Sunday, 26 April 2015

SOTA Mt Stromlo

With a chance of rain on Sunday decided to activate a close by summit, Mt Stromlo, VK1/AC-043, where I could easily retreat to the car if it got wet.

Drove through fog in Belconnen to Mt Stromlo via Coppins Crossing Rd and Uriarra Rd. Managed to see Mt Stromlo through the fog, looked fairly clear on top.

Drove up to the top of Mt Stromlo, having to wait behind cyclists to overtake, seemed to be a race in progress to the top and back. Parked near what used to be Scope Cafe, now closed and walked up to the summit.

The area near the trig is not good for SOTA operations. I know from a previous activation you get S9 of noise all over 40 m here... Continued on.

The road descended, passed a locked gate, then comes to a junction with a road heading West and another North to a knoll. On the Western gate mounted the squid pole and set up my SOTA shack.

The Geoscience Australia Laser Ranging Station was close by. This along with others around the world is used to track distances to satellites and determine variations in the Earth's orbit. I didn't get any interference from this at all. Suspect the electrical noise near the trig comes from power transformers, blocked here by the hill and buildings.

SOTA shack at the base of the squid pole

Got on 40 m. Started with an S2S to VK5NHG/p on VK5/SE-010. Then usual crowd of chasers, good signals from VK2, VK3 and VK5.

Just after UTC rollover at 10am local time got a call from Andrew, VK1NAM/2 on a first activation of VK2/ST-051, Mt Lerida along with Al VK1RX and Andrew VK1MBE

After 40 m chasers ran out Andrew suggested trying 6m. Put up the 6m/10m linked dipole. Used a weed to secure one leg of the dipole...

Andrew was a good strong S8. Also gave 2m FM a try using the ribbon Jpole at the top of the squid pole, signal was full scale. Not bad for a 53 Km path...Also contacted Andrew VK1DA near Spring Hill.

Tried 20 m, only one contact with Andrew VK1MBE/2, no other chasers, although band did appear to be open. Tried 10 m, worked a special Anzac call, VI8ANZAC in Darwin. Returned to 40 m and worked another special station, VI2ANZAC in Penrith.

Gave it away around noon and headed down. View from near the trig, note the new roads at the bottom for the new suburbs of Coombs and Wright.

Track log of walk

Monday, 13 April 2015

SOTA 500 Unique Summits Chaser Award

I recently made another milestone in SOTA award chasing, over 500 unique summits chased

A breakdown of unique summits chased by country/association

DM - Germany (Low Mountains) 1
G - England 6
GW - Wales 2
OE - Austria 3
VK1 - Australia - Capital Territory 39
VK2 - Australia - NSW 181
VK3 - Australia - Victoria 230
VK4 - Australia - Queensland 7
VK5 - Australia - South Australia 26
VK6 - Australia - WA 4
VK7 - Tasmania 6
VK8 - Australia - Northern Territory 3
VK9 - Australia - Islands 1

So VK3 has been my main source of unique summits to chase. 

Here is the award

Sunday, 12 April 2015

SOTA VK1/AC-037 Mt Taylor

Time for another activation of one of Canberra's urban summits, Mt Taylor VK1/AC-037.

As per previous activations drove to the car park at the end of Waldock St in Chifley. Here I discovered I had left my usual digital camera at home... So these photos are taken on my mobile phone camera, which doesn't take too bad photos anyway.

The start of the walk at the end of Waldock St.

The track joins an access road up to the summit for the communication towers. Steep in places...Climbed rapidly getting a good view over Canberra. Looking towards Woden town Centre.

After about a km walk and 150 m climb reached the summit.

In the past activation I have operated at the trig using it for squid pole support, however have found this to be very popular, with joggers, mountain bike riders and dog walkers all converging on it, some even doing pull up exercises on the trig bars...Constantly having to watch out people didn't step on the radio or get tangled in the coax...Plus the usual questions about what I was doing...So this time set up just to the West of the trig, using a small pine sapling for squid pole support.

A view of the station looking North.

Radio shack on nearby rocks

View looking West towards the Brindabellas

View to the South

Got quickly on 40 m as I heard a couple of activations on about to go clear, didn't even have the dipole legs tied up so signals were a bit down...Worked S2S with Ian VK3TCX and Robbie VK3EK on VK3/VG-016 and Kevin VK3KAB on VK3/VN-005.

Finished tying up the legs, signals were a lot better. Worked the usual chasers from VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5, many with strong signals. After UTC rollover worked several again with some new ones.

After 40 m died down switched to 20 m. Worked Nev, VK5WG who I had worked before on 40 m with a S9 signal, then Andrew VK1NAM, Ian VK5IS and Nigel VK5NIG with good strong signals.

Waited for a while until some more S2S contacts on 40 m, with VK3KAB on VK3/VN-004 and VK3TCX on VK3/VG-013.

Headed back down at noon for lunch with the girlfriend in nearby Woden shopping mall. Track heading back down, quite steep.

Track log of walk

Sunday, 5 April 2015

SOTA VK2/ST-053 Mt Mundoonen

Decided to do a loop drive out to Yass, activating VK2/ST-053 Mt Mundoonen in the morning, have lunch at Yass, then South West of Yass to activate VK2/ST-017 Mt Wee Jasper before heading home to North Canberra.

As per my previous activation of Mt Mundoonen parked on the side of the old Hume Highway and walked up the highway trail to the summit.

Around 15 minutes later reached the trig at the summit.

Used the trig to support the 7 m squid pole, and ran out both 20/40 m and 6/10 m linked dipoles.

Set up the SOTA shack on the concrete base of the trig, sitting on my mouse mat for some comfort.

After some fiddling about with my watch (daylight saving had just ended) got on 40 m on 7.090 Mhz. Started by working Andrew VK1NAM, then we both saw a new spot for Kevin VK3KAB/P on 7.095 Mhz on VK3/VE-024, so quickly worked Kevin for an S2S contact before starting a pile up on 7.090...

Usual chasers, some out portable on the Easter long weekend. Signals fairly strong, band in good shape. Several called me for a 2nd contact after UTC rollover at 10 am.

Made one 2 m contact on the hand held to Peter VK2FPMC in Yass, 10 km away.

Tried 20 m. Worked Nev VK5WG, who I could barely copy on 40 m with a good S8 signal, 20 m does seem to work better over the 1000 km path. Worked Tome VK5EE and Paul VK5PAS both with great S9+ signals. A weak contact with Andrew VK1NAM, and a fair contact with Anthony VK6MAC. Worked David VK4DD with a good S8 signal.

Just about to pack up, heard Marc VK3OHM/P doing a WWFF Parks activation of French Island National Park, VKFF-622. As a rarely activated park hastily switched back to 40 m to work him.

Packed up and drove to Yass to have lunch at a cafe in the main street, before heading off to Mt Wee Jasper.  

SOTA VK2/ST-017 Mt Wee Jasper

After activating VK2/ST-053 Mt Mundoonen drove to Yass for lunch, then drove on to Wee Jasper. As per my last activation took easy option of following forest tracks close to the summit.

I needed to wait at one junction for a group of 4WDs to move out of the way, they didn't think anyone would be using the track and mostly they would have been right...

I struck another obstacle, the track running off Pheasant Creek Road is getting rather overgrown with blackberries, picked up a few extra scratches on the car doors :(  Otherwise the road in was okay, at least dry and not muddy like my last activation in August last year.

Parked in the pine forest just near the Hume and Hovell walking track, around 500 m from the summit.

A short steep walk up the ridge to the summit.

Reached the summit trig

The same 2 seats as before. Note there is now a fireplace here, looks like this was used as a camping site on the Hume and Hovell walking track.

Set up the squid pole and shack on one of the seats as per other activations

Another view of the station

Got on 40 m. Some good strong signals from the usual chasers. Another S2S with Kevin VK3KAB/P. By a strange coincidence also on an 017 summit, his was VK3/VE-017.

After 40 m died down went to 20 m. Worked David VK4DD with a good strong signal. Worked Andrew VK1NAM, fairly weak signal. Got a call from Marko OH9XX, so starting to open to Europe long path, however had to pack up as getting late in the day.

A photo of the blackberry infested road on the way out, hard to avoid scratching the car...