Satellite passes formed the basis for my time line. I left home, on foot, at 11:00 CAT.
From experience I have learned not to rely too heavily on the satellites for RaDAR contacts during the challenge. Today was no different. As I got to my first destination I put up my link dipole barely two meters above the ground at the apex hanging from a tree branch. I also setup the satellite gear for a pass of SO-50 for 11:29 CAT.
In the meantime I browsed the 40m band and heard Kobus, ZS6BOS on 7.090 MHz calling from SOTA summit ZS/GP-016 at 11:22 CAT. We were both 59, NVIS comms looked very promising for a change! His grid was KG33VV and mine KG34AC18LQ. After browsing again I heard ZS3VDK/P6 also on 7.090 MHz operated by Kobus. I confirmed that I could log both call signs for RaDAR and SOTA. I used the internal microphone of the Xiegu X5105 which worked pretty well! It is no longer nescessary to carry a microphone. One plus point for RaDAR.
SO-50 was about to come over the horizon. I waited, sitting on the ground, my ISS Detector app giving me precise direction and elevation information. It was coming in from the north. I sent the activate tone while it was barely at 5 degrees and amazingly SO-50 came to life. I called CQ for the duration of the pass with no replies. The satellite signal was excellent. I was using my YOTA 2018 satellite antenna and it worked perfectly for RaDAR. Pity there were no QSO’s ….. but I expected that so it was not too much of a dissapointment!!!
Then I went to 7.020 and called CQ using the morse code (CW). Daryl ZS6DLL came back to me at 11:52. I was 559 and he 599 from grid KG44BC. Sean ZS6SR called me at 11:58. He was 599 too. He gave me a 579 from grid KG33GV. At 12:04 CAT I was called by Tom ZS6OMT. He was also 599. He gave me a 589 from KG33NG in Potchefstroom. Forty meters was in excellent condition! This day I felt proud to be a radio ham. Interest in CW amongst quite a few ZS’s was picking up.
Having the required number of QSO’s it was time to move to my next location. I thought I’d pass by and say Hi to my XYL. I shouldn’t have done that, my neighbours were visiting and half way through a cup of coffee and rusks. Trying not to be rude I set up my SatComms equipment under a tree in the garden and excused myself for a few minutes.
AO-91 was coming in from the south at 12:44 and I listened for it’s carrier. Christi ZS4CGR called from grid KG20KF75FF and my new grid was KG34AC19FJ we were both 59 (FM). Tom ZR6TG called from KG33WG, both 59. I heard later that it was his goal to work my RaDAR station so I’m glad that was a success! Then Andre ZS2ZA called from KF26SB. By this time the satellite’s signal was very strong. Then the sat went past the equator and picked up the usual QRM from central Africa and no further QSO’s were possible. Actually I don’t think there was anyone else around anyway.
I joined my neighbours for coffee and rusks. I showed them a video a friend made of my “RaDAR Playground” before we were interrupted by another neighbour. So we sat talking for a while until they left and went back home. I bid them farewell.
So, having only three satellite QSO’s I needed another two. I set up the link dipole in the garden hanging from a tree branch. I called in on the AWA net (Antique Wireless Association) at 14:08 and got reports from Barrie ZS6AJY 559, Andy ZS6ADY 559 and Tom ZS6OMT again (I was in a new grid). The net is a weekly ragchew net not conducive to the rapid style of RaDAR but Barrie asked in CW if I would require individual info or run off. I didn’t want to bother them any further and I had no time to hang around listening to two minute-plus overs. I greeted all and bowed out.
I packed up the antenna having five, plus one QSO’s. In the meantime the XYL had started working in the garden and needed some plants to be planted. I felt guilty and opted to give her a hand. After all there was only another forty five minutes to go and I still needed to walk a kilometer and deploy with the hope of working someone. I’d already seen my friends Sid ZS5AYC and Adele ZS5APT were very weak. Usually forty meters was short skip and a channel into division five but not today.
All in all my RaDAR ops was a success I think. My kit worked and I have proved my decision to sell all my Yaesu equipment, the 897d and 817ND and all the rest for a Xiegu X5105 was the right thing to do. The X5105 performed very well in a RaDAR context.
CW was KING today – I liked that!!!!
73 de Eddie ZS6BNE
My Logbook – Attached