Sunday, 27 July 2014

SOTA Activation of Mt Coree for VK1 SOTA Party

Andrew VK1NAM asked on the VK1 Yahoo forum for activators interested in a SOTA VK1 mass activation day. As I had worked all the local town summits opted to activate Mt Coree, VK1-AC-023.
This is not too far a drive out of Canberra, offers tremendous takeoff for radio, and also at over 1400 m is high enough to attract 3 winter bonus points :)

The plan was to start with a mass S2S session on 2 m at 2315 z or 9:15 am local time, so set off early from home at 7 am to get on the summit around 9 am. Weather was fine but cold, outside the car sitting around only a few degrees C for most of the drive. Drove the easiest way, up the Brindabella Road, turning off onto Two Sticks Road at Piccadilly Circus, then along Pabral Road. to the turnoff to the summit.

Two Sticks Road after Piccadilly Circus turned out not too good to drive on, lots of muddy patches and water over the road, drove it in 4WD... Took it slowly and didn't get bogged. Reached the Pabral Road turnoff.

Pabral Road passes a camping ground, after this it got fairly boggy, felt the car slide now and then...however once I got to the uphill bit it got easier, the road up was drier. Map of the ascent. It is a series of bends, parked a few bends down from the summit out of the activation zone and walked.

Some good views to the North from the bends on the road

Got to the final ascent up to the summit. This is where some good 4WD clearance is needed, there are a few scrape marks on the rocks here...

You are then on the top. There is a small area to reverse and head back down. Past the "Dangerous Cliffline"  sign is the fire lookout tower and the trig.

Wandered over to the trig. Snow on some of the distant peak, like Mt Gingera. Surprisingly no snow here as it is over 1400 m, probably melted with milder weather recently.

I had operated from the trig last time, however there was a cold strong wind blowing across the summit, that I hadn't noticed down the bottom, so dropped back down to the Dangerous Cliffline sign and used the base for squid pole support, setting up the SOTA shack in the shelter of a large rock.

Had to use a few small rocks around the base of the squid pole to stop it sliding sideways. The split section threatened to come out, so only extended the pole up to about 5 m. The summit has fantastic takeoff, so not much height is needed anyway. Ran the 40 m dipole legs out to a couple of bushes.

View out to the West off the cliff

View to the East over Canberra.

Shack out of the cold wind in the shelter of the large rock.

 Got on 2 m FM first on the hand held. Heaps of activators on already. As I had an excellent position most were full scale signals. After working a several local activators moved to 40 m, this was just as packed with activators, seems like several VK2s, VK3s a VK1 portable VK4 and a VK5 had decided to join the party!

It was bedlam. For a while just tuned about chasing other activators. Quite amusing hearing small pileups of "summit to summit" calls coming back to activators! I eventually found a free spot on 7.080 Mhz and got spotted and worked the usual chasers. Managed to grab 16 S2Ss before UTC rollover and another 13 after. Notable contacts John VK5BJE on VK5/SE-005 as the VK5 activator and Andrew VK1MBE/4 on VK4/SE-094.

All up 31 contacts before UTC and 20 after. Tried 20 m but no luck, the band poor. Packed up around 11:30 am to try and make the lunch in Woden by 1:30 pm.

The trip down was interesting as several large 4WDs were heading up...managed to pass them on the bends.
This is a popular place for 4WDs, had 4 groups come up while I was activating. Most just drove up, took a few photos and left after a few minutes.

Managed to make it back to the Brindabella Road without getting bogged in the mud. It was actually a fast trip to lunch in Woden, got onto the Cotter Road, Eucumbene Drive then Hindmarsh Drive straight to Woden, about an hour and a half. Met up with the other activators at a cafe for a good meal and chat about SOTA and the days activations.

Thanks Andrew VK1NAM for organizing this, it was fun!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Squid pole temporary repair

After cracking one of the sections of my 7 m squid pole on my last SOTA activation Mt Gillamatong, pulled it apart at home to have a look. One of the sections had a piece cracked off at the base, jamming the sliding action.

Will really need to replace it, however have the SOTA VK1 multiple activation of Mt Coree tomorrow, so needed to get something working for this. Pulled off the cracked piece and used duct tape to cover the hole.

The cracked piece underneath. I can now slide all the sections out to the full 7 m height, just need to watch out I don't pull out the broken piece too far...

Sunday, 20 July 2014

SOTA Activation Mt Gillamatong

After activating Mt Palerang and driving to Braidwood for lunch, continued on to nearby Mt Gillamatong, VK2/ST-034, via Gillamatong Lane.

Parked at the end and went through the gate for pedestrians.

Went to the left, then up the hill to another pedestrian gate into the scrub.

The scrub on Mt Gillamatong is fairly light and easy to walk through, but it is still a steep climb...

Reached the summit trig

Set up the SOTA shack on the trig platform.

I had problems here when the squid pole collapsed, the section that had cracked while activating the Rock Hill  now wouldn't slide, so could only raise it to about 5 m...Anyway was high enough to get out.

Got on 40m, started well with a 59 report from VK2AET Scott up in Grafton. Conditions on 40 m were very strange, lots of QSB with close by stations in VK1 barely able to copy me then coming up to S9 and down again...Stations further away like VK5 and central VK2 steady and strong.

Tried 20 m but no contacts, even after self spotting. Andrew VK1NAM wanted to try a 2 m SSB contact, attached the 2 m whip to the FT817 and held it up high above the trig, but heard nothing. Probably too many mountains in the way. Packed up after 22 contacts and headed back down. Due to the jammed squid pole meant carrying a 2m long squid pole back to the car...Will need to get a replacement.

SOTA Activation Mt Palerang

As per last year's activation of Mt Palerang VK2/ST-009 drove via Queanbeyan, Captains Flat Road, Hoskinstown, Forbes Creek and the Mulloon Fires Trail. I was a little worried the crossing over Mulloon Creek would be tricky after some rain, however water levels made for an easy crossing.

Parked at the same place, the intersection of Mulloon and Palerang Fire Trails. The area had been burnt, probably on purpose for a fire break. A sign warning about logging trucks and using CB CH 36.

Walked 50 m along Palerang Fire Trail to the track heading up to Mt Palerang on the right.

The track at first gets very steep...Luckily this doesn't last the whole way and it flattens out.

The track heads straight up, then swings to the right. Last time I left it here and went straight up through the bush. As curious to see where the track went continued to the right and across the side of the mountain.

It took me to within about 100 m of the summit, then descended. At this stage I just bush bashed up to the top. This turned out to be a bad route, as the scrub on the Western side of Mt Palerang is quite thick with lots of boulders to clamber over...luckily only short, and reached the top ridge close to the summit cairn.

Last time I activated here the wind was howling on the very top, but not so today so set up the squid pole on the trig. The cairn is quite large and had plenty of room on the top to set up the SOTA shack.

Ran one leg of the 40/20 m linked dipole out to a tree. Mt Lowden in the background,

The other end back to a small bush off the track along the ridge.

Got on 40 m at 0030 z, working Andrew VK1MBE/p on Mt Ainslie, VK1/AC-040. Then the usual bunch of chasers from VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5. Another S2S with Mark VK1EM/2 and Andrew VK2FAJG/P, strong on nearby South Black Range, VK2/ST-006. Also another contact with Peter, VK3YE pedestrian mobile wading through the water on the beach in Melbourne, with a good signal. After the 40 m chasers dried up switched the dipole links to 20 m and worked the 2 regular VK6 chasers, VK6MB Mike and VK6NU John. Signals were not the best on 20 m with QSB.

Packed up after 29 contacts and headed back down. The trip back was fairly easy, followed the ridge, then using the GPS headed for the closest point to the track, with only about 80 m of easy scrub. Got back down in less than a half hour. Continued along the Mulloon Fire Trail to Braidwood, and lunch at the pie shop.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

SOTA Activation Boboyan Range in snow

With a good forecast of a sunny Sunday decided to try a winter activation of a new summit for me, VK1/AC-044 Boboyan Range. This was added recently to the VK1 list by Andrew VK1NAM who activated it in March.

Checked the Boboyan road was open, as can be closed in wet snowy weather, using the TAMs website
The site indicated now open for 4WD only, so good to go. Expected would strike snow so dressed as per my cross country ski trips, thermal top with multiple layers and ski pants.

Drove down South of Tharwa into Namadgi National Park. After reaching the unsealed part of Boboyan Road saw the sign warning that only open for 4x4 vehicles only

The road after this was okay, not requiring 4WD. Stopped at Hospital Hill lookout to check out the snow on the mountains. Mt Gudgenby VK1/AC-009 on the left, Mt Scabby VK1/AC-005 on the right.

A good view of Mt Kelly VK1/AC-004 in the middle. Other peaks are not SOTA ones.

Continued South of Hospital Hill. Around 1400 m elevation saw snow...Got to a good car park to pull off Boboyan Road recommended by Andrew VK1NAM and Al VK1RX after their activation. This road can get dangerous with speeding 4WDs so best to park well off it.

From the car park headed up the hill. Scrub not too thick, mainly a problem when brushing against it, resulting in a nice cold shower of snow :)

Once on top of the ridge the going got a bit easier, not quite as thick vegetation, although with altitude the snow seemed to be deeper...

Another view of the ridge

After around 30 minutes, 1.3 Km reached the top. Andrew VK1NAM made a nice rock summit cairn here.

Just near the cairn set up my shack, using my foam mouse mat as an insulator from the cold snow, and my lunch box to keep the radio out of the snow.

Set up the squid pole on a nearby stump and laid out the 40 m dipole legs. Quite a lot of room on the summit, easy to get it up to full height this time.

Got on 40 m. Mobile coverage on my Telstra phone wasn't too good here, unable to self spot, however could just receive spots, so needed spotting by the chasers. Excellent strong signals from VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5. Some of the VK5s almost as strong as the VK3s, conditions great. 29 contacts made.

Changed the links for 20 m. Found some world wide contest on, the band packed with strong high powered overseas stations, my puny 5 w station didn't stand a chance...With no way to spot gave it away after some calls with no replies, sorry VK6 guys. Packed up around noon. Noticed the sun had made some impact to the snow, starting to melt, Andrews summit cairn again.

Track log of walk back. Around 1.3 Km with a 100 m climb, took 30 minutes up, 25 minutes down.