It’s All in the Cards! QSL Cards from Clipperton Island

Clipperton Island QRV in January

OnAllBands is excited to kick off 2024’s QSL card posts by featuring the long-anticipated TX5S DXpedition t0 Clipperton Island. Per its website, the TX5S team of experienced operators is scheduled to arrive on the uninhabited French coral atoll in the eastern Pacific Ocean on January 17 and operate there for 16 days.

As of November, Clipperton Island was the 37th most-wanted DXCC entity (#26 in Europe) per Clublog. That ranking is certain to plummet after the TX5S operators fold up their tents and head for home. The team will be QRV on 160-6 meters in SSB, CW, RTTY, FT8, 6M EME, and Satellites. TX5S will mark the first major activation of Clipperton Island since the highly successful TX5K DXpedition in 2013 (see below). In 2015, Alain, F6BFH, made several thousand contacts as part of a scientific research effort on the island. For those band-fillers out there, take note that this will be the first time the island will be active on FT8 and 60M.

The TX5S DXpedition is being sponsored by DX Engineering, which has provided a range of mission-critical gear, including:

More About Clipperton Island

Once known as Clipperton Rock, tropical Clipperton Island is 1.9 miles long and 2.5 miles wide. It rests 583 miles southwest of Mexico, 1,309 miles west of Nicaragua, 1,374 miles west of Costa Rica, and 1,290 miles northwest of the Galapagos Islands. Since the end of World War II, its visitors have been limited to scientists, DXpeditioners, and members of the French Navy. Clipperton is a ring-shaped atoll that completely encloses a stagnant, fishless freshwater lagoon measuring 7.5 miles in circumference.

Geography Question of the Day

The island is home to two species of reptiles (the Pacific stump-toed gecko and copper-tailed skink); orange land crabs known as Clipperton crabs; rats believed to have fled wrecked fishing boats more than two decades ago; and countless gulls, gannets, sooty terns, masked boobies, and other seabirds which cover the island. More than 115 species of marine life have been identified living in the reefs surrounding the island, including endemic species such as the Clipperton angelfish, Clipperton grouper, and Clipperton damselfish.

Clipperton Island is an overseas state private property of France under the authority of the Minister of the Overseas, a fact that leads us to today’s OnAllBands Geography Question of the Day. While Clipperton Island is uninhabited, other overseas French territories collectively have a population of around 2.8 million. Can you name the most populated of all the French overseas departments? Answer below.

QSL Cards

The active hams at DX Engineering have had great success contacting Clipperton Island the handful of times it has been QRV over the years—a good reason to contact them for help with your gear if you’d like to do the same. Here are a few of the QSL cards from their collections.

Tom, KB8UUZ, DX Engineering technical writer, received a QSL card from the March 2013 TX5K DXpedition mentioned above. This massive undertaking included five scientists and 24 hams who logged 113,601 QSOs while on the island. Scientific research included study of invasive and undiscovered species, as well as an examination of the vortex winds produced on the island. Mark, W8BBQ, DX Engineering customer/technical support specialist, had great success filling bands during TX5K, making these contacts: 160, 80, 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12, 10M CW; 30, 20, 17M RTTY; and 40, 20, 17, 15, 12, 10M SSB. 

KB8UUZ also made contact with the March 2008 TX5C DXpedition, which netted nearly 72,000 QSOs.

Wayne, K8FF, DX Engineering customer/technical support specialist, reached the March 2000 FO0AAA DXpedition on 10M SSB. An international group of 12 operators logged more than 75,000 QSOs during seven days on Clipperton. They sailed to the island from San Diego on the Shogun—a sport vessel that has made the six-day voyage to Clipperton Island on numerous occasions. Incidentally, the Shogun is the same vessel being used for the upcoming TX5S DXpedition.

Scotty, KG9Z, DX Engineering customer/technical support specialist, made contact with the 16-operator international FO0XX DXpedition in April 1985, which recorded, as the QSL card mentions, 31,000 QSOs in spite of “the crabs, birds, heat, wind, and rain.”

I’ll take French Overseas Territories for $1,000, Ken.

Back to our geography stumper. Overseas France consists of 13 French-administered territories outside of Europe. Can you name the most populated of these lands? The answer is…Réunion—part of the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean. Its population of more than 870,000 puts it well ahead of the second-most populated French overseas territory, Guadeloupe (population 375,000).

Want to upgrade your DXing capabilities to capture Clipperton Island as an ATNO? Find everything you need at DX Engineering, including transceivers, amplifiers, antennas, headsets, and more.

Editor’s Note: Every month, DX Engineering features QSL cards from our team members’ personal collections. To highlight upcoming DXpeditions, we’ll be displaying a few of our favorite cards along with details about what it took to make these contacts. We’re excited to share some of the special cards pulled from the thousands we’ve received over the years. We look forward to seeing your cards as well!

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