F5LMJ - Bhoutan
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A52CDX-05-QSL-Verso_lr.jpg (137387 octets)

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a52cdx License
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Donated equipment list 

Following A52FH in September 2000, and A52CDX in October and November 2004, we were for the third time in Bhutan from 18th November to 3rd December 2005, again with the callsign A52CDX. We again found Bhutan to be a wonderful country, even if its location is far from ideal for Amateur Radio. We have formed a fruitful relationship with the Bhutan Information Communication and Media Authority (BICMA, ex-BTA). 

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The A52CDX team at the BICMA head office
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The official station at BICMA 
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A5'operators at the BICMA head office 
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Official handover of two stations to BICMA

Some have expressed doubts about the interest and relevance of our projects, and also about the benefit and even the existence of these "club stations" that nobody ever hears They have also wondered about the "small" number of contacts we have made from Bhutan…We invite them to visit these deep Himalayan valleys, where signals have to bounce across a maze of valleys before passing the high Himalayas and reaching Europe or the US. We would probably make more contacts from a seaside "lodge" with aerials perfectly in the clear. It would certainly be more efficient, but if we want this country to be active, we need to accept the local conditions and deal with them as well as we can.

Installation of the Bardo and Shingkhar stations by A51WD with the equipment donated by French radioamateurs.

1 Bardo pry school.JPG (82202 octets) 3 Antenna wire.JPG (166552 octets) 7 Training of Head teacher.JPG (100385 octets) 9 License of A50F.JPG (92826 octets) 10 hands-on training.JPG (77759 octets)
11 Shingkhar pry school.JPG (97518 octets) 13 Solar panel setting.JPG (121578 octets) 13 Tranceiver is ON.JPG (107437 octets) 22 License of A50E.JPG (81319 octets) 24 Excited children.JPG (102628 octets)

The club stations installed by BICMA with the equipment donated by French radio hams are active very day. In particular, a network operates every day in Dzongkha – the country’s official language – between the schools of Phuentsoling A50B, Thimphu A50D and Bardo A50F on 40 metres at 9h30 and 12h30 local time. Conditions can be described as QRP, with 100 watts at best, sometimes with solar panels, always with wire antennas. However, these radio clubs are genuinely active every day. Two additional stations will be installed by BICMA in the East of Bhutan with the equipment we have been able to donate this year thanks to the help of our sponsors. 

The team for this new activity was the same as in 2004, Gérard F2VX (SSB), Vincent G0LMX (SSB), Jean-Louis F9DK (CW) and Alain F5LMJ (CW et digital modes).

We operated from 18th to 28th November from the Ham Centre of our friend Yeshey Dorji A51AA, with participation in the CQ World Wide CW contest. We then tested conditions from other regions of Bhutan from 29th November to 2nd December: 

  • Ugyen Cholling in the Tang Valley in Central Bhutan, with 30 watts on batteries charged by solar panels, 
  • Trongsa in a deep valley in Central Bhutan where propagation is open only towards the south, 
  • And from the Paro valley where conditions allowed only a few contacts.
Locations Lat N Long E  Alt in m  QRA Loc
A52CDX, Ham Center, Thimphu 27°29'41,44"  89°38'32,4"  2334   NL47TL 
A52CDX/P, Ogyencholling, Bumthang 27°36'45,1" 90°53'23,9" 2909  NL57KO 
A52CDX/P, Trongsa  27°30'14,5" 90°29'40,1" 2062 NL57FM
A52CDX/P Paro 27°25'28,8"  89°24'45,6" 2307 NL47QK 

Thimphu (Locator NL47) : At the ham Centre, the available equipment allows running two fully operational stations in parallel :

  • Icom IC-746 with a linear amplifier Yaesu FL-2100Z  for CW

  • Icom IC-756 with a linear amplifier Dentron MLA-2500 for SSB

We also did some digital mode contacts from the Ham Centre with the TS-50 we had brought for portable operation. Depending on the bands, 300 to 600 watts were available
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Gérard F2VX
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Jean-Louis F9DK
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Vincent G0LMX
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Alain F5LMJ... en plein contest!
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Le Ham Center et la beam A3S
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Beam Warc A3WS, fixe et au raz des sapins
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Antenne 80m, modèle "spécial F2VX"
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Station CW pour le CQ World-Wide contest
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Le Ham Center dans la vallée de Thimphu

The aerials are to a large extent obstructed by trees and mountains, but they allow operation from 10 to 160 metres, and have generally given good results after an extensive overhaul 

  •  A3S beam and its rotator on top of a 10 metre mast for the 10, 15 and 20 metre bands

  • A3WS beam without rotator, just above the tree line for the 12 and 17 metre bands

  • R8 vertical for 30 and 40 metres

  • Asymmetric dipole for 80 metres (original design by F2VX) where the length of only one end is adjusted for SSB or CW – this gave results beyond expectations.

  • Dipole for 160 metres, so close to the ground that it could have been used as a clothes line.

 This is not very academic, but it works when properly tuned. Conditions at Thimphu are difficult because aerials are close to trees and nearby mountains, and the high Himalayas obstruct the path between Thimphu and Europe / USA, and because of the local noise and QRM between S7 and S8.


Ogyen Cholling (locator NL57) : This was the first amateur radio activity from the Bhumtang province in central Bhutan, at an altitude of 3000 metres and one hour on foot from the bottom of the valley where we left our vehicle. No electricity at Ogyen Cholling, only solar panels on the roof of the guest house.  We managed to operate the TS-50 with around 30 watts into a simple half-size G5RV antenna

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le village 
d'Ogyen Cholling
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1ere activité radio à Ogyen Cholling
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En télégraphie également
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Station A52CDX/P
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The antenna was clear of any object, with no background noise. We contacted all of Europe as well as other DX, and showed to the Dacho, head of the village, that radio communications were possible from this remote village.

Trongsa (Locator NL57) : Deep valley, open only towards the south. We installed the TS-50 and G5RV antenna but with very limited success. Not the ideal location for amateur radio

Paro (Locator NL47) : The last two days before our return to Paris, we operated from the same place as last year where we had made a substantial number of QSOs at the Gantey hotel, above the Paro Dzong. This year in spite of an identical set up, TS-50 and G5RV installed at the same place, results have not been nearly as good. We could hear European stations, but our signals did not get through. 

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Thimphu, le dzong royal
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Pont de Thimphu
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Thimphu, une boutique
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Thimphu, Decehn dzong
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Jeunes moines à Dechen
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Tang valley, Bumthang
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Ogyen Cholling, habitat traditionnel
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Monsatère de Taksang
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Drukgyel, vue sur le Chomolhari
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Drukgyel, ruines

More pictures on a special page

During our whole stay, at Thimphu, in Bhumtang and at Paro, the weather has been remarkably good with blue sky during the day, but night fell very quickly at 5pm and temperature at the same time. At the Ham Centre, Yeshey explained that given the available electric power, the choice was between the linear amplifiers and the electric heaters…. we chose the amplifiers. The outside temperature was close to freezing at night, and only +12°C in the shack. Temperature was even lower at Uguen Cholling, between -5°C and -7°C at night and only +5°C in the bedrooms and the room where we had set up our radio station….  

We bring back from this third trip 7,047 contacts (final count), of which more than 1,000 during the CW contest, i.e. a total of more than 27,000 contacts from this country with the A52FH and A52CDX call signs. 

With four operators, we managed to operate “non stop” most of the time during the first week, with gaps in the propagation between 11h30 and 1330 UTC and at around 23h UTC, and peaks of activity between 8h and 9h UTC on the high bands and between 16h and 21h UTC on the low bands as shown on the band vs. time graph. This pattern was repeated fairly regularly every day, and matched fairly well the 160 metre propagation forecast prepared for us by F6AOJ and F5CW

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répartition des contacts
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Répartition par modes
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Répartition par Bandes

Plenty of CW this year, accounting for 55.3% of the contacts vs. 42.4 % in SSB and only 2.3 % (162 contacts) in PSK31 and RTTY. The local QRM was too strong for satisfactory signal decoding 

The split by band illustrates perfectly the propagation conditions: absolutely no contacts on 10 and 12 metres, and less than 300 contacts on 15 metres. The low bands, 160, 80 and 40 metres accounted for 51% of our contacts, and 20 metres for 36%.

As for last year, QSL is via F9DK … 100% ok via the bureau as always

A few highlights to finish…

  • Humour when a station asked Gérard his IOTA reference… but where is Bhutan?
  • Surprise when called in CW by S79WU, Denise F6HWU, who was with us in September 2000… thank you Denise.
  • A dinner with Ambika A51YL, her husband Ganesh and her little daughter at their apartment.
  • The two days spent at Ugyen Cholling… magical village with an exceptionally serene atmosphere.
  • Our meetings with Françoise Pommaret, in Bhutan for two years since October at the Thimphu University.
  • The climb to the Taksang monastery, the day before our return. It is a 6 hour trek to reach this monastery located on the face of a sheer 1,000 m cliff and to discover one of the most venerated sites of Bhutanese culture.

We wish you the opportunity to discover one day this wonderful country.
Alain F5LMJ and the A52CDX team.

Thanks to the clubs, associations, companies and individuals who have supported this new activity


F5CQ - F5CW - F5FLN - F5OZF - F6AOJ - F6BKI - F8BBL - F9YN

Enfin merci à notre ami Yeshey Dorji A51AA et son épouse, 
ainsi qu'au BICMA, Phub Tshering, Wangpo A51WD et Ambika A51YL