RaDAR – 1st November 2014

regions

1. Aim

The RaDAR contest is a unique event aimed at promoting the use of Rapidly Deployable Amateur Radio stations. This contest is for all licensed radio amateurs not limited to South Africa. A choice is made prior to the contest to participate in one of the defined categories but may be changed at any time during the contest. The points system is so structured as to encourage portable operations especially moveable RaDAR stations.

2. Date and Time

First Saturday of April and first Saturday of November (5 April 2014 and 1 November 2014), starting at 14:00 UTC and ending at 18:00 UTC (16:00 to 20:00 CAT) – Approximately two hours during the day and two hours at night within the South African time zone.

3. Bands and Modes

All amateur bands, besides the WARC bands, are allowed including cross band contacts via amateur radio satellites. Modes – CW, SSB, AM, FM or any digital mode. QSOs via terrestrial repeaters will NOT be allowed.

4. Suggested HF Calling frequencies

http://zs6bne.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/radar-calling-frequencies/ for the latest international list of frequencies.

Recommended digital modes frequencies – Refer to the SARL Contest Manual, General Rule 15.

5. Exchange

The RaDAR contest requires more than a minimalistic information exchange. Accurate information exchange is considered more important than a large QSO count.

Call sign, Name, RS(T) Report, QTH and grid locator. Note the grid locator can change as RaDAR operators are allowed to move position at any time. The grid locator of six characters is acceptable but should preferably be accurate to 10 characters for higher position accuracy.

6. Scoring

1 point per QSO.
Individual QSOs – per mode, per band, per satellite, per call sign.

7. Categories and multipliers.

The following multipliers are applicable to determine the
final score. If category changes were made during the contest than calculate accordingly.

x 1 – RaDAR Fixed station (At home or in another building)
x 2 – RaDAR Field station (Portable – away from home)
x 3 – Moving RaDAR station – Car / motorcycle / bicycle / etc., minimum 3 km
x 4 – Moving RaDAR station – On foot – minimum 1 km

Refinements will be done in 2015. The proposal will be that all moving stations will have a multiplier of 3 the only difference is the distance required to move.

Vehicles, motorcycles and motorboats etc. (Motorized transport) – 5km
Bicycles – 2km
On foot and paddle canoes – 1km
Wheelchairs – 500m

Note: Moving RaDAR stations can move at any time but are required to move to the next destination after five contacts have been made from the present location. The move needs to cover the required distance before further contacts are allowed to be made. This requirement tests the ability to rapidly re-deploy your amateur radio field station.

Power multiplier: The power multiplier that applies is determined by the highest power output of any of the transmitters used during the contest at any point in time.

x 6 – 5 Watts or less
x 4 – 6 to 50 Watts
x 2 – 51 watts or greater

9. Bonus points (All categories).

5 Points (The equivalent of five QSO’s) for a minimum of one satellite or any digital modes QSO involving a computer, smartphone or digital modes device. (For clarity thereafter 1 point per Satellite / Digital modes QSO)
5 Points for the first inter continental DX QSO – 10 Points if that QSO is between two participating RaDAR stations.

10. Log Sheets

The SARL RaDAR Contest manager – Eddie, ZS6BNE. Send email entries to edleighton (at) gmail.com. The closing date for logs is 19 April 2014 and 15 November 2014.

See https://www.dropbox.com/s/trkir582qf0fmh3/ZS6BNE-RaDAR-GenericContestLog2014.pdf for a log sheet specifically designed for the RaDAR contest.

Note: A photo of the station (JPG format) MUST accompany every log entry. A photo is required for each new location that moveable stations move to. These photos are used to promote amateur radio and the RaDAR concept showing where amateur radio can be used to communicate from and in the many different ways.

73 de Eddie
Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio

Daring to be different

RaDAR – An article by Greg Lane N4KGL in CQ Magazine

CQ_Mag_RaDAR

An excellent article written by Greg Lane, N4KGL written for CQ Magazine. Greg sums it up quite well, he says that since he has been practicing RaDAR, it’s the most fun he has had with ham radio. It is certainly fun and different!

Greg’s article will bring RaDAR into the limelight world wide and it is important now that the ground rules be refined especially when considering RaDAR as a contest which is really only a way of testing your own deployment methods and it’s effectiveness.

I’d been lying awake for some time this morning (it is 3 o’clock). No matter what methods of transport are used during the contest, the first communications point is really the same for everyone. Only after the first five QSO’s do things really start to look interesting, for each operator will start to move to the next position using his chosen mode of transportation. To make things even more interesting, these modes of transport can change with each deployment. It is therefore fair that the points allocation for each mode be refined. The basis being on foot – move one kilometer after every five QSO’s. For bicycles, I’d suggest two kilometers. Motorcycles and SUV’s have a motorized and speed advantage so the distance that needs to be traveled has to be further. The suggestion for these modes of transport is five kilometers. I want to do a few tests using a canoe to see where it fits into the bigger picture.

Terrain is of course very variable and a kilometer on foot could very well take much longer than 10 minutes – it could even take an hour! The operator should take this into consideration balancing the fun and competitiveness of the deployment – at least for contest purposes.

The first Saturday of November  is when the next RaDAR contest takes place. From 14:00 to 18:00 UTC. The South African time zone will introduce an interesting transition from day to night.

RaDAR – Taking on an the SOTA challenge

FourPeaksSOTA

Many thanks to my friend Pierre ZS6A who went the extra mile in ensuring that these four peaks were valid according to the rules of defining summits for SOTA.

Verzierkerf 2408.2m S28 38.461 E28 02.395
Sikonjelashoed 2300 m S28 40.141 E28 02.036
Second Pyramid 2271 m S28 36.277 E28 00.534
First Pyramid 2167 m S28 36.752 E28 00.292

All Lat/Long’s in dd mm.mmm format

A few hams from South Africa will be attempting to activate the two pyramids on the 20th of September 2014.

RaDAR – A visit to the other side of SOTA

I have a lot of respect for those that are able and do take part in the SOTA challenges. I don’t have many defined summits near to where I stay but I did try to access two of them. I did it in conjunction with my salt mine activities trying to expand on our wireless network.

The summits in question were ZS/NW-008 and ZS/NW-004.

NWKRecce

My colleague Jaco and I left early Friday morning for the Marico area traveling mostly on gravel roads. I’ve traveled these roads a few times over the years one of which was used for final training for the Comrades marathon a few years ago. Rough, with steep uphills and downhills and it brought back some fond memories.

The first recce was to NW-008. This summit was on top of one of the biggest mountains in the area. What lay between us and it was miles and miles of eight foot game fencing and private property. No contact numbers on the many gates that we passed.

100_1808

We continued down the road towards Groot Marico, the mountains became hills and the hills became flatter. It was time to turn around and that’s what we did. It was starting to get warmer and I climbed out of the car and took off my jacket. A farmer that was cutting feed in a field for his cattle came towards us and we introduced each other. After a discussion about looking for hills and places to expand our radio network he asked us to follow him home and he’d show us the top of a mountain on his farm and so as he drove past on his tractor we followed him.

What a kind gentleman, he took us through his hilly farmlands to the top of one of the highest hills (BERGG) in his Mahindra bakkie. He said we are most welcome to install whatever we need on the hill. It was not as high as NW-008 though.

C360_2014-06-20-10-41-01-028 (2)

I took a few measurements while we were up there and then we returned to the farmers farmhouse, bid our farewells and thanks. I wrote down his contact information if needed for the future.

We continued back down the road with the intention of going to NW-004. We passed NW-008 on our left and there was a farmer and farmhands working with a bull whose horns had gone septic. I stopped and Jaco and I introduced ourselves to him. “How can I help you?”, the gentleman asked and so I explained again what we were looking for. He said he’d take us to the top of a mountain on his farm. In fact he had three farms adjacent to one another all with mountains on them! Jaco mentioned NW-008 and the farmer said we can’t go there and I didn’t push the matter any further. He was kind enough to take us to another hill and I accepted his hospitality.

I had to use my own car this time, a Nissan X-Trail. It has 4×4 capability but not a fully fledged 4×4. So we climbed up embankments, through gates, and steep shale covered pathways. I had doubts in my mind that the car would be able to climb the mountain. In first gear, the car in 4×4 mode with hill assist the X-Trail climbed faithfully up the hill. It certainly surprised me! The farmer agreeing to take it slowly and then I found out he was 77 years old, as fit as a fiddle and very open minded, an interesting man!

I took measurements at the top of BERGJ and we traveled down the steep hill again. The 2.5 liter X-Trail handled that very well too. Jaco and I said our goodbyes and our thanks for his hospitality too. I also took his contact details.

We drove off to NW-004 stopping for coffee and sandwiches alongside the road. To prove to Jaco I could make contact with someone via shortwave while we were in a valley amongst the rocky hillside I did a quick RaDAR deployment with my FT817 and end fed antenna and had a short SSB QSO with Flip ZS6PJK. We packed up and continued to NW-004.

100_1837

A final realization.

I could not access any of the two defined SOTA summits. There were thousands of other places from where to operate. Later while trying to get access to NW-004 I did another RaDAR deployment on a ridge and made two CW QSO’s with Barrie ZS6AJY and John ZS6JBJ. We had to move because a number of cattle on their way home for the night looked unsettled with what they saw and so I packed up and we moved off to the cellphone tower (CELLT), Tafelkop (TFK) and eventually back home (NWK) changing a flat wheel on the way where a sharp rock had cut a hole through the back tyre just before leaving the gravel road.

I traveled a little over 300 km’s for the day, over 200 km’s were gravel roads. No summits could be activated but RaDAR deployments were effective and successful.

 

RaDAR – Historic first RaDAR to SOTA contact

A few stations in South Africa had plans to do an all time first SOTA to SOTA contact in particular Pierre, ZS6A and Dennis, ZS4BS. The sked time was 09:00. I thought it an ideal opportunity to make it a first RaDAR to SOTA too.

I always have my RaDAR kit packed and ready to go. At 08:40 I picked up the pack and Klaus mast and walked down the road, the destination behind the nearby primary school. There is quite an embankment on the edge of the sport field. I don’t have a mountain nearby.

By 09:00 I was deployed and ready. I heard nothing on 7.090 MHz LSB or 7.020 MHz CW.

CQSOTA

While sitting and waiting, I heard Derek ZS5DM calling and we had a QSO from 09:09 to 09:26. He had a good signal and I received a good report from him too. He later tried 1W QRP and I could still hear him RST 519.

At 09:14 I had a QSO with Monk ZS4SF we also had 599 signals both ways but there were still no signs of Pierre, ZS6A on CW ?

At 10:07 I heard Dennis ZS4BS in QSO on 7.090 MHz LSB and as he signed I called him. He was at the SOTA peak ZS/FS-012 overlooking the Sterkfontein dam with the Drakensburg mountains on his right. A little windy he said. He was running 30W into a dipole using his FT857. I gave him a RST 51/55 with QSB and he gave me a RST 57

Dennis and Jaco were equipped with a flask of coffee and some rusks. I can only imagine what a fantastic time they were having on the mountain!

I used my FT-817ND running 5 Watts into my “shortened” end fed held high in a tree using the Klaus mast strapped to the tree trunk. The bungies barely made it around the tree!

KlausMastStrappedToATree

A SOTA to SOTA did take place – first summit to summit between Willie ZS6WBT on ZS/MP-005 and Dennis ZS4BS on ZS/FS-012

I had another short morse code (CW) contact with Monk on 7.020 at 10:20 then it was time to pack up and walk back home. I celebrated by taking Elrika and Eduan out for brunch.

RaDAR – Hamnet 24 hour field ops June 2014 day 2

Day 2

Day two started from midnight. I had been giving feedback on the ops on Facebook sending photos of what was happening at tactical comms point – Molopo.

I needed to charge the smartphone. I used my Waeco battery pack as a supply. It has a 18 A/Hr battery inside and was my backup 12 volt power supply. I had a netbook DC to DC converter with a 5 volt USB port on it. I used this to charge my smartphone. This was about the worst mistake I made throughout the ops, the charger drained my battery! Better to carry a spare cellphone battery or two.

WaecoLateEvening

Being a cold winter environment was a good excuse to store my 7 A/Hr SLAB’s in an old video camera bag. It was an all round good idea, easy to transport and I carried other items like rechargeable penlights and general power cabling in it too.

7AHrSLABs

I exchanged messages with Hibiscus and Taqua on channel 2 (3.695 MHz LSB) just after midnight. The band had quietened down and not much activity could be heard. I called a few times without response.

I thought it a good idea to get some sleep. The gas lantern had been running all night keeping the tent a little warmer while providing light (I still needed to use a headlamp though). I was warned by Jack, VK4JRC via Facebook that these lamps are killers and give off carbon monoxide. I did have one of the tent’s vents slightly open but would be a risk to have the lamp running while asleep – I may never wake up again! I slept till 06:30

AnotherBlanket

At 07:01 I was active again working Morateng, Spaarwater, Waterberg, Secunda and Nigel on channel 2.

It was time to make breakfast before going RaDAR. I had some bacon, three eggs, a pan and gas stove. It was fun making breakfast for myself out in the field on a fresh winters morning.

HomebrewSundayBrunch

Just before leaving to do a RaDAR deployment in the dense bush, I worked Hibiscus again on channel 4 (7.095 MHz LSB) 08:47 almost the end of the second last session.

The last three hour session

I used my Klaus mast again and “shortened” end fed antenna. I could deploy the antenna amongst the branches of a tree without the dangers of the antenna getting stuck up there. The mast, once again, was “bungied” to an available tree branch.

RaDARDeployment2

This was almost a “stealth” deployment in the dense bush. I placed my kit on the autumn leave covered ground as far from the end fed feed point as the 3 meter length of coax would allow.

RaDARInaBag

I worked a few more stations on various bands. Hibiscus, Monateng and Secunda on channel 4, Vaaitjie on channel 6 (14.300 USB), and Nigel and Honingklip on channel 5 (10.125 USB).

EddieZS6BNERaDARDeployment2

The last session was the most fun while practising RaDAR in the bush. I was absolutely thrilled with the multi band capability of the simple 9:1 UNUN fed “shortened” end fed antenna tuned with the LDG z817 automatic ATU. The FT817ND worked well and 7 A/Hr SLAB had  enough charge to last at least for another session or two.

I walked back to base camp, sat in the sun for a while, packed up and went home.

What an awesome ops!

RaDAR – Hamnet 24 hour field ops June 2014

Day 1

Saturday morning, Elrika and young Eduan had left early to get to Hartebeespoort dam for Eduan’s cross country run. Grandad is proud of his young trail runner!

The car had to be packed, the ops equipment already staged in the dining room the night before. It took around an hour to pack everything and I scouted around the house to make sure nothing was left behind. Time was running out, it was already 10:30. The exercise was to start at 12:00 local time. I still had to travel 35 kilometers to the deployment area, tactical name – Molopo.

My biggest concern was whether the Webb FST 400 multi band antenna would work. See http://webb.co.za/pdf/Fst%204004R-25R%20S3.pdf I bought this antenna second hand many years ago and it had not been tested – yet. I had other antennas packed just in case.

The cost of batteries dictated my mode of operation. I chose to go the full 24 hours running QRP only. The FST had to work! My rig, an FT-817ND, LDG z817 ATU and  2 x 7 A/Hr SLAB’s (Another in my backpack).

I decided to use my telescopic “Eskom pole” as the mast. It has a sturdy place at the top where I could bolt the FST’s balun on to. The FST is a very big antenna. I rolled out the wires in two opposite directions in an open space between the trees. There are two wires on each side but are joined at the ends.

By around 12:00 I was ready to use the antenna and set up temporary camp to make my first contact using the FST. All stations worked in a channelised fashion, channel 4 (7.095 MHz) was busy!

InTimeForTheFirstContact

At 12:08 I made my first contact with Waterberg and by 12:10 we had both exchanged messages and signed out. The FST antenna worked at least as an NVIS antenna! It was time to set up camp. The wind was already starting to increase in intensity. I unpacked the tent and positioned it so the coax could be routed through the tent doorway even when zipped up. I had to take into consideration the slope of the ground. I didn’t want to sleep on a downhill later in the night!

FieldDeployment

I had the tent set up by 13:00 and put the table inside, out of the wind. I exchanged further messages with Secunda, Nigel and Spaarwater all in division 6, Hibiscus in division 5 and Tanqua in division 1. The FST was working, even further than normal NVIS distances. At QRP power levels I was impressed with the performance of the FST. Granted, there is a lot of wire in the air!

During the second 3 hour session I wanted to deploy as an on foot RaDAR station and so it was time to pack the rig into the back pack and move out shutting the tent door on my way out.

GoingWalkies

I went east looking for a place to place my Klaus mast, an abandoned pipeline excavation area. I found a sutable tree trunk and strapped the mast to it using my heavy duty bungi cords. In no time at all I had my “shortened” end fed deployed and ready for comms. My 817 was connected to the 7 A/Hr SLAB in the base of my RaDAR backpack.

RaDARDeployment1

The picture below shows the end fed “bungied” at the feed point, the bungi acting as shock absorption protecting the wire from damage. The wind was chilly but not strong. I fed the end fed with 3 meters of RG58cu coax and lay it on the ground as a “counterpoise”, the other end plugged into the 817’s LDG z817 ATU.

ShortenedEndFed

The RaDAR flag was flying! I exchanged messages with Spaarwater, Nigel, Secunda and Monateng all in division 6 on channel 4 (7.095 MHz LSB) and another contact with Hibiscus in devision 5 also on channel 4. The end fed was performing well! Hibiscus had a good operator !

RaDAR1

I walked back to where I had set up camp and exchanged messages with Honingklip and Tanqua both in division 1 on channel 4 before the end of the second 3 hour session using the FST. The sun was already showing signs of setting.

FST400OnAnEskomPole

I took a short walk down to the river. An awesome sunset. The wind had died down. A pleasant evening but a distinct chill in the air as the sun faded over the horizon.

MolopoRiver

Session 3, Waterberg and Hibiscus again on channel 2 (3.695 MHz LSB). I tuned to channel 1 (1.843 MHz LSB) and called there – Waterberg came back to me and we exchanged a special extra message. That was a bonus point and I worked my first QRP 160m station! The FST isn’t even rated for this frequency but it worked!

Thereafter messages were exchanged with Monateng and Nigel all on channel 2.

EarlyEvening

Around 21:30 during session 4 I exchanged messages with Hibiscus and and Tanqua on channel 2.

Next session – midnight and a new day.

Continued - Day 2