Tuesday, 31 January 2017

SOTA VK1 Mountain Goat

Went out to the usual informal monthly VK1 SOTA dinner meeting tonight at the Ainslie Football Club, Andrew VK1MBE and myself were presented with VK1 Mountain Goat Awards, for us both reaching SOTA Mountain Goat. Thanks guys!

Andrew #3 goat and myself #4 here in VK1. Close up of the award

Saturday, 28 January 2017

WWFF Activator 22 Certificate

WWFF Activator Certificates are awarded for multiples of 11 parks fully activated, which require 44 or more contacts made. Managed to make it to over 22 activations with 44 contacts, so applied for the next certificate. Received promptly from the WWFF awards manager, Pit YO3JW

Monday, 23 January 2017

WWFF Hunter 396 Award

Received another WWFF certificate today, for 396 references, or parks worked, from the awards manager Pit YO3JW.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

WWFF McQuoids Hill Nature Reserve VKFF-0849

McQuoids Hill Nature Reserve, VKFF-0849 is a small Canberra Nature Park, located off Kambah Pool Road in the Canberra suburb of Kambah.

Parked near a gate off Kambah Pool Road. There is an access walking track across farmland to the park. McQuoids Hill in the distance.

After crossing the farmland reached the entrance gate to the park.

Took the track up to the top of the hill. View to the South. Murrumbidgee Country Club Golf course on the other side of the road.

The road becomes quite steep nearing the top, with loose stones a bit treacherous. Got to a small hill just before the main hill. A rough walking trail visible to the top.

View from the top. Looking East. Black Mountain with its tower visible on the far left, Woden in the middle, Mount Taylor on the right.

View to the South

View to the West of the Brindabella Ranges

View to the South West, and the small hill I had come from. As the summit had no squid pole mast support and was in the hot sun, decided to head for the shade of the trees below.

There was a log here suitable for squid pole support. Ran out the 40m dipole to a couple of weedy plants.

Shack in the shade. Sat on the log and used my pack for the radio and log book table.

Got on 40m. A park to park contact with VK4HNS/p Neil in VKFF-1516 Coolmunda Conservation Park with a good signal.

Spotted myself, got Gerard VK2IO with a good signal. Then called and called, didn't seem to be many on, or couldn't hear my puny 5w signal...

Eventually worked a few more. VK3DAC Fred, VK3FQSO Amanda, VK1AT Jim, VK3PF/p Peter, VK3HKK Kevin.

As slow going on 40m went to 20m. Worked VK4DV Merv near Rockhampton with a good signal. A massive 59+ signal from VK5PAS, Paul...Made a weak 41 contact with VK6JAH/p John, but as we were both using 5w quite pleased, this was with VK6 on the other side of Australia!

A couple of local contacts, VK1AD Andrew close by a good S9, and VK1AT Jim again, a similar S5 signal to 40m. Finished with a contact with VK6XL Allen, before beading back down and home.

At total of 13 contacts. Enough for the 10 needed for a VKFF point but well short of the 44 contacts for WWFF. Another park I need to revisit.

Map from Openstreetmap showing my operating spot in the park.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

WWFF Majors Creek State Conservation Area VKFF-1346

Majors Creek State Conservation Area VKFF-1346 was added to the list of VKFF parks last year, and as never activated keen to give it a try. Been years since been to this town anyway so wanted to see if it had changed much.

Majors Creek is a very small town about 18 Km South of Braidwood. Originally a farm 'Mt Elrington" granted land to Major William Sandy Elrington in 1831, the town population really took off following the discovery of gold in 1851, and the town named after his rank.

At one time during the gold rush the town reached a population over 2000, however today it is only a few hundred. It only has one shop of sorts, the Majors Creek pub/post office. There is a small park over the road where I had morning tea.

Majors Creek State Conservation Area is near the town and as I found out later is steep, heavily forested country with few roads. I first tried to enter the park in the North West corner via Araluen St then Wilson St. Got to where the road splits in two, stopped by gates and private houses...

So next tried the other place in the park close to a road, off the Majors Creek Araluen Mountain Road. This is at the end of Seymour St. Note the warnings about 4WD...

The first few Km not too bad. Stopped at Clarkes Lookout, good view of the Araluen Valley below. Read up on this lookout later, named after local bushrangers Tom and John Clarke. This is where in 1865 they would track stagecoaches laden with gold and bail them up... Tom was eventually tried and hung in 1867.

Some of the forest down the road from Clarkes Lookout.

The road got steeper and well rutted, so 4WD, or at least AWD advisable. Reached the first hairpin bend, this is the end of the park on the left side of the ridge. Note the conservation area sign, the only indication that there is a park here.

Just up from the hairpin bend a rough access track following a power line crossed the road. The track up looked impossibly steep, beyond my Nissan Xtrails abilities... so set up the radio just off the side of this track on the tarp. Used a tree stump for the squid pole support.

A side view of the station.

Shack on the tarp. Just off the road to the right of the stump the ground dropped away very rapidly to the valley below... forget about walking into the park here!

Got on 40m. To my annoyance the nearby power lines were generating about an S4 of noise, however could still hear strong stations.

Used my TS480 running 40w as band conditions were not good. Started with a park to park with Angela VK7FAMP/p in VKFF-0005 Narawntapu National Park. Had mobile coverage and able to spot myself, went on to work VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK7 park hunters.

After signals dried up on 40m switched to 20m, worked VK4RF/VK4HA Rick as usual, VK7CW Steve and ZL1BYZ John.

Returned to 40m to work VK5PAS/p Paul in VKFF-1707 Encounter Marine National Park. He also had a couple of other operators with him, VK5FR Chris and VK5KC David. Getting them about S5, above my noise.

Ended with a contact with Andrew VK1AD running low power.

A total of 26 contacts. Map of the park from Protected Planet website showing my operating position.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

SOTA Black Mountain VK1/AC-042

With a nice sunny warm 30c Saturday afternoon decided to activate a nearby SOTA summit, Black Mountain VK1/AC-042. This is the closest summit to home, about 6 Km away and about a 15 minute drive, so very easy to do. I also needed another 25 contacts to qualify it for the WWFF award, the summit is WWFF park VKFF-0834 Black Mountain Nature Reserve.

Set myself up in the same spot as last time, on a little used walking track off the Northern side of the car park, using an old gate post for squid pole support.

Looking back down the track. Lots of tree branches across the track from a strong wind storm on Friday afternoon.

Set up the radio on the tarp, using my TS-480 running 25w. Black mountain Telstra communications tower visible in the background.

Got on 40m. Started with a park to park with Marc VK3OHM/p in VKFF-0296 Lower Glenelg National Park. Then a summit to summit with Marshall VK3MRG/p on VK3/VE-137 Bald Hill.

Then usual chasers from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4 and VK5. When 40m dried up for contacts went to 20m. Usual contact with Rick VK4RF/VK4HA. John ZL1BYZ with a good signal. Seemed to be good conditions to VK6, as went on to work VK6XL Allen and VK6NU John. Final contact with Matt VK1MA,  a massive strong 59++ signal as usual.

Gave it away and headed home to dinner. 26 contacts made so with my activation last year had 45 contacts, completing the park for WWFF.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

WWFF Hunter 88 Park to Park Award

The new WWFF Logsearch website has had technical problems with the park to park award since migrated from the old one. This was fixed recently and was able to apply for the next level of this award, 88 park to park contacts. Received promptly from Danny, ON4VT, thanks.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

SOTA Mt Majura VK1/AC-034 and SOTA Goat

With just 1 activation point needed to reach 1000 points and SOTA Goat, decided to activate Mount Majura, VK1/AC-034. This was the first VK1 summit that I activated when VK1 went live on 1st February 2013, seemed appropriate to do this again to complete it.

As per my previous activations started from the Horse paddocks car park off Antill St Hackett. From here its about a 2.5 Km, half hour walk to the top. Mount Majura is in the Canberra Nature Park, Mount Majura Nature Reserve, WWFF reference VKFF-0851.

The first part of the walk is easy enough, until you get to the base of the mountain and the climbing starts...

This track eventually joins the main track along the ridge to the top. Parts of this quite steep as you climb up to the summit. Looking back down the track, Canberra airport in the distance.

Eventually reached the gate just before the access road to the top. Note this is locked further down so can't drive up here.

Set up the squid pole on the usual round metal thing up here by the trig, running out the 40m dipole. Also the 2m Jpole ribbon antenna.

Looking back the other way.

Set up the SOTA shack on the concrete base. Offered a bit of shade, but was not too hot yet anyway mid morning.

Got on 2m FM as I wanted the local VK1s to work me 1st. Needed 4 contacts to qualify the summit and SOTA Goat :)

1st contact Andrew VK1AD/m near Woden, a good 59 signal.
2nd contact Andrew VK2MWP out at Warwoola, also good 59
3rd contact Andrew VK1MBE, 59

And 4th contact to qualify was Matt VK1MA, 59+ as per usual. SOTA Goat accomplished 😊

After working Matt a stream of various goat noises heard, thanks guys :)

A few more calls and a chat with the VK1s moved to 40m. Plenty of the usual chasers from VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5 worked with good signals. A park to park contact with VK3PF/p Peter in VKFF-0742 Warby Ovens National Park. VK1DA/p Andrew came up on VK1/AC-037 Mt Taylor for a S2S contact.

After 40m quietened down put up a 10m dipole to try 10m, as some sporadic e about, could hear the VK4RC Brisbane beacon.

Worked the following on 10m
VK4KUS Steve
VK2LX Grant out at Bungendore on ground wave.
VK1MA Matt,
VK2FENG Helen and VK2IG Mike out at Gundaroo on ground wave.

Managed to qualify Mount Majura Nature Reserve VKFF-0851 as only needed a dozen contacts for 44 for a WWFF point.

When I got home did a count of total activation points in different regions for interest.

VK1/AC - 206 points
VK2/SM - 184 points
VK2/ST- 269 points

The rest - 547 points.

So more than half the points gained from excursions outside VK1 and VK2/SM and VK2/ST, namely VK2 other regions, VK3, VK4 and VK5. I did a bit of travelling getting there...

Most of the easily obtainable points came from nearby VK2/ST Southern Tablelands. Then VK1 and VK2/SM Snowy Mountains.

For those chasing SOTA Goat, keep at it, you will reach it eventually. Good luck!

Monday, 2 January 2017

SOTA Bald Mountain VK2/SM-052

After activating Big Badja Hill VK2/SM-059 drove back to Badja Rd, then drove a short distance South to turn off onto the Slap Up Firetrail on the right. Note that on this side of the Badga Rd you are in Gourock National Park, WWFF reference VKFF-0212.

Drove along Slap Up Firetrail until reaching the access track to Bald Mountain communications tower. Locked gate here. Parked and walked to the tower a short distance down the road.

Not sure why called Bald Mountain as there are plenty of trees here... Just behind the communications tower set up the squid pole on the trig.

Looking back the other way. The fence to the communcations complex on the left. Whatever radio was in there didn't affect me on the HF Amateur bands at all.

Shack on the tarp and my pack. As only a short walk in I used my TS480 radio for a bit more power, set to 40w output. A tree stump made for a handy seat.

Got on 40m. Band not too bad now, NVIS to close by VK2 and VK3 working fine. Worked chasers in VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK7.

After 40m dried up went to 20m. I found 14.310 Mhz vacant and spotted myself. Just before I was about to call heard another CQ SOTA call going out on this frequency. A check on SOTAwatch saw myself and Warren ZL2AJ had both spotted ourselves on the same frequency at the same time!
Worked him for an S2S, he was on ZL1/WL-097 Mt Munro, around a 57 signal.

I respotted myself 5 Khz up... but no answers to my calls. Got a Lo battery warning on the TS480, indicating my LifePO4 8700 maH battery was on the way out, so packed up and drove back home to Canberra.

List of stations worked. Note after this 8 point summit I've reached 999 activator points, 1 more to go for Mountain Goat 😊 To do one of the local VK1 1 point summits the next day.

02:26zVK3LED7MHzSSBs58 r57
02:28zVK3CAT7MHzSSBs58 r46
02:30zVK7CW7MHzSSBs58 r46
02:31zVK5IS7MHzSSBs55 r54
02:33zVK2IO7MHzSSBs59 r57
02:34zVK3ANL7MHzSSBs59 r46
02:35zVK3FPSR7MHzSSBs58 r58
02:36zVK3FLCS7MHzSSBs58 r58
02:38zVK3TST7MHzSSBs57 r57
02:40zVK4RF7MHzSSBs55 r53
02:40zVK4HA7MHzSSBs55 r53
02:41zVK3ARH7MHzSSBs57 r53
02:42zVK5FAKV7MHzSSBs58 r57
02:43zVK3ZPF7MHzSSBs59 r57
02:44zVK3GGG7MHzSSBs55 r53
02:44zVK3PMG7MHzSSBs55 r53
02:45zVK2YK7MHzSSBs59 r57
02:47zVK3RW7MHzSSBs58 r57
02:51zVK3BHR7MHzSSBs58 r55
02:52zVK5EE7MHzSSBs58 r53
02:55zVK5MBD7MHzSSBs55 r53
03:00zZL2AJ/P14MHzSSBs57 r41 s2s ZL1/WL-097

SOTA Big Badga Hill VK2/SM-059

After stopping overnight at Jindabyne drove NE to Cooma, then continued heading NE to the small town of Numerella, onto the Countegany Rd then Badga Rd. This road is unsealed however well graded and able to travel at a good speed. Continued on to Pikes Saddle, where there was an unsealed dirt road on the right.

A short distance along this road there was a turnoff to the right, this is the Badga Firetrail.

Last time I used this road I struck a couple of fallen trees, requiring detours onto temporary side routes around them. Since then Compton VK2HRX had cleared the trees, thanks Compton. After a fairly easy drive in my Nissan Xtrail reached the Badga Trig parking area.

From here an easy walk to the trig. As per last time good views. View West to Bald Mountain, VK2/SM-052, my next summit.

View East to the coast. A bit hazy today, Tabletop Mountain in the distance.

Set up the squid pole on the trig, running out the dipole legs to some small bushes nearby.

Shack on the tarp at the base of the trig.

Got on 40m. As seemed to be the pattern lately another S2S with Mitch VK7XDM on VK7/WC-013.

NVIS signals were down, making close by stations weak, but did however manage to work Andrew VK1MBE/p on VK1/AC-048, Mt McDonald, having just made Mountain Goat, well down Andrew!

Usual chasers followed from VK2, VK3 and VK5. Worked David VK3IL/p doing a WWFF park activation of VKFF-0947. A very weak contact with Paul, VK5PAS/p doing a WWFF park activation of Red Banks Conservation Park VKFF-1086.

A good copy on Ron VK3AFW/p on VK3/VE-008 Mt Buller.

I saw a spot for Peter VK3PF/p on VK3/VE-237 Huon Hill, but too weak to work. He eventually called me when the band improved a bit later.

Tried switching the links to 20m. I immediately found Paul VK5PAS/p in park VKFF-1086, a lot better on 20m, peaking S3.

Stayed on 20m as it seemed to be working better than 40m, working VK2, VK4, VK4 and VK5, even Matt VK1MA made it from North Canberra on 20m. Also worked ZL1BYZ John and Jacky  ZL1TZW.

Note I was also in a park here. VKFF-0138 Deua National Park. Combined with my previous activation had more than 44 contacts so Deua NP now finished for a WWFF point.


Sunday, 1 January 2017


After activating SOTA peak VK2/SM-014 The Cascades I decided there was enough time to stop and reactivate VK2/SM-053 on the drive back to Jindabyne. Being in the next year, 2017 could claim the 8 points again. As per last activation drove up Wollondibby Road and parked near the summit, used the same small sapling for squid pole support.

Looking back the other way.

Shack on the tarp. Due to the cooler weather the March flies seemed to have gone, so didn't have to use it to draw them off me like the last activation. It was actually quite a pleasant day now, temperature around 20c and the strong wind up at Thredbo was absent here.

Got on 40m, using the TS480 running 40w. Started with an S2S with Mitch, VK7XDM/p on VK7/WC-005. Also VK5CZ/p Ian and VK5NHG/p Hugh doing a dual activation of VK5/NE-058.

Stations worked:

03:41zVK7XDM/P7MHzSSBs53 r51 s2s vk7/wc-005
03:42zVK7CW7MHzSSBs57 r53
03:44zVK2IO/M7MHzSSBs51 r53
03:50zVK5CZ/P7MHzSSBs53 r53 s2s vk5/ne-058
03:54zVK5NHG/P7MHzSSBs53 r53 s2s vk5/ne-058
03:55zVK5WG7MHzSSBs57 r55
04:34zVK5IS7MHzSSBs57 r55
04:36zVK3GGG7MHzSSBs58 r42

Tried calling on 20m with no luck. Packed up and continued on to accommodation in Jindabyne.