I chose my four hours of twenty four to coincide with returning from a nearby town where we took young Eduan to meet an old primary school friend for his birthday. After a hearty breakfast, they watched a kiddies movie together while Elrika and I did some window shopping at the mall.
We got to the RaDAR playground (just) in time and my first deployment was for SatComms on SO-50. Many of us in South Africa have the experience but are rusty. Using my TH-D7A(g) (Running on four AA alkaline cells) and Arrow antenna, I was able to have a QSO with Rickus ZS4A before the bird went over the horizon. I even forgot to tune for doppler!!! I was lucky …..
That earned me my first RaDAR contact and five bonus points for the first satellite QSO, counting my movement to the first position as travelling by car even though the travelling distance from the mall was close on 150 km, a little more than the requirement 🙂
The app I use for satellite pass predictions is “ISS Detector” for Android. It works very well for the purpose of RaDAR and always accurate. A reliable tool!
I had my minimalistic RaDAR kit packed and ready. It includes the FT-817nd with eight AA internal batteries, straight key, mic and 40m end fed with coupler. I moved out, on foot to the next deployment point.
I use the Android app “Ham GPS” to determine my grid square to 10 character accuracy. Also a great tool for RaDAR!!! An ideal website for displaying these grids can be seen here.
It was quick to get the end fed deployed using a tree branch and nylon rope to raise the middle section of the end fed as high as possible, in this case around four meters above the ground. Perfect NVIS configuration for 40m.
As with all my field antennas, I build in a bungi shock system to protect the antenna from the wind or tripping over the wire. I quickly got the rig deployed and started to look for contacts.
I managed to work ZS5HAC, ZS3VDK and ZS4A all on 7.090 SSB. Signals were reasonable especially ZS3VDK who was very strong. I took a video which I will later edit for You Tube upload. There was no CW activity on the band …..
It was time to get back home where I’d left the satellite equipment. SO-50 had just gone around the world and coming over the horizon again. I quickly packed up and walked / jogged back home.
This time round it would be classified as fixed station RaDAR. I got everything ready and made contact with Andre ZS2BK and I remembered to tune for doppler! Unfortunately no other signals could be heard on that pass.
The next part of the plan was to take the QRO kit for a walk ……. it started to rain.
I deployed on the patio, the FT-897d and battery supply. I lifted the link dipole into the tree in the garden and set the links for 20m. All I could hear was an obliterating noise, 59+ which made communications impossible. I tried switching off the power to the house but the noise stayed. It was coming from somewhere else.
I called it a day ……
Lessons learnt. Certainly the minimalistic RaDAR setup excelled in it’s purpose. Very light weight and easy to move quickly. An effective communications method. Satellite communications were reliable within the footprint of SO-50. I even managed to activate the transponder myself as it came into view (74.4 Hz CTCSS).
Till next year!
73 de Eddie ZS6BNE