Sunday, 16 April 2017

WWFF Woodstock Nature Reserve VKFF-0988

With a warm sunny Sunday decided to reactivate a nearby WWFF park, VKFF-0988 Woodstock Nature Reserve. I had visited it a couple of times before but due to poor propagation still had not made the 44 contacts needed for a WWFF point, still needed another 12 contacts.

As per other activations drove to the car park off Stockdill Drive in Holt, at the start of the walk to Shephards Lookout. I took the park access gate to the right of the walking track.

After a short walk set up in the bush to the right of the track. Used a fallen tree for squid pole support.

Radio on the table. Used the IC-7300 for a bit more power, set to 20w. Note the radio touch screen in the full sun was hard to read, used my own shadow for a sunscreen...

Got on 40m. Started with a park to park with Bob VK5AFZ/p in VKFF-1767 Lawari Conservation Park, a newly added WWFF park. Found a spot and spotted myself, usual park hunters from VK2, VK3, VK4 and VK7.

Another couple of park to park contacts with Marc VK3OHM/p in VKFF-0741 Lower Goulburn National Park, and Mike VK3XL/p in VKFF-0747 Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park.

Worked Marija VK5FMAZ/p and Paul VK5PAS/p in VKFF-0788 Scott Creek Conservation Park.

Worked several more hunters in VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK7. Another park to park with John VK5BJE/3 in VKFF-0264 Kinglake National Park.

Finished with another Park to park with special event station VK5WOW/p in VKFF-0788 Scott Creek Conservation Park, run by Paul VK5PAS. The pileup after this call was massive... I managed to get logged after Paul asked for QRP stations, I turned my power down to 5W and worked him...

After trying for another 12 contacts I had made 48, so actually qualified the park on this activation alone... headed home.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

SOTA Mt Cowangerong VK2/ST-001

After activating Mt Tumanang VK2/SM-049 headed for nearby Mt Cowangerong, VK2/ST-001, the Captains Flat BOM rain radar site. Parked near the start of the side road off Cowangerong Fire Trail and walked the short distance to the site.

Didn't set up too close to the radar, it is a QRM generator on HF... used the spot I used last time just down the road to the North of the site, using a gas pipeline warning sign for squid pole support. Dipole legs up and down the road.

Shack on the tarp just off the road.

Got on 40 m and spotted myself. First call was Wade VK1FWBD/p still on Mt Taylor VK1/AC-037. He was packing up and saw my spot so got back on for the S2S contact.

Went on to work the regular chasers, from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4 and VK7. Most good signals.

A WWFF park contact with Neil VK4HNS/p in VKFF-0546 Wondul Range National Park. Not a park to park contact though as I was outside the boundary of Tallaganda National Park.

Tried 20 m, one contact only with the usual ZL chaser John ZL1BYZ.

Packed up after 23 contacts and headed home.

SOTA Mt Tumanang VK2/SM-049

I've been meaning to give SOTA peak Mt Tumanang VK2/SM-049 a try but been put off by the description of the rough Cowangerong Fire Trail. VK1MBE Andrew mentioned a better access method using South Forest Way, so gave this a try.

Drove out to Captains Flat from home in Canberra, taking about an hour. Drove past the Cowangerong Firetrail, and took the next road on the right, South Forest Way. This was a well maintained unsealed road, able to make good speed. Looking at the map, decided to cut across to Cowangerong Firetrail using Gum Creek Rd off to the right.

Gum Creek Rd was a bit rougher... narrow and slow going. There were a few deep puddles to cross, but no real problems. Quite a pretty drive in places with tree ferns. Joined up to the Cowangerong Firetrail, about 5 Km South of Mt Cowangerong, VK2/ST-001.

Found that I hadn't missed the rough bits... lots of dirt mounds to carefully drive slowly over. My Nissan Xtrail has a fair ground clearance but sure there were some hits underneath...Eventually reached the end of the Cowangerong Fire trail, joining the Tumenang Firetrail, thankfully wide and smooth. Note the sign for Tallaganda NP, this only applies to bush on the right side of the road.

A few Km down the fire trail found my way blocked by a large logging truck, and a grader. They were harvesting trees on the non National Park side of the road. Spoke to the driver, who said there was a road closed sign, but I missed seeing this the way I had come in. They had certainly not come the way I did! Anyway he backed up to a point where I could pass and continue.

The fire trail enters the park completely and I parked on a bend to the North of the summit. From here about a 600 m climb to the top, with an 80 m rise. See map.

Fairly light scrub, in 15 minutes reached the trig. A large rocky trig with a big disk on top. Typical of the ones in this area. 

Set up the squid pole on a stump just down from the trig.

Shack on the tarp. The sun came out but it was still cool at altitude, about 15c.

Got on 40m. Found some activations just packing up so a bit of a quick round to grab them before they went clear. Worked VK5PAS/3 Paul and VK3QB/p Chris in VKFF-0749 Shallow Inlet Marine Park with strong signals.

Then worked Peter VK3PF/p and Sergio VK3SPG/p on SOTA summit VK3/VT-071 Mt Square Top, also just about to go clear.

Worked Wade VK1FWBD/p on VK1/AC-037 with a good signal.

Spotted myself on 7.095 after Peter/Sergio were gone and got a good pileup going. Usual chasers from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK7. 

Briefly tried 20m, only worked one chaser, the reliable John ZL1BYZ with a good signal. A total of 20 contacts made.

Packed up after lunch. Was just able to pass the stopped logging truck on the left side. Going back along the Cowangerong Fire Trail came behind a 4WD with a canopy containing several hunting dogs. A couple of the dogs jumped out into the bush and he stopped. He had some radio tracking device on them so left him to track them down.

Returned back the same way, the on to Mt Cowangerong Vk2/ST-001.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

eQSL eJapan Award

When eQSL added an eJapan award, for working all 10 Japanese call areas, I found I was missing just the JA0 call area to complete it. Recently on 40 m JT65 mode I managed to spot JA0XII Kiichiro and worked him, getting the final eQSL needed for the award.

Some of the other contacts I have confirmed. JA1, fairly common

JA2, also fairly easy

JA3, fairly common

JA4 not that common

JA5 I found quite rare with only 2 contacts comfirmed.

JA6, not hard to find

JA7, fairly easy to find

JA8. Fairly rare with only 3 confirmed contacts. I made this one portable doing SOTA.

JA9, rare only 2 contacts comfirmed

The eQSL eJapan Award

Sunday, 26 March 2017

WWFF Percival Hill Nature Reserve VKFF-0859

With a nice sunny Sunday afternoon decided to do a nearby WWFF park activation of VKFF-0859 Percival Hill Nature Reserve. I had activated it once before in June 2015, and the cold drove me off air before completing the 44 contacts needed for a WWFF point. In fact made 42 contacts, so only need to make 2 more contacts. As close to 30c no problem with the cold today...

As per last activation approached via an access point off Schow Place in Nicholls. After a short walk reached the Percival Hill trig.

Even though a fairly low hill at 622 m some good views. Looking South East over Crace towards Mt Majura and Mt Ainslie.

Looking South West to Belconnen and the Brindabella Ranges. The Barton Highway roundabout below.

Looking North West towards Harcourt Hill. One Tree Hill on the right.

Set up the squid pole on the trig, One leg tied to a nearby fence post, the other leg just tied the end of the support rope around a rock.

Shack on the tarp. The FT-817 being black got hot in the sun, used the carry bag as a sun shade... Not much shade for myself however.

Got on 40m. Worked a few chasers in VK2, VK3 and VK7.

Got a call from Bill VK4FW/p in VKFF-1480 Boat Mountain Conservation Park for a park to park. Lots of QSB, he had problems copying me, but made it eventually.

Also another park to park with regular park activator Rob VK4AAC/p in VKFF-0682 Gympie National Park. These were both new parks for me as a hunter.

Continued on working VK2, VK3  park hunters. The band wasn't great, made several calls with no replies. Tuned about and heard Diane, VI100RTF, a special event station for Rotary, made a contact with her.

There was a contest on 20m, didn't even try calling there, too much high power QRM... As had 12 contacts and only needed 2 gave it away and went home.

Contacts made on 40m

1. VK2VZ/p
2. VK3SQ
3. VK7DW
4. VK4FW/p park to park VKFF-1480
5. VK4AAC/park to park VKFF-0682
9. VK2IO
10. VK2GDI
11. VK2JAZ
12. VI100TRF

Friday, 10 March 2017

WWFF Bungonia National Park VKFF-1163

With a nice sunny Friday off work decided to activate a new WWFF park for me, VKFF-1163 Bungonia National Park. The park is located to the East of Goulburn, and took me about 1.5 hours to drive to. The entrance to the park on Lookdown Road.

A short distance past the sign was a car parking area near the rangers office, and a ticket machine for the entrance ticket. It costs $8 a day. Note if you don't have the correct coins it takes credit cards, which I ended up using. Just past the rangers office was a picnic area that I used for activating later. Continued on as wanted to have a look at the views first. View from the Bungonia Lookdown lookout at the end of the road. Spectacular view to the East down into Bungonia Gorge.

View to the North. The quarry is Marulan Quarry.

Returned to the picnic area. This is known as Kerrileau Car Park. Map of the park here.

Set up the radio shack on one of the picnic tables in the shade.

Another view of the shack.

Radio this time my newly acquired IC7300. As with most LCD screens a bit hard to read the radio display in sunlight, however the main frequency stood out in white okay.

I dropped the power down to 20 w to conserve the battery. As a week day not a lot of signals on 40 m, however did manage to start with a park to park contact, with VK3TKK/p Peter in VKFF-0952 Point Addis Marine National Park with a good 58 signal.

Worked Karl VK2GKA in nearby Picton, and Peter VK3PF. Then another park to park, VK3FLCS/p Brett in VKFF-0765 Lerderderg State Park. Brett was struggling getting contacts, had no mobile coverage so gave him a hand with a spot on ParksnPeaks.

Continued on. Slow going on a weekday, working VK2s, VK3s and VK7s. Quite a few of the callers running FT817s and 5 w, quite good signals into the park on 40 m.

Went for a drive after lunch to check out the other lookout in the park, Adams lookout. Looking down into Slot Canyon and the Marulan Creek.

Returned to the picnic area. and continued working 40 m park hunters, a few VK5s now. Briefly tried 20 m, heard VK5YX come back to me but very weak, the band wasn't open enough for a contact.

Gave it away and headed home around 4 pm. Only 33 contact so need to return some time for the 44 needed for WWFF points, also Bungonia State Conservation Area nearby, must activate this park the next time.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

WWFF Park to Park 132 References Certificate

Noticed on WWFF Logsearch I've managed to make over 132 Park to Park contacts, so applied for the award. Received promptly from the awards manager Danny, ON4VT.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

New Radio Icom IC-7300

My shack radio, a Kenwood TS-480SAT recently developed a fault in the transmitted audio, becoming distorted with RF. Rather than wait for it to be repaired decided time for an upgrade, and got a new Icom IC-7300.

I think these must be very popular as the dealer had run out of stock, and had to wait a few weeks for a shipment from Japan to arrive...

First impressions good, the receiver audio is superb and it seems quite sensitive, plus there is a band scope, something I've never had on a radio before. As can see whats around me can pick up calls I would otherwise miss out, found this useful on 10m where there is a lot of band to cover,,,

Eventually got it set up on WSPR and JT65 modes, where it works quite well. I know more about the menus now... Make sure you select USB-D if you are operating digital modes! Made contacts into Japan and VK4 on 10m, and into the USA on 40m. Lots of fun. Using a Toshiba laptop for decoding.

Some minor faults, there is only one connector, my TS-480 had 2 which would auto select between the dipole and 10m yagi. Need to get an antenna switch. Also find the up/down band buttons a bit close to the tuning knob, tending to knock it, getting around this by using the up/down buttons on the microphone.

A very nice radio thats fun to operate.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

WWFF VKFF Honour Roll 400 areas award

Noticed on the WWFF website I've managed to contact 400 VKFF parks, so applied for the next VKFF award VKFF Honour Roll 400 areas. Promptly received from the VKFF awards manager Paul VK5PAS. Nice photo of the 12 Apostles in Victoria.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

WWFF Mount Painter Nature Reserve VKFF-0853

After my SOTA activation of Mount McDonald in the morning returned home for lunch, and as as still a nice sunny day decided to activate a nearby WWFF park, Mount Painter Nature Reserve, VKFF-0853.

Parked off Coulter Drive in Cook and walked up the access track, past the horse paddocks. Entered the park.

Some good views along the track over Belconnen to the North. Tall buildings are residential apartments around Belconnen town centre. One Tree Hill, a SOTA summit on the left.

Climbed up to the water tank near the summit.

Once past the tank the track continues to the summit. Trig can be seen. I didn't go to the summit as not a good spot for radio, lots of joggers, walkers with dogs coming and going all the time.

There was a seat nearby suitable for radio. Black Mountain, a SOTA summit and also a WWFF park with its tower in the background.

Set up the squid pole on the seat. It was very windy, the squid pole threatened to topple but kept up.

Shack on the seat. With the wind I ended up holding onto it most of the time while operating...

Got on 40m. Worked Paul, VK5PAS/p first for a Park to Park contact, he was in VKFF-1688 Brownhill Creek Recreation Park. A first activation for this park. A good S7, although a lot of static in the background from a storm somewhere.

Found a clear frequency and spotted myself on ParksnPeaks website. A steady stream of park hunters.

VK5FANA Adrian
VK7DW, Andrew
VK3PF, Peter
VK2IO, Gerard
VK3ZPF, Peter
VK3FPSR, Peter
VK5MAS, Andrew
VK5FTCT, John.

Tried 20m. Even though I could hear European signals coming in on the long path had no luck working anyone, a call from RA3PCI but he didn't reply back. To be expected as only using 5w...

I did make a contact with VK2LX, Grant in Bungendore though, a good S8.

Around 5 pm the wind seemed to be getting even stronger, so packed up. 13 contacts, so need to revisit this park sometime for the 44 needed for a WWFF point.

SOTA Mt McDonald VK1/AC-048

With a cooler Sunday than it has been recently, 20c instead of the 35-40c temperatures last week, decided to get some exercise and do a local SOTA summit, Mt McDonald VK1/AC-048. Noticed last time I drove past the start of the walk a new track was now open, so wanted to give it a try.

Drove from home to the car park for the walk, off Brindabella Road. There is now a sign on the Lower Cotter Catchment reserve here.

A close up of the sign showing the track to Mount McDonald

Previously had to walk along Lookout Road then climb up. Followed the new track until it joined the road up to the mountain, close to the Cotter Catchment lookout.

Followed the road up to the top of the mountain. Good views over the Bullen Range to the South.

Reached the top, trig and remnants of the fire lookout tower. Looking East to Mt Stromlo and Canberra.

Set up the squid pole on a leg of the trig.

Looking back from the other end of the dipole, tied to a bush near the tower.

Shack on the tarp at the base of the trig. Got on 40m. The band was not that good, signals down with lots of static. Also some intermittent buzzing, think from a nearby power pole, luckily only about an S3.

Started with local Matt VK1MA, strong as usual. Then several of the usual chasers from VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5. Most only S4 or so. Paul VK5PAS called me with a good S8 signal.

After 40m dried up switched to 20m. First contact Paul VK5PAS again, this time 59+! Very strong on 20m. Worked John ZL1BYZ and Jacky ZL1WA both good S9 signals. Ian VK5CZ a good S7, and local Andrew VK1AD S9.

Headed down at midday. Noticed a sign on the way down close to the top, 1.8 Km by the lookout track, and 2.5 Km by the old management road. So a 0.7 Km saving with the new track.

Track log confirmed the distances. 700 m shorter walk now. Dark blue the new walk, light blue the old road route.