Arctic/Antarctic Base & Island Hunting

There are many islands and research bases both above 60° North and below 60° South… Making a QSO with these rarely occupied Bases and Islands is challenging.  Here is another exciting adventure into learning more about our world by contacting these cold and difficult areas to reach. Many represent an IOTA group. Most bases when staffed utilize ham radio to maintain communication with home and to keep posted on world events. The stories of exploration and expeditions as well as the QSL cards generated encourage your imagination and interest in such operations. I have listed several popular awards and information regarding bases and islands in the Additional Awards section of this web site to help you to participate in such programs.

Lighthouse Hunting

Lighthouses are beautiful and fun to visit. Those located on islands pose a greater challenge to visit due to rough seas, various restrictions and their location away from the mainland. Working a lighthouse reminds you of the solitutde, difficulty and strength of the lighthouse keeper who braved the elements to warn ships at sea. This mystery and beauty of the lighthouse has attracted the interest of many folks including hams who find excitement when they work these out of the way lighthouses.  Lighthouse references are noted in the Additional Award Links page.

Island Award & Resource Data

Today, the recently developed web-based IOTA software program replacing the old IOTAMEM application process has resolved a myriad of problems.  A multinational team has restructured the entire award to streamline management, reduce QSLing costs, and simplify applications by matching ClubLog and LOTW  QSOs yet retaining the challenge of working islands and achieving IOTA award goals. Click on the IOTA Checkpoint Information page to obtain detailed information on the present application process.

There is no charge to gain access to the IOTA program, develop your personal database including inserting confirmed islands into your private IOTA list but you must first register on the IOTA website. The website provides detailed information on rules, valid islands and their IOTA number and call sign details of prior operations. The only fees you will be charged is when you elect to obtain an award. I know you will find the present process much better and easier to use and will allow you to examine your database quickly.

The Islands Award and Additional Award links above are two additional pages containing sources of major island awards and key links to aid in successful island hunting. Please let me know if I can be of assistance in your island hunting efforts.

The photo below was obtained during an ARI convention when a few of us visited Marconi’s Radio Station near Bologna.

Island Hunting is Contagious

It is fun to locate an island on a National Geographic map, find a resident amateur or encourage a ham to go to the island in need and then make a valid QSO. Even more enjoyable is the opportunity to meet the friendly group of Island Hunters who seem eager to help you work “a new one”. The excitement of the hunt is increased by the tolerable pileups, the minimal intentional interference, the need for only one QSO per island and the attitude that it is not a “life or death” need for a contact.

The photo below was an island expedition to Fidra Island, EU-123 by GM3VLB and myself.

History of Island Awards

Geoff Watts, a well known SWL and editor of the DX News Sheet developed the “Islands on the Air” (IOTA) award program in 1964. Many of the islands counting for IOTA also qualify as islands for the DXCC program so those who are active in DXCC have a head start. As IOTA grew in popularity, additional resources were required and the award was acquired by the Radio Society of Great Britain in 1985. The IOTA 50 year anniversary was celebrated in 2014 in Windsor, England. Thanks to IOTA, the interest in Island Hunting has increased rapidly which has encouraged other radio associations to create awards for working islands in their own countries.  Recently, the RSNA passed the program to some avid island chasers that modernized the program.

The photo below is just one of the many beautiful awards (Worked 1000 Island groups) issued by IOTA.

Island Hunting

These web pages are designed to assist you with learning more about the many challenging international ham radio island award programs. The original and still the most popular island award is IOTA (ISLANDS ON THE AIR) but there are many country and regional island awards which complement the IOTA program. It is important to note that not all islands valid for awards count for IOTA but part of the fun is to research the various awards. Hunting islands, meeting award requirements and submitting applications demands some basic knowledge.  QSLing is also an important component to seeking awards and I have provided recommendations of QSL practices for expeditions and Island hunters on the Island Hunting link. I hope that we can provide you with helpful suggestions to make the process of hunting islands and seeking awards easy and enjoyable.