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OM7M - Low Bands Contest Club

Henryk Kotowski (SM0JHF) on February 3, 2011
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Low Bands Contest Club OM7M

The call sign OM7M has been used since 1995 by a group of Amateur Radio operators with great ardour for shortwave competitions, generally known as contests. I visited the hilltop location of the OM7M station in the middle of the summer 2010. The view from the QTH is free in all directions. The landscape of Slovakia is hilly, the lowest point of this small East European country is 100 meters (330 ft) a.s.l.
It is a rural area very close to a small industrial town called Partizanske. The fields of wheat and oats offer ample space for Beverage wires during the cold months. The access to the hill is through gardening plots on the southern slope. I was quite exhausted by the time we reached the top. My guide and the chief operator, Peter OM3PA, was not even tired. He has been climbing much higher mountains carrying radio equipment for many years. The regular VHF contest site of the club is the Vtacnik peak, 1346 m (abt 4500 ft) a.s.l., and it can be reached only on foot.

Peter, OM3PA is the custodian of the OM7M station. He lives in Partizanske town where he has a multi-band rotary array on a lattice tower. At home, he showed me the Chronicles of the KAPA. It is a scrapbook filled with photographs, newspaper articles and handwritten stories from the past 62 years. The club, originally called Klub Amaterov PArtizanske, was founded in 1949 at the local Bata shoe factory. The club licence was issued in 1953 and the call sign was OK3KAP, the country was Czechoslovakia, almost all equipment was military surplus provided by the paramilitary organisation ZVAZARM. Initially, VHF activities were prioritized, in particular Field Day excursions attracted many participants.

Peter joined the club in 1965 when he received his first call sign OK3CGI. A few years later the club commenced HF contesting by taking part in The ARRL DX Competition, the Russian CQ MIR and the OK DX Contest of 1968. The Soviet influence in Czechoslovakia subsided about this time.
Peter changed his call sign to OK3PA in 1988. Some 5 years later the country went through a peaceful division process into two. Eastern part of the former Czechoslovakia became Slovakia and the prefix OM was adopted. Soon after, it was possible to choose a short, contest-type call sign. The group opted for OM7M. Since then, they have logged over 250†000 contest contacts. Detailed contest results from the past decade are posted on the groupís website www.om7m.org . The up-to-date description of the impressive antenna farm can be found there as well.

Peter, OM3PA has been training new operators in the club from the very beginning. He can recall more than 100 of his students. The OM7M group consists today of some 25 members aged between 12 and 77. The main contest commando is formed by some 10 experienced operators. One of them is Peterís son Lubo, OM5ZW.

The club is now self-supported with no ties to any organization or corporation. The majority of the antennas are home-made. Contest operation is, as every serious contester knows it, only a small fraction of the total time that is spent at the site.

In spite of having huge arrays for HF bands, the group has always been successful on LF bands; hence the name Low Bands Contest Club. It is worth emphasizing that Czechoslovakia was for many years one of the few Central European countries with 160-meter privileges for Amateur Radio Service, including the Novice licence allowing 10-Watt operation on Top Band.

The prefixes of Slovakia are somewhat confusing. There are 8 districts in the country, but there have been some recent changes of the boundaries, apart from the fact that some old call signs are not changed at all, and the new, contest-type prefixes do not have any relation with the geographical location.

The country is really attractive and worth visiting. The radio activity is high with many clubs of very good standard. I am going to visit Slovakia again.

Henryk Kotowski, SM0JHF

Feb 1, 2011


Member Comments: Add A Comment
OM7M - Low Bands Contest Club Reply
by SM0JHF on March 16, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
The club is featured on the cover of March 2011 CQ magazine. Inside, the club is listed in the CQ WPX 2010 CW results in Multi-2 category as number 1 in Europe. Congratulations!
 
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