Monday, 31 August 2015

Mt Yarrahapinni VK2/MN-079

After activating Big Smoky and stopping in South West Rocks for lunch drove back to the Pacific Highway and continued on the Mt Yarrahapinni. Took Albert Road and the Rosewood Road. Road becomes unsealed but is okay for 2WDs. There is a good picnic area and lookout before the summit. Big Smoky mountain is visible near the ocean.

Reached the top. There is a trig, also lots of communication towers. This place is bad for QRM :(

Set up on the side of the road down from the towers, hoping to reduce some of the noise...Used a small sapling to support the squid pole.

Shack on the tarp on the side of the road

Tried 40m, S4 to S8 of electronic noise across the whole band,,,

Switched to 20m. Noise there down to about an S2 so a bit better. Managed to work John VK6NU, but no others, none that I could hear coming back returned to 40 m.

There was a spot for Al VK1RX/3 on VK3/VC-007 Mt Macedon, but unable to hear him over the noise. Found a quieter spot with S4 noise and called CQ SOTA. Luckily most of the chasers coming back were strong S7 to S9 so able to hear most of them okay. VK2s and VK4s strong here, the VK3s a real struggle now this far North.

Got called by Al VK1RX/3 who I managed to hear with a 4 by 4 report, so eventually got him in the log. Got a spot from Peter VK3PF who was unable to copy me on 20 or 40m, wanted to try 30m. Set up the 30m dipole and worked him with a 4 by 7 report, so made it on this band.

A total of 10 contacts. Packed up and headed to Coffs Harbour for the night.

Big Smoky VK2/MN-117

Big Smoky VK2/MN-117 is located near the town of South West Rocks, in Hat Head National Park. It had only been activated twice by Adam VK2YK. He left some access notes on the SOTAWatch entry for the summit which proved very handy as I would not have known how to access this peak.

As per his instructions drove to South West Rocks, Arakoon Road, then Gap Beach Road. Gap Beach Road turns to dirt and rises steeply. Didn't need 4WD though. The road ends at a car park, gate and the start of Green Island Fire Trail walk

Walked up the track until coming to a track on the right

This is the Green Island to Smoky Cape walking track.

Followed this track for a short distance until it started to descend, at this point headed into the bush following the ridge line up. GPS showed around 600 m to the summit. It was fairly open scrub but steep...needed to pause now and then and recover...

Eventually reached the top ridge where the going got easier. So far the scrub was not too thick. Then approaching the summit got quite thick, Finally reached the top after around 60 minutes walking. A trig here that has seen better days...

There was not much room here to string out a 40 m dipole...Found an opening in the trees for the squid pole, mounting it on a stump. The dipole legs were touching lots of branches, still seemed to load up okay though

Set up the shack at the base of the trig

Got on 40 m. Band was quiet, very few signals low down. Looked like still poor propagation... At least was mobile coverage so able to spot myself okay on SOTAWatch. Called CQ.

Worked Dave VK2JDS/m, Dave VK4DD, Phil VK2CPO/p, Al VK1RX/m VK3, Ian VK5IS. Gerard VK2IO called me, advising he would be on a summit in 20 minutes. While waiting tried 20m with no answers, in fact couldn't hear much on 20m at all...

Got a spot from Peter VK3PF saying he couldn't hear me on 40m or 20m, could I try 30m? Got out the 30m antenna, at least it fitted better...Called and got both Peter VK3PF and Gerard VK2IO/P on a summit. Peter a good 57 on 30m, Gerard was a 53, on VK2/SM-063 together with Rod VK2TWR/p

Packed up and walked back down. A lot easier down hill, took about 30 minutes to get back to the car. Drove to South West Rocks town for lunch.

Track log of walk

Sunday, 30 August 2015

North Brother VK2/MN-081

I activated North Brother last year and enjoyed it so much I returned for another visit. Access is simple, drive towards Laurieton and turn off onto the road to the lookout. North Brother is in Dooragan National Park VKFF-431 for WWFF award park hunters.

Usual great view to the North over Laurieton below

View to the South of Middle Brother and South Brother peaks

Walked up to the trig and set up the squid pole on the trig, 20/40 m linked dipole to nearby trees. Fairly tight fit but got up okay. Sorry for the poor image, low light and moved I think.

Got on 40 m. Band fairly crowded with an Alara contest on. First chaser Peter VK1XP in Canberra, a goos 58 signal. Worked Col VK2LED next on VK3/VN-023. Peter VK3PF, then Gerarld VK2IO/P on VK2/SM-068 The Peak with a good strong signal.

Interestingly Gerard reported both Paul VK1ATP/2 and Matt VK1MA calling me, I couldn't hear them very well at all, so some selective propagation today on 40 m.

Switched to 20 m. Worked Greg VK8GM in Alice Springs with a good 58 signal. Albert S58AL called me next, only 53, he gave me 33 and was having problems with QRM plus my low signal, 20 m not the best today.

Starting to get dark, and the temperature which was a nice 17 c earlier dropped to around 13c, so headed off to Port Macquarie for the evening.

Summit Point VK2/HU-080 road closure

Planned to activate Summit Point VK2/HU-080 near Newcastle. Turned off the Newcastle Freeway to Seahampton, then climbed up until reaching the turnoff to Sugarloaf Mountain. This is where I got stopped by a serious gate with STOP signs...

Notified chasers on Sotawatch activation cancelled...This is mainly a warning to anyone else planning to activate this summit soon.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Mt Elliot VK2/HU-093

After activating Mt Alexandra near Mittagong drove North through Sydney, then onto the Newcastle Freeway and turned off for Mt Elliot. The temperature rose considerably as I headed North and got lower down, 10 c at Mittagong it got up to 20 c in Sydney and was a pleasant 19c on Mt Elliot.

This is a very SOTA friendly operating summit with a large open area with picnic tables in the activation zone. Picked a table with a couple of convenient trees nearby and set up the station.

SOTA shack on the table. Very comfortable

Go to 40 m. VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK4s coming in well, the QSB earlier on Mt Alexandra not so bad here. Strong signals from nearby VK2s such as Adam VK2YK in nearby Newcastle. Tried 20 m briefly, some EU DX in but no replies. Tried 30 m briefly just to make sure my antenna worked on this band, loaded up ok but no replies. Packed up. Before leaving had a look at the nearby lookout, good view over the coast.

Mt Alexandra VK2/IL-005

Travelling up to the Mid North Coast of VK2 on a short holiday to escape the last of Canberra's cold winter. After leaving Canberra arrived at the car park for Mt Alexandra after 2 hours driving. It was sunny, although cool about 10c with a stiff wind blowing.

Walked up to the Katoomba Lookout with 2 picnic tables and set up the SOTA shack on one of the tables.Strung out the legs of the 20/40 m linked dipole to a couple of nearby trees

SOTA shack on the picnic table. Used a large sandstone rock to support the base of the squid pole against the base of the table and make it vertical, trick I've used here before. Probably the same rock...

Got on 40 m. Was a bit worried as solar storms had been affecting 40 m short distance contacts, however worked several VK3s with good signals, VK2KTT and VK5IS. Nearby VK1 and VK2 were affected though, Andrew VK2UH at Yass, who would be normally very strong here was 53, Andrew VK1NAM had deep QSB so anything close around 200 Km affected.

Later on worked Julie VK3FOWL/P for a S2S on VK3/VC-018, and Hugh VK5NHG/P on VK5/SE-003. Tried 20 m with no luck.

Packed up around noon and headed to nearby Mittagong for lunch before driving through Sydney.

Monday, 24 August 2015

WWFF Hunter 132 References Award

On Sunday worked Adam VK2YK/P in VKFF-490 Tomaree National Park, this gave me 132 parks hunted and a new WWFF Hunter Award! Applied and received promptly from Pit YO3JW Awards Manager.

I'm a bit of a statistics person so here are some figures on the parks worked in each state/overseas taken from Excel.

Worked Activators
VK1 3 3
VK2 29 13
VK3 51 13
VK4 17 5
VK5 27 7
VK7 2 1
VK9 1 1
EU 2 2
132 45

So VK3 is the main source for parks chased, followed by VK2, VK5 and VK4.

VK1 has only just recently got several parks to activate so should work more of these soon
VK7 is due to VK3PF/7, Peter on holidays doing SOTA/Parks activations...
VK6 alludes me. There have been some activations there but not around or bad conditions. It is a long way away...
VK8 has not been active, not sure if there are any park activators there to chase...

EU is hard to work for me, only 1 DL and 1 ON park worked. No beam on 20 m...the DL was on JT65 and the ON was while portable in a park myself, ON4VT.

Plotted out the VK parks hunted on a map. The concentration in the South East corner of Australia is obvious.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Gungahlin Hill Nature Reserve VKFF-0844

With a pleasant sunny afternoon decided to activate another WWFF park, Gungahlin Hill Nature Reserve. This is a small Canberra Nature Park protecting a remnant forest of Scribbly Gum and Brittle Gum, between the new Canberra suburb of Crace and Gungaderra Grasslands Nature Reserve.

I entered it by driving South on the Barton Highway from the Gundaroo Drive roundabout and heading off a dirt access road on the left to a car park near the reserve.

There are some random walking tracks heading up the hill, unmarked and some possibly just animal tracks. The woodlands is fairly open though and you could almost just cut cross country to the top.

After about a 300 m walk and a 30 m climb from the bottom reached Gungahlin Hill "trig". Not the usual metal trig, just a concrete pillar with "Gungahlin" painted on it. There is not much of a view here due to the trees.

I could have operated here but would have had to have sat on the ground, so went looking for a more comfortable operating spot. Found a nice large log I could sit on and mount the squid pole on just downhill from the summit.

View looking down the slope. A large reservoir nearby.

Set up the radio shack on the log and sat on it, fairly comfortable.

Got on 40 m first. Started with a park to park contact with Rob VK4AAC/5 in Parndana CP VKFF-925 on Kangaroos Island, good signal. Found a spare spot and started working through a steady pile of park hunters. Another park to park with Peter VK3PF/P in Crossover Regional Park, VKFF-965, a newly added park to the WWFF awards. Also Gordon VK5GY/P in Cox Scrub CP, VKFF-824.

After 40 m dried up switched to 20 m and spotted myself on the DX cluster. The usual bunch of keen EU park hunters found me straight away...


Signals good from most of them, they gave me 53-55 reports, not bad for only 5 W :)

Noticed on the DX cluster a spot for Andrew, VK1NAM/P doing a SOTA activation on VK1/AC-043, Mt Stromlo, so gave him a call. Very strong signal. He was having fun with the EU chasers too.

Continued calling, worked a few more EU stations, HA6OB, DL2MIJ, UR7AT. Signals getting weaker though, so moved back to 40 m. Last contact Paul VK5PAS/P in Scott Creek CP, just before he moved off to 20 m to chase the EUs.

31 contacts all up so another park I'll need to revisit for the required 44 contacts.

Track log of walk

Saturday, 15 August 2015

ILLW Lighthouse Station Chasing

The ILLW (International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend) was on so instead of looking for SOTA and WWFF Parks Activations went looking for lighthouse stations instead on Saturday.

Worked the following lighthouses

Callsign                   Band       Mode     Name                      QTH

VK3ATL/P              40m        SSB       Ken                      AU0028 Port Lonsdale Lighthouse
VK7LH/P                 40m        SSB      Unknown             AU0048 Low Head Lighthouse
VK2HBG/P             40m        SSB       Gerald                  AU0035 Warden Head Lighthouse
VK3YSP/P               40m        SSB      Joe                        AU0051 Queenscliff White Lighthouse
VK4WIR/P              20m        SSB       Brandon               AU0124 Old Sea Hill Lighthouse Gladstone
VK3IH/P                  40m        SSB      Paul                      AU0037 Cape Liptrap Lighthouse
VK3DJ/P                  40m        SSB      Dallas                   AU0050 Queenscliff Black Lighthouse
VK3WI/P                40m        SSB        Tony                    AU0036 Gellibrand Time Signal Williamstown Lighthouse
VK3SPL/P               40m        SSB       Byrce                  AU0032 Split Point Lighthouse
VK3OLS                  40m        SSB       Bandar                AU0011 Cape Otway Light Station
VK3EG/P                 40m        SSB       Col                      AU0027 Point Hicks Lighthouse
VK2BV                    40m        SSB       Laurie                 AU0022 Macquarie Lighthouse

All were on 40 m, apart from the one 20 m contact with VK4WIR in Gladstone. Conditions did not seem that good this year. Bands above 20 m seemed dead. At least 40 m wasn't too bad.

Once the RD (Rememberance Day) contest started it got hard to find lighthouse stations amongst the contest stations, so gave it away. Busy on Sunday so didn't get a chance to do more chasing.

I have visited some of these lighthouses. One near to Canberra is Warden Head, at Ulladulla. This is at the end of a road with a seaside lookout nearby, good for whale watching.

Another is to the South in Victoria, Point Hicks. Bit of a walk for me to get to from Thurra River, although the activators from the East Gippsland Radio Club got access to drive in.