Moving Amateur Radio Stations, Are You on the RaDAR?


Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio, often referred to by its acronym RaDAR, is a concept for operating an amateur radio station anywhere, anytime, and even in adverse environmental conditions. This concept supports the amateur radio service’s emergency communications mandate.

Where the concept originated

Radio amateurs from South Africa came up with a concept to build a comfortable portable radio station capable of operating for extended periods while walking or stationary after walking to a specified site.

The idea was discussed in an open forum and ideas gleaned from many of the local hams, some prototyping was done and the “Shack in a Sack” (SiaS) concept was born.

In August 2009 RaDAR – Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio, was launched – a more professional version of the SiaS concept.

Natural evolution

Rapid deployment of an amateur radio station was the goal of RaDAR. Initially, it was a requirement to walk at least one kilometer carrying all station equipment, antennas, and logistics to the operating position. This was no different from any other similar outdoor amateur radio activity.

The need to be different

There was no time limit set for an initial deployment so the essence of deploying quickly was not quite there, it was simply too easy.

Some experiments were done and RaDAR once again evolved into a more refined idea by having to move the station for a required distance depending on the mode of transport after every five contacts. No other amateur radio activity in the world works this way. RaDAR is different.

The concept adapted

Rapid deployment and indeed rapid re-deployment are what makes RaDAR different otherwise it would be just the same as any other amateur radio activity – nothing different from what has been done for 100 years.

RaDAR has evolved into something where movements are the highlight. It is, therefore, more than just making QSOs, it’s a challenge to decide quickly where and how to set up an effective station, proving it works by making 5 contacts, packing up making sure nothing is left behind, moving, and doing it all over again.

Sure it’s a different challenge including repeated physical activity. It’s also a method of learning, practicing, and finding what works and what does not.

Modes of communication

RaDAR promotes the use of voice, digital, point-to-point VHF and UHF communications, and even satellite communications. The use of terrestrial repeaters is however not allowed, for the “RaDAR Challenge” purposes at least.

The future of RaDAR

Many looking to practice amateur radio in different ways will see its value and the extreme fun it can be. The highlight is the “moving” aspect of RaDAR which is what makes RaDAR different from all other amateur radio activities.

A slogan was appropriately recently developed, “RaDAR – daring to be different”.

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