Saturday, 30 March 2013

SOTA Activation Booroomba Rocks 1382m

Saturday 30th March 2013

After activating nearby VK1/AC-027 set off to do nearby Booroombra Rocks, VK1/AC-026. This is an area well used by rock climbers so was a car park and walking track to get within 500m of the summit.

A 2.5 km return walk. There were lots of people on the track, a lady asked me what the squid pole was for, was I going fishing :)

Got to the top of the track and bush bashed across to the summit. 

Booroombra Rocks is really 3 peaks with the highest being the SOTA summit. Lots of rocky slabs, with some scrub bashing/wading to get between them. Okay once you get onto the rock slabs...

Reached the rock cairn on top. Managed another 2m hand held to hand held with Wayne, VK3WAM/1 heading up to Mt Scabby. 

Worked a few locals on 2m FM, all very strong. This is a great VHF site! Wedged the squid pole in a rocky crevice and set up the FT817 nearby on the rocks

Didn't seem to be many of the regular chasers about, only worked 5 stations on 40m. The band was good though, there was a CQ WPX contest on, could even hear Russian and European stations quite well.

View was fantastic! Photo below of Mt Tennent and Tuggeranong valley to the left of it.

Packed up about 4:30 pm. Headed back down the same way.

SOTA Activation VK1/AC-027 Honeysuckle Creek area 1365m

Saturday 30th March 2013

SOTA summit VK1/AC-027  is an unnamed peak near the former site of the Honeysuckle Creek tracking station, now a camping ground, to the south of Canberra.

Drove through the camping ground until coming to a turnoff marked "Management Vehicles Only", this is where I parked and started walking.

 After a short walk spotted the peak in the distance.

Didn't look too hard, I was to learn later this was not the case...The road climbed up the hill a bit then to the left, ending at some water reservoirs. Probably for use in fire fighting.

At this point the GPS showed around 500m to the summit. Left the road and started bush bashing my way up hill.

Lots of fallen branches, logs and thick vegetation. Also rocky outcrops to climb over and around.

Got quite scratched and bruised my knee on a fall. It was tough going! After almost an hour, reached the top at 10:30pm.  Got the hand held out and worked Wayne, VK3WAM/1 on Mt Murray, hand held to hand held, he was packed up and waited to work me before heading off. A good signal. 

The Summit appeared to be a bunch of boulders on top, nowhere to put a dipole so dropped down a bit.

GPS showed around the correct height and location

Set up the FT817 on a nearby log, worked VK1NAM and VK1MA both with weak signals on 2m. Not a great VHF takeoff to Canberra.

Set up the squid pole using a nearby sapling tree as a support and strung out the legs as best as possible given the thick scrub.

Found 40m in poor shape, stations very weak. Only worked 8 stations. From comments seemed to be just poor propagation and not the antenna. Heard another activator, VK3KAN/p but too weak to make out. Also managed another contact with Wayne, VK3WAM/1 hand held to hand held, no longer on Mt Murray, but gave him some more chaser points.

Packed up after lunch. Battled back down through the scrub, coming out a different way, but still hard going.

On to the next summit, VK1/AC-026, Booroombra Rocks

Sunday, 24 March 2013

SOTA Activation Pheasant Hill 1455m

Decided to do a first time activation of SOTA summit VK1/AC-021, Pheasant Hill. Note this is misspelt on the VK1 summit list as "Pleasant Hill". Drove down Sunday morning to the far end of the ACT, took about a hour and a half, slow going on the unsealed Boboyan road. Arrived just before 10am at historic Brayshaw's Hut for morning tea.

Pheasant Hill can be seen at the back of the hut. The GPS showed the summit a bit under 2 Km away. There is a sign near the hut telling a bit about the history, and the start of the Settlers Track to Westerman's Homestead.

After morning tea walked to the edge of the hut clearing and started climbing. Fairly open scrub, could push through it easy enough, just following animal tracks.

There were even a few nice grassy areas on the way.

Eventually got to the top after about 50 minutes. The summit is not really well defined, and I could not find any trig or cairn. Just a hilltop with rocks and trees...The altitude on the GPS seemed to agree with the published height of 1455m.

Close by to the summit was a nice grassy clearing with a big log to sit on. Strapped the squid pole to a small sapling wattle tree and set up the shack on the log.

Ran the legs of the 40m dipole out to a couple of nearby trees.

  First contact on 40m was Andrew VK1NAM/p on VK1/AC-039, for a S2S. Then worked heaps of VK3s, most with booming S9 signals! I was worried the local VK1s would have been in the skip zone, being only 70km away from Canberra, however several were good signals too. Even worked Peter, VK3PF portable using the squid pole near the car. Band really quiet and easy to work. Waited until Allen, VK1HRA/p came up on Grampians peak VK3/VW-001 at 12:30pm and had lunch. Worked several more stations, most very strong VK3s. 25 contacts in the log.

Headed back down around 2:30pm, a slightly different way. Did find a bit of scrub in a gully, otherwise not hard. A pleasant day on Pheasant Hill :)

Sunday, 10 March 2013

SOTA Activation Mt Coree 1421m

Drove up the Brindabella Rd, got to "Picadilly Circus" intersection around 9am

The road straight on is the Mt Franklin Rd, which you take if you are activating Mt Ginini or Mt Gingera, like VK1NAM Andrew and VK1RX Al were doing today. On the other side of the junction is Two Sticks Rd, which I drove down to Mt Coree (main road on the right)

Drove down Two Sticks Rd, a narrow dirt track. After a while the cliffs on the south side of Mt Coree came into view.

Thankfully Two Sticks Rd goes around this to the west. After passing around the side of Mt Coree there is a junction on the right with a sign to Mt Coree summit.

This continues past a camping area then starts to climb quite steeply up the side of Mt Coree.

Parked off the road on one of the bends and continued on foot. Some good views to the north

Finally just before Mt Coree summit there is a steep bit. This is usually where 4WDs come into play, quite rocky and a bit of clearance required. Although have seen the odd 2WD make it.

 On top there is a fire tower and a trig. The fire tower is locked to keep out vandals.

Just near the trig is a recently placed plaque explaining the initial surveying of the Australian Capital Territory border, it started from here over 100 years ago. The early surveyors had it tough, no roads back then and snow in the winter to battle through...

I set up my 7m squid pole on the trig and laid out the 40m dipole

The fire tower provided a handy support for one leg of the dipole.

Set up the FT817 and operated just under the trig.

I used the whip that came with the radio to get on 2m SSB, turned horizontal for beam users.

Worked Andrew VK1NAM on Mt Gingera with a booming 59+ signal! Although he did admit to running 30w and a beam...Also worked Andew VK2UH in Yass on a portable yagi.

Got on 40m, found most spots from 7.080 to 7.095 taken up with SOTA activators! Made several S2S contacts with VK1 and VK3, plus heaps of VK1s, VK2s and VK3s. All up around 37 contacts. Got quiet after lunch and headed home.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

SOTA Activation Mt Stromlo 782m

After getting home from work it was a short 15 minute drive to the ANU boom gate on Mt Stromlo

The sign indicated the boom gates close at 6pm. Not wanting to risk getting locked in later I walked from here, plus it ensured I was well clear of the activation zone. Found out later the gates are only locked for upcoming traffic, they still let you out...Walked around the bend past the gate and took a rough dirt track to the top to avoid walking on the main road.

After about a km or 15 minute walk reached the telescopes and restaurant area.

The small domes are workshops, the large dome the shell of the 74 inch Grubb Parsons Reflector telescope

Just past this is "Scope" cafe/restaurant, which was busy with a wedding, and the shell of the 26 inch Yale-Columbia Refractor, which had the bridal party inside taking photos. Saw the bride through the doorway :)

Then only a short walk up to the Mt Stromlo summit. The building used to be the Oddie Telecsope a 9-inch
Grubb refractor that was installed in 1911.

Got on the 2m hand held and worked S2S with VK1FBIT, Brendan on Castle Hill, VK1DA/VI100ACT Andrew on Mt Ainslie, VK1NAM Andrew on Mt Tuggeranong.

Tried setting up the squid pole and 40m dipole on the Mt Stromlo trig, in the high wind it detelescoped down before even getting a call out...

As the wind was quite strong and cold I decided to seek shelter in the nearby Oddie telescope building shell, in the remnants of what I assume was the old kitchen set up my "shack".

There was an old downpipe in the corner, tied the squid pole to this.

 View from outside. The squid pole bend over a lot in the wind but stayed up

40m was very noisy, some kind of electrical interference from something close by kept anything below S8 unreadable

Luckily there were some strong signals on the band. Worked 14 contacts, another S2S with VK1RX Al on Black Mountain, VK1s, VK2s VK3s and ZL2ALJ, my first overseas contact from a SOTA summit :)

Packed up around 7:30 pm to get some photos of the sunset.
The building nearby is a new Satellite laser ranging telescope, using laser pulse reflections to determine the distance to near earth orbit objects, including the moon.

Headed down past the Scope restaurant, got back to the car at 8pm and went home.