An email was sent via the BCC-mailinglist looking for some more operators for this Gambia trip. Uwe, DL8UD; Uwe, DL9NDS; Carl, OE2MON and Wolf, OE2VEL replied to our mail with a positive answer and their promise to go with us on this vacation. For the multi-single entry our team was complete.
Now we went into a kind of hurry because we only had two more month left till the SSB part of the CQWWDX Contest which takes place every year on the last weekend of October. Chris, DL5NAM took over the organisation. Reservation of flights and the hotel were done, contact to the GamTel was established and we collected information as well from past DX'peditions to Gambia. Telephone, fax, email and all kind of modern communication was used to fix as many problems as possible.Thanks to C56/DL5MM who stayed exactly in the same hotel just two weeks before us. One problem was still left ... the fact of our expected and not irrelevant overweight of our luggage. Several trials with the airline Futura to get reasonable conditions for the transportation of our material were answered negatively. Wolf, OE2VEL activated all his knowledge of the Spanish language (Futura is a Spanish airline) and sent another fax to one of the top managers on the Canary Islands. We were absolutely surprised as we received within a few hours a formless answer. Content: "... everybody of the six travellers will be allowed to carry an overweight of additional 50...60kg!" Many thanks Futura ... just a quick calculation ... 6 participants, 20 kg of allowed standard luggage, 60 kg of overweight ... means all in all approximately 480 kg ... So you are able to take some stuff with you, hi, hi .... and the hand luggage still not counted.
Chris installed a Webpage were we did all coordination and logistics. So we knew every time all about our list of material and the expected weight. After some discussions we selected the following equipment:
Transceivers: 2 pieces Kenwood TS-850 and 2 pieces ICOM IC706
Amplifiers: 2 pieces Kenwood TL-922 and 1 Ameritron AL-82 (all with 3-500Z tubes)
Antennas: Titanex DLP-13 (DLP = Wire Log Periodic), which was loaned from the Bavarian antenna company Titanex up on a 12m (40 feet) mast and one Force12 C3 on a 10m (35 feet) mast; additionally a lot of wire, cords, ropes and 3 pieces of RCS (remote control switch) for the low bands.
We packed also 300 m (1000 feet) of Aircell 7 coax and approximately 200 meters (700 feet) of RG-58 coax. Uwe, DL9NDS, took care about 6 meters, because several requests expected much interest for this band. Just a few days before or departure we went with all electronic equipment (TRX, Amplifier, Laptops) to the customs and requested some useful papers, especially some German papers which avoided a lot of annoyance on the way back at the arrival in Germany. We planned to solve all other problems with the Gambian officials at the airport there.
Wednesday, October, 14:
Meeting point on our day of departure was Munich Airport. We expected to be one of the first at the check in with our 17 pieces of luggage. As soon as Futura started their check in the waiting queue grew longer and longer and some of the "standard tourists" looked a bit astonished about our unusual suitcases, boxes and oversized material. Our explanation: " We are carrying Bavarian sausages, mustard, Bavarian bread and of course Bavarian beer with us !", made them smile and they waited till all of our material was checked. At 5 p.m. Munich local time we entered the airplane, destination "The Gambia" with a short stopover on the Canary Islands. On Tenerife we had to change the plane and all baggage was transferred to our new plane. During our flight we passed only two time zones and as the pilot started the landing on the new airport in Gambia it was just past midnight. As soon as the door was opened a flood of tropical atmosphere entered the plane. 1:30 local time, 26 degrees Celsius and 90% of humidity. Within minutes our shirts were wet of sweat. We received all of our luggage back and went to the Gambian customs. They spooted us from far, no wonder why, considering this unusual number of different aluminium cases and oversized boxes (length of the logperiodic was approximately 3.2 m (11 feet). At once all interests of both responsible officers were only on our stuff. Neither our GamTel documents nor all of our arguments could convince them. End of all discussion: "You leave these 12 items here except your private luggage!" All other tourists were waiting meanwhile sweating in the busses who carried us to the hotels. At 4 o'clock in the morning we fell tired in the bed.
Thursday, October, 15:
Next morning Chris and Wolf went on the way through the westafrican "authority jungle". The airport is approximately 25 km from the maintown Banjul, where all ministries are located. One time one of the officials required a vast sum of money, next time, next door they requested a new form; but nevertheless the slogan of the Gambian people was the winner: "No problem!". The director of the customs department made the decision and declared all items as temporary import. All in all .... telephone calls, waiting, calling at the offices and travelling by taxi between airport - Banjul; Banjul - airport; again and again and again ... Meanwhile the rest of us explored the infrastructure of the hotel. We took great pleasure as we were informed by phone about our calls. C56A outside of the Contest and C56T for the contest ... not bad ... At approximately 3 o'clock p.m. two old and rusty taxis arrived at the hotel. One of them had some strange oversized, but well known by us, items on the roof. Chris and Wolf went out of the cars, worn-out but happy and satisfied. For this success we ordered an extra Julbrew beer after our dinner.
Friday, October, 16:
On Friday we started with the antenna installation. Several tries to get the old rotator moving the Force C3 into the wanted direction failed, so we removed it and went back to the "Armstrong Rotator System", a small rope mounted on the boom and everything worked quite well. By the way .... if you have a look on the beam headings from Gambia .. you will recognize that there are only two main directions to work. One is the north-eastern direction with Europe and Japan; the other one is Northwest straight to North-America ant the Caribbean. In Germany we had done some very useful preparations of the DLP-13, so we could save a lot of time installing this antenna which takes usually some days to get it working. In the afternoon we fixed the mast at the balcony of our rooms. So we were able to reach and turn it within a few steps and seconds. Uwe, DL8UD was thinking about a participation in the WAG (Worked all Germany) Contest and we promised him on Saturday antennas for the low bands to Europe.
Saturday, October, 17:
During the night both Uwes were infected with the "Banjul Belly" (diarrhoea) so they only could watch the additional antenna installation in horizontal position (bed).
October, 18. - 21.:
Now Carl's great hours appeared. He always told us "I will never go without my fishing rod !" ... Well, why not ... fish isn't bad at all for dinner ... but nevertheless. With great love and insulating tape he sticked small stones at the end of the fishing line, explained everybody (us and the astonished hotel staff) to move away several meters and threw with elegance the stones (mostly) with fishing line over the nearby approximately 20 m high trees. We added some thicker ropes and pulled all low band antennas up in the trees. Carl's only question was: "Which branch do we need ? ... No problem !" The following days we built a 2 element. quad for Europe, a 2 element yagi for North-America and a vertical with elevated radials for 40 m. On 80 m we installed a vertical with elevated radials and a 2 element yagi for Europe. On 160 m we chose the solution of an inverted L with three elevated radials. Interrupted only by activities on all bands in SSB and CW, beach, swimming, tourists: "Are you really working for a German TV-station ?" or the Hotel Staff: "Radio communication ... very good ... very important !" and a lot, lot of breaks. No wonder, considering on the climatic conditions!
Thursday, October, 22:
Thursday was the day without work; some of us rented a Jeep and went on a sightseeing tour. Question of a hotel guard: "You need a Jeep for sightseeing? ... No Problem !" One of the electricians working for the hotel installed a separate 230 Volt line. "You need more power ? ... No problem ... I can give you 42 Amperes ... is it enough ??" All the days we were active on 6m. Several QSOs were logged with Spain, Italy, Malta, but this day we had a great opening into Central Europe and we were able to log some DLs, HB9s, Fs, etc. and some Gs. A lot of 6m fans were happy with us.
Friday, October, 23:
In the morning we installed three additional wire yagis for 20 m, 15 m and 10 m with the direction to North America, installed the contest station in one of our rooms. First tests of the linears offered a destroyed TL-922. One of the tubes had been damaged during transport. The AL-82 showed "unrepairable" problems ... very wisely we selected three linears with similar 3-500Z tubes. Within minutes we changed the tubes and were ready for the contest. Usual computer problems were fixed very quick as well ... "unusual, hi!". All antennas and rigs had been tested in the past days without difficulties and more than 11.000 QSOs. Friday evening we decided to ask: "Are you ready for the contest ?" "Yes Sir, of course, no problem !"
We had settled our target to break the old 1988 African Multi/Single Record. The team of EA8AGD had scored 17.1 mio. points, 8.200 QSOs and approximately 700 multis ... not easy to beat them. To increase our motivation we made a bet on our possible score. Our estimated QSOs were 6.500 up to 8.500 QSOs. The complete 1997 Scores of ZD8Z and EA8BH were our clue. They had been active in the Single-Op/All Band category and we had their complete breakdown in hand. In this case we were able to compare all our activities, QSO rates, multis, etc. every hour. During Saturday we noticed that our chances were not bad at all to score a new African record. After 24 hours we had logged approximately 4.700 QSOs; and after 48 hours we finished the Contest with a total of 8.600 QSOs, 790 multis and pproximately 20.5 mio. points. We have to wait for the official result published by the CQWWDX Contest Commitee ... but it does not look bad at all!
Some technical comments about the Contest:
An absolutely success was Wolf's and Carl's idea of the switchable yagi system. We pointed the Force C3 straight to Europe/Japan and we were able to switch within seconds to the wire yagis with direction North America. So we could control the pile-up very well. Whenever the Europeans didn't follow our instructions and caused to much QRM - click - EU OFF and NA came in loud and clear ... of course, sometimes we needed the opposite possibility, too. On 40 m we used the 2 element quad direction EU, the 2 element wire yagi direction NA and the vertical. The "EU-klick-NA System" worked as well as on the high bands and with the vertical we caught the rest of the world. On 80 m we had much more problems to work someone. Often we were not heard by Europeans producing 9-plus-signals on our antennas. But on Sunday sunrise we added numerous of EUs and NAs to our log. From the beginning 160m was focused as a multiplier band. The Gambia is to far away from EU and NA to get an effective rate of QSOs/hour. But nevertheless we also got some important multipliers on Top Band. The most difficult part of the world from West Africa was Asia including Japan. Sometimes we had to "fight" hard for the Asian rare ones depending on their antenna directions into Europe. From Gambia you are just off their beam heading. We also couldn't serve the Japanese stations as we wanted because of on the Europeans on the short path. Sometimes Europe looked like the Chinese Wall ... invincible ... !!!
After the Contest:
Monday and Tuesday we brought all antennas down, packed all equipment piece by piece, went to the beach and relaxed.
Wednesady, October, 28:
The only comment about transportation and the flight back to Germany is, as you can imagine ... "No problem ...!", except ... "in a few minutes we'll be arriving at Munich Airport. The temperature in Munich right now is 8 degrees Celsius with some rain and strong wind with storm ...!" ... "Oh, boy, were did I stow away my socks and my pullover ...?"
Thursday, October, 29:
Well at this moment the story should be finished after acclimatisation, evaluation of the contest and answering the QSL cards ... but ... not for Wolf, OE2VEL and me, Dieter, DF4RD ... we both fell ill just after our return ... first we thought it would be influenza... but the diagnosis offered us "Malaria !" ... so we spent the first week at home in the hospital and cured our disease.
Now, several weeks have passed and everybody is back to the usual life ... I don't know where the rumours come from ... but I've heard about plans and ideas to repeat the trip in 1999 ... well, we will see !!!???
73 de C56A es C56T
(DF4RD, DL5NAM, DL8UD, DL9NDS, OE2MON und OE2VEL)
CQ WORLD WIDE DX CONTEST -- 1998
Call: C56T Country: The Gambia , Africa
Mode: SSB Category: Multi Single
BAND QSO QSO PTS PTS/QSO ZONES COUNTRIES
160 49 134 2.73 10 28
80 197 570 2.89 17 61
40 665 1958 2.94 27 88
20 2763 8216 2.97 37 149
15 2034 6013 2.96 36 154
10 3048 9049 2.97 35 153
Totals 8756 25940 2.96 162 633 = 20,622,300
Operator List: DL5NAM, DF4RD, OE2VEL, DL8UD, OE2MON, DL9NDS
2x TS850, 2x TL922
160m: inverted L
80m : 2 ele. yagi (EU), GP
40m : 2 ele. yagi (US), 2ele. quad (EU), GP
20m : 3 ele. yagi (US)
15m : 3 ele. yagi (US)
10m : 3 ele. yagi (US)
10/15/20m : FORCE12 C3 up app. 9m
10m 'til 20m: TITANEX DLP13 up app. 12m
Chris Sauvageot, DL5NAM