Sunday, 28 January 2018

WWFF Activation Meroo National Park VKFF-0312

After spending a long weekend down the NSW South Coast at Mollymook it was time to head back to Canberra. Was going to return the same way I came, via the Nowra-Nerriga Road, but found traffic almost at a stand still going through Milton, as the end of a long weekend. Decided to head back via inland, through Yadbora and the Western Distributor road, so headed out from Milton on Woodstock Road. On the way saw a sign for Milton National Park, so stopped to activate it at the next turnoff. Found a locked gate, so set up the radio on the other side of the gate within the park.

Operating location off Woodstock Road. Park map from Protected Planet website

Looking back the other way

Shack on the tarp. A little bit of shade.

Got on 40 m. Sounded fairly quiet. Worked the following park hunters

VK4GSF George
VK3SQ Geoff
VK2USH Steve
VK2HHA Dennis
VK3MCD Brian.
Brian was on SOTA summit VK3/VC-002 Mt Donna Buang.

VK3PF Peter
Rod was just down the road from me, near Milton.

VK2IO Gerard
VK4TJ John

Packed up and headed to Pigeon House Mountain picnic area for lunch. The trip back via the Western Distributor Road was easy with hardly any cars, but got caught in the holiday traffic coming into Braidwood :(

Saturday, 27 January 2018

WWFF Activation Narrawallee Creek Nature Reserve VKFF-1979

For the Australia Day long weekend 26-28th January headed down to the NSW South Coast to Mollymook for a few days with my partner, to swim and enjoy the warm weather.

After going for a swim at Narawallee Beach in the morning, had lunch at Mollymook shops, then set off to try activating a new WWFF park, VKFF-1979 Narrawallee Creek Nature Reserve. This has not been activated previously.

I initially tried to access the park via Narrawallee Creek Road off Lake Conjola Entrance Road, but came to a locked gate... So back tracked to Lake Conjola Entrance Road, drove to Lake Conjola village, took Thorne Street to the South, then turned off onto Conjola Beach Trail. This was a dirt track but okay for 2WDs. Passed Pattimores Lagoon and finally entered the park.

Got to Conjola Beach Carpark. Unfortunately very small with only a few picnic tables in the bush, really unsuitable for operating a radio from, and no room for antennas.

Wandered up the hill to the beach. There was a lookout platform above the beach which would have to do for an operating spot. 

Set up the squid pole on the railing of the lookout platform

One dipole leg had just enough room to run down to a nearby fence. The other leg was challenging...
Ended up throwing the wire over some bushes, then bush bashing to the end and tying it to a branch.

Operating spot, map from Protected Planet website

Radio on the lookout platform deck, hiding from the sun behind a grass bush...

Set the power to 40 W and got on 40m on 7.144 Mhz. Found my phone battery had died so unable to spot myself, so got my first contact, Geoff VK3SQ to spot me.

Went on to work the following park hunters

VK4TJ John
VK5FMPW Michael
VK3PF Peter
VK4GSF George
VK3MRG Marshall

I got another call from John VK4TJ, he also worked me with his US and Canadian calls to help my call count, thanks John.

Note mainly long distance contacts on 40 m, close by NVIS not working... Tried 20 m also but no luck. As had over 10 contacts for VKFF gave it away and headed back to Mollymook for dinner.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

10 m beacons on summer sporadic e

It has been a pretty good season for summer sporadic e, most evenings can hear several beacons coming in. Here is a screen capture from my IC-7300 taken last night, for 28.000 to 28.300 Mhz at 9:31 pm local time.

On the left is an unknown WSPR station on the standard frequency 28.124 Mhz.

On 28.187 Mhz is a beacon run by VK5KV in Port Augusta.

There are heaps on the right around 28.260-28.267 Mhz. They transmit a bit out of sync so hard to see them all going at once.

28.260 Mhz - VK5WI Adelaide
28.263 Mhz - VK3RRU Mildura
28.265 Mhz - VK4RRC Brisbane
28.266 Mhz - VK4RST St George
28.267 Mhz - VK7RAE Devonport

Despite all the beacon activity not many on SSB. I tried the 29.620 Mhz FM Adelaide beacon, it came back S9 but no-one replied.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

WWFF Coornatha Nature Reserve VKFF-1914

After stopping overnight at Jindabyne drove to Cooma for lunch. After lunch drove out to Coornatha Nature Reserve, to make a few more contacts as I still didn't have the 44 needed for WWFF.

Found the park gate not just unlocked but open. Left it as it was. Set up the radio near the car in the same spot as my last activation here.

Shack on the tarp. Used power from the car battery as per last activation.

Got on 40 m. Started with a park to park contact with Rob VK4AAC/2 in VKFF-0495 Towarri National Park.

Then worked the following park hunters

VK2IO Gerard
VK3SQ Geoff
VK2NP Cliff
VK3PF Peter
VK3SFG Sergio
VK4TJ John
VK2VW Brett
VK2LKW Wolfgang.

Conditions were not that good, and starting to warm up in the sun, so packed up and headed home. Still need another 7 contacts to finish this park, at least not that far from home.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

SOTA Unnamed VK2/SM-053

After activating Mt Kosciuszko VK2/SM-001 decided to pop up to SOTA summit VK2/SM-053 as it was on the way back to Jindabyne, and is a nice easy drive up. Was a bit worried the summit land had been sold off, as there were nearby "For Sale"signs, last visit, but found it was still public land.

Parked and set as per previous activations on a large log, using a nearby sapling for squid pole support. Set out my blue tarp to attract march flies and keep them off me...

Looking back the other way

Radio and myself on the log.

Started on 40 m, running 40 W. Band fairly poor with not many signals, NVIS missing so not hearing close by VK1/VK2/VK3s.

Worked the following calls on 40 m.

VK7CW Steve
VK4TJ John

Tried 20 m. Worked


Heard later from other stations they couldn't hear me at all.

As conditions not good and had enough contacts to qualify the summit, packed up and headed to Jindabyne for the evening.

SOTA Mt Kosciuszko VK2/SM-001 Australias Highest Mountain

With a few days off work decided to do something probably a lot of SOTA activators plan to do at some stage, activate Australia's highest summit, VK2/SM-001 Mt Kosciuszko. At 2228 m its hardly an epic climb but still a challenging 13 Km return walk.

I drove to Jindabyne and stopped there overnight, leaving after breakfast to drive to Thredbo. Note when entering Kosciuzko National Park there is a park entry fee of $17 for 24 hours stay.

Got to Thredbo around 8:15 and purchased a 1 day chair lift ticket to take me up to the Eagles Nest Restaurant and the start of the walk across the Kosciuszko plateau, this cost me $37. Then waited for the chair lift to start up at 8:30 am.

Got on the chair lift, a little tricky with a pack and squid pole but managed it. Ascended the mountain in the lift. Could see cloud at the top.

Reaching the top is was quite foggy, and cold, temperature around 10 c.

Fortunately the fog seemed to be only around the edge of the plateau, once I moved away from the lift terminus it cleared up. Still cold but felt warm in the sun.

Start of the Dead Horse Gap walking track. 6 Km to the summit.

The walk is fairly easy, on cobbled stones and raised metal walkways. It is a very popular walk with both Australian and overseas visitors, and is well maintained for the large number of walkers who use it. Reached a platform called Kosciuszko Lookout after 1.5 Km from the top of the char lift. Mt Kosciuszko is the one in the middle, with a long narrow patch of snow below it.

After 4.5 Km reached Rawsons Pass. There are public toilets near here. Mt Kosciuzsko now only 1.67 Km away.

A sign and map at Rawsons Pass on Mt Kosciuszko.

Continued along the track to the summit. Sign at the junction with the main range walk. You can also do this walk from Charlotte Pass but its quite long.

There was a bit of cloud around the summit. The track curves around it.

Reached the summit. As is usual for this popular walk crowded with people. It got a lot worse later...

Another sign near the trig explaining some of the history of the summit.

With so many people around the trig there was no way I was going to operate there... plus the park rangers had advised me to move away from the top to avoid problems with the public. After wandering around for a while I decided to operate from behind a rocky outcrop, hidden away from most of the crowd at the trig. Even so still got groups on the nearby rocks taking selfies...Put up both the linked dipole and 2 m ribbon antenna.

Squid pole jammed into a gap in between 2 large rocks and secured by ocky straps. I had a little hidey hole to operate from out of the wind :)

FT-817 on my lunch box. Had a mini log book, trying to keep weight down :)

Got on 40 m. Not surprisingly phone coverage good here, able to spot myself on parksnpeaks.
The wind decided to bring down my squid pole just after spotting, could hear several callers so quickly hoisted it back up...

Worked the following chasers

VK2YW John
VK7CW Steve

A park to park with VK3ZPF/p Peter in VKFF-2200 Sweetwater Creek NR. I was in VKFF-0269 Kosciuszko NP.

VK3ARH Allen
VK2DO Chris
VK2NP Cliff

A summit to summit with VK3ANL/p Nick on VK3/VC-007 Mt Macedon. Also a park to park as this is in VKFF-0972

VK2IO Gerard
VK2VW Brett.

While operating on 40 m my phone was also being sent text messages from both VK1AD/p Andrew on Mt Ainslie, and VK1RX Al at home. They were looking for contacts on 2 m. I tried both 2 m FM and SSB with no luck. I could hear a few beacons on SSB but no luck hearing you guys, sorry. I suspect might be a problem with my 2 m antenna as thought would have been a good path back to Canberra.

Had lunch. After lunch a large group of school children arrived and sat close by to me to have their lunch, figured a good time to pack up...

Walked back the same way. The fog had cleared for the chair lift ride back down to Thredbo

Track log of walk from the chairlift to the summit.

Profile of the walk, a 6.5 Km walk with a 400 m climb.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Monday, 1 January 2018

SOTA Mt Ainslie VK1/AC-040 end of year activation

In Australia we have UTC rollover in Eastern Australian Summer Time at 11 am, meaning you can activate a SOTA summit in one year, then claim it again in the new year for another lot of points, and not be in the dark.

Essentially just an excuse for a National SOTA summit to summit party... I picked VK1/AC-040 Mt Ainslie as it is an easy drive up to and set up.

I had a late night with my partner for the traditional new year, and we ended up sleeping in. By the time had breakfast got and all my SOTA gear ready, and drove to Mt Ainslie and set up, I had 8 minutes left of 2017 to make 4 contacts!

Squid pole on Mt Ainslie, looking North.

Looking South.

Shack on the concrete base, my FT-857D running 40 W.

Got on 40 m at 23:52 z as this had the most activity. Pounced on other activators, making the following summit to summit contacts:

VK3ARR/p Andrew on VK3/VC-019 Mt Warrenheip
VK1MA/2 Matt on VK2/ST-005 Webbs Ridge
VK1FWBD/p Wade on VK1/AC-043 Mt Stomlo

and the 4th contact as 23:57 z VA3OZI/VK Mathew on nearby VK1/AC-042 Black Mountain.

Just for good measure I managed a 5th contact for the year with
VK1ATP/p Paul on Yellow Rabbit Hill at 23:59z

Probably the fastest I've qualified a SOTA summit...

After 11 am and UTC rollover into 2018 I could relax and take my time.

Worked the following:

VK3AFW/p Ron on VK3/VE-031 Mt Skene
VK3ARR/p Andrew on VK3/VC-019 Mt Warrenheip
VA3OZI/VK Mathew on VK1/AC-042 Black Mountain
VK1AD/2 Andrew on VK2/ST-006 South Black Range
VK3OAK/p Mal on VK3/VS-008 Mt Cole
VK1MBE/2 Andrew on VK2/ST-008 Baldy Range
VK5PAS/p Paul on VK5/SE-013 Mt Gawler
VK3BHR/p Phil on VK3/VN-016 Mt Alexander
VK3HN Paul
VK7FAMP/p Angela on VK7/CH-057 Mt Dromedary
VK7CW Steve
VK3SQ Geoff
VK3GGG/p VK3PMG/p Mick on VK3/VS-015 Blue Mountain
VK3PF/p Peter on VK3/VE-126 Mt Stanley
VK2SG/3 Leigh on VK3/VG-001 Mt Cope

Started to get warm in the sun, and had qualified the summit so gave it away.

This was also a WWFF activation as the summit is in VKFF-0850 Mt Ainslie Nature Reserve.