Sunday, 24 January 2016

SOTA Black Mountain VK1/AC-042

After a dull cloudy morning the weather improved into a nice sunny afternoon, so headed out to activate a local SOTA peak, Black Mountain VK1/AC-042.

As per other activations parked in the lower car park and walked up to the tower and summit.

Wanted to to ensure properly activating Black Mountain Nature Reserve, VKFF-0834 for the WWFF award. The park map from the ACT Government TAMS website seems to indicate Black Mountain Road and the tower car park are not within the park.

The summit distance marker where I usually operate, probably inside the park, however continued on .

At the top of the rise the actual summit, only a marker in the ground, not a proper trig

Just on the Northern side of the car park within the activation zone was a track with the remnants of a gate and gate posts. Probably left over from a time when Black Mountain was farmland. Used one of the gate posts as a support for the squid pole

Looking back up the track towards the tower car park.

Shack on the tarp at the base of the gate post. Telstra tower visible behind. No problem getting a mobile Telstra signal here :)

Got on 40 m. A few birdies in places but otherwise not much interference from the tower. Worked the usual chasers in VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK7, most good signals but lots of QSB.

A couple of S2S contacts, Julie VK3FOWL/P on VK3/VC-018 Mt Buninyong and Gerard VK2IO/P on VK2/SY-002 Riley's Mountain. Gerard had been operating on 10 m, I had a brief listen but as expected nothing, too close for skip and no sporadic e about.

Tried 20 m, however no luck, band didn't sound that good with only a few ZLs on.

Starting to get warm in the sun, so packed up after 19 contacts and headed home.

Friday, 22 January 2016

SOTA 100 Complete Summits Award

As mentioned on my blog entry for Arthurs Seat VK3/VC-031, this was the 100th completed summit for me. Completed summits are those you have both chased and activated.

This took some doing as it involved trips to VK2, VK3, VK4 and VK5 to activate summits I had chased there, along with the local VK1 summits... A lot of driving :)

Here is the award

Saturday, 16 January 2016

SOTA Mt Majura VK1/AC-034

I've activated Mt Majura VK1/AC-034 several times now, and for something different decided to walk up a different way, from Hackett Gate off MacKenzie St, instead of the Horse Paddocks off Antill St.

Got to Hackett Gate. Found not a big car park, only enough room for 4 cars, and there were 3 there already...Parked and started walking. A sign nearby for Mt Majura Nature Reserve, a Canberra Nature Park and eligible for the World Wide Flora and Fauna Award, VKFF-0851.

The road behind is labelled Hackett Houses Track (North). Followed this until coming to a smaller track on the right. There was a track marker, the brown disk says Mt Majura Summit

Followed the track, crossing a power line access road, then the track starts to rise.

The track zig zags it way up the mountainside. A bit of a view of nearby Mt Ainslie.

The track eventually reaches the top ridge and follows it. Came to the junction of the track I usually come up from Antill St Horse Paddocks.

From here its a bit of a steep slog up the fire trail to the summit. Gate just before the summit.

Set up the squid pole on my usual spot, the round metal thing near the trig

Shack on the concrete base.

There was a spot on SOTAwatch for Adan VK1FJAW/2 on VK2/ST-005 Webbs Ridge on 10 m, so hurriedly set up the 6/10 m linked dipole up. Worked Adan, Tony VK1VIC/2 and Grant VK4JAZ/2 on 10 m. Signals were not strong, only S2 and wasn't getting much power out. As I suspected in my haste to get the dipole up had left one of the links open...After fixing Adan was a good S7.

On 10 m also worked Andrew VK1AD, Matt VK1MT and Roald VK1MTS with good signals. No DX though, able to hear a ZL beacon but not much activity or replies to my calls.

Went on to work the usual chasers in VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK7 on 40 m. Chased a couple of Park to Park contacts, Rob VK4FFAB/P in VKFF-0391 Noosa NP and Rob VK4AAC/5 in VKFF-0816 Spring Gully CP.

After UTC rollover a couple more S2S contacts, with Allen VK3HRA/P on VK3/VS-040 and Russ VK2BJP/3 on VK3/VE-029.

Packed up around noon and headed back down.

Which way was better? The Hackett Gate distance was 2.7 Km to the summit, the Hackett horse paddocks about 2.6 Km, so only about 100 m or so difference. Both took about the same time, around 30 minutes. For ease of parking I would probably stick with the Antill St walk. This can also be shortened by driving to the end of Jukes St and joining up to the walk at the top of the first rise.

Track logs of both walks. Hackett Gate in Blue and Antill St in Green.

Friday, 8 January 2016

SOTA Mt Big Ben VK3/VE-105

After stopping overnight at Beechworth drove to Yackandandah, then the Dederang Rd, turning off onto Mt Big Ben Lane on the left.

Unsealed but not requiring 4WD. The track passes through a property, you enter State Forest after passing through an unlocked gate.

The road climbs up to the summit. Mt Big Ben summit. Think the tower on the right has the antennas for the Wodonga 2 m repeater VK3RNE on 147.000 Mhz

Set up the squid pole on a sapling on the edge of the clearing, shack in the shade

Got on 40 m. Band not too bad with good signals from VK2, VK3 and VK4. A couple of S2S contacts with Andrew VK1AD/2 on VK2/ST-036 Spring Hill, and Al VK1RX/2 on VK2/SM-014 The Cascades. Had a good chat to Ron VK3MRH nearby in Albury, he used to live in Yackandandah and knew Mt Big Ben well. Also a local mobile Brenton VK3CM/m near Wodonga, and VK2HHA Dennis in Albury.

Tried 20 m but not luck. As still a long drive home and the weather heating up packed and headed off after 17 contacts.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

SOTA Mount Stanley VK3/VE-126

After activating Mt Dandenong VK3/VC-025 drove North of Melbourne on the Maroondah Highway, stopping at Yea for lunch. Joined up to the Hume Highway, then turned off at Wangaratta to Beechworth. Checked into a motel and headed for the nearby town of Stanley.

Arriving in Stanley easily found Mt Stanley Rd, so followed thsi to Mt Stanley. Some signs on the way through pine forest.

The road enters Mount Stanley Nature Reserve.

The road was unsealed but easily drivable in 2WD. Reached the fire lookout tower/communication tower

As read in other activators blogs there was a table nearby, ideal for a SOTA shack.

Shack on the table

As per my Mt Alexandra activations, used a nearby rock to help align the squid pole to vertical at the end of the table

Got on 40 m. Worked Gerard VK2IO who advised me Justin VK2CU had just activated this summit a few hours ago!...went on to work the usual chasers from VK2, VK3, VK4 and VK5. A lot of heavy QSB, signals fading up and down by many S points.

Tried 20 m. Worked Nev VK5WG a good S8, and Rick VK4RF/VK4HA also a good S8 signal.

Packed up and headed back to Beechworth for a good meal at a pub.

Operating position on Mt Stanley

SOTA Mt Dandenong VK3/VC-025

Having been born and grew up in Melbourne Mt Dandenong was another summit I am familiar with.

From overnight at Frankston headed up to Mt Dandenong, following the Mt Dandenong Tourist Rd, turning off at Olinda onto Ridge Rd, then up Observatory Rd to the Sky High Restaurant and summit.

I drove to the lookout entrance and was shocked to find it now costs $6 a car to enter! It used to be free... Turned around and drove down the road, then parked on the side and walked up to the lookout just past the restaurant. Gave me a chance to enter the activation zone on foot anyway.

Mt Dandenong summit marker.

A sign with information on the view. A murky view of Melbourne today.

Just past the lookout was a curved ramp. Set up the squid pole on the railing, shack on the walkway. Similar setup to Black Mountain activation here in Canberra. Got a few funny looks from passing tourists but they left me alone.

Go on 40 m to be greeted by S7 noise across the whole band...getting swamped by RF from the nearby towers. Through the noise managed to work Mick VK3PMG, Nev VK5WG, Gerard VK2IO and an S2S with Andrew VK1AD/p on VK1/AC-026 Booroombra Rocks. He had to wind the power up so I could copy him over the noise...

I could just make out some others calling me but unable to hear them over the QRM. Changed the dipole to 10 m, the noise was down to S1, much better :) Worked Steve VK4KUS with a good S8 signal then local Chris VK3AWG 9+.

As still had a long drive ahead of me to Beechworth packed up and headed down to the car.

Location of operating spot

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

SOTA Arthurs Seat VK3/VC-031

Arthurs Seat is a mountain on the Mornington Peninula that I am very familiar with, having grown up in Mordialloc and my parents had a weekend place at nearby Shoreham. As a CBer and ham would often pop up there to chase DX in the 1980's. Was interested to see how it had changed.

From my overnight stay in Frankston took the Mornington Peninsula Freeway, turning off at Dromana, onto Arthurs Seat Road. You really can't miss it as the mountain is very obvious, and there are tourist signs directing you to the summit. Drove to the top and parked near the picnic area. Walked over to have a look at the summit. Sign for Arthurs Seat, 305 m high.

In the past there was a lookout tower nearby here, this was gone...Also the old chairlift was gone, although still a restaurant on the top as was in the past, the new one looked a bit fancier.

Arthurs Seat's seat :)

Sign on the seat.

There were some picnic tables nearby but didn't operate from here as I knew there would be heaps of RF interference from the nearby towers. So returned to the picnic area, after a stroll down the hill to leave and reenter the activation zone set up the squid pole on a picnic table in the park.

Had to use my pack and some items to pack out the bottom of the squid pole at the base of the seat so it was vertical. Even so the wind threatened to topple the pole now and then, so had to sit near it and grab it when about to fall over.

Shack on the table.

Got on 40 m. Unfortunately a solar storm was on, knocking out most of the close by NVIS signals. Struggled to work Ron VK3AFW not that far away in Melbourne. After a while the band picked up, managed to work an S2S with Andrew VK1DA/2 on VK2/SW-027 Mt Tumorama. He wasn't too strong.

11 Stations worked, 4 before rollover.

23:50z VK5WG 7MHz SSB s57 r55
23:53z VK5PAS 7MHz SSB s55 r58
23:57z VK3AFW 7MHz SSB s57 r32
23:58z VK2YW 7MHz SSB s58 r52
00:10z VK3UH 7MHz SSB s52 r51
00:26z VK3RV/5 7MHz SSB s58 r55
00:33z VK5EE 7MHz SSB s58 r54
00:49z VK2IO 7MHz SSB s53 r55
00:50z VK1DA/2 7MHz SSB s53 r53 s2s vk2/sw-027
00:52z VK3PF 7MHz SSB s58 r52
00:53z VK5BJE 7MHz SSB s52 r52

Tried 20 m with no luck. Gave it away around noon as several family picnic groups had arrived and were eyeing off my picnic table...

This activation was rather special, as it was the 100th summit activated that I have also chased, meaning I can apply for the 100 SOTA Complete Summit Award.

A sign nearby indicated the park was in Arthurs Seat State Park

I wondered if this park counted for WWFF award purposes. Looked it up later, the park is VKFF-0750. Checked the park boundaries, the picnic area is within the park.

On the way down the hill stopped at Murrays Lookout, good view South down the Mornington Peninsula towards Port Philip Bay entrance.

A memorial to the naming of Arthurs Seat by Lieut John Murray nearby, he named the mountain  after a hill in Edinburgh Scotland.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

SOTA Mount Hooghly VK3/VT-049

After activating Mount Tassie VK3/VT-046 drove down to South Traralgon for lunch, then to Churchill and up to the summit via Jeeralang West Road. Came to the junction with Perry Road which run close to the summit, it looked pretty rough, rocky and overgrown...Called Peter VK3PF who confirmed better to access via the Eastern end of Perry Road. Drove around the summit, passing Jeeralang North Road and parked at the intersection with Perry Road.

It still looked a bit rough to drive so walked it. Track log of walk. About an 800 m walk to the summit.

Walking along Perry Road. Quite nice with flowers and tree ferns.

Reached the junction to the summit road, on the right.  Perrys Road still looked fairly rough to the West.

Walking up the summit road.

Reached the summit. There was a grassy open area and a loop in the road to turn around. According to Peter VK3PF there was a small low fire tower here a while ago. Disappointed to see rubbish from people left here too, bottles and take away food wrappers... Set up the squid pole on a small bush on the side of the turning circle. Shack on the tarp nearby

Go on 40 m. Band fairly quiet, most people back at work. A total of 9 contacts.

03:09zVK3LED7MHzSSBs58 r58
03:10zVK2IO7MHzSSBs57 r46
03:14zVK3PMG7MHzSSBs57 r55
03:15zVK3FQSO7MHzSSBs55 r55
03:15zVK2YW7MHzSSBs58 r55
03:18zVL2LAD7MHzSSBs58 r55
03:19zVK5WG7MHzSSBs58 r55
03:26zVK3UH7MHzSSBs55 r53
03:32zVK3PF/M7MHzSSBs58 r57

Tried 20 m but no luck. Packed up and headed back to the car, then on to Melbourne. Had some heavy rainfall on the way, managed to miss this on the walk.

SOTA Mount Tassie VK3/VT-046

After stopping overnight at Bairsndale continued heading towards Melbourne. The rain finally cleared and looked like I could stop for a couple of summits on the way, although still a strong wind.

Mount Tassie is a major communications site for the Latrobe Valley and easy to access. Turned off at Traralgon and got onto the Traralgon Balook Road. Turned off onto an unsealed road to Mount Tassie.

At the top of the ridge there are tracks to the left and right to towers. Turned right towards the summit towers.

Walked around the side of the tower complex fence. Found the Mount Tassie trig locked up inside the fence. Bit different design to ACT and NSW ones,

Set up the squid pole on the corner post of the fence

Shack on the tarp. It was very windy! Not much to shelter behind here. Quite cool too.

Got on 40 m. Fairly quiet being a week day and several chasers back at work. Made 6 contacts before giving it away in the bad conditions. I did work Peter VK3PF mobile in nearby Churchill, who gave me some instructions on getting to Mount Hooghly, my next summit.

Briefly had a look at the rotary lookout at the other end of the ridge.

Drove down to Traralgon South for lunch and on to my next summit, Mount Hooghly.