Sunday, 28 April 2013

SOTA Activation VK1/AC-039 855m

Set off to activate SOTA summit VK1/AC-039, an unnamed peak just to the West of Canberra in Uriarra Pine Forest. Drove down Uriarra Rd, Brindabella Rd, and turned off at a junction onto Bullock Paddock Rd.

The road initially runs through pine forest

The a little later into land cleared by the 2003 Canberra Bushfire.

I somehow in the maze of unmarked forestry roads managed to miss a turnoff to Yellow Rabbit Rd, which would have taken me up the Northern side of VK1/AC-039. Instead followed a link road around the South of the summit. As behind time decided to drive as close as possible and walk directly up the spur at the Southern end of the summit, around 800m from the posted coordinates.

This turned out to be an old forestry road, long closed off by logs to stop access. No problem on foot...

Got to the top, found a still used road going around the summit, and another heading straight up it, with access blocking logs.

After some more log hopping/weaving got to the summit, worked 5 stations on the 2m hand held, signals were marginal with the tree cover. Set up the squid pole and radio on a log.

Strung the legs of the 40m dipole out to a couple of trees up and down the disused road.
View South.

View North

Signals on 40m were good, 2 19 more contacts including S2S contacts with VK3BYD and VK3ZPF.

Packed up around 11:30am and headed home. At home I looked up Andrew VK1NAM's Google Earth points on this summit, seems I missed a clearing in the trees just North of where I operated from, which explained why he did better than me on 2m...Next time I'll know...

Sunday, 21 April 2013

SOTA Activation Isaacs Ridge 840m

Forecast for Sunday was good so decided to activate another SOTA summit, Isaacs Ridge, VK1/AC-041. This is a 840m hill at the top of a pine plantation at the back of the Canberra suburb of Isaacs. Parked off Long Gully Road and started the walk.

Soon found the road heading steeply upwards through the pines.

The road joins the top ridge road, after which walking became a lot easier. Several transmission towers in sight.

Some good views out the West. Can see Mt Taylor which I climbed last Sunday, and the Brindabellas in the distance.

Also see the Tuggeranong valley

Set up the 40m dipole on a fence post near one of the towers, close to the summit. Turned on and found S9+ noise over the whole band...

On 2m hand held simplex heard Andrew VK1NAM and Matt VK1MA discussing where I was, so told them the bad news on the local RF QRM...Will need to move the antenna to a quieter RF spot. In the meantime worked 6 stations on 2m, so at least I got the summit activated. Tried jamming the squid pole in a rocky outcrop nearby, unfortunately the pole fell down and split in one of the middle left with a 3-4m squid pole instead of 7m.... Mounted it as best I could on the nearby fence on one of the star pickets.

Set up the FT817 on a nearby rock

This rather crude arrangement at least got me on air. Noise over the band was down to S7-S8 so could at least work stations with signals over this strength. In all managed 20 contacts on 40m, including S2S contacts with VK3ZPF, VK3KAB, VK1RX and VK3MRG, so not a bad result from a bad site and antenna. I seemed to be getting out okay, just not able to hear that well. Sorry if I missed anyone calling.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

SOTA Activation Mt Taylor 856m

Mt Taylor, being right in the Canberra suburbs, is a popular summit to activate, not very hard to get to and ideal for a morning activation.

Drove to the end of Waldock St in Chifley where there is a walking track up the mountain.

The track continues on the right to the Summit Foot track, a closed off gravel road for access to the radio masts on top.

After a short steep bit good views over Woden towards the North of Canberra appear. Black Mountain with its tower can be seen, Lake Burley Griffin and Woden town centre.

Looking back down the steep track.Canberra looks good in the Autumn with the leaves changing colour.

After about a 10 minute walk reached the summit, Mt Taylor Trig.

Near the base of the trig was a flat topped rock, used this as a table for the FT817. Another nearby rock made a handy seat, with my mouse mat for comfort.

Strapped the 7m squid pole onto a leg of the trig, ran one leg of the dipole down to a nearby log.

The other leg of the dipole ran across to a nearby tree branch. Had to make sure the wire was fairly high so the constant stream of walkers, joggers and dog walkers didn't run into it... While operating even got fitness fanatics doing pull ups on the bars of the trig!

Got on 40m at 9:30am and got a nice pileup of chasers going :)  Usual chasers from VK1/VK2/VK3. Into the new UTC day worked several again. Worked Paul, VK5PAS and Andy, VK5AKH portable on  VK5/SE-017, South Hummocks for a VK1-VK5 S2S :)

Also worked Andrew VK1NAM on VK1/AC-012 Orroral Hill on 2m SSB and FM, and on 40m.

Another portable station I worked was VK3YE, Peter, pedestrian mobile on Chelsea Beach in Melbourne, only 51 but good signal. Peter is fairly famous for his pedestrian mobile operating, check out Youtube.

All up 33 contacts. About 11:30am packed up and headed back down for lunch in nearby Woden.