Saturday, 22 February 2014

SOTA Activation Mt McDonald

After seeing several SOTA activations planned for Saturday morning decided to get out an activate a summit and get some S2S points. Mt McDonald seemed like a good choice as only a 30 minute drive from home. This summit was added recently to the VK1 summit list on 1st February by Andrew, VK1NAM.

Have been up it before doing Geocaching and trig bagging a couple of years ago. Drove down the Cotter Road then turned up Brindabella Rd, drove past the Cotter Dam, on a bend on the left was a car park and the start of the walk.

The sign indicates 2.6 Km to the summit. Note the small sign in the background, it says "Track Closed". This was the walking track I used a couple of years ago, a lot shorter than the new track...Anyway set out on the new walk behind a locked gate.

After 700m reached a junction, took the road on the right, McDonald Rd fire trail.

Sign indicating now 1.9 Km to the summit

The road climbs steeply up the mountain. You pass a turnoff to a lookout over the Cotter Dam on the way. I didn't go to the lookout.

Got to the top. Note Mt McDonald is unusual in that it has 2 trigs. The pile of rocks in the foreground is the actual McDonald trig, the usual square trig in the background is McDonald Ecce trig.

Topo map shows the 2 trigs, 50 m apart...The McDonald trig is supposed to be a metre higher than the Ecce trig, but didn't look that way to me...

Walked up to the McDonald Ecce Trig. There is the remnants of the McDonald Fire tower nearby, which was destroyed in the Canberra 2003 bushfires.

On the Ecce trig was an interesting device, a reflector used by the nearby Mt Stromlo laser ranging station, probably for calibration.

View across to Mt Stromlo

Set up the squid pole on the trig, running dipole legs to the remnants of the fire tower and trees on the other side.

Set up the shack at the base of the trig

Got on 40m. First call from Matt, VK1MA. As I was signing with Matt the radio shut down...This was when I found out the SLA battery voltage was low, down to only 8.8v, must have forgotten to charge it since my last activation!... After waiting a bit found the 4Ah SLA battery recovered enough for short contacts. Concentrated on quick S2S calls only. Managed brief contacts with 

VK2TWR Rod on VK2/ST-034
VK3ANL Nick on VK2/VC-033
VK3PF Peter on VK3/VT-014
VK3APC on VK3/VC-025

Tried calling VK5NIG Nigel on VK5/SE-013 but the battery finally gave out...

With 2m FM only on the hand held managed to work Matt VK1MA who I think kindly rounded up Steve VK2NSS, for 6 contacts and qualifying the summit with over 4 contacts. Phew!

Track log of walk

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