[amsat-bb] OE/OM/HA/NZ5N Report from the former Iron Curtain

Bill Dzurilla billdz.geo at yahoo.com
Tue Jul 12 16:02:58 PDT 2011

Thanks to all who worked me or tried to work me today from the Slovakia/Hungary/Austria joint border.  It was fun, but a lot of work for just seven contacts.

I had wanted to work from this spot for several years.  I used to work in Bratislava, Slovakia, live in Rajka, Hungary, and have dinner in Kittsee, Austria.  Three different languages, three different cultures, all within a few miles.  It always surprised me how little notice was paid to this site, no plaque with the history of the site, no markings, not even a paved road, just some abstract sculptures (put there in 1992) and a triangle shaped border marker with an O on one side, M on another, and S on the third.  

O = Osterreich = Austria
S = Slovensko = Slovakia
M = Magyarorsag = Hungary

The site is a preserve for the protected Great Bustard bird.  A few bird watchers were the only ones who came to the site for the entire 3 hours I was there.

This spot has been the border only since the end of World War II.  Although both Slovakia and Hungary had pro-Nazi governments during the war, Slovakia was regarded as a "victor" because the Allies regarded the Czechoslovak government in exile in London as the true leadership of the country.  Thus, the Czechoslovaks were able to take the towns of Cunovo, Rusovce, and Jarovce from Hungary in the post-war negotiations.

I had hoped to arrive early and work a couple of other sats before the 0930Z AO-7 pass with the North America window.  But with a late start and an accident on the highway that caused a traffic jam, I got set up just barely in time for AO-7 AOS.  ON5NY was my first contact, followed by K8YSE and KB1RVT.  Another North American station was heard but I could not pull him out.

My original plan was to leave after the AO-7 pass, but I decided to stay longer.  There were SO-67 and VO-52 passes shortly thereafter, both  where I had maximum elevation of 2 degrees, but I could not pull anyone out.  There was an AO-27 pass with a maximum elevation of 16 degrees that I should have heard well, but there was nothing at all.  Maybe I pushed a wrong button or something (it was sunny and hard to read the computer screen), as the bird was scheduled to be on.  Then AO-7 came around again.  It was loud despite a maximum elevation of 6 degrees, and I worked four more stations, RW3XL, F1DOI, DG0ER and OZ1MY.  Could have worked many more but many of my CQs went unaswered.

I have uploaded a few photos to my website at:

The piece of barb wire fence you see in the photos was put there recently.  Contrary to popular belief, the entirety of the pre-1989 communist bloc was not sealed in by fences and walls, there were many areas where there was no barrier at all, just guard patrols.  Makes me wonder why so many people flew gliders across the Danube and the Morava to escape.

There is a short video of the area at:

Recording of the second AO-7 pass at:
http://www.qsl.net/nz5n/HRD 2011-07-12 071514.mp3

Height definitely matters for low elevation contacts.  From my hilltop location in Bratislava, I can hear AO-7 well even at 0.1 degrees elevation, but from the border, even with an unobstructed view and 20 miles of uninhabited fields in front of me, I lost the bird totally at about 1.1 degrees.  Of course, it is that critical last degree where we make the trans-continental and other DX contacts.  Even before LOS, signals seemed much weaker than at home.

If you missed me and just want the grid (JN88), try again on early Thursday, when I'll be on from my home (same 4-digit grid as the border).  If you want all 3 countries, I don't think I'll go back to the same place this summer, but there's a nice peak in Austria not far from me that you can drive to, maybe I'll go there one morning.  Hungary will be trickier, as it is totally flat here in the Danube basin.  Maybe a bigger and/or higher antenna would make a difference. 

Bill NZ5N/OM3BD  

More information about the AMSAT-BB mailing list