RaDAR – Playing hand tennis

I have a young grandson, Eduan. He has just turned 12 and finished standard four. Another year of primary school in 2018 then he goes to high school. What really stands out is his positive attitude to life and he hasn’t had it easy. Fortunately he stays with us, his grandparents. Most mornings this year before school closed for the holidays, he would leave for school early to be in time to choose his court for hand tennis before the other kids arrived. Well that is if he was not on scholar patrol duty which he did with pride.

Hand tennis, in Afrikaans, “Handjie tennis” is a game played on the ground using your hand as a racket and a tennis ball which has some good bounce. It’s a high speed game and you need to be fit too.

Each afternoon, he would practice against the wall when he had no one to play with. He just got better and better at it.

This makes me think of ham radio where it is essentially a team sport but even though there are millions of hams in the world, it’s kind of difficult finding people to play with on the bands especially when using low power and using the morse code (CW). That kind of narrows down your chances of finding someone to play with!

I had the bare minimum (QCX but at least VFO controlled) and had my end fed permanently hanging in a tree for the whole Christmas weekend. I managed four QSO’s ………. When conditions for local QSO’s were not good I still called CQ now and then and got some surprising responses from the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) which kind of feels much like young Eduan when he practised hand tennis against the wall!

At least we come out stronger in the end. Somehow he packed his ball away and I felt the need the roll up the antenna and pack everything away for a while too.

Now an inactive ham …….. but for how long?

RaDAR – The bare minimum

It’s amazing, you may not get that many contacts but the ones you do make hold a lot of value when using the absolute bare minimum. My humble ham radio station used during the Christmas weekend.


Then there is the Reverse beacon Network that can give you some surprising feedback. My friend Greg N4KGL alerted me on the RBN response. What and awesome “Christmas present” …. not bad for probably less than 3W into a 40m end fed hanging in a nearby tree!


Update 2017-12-28

Last night’s most interesting results ….. Dirk ZS1X also called me and we had a short QSO. He gave me a 539 and his signal was so strong I had to move my headphones from my ears!!!


RaDAR – AO91 Cubesat RaDAR ready

Let’s face it, on a satellite pass all operators should show discipline and able to receive the down link perfectly. Transmissions must be kept to the minimum passing only relevant traffic.

This afternoon was one of those disciplined nets and the throughput was excellent.

As AO-91 flies in range of Kinshasa / Brazzaville in north Africa it encounters a signal which keeps the satellite active and blocks out all possibility of good communications.

Andre, ZS2BK determined the QRM area by monitoring the footprints of numerous passes. Not much that can be done about it though which is a pity.

But, before the satellite comes in contact with the QRM the tiny cubesat is perfectly usable for fast communications!

RaDAR – Equipment and purpose

For me at least, the amateur radio equipment I have on hand should fit a purpose.

Anything in excess should go to a good home …….

So, I thought I’d make a list each with it’s purpose. Still, maybe too much from a RaDAR perspective.

My higher power RaDAR setup

FT-897d (Built in 13.8 v d.c. 20A PSU) + LDG AT897 ATU + Mic + Bencher paddle + QRO end fed tuner + Mofified MFJ tuner / HF SWR Meter / 160m end fed tune + Dual 7 A / Hr SLABs+ (New design) ZS6BKW open wire fed HF antenna + Coax.

Parks On The Air (POTA) (Medium power – carried permanently, stored in the car (Not installed) )

B25 ex military radio + Handset + 7 A / Hr SLAB + HF Link dipole and coax.

On foot RaDAR

FT-817ND + LDG z817 ATU + Mic + Vidi Paddle + Lensatic compass + Rossi battery supply / torch + Headlamp + 9:1 UNUN fed long wire (Multiband) + Garmin legend GPS + Smartphone (Camera) + Backpack.

Digital modes 

HP 210 Netbook + Elementary OS Linux + FL-Digi / WSJT-X + Signalink USB + Wireless mouse.

RaDAR SatComms

FM Satellites / Cubesats : Full duplex TH-D7A(g) + Mic + Mono headphones + MP3 Recorder + Dual band Arrow Yagi incl diplexer + Tripod+ Rossi battery supply / torch + Headlamp.

Linear transponders (SSB) : Half duplex On foot RaDAR kit (FT-817ND) + coax flylead and adapter.

The rest is really only CW “fun stuff”

HB1A + Hand key + Rossi battery supply / torch

QCX 40m CW Only (Rechareable penlight batteries) / 49er CW Fixed frequency (7.023) (Penlight batteries) + Miniature hand key + 40m end fed tuner + 40m EFHW long wire.