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3V3A or Tunisian football – First half

You may ask why this is a story about football. Please be patient, for you will find the answer below. Please excuse me for such a detailed story. I assure you that even the little things described below were very important to
What does one need to be able to play a football game? Or to operate in a contest? You should first find your field or stadium.

Tunisia Football 3V3A
I was lucky to find such a friendly stadium at 3V8SS, Radioclub of Sousse Scouts with great chief
operator Ashraf, KF5EYY.

Lets present the players of the teams -

3V3A team

1 Andy RA9CKQ
2 Ashraf KF5EYY (member of 3V8SS)
3 Halim (chief of 3V8SS)
4 Sousse Scout leaders - Mr. Mohammed, Mr. Faouzi, Mr. Amine, Mr. Alaedinne
5 Miracle Mister Hichem at Tunisian customs
6 3V3S – The German team that operated at 3V8SS in CQ WW CW 2009

The coach - Oleg UA9CDV
Coaching team - Igor UA9CDC, Mike UA9CIR
Support team - Al 4L5A, Vadim R9DX, Harry RA3AUU, Alex RD3DO, Victor RK9CR, Andy UA0ANW
Opposing team - Mr.Murphy. We do not know Mr.Murphy's players. We just know that the coach, Mr. Murphy, will play all by himself. It doesn’t matter - we will play against them as usual.
We will not describe all of the moments of preparations for the game, but let’s start…

I'm in Moscow, at the QTH of my brother Alex, RD3DO, with all of the equipment. Total weight is about 60kg. Not too heavy for real football players.
The list of equipment includes - CT37HF antenna (tnx RA3AUU, RD3DO); G-800 rotor (tnx 4L5A) ; 65 meters of coax cable; guy wires made from 4 mm steel guy wire with insulators made by my father Victor, RK9CR; bearing; mast for attaching the rotator to the antenna; antenna switch, PC-TRCVR interface (tnx UA0ANW); computer; tools and a lot of other small things.
My brother Alex, RD3DO has obtained the visa for me and done all the necessary work, so there is no need to go to Moscow and do anything. Thank you Alex !!!
Also thanks goes to Larisa, XYL of RD3DO, for great hospitality and support.

I did the weight measurements about 30 times, like a maniac packing and unpacking my equipment. I need to combine everything into only 2 pieces of luggage, each not more then 32 kg. Otherwise, I would have to pay an additional 200 Euro for any 3rd piece, even if it is only 1kg.

I am trying to minimize some tools, packing, clothes and so on. I'm measuring weight again for the 31st time. Great ! It is all OK now.
Guess what? Nobody attempted to weigh my antenna box on the following day,
They just believed my word that it is a 30 kg bag.
But all the excitement starts tomorrow, and now I feel a little stressed and try to cool down a bit with a few drinks with Alex. Doesn’t help. Still feel stressed,as usual before a long trip.
I’m in a taxi and going to the airport. Airport security does not react, even to the steel guy wire in my bag and antenna box.
"What is it in your bag? The guy wires for this antenna! Go ahead".
I'm the first one to check-in. Maybe it's a good sign!
Landing at Rome airport. Cup of coffee. Waiting. Bus to the plane. I can see some bags that are probably lost and just lying near the road. OK… hope that airport workers will not decide that this Russian has bags that are too heavy, and leaves them also.

Short flight through Mediterranean and I'm in Africa. Get through the passport control and began to wait for my bags. After a long time (I remembered the Rome airport) I finally see my bag and antenna box. We score
the first goal 1-0 ! I successfully reached Tunisia and my baggage is with me!

Tunisia Football Goal 3V3A
I felt lucky for a very short time : (
"Mister, you must go with me! Give me your passport and open your

Mr.Murphy team scores twice - 2-1. Customs took my bags without a word of explanation. Even Ashraf, who is meeting me, can not solve the situation.
He made many phone calls trying to explain the situation but with no luck.
We discussed such the situation with him but we thought that chances for success today are very small.

Anyway, we promise that tomorrow we will return with some papers describing the luggage as assistance for our sponsor, the Sousse Scout Radioclub.
Nothing can be done at this moment, so we're going to Sousse to meet 3V8SS.
A 150 km road to Sousse and the first real taste of Tunisia. A lot of cars, policemen and more people on the capital streets.
"Is there a holiday today?" "Today is a very important football derby" answers Ashraf. "Football is living in the country's heart!"

While having a nice talk we reached Sousse.
We are looking at the current 3V8SS setup. The German team that operated 3V3S made GP160-80, GP40, and spider beam. We've decide where to put another tower with a new tribander. Finish the day with a short excursion to Sousse city.

Waking up by imam (muezzin) prayer !!! Very loud somewhere near us! It's the first visit to Muslim country for me and all things look very magic to me.
We successfully drove another 150 km and reached the customs office at 0800. Nobody is waiting for us. We are still guessing that the papers that we brought with us will help us. Somebody told us that we can reach our goal (to get equipment) but it will take 3-4 days. This situation has not been considered in our plans...
Suddenly we met another player of our team – let’s call him miracle Mr Hichem. We describe our problem to him. His answer - “I'll see what I can do”.
And then we continue with something that I'll remember for a long time. Mr. Hichem playing style is quickness. He begins to go from one room to another taking us with him. Soon we understood what type of documents we need to fill out.
Pretty simple – about 10 papers with different customs declarations. It is not easy to do this in the Russian language. Even worse, there is no English - only Arabic and French
But Mr. Hichem is not ready to surrender. “We'll go through and we'll make it” - I can read it in his eyes. With disapproving looks and more disapproving words from other people we solved some questions with different officials. Then we need a notary. We go to the center of the capital. There are a lot of people at the notary office. But Hichem is so lucky and we easily go through this pile-up. It's really looks like a pile-up, with people shouting (pretty loud) and they do not look happy that a Russian will break the pile-up (visit notary) first.
I'm starting to understand the way this day is going. Ashraf is saying “Andy, Hichem will solve our problem. Inshallah. If not, let’s think about plan B”. I answered “All will be OK – Inshallah”
“Do you really know what is the meaning of this word?” “Yes. It means – if Allah will allow to do something”. I think Ashaf was surprised... : )
Then there was lunch time and long long waiting...
The clock is showing 1600. The customs house will close at 1700. Will we be lucky or not? We still have no a final signature on the documents
1630 ...
1640 Hichem asked Ashraf to go to customs house and try to hold them. Ashraf leaves.
1655 Hichem leaves the office with a shining face. “Run! Hurry up” - I think that I can understand some Arabic. And we really had to fast run.
1700 We scored 2-2. It looks like I want to dance with the antenna box 8-)
We said a lot of thanks to our mysterious assistant. Let all of your ways will be easy, Mr.Hichem!
Back on the road to Sousse. A lot of talk with Ashraf. I'm surprised to see that we have many common things to discuss, not just in ham radio and contesting. It's a good way to start the good partnership to solve some difficulties together. And it's just beginning.
Then we meet the Scout leaders - Mr. Mohammed, Mr. Faouzi. They are very happy to meet me and we had a nice talk. Mr. Mohammed looks like a magic man from Arabic tales. An elderly man with a grey beard. I remembered the genie and the way to make wishes! : )
“Andy knows the word Inshallah!...” “Really!?” “Yes!”
“Do you use the word Maktub?” “You know Maktub? !!!”
It looks like I've just did something good and everyone is happy and smiling.
We planned to assemble the antenna, put the tower up on the roof and begin to manufacture a plate for the rotator on Tuesday. The steel tower that we have is about 150kg. It's heavy but we are lucky to be able to put it up on the roof with ropes.
Tuesday ends – antenna is assembled, the tower is on the roof. Ashraf has brought the welder who will make and solder the special plate to the tower. We've set our task to him and I gave him the rotator and bearing.
The plan for Wednesday is to call 8-10 people to put the tower in the vertical position because it's impossible for 3-4 people.
I'm preparing the guy wires and making the holes for the anchors. The welder Khiareddine begins to solder the plates that he made to the tower. After finishing, I've discovered that the bearing which is already mounted on the upper plate is rotating with difficulty. I disassemble it from the plate. Oh no. It has a lot of shavings. It looks like the score is 2-3 now...
I've described the task to the welder incorrectly. I've explained to him what I need but said no words about the things that shouldn't be done. When he drilled the hole for the 50mm tube (from rotator to bearing) he did not remove the bearing.
A short talk with my coach Oleg UA9CDV. “Do not mount that bearing. Open it and try to remove the shavings” - that's the advice of my coach.

Tunisia 3V3A Antenna Assembly
That’s easy to say ! I have only small screwdrivers and no vise. The Yaesu bearing is good !! We can't really open it.
And I can see the other problem. The hole for the tube in the upper plate is not really good. I need to increase the hole diameter a bit. But I don’t have a good file.
At the end of the day Halim came to the station. I described to him my problems with the bearing. Halim told me to come with him to his relative who repairs cars engines...
It's very interesting to be in the situation when you’re talking with somebody but you do not know his language and he does not know yours. It was that way with Halim’s relative. Anyway, the technical language is always the same. We've got a vise, big screwdrivers and other things to open the bearing. And even when one of the ball bearings had fallen, and become lost, there were exactly the same ball bearings in the repairing shop.
Thank you for the help! I’m sure that all of the car engines that you have repaired are excellent. What's the score? It's 3-3
We go back to the station. Ashraf brought his friend Ayman and 6 other young boys. It's better to set the bearing first and make the hole. But we should to raise the tower vertical. It's evening time, dark and we all should go home. Tomorrow it will take 3-4 hours to finish everything.
With such good help we easily raised the tower vertical, then attached the guy wires. The scouts also had the good idea to concrete the base of the tower and to mount the scaffold near the tower.
Thursday evening.
We are putting up the antenna. It looks heavy for me to take it to the top of the tower with ropes. The guy wires are touching the elements and not letting us move it up. Something is going wrong. I remember the C4N operation. We put a pretty heavy antenna up the same way. But in C4, UA9CDV was on the top. The muezzin is saying the prayer words at this moment! Have any of you, my fellow readers, put your antennas up during muezzin prayer? ; )))
We removed one of the guy wires. There is more room, and it looks easier now. The antenna is going up and then …
I didn't see how it happened. It looks like we didn't see that the end of the element touched the other guy wire because of the darkness and we put a lot of force and broke it.
Murphy team scored twice again. The antenna is broken and time is not on my side. The contest will start in only one day !
The element is damaged very badly and not really easy to repair.
But I'm lucky that I'm in a magical country. I've found some very good tools (long and thin screws) and with the help of the scouts I've repaired it.
It's too late and we've decided to put antenna up tomorrow with a crane.
Not very much sleep - just 5-6 hours. It is a mistake that I'll regret later.
The crane is doing its job very easily. The job is complete.

Tunisia 3V3A Antenna Crane

I need to finish some tasks – solder the coax and control cables, put up the 40m GP that was taken down due to the tribander installation. By the way, the SWR of the repaired antenna is perfect!
Darkness is about 1730. In the evening, the man who set up the scaffold will return. It's near the antenna and should be removed. He called told us he can't come. OK - It's my contest not his. In the dark, with winds, I begin to remove the scaffold...

Tunisia 3V3A Antenna Ready

Tunisia 3V3A Vertical
Now I am preparing to rest before the contest. I feel tired, but before the nap I've decided to listen to the new antenna. I push the ON button. Nothing, The radio is not working. I've checked the voltage on the power supply, on the connector.
All is OK. Than I remembered that I turned the transceiver on an hour ago when I set up the 40GP. There were some dark clouds in the sky with a lot of static...
As a old catatonic proverb said “The darkest hour of the night is just near the sunrise”. It looks like we have that hour …... ((((((
But you probably heard the 3V3A call in the contest. Something magic ?
Wait for the second half story
73 Andy RA9CKQ

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