RaDAR Contest – Future plans



Not all stations will be participating as RaDAR stations. A contact with any other amateur radio station counts for points. A QTH is then sufficient. The idea is to pass important info other than 59 / 599.

RaDAR operators rely on fixed stations, especially those wanting to move – quickly.

For next year and beyond, I’m going to add to the rules that 5 bonus points are awarded for the first inter-continental contact.

If that be RaDAR to RaDAR (Inter-continental) then 10 bonus points.

RaDAR – The contest


Each competitor will build his / her own strategy and operate within a particular category – Fixed, Portable, Mobile and On foot.

Equipment decisions need to be made – Power supply, Rig, Antenna/s, GPS / Smartphones, Satellite equipment and Digital facilities. Decisions need to be made on what to carry if participating as a Mobile or On foot operator.

If you’re on the move, you need to cater for water at least and maybe a little food to keep you going. Four hours are fortunately not all that long.

If you’re close to the South African time zone you will need to consider carrying a headlamp at the very least as the night sets in.

Weather conditions need to be taken into account. Warm clothing and protection of equipment from bad weather.

RaDAR is a challenge when compared to any other contest. Moving stations are required to move the specified distance after every 5 contacts (The first 5 contacts could be made from the starting point). This will test rapid deployment and re-deployment. Each operator will use his own initiative to achieve his / her goals.

Watch the RaDAR Promotional video here http://vimeo.com/75865846

Have FUN!

RaDAR – Preparing for the contest


I spent an hour or so this afternoon doing a kit check for the RaDAR contest in two weeks time.

I put up my paint roller handle mast, pretty quickly. It will come in handy where there may be no trees or dangerous trees to use like thorn trees. Antennas tend to get quite tangled up in these kinds of trees!

I incorporated a pully and carbiner again for the end fed to easily be hooked on at the top of the mast. If a rope needs to be used to hoist the antenna into the air the pully can serve the same purpose.

A while ago I wiped Windows 7 from my digital modes netbook which I use for RaDAR digital comms and installed Linux Mint 15 Xfce on it. I use FLDigi an excellent cross platform digital modes program. I had to test whether my Signalink USB sound card adapter could work with Linux – it did! Linux uses way less resources than windows reducing boot up time and vast improvements in battery life! Important things for RaDAR.

RaDAR – The making of the promotional movie

RaDAR – Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio

It’s been almost a year since my son Edwill (Ex ZU1AAI) and I started thinking of making a promotional movie for RaDAR. What we did do last Christmas was to make a short movie showing the day to day radio amateur and the passion for his hobby. The movie was titled “The Radio Ham”. Nothing special, no story line or acted out scenes – it was a resounding success.

For RaDAR we thought of making a “professional” amateur movie around 3 minutes duration. For weeks on end we thought of a story line but I felt it was too rigid, I wanted it to be simply what RaDAR is, on the spur of the moment planning and reaction.

Edwill came to visit during the long weekend in September, his xyl stayed home because she had to work, a tight schedule. He packed his gear out on the dining room floor, gadgets, camera, lenses, recorders (HAM Stuff!), tripods (more HAM stuff) and lots more stuff a ham could use or maybe I just see opportunity for RaDAR in just about everything!

It so happened that Christo, ZR6LJK advertised a SOTA, RaDAR style, on the SARL Forum. So Edwill thought that was a good way to start the movie recording the planning of an attempt to make contact with Christo the very next day. Edwill and I spent a few hours taking various scenes in many different ways. By the time we were tired and time to get some shut eye, Edwill said we had about 10 seconds of footage for our 3 minute movie – I was hoping he was pulling my leg but as I found out during the weekend, this was not far from the truth!

Christo was to activate a peak at the top of Sani Pass. I know that road only too well having climbed to the top and back again – a total of 42.2 km in 7 hours. So the SOTA activation sparked some nostalgia and supporting Christo and his team was a fine way of sharing his passion for the mountains.

Edwill made the packing of the lightweight RaDAR kit and the trip to the “ops area” part of the movie. The terrain is very flat in the Northwest as you can see in the movie. My nearest decent SOTA would be a few hours drive from home. Fortunately there is this thing called RaDAR, a fun way to practice amateur radio!

The “ops area” is my RaDAR playground around 35km from home. A reasonably safe environment except that it is riddled with deadly snakes. Just this past weekend a Mozambique spitting cobra was killed not to far from where we shot the movie – it was close on two meters in length!

Christo encountered snow on the mountain that afternoon so he was not able to activate the SOTA. It was a real pity but we still did a deployment, again nothing fancy. I deployed with my end fed showing the underhand technique of getting the antenna into a tree. I did have my paint roller handle mast handy but with a tree it was not needed.

I demonstrated using the mic buttons to send CW. I normally carry my Vidi paddle in the pack. Two recorded SSB contacts are included in the movie audio, John ZS6BNS and Nico ZS4N. This showed very effectively how one could easily communicate at QRP levels (5W using penlight batteries) as NVIS to Centurion and Bloemfontein and odd 400km from where I deployed in the bush.

The movie was uploaded to Vimeo, You Tube and my Google drive. It was advertised on Google +, Facebook and of course the SARL Forum. Play counts, as shown on the website statistics, climbed steadily. Hams all over the world enjoyed watching the movie and we received compliments from many hams. It made the effort all the more worthwhile.


URL’s to access are: