Tuesday, 25 February 2014

SOTA reactivation Mt Taylor VK1/AC-037 with EU DX

After last Tuesday's good SOTA DX session into Europe Andrew VK1NAM indicated he would activate Mt Majura on Tuesday, I joined in with an activation of Mt Taylor, VK1/AC-037.

Went up as per my previous activation via the walking track at the end of Waldock St Chifley.

Then climbed up the Summit FT

A short but steep climb. Some good views behind, looking North towards Woden and Black Mountain

After about 20 minutes walking reached the trig.

Initially set up the dipole on 40m. Worked 7 chasers including S2S with Andrew, VK1NAM on Mt Majura Vk1/AC-034.

After about half an hour pulled down the 40m dipole and replaced it with 20m. One of the legs didn't quite make a nearby tree, so tied the support cord to a log.While there a mountain bike rider did a limbo under the wire...Lots of pedestrian activity with joggers and dog walkers going past. Some fitness fanatics did pull ups on the trig.

Got on 20m. Conditions not as hectic as last activation on Mt Ainslie, able to pick out callers one at a time instead of a massive pileup...Worked G, OE, DL, VK6 and OM. S2S contacts with 2E0YYY Mike on G/SP-013 again, and OE9HRV Herbert on OE/VB-509. Total of 10 EU contacts.

Finished with a local S2S with Andrew, VK1DA on 2m FM on Black Mountain VK1/AC-042

Packed up at sunset and headed back down and home for dinner.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

SOTA Mount McDonald VK1/AC-048

After seeing several SOTA activations planned for Saturday morning decided to get out an activate a summit and get some S2S points. Mt McDonald seemed like a good choice as only a 30 minute drive from home. This summit was added recently to the VK1 summit list on 1st February by Andrew, VK1NAM.

Have been up it before doing Geocaching and trig bagging a couple of years ago. Drove down the Cotter Road then turned up Brindabella Rd, drove past the Cotter Dam, on a bend on the left was a car park and the start of the walk.

The sign indicates 2.6 Km to the summit. Note the small sign in the background, it says "Track Closed". This was the walking track I used a couple of years ago, a lot shorter than the new track...Anyway set out on the new walk behind a locked gate.

After 700m reached a junction, took the road on the right, McDonald Rd fire trail.

Sign indicating now 1.9 Km to the summit

The road climbs steeply up the mountain. You pass a turnoff to a lookout over the Cotter Dam on the way. I didn't go to the lookout.

Got to the top. Note Mt McDonald is unusual in that it has 2 trigs. The pile of rocks in the foreground is the actual McDonald trig, the usual square trig in the background is McDonald Ecce trig.

Topo map shows the 2 trigs, 50 m apart...The McDonald trig is supposed to be a metre higher than the Ecce trig, but didn't look that way to me...

Walked up to the McDonald Ecce Trig. There is the remnants of the McDonald Fire tower nearby, which was destroyed in the Canberra 2003 bushfires.

On the Ecce trig was an interesting device, a reflector used by the nearby Mt Stromlo laser ranging station, probably for calibration.

View across to Mt Stromlo

Set up the squid pole on the trig, running dipole legs to the remnants of the fire tower and trees on the other side.

Set up the shack at the base of the trig

Got on 40m. First call from Matt, VK1MA. As I was signing with Matt the radio shut down...This was when I found out the SLA battery voltage was low, down to only 8.8v, must have forgotten to charge it since my last activation!... After waiting a bit found the 4Ah SLA battery recovered enough for short contacts. Concentrated on quick S2S calls only. Managed brief contacts with 

VK2TWR Rod on VK2/ST-034
VK3ANL Nick on VK2/VC-033
VK3PF Peter on VK3/VT-014
VK3APC on VK3/VC-025

Tried calling VK5NIG Nigel on VK5/SE-013 but the battery finally gave out...

With 2m FM only on the hand held managed to work Matt VK1MA who I think kindly rounded up Steve VK2NSS, for 6 contacts and qualifying the summit with over 4 contacts. Phew!

Track log of walk

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

SOTA Reactivation Mt Ainslie and EU DX

Saw a posting by Andrew VK1NAM who was going to activate Mt McDonald and try chasing EU DX, figured might as well join him and activate Mt Ainslie. This summit is most suitable for evening activations as there is a road to the top and it is practically in the city, and is very quiet electrically.

As per my first activation parked out of the activation zone and walked up the road to the top.

I walked around to the proper tourist lookout to see if any better position to operate. There are some tables and chairs here but too many tourists about.

So returned to the operating spot I used last time, a 'round metal thing' on the very summit.

Set up my SOTA shack on the concrete base, with a mouse mat for comfort.

40 m and 20 m fan dipoles run out to nearby gum trees.

Got on 40m at 07340z working S2S with Andrew VK1NAM/p on nearby VK1/AC-048, Mt McDonald. Then VK2LAX Rod and VK2JI Ed on VK2/HU-093 Mt Elliot. Worked several chasers in VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5.

Just before 0800z got on 20m after the 40m contacts dried up. Found the band packed with DX, managed  to find a quiet spot on 14.280, spotted myself and called CQ SOTA.

I got jumped on! Generated a good pileup of EU stations from several countries. Bit of a shock after only working VK/ZL on previous SOTA activations. After a while a couple of Spanish stations came up on my frequency and started chatting so moved frequency and continued. After it went quiet went up to 14.335 to chat to Andrew VK1NAM who sounded like he had also been very busy, going by spots. While chatting we had a station call in, 2E0YYY Mike on a G summit, G/SP-013. He worked Andrew first then myself. Pleased to make a S2S to England on 5w! Over 17000 Km, possibly more as long path. Andrew left me with the frequency as he had a bit of a walk back to the car. Continued working DX until dusk at 0900z, then pulled down the station and headed home for dinner.

Here is the list of callsigns I worked.

40 m

VK1NAM/P Andrew S2S VK1/AC-048
VK2LAX/p Rod S2S VK2/HU-093
VK2JI/p Ed S2S VK2/HU-093
VK2CCW Michael
VK3PF Peter
VK2YK Adam
Vk3ANL Nick


OE9HRV Herbert
G4UXH Colin
OE7FMH Franz
HA5LV Victor
VK6NU John
G6TUH Mike
IK4CBO Georgio
DK9JI Alfons
G3MWV Dave
EA2CCG JoaquĆ­n
DF5WA Bert
EA3HND Jaime
VK1NAM/p Andrew S2S VK1/AC-048
2E0YYY/p Mike S2S G/SP-013
VK1MA Matt
EA2LU Jorge
DJ5AV Mike
G4OBK Phil

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

eQSL 300 Prefixes Award

After contacting RV6FT on 10m JT65, he sent me an eQSL. This completed another eQSL Award I have been chasing for ages, the ePFX300 award, for working 300 different callsign prefixes. Took longer than I thought, as I worked more and more prefixes finding new ones got harder!...

Here it is.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

SOTA Activation Durras Mountain

With a weekend of hot temperatures forecast for Canberra, 38c Saturday and 39c Sunday girlfriend Sarah and I headed down to Batemans Bay on the South Coast to escape the heat. Maximums of 32c and 33c a lot more bearable...

On Sunday morning weather was nice and cool, in the low 20s, so set off to climb Durras Mountain.
I have climbed this several times before and knew where to go. Drove North of Batemans Bay on the Princes Highway, about 15km North turned off onto Pebbly Beach Rd. Just past the intersection with Higgins Creek Rd there is a gated off road for ranger fire trail access to Durras Mountain, parked here and we started walking.

The fire trail climbs steeply, there is another locked gate up the top of the ridge to step over.

The road reaches a junction with another track, this is a foot track coming up from Pebbly Beach, which is how most walkers approach Durras Mountain. A bit more scenic with rain forest but a longer than the road.

Sign to Durras Mountain at the same junction.

Just past this junction the track clears the forest and follows old farmland.

After 1.5 Km and 40 minutes walking reached Durras Mountain trig. Like others in the area had been beheaded :(

Durras Mountain trig nameplate

Just near the trig was a picnic table.

I put this to good use as a SOTA operating table :)

SOTA shack on table.

Got on 40m. Worked S2S with VK1RX Al on VK1/AC-040 and VK5STU Stu on VK5/SE-013. Conditions not great on 40m, lots of QSB. After UTC changeover switched to 20m, worked Al and Stu again, also VK5PAS Paul and VK5WG Nev with good signals. 18 contacts all up. Wind started to pick up so headed down.

Track log of walk

Saturday, 1 February 2014

SOTA Reactivation Black Mountain

For the VK1 SOTA 1 year Anniversary since going live decided to activate a summit close to home, VK1/AC-042, Black Mountain. As expecting 37c in Canberra got there early at 8:30 am to beat the heat. Got to the car park just below the summit and started walking.

After a few minutes got to the top. Set up the squid pole and 20/40 m dipoles on the metal fence near the lookout, just above the tower.

Hid in the shade of the distance marker.

Got on 40 m, plenty of activity with several activations on air already.

VK2FGJW/p Greg on VK2/CT-001
VK1RX/2 Al on VK2/ST-036
VK1NAM/p Andrew on VK1/AC-041

Later on also worked VK2TWR/p Rod on VK2/SM-046.

Lots of chasers worked with some good signals from VK5 too. Spoke to Peter VK3YE on his pedestrian loop antenna. Also worked several at the M&DRC SOTA function. Made 31 contacts before packing up mid morning to escape the rising heat.