Maroco daily blog

The daily blog page….
Leo en Frans arrived home Monday 21 April 2014, all went well.

Monday 21 Apr :
Photo viewer problem solved…. 🙂
After 44 hours of boring sailing we finally arrived in Seté, dis embarking was simple.. practically no customs formalities, welcome back to Europe.
Leo and Frans had decided to drive home in one row… after 14 hour drive we arrived home about 02:00 hour..
While driving we tried to make some HF contacts but the call F/pa5ca/m was not challenging enough. 🙂 After making a few QSO’s we switched off the Icom 7100 and call it a day.
Leo and Frans like to thank the HAM community for the nice contacts made while driving in Morocco. Special thanks to
– Abdou CN8VO.
– Jos PD0JOS.
– Marcel PA9M.
– Paul W6GMU.

Friday 18 Apr:
We have problems with the photo viewer… 🙁 Hope we can fix it soon.
Custom formality at Nador harbour was not complicated, all went swift.. and we parked the Jeep on the ferry .
It was shortly that we hear the ferry was not heading for Seté directly.. we had to sail for Tanger first… this was a huge setback and disappointment, meaning we had to add 8 hours of sailing time to our schedule. Total trip time now 42 hours.. 🙁

 Thursday 17 Apr:
Today we drove to Fes town centre.  First we visited a tannery and later the old city centre, which is a nice experience…    Frans was able to upload some more pictures to the website.
At noon time we drove to Nador, a 3 1/2 hour drive on smooth pavement. We had to descend from 1500M.  The scenery was high mountains and sometimes forest, agricultural areas.  We went from one to the other, sometimes being back in dry and dusty conditions after enjoying nice weather for a while.  Temperature today was 31 Celsius.
Leo drove the Jeep while Frans operated the HF radio and we had nice pile-ups again.  The QSO counter stopped at 1025 QSOs. Most of today’s QSOs were made on 15M; however, Frans worked some nice DX on 10M, YC1CRY was worked with our 100W and HiQ antenna. Tthe signal was just above the noise level, but logged and confirmed. We arrived at Nador at 1800 hours.  We swiftly found a nice place to stay (Doha) which we can recommend to anyone who plans on visiting Nador.
Tomorrow @ 0800 hours we will depart Nador and arrive at Seté, France on Saturday @ 1700 hours.  We will then upload some more pictures about our Fes visit.
The last blog update will be made when we arrive at home.  We will be QRV from France as F/PA5CA and from Belgium as ON/PA5CA.

Wednesday 16 Apr     :
Yesterday we had a long drive, smooth road, so Frans could operate the HF rig. We have logged 715 QSOs so far, mostly on 10 and 15M. Bands are not stable and sometimes collapsed completely. We are still on 100W (the PA is switched off), but it seems that the 100W and the HiQ deliver the message. We have worked plenty DXCCs so far.

We are not always QRV due to the road conditions. When on rough roads, we must remove the HiQ from its bracket to ensure that we don’t lose the antenna.

Monday 14 Apr :
This was our first day in the high sand dunes. We went shopping for a while and plan to stay in the dunes tonight. Driving in these high dunes is a spectacular experience. We had to tow out the other vehicles, twice! We still managed to keep the wheels rolling. The HiQ was safely packed away and making QSOs while driving was not convenient. We’ve uploaded some of today’s pictures.

Sunday 13 Apr:
Early start: we had to drive 400kM that took us almost 11 hours. The landscape was versatile and the roads were extremely bad: dirt roads and gravel roads that were sometimes extreme bumpy.
We cannot use the HiQ antenna because its mounting bracket wouldn’t survive the rough roads. The spare wheel bracket shows signs of fatigue; we had to secure it with steel wire.

After the first sand dunes we passed, our expedition guide parked his car flat out in the sand. The Jeep had to tow him out. While towing, we became stuck in the sand as well. We had to deflate the tires 1 bar and dig away the sand behind the wheels. After that we could back up and winch out the Ford F150.

Later that evening I made some nice QSOs on 15 and 20M. 10M was not open for us. There were no big pileups but we had a leisurely rate of 3 QSOs per minute.

Saturday 12 Apr :
After two days of desert driving we are back in the common world. We need fuel and some supplies.

So far so good… driving the sand dunes is really fun to do! We only have a damaged brake line but McGiver tape solved the problem for the time being. Next objective: two more days in the desert and we will hit the high sand dunes. We cannot operate the radio while driving.

Thursday 10 Apr :
We had another early start and had to drive approx 700 kM, most of it through the Atlas mountains. The N9 was the route to follow and our destination was Zagora. The first part from Marrakech into the mountains was busy and had steep climbs and a lot of turns. Lorries had to shift down to first gear and the traffic was queuing behind them. The road took us up to approx 2000 M and the scenery was varied but went gradually from green to yellow and dry. Leo drove the first section as Frans checked the band conditions. As far as he could judge, they were not good. Frans took the wheel and drove the middle section of the trip for about 4 hours; Leo took over for the last part. The propagation by then was much better and Frans operated the Icom 7100 on 21 mHz. We had a nice pileup but reading the signals was difficult while winding our way through the Atlas Mountains. A couple of stations asked us to QSY to 28 mHz. We hoped the propagation would be better there, and it was much better. Frans got a huge pileup going which lasted until we arrived in Zargora. Frans logged about 200 QSOs in two hours, not bad from the mobile while following twisting curved mountain roads. We are not using the PA as we haven’t had the time to check and test it.

We arrived at our camping site in Zagora at 18:30… temperature 32 Celsius. Dinner this evening was made by ourselves, and we had our first visitor: a large 7 cm scorpion (pictures made).

Tomorrow we will go for the sand dunes south of Zagora and bivouac in the desert so we won’t be able to make updates. Even now at Zagora we have problems connecting to the G3 network   and making site updates.

Wednesday 9 Apr:
After an early breakfast at Settat, we left for Marrakesh. We started out on the motorway but soon took the local road. We arrived at Marrakech by noon, temperature 41 Celsius pffffff.
We made our camp site and left for downtown Marrakesh to visit the old city. We had an appointment with Abdou CN8VO at the KFC @ 16:30. We left for our camping site as Abdou wanted to see the Jeep with our equipment.
There we performed a coax repair for him. His HF antenna was not functional due a snapped braid that had been damaged by the driver seat rail.
For the repair, we just cut the coax and soldered the inner conductor, made some insulation using some heat shrink and soldered the braid. All worked fine and Abdou made his first 15m contact from the car using an Atas120 antenna.
Frans switched on the Icom 7100 and started to make some noise on 28 mHz. He soon had a nice pile-up, working Europe, North and South America. 10 M was wide open and with our 100W we received excellent reports, especially from the NA stations. They were quite impressed with our nice signal.
The band stayed open until 21:00 UTC… stunning signals were seen.
So shortly after 21:00 hours Frans shut down the Icom. It was steaming hot in the car, and outside temperature was still 30 Celsius.
Tomorrow will be an early start toward the Atlas ridge. As far as we’ve been told, we’ll drive through a pass at 3500 Meter.

Tuesday 8 Apr :
Breakfast at 0800 in the morning… 4 hours to go .. nice weather but certainly we were back in fog and the ships horn went on and of every 3 to 4 minutes.
Arrival at the port of Tanger was around 11 hour.
the biggest challenge was disembarking  wow getting on the ferry was geodic but getting off was even more than just a challenge. But we survived.
Next obstacle was getting the car in to Morocco … but this was simple and went swift. They ask us for our destination and if we had spirits or guns… the whole procedure took less than 30 minutes.
We exchanged Euro’s to Dirams and went on route for Casablanca .. 350km. Nice motor way trip little boring .. At the time we arrived at Rabat the outside temperature was 40 Celcius… thank god our AC  in the car was up and running.
While driving down we had the Icom 7100 on and were able to make 140 contacts in 2 hours using only 100W. The Henry is still out of order even with the water-cooling…
All the contacts were made on 15M, we were able to work south Africa, south America, Nort America  and a great deal of European stations. We ended in a town called Settat, lies approx 80km south east of Casablanca.
We could not find a camping so we decided to go for a hotel.. we found Belair hotel… we had to park our  cars on the sidewalk and found a guy who was willing to guard them.. with his life..
We had dinner at the hotel restaurant .. which was okay, beer or other alcohol was not allowed but they gave us dispensation, we could bring our own beer but the cans had to stay from the table.
Later the waiter and his mate asked us for a tin of beer…  Last inspection, of the cars, the guard was there and he got a tin of beer.. hopefully he will drink it at home, it would be a pity if he felt to sleep due to the tin of Heineken.

Monday 7 Apr : 
Around 4 in the morning our beauty sleep was brutally disturbed by the ships horn, due to the thick fog  it went of every 3 minutes… The fog cleared late in the afternoon.
Later that day customs formality’s , visa for Morocco and importing the Jeep … this took us about two hours
Fortunately we discovered that woman had some advantages over us males…  There was a special lane for woman at the customs office and car import desk, so Christine did the car import and it was done in less than 30 minutes 🙂
Generally it was a long and boring day on the ferry, we went to bed early.

Sunday 06 Apr    :
We agreed to have a early start, so breakfast at 07:00.. the expedition leader handed out Boafeng VHF/UHF handhelds…for our communication between the cars… we programmed the Icom 7100 to both frequencies, 155.700Mhz and 433.425Mhz.
We left Calun 08:00 and went for fuel, both Fords needed petrol and LPG we filled up with diesel. Shortly we drove down the A71 toward Millau our next destination Barcelona Spain, the  average fuel consumption for the Fords 18L/100 we did 16l/100 with the Jeep.
After passing the Millau bridge we  had to refuel and continue for Spain.
We were able to use the Icom on 10 and 15M and made some nice QSO’s, mostly north Europe and Baltic states.
We arrived at Barcelona at 17:30.. and we had to refuel again… while we were at the patrol station we worked AA4V on 15m from the town centre of Barcelona..  after that UK, Norway, Hungary.. al with great signals.
Finding a parking place in Barcelona is a challenge can you imagine with 3 oversized vehicles.. while driving we had some attention… from the locals… 🙂
We found parking at the Mc Donald’s and went to a beach restaurant for our dinner.
There we discussed our strategy about the embarkation …which was around 22:00h
Nicole Leo and Cristine went to the ticket office and they returned exceptionally quick… it took less than 30 minutes  for them to get the boot tickets.
Now the waiting began… the parking place was full with overloaded cars.. and vans ,Incredible  how some of the cars were loaded.
Finally we were allowed onboard the Ikarus, parking was a challenge… The ferry left Barcelona reasonably on time.
After a few beers we decided to call it a day and hit the pillow.

Saturday 05 Apr   :
08:00, Leo picked me up and after saying goodbye to the family we left for the First 850km towards France.
During the first hours we tried and used 2m.
The trip towards Belgium went swift, in Belgium we tried HF, and we noticed that we had RF problems on 40m. The skid warning light came on … while using 50W on 40m.  after our coffee break the warning light went of… Pfff
We tried other bands and noticed that on 20m using 50W the airbag warning light came on… So we switched off the radio and enjoyed the nice weather…
Around 14:00 we arrived at Paris where we had some delay… due to heavy traffic..  when we left Paris we switched on the Icom 7100 for another try.. we had no RF problems in the higher bands, 10, 15 and 17m we could make 100W without any problem.
I could work some stations from Poland on 10M and 15M using 100W.  unfortunately for us, this weekend we had to coop the Polish  contest. Reception was excellent on the HiQ antenna we heard JA on 10m VK on 20m… most of the Polish we worked in one call… 15m was the best band.
We tried 20M again using les power… about 35..40W… worked stations from Ireland and Scotland.. after a while we became the airbag warning light again.. and noticed that the laptop car charger failed..
We had to buy a inverter 12V to 230V the laptop car charger (borrowed from PD9DX)  was an inverter 12V to 19V… so now we could use the laptop charging adapter and charge the laptop again.
We arrived at Calun at 18:30 where we met the other people.. after a couple of beers we went for diner. The expedition leader (Andries-Jan) and his wife (Nicole) introduced us to the other couple, the where from Belgium, Dirk and Christine. Andries Jan and Nicole where driving a 5,4L Ford F150, Dirk and Justine  had an Ford F150, 6.2L Raptor.. both big V8.. running on LPG and Petrol.
The hotel was French style pretty old but nice…

Thursday 04 Apr    :
Leo and I been busy packing the Jeep, you always bring more than necessary, finally we managed to get all our stuff in the Jeep.
All set for Saturday morning.

Wednesday 03 Apr :
Frans has taken the Jeep to Dick .. The decision was made to fit an extra 50cm extension for the HiQ-6″ antenna, This will bring the coil way above the Jeeps roof.  The extender was beautifully made.
We first tested the antenna without the extender .. and was set to the lowest VSWR on 40m.
Now the extender was fitted causing the resonant point on 40m to be lower.. as expected.
Lowering the TX frequency on the Icom gave us a nice VSWR and we could make RF… Bingo we did no see the Jeeps motor management going berserk, the only thing we notice was a flashing 3 breaklicht. but that was all… It looks if we solved the RF issue using QRO.
So the next task was connecting the coil adjusting motor, we had to add 70cm of control cable.. Which was nicely done by Dick.
Now we could test the HiQ on different bands and frequencies.. all well except no tuning dip on 20m. Grrrr
We decided to add a matching coil… this solved the 20m issue but we had no tuning dip on the 80m and 40m band… Due to the time (it was midnight) we call it a day.. Frans had his day off on Thursday and will try to solve the problem. The matching coil was removed.
While driving home Frans could make a nice QSO on 80m… power MAX 1Kw.. without RF problems.

Monday 31 Mar       :
Leo took the Jeep back to the 4×4 workshop , a few things still have to be done.
– Roof-rack with spare tire.
– Engine protection plate.
– Installation of a small refrigerator.
– Some modifications regarding , reducing the wind noise in the cabin, mainly caused by the LED bar.

Saturday 29 Mar     :
We went to Furstenau Germany for another test drive with the Jeep. All went fine we deflated all tires to 1.5bar and we had a lot of fun driving dirt, muddy and forest roads. The Jeep has tremendous power and we could pass all obstetrical’s flawlessly.
Inflating the tires using the compressor mounted on the winch was a piece of cake.
Added some more pictures .. in the photo album…

Sunday 23 Mar         :
Leo spent the whole day at Dick’s place in order to resolve the RF issues. The outcome was really disappointing.  Dick has invested all his knowledge and skills in trying to fix this problem.  Another shipload ferrite has been added.   Leo removed the motor morocco_desert_2management system from the Jeep and added ferrites on numerous cables.  Dick has checked the tail light wiring and added ferrite, but the RF problem is extremely persistent and not easy to tackle.
Now Dick and Leo have chosen a drastic solution.  The HiQ antenna will be mounted on a 50cm longer shaft, so the coil will be above the car roof.  This will dramatically reduce the amount of RF radiated into the the Jeep’s electrical circuitry. Due to the longer shaft an insulated supporting bracket needs to be made. We only have two weeks to go… 🙁
Thursday 20 Mar     :
Today Leo and I did some more testing with the radio equipment.. but not before we added a shipload of ferrite on the 12V supply lines. We also grounded the Henry PA closer to the Jeep chassis… That made a huge difference, now the Icom 7100 did not went berserk and stayed on QRG.
First we connected a 1Kw dummy load and run some tests… we where able to push almost 1Kw in to the dummy on the 80m band .. 🙂
We tested the other bands as well.. power dropped slightly on the higher bands… the current draw was apox 90Amps  at 12V..
Now we connected the HiQ-6″antenna and did some testing… we found that the adjusting motor ran in current protection.. something to be checked.
Further we noticed something disturbing, while making a 40M QSO the windscreen wipers, tail-lights and AC came randomly to live… Ahhhhhhhh not good… The motor management system went crazy. This is a nice challenge for Dick…   coming sunday..
We made 10m qso with Greece 5/9+10 a 20M qso with Itally 5/9+20db and tree qso’s on 40, Germany and England.. both 5/9++
So one thing we know the antenna works.. Hi
Motor management RF problem need to be solved…!
Tuesday 18 Mar        :
Leo tested the new winch… using the remote control… Click here for the video   Video is MP4 format, use VLC player!
Monday 17 Mar          :
We finally received some info from the 4×4 organization, still no travel details but info about driving in the desert, general Morocco country info.
Leo received information that we embark from the port of Barcelona Spain and return via Seté France.
This will save us approx two day’s driving…
Saturday 15 Mar       :
Leo and I went to Dick’s place and we installed the radio equipment. Leo had ordered the 4×4 construction company to install all cables … they did a nice job.
After soldering large 200Amp DC connectors, coax connectors and control cables we could make the first HF attempts.
This turned out to be a challenge, we suffered from huge RF interference on the 12V DC lines. Due to limited time we could not solved these problems yet, however we where able to work CT2, UA2 and RA1 on 10m with 5/9+ and a G4 on 80m with 5/8..9 (during day time!!)
Thursday Frans and Leo will do some more testing en measuring and better grounding of the system.. the use of some extensive ferrite may help as well , Leo will visit Dick on Sunday.. We are sure that we can solve the RF issues…
Wednesday 12 Mar  :
CN2CA License arrived by e-mail, thanks to Abdou. One problem solved… :-)
Tuesday 11 Mar        :, call CN2CA has been added to the database, tnx to Jaime, KF7WIS.

Saturday 08 Mar      :
Added latest car pictures, still no sign from the 4×4 organizer… In worse case we w’ll plan our own trip… higher risk but more challenging…    :-)
Thursday 20 Feb      :
Frans started to test the Ic7100, had to make an extra microphone plug in order to connect a foot switch and boom head set.
Leo started to make mounting rack for the Ic7100 and the Henry SS750 PA, he added some extra cooling fan’s.
Wednesday 19 Feb :
Today we received the message from Abdou, we can use CN2CA as
our call sign. All the credits to Abdou CN8VO..
Monday 17 Feb           :
Leo has picked up the radio gear, Icom 7100 + HiQ-6 antenna and
the Henry SS750  transistor PA.  Thanks to Dick PA3DUV for his technical sponsoring and HiQ antenna.
Sunday 16 Feb        :
Test drive with the Jeep in the Dutch dunes.
It was fun driving the Jeep… bit muddy but nice experience.
Frankly the test trail was little to simple….:-)
Wednesday 12 Feb :
First contact with Abdou, CN8VO, he is helping us with the call-sign
Tuesday 11 Feb      :
Leo has become the confirmation… YES we ‘ll go 05 Apr 2014.