A Visit With Duarte, CT3HF
DX-ing is about contacting people who live in distant places. The more exotic place one can reach by radio waves, the more exciting it is. I do not care very much for DX-peditions and remote control. A real local resident operator is authentic and more interesting to me. When I travel, I try to meet local radio fanatics.
I met Duarte, CT3HF, first time at the end of 1990s at the local club in Funchal on Madeira Island. Madeira is a part of Portugal and thus also a part of the European Union, yet geographically located close to Africa and counts as Africa among radio DX-ers. Half a century ago Madeira was quite rare on the air. However, this island was important for distant communication already in the 1870s as the submarine telegraph cable between Portugal and Brazil was passing Madeira (and Mindelo in Cape Verde Islands). Wireless communication was developing here quite well a century ago, but after the WWII, when the steamship Atlantic transport decreased, both Madeira and Cape Verde Islands stagnated.
Increasing tourism and social changes in Portugal in the 1970s improved the ground for Amateur Radio in Madeira. Some of the tourists were also radio amateurs and influenced the locals. Better economy and deregulations made it easier for average person to practise this hobby.
The home and antennas of Duarte, CT3HF, is on the southern slope of Madeira.
The radio room of CT3HF is modern and very well equipped.
The HF and VHF antennas of CT3HF are unfortunately attractive to the birds.
Duarte, CT3HF, in front of his home. He is 42 years old now, married and with 2 children. So his approach to our hobby is now more rational.
The operator in the radio room.
Duarte, CT3HF, was born in early 1970s. When he was 10 years old, his father gave him a shortwave receiver. Kudos to the Ol’ Man! Still at school, he became active on 27 MHz, but on turning 18 years old, he stepped up and received his Amateur Radio licence. Two years later he went to Portugal for university studies and through a friend discovered there the 6 and 2 meter DX-ing. Back in Madeira, he spent most of his time chasing the sporadic VHF openings. Generally these bands are much more attractive in Madeira than in the North. Within a few years he earned the 50 MHz DXCC and today has 188 entities confirmed on the Magic Band.
In 2007 the 4 meter band was made available for ham radio use in Madeira and Duarte was the first one to get a permit and be active on 70 MHz.
When I met him at the ARRM club he was still a newcomer and a relatively new member. Clubs have always been good for learning and getting inspiration. Duarte learned the art of telegraphy, received the A class licence and started DX-ing and contesting on HF bands. Today he holds the 10 Band DXCC and many contest diplomas, both as single operator and for multi-operator activities. Beside the European visitors, there were two local contest groups active in Madeira in the first decade of the present century. This bipolar situation created another schism in the Madeiran Amateur Radio community. As the local club ARRM wanted to be independent of the mainland REP organisation, a group of more sensible members created a branch of the REP, which is in the IARU. Duarte, CT3HF, belongs to this REP branch. QSL cards can be sent to him through the IARU bureau system, but he does also use LoTW.
Today Duarte is experienced, technically advanced and a modern operator. He has assembled an excellent station and mastered operating techniques. Right now CT3HF is on the DXCC Honor Roll. His next target is Moonbounce.
Duarte, CT3HF, at the key. He likes CW and is good at it.
The purpose of Amateur Radio is to learn and experience the thrill of the radio phenomenon. We need others who share our enthusiasm. People living in remote places need us who can monitor the bands and discover their transmissions. We, who live in densely populated areas, need DX-stations to marvel at the miracle of faint electromagnetic energy travelling great distances. From my point of view, it is better to have one good, dedicated local radio amateur in a distant location than ten DX-peditions. Unless the DX-peditions educate and assist locals to understand this passion.
Henryk Kotowski, SM0JHF