RaDAR – The Hamnet winter exercise

 

Busy building my check list that nothing gets left behind on Saturday!

HamnetWinterOps

Logistics

Five man Tent (Able to stand)

Fold up table

Fold up chair

Fold up stretcher

Fold up mattress

Sleeping bag

Gas bottle – Sufficient gas!

Gas lantern attachment

Firelighter!

Cooler bag – Food and water / cool drink (for two days)

GPS and Compass (Optional)

 

Warm clothing!

Warm Jacket

Track suit

Beanie

Gloves

Socks

Spare clothing

Easy sleep – anti mosquito!

 

Power and lighting

2 x LED Headlamps – New batteries

Waeco (18 A/Hr SLAB) – Charged

2 x 7 A/Hr SLAB’s – Charged

Homebrew FT-817ND power cable with crocodile clips (Beware polarity)

1 x 7 A/Hr SLAB (for backpack) – Charged

Rechargeable penlights – Charged

 

Blogging and ops reporting (Spare time, if any, blogging)

Netbook  – Charged

Spare netbook battery – Charged

Wireless mouse – New AAA battery

Smartphone (Spare time internet gateway) – Charged

PAYG Data bundle

Camera – New battery!

 

Masts and antenna supports

Eskom mast

3 x Guy ropes + carbiners (for Eskom mast)

3 x “7” shaped Tent pegs (for Eskom mast)

10m Qick deployment fibreglass RaDAR mast

2 x Heavy duty bungies (for fibreglass mast)

2 x Paint roller handles (serves as a 4.5m mast / two hiking poles)

Joining tube (for paint roller handle mast)

Optional short guy ropes (for paint roller handle mast)

Rope (serves as a third guy wire for quick inverted vee format antenna deployments with the paint roller mast)

Bungi’s (shock absorption to protect wire antennas where needed)

Spare small carbiners

Small pulleys (Optional)

 

Antennas

Webb FST 400 including mast mountable balun

Click to access Fst%204004R-25R%20S3.pdf

Open wire fed W3EDP

Open wire fed (300 ohm) random length dipole

LDG 4:1 Balun (for above antenna and W3EDP)

Coax (PL259’s both ends)

Various Coax fly leads

Various coax adapters

Shortend 9:1 UNUN fed, multiband end fed

Trap dipole 40m / 80m

Trap dipole 30m / 20m / 10m + fixed coax

Roll up wire 10m J-Pole

Various tie ropes

Extra wire (for possible 160m deployments)

Terminal blocks (joining wires)

Tent pegs (securing antennas in the absence of natural tie down facilities)

 

Radio equipment

FT817ND Multiband QRP radio

LDG z817 comapnion auto ATU – With 4 x spare AA penlight batteries

Hand mic

Headphones

Heil Traveler headset + boom mic (Optional)

MP3 recorder

Headphone jack splitter

 

Administration

Programmed frequencies (HF channels)

2 x Operations log (RaDAR / Portable)

2 x Message lists (RaDAR / Portable)

5 x GOOD Pens

Notepad

Watch – accurately timed

 

 Tools and testers

Multimeter

Multitool

Knife

Measuring tape

Shifting spanner

Flat screwdriver

 

 

 

The Future Ham

EduanSoldering

On a chilly winters Saturday morning, Eduan sat on a chair, the warm sunlight shining through the dining room window bringing comfort from the cold. He was startled by the sudden question, “Hi uncle Eduan, what are you doing?”, asked the little boy from across the street. He was visiting young Sam, Eduan’s son. “Hello Juandre, I’m paging through some old magazines that my grandfather stored in cardboard boxes many years ago. He said they would become quite valuable one day. I guess he was right, no one prints magazines anymore”.

Wow, uncle Eduan, I’ve never seen one, a magazine? Why are some big and some of them small?”. Juandre had many questions, quite an inquisitive little boy and Eduan thought to himself, “How interesting young kids are, so willing to learn but nothing is as it was anymore. How lucky I was to experience many of the things these young children will never see”.

Juandre, go and call Sam and I will explain to you both”, said Eduan. Juandre ran around the house calling, “Sam, Sam come quickly, your dad wants to show some zines he found in a box”, they raced to get back to Eduan. “Why are you crying dad?”, asked little Sam and Eduan quickly wiped away the tear that ran down his cheek and swallowed, deeply. “Not crying, son, it must be the dust from these old boxes” explained Eduan but realized his son had witnessed his tender side.

Juandre, Sam’s great grandfather and my grandfather, was a radio ham”, explained Eduan, “right from before I could walk he used to let me play with his ham radio things like a big morse code key, the buttons and the dials on his big radio’s ….”, Eduan noticed the vague looks on the two little boy’s faces, they had no idea what he was talking about.

Dad, you’ve lost us”, Sam said in an alarming way. “Please explain what a morse code thing is and what is a radio? Is it like dad’s glasses?”. Eduan thought to himself, “I have a lot of explaining to do, much has changed since I was their age”.

Come and sit next to me and let’s page through a few of these old magazines”, said Eduan. The two young boys looked in awe, and both shouted out excitedly and in stereo, “dad!”, “uncle Eduan!”, “all the zines have the same name, R a de e oh Zed Ess !”. Eduan knew then the boys would not be stopped in their quest for knowledge. It was his responsibility to spread the word.

Eduan was alerted to a message flashing within the glasses he wore, a message from his friend in Hawaii – Noise levels non existent on 15 an 20 metres, put out calls…….nothing. Terrain is like Mars and has extremely high iron oxide content, I can’t to stay too long, in case of altitude sickness.

Eduan looked at his son, “Sam, your great granddad was a radio ham for over a half a century. That is a long time. He made sure I took part in radio youth activities when I was your age. I got two book prizes, one for his radio club and one for myself. He loved browsing through my book, it was all about low power radios. Grandpa loved nature and practicing ham radio in the field. He loved jogging too, he wasn’t a champion in any way but always believed if he could take on the challenge it would be possible for others too”.

Eduan further explained to the two boys, “Much has changed since I was your age. Grandpa had old radios which he sold to some friends much older than him, they were collectors items. He had other radios too. He spoke of APRS short for Automatic Position Reporting System and TNC’s which is short for Terminal Node Controllers and also said there used to be packet radio that used the same protocol, or way to communicate between radio stations. It was used to send short messages all over the world. It worked very well and he received replies to questions within a day or two. That was pretty quick considering people used to write letters to each other then that took two weeks on average to get to the addressed person”. The two boys sat and listened carefully as if they understood. “We’d be pretty lost if messages took that long to get”, said Sam. Eduan smiled and was proud of his son’s response.

Sam, messaging became faster through what they called SMS, short for Short Messenging Service, then. When handheld telephone devices could connect to the Internet then other cheaper services became available. You could even do APRS on such telephone devices that it could be used without a radio, you did not even need a GPS it’s built in just like your comms unit. Not many people use a radio now”, explained Eduan.

Sam got all excited, “Dad! Where are granddad’s radios now? We’d really like to see them!”. Eduan replied, “I still have grandpa’s radios. I have permission from the governement to have them on display but they have been sealed that they cannot be switched on”. “Cannot be switched on?”. Little Sam was quite disapointed. “Why?”.

Eduan explained in his way, “Goverments of the world were told by scientists that they have received intelligent messages from space. Five short tones followed by two long and short tones. For decades radio hams taking part in senseless contests weekend after weekend constantly sent the morse code “DiDiDiDiDit DahDit DahDit”, faster than normal, a sort of common denominator and it appears that life from other planets received these signals somehow and have become aware of our existence on earth. There was a need for radio silence…..” Eduan distinctly remembered listening to his grandfathers CD’s, The War of The Worlds …..

Awesome!”, Shouted Sam and Juandre, “just like our XXXBox virtual reality games”. The children did not realize the graveness of their passion.

Around ten years after the turn of the century, BYOD, or short for Bring You Own Device, became quite popular. People used them to connect to the Internet to share electronic mail and to talk to each other. They could even use the devices to see each other no matter where they were in the world! Radio repeater systems could be accessed using these handheld devices and it was no longer any use to have a radio. If you really wanted to, you could listen to someone else’s radio over the Internet but that became expensive especially if you wanted to use it to communicate with other radio stations. It was the beginning where radios became just too expensive to own and lost sales stopped production lines for radio’s but the BYOD unit’s continued to improve and everyone had one.” – Eduan just gave a history lesson in a few short words.

Every connection the the Internet is identified by what they call an IP address. The world was united because it made no sense to be separate. Like the magazine’s name ZS, ham radio call signs were replaced with an IP address number as it uniquely identifies the user. Everyone had their own IP address! The GPS is always switched on so your immediate position is always known. For our own safety the national government says. Boys don’t be too concerned it is how we live now. It was different when I was your age.”, said Eduan, he’d already said too much!

RaDAR Heaven

Heaven

 

The family and I went down to the Cape for a short holiday. It also meant family time and although I did take my RaDAR kit with if needed, I did not do any operating even though I climbed mountains and walked in the sea.

The Cape in South Africa is RaDAR heaven, so many parks, trails and lovely beaches all there for anyone to enjoy. Silently I admired and enjoyed being at the most incredible deployment points one could imagine!

RaDAR – Working DX and rubber stamp QSO’s

Like I’ve often said … I’m not a DXer

BUT

I’m kinda enjoying the occasional half hour a day on 20m CW.

How is the “rubber stamp” defined?

I CQ CQ CQ de ZS6BNE ZS6BNE ZS6BNE AR K

Station answers with his call IxABC

I call him IxABC de ZS6BNE GE OM RST 569 Name Eddie Eddie so HW CPY IxABC de ZS6BNE

He returns ZS6BNE de IxABC GE DR OM Eddie RST 549 OP Tony Tony TKS QSO 73 ES GUD DX ZS6BNE de IxABC K

Then I finish the QSO 73 Tony TU Dit Dit

He waves goodbye TU TU Dit Dit

No wonder I make four or five QSO’s in a half hour but it kind of feels well rounded. Sometimes the stations may exchange power and antennas used as additional info, QTH too.

In this case there is absolutely no doubt that the QSO is valid and the call signs and names confirmed.

Then it’s admin time and I take my scribbled notes and write them neatly into my log, go to qrz.com and log the call there. It’s nice to look at the Google maps to see where his station is, hey I’m enjoying Geography all over again!

Then I sit back and admire what we as radio amateurs are licensed to be able to do.

Amateur radio serves a useful purpose even in the modern world

Educational

There are those that love ‘tinkering’ with radios and electronics. Amateur radio keeps our interest alive and in the process we are hopefully able to get a better understanding of communications, electronics, space, science, technology and whatever else that is related.

Others prefer to learn about new modes and technologies, chasing satellites, learning about orbital mechanics and studying propagation on HF and or VHF

Communication in whatever form is a life skill to be continually developed no matter your age. Amateur radio is an extension of this life skill with technique and technicality providing the potential for a lifetime of learning and achievement.

Amateur radio keeps us technically adept in repairing equipment, building circuitry and fiddling with antennas,  keeping essential skills practiced which could be used at work or any situation that would need these skills.

Practical

Radio amateurs practice radio procedure during every QSO. They know where the next active amateur station is when help is needed. From experience, radio amateurs know what bands (frequencies) to use at what time of day.

Some radio amateurs take part in search and rescue practices and are on call in case of emergency. In many cases where amateur radio was not used, communications were a disaster. Radio amateurs have the technical expertise to establish communications.

Amateur radio keeps you going, long after other purposes in life have ended. It is a means of social contact for the elderly long after mobility and health fails them.

Radio sport

Many licensed radio amateurs like working toward goals and earning rewards e.g. DXCC, VUCC, WAS, WAZ, AAA and chasing DX
Others prefer to combine family activities e.g. SOTA, POTA or IOTA.

Amateur radio is fun. It is seen as only a hobby for some.

Scientific research

Radio Amateur Services cover a very wide realm from the fun side of a hobby, rendering a service to the public during disasters in some countries, to the more serious field of experiments, research, pioneering and can be used to explore all avenues including radio science and advancement into the future!

There is a certain magic regarding good old fashioned wireless. There is still so much to learn and explore.

 

Thanks go to the many hams from South Africa who took part in this survey. Their passion for the hobby and the many years of practising ham radio can be clearly seen!

The great circle of amateur radio

I started off slow. For many years I had a Yaesu FT101EE and later years invested in a second hand Kenwood R1000 receiver.

With an interest in digital I bought a second hand Kantronics KPC-2 for packet radio.

I didn’t get much further than the occasional HF contact and with, going to a lot of trouble, rally comms support and the occasional contest.

Large batteries and wire antennas, always … wire antennas.

I was stuck ….. and so many more things to do amateur radio wise.

EddieEdwillEduan-Hams

It was around the time where the SARL hosted their first RTA (Radio Technology in Action) road show. Listening to talks from digital comms to satellites really sparked an adventurous journey with ham radio.

Out of respect and gratitude for the RTA’s I gave back my knowledge gained on many occasions. I will be forever grateful for the knowledge gained there.

I can’t recall exact dates but it wasn’t until I made an investment in the then affordable “latest technology” that I could really do things that I could never do before. From digital comms, meteor scatter to satellite communications. An Icom 706mkiig opened all those doors for me.

I grew from there on but my goals are different now with the experience of decades of amateur radio.

My interests are the bare minimum once again but with sufficient technology to be part of what I’ve learnt the last decade of my amateur radio life – essentially RaDAR …..

Four of the best investments ever were an Arrow handheld satellite antenna, Kenwood TH-D7A(g) dualbander, Signalink USB digital modes adapters and a Yaesu FT-847. I later bought a second hand FC-20 ATU for it just because it became available.

My trusty FT-817ND goes everywhere with me – forever ready from HF, digital modes to SatComms.

73 de Eddie ZS6BNE
Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio

Daring to be different

What is ham radio all about?

I tend to stay away from saying “talking to people around the world” afraid of that “Good buddy” response as an explanation to satisfy the question ….

It’s a license to experiment with electronics, to transmit legally, to get legal access to satellite systems and even to contact the space station (If they have the time).

It’s an opportunity to mix radio, computers and the Internet.

Yes it can be used too in times of need where all other infrastructures have failed … even the Internet.

It’s an exciting field of science for those that were inpired by donald duck and mad scientists with control panels and big switches.

It’s a knowledge of morse code that alludes all but those that have the will to learn it, the fascination of a language that bridges time …..

First contact with ZS100MPX

Douw, ZS1DGK operating as ZS100MPX was on 7095 kHz tonight at the scheduled time of 18:45 CAT. He was using a “Klaus mast” with vertical wire within. Douw said it takes only a few minutes to deploy.

I put up a new linked (40m / 80m) inverted vee today specifically to support Douw’s initiative and come onto frequency each night to monitor status and position. I made contact with Douw for the first time as ZS100MPX at 18:56 on today’s date 15th of September 2012.

Other stations that were also on frequency were Bob ZS1BOB and Klaus ZS1QO. All station were running between 59 + 15 and + 20 db on my FT902DM’s S Meter.

Douw gave his position as S 28 31.586 and E 16 55.295 He will re-photograph and document two mountain passes during the next day or two.

Click on the image for a larger view.