SKCC 5123T----- FISTS 14979----- Flying Pigs 2331----- NAQCC 3610-----QRP ARCI 14176-----Polar Bear 257

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Next RaDAR Contest is April 5th 2014

RaDAR is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio. The RaDAR contest happens the first Saturday of April and November. This is a great time to be outdoors in North America. The contest period is four hours 1400 UTC to 1800 UTC. The four hours means time is of the essence. This makes planning and practice before the contest important.

1. Keep it moving.

Movement is the unique part of RaDAR. The multipliers are

x 1 – RaDAR Fixed station (At home or in another building)

x 2 – RaDAR Field station (Portable – away from home)

x 3 – Moving RaDAR station – Car / motorcycle / bicycle / etc.  – minimum 3 km

x 4 – Moving RaDAR station – On foot – minimum 1 km
Note for  x 3 and x 4 movement is required after five contacts.

For on foot the minimum distance on foot is one kilometer. That is not difficult if you are used to taking walks or hiking. This will make your pack-up a critical choice. You may go the backpack route or use a cart for the gear. A transition between locations could take 20 minutes for the walk and 10 minutes to setup. So that time is going to take away from the total operating time. It is possible to operate and walk at the same time if you like. You need to cover the required distance for the five contacts.

Car / motorcycle / bicycle / etc might be interesting and could yield more operating time.

2. To QRP or not to QRP

x 6 – 5 Watts or less, 

x 4 – 6 to 50 Watts, 

x 2 – 51 watts or greater

What are those propagation conditions going to be? Is 5 watts going to be a struggle?

3. Where in the world?

The venue or venues is worthy of study. State parks are great and often scenic. You may want altitude or perhaps the salt water effect at the beach. Restrooms are handy and influence my choice of operating location. Local parks work as well and you might chose a series of parks if you are moving by vehicle.

4. Gear Up!

If you are into portable ops you are already working this. Will you use a rig like a HB1B, a FT 817, Elecraft KX3 or a 100 watt rig. Consider size, weight and battery requirements. Switching modes and band can be advantageous.

5. What's up Doc?

The antenna or antennas is the most interesting consideration. Time to setup, Space available, single band, multi band, efficiency, and take off angle are all factors to consider. End Fed Half Wave antennas are popular. A magnetic loop like the Alexloop may be hard to beat.

6. Where the Boys or Girls are?

What what band and mode will yield the most contacts and when? I tend to start on 40 meters for NVIS. Is there an event going on that you can leverage for contacts? Working other RaDAR operators is a lot of fun and there is a RaDAR to RaDAR intercontinental bonus. Don't overlook that VHF/UHF simplex contacts are allowed.

7. Geek Stuff.

Don't forget about a smart phone or GPS. You can use the GPS apps for getting your grid square. I like the RunKeeper App to tell how far I have walked between locations. Likewise, digital or satellite contacts will net you a bonus.

8. Survival Rations.

Remember those liquids to hydrate and the sunscreen. A snack or lunch is good.

9. You are not alone.

There are about 200 hams trying to figure this out in the RaDAR Community.

10. LOL

This could be the most fun you have in Ham Radio. Plan it and enjoy it!

The official rules for the Americas are at Marcus Kessler NX5MK is the contest manager. Eddie Leighton ZS6BNE is the originator of RaDAR and he has a great blog at

N4KGL from April 2013 RaDAR Contest