RaDAR News – July 2019

It’s almost that time of the year when the mid year RaDAR Challenge takes place. A good place to start if you have not already done so, is to download the SARL Contest manual, alias “The Blue Book”. The URL is http://www.sarl.org.za/public/contests/contestrules.asp

The section to look out for are the RaDAR Challenge guidelines. The times and date are 00:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC on Saturday 13 July 2019. You are free to choose your own four hour time within the twenty four hour window. Conditions have been really bad lately so it’s going to be a challenge of note!

A few months ago the author opted for the Xiegu X5105 all mode compact QRP HF radio for RaDAR ops but it is badly in need of reliable firmware. Fortunately one can revert to the last known good version but is pretty old already, November 2018! Unless some miracle happens, that would be the only route to success.

There is a massive drive in ZS for CW (Morse code) which is really ideal for RaDAR and with present conditions that may be the most effective way of getting your grid square through to the other stations. Keep your speed down to about 12 wpm with good spacing between the characters for easy copy.

South African Morse Code
Contact ZS6MSW to join the Movement !!!

Try to negotiate a common four hour time that we all operate within the same time frame. Advertise your intentions and others may follow and visa versa. We need each other, the challenge is not only a physical one, it is about communications and sharing accurate information while working in difficult conditions. We need those shack bound stations too. Don’t use too much power, if QRP stations can hear each other then the channel is open. A hundred Watts or more isn’t going to make it easier.

Of course there are also options for satellite communications but from experience The tight pass schedule is sometime detrimental to the overall plan unless it’s somewhere towards the end of the challenge. Note, you always need at least five QSO’s before moving and satellite communications may not always provide a full quota!

RaDAR Challenge exchanges are simple, the most important being an accurate grid locator. An awareness of more than 6 characters to a possible 8 or even 10 will make copy easier. The RaDAR challenge requires more than a minimalistic information exchange. Accurate information exchange is considered more important than a large QSO count. Call sign, name, RS (T) report and grid locator. The grid locator of six characters is acceptable but should preferably be accurate to 8 or 10 characters for higher position accuracy (especially for moving RaDAR stations). Various smartphone apps are used for this or pre-planning using maps is an alternative.

Here’s hoping for a successful RaDAR challenge – Have fun!!!

Xiegu X5105 – Cutting my losses

I started this journey less than a year ago in September 2018. Yesterday I made the decision to cut my losses. I advertised my X5105 for sale but this final review will be mentioned so that any potential buyer will know what he or she is in for.

What would you pay for an immaculate FT-897d including a LDG AT-897 automatic ATU and optional internal DC power supply. My estimate on this around R16,000. That’s what I essentially paid for it …. I’m selling the X5105 for half that price which makes it affordable for someone with renewed patience for a potentially awesome trail radio. Let’s face it, the radio does have potential BUT is totally reliant on RELIABLE FIRMWARE. You’re in the hands of the Xiegu engineers.

I have become an unhappy ham ever since I went down this road but always kept an open mind and being part of the “work in progress”. The only problem is when is the work in progress going to come to an end, reliably?

With every version of firmware for this radio there have been improvements. The latest version 3, BETA 3 can be downloaded from https://www.dropbox.com/s/49uwifixuiqmqmt/X5105_App_V3.00_beta03.xgf?dl=0 which really looks awesome but is no where near free from bugs! Now where did this version come from? A friend got it off the Facebook group from which I and many others have been banned and although I’ve tried to renew ties with the admin I was left to start my own X5105 group. Why the politics? I know of really serious politics too, WHY? We’re hams playing radio but since going down this road I have had to contend with such unpleasant situations.

Yesterday was the final straw. I managed previously to store pre-programmed CW messages but with this version I can find no way to send them? Then I was testing a home brew CW paddle and I found no way where I could adjust the CW w.p.m. speed? The battery indicator showed full but with a superimposed 66 on it. The unit shut down without a warning – flat battery. You see I was calling CQ for about five minutes. Oh at one stage the power output was intermittent too.

I can’t revert back to the previous firmware because I lose my basic settings every time I do a power down. I got tired of doing that after a few weeks!

How long can one put up with BAD FIRMWARE???

I have lost patience with Xiegu and this radio. By the way, Xiegu does not provide the latest firmware on their website nor an updated manual. The new firmware is TOTALLY DIFFERENT!!!

So I’m looking for someone who can patiently wait for an update and try using the radio. I’m going back to my You Kits HB1A CW only QRP radio.

For sale

Selling my Xiegu X5105 160m to 6m all mode QRP radio.

It presently has the latest beta firmware installed. USB programming cable and external power cable included. (Has internal rechargeable battery). External multifunction mic. (Rig has internal mic too)

Asking price R8000 o.n.o.

Email negotiations only please and first come first served.

PostNet for buyers account.

73 de Eddie ZS6BNE