April 2020 RaDAR Challenge done and dusted

With the world in lock down over the COVID-19 virus outbreak it must have been difficult for most radio amateurs to take part in yesterday’s challenge. For me it was one of my most successful RaDAR Challenges to date!

I used Facebook to record my activities in real time. I was limited to the FM Satellites no longer having any working HF gear at my disposal. I do however still have a Kenwood TH-D7A(g) handheld and Arrow dual band antenna and they both work extremely well together.

My plan was simple and could be planned a few days ahead. I chose the suitable pass times of the AO-92 and AO-91 Cubesats. They are so easy to work and are popular with the locals.

To alert others for possible activity I posted on Facebook, “Satellite pass times today, I will be sharing an 8 character grid locator and my present SARAH code. I’d love to get yours too ðŸ‘ðŸ˜‡ Presently 96% humidity here and everything is wet”.

The table and chair I have left in the field for my grandson to set up his telescope at night to look at the planets. It was an ideal place to do my first deployment.

First RaDAR SatComms deployment at KG34ac19fn. Worked Andre ZS2ZA, Sid ZS5AYC grid KF59ee36na, Barney Fourie ZS5TU grid KF59, ZS5APT grid KF59ee36na, heard Pravin ZS5LT and Christi ZS4CGR grid KG20kf75eg he also gave me a SARAH code 

I used HamGPS to determine my eight character grid square. A smartphone is a very handy device to carry with you on the RaDAR Challenge. For satellite predictions I use ISS detector with the amateur radio plugin. Both excellent software for Android!

Because the satellite times were far apart I walked back to base for the wait, doing my Facebook feedback during the quiet times. Facebook works well for me and I have many amateur radio friends there.

For the second deployment, I took my folding chair with me. The TH-D7A is mounted on the tripod and I use an external plug in mic and my headphones plug into that. There is a lot of quick writing to do during fast exchanges on a satellite pass, especially more than FIVE NINE !

RaDAR SatComms via the AO-91 Cubesat. Worked Tom ZS1TA grid JF95fx, Dave ZS2DH grid KF26sb plus SARAH code  , Andre ZS2ZA, Matthys ZS1TBP/m grid KF06cc and Alan ZS1LS grid JF96fd

So I managed to achieve five QSO’s on both passes via the satellites and that is a first for me. It just proves it can be done! Later in the afternoon I made contacts via SO-50 but that was outside the RaDAR Challenge four hour time frame. It also went well!

The SO-50 amateur radio satellite was in good condition, worked Woody ZS3WL and Alan ZS1LS.

73 de Eddie ZS6BNE