RaDAR – My RaDAR Playground history

What a harsh reminder of early beginnings, these pictures I discovered here. Fond memories actually …..

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I dreamed I could do it all myself!

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Fortunately there were contractors willing to help!

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Foundations were dug

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and filled with reinforced concrete designed to take the load of a double height building.

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A deep hole was dug amongst the natural rock.

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It would become a french drain serving two households.

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with a second compartment for soapy water drainage,

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Then floor height walls were built on the foundations and filled with gravel.

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and time to lay the underground electrical conduits ….

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Section for section the concrete slabs were laid.

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Until the floor was complete, a rough finish.

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and so it stood this way ….. for a very long time.

We planted trees, in the meantime.

 

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RaDAROPS Planning – 2016 April the 2nd

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My ops planning is guided by suitable satellite passes. After doing tests with SO-50 the past weekend I’d really like SatComms to be part of the challenge again, it’s been a while. Unfortunately not many other hams in range are satellite active anymore. Kieth, ZS6TW may be able to save the day.

Local times in South Africa are UTC + 2

06:00 – 08:00 Get ready for the ops, breakfast etc.

08:00 – 12:00 Field moving operations.

12:00 – 13:30 Lunch, operations from fixed location.

12:17 – SO-50 S ==> N (E)

12:34 – FO-29 S ==> N (E)

13:30 – 16:00 Field moving operations.

14:19 – FO-29 S==> N (W)

14:56 – AO-7  S ==> N (E)

16:00 – 17:30 Supper, operations from fixed location.

16:47 – AO7   S ==> N (W)

17:30 – 19:00 Field portable (Not moving) operations (Digital).

19:00 – Pack up and move back to fixed location.

 

RaDAR – The ultimate goal

Greg, N4KGL published his plans for the long weekend and we’d made a sked for Saturday afternoon to attempt a R2R QSO on 12m.

I took all my gear along with me for the weekend to assemble an acceptable kit for the RaDAR challenge on the 2nd of April, main items being the FT817ND, z817 ATU, mic, paddle and ZS6BKW antenna.

On the Saturday, Greg let us know by email that he had very bad lightning storms and won’t be able to make sked but I let him know I was going to go for a walk anyway to test the kit. Like most passionate hams would do, Greg decided to use his magnetic loop antenna from beneath a shelter. Indeed it was our destiny to actually hold a conversation on 24.906 MHz CW and to have a inter continental RaDAR to RaDAR QSO – the ultimate goal!

Greg used the RaDAR chat facility to confirm – I’d forgotten all about it!

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I used my two painters poles to hold the ZS6BKW around  four meters above the ground. I had to trim the antenna so it would resonate nicely on 12m without a tuner. I had the tuner switched in though so I later found out.

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The “trimming mechanism”.

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After the QSO, I packed up the radio leaving the antenna behind, I was already late for supper and jogged slowly back home with the backpack strapped firmly to my back.

I went back later to fetch the ZS6BKW and found two young boys there who were most interested in what was hanging in the air. They pounded me with questions and I found myself presenting “RAE lectures” at a very fast pace ….. I was exhausted but happy!

RaDAR – The clothes line antenna

During this year’s challenges I really would like to get another R2R contact or two again. Digital modes or CW may help.

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I’m contemplating using my roll up “clothes line” dipole / inverted vee antenna. I did a few quick calculations for starting lengths for particular bands. I will make marks on the flex wire insulation for faster band changes.

Single side :

28.060 – 2.54m

24.906 – 2.86m

21.060 – 3.38m

18.070 – 3.94m

14.060 – 5.07m

and

7.030 – 10.14m

I’ll need two nylon tie ropes on each end.

RaDAR – The Rossi jump starter pack

For many years, battery supply was a challenge for me and I found the most reliable and practical to use, was the SLAB, a 7 A / Hr Gel cell. They are heavy though!

Well, that was until I found the Rossi jump starter battery at a gadget shop while visiting the capital city, Pretoria.

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The jump starter pack has chargers for charging from the 220 v a.c. mains or any 12 volt d.c. outlet. It serves as an emergency light / torch and has a few special supply points for charging a cell phone or even a laptop! I found while using these supply points, there was a pulsing sound on the radio though, probably due to some switched mode circuit inside.

I built a DC, fused, distribution system and plug directly into the high current output of the Rossi – the supply point that can be used to start a car! My FT-817ND has never been happier.

The few opportunities I had to get out recently proved the battery to be a reliable addition to the RaDAR pack. I keep it in the waterproof area too, I wouldn’t want to see it get soaking wet.

I will be using this battery during the first 24 hour RaDAR challenge for the year on the 2nd of April 2016.