Saturday, 23 August 2014

SOTA Activation Mt Wee Jasper

My last activation of Mt Wee Jasper involved access via the Hume and Hovell walking track, a 15 Km walk with a 700 m climb, just too much! Since doing this walk Andrew VK1NAM established that you can get to the summit an easier way, by driving through the pine forest and walking the last rise to the summit, so set off to try this route.

As per last time drove to Wee Jasper from Canberra via Uriarra Rd, Fairlight Rd, Mountain Creek Rd and Wee-Jasper-Yass Rd. Headed South of Wee Jasper, this time driving past the Fitzpatrick Track head and headed up into the mountains. After several Km turned off onto the Wee Jasper Forest Rd

Followed this up hill, turning off onto Pheasant Creek Rd.

Followed Pheasant Creek for a while, until coming to an unnamed road coming off at an angle on the left. Pheasant Creek Road can be seen continuing around the right side of Mt Wee Jasper

This unnamed road has a few muddy puddles to cross, but nothing too deep. Came to a junction with a large clearing, took the road on the right.

The right road had a few more puddles, nothing needing 4WD but the car needed a good clean after getting home :( Soon spotted something familiar, a Hume and Hovell walking track marker, I now knew where I was :)

Just up the hill and around the bend there is a side road on the right going into the pine forest, with another track marker to guide you. Parked off the road in the pine forest and started walking.

Soon came to a track marker taking me onto a walking track, and the final ascent up Mt Wee Jasper

The climb was steep, but only 100 m or so, and the distance to the top only around 700 m, better than 7 Km! Mt Wee Jasper trig

The 2 seats near the summit.

As per last activation used one of the seats for squid pole support and for a comfy operating spot. 40/20 m linked dipole legs run out to a couple of nearby trees. I also hung a newly made 2 m "slim jim" type antenna made from 300 ohm ribbon from the squid pole, thanks to Andrew VK1NAM for making this up for me!

Shack on the seat next to me.

Another view of the operating position.

Got on 40 m, after getting spotted got mobbed by the usual chasers from VK1, Vk2, VK3 and VK5. Made a S2S with Peter VK3PF on Mt Selma VK3/VT-013, and Gerard VK2IO on Mt Perisher VK2/SM-007. After 40 m quietened down tried 2 m SSB on my new antenna with Andrew VK1NAM and Matt VK1MA. Andrew had problems copying me and was weak, Matt was a good S8, he has a good high location in North Canberra for working Mt Wee Jasper.

Later on Matt SMSed me about an activation by Simon, VK1FAAV on VK1/AC-025 Mt Tennent on 2 m FM. Gave him a call and got him at a good S3! Mt Tennent was 57 Km away so good getting him using a hand held and whip, although he would have great coverage from almost 1400 m elevation. Well done Simon, a tough summit to activate.

One final S2S with Marshall, VK3MRG on VK3/VE-178, before packing up and heading home.

Track log of walk

Profile of walk, about a 120 m climb with less than a 700 m walk.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

SOTA Activation Mt Tennent

Mt Tennent, VK1/AC-025 is a tough mountain to climb, involving a 7 Km walk with around a 700 m climb, starting around 600 m and rising to almost 1400 m...

Went up the usual walking track from the Namadgi Visitors Centre. The walking group I am in had a walk scheduled, so had some company on the ascent. As I would be a while with SOTA advised them would make my own way down.

Left the Namadgi visitors centre around 8:30 am, climbed up seemingly endless rocky steps to the ridge, then along the ridge before the final assault on the Mt Tennent Fire Trail

I set up the squid pole on a small wattle sapling just down from the summit, off the path as I know this can get very busy with walkers. One dipole leg tied to the communications tower fence

The other leg running up to some vegetation just off the path to the fire tower

Set up the SOTA shack on some rocks

Got on 40 m. As both the ILLW and RD contest were on, the band was packed with signals. Started with a S2S with Justin VK2CU on VK2/CT-004. Justin kindly offered to let me have the frequency after he finished, which was good as there were hardly any clear spots on the band. Once spotted got a good pileup going with the usual chasers. Also had a lighthouse call me, VK2BOR from  Point Tacking Lighthouse near Port Macquarie. Later Rod VK2TWR and Rob VK2QR came up for another S2S from VK2/SM-029 Alpine Hill, operating in the snow. I left them with the frequency and packed up around noon, as the wind had picked up and was getting cold, and there was rain forecast for later. Got back down in about 1.5 hours. Made 24 contacts all up.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

SOTA Activation Booroomba Rocks

Time for another SOTA activation with winter bonus points. Picked Booroomba Rocks, VK1/AC-026 as not too far away with a good track to the top.

Left home early in fog, and temperature only around 1 c. As I drove past Tharwa the fog vanished and some sunshine. Drove down Apollo Road then the dirt track to Booroomba Rocks carpark. Start of the walking track. The 30 minutes is to the saddle where the rock climbers go, the SOTA summit is another half hour walking cross country from the saddle.

The Southern side of Booroomba Rocks does not get a lot of sun, so still some remnants of snow from the recent falls in places.

Some more snow on the track. Nothing deep, easy to step over.

Got to the saddle and made my way to the summit cross country. Basically crossing rock slabs with some scrub bashing in between. There are small rock piles to guide you along the least scrubbiest route

View to the main summit

 Another rock track marker. Snow covered mountains in the distance

Reached the summit cairn. Note the small tree on the right, used this to support the squid pole

Strung out the 20/40 m linked dipole. A lack of trees on the rocky top, tied one end to a tree stump not visible in this photo.

The other leg managed to just make it to the branch of a dead snow gum. View looking East towards Mt Tennent. Note the fog down below.

Looking North towards Canberra, still covered in thick fog

Set up the SOTA shack at the base of the small gum tree. A recent addition to my SOTA gear, a small tarp kept things a little cleaner.

Got on 2 m first on the hand held, worked Andrew VK1NAM for a S2S on VK1/AC-043, Mt Stromlo with a solid signal. Then hopped on 40 m. Found had just missed VK3YY/VK3ANL on a peak. Anyway good pileup of chasers from VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5, and Andrew VK1NAM again on 40m. Another S2S later with Ian VK3TCX doing his first activation of VK3/VG-074.

After 40 m pileup stopped changed the links to 20 m. A good strong signal from Greg VK8GM in Alice Springs. Also worked VK1ATP, VK1NAM and VK6MB.

Finally tried the 30 m dipole. Had a good S8 signal from VK8RC/4 Rob in Brisbane. He reduced power to a few watts, could still hear him just fine. No further calls though, 30 m is not a popular band.

Packed up just before 1 pm as the wind had picked up and headed down. Missed VK3YY/VK3HRA again on their next summit, plus VK3IL...All up 27 contacts.

A frozen pond near the summit.

Track log of walk. 2.2 Km each way with about a 300 m climb.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Log4OM v1.18 and Grid Square Mapping in Google Earth

After updating Log4OM to the latest version, 1.18, noticed a new feature, grid square mapping in Google Earth.

Thought I'd give it a try. There is a new "Plot KML" button under QSO Archive

Selecting this gives you a choice of grid square sizes.

I selected the 4-digit grid map as the majority of my contacts, from JT65 have the grid as 4 digits. In a standard JT65 QSO you exchange 4 digit grid squares, eg CQ VK1DI QF44.

Google Earth starts and displays grid squares you have worked. Here is my Australian map.

Clicking on any of the blue grid tiles will show you contacts made into the grid

Some grids are quite rare, not having many amateurs. For example the only contact into QF01 was with Allen, VK3HRA on a SOTA peak. So some SOTA activations are actually putting rare grid squares on air too.

There is also a "3D view" tick box, showing grid "towers" indicating number of contacts into each grid. Tried this out. Looks cool.

Note the "towers" on the main city centres in Australia, Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle area and Brisbane.

The tower in the centre of Australia is where log entries for VK contacts with no grid square end up. Quite a lot of amateurs leave this detail off, so unable to fill it in.

You really appreciate from the map how large Australia is, and sparsely populated it is in the desert centre. Even close by Western NSW and Western Victoria have empty grids! To work all VK grids would be impossible.

Having seen I have worked lots of grid squares, went looking for an award for claiming them. Found the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) website has an online award for working 100 grids. Fed in my log in Adif format to see if I qualified.

27 Grids confirmed on SSB, with 261 on Digital (JT65), giving 278 grids confirmed, and able to claim the award! Applied, to wait for endorsement to claim it.

Update, Awards endorsed and arrived! Look good : )

WIA Award for confirming 100 Grid Squares Open

And award for confirming 100 Grid Squares Digital (in my case JT65 mode)