The Three KNights


This post will try to describe, albeit from a perspective of who is on the other side of the microphone, the recent satellite expedition carried out by the Serbian/Montenegro Cosmic Trouble Makers YU4O Gang. It was a Sat’pedition that departed from Serbia (YU), towards North Macedonia (Z3), passing later, on the way home, through Bulgaria (LZ).

The team, consisting of Alex, YU0W, Ivan, YT1CI, and Zoran, YU1EW, gathered in Belgrade after some car issues had been resolved. The weather forecasts were favorable, although, as we will see later, they caused some problems during the operation.

How it started

Dragan, 4O4A, was the pilot station, and his mission was to support the team logistics and to serve as an interface between the satellite operator community and the expedition members.

But before I start describing the adventure, I would just like to say that the first time I heard about Alex, YU0W, was through a conversation with my friend Dragan, 4O4A. Dragan told me that he was trying to pass his passion for satellites to Alex and after that conversation, Alex, despite only having an X30 and an IC-705, would start operating in CW mode only. And it was on CW that I did my first QSO with YU0W, and got the new grid KN04. Then, Alex equipped himself better and became excited about the activity on LEO Sats, to the point of motivating other ham friends in Belgrade as well.

Now, let’s talk about the expedition. The idea took shape at the end of December 2022. The team, made up of the 3 brave ham operators from Belgrade, took advice from Dragan, 4O4A. A terrain analysis was carried out. In January 2023, the plan and logistics began to be outlined. After consulting the weather forecasts, the team decided to leave on the 3rd of February, at 1500z.

On Friday, February 3rd, I texted Alex, YU0W, asking what the weather was like, and he replied:


We have car

The car problems were solved. The departure went ahead as planned and, 5 hours later, they were crossing the border between Serbia and North Macedonia. The final destination was Kumanovo (KN02ue).


Arriving at Kumanovo

The team arrived at the hotel, in Kumanovo, one hour before the RS-44 pass. Dragan, at the mission control, identified a park near the hotel, and the 3 hams went to the place to prepare the setups. In addition to RS-44, they operated on SO-50 and XW-2A, activating KN02.


Listen to my majestic, oustanding, marvellous X30 signals in KN02:

Thanks Alex, YU0W, for sending your recording.

Alex describes this moment as follows:

Solid pileups. Lots of vibes and TG messaging. People saying: please one more pass, thanks for Z3, congrats, am I in the log?

KN01 instead

It was very cold and, after 2 to 3 hours, the team returned to the hotel to rest and recharge their batteries for the next day. Wake up was at 0330z. The planned destination was about 50 kilometers to the southeast, on the grid borders KN01/KN02/KN11/KN12. It started to snow and the temperature was around -10oC. The team was unable to reach the planned spot, due to bad weather, and stayed on grid KN01.

They found an acceptable location with a horizon of about 3°. Then, Ivan, YT1CI, realized he didn’t have the coaxial cables for the antenna with him. They were left at the park used the night before. He decided to go back and get them.

Alex, YU0W, and Zoran, YU1EW, started setting up for the first pass. The start was good: massive pileups of European stations, plus A65BR, Oleg, from United Arab Emirates, and 4J6D, Andy, from Azerbaijan. Going crazy, said Alex.

Ivan was back with the cables and ready for the next passes. Zoran was dedicated to FM operation. Adrenaline was at its peak. Many QSOs got in the Log from KN01.


In KN01, Alex worked several stations, among them, DK9JC, CT1ETE, 4O4A. I don’t know who is CT1ETE, but he must have a stack of 6x11 elem. Yagis.

Back to KN02

Alex describes the next moments:

It started to snow, but we still got back to KN02 for a favorable pass to Azerbaijan. We contacted 4J6D, Andy, and continued to Bulgaria (LZ), towards Pernik, KN12ma. Arriving at the hotel, we rested for a few hours and headed to the location identified by mission control. It was snowing. We operated SSB and FM, close to a Shopping Centre. The snow intensified and we returned to the hotel.


The Team goes back to KN02 to make some more contacts.

At Pernik, KN12

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Alex, concludes:

On the last RS-44 pass, I operated from my hotel room window. I got Paulo, CT1ETE, in the Log, at my LOS 😘. (Lucky I was)


The next morning, the team decided to go to Sofia to visit SG Laboratory Ltd. They left the facilities with some boxes and went to eat at a Turkish restaurant, before leaving for KN13. The afternoon passes were not favorable, so the team decided, at the end of the afternoon, to position itself on the border of KN03/KN13, in Serbia (YU). Finally, on RS- 44, 4O4A got in the log.

KN03/KN13 grid border


Dragan remembers:

I was freezing waiting for their last run - KN03/KN13 border, and they stopped there, going from highway to local road, just for me. And I have no good words to explain my gratitude for that. Their temperature was 10 degrees lower, -7 or so, and I have no right to complain.

Bottom line

For an expedition to succeed, as short as it may be, planning and field operation experience is necessary. This was one of the roles of Dragan, 4O4A, in this expedition. As usual, in his modesty, Dragan told me:

My role was not important in all this action. I tried to explain to them what it would be like, based on my humble experience from E7 and ZA. They are not disappointed, furthermore - already planning something else. And that’s it. All credit goes to those guys.

Alex, YU0W, concluded:

This was a 3-day Sat’pedition to a rare SAT DXCC, Z3, North Macedonia. We are happy and satisfied. Now we need to rest and make new plans 😁

I feel good

My thoughts

The operation went smoothly. They were calling often and short, always repeating the callsigns at least twice. This is very important for stations like me that use modest antennas, like my X30. I often hear stations saying CQ Satellite several times and saying only once their callsigns. I already know they’re calling CQ. All I need to clearly understand is the callsign, as signal fades constantly without azimuth tracking and polarity correction. Keep this in mind.

It sounds like the team had a very memorable and meaningful experience. The fact that the gang made a special effort to reach all the grids, with difficult weather conditions, just shows the level of dedication and kindness they have towards others in their hobby. The freezing weather conditions must have made the experience even more challenging, but they still went above and beyond to make the contacts happen. Our gratitude towards them is well-deserved, and it’s always heartening to see acts of kindness like this in our communities. That’s why I consider friendship not a physical experience, rather an emotional one.

Thanks guys! Keep the good work. My vy best 73.

Sat’pedition Roadmap

03.02.2023 – Departure from Belgrade (YU) to North Macedonia (Z3)
03.02.2023 – Z3 operation from KN01 and KN02
04.02.2023 – Departure from North Macedonia (Z3) to Bulgaria (LZ)
04.02.2023 - LZ operation from KN12
05.02.2023 – Stay in LZ without activity (bad wx)
05.02.2023 – Departure from Bulgaria (LZ) to Serbia (YU) 05.02.2023 – YU operation from KN03 and KN13

Grid data



The Team

Serbian/Montenegro Cosmic Trouble Makers YU4O
Dragan, 4O4A aka YU4YY - Mission control
Zoran, YU1EW - FM Birds operator
Ivan, YT1CI - Cable Master
Alex, YU0W - Rover navigator

Equipment used

2x IC-9700
1x Arrow2 antenna
1x EW Homebrew Crossed Yagi
2x 12V/18Ah
No PC, No CAT, No Tablet, old school 😂 (4O4A)

QSO and QSL data




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