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

Monday, March 27, 2017

Thanks to Chris VA3ECO for Elmering

I met Chris and his wife Margot by chance at a Conservation Park in Panama City in February of 2016. I was doing portable ops and Chris recognized that I was a fellow ham. The couple spends the Winters of late in the Panama City. I have been getting started with amateur satellites. My HF operating started almost 40 years ago. I would not need elmering there but sats are different, in particular the linear sats. It just happens that Chris has done quite a bit with the linear birds like FO-29. He offered to get me going.

Chris VA3ECO at an Elmer session

I had tried using a single FT 817 for FO-29. I could hear the stations. I liked what I heard. There can be many QSOs going on at the same time unlike the FM birds. Some ops can pull off using one rig but the dopplers had me lost. Then, I took a leap and got an Icom 910H on eBay. This was my most expensive buy on eBay. Fortunately, the radio was as described and working perfectly. That is if you know how to operate it. There is some complexity with understanding the satellite mode and so forth. I tried to get something going without the aid of computer. I still could not pull that off.

My Icom 910H setup for portable sat ops.

I have had some challenges getting the software control programs going in the past. Of course it is doable but the forums are filled with tales of woe. The software of choice for satellite rig control is SatPC32. I like software that you can get started without reading the manual. Well this program is a little non-intuitive at first.

An Arrow satellite antenna

Well, this is where Chris came in. He helped me update the Kelps and some other particulars. Then he met me at a parking lot and was my co-pilot for a pass of the XW sats. He knew about the fine tuning you use for the Doppler. These are things that would have taken me awhile to learn since I did not know what I did not know. We even did a second outing for more fun.

Well to complete the story Chris is now back in Canada. It is my turn to go solo on the linear sats. Last Saturday I was at the Samson, Alabama rocket launch and Chris agreed to meet me on a FO-29 pass.  I had success contacting Chris on two passes. I also got several more contacts. The ops are very friendly on the linear birds. This will be lots of fun. Thanks to Chris for being an Elmer to a senior ham. Hi Hi.

Chris has a home on an Island at Echo Bay on Lake of the Woods in Ontario. It happens to be a rare grid. So Chis is popular on the sats. He has a HF station as well. In fact his station is setup for remote operation. Chris did a talk for the Panama City ARC while he was here. He did a live demo of remote operating from our clubhouse. He has documented his remote setup here.

Oh yes, Chris is into lots of other interesting activities like model planes and drones. He has some great videos on YouTube. Check them out. He even does some rockets so he enjoyed coming to our launches in Samson.

73 to Chris and Margot

Greg N4KGL

Chris at a Samson, Alabama Rocket launch.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Planning for the April 2017 RaDAR Challenge

The April 1st Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR) Challenge has been on my mind. See RaDAR Challenge rules here. My top choice for a site is St. Andrews State Park nearby. The saltwater access is generous there. I should have azimuths over salt water for most of the world. I have had lots of luck from this site domestic and DX. However, the Sunspots are not favorable for the high bands this year.

To be bold, I could go pedestrian mobile using the Elecraft KX2 and a whip antenna.  I use the KX2 as a hand-held. It is the lightest configuration I can imagine. There would be almost no setup time. I might go for it. Of course, a backup antenna might be wise. It would likely be my self supporting dipole.

I also will go for the Satellite Bonus if there is a pass of an FM Bird. This could influence the four hour window I choose. It would require taking my Elk Sat antenna. The Elk also comes in handy for 2 meter FM simplex. The Digital Modes bonus is a possibility also.

I have three stops in mind as shown. I will be on foot. The stops are at least one kilometer apart. By choosing a State Park I will be eligible for WWFF-KFF Radar Awards. The Warthog Award is three stops, Rhino is four and the Cheetah is six in a 24 hour period.  I hope to get at least three stops in during the four hours. I could stay longer than four hours to go for the Rhino or Cheetah.

It will be five contacts and move one kilometer for the four hours. I am hoping for DX including RaDAR to RaDAR DX. As you can see five contacts and go, the walking, the bonuses all combine to be the a formidable.challenge. I am counting on a cadre of chasers and other RaDAR ops to help. We will see what factor weather plays. There might be a April shower. Sadly, Suzy is not allowed on the State Park beaches. Oh well I might think about other sites.

Consider getting out portable on April 1st. You can be fixed or move via any mode under RaDAR. The distances vary with the mode. Good luck!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Get Ready for the April 1st 2017 RaDAR Challenge

RaDAR Is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio

1. Aim
The RaDAR “Challenge” is a unique event aimed at promoting the use of Rapidly Deployable Amateur Radio stations. This challenge is for all licensed radio amateurs not limited to South Africa. A RaDAR operator can take part in any of the three defined categories (see point 7) which may be changed at any time during the challenge. The points system is so structured as to encourage portable RaDAR operations, especially moveable RaDAR stations. Moveable RaDAR stations rely on fixed and portable stations as a point of contact using channelised frequencies. “Search and pounce” techniques are also allowed.

2. Date and Time
From 00:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC on Saturday 1 April 2017. A 24 hour window will give equal opportunity to the international community of RaDAR operators. RaDAR operators are suggested to chose a four hour operating period during the 24 hour window,.

3. Bands and Modes
All amateur bands are allowed including cross band contacts via amateur radio satellites.
Modes – CW, SSB, AM, FM or any legal digital mode. QSOs via terrestrial repeaters will NOT be allowed.

4. Suggested HF calling frequencies
See for the latest international list of frequencies. The WARC bands can be used considering this is a RaDAR Challenge and not a contest as such. It provides better opportunities for RaDAR contacts during difficult propagation conditions. Recommended digital modes frequencies – Refer to the South African Radio League Contest Manual, General Rule 15.

5. Exchange
The RaDAR challenge requires more than a minimalistic information exchange. Accurate information exchange is considered more important than a large QSO count.
Call sign, name, RS(T) report, QTH and grid locator. Note the grid locator can change as RaDAR operators are allowed to move position at any time. The grid locator of six characters is acceptable but should preferably be accurate to 10 characters for higher
position accuracy. Smartphone applications are generally used to establish more than a 6-character grid locator. If working non-participating stations, call sign, name, RST and QTH is acceptable.

6. Scoring
1 point per QSO.
Individual QSOs – per mode, per band, per satellite, per call sign.
If the moving RaDAR station has moved the required distance (see point 7) contact can be made with a previously worked station, again.

7. Categories and multipliers
The following multipliers are applicable to determine the final score. If category/mode of transport changes were made during the challenge, than calculate accordingly.

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 – See modes of transport below.

Modes of transport and required movement distances (moving RaDAR stations only)
Vehicles, motorcycles and motorboats etc. (Motorised transport) – 6 km
Bicycles – 2 km
On foot and paddle canoes – 1 km
Wheelchairs – 500 m
Aeronautical mobile stations are considered moving stations and can communicate at any convenient time.

Note: Moving RaDAR stations can move at any time but are required to move to the next destination after five contacts have been made from the present location. The move needs to cover the required distance before further contacts are allowed to be made. This requirement tests the ability to rapidly re-deploy your amateur radio field station.

9. Bonus points (All categories)
Five (5) points (The equivalent of five QSOs) for a minimum of one satellite or any digital modes QSO involving a computer, smartphone or digital modes device. (For clarity thereafter 1 point per Satellite / Digital modes QSO).
Five (5) points for the first successful same continent RaDAR to RaDAR QSO (As may be confirmed by the extensive information exchange.
Five (5) points for the first intercontinental (DX) QSO
Ten (10) points for the first successful inter continental (DX) RaDAR to RaDAR QSO (As may be confirmed by the extensive information exchange).

10. Log Sheets
Log sheets must be submitted by 8 April 2017 and sent by e-mail to

See for a log sheet specifically designed for the 2016 RaDAR contest.
Note: A photo of the station (JPG format) MUST accompany every log entry. A photo is required for each new location that moveable stations visit. These photos are used to promote amateur radio and the RaDAR concept showing where amateur radio can be used to communicate from and in the many different ways.

The above is an excerpt from from

Visit and for more info about RaDAR.

You are also encouraged to enter your RaDAR Op Plan at

I encourage all hams to participate a. Let us know your plans and results. Good luck and be safe!

Greg N4KGL