Saturday, 9 September 2017

WWFF Queanbeyan Nature Reserve VKFF-1988

Following the publishing of CAPAD 2016 a whole lot of new WWFF Nature parks were added to New South Wales, including several close to the ACT by the VKFF manager Paul, VK5PAS. Decided to try activating one of these, VKFF-1988 Queanbeyan Nature Reserve. This has not been activated before.

After studying the park in Google Maps and Street View there seemed to be just one public entrance, a gate off Hoover Road in Queanbeyan. Drove there and parked nearby. The gate is locked but there was a gap on the left for walkers.


Headed through the gap into the park. A sign for the park, access for walkers only.


After the sign the road continued into the nature reserve. As mainly open grassland no suitable trees to use for the squid pole, so used the sign as a squid pole support and set up next to it. Dipole legs tied to the nearby fence.


Operating spot on a map of the park. Map from the Protected Planet website. The park is against the Eastern edge of the ACT border.


Operating shack on my camping table. Used my IC-7300 powered by a LifePO4 4300 maH battery. Kept the power to around 20w, but did use around 40w later as conditions were not good today.


Started by trying a park to park contact with Bill, VK4FW/p in VKFF-0485 The Palms National Park. I could hear him okay but he couldn't hear me, even using higher power. He was struggling to work other chasers, including some park activators in VK3, who I couldn't hear at all.

There was a solar disturbance which had knocked out all the close by NVIS propagation on 40m. Anyway tried spotting and calling, got Brett VK2VW in Northern NSW. He had trouble coping me but made it with a 35 report.

Continued working some of the regular chasers. VK3GGG/VK3PMG, VK2YK, VK7DW, VK5PAS/VK5FMAZ and VK5PL.

Saw a spot for John VK7JON/p in VKFF-1804 Forth Falls State Reserve. Got him on a 52 report, he usually booms in, so conditions were well down.

Went on to work VK5KLV, VK2FSAV, and my regular chaser Rick VK4RF/VK4HA.

Got a mobile call from Peter, VK3PF activating a park in VK3, who said he couldn't hear me on 40m and could I try 80m. I agreed to give it a go and strung out the 80m dipole, but no luck hearing him, and no calls to my CQs on 80m.

After my poor results on 40m and 80m switched to 20m. I could hear some VK4s and ZL stations chatting away but no replies to my spotting and calling.

As obviously a poor day for playing portable radio gave it away after 13 contacts. At least this park is not too far from home so can return to try and get the remaining contacts for the 44 required for WWFF.


Tuesday, 1 August 2017

New FT8 digital mode

I haven't been on air much lately due to poor HF band conditions, so thought I'd get on air using  digital mode, as this will get through when bands are not too good. After reading some blogs decided to try the new digital mode, FT8. This is a lot faster to use compared to JT65, instead of waiting 60 seconds per over it transmits an over in 15 seconds. This makes it good for modes such as sporadic e where there is rapid QSB. The downside to overs speed is a drop in sensitivity, only able to decode down to around -20db, but this is good enough for contacts.

The software is still in beta and can be downloaded from Joe Taylor K1JTs website at https://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/wsjtx.html It was v1.8.0-rc1 when I downloaded it.

Install was fairly easy. I needed to update JTAlert as well to the latest version, and also edit a couple of config files in my logging program Log4OM to include this new mode.

I started on 80m, as this is fairly quiet and not much range, mainly around VK, so wouldn't make a spectacle of myself testing it out. Note the FT8 working frequencies are 2 Khz down from the JT65 working frequencies. The software tunes to this for you.

Spotted a CQ call by VK4AAN, Alan in Stanthorpe. He was strong, -01 so gave him a call, by clicking on his spot on the waterfall and waiting for his CQ to end and hitting the Enable TX button.

Once he answered my call the software takes over and controls the QSO. Usual swapping of reports, RRR and 73s exchanged. This was a strange experience, a computer controlled QSO!
Screenshot of the QSO



I checked after on PSKReporter, he was the only station to hear me. There is not much digital activity on 80m as most hams tend to head to 40m for DX. A pity as it can be a good DX band, opening up to the USA later in the evening here.


As a bit more confident I changed to the main evening DX band, 40m. Plenty of signals on here from VK, Asia and the USA. Tried a call to N6QQ John in CA. It took a few goes to get heard above other USA stations calling him as well, but eventually he came back to me Screenshot of the QSO


Checked PSK reporter, seemed to be getting out okay to several parts of the USA. Running around 30w from my IC-7300.


FT8 contacts logged to eQSL okay. LOTW is still to be updated, so will wait for this new mode to be added in before uploading.

A fun mode that will be good when bands are poor... Could even be used for SOTA or parks activations with the right location and equipment. Would need a laptop with time sync to an internet connection.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

VKFF Hunter 450 Parks, Activator Sapphire 75 and Murray River Parks 30 Awards

After working over 450 World Wide Flora and Fauna (WWFF) Australian VKFF park references was able to apply for the VKFF 450 parks VKFF Hunter award (Honour roll)

Received promptly from the VKFF awards manager Paul VK5PAS


Also following my portable activations of 2 new parks recently down the NSW South Coast reached 75 park activations with 10 or more contacts. Therefore able to apply for the VKFF Sapphire award.


Lastly, managed to work 30 park references listed in the Murray River Parks Award, and able to apply for the next award level.

The next level is to work all the Murray River parks, this won't be easy...









Sunday, 18 June 2017

WWFF Hunter 444 references Award

I've managed to confirm contacting 444 WWFF park references, so applied for the award on the WWFF website. Received promptly from the awards Manager Pit YO3JW.








Monday, 12 June 2017

WWFF Eurobodalla National Park VKFF-0164

After staying at Batemans Bay over the June Queens Birthday long weekend decided to do another WWFF park activation before going home. Activated Eurobodalla National Park, VKFF-0164.

This park is made up of several fragments of bush land from Moruya Heads down to Mystery Bay to the North of Bermagui. Map from Protected Planet.


I chose to activate from the nearest point to Batemans Bay, Moruya Heads, at the mouth of the Deua River.


You enter the park on Coronation Drive, a one way loop around the headland. There was a lookout and historic graveyard on the right, parked in front of this and walked along a secluded track on the left to an enclosed park in the middle of the heads, with the Trig for the headland.


Nameplate on the trig, Toragy


I could have operated off the trig, however there was a more comfortable picnic table nearby... Set up the squid pole on the table. One dipole leg was fine, running out into the reserve, however the other leg was a bit of a scrub bash to set up. There were some branches touching the wire, but the dipole still seemed to load up okay on 40m.


Radio, my IC-7300 set up on the table, running off LifePO4 batteries. Wound the power down to 15W to conserve the batteries.


Got on 40m. Could see from the scope only 3 signals on the whole band, they were all park activations...

Worked VK3XV/p Tony in VKFF-0752 Broken-Boosey State Park. Mark VK5QI/m in VKFF-0892 Hogwash Bend Conservation Park. Then VK5PAS/p Paul and VK5FMAZ/p Marija in VKFF-0797 Glen Roy Conservation Park.

Also worked Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-1170 Goolawah National Park. Lots of park hunters called me from VK2, VK3, VK4 and VK5. I had problems with deep QSB, some callers were strong and then faded right out, some solar disturbance on the band.

I also had problems on my frequency 7.130. The frequency 7.125 is used by AM enthusiasts, some strong AM station came up and splashed over me.

Finished with another park to park contact with Stef VK5HSX.2 in VKFF-0410 Paroo-Darling National Park.

Packed up after 19 contacts and had lunch, headed home. A nice National park that I will enjoy returning to for completing the 44 contacts for WWFF sometime, maybe picking another location.


Sunday, 11 June 2017

WWFF Batemans Marine Park VKFF-1406

For the June Queens Birthday long weekend decided to escape the Canberra cold and head down to the NSW South Coast, stopping at Batemans Bay. Decided to activate a WWFF park that has not been activated before, Batemans Marine Park VKFF-1406.

Batemans Marine Park extends from the most northerly point of Murramarang Beach near Bawley Point to the southern side of Wallaga Lake entrance at Murunna Point, covering parts of the coast, lakes, rivers, lagoons and estuaries, the Tollgate Islands off Batemans Bay and Montague Island.

Map of the protected areas from Protected Planet website.


For an access point to the park I went to Guerilla Bay, turning off Burri Point Rd onto Beach Parade, then taking Bay St down to the beach. Map also from Protected Planet.


At the end of Bay St is a very small car park for the beach and a sign for the park. The headland across the bay is Burrewarra Point.


In the grassy area to the right of the sign was a picnic table that I used for the activation. Sorry forgot to take photos of my setup this time...

This was the weekend of the Shires contest, so stations were giving their shires out in reports. I was in Eurobodalla Shire here, ES2.

Started on 40m with S2S contacts with VK3XV/p Tony in VKFF-0739 Barmah National Park and VK3ZPF/p Peter in VKFF-0774 Warrandyte State Park.

Peter offered to let me use his frequency as he had the required number of contacts, and spotted me on ParksnPeaks.

Went on to work VK4TJ, VK4RF/HA, another S2S with VK2YK Adam in VKFF-0606 Sea Acres National Park, VK3PF, VK3GGG/VK3PMG.

Worked Paul VK5PAS/p and Marija VK5FMAZ/p in VKFF-0296 Lower Glenelg National Park with good signals.

Went on to work VK2IO/p, VK4AAC/2, VK3ARH, VK2KYO and VK4SMA. Another S2S with Stef VK5HSX/2 in VKFF-0410 Paroo-Darling National Park.

Worked Bill ZL2AYZ with a good signal, fairly easy to get New Zealand here on the South Coast.

Finished with VK2LEE and VK3KMH. A total of 19 contacts, so need to return to this park for the 44 for WWFF.




Sunday, 4 June 2017

WIA AGM 2017 General and Gold Awards

The WIA Annual General Meeting in Hahndorf South Australia offered 2 awards for working the special Event Stations VK5WOW and VI5WOW on air leading up to and after the event.

The 2 awards require the following, taken from the WIA Awards page:

The General Award
-  5 contacts with VK5WOW or VI5WOW
 Among the 5 contacts, at least two different modes or channels (eg SSB and RTTY, or analogue FM Echolink and CW) need to have been used, OR, at least one contact has to be with the callsigns when they have been activated from a Park under the terms of the VK5 Parks awards. (watch the usual parks activation alert sites for times and parks)

The Gold Award
 - 5 contacts with VK5WOW & 1 contact with VI5WOW - must include a digital data or voice modes contact and contact with at least one VK5WOW or VI5WOW parks activation

I worked VI5WOW/p 4 times and VK5WOW/p 6 times, so no problems getting both awards ­čśä
Most of the contacts were with Paul VK5PAS/p using the callsigns in WWFF/VK5 parks which I chase anyway...

I first needed to upload my logs to Clublog to confirm them, after which just a matter of applying and downloading the awards.

The General Award


The Gold Award