Operating as 8P9AC in Barbados

BarbadosThis past summer (2018) I had the opportunity to accompany my brother John on a trip to Barbados for a month.  He does house/pet sitting for people through an organization called TrustedHouseSitters. We stayed in a private residence in Holetown taking care of two Jack Russell Terriers (Millie and Sara) for all but the first four nights. We were able to leave for several hours each day and explore all the sights of Barbados. We went to the famous Oistins Fish Fry, two RUM distilleries, snorkeling, visited many of the beaches around the island and enjoyed some of the Crop Over activities including Kadooment Day in Bridgetown.

While I didn’t take along any HF equipment, I did think it might be useful and fun to take along my Baofeng HT to operate 2-meter.  Several months before the trip I researched licensing requirements and possible 2-meter frequencies I could operate on while on the island. I discovered that visiting HAMs could obtain a reciprocal license bearing the prefix 8P9_ _ to operate in Barbados from the Barbados Telecommunication Unit. Here is more info about licensing in Barbados. Also, you can download the Barbados Amateur Radio License Application Form here.

While checking out a Barbados Echolink node I found, I met Klaus (VE3KR) in Canada who suggested I contact 8P6RR in Barbados who owned the Echolink node we were talking on.

I later met Raphael Ready, or Raf (8P6RR) on EchoLink who offered to help me get my license and any other help I might need while visiting the island.  He was very helpful in getting my license to operate on the island, taking care of the application process before arriving so I had the call sign 8P9AC assigned and was able to operate the moment I landed on the island.  Raf not only took care of getting my license, but he loaned me a mag-mount antenna to use on our automobile while there.  Going way above anything I expected, he also graciously showed us around the island and introduced me to a couple other hams – Bob (8P6RC) and Charles (8P6ET).

As it turned out, Raf was a treasure trove of information regarding operating in Barbados.  He is President of the Barbados Ham Radio Club, a Certified ARRL instructor, and owner, web master and admin for BarbadosHamRadioClub.com. His Echolink Node 152150 is linked to a Yaesu FT-2600M 2 meter radio along with IGATE with a KW TM-D710G. His Echolink Node is used for both Amateur Radio and for linking Barbados to CEEN, the Caribbean Emergency  Echolink Network.

BHRCThe BHRC Repeater 8P6AN-R and Link information as follows:
TX FQ 147.910 Mhz.    RX FQ 147.310 Mhz.     -600 Khz.   Tone 100 Hz.
8P6RR-R  EchoLink Node Number is 152150.  IRLP Node Number is 7943. 

Not unlike 2-meter traffic in Wichita, it was generally pretty quiet on the 2-meter bands in Barbados.  I didn’t have much luck making contacts with my Baofeng BF-F8HP and Nagoya NA-771R Retractable antenna.  It seems the Baofeng radio also lacks on the receive end as I was able to transmit but unable to hear.  Compared to the reception on Raf’s Yaesu HT, the Baofeng was sadly lacking.  8P6RRI also had along a 2M/70CM Roll Up J-Pole/Slim Jim antenna from Nelson Antennas that I tried using but was not able to get it high enough to be effective. I did have a little more luck when using the mag-mount antenna on loan from Raf.

I was able to check in to their Caribbean Echolink/Irlp Emergency Net (CEEN) which starts at 7:30 PM Tuesday nights. Amateur radio operators from all over the world check in, many from the UK, USA and Canada. The islands of Antigua, Anguilla, Barbados, Dominica, St. Marrten, St. Martin and Montserrat are connected via a Canadian reflector.

I can’t thank Raf enough for all his assistance.  In fact, all the people of Barbados were incredibly friendly and helpful and were some of the nicest people I’ve met from anywhere in the world. I look forward to working Raf again sometime on HF or when I return to Barbados.  If you’re planning a trip there, you might contact him from his website and I’m sure he’ll be happy to help you too.