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9N7AK QRT

Sadly, I finished my work in Nepal in August and am now QRT as 9N7AK. I am optimistic about the future of the hobby in Nepal. It has the support of the government and a number of young professionals have recently obtained their 9N1 callsigns. The trick will be to get them on the air and active.

My modest Nepal operation was a good learning experience. It was my first attempt to set up an HF station; my previous HF operation had been at my grandfather’s shack or during Field Day. The urban environment of Kathmandu also presented many challenges. I am grateful for the support and advice of Satish 9N1AA, Suresh 9N1HA, Dov 4Z4DX/9N7DX, Rob NZ6J, and others.

I’ve recently moved to Khartoum, Sudan, and hope to obtain my license here shortly. My experience in Nepal should help me assemble and operate a good station.

All QSOs have been uploaded to LoTW. All QSL cards received at my home QTH as of October 4, 2012, have been responded to direct or via the bureau. I will handle any remaining QSLs the next time I am in the U.S.

This blog will remain online. If anyone has updates on the Nepal licensing process or other Nepal amateur news, please send it along and I’ll consider updating the site accordingly.

See you on the air!

New page: suggested reading for new 9Ns

Something interesting has happened over the past several weeks: for the first time, a high percentage of visitors to this site are from Nepal. With more than 20 new 9N1s now licensed and the impending reactivation of the Nepal Amateur Radio League, I take it as one sign of increasing activity by the expanding ham community here. There are several meetings and events planned over the next several weeks, which I am looking forward to very much.  In the meantime, I have added a new page to this site: suggested reading for new 9N hams. It includes links to publications and sites that helped me get (re)-started in HF radio over the past year, and I hope new hams here will find them useful as well.

The link to the page is at the top of this site. It can also be accessed here.

 

[Jimee 9N1GJ, Rob NZ6J/9N7ZL, and Nisha 9N1NS testing VHF and UHF links from Nagarkot to Lalitpur]

Nepal’s first repeater – 9N1KS 145.000/434.500

Thanks to the energy and hard work of the staff of the National Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET) and the technical and financial assistance of the Computer Association of Nepal – USA chapter, Nepal’s first repeater was inaugurated last month and is working great!

The 9N1KS repeater is located atop the NSET building on the southern outskirts of Kathmandu [map]. Output is 145.000 and input is 434.500 with no tone. A drill conducted at several hospitals around the city suggests that coverage of the Kathmandu Valley is very good. There is regular evening activity by NSET staff, who are using eight Yaseu FT-60s donated by CAN-USA. With more 9N licensees and equipment soon to come, 9N1KS should soon be a busy repeater indeed.

The repeater itself is a Kenwood TM-V71A, fed to a Diamond X-30A antenna at about five meters above the building. Backup power is provided by a 12Ah gel cell.

More news to follow in the coming days and weeks — NSET and the Nepal Amateur Radio League (NARL) have several projects in the pipeline. In the meantime, listen to Nisha 9N1NS’s voice announcement [.mp3] and check out the photos below! Thanks to Rob 9N7ZL / NZ6J and the new licensees at NSET including Khadga 9N1KS, Nisha 9N1NS, Jimee 9N1GJ,  Surya 9N1SS, and others for their work on this initiative.

(NSET building, with repeater antenna faintly visible atop building, to the left)

(Repeater room)

(Rob 9N7ZL / NZ6J of CAN-USA with antenna)

Nine new 9N calls issued

Satish 9N1AA has passed along some good news. The Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) has issued nine new 9N calls. The names and callsigns are listed at the end of this post.

An additional 12 persons passed their exams earlier in the year but have not yet applied for their licenses (in Nepal, the exam and the license applications are separate processes). Among them is Ms. Renu Shakya, an officer in MoIC’s frequency division whose patience and professionalism have assisted many foreign operators including myself. I was very glad to hear that she intends to file her license application very soon.

I know that Satish, Suresh 9N1HA and others in our small community will help get these operators on the air quickly, whether with commercial or homebrew equipment. All are CW certified.

I hope the next step is the reactivation of the Nepal Amateur Radio League,  because I already have a few ideas for club activities!

Update: Mr. Khadga Oli (now 9N1KS) informs that five of the below licensees are staff of the National Society for Earthquake Technology, showing the good potential for building a role for amateur radio in emergency communications in Nepal.

OM     Sanjeev Pandey—— 9N1SP

YL      Nisha Shrestha——–9N1NS

OM     Ganesh K. Gimi——-9N1GJ

YL      Niva Upretee————9N1NU

OM     Pravin Joshi————-9N1KK

OM    Khadga Sen Oli———-9N1KS

OM    Surya N. Shrestha—-9N1SS

YL     Kalpana Pokharel—–9N1MM

OM   Tara B. Neupane——-9N1TN

Amateur Radio and Earthquake Safety Day

Satish Kharel (9N1AA) and I were privileged to speak at a symposium on Earthquake Safety Day, January 12, before an audience of influential players in disaster preparedness and communications.

We gave a very brief introduction to amateur radio, its application to emergency communications, and the current status of amateur radio in Nepal. Satish is a dynamite speaker and had the rapt attention of the room; I am sure we recruited at least a few new hams, in addition to the several Nepali and American hams who were present.

On the same panel, Suresh Ojha (W6KTM), an RF engineer in the U.S., spoke about basic principles of good emergency communications systems and about efforts by the Computer Association of Nepal – USA (CAN-USA) to assist the Government of Nepal in making the country’s telecommunications system more robust. In addition to its work with the government, CAN-USA has donated handheld two-meter sets to new Nepali hams. Suresh was also a clear, effective speaker, and a good advocate for amateur radio. Finally, the in-charge of the Emergency Operations Center at the Ministry of Home Affairs spoke about the structure of the EOC.

Ham radio was remarkably center-stage in the emergency communications panel and subsequent discussion, indicating that there is now strong support for our hobby in the Nepali government and broader civil society. I learned that several Nepalis in the “disaster risk reduction” community have recently earned their ham licenses and that there are solid plans to establish repeaters and club/emergency stations at several earthquake-hardened sites around the Kathmandu Valley. Most notably, the respected and influential National Society for Earthquake Technology has mainstreamed ham radio into its plans for strengthening the emergency communications network in the Kathmandu Valley and countrywide.

Satish has shared details with me and I am slowly writing them up as part of a longer story about how emergency communications and the expansion of amateur radio in Nepal have become intertwined. In the meantime, suffice to say that it is an exciting time for ham radio in Nepal.

Now active on 40m SSB and data

End-fed, full-size 40m dipole strung to neighboring building

I recently moved houses and now have the space for a full-size, end-fed dipole for 40m.   I installed it yesterday by stringing it from the third-floor balcony of my house to the balcony of a neighboring building (which, conveniently, is a friend’s office).  It is strung toward the northeast.

It is too early to assess performance.  I made only two QSOs last night, with hams at a single QTH in Indonesia.  I also heard what sounded like Central Asian and Russian stations but they were ragchewing.  Otherwise, I didn’t hear much on SSB and was rather disappointed.

I’ll try again over the next couple of nights.  If performance seems reasonable, I may participate in this weekend’s CQ WW SSB contest as a single-band (40m) entrant.  Otherwise, I am tempted to spend the weekend at my old place, with the 5-band vertical!

I hope to hear you soon on 40m.

Good news: New 9N1 calls to be issued in November!

For around ten years, amateur radio in Nepal has been in an unfortunate situation: although visiting foreign hams such as myself could obtain a temporary (9N7) call within a few days, it was impossible for Nepali citizens to become licensed. The syllabus for the exam was “under revision,” and even Nepalis holding a foreign license could not have that license recognized. No longer!

In early November, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) will hold a license exam [notice in Nepali]. They plan to hold future exams yearly, and can do so more often if there is sufficient interest. According to Satish (9N1AA), around 45 Nepalis have applied to sit for the exam in November. So, we should very soon have many new 9N1 friends on the air.

Unlike in the U.S., Nepalis need to apply in advance to take the exam; walk-ins are not allowed, and the deadline to apply has already passed.

There is a serious shortage of ham equipment in Nepal. Over the short term, I hope to assist in in establishing a club station, and my own station will also be open to new hams. Over the long-term, it would be good to build a corps of equipped amateurs in and around the Kathmandu Valley to promote the hobby. Following a recent earthquake on the Nepal-Sikkim border that resulted in some shaking (and three deaths) in Kathmandu, there was also an exchange on a Nepali mailing list about the possible role for amateur radio in emergency response, as well as some media coverage. I will post on this blog the outcomes of any future discussions on emergency communications in Nepal.

This is exciting news for amateur radio in the South Asia region!

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