3W2ER - G4ZFE in Vietnam


Picture: Busy Saigon Street

As I am now living in Malaysia I wanted to explore other South East Asian countries and of course find some time for amateur radio. Surfing the Internet I came across the DX Shack.

Vietnam sounded fun so I e-mailed Hau, 3W6LI and the trip was booked.

Arranging the license was painless - I e-mailed scanned images of my amateur radio documents to Hau and he mailed them to the licensing authorities in Hanoi. Fees were to be paid on arrival, which was very trustworthy. A week before my arrival, 3W2ER was issued, the suffix being Everitt Richard. I had bought the privilege of operating in 3 bands - 10,15,20m.

The Vietnam DX shack is located in the top floor of the Kimdo Hotel in downtown Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). The shack consists of a FT900, SB200, 3-el beam and a 40/80 dipole. Neon companies are doing well in Vietnam and the bands were electrically noisy.

Picture: Vietnamese girls in Ao Dai

Radio wise being at the other end of the pile is an eye opener. The first night was really CW practice and the last two nights were running pileups. The bands open up properly to EU around 01:00 local time and close around sunrise (05:00). Thus radio was a nocturnal hobby.

The pileups were fun - sometimes up to 5 kHz of CW to sort out. I follow a sadly predictable sequence of starting at my TX frequency +1kHz, then working HF until +3kHz and then starting at my TX frequency +1 kHz again. Operating is easy - point the beam North and work EU/JA/USA.

Picture: Busy Street Life

I now know what my G signal sounds like at the other end of a pileup after struggling to work many G's running what sounded like a G4ZFE standard 100W and indoor dipole. I am a big 40m fan but the band in S.E. Asia is filled with illegal SSB operators and too painful for a short visit. 80m is well, just very noisy!

The last night was the highlight of my trip - a sked with fellow De Montfort University ARS members - G3ORY, G3RIR and G0TPH. Last QSO of my trip was with Al, G0TPH.

The days were spent visiting museums, trips on the river etc. The Vietnam war museum was a harrowing experience.

Watch out for 3W2ER again on the bands - my license is valid for 1 year.

Picture: Ho Chi Minh City Hall

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