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Sahara Travel Forum Topics specific to North Africa and the Sahara down to the 17th parallel (excludes Morocco)
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Desert Travels - Motorcycle Journeys in the Sahara and West Africa!

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  #1  
Old 19 Jun 2002
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HF comms

Anybody out there tried HF communication between west Africa and Europe? If so, with what success?!

Sam.

I have used HF extensively in Australia and central America, interested to know viability elsewhere (physical, not political/legal!)
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  #2  
Old 1 Jul 2002
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I heard of people using HF in the old days, a lot of bulku kit and hit and miss arsing about with washing line aerials.

Unless you have all this kit and someone to man the other end when you need them, a rented or bought sat phone has got to be better in all ways.

Chris S
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  #3  
Old 1 Jul 2002
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Chris;

I've got the kit, and the support back-up here (phone-patching etc.) - just after some first hand experience from Sahara - Europe HF comms.

Looks like we'll be able to use 2m whip aerials as well (which is a bundle more practical than the old dipole array)!

Sam
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  #4  
Old 1 Jul 2002
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Try asking in the Google newsgroup Rec - Radio - one of the amature groups. Seems a little iffy to me with only a dipole however. I have seen a shot made from East Africa to the Eastern US, but it involved trees and a lot of wire.

Regards,

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  #5  
Old 28 Jul 2002
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Can’t comment upon HF in Northern Africa but my travels in east southern Africa have always been with the trusty HF and a simple 15 meter copper wire thrown up to a tree. Use Bushmail (an interface between the HF radio and the internet for e-mail and works wonderfully. bases in east, southern and west Africa). I believe that a radio is indispensable to travel in remote Africa.
While on the subject am planning a trip from SA via Tz, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan and if can get the req’d papers into Libya; otherwise perhaps via Chad. Final destination is Tripoli come hell or high water, the latter perhaps unlikely! Any advice/experience on this route, radios etc.
Cheers,

Peter
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  #6  
Old 28 Jul 2002
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Peter,

If cost is not a problem, then Sat-phone is always easier. HF is useful for longer/more frequent calls (particularly to another mobile).

Whichever you use (or decide to leave at home!), make sure it's well hidden! There are very few countries in the world who like the idea of un-monitorable (is that english??!!) international communications...

Sam.

PS If you want an HF base-station hook-up in Europe, then give me a shout!
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  #7  
Old 31 Jul 2002
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If the Algerian customs people find you taking a HF radio into the country, they will have a shit-hemorrhage!

I worked there for several years, they gave us problems because we had an HF radio installed in our aircraft, and we were never able to import a HF base station or mobile station to allow communication with the aircraft whilst in flight.

They seem to be very concerned that "rebels" will steal the HF radio, and thus have access to high technology.

Bottom line: If you are carrying a HF with you in your vehicle, do your best to make it look like a ghetto blaster or a CD player or something like that, anything other than a radio that could transmit.

Michael
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  #8  
Old 31 Jul 2002
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If considering Sat phone technology. A relatively cheap Sat phone option is buying the Motorola 9500. It was produced for Irridium before they went bust. Now that they have relaunched they have brought out new smaller smarter phones.

The old technology works fine, is supported, measures - 19cm by 6cm by 5cm, and so can be easily hidden. I did not declare to Algerian customs. On another note Algerian customs are fine with GPS now.

Internet capability on the 9500 is limited as Baud rate is very slow.

From memory mine cost 250GBP, worth it perhaps for peace of mind, if you are considering more remote destinations.
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  #9  
Old 31 Jul 2002
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For the same money you can have a Kyocera SS-66K (see the other thread). Smaller than Motorola and without the awkward aerial arrangement.

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  #10  
Old 15 Aug 2002
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Anyone any experience with the small 2-ways that seem to have exploded onto the market? Considering using them for bike-bike comms between 2 riders. It would ease the stress of maintaining line-of-sight contact, as I think they work over an area of several clicks...

Extremely cheap and easy to rig up charging for, too. Easy to hide at the border as well.

Thoughts? From those in the know....
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Old 15 Aug 2002
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I’m assuming you mean the FRS radios. They are great. I have a couple of Cobra units and use them all the time in Egypt. Go for it.

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  #12  
Old 15 Aug 2002
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FRS (Family Radio Service) sets are only designed to be used in North America.

PMR446 (Personal Mobile Radio) sets are the European version. They can be used in most European countries - except Norway and Monaco. They cannot be used in North America.

PMR446 sets might be legal in South Africa, but I have not found any information that states they are legal in any North African country. Even if they are, I suggest you keep them well hidden from customs, gendarmerie and military personnel.

This time last year most people in the UK rated the Kenwood TK3101 as best PMR446 radio. It is very strong and will take a lot of punishment - it is widely used on building sites. Some PMR446 radios are aimed at the children’s walkie talkie market and these units will not withstand the kind of punishment North Africa dishes out.

A note of caution on recharging from a 4WD or bike. If the radio manufacturer does not make a recharger for this purpose go to a specialist such as Tecstar Electronics Ltd in Cambridge, tel: 01480-399499. This is because you need the correct current limiter between the vehicle battery and the radio battery to avoid damaging the radio battery.

Also, I suggest you don’t use channel one. You’ll get into trouble at the docks in Dover, and a lot of lorry drivers seem to use it as well.
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Old 18 Aug 2002
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Thanks very much. Good info.

I will try to seek out some, before we leave!
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  #14  
Old 19 Aug 2002
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Roman wrote: "For the same money you can have a Kyocera SS-66K (see the other thread). "
I seem to have lost the thread (story of my life really
On the subject of communications, am I in danger of becoming a gadget fiend in wanting a sat phone? Although my only middle of nowhere trips have only been on a bicycle in and out of SA (not much to go wrong) I wonder how useful the reassurance is of having one. After all who can you call? My fear is that the moment mother in law knows the number...
After all the idea of going in the first place is to get away from it all.
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Old 19 Aug 2002
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Hi Luke,

The thread has been deleted because the deal fell through, sorry. You may still try contacting Mobell (ring Jenny or Christine on tel. no +44 (0)1543 426 999 telling them you've been referred by me). They may have a handset for ca GBP250.

Hope it helps.
Roman

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