Interview with Baldur Drobnica-DJ6SI

Posted: November 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

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Baldur Drobnica-DJ6SI on the cover of S9 Magazine.

Baldur Drobnica-DJ6SI has been one of the most active independent Dxpeditioners of our time. Baldur is a reluctant hero in the DX Community. He is bold in his travels but reserved in his tales. Baldur speaks with incredible experience and wisdom. I am amazed at his list of activations, many of them before my time as a Dxer. Here is just a partial list of his activations:

SV1DB/A Mt Athos 1973/1991

Rwanda 2008

Mayotte 1980

Juan de Nova and Glorioso 1980

Conway Reef 1989

Glorioso 1992

Congo 2007

Uganda 1985

Ghana 1985/1986

Sierra Leone 1983/1996

Guinea 1982/1997/2002

Togo 1982/1985

Somalia 1982

Gambia 1982

Mali 1982

Senegal 1982

Togo 1981

Abu Ail 1988/1990

Djibouti 1988/1990/2003

Banaba 1990

West Kiribati 1990

Marshal Islands 1990

Niger 1988/1989/2000

Benin 1988/1989

Liberia 1987

Kenya 1986

Penguin Island-ZS0X & Namibia 1994

North Cyprus 1994 Togo 1994

Nepal 1993

Burundi 1993/2002/2007

Kenya 1993

Uganda 1992

Comoros 1992

Guiana Bissau 2000/2001

Somaliland 1999/2004

Somalia 2001/2003

Madagascar 1998

Congo 1997/2004

Chad 1997/2011

Mali 1997

Botswana 2002

Western Sahara 2002

Malta 2009

Namibia 2008

Paul N6PSE: Baldur, you have visited and operated from Africa many times. I always leave Africa feeling somewhat sad, like the situation there is hopeless. How do you feel about Africa: Baldur DJ6SI: I’ve been to 35 states in Africa, to some of them repeatedly: Djibouti 4x, Burundi 4x, Niger 3x, Glorioso3x, Congo-Brazzaville 3x, Togo 3x, Somalia 3x, Somaliland 3xGuinea-Conakry 3x, Mayotte 3x, Guinea Bissau2x, Chad 2x, Kenya 2x, Mali 2x, Senegal 2x, Uganda 2x, Sierra Leone 2x, Benin 2x, Ghana 2x, Gambia 2x, Benin 2x.

In my opinion Africans are happy, even when they live in very simple or even poor conditions. Nowhere else in the world did I meet so many laughing and happy people.

TN9Z

Baldur operates as TN9Z from Congo.

Paul N6PSE: Baldur, the speculation about a rivalry with Martti-OH2BH are legendary. Any truth to those stories:

Baldur DJ6SI: Yes, we were both trying to activate the same places. One time, we were both on the same ferry boat, trying to activate the same place-Aland Islands.

Sometimes I was first and sometimes I was not. We both tried to activate Western Sahara when it was recognized by the ARRL as a new DXCC. I had obtained permission through my contacts in Algeria with the representatives of the Polisario Front. When I arrived, our equipment was taken and held under lock and key.

We tried in vain to get our equipment free for a week but were unable to. After a week of trying, I flew back to Germany without my equipment. A week later, OH2BH was QRV from Western Sahara. I will always wonder how he was able to go QRV when my permission was not honored.

GloriosoMay92

Baldur operates from Glorioso Island in 1992.

Paul N6PSE: Baldur, what are your feelings about behavior on the bands?  Is it getting worse?

Baldur DJ6SI: Almost exclusively you find DXpeditions or stations with a special call working our amateur radio bands. The system of giving points to radio bands has brought no good results.

In former times it was good enough to work a new or interesting country on a given band. Today they want you to activate all nine bands. This leads to mammoth-size DXpeditions with at least 25 operators who descend on the Most Wanted List like a swarm of locusts or suck it in like a vacuum cleaner. Then, for the following five years no other Dxpeditioners ventures there because it appears uninteresting.

Newcomers and radio hams who for different reasons have interrupted practicing their hobby and who would like to take it up again have to wait quite a few years until the countries that were completely ‘grazed’ are activated again. In the years from say 1955 until 1970, there were about ten to twelve Dxpeditioners world-wide; Danny Weil, Gus Browning, Don Miller and the Colvins. They predominantly activated European countries like LX, HB03A, PX(C3, HV, SV/A which were very sought after at that time.

Baldur_News

Baldur’s adventures have been well covered over the years.

Paul N6PSE: Baldur, how did the 1983 Spratly tragedy affect you?

Baldur DJ6SI: In the course of the sad events of the Spratly tragedy, I became a Christian.

Baldur-DXMagazine

Baldur discussed the Spratly tragedy in the January, 1989 DX Magazine. You can read about the tragedy at this link: http://www.dokufunk.org/upload/dx_magazine_spratly.pdf

Paul N6PSE: Baldur, following the 2012 incident in Kos Island Greece, did the Greeks ever explain or apologize for locking you up?

Baldur DJ6SI: Up to the present day (Nov, 2014) I don’t have a single paper or document about the whole incident in Greece. No verdict, nothing from the court nor from the lawyer; the whereabouts of my equipment in Greece (transceiver, power supply, headphones, bug, 2 mobile phones and a camera) remain unknown.

Paul N6PSE: Baldur, do you have any regrets or missed opportunities?  Anywhere that you would like to have activated?

Baldur DJ6SI: If  I could, I would return to Mt. Athos and activate it again. Mt. Athos was my favorite place that I have visited.

DJ6SI

Paul N6PSE: Baldur, you have travelled all over the world, what was the worst place that you have ever visited?

Baldur DJ6SI: The worst place was Mogadishu, Somalia in 1983.

Paul N6PSE Baldur, Is there anywhere that you truly wished to activate but were denied?

Baldur DJ6SI.  Yes, I tried to activate 7Q in Malawi in 1985. The Government told me please do not come with your radio equipment, we cannot guarantee your life. So I did not go.

Paul N6PSE: Baldur, travel is expensive. Were your trips self-funded or did you receive ample support from the DX Community?

Baldur DJ6SI: I’ve essentially financed my activities themselves. Occasionally, I have received smaller amounts from Foundations. It always helped to receive stamps, both the green and postal variety. DJ6SI-6O

Baldur meets with the President of Somalia.

Paul N6PSE: Baldur, is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?

Baldur DJ6SI: The single operator as a Dxpeditioner does not count anymore. The big Dxpeditions publish their record number of 100,000 QSOs, give or take a few.

Let’s say that 25 operators work 6 to 7 stations with power amplifiers and big effective antennas on a twenty four hour basis on all bands in at least three modes for two weeks. Compared to this, an example for many single operators; DJ6SI with 100 watts, multiband dipole (G5RV or Windom), only mode CW, subtract from 24 hour day for time periods of sleep, hygiene, eating and drinking and a few short breaks which leaves about 15 hours at the station.

At the end of six and a half days, there are 10,000 QSOS’s in the log. Quite a big difference from today.

DJ6SI_manyFans

Baldur meets with some of his many fans.

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Paul N6PSE: Baldur, thank you for all of your contributions to the DX Community over the years. You are an inspiration for us all.   

A special thank you to Manfred-DH2JX for helping to translate this interview.

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Comments
  1. Mike KJ4Z says:

    Wow, what an impressive list of activations. I agree with him, some of the romance is maybe lost when you have a modern mega-activation, and as someone who’s been off the air for a while I know I have a long time to wait for many DXCC entities to come around again. I won’t deny, though, that I do enjoy the easy pickings when you have a loud, multi-op activation.

  2. John AE5X says:

    Interesting interview. I might offer another take on the Big Boy 100,000 vs. the solo op’s 10,000 contacts on DXpeditions – and that is, apart from the numbers, there is (for me at least) a difference in how I feel about having worked each type of DXpedition.

    In other words, although I’m glad to work a mega-DXpedition for a needed entity, I find it much more fulfilling as a DXer to work a small one-man operation. By now, every DXer has Amsterdam – so to have worked them is nice, but to say that I have them confirmed is insignificant since everyone else does too. But I also have Turkmenistan confirmed and I place more value in that confirmation since it has since become very rare.

    There are other examples I could mention but the point remains that for some DXers a challenging DXpedition is more rewarding to work than a mega-DXpedition. This can’t be measured in numbers but is a real factor nonetheless.

    • Mike KJ4Z says:

      Hi John,

      I don’t have Amsterdam — I came back on after they were activated. And now I fall smack into that space that Baldur describes. I’ll have to wait a long, long time for another shot at it. More frequent, smaller expeditions could maybe help. Then again, for these super-expensive entities, maybe it’s just no longer possible to mount a small expedition.

  3. ky6r says:

    I enjoy all of the interviews, they are excellent! Wow – Baldur sure has had quite a history as a DX-peditioner. Wow!

    • n6pse says:

      Yes indeed. Much of Baldur’s activity was before my time as a serious Dxer but I am amazed at what he accomplished. He is one of the quiet, “unsung heroes” of this great hobby.

  4. Keith says:

    I really liked the interview. Great questions and good answers. Amazing how many DXpeditions he has done. I wish I was licensed when I was in global business development so I could have thought about staying longer and operating in some of the places I traveled to for work. It would have been fun. Traveling now to me is something I avoid with young son but maybe down the road when Max is a little older a couple small DXpeditions with a small team would be fun preferably to a small island in South Pacific.

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