Field Day and SOTA on Mt Lambie 21/3/2015

Mt Lambie QF46xm86 VK2/CT-007 1290m 8pts

Camping at Mt Lambie trig point

Camping at Mt Lambie trig point

The John Moyle Memorial Field Day contest presents a golden opportunity to operate portable and this year I returned to Mt Lambie for a simultaneous SOTA activation. Last year’s attempt had been scuppered by lightning storms. Driving the 2 hours west from Sydney to the summit with it raining all the way didn’t bode well, but there was no plan B.

Upon arrival, it was windy but there was only a light drizzle, and it stopped shortly afterwards. Thinking this might be the only dry window, I quickly installed my tent next to the trig point and then set up my HF antenna using the trig point marker to support the squid pole. The antenna is a ZS6BKW and was oriented NW-SE but there was nothing convenient to attach the antenna ends to so I just plonked the wire winders on the ground with a rock on top. There were certainly plenty of rocks on the top and underneath the ground and these had made it hard to drive in the tent pegs earlier. With the strong wind there was some concern that the tent would blow away so all the paraphernalia for the activation was placed in the tent early on.

Setup

The strong wind inspired use of my DX-wire travel mast that had not thus far been used since obtained last year from SOTAbeams at the UK National Hamfest. You could say I was saving it for a rainy day! The mast extends to 10m and collapses down to only 67cm so will fit inside luggage. It seemed as though it would be sturdier than my regular mast plus it does not have sections broken off at the top so the antenna can be raised higher.

Having set off late and driven slowly in the rain, stopped on the way for a SOTA contact with VK7PAK and spent extra time securing the station on the summit, my kick-off time was much later than alerted on SOTAwatch. It was nearer 5pm than 3pm so the contest was well underway (it starts at 12pm). There are 6 hour and 24 hour sections and my plan was to do a 6 hour stint. The contest is also divided into 3 hour slots. You can rework each station on the same band and mode in each of the 3 hour slots. With 1 hour to the end of a slot, I was keen to get on and make some contacts. There was no time to set up my 2m beam and the strong wind would make it difficult anyway.

VOX

Dry shack on the summit - luxury!

Dry shack on the summit – luxury!

One of the last things I tossed into the kit bag was a headset with microphone. It had never been tried with my rig before, an Elecraft KX3. Gingerly plugging it in I found the headphone worked fine. Then the microphone and it also seemed to work. It was on a stalk so had to be positioned carefully. I adjusted the VOX gain and found a spot where breathing wouldn’t trigger the VOX, then adjusted the VOX hold time. There was no need for anti-VOX so that was set to zero. It worked very well, but at the start was a little unnerving. I’m used to pressing a button to transmit and didn’t know what to do with my spare hand. This soon passed once I started to use the computer to do the logging. Two hands was a definite bonus and I used VOX for the rest of the contest. Its the little things that make a big difference sometimes.

Contesting

I started on 40m SSB and did a half hour of hunt and peck style – there were plenty of contest stations active and I wanted them in the log. There was still half an hour before the end of the block so I switched to CW and started calling on 7032. Fairly shortly afterwards my call was picked up by the RBNgate run by Andrew VK3JBL. This attracted a stream of regular SOTA chasers and then some contesters followed. It was 0700z and the start of a new 3 hour block so back to SSB.

0700z block

Another session of hunt and peck on 40m SSB and after half an hour onto 20m SSB. There did not seem to be much activity on 20 with only 3 logged. Back to 40m SSB again. Then a spot came up for Andrew VK1DA on 20m CW at Mt Ginini. He was a good signal despite being in the skip zone. We had earlier missed a contact opportunity on 40m SSB being unable to find a clear frequency. Afterwards returned to 40m SSB and continued to hunt and peck. I found that some stations were having difficulty copying but I was only using 10W.

1000z block

Trig point label

Trig point label

After another hour I went to 40m CW and spotted myself, but only one contact came from it. I kept calling through the start of the 1000z block but there were no more responses. My CQ call was eventually picked up by VK3JBL’s RBNgate so I was spotted again. Looked like all the CW ops had gone to other bands or were asleep.

I returned to 40m SSB briefly and then started calling on 6m SSB then spotting myself. I worked just one contest station nearby on 6m and there were no SOTA chasers after the spot went out despite lots of calling. I was hoping to catch Andrew VK1DA, but he was having a ball working DX on the higher bands.

After about 5 hours the battery in my logging laptop was getting low. The computer’s 12V power adapter was found in the car and hooked up to a 7.2Ah SLA battery using a set of clip leads onto the cigarette lighter plug. This worked very well and supplied plenty of juice to recharge the internal battery.

Weak sigs

It was down to 80m to look for fresh activity, but there were mainly rag chewers. Called CQ on CW there and also on SSB but got no response so went back to 40m SSB. The rate at which contacts were being made was slow. Sometimes I would respond to a call and not be heard, for example when calling a VK6. other times I would have to repeat my report several times. I started to suspect there was a problem.

Looking out at the squid pole it was still sitting up there proud and strong. The visibility was poor amongst the low cloud so I could only see the bottom half of it from the tent. Unplugged the antenna from the rig and put on the antenna analyser. It was giving a VSWR dip not at 7.1 MHz but at 6.55 MHz. There had to be a problem.

Repair

Failed join in the DX-wire

Failed join in the DX-wire

Emerging from the tent with a headtorch I was surprised to find the antenna lying on the ground. I don’t know how long it had been there – probably a couple of hours. Tracing along the radiator I found that near one end there was a break in the wire. The end section anchored to the ground couldn’t be found in the dark. Another string was obtained and tied on to the wire and a new anchor point used. In the morning it was found the wire had broken at a join 40cm from the end. With one side of the antenna loose and the squid pole waving around like mad in the wind, there was enough movement to allow the centre part of the antenna to fly off the pole even though it would have started 2m down the pole or more. The wind had just been too much!

It had taken 40 mins to fix the antenna and there was less than 10 mins left of the 6 hours of contesting. I called CQ and had time to work one more station before QRT. Things were getting quiet as it was nearing 11pm.

SOTAing

With the contest over for me I could focus on SOTA contacts. I spotted on 20m CW and had one call. Then spotted on 80m CW and had no callers. Then 20m SSB but there were no callers there either. In between times I was hunting for any SOTA stations that were spotted, but there was no propagation to EU and after a couple of hours I gave up.

In the morning the weather was pretty similar – windy and cloudy. I’d stayed up pretty late so slept through the EU short path window. At 8am I put up a spot for 80m SSB while there would still be some propagation. I was happy to log 3 chasers, my first SOTA contacts on this band.

Closedown

Camping near the towers

Camping near the towers shrouded by cloud

The weather wasn’t great, but I had planned to do some more summits in the area so it was time to close down. This was carefully orchestrated so I could leave the station available for as long as possible. I knew Julie VK3FOWL was going to do an activation and didn’t want to miss out on S2S points. When the spot did come up I had already put everything in the car except for the antenna. The radio was retrieved and quickly set up for that last contact from the summit on 40m SSB. Thanks, Julie.

Equipment

Elecraft KX3 @ 10W powered by 4200 mAh LiFePO4 battery, ZS6BKW antenna at 8m on 10m travel mast. Laptop for logging using VKCL v3.11.

Results

All up there were 70 contacts (11 CW) all qualifying for SOTA. 3 S2S and 2 National Parks were worked.

For the JMMFD there were 62 contacts for a score of 147 pts. 57 x 40m, 4 x 20m, 1 x 6m so I am entered into the all-band, all-mode category with all contacts QRP. My score slightly improved on last year but no surprise there as I had operated from my car most of the time. i expect my score this time would have been a lot better if my antenna had actually been off the ground!

The computer used for logging was new to me for a SOTA activation. Also having a shelter on a hill was new and it was a lot more comfortable than being out in the open. Essential for night time activations. Use of VOX was also new for me in a contest and very useful. I will consider using it on regular SOTA activations.

Thanks to all the chasers and contesters for all the contacts. – it was a great outing!

SOTA Log (contest log is a subset)

Date:21/Mar/2015 Summit:VK2/CT-007 (Mount Lambie) Call Used:VK2IO/P Points: 8 Bonus: 0

Time Call Band Mode Notes
05:59z VK2SF/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7100 Andrew in Nattai NP VKFF-383
06:03z VK2PR 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7125
06:04z VK2GZ/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7135
06:05z VK2BV/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7138
06:09z VK2PWR 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7150
06:10z VK5WIA/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7141
06:12z VK3YSP/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7160 Joe
06:13z VK3ATL/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7170 Jenny
06:19z VK3FMHY 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7155
06:24z VK5PAS/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7147 Paul in Coorong NP VKFF-115
06:27z VK2TG/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7080
06:28z VK5SR/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7075
06:29z VK3CNE/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7087
06:31z VK3ER/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7090
06:39z VK2GAZ 7MHz CW R599 S599 7032 Garry
06:41z VK3PF 7MHz CW R599 S599 7032 Peter
06:44z VK3HRA 7MHz CW R597 S599 7032 Allen
06:47z VK2AOH 7MHz CW R599 S599 7032 Nick
06:50z VK1WJ/2 7MHz CW R579 S599 7032
06:51z VK2BJT/P 7MHz CW R599 S599 7032
06:54z VK5LJ 7MHz CW R599 S599 7032
06:57z VK3CAT/P 7MHz CW R599 S599 7032 Tony
07:09z VK5SR/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7075
07:12z VK2TG/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7080 Dave
07:13z VK2LE/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7086
07:15z VK3CMZ/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7090
07:20z VK2IUW 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7103
07:21z VK2PR 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7110
07:22z VK4QD/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7115.5
07:24z VK2SF/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7120
07:26z VK2PWR 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7150
07:29z VK5WIA/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7142 Nigel
07:29z VK5NIG/P 7MHz SSB R57 S57 7142 Nigel
07:31z VK3IL/P 7MHz SSB R55 S57 7180 David VK3/VE-030
07:35z VK3ATL/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7170 Jenny
07:36z VK2QN 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7155
07:39z VK4LAT/P 14MHz SSB R59 S59 14164
07:49z VK6WI/P 14MHz SSB R59 S59 14170
07:51z VK5RX/P 14MHz SSB R59 S59 14179
07:54z VK3ER/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7060
07:59z VK1AI/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7072 Greg
08:23z VK1DA/P 14MHz CW R549 S599 14062 Andrew VK1/AC-008
08:37z VK3FOWL/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7090 Julie
08:38z VK3PF 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7085 Peter
08:40z VK5PAS/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7110 Paul
08:44z VK3PCW/P 7MHz SSB R51 S59 7100
08:45z VK2FHRK 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7105
08:51z VK3CNE/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7120
08:55z VK2HZ 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7127
08:58z VK2AFY 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7134 Doug
09:06z VK5RN/P 7MHz SSB R58 S59 7155
09:17z VK1MT/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7095 Al
09:19z VK3SIM 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7090
09:29z VK2WG/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7080
09:47z VK2ONZ 7MHz CW R539 S599 7030
10:12z VK4IZ/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7090
10:18z VK2TG/P 50MHz SSB R59 S59 50150 QF46PO
10:38z VK3ANR/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7070
10:46z VK3FOWL/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7095 Julie
10:48z VK5FO/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7100 Bob
10:50z VK2BBQ/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7105 Ken
10:57z VK5WIA/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7143
11:01z VK5KDK/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7135
11:11z VK4QD/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7108
11:57z VK3UX 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7090
12:07z K4MF 14MHz CW R559 S559 14062
21:07z VK1DI 3.5MHz SSB R58 S59 3645 Ian
21:11z VK3YSP/P 3.5MHz SSB R57 S59 3645 Joe
21:13z VK3FOWL/P 3.5MHz SSB R59 S59 3645 Julie
22:25z VK3FOWL/P 7MHz SSB R55 S59 7155 Julie VK3/VC-002

10000 SOTA Chaser Points

VK2IO_SuperSlothWhile activating Mt Tomah on 8/3/2015, a summit-to-summit radio contact with David VK3MAY on Mt Lonarch VK3/VS-013 took my chaser score past 10000 points. It makes me the fourth VK to reach Supersloth status and the first outside VK3. It took 1941 contacts over 480 days or just under 1 year and 4 months to reach this milestone. Curiously, it took exactly the same number of days to go from 5000 to 10000 points as it did to achieve the first 5000 points. The graph below shows the rate at which chaser points accumulated. The rate is pretty steady at just under 21 pts/day.

VK2IO_chaser_graph

What has improved is my ratio of chaser to activator points. At 5000 chaser points my ratio was over 100:1 but now with more focus on activating, the ratio is down to 34 – a lot more respectable!

Thank you to all the activators for making this award possible. I’m still having fun chasing summits and looking forward to the next 10000. Did someone mention SOTA is addictive?

Mt Banks SOTA activation 8/3/2015

Mt Banks VK2/CT-032 VKFF-041 Blue Mountains NP 1060m 6pts (0459z – 0659z)

Route options to Mt Banks

Route options to Mt Banks

A 10 min drive and 30 min walk from Mt Tomah. Mt Banks is my second closest 6-point summit and the whole of the activation zone is within the Blue Mountains National Park so is attractive for those seeking the VKFF awards. The summit is very prominent above the surroundings.

Getting there

There are two approaches to the summit. The shorter one is along a direct track from the carpark “via ridge” which starts just behind the rock in the photo. The longer one “via road” follows the road shown on the left of the photo for over a km and then a walking track winds its way to the summit via the back of the mountain. Unfortunately, the turnoff to the walking track is not marked and is easy to miss. I went this way last time and found the distance was much longer yet the walk up was just as steep so now recommend the shorter track. In fact the short track was closed for several months due to bushfire damage but it has now been reopened.

Mt Banks

Mt Banks

I set up at the trig point using the marker as a support for the squid pole, the same as last time but paid more attention to orient my antenna NW-SE. This time I did the activation standing up using the raised platform as a table. There had been no new summits activated since leaving Mt Tomah so I was feeling lucky as it had taken 90 mins from closedown there to startup here. A run of 5 S2S on 40m SSB started the activation.

Through the bands

There was less time available so fewer bands were exercised on CW and SSB compared to Mt Tomah. In turn worked through 6m-ssb, 20m-cw, 30m-cw, 40m-cw, 15m-ssb, 20m-ssb, 30m-ssb then 40m-ssb. Again no contacts on 6m-ssb and at this spot on the activation zone there is a clear takeoff in all directions. I also called on 6m-FM just in case. There was no response on 20m-cw but a pleasing number on 30m-cw and 40m-cw. From the summit there was no problem with mobile coverage for spotting and receiving updates from SOTA watch. One spot did escape with a wrong summit code so chasers, please check you have the right one.

SSB

Track viewed from the summit

Track viewed from the summit

On 15m-ssb unexpectedly worked “locals” VK2YK (100km) and VK2LEE (200km). Dropping to 20m-ssb a call from DL1DVE reminded me of the time and that long path to EU was open. Unfortunately, just like at Mt Tomah, no VK6s were worked and I figured there was no-one chasing there today. There were no callers on 30m-ssb either and I expect it was getting a bit late for the regular callers. It was 0630z and 40m was wide open so that was the band where most contacts were made. A bunch more S2S contacts on 40m-ssb kept things interesting.

Ominous clouds approached so the activation was slightly shortened before EU really kicked in. There was no chance to return to 20m to give EU a proper run. It was an hour before sunset and with a half hour walk ahead of me I didn’t fancy getting wet or walking back in the dark. The walk itself is quite picturesque. As it turned out there was no rain until I had driven for about half an hour, but better to be safe than sorry. Also, there was no SOTA spot from EU until an hour after my last contact so nothing was missed. The activation had yielded more S2S contacts than I could have hoped for. It was a fine way to end my 3 summit activations for the SOTA party.

Shack on Mt Banks

Shack on Mt Banks

Trig point at Mt Banks

Trig point at Mt Banks

Equipment

Elecraft KX3 @ 12W into ZS6BKW inverted-Vee doublet at 9m powered by 4200 mAh LiFe battery.

Results
40 contacts (7 CW), 11 S2S (9 uniques), 56 S2S pts.

Thanks to all chasers and activators for another fun SOTA party weekend!

Log

Date:08/Mar/2015 Summit:VK2/CT-032 (Mount Banks) Call Used:VK2IO/P Points: 6 Bonus: 0

Time Call Band Mode Notes
04:59z VK2QR/P 7MHz SSB R59+10 S59+10 Rob VK2/ST-004
05:06z VK3YY/P 7MHz SSB R57 S57 7085 Glenn VK3/VE-204
05:11z VK3FALA/P 7MHz SSB R59+ S57 7110 Peter VK3/VG-090
05:13z VK2BJP/3 7MHz SSB R59 S58 7095 Russ VK2/SM-053
05:32z VK3MAY/P 7MHz SSB R31 S33 7100 David VK3/VC-019
05:35z VK3PF 10MHz CW R559 S589 10116 Peter
05:39z VK3AGQ 10MHz CW R569 S599 10116 Dick
05:41z VK3AFW 10MHz CW R599 S569 10116 Ron
05:49z VK3CAT 7MHz CW R599 S599 7032 Tony
05:55z VK5CZ 7MHz CW R539 S559 7032 Ian
05:56z VK3WE 7MHz CW R599 S579 7032 Rhett
06:00z VK3DBP 7MHz CW R595 S599 7032 Paul
06:05z VK2YK 21MHz SSB R44 S43 21145 Adam
06:17z VK2LEE 21MHz SSB R45 S53 21145 Lee
06:27z VK5NIG/P 14MHz SSB R58 S57 14320 Nigel VK5/SE-013
06:29z DL1DVE 14MHz SSB R55 S57 14320 Thomas
06:33z VK2BJP/P 7MHz SSB R59+10 S59 7085 Russ VK2/SM-065
06:34z VK2TWR/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7085 Rod VK2/SM-065
06:39z VK2QR/P 7MHz SSB R59+ S59+10 7090 Rob VK2/ST-008
06:42z VK3FJAT/P 7MHz SSB R58 S58 7095 Jodie VK3/VC-018
06:44z VK3TKK 7MHz SSB R53 S57 7100 Peter
06:49z VK5FLEX/P 7MHz SSB R45 S45 7100 Peter in Murray River CP
06:50z VK1MA 7MHz SSB R59 S59+20 7100 Matt
06:51z VK3LED 7MHz SSB R59 S59+10 7100 Col
06:51z VK1EM 7MHz SSB R55 S59 7100 Mark
06:51z VK1ATP 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7100 Paul
06:52z VK3DAC 7MHz SSB R53 S57 7100 Fred
06:52z VK3FQSO 7MHz SSB R55 S58 7100 Amanda
06:52z VK3CRG 7MHz SSB R58 S59+5 7100 Craig
06:53z VK3FPSR 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7100 Peter
06:54z VK2LX 7MHz SSB R59 S59+20 7100 Grant
06:54z VK5WG 7MHz SSB R55 S57 7100 Nev
06:54z VK3EK 7MHz SSB R58 S59+20 7100 Robbie
06:55z VK5STU 7MHz SSB R58 S58 7100 Stuart
06:56z VK3XL/P 7MHz SSB R58 S58 7100 Mike
06:56z VK5EE 7MHz SSB R57 S57 7100 Tom
06:56z VK2FMIA 7MHz SSB R58 S59 7100 Doug
06:57z VK3KAB/P 7MHz SSB R58 S58 7100 Kevin VK3/VC-018
06:58z VK2MWP/P 7MHz SSB R55 S48 7100 Andrew
06:59z VK2CDS 7MHz SSB R59 S59+10 7100 David

Mt Tomah SOTA activation 8/3/2015

After enjoying all day Saturday at Canoelands for the SOTA party, and with the prospect of more activity on the Sunday, a trip to Mt Tomah with possible follow up at Mt Banks for another day of field activity seemed attractive. Both summits are familiar from previous visits.

Mt Tomah VK2/CT-043 1010m 6pts (2244z – 0346z)

Mt Tomah VK2/CT-043 activation zone

Mt Tomah activation zone

Mt Tomah VK2/CT-043 is my closest 6 point summit and is easy to activate because there is a good road right to the peak. Just like last time, I set up just inside the activation zone in the picnic area at the turnoff from the Bells Line of Road (shown with a blue cross). This is the only open area I’ve found that is devoid of QRM. At the summit itself (shown with a yellow pin) there is a large tower that throws out all sorts of spurii. The fire station (white building 150m south of the blue cross) has an open area but there is a PC there that puts out rubbish on 40m – or at least there was last year. The AZ is very large encompassing several roads and even crosses over the Bells Line of Road so there would be other options for the curious.

QRM

On the day there was lots of QRN and also lots of audible QRM from the road. With several convoys of Harleys going by, earphones were essential. Also, when a dozen Maseratis marshalled themselves nearby with engines running it was quite a distraction. The things you see on a summit!

QRN

My antenna ran parallel to and less than 50m from an overhead powerline and when I first switched on I thought the noise was coming from there. Nup – it was just thunderstorm activity. My “shack” was on the edge of the carpark for the picnic area. The picnic table and BBQ area is poorly maintained and sits right under the powerline so is not useable for radio activities. Also, the only spot to attach a squid pole in the clear is the sign on the edge of the carpark where there’s plenty of height for antennas.

Pre-rollover

Antenna and shack

Antenna and shack

The photos show the shack with a chair. After a couple of hours operating on the groundsheet, the chair was rescued and pressed into service. When I first set up it was summit-to-summit city and there was no time to adorn the shack. All 10 contacts before UTC rollover turned out to be S2S contacts. I spotted on 6m FM and 15m CW but there were no takers. There should be good takeoff to the east towards Sydney so I thought there might be a taken on 6m. The map shows an obstructed takeoff to the SW towards VK1 so this might not be the ideal spot in the AZ for the usual 6m S2S with VK1NAM.

CW

After UTC rollover, proceeded through 17m CW, 20m CW, 30m CW then 40m CW with all yielding contacts except 17m. Unfortunately, the spots I had been putting up had the summit code for the Canoelands activation the previous day. Somehow, the spotting app had recalled the wrong code even though the right one had been entered earlier. Clearly, more thorough checking is needed before pressing “Send”. Anyway, after a re-send of the 30m CW spot, all spots had the right summit code. In between band changes there were more S2S contacts popping up on 40m SSB.

SSB

Shack with seating

Shack with seating

With CW done on all bands it was time for SSB. I spotted on 20m and made 2 contacts into VK5. There was a report of nothing heard from VK6 and after the success the previous day I really wanted to work VK6. I spotted and then called on 15m SSB but there were no takers. Next was 30m then 40m. It was very pleasing to make 7 contacts on 30m SSB both near and far – the band was working very well with VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5 logged.

After exhausting all callers on 40m I thought it was time to move on. The forecast thunderstorm had not eventuated, but after my “last calls” spot went out, I received a spot from Andrew VK1NAM that he would be on in 15 mins. I decided to wait it out – and was very glad to do so. There were more callers for me until Andrew came along and then Marshall VK3MRG came up as well for the final S2S. There was potential for more S2S contacts on the next summit so a quick pack up and I was on my way to Mt Banks.

Equipment

Elecraft KX3 @ 12W into ZS6BKW inverted-Vee doublet at 8m powered by 4200 mAh LiFe battery.

Results
52 contacts (11 CW), 22 S2S (19 uniques), 145 S2S pts.

Log

Date:07/Mar/2015 Summit:VK2/CT-043 (Mt Tomah) Call Used:VK2IO/P Points: 6 Bonus: 0

Time Call Band Mode Notes
22:44z VK2QR/P 7MHz SSB R58 S58 7090 Rob VK2/SW-034
22:53z VK2TWR/P 7MHz SSB R55 S55 7090 Rod VK2/SM-059
22:53z VK2BJP/P 7MHz SSB R55 S55 7090 Russ VK2/SM-059
23:01z VK1DA/2 7MHz CW R579 S559 7027.5 Andrew VK2/ST-040
23:07z VK3YY/P 7MHz SSB R44 S44 7080 Glenn VK3/VE-008
23:12z VK3WAM/P 7MHz CW R569 S549 7032 Wayne VK3/VE-037
23:14z VK3HRA/P 7MHz CW R559 S539 7032 Allen VK3/VE-037
23:15z VK3BYD/P 7MHz CW R559 S539 7032 Warren VK3/VE-037
23:29z VK1DI/2 7MHz SSB R57 S57 7090 Ian VK2/SM-007
23:35z VK1NAM/2 7MHz SSB R58 S57 7085 Andrew VK2/SM-038

Date:08/Mar/2015 Summit:VK2/CT-043 (Mt Tomah) Call Used:VK2IO/P Points: 0 Bonus: 0

Time Call Band Mode Notes
00:03z VK1DI/2 7MHz SSB R57 S57 7090 Ian VK2/SM-007
00:04z VK1NAM/2 7MHz SSB R58 S57 7085 Andrew VK2/SM-038
00:06z VK1DA/2 7MHz SSB R58 S57 7085 Andrew VK2/ST-040
00:08z VK2TWR/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7100 Rod VK2/SM-053
00:30z VK4BJS 14MHz CW R339 S529 14062 Brad
00:47z VK3PF 10MHz CW R559 S579 10116 Peter
00:50z VK5AV 10MHz CW R579 S559 10116 Tim
00:55z VK2YW 10MHz CW R569 S569 10116 John
00:59z VK3MRG/P 7MHz SSB R51 S44 7095 Marshall VK3/VN-027
01:01z VK2QR/1 7MHz SSB R59 S59+5 7100 Rob VK1/AC-008
01:11z VK2CTN 7MHz CW R599 S599
01:24z VK5NIG 14MHz SSB R35 S57 14320 Nigel
01:34z VK5EE 14MHz SSB R57 S57 14320 Tom
02:00z VK1MA 10MHz SSB R55 S59 10130 Matt
02:06z VK3YY/P 10MHz SSB R55 S31 10130 Glenn VK3/VE-073
02:07z VK2GAZ 10MHz SSB R54 S55 10130 Garry
02:08z VK3WE 10MHz SSB R55 S55 10130 Rhett
02:14z VK3DBP 10MHz SSB R55 S45 10130 Paul
02:17z VK3YAR 10MHz SSB R53 S57 10130 Ray
02:24z VK5WG 10MHz SSB R55 S44 10130 Nev
02:47z VK3ANL/P 7MHz SSB R45 S45 7085 Nick in Taranbulda NP
02:50z VK2YK 7MHz SSB R59 S59+5 7085 Adam
02:52z VK3EK 7MHz SSB R57 S59 7085 Robbie
02:53z VK3FQSO 7MHz SSB R43 S44 7085 Amanda
02:58z VK3CAT 7MHz CW R229 S339 7085 Tony
02:59z VK3XL/P 7MHz SSB R54 S55 7085 Mike in Paradise Beach
03:00z VK3DAC 7MHz SSB R33 S43 7085 Fred
03:04z VK3LED 7MHz SSB R32 S45 7085 Col
03:05z VK1ATP 7MHz SSB R57 S46 7085 Paul
03:06z VK3TCX 7MHz SSB R52 S58 7085 Ian
03:07z VK2FGJW/M 7MHz SSB R44 S57 7085 Greg
03:11z VK3MAY/P 7MHz SSB R41 S33 7085 David VK3/VS-013
03:15z VK2QR/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7100 Rob VK2/ST-005
03:19z VK2LX 7MHz SSB R59 S59+5 7085 Grant
03:20z VK1MBE/P 7MHz SSB R56 S58 7085 Andrew VK1/AC-037
03:23z VK2AFA 7MHz SSB R58 S59+10 7085 Sam
03:32z VK1NAM/2 7MHz SSB R58 S56 7090 Andrew VK2/SM-036
03:34z VK2VKB 7MHz SSB R59 S59+10 7085 Kevin
03:41z VK3TCX/M 7MHz SSB R52 S43 7085 Ian
03:43z VK2FNLR/M 7MHz SSB R57 S55 7085 Neil
03:44z VK2NNN 7MHz SSB R59 S59+5 7085 Darrin
03:46z VK3MRG/P 7MHz SSB R51 S44 7095 Marshall VK3/VN-030

All day SOTA activation at Canoelands VK2/SY-001 7/3/2015

On Sat 7th March 2015 I did an all day activation at my closest summit, Canoelands VK2/SY-001 for the weekend SOTA party. This was my second activation of this summit and I operated at the same location as last time even using the same tree as a makeshift table and another trunk as a seat. Actually, one can get a bit sore sitting on a tree trunk all day so next time I’ll take a chair with some padding!

Tree used as the operating point at Canoelands

Tree used as the operating point at Canoelands

The Plan

Being a SOTA party, there were bound to be many activations throughout the day. Staying on the summit all day would allow plenty of summit-to-summit contacts to be made. In between S2S contacts there would be plenty of time to operate on as many bands and modes as possible.

The execution

Arrived at the summit well before UTC rollover and ahead of my alerted time on SOTAwatch. My first contact was a S2S with Anthony VK6MAC on Mt Dale VK6/SW-036 on 20m. Its always great to work VK6! Then I started working through all the alerted bands on CW and followed with all the bands on SSB. Any time a summit spot was received I switched to chaser mode to make the summit-to-summit contact. Before rollover, 40m was open to VK5 so band conditions were good.

Rollover

Shack at Canoelands

Shack at Canoelands

There was a run of 11 consecutive S2S contacts around UTC rollover, 5 on CW and 6 on SSB after which I continued on 40m CW. After another half hour there was another run of summit activations, mostly SSB including a 10m contact with Phil VK6ADF on Mt Stoney VK6/SW-061. Then I tried 20m CW but strangely couldn’t raise anyone. Then onto 6m SSB and I received a call from Compton VK2HRX but he could not hear me. I wasn’t sure whether he was in SSB or FM mode so tried both. Tried 17m CW and SSB but could not raise anyone there – maybe there were no VK6s about. Then a spot came in from Kerry VK7PAK doing a first activation of Mt Mangana VK7/SC-017. It was the middle of the day and I didn’t rate my chances as high on 40m over the 1150km path. Kerry was 4×3 but he could only get half my callsign due to local QRM on his summit. He did change frequency but that did not seem to help much. Never mind – it was a good try anyway!

Spotting and Alerting

Continuing through the bands, on 20m SSB I made one contact. The usual haunts at the top end of the band were busy with contest traffic so a clear one was found at the bottom end of the band. Through the day, mobile reception had been a bit patchy and often a data connection would be lost temporarily. For receiving summit activation alerts, the parksnpeaks Android application was being used and Rucksack Radio Tool was used for spotting. There was a stuck spot at the time in RRT that prevented audible announcements (there is a workaround for this using filtering). Both of these apps are excellent (and free) and are highly recommended. Anyway, the patchy coverage meant that spots from Nick VK3ANL and David VK3MAY were not received so they’re the ones that got away. Sorry fellas! During the day I would often tune around the 7090 “SOTA window” for any new summit activity and often find something before it was spotted. One cannot be too reliant on the technology!

30m surprise

Continued the band tour with 30m CW making a couple of contacts into VK3 and then 30m SSB. A run of 11 contacts from stations as near as 80km and as far as 1200km was very pleasing. The band was behaving like 40m at night. Then another stint on 40m CW included a chat with Deane VK4ALN who I know through packet radio. As a seasoned CW op I’m sure he found my 14wpm quite slow. It was certainly good QSO practice for me. Afterwards I went to 40m SSB for a run of 22 contacts with those I had not worked on other bands. 40m was wide open by then as it was after 0600z.

20m and DX

The long path to Europe on 20m had opened up. When I got onto 20m I found an S6 hash had started up. Determined to push on I managed to just work Herbert OE9HRV/P through the noise. i kept listening on 20m but the noise persisted. There were many spots from G summits with signals that were below the noise so I started packing up. The ends of my antenna were hanging down from the squid pole when John VK6NU spotted himself on Mt Randall VK6/SW-039. I quickly repositioned them apart still with the ends dangling on the ground. The antenna tuned and I could hear John calling, and the QRM was now much lower than before. The very sharp V shape of the antenna must have been favourable and I gave John 5×7, the strongest VK6 report of the day.

Equipment

Elecraft KX3 @ 12W/10W output, ZS6BKW antenna @ 8m, 10m squid pole, 4200 mAh LiFe battery

Results

9 hours on the summit yielded 86 contacts (24 CW), 41 S2S (31 uniques) and 184 S2S pts. Thank you for all the contacts! After a quick pack up, on the drive home I was able to work 2 G summits (1 SSB, 1 CW). If only they had been S2S too! I’m now in search of a QRM-free spot at Canoelands and looking to also be simultaneously located in the Marramarra National Park for VKFF-307.

Log

Date:06/Mar/2015 Summit:VK2/SY-001 (Canoelands) Call Used:VK2IO/P Points: 1 Bonus: 0

Time Call Band Mode Notes
22:54z VK6MAC/P 14MHz SSB R32 S55 14290 Anthony VK6/SW-036
23:05z VK5IS 7MHz CW R559 S559 7032 Ian
23:06z VK2UH 7MHz CW R599 S579 7032 Andrew
23:07z VK2AFA/P 7MHz CW R589 S579 7032 Sam VK2/HU-007
23:10z VK3PF 7MHz CW R559 S559 7032 Peter
23:11z VK3DBP 7MHz CW R529 S579 7032 Paul
23:18z VK5LJ 7MHz CW R559 S559 7032
23:31z VK3CAT/P 7MHz CW R599 S549 7032 Tony VK3/VC-016
23:34z VK3TCX/P 7MHz SSB R57 S55 7095 Ian VK3/VG-029
23:42z VK6MAC/P 14MHz CW R599 S439 14061 Anthony VK6/SW-036
23:58z VK2BJP/3 7MHz SSB R58 S57 7095 Russ VK3/VG-038
23:59z VK2IB/P 7MHz SSB R58 S58 7085 Bernard VK2/SW-015

Date:07/Mar/2015 Summit:VK2/SY-001 (Canoelands) Call Used:VK2IO/P Points: 0 Bonus: 0

Time Call Band Mode Notes
00:07z VK2IB/P 7MHz SSB R56 S57 7085 Bernard VK2/SW-015
00:12z VK2QR/3 7MHz SSB R57 S57 7095 Rob VK3/VG-038
00:20z VK1NAM/2 7MHz SSB R58 S57 7075 Andrew VK2/SM-010
00:24z VK3WAM/P 7MHz CW R559 S559 7032 Wayne VK3/VE-043
00:26z VK3BYD/P 7MHz CW R579 S559 7032 Warren VK3/VE-043
00:31z VK3CAT/P 7MHz CW R549 S549 7028 Tony VK3/VC-016
00:37z VK3JBL 7MHz CW R319 S339 7030 Andrew
00:39z VK2UH 7MHz CW R599 S599 7030 Andrew
00:41z VK5IS 7MHz CW R549 S579 7030 Ian
00:53z VK1RX/2 7MHz SSB R58 S58 7095 Al VK2/ST-042
00:57z VK3PI/P 7MHz SSB R53 S54 7110 Mark VK3/VC-019
01:19z VK3TCX/P 7MHz SSB R57 S53 7095 Ian VK3/VG-006
01:26z VK1MBE/2 7MHz SSB R56 S58 7100 Andrew VK2/IL-001
01:34z VK2AFA/P 7MHz CW R589 S589 7032 Sam VK2/HU-024
01:42z VK6ADF/P 28MHz SSB R51 S52 28485 Phil VK6/SW-061
01:45z VK2QR/3 7MHz SSB R55 S55 7095 Rob VK3/VG-021
01:46z VK2TWR/3 7MHz SSB R55 S55 7095 Rod VK3/VG-021
01:48z VK2BJP/3 7MHz SSB R55 S55 7095 Russ VK3/VG-021
02:49z VK3TCX/P 7MHz SSB R53 S55 7090 Ian VK3/VG-012
02:56z VK2IB/P 7MHz SSB R57 S57 7095 Bernard VK2/SW-021
03:10z VK5WG 14MHz SSB R55 S57 14145 Nev
03:41z VK3CAT/P 7MHz SSB R54 S54 7100 Tony VK3/VT-040
03:46z VK2BJP/3 7MHz SSB R56 S59 7090 Russ VK3/VG-057
03:50z VK3CAT/P 7MHz CW R549 S539 7032 Tony VK3/VT-040
04:05z VK3TCX/P 7MHz SSB R57 S57 7090 Ian VK3/VG-018
04:09z VK3DBP 10MHz CW R59 S599 10116 Paul
04:17z VK1DI/2 7MHz SSB R58 S57 7075 Ian VK2/SM-065
04:21z VK3WAM/P 7MHz CW R579 S569 7032 Wayne VK3/VE-044
04:24z VK3BYD/P 7MHz CW R579 S559 7032 Warren VK3/VE-044
04:26z VK3HRA/P 7MHz CW R559 S559 7032 Allen VK3/VE-044
04:29z VK3PF 10MHz CW R559 S579 10116 Peter
04:58z VK2YK 10MHz SSB R54 S58 10130 Adam
05:03z VK3YAR 10MHz SSB R56 S58 10130 Ray
05:04z VK3YY 10MHz SSB R55 S58 10130 Glenn
05:04z VK3DAC 10MHz SSB R57 S58 10130 Fred
05:05z VK2MT/P 10MHz SSB R51 S56 10130 Rob in Nowra
05:06z VK3LED 10MHz SSB R51 S58 10130 Col
05:07z VK1ATP 10MHz SSB R47 S57 10130 Paul
05:08z VK3DBP 10MHz SSB R57 S57 10130 Paul
05:09z VK5WG 10MHz SSB R55 S56 10130 Nev
05:10z VK3AGD 10MHz SSB R55 S56 10130 Adam
05:11z VK3CG 10MHz SSB R55 S57 10130 Gerard in Melbourne
05:18z VK2QR/3 7MHz SSB R58 S59 7090 Rob VK3/VG-061
05:20z VK2BJP/3 7MHz SSB R58 S59 7090 Russ VK3/VG-061
05:26z VK2MWP 7MHz CW R599 S579 7032 Andrew
05:31z VK2YW 7MHz CW R599 S599 7032 John
05:34z VK3ANL/P 7MHz SSB R56 S56 7100 Nick VK3/VT-046
05:53z VK4ALN 7MHz CW R599 S599 7032 Deane
06:06z VK3FSTU 7MHz SSB R59 S57 7090 Stuart
06:08z VK1NAM/2 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7090 Andrew VK2/SM-053
06:10z VK3FQSO 7MHz SSB R55 S56 7090 Amanda
06:10z VK3BQ 7MHz SSB R55 S59 7090 Andrew
06:12z VK3XY 7MHz SSB R54 S45 7090 Derek in Melbourne
06:16z VK3EK 7MHz SSB R57 S59+10 7090 Rob
06:18z VK3XL/P 7MHz SSB R58 S56 7090 Mike
06:19z VK2FSCT 7MHz SSB R58 S58 7090 Scott in Shellharbour
06:23z VK1MA 7MHz SSB R59 S59+15 7090 Matt
06:24z VK4FFAB 7MHz SSB R58 S59 7090 Rob
06:29z VK5GY/M 7MHz SSB R54 S45 7090
06:30z VK5EE 7MHz SSB R53 S57 7090 Tom
06:31z VK7OR/2 7MHz SSB R58 S59+5 7090 Owen in Shoalhaven
06:32z VK5CZ 7MHz SSB R54 S45 7090 Ian
06:33z VK2FMIA 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7090 Doug
06:34z VK2POP 7MHz SSB R58 S59 7090 Greg in Muswellbrook
06:35z VK4MAD 7MHz SSB R59+ S59 7090 Wayne
06:39z VK3FOWL/M 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7090 Julie in Ballarat
06:41z VK3DET 7MHz SSB R59 S59+5 Ernie
06:42z VK1DI/2 7MHz SSB R59 S58 7090 Ian VK2/SM-053
06:45z VK7PD 7MHz SSB R51 S57 7090 Peter
06:46z VK3GWK 7MHz SSB R57 S59 7090 George in Taralgon
07:10z OE9HRV/P 14MHz SSB R33 S35 14333 Herbert OE/VB-509
07:16z VK5FTRG/P 7MHz SSB R55 S57 7090 Tom VK5/SE-013
07:16z VK5PAS/P 7MHz SSB R55 S57 7090 Paul VK5/SE-013
07:44z VK6NU/P 14MHz SSB R55 S57 14330 John VK6/SW-039

SOTAwatch spots during the activation (in reverse order)

  Sat 07:41

2E0YYY/P on G/SP-013 14.314 ssb
cq. plenty of qrm (Posted by 2E0YYY)

Sat 07:36

VK6NU on VK6/SW-039 14.330 ssb
calling now sri no cw forgot lead (Posted by VK6NU)

Sat 07:35

VK6NU on VK6/SW-039 14.330 ssb
calling now sri no cw forgot lead (Posted by VK6NU)

Sat 07:31

GW4WSB/P on GW/MW-013 144.290 ssb
calling now (Posted by M6WSB)

Sat 07:30

M0IML/P on G/SE-015 14.290 ssb
(Posted by M0IML)

Sat 07:28

VK2IO/P on VK2/SY-001 7.0321 cw
*CQ CQ at 34 wpm. S/N=17 dB at VK3JBL {Via RBNGate} (Posted by KU6J)

Sat 07:27

VK1NAM/2 on VK2/SM-053 14.323 ssb
*qsy here QRM on 14.325 [via SOTA Goat] (Posted by VK1NAM)

Sat 07:26

G4ISJ/P on G/CE-001 14.062 cw
*CQ CQ at 24 wpm. S/N=7 dB at HA6M {Via RBNGate} (Posted by KU6J)

Sat 07:24

M1EYP/P on G/SP-015 14.332 ssb
(Posted by M1EYP)

Sat 07:24

VK1NAM/2 on VK2/SM-053 14.325 ssb
*CQ dx [via SOTA Goat] (Posted by VK1NAM)

Sat 07:15

GM8OEG/P on GM/SS-198 14.310 ssb
no signals at all! (Posted by GM8OEG)

Sat 07:15

M0IML/P on G/SE-015 14.290 ssb
(Posted by M0IML)

Sat 07:14

VK5FTRG on VK5/SE-013 7.090
Calling cq now (Posted by VK5PAS)

Sat 07:06

G4ISJ/P on G/CE-001 7.0326 cw
*CQ CQ at 25 wpm. S/N=13 dB at F6IIT {Via RBNGate} (Posted by KU6J)

Sat 07:03

VK1DI/2 on VK2/SM-053 14.325 ssb
*cq DX. vk1di and vk1nam dual activation [via SOTA Goat] (Posted by VK1NAM)

Sat 07:02

GW2HFR/P on GW/NW-062 14.328 ssb
*qrv dx (via RRT) (Posted by 2W0KGQ)

Sat 07:01

2E0YYY/P on G/SP-013 14.315 ssb
nothing heard yet Mike (Posted by VK3DET)

Sat 06:58

2E0YYY/P on G/SP-013 14.315 ssb
Nothing heard from vk. (Posted by 2E0YYY)

Sat 06:50

VK1NAM/2 on VK2/SM-053 14.325 ssb
*cq dx [via SOTA Goat] (Posted by VK1NAM)

Sat 06:46

2E0YYY/P on G/SP-013 14.315 ssb
cq. looking for dx (Posted by 2E0YYY)

Sat 06:45

OE9HRV/P on OE/VB-509 14.333 ssb
cq vk and s2s (Posted by OE9HRV)

Sat 06:27

VK1DI/2 on VK2/SM-053 7.100 ssb
*Ian and Andrew dual activation [via SOTA Goat] (Posted by VK1NAM)

Sat 06:26

VK2IO on VK2/SY-001 7.0299 cw
*CQ CQ at 14 wpm. S/N=24 dB at VK3JBL {Via RBNGate} (Posted by KU6J)

Sat 06:11

VK1NAM/2 on VK2/SM-053 7.100 ssb
*[via SOTA Goat] (Posted by VK1NAM)

Sat 05:32

VK3ANL on VK3/VT-046 7.100 ssb
Calling CQ (Posted by VK3DAC)

Sat 05:23

VK2IO/P on VK2/SY-001 – [edit] 7.032 cw
*cq cq (via RRT) (Posted by VK2IO)

Sat 05:19

VK2QR/P on VK3/VG-061 7.090 ssb
The group is up again (Posted by VK3PF)

Sat 04:58

VK2IO/P on VK2/SY-001 – [edit] 10.130 ssb
*cq cq (via RRT) (Posted by VK2IO)

Sat 04:57

VK2IO/P on VK2/SY-001 – [edit] 10.130 ssb
*cq cq (via RRT) (Posted by VK2IO)

Sat 04:47

VK3HRA on VK3/VE-044 7.095 ssb
cq. (Posted by VK3BYD)

Sat 04:39

VK1DI/2 on VK2/SM-065 7.075 ssb
Strong into Newcastle (Posted by VK2YK)

Sat 04:31

VK2IO/P on VK2/SY-001 10.116 cw
Gerard calling now (Posted by VK3PF)

Sat 04:16

VK3WAM on VK3/VE-044 7.032 cw
cq (Posted by VK3BYD)

Sat 04:07

VK1DI/2 on VK2/SM-065 7.075 ssb
*cq (via RRT) (Posted by VK1DI)

Sat 04:00

VK2IO/P on VK2/SY-001 – [edit] 10.116 cw
*cq cq (via RRT) (Posted by VK2IO)

Sat 03:59

VK3TCX/P on VK3/VG-018 7.090 ssb
Ian calling now (Posted by VK3PF)

Sat 03:47

VK2IB/P on VK2/SW-021 7.100 ssb
*CQ CQ [via SOTA Goat] (Posted by VK2IB)

Sat 03:43

VK3CAT on VK3/VT-040 7.032 cw
(Posted by VK1DA)

Sat 03:39

VK2TWR/3 on VK3/VG-057 7.090 ssb
Rod & Russ working now (Posted by VK3PF)

Sat 03:37

VK2QR/P3 on VK3/VG-057 7.090 ssb
with others (Posted by VK3MCD)

Sat 03:33

VK3CAT/P on VK3/VT-040 14.0581 cw
*CQ CQ at 15 wpm. S/N=8 dB at ZL2HAM {Via RBNGate} (Posted by KU6J)

Sat 03:31

VK2IB/P on VK2/SW-021 10.120 cw
*CQ CQ [via SOTA Goat] (Posted by VK2IB)

Sat 03:20

VK3OHM/P on VK3/VC-030 144.200 ssb
*Need one more please (via RRT) (Posted by VK3OHM)

Sat 03:17

VK2IB/P on VK2/SW-021 7.030 cw
*CQ CQ [via SOTA Goat] (Posted by VK2IB)

Sat 03:14

VK3MAY/P on VK3/VC-024 7.090 ssb
David QRV now. Mostly Q5 into Wagga with QSB (Posted by VK2YW)

Sat 03:11

VK3ANL/P on VK3/VT-049 7.100 ssb
Nick calling now (Posted by VK3PF)

Sat 03:10

VK3OHM/P on VK3/VE-030 144.200 ssb
Marc needs one more contac to qualify (Posted by VK3MCD)

Sat 03:06

VK2IO/P on VK2/SY-001 – [edit] 14.145 ssb
*cq cq (via RRT) (Posted by VK2IO)

Sat 03:06

VK2IO/P on VK2/SY-001 – [edit] 14.145 ssb
*cq cq (via RRT) (Posted by VK2IO)

Sat 03:05

VK2IO/P on VK2/SY-001 – [edit] 14.145 ssb
*cq cq (via RRT) (Posted by VK2IO)

Sat 03:05

VK2IO/P on VK2/SY-001 – [edit] 14.145 ssb
*cq cq (via RRT) (Posted by VK2IO)

Sat 03:05

VK2IO/P on VK2/SY-001 – [edit] 14.145 ssb
*cq cq (via RRT) (Posted by VK2IO)

Sat 03:03

VK2IB/P on VK2/SW-021 7.095 ssb
QSY (Posted by VK3PF)

Sat 02:58

VK2IB/P on VK2/SW-021 7.085 ssb
*CQ CQ [via SOTA Goat] (Posted by VK2IB)

Sat 02:58

VK3OHM/P on VK3/VC-030 144.200 ssb
*qrv now (via RRT) (Posted by VK3OHM)

Sat 02:45

VK3TCX/P on VK3/VG-012 7.090 ssb
Ian calling now (Posted by VK3PF)

Sat 02:42

VK2IO/P on VK2/SY-001 – [edit] 18.165 ssb
*qrv now (via RRT) (Posted by VK2IO)

Sat 02:25

VK7PAK on VK7/SC-017 7.100 ssb
Calling CQ QSY to 7.100 (Posted by VK3DAC)

Sat 02:23

VK7PAK on VK7/SC-017 7.100
(Posted by VK7HKN)

Sat 02:21

VK2IO/P on VK2/SY-001 – [edit] 18.092 cw
*qrv now (via RRT) (Posted by VK2IO)

Sat 01:58

VK2AFA on VK2/HU-24 7.090 ssb
*cq cq [via SOTA Spotter] (Posted by VK2AFA )

Sat 01:54

VK6ADF on VK6/SW-061 28.485 ssb
*calling CQ (via RRT) (Posted by VK6ADF)

Sat 01:52

VK2TWR on VK3/VG-021 7.095 ssb
55 into the Yarra valley (Posted by VK3DAC)

Sat 01:48

VK2AFA on VK2/HU-024 14.062 cw
56n at Beetaloo (Posted by VK5IS)

Sat 01:41

VK2AFA on VK2/HU-24 14.062 cw
*cq cq 18wpm [via SOTA Spotter] (Posted by VK2AFA )

Sat 01:40

VK2BJP/3 on VK3/VG-021 7.095 ssb
Boys calling now (Posted by VK3PF)

Sat 01:34

VK6ADF on VK6/SW-061 28.485 ssb
*QSY to 10metres (via RRT) (Posted by VK6ADF)

Sat 01:31

VK2IO/P on VK2/SY-001 – [edit] 52.200 ssb
*qrv now (via RRT) (Posted by VK2IO)

Sat 01:28

VK2AFA on VK2/HU-24 7.032 cw
*cq cq 18wpm [via SOTA Spotter] (Posted by VK2AFA )

Sat 01:24

VK1MBE on VK2/IL-001 7.100 ssb
*cq andrew (via RRT) (Posted by VK1MBE)

Sat 01:21

VK6ADF on VK6/SW-061 7.085 ssb
Phil calling CQ (Posted by VK6MB)

Sat 01:14

VK3TCX/P on VK3/VG-006 7.095 ssb
*Cq Cq [via SOTA Goat] (Posted by VK3TCX)

Sat 01:12

VK6MAC/P on VK6/SW-036 28.450 ssb
(Posted by VK6MAC )

Sat 01:10

VK2IO/P on VK2/SY-001 21.0621 cw
*CQ CQ at 13 wpm. S/N=22 dB at ZL2HAM {Via RBNGate} (Posted by KU6J)

Sat 01:04

VK6ADF on VK6/SW-061 7.085 ssb
* (via RRT) (Posted by VK6ADF)

Sat 01:02

VK6MAC/P on VK6/SW-036 7.085 ssb
(Posted by VK6MAC )

Sat 01:01

VK2IO/P on VK2/SY-001 14.0611 cw
*CQ CQ at 15 wpm. S/N=18 dB at ZL2HAM {Via RBNGate} (Posted by KU6J)

Sat 00:51

VK3PI on VK3/VC-019 7.110 ssb
calling CQ (Posted by VK3DAC)

Sat 00:46

VK3CAT/P on VK3/VC-016 14.267 ssb
*cq (via RRT) (Posted by VK3CAT)

Sat 00:46

VK1RX on VK2/ST-042 7.095 ssb
Calling CQ (Posted by VK3DAC)

Sat 00:45

VK3BYD/P on VK3/VE-043 7.032 cw
(Posted by VK3JBL)

Sat 00:39

VK3CAT/P on VK3/VC-016 28.390 ssb
*cq (via RRT) (Posted by VK3CAT)

Sat 00:38

VK1NAM on VK2/SM-010 14.320 ssb
*cq cq [via SOTA Goat] (Posted by VK1NAM)

Sat 00:34

VK2IO/P on VK2/SY-001 – [edit] 7.030 cw
*qrv now (via RRT) (Posted by VK2IO)

Sat 00:34

VK2IB on VK2/SW-015 7.0326 cw
*[via SOTA Goat] (Posted by VK3JBL)

Sat 00:31

VK3CAT/P on VK3/VC-016 14.062 cw
*cq (via RRT) (Posted by VK3CAT)

Sat 00:30

VK6MAC/P on VK6/SW-036 7.085 ssb
Qsy from 15m. contest was killing me (Posted by VK6MAC )

Sat 00:24

VK3CAT/P on VK3/VC-016 7.028 cw
*cq (via RRT) (Posted by VK3CAT)

Sat 00:15

VK1NAM on VK2/SM-010 7.075 ssb
Moved freq. Nice into Newy (Posted by VK2YK)

Sat 00:12

VK3CAT/P on VK3/VC-016 18.090 cw
*cq (via RRT) (Posted by VK3CAT)

Sat 00:12

VK2QR on VK3/VG-038 7.095 ssb
Calling CQ 59 Into YarraValley (Posted by VK3DAC)

Sat 00:10

VK2BJP on VK3/VG-038 7.095 ssb
*qrv with vk2qr & vk2qr (via RRT) (Posted by VK2BJP)

Sat 00:09

VK2QR/3 on VK3/VG-038 7.095 ssb
Nice signal into Newcastle (Posted by VK2YK)

Sat 00:08

VK3CAT/P on VK3/VC-016 10.118 cw
*cq (via RRT) (Posted by VK3CAT)

Sat 00:07

VK1NAM on VK2/SM-010 7.075 ssb
(Posted by VK1MA)

Fri 23:59

VK2IB on VK2/SW-015 7.085 ssb
CQ CQ (Posted by VK3DAC)

Fri 23:59

VK6MAC/P on VK6/SW-036 21.355 ssb
Qsy due to dx station (Posted by VK6MAC )

Fri 23:54

VK6MAC/P on VK6/SW-036 21.350 ssb
Cq (Posted by VK6MAC )

Fri 23:45

VK2AFA on VK2/HU-007 7.032 cw
*qrt heading to next summit [via SOTA Spotter] (Posted by VK2AFA )

Fri 23:36

VK2IO/P on VK2/SY-001 14.061 cw
*CQ CQ at 14 wpm. S/N=16 dB at ZL2HAM {Via RBNGate} (Posted by KU6J)

Fri 23:35

VK3CAT/P on VK3/VC-016 7.032 cw
Tony on air now (Posted by VK3PF)

Fri 23:30

VK2AFA on VK2/HU-007 14.0601 cw
*CQ CQ at 18 wpm. S/N=13 dB at ZL2HAM {Via RBNGate} (Posted by KU6J)

Fri 23:29

VK3TCX on VK3/VG-029 7.095 ssb
Calling CQ Now (Posted by VK3FPSR)

Fri 23:24

VK2IO/P on VK2/SY-001 14.0621 cw
*CQ CQ at 15 wpm. S/N=25 dB at ZL2HAM {Via RBNGate} (Posted by KU6J)

Fri 23:15

VK2AFA/P on VK2/HU-007 7.030 cw
Sam calling now (Posted by VK3PF)

Fri 23:01

VK2IO on VK2/SY-001 7.032 cw
*CQ CQ at 15 wpm. S/N=8 dB at VK3JBL {Via RBNGate} (Posted by KU6J)

Fri 22:43

VK6MAC/P on VK6/SW-036 14.290 ssb
56 into Mt. Gamier (Posted by VK5HCF)

Fixing Elecraft MH3 Microphone

I’ve enjoyed 2 years trouble-free service with the Elecraft KX3 transceiver using the original microphone. However, after about 50 SOTA activations I found the MH3 microphone randomly keying itself. Luckily, the PTT on the microphone can be disabled from one of the menus and then the XMIT button on the bottom left of the radio’s front panel can be used to key the transmitter on and off. Several more SOTA activations followed using this method. Problem is that it occupies two hands making logging and answering calls slower than it should be. Yes you can use VOX, but in the variable weather environment on a summit, this is not an attractive solution. Something had to be done about it. A new microphone shipped from the USA costs north of A$100 so that was ruled out. Repairing it myself seemed the only option.

Initial checks

The mic cable was exercised along its length to find the position of the problem. It turned out that PTT was being keyed by flexing the cable near the microphone itself. Plugging the mic cable into the KX3’s CW key jack and pressing the PTT I found that operation was normal and unaffected by cable flexing.

Schematic

The full schematic of the MH3 is available from Elecraft here. There are four terminals on the 3.5mm plug. The tip and sleeve are for the electret microphone and the 1st and 2nd rings are for the PTT and up/down buttons. The two sets of terminals are electrically isolated from each other.

With the intermittent nature of the fault, it seemed as though there was a short between two conductors when the cable was flexed. A multimeter was placed across each combination of the terminals of the plug in turn and conductivity measured. It revealed a short between the 1st ring and the sleeve. These are on separate circuits.

Fault finding

The microphone was opened up by removing three screws from the back. Inside there is a circuit board mounted on the back half containing a switch and some resistors. Two wires run to the electret element on the front half of the mic through a ferrite core. There are 4 wires from the cable soldered directly into the board. Connections are:

Plug pin
Signal
Colour
PCB label
Tip Mic out white 3
Ring 1 PTT/Down/Up green PTT
Ring 2 PTT common yellow 4
Sleeve Mic shield black 5

Looking at the board, there did not appear to be any shorts and the wiring looked normal. I removed the switch from the board by undoing the screw and then undoing 3 more screws allowed the board itself to be freed. It was held in tight by friction with the plastic standoffs so it needed to be assisted by levering with a screwdriver. With the board free, the cable can be easily removed from the back of the mic housing.

The rubber strain relief can then be slid down the cable after separating it from the metal clip. The metal clip is clamped around the cable and is loosened by prizing the two ends apart with a screwdriver. It can then be slid down the cable as well. The cable sheath can then be opened up starting at the end with the bare wires by carefully slicing along it with a sharp knife. Be careful not to strip the insulation off any of the wires within. I did this in sections of about 3cm at a time and then pulled the wires through the opening.

MH3 cable with sheath stripped aback

MH3 cable with sheath stripped aback

MH3 internal connections

MH3 internal connections

Inspecting the wires after extracting from the outer sheath there was a narrow section on the green wire where the insulation had been sliced through. The red and black wires are unused. In the red wire there was also a gash so it seems there was a fault with the original wires. The exposed copper of the green wire was shorting to the uninsulated copper shield wire when the cord was flexed. The copper shield wire is wrapped around the white wire and after reaching the end of the sheath the shield wire is insulated with a black covering.

With the wires extracted, I tested the mic with the radio. Flexing the cable caused no assertion of PTT any more. Looked like the problem had been licked!

Repair

The copper of the green wire was in good shape and not nicked so the opening was wrapped in green insulating tape. The stripped cable sheath was rewrapped around the white/shield and unused wires and insulation tape wrapped around that. There was no need to shorten and resolder wires as there’s plenty of room inside the housing for extra cabling.

MH3 cable with white/shield/red/black inside sheath

MH3 cable with white/shield/red/black inside sheath

MH3 with altered cable anchored to housing

MH3 with altered cable anchored to housing

The metal clip is slid back up the cable and clamped down 1 cm from where the slicing stopped. The strain relief is repositioned over it and the board screwed back into the housing along with the PTT switch. The end of the cable can then be bunched up inside the back of the mic and the strain relief anchored back into the mic housing taking care to align the positioning pin to prevent rotation of the cable. Reattach the front housing of the mic and you’re done!

Results

My MH3 has a slightly shortened cable, but is now fully functional again. The repair took less than an hour and saved me 100 bucks. If your mic plays up I’d highly recommend having a go at fixing it yourself.

Fixed MH3 with slightly shortened cable

Fixed MH3 with slightly shortened cable