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Report from Thailand

E20AX/P IOTA DXpedition to Lipe Island (AS-126)
12-14 January 2024

Champ C. Muangamphun, E21EIC

During the time when the COVID-19 pandemic was still fairly new and travel restrictions around the world had not quite fully lifted yet, SIAM DX GROUP started a Mini-IOTA DXpedition project with the goal of activating all 6 IOTA island groups within Thailand.

Figure 1. Location of Lipe Island (IOTA AS-126) in Satun Province, Thailand

The Group has already activated 3 of the IOTA islands groups including E20AX/P IOTA AS-125 (2021), E20AX/P IOTA AS-107 (2022), and HS3NBR/P IOTA AS-145 (2022). This time, the Group set their sight on Lipe Island AS-126.

Figure 2. Champ E21EIC activated Lipe Island back in 2006 with Nopporn HS0EHF, Alex UT5UY, and Dej E21YDP

Lipe Island is situated 940km from Bangkok which is the furthest island in Thailand. The island is located in the Malacca Strait, in Satun Province, in the Southwest of Thailand. Forming part of the Adang Archipelago and the Tarutao National Marine Park, the island is a hot spot for snorkeling and scuba diving as it has one of the best healthy coral reefs and marine life in Thailand. Travelers can also walk around the 2km squared island to admire the crystal blue water and the three white sandy beaches called Pattaya Beach, Sunset Beach, and Sunrise Beach.

Figure 3. Getting the antennas, transceivers and other equipments ready for the drive from Bangkok to Pakbara Pier, Satun Province

We spent a little over a week preparing the equipment and logistics. Much assistance was given by HS9TSL, the fishery officer in Hat Yai province, who helped co-ordinate the Group’s accommodation on Lipe Island. The Group has been very fortunate to be placed in Koh Lipe Marine Fisheries Patrol Unit (Satun) residence which is located in the North West section of the island, right next to Sunset Beach, and directly across Adang Island. This provided the Group with the perfect opening to Europe and Japan.

Figure 4. E20AX/P journey from mainland to Lipe Island on 12th January 2024

The Lipe Island 2024 team comprised of Gerd HS0ZKF/DK5FJ, Ralf HS0ZET/DF6RK, Benji HS6SSE, Noi HS3NBR, Bun E25KAE, JC E20NKB and Champ E21EIC. The team met up on Friday morning at Pakbara Pier, La-Ngu district, in Satun Province, and took the 11:15am speedboat to Lipe Island located 65km away. During the journey, the boat also did two quick stops at Tarutao and Tao Islands for the visitors to take pictures.

Figure 5. The speedboat made two quick stops at Tarutao and Khai Islands for the group to take pictures

The team reached Lipe Island at 15:00 after some delay with the boat engines. Using a total of 5 tricycle sidecars which only allowed 3 passengers max per ride, the team managed to transport all the equipment and personnels from Pattaya Beach where the boat dropped the team off, to the Fisheries Unit on Sunset Beach. The tricycle cost was 50 THB per person.

Figure 6. E20AX/P arriving at Lipe Island and transferring onto tricycle sidecars with the equipments

With only 2 hours of sunlight left, everybody got together to erect the 20-10m Hexbeam Antenna by EAntenna at 8mh, 30m GP and 40m GP antennas, and a 17m dipole. In terms of transceivers, there were 2x ICOM IC-7300, ICOM IC-705, and YAESU FTdx10. These were connected to BPF and PentaPlexer (14-18-21-24-28) from Low Band Systems (LBS). Ralf HS0ZET/DF6RK also brought along his ICOM portable set, an ICOM IC-705 that was attached to a Delta Loop for QRP operation.

Figure 7. Assembly and installation of the 20-10m Hexbeam antenna by the crew

E20AX/P began its Lipe Island IOTA AS-126 POTA HS-0135 activation on 12th January 2024 at 1200z. The first 3 stations that came through were BG7PHA, JP3OUH, and JR6UEK. The setup was done so that 2-3 stations can run simultaneously on different bands, and this continued non-stop throughout the weekend. The team was blessed with the accommodation as they had access to 24hr solar-powered electricity unlike the rest of the island.

Figure 8. E20AX/P from the radio room using 3 mattresses stack on top of each other as our table, with 3 radios running simultaneously, on different modes and bands

IOTA AS-126 in the Malay Peninsula South West group has in fact been activated multiple times before:-

The author was lucky enough to come back to Lipe Island again for the third time after 2001 under E29AL, and 2006 under E21EIC/P. It was exciting to see the island’s development after so many years and how much it has flourished from the tourism industry. It must be a breath of fresh air for the local inhabitants to welcome all the guests back again after 2-3 years of stagnation because of COVID-19. The author is truly happy for them.

Figure 9 More pictures from the activation room (Bottom Right, L-R) E20AX/P team photo including Ralf HS0ZET/DF6RK, Gerd HS0ZKF/DK5FJ, Bun E25KAE, JC E20NKB, Champ E21EIC, Noi HS3NBR, and Benji HS6SSE

E20AX/P took turns to operate the radios and only began the initial phase of disassembly on Sunday afternoon. The first to go was the Hexbeam as it was anchored to the balcony. The rest of the antennas including 30m and 40m GPs were left for the entire night.

Figure 10. (Left) Two ICOM IC-7300 running side by side on FT8 (Right, L-R) Benji HS6SSE, Bun E25KAE and Noi HS3NBR at the stations

In terms of propagation, despite the team’s choice of location which had a clear path to both Europe and Japan, hardly any EU stations managed to come through on FT8, CW and SSB because of the poor propagation. The conditions remained like so from Friday evening to Sunday evening local time. JA stations on the other hand were lucky with favourable conditions and many seemed to have a good time collecting IOTA and POTA counts on multiple modes and bands. Luckily the propagation to EU and NA improved a lot more on Sunday night and Monday morning, so those who were trying to work E20AX/P for the past 2 days finally had their chance.

Figure 11. (Top Left) QSL card posted directly from Satun Province to fellow Thai HAMs and a few DX friends (Top Right) Ralf HS0ZET/DF6RK with his ICOM IC-705 doing QRP (Bottom Left) Champ E21EIC and Bun E25KAE two members of INDEXA in E20AX/P team (Bottom Right) Champ E21EIC celebrating the 3,000 QSOs milestone on the beach

E20AX/P from Lipe Island went QRT on the morning of 15th January 2024. The team made a total of 4,239 QSOs after 60 hours of operation, 237 QSOs of which were done at only 5 watts. Everybody helped to pack up the station and promptly left the accommodation site by 07:30am local time through multiple shuttles of tricycle sidecars to board the 09:00am speedboat back to Pakbara Pier on the mainland. From there the group split up, HS3NBR with his XYL drove with all the transceivers back to Bangkok whilst the rest of the crew caught the flight from Hat Yai to Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok.

Figure 12. (L-R) E20AX/P team photo including Ralf HS0ZET/DF6RK, Gerd HS0ZKF/DK5FJ, Bun E25KAE, JC E20NKB, Champ E21EIC, Noi HS3NBR, and Benji HS6SSE

The statistics of the 4,239 QSOs made were as follows:-

Figure 12. (L-R) E20AX/P team photo including Ralf HS0ZET/DF6RK, Gerd HS0ZKF/DK5FJ, Bun E25KAE, JC E20NKB, Champ E21EIC, Noi HS3NBR, and Benji HS6SSE

Thank you to all JA stations who took the time to work E20AX/P on Lipe Island, and congratulations to the following JA hams who made it to the top of the list:

SIAM DX GROUP still have 2 more IOTA groups to visit. Please look out for further news update of when the next activation will be. Until then, see you in the next issue!

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