Mt Tootie VK2/CT-082 first activation 26/07/2014

Mt Tootie showing the APRS track from Sydney

Mt Tootie showing the APRS track from Sydney

In January 2014, I was activating some nearby summits and scoped out Mt Tootie for a possible activation. It had not been activated for SOTA before so there was not much information available. It turned out to be on private land and I was ablt to meet the owner. Shortly afterwards I went overseas for a while and promptly forgot about the summit.

Months went by… I happened to be reading Garry VK2GAZ‘s blog and noticed mention of Mt Tootie. It turned out that Garry had been in touch with the manager of the property and had been able to secure permission. Garry had asked if anyone was interested in coming along as it was his first activation. I quickly raced off an email expressing interest!

The activation was due to be in August, but was brought forward at the last minute to the last Sunday in July. This was lucky because by pure chance, the date coincided with the VK1 SOTA Party. What good fortune! I had been planning to activate a local summit, probably a reactivation of Canoelands VK2/SY-001. The new summit was a much more exciting option.

Location

Mt Tootie VK2/CT-082 is along the Bells Line of Road west of Sydney about half way between Richmond and Lithgow. Just west of Bilpin, famous for its apples, turn north and then follow the well-maintained dirt road. There is not much traffic on this road though it is rather windy so care must be taken.

Mt Tootie activation zone

Mt Tootie activation zone

Garry and I had worked out the access and best location for parking. The picture highlights the activation zone. All of the area shown is on private property. Conveniently, car parking is 28m elevation below the summit, just right of the building to the east of the yellow summit marker. This spot is just inside a gate after passing the house. Once on foot, continue along the road, pass through another gate and then follow it around to the left, then leave the road for the short sharp climb to the top.

When we reached the summit, somewhat puffed, there were a few surprises compared to the satellite photo.

The tall tower apparent in Google’s imagery from 2007 was not present. The building next to it must have housed transmitting gear, but that has all been removed and only the building remains. There is no sign of the tower that used to be there, not even concrete pads. So – no QRM worries.
There is a power line that runs north-south not far down from the summit, but no QRM was evident from this.
The trig point is about 20m SE of where the tower used to be. This is a convenient mounting point for antennas so I set up a squid pole next to it. There is a wire fence around the old transmitter building that can also be used for mounting a squid pole so Garry took advantage of that. The land around the top drops away quickly so the house further east on the property cannot be seen when at the top.

The weather was amazing – clear blue skies and no wind at all. It was much warmer than expected, even a little toasty. The view was also magic as you can see in the photos.

Mt Tootie trig point and inverted Vee antenna

Mt Tootie trig point and inverted Vee antenna

Operating

Garry and I set up our stations quite close together. Probably too close as it was not possible to work two bands simultaneously, not even 40m and 6m due to front-end overload. I’ve not done a joint SOTA activation before, although once operated multiple stations at Barrenjoey Lighthouse for the International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend when there were multiple 100W transmitters causing mutual interference. This time we had 5W/10W transmitters but that did not diminish the problem. This summit would be big and steep enough to operate either side of the hill out of sight of one-another and possible run simultaneously on the one band, but that wasn’t for us.

Even though we alerted on SOTAwatch for a 0030z start, everything had gone well timing-wise so we were on the air by 2330z. Garry kicked things off and made a bunch of contacts and then I took over at 2346z. We both worked a bunch of summit-to-summit contacts before rollover as well as some chasers. I didn’t go hunting for all the summits that Garry had already worked as a S2S – there would be time for that later.

UTC Rollover

Garry checks the matching on the 2m Yagi

Garry checks the matching on the 2m Yagi

Rollover came and then Garry started calling again on 40m. I started to prepare for operating on 6m and 2m. For 6m, my linked dipole had grown two appendages and had turned into a double dipole. The same antenna had been used successfully as a 160m/80m double dipole for the VK Trans-Tasman Contest the previous weekend. When setting up, care had to be taken to ensure the arms for 6m were hanging below the main span of the linked dipole. The length chosen gave an SWR minimum at 51.39 MHz with sufficient bandwidth to allow operating at 50.1 and 52.525 MHz.

For 2m, I had brought along a homebrew 3-element tape measure Yagi and a small hand-held to try and work Sydney stations. A lot of repeaters could be heard from the summit and as the ARNSW Sunday broadcast was on, a lot of the repeaters were sending out the program. The repeaters provided good beacons for estimating beam headings. The Yagi had not been used on transmit in anger before. It was mainly built for fox hunting and was useful in securing a few wins at the 2013 Oxley Field day. The day before it had been checked out to see whether it would match a transmitter. There were no worries there – it was under 1.2:1 VSWR from 144-146 MHz.

Two "shacks" on Mt Tootie

Two “shacks” on Mt Tootie

Mobile coverage on the Optus network was slightly marginal at Mt Tootie, but I managed to get a spot out for 2m using RRT. I started calling with the beam pointed towards Sydney. There was no response after repeated calls so I started listening on 6m. Compton VK2HRX had put up a spot for 52.150 SSB so I started listening there. The frequency was a little unusual. Did he really mean 50.150? I didn’t hear him on either frequency, but my receiver was getting hammered by 40m transmissions. At least I could hear the broadcast from Dural on 52.525 FM really well so I knew my antenna was working.

After half an hour at the mic working many more stations, Garry decided to have a break so I jumped onto 40m again for a post-rollover stint. Garry had worked all the summits after rollover so after a time working some stations on 7090, I became a chaser – on a summit. Most of the activators had stuck around and I was able to find them on the 40m band. Then after half an hour a new activator came on unannounced. It was Scott VK2SWD activating a summit just west of Lithgow about 40km away called Mt Walker VK2/CT-019 and also doing a first activation. We were not the only ones! Word spread quickly about Scott’s activation so he had plenty of calls. It sounded like it was a bit of a hike to get to Mt Walker, but that is another one to attempt later on now that I am running out of “local” summits to activate.

40m propagation

Critical freq chart for Sydney

Critical freq chart for Sydney

In the days leading up to the VK1 SOTA Party there had been poor propagation on 40m, especially from 2330z to 0030z. Local contacts on 40m were not possible for three consecutive days around 0000z. The Ionospheric Prediction Service had issued a warning that MUFs were depressed by as much as 30%. I posted an alert to this effect on the SOTA Australia Yahoo group to alert folks trying to make S2S contacts across ACT that it may be difficult.

What actually happened? Well conditions were still degraded on 40m, but there was only one fadeout that I heard during a contact with VK2FAJG/1 at 2356z. The graph from the IPS shows how the FoF2 critical frequency varied through the day. The VK1 SOTA party period is highlighted in grey and the green line shows 7 MHz. The red line is the critical frequency and it is below 7 MHz for most of the party. The unbroken white line is the predicted monthly value so conditions were indeed depressed, though not quite enough to severely affect making contacts.

Moving on from 40m

Mt Tootie house over the hill

Mt Tootie house over the hill

There weren’t any chasers left on 40m so I decided to give 20m a go. I spotted and got a few calls out before I realised I was still using the 40m setting on the linked dipole. After unlinking for 20m there was a lot more success. I was able to catch Andrew VK3ARR who was really too close for a 20m S2S contact, but he had shifted off 40m so I had no choice. He gave me a 2×1. I also managed to work Mike VK6MB but only 5×1 both ways. Still, always great to get him in the log. VK1MBE portable 4 was also around too but not loud enough for a contact. I had not brought my vertical for this activation. A few of the other SOTA stations were on 20m too, but all too close to be heard. There was no short skip to be had.

Long haul 2m SSB

Before the event I’d been in touch with Andrew VK1NAM to organise a S2S contact on 2m. At first it was to be on FM, but after it turned out that Garry had an FT817 capable of SSB, that would be the preferred option. Garry had not used the rig on 2m SSB before. This would be his big chance. Andrew was on Castle Hill VK1/AC-032 southwest of Canberra.

Grave of Frederick Ashwell MBE

Grave of Frederick Ashwell MBE

After liaising with Andrew, we began to call on 2m but nothing was heard. I was holding up the Yagi and keying the mic and Garry was holding up the radio and battery. We were just off the summit where Garry had set up so decided to move to the trig point slightly higher up. It was amazing that after a short while we could clearly hear Andrew coming through – not strong, but perfectly readable with quite a lot of QSB. This was over a path of 262km. Andrew was using 45W and a  3-element Yagi but could not really hear my call using only 5W. Andrew decided to move his beam around. This seemed to do the trick and a 4×1 report was received and a 5×1 sent.

Garry had a go as well and also made contact. I just remembered in time to video it and Andrew’s signal was suffering from a lot of fast flutter, probably due to aircraft reflections. Watch the video of Garry’s contact here.

This was the last contact of the activation, and the most enjoyable. It was my first contact on 2m from a summit – and just happened to be a S2S as well. Thanks, Andrew.

Highlights

VK2IO operating at Mt Tootie

VK2IO operating at Mt Tootie

There were many highlights, but 28 summit-to-summit contacts for 92 points does not happen every day! 11 were before rollover so it was worth getting to the summit early. There were 3 new unique summits for me including 1 first activation. Garry and I forgot to work each other so can’t claim a Mt Tootie contact. I hope someone else is able to get up there now that we have broken the ice.

Taking part in a dual activation was also new for me and also great fun.

Thanks to all the other ops taking part in the VK1 SOTA Party, the organiser Andrew VK1NAM, all the chasers and especially Garry for organising access to the summit. It was hectic fun! I had planned on CW and PSK31 modes as well, but had little opportunity. My log is listed below and Garry’s report can be read on his blog.

Log

Before UTC rollover

23:46z VK3FPSR 7MHz SSB R57 S59 7090 Peter
23:47z VK3PF 7MHz SSB R56 S55 7090 Peter
23:48z VK3WE 7MHz SSB R57 S56 7090 Rhett
23:48z VK2HRX/P 7MHz SSB R59 S58 7090 Compton VK1/AC-048
23:50z VK1MBE/4 7MHz SSB R56 S55 7090 Andrew VK4/SE-094
23:50z VK3MRG/P 7MHz SSB R57 S56 7090 Marshall
23:51z VK1EM/P 7MHz SSB R59 S56 7090 Mark VK1/AC-043
23:51z VK2AET/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7090 Scott VK2/NR-038
23:52z VK3YY/P 7MHz SSB R58 S53 7090 Glen VK3/VC-002
23:54z VK3CAT/P 7MHz SSB R55 S53 7090 Tony VK3/VC-030
23:54z VK3XL/P 7MHz SSB R58 S54 7090 Mike VK3/VC-031
23:54z VK3MEG 7MHz SSB R58 S57 7090
23:55z VK1NAM/P 7MHz SSB R58 S55 7090 Andrew VK1/AC-032
23:55z VK3AFW/P 7MHz SSB R58 S55 7090 Ron VK3/VC-007
23:56z VK2FAJG/P 7MHz SSB R57 S53 7090 Andrew VK1/AC-038
23:57z VK3ARR/P 7MHz SSB R57 S53 7090 Andrew VK3/VC-018
23:58z VK2DMT 7MHz SSB R55 S58 7090 Dean

After UTC rollover

00:31z VK3AV 7MHz SSB R56 S55 7090 Bernard
00:33z VK1DI/P 7MHz SSB R59 S57 7090 Ian VK1/AC-023
00:34z VK2AET/P 7MHz SSB R59 S55 7090 Scott VK2/NR-038
00:37z VK3EK/P 7MHz SSB R58 S55 7090 Robbie VK3/VT-041
00:38z VK3AFW/P 7MHz SSB R58 S57 7085 Ron VK3/VC-007
00:39z VK3ANL/P 7MHz SSB R57 S52 7110 Nick VK3/VU-002
00:42z VK2FAJG/P 7MHz SSB R56 S55 7120 Andrew VK1/AC-038
00:42z VK1EM/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7120 Mark VK1/AC-043
00:43z VK1RX/P 7MHz SSB R57 S56 7120 Al VK1/AC-025
00:44z VK3MCD/P 7MHz SSB R56 S55 7130 Brian VK3/VE-006
00:46z VK1MA/P 7MHz SSB R59 S57 7161 Matt VK1/AC-042
00:48z VK3CAT/P 7MHz SSB R55 S54 7137 Tony VK3/VC-030
00:49z VK2FPRA/P 7MHz SSB R57 S55 7115 Percival
00:51z VK5BJE/P 7MHz SSB R55 S55 7105 John VK5/SE-005
00:55z VK2TWR/P 7MHz SSB R58 S59 7075 Rod VK2/ST-006
01:00z VK2SWD/P 7MHz SSB R57 S57 7095 Scott VK2/CT-019
01:02z VK1NAM/P 7MHz SSB R58 S55 7080 Andrew VK1/AC-032
01:16z VK3FPSR 7MHz SSB R59 S57 7090 Peter
01:29z VK3ARR/P 14MHz SSB R21 S51 14330 Andrew VK3/VC-018
01:34z VK6MB 14MHz SSB R51 S51 14285 Mike
01:50z VK1NAM/P 144MHz SSB R41 S51 144200 Andrew VK1/AC-032

Accurate RLC+ESR+semi tester kit for chips!

The Kit

Component tester main board

Component tester main board

On the MWRS radio club mailing list there was discussion of a component tester kit with the claim that it was surprisingly accurate. The cost of the kit was surprisingly cheap – under $15 shipped. With the prospect of being able to measure capacitor ESR, the offer was too enticing so I ordered one on impulse from the distributor in China. 17 days later the package arrived – a surprisingly large padded pad containing a quite small anti-static bag full of components. And it was just that – a bag where components had been tossed in. The LCD was covered in bubblewrap and some of the smaller components had slid their way inside. There was no documentation, but the double-sided board had an overlay showing component values.

The Build

Experienced kit builders can just go ahead and start building. Its just a case of picking up a component and hunting around the board overlay to find where it should be. The supplied resistors have 1% tolerance and the colour bands are pretty small so I measured each one before placing them. The markings on the transistors are very small so it is helpful to have a magnifying glass to identify the three different types (5401, 5551, 7550) plus the voltage reference (LM336). Other constructors may find the hi-res picture of the main board useful. Click and zoom to see the detail.

Component tester underside

Component tester underside

Surprisingly, one of the pins of the 28-pin socket had fallen out. I found it amongst the jumble of components and put it back inline. Its always good to check components before soldering them! The Liquid Crystal Display (LCD1602) is attached to the main board by a pair of 16-pin single row male and female inline connectors. I wasn’t sure which connector to put on the board. Luckily I had another project with the same arrangement so ended up putting the female connector on the board and attaching the male connector to the LCD. The pushbutton switch (S1) is a DPDT with no polarity marked on it so the terminals were identified that close when the switch is pressed. The LED seems redundant as the LCD backlight shines when the unit is on. The LED is also hidden under the LCD. Plugging in the Atmel ATMEGA 328P 28-pin chip one needs to ensure the pin 1 dot is in the top row. Then after plugging in the LCD I was ready for…

The Smoke Test

The only part not supplied is a 9V battery (or an external power supply between 5.5 and 12V). Throwing caution to the wind I supplied power and pushed the button and was instantly rewarded with a brightly lit LCD, but nothing could be read on the screen. The 10K pot at the top was twiddled and near the end of its range the LCD could be viewed with white letters on a blue background. It reported that there was no part connected. Eureka!

Then the checkout phase commenced. I tried a short circuit between the left 2 terminals and got a reading of 0.5Ω. Between the right 2 terminals it was 0.3Ω. Then I tried a 220k 1% resistor and it measured as 219.6kΩ on the tester as against 219.1kΩ on my trusty Fluke 77 multimeter. This is looking pretty good.

Next I tried a capacitor and with the minimum testable value being 25 pF, a 100 pF was put across the terminals. It came out at 109 pF and a 47 pF came out at 57 pF. Also not too bad, but maybe could be better as there seemed to be a consistent overread.

Component tester version number

Component tester version number

The Calibration

I’d got this far without looking at any documentation. Now it was time to get serious! A posting on the vendor’s review comments yielded a link to an early version of the project doco, version 0.96k. It turned out the whole design is in the public domain. The document described the design in much detail and at 4,4 there was a section on a Selftest Function. Placing a short across the three terminals and pressing the button triggered the function. A lot of different screens came up and at the end, the version number was displayed: 1.05k. If I wanted to find out what this device was capable of, I needed the right documentation for this particular version. It didn’t take long with a search engine to find the correct documentation.

The new document revealed three separate phases of the self-test and it described a better calibration scheme than the earlier version. The phases are:

  • all 3 terminals shorted
  • all 3 terminals open
  • capacitor (0.1µF-20µF) between terminal 1 and 3

The test needed to be repeated a few times, mostly to get the test hardware in the right state at the right time to match the software. There is no wait between the first and second phases. The third phase does wait for you to put the capacitor on, but eventually will time out and continue to the end. Missing a phase results in incorrect calibration without warning.

The Fun Time

With the unit now properly calibrated it was time to play. I wanted to check out resistors, capacitors, inductors and semiconductors. Firstly, a short circuit across the terminals yielded readings of 0.1Ω showing that the zero error apparent before the calibration had (almost) been eliminated. Progress!

The 100 pF capacitor gave a reading of 98 pF on either set of terminals so the calibration had compensated for the internal capacitance of the tester – great stuff! A 22 uF capacitor was read as 25.65 uF with ESR 3.1Ω. See the screenshots.

Testing 22uF electrolytic capacitor

Testing 22uF electrolytic capacitor

Testing 100pF capacitor

Testing 100pF capacitor

An inductor based on a ferrite core toroid was tested and was shown as 4.76 mH with an ESR of 0.3Ω.

A BC237 transistor was tested and the tester reported it as NPN, identified the Emitter, Base and Collector leads and reported the gain or Beta as 171 with a Base-Emitter forward voltage drop of 722 mV. What a useful device!

I also tested a bridge rectifier and the tester reported the voltage drop of two of the internal diodes.

Also tested was an enhancement mode N-channel power MOSFET and the tester reported the threshold voltage and the input capacitance.

The current consumption

Testing 4.7 mH inductor

Testing 4.7 mH inductor

Testing BC237 bipolar NPN transistor

Testing BC237 bipolar NPN transistor

The tester is most portable and convenient when powered by battery. After a reading is done the display stays on for 28 seconds before the device is automatically shut off. When the device is on, current consumption from a 9V battery is in the range 16-21 mA. A lot of this current goes to power the LCD backlight (and perhaps the LED). It is possible to swap the LCD type and get a different display appearance and also reduce power consumption.

As mentioned, I had a display for another project marked as a Zijing Electronics MST01D002 that seemed to be similar so I bravely plugged it in. What could possibly go wrong? The mounting holes do not align with the board standoffs, but voila! – they are electrically compatible. There was nothing on the display until the contrast pot was twiddled – and the result is shown in the picture. Using this display the current consumption dropped to 10-15 mA which is a big saving. Personally, I prefer the blue display with the backlight – it looks very nice. I will just have to replace the battery more often.

The Pros and Cons

Top: original LCD Bottom: Zijing LCD

Top: original LCD Bottom: Zijing LCD

Tester with alternative LCD

Tester with alternative LCD

The tester was pretty quick to build and get running. The kit was complete and had good quality components. The calibration is slightly fiddly but did yield good results. The device can test most passives and semiconductors and can automatically identify 2 and 3-terminal components. Both through-hole and surface mount components are catered for. The software is still in active development and the unit can be upgraded. It should be a useful addition to the VK2IO radio shack – and probably the best test instrument you can get for 15 bucks and a few hours of your time! And yes – surprisingly accurate.

The Verdict

Strong Buy!

The Specifications

Measurement Range:

  • Resistance: 0.5Ω – 50MΩ
  • Capacitance: 25pF – 100mF
  • Capacitor ESR: 2uF up with 0.01Ω resolution
  • Inductance: 0.01mH ~ 10H
  • Inductor ESR: 0-2100Ω
  • Forward voltage drop: 0-4.5V

Testing time: 2 seconds
Working voltage: DC 5.5V ~ 12V
Standby current: 0.02uA
Operating current: 25mA

Hardware: Markus Frejek
Software: Karl-Heinz Kübbeler

Mt Elliot VK2/HU-093 activation 07/07/2014

SOTA activations for me have involved lugging a 40L backpack crammed with gear plus carrying a 10m squid pole. Recently I have become interested in trying to reduce the size and weight of equipment taken to a summit as well as reducing the time between arrival and getting on air. I had built a new 20m ground plane antenna and obtained a 5.4m squid pole and was itching to try these out on a summit. In the SOTAwatch alerts list there were some simultaneous activations coming up around lunchtime so it was time to throw my hat into the ring.

Mt Elliot

I was staying nearby to Mt Elliot which is a short distance northeast of Gosford on the NSW Central Coast. At the end of 2013 I had activated this summit, a one pointer, and scored loads of summit-to-summit contacts. When I left for the summit, one of the activators I hoped to work, Russ VK2BJP was already on the air. Being familiar with Mt Elliot made for a quick setup time. Still, I had to pack, drive to the summit, do the walk out and back into the activation zone along the Graves Walk and get set up. There was no time to waste!

Gear

Antennas: 20m ground plane and Diamond RHM8B base & whip

Antennas: 20m ground plane and Diamond RHM8B base & whip

For this activation, I took the small backpack with just the radio, antennas and notebook. I wanted to try the Elecraft KX3’s internal NiMH batteries to see how they would hold up in a typical activation. The 2.2kg SLA battery was being left behind. The antennas I took along were:

  • Quarter wave ground plane for 20m – 5.1m radiator and 4×5.1m radials
  • Diamond RHM8B loaded vertical with telescopic whip

Operation would mainly be on 20m and 40m. For 20m I had the ground plane. For 40m I could use the loaded vertical as a compromise antenna, or extend it by using the radiator from the 20m ground plane.

On Air

It was a race against time to catch Russ on VK3/VE-149 so I quickly set up the loaded vertical. His spot had gone out at 0207z and I made my first contact with him at 0241z. It would have been faster if I’d had the SOTA bag already packed! I was rewarded with a 5×6 signal report – not too shabby over a 500km path on 40m using a 1.78m long ‘Cute’ antenna!

"Small backpack" SOTA station on Mt Elliot

“Small backpack” SOTA station on Mt Elliot

I had time to set up a better radiator before the next potential summit-to-summit contact. The 5.1m radiator for 20m was launched up the 5.4m squid pole. It was a bit long as the radio was sitting on a bench about 1.2m off the ground. I let the extra wire just droop down and lie on the bench. Pretty soon after I got it tuned up, Phil VK2JDL came up on Knights Hill VK2/IL-007 150km away and gave me S4. He was received at an S point weaker than Russ which I put down to the lower angle of radiation characteristic of verticals.

Matt VK2DAG came up and spotted me and then I was off with some contacts into VK3 on 40m. There were no pileups – it was a weekday, but the gear seemed to be going the distance. Only 5W output instead of the 10W or 12W that I’m used to when using an external battery. To conserve the internal batteries I had switched off the LCD backlight and the RF preamp when not actually giving signal reports. This reduces current consumption from 205mA to 171mA when receiving. On transmit I ran it at the maximum power for the supply voltage (5W) and even had a small amount of speech compression for that extra punch – as per usual.

20m ground plane

It was time to try out the 20m ground plane for the first time. The Diamond loaded vertical was unscrewed from the radio and the 5.1m radiator plugged in directly. With the KX3’s internal ATU bypassed, the antenna matched at the top end of the 20m band. The droopy wire had been wrapped around the squid pole. A good contact was made with Nev VK5WG and then a spot for David VK3IL on Mt Hotham came up. It was for 40m so I tried to match the 20m ground plane using the KX3’s internal matcher, but there was no match. The contact was made after putting the loaded vertical back inline and I received an S3 report over the 550km path on 40m.

Back to 20m again and after spotting on a different frequency there were 3 more contacts including Mike VK6MB and John VK6NU. On SOTAwatch I had read that Mike wasn’t able to reach Phil VK2JDL. Maybe my ground plane was the secret weapon!

30m

All possible contacts had been made on 20m so I decided to try 30m. The setup was changed over to the same as for 40m but with less loading. I used 41mm of the RHM8B loading coil instead of 92mm and got a good match. When setting up on a new frequency I bypass the KX3’s matcher and normally achieve less than 2:1 VSWR just by adjusting the length of the coil. After re-enabling the matcher a 1:1 VSWR is usually achieved. This applies on both 40m and 30m.

Operating on 30m with RHM8B and 5.1m wire

Operating on 30m with RHM8B and 5.1m wire

On 30m I made contact with Ron VK3AFW in Melbourne with good reports. Not many chasers but I was happy that the vertical was working well on this band too.

Another S2S – “just”

Phil VK2JDL had put up an alert for a second activation so I decided to wait it out. I had run out of chasers but my batteries were still going. I listened around the bands mainly on 40m. I experimented with loading up the antenna on 80m but the radio promptly shut down due to low voltage. I knew there wasn’t too much juice left. Reducing the power to 1W I was able to try again but could not achieve a match, probably due to insufficient inductance. It would probably work with a quarter wave radiator for 40m.

At 45 mins past Phil’s alerted time and with low batteries I decided to start packing up. I didn’t get very far before Phil’s call came through on 7090 kHz from Mt Kembla 130km away. What a relief – Phil had made it and I still had enough battery to make contact. My power was down to 1W and the radio shut down twice during the contact due to low voltage. Still managed a 5×4 report though and bagged a couple more summit-to-summit points making 22 for the day. Happy!

Lessons learnt

  • KX3 can operate for over 3 hours using internal NiMH batteries
  • Diamond RHM8B gives respectable performance on 40m using a ground plane
  • 20m ground plane antenna is a great performer for working VK6
  • Elevating the 20m ground plane radials shifts the min VSWR freq up to 15.5 MHz (why?)
  • KX3 ATU wont match a 20m ground plane on 40m
  • “Light” activations can be very successful!

Log

Date:07/Jul/2014 Summit:VK2/HU-093 (Mt Elliot) Call Used:VK2IO/P Points: 1 Bonus: 0

Time Call Band Mode Notes
02:41z VK2BJP/3 7MHz SSB R56 S55 7090 Russ VK3/VE-149
02:57z VK2JDL/P 7MHz SSB R54 S54 7095 Phil VK2/IL-007 Knights Hill
02:58z VK2DAG 7MHz SSB R59+30 S59+5 7100 Matt
03:02z VK3EK 7MHz SSB R56 S59 7100 Robbie
03:05z VK3FQSO 7MHz SSB R51 S53 7100 Amanda
03:30z VK5WG 14MHz SSB R56 S58 14290 Nev
03:38z VK3IL/P 7MHz SSB R53 S56 7095 David VK3/VE-006 Mt Hotham
04:01z VK6MB 14MHz SSB R31 S53 14289 Mike
04:02z VK2GE 14MHz SSB R59+10 S59+5 14289 Harry in Wyoming
04:15z VK6NU 14MHz SSB R55 S55 14289 John
04:43z VK3AFW 10MHz SSB R55 S56 10125 Ron
05:45z VK2JDL/P 7MHz SSB R54 S55 7090 Phil VK2/IL-015 (1W – low battery)

Thanks to all the activators and chasers!

Postscript

During the activation, Harry VK2GE popped up for a contact. He is a local not used to hearing such strong signals on 20m. I dropped down to 1W and was still over S9. It turns out that he resides very close to where I was staying and he invited me over. After finishing the activation I popped in for an eyeball contact. He showed me his setup with a 20m inverted Vee on an 8m squid pole. I gave him some information about SOTA – I’m sure it was his first SOTA contact. Where he lives is about 100m from the “quiet RF spot” I often drive to in order to work those weaker SOTA stations – what a coincidence! Anyway, watch out for Harry on 20m – a new potential chaser.