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.


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