My main interests in amateur
radio are HF DX and contest operating.
During the last 25 years
I have been lucky enough to travel all over the world and have found that,
without exception, if you seek out fellow DXers or contesters during your
travels you will always be made extremely welcome and will have a great time
with a good bunch of new friends. The 2007 SEANET Convention was like that
I must admit that I have
never checked in to SEANET and, never having been to a SEANET Convention
before, I did not really know what to expect. However, Eva, 9M6EVA, and I
moved to South-East Asia over two years ago, so it was high time to attend
our first Convention when it was being held in Lampang, a part of Thailand
we had not previously visited. But would I feel out of place? Would I know
Would they share my own
perhaps rather limited interests with me?
I need not have worried.
Almost as soon as we arrived at the Convention hotel we were called over to
a table by Martin, HS0ZED, and introduced to 'the gang' sitting around the
table. As it transpired, this was the DXers and contesters group and as
usual we were welcomed with open arms. Immediately I met two fellows who I
had spoken to on the air from numerous locations and on many occasions, but
had never met before: Stig, LA7JO (aka 9N7JO, EP3UN etc), and Karl Renz,
Sam, SM3DYU / HS0ZDY, was
also at the table and was delighted to speak to Eva in their common
mother-tongue. After a few beers I was also able to join in their
conversation (I always find a couple of beers makes my Swedish more fluent).
Later we also met Don,
HS0ZEE, a fellow Brit who retired to Chiang Mai with his charming wife Carol
about nine years ago. For many years Don was active from Bahrein as A92BE
and became very well known on the bands. It was good too to renew a
friendship with Fred Laun, K3ZO, who I met in the early 1990s when he and
Somporn were visiting England, but who I first worked when he was HS1ABD way
back in 1978.
There was a good showing
of Japanese amateurs including two who I had the pleasure of operating with
on DXpeditions in the past: Kazu-san, JA1RJU, who was on the 1998 9M0C
Layang-Layang Spratly Island DXpedition and the 2001 D68C Comoros DXpedition,
and Taizo-san, JA3AER, who was also a member of the D68C team.
Many of Thailand's
growing number of young DXers and contesters were there too, including
Champ, E21EIC. In total there were around 150 delegates, including many
wives. It was good to see so many partners there also enjoying the
On the Sunday morning I
gave a presentation on the 3B7C St Brandon DXpedition. I had been allocated
30 minutes, so I deleted many of the slides in the 1-hour PowerPoint
presentation put together by Don, G3BJ, for the RSGB HF Convention in order
to fit the time available.
The presentation went
extremely well. No fewer than 33 Thai amateurs worked 3B7C (a very high
proportion of those active on HF from Thailand) and most of
those 33 were there for the presentation. One JA DXer present (who I had not
met before so I cannot remember his callsign) said he worked
3B7C on 22 band-mode slots (the maximum possible was 24 and the top JA made
23 of the slots), while Kazu, JA1RJU, worked 3B7C on 21. Around 60% of the
audience had worked 3B7C at least once - and the room had many XYLs watching
the presentation, so in reality the percentage of licensed amateurs there
who worked 3B7C was probably a lot higher than 60%.
After the presentation
Martin, HS0ZED, revealed some statistics that he had researched on the
number of bands that Thai hams - both Thai nationals and the HS0Z ex-pats -
had worked the DXpedition - thanks Martin! John, HS1CKC, was so interested
in the presentation he asked me for the CD afterwards while Paul, 9V1PH, the
only representative from Singapore at SEANET this year, who had been tasked
to give a presentation on the SEANET Convention when he gets back to
Singapore, also wanted a copy.
The Sunday morning
'plenary session' this year was almost entirely about DXing and contesting.
In addition to 3B7C, Champ, E21EIC, gave two presentations, firstly on his
participation at the World Radio Team Championship (WRTC 2006) in Brazil,
where his multi-national multi-single team won first place. Champ had
recently been in the USA and visited the K3LR mega-station and he also
talked about that, then showed a 15-minute Icom video which features both
the K3LR station and the RSGB IOTA programme. Despite being a commercial for
Icom, the video is well worth seeing and it is available for downloading on
the Icom USA website.
The cost, by the way, of
the entire SEANET Convention was just US $175 per person. This included
three nights accommodation in a good hotel, including all food and most
drinks (Chang Beer, a Thai brewer, was one of the sponsors but wine or
spirits were extra), two full-day excursions by coach, all entrance fees to
attractions in the area, all entertainment (lots of pretty Thai lady
dancers), and numerous 'SEANET freebies' including a very nice quality polo
shirt, Chinese-style jacket, book on 40th anniversary of RAST in English and
Thai (fascinating reading), a package of raw Thai silk, coffee mug with
individual callsign, SEANET 2007 baseball cap, A3-size group photo, keyring
and much more. Almost unbelievable value - I kept on wondering if I would
have to pay the hotel bill in addition to the registration fee, but
apparently it was all included!
Next year the SEANET
Convention will be held here in Kota Kinabalu and in Kudat, at the
northernmost tip of Borneo, from 21 to 23 November. I hope we will be able
to put on as good a show as the Thais did! The weekend is the one before the
CQWW CW contest and already there are plans for several of the contesters
who were at SEANET this year to stay on after the convention to do the
contest. These include Stig, 9N7JO; John, W2YR / HS0ZDJ; Sam, SM3DYU /
HS0ZDY; Champ, E21EIC, and possibly Martin, HS0ZED, and one or two others.
This is the group that has been behind the many contest operations from the
HS0AC club station over the years.
I know that several
members of the 3B7C team are also keen to attend the SEANET convention next
year, including Gordon, G3USR, while Falk, DK7YY; Bob, MD0CCE, and Chris,
G3SVL, have said they would also like to take part in the CW contest from
Sabah. Also, Pete, SM5GMZ / HS0ZFI, is likely to be in this part of the
world again at that time so we hope to see him too.
In writing this short
report, I have concentrated almost entirely on the social side of meeting
fellow DXers and contesters. However, almost all of amateur radio's various
interest groups were represented (for example I had a fascinating discussion
with a ham whose main interest is in installing 2m and 70cm FM repeaters)
and it was great to see so many people from so many countries all with a
shared interest in amateur radio getting together and enjoying each other's
company. I have not even mentioned the tours of the local region (the
elephants were great) or the gala dinners. One of the delegates described
the SEANET Convention as being like a United Nations convention, while
another talked about "the SEANET spirit". Both very apt.
All in all both Eva and I
really enjoyed our first SEANET Convention.
Since SEANET 2008 will be
in Sabah, it certainly won't be our last, but we also hope to get to Seoul
in 2009, another place we have never visited before. See you next year!