RaDAR – Building a 6m delta loop

Building a wire delta loop for six meters is quite simple.

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Loop calculation, 1005 / 50.255 = 19.99 feet = 6.09 meters.

For a coax matching section I used what I had in the box of old coax off cuts, RG62 a/u (93 ohm, VF = 0.86).

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The quarter wave matching section calculaton, (246 x 0.86) / 50.255 = 4.209 feet = 1.28 meters used as an “ugly balun” rolled up on a length of 50mm  PVC drain pipe (white).

The calculations appeared to be correct and the antenna resonates well!

RaDAR – The most memorable moment for 2015

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I always wondered how the “lossy” 9:1 UNUN fed, multiband, shortened antenna would stand up to a dedicated, single band, tuned end fed and so I did a few tests here in South Africa just the other day on 40m. The 9:1 UNUN fed 16.2m wire antenna stood it’s ground – sometimes outperforming the other!

After this test I felt confident in making it the antenna of choice within my new RaDAR kit which is slightly bigger than the previous kit I used to carry. More space for logistics, for survival is part of the RaDAR operators skills in being a good communicator, anywhere, anytime.

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The real test came where I had taken my RaDAR kit with me where I work just about every weekend on the little house down by the “river without water”. It was the 10m CW contest. I was hoping to make a contact or two but opportunity was dwindling away, fast. Time waits for no one. In desperation I hung my short 16.2 m wire over a tree branch barely two meters above ground at the apex!

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I placed my FT-817ND and tuner on a table inside and connected the 7 A/Hr Gel battery. All was good to go and I connected the short two meter length of RG58cu coax to the balun. 10m was alive with CW activity. The hand key is what I use for RaDAR now. I find in windy / noisy conditions it is sometimes difficult to hear the sidetone while sending. Sending by hand at 12 to 15 w.p.m. seems to be a  little easier.

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I called some really strong callers but none heard me. Who knows, they could be running a kilowatt or more and I only five watts with a “lossy” antenna and certainly not orientated for a low takeoff to DX lands! I did not have much hope for a single QSO but came back again and again to try.

Some operators have really good ears and possibly others leave a CW CQ keyer on to keep the frequency busy but here on 28.0625 I heard Fred NP2X calling CQ. I called him and he heard me. He HEARD me!!! We could even exchange numbers and it didn’t take long either.

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I sent Fred an email later,

Hi Eddie,
Glad we got to exchange numbers in the 10 meter contest.  Nice to know that your portable station made the haul to the US Virgin Islands.  The ZS multiplier is always a welcome addition in my log.  Hope to work you in many future contests!
Very 73,
Fred NP2X / K9VV

RaDAR – Trail ops success

Today started out early (07:15) as my wife Elrika and I made our way to Potchefstroom, 145km away, to upgrade her cell phone. They had no stock there so we travelled another odd 60km to Klerksdorp which was fine for it was closer to home for the journey back later in the afternoon. What was important was a sked with Pierre, ZS6A at 16:00 who was on the trail with his QRP rig and CW paddle. His wife Liz accompanied him. Activites like this don’t often happen in South Africa. It was a dream come true for Pierre – for sure!

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Elrika was upgrading from a Blackberry phone to an Android phone. The SIM cards needed to be swapped and activation took about three hours, three hours we needed to wait before we could continue on our journey. It was around 15:00 when we left Klerksdorp an odd 120km from home. I passed Coligny at 15:40, 30km from home. I was a little concerned that Elrika would want to stop for bread and milk – she didn’t. We got home at about 16:04 – LATE!

I rushed to the back room, grabbed my RaDAR kit and set up in the back yard, hanging my 40m fixed tuned end fed over a tree branch and set up the rig on a garden table. By 16:10 I heard Pierre ZS6A in converastion with Rudi ZS6DX ….. I broke in as Rudi handed it back to Pierre. Signals were good although a slight bit of QSB on Pierre’s signal, mostly 599.

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Successful RaDAR comms once again – if it not for RaDAR I would not have made it! Zola, my companion, enjoyed the short ops too. Pierre will be active again tomorrow and the next day same time (16:00) on 7.020 MHz or 7.030 MHz in case of a busy frequency.

RaDAR – Stealth operations

Well, almost. Eduan drove around looking for me but could not find me. I must have been unseen!

RaDAR rules, right?

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I had two really awesome rag chews with Bertie, ZS4WG and John, ZS6BNS. I sat under a tree in the bush, almost stealth like.

My shack window

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….. and a selfie

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The QRP amateur radio station.

I think from now on I’ll use the rig out of the pack. It makes it more accessible.

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…. and the trip back home through a dry river bed!

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…. and back “home”, for oranges

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A bit overweight and under trained but RaDAR ready!

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A video of the RaDAR ops and conversation with John, ZS6BNS can be seen here https://www.facebook.com/eddie.leighton.3/videos/10152942964262759/?l=6101326161173528926

RaDAR – It’s a moving thing

I was really in the mood to do some moving RaDAR tonight and get out on my feet. Wearing the bumble bee RaDAR pack (Weighed in at 7.8 kg) I walked / jogged down the road for around 1.3 km and set up a field station, the end fed hanging over some trees alongside the road. I made contacts with Rudi, ZS6DX and Pierre, ZS6A on SSB. Signals were good both ways. I was running my normal low power of 5 Watts. I packed up and did a further odd 2.4 km back home. It was FUN!!! When I got home, a surprise, home made Pizza!

Some numbers ….. I left work at 17:00, dressed by 17:10, got to this point by around 17:20/25, deployed and contacts made by 17:30. That’s moving RaDAR!

Deployed alongside the road around 1.3 km from home. Around 17:30 local time.

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Fuchs home brew tuner and 21m long wire …. no counterpoise. Pointing EAST (end fire).

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Doing a 2,4 km jog back home, pack weight around 7.8 kg. 

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Backpack / radio (FT-817ND and LDG z817 ATU) shock testing done (During tonight’s RaDAR escapades) – success! No damage done even while running!

Back of the FT817ND Power, Control and Antenna coax.

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LDG z817 ATU (Unused), Control, Rig to ATU coax, Antenna coax and safety in line DC power switch.

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In a camera bag.

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Antenna coax and power lead folded away.

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RaDAR – The story of masts

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Masts or sections thereof may have many uses, a painters pole got me off ZT/FS-002 once after tearing a calf muscle during ascent.

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Of course they make EXCELLENT masts (around 4.5 m – two back to back, extended)

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Joining the poles.

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To keep the mast in the upright position, I use the antenna and a third guy rope. The antenna has a fixed point where I’ve cable tied a tiny carbiner.

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Then it’s just a matter of tent pegging all three points. Very fast deployment times. The painters poles make EXCELLENT hiking sticks and are extremely lightweight … a few hundred grams each I’d imagine but still relatively strong for their weight.

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The “Klaus mast” or 10m telescopic pole, has it’s place but much heavier in comparison! Around 3.2 kg. When Andries, ZS6VL the kids and I climbed ZT/FS-001 and 002 I carried the mast up the hill, thank goodness Andries carried it back home. It collapses sometimes too easily and most certainly we could only raise it half way maximum, about the height of the painters poles because of the wind. It needs a good base on which to secure it.. It has it’s place but next time I climb a mountain, it will be with the painters poles.

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There is another mast that is really excellent and that is the “Eskom pole” but also a little heavy. I dedicate that mast now to field deployments of the ZS6BKW antenna. Here is Andries, ZS6VL with the BKW and Eskom pole on the background.

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This is a RATTLE FREE method of storing the painters pole mast hardware in the pack.

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…. and of course the painters poles would not be complete without the Fuchs tuner and 21m wire.

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….. and so shall I find a new tree, to sit under, every time :)

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RaDAR – Surviving in the new South Africa

I got home from work for lunch this afternoon and like every other day there was no water, not that there is none but service delivery in South Africa is just two words! I feel like a rat in a cage where water is supplied only certain times of the day. Just before work and just after work. Sometimes at midday it may go on. Many residents have fitted water tanks and high pressure pumps at their homes to alleviate the problem but it comes at great expense!

Elrika, my wife, battles to get the washing done and the dishes washed at home during the day. Flushing a toilet can become problematic so we store water in buckets and water bottles just to have continuity! Fortunately I have an almost two decade old swimming pool – that’s our water buffer!

Beautiful nature parks and dams have been destroyed, the game that once roamed there, no longer do! Since the dams have disappeared, underground peat fires ignite and burn. The dams were built specifically to stop the process by the so called national party government the world so hated.

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It’s not just a water issue, our power has been cut five times the past week (load shedding) that lasted for four hours at a time! I don’t want to make this a political thing but I’ve heard that where diplomats stay they have not been off for a minute! My friend Rudi, ZS6DX stays in the same area.

Candles are fire hazards so my wife had a great idea of using solar charged garden lamps in place of candles! She has bought a few extras like a solar panel, battery and lamps also at great expense. All these things are imported from China. The Chinese and our new government are friends ….. I can’t help but to imagine that our countries disasters are certainly benefiting Chinese sales!!! I heard a few more generators nearby last night. Noise pollution now too!

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I’ve heard of the same at informal settlements also not being cut. They have been known to go on the rampage, burning tyres and throwing rocks! This happened to my colleague last year, the rock narrowly missing his young son! The marks on the roads caused by burning tyres are still there.

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Roads and infrastructure are not maintained but some of the locals do what they can by filling the potholes  also on the outskirts of my home town which was one of the most beautiful places in South Africa 20 years ago!

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So what has this to do with RaDAR? RaDAR training and innovation to survive is the only thing that will get us through these times. They will not get any better …..