website is a panoramic view towards Europe taken from the top of the 155 foot tower (added Summer 2010) . It pans about 345 degrees to 60 degrees left to right.  Though I have many contest summary sheets from 1988 to 1996, it wasn’t until about July 1996 that I started to keep good records as to our progress with the station hardware and contests results.  

The real history starts in mid-1996. At that time the crew was  AA1CE, K1EBY, K1DW, and NB1U.  Occasional visits by other well-known operators like N1RR and KM3T helped out our operating crew. As always, Kim, KB1DFB (unlicensed until about 1999) helped out.  We had the Rohn 45 (90’) next to the barn and the trusty old windmill tower, I actually moved my 80-foot windmill tower on a flatbed!   Help putting up the first tower came from fellow YCCC’ers like K1EA and K1VR.  How these “Big Guys” found the time to help me  I don’t know.  The Rohn 45 had 10 and 20 meters, the windmill had 40 and 15 meters. No stacks yet, just monobanders.  Plans were being made for the 80 meter 4-Square and the 3rd tower which was to be the 20 meter tower. Clearing brush and trees for the 4-Square and 3rd tower took most of the weekends.  AA1CE developed data files for the N6BV terrain analysis program and found that any height above 90’ on the 3rd tower was useless. During the sunspot cycle low of 2008-2010 we wish we had put another 30 feet on this tower. Results from the CQWW SSB 1995 contest saw us miss the “box” by 500K.  During the winter we had a serious ice storm and  lost most of the 10 meter antennas on the Rohn 45. It seemed like a good time to re-configure.

The first annual "Barnstormers Christmas Party" occurred in January 1997. By April we had Tower #3 up 26’.  It was during this spring we added 30’ to the Rohn 45.  Now up at 120’, it was impressive.  N1BU came onboard.  In August K1EBY located 300’ of  3” irrigation pipe for the 80 meter 4-Square. This was the beginning of a disheartening story.  By CQWW SSB we got one of these verticals up and all four for the CW weekend. We really enjoyed a taste of the future. We got Tower #3 up 90’ with the Telrex 20 Meter 5-element on the top.  

We lost the 80 Meter 4-Square many times that winter.  I went as far as hiring a crane which put me up in a basket to assemble the verticals in the air!  You could tell I was an electrical engineer, not mechanical.  It wasn’t until October of 1998 that we finally got the verticals up in their present design.

It was CQWW SSB 1998 that we finally had enough aluminum up to make noise and get noticed.  With a few monobanders still on the ground, we made a very decent showing.  By the time CW weekend rolled around we had a few more antennas in the air.  

In March 1998 KB1H hosted a YCCC training operation during CQWW WPX. N1XYS (now N1XS) came along with Rich, N1IXF and Max, N1LYA. Max is Dave, AA1CE’s XYL and had contested here before.

January 30, 1999 was the 3rd Annual Barnstormer’s Christmas Party and we talked over our plans for the remainder of 1999.  The plans for the remaining stacks were laid out and we all looked forward to better times.  By contest season October 1999 we were QRV with stacks on 10, 15, and 20 Meters all phased with WX0B Stackboxes. Since then we have added a few additional antennas, especially antennas fixed south on 10, 15, 20, and 40 meters.

A big station highlight had to be the joint operation with KI1G when our two stations were combined for NU1AW during the 2000 IARU contest.  What a blast being a much sought after worldwide multiplier!

October 3, 2000 we received our club call, NZ1U.  The Barnstormer’s Contest Group now had our own callsign!

Every year brings new plans and each year no different.  We have added an Ethernet network, rebuilt a few rotors, and rewired a station or two.  

Our crew now consists of KB1H, AA1CE, N1XS, K1EBY, NB1U, KB1DFB, W1UJ, NR1X, KM1X, K1IN, and W1TJL with part-time help from KE1LI, W1MKM, N1BU, and K1GX.

We have made many friends around the world with more than 200,000 QSOs uploaded to LOTW.

Please enjoy our website and we welcome comments. Visit us often as we continually update the contents.


Dick – KB1H