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Utility Listening - Discussions regarding monitoring government, military, aircraft, ship, and other misc communications in the HF/MW/LF bands.

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Old 07-16-2017, 2:15 PM
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 11
Smile African Safari HF ?

We have all seen the typical African Land Rover safai scene with the giant HF whip antenna on the front bumper. Does anyone know what these are used for? Example: Alaska has a state wide 5MHz emergency frequency open to everyone. Does Africa (or a country within it) have something similar? I'm just wondering what they use those for...

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Old 07-16-2017, 3:43 PM
mmckenna's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: WTVLCA01DS0
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Not that I know of, but entirely possible. With a few of those countries in a constant state of fragmentation, rules are pretty loose, if they exist at all.
Probably more common for company/agency communications, low band VHF, higher end HF type stuff.
Could be CB (or the specific country's version of it) too.

More often what you see are large whips with a tuner in the base. Those are pretty common for relief agencies that need to communicate medium to long distance over a wide frequency range.
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Old 07-16-2017, 3:58 PM
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 11

I have often thought it was company business, but then I see it so frequently that perhaps something bigger was going on. But if I were to rely on it in a crisis over those distances on safaris... I too would prefer high power ten meter FM as oopsed to VHF high band for the simplex ground wave range.
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Old 07-17-2017, 7:33 PM
Hooligan's Avatar
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Clark County, Nevada
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Originally Posted by bradrnstyle View Post
We have all seen the typical African Land Rover safai scene with the giant HF whip antenna on the front bumper. Does anyone know what these are used for? Example: Alaska has a state wide 5MHz emergency frequency open to everyone. Does Africa (or a country within it) have something similar? I'm just wondering what they use those for...

DECADES ago I was on such a safari (tourism/photos, not killing animals...) for 10 days in Kenya & Tanzania. Type 2 VWs without radio were used for some parts, but in more rugged parts we were transported in the Land Rovers with radios. It was before I was a radio-geek, but in retrospect, the comms were SSB & thus likely HF, and the main facility at Ngorongoro had an HF beam antenna on a tower. I suspect that licenses (if any...) were for a couple freqs allocated to the commercial tour operator, and maybe -hopefully- the ability to utilize area park warden/police/military channels in a contingency.

Your best bet is to try contacting the entity that's operating one of the vehicles with VHF Low-Band or HF antennas, the next time you see one on TV (unless it's an old episode of Daktari or Kimba the White Lion).
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Old 07-17-2017, 8:45 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 6,802

I helped set up radios for a Safari that went to Tanzinia and we built up some portable VHF repeaters with Motorola mobiles and RICK controllers in wheeled transport cases. Repeater antennas were large Comet base type as they could ship in a small package and get assembled on site. Several military surplus 40ft mast kits were purchased from Fair Radio Sales.

Most radios were Motorola Sabers and the entire system worked great with one of the repeaters set up on the side of Mt Kilimanjaro. Car batteries were charged and swapped out on a regular basis and since labor is cheap there and that was a better option than trying to ship and set up suitable solar charging systems.

The customer was not from the US and didn't care what frequencies were used and had no intention of getting any licences, so we did a little research and programmed the system on several VHF pairs plus some simplex. That was maybe 20yrs ago and I still use some of the mast kits and antennas that were brought back from Tanzinia.
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Old 08-04-2017, 10:45 AM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Australia
Posts: 18

Without seeing the picture your referring its a little hard to say exactly what HF equipment they are using but depending on the specific African country it can be anything from current commercial product to modified amateur and military surplus equipment sourced from any country fighting, supporting or sponsoring conflict and aid over the years.

You will also find that a large number of the countries have spectrum management authorities and band plans but as has been discussed, being government run authorities their function and efficiency varies greatly. The only guarantee is it will be a slow and expensive process to navigate.

Two very common brands used by Safari, Government and NGO's is Codan Limited and Barrett Communications both Australian companies.

From their commercial product ranges;

Codan radios typically NGT / Envoy series radios and 9350 / 3040 automatic tuning mobile antennas.

Barrett radios typically 2000 series / 4050 radios and 2019 / 2018 automatic tuning antennas.

Many of the safari and tour companies run their own company frequencies (base to base, base to mobile, mobile to mobile) but also have access to various agencies, government and NGO depending on the country or area.

You will find very similar HF equipment, networks and inter agency arrangements in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Mongolia, Pacific Islands, New Zealand and a number of the smaller land locked Asian countries as well.

Australia and New Zealand particularly are well served by a number of nationwide HF networks for the touring and 4WD communities using frequencies typically spread through 3.0 -14mhz ranges USB 100watt P.E.P offering AVL, analogue voice and telephone interconnect. Network usage is generally by annual membership and letter of authority to operate.

The technologies in use globally include analogue voice and data, digital voice,hf email and fax, telephone interconnect, frequency hopping, ALE, AVL etc.

Been a loyal Codan radio owner user for near 30 years myself.
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