The YM7PA team on the beach. L-to-r: Jan Willem-PA0JWU, Omari-4L5O, Pim-PA0TLX and Allard-PE1NWL. The apartment building can be seen in the background.
After their exciting experiences during the 4L6PA operation in Georgia, the Dutch group decided to try its luck again - this time in Trabzon in eastern Turkey. Using the callsign YM7PA, the group made over 1100 contacts into 44 different countries in a period of 22 days in July 1997.
The 1996 DXpedition to Georgia would never have been possible without the help of Omari, 4L5O. He proved to be a reliable contact person, a good organiser and, very important, an enthusiastic DX operator. In other words, a perfect DXpeditioner. Already in Georgia, the idea arose to organise an expedition to Turkey in 1997, together with Omari.
During the winter of 1997, Omari brought us into contact with his QSL manager Sedat, TA7A who lives in Trabzon. Sedat is also president of the Trabzon Radio Club and he was the one who managed to obtain a Turkish license for 50MHz. As the band is still used for military purposes in Turkey, six metre operation is not normally allowed there. Only on special occasions, some limited 50MHz operation is allowed by the authorities. Sedat managed to obtain a 50MHz permit, allowing us to use the club stations special event callsign YM7PA for a period of 3 weeks, from any location within the province of Trabzon.
Meanwhile, we had formed a DXpedition team that consisted of Pim, PAØTLX, Omari, 4L5O, Jan Willem, PAØJWU and me, Allard, PE1NWL. Both Jan Willem and I could only go for two weeks, so it was decided that I would go for the first two weeks and Jan Willem the last two weeks, so that we would have an overlap of one week when the whole group of four would be complete.
Arrival in Trabzon
After a long day spent in various airports and customs offices, we finally arrived at Trabzon airport on July 1st, late at night. Somewhere between Frankfurt and Istanbul our antenna had disappeared, but the airline assured us that it would be sent to Trabzon as soon as it was found. In the arrivals hall in Trabzon we were warmly welcomed by Sedat, TA7A and Erol, TA7V and several other local amateurs.
The TRC is a very lively club with many active members. They have set up two VHF repeaters in the area. Nearly all members carry their portable transceivers with them so they are continuously in touch with each other. Some members heard via the repeater that we were arriving that evening and they took the opportunity to meet us at the airport.
Omari had already arrived some days before from his home town Tbilisi, so he was also there. After a year of communicating via faxes, it was very good to meet him again face-to-face.
To celebrate our safe arrival, the whole group had a nice Turkish dinner in one of the restaurants near Trabzon, where we had kofte (meat balls), with bread and salad and ayran (a very refreshing drink made from thin yoghurt with a little salt in it). We informed our new friends about the antenna that got lost, and Erol promised us he would personally make sure that we got our antenna back as soon as possible. The next morning he phoned Istanbul and he gave us the good news that, in the mean time, the antenna had been found in Frankfurt and that he could pick it up from the airport in Trabzon that evening!
The QTH - Carcibasi
The five element Yagi in its position on the apartment roof
Trabzon is a city on the Black Sea coast in eastern Turkey. The area is very green, in contrast to the dry steppes further south. The climate is relatively mild, compared to the up-country areas that are known for their hot summers and long hard winters. When we were there, we did not have much rain but it is said that there is quite much rainfall all through the year. Because of the less sunny climate and because there are no sandy beaches (see our QSL card), there is not much tourism. The distance to western Europe is approximately 3500km. Trabzon has a big port and some industrial activity. High mountains rise up directly from the sea. Industry, traffic on the coastal road and electricity power lines were expected to cause QRM. It would therefore be important to find a QTH close to the sea-side, preferably in a smaller village at some distance from Trabzon.
We spent our first day in Turkey looking for a good place. Ismail TA7OO, who is a taxi driver, drove us around the area and, using the contacts of Nasser TA7AA (another TRC member), we finally found a perfect QTH. We could rent a four-room apartment in a five-storey building right on the beach in the village of Carcibasi (locator KN91QC), about 35km west of Trabzon. From this building we had free sight over the Black Sea in all directions between NW and NE. Between SW and NW, there were some lower hills, but still small enough to make propagation possible into those directions. Between SW and E, however, big mountains were in the way so we did not expect to make many QSOs in those directions.
The apartment building had a flat roof that was easily accessible, so ideal for placing our antennas. We bought a six metre-long steel pipe in a local hardware shop, for use as a mast that brought our five element yagi to a height of 25 metres asl. A windom antenna for HF was also installed. The transceiver that we brought from Holland was an Icom IC-736, the same set that we used last year in Georgia. With the help of TA7AO, the whole station including the antennas was set up already in the morning of the second day. On Thursday July 3rd at 1200 UTC we switched on our beacon and YM7PA was on the air!
Of course the band was closed at that time, but we did not have to be very patient. Already at 1356, it was S59A who became the first station worked by YM7PA, and just about 20 minutes later, at 1420 (just a few hours after coming on the air), Richard, PE1OUC became the first Dutch station in our log!
This proved that our station was working fine, also that the situation with regard to QRM was not too bad (as long as we did not turn the beam towards the village), so it all looked very promising.
In Georgia, our main problem was the unreliability of the mains power supply and of our generator. On the other hand, our own equipment worked fine as long as there was power. In Turkey, electricity was no problem. Electricity was (almost) continuously available and of sufficient stability for our IC-736.
It was our own equipment that gave us problems. Several connectors on pre-fab cables were not properly soldered (some were even not soldered at all), a piece of coaxial antenna cable that we brought with us turned out to give intermittently very poor SWR and had to be replaced after some days. Also our rotator control box broke down when the expedition reached its end. Fortunately, Omari managed to fix it so that many valuable QSOs could be made during the last days that otherwise would have been missed.
All of these problems caused us some headaches at times, but all of them were detected in an early stage and could be fixed in time so that after all they did not have much impact on the success of our expedition.
We did not have any complaints from our neighbours who were in the same building about breakthrough and fortunately also the loudspeakers on the nearby mosque did not sound abnormal when we were on the air!
The days in Carcibasi
The team at dinner at the QTH of TA7V, L-to-R: Omari-4L5O, Erol-TA7V (back to camara!), Sedat-TA7A and Pim-PA0TLX.
As we had good experiences in Georgia with our QSK-breakable beacon, we decided to use the same technique in Turkey. DXing may be exciting at times, but our day-to-day life during the expedition mainly consisted of listening to our own beacon, which could at any time suddenly be interrupted by an incoming signal from another station.
Omari was often found asleep behind the set with his head resting on the table, but is was surprising to see how even the faintest cw-signal could suddenly wake him up so that he didnt miss any QSO.
For our meals we usually went to the village of Carcibasi, where some simple restaurants served some kofte, kebab, etc. and endless cups of strong Turkish tea. We were also often visited by our friends Sedat and Erol, who took us to several other places where we had excellent fish and raki mezze, a table full of various small dishes which is usually enjoyed together with large amounts of raki, which is very similar to the Greek ouzo.
Erol lent us his two metre portable so we kept in touch with friends via the repeater which was coincidentally also located in Carcibasi. We kept it on standby on the repeater channel hearing the traffic and often noticed Ukrainian stations could be heard! When there was no propagation on Six we sometimes made some QSOs with them, but unfortunately none of the Ukrainian stations were also active on six metres.
On Tuesday evening July 22nd, Pim, PAØTLX and Jan Willem, PAØJWU returned safely in The Netherlands. Omari, 4L5O returned to Tbilisi by bus the same evening. I myself had returned home a week earlier, due to other commitments.
In the period of the 22 days of activity, YM7PA made a total of 1106 QSOs in to 44 different DXCC countries. Best DX was the QSO with VE1ZZ on July 12th. Although we tried many times, we were not able to work Japan this year.
DXCC countries worked by YM7PA on 50 MHz:
|Isle of Man||GD7KHG||12-Jul-97||11:50||SSB||55|
Omari and Allard at the rig.
We from the YM7PA team are all very satisfied with these results. We look back at a successful operation and a very pleasant time in Turkey!
The pleasant atmosphere and the excellent co-operation with the Trabzon Radio Club made the whole operation a great success. We will never forget the raki mezze, kofte, kebab, ayran and the Turkish tea that sometimes made us forget that we were actually on a DXpedition.
Special thanks go to Sedat, TA7A and Erol, TA7V for their help and guidance in Turkey. Thanks also go to Ismail TA7OO, who was our driver, for his excellent driving skills and for his help with setting up the antennas.
QSL information: Send a SAE to PAØTLX, PO Box 2010, 1180 EA Amstel-veen, The Netherlands.
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