Joel N6AMG's 1991 trip to Morocco Click here to go back to the home page
by Joel, N6AMG

Joel's Shack in Rabbat
This report is published as a tribute to Joel who passed away in December 1992 only a year after the DXpedition. Joel’s DXpedition activity was legendary and anyone who remembers the way he handled his pile-ups as CN2JP will know he had a cutting tongue! Nothing could be said better today than was said in the tribute in the April 1993 edition of Six News: "None of us who knew Joel will ever forget this unique and wonderful person, and six metres is very much the worse for his loss". We hope you enjoy his words of experience.

Joel's Shack in Rabat.

Like usual my flight and arrival was uneventful. CN8ST and CN8MK where waiting for me for the VIP escort through customs. I got all my equipment through. I had 9 pieces totalling 440 pounds (200 Kgs). CN8FD, CN8LI (whose family owns the villa) were also at the airport. Four people and all of my stuff in the same little Peugeot 405 was most interesting. I slept well on both planes and I was in good shape.

We first dropped by the villa to see if it was radio worthy. It turned out to be outstanding with a 60 foot tower on the roof and the villa was on a plateau 20 feet above the ocean. The power was underground as well. The second thing was to swap out Tarik's KR-500 for the Ham IV that I had brought him. This turned out to be a nightmare. I ended up on his tower for hours cutting brackets and drilling holes. I got it to work and we made it to my villa after dark. I got a 6M dipole up and I was in service.

I went to sleep at 23:00 totally burnt out and woke up at 3:00. Since I could not get back to sleep I put together the 6M Yagi and rotator hardware inside the house. I went back to sleep at 5 after a bath and woke up again at 8.

Then at 8 I put the rest of the 6M Yagi together outside. I made a security belt out of my 1/4 inch dacron mast guy line rope and installed the rotator. This tower had very steep guys and it was like Rohn 25 but 2 inches smaller. The sections were 4 meters long. I then put up the 30 foot long Yagi up by myself by tying the antenna to me with my security rope and walking up the tower. It took me 45 minutes of manoeuvring the elements around the guy lines and resting many times to get the antenna up to the rotator level. I slid down the tower and hoped for that 1 to 1 match. It was perfect and the band was open to the east.

I had help after the second day from Nourrdeem. He watched the house and did tower work. He was also my translator and food shopper. We also adopted a couple of cats. My favourite pets were the two or three mosquitoes that appeared every night when I went to sleep. They never sucked any blood off of me but they kept me awake by buzzing my ears. My solution was to put my ear plugs in and the buzzing went away. Tarik brought a little electric heater to take the chill out of the place.

The location as briefly described before was awesome. I had zero noise most of the time except to the south over some power lines that terminated at the ocean. My 3 element 10M antenna was 15 feet high at the back of the house overlooking the ocean. The 10M dipole was on the tower at 50 feet. The 2M EME array was on the roof with my tripod. The 10M dipole picked up a lot of QRM from my 50 V switcher that was for the 6M amp. Even thought the yagi was low it was much quieter. I used the TS-680S on 6M to drive the Solid State KW to 800 watts. I used a IC-575H on 10M and as a back up for 6M. There were few neighbours because everyone was in the city. I had no RFI complaints and the police checked in with us often to see how we were doing. The 2M EME station was a TR-751A, 2 X 170 RF Concepts PA combined with 4 X 8 element M Squared prototypes. The 6M station KBed and 2M heard very well and TXed poorly

When I was in CN the last time the water heater did not work. This time was no different. I removed the element and repaired it. Then I made a holder for it to keep it from falling out. The unit had a leak and it survived the 3 weeks. The other problem was it had no thermostat. One night I forgot to turn the breaker off and we had a steam bath the next day. The refrigerator had no thermostat as well and had been worked on before. Tarik bought a thermostat and I repaired the refrigerator in the last week of my stay.

As always some things always go wrong. You forget something or something breaks. On November 14 at 2200 the 6M antenna would not turn past 225 degrees towards the south. It acted as if it were hitting a spring and coming back. I sent Nourrdeem up the tower and he found the 9913 had rotated itself out of the wraps of tape all the way down the tower. It had slipped down causing the rotor loop to disappear. This was the first time I had used 9913 on a rotor loop and it was an interesting lessen. This was repaired in the dark and I was back in service. Then receive side of the KW dow-key relay got intermittent to the point that I had to key twice to hear anything. Luckily the unit had a service cap that I could slip a piece of paper into. This worked and there were no further problems. Lastly, I forgot the mic for the 575. I ended up using my digital voice message box and it's adapter cables and mic to use the 575 on 10M. The last problem was that I had an unusual glitch in the Laptop. It would change time and date by itself. It would only do it by a day or so and a couple of hours.

The DX totals on 6M were as follows: Country total 56 approximate Q total 900; States total unknown; The DX totals on 2M were as follows: Country total was 6; States total was 14; the Q totals were 20; I feel that the 6M expedition was about 50 percent successful due to the lack of W0, W7 and W6 contacts. The most significant contact was with ZL for the first ever ZL to Africa contact. Also working Australia was interesting as well. There were two beacons heard with no stations worked. FR and HC8. JW0A was worked but it is thought to be a bootlegger.

Joels AntennaJoel's Antenna

Leaving CN was much more difficult then entering. First I had to pay for 130 Kgs of excess baggage. The credit card verification system would not OK my VISA. The money exchange was not open and time was getting short. I finally got some money and paid for the baggage. I then forgot my boarding pass. I went back for the boarding pass and got that fairly quickly. Then the guard would not let my two carry on bags through. 20 Dirhams and 4 1 Dollar US bills got me through the first hurdle. The X-ray guard would not even allow me to put my bags on the X-ray. One of the higher ranked police officers came by and he new my situation and my luggage was going through the X-ray. Then the body metal detector guard did a full body search while asking me if I had Moroccan money. Now that I am on the way to a 7:30 plane and it is 7:15, I realise my boarding pass has no seating assignment. I got on the plane and found a line of people in the isle and there are no more economy seats. The business class seats were not full and I filled one of them. I am on my way to CU3.

Naturally a DXpedition like this is impossible without help. CN8ST was the focus of assistance on the Morocco side. He arranged the license, customs, housing, home cooked Moroccan meals (by Nadia CN8NA Tarik's wife) and everything else. Also CN8BC Brahim Sidat and CN8LI Said Sidat (son) who owned the villa were most gracious for offering me their summer home and their assistance. Also K6MYC and the M Squared family helped with the antenna stuff like usual. The WB2DND logging program which was donated by DND was used. The beacon keyer was donated by N4LTA for the CN6VHF/B. Dad was their helping me with the mechanical before and as well as feeding the animals while I was gone. On the 2M side of things thanks goes to WB5LBT for lending me the radio and one amp. Also for his 10M radio support as well as general moral support. HB9CRQ for fax support. Also W6JKV for the second amp and moral support from PJ7.

Onto CU3/N6AMG

The flight from Rabat to Lisbon was uneventful and the flight from Lisbon to Terceira, Azores was the same. I saw my antenna bags going on the Terceira flight so it looked like my baggage had been transferred. Arrival at customs was interesting because I was the only one checked because I was coming from Morocco. CU3AK was already helping me at this time and was wondering what the problem was. They wanted to charge me duty for my Moroccan carpets. Then he said he would keep them till I came back. After looking at his hit list he decided that hand made carpet from Morocco was not on his list and that I could go on through.

We went directly to the house on the other side of the Island to start the installation so we could get ti done by dark. We met the home owners and one of the first words (in Portuguese) was not to climb on the roof. This house was in the middle of a neighbourhood and the power lines (220 Volt) were going across the front yard of the property. We got the antenna up by dark but it got caught on the roof. So we hoisted the base/rotator on one of my plastic boxes that I use for carrying my equipment. We filled the box up with rocks to make it stable. It cleared the roof but not one of the guys. We gave up till the next day.

The next day I got up to see how the antenna was doing because it had blown a gale all night. Well it was pointing into the ground and about 1 foot away from the power lines. The back guy had slipped and pulling it taught solved the problem. The guy was in a different spot now and it cleared the antenna. This morning which was November 24, 1991 I worked some VK2s in the Sydney area.

The location was good from about 60 degrees to 240 degrees through the north. I actually could hear the 9L and ZD8 beacons through those hills. I was about 600 feet above the see and about 3 miles inland. There was no power-line noise and almost no extraneous signals from 45 to 60 MHz. Unfortunately the antenna needed to be 30 feet higher to clear all the local stuff. I was afraid to blast with the amplifier like I did in CN for fear of RFI. The house had 220 volt 10 amp service. The voltage ran from 185 to 220 with the normal about 207. I could run the KW and not blow the breaker if the space heater was off. The hot water was heated by propane and just barely got hot enough to take a shower.

The house was damp and cold. I was not actually that cold but sitting around dialling the radio and hearing nothing most of the time left my hands pretty cold. CU3AK brought me a heater and I found one stashed away in the closet of the room I was sleeping in. It rained every day and blew as hard as 50 mph at times.

The weather took it's toll on the antennas as well. One of the two bolts that the rotor sat on came off allowing the antenna to spin around in circles. This took some of the insulation of the 9913. It took me one hour to get the bolt back in because the 30 foot Yagi was fighting me. Then the next morning the 2M array blew over. I put it back up in a rain storm and I was off of EME. Two hours later it blew over again and I wanted to give up. Again I set it straight up and straitened out all of the elements and pointed the Yagis straight again. The F connector T broke and I made makeshift repairs of that. The SWR was checked and the sun was check for heading and noise. It appeared to all be working.

Like every trip I get to fix things. I did a lot of antenna fixing and spent a whole day fixing CU3AKs VCR that I had brought parts for. I guessed at the parts we would need and was about 90% correct. I am glad that I don't fix VCRs for a living.

The DX results were 11 contacts on 6 meters with 5 countries and 8 contacts on 2 meters with 3 countries. I guess you might say that the propagation was about as good as 2 meters. I worked VK2QF again and VK2BA for the first ever VK2 to CU contact. Ironically enough they were the two guys that met me at the Sydney airport and helped me with my layover on the way to VK9L in spring of 1990.

CU3AK Jaime spent a lot of his personal time to help me out with the expedition. His wife Sylvia CU3Y? who just passed her exam helped me with plane reservations and my departure. I thank them both. CU3AA also was around to help as well and will help with the beacon project.

Also K6MYC and the M Squared family helped with the antenna stuff like usual. Mike also donated the beacon antenna. The WB2DND logging program which was donated by DND was used. The beacon CU3URA/SIX was donated by N4LTA. Dad was there helping me with the mechanical before and as well as feeding the animals while I was gone. On the 2M side of things thanks goes to WB5LBT for lending me the radio and one amp. Also I thank Bob for his 10M radio support as well as general moral support. Also W6JKV for the second amp and moral support from PJ7. W9JUV passed lots of traffic for me as well.

It took me two tries to make CN work on 6 will CU be the same? Well we shall see.

Propagation From CN2JP in IM64

This paper's purpose is to enlighten the novice and expert on 50 MHz propagation from Rabat, Morocco. It will discuss some obvious topics and propose some new ones.


The peak of the Solar Cycle and the peak of the fall season offer propagation continuous from about 9:00 UTC (also local) to about 3:00 UTC the next day almost every day. During this time there are so many propagation indicators that they all can't be documented for fear of missing DX. Also the signal strengths get so intense from weak indicators like Wireless Phones that it is difficult to decide what is useful.


So lets start with Japan. I worked JA in the morning at 30, and 90 degrees. Both JR6 (magic land) and JA was worked in the morning. The 90 degree path is a scatter path. It is almost impossible to predict these two paths. The reason for this is that the 49.75 (49.75 denotes all carriers plus or minus 10) is 60 over 9 coming from USSR at the same time and the same direction. The following items were always noted. The 49.75 would be medium strong to very strong direct path. The 48.25 would be coming from 90 degrees, this was usually BS (back scatter). I had identified some 48.25 from the middle east but could not confirm it. Also my FBS (full break in sounding) of the ionosphere would be at 90 degrees.

The other JA path that CN8ST has found is the classic South American one. I have experienced it once. I did not look for the indicators out of band though. This particular event occurred during a massive TE/TE BS opening. I had strong LU, PY, CX, and ZP with BS to CU, PJ. Then JR6s were worked with 5X5 signals. Tarik has said that normally there is night time F2 to PY when the Jas are in. Tarik says that usually the PY beacons start to die down and the JAs come in. The timing is from 20:00 to 24:00. JR6 was worked both in the morning and evening that day.


This path like the JA paths is most difficult to predict. VK4, VK6 and VK8 could be worked from about 9:00 to 12:00. Remember these are all northern stations. The one exception is VK2QF who was heard twice and worked once. There was always 48.25 and 49.75 video in. Sometimes the video would be S9 in the band. The most important indicator was 28.885. The European stations always had VK before me. I believe that VK2 and VK4 east coast stations could be worked over NA or SA.

The ZL path which we all thought was possible became a reality with three northern ZLs worked. This path is direct F2 over SA. Unfortunately the indicators were not well documented. I had some weak LUs and 49.7 from CE. This path is about 2 hours after sunset where there was always a peak of F2 to the south.


The indicators to NA were mostly elusive. The only useful beacon was VO1BCN. There was two paths, the direct and BS. The direct path seem to be found by CQing only. The BS path at 250 degrees could be found by HC direct propagation, EU BS, 48.25 BS and FBS. I could work W5s to Texas, W8s, any W4s and some W1s and W2s. The direct path always started and ended with VE1. When the W1 path got real good there was always a couple of W8s. Also remember that this period of observation was during intermittently high geo- magnetic activity.


SA had three distinct propagation paths, to the north, south east and south west SA. These paths were both on F2 and TE. The most obvious is the almost nightly TE to PY, LU. Then one to three hours later there could be propagation to more westerly portions. The TE had many indicators. The many PY beacons especially the two on about .060. The .060 beacons were never heard on F2. But PT7NK on .073 was heard on F2 and not on TE. Also the 55.25 NTSC video was very useful. The many hundreds of FM 2-way on 48 to 50 were always evident.. The FM signals were good for TE and F2 as well as telling which part of SA the propagation was coming from. The 47.9 music channel was the best TE indictor for CE and was heard on F2 and TE. The FY beacon was good for TE and F2 but was not always there during good TE or F2 sessions. The ZD8 beacon, 9L1 beacon and V51 beacons always preceded the intense SA TE. These beacons would be in on TE. It is important to note that I have heard the ZD8/B as late as 23:30 on F2. As well as all of the above indicators the BS indicators were very good for F2. The FBS and 48.25 would always indicate propagation to the SA direction. Another important note is that when the TE is in the 48.25 video from Spain and Portugal would always be in on TE BS.


The Caribbean was worked on F2, F2 BS and TE BS. The only indicators noted were BS. The PJ9 beacon was not heard (PJ9EE said it was back on the air). The BS could be direct or just south of direct. PJ7/W6JKV was worked most mornings as early as his 0630 local. Also Caribbean openings showed me what kind of propagation the day would bring to the US and beyond. A good Caribbean opening meant good F2 to YN and HC type areas as wells as good to very good BS to the southern US.


The indicators from Africa were all south of CN. The most common were V51, and 9L. The ZS6 beacon on .050 was heard a few times. There were also a variety of wandering noises that also came from the south. Among these wandering noises was SINTOR harmonics of ship 17 MHz transmitters. Some FM at 47 to 50 was seen but was not significant. There are also some data transmitters as well. Even though the FR5 beacon was not in Africa it was heard on F2 during a good ZS6 opening after a magnetic disturbance. ZS6 was never heard on TE. The V51/b and 9L1/b could be heard on F2 and TE almost every day. Also note that TU2 and TR8 were worked on TE but are not south of the equator. They are south of the geomagnetic equator though. Also 48.25 was heard on E from Africa. There is also some 55.25 video in Africa as well that still has not been identified.


The indicators from the Moscow and Poland area and beyond were so numerous that they could not all be documented. There were thousands of wireless phones from 46 to 48. The signal strengths were in the hundreds of microvolts. There were also many FM transmitters in the 47 to 48 area. They seemed to avoid the 49 area because of their TV. Also the 49.75 laid the S meter on the end at times. There were no Amateur signals on 50.


The middle east indicators were similar as the Moscow ones. The concentration of wireless phones at 47 proved to be most informative. We identified Saudi accents many times. Also we heard many Arabic and Hebrew conversations. Also other languages were heard but not identified. Some possibilities are Turk and Indian. No contacts were made.


Indicators toward western EU were the GB beacon, F STLs and 48.25. The STLs were on 50.024, .1, .150, .5 and 51.000. These had 50 kHz wide audio for video transmitters according to the French. Bob Cooper's discussion (in the 6M DX Bulletin) on these STL's locations was that they are not understood. They are well defined and the 6M operators in F know their grid squares. Also GJ4ICD could be worked on tropo scatter every day.


The BS paths as described above were very important. The significant ones were at 90, 180, 225, 240 and 140. The FBS method should be used by more stations to develop a better understanding of their propagation. At times there could be 4 BS paths at the same time. Also FBS always coincided with 48.25 Spanish BS


F2 - The most significant F2 propagation was towards VE1/W1, PY/LU, HC/HC8, ZS/FR, FY/ZD8, V51/ZS9 and the middle east/Moscow area.

E - The E into EU got real intense once and was there two other times. G, F, PA, ON, SM, YU, I, and OH. Some E to Africa was seen on 48.25. No other E was confirmed.

TE - TE was common to 9L1/V51 and PY/LU. The TE went as far west as CE. The furthest east was V51. High geomagnetic activity blew away the TE though. The last days of the expedition saw little or no TE

LONG PATH - The only confirmed long path openings were to JR6. The JW0A contact pointing just south of SA has not been confirmed. The ZL contact was almost LP.




1990 - 3X 9L 6W1 FG V29



When the F2 was good I could always sound the ionosphere and find the path. This path would be direct and or BS. The lack of good east west was due to the continuous geo-magnetic activity which has been the trademark of this cycle. With CN8STs less than one year of activity his country count is 90 as of this writing. Morocco is definitely in the 100 per year club like PY and G. I hope this paper will be use to inform other 6M DX enthusiasts as well as document 6M propagation from north Africa.

Joel, N6AMG

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