Low Bands Contest Club OM7M
The call sign OM7M has been used since 1995
by a group of Amateur Radio operators with great ardour for shortwave
competitions, generally known as contests. I visited the hilltop location of
the OM7M station in the middle of the summer 2010. The view from the QTH is
free in all directions. The landscape of Slovakia is hilly, the lowest point of
this small East European country is 100 meters (330 ft) a.s.l.
It is a rural area very close to a small industrial town called Partizanske. The
fields of wheat and oats offer ample space for Beverage wires during the cold
months. The access to the hill is through gardening plots on the southern
slope. I was quite exhausted by the time we reached the top. My guide and the
chief operator, Peter OM3PA, was not even tired. He has been climbing much
higher mountains carrying radio equipment for many years. The regular VHF
contest site of the club is the Vtacnik peak, 1346 m (abt 4500 ft) a.s.l., and
it can be reached only on foot.
Peter, OM3PA is the custodian of the OM7M
station. He lives in Partizanske town where he has a multi-band
rotary array on a lattice tower. At home, he showed me the Chronicles of the
KAPA. It is a scrapbook filled with photographs, newspaper articles and handwritten
stories from the past 62 years. The club, originally called Klub
Amaterov PArtizanske, was founded in 1949 at the local Bata
shoe factory. The club licence was issued in 1953 and the call sign was OK3KAP,
the country was Czechoslovakia, almost all equipment was military surplus
provided by the paramilitary organisation ZVAZARM. Initially, VHF activities
were prioritized, in particular Field Day excursions attracted many
Peter joined the club in 1965 when he
received his first call sign OK3CGI. A few years later the club commenced HF
contesting by taking part in The ARRL DX Competition, the Russian CQ MIR and
the OK DX Contest of 1968. The Soviet influence in Czechoslovakia subsided
about this time.
Peter changed his call sign to OK3PA in 1988. Some 5 years later the country
went through a peaceful division process into two. Eastern part of the former
Czechoslovakia became Slovakia and the prefix OM was adopted. Soon after, it
was possible to choose a short, contest-type call sign. The group opted for
OM7M. Since then, they have logged over 250�000 contest contacts. Detailed
contest results from the past decade are posted on the group�s website www.om7m.org . The up-to-date description of the
impressive antenna farm can be found there as well.
Peter, OM3PA has been training new
operators in the club from the very beginning. He can recall more than 100 of
his students. The OM7M group consists today of some 25 members aged between 12
and 77. The main contest commando is formed by some 10 experienced operators.
One of them is Peter�s son Lubo, OM5ZW.
The club is now self-supported with no ties
to any organization or corporation. The majority of the antennas are home-made.
Contest operation is, as every serious contester knows it, only a small
fraction of the total time that is spent at the site.
In spite of having huge arrays for HF
bands, the group has always been successful on LF bands; hence the name Low
Bands Contest Club. It is worth emphasizing that Czechoslovakia was for many
years one of the few Central European countries with 160-meter privileges for
Amateur Radio Service, including the Novice licence allowing 10-Watt operation
on Top Band.
The prefixes of Slovakia are somewhat
confusing. There are 8 districts in the country, but there have been some
recent changes of the boundaries, apart from the fact that some old call signs
are not changed at all, and the new, contest-type prefixes do not have any
relation with the geographical location.
The country is really attractive and worth
visiting. The radio activity is high with many clubs of very good standard. I
am going to visit Slovakia again.
Henryk Kotowski, SM0JHF
Feb 1, 2011