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It’s All in the Cards! QSL Cards from Ethiopia

Ethiopia QRV in January

Ethiopia is scheduled to be active from January 12-20 thanks to Bob Johnson, W9XY, and Ken Claerbout, K4ZW, who plan to be operating from the ET3AA club station at Addis Ababa University, Institute of Technology. Addis Ababa is Ethiopia’s capital and largest city, with an estimated population of over 2.7 million. ET3AA has been housed at the university since May 2011.

In 2018, DX Engineering contributed equipment that was instrumental in helping members of the Ethiopian Amateur Radio Society (EARS) prepare the ET3AA station for participation in Youngsters on the Air (YOTA) activities. K4ZW and W9XY had traveled there for YOTA Month in December 2018 to help out with station projects and get operators on the air as ET3YOTA (QSL card below).

The Ethiopian Amateur Radio Society was established in 1993 by a group of hams led by Sid May, ET3SID (SK). An RTTY enthusiast and ARRL Volunteer Examiner, ET3SID served as an Elmer to scores of aspiring operators in Ethiopia, helping them earn their licenses and get on the air. He passed away on September 25, 2012, but the legacy of his mentorship endures in the number of operators at ET3AA who are both active hams and conscientious students pursuing engineering degrees. Read more about ET3SID here.

Mark, W8BBQ, DX Engineering customer/technical support specialist, contacted ET3SID on 20M SSB.

Last summer, two members of the National Communications Authority (NCA) of South Sudan visited ET3AA. They met with EARS operators, along with W9XY and K4ZW, to learn more about amateur radio and its potential in their own country, reported the YASME Foundation, who sponsored the NCA trip.

“There is interest in establishing a club like ET3AA in South Sudan and creating a pathway for local citizens to gain access to amateur radio,” YASME Foundation president Ward Silver, N0AX, wrote. “It is hoped that this visit will help to further that effort.”

QSL Cards

The active hams at DX Engineering have had great success contacting Ethiopia 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 QSL cards from Ethiopia gathered from the collections of the DX Engineering team.

Tom, KB8UUZ, DX Engineering technical writer, made contact on 30M CW with ET7L operating from Addis Ababa.

Wayne, K8FF, DX Engineering customer/technical support specialist, received the QSL card below from ET3VSC.

Scotty, KG9Z, DX Engineering customer/technical support specialist, worked  the Kagnew Station Radio Club, ET3USF, in July 1973 while a college student.

The card was sent by station QSL card manager Mike Durbin SP5 ASA (Army Security Agency), WA5TKC (now K5MJD), who served in the early 1970s at the Kagnew Station—a U.S. Army radio station located in Asmara, Ethiopia (now Eritrea). Established in 1943 and in operation until April 1977, the Kagnew Station was a Cold War listening facility located at a high altitude close to the equator. At its peak in the 1960s, the station was home to 5,000 American citizens.

By 1974, only about 100 civilian technicians—along with family members—and a handful of military personnel remained at the communications facility. The U.S. State Department noted that technological advancements in satellite communications had rendered the work at Kagnew Station obsolete. This, coupled with growing hostilities between the U.S. and Ethiopian governments, led to the station’s disbandment.

The bottom of the card reads, “Sorry for 12 year delay-Mike.” I reached out to KG9Z to ask if the card did, indeed, arrive 12 years after the QSO was made. “Yes. I had subscribed to QRZ (before the internet) and they had a column on QSL route requests,” he said. “I inquired and got a response saying that WA5TKC was on the local repeater and could take care of me!”

George, K3GP, DX Engineering customer/technical support specialist, reached ET3TK from Addis Ababa.

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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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