RaDAR Challenge 2018-07-14

My RaDAR Challenge logbook as uploaded to QRZ.COM. Let me explain ….

I had publicised the RaDAR Challenge on every social media channel I could think of, WhatsApp, Facebook groups, Forums and Google+ a few days before the challenge. It was publicised in news bulletins by official organisations too.

I left a half hour earlier than planned so I could be in time for the first AO-91 pass otherwise I would not have time to walk a kilometer to my first deployment point, deploy and be ready for the satellite. Satellite operators are quite active in South Africa but only three were there for me during this pass which meant I could not move to the next position only having three QSO’s. Christi ZS4CGR and Tom ZS1TA are VERY active satellite operators and you can be sure the chances are that they will be active unless there were other priorities.

I set up an HF station using a link dipole and ex military B25 radio which could help with a little extra power in challenging band conditions. This radio is a little heavier than my framed 817 – I felt it.

Pieter, V51PJ was within range on 40m, it’s usual old “Short skip” self. There was no other activity besides ZS2EC and ZS1OB having a QSO around 7.085 MHz. I tried to break in needing just one QSO but they did not hear me. They were 59+ and also a reasonable distance from me. I can’t imagine why they could not hear me? Maybe they were using much higher power – difficult to judge.

I went onto Facebook asking for someone to listen on 7.090 MHz, the RaDAR watering hole. Eventually I got a call from Kobus ZS3JPY on the west coast, also pretty far away. QSB was bad but we had a QSO. Then Woody ZS3WL called but he was an excess contact with me now having more than 5 QSO’s and then the watering hole became a “group chat room” and I needed to leave.

By the time I had got 5 + 1 QSO’s, AO-91 had practically circled the earth! There was no time to pack up and move so just for the sake of moving I left the HF station where it was, grabbed the SatComms equipment and walked a few meters towards the river and deployed there for the next AO-91 satellite pass.

Again, there were only three stations active on the satellite. Andre ZS2ZA later apologised and explained he was doing boiler tests on his steam locomotive and could not join in this time round. I had just made contact with Tienie ZS6MHH when the satellite seemed to shut down. I later heard the voice recording from the beacon again.

I packed up and walked back to where the HF station was, fortunately in a safe environment so my equipment had little chance of disappearing during my short absence. Pieter V51PJ was still there and I could get a “fourth” contact but not having moved as per RaDAR challenge requirements. I heard that Sid ZS5AYC was trying but I could not hear him.

Satellite operators are a disciplined group and keep overs short and to the point. Sometimes too short as proper RaDAR information exchanges aren’t always made. A few seconds more talk time could produce a full 10 character grid square. My recorder is always on so I can get them at a later stage too.

Hams have this insatiable need to say too much and although I valued the contacts the calling channels should be kept available for quick information exchanges between participating stations – it should NOT become a visiting place for a rag chew!

That prompted me to write a short booklet on “Playing the game of RaDAR”. Maybe it won’t make any difference but if we want to see more RaDAR activity then the general ham population should know what it’s all about. Not that, after ten years, anyone should be uninformed? I don’t mean this in a bad way but we have to build in a little more professionalism into the word amateur and see the serious side of amateur radio even if this is a FUN activity. We are training ourselves to be better operators.

There was NO CW activity either. RaDAR isn’t a 5NN game it requires that little bit more than that. We need to get used to a little more information to be passed ACCURATELY.

Now to work on that booklet!!!!

73 de Eddie, ZS6BNE

One thought on “RaDAR Challenge 2018-07-14

  1. Nice post Eddie.
    The lack of WARC band availability really limited this radar for me with contester uninterested in giving out a grid Square. There simply aren’t that many radar stations in Scandinavia, so forced onto the contest bands, there were few takers. Fortunately I knew that going in. Rather than focusing on purely Communications aspects of radar, I focused on the self-reliance aspect of radar.
    I carried the entire Field Station, including food, shelter, stove, 140watts of power generation, … knowing that I wouldn’t use most of it.
    The radar challenge is many things to many people. Is meant to be easy, or fun? I hope not. 👍👍👍
    Julian oh8stn

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