HAM Radio 101

Word of the Day: Scarborough Reef

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From time to time, our Word of the Day column will focus on an unusual or rare DXCC entity. Scarborough Reef is both.

In 1996, Scarborough Reef(Huangyan Island), located in the South China Sea near China, Taiwan and the Philippines, became a hot location for DXers trying to work the world. The ARRL’s ruling to make Scarborough Reef (BS7) a DXCC entity came after much debate as to whether it met the criteria, with some committee members arguing that the rocks that comprise the reef do not constitute islands. After initial rejection by the powers that be, Scarborough Reef was added to the DXCC entities list. DXers had mixed reactions. Some praised the courage of those who would dare to operate from the coral atoll, which is almost completely submerged at high tide. Then there was this common response: “Why in the Sam Hill is BS7 a DXCC entity?”

In addition to the logistical hurdles of operating from the reef, the highly charged political climate of the region (China, Taiwan and the Philippines have all laid claim to the land), has made DXpeditions to Scarborough Reef exceedingly rare.

At the time of the May 2007 BS7H DXpedition to Scarborough Reef, it was the most-wanted DXCC entity in North America. Working in shifts while operating from wooden platforms mounted atop the reef’s four rocks that are exposed at high tide, the BS7H team braved dangerous conditions and jagged coral to log a remarkable 45,830 QSOs during a week’s stay. Watch a video of the DXpedition here.

One of those QSOs was made by DX Engineering Elmer, Dave N8NB, technical support specialist.

“That part of Asia is usually one that is difficult to contact under good conditions,” N8NB said. “This resulted in the biggest pile-ups of countless Hams around the world transmitting at the same time. Luckily, they heard my call-out. Confirming this contact made it possible for me to get on the ARRL DXCC Honor Roll.”

Today, Scarborough Reef still sits near the top of the DXCC most-wanted list at number 4.

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