Wednesday, 30 December 2015

SOTA Pheasant Hill VK1/AC-021

With a nice sunny day and no wind decided to revisit another VK1 summit, Pheasant Hill VK1/AC-021.

As per previous activations drove down Boboyan Road, stopping at Brayshaws hut and walked cross country to the summit.

The walk took almost an hour. Got to the top and found my usual log in the full sun, a bit too warm to operate from.


So instead set up the squid pole on a nearby wattle sapling, and ran the coax out to the shack in the shade of the trees.


SOTA shack on the tarp. Did have to relocate later as the sun moved.


Got on 40 m. As only a few minutes left before UTC rollover managed only one S2S contact with Tony VK1VIC/2 on VK2/SM-059 Big Badja.

After new UTC day worked further S2S contacts with Peter VK3PF/P on VK3/VE-105, Andrew VK1AD/P on VK1/AC-037 Mt Taylor, Allen VK3HRA/P on VK3/VT-059 and Gerard VK2IO/P on VK2/CT-056 Mt Solitary. Plus plenty of chasers from VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK7.

Lowered the squid pole and added the 10/6 m dipole.


Got on 10 m. Worked Nev VK5WG, who could not copy me at all on 40 m. Also Rick VK4RF/VK4HA, and an S2S with Andrew VK1AD/P on Mt Taylor. Also worked Rod VK2TWR from Nimmitabel to the South of me.

Tried changing the links to 20 m. Got Paul VK2KTT in Coffs Harbour, Paul VK5PAS in Adelaide and Brett VK2VW in Northern NSW.

Had lunch and waited for Adan VK1FJAW/2 to come up on 10 m from VK2/SW-027 Mt Tumorama. I heard him very weak, a 4 by 1 report, he was struggling to hear me with a 3 by 1 signal. He was 87 Km away but probably some mountains in the way. I found by rotating the dipole a bit I could copy him a little better.

Headed back down and drove home. The temperature at home was around 30 c, a lot warmer than the summit was at 1400 m...

Monday, 28 December 2015

SOTA Cathcart Trig VK2/SM-090

After activating Wolumla Peak continued driving along Mount Darragh Road until reaching Cathcart Trig Road on the left. After pulling up at the closest point to the trig, walked about 10 minutes through the scrub to reach it. A large lollipop type trig.


Like last time used a nearby stump to support the squid pole. Suspect the same stump as last time.


SOTA radio shack on the tarp nearby


Got on 40 m. Started with an S2S with Peter VK3ZPF/P on VK3/VC-009. He kindly let me have the frequency as he was just finishing up. Worked several of the usual chasers from VK2, VK3 and VK5.

Some more S2S contacts with Allen VK3HRA/P and Andrew VK3ARR/P on VK3/VC-019.
Tony VK1VIC/2 and Pete VK2FPMC/P on VK2/ST-053 Mt Mundoonen. PeterVK3PF/P on VK3/VE-165. There was a spot for Andrew VK1AD and Adan VK1FJAW on VK1/AC-013 Tidbinbilla Mountain on 10 m, however was unable to hear them, too far away for ground wave.

Packed up and headed home to Canberra.

SOTA Wolumla Peak VK2/SC-022

Driving home to Canberra from my brothers place at Pambula Beach, diverted to activate a SOTA peak, Wolumla Peak VK2/SC-022.

From South Pambula drove down Mt Durragh Road until turning off onto Wolumla Peak Road. Note the road sign is missing, so look out for a sign showing 11 km to Pambula


The road crosses the Pambula River.


Followed the road up the mountain. Remnants of the road sign...I found this road a bit rough, narrow with rocky bits and some tree branches down partially across the road. Did not need 4WD, just needed to take it carefully.


Entered South East Forests National Park. This was a nice surprise, as it means I can also claim the SOTA contacts for the WWFF award. The park reference is VKFF-0458.


Reached the summit. There is a car park here in front of the fire spotting tower.


Wolumla Trig. Usual NSW lollipop type. Some communication towers behind it.


Name plate on trig, "Wolumla"


The fire tower was closed. You could however get onto a platform on the outside. I debated about operating from the platform, but decided too near metal railing and antennas.



Opted for the Trig as squid pole support. Dipole legs run out to the lookout tower hand rail and the fence around the towers. Sorry about the dark spot on the photo, something got on the lens.


SOTA shack at the base of the trig


Got on 40 m. Usual chasers from VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK7, some very strong. Summit to summit contacts with Compton VK2HRX/P on VK2/CT-002 and Tony VK1VIC/2 on VK2/ST-053.

Tried 20 m. Worked Nev VK5WG with a good copy and Warren, ZL2AJ, one of the new SOTA activators in New Zealand. Unfortunately some interference from a radar system so gave away 20 m.

As still had some distance to drive home packed up and drove down, took about a half hour to get to the highway.

A map of the route








Sunday, 27 December 2015

Ben Boyd National Park Activation VKFF-0026

After Christmas in Canberra drove down to visit my brother for an after Christmas get together at Pambula Beach. As he lives not that far from Ben Boyd National Park decided to do an afternoon park activation of this park for the World Wide Flora and Fauna Award, VKFF-0026.

The park has 2 main areas, North and South of Eden. I went to the nearest one in the North. Headed South on the Princes Highway to an unpaved road with a sign for the park.


Followed the road to North Long Beach, a quiet fishing beach. Operating Spot marked on the map.



North Long Beach car park, walk to beach 300 m.


North Long Beach


Looking North


Looking South


As nice as this beach was, it didn't have a suitable spot for operating from, so returned to the car park. Set up the park station in the scrub just off the road, using a tree stump for the squid pole support. Tied off the dipole legs to a couple of tree branches.


Radio shack on a chair with a built in small table, borrowed from my brother :)


Got on 40 m. Worked Matt VK1MA/3 on SOTA summit VK3/VN-030. Then the usual park hunters from VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK7. Signals quite strong especially from VK3s and VK7s. Made 28 contacts before heading back to my brothers place for dinner.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

VKFF Hunter Award 200 Parks Chased

I recently managed to get confirmed over 200 VKFF parks, so was able to apply for the award.

A breakdown of the 200 parks worked by call area:

VK1 - 12
VK2 - 35
VK3 - 81
VK4 - 21
VK5 - 48
VK7 - 2
VK9 - 1

So most of the park activations I have chased were from VK3, followed by VK5 and VK2.

Received promptly from Paul VK5PAS. Nice photo of Freycinet National Park in Tasmania



Saturday, 19 December 2015

SOTA Cabbage Tree Fire Trail VK2/SC-035

With a hot day predicted decided to do a nice easy summit with some shade, Cabbage Tree Fire Trail VK2/SC-035. As per my previous activation drove down the Kings Highway to Braidwood, then part of the way down to the coast onto Misty Mountain Road on the right. Stopped near the intersection with Cabbage Tree Fire Trail


The temperature according to the car outside thermometer was 28 c in Braidwood, but rose as I descended down the mountain, and was a toasty 34 c so this was to be a short activation. The summit was only about 260 m away, so a short walk up through the scrub to my usual operating spot, a large tree stump.


Squid pole bungee corded to the stump. Dipole legs out to a couple of trees.


Shack on the tarp. A bit of shade but got in the sun as the sun got higher.


Got on 40 m to start with David VK2JDS/m who spotted me. Coverage was poor here but could get a signal if I moved around a bit. Worked VK1, VK2 and VK3, and a weak copy with Rick VK4RF. Lots of severe QSB, would need to repeat reports several times as I faded in and out to chasers.

Tried 10 m. Could hear the Adelaide beacon, VK5WI on 28.259 around S7, so open to the West on Sporadic e. Worked Ian VK5CZ, Ian VK5IS and a surprising copy with Tony VK3CAT.

Saw a spot for VK7ZMS on 40 m. I could very weakly hear him, but no response to my calls, and other chasers also unable to contact him. I heard Allen VK3HRA call him with no luck so had a contact with Allen.

As getting just too hot to operate packed up after noon and headed back to the cool of the air conditioned car.


Tuesday, 15 December 2015

SOTA Mapping Activation Count Map

Recently a new feature was added to the SOTA Mapping Project map view by Rob DM1CM, display Activation Counts instead of the Summit Codes, with a circle size indicating the relative amount of activations.

Here is the map for the Australian Capital Territory, VK1, ACT Region



The popularity of the easy suburban summits in the North East is easy to see, Mt Ainslie with 118 activations the most popular of all.

To the West Mt Coree, Mt Ginini and Mt Gingera are also popular. Going South and to the East counts are down to 1 or 2 activations, these summits are isolated and tough walking to reach.

In the far South Boboyan Range and Mt Pheasant are reasonably popular as only short walks, the others are hard...

Another map of nearby NSW regions. I selected ST- Southern Tablelands, SC - South Coast, SW - South West Slopes and SM - Snowy Mountains.


The most popular close by NSW summit is Mt Cowangerong, Captains Flat Radar with 39. Not far behind South Black Range with 30 and Livingstone Hill with 28. Spring Hill, just over the Northern border of VK1 is fairly popular too with 24 activations.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

SOTA Oakey Creek Fire Trail VK2/ST-023

After my failed attempt at Monga VK2/ST-024 headed for the nice easy summit of Oakey Creek Fire Trail VK2/ST-023.

From the Mongarlowe Picnic Area turned off onto Milo Road, then Macquarie Road, to the junction with Boundary Fire Trail where the summit is close by to.


As per previous activations headed for a cluster of stumps, suitable for squid pole support.


Set up the squid pole with 20/40 m and 6/10 m dipoles deployed. Radio shack on a nearby log.


Got on 40m. Worked Peter VK3PF doing a special Anzac Day memorial activation of VI3ANZAC. A S2S with Tony VK3CAT/P on VK3/VC-037. Chasers mainly from VK2 and VK3, lots of QSB, some fairly strong.

Switched to 10 m. Heard Adan VK1FJAW/P on VK2/ST-053 Mt Mundoonen, despite several calls he could not hear me though. Got called by Mark VK1EM but he was also unable to hear me. Lots of JA stations on in the World Wide 10 m ARRL contest. Managed to work Andrew VK1DA/2 on VK2/ST-036 Spring Hill, not very strong but readable. Packed up and drove home.

Driving back along Milo Road, a very scenic drive through tree ferns.







SOTA failed activation Monga VK2/ST-024

After doing all the relatively easy summits in Monga National Park, decided to try activating the one remaining summit, VK2/ST-024 Monga. Monga is not the official name of this peak, it is not named on any maps. I named it Monga after the National Park it is in while surveying the Southern Tablelands summits for SOTA.

Drove down the Kings Highway, past Braidwood, turning off onto River Forest Road on the right. After a few Km entered Monga National Park

 
The road passes through the small locality of Monga, turned off onto River Forest Road, heading for Mongarlowe River Picnic Area


Turned off to Mongarlowe River Picnic Area on the left.


A sign here about the park, with details on a walk here down to the Mongarlowe River, Waratah walk


After a short walk reached the Mongarlowe River. Only option to cross it was using stepping stones and getting wet feet...as a warm day didn't mind...


Looking upstream


Looking downstream. A nice looking river.


After crossing the river found an old logging trail. Followed this for a while.


The trail started to run more South, away from the summit, so headed into the scrub. Initially not too thick, easy going.


Walked through the scrub, coming to a spur going up to the summit. This is where it got steep, and very scrubby...


After over an hour had only covered about a km, half the distance to the summit. I eventually came to a wall of thick scrub. Could not see an easy way through, and looked like it continued way up the slope. Decided this summit is just not worth it and gave it away at 700 m from the top.


Headed back down and had lunch at the picnic area, before heading off to do VK2/ST-023 Oakey Creek Fire trail at the other end of the park, a much easier summit...Track log of walk





Sunday, 6 December 2015

SOTA Boboyan Range VK1/AC-044

With a warm Sunday predicted with a top of 32 c decided to head for a nice cool shady summit, VK1/AC-044 Boboyan Range at around 1400 m looked ideal. As per my last activation headed down Boboyan Road. Stopped briefly at Hospital Hill lookout. Mt Gudgenby VK1/AC-009 on the left, recently activated for the first time by VK1RX Al and VK1FJAW Adan, a long hard walk.


As per last time parked off the road at a small roadside cutting about a 1.3 Km walk from the summit, Track log of walk.


Climbing up to the ridge. The scrub was a bit thick in places but not too bad. Could find an easy enough pathway up. Last activation was in snow, which actually made it easier as it had flattened a lot of the vegetation, not so in summer.


Once on the ridge the going got a bit easier. Bit of a dug up area, pigs or possibly wombats as some burrows nearby.


Walked along the ridge, after half an hour reached Andrew VK1AD's summit cairn. I added a few more rocks before leaving :)


Set up nearby using a broken tree as squid pole support.


Shack on the tarp nearby.


As per last time mobile phone reception here very poor, had to wander about a bit to get an internet connection on the Telstra network. Saw Andrew VK1AD/P on VK1/AC-038 Tuggeranong Hill on 40 m, so headed there.

Andrew was quite weak, only S1, yet only 40 Km away. In fact most signals very weak, looks like another solar storm had killed off all the close in skip...Made another S2S with Nick VK3ANL/P on VK3/VE-138 Bald Hill.  Also Matt VK1MA/2 on VK2/ST-053 Mt Mundoonen. Tried calling for chasers, most weak with severe QSB, very poor conditions. Missed working a couple of stations due to QSB dropout, including Rod VK2TWR. Only worked 10 stations in VK1, VK2 and VK3.

Changed bands to 10 m, and heard Andrew VK1AD/P now S9! Also some sporadic e on the band to the North, worked Scott VK2AET in Grafton, Matt VK1MA/2 again now an S8, VK2VW Brett in Northern NSW and Rick VK4RF/VK4HA in Brisbane with strong signals.

Saw a spot for Andrew VK1AD/P on 6 m so changed the links to this band. He was S9 here too. Also worked Rod VK2TWR at Nimmitabel to the South of me, a tremendous S9+ signal. He does have a high tower and 6 m beam though and would have had a good clear path to me.

Returned to 40 m after seeing a spot for Paul VK3HN/P on VK3/VT-006 Mt St Phillack, a nice 10 point summit.

Headed home, stopping at Gordon shops for lunch. It was 32 c back home...only around 20 c on the summit.