Thursday, 27 June 2013

SOTA CRARC Presentation and VK1 SOTA Shack Sloth Award

Met up with fellow VK1 SOTA activators Al, VK1RX, Andrew, VK1NAM and Andrew VK1DA/2UH for dinner at Manuka, where we discussed many SOTA things.

After dinner went to the Canberra Region Amateur Radio Club (CRARC) meeting in Red Hill for a presentation of SOTA operating by Andrew, VK1NAM. Took my SOTA gear along as part of a display during the talk to show what equipment is used. Generated interest from club members.

At the end of the talk Andrew surprised me with a presentation of a VK1 Shack Sloth Award!

A close up of the award at home

A happy looking Shack Sloth :)

Ordered the official one from the SOTA shop online, probably take a few weeks to arrive via the post from the UK.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

SOTA Attempted Activation Binya Peak VK5/NE-015

After stopping overnight at Wilpena Pound headed off to try and do the nearest SOTA summit Binya Peak, VK5/NE-015. The plan was to head up Mount Ohlssen Bagge, using a walking track, then cut cross country to Binya Peak.

Took the main Wilpena Pound road and after a short walk took the turnoff to Ohlssen Bagge on the left, 2.45 Km to the summit

After a short while the track climbed steeply

The track followed the cliff lines and climbed steadily upwards, switchbacking. After about an hour and a half go to the summit.

Headed to the end of the track and bush bashed over to get a good look at Binya Peak. This is when I found  it would have been too hard, there was a massive drop off and then a solid climb up, with scrub...The GPS showed about a km away. Behind it are SOTA summits Mt Karrawara and Mt Bonney, all look equally as hard :(

So not a complete waste of carting the SOTA gear up here decided to do some chasing. Set up the station just below the summit of Ohlssen Bagge. Looking South to the 3 SOTA peaks

Looking North. SOTA summit St Mary Peak on the right.

Looking down into the pound

Set up the FT817 on the rocks.

Got on 40 m. As in Flinders Ranges NP was worth a couple of points to VK5 stations after the VK5 Parks award. Worked a few VK5s, quite strong. Worked Paul, VK5PAS in Whyalla Conservation Park with good signals. I was interesting tuning around 40m here, VK6 stations were really strong, but surprisingly several VK3s were too...

Managed to work SOTA stations Glenn, VK3YY on VC-006 and Kevin VK3KAB on VT-006. These gave me 6 and 10 points, so managed to get to 1000 points, and Shack Sloth status!

Headed back down. Had lunch and headed for Peterborough for the evening.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

SOTA Activation of The Devil's Peak VK5/NE-080

After an overnight stay at Port Augusta drove almost to Quorn, then turned off onto some unsealed roads leading to The Devil's Peak

The road comes to a gate of a farm, private property, however the owner has granted access for those doing the walk.

The road ends in a car park for the walk.

A sign at the start of the walk indicates about 2.6 Km long. My GPS showed about a Km direct to the peak.

The track started off easy at first, wandering through the bush.

Nearing the peak it got steep and rocky. There were red arrow signs on trees to guide you, plus distance markers from the car park. Got to a saddle in the range and went left.

Around the corner was a narrow canyon between 2 huge rocky outcrops. There was a hard way up

And and easy way

I took the easy way. The views on top were fantastic! Looking North to Quorn

Looking South to the summit and Port Augusta. It was obvious that operating right from the summit would require nerves of steel, which I didn't have...not to mention where do you mount a squid pole and dipole!

I measured the top as 710 m, so dropped back down the slope to the 700 m mark to stay in the 25 m activation zone. I used the stump of a small tree to support the squid pole.

The 20m/40m antennas looped under some rocks. View looking up the slope

View looking down. Quite impressive. The Dutchman's Stern is on the right.

Got on 40 m, made 14 contacts including an S2S with Andrew VK1NAM on VK1/AC-020 Mt Domain. Tried 20 m, also worked Andrew there as well, my first S2S on 20 m! Packed up and headed to Quorn for lunch, then on to Wilpena Pound for the night.

FYI, this activation places me with over 100 Activator points!

Friday, 14 June 2013

Attempted SOTA Activation The Dutchman's Stern VK5/NE-028

After staying overnight at Melrose following my Mt Remarkable walk headed for Quorn and an attempt on The Dutchman's Stern. Arrived at the track car park late morning.

The nearby sign showed the park walking tracks. There was a loop walk up to The Dutchmans Stern

Walked to point 2 on this map and decided to head up to The Dutchmans Stern. Was to learn later from Paul VK5PAS I should have continued South on the loop instead

The way I went took me up through a series of switchbacks to a lookout called The Dutchman's Stern, Point 3 on the walk map. Good views West.

Checked the SOTA waypoint on the GPS, it was over 4 Km away! As getting late in the day had lunch and set up the dipole. I used the Checkpoint 3 sign to support the squid pole.

Got on 40m, worked Paul VK5PAS on Mt Greenly, VK5/SW-033. He agreed had taken the loop track the wrong way, as had got to the summit in about the same time I got to here. I couldn't really work anyone as an activator, so did some testing of my 20m dipole, which had not worked anyone yet. QSYed off 40m with Andrew, VK2UH to 20m, signals were about the same on both bands, fair bit of QSB. After worked Andrew worked a station mobile in Esperence VK6 and a VK4 in Brisbane, so seemed to work ok.

Headed down again, ended up racing back to the car to avoid an approaching rain cloud.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

SOTA Activation Mt Remarkable VK5/NE-010

After an overnight stay at Port Pirie drove to Melrose at the base of Mt Remarkable. Could see the top was covered with cloud, so not sure if it would be just mist or rain...anyway, about to find out.

After driving through a creek crossing and through a camping area got to the start of the 6 Km walk to the summit.

Some rocky scree slopes on the way. About half way up saw the wreckage of a 1980 light aircraft crash. Not a lot left.

After about 5 km the track joins a fire trail, now an easy 700 m walk to the top.

Got to the top after about a hour and a half walk. Very large pile of rocks on top.

The nearby sign

Behind the sign a rather battered old trig

After having lunch and having just set up the 20m/40m dipoles the light mist suddenly became rain...before making a single call! Quickly place the radio in the pack and hooked it up so could still use it.

At least it was dry, even if myself and the log book were not...Managed to make 10 contacts, including an S2S with Ron VK3AFW/5 on Mt Lofty, also having rain problems. Looked for Paul VK5PAS but didn't hear him when I was operating. Only got on air for about half an hour before the rain and cold got to me. I had a brief listen on 20m, signals from Europe were booming in, pity didn't have a chance to work them.

The Quid pole I mounted on a Heysen Trail marker.

Legs of the dipoles tied to a nearby park gate.

The other legs tied to some trees.

Got back down in a bit over an hour, the rain did ease off a bit but still persisted. As per Paul's VK5PAS blog suggestion stayed at the Melrose Holiday Units, and had a nice dinner in the Mt Remarkable Hotel.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

SOTA Activation Mt Zero VK3/VW-020

From Halls Gap drove the Mt Zero Rd to the far Northern end of the Grampians. Unsealed road but not too rough. Got worried about the weather, passed through some rain showers, however on reaching the Mt Zero car park the rain had stopped and was pleasantly sunny. From the car park about a 1 Km walk.

The track climbed up through some rocky outcrops, easy to follow as yellow arrows painted on the rocks. Saw the junction VK3ZPF Peter mentioned in his blog, chose to go the non squeezy route as carrying a squid pole...

Some good view looking back at the Grampians.

 Reached the summit. Fantastic views all round. South from the marker.

North to the flat plains.

Not a lot of room for a 40m dipole though. No idea how Peter got both a vertical and a dipole fitted in here...Used a tree stump for support, and ran the legs out.

One leg ran up to the end of the lookout fence

The other end ran down to a tree

Set up the radio on the ground near the squid pole.

Got on 40m, Peter VK3PF called me first and spotted me. Then worked VK3JM, VK3AXH, VK3AFW mobile in Adelaide, VK5CZ, VK5KC and VK3DET. While talking to VK5KC the wind decided to detelescope the squid had to go clear and hoist it back up. Ernie VK3DET remarked the signal was about the same fact could hear signals quite well with the wires on the ground...guess when you are that high up in the clear the extra height is not making much difference.

Good strong signals from VK5, probably due to the border being not far off.

Packed up and headed off for Adelaide. On the way heard Paul, VK5PAS spotted on Darke Peak via Rucksack Radio Tool on my phone in Kaniva. So parked at a wayside stop and worked him on the SOTA gear with good signals both ways.