Amateur radio serves a useful purpose even in the modern world


There are those that love ‘tinkering’ with radios and electronics. Amateur radio keeps our interest alive and in the process we are hopefully able to get a better understanding of communications, electronics, space, science, technology and whatever else that is related.

Others prefer to learn about new modes and technologies, chasing satellites, learning about orbital mechanics and studying propagation on HF and or VHF

Communication in whatever form is a life skill to be continually developed no matter your age. Amateur radio is an extension of this life skill with technique and technicality providing the potential for a lifetime of learning and achievement.

Amateur radio keeps us technically adept in repairing equipment, building circuitry and fiddling with antennas,  keeping essential skills practiced which could be used at work or any situation that would need these skills.


Radio amateurs practice radio procedure during every QSO. They know where the next active amateur station is when help is needed. From experience, radio amateurs know what bands (frequencies) to use at what time of day.

Some radio amateurs take part in search and rescue practices and are on call in case of emergency. In many cases where amateur radio was not used, communications were a disaster. Radio amateurs have the technical expertise to establish communications.

Amateur radio keeps you going, long after other purposes in life have ended. It is a means of social contact for the elderly long after mobility and health fails them.

Radio sport

Many licensed radio amateurs like working toward goals and earning rewards e.g. DXCC, VUCC, WAS, WAZ, AAA and chasing DX
Others prefer to combine family activities e.g. SOTA, POTA or IOTA.

Amateur radio is fun. It is seen as only a hobby for some.

Scientific research

Radio Amateur Services cover a very wide realm from the fun side of a hobby, rendering a service to the public during disasters in some countries, to the more serious field of experiments, research, pioneering and can be used to explore all avenues including radio science and advancement into the future!

There is a certain magic regarding good old fashioned wireless. There is still so much to learn and explore.


Thanks go to the many hams from South Africa who took part in this survey. Their passion for the hobby and the many years of practising ham radio can be clearly seen!

RaDAR – Contest results Region 1


RaDAR – Daring to be different!

It’s really awesome to see what Lucy M6ECG, as a lady, has achieved.

Sadly, RaDARers in South Africa are slowly fading, not that they think RaDAR is a bad idea it’s just they seem to have lost interest?

RaDAR has quite a history in South Africa starting as “Shack in a sack” (SiaS) years ago.  We had around 90 participants then! This year I have received only four logs, including my own. Much publicity was given! 

RaDAR really matured this year having a uniqueness and has been further refined for 2014 to include the inter national ham radio community.

RaDAR is a challenge like no other contest I know of. The contest is simply a test on what we practice regularly.

Only the following four logs were submitted for Region 1

Dick ZS6RSH – RaDAR Field station, QRP = 60 Points

ZS6RSH operating RADAR Field Portable

Theunis ZS2EC – RaDAR Fixed station, 100W = 16 Points

i me u 014

Eddie ZS6BNE – RaDAR on foot, QRP, Digital = xx Points


Lucy M6ECG – RaDAR on foot, 10W = 96 Points


The great circle of amateur radio

I started off slow. For many years I had a Yaesu FT101EE and later years invested in a second hand Kenwood R1000 receiver.

With an interest in digital I bought a second hand Kantronics KPC-2 for packet radio.

I didn’t get much further than the occasional HF contact and with, going to a lot of trouble, rally comms support and the occasional contest.

Large batteries and wire antennas, always … wire antennas.

I was stuck ….. and so many more things to do amateur radio wise.


It was around the time where the SARL hosted their first RTA (Radio Technology in Action) road show. Listening to talks from digital comms to satellites really sparked an adventurous journey with ham radio.

Out of respect and gratitude for the RTA’s I gave back my knowledge gained on many occasions. I will be forever grateful for the knowledge gained there.

I can’t recall exact dates but it wasn’t until I made an investment in the then affordable “latest technology” that I could really do things that I could never do before. From digital comms, meteor scatter to satellite communications. An Icom 706mkiig opened all those doors for me.

I grew from there on but my goals are different now with the experience of decades of amateur radio.

My interests are the bare minimum once again but with sufficient technology to be part of what I’ve learnt the last decade of my amateur radio life – essentially RaDAR …..

Four of the best investments ever were an Arrow handheld satellite antenna, Kenwood TH-D7A(g) dualbander, Signalink USB digital modes adapters and a Yaesu FT-847. I later bought a second hand FC-20 ATU for it just because it became available.

My trusty FT-817ND goes everywhere with me – forever ready from HF, digital modes to SatComms.

73 de Eddie ZS6BNE
Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio

Daring to be different

RaDAR – Contest rules 2014

RaDAR Contest 2014


1. Aim

The RaDAR contest is a unique event aimed at promoting the use of Rapidly Deployable Amateur Radio stations. This contest is for all licensed radio amateurs not limited to South Africa. A choice is made prior to the contest to participate in one of the defined categories but may be changed at any time during the contest. The points system is so structured as to encourage portable operations especially moveable RaDAR stations.

2. Date and Time

First Saturday of April and first Saturday of November (5 April 2014 and 1 November 2014), starting at  14:00 UTC and ending at 18:00 UTC (16:00 to 20:00 CAT) – Approximately two hours during the day and two hours at night within the South African time zone.

3. Bands and Modes

All amateur bands, besides the WARC bands, are allowed including cross band contacts via amateur radio satellites. Modes – CW, SSB, AM, FM or any digital mode. QSOs via terrestrial repeaters will NOT be allowed.

4. Suggested HF Calling frequencies

See for the latest international list of frequencies.

Recommended digital modes frequencies – Refer to the SARL Contest Manual, General Rule 15.

5. Exchange

The RaDAR contest requires more than a minimalistic information exchange. Accurate information exchange is considered more important than a large QSO count.

Call sign, Name, RS(T) Report, QTH and grid locator. Note the grid locator can change as RaDAR operators are allowed to move position at any time.  The grid locator of 6 characters is acceptable but should preferably be accurate to 10 characters for higher position accuracy.

6. Scoring

1 point per QSO.

Individual QSO’s  – per mode, per band, per satellite, per call sign. 

8. Categories and multipliers.

The following multipliers are applicable to determine the final score. If category changes were made during the contest then calculate accordingly.

x 1 – RaDAR Fixed station (At home or in another building)

x 2 – RaDAR Field station (Portable – away from home)

x 3 – Moving RaDAR station – Car / motorcycle / bicycle / etc.  – minimum 3 km

x 4 – Moving RaDAR station – On foot – minimum 1 km

Note: Moving RaDAR stations can move at any time but are required to move to the next destination after five contacts have been made from the present location. The move needs to cover the required distance before further contacts are allowed to be made. This requirement tests the ability to rapidly re-deploy your amateur radio field station.

Power multiplier: The power multiplier that applies is determined by the highest power output of any of the transmitters used during the contest at any point in time.

x 6 – 5 Watts or less

x 4 – 6 to 50 Watts

x 2 – 51 watts or greater

9. Bonus points (All categories)

5 Points (The equivalent of five QSO’s) for a minimum of one satellite or any digital modes QSO involving a computer, smartphone or digital modes device. (For clarity-thereafter 1 point per Satellite / Digital modes QSO)

5 Points for the first inter continental DX QSO – 10 Points if that QSO is between two participating RaDAR stations.

10. Log Sheets

The SARL RaDAR Contest manager – Eddie ZS6BNE. Send email entries to edleighton (at) The closing date for logs is 19 April 2014 and 15 November 2014.

See for a log sheet specifically designed for the RaDAR contest.

Note: A photo of the station (JPG format) MUST accompany every log entry. A photo is required for each new location that moveable stations move to. These photos are used to promote amateur radio and the RaDAR concept showing where amateur radio can be used to communicate from  and in the many different ways.

Why RaDAR?

RaDAR – Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio


Many hams may ask why?

What on earth do hams want to run around for? What’s the fun in that? Spending more time putting up and taking down antennas than making QSO’s.

What’s so great about sitting on a rock for a chair or on the ground itself. What’s so much fun when the wind blows your paper logbook in all directions and sweaty, dusty hands spoiling the newly printed paper log after retrieval.

What’s fun in loosing a few pounds while walking a trail in bright sunlight and no trees for shade. What! No trees? Now you have to carry a makeshift mast too and you have to get it to stand on rocky ground. Why it’s a mission to hammer a tent peg into the ground using a rock, get a bigger one!

What’s fun in walking a path during a heavy downpour trying to protect your radio equipment, oh man and now the logbook’s wet too! Your pen will no longer write and you wish you brought a pencil along!

Now all of a sudden you’re hungry with no burger outlets in sight, not for many miles and your thirst increases more at the very thought of that ice cold beer you used to pull out of your cooler box during field days. What’s fun in that?

You’re so used to sending 59 or 599 during a contest, why do I want to know the other operator’s name or where he lives, oh okay, maybe a grid locator of six characters, what on earth do you want to send more, like eight or ten! Madness WHY???? The chances of not getting them right is good, so why waste time, there’s another QSO to be made!

It’s so much better sitting in your tent or outbuilding on a comfortable chair, an open window with a slight breeze or even an air conditioning system. Snacks on the side of the paddle, mic or keyboard. The paddle made from the finest precision material, light to the touch and free from a speckle of dust – finely oiled.

Maps of the world, lists of prefixes, azimuth information and a rotator control box! At the touch of a button or two you line up that beam backing it up with full legal power and maybe a little more.

You have the latest technology and high speed access to the Internet monitoring DX clusters. You know where you are, you been living here for thirty or more years.

Yet there are RaDAR operators ….. but they are few. They know why they are.

Feedback on the RaDAR ops (Contest)


November 2nd 2013

The ops area I used was close to the Molopo river around 35 km north west of Lichtenburg. I arrived at least an hour before 14:00 UTC which gave me enough time to do an initial deployment.

I put up my Fuchs end fed for local NVIS comms hoping to make a PSK31 contact early in the contest and claim 5 bonus points.

Pierre, ZS6A mentioned on our local forum that he will not be able to take part in the RaDAR contest because he has to work but will give a point or two away from the “saltmine”. He pilots one of the latest Boeings! Pierre would call on 14.240 MHz around 14:00 and 15:00 UTC.

I had tried to contact him in this way once before with limited success and I did not want to see the same “failure” so I hoisted my link dipole into a tree and orientated it east / west. The antenna resonated perfectly.

14:00 UTC arrived and at  this stage a QSO with Pierre took priority. I switched to 20m and heard him calling. I answered but he did not hear me!  I tried a few times more and was rather relieved when Pierre came back to me, his receiver had been on AM mode. Pierre was experiencing a lot of static flying at high altitude over Mozambique (C9) but we managed to have  a successful QSO.

AWESOME! Thanks Pierre, you made my day!!!! RaDAR (QRP) to aeronautical mobile  from a Boeing!!!

I switched back to 40m and using my netbook and signalink connected to my FT817, called on 7044 kHz. Francois ZS6BUU and Nico ZS4N came back to me. Signals 599 both ways. I claimed 5 bonus points for the first digital contact with Francois. Thanks guys!

I made two further contacts with Pieter ZS6BOB and a popular QRP’er Dick ZS6RSH. Dick was the first to submit a log together with photos and a write up on his blog!

Pieter was doing his first contest. He had practised the day before and experienced much frustration getting his antennas tangled up and “losing” his tent pegs. He was very pleased with himself during the contest, he improved his deployment time from 45 minutes to 20 minutes! Well done Pieter!

I moved to my next position after these 5 contacts. I passed some friends and had to stop and explain why I was walking around with a backpack carrying poles in my hand the conversation lasted quite some time but it was worth it – RaDAR public relations!

I made no further contacts from the second deployment point. 40m was not good. I watched the sun set and listened on the DX bands for the slightest chance of hearing signals from across the oceans.

After dark, I packed up and hiked back to where I had parked the car meeting up with more friends and having to explain again ……