MIDXA CLUB INFORMATION

The Mariana Islands DX Association was formed in November of 1997 by a small group of DX'ers, contesters, and HF operators in the Mariana islands. Current officers of the club are:

President - Jim, KH2D - Amelia Island, Floirda

Vice President - Jun, WH0V - Saipan Island

Secretary - Danny, KH2JU - Guam Island

Treasurer - John, WH2U - Honolulu, Hawaii

The club currently consists of hams who are residents of the islands of Guam, Saipan, Rota, and Tinian. The club also offers Supporting Memberships to hams in other parts of the world.

Email officers by clicking the callsigns above.

Send regular mail to: MIDXA, P.O. Box 25666, GMF Guam 96921

 

PURPOSE OF MIDXA

MIDXA was formed with several goals in mind. One of our goals is to promote HF operating, DX'ing and contesting in the ham community of our islands. Another of our goals is to provide some basic ham radio infrastructure to our islands that is permanent and is here for future hams as well as current hams. Guam and Saipan are separated by 120 miles of ocean, with the islands of Rota and Tinian between the two, and it is our goal to unite the ham community of all the islands and pool our resources to provide public service to our communities and emergency communications in the event that they are needed.

CURRENT PROJECTS

PacketCluster - There is a PacketCluster node in Guam and at this time, and we are working on connecting Saipan to the existing system with VHF links between the islands.

Emergency Communications Network - Current members of MIDXA are working on making their stations available for inter island communications on HF without the aid of commercial power (or our regular antenna systems, which all come down before typhoons).

FUTURE PROJECTS

Linked VHF Repeater System - We are studying a long term project of installing a VHF repeater system which has reliable coverage on all four islands so we can connect the ham communities of all the islands with easily accessible, daily communications.

Public Service - was something that we provided our community, at one time, in Guam for events such as marathons, bicycle races, etc. We intend to revitalize the public service spirit in the ham community here.

 

HAM RADIO IN THE MARIANAS

The island of Guam (KH2 land) is a U.S. Territory, and is the largest island of the Marianas chain. The population at the last census was approximately 130,000 people. The islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota (KH0 land) are part of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (CNMI).

Historically, the ham population of the Mariana Islands, especially Guam, has been a transient one. In the 80's and earlier, Guam hosted a large contingent of U.S. military troops, and with the troops came military people who were hams. The military presence in Guam also required a number of support positions from civilian contractors, and some of these positions were filled by hams from the U.S. The early 90's brought a substantial military downsizing to Guam, and the military population of the island today is a small percentage of years gone by. Some bases have been completely closed. Guam lost some of it's most active DX'ers who had been long time residents of the island when the military downsizing occurred.

DX'ING FROM THE MARIANAS

DX'ing from the western Pacific can be described in one word - FUN ! Pileups are plentiful, and not a day goes by that a KH2 or KH0 DX'er doesn't have the pleasure of being a 'new one' for a ham in another part of the world. The Marianas is a great place for contesting, with and an abundance of contacts from our neighbors to the north in Japan. Cycle 22 produced some world records in major contests from the island of Guam. Guam and Saipan have hosted visits from DX'ers and contesters from around the globe. The salt water surrounding the islands seems to magically transform the signal from a vertical or a dipole into one that would have originated from a four element monobander.

TYPHOON ALLEY

The Mariana islands are located in a part of the western Pacific ocean which sees a very large amount of activity from tropical storms. All the islands of the Marianas have been buffeted by winds in excess of 200 mph at one time or another. Severe typhoons usually cause major damage to the islands power distribution systems. Hams in the Marianas spend a lot of time on the roof - antennas go up and down many times during typhoon season each year. Commercial communications system in the islands have become much more reliable in the past ten years, but in early November of 1997, the Marianas were hit by typhoon Keith, which did extensive damage to Rota, Tinian, and Saipan. Commercial communications with Rota were totally lost. The power system in Rota was heavily damaged, with a report of approximately 60 power poles down from the typhoon. Numerous houses were destroyed in Saipan, and parts of the island were without commercial power for weeks after the storm. On December 16, 1997 super typhoon Paka devastated the island of Guam with winds measured over 200 mph. Paka caused over $200 million in damage to Guam, and the commercial power system was virtually destroyed by the storm.

HAM CLUBS IN THE MARIANAS

M.A.R.C., the Marianas Amateur Radio Club, has been in existence in Guam for a number of years and supported the QSL bureau in Guam until April of 1998, when the Guam bureau was turned over to MIDXA. The membership of M.A.R.C. has always been a very transient one - club goals and projects change as members of the club come and go. M.A.R.C. supports a VHF repeater, which has been over the years moved from place to place on the island, and at times has supported some packet radio activity on the island. In the mid 80's M.A.R.C. had a membership of over 100 hams, most of whom were HF operators, but today it has dwindled to less than half of that, and, with the advent of the no code license in the U.S., many of the members of M.A.R.C. are not licensed for HF operations. M.A.R.C. has essentially been comprised of hams on Guam only - not much effort has been made by the club to include the hams of the Northern Mariana Islands in the club. Resources of the club have come and gone as the members have come and gone.

The island of Saipan also is the home of a small ham club, the Amateur Radio Club of Saipan. The population of Saipan is much smaller than that of Guam. CNMI population is approximately 52,000 people, which includes five islands that are inhabited.

History of the Amateur Radio Club of Saipan - by KH0AC

During the 1970's and 80's, the ham radio operators living on Saipan had only an informal kind of club which met once or twice a year for a picnic on the beach with some "portable" operating at the picnic site. On one occasion, several members go together and operated a set on battery power at the site of the ocean-going canoe which had been guided by Mau Piailug from Satawal to Saipan. Contact was made with Mike McCoy operating his ham set on Satawal so Piailug and members of his crew could talk to their families.

Somtime in the mid seventies the Guam Radio Club donated a used, tube-type two meter repeater to the Saipan amateurs. This set was eventually installed on the top of what is now the Hyatt Regency Hotel where it served the Saipan hams for many years.

Early in 1990, Bert Thompson, KG6SL, learned that the federally funded financial grants were available to legally established agencies from the CNMI Energy Office for "renewable energy demonstration projects". With this in mind, Bert and Len Kaufer, KH0AC, drew up the documents necessary to apply to the CNMI Registrar for an official Certificate of Incorporation of the Amateur Radio Club of Saipan (ARCS) as a non-profit corporation in the CNMI. The Certificate of Incorporation for the club was granted on May 23, 1990.

With this document in hand, Bert and Len wrote up a proposal for a solar powered two meter amateur radio repeater - complete with solar panels, deep-cycle batteries, voltage regulators, cables, 25 watt repeater, phone patch, cavities and a typhoon proof antenna. The grant was approved, and the equipment was purchased, and the new repeater was installed in the Civil Defense compound near the summit of Mt. Topachau.

Unfortunately, in late 1996 lightning hit an ungrounded phone block on a building near the ARCS repeater, ran through the ARCS phone patch and destroyed both it and the repeater. It was not until the spring of 1997 that the members of ARCS could purchase another repeater which this time has been installed with lightning protection on phone patch, power supply, repeater, and antenna coax. With the expert assistance of ARCS members from the Far East Broadcast Corporation, the repeater antenna was installed at the 100 foot level of the radio tower on Mt. Topachau, and the repeater itself installed in one of the operating buildings of the CNMI Emergency Management Office.

ARCS meets three or four times a year, usually at the home of one of the members, and after the meeting a pot-luck dinner is served. Members are encouraged to bring their families. A weekly net is held by the club on the repeater every Tuesday at 0900z. Frequencies for the repeater are 146.340 in, 146.940 out. The repeater is open 24 hours a day. Visiting hams are welcome to check into the repeater while they are on island.

ROTA AND TINIAN

The islands of Tinian and Rota are very small, and the current ham population of these two islands is small. There are no hams currently on the island of Rota.