The first cut is the deepest

Camera 360 Camera 360

 Super “French drain”.

Top right sealed compartment for “solids” overflowing into the top left compartment. The bottom compartment is for water that contains detergents that would otherwise interrupt the bacterial process of the top right compartment. The hole’s are around 2 meters deep.

There is a river just 300 meters away – if need be, buckets or some more advanced idea.

The RaDAR Challenge – Proposed changes for 2015

MolopoRiver

1. Aim

The RaDAR “Challenge” is a unique event aimed at promoting the use of Rapidly Deployable Amateur Radio stations. This challenge is for all licensed radio amateurs not limited to South Africa. A RaDAR operator can take part in any of the three defined categories (See point 7) which may be changed at any time during the challenge. The points system is so structured as to encourage portable RaDAR operations, especially moveable RaDAR stations. Moveable RaDAR stations rely on fixed and portable stations as a point of contact using channelised frequencies. “Search and pounce” techniques are also allowed.

2. Date and Time

The first Saturday of April and first Saturday of November (4 April 2015 and 7 November 2015) starting at 00:00 UTC and ending at 23:59 UTC (Saturday 02:00 to Sunday 01:59 CAT) – 24 hours will give equal opportunity to the international community of RaDAR operators. RaDAR operators can define their own operating time schedule or remain active for the full 24 hours.

3. Bands and Modes

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

4. Suggested HF Calling frequencies

See http://zs6bne.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/radar-calling-frequencies/ for the latest international list of frequencies. The WARC bands can be used considering this is a RaDAR “Challenge” and not a contest as such. It provides better opportunities for RaDAR contacts during difficult propagation conditions.

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

5. Exchange

The RaDAR challenge 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. Smartphone applications are generally used to establish more than a 6 character grid locator.

If working non participating stations, Call sign, Name, RST and QTH is acceptable.

6. Scoring

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

If the moving RaDAR station has moved the required distance (See point 7) contact can be made with a previously worked station, again.

7. Categories and multipliers.

The following multipliers are applicable to determine the final score. If category / mode of transport changes were made during the challenge, 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 - See modes of transport, below.

Modes of transport and required movement distances (moving RaDAR stations only)

Vehicles, motorcycles and motorboats etc. (Motorized transport) – 12 km (Based on a 1:12 ratio to “on foot” operations)
Bicycles – 2 km
On foot and paddle canoes – 1 km
Wheelchairs – 500m

Aeronautical mobile stations are considered moving stations and can communicate at any convenient time.

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 latest ideas are that the RaDAR challenge is a test to rapidly deploy and operate an amateur radio station passing information accurately. It is not a QRP contest as such. The operator is free to choose his station configuration and power requirements. Therefore the power multiplier is now redundant.

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 successful same continent RaDAR to RaDAR QSO (As may be confirmed by the extensive information exchange).

5 Points for the first inter continental (DX) QSO.

10 Points for the first successful inter continental (DX) RaDAR to RaDAR QSO (As may be confirmed by the extensive information exchange).

10. Log Sheets

The SARL RaDAR Contest manager – Eddie, ZS6BNE. Send email entries to edleighton (at) gmail.com. The closing date for logs is 14 April and 17 November 2015.

See https://tobepublished for a log sheet specifically designed for the 2015 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.

dl4mfm_p

Courtesy Mario, DL4MFM (November 2014)

 

73 de Eddie
Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio

Daring to be different

RaDAR – Learning through failure

I had prepared my kit and logistics and was ready for the RaDAR challenge for November the 1st, 2014.

I built this interesting antenna two weeks prior but due to family commitments I could not get out to test it. I hoped that it would work well as a multi band antenna using a tuner, at least down to 40m. Although designed as an effective “DX radiator” for the higher bands it certainly could not load on 40m! The antenna is way too long to be an effective rapid deployment antenna. Probably ideal for the DXer though. See http://www.hamuniverse.com/sloperlongwire.html

la1icsloping

In desperation, I went to 20m and broke into a conversation to make a QSO or two. I got a RST 56 from both gentlemen but did sense a slight irritation after passing my grid info. I’m sure they wanted to carry on with their conversation uninterrupted.

Screenshot from 2014-11-03 09:56:49

I took advantage of the rule, “A RaDAR operator may move at any time”. Part of my strategy was to operate from a canoe on water. I’d never done anything like it – this was a first for me! I packed up and walked down to the local river and jetty. My canoe was placed there earlier.

Well the blue painters poles certainly made some people wonder! One chap asked me if I’m going to catch fish.

RaDAR_Canoe

I didn’t even bother to pack the kit into the waterproof bag and just loaded my pack on board. Since I was last on the river doing a recce, the water level had gone down and I battled through a sand bank before reaching deeper water. I went downstream, the wind blowing strongly from the north.

It was a battle to get the other end tied to the reeds and the antenna tensioned. I got to the other side and maneuvered the canoe amongst the reeds so I could tie the end of my end fed to it and moved back into the middle of the river.

EndFedOnTheRiver

The end fed loaded OK but no one could hear me. I had to break into 59 nets for QSO’s but difficult as they aren’t listening for a weak QRP signal. I heard the VOX of a friend drop out and called his name – he heard his name but didn’t hear my call ….. I made no contacts from the river.

ZS6BNE_GoingHome

Homeward bound – in the name of RaDAR. Rather disappointed with my results. It was a challenge that I had set for myself. I will do it differently in the future. Of course, I’ll be back and try again until I get it right!

I’m sure a buddipole or similar antenna would work much better. There was nothing rapid about getting this antenna in place but I took on the challenge for fun. It was fun on the water especially as the sun set. I’ll be back with a better plan – for sure.

RaDAR_Movements

My RaDAR movements. On foot and on the water.

I went back inland and put up my “Fuchs” end fed and manual tuner as a sloper and called CQ.

FuchsTuner

I even went to the WARC bands. It made me think that this must be one of the rule changes for the RaDAR challenge – to include the WARC bands. RaDAR is more of a challenge than a contest! I was spotted in Brazil on 12m running 5W CW.  Rules ….. to be revised.

10418897_10152483332292759_6016672757911811154_n

LastAttempt

My last attempt.

The SARL Contest rule book revision submissions need to be in by the 10th of November, 2014. I will be submitting a few changes. RaDAR adapts and changes where changes are needed. Next year will be even better.

Learning through failure.

 

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.