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EA6 Amateur Radio Menorca Island

Menorca - EA6

The Balearic Islands do not attract the attention of most DX-hunters. The EA6 prefix can be heard on all bands and modes almost daily. However, the archipelago consists of 4 main islands which are slightly different. The largest one, Mallorca, is known for mass tourism, the small Ibiza attracts the jet-set and other party crowds in general. The second largest island is called Menorca and it is quiet, not overcrowded and actually more attractive than the others. The area of Menorca is five times smaller than that of Mallorca. The permanent population on Menorca is about 90 thousand, which is ten times fewer than that of Mallorca. While there is a quarter of a million hotel beds on Mallorca, this number is roughly 30 thousand on Menorca. I do not like crowds so I went to Menorca, and I chose October when there are almost no tourists at all. The temperature was over +25 degrees C every day but the last one when it was time to leave. I took with me my small radio in order to have something to do in the evenings – I do not like going out and avoid the global television entertainment.

I always try to meet local radio amateurs and my experience from the islands in the whole Mediterranean Sea is that the locals are tired of visitors. The Amateur Radio population on Menorca is quite small and the activity is rather low. One of the reasons is the lack of higher education institutions on the island. Young people, who might get interested in this technical hobby, go to mainland Spain or the neighbouring Mallorca island for studies. Another reason is the absence of industry. The economy of the Balearic Islands is based on tourism.

Nevertheless the local branch of the URE – the Spanish Amateur Radio society – has about 25 members. I was lucky to meet Vicente, EA6AM, who is the chairman of this branch. He is almost 60 years old today and received his first license in 1994. Today he has a well-equipped station and a small antenna farm on the roof of his house. Many houses on Menorca have terraces on the roofs, which is perfect for setting up antennas and experiments. As always on islands, there are windy periods of the year and the antennas are not oversized. Even modest antennas get damaged, though.

EA6 Menorca Island EA6AM Antennas

Vicente, EA6AM, on the roof of his house in Mahon, the capital city of the island. This is a 5-band shortened Yagi made by Cushcraft, but there are wires, verticals and a 6-meter Yagi as well. Vicente is capable of using all bands between 3.5 MHz and 432 MHz.

EA6 Menorca Island EA6AM Radio Room Shack

This is only half of the radio equipment in the radio room of Vicente, EA6AM. He has 3 transceivers and 2 power amplifiers which are dedicated to different bands. His side hobby is manufacturing unique telegraph keys and keyer-paddles, even though the CW is not his favourite mode.

Vicente, EA6AM introduced me to his teenage neighbour Javier, EA6ALW. Javier is 16 years old now and qualified for Amateur Radio licence in 2013 when he was 12. The secret behind such early proficiency in our hobby is his late grandfather Juan, EA6LH. Grandfather used to let Javier use his excellent station and when he passed away earlier this year, Javier has inherited this fine set-up. Javier, EA6ALW is active on many bands and modes, including satellites and digital emissions.

EA6 Menorca Island EA6ALW Antennas

This antenna stack was built by Juan, EA6LH, but is now owned by Javier, EA6ALW. The top antenna is for 144 MHz, next a 3 element Yagi for 50 MHz, a remotely tuned dipole for 7-28 MHz and a Hy-Gain tri-bander. The tower is standing on the roof.

EA6 Menorca Island EA6ALW Radio Room Shack

Javier, EA6ALW at the operating position at his grandparents' home. Next to his ICOM transceiver is a Solid State Power Amplifier for HF bands made in Spain.

EA6 Menorca Island EA6ALW Tower and antennas

The antenna tower is electrically raised and retracted, so working on the antennas is safe, no need to climb the mast. The base of the tower is on the roof terrace. The photograph is taken in the middle of October and it is warm and sunny.

EA6 Menorca Island El Toro View

The highest point of Menorca is El Toro hill, seen virtually from every point of the island. There are telecommunication and broadcasting stations on top, and the location of the only Amateur Radio repeater on the island. The call sign is EA6YAD and the transmitting frequency is 145,600 kHz with -600 kHz shift. The repeater is sometimes difficult to reach because the receiver suffers from RF overload with so many transmitters in one spot.

EA6 Menorca Island El Toro Monument

The top of El Toro is at 358 m a.s.l. (1175 ft). The origin of the name is from the local dialect – Turó in Menorqui language, similar to Catalan - and it means "the hill". Standing on top, I easily opened the repeater and called a few CQ. No answer, very few people monitor this machine.

EA6 Menorca Island EA6BE Antennas

I did see a few Amateur Radio antennas while driving around the island. This small antenna farm belongs to Juan, EA6BE who lives in El Castell, a few kilometres south of Mahon. There is a full-size 80 and 40 meter dipole running over the streets, multi-band vertical and Yagi antennas. I tried to contact Juan, but like most of the local operators, he ignored my messages.

EA6 Menorca Island Coast Radio

Going further south from Mahon I spotted an old fashioned military or maritime radio station on the southern bank of the entrance to the Mahon harbour. This station is located next to the Saint Philip Fort and was off-limits at the time of my visit. Probably in the summer this place is accessible for visitors. There are two supporting towers and a classical T wire antenna suspended between them.

EA6 Menorca Island Henryk EA6/SM0JHF

The author at the hotel. The location was in Son Bou on the southern coast, next to the longest beach on the island. However, the HF propagation was extremely bad during my stay on Menorca. I managed to make only one contact with South America even though I had open view to the south-west and enjoyed nice sunsets, at 7 PM local time. Still, the island is worth visiting for landscape, coves and beaches, many megalith remains, historical towns and forts. Local wine and propagation were disappointing, but the domestic gin is superb.

Text and photographs
Henryk Kotowski, SM0JHF
October 2017

Amateur Radio Minorca Island EA6 Article Henryk, SM0JHF

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