World traveller and photo-journalist Henryk Kotowski SM0JHF brings readers a snapshot of one of the world’s largest and most impressive amateur radio installations, 4O3A in Montenegro.
Ranko began thinking about a competitive station at the end of 1980s. The civil war was imminent and when it was over, he first went on a reconnaissance and guest-operated from some contest sites in the West Indies and the Mediterranean. Then he built a small house here and the long odyssey began. It is a continuous process of building new, modifying, improving, replacing and repairing. It is also a test range for Ranko’s company’s own products – filters and switches. The station is on the air almost daily, with the emphasis on contests. There is a team behind
Ranko, people who do the antenna work, operators, assistants and lots of visiting guest operators. Well over 550,000 contacts have been logged since 2006 and uploaded to the Logbook of the World (LoTW) database.
Ranko’s passion for the hobby started in 1975 when he 15 years old. He became a member of a local radio club and discovered the fun of competing on the air. The spirit of rivalry between the clubs was high and radio contests were a fad of the era. This approach to amateur radio was widespread in Eastern Europe in general, mainly because of the Iron Curtain. While attending university in Podgorica, the former capital city, Ranko became known for home-made amplifiers and hospitality. He got his first licence in 1980 and quickly gained a reputation as a solo contest operator. This summer he will be participating in the World Radiosport Team Championship (WRTC) 2014 in New England, USA. Previously, Ranko has taken part in three of the WRTC events, once as a referee and then twice as a competitor, in Brazil and in Moscow. The WRTC is the ultimate test of operating skills and endurance, sometimes referred to as the Olympic Games of amateur radio.4O3A is not an average station and the person behind this station is far from average. It takes a combination of skills, will, determination, stamina, entrepreneurial spirit and deep interest in a particular field to accomplish a huge long-term project such as this.