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

Bhutan QRV in April

Our second QSL card post for April highlights an opportunity to add the Kingdom of Bhutan—the 67th Most Wanted DXCC Entity—to your list of contacted countries. The A52 DXpedition by SP9FIH (as A52P) and SP6CIK (as A52CI) is scheduled to be active April 18 to May 8 on 40-6M SSB, CW, and digital. The A52 team, who will be operating from the Dochula Eco Retreat, asks that DX chasers follow these requests:

  • Do not make duplicate contacts.
  • Please listen before you call. Do not ask for our call signs.
  • When calling, give your full call sign, not two or three letters.

The team notes on their website that because Bhutan’s terrain is marked by deep valleys and steep mountain ranges, “it is extremely difficult to find good QTH” there. Per the team, their location—about 10,000 feet above sea level—seems to offer a good area for short path propagation to the U.S., Europe, and Japan, though long path is not recommended. Get up-to-date information from the A52 website.

About Bhutan

Bhutan is a landlocked South Asian country in the Eastern Himalayas between China in the north and India in the south. At 14,824 square miles in area, Bhutan is slightly larger than Maryland. Its population of around 777,000 ranks it in the bottom quarter of countries in terms of density.

The Bhutanese Himalayas feature mountains that reach 23,000 feet above sea level. Bhutan’s highest peak, Gangkhar Puensum, is the highest unclimbed mountain in the world at 24,836 feet. It ranks as the world’s 40th tallest mountain (Mount Everest is first at 29,032 feet). In 1994, out of respect for local spiritual beliefs, the climbing of Bhutanese peaks higher than 20,000 feet was forbidden. In 2003, mountaineering in Bhutan was outlawed completely. Prior to the ban in the 1980s, there were four unsuccessful attempts to reach the summit of Gangkhar Puensum. The name of the mountain means “White Peak of the Three Spiritual Brothers” in the Dzongkha language.

QSL Cards

The active hams at DX Engineering have had great success contacting Bhutan 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.

Scotty, KG9Z, DX Engineering customer/technical support specialist, received this card from A52AB, who was operating in October 2011 from Paro, Bhutan. Among other equipment, A52AB employed a microHAM CW keyer. microHAM products are available now at

Paro is home to Bhutan’s only international airport as well as many sacred sites and historical buildings, including the Taktsang Palphug Monastery shown on the front of the QSL card. Also known as the Tiger’s Nest, the monastery, finished in 1692, is a sacred Vajrayana Himalayan Buddhist site built into a precarious rocky cliffside above the Paro valley.

Mark, W8BBQ, DX Engineering customer/technical support specialist, earned this very cool QSL card from A5A in May/June 2012 (17M SSB, CW; 15M SSB, CW; 12M SSB). The card’s design is based on Bhutan’s flag, which features a  Chinese dragon set against yellow and orange triangles. The 14-day, five-operator A5A Bhutan DXpedition team logged 38,800 QSOs.

Wayne, K8FF, DX Engineering customer/technical support specialist, worked the A52A DXpedition in May 2000. The 10-day, 15-operator A52A activation netted more than 82,000 CW, SSB, and digital QSOs.

George, K3GP, DX Engineering customer/technical support specialist, contacted the A52PRO DXpedition in March 2004. A52PRO operator Jim Wise, W4PRO (SK), who passed away on December 31, 2014, was a highly respected ham who was well-known for his one-man DXpeditions and CW skills. A member of the DXCC Honor Roll and ARRL Life Member, he served as the assistant director of the ARRL Roanoke Division.

Tom, KB8UUZ, DX Engineering technical writer, received this card from A52UD (Charles Harpole, K4VUD). Along with being an avid DXer, K4VUD made notable contributions as an educator, filmmaker, and scholar of cinema and mass communications. Read much more about K4VUD on his Wikipedia page.

Dave, N8NB, DX Engineering customer/technical support specialist, received this card from A52VM.

Dave, K8DV, DX Engineering customer/technical support specialist, reached A52PP from Pora in October 2011 on 20M RTTY. The Rinpung Dzong (Buddhist monastery) on the front of the card includes 14 shrines and temples and is the site of the annual festival of Tshechu held in March or April. For several days, the festival features monks telling religious stories by performing traditional mask dances.

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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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