An interview with 4O3A in the URE magazine

URE

An interview with 4O3A was published in the famous Spanish URE magazine.
You can see the entire article here: http://www.4o3a.com/wp-content/uploads/filebase/4O3A-EA4AK_2.pdf

Montenegro landmark from SM0JHF

An interesting article about 4O3A and his station was published on contesting.info in 2013 by Henrk Kotowski, SM0JHF.
You can read this article here: http://www.contesting.com/articles/1344

The Story of Montenegro – DXCC Counter 336

From QST Magazine, November 2006, How’s DX? by Bernie McClenney, W3UR

W3ur-velika[1]
What would you do if one morning you woke up in a new DXCC country?
On the morning of May 22, 2006 Ranko Boca, YT6A, a leading DXer and contester in what used to be Serbia-Montenegro, got up on the always beautiful and sunny coast of the Adriatic Sea and looked over the crystal clear waters of Kotor Bay. The previous day’s popular vote was close, but Montenegro was now ready to declare its independence as the fifth spin-off (joining 9A, S5, T9 and Z3) of the former Yugoslavia.

Most importantly for the international Amateur Radio DX community, it was a brand new DXCC country. The historical background suggested that this would indeed happen, and so it did that morning. Subsequent events unfolded at a record pace, and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan was on hand to hoist a new member nation’s flag outside the UN headquarters building in New York.

Selected Logistical Model

It was expected that many DXers would
like to attend during the three-week session—yes, it was a three-week show— but it was also expected that they would only be present for the first week. Accordingly, people had

How Would You Go About It, If You Were Ranko?

One option is to resign from the job, send the family to see their grandparents and start running a steady stream of pileups day in and day out. And, maybe appoint a few assistants to get folded QSL cards out the following day.
You would see happy smiling faces all over the world, but is this something that would serve your country at large? Ranko had good foresight, and he introduced the concept of an International DX Festival, one to be implemented in a highly meaningful and positive manner. A DX Festival…we surely know “DX” and we do know“Festival,” but how about the two together?
Here is Ranko’s Approach…
Yes, get Montenegro QSOs rolling, and even elevate it all into a world-class event with a QSO count never seen before. And, launch an International DX Convention with all the desired phases — for country club types as well as military camp troops, plus everyone in between. Also, let those existing local Montenegrin hams meet people from all over the world at their own doorstep; it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have all these hungry DXers arrive in this tiny newborn Republic. Also make a fine, fresh start, realizing that a national Amateur Radio society as well as many regulatory issues need to be sorted out locally. Therefore the required knowledge and needed practices must be evaluated and enhanced for the benefit of this new Republic.
Ranko used his existing foreign contacts, particularly those he had met and found as true friends of his new Republic, and smartly worked together with these people.
An Organizing Committee was quickly formed and all the needed elements were in place. Finally, it was time to raise the curtain, ie to open the event for members of the public in a manner consistent with the objectives discussed above.

to be encouraged to come at different times.
The plan was to establish three sites with a minimum of two stations at each site; therefore a lot of equipment was needed for the three-week period. The logistical effort was not perfect, but at least several cars started arriving from Bulgaria, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy. They brought in what was needed. Some got stuck at Customs, while others got lost — but surely a DXpedition to a brand new DXCC country could not entirely avoid a bumpy road…
The planned lineup of people was flexible, to say the least, but ultimately there was always one person from the Organizing Committee present, and things got sorted out in the true ham spirit. Consequently, 4O3T signals were there for the world to reach.
As always in DXpeditioning, some towering characters of great stature would surface, and this one was no exception. QSOs can be made by people at different speeds and with different levels of clarity. The variety and the range can be huge. But the true personalities are those who make a difference.
Caring about others is an approach that will pay off. The list would be too long to be presented here, but we certainly wish
to recognize the efforts of Nicoletta, the wife of Rein, PAØR, who stepped forward to look after the well-being of a lot of people when such help was most needed. Since Nicoletta is a nurse, her contribution came quite naturally.
Accordingly, every mega DXpedition
should add a nurse to their personnel.
Similarly, Ranko employed a large group of people to work on the necessities of life
— such as our camp assistant Dado who was there to look after the well-being of a full camp of people. This guy had probably never cooked before but he had a natural
desire for hospitality with a smile. In no time the DXpedition had introduced him to
Dutch and American cuisine and a survival military menu, all served with a caring heart.
No one went hungry.
Are We a Social Bunch, or Do We Just Make DX?
It was just like one continuous stage show — Montenegrin style. The events were generated with no fixed agenda at a moment’s inspiration — but they always came through with no formalities needed. Bruce, W6OSP, named it “Ranko time which always considers the pleasures of life and the intensity of
Adriatic sunshine.” A new experience for too many business types; if you need something, just go ahead and get it organized the way
that will best serve you and the group.
All this was captured in the events involving local hams, foreign radio amateurs, radio regulatory people and military officials
gathered around a good cause — doing
things together for the benefit of Amateur Radio.

Montenegro in a Nutshell

Montenegro location

• A country of 631,000 people, Serb majority.
• Capital: Podgorica, population 136,000.
• Mountainous coastal state, 14,000 sq km (5400 sq mi).
• Adriatic Sea coastline 160 km (100 mi), beaches 73 km.
• Income: tourism (68%) and industry (30%).
• Referendum held May 21, 2006, turnout 86.5%.
• Majority vote for independence 55.5%.
• UN membership gained June 28, 2006.

4O3T Organizing Committee

Ranko, YT6A; Dragan,YT6Y; Kele, YT3T; Linda, KA1ZD; Dave, K1ZZ; Bob, N6OX; Wayne, N7NG; Martti, OH2BH, and Hans, PB2T.

People Behind Your Montenegro QSOs

9A6AA, DJ7EO, DJ9ZB,DL3DXX, DL7FER, FØCYT, F5MOO, G3TXF, I1JQJ, I8NHJ, IK1ADH, IK1PMR, IK8HBA, K2LEO, K2WR, W6OSP, LZ1JY, LZ2UU, OE8SKQ, OH2BE, OH2RF, OH2TA, OK3AA, ON4IA, ON5TN, ON6NL, PAØR, SP3BJK, SP5XVY, SQ3RX, T94J, T95A, UA3AB, UA4HBW, UA4HOX, Z32AF, Z35G, YT1RX, YZ1AU, YU1AB, YU1EW, YU1ZZ, YU6A, YU6AY, YU6GS, YU6YL,YU6ZD, YU6ZZ, YT6A, YT6T, YT6PS, YT6ZMG and YZ6AMD.

Final Count

Yes, all the goals set for this DX-pedition were met and exceeded. If you did not contact Montenegro during the three weeks, you are probably not active at all. While 4O3T made 117,000 QSOs, adding to those made by others — YU6AO, YU6DZ, YZ6AMD etc — during the same period, well over 200,000 QSOs were handed out from Montenegro. In the process, strong ties were forged to ensure Amateur Radio’s future and to safeguard its role in serving society as a whole.Montenegro will have one vote — just like the United States — when it comes to deciding the many challenging issues that face us in the years to come. One more country under our belts.

The days of an earthquake in the city of Bar were still on everyone’s mind, and so was the role of Amateur Radio in providing emergency communications during the disaster. Foreigners who had never met before demonstrated the dynamics of this activity: learning from one another and demonstrating the best of group dynamics as an asset to society at large. Here DX was the common denominator and the hallmark also on the social front.

Visit Montenegro? — You Bet!

This country is unbelievably beautiful, clean and safe. People are as hospitable and friendly as you can meet in any corner of the world. Yes, they make their living along most of a 293 kilometer long beach — land that has all the topography you can hope for, be it at sea level or up the steep mountains.
In point of fact, the YT6A location was 600 meters above sea level overseeing Kotor Bay, one of the most beautiful scenes you can think of.
The city of Bar is a treasure; here we used a vacant coastal station for low-band transmissions and, on the low-band front, surprised many stateside people with potent 80/160 meter summer signals. Our host in Bar was Dragan, YT6Y, a mover and shaker who may take several months to adjust to non-Festival life. We also visited Rajko, YU6DZ — a most active local ham since the birth of independence and experienced in local customs and hospitality of not letting people go home hungry but endowing visitors with local delicacies to take away.
Please check out this Web site featuring those beautiful scenes and places worthy
of your visit www.visit-montenegro.com.

This story was also published in the ARRL periodicals 2010 library.

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The 4O3A Super Station

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.

prvi[1]
The Bay of Kotor in Montenegro is visited by thousands of tourists every year. Most likely, very few of them realize that the antenna towers visible at the top of the hill at the entrance to the bay are actually part of an amateur radio installation. For some years now, the station of Ranko Boca 4O3A has been a new landmark forming part of this natural wonder. Ranko started building his extreme station from scratch more than ten years ago. He had returned home after the Balkan War and resumed his business and amateur radio activities. Montenegro was still tied to Serbia and Ranko used the callsign YT6A, but in the middle of 2006 this region declared independence and consequently the callsign prefix 4O was assigned to this tiny Balkan republic of around 14,000 sq. km. Reaching the station located at nearly 600m a.s.l. is quite an effort and is time-consuming as well. Ranko has recently started flying a small helicopter instead of driving the long, bumpy and steep road. Choosing this location was a bold step, but his vision and desire to create something unique overcame common sense considerations. The summit has been used as a military observation point for centuries, overlooking the Adriatic Sea on the west and the bay on the east. Quite apart from difficult access and strong winds,this location is prone to be struck by lightning.
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.

A passion

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.

Station Profile – YT6A

From NJC journal. Jan/Feb 2003, written by N5OT

YT6A-cover-velika[1]
Why is that when you clear whole weekends on your calendar for a contest, sometimes that turns out to be the only time left to get serious antenna work done? Months ago l hoped to smoke-test my 40-meter antennas in the 2002 CQ WW CW. Naturally, Saturday, after a great night smoke-testing 80 meters, which didn`t need smoke-testing. I got the last 40-meter Yagi built and in the air Saturday night l finally got to play with my new toys.

In the big DX contest, there are some call sings that we all just take for granted. On any band in any year, when there`s a decent opening to Europe from North america, working Yugoslavia is something we all take for granted. The reason? There are stations we know will diliver the goods. One such station is the product of over 20 years of hard work and dedication by a fellow named Ranko Boca- none other than YT6A.

Talk about a hardware fanatic`s fantasy- the first time l saw photos of YT6A all l could think was „no wonder l always get Yugoslavia in the log“.You know when yuo see photos of guys crawling their way out along the boom, away from the mast(kids, don`t try this at home), that these must be some serious antennas (and some crazy guys). This was the first photo of YT6A l saw. Immediately l knew Ranko would make a great subject for the Hardware Addict`s column.I checked with the Hardware Adidct and we werw of one mind about it.

The man behind the call sing

Ranko Boca is a Telecommunications engineer. He is married, with a son Dragisa, 15, and two daughters Milica and Bojana, 12 and 4. Ranko has been involved with telecommunications since grammar school. Today he is an owner of a well-known company: Sky Sat d.o.o. His company manufactures FM and TV transmitters as well as telecommunications equipment. Ranko`s professional ventures can be found at.

Since 1975, Ranko has been involved in ham radio. He joined the local ham radio club YU6KOP and earned YU6ZAX in 1980, and has been contest-active since. At that time in the former Yugoslavia, local contest were very popular. Ranko recalls,“In those days competition was fierce. In order to win first place you not only needed really good equipment, but you also had to have ham radio knowledge and be an excelent operatot“.Almost every ham radio operator in the country was involved in these domestic competitions.“These were the best contest schools for almost every ham radio operator from the former Yugoslavia“.

In the YT6A Shack

Radios
Yaesu FT-1000MP, Kenwood TS-850, Kenwood TS-870, Kenwood TS-940, Icom ic-740.
Amps
Alpha 99, Dentron MLA-2500, Henry 5K, Kenwood TL-922.
Homebrew Software
WriteLog
Antennas
160 meters
Sloping dipole, Beverages on JA and NA
80 meters
Homebrew 3-element Yagi (full-sized), At 48m high, Beverages on JA and NA
40 meters
5-element wire Yagi bearing West at 29m high, 2-element wire Yagi bearing East at 29m high
20 meters
4/4 Yagis at 22 m high (OWAs)
15 meters
5/5/5 Yagis at 29m high (OWAs)-existing 5/5/5 Yagis at 30m high (OWAs)- Under construction
10 meters
6/6 Yagis at 17m high (OWAs)

During those years as a student, Ranko became a legend for building linear amplifiers carrying the names of national heroes: Njegos, Vladika Danilo. He also became a legend in the amateur community because of his hospitality, and his stations became synonymous with big signals and excellent results.It was during this time he won his most coveted victory-in 1985 he won „KUP SRJ“ for his club YU6GBE. At that time he would enter international tournaments as YZ6G using a universyty station in Podgorica with modest equipment.

Attention Turns to International Contest

Ranko`s first serious WW activity started in 1986 in Molunat, a peaceful fishing area of Croatia, about 20 km from Herceg-Novi.On the edge of Molunat you will find a peninsula. On the peninsula is a 500 kHz marine radio beacon. The beacon used a wire antenna held by two towers about 25 metrs tall…(need l say more?).In those lean collegeyears, Ranko started with single-band entries on 15 meters. From this station, Ranko introduced his new call YT6AA for the first time in the `86 CW WPX. From Molunat, he entered mainly single-band 10 and 15-metr effots.

The War Comes and Goes

changed his mind due to the war awaiting the former Yugoslavia, and ind the period of 1989-1995 YT6AA was inactive. He and his family moved in Hungary to continuecompany operations.

In 1995, friends Hrane, YT1AD, and Rase, YU1RL, invited Ranko to go to Antiqua, and from that moment Ranko became active again. After that trip, ranko went to V2, FM5, 5B4 and VPS and started to build a contest location in Montenegro.It was during this period that Ranko finished first in three ARRL CWs for DX-North America: TO5A, FM5DN, and V26AS. In the `97 CQWWW CW, he won first place Single-Op Assisted from FM5DN. In the `97 CW WPX he won world first place on 80 meters as 4O6A.

The YT6A Contest Station

Having estabilished himself as an operator to watch, Ranko Boca would become known as a top station builder. His current station began construction in 1998. It is located 600 meters above sea level on the top of Lustica, at the entrance into the Bokokotorska Bay. Surroundedby the sea, his new location has a breathtaking view of one of the most beautiful lagoons in the Mediterranean. That year he built a small shack (50 square meters, 600 sqare feet), and the following year he erected his first tower.

Today YT6A boasts 5 antenna towers(see sidebar). Currently Ranko is working on a sixth tower that will hold a second 5/5/5 stack for 15 meters. The curent 5/5/5 and the new 5/5/5 will give YT6A the capability to phase 6 Yagis(30 elements) on North America.

Murphy Must Not Be a Ham

Of course, life wouldn`t be interesting if everything went as planned“, Ranko tells us, and we can hear a good story coming on.“ In 2001, l erected a large system for 15 meters on the main tower. It was an inpressive system of 5/5/5, and another 7 elements on the boom of a big 3 element 80.Interference from BC transmitters working from the same location was so strong that is was hard to recive the weaker W6/W7 signals in the large CQ WW pileups.It was very disappointing to get bad resulrs with such a large system in comparison to the top stations on 15 meters, who were using single antennas“.

After the CQ WW, the source of the problem was found. However, that season brought an unusually windy winter, and strong winds destroyed that first large system for 15 meters.Ranko modified the concept and will phase the two shorter stacks side-by-side, as described above, on two different towers.

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Design

Ranko completed the entire antenna system planning with the help of AOP software.“Using AOP, l was able to model the complete location, with all thetowers and objects“. The antennas for 10, 15 and 20 are all custom-built OWA designs.The sistems for phasing all antennas were designed for 5 kW power, and all were placed in waterproof enclosures mounted on the towers.

The YT6A radiators are fed with Andrew half-inch and ?-inch Heliax with N connectors throughuot. „RG-213 type coax and UHF connectors are not used at YT6A“.

Ranko`s commercially-built profesionl-grade antenna switches have a curious model number:“YT6A“. YT6Aantenna swiches are available to the public from two distribution centers, one in Montenegro (YT6A) and another in Chicago (KB9K). „Usiing YT6A switches is extremely easy. When the transceiver is turned off, all of the antennas are automatically grounded. This is very important, because lightning is often seen during relatively calm days on top of the mountain.“
Inside the Shack
Inside YT6A, the equipment is set up on custom consoles. Computers are networked. Contest software is Writelog. In the srack you will find modern transceivers and modern commercial amps(see sidebar), plus a few homebrew ones.

In the shack is a separate room where you can find all the antenna connections, band pass and notch filters required for six bands to operate from the same room at full power.
The Crew
Many YU and foreign operators have visited Ranko. He is know for his hospitality and seemingly everyone has participated at his new station. Visitors include W6GZG, S53A, S53CM, S53MV, S56A, ON4UN, K1ZZ, WX0B, I7PHH, Z33AA, YU1EW, YU1AU, YU1NW, YU1LA, YU7YU, YU7FN, VK1AA, T95A, T94B, T91S, YZ7DX, YU1FW, YT1XX, YT1TA, YU1AO, YT11AD, YU6A, YU6AO and many others.

Today YT6A is still growing. At present, the station enters separate single-band categories, and also supports multisingle operations. Ranko has plans to build YT6A into a full multi-multi operation.“The same group of ham radio operators always get together at this location with a lot of enthusiasm. You can always see YT6T, Z32AF,YU1RE, YU7EU and YT6PSF. Visitor VK1AA says“After what we`ve seen and lived thruogh at YT6A, l know that it won`t be any problem for Ranko to gather a good team for whichever future contest“.

You can hear Ranko and the gang in almost every contest.The YT6A signal is reliably strong and it`s always a pleasure to hear them on. Ranko closes:“contesters who want to operate from this fantastic location can contact me via email at yt6a@cg.yu I will definitely welcome you to my home.“