Sunday, 7 August 2016

SOTA Yellow Rabbit Hill VK1/AC-039

Andrew VK1AD had organized the Annual VK1 Winter SOTA party, and I selected Yellow Rabbit Hill, VK1/AC-039 as I had not activated this summit this year.

Travelled via Cotter Road, Brindabella Road, turning off at Warks Road. Not far along the road noticed a new sign, proclaiming the area as Lower Cotter Catchment Reserve. This is to protect the water catchment of Cotter Dam from contamination.

Continued along Warks Road, turning right into Yellow Rabbit Road, which the summit is named after. Otherwise it is an unnamed hill on maps.

Turned off left onto a side road running around the Western edge of the hill, then took a minor track on the right, heading along and up the hill. Note the erosion gully at the start, needed to keep well left to get over this.

Otherwise the drive wasn't too bad, just a few minor bumps to go slowly over. Got level with the blocked off road that runs over the summit top. Parked opposite here, after continuing up and finding no-where to pull off the road, reversed and parked pointing down the hill. Not a lot of room to park but off the road here, not that this road would get much traffic anyway.

Hopped over the logs and reached the top of the hill, only about 150 m away. Set up the squid pole and radio on a handy log, and laid out the dipoles.

As well as my usual 20/40 m linked dipole, had a full size 80 m dipole that I had just made up the day before. An 80 dipole is long, very long! :) Bit of a walk each way to lay it out. One end of the dipole looking North. The squid pole is way in the distance... Had both antennas on in a fan configuration so could switch bands easily.

Looking back to the South from the other dipole leg.

SOTA Shack on the log.

Got on 80 m. Found the SWR wasn't that good, but wanted to grab a few activators first before investigating. Worked Andrew VK1AD/Tony VK1VIC on nearby Castle Hill VK1/AC-032, Matt VK1MA on Black Mountain VK1/AC-042, Gerard VK2IO on South Black Range VK2/ST-006 and Andrew VK1DA on Mt Ainslie VK1/AC-040. Had a break and examined the antenna, it wasn't the dipole, just a loose earth wire on the coax, so had been running on half an 80 m dipole! After fixing this signals were nice and strong. The dipole was resonant on 3.570 Mhz and fairly flat across the band. Managed to work Ron VK3AFW on VK3/VN-012, and a strong signal from home station Roald VK1MTS.

Switched to 40 m. NVIS signals missing so only able to work close by stations on ground wave and more distant stations. Worked Andrew VK2MWP on nearby Mt Stromlo, VK1/AC-043, VK5PAS Paul on VK5/SE-016, Andrew VK1MBE on VK2/ST-001, Paul VK1ATP/2 on VK2-ST-008.

Saw a spot for Brian VK3MCD on VK3/VE-006 Mt Hotham, so returned to 80 m and worked him with a 53 signal. Also Bernard VK2IB/3 on VK3/VE-165.

There was a spot on 20 m for Kyle ZL2KGF on ZL1/TN-006. My 20 m dipole didn't seem to load up too well, but managed to work him at a 52 signal.

Returned to 80 m, working Nick VK2AOH on VK2/CW-043, Mt Nangar, a first activation in Nangar National Park. Also another chaser, VK2AYM Bruce near Albury.

Returned to 40 m following a spot by Ian VK5CZ on VK5/NE-028.

At around noon started packing up and headed back down. An enjoyable lunch later in the afternoon with some of the other VK1 SOTA party operators.

80 m proved its worth taking along when the bands are not so good. Just need some space!

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