A8OK – Liberia 2024

Liberia is located on the west coast of equatorial Africa, about 5° above the equator. It is the size of Bulgaria, and its coastline is almost 600 km long. The population is mostly Christian, and the official language is English. Although we had hoped that this would make communication with the locals easy, we were very much mistaken and the natives – although they speak a kind of English – are very difficult to understand. At the time we planned the expedition, Liberia was ranked 142nd in Clublog, before we left it had jumped a bit, to 137th place.

When choosing the QTH, we drew on the experience of our Italian colleagues who five years ago transmitted from the Wulki Farms resort, which is located in the hinterland and has a large space for antenna constrWhen choosing the QTH, we drew on the experience of our Italian colleagues who five years ago broadcast from the Wulki Farms resort, which is located in the hinterland and has a large space for antenna construction. However, after initial promising negotiations, it turned out that their financial requirements were many times higher than our possibilities, and so we were forced to look for another QTH, which we did after a long time. We found the Trabencou resort, which consists of several residential houses, a conference hall, a number of pergolas and gazebos, and a swimming pool. It is located on the northern edge of the town of Buchanan on the banks of the Saint John River, 3 km from the Atlantic coast.

Obtaining a permission for radio operation this time was relatively easy, although again lengthy, and we were greatly helped by Richmond EL2BG, President of the Radio Club of Liberia, who negotiated the A8OK call sign. We were very grateful for his help, so when Steve HA0DU contacted us to say that he had donated a 33kg power amplifier to Richmond and had no way of transporting it to EL, we were happy to arrange transport at our own expense. The A8OK call sign was confirmed in writing on 21.2.2024 and the day after that the passports arrived from Brussels with the visas.

It was worse with air tickets, which were extremely expensive from Prague and surrounding countries, so we decided to fly from Brussels with Royal Air Maroc, which offered a flight from Brussels to Casablanca and a connecting flight from Casablanca to Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. However, for the trip to Brussels our team of eight was divided, six operators travelled by air from Prague without luggage, while the remaining two – OK2ZA and OK1CRM, accompanied by their friend Slava, travelled by van and carried all our luggage, a total of 500 kg of material. The packing of the luggage was traditionally done at Petr OK1FCJ’s in Ritka on 22.3. and 23.3. The departure of the loaded van was then scheduled for the evening of 3.4. The expedition starts…


In the morning hours, the van crew reports the completion of the mission and parks near the Brussels airport after an all-night drive. The rest of the team, consisting of Petr OK1BOA, Petr OK1FCJ, Pavel OK1GK, Luděk OK2ZC, Karel OK2ZI and David OK6DJ, meets at the Prague airport in the morning and at noon gets on an approximately one-hour flight to Brussels. There the whole team gets together again, we wish Sláv a happy journey home in the van and with great anticipation we take all the luggage to check-in, which goes without complications. Then we take an evening flight to Casablanca and change to the next flight to Monrovia.


We arrive in Liberia at 02:00 in the morning and immediately the first problems come. We meet our “liaison” in the airport hall, but going through passport control is not easy, we must present our accommodation confirmation and the invitation letter provided by EL2BG. After the passport control, we go to collect our luggage, it has all arrived, which is great news. At the customs we have problems again, we repeatedly explain the purpose of our expedition and describe the contents of the luggage, we present other documents – the permission to operate and the inventory of equipment, finally we are released, and we go out of the airport to the prepared cars. Quickly and in typical African confusion, full of shouting and honking cars, we load our luggage into the van and get into two more cars. The already uncomfortable situation is compounded by the darkness, it’s 04 in the morning and there are a lot of strange people hanging around the airport. Even the departure from the airport is not without problems, we are stopped at the gate by a patrol with a machine gun in hand, again we all have to get out of the cars and present the prepared documents, the patrol examines the luggage stored in the van for a long time, after a discussion they release us, and we move to QTH – ufff. The drive takes less than two hours, beautiful asphalt road, perfect without any potholes or bumps, better than at home. Only the last few hundred meters to the hotel is a dirt  road, which in turn is full of deep potholes, we are walking in step and the chassis of the cars are scraping against the stones. Arrival at QTH is still dark at 06:00 (local time is the same as UTC). We hastily inspect the conference room we have rented, which becomes our hammock for a fortnight. The room is perfect, it is a self-contained house with one large room, about 8×6 meters with plenty of sockets, a large air conditioner and an adjoining toilet. We start unpacking our luggage, doing a short furniture rearrangement, and rearranging the tables. Everyone chooses their own table on which to install the station. The first measurement of the voltage in the sockets does not please us – 180 V. We know they have more generators here, hopefully it will be better later.

We meet the owner of the building and a young man named Edwin, who has been assigned as our assistant and contact person who will accompany us throughout our stay.

As soon as it gets light we make a tour of the area. Everything agrees with the ideas we have from the maps and available images. After a short meeting we start building the antennas and gradually build a 10 m mast with a 5 band Spiderbeam, an 11 m mast with a trio of two element yagis for 17 m, 15 m and 12 m. We build a second Spiderbeam, but postpone its lifting until later. We eagerly turn on one radio and log the first station – OK2PAY on 15 m. A8OK is on the air!

The climatic conditions are extreme, clear skies, the sun baking in the overhead, temperatures “only” up to 35°C, but combined with the humidity and the fierce sun, movement outside is almost unbearable.

After short breaks spent in the shade we continue with lower band antennas, building 2el. vertical system on 30 m in the dried swamp next to our hammock, the antenna is pointed north so that the lobe covers both JA, EU and NA. We have one more of the same antenna with us and we leave the decision whether to build it for later. We’re building another 2el. Vertical system on 40 m, we are finishing the radials in the dark. SWR of all antennas is very good. Already during the day we try briefly transmitting with multiple stations, the mains voltage fluctuates, we complain to the building owner and there is a switch to another generator. The network voltage seems OK, but when turning on multiple stations the network drops out. Still, almost 3,500 connections are logged in the first day.

In every expedition we introduce some new feature: last year in Congo it was QO-100 operation by David OK6DJ, this time Luděk OK2ZC took care of it and revived carefully prepared and tested setup for RS-44 and IO-117 satellites. And on the first day he managed to make several dozens of contacts. For this purpose, we brought to Liberia a VHF transceiver IC-9700 and a cross dual band VHF yagi – 10el. on 70 cm and 4el. on 2 m. Thanks to the lightweight design, no additional mast is needed, a regular photostative will suffice.

After dinner we transmit on 30m and 40m CW and try three FT8 stations on higher bands. On CW we go to 600 W and again there are power outages, even several times an hour. Although we were guaranteed that there would be no problems with electricity, the reality seems to be different…. We will address this tomorrow and try to be on the air with lower power all night.


But after midnight fatigue overcame even the strongest individuals and we go to sleep. Only Palo OK1CRM stayed and transmitted almost all night on 40 m. In the morning he praised how nice it was. We still have no idea that it was the first and last night when 40 m was working so beautifully… We set the alarm for 06 am when it is getting light, to put up more antennas until it is not too hot. We start with another mast on which there is a 5el. on 6 m and a 4el. on 10 m, we test both antennas, the 10 m is working great, the 6 m band is closed for now, however later it opens to the southern EU and we make over two hundred contacts.

We continue on antennas, building 80 m quarter wave vertical on a small hill 100 m from QTH. Transporting the 18 m high radiator, installing it, stretching the radials and tuning it is exhausting. There are millions of large ants crawling all over the hill, biting furiously, our legs are bitten up to our knees, the sun doesn’t help our mood – we are all burnt. As soon as we get back to the base, we go to the pool to cool off. But the antenna rewards us with perfect parameters, we expect it to work well. After lunch we raise the second Spiderbeam on a 10m mast, and before dusk we mount and raise the third Spiderbeam while part of the team is transmitting. There are again several power outages, the owner of the building is supposedly sorting it out… After dinner, we try operating seven stations on seven bands at the same time for the first time, but the power can’t handle it and goes out every few minutes. We give up, we can’t work like this, turn off the machines and go to the owner again. The outages are inconvenient for everyone – not only for us and the people waiting to work us, but they are also dangerous for our equipment. We get a promise that the repair of a large 80 kW generator is already being arranged, which should amply cover our needs. It will take a day or two, they say….


In the morning we split up, five people go to build a 160m vertical, the rest try to transmit. The construction of the 160m vertical with the capacitive hat is going according to plan, but it is literally purgatory. The ubiquitous ants are even more aggressive than yesterday, the bites immediately fester and the legs swell. After finishing, a break and a cool down in the pool is necessary. For lunch we are served a delicious chicken and rice, we are provided with full board so thankfully we don’t have to spend time stocking up or cooking. After lunch we then proceed to build a 60m vertical away from the other antennas. During theradio work, we again experience network outages, we again complain to the building owner about a breach of promise, and he sends an electrician with Edwin to make some adjustments to the wiring in our operator’s room. But we’re not making any promises. One PA stage broke down in the afternoon, but fortunately the fault was not fatal, and it was repaired and we can continue to count on it. David OK6DJ went with Edwin to walk around the facility looking for a suitable antenna for QO-100 until he found one unused dish that we borrowed. The rusted screws on the dish had to be removed and we attached the emitorusing tie wraps and duct tape. We found a suitable place to place the dish, setting the azimuth and elevation would have been a piece of cake if David hadn’t been looking for a beacon 500 kHz away from where he was….It took over two hours, after tuning the right frequency the beacon plays 599, David immediately starts operating and makes the first 150 CW contacts, then switches to FT8 and logs another 250 QSOs. In the evening we start full lower bands, but signals on 30 m and 40 m are almost unreadable.


The night shift worked all night on the lower bands, listening is uncomfortable so far without RX antennas, but since we are on 160m the first night and they are calling well equipped stations so no problem reading their signals. Strangely there is no QRN on the bands, although according to the radar there are several storms in the area. Our signals are good in the EU, even excellent on 80 m. It rains briefly in the morning, although it shouldn’t rain here at this time of year. We ask Edwin and he states that in April it rains here at most once in the whole month. As it turns out later, this was a big mistake. The day shift gets up again at 6am and with the dawn goes to pull the beverage – two were pulled, each 120m long. We would have pulled longer ones, we have the material for it, but somehow there is nowhere to go – the river bank stopped us. The resort is built on a peninsula surrounded on three sides by the river. Two thirds of the peninsula belongs to a lady, she used to have a few bungalows and a bar built here, but with COVID the business disappeared and today there are only ruins and impenetrable jungle. For a fee of 100 USD, the owner allowed us to stretch wires across her property for two weeks. One beverage is stretched to JA and thus to EU, the other to NA. It took three people 2,5 hours to pull two 120 m long wires through the jungle, and besides ant bites we also took scratches from thorns and sharp grass leaves. The area around the QTH is unexpectedly very overgrown, it didn’t look like that on the maps. On the other hand, our fears of mosquitoes were fortunately not realized. We don’t understand how this is possible, there are either swamps or shallow stagnant fresh water all around, it’s basically an ideal breeding ground, we were expecting a literal “mosquito calamity” and there are none….

We’ve been operating on radiopretty well, but we interfere with each other a lot. It is obvious that the position of antennas and workplaces is not optimal, so we start by checking coaxial cables and switching workplaces, which did not bring the desired effect. We are moving the 12 m yagi away from the building on a temporary laminate 6 m mast to near the 60 m vertical and will use one coaxial cable for both antennas – 12 m during the day and 60 m at night.

In the afternoon an inspection from an office arrived, the owner of the property spoke to them, they were content to look at our passports and visas.

What we are not happy about are the propagation conditions. In the evening they are literally appalling, there is virtually no band is opened, ironically opening up 6 m to southern Europe and we are making a large number of CW contacts. SFI is slightly above 100 – compared to last year’s TN8K expedition it’s in a different league, there all bands were “humming” every evening, here there are almost none. We are forcibly switching to FT8 to make at least some contacts. On CW and SSB the signals are almost unreadable.


Despite the initial changes in antenna configuration, we are still dealing with mutual interference. We are aware that we have deliberately placed the antennas for the upper bands close to each other near the operator (for the sake of the shortest possible cables and therefore low attenuation in the cables), but this was also the case in Congo and we did not have these problems there. So we build another vertical on 40 m, which works decently on 15 m, all the way to the top of the hill, where there is an 80 m antenna, 130 m from the radio room. And as with 12 m, we will use the coax alternately – 15 m during the day and 80 m at night. And so that in the daytime the cable from 160 m does not get stuck, every morning we will pull up the dipole for 20 m band and the lead will also be common. Therefore, every morning and every evening one “lucky” person is chosen to run around all antennas and rewire the cables from the lowband verticals. His reward is the dozens of ant bites that such a trip always requires. Ants crawl on cables and antennas, their attacks on hands and feet are unavoidable….

And to make the interference worse, we find that listening on Spiderbeams and yagis is so problematic due to the splashing that signals are better read in some cases/directions on the beverage than on the yagi. And even on the 10m band… So the next step is to build an RX loop. We have another fiberglass rod ready for it, the antenna looks like a single element quad at a glance. The primary purpose of the loop was to listen on 30 m + 40 m + 60 m, but eventually we will use it on higher bands as well.

Conditions are again severely below average today, with 50k contacts in the log shortly after midnight.


The schedule of band and operator rotation is largely settled. The day shift in the morning around 06 UTC is followed by the night shift. The listening antennas help a lot and many contacts have been added on the lower bands overnight, even on 30m and 40m where signals are almost unreadable without beverage. Listening on both beverage is clear, routing distinctive. In the morning we are already trying directional calls on the higher bands, on 17 m, 15 m and 12 m we give space to VK/ZL stations and manage to log a few on each band. We are trying to turn the antennas quickly to see if the signal is LP or SP and the signals are mostly coming a long way. We give QRX to all and insist on VK/ZL only. JA stations are quieting down, surprisingly almost the whole EU has humbly quieted down too, with a few exceptions and a few “outliers” from OK and OM who think that “since they are ours they can call anytime”, that we will definitely make a priority contact with them regardless of the directional call… We are on our fifth day on the air and the pileups are fading noticeably. It’s clear that EL is not such a rarefied country, and combined with poor propagation conditions, it shows in the link counts. Gradually during the day we are changing all bands and even all modes. In the evening as dusk falls we switch to 80m and 160m for Asia and JA. It’s still early for Europe. At the same time 6 m works well, so we are taking good care to be QRV on CW on these bands at the same time. The 160 m and 6 m contacts are of most interest.


At night we had decent conditions on lower bands, with dawn we logged two ZL stations on 80m. But in the morning… on the upper bands we have strong interference and big problems to read the signals. Listening is much more pleasant on beverage than on Spiderbeams. The whole morning is in a bad conditions and in the afternoon it doesn’t get better, propagation conditions are still below average, we go to 7 stations and the overall rate is below 10QSO/min. In desperation we plan to move one Spiderbeam to a remote elevated location, even at the cost of 150m of coaxial cable. However, this will significantly reduce inter-band interference and the antenna is working fine in the new location. In the late afternoon a severe thunderstorm arrives, the lightning is getting dangerously close, we put up a temporary QRT and wait for the storm to pass. The heavy downpour is accompanied by wind, but all antennas survive except the 30 m vertical. After the storm, however, the bands are jammed and the QRN makes the job extremely difficult. But there is nothing to do but to cope.

Ludek OK2ZC carefully monitors the satellite windows and as soon as conditions are favorable with respect to our horizon and houses, he moves the equipment in front of the house and is thus always QRV throughout the orbit. QO-100 is not reachable for US stations, but through IO-117 we have been able to work from anywhere in the US and are confident that we have given many stations new ground and a new locator. 


The night was average, on the lower bands we had to prefer FT8 over CW traffic. We expected more activity from stations on the west coast of the US as the sunrise, but apparently April conditions are not suitable for this heavy direction. We’re watching SFI which is slowly going up, so hopefully CONDX will be a little kinder to us. We are halfway through the expedition, with 80,000 connections in the log, we are already hoping to break the 100k mark. We pay to the owner for our accommodation. However, contrary to the agreement, he demands extra payment for excessive electricity consumption and thus fuel for the generators, and wants 100USD per day. This seems excessive to us, we don’t have that much consumption, and the electricity supply is not nearly as stable and good as promised. We bargain, eventually meeting at a compromise surcharge of 50 USD per day, but in total it means another 600 USD on top of the already expensive accommodation. In the afternoon, the air conditioning breaks down, something stinks and stops cooling. The temperature in the operator radio room goes up quickly and after two hours, staying in the room is very uncomfortable. The repairman came quickly, but the repair failed the first time.


It’s the weekend, we expect the bands to be filled with stations and look forward to brisk traffic. But here comes the bitter sobering, there is a JIDX contest going on in the CW segments of the classic bands, so we concentrate on SSB and move the CW traffic to the WARC bands. But the expected rush of stations is not coming, on FT8 the pileups are much stronger compared to human modes. Zdenek OK1DFC contacts us with a request for a sked – he has studied our SAT equipment and decided that with a bit of luck we might be able to make an EME contact on 70 cm – we have 10 yagi elements and 100W – Zdenek has made such stations before. We arrange a contact with him plus HB9Q and OK1KIR and in the evening we try our luck, after a few sessions the contact is completed and we give Zdenek 137th  DXCC on 70 cm. We also decoded HB9Q’s signals, but the contact failed, as well as with OK1KIR. Still, we are excited about one contact and are already thinking how to improve our setup for the next expedition. In the afternoon a rare visitor arrives – Richmond EL2BG, it takes him five hours to reach us. He brings a malfunctioning Alpha PA stage and asks to try to fix it, we try, but the repair fails. He still begs to modify the TRX where we are successful so we can once again reciprocate his help with the approval to operate in Liberia.


Richmond has spent the night at our QTH and is leaving in the morning. We do a group photo, but only with half the team with the “day” shift, as the “night” shift went to bed after dawn. We thank him for his help and wish him a safe journey home. The propagation conditions during the day are the same as on Saturday, i.e. worse average. In the afternoon, the sky clouds overcast and lightning can be seen in the distance, we watch the movement of the clouds on the radar and suspect that we will not escape the storm again. It is indeed coming, heavy rain and winds are whipping the whole area, we are QRT, all equipment is turned off and unplugged for safety. The storm lasts for an hour, the rain is so heavy that the whole area around the resort becomes a swamp and the 30 m antennas fall to the ground again. So we will skip this band at night and repair it in the morning.


There are slight changes in shifts at night. Due to propagation conditions and weak morning windows, we are planning two trips for Monday and Tuesday mornings. Half the team will therefore be leaving for a two hour trip to the coast to go to a local beach and swim in the sea. Edwin has booked two Tuk-Tuks for us, the route takes us through Buchanan, which is a typical African town. There are a few main streets through the center, tarmac, the rest are dirt roads, lots of shouting, honking, clutter everywhere. But the beach is beautiful, clean sand, warm sea, under the palm trees everywhere perfectly cleaned. Not surprisingly, the entrance to the beach is charged, so there is practically no one here, except a group of boys who take care of cleanliness and supply tourists with coconuts. We take a lot of photos on the beach and one of them will later be on our QSL card. Meanwhile, the other half of the team is working on radios and envies the first one, as the air conditioning is not working again and it is really hot in the operator’s room. It is completely windless outside, ventilation doesn’t help, so we go to cool down at least in the pool, which is right next to the operator’s room. The expedition is slowly coming to an end, so we are activating RTTY, which is in great demand. We deliberately start transmitting on FT4 on the same day, comparing pileups – the number of callers on FT4 is many times higher than on RTTY. We’re sorry, because we like the RTTY, but it’s the way times are…. In the evening another heavy storm and downpour arrives, Edwin’s forecast for one rain a month has really gone grossly wrong and even he is surprised. With the storm comes the usual QRN and so the connections to the log are adding up at a slow pace. Clearly, we won’t even come close to the record number of contacts from the Congo this time. However, thanks to the revival in the form of two new modes, we are logging twice as many connections today compared to yesterday.


The other half of the team is going on the morning trip this time, CONDX on the upper bands are slowly picking up. We are trying to get at least one station to go RTTY all day which is working. There are a few collisions on the band, even though we have posted our working frequencies well in advance and first, we meet the Italian expedition to Chad on the band which has somewhat incomprehensibly chosen identical frequencies to ours on some bands. Their pileups are more powerful than ours, which is logical – they are new on the band, so we retreat and tune a bit differently. The timing of their expedition seems to be much better than ours, propagation conditions are going up, and we can expect to see that in the signals. In the evening the storm comes again, although it is still far away so one of the lightning strikes unexpectedly close and flashed not only outside the window but also in one PA that was transmitting at that moment. We quickly shut everything down, send the QRT info to the DX clusters and go to investigate the extent of the damage. The PA final transistor is destroyed, we have a spare with us and are replacing it in makeshift conditions. During the storm the dish also fell and destroyed QO-100 equipment, so from now on we are no longer active on QO-100. The log shows 1.368 contacts CW, SSB, FT4 and FT8 modes. We are still QRV on the IO-117 and RS-44 satellites, every day as conditions permit, until the end of the expedition.


The expedition is slowly coming to an end. We are working on all bands and in full deployment, but we will start packing some antennas in the evening. The supporting 40 m/15 m vertical is packed first, both twins on 40 m and 30 m are reduced to single verticals. We spend a lot of time working outside which is reflected in the number of contacts. Then in the afternoon it’s time for the regular photo shoot, with flags and wearing sponsors’ t-shirts. We also take photos with the Trabencou resort staff, who did their best to make our stay enjoyable. We work again in the evening, but there are several power outages, and the hotel staff fails to even get the backup generator going, so we spend a long time chatting outside in the dark. Only when we get definite confirmation that everything is working and there will be no more outages do we return to the radios.


As dawn breaks, we end the operation on the lower bands. Most of the team leaves to tear down antennas, pack verticals, radials and coaxial cables, with only a couple of operators always taking turns at the radios, manning FT4/FT8 stations. Before lunch we have the first six bags finally packed, after lunch we give QRT and go to pack the remaining antennas for the upper bands. We post the QRT to the DX cluster and Facebook and are happy to read the thank you messages and compliments on our operation.

The log shows 122,337 contacts, which is fewer than we would have liked, but in this constellation, considering the potential of our QTH, the technical problems especially with electricity, and the current CONDX, it’s a good result that puts us at #17 on the all-time Megaexpeditions rankings (https://gdxf.de/megadxpeditions/honorroll.php). During the afternoon we are gradually packing all the luggage, both the bags with the antennas and the suitcases with the equipment. Everything is prepared and weighed two hours before the arrival of the ordered taxis, and so we spend the rest of the time just relaxing in the pool. The journey to the airport was without major complications.


The check-in at the airport at night was lengthy and overly complicated from a European perspective, we had to show our passports ten times, but in the end, we got through the whole check-in process. The flights to Casablanca and then to Brussels were uneventful, albeit delayed, but without any significant complications. In Brussels, Sláva was already waiting for us with a van, where we loaded all our luggage, said goodbye to Ruda and Pal who got into the van and the rest of us went to the last flight from Brussels to Prague.

It’s the end of another African story. We believe we gave many stations a zone point and some a whole new country. Thanks to all the sponsors for their support, especially OG2M, KA1R, LZ1JZ, OK1DWQ, OK5MM, W0ZAP, DL4APJ, JA8UIV, OK2IT, JH1RVQ, OK1FPG, HK3W, OK2BZM, RD4A, W0SZ, OK1VK, W9EWZ, OK1ZHS, DK2CF, OK2ARM, OE2CAL, ZL3CW, OK1PI, TF3SG and many others.

Among the associations, Northern California DX Foundation, Clipperton DX Club, Mediterraneo DX Club, Danish DX Group, SDXG, GM DX Group, OH DX Foundation, Northern Ohio DX Association, Mastrant.


 160m vertical with capacitive hat + 10x quarter-wave radials

 80m quarter-wave vertical + 10x quarter-wave radials

60m quarter-wave vertical + 10x quarter-wave radials

40m 2 el. vertical phased system + 2×10 quarter-wave radial directed to JA 40m quarter-wave vertical + 10x quarter-wave radials

30m 2 el. vertical phased system + 2×10 quarter-wave radials

20m – 10m 5-band Spiderbeam @10m

20m – 10m 5-band Spiderbeam @10m

20m – 10m 5-band Spiderbeam @12m

20m inverted V-dipole @10m

17m – 2 el. Yagi 15m – 2 el. Yagi 12 m – 2 el. Yagi

10 m – 4 el. Yagi

6 m – 5 el. Yagi

SAT – 10 el. Yagi for 70cm/4el. Yagi for 2m 80cm

dish on QO-100

RX antennas: 2* Beverage