RaDAR – Analysing the challenge logs

Not everyone submits a log especially that the RaDAR challenge is really a challenge against yourself but also good to compare other’s results to see if you’re doing OK or not.

Being international and having to choose a four hour period within a twenty four hour period, we don’t have the same proximities or propagation conditions so “apples with apples” could never be compared.

Usually QRP power levels are more difficult to use but power output categories are not defined as it balances itself out as a weight issue if you need to carry the kit. Usually around 20 Watts is a good average for reasonable success.

I received a log from Thomas, DG1PY. Firstly I was very impressed to see Germany taking part. Thomas’s log was also very well presented.

Thomas made three transitions which I think is a good average. What’s interesting here too is that only the first five QSO’s can count but the sixth one is considered gentlemanly. So for this deployment the score would be 15. Thomas mentioned there was a contest on the go and that sometimes makes it difficult for RaDAR to RaDAR contacts in order to achieve bonus points.

All three deployments in Thomas’s case had similar results which gives him a total score of 45 which is really pretty good! There you have it, how did you compare? Thomas may try transitions on a bicycle during the next challenge which will also be an interesting challenge. It’s also great to mix various transition methods.

Some take on the challenge as a group and some take it on alone. To be quite honest, I prefer to do it alone, not that I’m not a team player but the challenge is to have a well focused team and that’s a challenge in itself!

We will see the next challenge in April……

73 de Eddie ZS6BNE



RaDAR – For the non builder

Well I built the 49er and was very impressed with it’s simplicity and effectiveness! Maybe some young ham could use it as a first CW rig at minimal cost! Already built!!!

Same goes for the more advanced QCX!!!

Let’s see how many would be interested in a good first step into amateur radio.

Update 2018-01-12

All gone to a good home, the circle is getting bigger!

Now I’m wondering if I should not let the HB1A go too? I do have a 817ND for QRP and a 897d for QRO?


RaDAR – Playing hand tennis

I have a young grandson, Eduan. He has just turned 12 and finished standard four. Another year of primary school in 2018 then he goes to high school. What really stands out is his positive attitude to life and he hasn’t had it easy. Fortunately he stays with us, his grandparents. Most mornings this year before school closed for the holidays, he would leave for school early to be in time to choose his court for hand tennis before the other kids arrived. Well that is if he was not on scholar patrol duty which he did with pride.

Hand tennis, in Afrikaans, “Handjie tennis” is a game played on the ground using your hand as a racket and a tennis ball which has some good bounce. It’s a high speed game and you need to be fit too.

Each afternoon, he would practice against the wall when he had no one to play with. He just got better and better at it.

This makes me think of ham radio where it is essentially a team sport but even though there are millions of hams in the world, it’s kind of difficult finding people to play with on the bands especially when using low power and using the morse code (CW). That kind of narrows down your chances of finding someone to play with!

I had the bare minimum (QCX but at least VFO controlled) and had my end fed permanently hanging in a tree for the whole Christmas weekend. I managed four QSO’s ………. When conditions for local QSO’s were not good I still called CQ now and then and got some surprising responses from the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) which kind of feels much like young Eduan when he practised hand tennis against the wall!

At least we come out stronger in the end. Somehow he packed his ball away and I felt the need the roll up the antenna and pack everything away for a while too.

Now an inactive ham …….. but for how long?

RaDAR – The bare minimum

It’s amazing, you may not get that many contacts but the ones you do make hold a lot of value when using the absolute bare minimum. My humble ham radio station used during the Christmas weekend.


Then there is the Reverse beacon Network that can give you some surprising feedback. My friend Greg N4KGL alerted me on the RBN response. What and awesome “Christmas present” …. not bad for probably less than 3W into a 40m end fed hanging in a nearby tree!


Update 2017-12-28

Last night’s most interesting results ….. Dirk ZS1X also called me and we had a short QSO. He gave me a 539 and his signal was so strong I had to move my headphones from my ears!!!


RaDAR – AO91 Cubesat RaDAR ready

Let’s face it, on a satellite pass all operators should show discipline and able to receive the down link perfectly. Transmissions must be kept to the minimum passing only relevant traffic.

This afternoon was one of those disciplined nets and the throughput was excellent.

As AO-91 flies in range of Kinshasa / Brazzaville in north Africa it encounters a signal which keeps the satellite active and blocks out all possibility of good communications.

Andre, ZS2BK determined the QRM area by monitoring the footprints of numerous passes. Not much that can be done about it though which is a pity.

But, before the satellite comes in contact with the QRM the tiny cubesat is perfectly usable for fast communications!

RaDAR – Equipment and purpose

For me at least, the amateur radio equipment I have on hand should fit a purpose.

Anything in excess should go to a good home …….

So, I thought I’d make a list each with it’s purpose. Still, maybe too much from a RaDAR perspective.

My higher power RaDAR setup

FT-897d (Built in 13.8 v d.c. 20A PSU) + LDG AT897 ATU + Mic + Bencher paddle + QRO end fed tuner + Mofified MFJ tuner / HF SWR Meter / 160m end fed tune + Dual 7 A / Hr SLABs+ (New design) ZS6BKW open wire fed HF antenna + Coax.

Parks On The Air (POTA) (Medium power – carried permanently, stored in the car (Not installed) )

B25 ex military radio + Handset + 7 A / Hr SLAB + HF Link dipole and coax.

On foot RaDAR

FT-817ND + LDG z817 ATU + Mic + Vidi Paddle + Lensatic compass + Rossi battery supply / torch + Headlamp + 9:1 UNUN fed long wire (Multiband) + Garmin legend GPS + Smartphone (Camera) + Backpack.

Digital modes 

HP 210 Netbook + Elementary OS Linux + FL-Digi / WSJT-X + Signalink USB + Wireless mouse.

RaDAR SatComms

FM Satellites / Cubesats : Full duplex TH-D7A(g) + Mic + Mono headphones + MP3 Recorder + Dual band Arrow Yagi incl diplexer + Tripod+ Rossi battery supply / torch + Headlamp.

Linear transponders (SSB) : Half duplex On foot RaDAR kit (FT-817ND) + coax flylead and adapter.

The rest is really only CW “fun stuff”

HB1A + Hand key + Rossi battery supply / torch

QCX 40m CW Only (Rechareable penlight batteries) / 49er CW Fixed frequency (7.023) (Penlight batteries) + Miniature hand key + 40m end fed tuner + 40m EFHW long wire.



RaDAR – AO-91 ideal for RaDAR Ops

I’d heard that a simple dual band handheld could be used to work this newly launched cubesat so I decided to give it a go with the absolute minimum. At 12:43 local time I called from the roof of my saltmine here in Lichtenburg, Northwest province, South Africa using my TH-D7A and a slighly larger dual band whip I’d bought for it many, many years ago.

I heard NOTHING!!!

I called on the uplink 435.250 MHz FM sometimes adjusting 5 kHz down then up initially to account for 70cm doppler but still heard nothing on the downlink.

The down link is supposed to be 145.960 MHz FM and there should be no need there to adjust for doppler.

BUT, when I got back to the Office a recording was posted on our WhatsApp HamSat group ….. the guys heard ME!!!

Half way there 🙂

Update 2017-11-28

Had two QSO’s at lunch time, one with ZS2BK and the other with ZS40VDK, special event station 🙂

I used the TH-D7A on full duplex and Arrow yagi. Downlink was 59+++++


73 de Eddie ZS6BNE