Some nights 40 meters have been very good recently, with north American and European stations coming in. Other nights you might encounter a lot of this….

It’s annoying, but at least you know propagation favours southeast Asia. To get some perspective on these “pirates” I googled a bit and found a post from 2003 on eHam.net with some insight from John Davies, 9V1VV, whom I worked recently. Let me quote him….

We in Singapore face daily obstacles getting through SSB pirates on all HF bands. They operate up to 5KW in all sections of the bands including the designated CW portions. On the lower bands, the only way to hope to work DX from here through the QRM is in the middle of the night when the Indonesians are sleeping.

Not only the Amateur bands, but ALL frequencies from 1.6 to 30 MHz, are affected.

The reasons are complex, and no efforts by radio amateurs will change matters.

I was involved in a large Indonesian Government project in 1996 as installation and commissioning engineer for 15 Marine Coast Stations, in locations across the length and breadth of Indonesia from Sumatra to Irian Jaya and north to the Philippine border. It was a great adventure for me, and I have many tales to tell.

What is of interest here is that the radio operators in these remote islands would hold evening nets on SSB for the mothers and fathers, uncles and cousins, of young men working in other regions, usually in the cities where they had gone for work. Operators in the big cities such as Jakarta or Surabaya would arrange with these young men skeds for many islands all over the vast country, for a small fee of course. These larger city Marine Coast Stations often use up to 5KW PEP, free-running transmitters. The stations I was commissioning were only 600 watt, but they were also free-running 1.6-30MHz.

It is not only the marine radio operators that cause problems. The police, army and airforce bases work on the same lines. There are thousands of Japanese rigs out there free-running in the hands of as many operators all over the archipelgo, all using radio as a kind of community service, in a country where landlines and cellphones cost money and are far from reliable.

The operators are poorly trained or dismissive of the niceties of international regulations and procedures. For example, a common calling frequency is 10.000 MHz !! It’s an easy figure to remember. The low portions of the amateur bands are fair game. The operators often remark on the “birds” tweeting (CW ham operators) but ignore them or force them off the air. I have heard a QSO between villagers in the coastal town of Panjang in southern Sumatra talking with their relatives in Yogyakarta on 9.750 MHz, right in the middle of a commercial band!

I do not see the situation changing in the near future. The pirate Indonesians will continue undiminished in number. There is no local authority in existance to challenge them. And the Indonesians are a gregarious people and thrive on chat and scandal. Radio is the medium for this.

It makes working the ham bands in southeast asia a real adventure at times.

I have successfully chased away some rogue operators from the 20 meter CW section who interfered with me, so it can be done. But since 2003 little has changed and working the ham bands in Asia is still a real adventure at times.

Hans "Fong" van den Boogert, BX2ABT, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Taiwan. Contact him at [email protected].

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