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A 'Field-Trip' to The Gambia


Operating from C5


Don Field G3XTT / C56DF 


Don G3XTT/ C56DF writes: “In 2019 I operated 40m high-power as C56DF and ended with 2082 QSOs and a score of 899k, setting not only a C5 record but a new Zone 35 record. This year I decided to have a go at setting a C5 low power record (there wasn't one, so even 1 QSO would have done the trick, hi).


But what a difference the power gap makes when you're operating a long way from anywhere with activity! The first couple of hours were a real struggle, although the next three or four worked well, especially to the USA, and I was able to run at 70 to 80 an hour. But it fizzled out well before C5 dawn and the Saturday evening was dire - I was hearing 3B8M working a string of EU but, not only couldn't I hear most of the EU callers, but I could not crack the pile-up to 3B8M either. I also copied what would be some nice mults such as YB, but again couldn't raise them. The second day was worse (presumably because I'd worked all the big guns - K3LR W3LPL M6T and the like) on the first day.


Incidentally, I rely heavily on RBN from C5 - no I'm not using it but others are and that's how I draw attention to myself! It was pretty obvious each time I was spotted because there would be a new flurry of callers. Trying to call people was tough - firstly I probably wasn't all that strong and, secondly, very few people can work out the C5 call on the first attempt - it really seems to throw them! (Doesn't anyone check the 'announced operations' listings before the contest, hi?)


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So, the end result was just 551 QSOs and a claimed score of 126k (mults were also well down on my 2019 effort). I suspect the shortage of UA/UB/UC stations didn't help, either. Propagation wasn't that great to the EU either and I never worked GI, GM, or GW for example.


And my antenna choice was probably not optimal - I had decided on a quarter wave vertical for simplicity but had forgotten how dry the ground is in C5 - from here in Somerset a vertical works with even a couple of radials. Not so in C5 - I used all the wire I had taken, putting down (I think) 8 radials, but that clearly wasn't nearly enough.


But, hey, it was fun, the sunshine was great for a pre-Christmas top-up and I do enjoy visiting C5 now that I am quite familiar with the place. And I suspect my new 'record' will stand for quite a few years.”


73 Don G3XTT / C56DF. 

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