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Austrian Amateurs Celebrate UN World Environment Day

08/04/2008

In 1972, the United Nations (UN) established World Environment Day to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. To celebrate this event in 2008, the Vienna International Amateur Radio Club, 4U1VIC, received permission from the UN to use 4U1WED -- World Environment Day -- as a special call sign for the entire month of June. Led by Rom Kieffer, OE1RKS, operators of the Austrian Amateur Radio society, Österreichischer Versuchssenderverband (OEVSV) -- Austria's IARU Member-Society -- together with radio amateurs of the United Nations in Vienna, operated as 4U1WED on SSB, CW and 70 cm. In total, more than 2500 contacts were logged.

Members of 4U1VIC set up an operating tent on the huge round plaza in front of the UN buildings in Vienna. In keeping with the theme of the event, solar panels were installed, making the operation friendly to the environment. Two G5RV antennas were installed on top of the roof of the conference building; a temporary vertical wire antenna was on top of one of the flagpoles that surround the plaza.

Hams were active on 40, 30, 20 and 10 meters, with many pile-ups happening in the afternoon on 30 and 20 meters. Paper logs were used, but all information was added to the computer logs at the end of each day. Gerhard Scholz, OE3GSU; Karl Speckmayr, OE3KYS, and Christian Bauer, OE3CJB, demonstrated an "emergency suitcase," an easily portable metal box that holds an FT-857D, a terminal node controller, a power supply and other necessary items. OEVSV President Mike Zwingl, OE3MZC, also made some contacts during the event.

Visitors to 4U1WED were able to watch as hams contacted people all over the world. Information brochures, such as ham radio magazines and license course information, were available for everyone to take. People asked questions and were amazed that even in a highly technical world with cell phones and the Internet, that people still use radio waves to communicate across long distances; for many people, this was their first encounter with Morse code. Operators were quick to point out to guests that in case the regular communications infrastructure fails, Amateur Radio is ready to get important messages through.

Organizers originally planned to confirm contacts only through electronic means, such as ARRL's Logbook of The World (LoTW) and eQSL. But due to the overwhelming requests for paper QSLs, the UN decided to order QSL cards. These cards will be sent through the OEVSV Outgoing QSL Bureau. All contacts have already been confirmed by electronic means. -- Thanks to Hannes Grünsteidl, OE3SGU



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