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WRTC2014 Profile - Ranko Boca, 4O3A

He has been on the air for 40 years now, with an interruption during the Balkan War in the 90s. It is going to be his third WRTC as a competitor, so actually he does not need a presentation for the contester community. Besides, many active contesters have visited his legendary hilltop station and even more active operators use his products.

However, getting to the top of Mount Obosnik at the entrace to the Kotor Bay in Montenegro is not easy. I made it, and would like to share my impressions with those who are interested, but can't see it in person.

001 Montenegro 4O3A Mount Obosnik

The Mount Obosnik, almost 600 m a.s.l. at night as seen from Tivat, across the bay.

Montenegro - meaning The Black Mountain - is a small republic on the Adriatic Sea, located south of Croatia and north of Albania. The history of this area is rich and colourful, periods of glory are interlaced with invasions and wars. Since the summer of 2006 the country is independent, but keeps close relations with Serbia and the European Union. It was then, in 2006, that Ranko became 4O3A, the call sign that has been logged in all possible contests almost 600,000 times. Before 2006, he used the call signs YT6A and YT6AA. Ranko received his individual licence in 1980 after several years of training and competing at the local radio club. It was a widespread approach to Amateur Radio in Eastern Europe to have radio clubs, which were subsidized by paramilitary organizations, large factories and local authorities. There were a few reasons for this scheme. Radio was considered potentially dangerous and it was easier to supervise clubs than individuals, the amount of equipment was limited so sharing an installation by several persons gave better efficiency, and finally, clubs provided classes in radio principles and operating techniques. The tradition of working in groups is still noticeable in these regions. Ranko is no exception  he has a team of devoted experts and welcomes visitors. This is unusual  several times I was refused when I tried to visit some large amateur installations. Ranko, apparently has no secrets to hide. The 4O3A station is on the air almost daily, but the Boss himself is focused only on major contests.

002 Montenegro 4O3A Obosnik 4SQ Antennas

Approaching the top of Obosnik, two 4-Square arrays on the left and the high towers on the right.

003 Montenegro 4O3A 7mhz Array antenna

The 4O3A installation is a permanent construction site. New antennas are built, existing ones are repaired. Another 7 MHz array is being finished.

004 Montenegro 4O3A 36m Rotary Tower

One of the 36 meter high rotary towers with stacked Yagi antennas.

005 Montenegro 4O3A Antennas

Another view of the antennas at the 4O3A station.

006 Montenegro 4O3A 3 Rotary Towers

View to the north, 3 rotary towers with Yagi antennas.

007 Montenegro 4O3A 4SQ Arrays

One of two 4-Square arrays at 4O3A.

008 Montenegro 4O3A 50m mast

The 50 m high freestanding tower supports the 80-meter Yagi which is on the ground for repair.

009 Montenegro 4O3A Guard on duty

The guard-on-duty greets The Boss, who just arrived by helicopter.

010 Montenegro 4O4W 4O3A 4O9TT

Some members of the team: - YL Snezena, 4O4W, - Ranko, 4O3A, - Marko, 4O9TT. Ranko flies a small helicopter to the top of Obosnik, which saves him a lot of time. He lives in Herceg Novi, on the other side of the strait.

011 Montenegro 4O6Z 4O3A 4O4W 4O4A

The main operating room, the equipment is covered with dustsheets when not in use. From left: Bore, 4O6Z, - Bojan  Ranko, 4O3A, - Snezana, 4O4W, - Dragan, 4O4A.

012 Montenegro 4O3A 4O6Z 40m Antenna

The final assembly of a new 7 MHz Yagi. Ranko, 4O3A, inspects the element while Bore, 4O6Z, is on a ladder.

013 Montenegro 4O3A View Bay

The view of the bay is magnificent at dusk. The green arrow points to the location of the 4O3A station.

All photographs by Henryk Kotowski, SM0JHF

I can see strong similarities between the Monte Verde station D4B built by Alexander, 4L5A, and the Obosnik station created by Ranko, 4O3A. Both architects had dreams of tophill competitive stations, both have proved that such a design and location is a winning concept. Both stations have been haunted by the elements - winds and humidity. Ranko, additionally has to deal with frequent thunderbolts in this area.
Next time you hear 4O3A and wonder why the signals are so strong, you have just got the answer here above.
Ranko, 4O3A, will be joined by Ivo, 9A3A, in WRTC2014 as Team EU5.

Henryk Kotowski, SM0JHF
2014 05 10

Read full article at DXNews web site.


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Montenegro, Europe
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