Friday, September 19, 2014

E3 Eritrea, last country on African continent I need, is in my log!

I had the most wonderful night on amateur radio last night. It reminded me of all the best things about our hobby. I pointed the hexbeam at North America at around 11pm on 17 metres SSB and started calling CQ. I worked a lot of stations, including one or two from South America. The furthest west I worked was into Wyoming, which was nice. A lot of the stations I worked were also using a hexbeam. This very capable little wire-beam antenna is becoming very popular. And who could blame a ham who is short of either cash or real estate (or both) from choosing it, given its great performance?

Zorro JH1AJT is in Eritrea as E30FB.
Anyway, after a while I could see that Zorro E30FB in Eritrea was active on 20 metres SSB, and knowing that it would be an all-time new one (ATNO) if I could get him, I had to leave 17 metres and turn the beam to 120 degrees and set the QRG to 14.245. I had guessed that he might be working North America only, and was disappointed to hear that that was the case.

Zorro is in Eritrea as part of a Japanese delegation and has something like 30 meetings scheduled for his short stay, which is to last less than a week. He is squeezing in his ham radio operations between this hectic schedule. He had been on 15 metres SSB on Wednesday afternoon and 20m SSB on Wednesday evening, working, respectively, EU and then NA. The same pattern was evident yesterday, Thursday, when he had worked a huge EU pile on 15 in the afternoon before calling for NA on 20m in the evening.

And so it was that I found myself sitting at the radio, listening to this rare DX working Stateside station after Stateside station. In a way, it was pleasurable. It was great to hear this very rare DXCC being activated. But it was frustrating having to sit by and watch, knowing that a QSO would be possible if only he was working Europe too. Unfortunately, he was being QRMed by music for a short time, as you can see in this video, which was shot about 15 minutes before I made my QSO:

I knew I would have a chance of a QSO if he allowed it. I nearly made it Wednesday night, but he thought I was AI2KC and when he heard me say "Echo India", he said he was working North America only. And this is one of the great questions about operating etiquette - do you call when he is generally working NA, or not at all? More specifically, if he does not say "North America" at the end of every CQ, do you call from Europe?

Having heard him work a HB9 station, I felt that it was worthwhile giving it a shot. When he said "North America", I would not call. When he said just "QRZ?", I would call. And that was my pattern. It was easy to hear the split because the American operators are far more disciplined than many of their European counterparts. There was still plenty of indiscipline, but it was much less predominant than in an EU pile-up.

I followed his QSX up and down. He would spend a few minutes on one QRG before it got too hectic and then move to another "quiet spot". Before too long, I heard him say just "QRZ?" and called him on the split where he had worked his last US contact. Then, the magic words came through:

"Kilo charlie, kilo charlie?"

"Echo India Two Kilo Charlie."

"Echo India Two Kilo Charlie, you are five nine."

"Thank you Zorro. You are also five nine in Ireland. Thank you so much for taking me in! 73!"

And he thanked me and I was in his log and suddenly, at 00:56 local time, I was in the log of E30FB and the last country I needed on the African continent was in my log. This all-time new one is DXCC #307 worked from this station. To say that I went to bed with a big smile on my face is an understatement! My fellow DX friend Mark EI6JK got a QSO immediately afterwards, and as soon as was he logged, Zorro started calling for North America only !!!

As they say, that's the way the cookie crumbles! This time, it crumbled in my favour . . .


  1. Hello Anthony, that was a great story. So you worked all countries in Africa? That's remarkable! I can feel the excitement through your writing ;-) 73, Bas

    1. Yes Bas, it is the last one! Coming into 2014, I had only two DXCC on the African continent left to work - S0 Western Sahara and E3 Eritrea. S01WS has been quite active this past few months and has given me a number of bands. Finally, E3 came on the air on Wednesday this week. It was last activated in 2001 apparently. Really chuffed to be in the log, especially under the circumstances. Big day for me!!!


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