Saturday, 29 December 2018

Yatteyattah Nature Reserve

While staying on the NSW South Coast with my partner for a few days after Boxing Day, decided to try activating a WWFF park never activated before, Yatteyattah Nature Reserve, VKFF-2799.

This is located about 8 Km North of Milton. Took the Princes Hwy through Milton, turning off to where the Yatteyattah Access track is marked. This initially had me puzzled, appeared at first to be just an access road to a farm property, however just before the farm gate another closed gate on the right, and a path between fences heading down the hill. Spotted a NPWS park sign so knew this was the way to go.

The gate was unlocked. Opened it and headed down. As you can see it does not get much use, long grass, even had a small gum tree growing in the track that I needed to drive around... At the bottom a stile and another unlocked gate. Opened this gate as well and drove down a little less overgrown track to a stile over the fence and a sign for the park. Parked and climbed over the stile. A look at the sign.

A map on the sign shows the access track in.

Some quite interesting reading on the sign about the park history. The name is Aboriginal for "water tumbling down" referring to the Falls nearby in Currowar Creek. The falls looked a long way down with no tracks so did not go. This was initially a farm, cemetery and a picnic spot from the late 1800s, with photos of men in bowler hats and ladies in long skirts! In 1967 the area was donated to the council by Mr A Mclean. It was then declared a Nature Reserve.

Another sign on the local wildlife. Quite an interesting park with sub tropical vegetation at the Southern limit here.

Set up the squid pole on the park sign and dipole legs tied to the nearby fence.

Set up the radio on the tarp and towels in the shade in front of the sign, It was a warm day.

Got on 40 m. Able to spot myself on the mobile here. Quite slow going, bad conditions, plus did not seem to be many on this morning.


My 10th caller was Peter VK3ZPF, who I had worked earlier portable back at home so counted as another contact. Not long after working him my battery died, so just made the 10 contacts for VKFF.

A park I will need to return to for WWFF.

Friday, 28 December 2018

Meroo National Park VKFF-0312

While stopping on the NSW South Coast for a few days, decided to complete a park I still need 44 contacts from for WWFF, Meroo National Park, VKFF-0312.

Last activation I had operated from a camping area in March, however at this time of year all the camp grounds would be full, so picked another spot, Stokes Island lookout day use area.

This is on the coast to the South of Tabourie Lake township. The road in, Blackbutt Rd is a bit rough, dirt, probably 4WD only in the wet but okay when dry for my Nissan Xtrail. Note the picnic area is a 100 m or so from the car park so you need to pack light.

Looking out to Stokes Island

Just up from the lookout was a picnic table with a little bit of shade. Set up the radio on the table.

Attaching the squid pole to the table was not easy. Managed to strap it to the end of a seat, with a large rock at the bottom to stop it moving. Luckily not a lot of wind today.

Got on 40 m. Found no internet access on the mobile so unable to spot myself on ParksnPeaks. So just called on 7.144 Mhz, the parks call frequency for a while.

Eventually got a few contacts, VK2FADV, VK3UP. After working VK3UH and VK2VW got spotted and the contacts came a little quicker. Still slow as conditions were not the best.


And a park to park, also a SOTA summit contact with VK3PF/p Peter on VK3/VE-189 VKFF-0959.

While operating a large yellow brown snake slithered past the table and into the nearby bush. As not keen to hang around it packed up. Had 10 contacts which is all I needed to make up the 44 for the park. 

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Cullendulla Creek Nature Reserve VKFF-1918

Boxing Day my partner and I headed down to the South Coast for a few days holidays. While in Batemans Bay dropped into Cullendulla Creek Nature Reserve to complete the 44 contacts needed for WWFF. As per last time parked in a car park off Myamba Parade and set off on the walking track to the park.

A short walk passed the sign for the park above the beach

Followed a walking track behind the sign to the same place I set up last time, using a wooden stake for squid pole support.

Shack on the tarp, also on beach towels. In case you are wondering, it was a hot day, in the 30c temperature, we went for a swim later :)

Got on 40 m. Lots of park hunters called. No park to parks, seemed to be the only one on.


As had 15 contacts plus other activations had over 44 contacts so packed up and went for a swim :)

Monday, 24 December 2018

FT8DMC Worked All New Zealand 40 m Award

FT8DMC have an award for working New Zealand prefixes 4 x ZL1, 3 x ZL2, 2 x ZL3 and 1 x ZL4 on FT8 mode. Having worked ZL2LW recently on 40 m, had enough contacts to qualify for the award on 40 m.

ZL1BD               2018-09-15  07:41  40M   FT8      ZL1   
ZL1BQD              2017-09-12  10:28  40M   FT8      ZL1   
ZL1BRL              2018-04-24  07:31  40M   FT8      ZL1   
ZL1CVD              2018-08-27  08:14  40M   FT8      ZL1   
ZL2LW               2018-12-21  07:40  40M   FT8      ZL2   
ZL2SKY              2018-12-16  07:12  40M   FT8      ZL2   
ZL2WD               2018-04-24  08:00  40M   FT8      ZL2   
ZL3GK               2018-07-14  05:46  40M   FT8      ZL3   
ZL3KR               2018-08-27  08:05  40M   FT8      ZL3   
ZL4BEN              2018-04-27  10:00  40M   FT8      ZL4   

I've also qualified for this award on 20 m and 80 m. Still need ZL2 on 30 m, and heaps on 17 m. Despite hearing the ZL beacons on 10 m and working across on SSB yet to work any ZLs on FT8 on this band.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

FT8 30 Meter Digital Group ANZA-30 Award

The 30 Meter Digital group offer awards for working certain totals of VK and ZL calls on the 30 m band, 15, 30 and 45 total. I managed to get to 30 combined VK/ZL contacts on FT8 recently.

Here is the award

Thursday, 20 December 2018

FT8 30 Meter Digital Group VK Certificate

The 30 Meter Digital Group offer an award for contacting the VK call areas VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 VK6 and VK7 on 30 Meters any digital modes. Don't know why missing VK8 however I found it hard going getting just these alone, even being in VK myself... The worst was VK2, here in VK1 the bulk of VK2 operators are in the Sydney area, around 300 Km away and too close to work on 30 m, so needed to get someone far enough away like Northern NSW.

Managed to work VK2/G3NJV in Mullumbimby Northern VK2, to complete the required contacts.

VK1MA               2018-09-18  08:01  30M   FT8      1
VK2/G3NJV           2018-12-18  09:52  30M   FT8      2
VK3FM               2017-09-15  07:36  30M   FT8      3
VK4FNQ              2017-09-15  22:57  30M   FT8      4
VK5DG*              2014-05-12  09:51  30M   JT65     5
VK6DW*              2018-02-26  10:14  30M   FT8      6
VK7TR               2014-05-12  07:39  30M   JT65     7

Applied for the award using Ultimate AAC software

Monday, 17 December 2018

FT8 mode 6 m contact with Fiji

The 6 m band is a band I have rarely used, mainly because I don't have an antenna up for it. However I've discovered my 40/30/20/17 m fan dipole seems to load up on it somehow using the tuner in the IC-7300, and have been having fun working VK3, VK4 and VK5 with good signals on FT8 mode

Turning on after work today saw 3D2AG, Antoine in Suva Fiji with a strong signal, so gave him a call and worked him. Another country for me on 6 m :)

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

FT8 WSJT-X v2.0.0 upgrade

As most FT8 users will be aware the latest version of WSJT-X v 2.0 becomes the standard version to use on December 10th, with a request to upgrade from earlier versions by January 1st 2019. With the change from the older 75 bit version to 77 bits the new version messages cannot be read by the older version, so time to upgrade.

Downloaded and installed okay. Starting it up get the message about end of life for the old versions.

There was also a pop up about a LoTW error.

Looking in the quick start guide, a fix for this

LoTW Download Errors: If you are using Windows and experience LoTW download
errors, go here and download the
OpenSSL installer, specifically the “Win32 OpenSSL v1.0.2p Light” version. Note that
this is the correct version even if you are running 64-bit Windows. The direct download
link is Run the
installer with all default options and accept the option to install into the Windows system

After installing Win32 OpenSSL v1.0.2p Light the error was gone.

Receiving okay. Seems to have a lot more colors than the old. It seems to show  CQ Zones on CQ calls.

Looking under Settings there are a heap of color options available to highlight wanted zones DXCC, Grids and other things. Still prefer JTAlert to tell me whats needed.

So how does it work? Tried a contact on 40 m with KE7W, much the same as the old version.

This version allows for longer messages, interested to see if it gets adopted for SOTA and WWFF park activations.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 725 Award

Following lots of park to park contacts during the last the VKFF activation weekend, I had worked 725 different park references, and applied for the VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 725 Award.

Thanks to all the park activators who helped me achieve this award.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

FT8DMC Award - Worked All Australia Award (WAAA)

After working VK8ZI Paula on 17 m FT8 mode was finally able to apply for the FT8DMC Worked All Australia Award (WAAA FT8). This requires FT8 QSOs with each of the main Australian States and Territories.

VK1 - Australian Capital Territory
VK2 - New South Wales
VK3 - Victoria
VK4 - Queensland
VK5 - South Australia
VK6 - Western Australia
VK7 - Tasmania
VK8 - Northern Territory.

It took me a long time to complete by contacting VK8... just not many amateurs there. Nice award.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

WWFF Farrer Ridge Nature Reserve VKFF-0840

For the Sunday of the VKFF Activation weekend, headed for Farrer Ridge Nature Reserve VKFF-0840. Parked off Athlon Drive in Farrer near a gate entrance to the park. Sign for the park.

Set up the shack just to the right of the gate in the park, using a small gum tree for support.

Got on 40 m. Disappointingly found S7 noise all over the band, probably from the nearby power
lines... I heard Mark VK4SMA/2 in VKFF-0268 Koreelah National Park, just about to pack up, so called him for a park to park. He was just above the noise so could copy him okay.

As would be here for a while decided to pack up and move up the hill to get away from the power line noise. Wandered up until finding a suitable spot to operate from, a log near a water reservoir on top of the hill. Map of both operating spots from Protected Planet.

Shack on a log. Fence nearby is for the water reservoir.

 Looking back the other way. Radio and myself on the log.

This new spot was nice and quiet on 40 m.

Got on and worked several park to parks

VK4AAC/2 Rob in VKFF-0187 Freshwater National Park
VK3FLCS/p Brett in VKFF-2071 Costerfield Nature Conservation Reserve
VK4HNS/p Neil in VKFF-2536 Boomi Nature Reserve
VK3ANL/p Nick in VKFF-2113 Ironbark Road Nature Conservation Reserve
VK2XSE/p Liz in VKFF-2706 Pulletop Nature Reserve
VK3FLEA /p in VKFF-0781 Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park

Spotted myself to work the park hunters

Another couple of park to parks. Nice to have some NVIS skip in to the Sydney area

VK2MG/p Alan in VKFF-1361 Munmorah State Conservation Area
VK2IO/p Gerard in VKFF-1881 Agnes Banks Nature Reserve

Worked a few more park hunters


A park to park with VK3ZPF/p Peter in VKFF-2031 Langwarrin Flora & Fauna Reserve Conservation Park


Some more park to parks

VK3PF/p Peter in VKFF-2282 Bruthen Flora Reserve
VK2KNV/p Peter in VKFF-2706 Pulletop Nature Reserve with Liz VK2SXE
VK5PAS/3 Paul in VKFF-0628 Point Nepean National Park
VK1CT/p Chris in VKFF-0835 Bruce Ridge Nature Reserve

Worked another park hunter, VK3TNL. At this stage noticed some spots of rain, looked at the sky to the South West, it was dark and threatening... A look at the rain radar showed a rain shower not far away. Quickly packed up, got back to the car just as was getting heavy...

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Urambi Hills Nature Reserve VKFF-0864

Every year in Australia there is the VKFF Activation weekend, to promote WWFF park activating in Australia. This year activated the 2 remaining parks in the ACT that I have not visited before, Urambi Hills Nature Reserve on Saturday and Farrer Ridge Nature Reserve on Sunday.

For Urambi Hill Nature Reserve VKFF-0864 parked off Merideth Circuit in Kambah. There is an initial pedestrian gate, then after a short walk another gate and entry to the park. Sign for the park at the start of the track up to Urambi Hill trig.

I had planned to operate at the trig, which has great views, however today was really very windy so set up near the park sign, which was in a valley with some shelter from the wind. Some walks back to the car to get all the gear, table, chair, pack with radio, squid pole and battery. Used the park sign for squid pole support.

Operating spot in the park. Map from Protected Planet

Shack on the table.

Got on 40 m. As you would expect for a parks activation weekend plenty of parks on air. Spent a while just working park to parks with the ones on first, before finding a clear spot and calling myself.

VK5KLV/p Les and VK5MSD/p Steve in VKFF-0920 Munyaroo Conservation Park
VK2QR/3 Rob in VKFF-2132 Lonsdale Nature Conservation Reserve
VK3XV/p Tony in VKFF-2070 Corindhap Nature Conservation Reserve
VK4HNS/p Neil in VKFF-2590 Dthinna Dthinnawan Nature Reserve
VK4SOE/2 Ade and VK4FNOR/2 Steve in VKFF-0011 Bald Rock National Park
VK3PF/p Peter in VKFF-2253 Ada Tall Trees Reserve Conservation Reserve

After working all parks gave park hunters a bit of a go for a while...

VK2UXO/m Peter
VK7QP Linda
VK3SQ Geoff

A few more Parks to Parks

VK2IO/p Gerard in VKFF-0041 Blue Mountains National Park, also SOTA summit Mt Banks
VK5FLEA/p John in VKFF-0910 Montacute Conservation Park

VK4TJ John
VK5LA Andy
VK7NWT Scott
VK2PEZ Andrew
VK1VIC/2 Tony portable at Bungendore

Another park to park

VK3ALN/p Alan in VKFF-0628 Point Nepean National Park

VK1UU Murray

Park to park with VK4AAC/p Rob in VKFF-1493 Bunyaville Conservation Park

VK2LX Grant
VK2BY Brad
VK2NNN Darren

Worked parks to parks with VK5FMAZ/2 Maria and VK5PAS/3 Paul in VKFF-2135 Main Ridge Nature Conservation Reserve. They were getting rained on so were doing a quick activation. Both good signals.

A couple more park to parks

VK5LA Andy who had left home to activate VKFF-0372 Murray River National Park
VK2XSE/p Liz and VK2KNV/p Peter in VKFF-2651 Loughnan Nature Reserve

While operating the squid pole had detelescoped a few times in the wind. As the wind was picking up even more decided to pack up and head home after 33 contacts. A park to finish off another day.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

WWFF Cullendulla Creek Nature Reserve VKFF-1918

After spending the night at Batemans Bay headed off to do another park, Cullendulla Creek Nature Reserve VKFF-1918. I had activated this park before but needed more contacts to make up the 44 needed for WWFF. The park is in 2 sections on each side of Cullendulla Creek, this time went to the Western side of the creek, near Surfside Beach. Parked at the end of a side road off Myamba Parade. Note at the end of Myamba Parade is private property with no access to the park, so need to walk around it. Sign indicating 300 m to the park.

After 300 m reached a sign explaining a bit more about the park. This is on the park boundary.

 A little further along the beach a sign for the park.

Behind the sign Cullendulla Creek walking track. If you continue to the right you can do a nice walk on a raised platform among mangroves. To avoid the crowd went to the left along the track and set up the station just off the track. Used a wooden stake for squid pole support.

Shack on the tarp.

Got on 40 m. First contact was a park to park with Paul, VK5PAS activating VKFF-1030 Finnis Conservation Park. As per the day before at Broulee Island he was using a special event call VI5LWF, , "Lest We Forget"  It is one of a number of commemorative callsigns in Australia and Europe, to commemorate the centennary of the signing of the World War I armistice on 11th November 1918. Also worked Paul under his own call.

Found a clear spot and spotted myself. Park hunters were down in signals today with lots of QSB.


Another park to park with VK4SMA/p mark in VKFF-1671 Wararba Creek Conservation Park.Weak but we could hear each other as both in radio quiet parks.

Worked a few more park hunters


Unfortunately my 4200 maH LifePO4 battery, which I had also used yesterday, decided it had had enough and I could no longer transmit. I had forgotten to take a charger to recharge it overnight. So packed up and drove back home. Need to return again to this park for the 44 contacts.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

WWFF Broulee Island Nature Reserve VKFF-2546

Stopping for the weekend with my partner at Batemans Bay, decided to activate a nearby WWFF park that had not been activated before, Broulee Island Nature Reserve VKFF-2546

Broulee Island lies off the coast near the holiday village of Broulee. Looking on Google Maps it does appear as an island

However switching to Satellite View shows there is a narrow land connection to the mainland

Looking on the web the island has had an interesting history, having an Inn built on it in 1842, and even a small town of South Broulee planned in the 1980s but never built. It has been a proper island and then joined to the mainland, and lost again over time. The current connection has been in place since the 1990s.

Parked at the end of Bayside St in the North Broulee Beach Car park.

After a short walk reached North Broulee beach. The island can be seen in the distance

The walk to the island is about a Km. Found a bit of a clearing on the Northern side of the island and set up the squid pole on a tree stump.

Shack on the grass on the tarp nearby.

Got on 40 m. Found VK5PAS, Paul on 7.144 Mhz calling from VKFF-1754 Totness Recreation Park. He was using a special event callsign VI5LWF, "Lest We Forget"  It is one of a number of commemorative callsigns in Australia and Europe, to commemorate the centennary of the signing of the World War I armistice on 11th November 1918.

Also worked Paul under his own call. Paul kindly offered me the frequency.

Usual park hunters called. As a new park fairly popular.


Most signals fairly strong but lots of QSB. As usual the short NVIS skip was missing, nothing from nearby Canberra or Sydney. Could just hear VK2IO Gerard calling me, but did not hear me reply.

Packed up after 28 contacts and walked back to the car, headed back to Batemans Bay for the evening.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

FT8DMC Award Worked All Japan Call Area 17 meters

After working some missing Japanese call areas on FT8 17 m I had completed all JA call areas for the FT8DMC WAJCA FT8 award. Stations worked

JA0EVI  2017-09-02  23:27  17M   FT8  JA0
7N4OHN  2018-04-20  08:09  17M   FT8  JA1
JA2EDG  2018-04-20  07:56  17M   FT8  JA2
JH3FGI  2018-09-15  23:45  17M   FT8  JA3
JM4WUZ  2018-05-05  22:23  17M   FT8  JA4
JA5CBU  2018-10-30  08:09  17M   FT8  JA5
JH6VXP  2018-10-30  09:06  17M   FT8  JA6
JF7RJM  2018-04-20  08:02  17M   FT8  JA7
JG8FWH  2018-10-14  05:28  17M   FT8  JA8
JA9CAC  2017-12-03  05:53  17M   FT8  JA9

Applied for the award using Ultimate AAC software and once approved by the award manager downloaded from the the EPC Awards website.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Tracking JA, VK and ZL Prefixes needed per band for Awards

The various FT8 Awards offer endorsements for achieving working all call areas on an particular band, for JA (Japan) VK (Australia) and ZL (New Zealand). After some thought devised a simple way to track what I still need.

Used the following low tech solution. In Excel made up lists of prefixes for JA, VK and ZL per band so

Printed this list out. Then, using a yellow highlight pen, crossed out the Prefixes I have worked. So at a glance can see whats still to go, and cross them out as I work them. You can of course check in the log but this takes time, this way can tell instantly what I need.

Wish 10 m would open up again and I could work JA9 :(