We don’t have to wait for the challenges to play RaDAR, we can do it any time.
I wrote a short booklet on playing the “Game” of RaDAR. It can bee seen / downloaded at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VTQZkIrwMz3I3jsxecC5NDLcuk0r4unG/view?usp=sharing
A few screen shots from the booklet :
My RaDAR Challenge logbook as uploaded to QRZ.COM. Let me explain ….
I had publicised the RaDAR Challenge on every social media channel I could think of, WhatsApp, Facebook groups, Forums and Google+ a few days before the challenge. It was publicised in news bulletins by official organisations too.
I left a half hour earlier than planned so I could be in time for the first AO-91 pass otherwise I would not have time to walk a kilometer to my first deployment point, deploy and be ready for the satellite. Satellite operators are quite active in South Africa but only three were there for me during this pass which meant I could not move to the next position only having three QSO’s. Christi ZS4CGR and Tom ZS1TA are VERY active satellite operators and you can be sure the chances are that they will be active unless there were other priorities.
I set up an HF station using a link dipole and ex military B25 radio which could help with a little extra power in challenging band conditions. This radio is a little heavier than my framed 817 – I felt it.
Pieter, V51PJ was within range on 40m, it’s usual old “Short skip” self. There was no other activity besides ZS2EC and ZS1OB having a QSO around 7.085 MHz. I tried to break in needing just one QSO but they did not hear me. They were 59+ and also a reasonable distance from me. I can’t imagine why they could not hear me? Maybe they were using much higher power – difficult to judge.
I went onto Facebook asking for someone to listen on 7.090 MHz, the RaDAR watering hole. Eventually I got a call from Kobus ZS3JPY on the west coast, also pretty far away. QSB was bad but we had a QSO. Then Woody ZS3WL called but he was an excess contact with me now having more than 5 QSO’s and then the watering hole became a “group chat room” and I needed to leave.
By the time I had got 5 + 1 QSO’s, AO-91 had practically circled the earth! There was no time to pack up and move so just for the sake of moving I left the HF station where it was, grabbed the SatComms equipment and walked a few meters towards the river and deployed there for the next AO-91 satellite pass.
Again, there were only three stations active on the satellite. Andre ZS2ZA later apologised and explained he was doing boiler tests on his steam locomotive and could not join in this time round. I had just made contact with Tienie ZS6MHH when the satellite seemed to shut down. I later heard the voice recording from the beacon again.
I packed up and walked back to where the HF station was, fortunately in a safe environment so my equipment had little chance of disappearing during my short absence. Pieter V51PJ was still there and I could get a “fourth” contact but not having moved as per RaDAR challenge requirements. I heard that Sid ZS5AYC was trying but I could not hear him.
Satellite operators are a disciplined group and keep overs short and to the point. Sometimes too short as proper RaDAR information exchanges aren’t always made. A few seconds more talk time could produce a full 10 character grid square. My recorder is always on so I can get them at a later stage too.
Hams have this insatiable need to say too much and although I valued the contacts the calling channels should be kept available for quick information exchanges between participating stations – it should NOT become a visiting place for a rag chew!
That prompted me to write a short booklet on “Playing the game of RaDAR”. Maybe it won’t make any difference but if we want to see more RaDAR activity then the general ham population should know what it’s all about. Not that, after ten years, anyone should be uninformed? I don’t mean this in a bad way but we have to build in a little more professionalism into the word amateur and see the serious side of amateur radio even if this is a FUN activity. We are training ourselves to be better operators.
There was NO CW activity either. RaDAR isn’t a 5NN game it requires that little bit more than that. We need to get used to a little more information to be passed ACCURATELY.
Now to work on that booklet!!!!
73 de Eddie, ZS6BNE
I heard today the sad news that Reg Barnes, ZS6AHB had passed away.
I did some enquiries and confirmed that his wife’s name was Pam. They were both hams and Pam ran the electrics club at a school I attended, Alberton High, in the mid 1970’s. I recall her sons name was Paul and went looking on Facebook for information and found this page in a 1976 year book. It appears Paul was quite a rugby player!!! I wonder where he is now?
A few ZS hams had fun this past week looking out for the ZL1RS balloon passing through South Africa on it’s second voyage around the world! Because we went away for the weekend I did a field deployment to to continue monitoring the balloon’s signal on 20m WSPR.
It was an ideal opportunity to compare antennas too especially the “New BKW” (Now referred to as the “GSF” – G0GSF) I have strung up in the trees semi permanently in KG34ac.
Because I used my smartphone as an Internet hotspot I had to house everything in the car although it’s pretty safe to leave the equipment in the field!
Besides the static it was a pretty noiseless environment RF wise!
The environment itself was peaceful!!!
My friend Pierre ZS6A commented on Facebook (We had been having fun doing comparisons for most of the week from home) :
Pierre van Deventer Eddie Leighton
Your field setup is working very well.
Since this morning you have generated 15 spots Vs. my 7 spots.
You are also consistently reporting better signals compared to me.
I am pretty sure this is due to your rural location.
Note the GSF antenna could also have added spice to the pudding 🙂 Although there was an odd 300km difference in distance between myself and other ZS6 operators it was a good comparison. All stations had good antennas.
Certainly the GSF antenna and the environment showed good results…..
73 de Eddie ZS6BNE
A rather new discussion on our local forum led me to do a little research on APRS again. I posed a few questions. Interesting to see there is a little APRS activity in South Africa.
Is it being put to good use or only an indicator of a very few vehicle movements?
Is any messaging done through the network?
How many active weather stations are there nowadays?
What are the main coverage areas?
Are there still 300 baud HF gateways?
An answer from Andrew ZS5CEY, “DMR radios with GPS can post their positions to APRS via our Brandmeister DMR Master (providing radio set up to do this). This also allows two-way messaging between DMR radios and APRS, and is supposed on all the DMR repeaters”. I need to do a little study on this technology.
Paul ZS1V replied, “Hamnet WC and GS both use 2m APRS during events and WC have used it for multi-day missing persons searches with WSAR also”.
I went to apsr.fi and did a few searches and was pleasantly surprised!
Great to see all the active weather stations!
Hennie ZS6EY provided some port info, “You can also connect to http://zs6ey.no-ip.org:14501 on all three ports”. Andy ZS5CEY also mentioned a backup server URL, “You can connect to my backup server at http://www.easytracking.co.za and the port you want to connect to”.
Maybe time to look into APRS again. I have a KAM XL lying around doing nothing!
Just got Xastir running under Zorin OS 12.3 Linux 🙂
Yet Another APRS Client (YAAC)
The first RaDAR Challenge for 2018 took place on Saturday. I chose the four hours between 14:00 and 18:00 CAT (12:00 to 16:00 UTC). Attempting an intercontinental R2R was part of the plan.
I left on foot at 14:00 to travel at least a kilometer and be ready for the AO-91 cubesat pass at 14:36. I hoped to make 5 QSO’s via the satellite but it was quite a low elevation pass to the west which would be even lower for the general HamSat group in South Africa.
I managed good exchanges with Tom ZS1TA and Charles ZS1CF but battled with Tienie ZS6MHH for a grid exchange. Could I count the contact? I don’t think so. The satellite moved north where there is general QRM from central Africa and further QSO’s were impossible.
I had my HF kit with me and hastily set up an HF station to make further QSO’s before I could move. I made QSO’s with Justin ZS6JGP, Thanie ZS4AZ (A big supporter of SOTA and RaDAR) and Sid ZS5AYC. Not counting the QSO with Tienie gave me a total of five QSO’s so I could pack up and move. The strategy was to do the next leg as a mobile station with DX in mind.
I walked to where the car was parked, dumped the kit in the boot and went for a 6km drive returning to my favorite spot in the park and set up the link dipole once again, adjusted for 40m. Here I worked Sid ZS5AYC again, he had already moved to a new grid. I worked Sid’s wife, Adele ZS5APT too then Thanie ZS4AZ again, our supporter. That was three QSO’s and I needed another two. 20m was full of CW contest activity AGAIN! Our CW sked frequency, 14.061 was busy. I went to 15m, it was quiet except for the FT8 frequency. I did a WSPR test at 5W and the results were not too inspiring.
Then I thought, let me try FT8, a mode I’ve never used before. I had my netbook with me running Elementary OS Linux with WSJT-X installed. I connected the Signalink USB to my 897d running off two 7A/Hr SLABS and set it to 40W. I used the 40m section of the link dipole and tuned using the AT897 LDG ATU. I made my first digital FT8 QSO’s. It was just too easy, the computer automatically adjusting for the next information exchange. It had no value other than making a computerized QSO.
I’m in two minds about FT8 for it’s use in RaDAR but at this stage the QSO’s counted, at least the first two so I had an excess of one QSO. It made little sense (At the time) to move any further and thought I’d look out for Greg N4KGL and possible other RaDAR stations and called continuously on 21.061 CW.
These were the only RBN spots I got from the Reverse beacon Network.
I did however manage to work two CW stations from Germany. QSB was very deep though. That was the end of my RaDAR Challenge time period. I managed two locations. Five bonus points for the first satellite contact. Five bonus points for a contact with another RaDAR station, Sid ZS5AYC. Five QSO’s for position 1 and five QSO’s for position two. The excess of three QSO’s could not be counted. Points calculation 40.
If I had moved to a third location I could have made the bonus points for the first QSO with a DX station on CW but chose not to move. I could ignore the FT8 QSO’s but that is a technicality we must discuss. PSK31 is a different story and would most certainly count as a digital modes QSO.
An interesting poll in ZS (Just started)