RaDAR – November the 4th challenge

I’ve just been browsing Google+ and reading the respectable RaDAR Challenge participant’s feedback. I feel proud to be part of such a group of radio amateurs willing to go the extra mile in doing something a little different. RaDAR is “Daring to be different” a phrase suggested by Lucy M6ECG who was active too braving the cold and strong winds.

My friend Stephen ZS6SVJ has now migrated to snowy Canada and his recent comments were if he wanted it easy he’d use WhatsApp or Skype. He embraces the challenge and all it stands for.

My challenge started off with a challenge of a different kind, spending the day in Potchefstroom with my XYL and grandson Eduan where he took part in Karate championships for his age group. The plan was to be in the RaDAR Ops area before 16:00 local after a 350km drive. I made it back in time.

The RaDAR challenge for me started setting up as a field station initially from where I could do some on foot deployments. A suitable pass for the AO-7 satellite was exactly at that time frame and I set up quickly at grid KG34ac19pa. I made contact with Kieth ZS6TW in KG44bd, Andre ZS2BK in KF26sa and Rickus ZS4A in KG41ds. Success!!! Hadn’t been on AO-7 in ages.

I had modified my ZS6BKW antenna after talking to Brian ex ZS6BKW via email. Mine wasn’t tested but I had built the top section according the Brian’s specifications. It still needed to be tuned though. It was resonating nicely on the lower portions of 40m and 10m but not on 20m ….. that was my planned DX band for later.

I got it up high amongst the blue gum trees. Then I broadcast my intentions to make a contact or two on Facebook before starting the on foot deployments.

I made no QSO’s ….. then later checked the RBN ….. I was transmitting using 5W.

 

V51YJ in Namibia reported hearing me via the RBN pretty well. This was on my pack’s FT-817. I knew from experience that in this case local NVIS comms would be impossible. Forty meters had gone skip!!!!! That meant it would be a waste of time going for a walk. That certainly put a damper on my challenge. I was even hoping for a 49er contact! It was not to be …..

Forty meters was out for me ….. twenty meters needed a tuned antenna …. I wasn’t sure. There were contests on all over the place and fatigue from a long day started to set in ….. I missed the last planned FO-29 pass. Could’ve got another two or three QSO’s there …. darkness set in and I called it a day returning on the Sunday morning, yesterday.

Sunday – Tuning the ZS6BKW 

I had left the antenna in the trees but before I took it down I made a few adjustments including cutting the feed line shorter, around 200mm at a time. This brought the lowest SWR point to around 7.1 MHz (Midband) and 28.460 MHz. On twenty meters there was no sign of an SWR dip. I know I may still have to trim some more but decided to talk to Brian first …. I’ll be back!

The new design’s flat top itself is a little shorter but the ends hang down. Ideal to fit into smaller spaces if you can get it up around 10 meters high.

Sunday morning on 40m and NVIS conditions were EXCELLENT. I made QSO’s with Marinus ZS6MAW, Author ZS5DUV and Theo ZS6TVB. Theo created the termination connector for my ladder line using his 3D Printer a few moths back.

Signals were 59 PLUS all over!

I had a CW QSO with Wally ZS6BCI and Pierre ZS6A. Wally made a joke that he thought I was using a kilowatt! I’m almost always QRP and we talk often! During my QSO with Pierre I switched over to the 49er pushing only 1.3W and Pierre gave me a real 579. He also said the 49er’s frequency is around 7.02315 to be exact.

 

I’d misplaced my other hand key but luckily found this one I keep with the HB1A in it’s carry bag.

Would have been great to have had such fantastic conditions during the RaDAR Challenge on Saturday but it was not meant to be …

 

 

 

73 de Eddie ZS6BNE

 

 

 

 

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