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A Visit with Kamal, 4S7AB in Sri Lanka

Kamal, 4S7AB, is probably the most technically advanced Amateur Radio operator in Sri Lanka. He has also the best antenna farm and a very modern and well-equipped radio shack. Kamal lives some 50 km (about 30 miles) from the capital city Colombo, north-east inland direction. He attended schools in Colombo where he became interested in radio and received his licence in 1992 at the age of 19. Now, when he is 41, and very soon 42 years old his radio activity is slow as the family is priority number one. Kamal got married 5 years ago and has a daughter and a son.

Sri Lanka 4S7AB with family

Nevertheless, he keeps his station in trim and when I dropped in to his house, I could easily make a few contacts in the 10-Meter Contest. The main antenna of 4S7AB is a 4-element StepIR beam. Before he acquired this commercial radiator, he had built his own Yagi and Quad antennas.

Sri Lanka 4S7AB 1

Sri Lanka 4S7AB 2

Kamal easily climbs the towers. In the distance, his second directional antenna is visible — a home-made HexBeam for 7 and 10 MHz.

Sri Lanka 4S7AB 3

The family ties are close in Sri Lanka. Kamal in front of the house where he lives with his parents.

Sri Lanka 4S7AB 4

The backside of the house where the tower supporting the HexBeam is placed.

Sri Lanka 4S7AB 5

Kamal was one of the pioneers of mobile operation in Sri Lanka. His 4WD car is fitted with installations for HF and VHF equipment. Since the 2004 Tsunami, radio amateurs in this region are aware of the need of mobility and back-up power for their rigs. Kamal was actively taking part in emergency communication in the aftermath of the disaster, which killed more than 35 thousand people in Sri Lanka alone.

Sri Lanka 4S7AB 6

The neat and well-arranged radio shack is powered by solar energy. The batteries are kept outside and the solar panels are on the roof. Kamal uses computer logging, but does not upload his log to the LoTW. He likes contests, but is not a fanatic. Some contest awards are visible on the wall.

Sri Lanka 4S7AB 7

Kamal likes all modes — SSB, CW and Digital. Here he makes a few SSB contest exchanges in the 10-Meter Contest.

Sri Lanka 4S7AB 8

Sri Lanka 4S7AB 9

Kamal seems to be comfortable and relaxed in his radio shack. However, these moments are rare nowadays. Apart from wife and children, his newly started business needs much attention. Kamal is manufacturing electronic accessories. One of them is well-suited for travelling DX-peditioneers and Amateur Radio operators in developing countries where the power lines are susceptible to lightning and other surges.

Sri Lanka 4S7AB SM0JHF

The author (sitting) and Kamal, 4S7AB, in the shack. I met Kamal in Sweden some 14 years ago when he came for training in the field of electronics. He visited some other countries then and learned very much, he admits. Later got employed by a large US company and travelled the world on duty. While in Texas he acquired an FCC licence and the call sign KA5MAL.

Sri Lanka 4S7AB 10

At the entrance to his home. Kamal plans to arrange a guest room for visiting Amateur Radio operators who wish to rent accommodation with access to a good radio shack. If you are thinking about visiting Sri Lanka and be on the air, contact Kamal right now.

Bottom line about Sri Lanka

Some 100 years ago Sri Lanka, which means The Holy Island, was considered the Paradise on Earth. However, today it is far from paradise. The Western Province, around Colombo, is overpopulated and very neglected. Heaps of garbage are present everywhere, along the roads, train lines and the beaches. The people are more friendly and tolerant than in many other Asian countries. However, rich or poor, they litter everywhere, showing no respect for their own environment. Burning garbage in the evening is a popular pastime so even if you are in a five-star resort, you still won’t get away from the odour.

The nature is beautiful, but the civilisation brings congestion, exhaust fumes, filth in the streets. The politicians and clergymen, hiding in their gated sanctuaries, do not care very much about the quality of life of the common people. Sri Lanka is no longer a paradise.

Henryk Kotowski, SM0JHF

December 2014
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