Sydney Harbour NP for VKFF activation weekend 28 Nov 2015

Sydney Harbour National Park VKFF-0473 was the first park I activated for the VKFF activation weekend. Pockets of it cover the north and south side of the harbour. A few weeks before I had spent a couple of hours walking around the park on the southern side of the harbour in search of a location for an activation. I found an elevated spot away from pedestrian traffic and buildings in an area called Nielsen Park in the suburb of Vaucluse.

151128SydneyHarbourMapIt was Saturday morning and I had to drive through Sydney to reach the park. Surprisingly, as I was driving through the middle of the city next to Hyde Park and many high-rise buildings, I was able to work Rob VK4FFAB on 40m in Hampton NP, my first contact for the weekend. This was just before UTC rollover and I hoped to work him again once set up in the park.

151128SydneyHarbourView

View of Sydney Harbour from the operating point

Arriving in Vaucluse Rd Vaucluse, park opposite number 63 (-33.85463, 151.268482) and take Steele Point Rd into the park. Walk 80m down the road to (-33.854457, 151.267577) where you see rocks up to the right then head off and up through the bush to the top then 100m further to (-33.85364, 151.267464). There are no signposts for this one. It is only 5 minutes walk all up and park entry is free. If you have a GPS navigator, just head for the top of the hill which has an elevation of about 40m. There is a large open flat rocky area and a convenient place to attach a squid pole. To the north is Shark Bay, to the east is Vaucluse Bay and to the west is Shark Island though not all of these landmarks can be seen from the top due to overgrowth.

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Stringing up the large ZS6BKW antenna was no problem as there were no overhanging trees to get caught in, and enough trees around to anchor the ends of the doublet. I was on air by late morning and the first order of the day was to chase all of the other parks and summits already on air. There were quite a few of them and this filled the log for the first 10 contacts, all on 40m. 50 minutes in I did get to spot on my own 40m SSB frequency and start calling. Now I had hunters and parks calling me and it seemed as though band conditions were pretty good. As insurance I had brought along the 100W rig but it never left its bag – the KX3 was performing just fine with only 12W.

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Ninety minutes in I went to 20m, but after repeated calls the only reply I had was from Rick VK4RF. I also tried 15m with no result. Seemed as though all the action was on 40m. i did a stint on 40m CW and there were a few hunters, probably not as many as if I’d started out on CW. later on I did another stint on 40m SSB and there were even more hunters coming out of the woodwork. At 3pm (just a little later than planned) the necessary 44 unique contacts had been made and it was time to move on to the next park: Kamay Botany Bay NP.

Statistics

  • 57 contacts
  • 17 park-to-park contacts
  • 7 SOTA contacts
  • 3h15m operating time

Contacts

Thanks for all the contacts:
VK1AI/P,VK2HBG/P,VK5PAS/P,VK4AAC/5,VK3VTH/P,
VK3PMG/P,VK3ANL/P,VK4FFAB/P,VK2HRX/P,VK2NP/P,
VK3PF/P,VK3YSP/P,VK3FOWL/P,VK1DI/P,VK2FABE,
VK2VW,VK3OF,VK5FANA/P,VK2MOR,VK3DAC,
VK5GJ/P,VK5NIG/P,VK3TKK,VK1MTS,VK5STU/P,
VK1MA,VK2XXM,VK1AT/3,VK2ATZ,VK2SR/M,
VK2BFC,VK2FDAV,VK2UH,VK4RF,VK4HA,
VK2IB/P,VK5PAS/P,VK7TW/P,VK7FREU/P,VK4RF,
VK4HA,VK2JDR,VK2HRX/P,VK1DI/P,VK3VTH/P,
VK2UHQ,VK3FQSO/P,VK4FFAB/P,VK7CW,VK2JDR/P,
VK3HRA/P,VK2VKB,VK4RF,VK4HA,VK1NS,
VK3ZPF,VK2NTH.

.

 

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Oceania DX CW Contest – Brisbane Water NP 10-11 Oct 2015

BrisbaneWaterNPmapThe second weekend in a row of contesting, this time the CW section of the Oceania DX contest and a chance to activate another National Park. I headed for the Central Coast again to Brisbane Water NP VKFF-0056 just west of Woy Woy, about 60km north of Sydney. Driving south from Kariong I ended up driving through the park. Pulling off into a clearing the first potential location was checked out. It was at the top of a hill 500m off the road. After a climb and some bush bashing decided that the route was not practical. Drove back 1km along the road to a track shown on the GPS leading to the summit, but the track was fictional so this location was abandoned.

151011BrisbaneWaterLocalMap

Area map around Staples Lookout showing shack and antenna positions

Staples Lookout

Continued further south 2km along the road to Staples Lookout. Just opposite the lookout is a gated fire trail and aerial views on internet mapping sites showed a big clearing 300m down the track. After a quick visit to the lookout, I headed down the track and discovered a very nice site for my activation. Picked a spot and then returned to the car to collect the camping and radio equipment.

151011BrisbaneWaterNPTrailAccess

Carpark and fire trail access opposite Staples Lookout

Set up the double-sized ZS6BKW antenna first (the blue line in the picture above) and then the regular sized one (red line). This went pretty smoothly as there were few trees to clear with the antenna wires. The antennas were set up more or less perpendicular to one another similar to the previous week at Wyrrabalong National Park. For the station I opted just to sit outside on a chair in the evening so setting up the tent was deferred until a quiet time.

151011BrisbaneWaterNPOutdoorShack

Outdoor shack used for the evening

Contesting

Contesting started 15 minutes after the scheduled time of 0800z (7pm) so not much time lost and a lot earlier than the previous week. Most contacts in the first two hours were made on 40m and then 80m came into its own. Contest style was hunt and peck as I was a QRP entrant with only 5 Watts. After an hour on 80m it was back to 40m again for another hour. It wasn’t until the fifth hour before contacts were made on 160m, and these were the only three for the contest. At the end of that hour it was time to set up camp. The four-person tent was quickly erected and equipment transferred inside. There was a lot more room than the small tent used the previous week. Contesting could continue, but most of an hour was lost.

151011BrisbaneWaterNPCamp

Camp site with two antenna masts

Contacts became hard to find. The local stations were all tucked up for the night. After a further hour without a contact, I did the same – after a run to the car to charge a battery. Turning in at 2am was a little later than planned and needless to say I was ready for it.

151011BrisbaneWaterNPSunset

Sunset at the operating site

Morning

Arose around dawn, probably a little earlier than planned. Retrieved the freshly charged battery from the car and visited Staples Lookout for a better look. Captured some pictures of the sun rising and the low clouds and fog sitting over the suburbs around Woy Woy. It was quite a magic sight. See below.

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Returned to the station and started contesting again. It was slow going, maybe because I was trying to have breakfast at the same time. After a few band changes ended up on 15m which proved fruitful for a couple of hours and there were useful contacts on 10m as well. Being a Sunday morning there were people shooting past on mountain bikes and the occasional bushwalkers too. At around 1pm it was clear that a storm was coming. The colour of the sky and the view on the BoM radar indicated that it was about an hour away. I started to pull down the station beginning with the 160m antenna and all the non-radio stuff inside the tent. Kept calling using the keyer in the KX3 but there were few responses other than the growing static crashes.

151011BrisbaneWaterNPShack

Operating at the indoor shack

The last contact was made at 1:50pm and then the whole lot was quickly packed up before any lightning came into view. Three trips up the track to the car and it was all over for the contest. This is quite an early close considering the contest goes until 7pm. However, I was very glad not having to pack up in the rain.

Bulgandry Aboriginal Carvings

Drove a couple of km north towards Kariong and found the Bulgandry aboriginal carvings area. This is also inside the National Park and my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to visit. With the occasional crash of thunder high overhead I proceeded along the track to the carvings. It seemed unexpectedly far from the carpark, but I was rushing in anticipation of rain. Luckily it stayed dry and I was able to admire the carvings at leisure.

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Returning to the car I considered whether it would be possible to continue contesting in spite of the storm. The lack of sleep and the difficulty of re-establishing a radio site swayed me against the idea. The storm was bearing down with increasing force and within the hour heavy rain was falling. I was glad to seek shelter with a relative and sit it out.

Statistics

  • Contest contacts: 81
  • Non-contest contacts: 3 (SSB SOTA)
  • Hours contesting: 11.5
  • Hours in park: 23.5
  • Bands used: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m
  • Locator: QF56PM
  • Claimed score: 26727

Compared to the SSB contest, contacts were much harder to find and there were many stretches without a contact. I made half the contacts but operated for much less time owing to the early closedown due to the storm. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the contest.

OCDXCW2015stats-VK2IO

Contest contact and multiplier accumulation over time

Band   QSOs Mult  Pts  Inv 
160 m    3    3    60   0 
 80 m   18    9   180   0 
 40 m   31   23   155   0 
 20 m    5    5     5   0 
 15 m   19   16    38   0 
 10 m    5    3    15   0 
  QSOs/Multiplier:   1.4

Equipment

  • Elecraft KX3 transceiver
  • Computer headset/microphone
  • Two LiFePO4 4200 mAh batteries
  • 7200 mAh SLA battery
  • Hi-Mound MK-706 CW paddle
  • Lenovo S10-3 netbook computer
  • VK Contest Log (VKCL) v3.12b software
  • ZS6BKW inverted-Vee doublet (28m long) on 9m mast
  • Double size ZS6BKW inverted-Vee doublet (56m long) on 9m travel mast
  • Headlamp
  • Turnigy Accucell 6 charger

Thanks to all who made contact!

151011BrisbaneWaterContactMap

Map of contacts from Brisbane Water NP VKFF-0056

Oceania DX Phone Contest – Wyrrabalong NP 3-4 Oct 2015

The Oceania DX Contest is an amateur radio event held annually on consecutive weekends in October. The first weekend is phone (SSB) and the second is CW (morse code). The first (and last) time I participated was in 2010 as a portable station using a kite antenna. It was a lot of fun and the video has been quite popular. This year I wanted to operate for the full length of the contest, not just for a few hours. I also wanted to operate as a portable station and this meant using low power (QRP). Luckily the contest has a QRP category so I would not need to compete with much bigger stations using beams and high power. Going portable has three advantages: (1) away from city noise; (2) have space for 160m antenna; (3) can qualify a national park for WWFF.

Wyrrabalong National Park map

Wyrrabalong National Park map showing north and south sections

Location

The criteria for the location was based on: (1) must be in a national park; (2) have reasonable car access; (3) near a body of water; (4) room for antennas; (5) clear RF takeoff in all directions; (6) away from RF noise sources; (7) 24hr availability. Most of the criteria for a location can be assessed beforehand by studying internet sites. For this exercise I looked at national parks on the Central Coast of NSW and drew up a short list of possibilities within the Wyrrabalong National Park VKFF-0550. The park is coastal and divided into a large northern section and a smaller southern section. The northern section is virtually at sea level with the ocean to the east and a lake to the west. It is bisected by the Central Coast Highway running north-south. A road off the highway provides access to the park and the beach. Unfortunately the road is gated and closed at night, but I added it to my short list anyway. There did not appear to be any other accessible locations in the northern section of the park.

The southern section of the park was much more familiar as I had done the coastal walk many times. This section has ocean to the east and housing to the west and consists of a long narrow strip. The prominent features are the Crackneck Lookout providing stunning ocean views and a favourite for hang-gliders, and the Wyrrabalong TV translator tower on the southern end of the coastal walk. Of these only the Lookout is suitable. Another location was also found half way along the coastal walk next to some water tanks with access from a nearby suburban street.

Southern section of Wyrrabalong NP showing operating point

Southern section of Wyrrabalong NP

Scoping It Out

On the Saturday of the contest I packed the car and set off for the northern section of the Wyrrabalong National Park at about 3pm. The goal was to reach the location by 5pm and set up in time to start contesting at 6pm. Most of the drive was along the Sydney-Newcastle freeway then head head east through Budgewoi then south through Norah Head to the park. Upon turning off the Central Coast Highway there was a large gate into the park and a sign showing the opening hours. I checked out the carpark at the end of the road and decided that it was not that suitable. Probably the best spot would be on the beach.

Left the northern section and drove through The Entrance township to Crackneck Lookout in the southern section of the park. On the approach road there was a wedding entourage and photographer actually on the road. Proceeding on and just before the lookout there was a gate – one that I had not seen before. Seems the lookout carpark now has restricted hours which seemed odd. The views from there at night are pretty nice. As a consolation, two car spaces have been provided just before the gate about 100m down the road. After a quick scout around and a gawk at the stretch limousine I decided the spot wasn’t as suitable as I was expecting.

Now down to the third option I drove back through the gate and around to the closest road to the water tanks. The road to actually get near the water tanks is gated too but intended to be used by pedestrians to access the coastal walk. The walking distance to the park is about 200m. The area around the tanks has been cleared and was within the national park according to the GPS.  I decided this would be a good spot to operate from though I was unsure how much electrical noise would emanate from near the tanks and the nearby houses. The nearest power lines were 50m away. Maidenhead locator: QF56RO.

Shack at Wyrrabalong National Park

Operating chair and tent at Wyrrabalong National Park

Setup

Getting the gear to the site took three trips and then I set up the ZS6BKW antenna on the 9m squid pole with the wire oriented north-south. Next was the double-sized ZS6BKW which was awkward to set up due to the available cleared space. There was little undergrowth as the park had been burnt out recently, but there were still quite tall trees. It took some time to weave the antenna wire through and over these. I used my 10m travel mast leaving the top sections unused, and there was a pronounced bend in the mast due to the load. One antenna crossed the other one but only at about 30 degrees. They were almost parallel. A ground sheet was put down and then an operating chair which would serve as the shack for the evening. Then the KX3 and computer were installed. The chair has a small side table useful for putting things down when not seated in the chair.

Operating chair and tent at Wyrrabalong NP

Operating tent at Wyrrabalong NP

Contesting

By 6:20pm I was on the air but it was getting dark so I used a headlamp to see what I was doing, especially with the computer. The bands were all very much alive. I started on 40m by hunting and pecking my way up and down the band. After half an hour there were a bunch of VKs and a couple of ZLs in the log. Then to 15m for a couple of JAs then 20m for more JAs and a US station. My 5 Watts was cutting through though not to every caller – some of them completely ignored me. Then to 160m and even though it was still early, 2 contacts were made and then to the 80m DX window for 2 more including a ZL. Back to 40m and it was definitely the busiest band and some new stations were calling. Continued to cycle through the bands calling all I could hear that i hadn’t already worked. Occasionally I would put out some CQ calls and was sometimes rewarded with a call.

After a few hours it started to cool down quite a bit and the wind was a little cool. It was time for more shelter so I started to set up the tent. I had a new “mosquito” tent so had not put it together before. The instructions consisted of a series of numbered pictures printed on a tag attached to the tent bag. By a process of trial and error the tent was set up in about 15 minutes then the radio gear was moved inside. I could continue contesting in more comfort though I was squatting instead of sitting. I managed to work Indonesia, PNG and more US stations. VK2IM who lives nearby was worked too. His signal was so strong on 20m that the KX3 automatically switched off its preamp as a protective measure. Later it was found that he was line of sight and only 6.5km away running a linear amp and a beam. It normally takes a very strong local signal for the radio to react in this way – impressive!

Two antennas at sunrise in Wyrrabalong NP

Two antennas at sunrise in Wyrrabalong NP

Some more hours of contesting and contacts had slowed down to a snail’s pace. After an hour making no contacts I decided at 1am to close down for the night. A trip to the car was made to recharge one of the 4200 mAh LiFe batteries that had been powering the computer after its own internal battery went flat after 4 or 5 hours. The radio was still running fine on its battery of the same capacity and did not need charging. Only one battery can be charged at a time. Returned to the tent for some much needed sleep.

Morning

Arose just before dawn, took some photos and retrieved the battery from the car. By 6am I was back on the radio though with the changeover to daylight savings time, this was now known as 7am. 40m was running well and I made many contacts. After 2 hours I tried 10m and 15m and made a few DX contacts with Japan, Indonesia and Russia. This was great because contacts had now been made on all the bands available in the contest. From 10:30am to 11:30am there was a spate of SOTA activations, all on 40m. Some were CW so were not logged as contest contacts and instead recorded in the regular portable logbook. At midday the KX3 was shutting down when PTT was pressed. It was time for a run to the car to charge the battery powering the radio which had dropped to 8 volts. It looked to be bulging a bit too – oops. The charger accepted the battery and started to charge it without complaining about the voltage.

Shack inside the operating tent in Wyrrabalong NP

Shack inside the operating tent in Wyrrabalong NP

Afternoon

The break gave me an excuse to have something to eat as breakfast had pretty much been skipped. Returned to the airways at 12:45pm and set up the voice keyer on the radio to put out calls while munching away. I started to call on 7.144 which is a popular frequency for World Wide Flora and Fauna activations. There were some responses but not from the usual VKFF hunters and I could not self-spot under the contest rules. 40m and to a lesser extent 20m were the bands I was able to make contacts during the afternoon. Occasionally another SOTA station would come up and I would chase them. The most notable was Takeshi JS1UEH on 15m CW.

The weather got quite hot in the afternoon and peaked at 34 degrees in the shade. I was glad to have the tent for protection from the sun. The wind kicked up too and was nearly at the point of blowing things away like the chair sitting outside the tent. During the afternoon I noticed that the UTC time and time to contest end was advanced by one hour. The clock on the computer was showing the correct daylight savings time. I decided to continue on and fix it up later. At about 5pm the long path to EU opened on 20m and many contacts were made. This dried up by 6pm and it was back to 40m. At 6pm the logger reported end of contest, but there was still an hour to go. I set the clock on the computer back by an hour and this fixed the problem. With only one hour left and darkness approaching I started to pack up and just left the voice keyer calling on 40m. The 160m antenna was pulled down first as it would not been needed at all and would take some time to roll up. Responses to calls were very infrequent by 6:30pm so the main activity was packing up the tent. QRT happened at 6:45pm, 15 minutes before the contest end and it took another 20 minutes to collect everything and transport it to the car over multiple trips. The timing worked out well with sunset at 7pm, the same as the contest end time and no need to use lights.

Path to local station VK2IM

Path to local station VK2IM

Log Processing

After the contest the log needed to be massaged and submitted. Entries in the log after the changeover to daylight savings had to be manually edited to take off an hour except for the last few contacts after 6pm (0700z). There was no easy way to do this other than manually. The author was contacted and could not shed any light on why the UTC time was incorrect after the switch to AEDST. Cabrillo format can be generated by the software and directly emailed to the contest manager. ADI format can be generated as well and after some editing to include National Park information, callsigns, locator, etc, the log can be imported into my station log running in Log4OM. When logging I always put in the exact frequency in the comment field. This must be extracted and put into the frequency field, and any SOTA or WWFF reference must be extracted from the comment field and new fields created for those. After importing the contest log, the non-contest QSOs can be added manually in Log4OM. Then the log is exported in ADI format for submission to WWFF to claim the national park activation. SOTA chaser contacts are also exported in CSV format and submitted to the SOTA database. There is also upload to eQSL as well, and it is all handled through Log4OM.

Contest contact and multiplier accumulation over time

Contest contact and multiplier accumulation over time

Statistics

The chart on the right shows for each hour the number of contacts made in red and the number of multipliers made in green. Contest contacts made per band are summarised below:

Band   QSOs Mult  Pts  Inv 
160 m    6    3   120   0 
 80 m   12    7   120   0 
 40 m   92   15   460   0 
 20 m   36   31    35   1 
 15 m   13   12    26   0 
 10 m    6    4    18   0 
 
 QSOs/Multiplier:   2.3

Highlights

At the end of the contest I had logged 165 stations plus another 15 non-contest stations (5 CW). I had worked 3 other national parks and 23 SOTA stations. All this using 5W except for the JS1UEH on 15m using 10W. Contacts were made on all 6 bands from 160m to 10m. Local station VK2IM was worked on 5 bands – all but 160m.

As a QRP station I found making contacts to be a very active process of chasing up and down the bands looking for callers and also switching bands regularly. Its not enough to just call away on one frequency and continuously log contacts like the high power stations do. I found myself calling CQ only a small percentage of the time. Often a higher powered deaf station would take over the frequency so one would be forced to QSY. However, this can happen regardless of output power.

It’ll be interesting to see how my contest score compares to other QRP stations.

Thanks to all contest stations and hunters. Great to get you in the log!

151004WyrrabalongContactMap

Map of contacts made from Wyrrabalong NP VKFF-0550

Equipment

  • Elecraft KX3 transceiver
  • Computer headset/microphone
  • Two LiFePO4 4200 mAh batteries
  • 7200 mAh SLA battery
  • Hi-Mound MK-706 CW paddle
  • Lenovo S10-3 netbook computer
  • VK Contest Log (VKCL) v3.12a software
  • ZS6BKW inverted-Vee doublet (28m long) on 9m mast
  • Double size ZS6BKW inverted-Vee doublet (56m long) on 9m travel mast
  • Headlamp
  • Turnigy Accucell 6 charger

Combined Marramarra NP and Canoelands SOTA Activation 26 Sep 2015

Canoelands VK2/SY-001 is a SOTA summit I’ve activated a couple of times, once in 2014 and earlier in 2015. It is my nearest summit though not exactly local. Turns out that while the summit is not actually in Marramarra National Park VKFF-0307, there are three regions within the activation zone that are. The map below shows the regions. The green line identifies the boundaries of the National Park (more-or-less). The non-bluish area containing the yellow VK2/SY-001 pin is the activation zone. The bluish areas are too low to be in the activation zone.

Canoelands activation zone showing Marramarra NP regions

Canoelands VK2/SY-001 SOTA activation zone showing three regions in Marramarra National Park VKFF-0307

Region 1 (-33.505524,151.056584) runs along Canoelands Rd and a thin strip of land is in the park and AZ. A powerline runs almost overhead and parallel with the road making it unwise to activate.

Region 2 (-33.497161,151.067346) lies northwest of the property containing the summit. Extra high tension lines run through the northwest side of the property adjacent to the park. There are no apparent clearings and a moderately steep gradient.

Region 3 (-33.510496,151.055315) has some tracks running through it and is reasonably flat. It is away from power lines. There is access via the Colo Spur Trail off Marra Avenue.

My goal was to activate the park and the summit. Of the 3 options, region 3 seemed the most attractive so this is the one I chose. Driving to the summit I made a right turn onto Marra Avenue rather than continue on to my usual spot a couple of hundred metres from the peak. An out of site car park was found at (-33.51044, 151.05754) by turning right down a track just before the gate to the property bordering the park. From there it is a short walk through the bush to reach the operating zone. I set up on the Colo Spur Trail within 100m of a house at a T-intersection of two trails. A short tree provided support for the squid pole and the antenna wire was run up and down the track roughly NW-SE. There was a slight drizzle and a forecast for showers.

Shack and antenna sited along the Colo Spur Trail

Shack and antenna sited along the Colo Spur Trail

It was 9:30am (2330z) when I made my first contact, pretty much on schedule. Before UTC rollover I made 7 CW contacts on 40m as well as 4 summit-to-summit contacts on various modes and bands. This included one with John VK6NU at Mt Dale VK6/SW-036 on 20m SSB who must have had an early start.

After rollover I worked John again and then a stream of summits. The third contact was with Andrew VK1NAM at Mt Gingera VK1/AC-002 chasing his Mountain Goat status. I’d counted Andrew’s contacts on 40m with me being the second and congratulated him in advance. Turned out that he had already achieved goat status during an unspotted activation on 2m in a contact with Andrew VK1DA. I was then able to congratulate Andrew as a real goat and then work Al VK1RX who was co-activating.

After the stream of S2S contacts, I returned to 40m CW to see if there were any remaining chasers. There were only two, and after a couple more S2S I did a run on 40m SSB notching up 17 contacts in 40 minutes. From then on I did a lot of chasing of S2Ss when not activating another band. I was staying all day on the summit so there was plenty of time to explore. I did 20m CW, 15m CW and 30m CW and worked John VK6NU on each band. 30m SSB was also worked. Attempts on 17m CW and 20m SSB met with no callers.

At around 0400z the QRM suddenly came up, a continuous electrical noise across all bands disrupting the relative calm that I’d enjoyed up ’til then. I put up with it for an hour before deciding that it would hamper chances of working summits in Europe. The noise seemed to be coming from the workshop about 50m away so I knew I had to move. I left the gear and took a walk along the trail to scope out potential new operating points. I also took the GPS with me to check the elevation on the map. I did not want to jump out of the activation zone. A location was found about 200m away and so I returned and closed down the station then moved it and set it up again. The whole process took nearly an hour and it was lucky that there were no new activations during that time.

Second location

New location to avoid local QRM

Second location to avoid local QRM

Setting up again was done in a hurry as a new spot had come up for Al VK1RX and Andrew VK1NAM. They had walked the 7km to Mt Ginger Ale VK1/AC-007 and were doing a quick activation before dropping back to their camp site further back. My antenna was lashed up in a hurry in order to make the S2S contact. Turned out that the antenna was oriented more east-west. The noise had reduced but was not completely eliminated – I was a lot further away from the workshop but closer to the EHT power lines.

Time had marched on. It was now after 4pm or 0600z so I decided to have another go on 40m SSB to take advantage of better band conditions than in the morning stint. I was rewarded with 16 more chaser contacts. and then a spot came up for Andrew VK1DA and Adan VK1FJAW on Baldy Range VK2/ST-008. Calling was disbanded in favour of chasing and they were soon logged. After that a spot for F/HB9BIN at F/VO-033 on 30m came up and I was able to work Juerg with my 10W. He thanked me on SOTAwatch indicating he was using 12W. Many thanks to Juerg! It was my only EU S2S.

Shack at the new location

Shack at the new location

I did a second stint on 20m CW for the DX stations. There were 8 contacts – all from EU except one from Japan. A spot from Peter VK3PF on Mt Useful VK3/VT-016 ended the run. I switched to 40m and found the band alive with RTTY signals all the way from the CW-only segment up to 7090 kHz. The CQ WW RTTY DX Contest was on and there was a lot of activity as 40m had opened to EU as well. I was just able to hear Peter on 7090 under the RTTY and he commented that he had “lost the Forester”. I wasn’t sure quite what that meant but there was too much QRM to enquire further. I went on to work Tony VK3CAT on the same summit. Later on I was shocked to learn that Peter’s car had burnt out in spectacular fashion.

It was 0720z so nearing close down time. I chased Phil OK/G4OBK on 30m but could not hear him very well at all. He was QRPp and there was too much local QRM. Also Sid ZS5AYC was on 20m SSB but nothing was heard there either. A quick pack-up and by 0740z I was walking back to the car, only 5 minutes away. There was still sufficient light to make an easy exit.

Detailed map of sites activated in region 3

Detailed map of sites activated in region 3

A great day out with a very successful activation of the Marramarra park and the Canoelands summit – and the first combined activation. The showers had stayed away and 99 contacts were logged over the 8 hours – 31 being CW. 39 summit-to-summit contacts and one park-to-park were made and the park was qualified for WWFF.
Many thanks to the chasers and other activators!

Log

Date:25/Sep/2015 Summit:VK2/SY-001 (Canoelands) Call Used:VK2IO/P Points: 0 Bonus: 0

Time Call Band Mode Notes
23:30z VK2TWR/P 7MHz SSB VK2/SM-070
23:36z VK3CAT/P 7MHz CW VK3/VC-001
23:38z VK3PF/P 7MHz SSB VK3/VT-026
23:41z VK2YW 7MHz CW
23:43z VK3HRA 7MHz CW
23:45z VK2WG 7MHz CW
23:45z VK7CW 7MHz CW
23:51z VK2NP 7MHz CW
23:52z VK3MEG 7MHz CW
23:54z VK3WE 7MHz CW
23:57z VK6NU/P 14MHz SSB VK6/SW-036

Date:26/Sep/2015 Summit:VK2/SY-001 (Canoelands) Call Used:VK2IO/P Points: 0 Bonus: 0

Time Call Band Mode Notes
00:05z VK6NU/P 14MHz SSB VK6/SW-036
00:06z VK2BJP/3 7MHz SSB VK3/VE-093
00:11z VK1NAM/P 7MHz SSB VK1/AC-002 Andrew now a MG!
00:14z VK1RX/P 7MHz SSB VK1/AC-002
00:15z VK1DA/2 7MHz SSB VK2/ST-005
00:17z VK1FJAW/2 7MHz SSB VK2/ST-005
00:19z VK3PF/P 7MHz SSB VK3/VT-026
00:22z VK3FQSO 7MHz SSB
00:28z VK2HV 7MHz CW
00:30z VK1EM 7MHz CW
00:33z VK3YY/P 7MHz SSB VK3/VE-067
00:40z VK2TWR/P 7MHz SSB VK2/SM-066
00:51z VK2LEE 7MHz SSB
01:01z VK2YK 7MHz SSB
01:02z VK2KTT 7MHz SSB
01:02z VK2NP 7MHz SSB
01:03z VK2JDL 7MHz SSB
01:04z VK3FJOS/P 7MHz SSB
01:05z VK1MA 7MHz SSB
01:06z VK3DAC 7MHz SSB
01:06z VK3YAR 7MHz SSB
01:07z VK3LED 7MHz SSB
01:10z VK3WAM/P 7MHz CW VK3/VN-004
01:11z VK2XXM 7MHz SSB
01:14z VK4FFAB 7MHz SSB
01:15z VK3AV 7MHz SSB
01:18z VK7CW 7MHz SSB
01:19z VK2AJG 7MHz SSB
01:24z VK2FADV 7MHz SSB
01:27z VK1AT 7MHz SSB
01:32z VK3CAT/P 7MHz CW VK3/VT-013
01:42z VK6NU/P 14MHz CW VK6/SW-036
01:55z VK3PF/P 7MHz SSB VK3/VC-001
02:23z VK3YY/P 7MHz SSB VK3/VE-134
02:36z VK3IL/P 7MHz SSB VK3/VT-006
02:53z VK2BJP/3 7MHz SSB VK3/VE-138
02:53z 3D2YJ 21MHz SSB
03:09z VK6NU/P 21MHz CW VK6/SW-036
03:16z VK3CAT/P 7MHz CW VK3/VT-022
03:28z VK3WAM/P 7MHz CW VK3/VN-005
03:34z VK2HRX/P 7MHz SSB VK2/CT-032
03:43z VK3FMPB/P 7MHz SSB VKFF-982
03:48z VK5PAS/P 7MHz SSB
03:52z VK3PF/P 7MHz SSB VK3/VT-013
03:56z VK3YY/P 7MHz SSB VK3/VE-137
04:00z VK2TWR/P 7MHz SSB VK2/SM-071
04:00z VK1DA/2 7MHz SSB VK2/ST-004
04:01z VK1FJAW/2 7MHz SSB VK2/ST-004
04:07z VK4AAC/5 7MHz SSB VKFF-784
04:21z VK7CW 10MHz CW
04:24z VK6NU/P 10MHz CW VK6/SW-036
04:27z ZL2IFB 10MHz CW
04:31z VK1DA/2 7MHz CW VK2/ST-004
04:38z VK5WG 10MHz SSB
04:40z VK4RF 10MHz SSB
04:41z VK4HA 10MHz SSB
05:55z VK1RX/P 7MHz SSB VK1/AC-007
05:56z VK1NAM/P 7MHz SSB VK1/AC-007
06:08z VK3WAM/P 7MHz CW VK3/VN-002
06:20z VK1EM 7MHz SSB
06:22z VK1DI 7MHz SSB
06:25z VK2KT 7MHz SSB
06:26z VK5FANA 7MHz SSB
06:27z VK4RF 7MHz SSB
06:27z VK4HA 7MHz SSB
06:28z VK3ZPF 7MHz SSB
06:29z VK3HRA 7MHz SSB
06:29z VK3AGD 7MHz SSB
06:30z VK3TKK 7MHz SSB
06:31z VK3XCO 7MHz SSB
06:33z VK3XL/QRP 7MHz SSB 2W DSB
06:34z VK3PMG 7MHz SSB
06:35z VK5FMID 7MHz SSB
06:36z VK2ETW 7MHz SSB
06:36z VK1ATP 7MHz SSB
06:37z VK1DA/2 7MHz SSB VK2/ST-008
06:38z VK1FJAW/2 7MHz SSB VK2/ST-008
06:49z F/HB9BIN/P 10MHz CW F/VO-033
06:55z EA2IF 14MHz CW
06:56z DK4RM 14MHz CW
06:58z PA1BR 14MHz CW
07:01z DL1ASF 14MHz CW
07:02z S58AL 14MHz CW
07:03z DM5EE 14MHz CW
07:05z JR0QWW 14MHz CW
07:13z G3NKQ 14MHz CW
07:18z VK3PF/P 7MHz SSB VK3/VT-016
07:19z VK3CAT/P 7MHz CW VK3/VT-016

Snowy Mountains Trip Aug 2015

The trip started out as a weekend of skiing for a friend’s birthday. What it turned into was a 13 day trip with 20 SOTA summit activations and 7 National Park activations. Here’s a potted picture-centric summary with future detailed reports still to come.

Path travelled on the trip to reach all the summits and parks - total distance 2718km

Path travelled on the trip to reach all the summits and parks – total distance 2718km

Fri 21 Aug
Left home and 3 hours later activated Livingstone Hill VK2/SM-093 on the way to Jindabyne. 31 contacts.

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Sat 22 Aug
Skied at Perisher in very windy conditions with chairlifts on hold until lunchtime. In the late afternoon access to Mt Perisher was possible so activated Mt Perisher VK2/SM-007 Kosciuszko NP VKFF-269. Only 5 contacts. See full details here: https://vk2io.wordpress.com/2015/08/25/mt-perisher-activation-22-aug-2015/

Sun 23 Aug
Skied all day at Perisher including First Tracks at 7am. Light winds so would have been better for activating than Saturday. Moved to campsite in Jindabyne.

Mon 24 Aug
Rain started at 2:30am and didn’t stop for days. Summit activations not possible so activated Kosciuszko National Park VKFF-269 from Creel Bay on the shores of Lake Jindabyne. 34 contacts.

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Tue 25 Aug
Still raining so drove to Cooma, wrote the blog for Saturday’s activation and caught a movie.

Wed 26 Aug
Rain eased, I packed up the tent and met Rod VK2TWR. We activated VK2/SM-053 then Jillamatong Hill VK2/SM-064 then Box Ridge VK2/SM-065. Drove out to Wattle Hill VK2/SM-063 as well but it was too wet to activate. Returned to Rod’s place in Nimmitabel to warm up with a hot meal. 10+11+17 contacts.

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Thu 27 Aug
Mostly clear weather. Drove with Rod via Cooma to Big Badja Hill VK2/SM-059 Deua NP VKFF-138 then Bald Mountain VK2/SM-052 Gourock NP VKFF-212. On the way back called in at The Peak VK2/SM-068 but it was getting too dark and wet to activate. 14+14 contacts.

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Fri 28 Aug
Poured with rain so we took the day off for some R&R and planning more activations.

Sat 29 Aug
Sunny when Rod and I left and also at Mt Delegate VK3/VG-034 – my first VK3 summit. Snowing/raining for Goonmirk Rocks VK3/VG-048 Errinundra NP VKFF-158 and last section of road was closed for winter meaning 3 km round trip. Tried to get to Monkeytop VK3/VG-041 but road was closed at the Big Tree so decided to do others rather than walk 7km in the rain. Activated Mt Koolabbra VK3/VG-061 in the rain then VK3/VG-038. Moved on to Cottonwood Range VK3/VG-057 but a long route meant we had to cut a lot of fallen trees across the road and the delay meant activating in the dark. 7+12+13+8+6 contacts – a very productive day even though 3 planned 8 point summits weren’t accessible.

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Sun 30 Aug
SOTA QSO Party day so I went to The Peak VK2/SM-068, set up the fly on the summit and activated all day until it got dark. Only a few short showers but it was windy all day. NVIS on 40m was poor mostly. Made some 20m contacts into EU including S2S with Mike 2E0YYY on Gun G/SP-013 – his only VK. Very happy with 41 S2S in a total of 83 contacts.

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Mon 31 Aug
Nice sunny day. Rod and I went to Wattle Hill VK2/SM-063 then visited Eucumbene Dam for lunch. Afterwards it was Mt Cobrabald VK2/SM-051 then Trig TS3825 VK2/SM-057 leaving just on dusk. All of these are on private property. 10+9+5 contacts.

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Tue 1 Sep
Rod hosed down my muddy car and then I was on my way to the ACT. Stopped in at Boboyan Range VK1/AC-044 Namadji NP VKFF-377 and made 32 contacts. Then headed for Tuggeranong Hill VK1/AC-038 but a flat tyre left no time for an activation. Drove into the city to the Ainslie Football Club for dinner with the VK1 SOTA guys – a very pleasant evening!

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Wed 2 Sep
Stopped by the tyre dealer for some new rubber. Very nice weather and headed to Mt Cowangerong VK2/ST-001 keeping clear of the weather radar tower. After the activation blew one of the new tyres leaving the site – Grrrrr! Headed to South Black Range VK2/ST-006 Tallaganda NP VKFF-474 but wrong GPS guidance delayed arrival. Short activation and then to Mt Palerang VK2/ST-009 arriving 45 mins before dark. Did a very short activation and then walked down in the dark. Refreshed, refilled and then drove home via Braidwood. 19+8+4 contacts.

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Highlights

  • 20 SOTA summits activated – 12 jointly activated with Rod VK2TWR – all qualified
  • 318 SOTA contacts, 198 activator points inc. 48 winter bonus points
  • 56 summit-to-summit contacts
  • 7 VKFF park activations – 6 on SOTA summits
  • 119 VKFF contacts
  • 2718 km travelled

Thanks
Many thanks to the chasers and hunters who made contact.
Big thanks to Rod VK2TWR and XYL Judy for their hospitality.

Mt Perisher activation 22 Aug 2015

Mt Perisher VK2/SM-007 VKFF-269 Kosciuszko NP 2054m 10 pts

Down in the Snowy Mountains for a skiing weekend and planned to activate Mt Perisher while there. An alert was put up for Saturday lunchtime and upon arrival at the Perisher Valley skifields, the wind was so strong that the chairlifts weren’t running. I posted a cancelled notice on the alert.

Skied that morning but it was overcrowded since the snowriders could not get out of the valley and onto the higher slopes. Ended up catching a bus to Smiggins Holes which is another part of the resort and a lot less crowded. After a few hours learnt that some of the chairs had begun operating in Perisher so returned for a few more hours. Later on moved to the Mt perisher area for some skiing. Took the Eyre T-bar lift up to the top of the mountain and then climbed up to the top, leaving my skis near the ski patrol hut.

Operating site on Mt Perisher VK2/SM-007

Operating site on Mt Perisher VK2/SM-007

At the top of the mountain it was blowing a gale. I stumbled around in my ski boots over the rocks looking for some shelter from the wind coming from the back of the mountain. Eventually I found a lee in between two rocks without a river running through. It was quite near to the trig point.

Set up the Diamond RHM8B portable antenna connected directly to the KX3. Four 5m radials were run out but I did not bother to untangle them too much. To the top was clipped a 5m radiating wire and it was run across two raised rocks and weighted down on the end to stop it flying up. Yes the wind was really over 60 km/h. It took a few goes to get the antenna in place. A spot was put up on SOTAwatch for the activation on 40m CW.

Radio shack on a rock - Mt Perisher VK2/SM-007

Radio shack on a rock – Mt Perisher VK2/SM-007

Set up the KX3 with a small 500 mAh 3-cell LiPo battery as the power source. This was the first time I’ve used it since I normally take my 4200 mAh battery, but this was to be a short activation. Adjusted the length of the loading coil on the antenna and got a good match. Started calling and had 3 replies straight away – VK3AFW, VK3PF and VK3HRA. Reports varied between S3 and S7 so it seemed as though the antenna was working.

Kept calling some more and had no more replies and then I noticed that the extension wire had not actually been clipped on to the top of the antenna in all the rush to get on the air. I had been operating purely off the 1.6m telescopic whip leaning against a rock.

Telescopic whip supported by a rock - Mt Perisher VK2/SM-007

Telescopic whip supported by a rock – Mt Perisher VK2/SM-007

After clipping on the extension wire, retuned the loading coil with a lot less inductance and continued calling. After 5 minutes more I had replies from VK2JDR and VK1EM. After a little bit more calling there were no more replies and I was getting rather cold and windblown. Hanging on to the scrap of paper for the log was tricky whilst trying to operate CW. Unfortunately there was no more time for SSB, and since the lifts were closing I had to get off the mountain. Calls were being received from ski buddies with rendez-vous points mentioned. So, a very quick pack-up and then skied off the mountain.

Antenna wire held between two rocks - Mt Perisher VK2/SM-007

Antenna wire held between two rocks – Mt Perisher VK2/SM-007

Thanks to all the callers allowing me to qualify the mountain. Sorry to those SSB folk who would have liked a contact. As it turned out, weather on the Sunday was fine with very low wind – it would have been a much better day to activate.

Update

There has been some interest in my attire during this activation. It’s suffice to say that I was dressed similarly to the gentleman on the right of this picture. The occasion was a birthday for one of our group. I’m not sure whether any other SOTA activator would own up to wearing such an outfit during an activation!

Daniel, Louise, Dean and Gerard at Perisher Ski Resort in our "ski suits"

Daniel, Louise, Dean and Gerard at Perisher Ski Resort in our “ski suits”

Popran NP for the Remembrance Day Contest 15-16 Aug 2015

Popran National Park  VKFF-417  (-33.38463,151.188109) QF56OO

On the entry to one of the three areas of the Popran NP lies the Ironbark picnic area. With a picnic table, isolation from powerlines and a nearby parking area it provides a great location for radio activities. On this occasion it was the Remembrance Day Contest colloquially known as the “RD”, the biggest contest event on the Australian calendar. Operating in the park allowed qualification as a WWFF award as well as entry into the contest, and all stations contacted qualify as “Hunters” for the park in the WWFF scheme.

Popran National Park site for RD 2015

Popran National Park site for RD 2015

Ironbark Picnic Area, Ironbark Rd, Glenworth Valley, NSW

The park is easy enough to find as it is not far from the M1 freeway north of Sydney as the crow flies, however one must travel a circuitous route via Central Mangrove by vehicle. The road goes no more than 100m into the park where one finds the Ironbark picnic area. A major shortcut between Peats Ridge Rd and Ironbark Rd is available, but only if travelling on foot, a route known as the Pipeline Trail. There are a number of trails leading from the carpark, however a barrier prevents only pedestrians and horse riders from continuing.

Arrival

With the contest start time of 0300z (1pm) I arrived half an hour before for setup. The 9m squid pole was set up against a metal post marking the boundary of the carpark and the ZS6BKW inverted-Vee doublet raised in an east-west direction. The nearby picnic table was filled with radio gear and a netbook for logging. There was time for a bite to eat before kick-off, but not much opportunity for listening to the pre-event broadcast.

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Power

For this contest I had decided to enter as a low power station transmitting at 5 Watts since the availability of juice to run the radio was limited. Batteries on hand were two Lithium Iron Phosphate units with 4200 mAh capacity and a 7200 mAh Gel cell. These would have to power the radio as well as the netbook computer for the duration of the event. Local recharging was available in the vehicle, but could only handle one battery at a time. As a backup, operations could be conducted from the vehicle as there is no restriction on WWFF activities being conducted in this way. As it turned out, the backup was not required.

Radio and logger in Popran NP

Radio and logger in Popran NP

Contesting

40m SSB was the focus at the start of the contest. After 20 mins a spot from Glenn VK6HAD on Isongerup Peak VK6/SW-003 came up on SOTAwatch so I switched to 20m and was able to work him, but only received a 3×1 report off the end of my east-west antenna. Glad to get him in the log. Returned to 40m SSB for the hour and then switched to CW and there were plenty of contacts to be had.

A spot came up from Takeshi JS1UEH on 15m and I could hear him very weakly. I tried to call but there was no reply even after jacking up the power to 10W. Nick VK2AOH called him too. I’d missed Takeshi’s 17m activation, but afterwards he went to 10m . I listened there but heard nothing. Propagation conditions seemed below average. Shortly afterwards a spot appeared for Compton VK2HRX at Bulgo Hill VK2/IL-017 on 40m SSB, but I was too late as he had already flown to 20m. I couldn’t hear him on that band – he was only 120km away yet too far for ground wave.

After all that SOTA chasing I settled back in for more contesting on 40m SSB and CW. Tried 20m SSB and there were a few stations there, but I was not able to work many of them. There did not seem to be anyone on 20m CW. Later on a spot came up from Mike 2E0YYY at Gun G/SP-013 on 20m and he was too weak to attempt a contact – my antenna was pointing the wrong way anyway. There were other SOTA activations that I missed completely being focused on the contest. One that wasn’t came from John VK6NU at Mt William VK6/SW-042 as the sun sank low in the sky. I worked him on 20m SSB as a SOTA contact and only found out later he was giving out RD contest numbers as well. D’oh! Only a 4×1 report but glad to have him in the paper log even when not in the computerised RD log.

Antenna positioning in Popran NP

Antenna positioning in Popran NP

Second antenna

After one more contact I decided it was time to prepare for 160m. A second squid pole was set up and the 56m long double-sized ZS6BKW hoisted aloft perpendicular to the other antenna. This antenna covers 160m-20m and was oriented north-south-ish (the light blue one in the diagram). There was a certain amount of consternation sorting out which antenna wire would be the higher one where they crossed, and also sorting out the best tie-off points for the ends. I used the travel squid pole for the second antenna and it collapsed a couple of times. The pole was flexing so much with only half the antenna load on it that the antenna kept flying off the top as well, so in the end I put gaffa tape around the top section. One end of the first antenna had to be relocated to maintain separation between the antenna wires. What should have been a quick job took about half an hour, but it was complete before dark and high enough to not be an obstruction in the carpark.

The longer antenna is a better performer on 80m and it wasn’t long before 80m became the band of choice for contacts in the contest. A couple of hours on 80m before 160m contacts were snared, the first being with Alan VK4SN the contest manager on CW. Band noise was low so that gave my low power signal a chance. I spent most of the evening on 80m and 160m jumping between SSB and CW with only occasional forays on 40m. On SSB especially I would call certain stations and they would not respond, so I learnt the calls to avoid on account of my low power. Some stations were obviously running 400W and did not necessarily have good “ears”. On 80m I mostly ran without the receive preamp as it saves a little bit of juice.

Computing

In the early evening, the internal battery for the Netbook ran low so it was recharged using the car charger connected to a 7200 mAh SLA battery. After a few hours the charging battery went flat so had to be transferred to the car for a recharge of its own. Then later on a 4200 mAh LiFe battery was used to recharge the computer. The computer was going through batteries much faster than the radio, but its screen was on most of the time albeit at a very low brightness setting. Windows 10 had been installed a few days beforehand and there were no stability issues arising. The logging software used was VK Contest Log (VKCL) v3.12a. As I log each contact, I put the frequency in kHz in the comment field and then a name, lighthouse number, SOTA summit code or National Park code. It is useful to have the frequency for transferring to my station log, and during the contest it can be a useful reference when looking for stations that you haven’t worked. In this contest I did not use it much because there was plenty of activity right across the band. It would be good to automate the recording of the frequency, but that is beyond the capabilities of the VKCL software, and for me it is more important to have logging software that automates the contest rules.

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Triple points

During the period from 1am to 6am local (1500z-2000z) any contacts made earn triple points. This provides a huge incentive for stations to keep going in the wee small hours when they should otherwise be resting. I was bitten by this bug too and kept operating until I ran out of steam at 3am. There was actually still plenty of activity and I made contacts on 160m, 80m and 40m. One golden contact with VK2GGC on 160m CW earnt 12 points. Seems the 160m CW ops are not nightowls as I expected there would have been more. Point allocation is 1 for SSB and 2 for CW, then doubled for 160m. Any 160m CW contact is prized. I did hope to work WA or New Zealand on 160m but it didn’t happen. I did make it to VK5, VK7 and northern VK4 on 5 Watts so can’t complain.

Resumption

Morning was a slow start. I must have woken before 7am and then fallen asleep again. In the end I got up around 7:45am. All the gear on the picnic table had to be restored and I was back in the contest. First in the log was Andrew VK1DA on 80m CW, also a QRP operator. There was no activity observed on 160m and very little on 80m. Everything from then on was 40m and above. There was plenty of activity on both SSB and CW with just about every slot between 7065 and 7160 kHz being utilised by contest operators and lighthouse operators for ILLW if it wasn’t being used for the Sunday morning WIA broadcast. With so much activity I found it more productive to hunt and peck for contacts on SSB rather than call on my own frequency. There were times when I’d call and call and not elicit a response, obviously due to my low power.

In the last two hours of the contest Andrew VK1NAM had activated a SOTA summit Booroomba Rocks VK1/AC-026. I chased him on 10m and 6m not expecting signals. Eventually he came onto 40m and I was able to find him after calling on various frequencies. There was less than half an hour to go and Andrew closed, but I continued on his spotted frequency. There weren’t many SOTA chasers around as I’m sure the RD Contest had forced them to go to ground. Under the RD rules you can’t use a public cluster below 50 MHz so that ruled me out from spotting my National Park activation on ParksnPeaks or on the DX Cluster. Still, I was able to catch a few regular chasers by riding the shirt tails of Andrew’s SOTA activation.

Conclusion

RD Contest scoring statistics for VK2IO

RD Contest scoring statistics for VK2IO

I closed out the contest on 40m CW having spent most of the last hour on 40m SSB. In my RD log I had 271 contacts, 96 on CW and 175 on SSB. There were 2 additional SOTA contacts on 20m SSB with VK6 so 273 total for the parks activation and 122 unique callsigns. Breakdown was 22 on 160m, 103 on 80m, 141 on 40m and 7 on 20m.

The bar graph from VKCL shows the rate at which contacts were made with red being the contact count and green being the points for each hour of the contest. Most productive time points-wise (green bar) was between 1500z and 1700z (1 to 3am) – those triple points really make a difference. Also the 160m contacts between 0900z and 1100z (7pm and 9pm) made the score kick along too.

Highest contact rate was in the first hour 0300z and the first hour after resumption 2200z. Lowest rate was in the hour when I was setting up the second antenna at 0700z. Note to self: set up all antennas before the contest starts!

Mt Olive

After all the contesting gear was packed away there was time to explore the park before my next appointment. I decided to walk up to Mt Olive which is only about 800m from the carpark. In terms of elevation it is only about 20m higher, but one must first go down hill before climbing up. The summit is a fairly flat rocky platform with loads of trees. It overlooks the Glenworth Valley to the east and one can see (but not hear) the M1 motorway in the distance. A very pretty spot for very little effort. There are other trails in the park and an attraction called the Emerald Pool, but one would require a few hours to explore them. While I was operating, a number of parties did enter or emerge from the park so there are certainly visitors, and a lot of them seemed to travel on foot to the carpark. Some may have been deterred by the access road as it helps to have some ground clearance even though the national parks say that it is suitable for 2WD.

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Highlights

  • Qualified the Popran national park with 122 different callsigns logged
  • RD Contest was fun!
  • Comparing two antennas in the field
  • QRP really can go the distance (mostly)
  • Powering a computer a bigger challenge than powering a radio

Equipment

  • Elecraft KX3 @ 5W
  • Two LiFePO4 4200 mAh batteries
  • 7200 mAh SLA battery
  • Hi-Mound MK-706 CW paddle
  • Lenovo S10-3 netbook computer
  • ZS6BKW inverted-Vee doublet (28m long) on 9m mast
  • Double size ZS6BKW inverted-Vee doublet (56m long) on 9m mast
  • Headlamp
  • Turnigy Accucell 6 charger

Thanks for all the contacts!

150815PopranContactMap

Map of CW(green) and SSB(red) contacts from Popran NP VKFF-0417