RaDAR – Smartphones

Quite a few years ago in the early days of Android I invested in a top of the range Samsung Galaxy Note (It came at the price of a FT817), one of the first “Note” phones. It was my way of getting to know this popular operating system in my job as technology manager. I discovered HamGPS an app capable of using the phones GPS to determine a 10 character maidenhead grid. This immediately became part of RaDAR.

It was in the days where I had no cell phone contract and used the method, “Pay as you go” on the MTN network. I worked this way from way back when I had a Nokia 3310 and even before that, a NEC! Then while on “early retirement” my XYL convinced me to take out a cell phone contract with cell c – it was the biggest mistake of my life! The phone they gave me was a Sony C4 which really had an excellent camera for photos and videos but that was about all. I constantly lost signal and the touch screen became a disaster half way through the contract and could not be replaced. On Friday I terminated the two year contract in it’s final month so by this time next month I will be contract free – and free!

In the meantime I’m using my XYL’s old Sony and have given my old “Note” to Eduan, my grandson. So that leaves me without the capability of determining 10 character maidenhead grids as the Sony I have now doesn’t have a built in GPS!

Maybe this is a good thing that I get back to using my very old Garmin Legend handheld GPS last used with APRS, even via FM satellites!

I can now only determine a 6 character grid square …… but, let’s see how it goes.


RaDAR – Supporting field day the ultralight way

This weekend was the SARL’s Field day and I took part in the ultralight, RaDAR like, category as a casual operation. It was fun setting up the antennas and making a few QSO’s. There were two special QSO’s firstly a QRP / QRP CW QSO with my friend Tom, ZS6OMT/QRP who is usually QRO but this wasn’t an official field day QSO though. Secondly Eben, ZS3EP answered my CQ while he was mobile and I QRP. We had excellent comms between us, also not an official field day QSO.

I took a few pics of Sunday mornings walk in the park. Unfortunately I twisted my ankle on the way not seeing a hole hidden in the grass and it wasn’t very pleasant staying on my feet for too long!!!

Ready to deploy the link dipole and RaDAR mast.

All hooked in and ready to raise the poles.

Deployed …..

Packing up / kit check.

As always, it was fun!!!

73 de Eddie ZS6BNE





RaDAR – SOTA POTA and the RaDAR-Thon

Sid ZS5AYC and Adele ZS5APT often take part in RaDAR movement challenges and they do very well. When activating multiple SOTA’s I’m sure that RaDAR training kicks in to compliment SOTA. They excel in that too!!!

With multiple SOTA activations, deploying, making contacts, packing up leaving nothing behind, moving, doing it all over again, ensuring you’re well fed, hydrated and fit is typically RaDAR.

SOTA / POTA and RaDAR compliment each other very well!

My home town environment has no mountains for at least 100 km radius but we have RaDAR where we can practice for such things without having to climb a mountain.

The RaDAR-Thon idea is great, and Greg, N4KGL has made it a 7 hour outing. I think that’s awesome. SOTA operators used to activating multiple summits would do extremely well in this regard I’m sure. I really like Greg’s initiative, a BIG THUMBS UP to him!

See Port City Trail

The goal is to maximize deployments making five amateur radio contacts before moving to the next deployment along the trail. The RaDAR Challenge rules will be observed including bonuses except for the duration. Hours are 9 AM to 4 PM EST.

Note Port St Joe is in grid square EL 79. The Cape San Blas Lighthouse is along the route. Constitution Park qualifies for Parks On The Air.

The date has been rescheduled for mid February 2018. Maybe the rest of the world can join in!!!

RaDAR – Preparing to work Bouvet island DXpedition

This DXpedition is within reach of South Africa and in particular RaDAR Ops! I’m not a DXer as such but would like to do some chasing on this one.

My usual wire antennas would probably have to be improved upon to ensure success. Antennas that have served me well in the past are the delta loops and I consulted an article that an old friend wrote a few years back. It can be seen at  H5ANX Delta loop antenna

The standard formula, 286 / f in MHz is used to give the loop length in meters. For 20m it would be 20.15m, the same length of wire used for a 40m end fed via an end fed tuner. That means I can use the same wire for a “20m / 10m” delta loop that is capable of being used on 17m / 15m and 12m using a tuner – or just carry two lengths of wire, one for the “20m / 17m / 15m / 12m and 10m” multiband delta and the other for the 40m end fed. The proof of the pudding applies as always, of course!

If the delta loop is fed from a corner via the 4:1 balun the polarization is vertical – nice for DX! The delta loops are also not critical about height either. All these parameters fit in very well with RaDAR!!!

Like the short coax feed from the rig to the end fed tuner, the same short length can be used to feed the 4:1 balun. Dual function hardware in the pack.

This is what I’ll use for Bouvet and of course the 897d at 100W for a little punch. That means I must refit the LDG AT-897 Auto ATU …. it has presently been removed.

Let the games begin!

Some tree deployment options …….

Update 2018-01-31

The 20m full wave deĺta loop – Measured 20.3m and eventually trimmed 600mm. Practically zero SWR across the whole 20m and 10m bands on the 817’s meter!!!

 I was a little concerned about why I needed to trim so much and discovered this excellent PDF on delta’s. See Delta loop presentation

Amazing, the dramatic effect of insulation on the wire!!! I use “Twin flex”.
Hanging the apex of the delta from a tree limb and tying the bottom two corners down with tent pegs allows for tilt if need be for directional gain. Tuner not needed if only used as a dual bander (20m / 10m)  Fantastic!!!

RaDAR – Analysing the challenge logs

Not everyone submits a log especially that the RaDAR challenge is really a challenge against yourself but also good to compare other’s results to see if you’re doing OK or not.

Being international and having to choose a four hour period within a twenty four hour period, we don’t have the same proximities or propagation conditions so “apples with apples” could never be compared.

Usually QRP power levels are more difficult to use but power output categories are not defined as it balances itself out as a weight issue if you need to carry the kit. Usually around 20 Watts is a good average for reasonable success.

I received a log from Thomas, DG1PY. Firstly I was very impressed to see Germany taking part. Thomas’s log was also very well presented.

Thomas made three transitions which I think is a good average. What’s interesting here too is that only the first five QSO’s can count but the sixth one is considered gentlemanly. So for this deployment the score would be 15. Thomas mentioned there was a contest on the go and that sometimes makes it difficult for RaDAR to RaDAR contacts in order to achieve bonus points.

All three deployments in Thomas’s case had similar results which gives him a total score of 45 which is really pretty good! There you have it, how did you compare? Thomas may try transitions on a bicycle during the next challenge which will also be an interesting challenge. It’s also great to mix various transition methods.

Some take on the challenge as a group and some take it on alone. To be quite honest, I prefer to do it alone, not that I’m not a team player but the challenge is to have a well focused team and that’s a challenge in itself!

We will see the next challenge in April……

73 de Eddie ZS6BNE


Photo : The SARL Summer QRP Contest 2018-01-27


RaDAR – For the non builder

Well I built the 49er and was very impressed with it’s simplicity and effectiveness! Maybe some young ham could use it as a first CW rig at minimal cost! Already built!!!

Same goes for the more advanced QCX!!!

Let’s see how many would be interested in a good first step into amateur radio.

Update 2018-01-12

All gone to a good home, the circle is getting bigger!

Now I’m wondering if I should not let the HB1A go too? I do have a 817ND for QRP and a 897d for QRO?


RaDAR – Playing hand tennis

I have a young grandson, Eduan. He has just turned 12 and finished standard four. Another year of primary school in 2018 then he goes to high school. What really stands out is his positive attitude to life and he hasn’t had it easy. Fortunately he stays with us, his grandparents. Most mornings this year before school closed for the holidays, he would leave for school early to be in time to choose his court for hand tennis before the other kids arrived. Well that is if he was not on scholar patrol duty which he did with pride.

Hand tennis, in Afrikaans, “Handjie tennis” is a game played on the ground using your hand as a racket and a tennis ball which has some good bounce. It’s a high speed game and you need to be fit too.

Each afternoon, he would practice against the wall when he had no one to play with. He just got better and better at it.

This makes me think of ham radio where it is essentially a team sport but even though there are millions of hams in the world, it’s kind of difficult finding people to play with on the bands especially when using low power and using the morse code (CW). That kind of narrows down your chances of finding someone to play with!

I had the bare minimum (QCX but at least VFO controlled) and had my end fed permanently hanging in a tree for the whole Christmas weekend. I managed four QSO’s ………. When conditions for local QSO’s were not good I still called CQ now and then and got some surprising responses from the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) which kind of feels much like young Eduan when he practised hand tennis against the wall!

At least we come out stronger in the end. Somehow he packed his ball away and I felt the need the roll up the antenna and pack everything away for a while too.

Now an inactive ham …….. but for how long?