C56M Gambia Start: 05-04-2005 End: 05-11 April 2005

Enjoying another nice DX location from Africa
Quite some people operated from the Senegambia hotel in Kololi, Gambia and obtaining the necessary license seemed not too difficult, based on reports of various web sites and from e-mail exchange with PA4JJ, ON4ACA and G4EDG. This was for me a good reason to pack my equipment and set off for a week in the smallest country of Africa, Gambia and combine it with a bit of West African experience.

Preparation
From various web sites I got useful information on “the best” location for an operation which turned out to be Senegambia Beach hotel in Kololi, at the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, the west coast of the country. Even a map of the hotel indicated that the rooms A25, D25 or C28 were best suited for a radio operation. Additionally, I was told that Mr. Ceesay was the person where I should apply for my C56-license. A young electrician trainee, Lamin, could eventually help with the fixing of the antenna’s. When I had decided to go, I sent my application with supporting documents to Mr. Ceesay via e-mail. The replied promptly saying that all documentation was OK and further processing would be done after arrival. In the mean time, an other person, Mr. Yankuba Toure, was responsible for the licensing.

Just before departure
I was monitoring the offerings of a suitable holiday arrangement at the Senegambia Beach hotel from various web site and booked the journey a week before departure. At that time I send an e-mail to Mr.Ousman at the front desk of the hotel requesting to put me in room A25, D25 or C28 when possible. At the same time I also send an e-mail to Lamin to inform him about my arrival.

After arrival
After arrival at the hotel, I learned that they had booked me in room C28 with lots of space for installing my antenna’s. Soon after arriving at my room (the hotel is a large complex with different building blocks), Lamin showed up and started to help me with the antenna’s. The first thing we did was hanging the G5RV dipole between a palm tree and the building. The height was determined by the length of the ladder and the length of Lamin. For the vertical, Lamin fetched a branch of a tree that served as a wooden support at the balcony. The next day, assembled the ECO R7+ vertical and mounted it to the wooden support on the balcony.

The license application
On Tuesday, April 5th, I call Mr. Ceesay to ask how to proceed. I was told to go to the GRTS-building in Kanifing where I could meet with Mr. Toure for processing the paperwork. I tool a taxi and went to the address given. Mr. Toure was present and welcomed me and was very helpful in making the necessary arrangements and issued the call sign C56M.

The activities could start

After arriving back at the hotel, I could start my operation as C56M and worked UA3EDQ at 16:41 GMT on 20 meters. The vertical antenna proofed to produce a lot more noise but performed better on the higher bands. The G5RV was the antenna I used for the 20, 30 and 40 meters operations. The only negative effect was probably (although I could not recognized it myself) that the feeding coax of the G5RV was running parallel with one leg of the dipole at a distance of about 8 meters.

The antenna’s
The installation of the G5RV between the palm tree and the building was more or less the most practical solution and at the same time the radiation pattern was good for USA and Europe/Japan. The 30 meters of coax was just long enough to run from the feeding point of the antenna to my room.

Especially for this kind of dxpedition traveling I bought a new vertical antenna. I selected the ECO R7+ 7-band vertical because it is one of the lightest I could find and even at a reasonable price. Complete in the carton box it was only 7 kg and was 13x15x150 cm which allowed met to carry it as normal luggage with the airline. For traveling, I slipped it in a bag with a handle. After a first installation and tuning at home, I could make marks on the tubes for quick and easy installation at the DX location. I needed only 5m of coax to connect it to the radio.

The operation
At the operating desk I had the FT-897 with the MFJ 945E antenna tuner. I had to use the tuner for all G5RV operations but with the R7+ I could bypass the tuner on some bands. For logging I used a DELL laptop running CT under Windows. A Bencher paddle was used to key the CT internal SUPERCMOS keyer. For the first time I encountered some problems with CT as messages on the screen saying “CW buffer over”. This was causing unexpected CW messages coming out.