Monday, 26 January 2015

SOTA Reactivation VK1/AC-034 Mt Majura

For the Australia Day holiday decided to activate a close by city summit, Mt Majura so would have the afternoon free for other things.

As per previous activations parked and started walking at the horse paddocks track in Hackett.

Mt Majura and a sign/map of the nature reserve

Headed up the track, getting onto a walking track at the end of the houses

Continued until getting to a track along the base of the mountain, turning right

A short distance along the track took the track up to the top

Reached the top ridge, turning left towards the summit. This is also part of the bicentennial walking trail

The road along the ridge was steep in places...slowed down a bit, got to the top gate after about 40 minutes walking.

The track ends at the closed off road to the communications towers on top. As per previous activations set up the squid pole on the round metal thing near the trig

SOTA shack on the concrete base

Got on 40 m. Started with a S2S with Paul AX5PAS/p on VK5/SE-016. Worked several chasers, then another S2S with Tony AX3CAT/p on VK3/VC-009. Then several more chasers. Worked John VK5BJE in Belair NP.

When 40 m died off switched to 20 m. About to start calling on 14.310 Mhz, then heard Justin VK7TW/p on VK7/SC-001 start calling CQ SOTA...Grabbed him for an S2S both before and after UTC rollover. Also worked Peter VK3PF/7, AX3AFW, VK6NI and VK5NIG on 20 m, band in good shape.

Packed up around noon. After a 30 minute walk down drove to nearby Dickson for lunch

Sunday, 25 January 2015

SOTA Reactivation VK1/AC-036 Goorooyaroo

After a dual activation with Matt VK1MA returned to reactivate VK1/AC-036 Goorooyaroo again.
As per last activation drove to the gate with the warning signs about unexploded ordinance. See my last blog entry for here for details.

Walked up the track. Easy enough at first

Got steeper as the track headed up to the summit. Still not too bad, the day was only moderately warm, in the low 20s.

Reached the top after about a half hour walk. Stopped at the warning gate. I could hear explosions from the firing range on the other side of the hill, so wise to stop here...

Set up nearby on a log, dipole legs out to a couple of nearby trees

SOTA shack on the log. Made a comfy seat :)

Just after spotting myself on 40 m Matt VK1MA gave me a call, managed to work a few stations just before UTC rollover. The usual VK2s and VK3s, with a strong signal from Peter VK4JD and VK5s VK5WG and VK5IS.

Got called by Phil VK2HPN/1 having problems hearing me on 40 m so had a contact on 2 m FM on the HT. Worked a S2S with Compton VK2HRX on VK2/HU-093 Mt Elliot.

Tried 20 m. A short contact with Ernie VK3DET, initially strong then faded right out...VK5EE came in with a good signal.

Packed up and headed home, stopping at Dickson shops for lunch. Saw a spot from VK2HPN/1 on 2 m FM on Mt Ainslie, VK1/AC-040, so worked him with a good signal from the hand held. At home later heard him just make 4 contacts to qualify the summit.

Track log of walk.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

SOTA VK1/AC-048 Mount McDonald

SOTA peak VK1/AC-048 Mt McDonald is only about a half hour drive from home and is an easy mid morning SOTA activation. Last time was a disaster, my old SLA battery died...this time had my LifePO4 battery so should have no power problems...

Drove to the start of the walk off Brindabella Road. A proper car park for the walk. Sign detailing walk.

Locked gate at start of walk

Turned off onto Mt McDonald Rd

This rises steeply, bending about before heading for the summit. Some good views. Looking South along the Bullen Range, Mt Tennent in the distance on the left.

Looking East. Black Mountain tower visible in the centre. Mt Stromlo on the right.

Reached the top. The summit cairn, a pile of rocks...Mount McDonald Ecce trig and remnants of the fire tower on top

The trig and remnants of the fire tower, destroyed in the Canberra 2003 bushfires

Set up the squid pole on the trig, using the fire tower to support one end of the dipoles legs.

Other ends tied to branches of nearby trees Had both 20/40 m and 6/10 m linked dipoles up in a fan configuration.

Had real problems with the wind today, quite strong, the pole telescoped on me several times...Shack in the small amount of shade at the base of the trig

Got on 40 m first. Found an electrical buzz on the band, about S2, annoying. It was quiet last time I was here. Probably from the nearby power pole.

A S2S with VK1RX/p Al on nearby VK1/AC-033 Bullen Range. Chasers from VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5.

Switched the dipole links to 20 m. VK5WG, VK5EE, VK8GM, VK2KTT with good signals. Tried 6 m, only 1 contact with Al VK1RX nearby on Bullen Range. Another S2S with VK2IO Gerard on VK2/IL-015 Mount Kembla on 40 m,

Saw a spot for John VK6NU/p on 20m, on VK6/SW-039. Managed a S2S, not real strong but workable. Heard him get called by Nick VK3ANL/p on VK3/VC-032 so another contact with Nick, a good strong signal on 20m.  Went on to work a few more chasers on 20 m, including VK6YS Wally and VK6NI Nigel with good signals.

Tried 10 m. Got a call from Ross VK4CQ, as usual 59+...Had a chat with Andrew VK1NAM. Heard a weak W7 calling me, but didn't answer me back, probably just saw my SOTA spot and tried calling anyway...Finally a call from Steve VK2NSS, a huge 59+ from Murrumbateman on his beam.

Packed up and headed home.

Track log of walk. 2.7 Km. About 45 minutes to get up and 30 minutes down.

Monday, 12 January 2015

100 Unique SOTA Summits

As mentioned in my blog entry on Mount Kembla I have now activated 100 unique SOTA summits.

A breakdown of summits activated per association:

VK1 - 24
VK2 - 63
VK3 - 9
VK4 - 2
VK5 - 2

VK2 is obviously where I have activated the most summits...

A further breakdown of VK2 by region:

HU - 1
CW - 1
CT - 4
IL - 5
MN - 5
NR - 3
NT - 3
NW - 3
RI - 3
SC - 7
SM - 7
ST - 16
SW - 5

So most of my VK2 activations have been in the ST, or Southern Tablelands region. Not surprising as it is just over the border from VK1...

Here is a plot in Google Maps of summits activated. Note the high density done around the ACT. The Queensland and South Australian summits are around 900 - 1000 Km away from my home so a bit of a drive to activate...Generated by

The 100 Unique SOTA Summits Award

Saturday, 10 January 2015

SOTA VK1/AC-040 Mt Ainslie

With the threat of rain decided to activate a local city summit, Mt Ainslie, so could make a run for it if the weather turned bad...

As per other activations here parked off Mt Ainslie Drive around the bend from the top.

Walked up along the side of the road to the top. About 600 m with a 60 m climb

View out over North Canberra. A bit cloudy and misty but not raining

Set up at the usual place at the top, a locked round metal thing.

Set up the shack at the base on the concrete slab. Dipoles for 20/40 m and 6/10 m tied up to nearby trees.

Got on 40 m. Worked Andrew VK1NAM first with a S2S on nearby Mt Stromlo, VK1/AC-043. Conditions were poor, struggled to work an S2S with Andrew VK3ARR/p on VK3/VN-023. Most of the VK3 chasers were quite low and had problems copying me. An S2S with Andrew VK1MBE/2 on nearby VK2/ST-036 Spring Hill.

Tried 6 m, VK2MBE/2 was my only contact on this band.

Went to 10 m. Worked a local, Matt VK1MT, then tried calling a CQ call from AE7KI, Gerry in Washington State. He was a good signal, but he was running 500 w! I actually knew him from before , he was previously VK2APG at Kiama and Robertson.

Switched to 20 m. Worked VK6MB, VK4JD, VK2HAS very close by in Campbelltown Sydney, VK5EE, VK5WG, VK1EM and VK1NAM/p again in the new UTC day. Went on to work VK2IO and VK1MA. After waiting for the band to improve made a very weak S2S contact with VK4BZ/p John on VK4/SE-005 Mt Bethongabel

Returned to 10 m. Worked VK4JD, VK4OH, VK1MA and a quick 2 m contact on the HT with VK1MBE/2 for a post UTC S2S. Back on 10 m called Ross VK4CQ for a chat who I have known for many years, as usual he was a strong S9+...

Packed up and headed home for lunch.

Track log of walk

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

SOTA VK2/SC-050 Mt Boyne

After activating Mount Kembla drove back to Wollongong and headed back to Canberra via the South Coast. As a warm day, around 30 c, considered what I could activate on the way home and decided to revisit Mt Boyne, VK2/SC-050, as I knew it would be shady and cool.

Turned off the Princes Highway South of Ulladulla onto Monkey Mountain Road, then Old Coach Road. Parked at the intersection of Old Coach Road and the summit track.

The track up was steep and had some large puddles, so must have had some rain recently

After about a Km reached the towers on top

As the trig was out in the hot sun I decided to operate in the shade of the trees, off to the right side of the road just before the towers. Used a tree stump for the squid pole support

Looking back down the road

SOTA shack on a nearby log. Nice and cool in the shade of the trees.

Got on 40 m, worked 3 of the usual chasers. Bit of a struggle as a lot of nearby storm activity generating static crashes

Tried 20 m. Worked Rob VK2MT on ground wave from nearby Batemans Bay, where he was camping for the holidays. We tried a contact on the Knights Hill 2 m repeater, this was a good signal on the hand held. He told me that the Batemans Bay 2 m repeater used to be on this site, but due to high council site fees was moved to Knights Hill. The folded dipoles for the repeater were still mounted on the tower nearby, I could see them...We were joined by VK2BGL Steve from Jamberoo.

Returned to 40 m where Rob and Steve were both strong signals. Went on to work 5 more chasers. As getting late in the day and still had a long drive home packed up and headed back down.

Track log of walk

SOTA VK2/IL-015 Mount Kembla

After stopping overnight at Wollongong headed up to Mount Kembla. This is a prominent sandstone bluff overlooking the city. Took Cordeaux Road up to the village of Kembla, Heights, then followed the road to the Mount Kembla Lookout. Some nice rainforest. The lookout is in the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area.

Reached Mount Kembla Lookout

There is a car parking area here. The view over Wollongong isn't bad, a bit spoiled by the high voltage power lines

Near the lookout the summit track walk starts.

A short distance a choice of 2 tracks, to the summit on the left and a ring walk on the right. I took the left track to the summit.

The track follows the ridge up. Fairly easy walking at first, several rocks to step over.

Some steps to climb

Some scrambling through rocks

It got steeper towards the summit, some metal steps to assist walkers

Reached the trig after about a half hour walk. Not much of a view, too many trees...

A short distance away on a loop track a good rocky lookout over the Wollongong area. Looking South.

Looking towards Port Kembla steel works. Rather misty

A hazy view towards Wollongong city

Not much room near here for a 40 m dipole...Headed away from the lookout until finding a clearing just off the walking track. Note the clearing is actually more of the highest point than the trig or lookout. If you head for the highest point you will find the clearing. There is not much else with sufficient room!

Set up the squid pole on the log. Able to get the dipole legs out okay. A couple of nearby rocks made good support for the radio and a seat

SOTA shack on the rocks, after the sun came out

Got on 40 m. Made a contact with Tony VK3VTH/p in Brisbane Ranges NP, then 7 more of the regular chasers. Fairly quiet as a weekday. Tried 20 m , no luck.

Packed up and headed back. Got an SMS from Andrew VK1NAM for a S2S, however was about a km back along the track by then.

This SOTA activation was rather special as it marks the 100th unique summit for me.

Track log of walk

Track profile. A 1.6 Km walk each way and about a 200 m climb.