September 22, 2017

5T5OK Mauritania - How Third World power blackouts can benefit the Little Pistol DXer

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Most of us in the "Western World" have gotten used to reliable electric power delivery every minute of the day. Not seldomly it's a different situation in many of the poor countries of the "Third World". It's not uncommon for DXpeditions to African countries for instance to be plagued by frequent power outages or power blackouts. It's recently that I've learned that such a blackout can benefit the Little Pistol DXer like me.

5T5OK DXpedition logo
On September 18th, I was trying to QSO the 5T5OK DXpedition in Mauritania in CW on 17m, but I just couldn't get through the pile-up. I was especially keen on making the contact as it would be an ATNO* for me. I'd been fighting the pile-up for quite some time already when, much to my dismay, suddenly the signal of 5T5OK disappeared.
"Power off" reported OK6DJ (one of the 5T5OK operators) on the DX Cluster. I decided to patiently wait on the same 17m band frequency, and then suddenly after about 15 minutes they were back: ".....5T5OK   BLACK OUT HI   QRZ 5T5OK UP"! I quickly started keying my call again, and this time I was the second station to be picked out! Contact made!
Apparently not everybody had managed to bring up the patience I did, and the pile-up must have had decimated considerably, giving me the chance to finally get through to the desert of Mauritania!

Smartphone screenshot of the DX Cluster notification
5T5OK is a Czech DXpedition oparating from Mauritania between September 15-29, 2017. Their QTH is Terjit Vacances Hotel and Grill located at the intersection of the great Mauritanian desert and the Atlantic Ocean near the capital Nouakchott. On the website of Terjit Vacances you can read how, before the road between Nouadhibou and Nouakchott was built, Terjit Vacances was traditionally the point where so called "overlanders" (people travelling in Africa in vehicles over land) would cross the sand dunes into Nouakchott. Before the construction of the road, overlanders used to drive the coastline during ocean low tide to traverse the long distance from Nouadhibou to Nouakchott. During high tide the overlanders had to stop their travels, as the ocean would temporarily eat up the "road".

Mauritania has a population of approximately 4.3 million, and it's estimated that about one-third is living in the capital. 90 percent of the country (the 11th in size in Africa) is within the Sahara.

In the log!
5T5OK uses 100 Watts only, as a power amplifier is not allowed.

Below some photos of the 5T5OK QTH and antennas. All photos from the Czech DXpediton (CDXP) Facebook page.

Below you can listen to the black out message and my contact with 5T5OK. Don't pay attention to the background noises, hi.

* Also read my blog entry ATNO explained

See also: