Thursday, 31 March 2016

New VKFF Murray River Parks Award

Noticed on the WWFF Forum this morning the announcement of a new VKFF Parks Award, VKFF Murray River Parks Award

The award is for making contact with park activators in or operating from 31 parks close to the Murray River. The award has 3 levels, 10 parks, 20 parks and 30 plus parks worked.

I knew I had worked several parks along the Murray River so checked in Logsearch, and found I had 18 parks confirmed, so applied for the award. Arrived promptly from the VKFF Awards Manager Paul VK5PAS, thanks Paul!

Details on the award are at WWFF Australia

Monday, 28 March 2016

Gungaderra Grasslands Nature Reserve VKFF-0843

After activating WWFF park Mulanggari Grasslands VKFF-0856 on Easter Sunday decided to activate the nearby previously unactivated park Gungaderra Grasslands Nature Reserve on Easter Monday.

The park is on the other side of Gungahlin Drive, to the South of the Canberra suburb of Palmerston. I entered via a lane way off Narryer Close.

This took me to a gate at the far North East corner of the reserve. A locked gate here but easy enough to climb over.

Operating position shown on Open Street Maps

Set up the squid pole using the grasslands sign for support. The mountain on the left is Black Mountain. Hard to see in this photo, but there are 2 Medium Wave radio station towers to the South, 666 2CN and 1053 2CA.

Shack on the table near the sign. Was a bit of a walk carrying the gear from the car...My TS-480 radio running 30 W off my 8400 mah battery.

Got on 40m. Good strong signals from park hunters in VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK7. I was told Mike VK6MB called me but unable to hear him. The park was not that quiet on air, probably some interference from nearby power lines on Gungahlin Drive.

Made 3 park to park contacts, Nick VK3ANL/p in VKFF-0967 Green Lake RP, Justin VK7TW/p in VKFF-1179 Snug Tiers RA, also a SOTA Summit VK7/SC-008, and Marcus VK3TST/5 in Hale CP

Packed up for lunch in nearby Gungahlin town and headed home.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Mulanggari Grasslands Nature Reserve VKFF-0856

On Easter Sunday decided to test out my new 8400 mah battery with a local park activation for the World Wide Flora & Fauna award, VKFF-0856 Mulanggari Grasslands Nature Reserve.

This park is to the East of the Canberra suburb of Palmerston and not that far South of Gungahlin town centre, in the North East corner of the ACT. Looking on a map chose an entry point of a gate off Gungahlin Drive. Map screenshot taken from Open Street Maps

Arrived at the gate, a gap for walkers to enter.

Set up the squid pole using the sign for support. Looking North. Note the hill on the far left, this is SOTA peak One Tree Hill VK1/AC-035.

Looking to the South. The Mountain on the left is Mt Majura and the one on the right Mt Ainslie, both SOTA peaks and Canberra Nature Parks.

Shack on the table at the base of the sign. My TS480 radio running around 30w off the 8400mah LifePO4 battery

Got on 40 m. As usual chased any active SOTA and park activations first. Worked Compton VK2HRX/p on VK2/CT-087 with a good signal, also park to park with Rob VK4AAC/3 in VKFF-0623 Greater Bendigo Regional Park.

Found a clear spot and got the usual park hunters chasing me. Good signals from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK7. John VK5BJE mentioned I was being called by Mike VK6MB, managed to work him with a bit of a struggle, about a 45 report, not bad for VK6 late in the day on 40m.

Another park to park contact with Peter VK3ZPF/p in VKFF-0950 French Island Marine National Park, a rare 1st time activation from the Eastern end of French Island.

Saw a SOTA alert for Tony VK1VIC/p on One Tree Hill, VK1/AC-035. As you can see from the photo to the North this was line of site for me, he was 59+20db...

Just before packing up called on 7.144 Mhz, got Adam VK2YK in another park, VKFF-0557 Yarriabini National Park

Tried 20m, didn't seem to be open. Managed 37 contacts before giving it away and heading home for lunch.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Zippy 8400 mAH LifePO4 Battery

While activating WWFF parks with my TS-480 radio was always worried about running high power for a while, using my 4200mAh LifePO4 battery, so decided to get another battery, a Zippy Flightmax 8400 mAH battery.

Looking at it appears to be two 4200 mAh batteries together in the one package. While a bit heavy at around 900 g for long SOTA walks I could use it for easy to reach SOTA peaks, as well as a good power supply for high power WWFF activations.

Monday, 14 March 2016

SOTA Mt Coree VK1/AC-023

With a nice sunny Canberra day holiday Monday decided to activate another local summit, Mt Coree, VK1/AC-023. Drive up fairly uneventful, dry and dusty so no problems with muddy roads.

As per other activations parked 3 bends down from the top and walked up the rest of the way to avoid the final rough bit of the track onto the summit. Set up the squid pole on the trig.

Another view of the squid pole on the trig

The sky was clear out to the South West, but a bit murky over Canberra to the East and South.

Looking to the North West

Shack on the tarp at the base of the trig. Note the trig is at the junction of 3 parks, chose to operate inside Brindabella National Park on the Western side

Got on 40 m, managed a S2S first with Bob VK5FO/P on VK5/SE-005 Mt Lofty. Then worked Allen VK3ARH/p on VK3/VC-019 Mt Warrenheip.

Didn't seem to be getting much power out, found one of the dipole links not connected for 40 m. After fixing this called CQ. Quite a few of the regular chasers from VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5. Lots of QSB, and some QRN from storm static crashes. Had Rick VK4RF/VK4HA call me a few times and dropped out, finally got back to him.

After 15 contacts chasers stopped calling. Had a tune across 20 m, it sounded dead...did't try calling there. Headed back down and home.