RaDAR – Looking back

Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio

Hans, ZS6AKV and I were on our way back from Cape Town where we had attended the last RTA (Radio Technology in Action) program for 2009 and did our presentations there. The previous evening, during supper, we had discussed the latest initiatives in operating an amateur radio station in the field. We both agreed that it would be good to have a more professional name for the initiative.

It was at 12000 meters above ground, when Hans came down the isle, “Have you thought of a name yet Eddie?”, “No not yet … ” I replied and carried on thinking of a name. When we landed at Oliver Tambo airport, just after close on a two hour flight, I spoke to Hans, “How does RaDAR sound?“ , “Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio”.  RaDAR was born there and then!  Just to confirm, I sent an email to Hans the following morning asking if I could “Run” with the new name. Hans gave me his full support.

Originally the idea involved operating on foot and away from any vehicle or building but that excluded others also prepared to operate in a portable fashion and so the concept was refined. The following list gives an idea of what RaDAR entails.


It is desirable that the RaDAR operator be able to:

Operate an amateur radio station away from any building or vehicle but it is not a prerequisite.

Carry equipment, radios, antennas, masts, food, water and shelter to the final destination, in a vehicle , on foot or wheelchair.

Determine accurate position and grid square to 6 digits. A map or GPS can be used.

Provide power without relying on any third party. This can be in the form of solar panels, batteries or generators

Communicate in a professional, accurate and effective manner. Good voice procedure is imperative to get the message through, clearly and accurately.

Be self sufficient. The RaDAR operator should be able to operate on his own without relying on any third party.

RaDAR Subdivisions, “On foot”, “Mobile” and “Fixed”.


It’s always good to have a logo identifying the initiative, graphically. Many liked the “Radio Amateur” climbing a summit originally submitted by Mike, ZS6MEG. A comment from Andries, ZS6VL – “I like the association between hiking & ham radio. The concept behind RaDAR remains great.”

RaDAR has somewhat changed a little though expanding from an “On foot” operator to include other stations but emphasizing rapidly deployed, easily movable (OBJECTS), Amateur Radio stations.

Public relations

An activity like RaDAR can attract attention from people passing by. An idea to have a “Business card” on hand came to mind and so the RaDAR business card was born! This card includes all contact information.

Working together with other organizations

A valid question was asked on the SARL Forum by Jack Chomley VK4JRC. How does the RaDAR concept fit in with Hamnet? Hamnet is an organization. RaDAR is a concept supported by radio amateurs interested in being able to set up an amateur radio station anywhere and quickly! Hamnet could use radio amateurs with this type of readiness. Hamnet is affiliated to the SARL and the SARL supports the RaDAR concept! We’re all just one happy family

The first “Official” exercise

The 24th of September 2009 was Heritage day. Many RaDAR stations were active and signaled the early stages of the RaDAR Concept..

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