A rather new discussion on our local forum led me to do a little research on APRS again. I posed a few questions. Interesting to see there is a little APRS activity in South Africa.

Is it being put to good use or only an indicator of a very few vehicle movements?
Is any messaging done through the network?
How many active weather stations are there nowadays?
What are the main coverage areas?
Are there still 300 baud HF gateways?

An answer from Andrew ZS5CEY, “DMR radios with GPS can post their positions to APRS via our Brandmeister DMR Master (providing radio set up to do this). This also allows two-way messaging between DMR radios and APRS, and is supposed on all the DMR repeaters”. I need to do a little study on this technology.

Paul ZS1V replied, “Hamnet WC and GS both use 2m APRS during events and WC have used it for multi-day missing persons searches with WSAR also”.

I went to apsr.fi and did a few searches and was pleasantly surprised!

Cape town


and Gauteng!

Great to see all the active weather stations!

Hennie ZS6EY provided some port info, “You can also connect to http://zs6ey.no-ip.org:14501 on all three ports”. Andy ZS5CEY also mentioned a backup server URL, “You can connect to my backup server at http://www.easytracking.co.za and the port you want to connect to”.

Maybe time to look into APRS again. I have a KAM XL lying around doing nothing!

Just got Xastir running under Zorin OS 12.3 Linux 🙂

Yet Another APRS Client (YAAC)

RaDAR Challenge – Adapting strategies

The first RaDAR Challenge for 2018 took place on Saturday. I chose the four hours between 14:00 and 18:00 CAT (12:00 to 16:00 UTC). Attempting an intercontinental R2R was part of the plan.

I left on foot at 14:00 to travel at least a kilometer and be ready for the AO-91 cubesat pass at 14:36. I hoped to make 5 QSO’s via the satellite but it was quite a low elevation pass to the west which would be even lower for the general HamSat group in South Africa.

I managed good exchanges with Tom ZS1TA and Charles ZS1CF but battled with Tienie ZS6MHH for a grid exchange. Could I count the contact? I don’t think so. The satellite moved north where there is general QRM from central Africa and further QSO’s were impossible.

I had my HF kit with me and hastily set up an HF station to make further QSO’s before I could move. I made QSO’s with Justin ZS6JGP, Thanie ZS4AZ (A big supporter of SOTA and RaDAR) and Sid ZS5AYC. Not counting the QSO with Tienie gave me a total of five QSO’s so I could pack up and move. The strategy was to do the next leg as a mobile station with DX in mind.

I walked to where the car was parked, dumped the kit in the boot and went for a 6km drive returning to my favorite spot in the park and set up the link dipole once again, adjusted for 40m. Here I worked Sid ZS5AYC again, he had already moved to a new grid. I worked Sid’s wife, Adele ZS5APT too then Thanie ZS4AZ again, our supporter. That was three QSO’s and I needed another two. 20m was full of CW contest activity AGAIN! Our CW sked frequency, 14.061 was busy. I went to 15m, it was quiet except for the FT8 frequency. I did a WSPR test at 5W and the results were not too inspiring.

Then I thought, let me try FT8, a mode I’ve never used before. I had my netbook with me running Elementary OS Linux with WSJT-X installed. I connected the Signalink USB to my 897d running off two 7A/Hr SLABS and set it to 40W. I used the 40m section of the link dipole and tuned using the AT897 LDG ATU. I made my first digital FT8 QSO’s. It was just too easy, the computer automatically adjusting for the next information exchange. It had no value other than making a computerized QSO.

I’m in two minds about FT8 for it’s use in RaDAR but at this stage the QSO’s counted, at least the first two so I had an excess of one QSO. It made little sense (At the time) to move any further and thought I’d look out for Greg N4KGL and possible other RaDAR stations and called continuously on 21.061 CW.

These were the only RBN spots I got from the Reverse beacon Network.

I did however manage to work two CW stations from Germany. QSB was very deep though. That was the end of my RaDAR Challenge time period. I managed two locations. Five bonus points for the first satellite contact. Five bonus points for a contact with another RaDAR station, Sid ZS5AYC. Five QSO’s for position 1 and five QSO’s for position two. The excess of three QSO’s could not be counted. Points calculation 40.

If I had moved to a third location I could have made the bonus points for the first QSO with a DX station on CW but chose not to move. I could ignore the FT8 QSO’s but that is a technicality we must discuss. PSK31 is a different story and would most certainly count as a digital modes QSO.

An interesting poll in ZS (Just started)