Tuesday 31 August 2021

CTARC Monday evening net - 30 Aug '21

Radio hams monitoring the 145.750 MHz Repeater on Kanonkop will know of the weekly Monday evening CTARC Net held on that repeater at 20h00

Recently Mike ZS1FP (who used to run the net with Noel/ZS1FW/sk, as well as after Noel passed on)  announced that he's no longer available to do that. Thank you, Mike, for your service to the Cape Town Amateur Radio Centre.

Fortunately, Barry ZS1FJ has stepped in to continue to run the net, which is for all radio amateurs (not just CTARC members) who can reach that repeater to participate in! Thank you, Barry!

Remember, the net meets every Monday evening, starting at 20h00 local time, on the 145.750 MHz repeater (Duplex FM, input frequency 145.150 MHz, no CTCSS tones required).

The net covers a  wide range of topics that radio hams may discuss including (but not limited to) technical matters. Do join in! It's a great opportunity to chew the proverbial rag with fellow radio hams!

Saturday 28 August 2021

CTARC Report on August Monthly Meeting - 28 Aug '21

The Cape Town Amateur Radio Centre held it's August 2021 meeting on-line, starting a 14h00, on Saturday, 28th August 2021. We were treated to a marvelous presentation about South Africa's Radar activities in the Second World War.

At the outbreak of hostilities, the potential threat of invasion from the Axis forces, as well as U-boat attacks on shipping off the coast of Southern Africa were of great concern to the military authorities. Fortunately, there were two great assets at the Allies' disposal. The first was the invention and development of Radar in Britain. 

The second asset was in the person of Sir Basil Schonland (1896 - 1972), a significant figure in our military and scientific history and clearly a brilliant man. Born in Grahamstown, Schonland matriculated (aged just 14) from St Andrew's College as the top pupil in the then Cape Province. His studies took him to Rhodes University, and then to Cambridge University in England. His tertiary studies were interrupted by the First World War where, in the Signal Services of the Royal Engineers, he served in the British Army from 1915 to 1918. He was wounded at Arras, mentioned in despatches and awarded the OBE.

After the war he returned to study Physics at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. In 1922, he returned to South Africa and lectured at UCT, later becoming Professor of Physics there. In 1937 he moved to Johannesburg to direct the Bernard Price Institute of Geophysics at Witwatersrand University.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, now with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, Schonland was in charge of the South African Special Signals Services and led the development of South Africa's own Radar system. In 1941 he went to England to acquire more equipment for South Africa and became superintendent of the Army Operational Research Group of the Air Defence Research and Development Establishment (AORG) between 1941 and 1944. Under his leadership the Research Group made significant contributions to the war effort, particularly in Radar used by the army. By 1944 he was  scientific adviser to Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. By the war's end he held the rank of Brigadier. 

Post-WW2, Schonland returned to South Africa to continue as director of the Bernard Price Institute at Wits. On the request of Jan Smuts, he established the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. In 1954 he became deputy director and then director of the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell in the UK. He was knighted by the Queen for his services to Science in 1960.

(Portions of the above attributed to Wikipedia)

(Above map from publication by Brian Austin ZS6BKW)

The presentation, by Allan ZS1AL and Professor Mike Inggs, was most interesting. We were treated to photos, maps and descriptions of the development of South African Radar and the activities of the SA Special Signals Service. The system had two main functions - firstly, that of ocean surface surveillance and secondly, the coordination and ranging of the heavy artillery sited primarily to protect Simonstown and Cape Town harbours from attack.

Of particular interest to us in Cape Town were the descriptions of the facilities positioned around the Cape Peninsula and Cape Hangklip, as well as maps of Radar coverage around the coast at the time.

On a personal note, I was moved by the film clips (some even in colour) of the personnel who developed and operated the radar system during their period of deployment, including the many female operators who tirelessly sat at their stations for long hours under conditions that could be kindly described as spartan. One of them may have been my Auntie Pam. Such was the great secrecy surrounding the entire project that we only learned of her involvement in the Special Signals Service long after she had passed on...

The meeting ended at around 15h45. Grateful thanks to Allan, Professor Inggs and all who attended the on-line meeting. A truly memorable presentation indeed!

Allan has kindly indicated he has more videos of the above topic and we will post links to them here shortly.

Nick ZS1ZD

Sunday 22 August 2021

CTARC Forthcoming Meeting - 28 Aug '2021

The August meeting for the CTARC will take place on Saturday, 28th August 2021 at 14h00. Owing to the current Coronavirus restrictions, it will be an on-line meeting.

Alan ZS1AL will present a talk on South Africa's involvement with Radar during WW2, which promises to be very interesting indeed. There are still a number of old Radar sites dotted around the Cape Peninsula and beyond. Sadly, some of these are now derelict and efforts to preserve their history must be made.


This event has now taken place. A brief report is [here] and will appear in the CTARC Ragchew newsletter.

CTARC International Lighthouse/Lightship Weekend Report - 22 Aug '21

The Cape Town Amateur Radio Centre set up a station at its traditional Green Point Lighthouse venue for the 2021 ILLW event, from Saturday 19th to Sunday 20th August 2021.

Owing to the Coronavirus safety restrictions, our club wasn't able to use the actual Lighthouse or associated buildings this year as we usually do. No mains power plus the temporary loss of access to the large room and lighthouse tower we usually enjoy there made setting up a multi-rig, multi-band, multi-antenna HF station too cumbersome to do this year. However, none of these limitations prevented Chris ZS1CDG from setting up a field station at the venue to make contacts through the QO-100 geostationary satellite. Strict Covid precautions were maintained throughout the event.

A resounding success! The event was attended throughout the weekend by numerous radio amateurs as well as members of the public, who were curious to see radio hams making many international contacts via the satellite. As ever, it was a great opportunity to promote both our club and the hobby to many visitors. It was also a lot of fun!

Among those present were Chris ZS1CDG, John ZS1EQ, Graeme ZS1GAK, Fred ZS1FZ, Stan ZS1HC, ZS1KU, Lem ZS1LEM, Celso ZS1MYG, Peter ZS1PC, James ZS1RBT, Paul ZS1S, Rob ZS1SA (CTARC chairman) & Anne, Tony ZS1TK, Phil ZS1WW, Bryce ZU1BM, Kiara ZU1ISS and ZU1KAT. We were also delighted to see Syd ZS5AYC & Adele ZS5APT who had traveled down here from Natal.

A video of the CTARC ILLW event is [here].

Hats off to Chris ZS1CDG for setting up the event and thanks to all those who attended and operated the station. We look forward to the ILLW again next year where (oh, how we hope!) we will be able to run a full HF station again at Green Point Lighthouse.

A more comprehensive report and photos are in the September 2021 edition of Ragchew, the CTARC's newsletter .

Saturday 21 August 2021

CTARC Committee Meeting - 23 Aug '21

CTARC Committee members are reminded of the committee meeting to be held online at 19h00 on Monday, 23 August 2021.

Please do make an effort to attend the online meeting.

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

Friday 20 August 2021

CTARC RAE Classes - 21 Aug '21

Once again, people who would like to learn the necessary skills to write the RAE (Radio Amateurs' Examination) may do so via the Cape Town Amateur Radio Centre. The indefatigable Chris ZS1CDG has just started another RAE Course for those who would like to to become radio amateurs.

In order to become a licensed radio amateur in South Africa, all prospective candidates must write (and pass) the Radio Amateurs' Examination, which is held twice a year at various Amateur Radio clubs and associations throughout the country.

Owing to the Coronavirus safety restrictions, Chris's RAE course is currently held online. It covers the necessary technical and legal modules all radio amateurs must know in order to operate their radio stations safely, legally and within the technical specifications required by ICASA, the communications regulatory authority who issues the much-prized Amateur Radio License all legal radio hams must possess.

A high success rate has been maintained by Chris who has already offered this course several times. A number of new radio hams in and around the Cape Peninsula owe their success in passing the exam to his wise and witty guidance.

If you would like to do the course, write and pass the RAE, become a radio ham and speak to the world, please contact Anne, the CTARC Secretary, [here] for further detaills.

CTARC James Gardener ZS1ROY Silent Key - Aug '21

It is with sadness that we must announce the passing of James Gardener, ZS1ROY in mid-August 2021. He also held the call sign ZR1CT before he became a ZS.

James had been an active club member of the CTARC in the past and had served on the CTARC Committee from 2006 to 2008. He was active on HF and VHF frequencies from his QTH in Parow.

His funeral was held on Friday, 20 August 2021 and our club was represented there by Richard ZS1RIC who attended.

Our condolences go to James' widow, family and friends.

R. I. P.

Wednesday 18 August 2021

CTARC International Lighthouse/Lightship Weekend - 21/22 Aug '21

Last year I was determined Covid-19 was not going to stop our club's unbroken 20-year odd record of running a station at Green point lighthouse for the ILLW event.

We set up a very basic 100 watt HF station with a vertical whip and made contact with a handful of 40m stations. This year I thought, even though the lighthouse is closed, we could set up a small station on Saturday21 August . Over the last year I have become more interested in the QO-100 geostationary satellite that is capable of communicating with stations from Brazil to Thailand.

I have a dish that we can set up in the front of the Lighthouse with both an uplink antenna and an LNB for the satellite downlink.  The station would probably require two operators as unfortunately I find The LNB can drift a little bit as it is not synchronised to GPS however it is perfectly usable and a lot of fun.  It would be really good if we could cause some havoc on the satellite for a few hours from midday as I think we will be very popular on the satellite as not many stations will have a chance to communicate with a lighthouse station - pile up conditions! If you would like to operate the station you're more than welcome to.

I think I will sort everything out from about 11h30 a.m. with the aim to start transmission at about midday. ZS1S Paul will help with the battery and if anyone has a gazebo it might be a good idea to bring with them so that we can avoid the sun. Additionally if you'd like to set up a HF station alongside the QO 100 station you're more than welcome to and they may even investigate using DMR as well with the club's callsign so there's plenty of opportunity to do some operating if you so wish.

My only request is that if you do want to operate the satellite station please bring a second pair of headphones with a 3.5 mm jack so that I can tune the RX whilst you operate the satellite. For those that don't know, making contact with satellites it is traditional to give a grid square locator as well as RS report and additionally the reference for the Lighthouse which is Zulu Alpha 006.

There is no need to be nervous when operating the satellite as I will guide you with the correct procedure - I’ll write all this on a sheet of paper in front of you so you won’t forget.  This would be a wonderful opportunity for RAE candidates to explore another side of amateur radio.

If you cannot make the event you can listen to us live by following the website below.



Chris ZS1CDG


NB: This event has now taken place. A brief report is [here] and a more complete one will appear in our Ragchew newsletter of September 2021.

Monday 2 August 2021

CTARC Ragchew - August '21

The August 2021 edition of the Cape Town Amateur Radio Centre's bi-monthly newsletter "Ragchew"is now published. Grateful thanks to the editor, Anne, for another fine edition.

Remember please, Anne is always needs articles to publish in Ragchew! This is especially the case during the lock-down. Thank you to those numerous contributors in this edition!

You can advertise ham-related items - for sale, swop or wanted-to-buy - in Ragchew, including colour photos, details and prices. To do so, please contact the editor [here].

Download the August 2021 Newsletter as a PDF file [here];

Ragchew is also on our Newsletters Page