Thursday, 9 August 2018

CTARC Updated Club History - Aug '18

An updated PDF file of the Cape Town Amateur Radio Centre's history is available [here].

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

CTARC Ragchew - 1 Aug '18

The August 2018 edition of the Cape Town Amateur Radio Centre's bi-monthly newsletter "Ragchew" is now published.

Grateful thanks once again to our editor, Anne, for all her excellent work in putting together this month's edition, and to all those who contributed articles.

Remember please, Anne is always on the look-out for articles to publish in Ragchew!

Download the PDF file [here];

Ragchew is also on our Newsletters Page

Monday, 23 July 2018

CTARC Caps for the ILLW - 23 Jul '18

Our secretary, Anne, received this from John ZS1AGH and Elsabe:
Hello Anne,

If there are members that may require caps for the Lighthouse Weekend in mid-August, we would appreciate their orders and deposits at the AGM (which takes place on Saturday 28 July).

The caps cost R30.00 each. The embroidery costs R50.00 each.
Total: R80.00 each.
We require the cost of the cap as deposit.


Sunday, 22 July 2018

CTARC Forthcoming Annual General Meeting - 28 Jul '18

Dear CTARC Member

Notification is hereby given that the Cape Town Amateur Radio Centre's Annual General Meeting has been called.

Date: Saturday, 28th July 2018.

Venue: CTARC Clubhouse, Round Table (Belvedere) Community Centre, off Laidlaw Road, Claremont.

Time: 14:00.

Social: Join us for afternoon refreshments after the meeting.

AGM 2018 Agenda

The Minutes of the 2017 AGM

Proxy Form 2018

Anne Bareham
(CTARC Secretary and Editor)
Cell: O72 268 I2O7

Saturday, 21 July 2018

CTARC Write the FCC Exam - Jul '18

We received this letter via Tjerk ZS1J:
Dear Fellow Radio Amateur

You may recall that I alerted you to an opportunity to participate in an
FCC licence exam during August. It now looks like we have enough interest
to run such a session. The best date appears to be 25 August 2018 around

You can find full information here:
You can find free study material for all licence classes through that page.

You can see more about our work on promoting amateur radio in Africa and
the role that FCC licences might play here:
Please let me know if you are interested in participating. Please provide:
  1. Your name, ZS callsign and FCC callsign (if any);
  2. The exams you hope to write (Technician, General, Extra).
    You can write all three with one entry fee;
  3. Your availability on 25 August.
If you know of anyone else who would be interested, please let them know
about us and let me know about them. You're even welcome to draw attention
to the possibility of FCC examinations in your local club newsletter.

Finally, please let me know if you are not interested at all, so that I
don't bother you again.


Chris R. Burger

Monday, 9 July 2018

CTARC Forthcoming Committee Meeting - 23 July '18

CTARC Committee members are reminded of the forthcoming meeting at 19h00 on Monday 23 July 2018 at the clubhouse.

Please make an effort to attend as there are important matters to discuss regarding the July Meeting, the CTARC AGM, which is scheduled to take place on Saturday, 28 July 2018.

(If you can't be there, please remember to send in your reports and apologies to Rob or Anne.).

Sunday, 1 July 2018

CTARC Ragchew - 1 Jul '18

The July 2018 edition of the Cape Town Amateur Radio Centre's bi-monthly newsletter "Ragchew" is now published.

Grateful thanks once again to our editor, Anne, for all her excellent work in putting together this month's edition, and to all those who contributed articles.

Remember please, Anne is always on the look-out for articles to publish in Ragchew!

DO NOT MISS the SWOPS PAGE of this edition...

Download the PDF file [here];

Ragchew is also on our Newsletters Page

Friday, 29 June 2018

CTARC Work Party Cancelled - 29 June '18

Owing to inclement weather, we regret to announce that the scheduled Antenna Work Party at the CTARC clubhouse for tomorrow, Saturday, 30 June 2018 has been CANCELLED until further notice.

With apologies

Thursday, 28 June 2018

CTARC Forthcoming July Meeting - 28 Jul '18

This is official notification that the Cape Town Amateur Radio Centre's Annual General Meeting has been called.

It will take place at our next monthly meeting, that of July 2018, which takes place at 14h00 on Saturday, 28 July 2018, at the CTARC clubhouse in the Round Table Community Centre, off Laidlaw Road, Claremont. See navigation instructions here.

Documentation from CTARC Secretary Anne will be forwarded by e-mail to all club members presently. Announcements will be made here on this blogspot, and on our Sunday morning bulletins on the 145.750 MHz repeater at 08h30.

The July monthly meeting will also give those members who have not renewed their club subscriptions, which were due at the end of June 2018, so to do. Similarly, those who wish to make use of the club's Morningstar remote station may also pay that annual fee at the meeting. Grateful thanks to all members who have paid their subs thus far!

Join us for afternoon snacks and refreshments after the meeting.

Do not miss this important club event! All CTARC members are encouraged to attend.

Monday, 25 June 2018

CTARC In Memorium - May '18

Our condolences go to Mike ZS1FP for the sad passing of Katherine, Mike's YL. Katherine passed away in May.

Some of us met Katherine at a CTARC function we held at the Observatory a couple of years ago.

Our thoughts are with you, Mike.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

CTARC Report on June Meeting - 24 Jun '18

The CTARC met on Saturday 23 June at 14h00 for the monthly meeting. Rainy winter weather didn’t discourage our members’ enthusiasm - by 13h50 seating space was already getting difficult to find as more people packed into the venue, which is great news. Danny ZS1BL was kept busy at the entrance taking in subscriptions and Morningstar payments as members dug hands into pockets to find the necessary. Thanks to all who have paid timeously. For those who intend to renew their CTARC membership, annual subs are due at the end of June...

Chairman Rob ZS1SA opened the meeting with a welcome, and gave a report back on the recent committee meeting. He reminded us of the club’s AGM next month, and the August meeting which will be the International Lighthouse/Lightship Weekend held at Green Point Light on the weekend of 18/19 July 2018. Rob announced that John ZS1EQ is going to assist increasingly with managing our club’s ILLW involvement (a big task that Rob has carried with Spartan fortitude for the past eight years). Also, we have two new bulletin readers joining our team in the persons of John ZS1EQ and Chris ZS1CDG.

Next, we were given the opportunity to see a very interesting piece of gear before the main talk. It was a Special Operations Executive spy transceiver of the type issued to SOE agents inserted into Axis-occupied France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the Balkans in the dark days of the Second World War. This compact W/T transceiver fits into a small leather suitcase. It was the smallest transceiver used in anger by the Allied forces at the time. It was manufactured by Marconi in 1943, and is referred to as a Type 21 Mark iii, or Type "A" Mk iii, or simply "A3" suitcase radio).

Solidly assembled and using just five valves – a 7Q7, three 7H7’s and a 7C5, this compact set was a vast improvement on its predecessor, the Mark ii (also called the "B2"), which had occupied three bulky boxes and would have been difficult for an agent (trying to avoid the enemy search teams) to transport discreetly. The Mark iii fits into a little suitcase just 13 x 9 x 4 inches in size. It is a CW transceiver (which can also receive A3 telephony), capable of operating between 3.2 and 9.55 MHz (sorry - Megacycles!), the transmitter frequency being controlled by a crystal and the receive frequency operating in split mode (for better security and to avoid jamming). Typically,. three crystals were issued per set – one for the daytime frequency, a night time one and one for emergencies. The receiver is a reaction-tuned super-regenerative type with an Intermediate Frequency of 1200 kc/s.

The rig pushes out just 5 watts, which is not that much considering the antenna and counterpoise were often set up just inside a single room to avoid visual detection. However, the home stations back on British soil would be copying the fugitive signal via a rhombic antenna connected to an HRO or AR88 communications receiver. Under ionospheric conditions at the time, ranges of 500 miles were possible. Also, this was surely one situation where “less is more” on account of a very diligent enemy with direction-finding equipment, highly motivated to find the clandestine transmitter soon after it came alive.

There is a vast amount of information on the Internet about the Special Operations Executive, their agents' training, missions, successes and failures through the war years. In addition to the European mainland operations, SOE was also active in the Balkans, the Middle East and the Far East as well. It makes for riveting reading.

An interesting feature of this set is a switch with a ring-pull attachment. This switches the set instantly from mains to 6V battery power (it can be powered by both). This was because it was common practise for the hunters to first DF the approximate location of the transmitter, then to switch off the mains power area by area, block by block. Should the transmitter suddenly drop out as mains power was cut, that indicated the approximate block, street or building of its location, which would then be cordoned off and searched. The ring pull switch enabled the transmitter to keep on going – not so much as to complete the message (which could always be completed on a fall-back frequency and schedule) , but to try to fool the hunters as to its location.

Then it was time for the main talk of the afternoon, “Keeping Track”. Rob introduced the speaker, Peter ZS1PGC. The project, intended primarily for documenting the club’s assets, also has great relevance for individual radio amateurs to apply to their own ham shacks. (Your humble reporter, having embarked on a similar mission, is given pause to wonder if he is not going into too much detail when he tallied Asset no. #8732 - not quite taking it down to individual component level, but close…)

Peter has ably taken on the enormous task of documenting all the physical assets in our club. There are a number of reasons for doing this; not just to list everything so we know what we have, but also to know where to find it, to keep records of service, maintenance and performance (very useful in terms of recording antenna SWR, for example), to know the purchase and replacement values for insurance purposes, and to have easy access to the essential manuals and documentation.

After initial technical gremlins, Peter started his presentation with a brief description of component nomenclatures through the history of electronics, looking at that for valves, semiconductor (with Mullard, Toshiba and JEDEC protocols), and even geographic location systems. The point being made that standardisation is very helpful and in the vast complexity of electronic systems and protocols, the absence of a consistent system leads to chaos.

Very practically, Peter considered the following sensible design considerations for an asset-recording system:
•    It should not be dependent on a specialist IT person;
•    It should not be internet based;
•    It should not be dependent on one person (who may not be available forever) to maintain it;
•    It should not be a database package;
•    It should be free if possible;
•    It should not be limited to a particular operating system;
•    It should require no programming skills;
•    It should use no macros;
•    It should be easy to use;
•    It should be easy to maintain by someone with basic computer skills;
•    It should be expandable.

Peter has, in fact, already set up a very effective parallel system on his iPad, complete with photos of each item. But that breaks the “particular operating system” proscription, because not all of us have iPads! So instead he decided to implement the record system using Libre Office. This freeware set of applications, which includes Word Processing, Spreadsheet, Database, Presentation, Draw and Project Management capabilities, can also read and write Microsoft Office files, which is very useful.

Then Peter discussed the core Information elements required. These are:
•    Description;
•    Serial Number;
•    Asset Tag;
•    Location.

He showed us the above info, applied to a simple spreadsheet, which appears to work just fine.

A further advantage is that hyperlinks can be added to individual spreadsheet cells, which can provide links to - well, anything else required. In this context, those local hyperlinks point to a picture of the item, and to the manual for that piece of equipment (where applicable). But when you think of it, you could, in the fullness of time, link to all sorts of relevant information. Should internet access become available, the range could be extended even further.

Then it was time for a little wizardry. Peter showed us what he is doing with QR codes. These square “bar code” images can be generated on easily obtainable freeware such as Zint Barcode Studio (currently version 2v4). The QR code format can accommodate quite a lot of text information per item. Astonishment was expressed when people at the back of the venue discovered their smartphones could pick up and read QR codes held up (in low light) at the front of the room. So the idea is to incorporate the basic information for each item and affix a QR code for same on each item.

Peter concluded the talk by answering several questions from the audience. Then Noel closed the meeting formally (Rob had to depart shortly after introducing Peter) and we started stacking chairs and perusing the swops on display. Paul ZS1S had generously provided boxes of Stuff for folk to take as needed, and several happy hams walked off with some free earthing leads and mains power cables. Post-meeting ragchews continued for a bit before we closed up shop and headed home. A most interesting afternoon indeed.

Our following meeting will be the CTARC AGM on Saturday, 28 July 2018. We encourage all CTARC members to:
•    Attend that very important meeting;
•    Listen to the Sunday morning bulletins for further info;
•    Pay their subs and Morningstar fees (where applicable) if they have not done so already;
•    Take part in our weekly Monday evening natter at 20h00 on the 145.750 MHz repeater.

We do look forward to seeing you all at our next meeting in July.

Monday, 18 June 2018

CTARC Forthcoming June Meeting - 23 Jun '18

The June CTARC meeting will take place on Saturday 23 June 2018 at 14h00, as usual at the clubhouse.

At this meeting, committee member Peter ZS1PGC will give a talk on Asset Management of our club's various rigs and assorted bits and pieces, using the Libra Office freeware application.

If your ham shack is anything like that of most of ours (!), it probably holds a variety of equipment (some quite expensive), discrete components, tools, hardware, cables, antennas, books, software, notes and a myriad of smaller items. It is a very good idea to keep track of everything (of at very least the major items such as rigs, power supplies and amplifiers) so that you can know just what you own, how much to insure it for, what the serial numbers are should (heaven forbid) anything get stolen, and (ahem) just where to find that packet of transistors or PL-259's you could have sworn you had left on top of the linear a week ago. But which may have been magically teleported into the refrigerator...

With his engineering background, Peter is a very organised man. He is systematically itemising everything the CTARC possesses and has already demonstrated to the CTARC committee his thorough and creative approach to completing this gargantuan task. Those fortunate enough to have attended his fascinating talk in 2016 on his RigExpert Antenna Analyser will know that he delivers his presentations with infectious enthusiasm. So the June meeting promises to be a good one, full of useful information on how to organise your own radio ham (and other kinds of) possessions. Come early to ensure your seat.

Note: This meeting has now taken place. Read the report here.

CTARC A Reminder: Annual Subs Renewal - Jun '18

Hi to all CTARC Members...

A HUGE THANK YOU to those members who have already renewed their subs for 2018 / 19.​

There will be NO increase in subs for 2018 / 19; they remain at R150-00 per Member, and R120-00 for Pensioners (over 65 years of age).

(For new members joining the CTARC, a once-off Admin fee of R50-00 applies.)

(Remember, your spouse may join the Club for 50% of your fee.)

The Renewal Form is attached [here] with all the information you need including banking details and this is your reminder to pay your 2018/2019 subs as soon as possible.

(EFT is preferred if possible please, but I will be collecting cash subs and forms at the AGM.)
Please remember, to send me proof of payment with some means of identifying that it is you how have paid (e.g. Name Callsign).

CTARC subs are due each year on 30 June, and to those members who have not let us know their intention to renew on or before the AGM, we will have to assume you wish to be removed from the membership and mailing lists.
  • Most important: If your contact details have changed, then please also update them on the Renewal Form attached and email it to me. If your contact details have not changed, you needn't e-mail it to me.

    This way we can ensure members continue to receive notifications and editions of Ragchew by e-mail.

Morningstar Remote Station:

Also available to members is our kilowatt remote base station at Morningstar.

If you would like use Morningstar and have not already subscribed, then kindly add an additional R200-00 to your membership subs which will be used toward the site rental costs at Morningstar.

Once I receive your proof of payment, I will add your name to the list and you will be given access to Morningstar until 30 June 2019.

If you require setup instructions for the use of Morningstar, please request this information in your e-mail to me at the same time.

Our Growing Club:

The Club is once again growing, with many new members having joined us this past year. At the time of writing this e-mail we are only two away from the magical 100th member!

The Club has many exciting and different events planned for the upcoming year, so please don't miss out - renew your membership now.

I will see you all on Saturday, 28 July 2018 at the AGM where you can enjoy some delicious refreshments and socialise with your friends and fellow Amateurs for a while.


(CTARC Secretary)

CTARC Mysterious Project "X" - 17 Jun '18

Now, at last, it can be told. At great cost to life and limb our trusty operatives have smuggled the following image (see right) out of the workshops of a Foreign (unspecified) Power. Behold Project "X"...

This unique and truly ingenious device exhibits the characteristically flawless metalwork signature of Rob ZS1SA and (when opened) the deftly intricate hand-wiring skills of Chris ZS1CDG within.

It is, in fact, a Fox. Observe it closely, for ere long it shall be, suitably camouflaged, secreted at a hidden location known only to a very select inner circle, and then activated to emit a tantalisingly fugitive signal periodically.

At this point, teams of trained operatives, bearing a variety of directional antennae that bear resemblance to vandalised tape-measures, egg-beaters and ray guns, will endeavor to discover its secret location by way of the dark arts of radiolocation and direction finding.

Should you wish to participate in this activity, further instructions will be posted here in due course.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

CTARC Forthcoming Committee Meeting - 18 June '18

CTARC Committee embers are reminded of the forthcoming meeting at 19h00 on Monday 18 June 2018 at the clubhouse.

Please make an effort to attend as there are important matters to discuss regarding the July Meeting.

(If you can't be there, please remember to send in your reports and apologies to Rob or Anne.)

Please note this meeting has now taken place. CTARC chairman Rob ZS1SA will report back at the June meeting.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

CTARC Employment Opportunity - 14 Jun '18

An employment opportunity has become available recently.

An Installer Technician is needed by two-way radio company based in the Northern Suburbs of Cape Town.

The position requires somebody with the following experience and abilities:
  • Perform installations, de-installations of two-way radio units into various vehicle types, including trucks and plant machinery;
  • Perform the installations as per the set standard operating procedures at our workshop as well as at sites located throughout the Western Cape;
  • Do repairs to all types of electronic devices, locate and resolve faults in them, and do maintenance work on them;
  • The ability to safely climb radio masts and towers;
  • Solid experience in handling various tools and machinery;
  • Hands-on maintenance experience in both mechanical and electrical components;
  • A team player, with excellent communications skills;
  • A valid driver's license.
If you have the above proficiencies/experience and are interested in joining the team, please e-mail your CV to

CTARC 3Y0Z Pennant at our Clubhouse - 14 Jun '18

When the 3Y0Z DxPedition to Bouvet Island was abruptly cancelled, the Cape Town Amateur Radio Centre came to the rescue and formed a welcoming committee (organised chiefly by Paul ZS1S, as well as a number of other local and regional radio hams) to greet the weary travelers who had made it up from Bouvet Island after a rather bumpy ride through the roaring forties. They were assisted with their disembarcation at Cape Town, with logistics and with a combined welcome and farewell function at the Royal Cape Yacht Club, and later with lifts to the airport as well. Read about that (here).

The 3Y0Z group were so grateful for their warm welcome that they donated their DxPedition colours to the Cape Town Amateur Radio Centre. So we display them proudly in our clubhouse, for although we did not take physically part in their journey to Bouvet Island, we were very much with them on air and in spirit, and we share the fellowship and fraternity with that great team and with the greater Amateur Radio community.


Saturday, 2 June 2018

CTARC Further Club History - 2 Jun '18

Here's another photo, kindly provided by Dennis ZS1AU.

At a JOTA-type outreach activity are, L to R. Ted Baker ZS1RA (former Cape Town Branch chairman) and Sydney Smith ZS1PF at the microphone, along with two avid Lakeside Sea Scouts.

CTARC Club History - 2 Jun '18

Here is some club history, kindly provided by Dennis ZS1AU.

In the photo (right) from (we guess) the 1960's, L to R: Sydney Smith ZS1PF standing, telling us about his homebrew project (it was an electronic keyer), Ray Alexander ZS1IM (then CT Club Chairman) & Jack Meerburg ZS1FM (Secretary) seated. Note the Trophies!
Syd, who was a Mechanical Engineer by profession and who built beautiful homebrew equipment, was the winner in the photo. He also built (for his company, Cape Steel Pty Ltd ) the connecting bridge walk through, over Darling Street, from Cape Town Railway Station to the OK Bazaars/Golden Acre complex.

Sadly, both Syd and Ray have since passed on, but Jack is still around and living in Constantia.

In the photo (right) are Muriel Alexander (Ray's XYL) and Mac Mclure ZS1VN.

Thanks so much, Dennis!

Friday, 1 June 2018

CTARC Ragchew - 1 Jun '18

The June 2018 edition of the Cape Town Amateur Radio Centre's bi-monthly newsletter "Ragchew" is now published.

Grateful thanks once again to our editor, Anne, for all her excellent work in putting together this month's edition, and to all those who contributed articles.

Remember please, Anne is always on the look-out for articles to publish in Ragchew!

Download the PDF file [here];

Ragchew is also on our Newsletters Page

Sunday, 27 May 2018

CTARC Photos of May 2018 Meeting - 28 May '18

Here are the photos of Deon ZR1DE's talk at the CTARC on 26 May 2018. We will try and get Deon's Powerpoint slides later, which are far better than my photos of slides projected on a wall!
The text report-back is [here].

A great turnout for the meeting, representing all ages in our growing club

Rob ZS1SA opens the meeting and gives feedback on the
committee meeting

Deon ZR1DE commences his oresentation and mentions
the AMSAT SA Space Symposium

Polar and Equatorial orbits

Ground tracks help predict when and where the satellite is visible

The deployment pod that launches sets of CubeSats

The primary satellite that carries the launching pod/s

SDR Dongles have revolutionised inexpensive monitoring,
of HF through to UHF frequencies

Satellite data summarised in a graph

Data analysed by Fast Fourier Transform

Data from a single orbit. This graph shows current generated
by the satellite's photovoltaic cells

Cumulative data summarised from 4 years' worth of orbital data

Non-sun synchronous orbits affect the data collected

Deon responded to numerous questions from the audience

Ian ZS1SX examines a CubeSat frame at first hand. Note the deployable
antennas poking out the sides

After the meeting, Chris ZS1CDG shows off the foxhunting fox
he's constructing

Ever helpful, Peter ZS1PGC (centre) tests a VHF/UHF antenna for Paul ZS1S (right) with his antenna analyser.
Raising the yagi off the ground later delivered better readings.

CTARC Report-back on May 2018 Meeting - 28 May '18

Here is the report on the May 2018 meeting of the Cape Town Amateur Radio Centre.

The meeting was held, as is usually the case, on the fourth Saturday of the month at 14h00 B. This was Saturday 26 May 2018 and the meeting at our Rondebosch clubhouse was very well attended. Word had spread about the speaker and topic! Our chairman, Rob ZS1SA called the meeting to order promptly and gave us some feedback on the recent CTARC committee meeting held the previous Monday. Various matters come to hand:
  • The Morningstar remote station is up and running and in regular use now, and Rob reminded us of the annual access fee payable by users, which is needed to cover the rental on the property. More on the Morningstar remote station here;
  • Then, there are still some CTARC name badges which have been ordered, paid for and made, but as yet remain uncollected;
  • The Committee (specifically Peter ZS1PGC) has set up a PA system in the clubhouse to assist people sitting in the back rows of the meetings to hear the speakers;
  • We have appointed an honorary auditor (in the person of Danny ZS1BL) to keep an objective eye on financial matters now that our exisiting auditor (Barry ZS1FJ) has joined the committee, thereby avoiding a conflict of interests;
  • We are preparing for the CTARC's AGM which takes place at the July meeting;
  • As our "Lighthouse Weekend" yagi beam antenna (the Force 12 C3) is now mounted atop the club's main mast (since the July storms of 2017), we need to make a plan for a proper HF beam antenna for the Lighthouse Weekend event at Green Point lighthouse, which takes place this forthcoming August;
  • The forthcoming meetings for June, July and August are coming up. Follow the links for details;
  • A certain radio amateur in our club is being recommended for an award and Paul ZS1S needs the signatures of a number of club members, who are also SARL members, to qualify this motion to the SARL council;
  • Tony ZS1TK put out a request for more volunteers to assist with reading our Sunday morning bulletins.
Admin matters concluded, Rob introduced Deon / ZR1DE, the main speaker for the afternoon. Deon needs little introduction, as he is very well known in our community for his enthusiastic interest in Satellites, his active involvement in the Kletskous CubeSat programme at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and in the worthy AmsatSA organisation.

Deon's well-illustrated presentation was about CubeSats in general, and the FunCube in particular. He launched his talk with a description of how satellites are sent into space by rocket, and how the item, once launched, can remain in orbit with at least a minimum necessary velocity to stay aloft. He showed a map of the main (mostly military) launching sites across the globe, and how South Africa is in a unique position to be the first to spot satellites launched westwards from the US east coast.

We were then introduced to the concepts of Equatorial and Polar orbits, and the "footprint" of satellites as they pass over a stationary observer/radio ham station below, with an available window of about 15 minutes (if the observer below is lucky enough to have a good pass). We saw a slide of the Vandenburg USAF Base from which many satellites are launched from the USA.

What isn't generally known is that CubeSats were borne out of the need to provide ballast on certain satellites for ballistic purposes, until someone had the great idea of using deployable mini-satellites instead of cubes of concrete!

Deon then introduced us to the FunCube satellite, which started off initially as a university project to provide outreach to schools in the UK to generate interest in Space technology. This 100mm square cube has sensors on its corner columns to measure various parameters such as temperature and sunlight, which is then sent by telemetry back Earthside, where an enthusiastic following of people track the satellite and turn its raw data into usable spreadsheet format.

The FunCube has a small computer to run its functions, but no hard drive would survive the launch (or cosmic radiation), so it rather loads up the BIOS and operating system via a miniscule SD card. This means if the system gets corrupted, it can be re-uploaded again.

Similarly, the rigours of launching mean no antenna could survive, so these have to be extended outwards from the CubeSat only once it has been deployed outwards from the spring-loaded launching pod. Up to as many as 12 CubeSats have been deployed from the mother satellite in one go, but typically one, two or three CubeSats are deployed per pod.

The FunCube has antennae for the 2 metres and 70 centimetre ham bands. These are thin (but sufficiently stiff) metal tapes that are unwound to the correct length from the sides of the satellite.

Deon then gave us more insights into the data that the FunCube provides. Initially starting off as analogue measurements taken by the FunCube's sensors, these are then digitised and transmitted from the satellite back to Earth. (An ancilliary project, the FunCube Dongle SDR, has been developed to enable the teams to receive the data directly from the satellite.) This is where the project really comes alive, because the data can be tracked, decoded and analysed to provide functional information about what the satellite is sensing. It gets more involved when trends are analysed over time - daily, weekly and monthly. Deon showed us some fascinating graphs assembled over 16 weeks that show specific trends in temperatures and other parameters measured by the FunCube.

And, of course, there is the transponder, which enables radio hams to contact each other - transcontinentally at times - while the satellite is overhead. You do not need a kilowatt to work FunCube (if you try that level of QRO, the poor widget will switch itself off to prevent its receiver getting burned out!). 20 watts and a dipole antenna (or Yagi) are usually quite sufficient.

Deon concluded by answering questions from the audience, and received a good round of applause for his very interesting talk.

Thereafter we all had the chance to catch up and chat, and to buy and sell things in the monthly Swop Shop. Thanks so much to Deon for his talk, and to everyone else for attending.

Photos are [here].

Details of next month's meeting (June 2018) are [here].

Thursday, 24 May 2018

CTARC Forthcoming May Meeting - 26 May '18

Deon Coetzee ZR1DE with prototype space frame – Image Credit: SA AMSAT
Deon Coetzee / ZR1DE
with prototype space frame.
Image Credit SA AMSAT
The monthly CTARC meeting for May 2018 will be held at the clubhouse on Saturday 26 May 2018, starting at 14h00.

The speaker for this meeting will be Deon Coetzee / ZR1DE, with a talk on the SA AMSAT radio amateur satellite projects and the FunCube SDR.

Deon's enthusiastic involvement in this field over the years is well known and he is an established authority on the subject, and it promises to be a most interesting talk indeed.

Please note that this topic / speaker replaces previous notifications for the 26 May 2018 meeting. We do apologise for any confusion that might have been caused.

Details of our forthcoming meetings are usually announced on our Sunday morning CTARC bulletins on the 145.750 MHz repeater, in our newsletter "Ragchew" and on this blogspot.

Note: This meeting has now taken place. The report-back is [here].

CTARC Request for Assistance - 24 May '18

There is an urgent request for assistance from Klaus / ZS1QO for fellow radio hams and club members to help him finish dismantling his radio station in Rugby in Cape Town. Klaus and his family are set to depart the QTH quite soon, and his state of health prevents him from doing this big job on his own. While his masts are now dismantled and antennas are down, there is still work to be done.

He also still has quite a large selection of amateur radio rigs, antennas and accessories for sale too. Here is an extracted list of items that appeared recently in the Highway Amateur Radio Club swops page:
Update offer to sale:
  • Military Handset, new, for B25 and similar MIL Radios complete with MIL-Plug,
  • Synthesized Digital Generator FARNELL DSG-1 0,0001 Hz to 99,99 kHz - very rare, among else used for CTCSS calibration-, 
  • Audio Signal Generator HP204C, 
  • Calculating Frequency Counter 0.1 Hz to 2.5 GHz, made in Germany by AUERSBERG, 
  • Oscilloscope Siglent SDS 1102CML dual-beam storage 100 MHz, 
  • D-Link Wireless N150 ADSL2plus Modem Router, 
  • Tono 5000E CW / RTTY / AMTOR Encoder/Decoder including keyboard, 
  • 12-Pin power cables for Yaesu FT-101 Series and Kenwood, 
  • VHF Mobile Antennas with magnetic base,
  • Good Quality Coax Cable RG58 - 50m Reel, 
  • DC twin-core power cable red/black, 
  • Special Radio Power Plugs, 
  • Military Plugs - many different types, 
  • Commercial Radio Direction Finder 100 MHz to 180 MHz, 
  • SWR Meter 1.8 MHz to 570 MHz, ranges 5W 20W 200W, 
  • HF Transceiver ICOM IC-751A (including non-volatile EPROM). 
  • Transformer Power Supply 220 V / 13.8 V 30 A cont. 32 A peak, 
  • Transformer Power Supply 220 V / 13.6 V 3.5 A, 
  • Automatic Antenna Tuner Daiwa CN2002 with cross needle meter,
    Range 20 W / 200 W / 2000 W PEP, 12 V operated,
  • Portable 2m Transceiver TR-2300 with built-in CTCSS board and ext. Amplifier VB-2300, 
  • 4 x High Quality German Loudspeakers - 4 Ohms 25W, 
  • Kenwood Hand Microphone MC35S 50 kiloOhm with 4-pin connector, 
  • Other dynamic microphones with 4-pin and 8-pin connectors, 
  • VHF 2m Mobile Antennas with magnetic base, 
  • Big box of coax plugs and sockets - PL259, N-Type, Barrels, BNC, adapters PL/BNC, N/PL, N/BNC, PL/SMA and more.
Kind regards
Klaus ZS1QO
Klaus requests you contact him by direct mobile phone call, please NOT by WhatsUp nor by SMS. You can do so on: [ zero 8  three = 6 too six = six  9  six  4 ].
He may also be e-mailed at comlab at global dot co dot za

Monday, 7 May 2018

CTARC Project Loon - 6 May '18

This is an experimental research and development project by formerly Google X. This project is to provide internet access to rural and remote areas. This project uses high-altitude balloons placed in the stratosphere at about 18 Km above sea level.

Two of these balloons have been spotted on an app called "FlightRadar24. (which please Google).

One is about to fly over Cape town in the next few day. As of writing (6 May 2018) at 11h00, balloon Registration N189LB is at an altitude of 57,300 Ft in position Latitude -33.475 and Longitude
13.5493. The track is 104 degrees slightly south of due east. If it continues on it's current track it will pass very close to Cape Town.

It might be possible to bounce VHF or UHF signals off the Mylar balloon material.

There is another balloon which is presently over southern Angola. It's registration is N183LB.

Check out Project Loon on Google and [here and here], and also FlightRadar24 [here].

Hope this is of interest.


Hans ZS1HA

CTARC Ragchew - May 2018

The May 2018 edition of the Cape Town Amateur Radio Centre's bi-monthly newsletter "Ragchew" is now published.
Grateful thanks once again to our editor, Anne, for all her excellent work in putting together this month's edition, and to all those who contributed articles.
Remember please, Anne is always on the look-out for articles to publish in Ragchew!

Download the PDF file [here];

Ragchew is also on our Newsletters Page

Friday, 4 May 2018

CTARC More Photos of Morningstar Station - May '18

Here are some more photos of the Morningstar Remote Control Station.
Grateful thanks to Dennis / ZS1AU for providing these.

The station's location, sheltered by an aircraft hangar.

The station's mast, Optibeam HF antenna, 6m beam above that,
2x microwave dishes and 2m discone antenna

Fred / ZS1FZ, who concieved and built the Morningstar station

In te background is the Ham Spirit Trophy, which Fred won this year

Monday, 30 April 2018

CTARC Forthcoming Sale of Amateur Radio Equipment - 5 May '18

We have been informed by Klaus /ZS1QO that he and family are relocating offshore and consequently is to hold a sale of all his radio gear at his QTH in Cape Town's north-western suburbs.

The sale takes place on Saturday 5 May, starting at 10h00 and all radio hams and interested parties are welcome to attend. Everything must go!

Those who know Klaus will know his high standards in acquiring radio gear of high quality, so this will be an event not to miss.

All gear to be purchased must be inspected on the premises and removed once paid for.
No items can be sent via post or courier.

The list of equipment on sale is extensive, and includes
  • HF an VHF Rigs
  • Linear amplifiers
  • Test meters and equipment
  • Components
  • Coax cables
  • Antenna wire
  • Connectors
  • Antennas
  • Masts
  • Hardware
More specifically, the quality items for sale include...
  • Transistor Linear Amplifier Trans World Electronics TWE500A
    500W CW / 800W PEP in mint condition, for230 Vac,
    b/I Amp Meter 50A R 8500.00
  • Automatic Antenna Tuner Daiwa CNA2002
    2KW PeP R 4600.00
  • Transceiver Icom IC-751A with non-volatile RAM
    100% operational R 4500.00
  • 4-Step Coax Antenna Switch 1KW PEP  R 600.00
  • Receiver HF All Mode: Hagenuk RX1001M b/I pre-selector
    One of the best receivers ever built  R 5000.00
All parts can be seen and tested at his place by appointment. There is an updated list [here].
Klaus requests you contact him, during reasonable hours, by direct mobile phone call, NOT by WhatsUp nor by SMS. You can do so on: [ zero 8  three = 6 too six = six  9  six  4 ].

He may also be e-mailed at comlab at global dot co dot za

Sunday, 29 April 2018

CTARC Photos of April Meeting - 28 Apr '18

Here are the photos of the April 2018 CTARC meeting (Sorry if some of them are fuzzy - they're photos of slides projected onto a wall in some cases!) (There are better photos of the station [here]). The written report-back is [here].

A full house in attendance
Chairman Rob / ZS1SA opens the meeting and reports back
on the recent committee meeting

Allan / ZS1LS hands out course notes before his presentation
Allan gave us a fascinating talk about
the Morningstar remote station

The remote station and antenna mast at Morningstar

The TS-2000 rig at the bottom, control PC, SWR monitor,
Signallink sound card and detachable fascia.

The solid state Metron Power Amp

Another view of the Optibeam antenna and mast

On the setup page in the software you can see a list
of the various international stations using the system

The interface which lets the remote operator adjust settings
on the transceiver and station via PC. In the lower right-hand
corner is the antenna rotation indicator

Georges / ZS1II accepts the SARL Anon Trophy from Rob / ZS1SA
Mike / ZS1FP makes an emphatic point during his slide show
Paul / ZS1PXK and Mike / ZS1CO who won the raffle

General chatter in the autumn afternoon air outside the clubhouse