Only a few years ago operating ones private station from Russia was unthinkable, not even mentioning 50MHz! Things have now dramatically changed behind the former Iron Curtain. Some four years ago, a group of German amateurs established close links with a group of amateurs in Kaliningrad. In July 1991 when this area was open to foreigners a group of German amateurs visited Kaliningrad. Meanwhile some Russians were invited to Germany and participated in the CW-Field day with DL0CS.
During this period rumours were circulating about a possible 6m DXpedition to UA2. We asked the amateurs staying with us if it would be possible for us to obtain a 6m licence also? It was not clear due to the 6m band not being generally available in Russia if our request would be successful. After several telephone calls to Moscow it became clear that there were no TV R1 transmitters in Kaliningrad. Our Russian friends continued the dialogue on our behalf with the radio inspectors. We were next informed that UZ2FWA would get a special permit to work on 6m for a limited time, in order to establish if there would be any interference with other services. They were very lucky to experience in that very short time a big opening across the Atlantic, when contacts were made for the first time between UA2 and America and Canada. They also worked many hundreds of stations from the UK.
Our licence arrived via FAX from our friend UA2FO. It included an invitation to visit his company for business discussions (Hi). With this paper it was possible to obtain the necessary visa very quickly and request a crossing at the Polish checkpoint, Mamonovo. This checkpoint is very close to Kaliningrad. This check point is usually only used by Russians and Poles on a restricted basis. We hoped our connections would be good enough to get us the required permission. Our car was the only one at arrival time. However it soon became clear that the Polish officers would not accept our papers. They said "the Russians will not let you in". Well, this was not true as Nick UA2FJ, was standing next to a Russian Officer and he said via 2m "on our-side everything OK". There is know telephone line between the two sides, so we had no official way of convincing the Poles we were expected and welcome.
The only other way to reach Kaliningrad, is via Lithuania, 700km further east!! At this point we even thought about going home. After a while we agreed that we would be letting too many people down, and we obviously wanted to see our Russian friends, after all their hard work arranging our 6m permit.
An over night stop was quickly arranged in Olsztyn and at noon the following day we arrived at the Polish - Lithuanian border. The queue of cars , trucks, caravans etc, ran to over 2.5km! Some had been waiting for 20hrs! When Rolf, DK2ZF started filming with his Camcorder, it seemed that our clearance was speeded up very quickly. After ONLY 6hrs we were in Lithuania. Fortunately on that day, a Saturday, traffic was light and the Lithuania - Russia border crossing was done in under two minutes. We finally arrived in Kaliningrad at sunset on Saturday 4th July.
We had arranged to meet some of the club station members at the central square, where we would be escorted to the UZ2FWA club station some km north of the town. On arrival we unpacked all our equipment and soon after midnight Rolf made the first CQ, on what seemed like a dead band. His call was answered my I1KTC. The next QSOs soon followed, with, SM7CMV and OZ6OL. Even Germany was contacted that night (DK5UG). So it was confirmed the equipment had survived the 1500km journey.
On Sunday 5th, we got up early in order to take a look at the very impressive installation at UZ2FWA: Five towers, height up to 40 metres, all with monoband yagis and quads for the HF bands. A new 2m antenna array has also, recently been installed, with 8 x 16 elements.
UA2F/DK2ZF started the day with an Es opening at 0638 UTC. The 6m band was open all day to Malta, the UK and the Netherlands. The band did go quiet from time to time, which did at least give us time to eat! We always left the receiver on 50.110MHz and Igor, UA2FX called us when things got going again. It is worth stating that at this point the UZ2FWA 6m permit has lapsed and our callsign was the only one allowed! Rolf did a great job with the pile-ups. He welcomed the very good operating style of the UK stations, but had the impression that PA and ON could learn from them. Not a single UK station interrupt a QSO. Only once did he have a problem with G stations and that was when he asked for the station ending "KW". It turned out that there were two stations with "KW" Hi!
At about 1930 UTC on Sunday 5th July signals were so strong with the UK on 50MHz, we decided to take a look crossband to 70MHz. No contacts were made that day. Perhaps our luckiest QSO partner of that day was Emma 2E0AAX, who we worked up in the Novice band allocation.
The beacons from the UK were most helpful. They often alerted us that the band was opening. More beacons all over Europe would certainly aid the DXer. One of the busiest days was Tuesday 7th July, when contacts with LZ, YO, I, YU3, SV, OE and some 20 DLs were made. At around 1000 UTC signals were again very strong, cross-band tests 50/70MHz were once again made. This time we had some luck. The first ever QSO 50/70MHz from Kaliningrad was made with G0NFH, followed by G3COJ and G8XVJ. (A full list of UZ2FWA and UA2F/DK2ZF "6m firsts" can be found on page 43 of this issue).
Although travelling back to Germany was just as difficult as our out going journey to Kaliningrad, we are planning a repeat DXpedition next year. We only hope that by then Poland will have opened all it's checkpoints and things will be a lot easier. To be quite frank what happens at the moment is a farce. Maybe this is the Polish reply to their experiences during Soviet rule, but times have now changed and ALL Europe should be working together.
Our Sincere thanks to all our friends at the UZ2FWA club station for their hospitality.
73 Ulrich Mueller DK4VW.
On behalf of our members, the UK6MG committee would like to thank all of the operators involved in this DXpedition.
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