Mountain Goat on Mt Tarana 27 Jun 2016

The tenth and final summit of my “Goat or Bust” trip in the NSW Central Tablelands was Mt Tarana VK2/CT-008 located midway between Lithgow and Bathurst. There were enough SOTA activation points in this summit to put me past the magic one thousand mark so the yearning to complete this one was high.

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Gerard VK2IO activating Mt Tarana VK2/CT-008

Nick VK2AOH had scouted out Mt Tarana a few times as access is via private property on all sides. He’d made contact with some of the owners. When one door closed he found a way to open another one. With some skilful negotiating with one property owner he organised access and a meeting time was arranged. We met the owner who promised that as long as we tippy-toed across the adjacent property there would be no issue. So, we set upon our journey to approach the summit from the northern side. We crossed the first property, and to our great surprise, the landowner of the second property was lying in wait for us. Nick’s negotiating skills would be put to the test once again – and he came right through. There were some anxious moments, but thankfully the expedition was allowed to proceed.

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Nick VK2AOH at the base of the northern side of Mt Tarana

Following the fence line, up and up we went climbing into snowy ground. Through the boundary gate a wide clearing was found on the edge of a forest. We followed the clearing and it seemed to be leading us directly toward the summit. After a couple of kilometres the track looped back around and it was then apparent that its purpose was more as a firebreak. Jumping the fence we were in another forest and there was no track. We followed the GPS and it was only a few hundred metres to the summit where the trig point was easily found. It had been snowing on and off during the climb and the ground was carpeted with snow. It certainly looked a picture!

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Gate into the wide clearing that leads to Mt Tarana

After a few happy snaps I sent off an advisory spot to SOTAwatch giving 15 minutes notice of our activation. The ZS6BKW antenna was set up using the trig point as a vertical support for the 10m squid pole. A patch of ground that was clear of snow was picked for the radio shack. It was about 5m away from the trig point. The KX3 was set up on a ground sheet there and set for 15 Watts output.

Putting out a call on 40m CW the response was an instant pile-up. It was late on a Monday morning and not quite what I was expecting. I’m not sure whether it was the mountain or the operator who was in high demand. The mountain had only been activated once before by Nick so it was certainly a rarity. We hoped to change that and give everyone an opportunity to get this summit in their logs.

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Gerard VK2IO in the “shack” on Mt Tarana

Working through the callers there was Rick VK4RF and VK4HA then Ron VK3AFW. The fourth caller was Steve VK7CW and I was overjoyed making this contact as it made me an official Mountain Goat. I expressed my excitement in CW though it may have been more easily conveyed on SSB. Total radio time to achieve Goathood – less than three minutes!

A further five CW contacts were made and then I switched to SSB where more chasers were waiting. There was no need of a spot straight away as the pile-up would be overwhelming. Nev VK5WG was the first station worked on SSB. A stream of stations followed and the first SSB spot was put up 7 minutes later. Contacts on SSB continued for half an hour with 19 stations logged including ZL2ATH as a summit-to-summit. Obviously conditions were good as you don’t often make a QRP to QRP contact with New Zealand at midday on 40m!

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Nick VK2AOH in the “shack” at Mt Tarana

Nick jumped on the radio, or rather, swapped in his own KX3 customised just the way he likes it. He worked 40m CW for half an hour before switching to SSB. Five contacts were made using just 5 Watts so it seems that all the chasers were exhausted. Having seen a spot from Mike VK6MB I was keen to try 20m SSB.

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Gerard VK2IO at Mt Tarana trig point

My KX3 was swapped in again and I started calling on 20m. Band conditions were poor and only Paul VK5PAS was worked with my signal marginal to him. After 10 minutes with no callbacks it was time to go QRT. Before shutting down Nick and I took turns leaving the activation zone and working the other on 2m FM. That way we could claim the chaser points for working the hill.

The wind was certainly a lazy one and we were very happy to end the activation and warm up on the walk back. Total time on the summit was an hour and three-quarters. The low cloud that obscured the view on the ascent had cleared so some more distant views were possible, filtered by tall trees. Light snow was still falling at times, very unusual for the middle of the day.

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Valley views on the descent from Mt Tarana

It was great to make Mountain Goat on Mt Tarana. It has taken 205 summit activations lasting 2.5 years in 25 SOTA regions over 8 countries. What a journey!

Thank you to Nick VK2AOH for company on this activation, sorting out the route and organising access to Mt Tarana.
Thanks to all the chasers for coming out of the woodwork on a weekday and making the activation a success. This was the coldest of the ten activations over the long weekend and also the most exciting for me!

Log

Date:27/Jun/2016 Summit:VK2/CT-008 (Mount Tarana) Call Used:VK2IO/P Points: 8 Bonus: 3

Time Call Band Mode Notes
01:30z VK4RF 7MHz CW
01:30z VK4HA 7MHz CW
01:31z VK3AFW 7MHz CW
01:32z VK7CW 7MHz CW YAY! Now a Mountain Goat!
01:34z VK3CAT 7MHz CW
01:36z VK3PF 7MHz CW
01:38z ZL1BYZ 7MHz CW
01:39z VK3BYD/P 7MHz CW
01:41z VK5IS 7MHz CW
01:48z VK5WG 7MHz SSB
01:49z VK3LED 7MHz SSB
01:49z VK5EE 7MHz SSB
01:50z VK2NIJ/4 7MHz SSB
01:51z VK5FANA 7MHz SSB
01:52z VK3PF 7MHz SSB
01:54z VK2WOW 7MHz SSB
01:57z VK4HNS/P 7MHz SSB
02:02z VK3GGG 7MHz SSB
02:02z VK3PMG 7MHz SSB
02:02z VK3FLCS 7MHz SSB
02:03z VK3SQ 7MHz SSB
02:03z VK2YW/M 7MHz SSB
02:06z VK2TH 7MHz SSB
02:10z ZL2ATH 7MHz SSB
02:12z VK2ZVG 7MHz SSB
02:13z VK4RF 7MHz SSB
02:13z VK4HA 7MHz SSB
02:14z VK6JON/7 7MHz SSB
02:53z VK5PAS 14MHz SSB
03:05z VK2AOH/P 144MHz FM

Winter SOTA Party on Mt Bindo 2 Aug 2015

Jenolan State Forest VK2/CT-005 1310m 8pts QF56AG

For the VK1 Winter SOTA Party I headed up to the NSW Central Tablelands on the Saturday afternoon so as to be ready for an early start on Sunday 2/8/15. En route I stopped off in the Jenolan State Forest for an activation of SOTA summit VK2/CT-005. Having already activated there in March it was just for the 3 winter bonus points and any contacts for the 10m/6m challenge. The summit is 90 km due west of home and takes just under 2.5 hours to get to by road. Upon arrival I put up a spot on SOTAwatch for 10m CW and quickly set up just down the hill from the tall pine trees to the east so as to have a better takeoff to Europe via the long path.

Jenolan State Forest activation site

Jenolan State Forest activation site VK2/CT-005

Luckily Nick VK2AOH was already waiting for me when I jumped on the key. On 10m SSB I had one call from VK2PM in Sydney who is not a regular SOTA chaser. Box ticked for the 10m/6m challenge! Next I went to 20m CW and worked a bunch of EU stations with received signal reports around the 4 or 5 mark so it seemed my signal was climbing over that pine forest. Then to 40m CW to keep the locals happy and 8 more contacts. One hour before sunset I had to close to make it to my destination so there wasn’t an opportunity for 40m SSB – sorry chasers. There were 3 summit-to-summit contacts on 40m with Justin VK7TW & Hugh VK5NHG on SSB and Ian VK5CZ on CW and a total of 21 contacts. A quick close down and then the short 25 min drive to the next summit, retracing my steps most of the way.

Shack in Jenolan State Forest VK2/CT-005

Shack in Jenolan State Forest VK2/CT-005

Mt Bindo VK2/CT-003 1363m 8pts QF56AH

Arrived at Mt Bindo 15 mins before sunset and started setting up the antenna. I was torn between jumping on 20m to catch the last of the EU long path propagation and setting up the camp site. There was quite a wind on the summit and it seemed best to create some shelter before starting to operate so the tent went up right next to the trig point. 45 mins after sunset I spotted on 20m CW and was able to work only one EU and one Qld station so the propagation had flown. I tried 20m SSB and made no contacts.

Camping at the Mt Bindo trig point VK2/CT-003

Camping at the Mt Bindo trig point VK2/CT-003

First Japan-Australia summit-to-summit

About to swap bands when a SOTA spot came in from an activator in Japan. It was Takeshi JS1UEH on 17m and he was activating Ashiosan JA/IB-006 in Ibaraki prefecture just NE of Tokyo. Switching bands I heard Nick VK2AOH making a contact so I thought there was a chance for me too. Takeshi’s signal was not strong, but it was the first SOTA station I’d heard from Japan so I was very excited. My antenna was set up north-south for Europe/NA not east-west for Japan so the weak signals were no surprise. The contact was made and a 429 report sent. This is the first summit-to-summit SOTA contact between VK and JA. Japan has only recently become part of SOTA on 1st July. Soon afterwards Takeshi spotted on 15m and his signal was a similar strength as on 17m. He apparently did 20m earlier too but I was unaware of that. Great to make the contact with Takeshi-san!

SOTA database record of first JA-VK S2S

SOTA database record of first JA-VK S2S

Hunting

After the JA S2S excitement I progressed through 40m CW, 40m SSB and 80m CW. Unusually, there were no callers on 40m SSB, but it was 7pm by then so the band was in DX mode. I heard gunshots in the distance, several volleys worth. This was obviously hunters in the state forest. On a previous visit I met a professional hunter contracted to eradicate wild dogs. On the drive in I had passed some people who were probably preparing for this activity once the sun had gone down.

Sunset at Mt Bindo VK2/CT-003

Sunset at Mt Bindo VK2/CT-003

Overnight

With HF contacts exhausted, I started to prepare for the following day. Checked out 2m on a hand-held and found I could reach a lot of repeaters including the Mt Ginini repeater west of Canberra, a distance of over 200km. This should be a good way to contact activators – or so I thought. Had some dinner, listened on 80m for a while and then turned in early. Just before drifting off to sleep I heard the sound of my squid pole collapsing. I decided to leave fixing it until the morning. There was a slight possibility that I would wake up for the EU short path opening but I’d made an executive decision not to bother. The wind was strong and blew all night. I was woken up a few times by strong gusts deforming the tent – see the picture! In the end I decamped to the quietness and safety of the car which was not quite as comfortable but better for shut-eye.

Sunrise at Mt Bindo VK2/CT-003

Sunrise at Mt Bindo VK2/CT-003

Cancellation

Overnight there had been no rain, but the wind was getting stronger. The dawn was lovely but it wasn’t long before showers arrived, just short ones with long gaps in between. I reset my antenna on the squid pole and changed its orientation 90 degrees to favour the ACT. Checking the email over breakfast there were many messages on the adverse weather in Canberra. Heavy rain had fallen there overnight and discussion raged over whether to postpone or cancel the SOTA Party. There was a decision to delay the start and make a further assessment of the weather. After 2 hours with further rain arriving, the event was cancelled. I was already set up and ready to go so that wasn’t an option for me 🙂

Luckily, the Canberra weather did clear up a bit and some hardy operators ventured out in the rain and activated some summits. First morning contact was with Roald VK1MTS at One Tree Hill VK1/AC-035 on 40m. I had spotted and called on 6m SSB and 10m SSB with no result up until then. There was a spot from VK3TST/1 on 52.525MHz FM but the WIA broadcast from Dural was blasting out on that frequency. Note to VK1 ops – avoid 52.525 from 10 to 11:30am Sundays.

Strong northerly wind gust = major tent deformation!

Strong northerly wind gust = major tent deformation!

Rollover

Just after UTC rollover at 10am a sequence of spots arrived – luckily not the wet kind. Leading the charge were VK3s HRA and CAT on 40m CW and signals were good. Roald then popped up on 10m and I was able to make a S2S contact into VK1 with his 40W registering an S4 on my meter over a 183km path. My 10W gave him a 5×1 signal and it was an easy contact. If only there were more activators! I stuck around listening for all Roald’s callers from VK1. The only one heard faintly was Ian VK1DI. Clearly it helps to be on a summit! A spot did come up for Andrew VK1DA on 10m but all I heard was Roald and nothing on 6m. See the elevation profile from Roald to me in the following picture. The purple oval shows the first Fresnel zone on 28.5 MHz.

One Tree Hill VK1/AC-035 to Mt Bindo VK2/CT-003 elevation profile with first Fresnel zone for 10m

One Tree Hill VK1/AC-035 to Mt Bindo VK2/CT-003 elevation profile with first Fresnel zone for 10m

Shocking!

I stuck around for another hour logging four more S2S contacts. At one point I started to hear a succession of pulses through the radio and wondered whether this was the approach of lightning. I disconnected the antenna and got a big jolt from static electricity when touching the BNC connector. It must have built up on the antenna due to the wind. My radio was sitting off the ground, the feedline was off the ground and there was no earthing so no discharge path. Kite-lifted antennas are recommended to be kept grounded and I wonder if other portable operators ever earth their stations? The KX3 has zero DC resistance between the two legs of the antenna so any static buildup would be summed, yet I’ve never been bitten before. Food for thought for my next activation.

Darker clouds were building and it seemed as though the rain would arrive soon. The tent had been blown dry and I did not want to put it away wet so down it came. Folding up the tent in a gale was interesting, and not successful at all. It wasn’t neat but it was dry. The station came down shortly afterwards and it was spitting with rain when the squid pole was collapsed. Timed that pretty well I thought. A total of 17 contacts including 9 S2S had made for a great activation at Bindo.

Hartley

When planning the weekend I pencilled in some other summits for activating in the afternoon. These would require a 1 hour walk each way. There was plenty of time to do them but the prospect of bad weather made the idea unattractive so instead of driving there, I drove to the historic town of Hartley and checked that out instead. While there I was able to make 5 chaser contacts, check out the gallery, old pub and courthouse. I was hoping that Nick VK2AOH on the Newnes Plateau nearby would activate on 10m but it did not eventuate so I headed back towards Sydney.

Wollemi National Park VKFF-544

At Kurrajong I stopped at the Bellbird lookout after a 90 minute drive. Weather was fine, warm and clear with great views. The wind had dropped too. Consulting the book of maps I realised I was overlooking the nearby Wollemi National Park. The idea surfaced that it wasn’t too late to do a WWFF activation of the park.

Kurrajong Lookout panorama over Wollemi NP

Kurrajong Lookout panorama over Wollemi NP

The GPS unit with topographic maps was consulted to find the exact location of the park and the coordinates set for navigation. I ended up on a track that weaves into the park and found the fence line that marks the boundary. Luckily this agreed with the GPS. The squid pole was attached to the back of the car and the antenna raised. I set up the LDG antenna matcher inline as well.

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First problem was that there was very sketchy mobile coverage. Try as I might using the parksnpeaks app there was no way of getting a spot up for my planned activation of 20m. The EU long path was open and I called but had no response. With no spotting ability I jumped onto 7090 and started calling there and got a response straight away from Paul VK5PAS en route to activating a park himself. 23 VK callers followed and one ZL and some of them surprised at the signal strength asked what I was running. Paul came back on after 10 minutes and gave me first contact into the new park he was activating – thanks, Paul! The sketchy track into my location meant I had to close down before dark to allow easy exit. There was no way I was getting on 20m at all, but there were enough contacts in the log already to call it a success. There will be other opportunities to reactivate this park and make 44 contacts.

Thanks for all chaser/hunter contacts and summit-to-summits.
Big thanks to Andrew VK1NAM who organised the event – and was then not able to participate. Mother Nature truly has the final word. Now looking forward to the rescheduled “Mark 2” event on 30th August.


Highlights

  • First JA S2S contact – with Takeshi JS1UEH
  • 10m S2S contact into VK1 with Roald VK1MTS
  • Surprise 10m contacts from VK2/CT-005
  • Unexpected park activation at Wollemi
  • 12 S2S contacts, 1 park-to-park contact
  • Tent survived the gales without maintenance
  • Winter SOTA Party was a success despite cancellation!

Map of the trip

Winter SOTA Party 2015 trip map

Winter SOTA Party 2015 trip map

Equipment – SOTA

  • Elecraft KX3 @ 10W
  • ZS6BKW inverted Vee doublet on a 9m squid pole
  • 4200 mAh LiFePO4 battery
  • PC headset
  • Quickdome 4-person tent

Equipment – WWFF

  • Yaesu FT-100D @ 100W
  • ZS6BKW inverted Vee doublet on a 9m squid pole
  • LDG Z-11Pro matcher

Roving for Winter Field Day and SOTA – June 2015

Field Days provide a great opportunity to get out and operate portable, and combining that with SOTA is very attractive. In Winter the SOTA bonus kicks in for those >1200m peaks making it irresistible. Planned 3 summits in the first 24 hrs for this trip allowing entry as a Rover station in the VHF-UHF Field Day. Another 4 summits on my to-do list also followed.

Saturday 20 Jun

Packed the car with my regular SOTA kit but also prepared myself for the field day. Recently a 2m linear amplifier had been acquired so it needed to have a plug and also a battery to supply it. Anderson plugs were soldered on to the leads on the amp and onto a new LiFePO4 4200 mAh battery, the same type used with the KX3. The amp raises the output of the KX3 on 2m from 3W to 30W, a useful increase when contesting. The amp and a 3-element tape measure Yagi were the core additions to allow 2m operation.

The other band of interest is 70cm. The KX3 tops out at 2m so I took along my Yaesu VX-7R tri-band hand-held which would at least provide an FM capability on 70cm. An SMA-BNC adaptor was also taken along in order to connect the radio to an external antenna.

Track and summits activated during the trip

Summits activated during the trip and APRS track between them

VK2/CT-004 1330m 8pts QF46xf Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve

Summit: (-33.759, 149.986806) Carpark: (-33.75161, 149.983202) Leave bitumen: (-33.715389, 150.00819)
The first summit is in a forest along the road to Jenolan Caves and had eluded previous attempts to find. This time I was armed with good GPS topographic maps and knowledge on how to navigate there from SOTAwatch. It turned out quite easy to find the way to the car park and then there’s a gentle 900m walk to the summit. My backpack was quite heavy with the extra field day gear so a walk-in that was not too arduous was welcome!

There’s plenty of flat cleared area on the summit with a road track running right through. There are also posts to attach a squid pole so setting up was quick. That was lucky since the field day started at 11am and I hadn’t got there until nearly 1pm. In a variation to normal SOTA activations, a notebook PC was brought along and used for logging field day contacts so the paper log was only used for those that could not be claimed – basically anything below 6m.

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I started out on 6m and made some contacts fairly quickly. Within a few minutes Andrew VK1DA came up portable on Mt Alexandra VK2/IL-005. After working on 6m I was encouraged to try 2m so the linear amp was set up and connected to the Yagi. It was a relief to find that Andrew could be heard on 2m and that the linear was working. The Yagi had to be held up manually as I had not brought along any hardware to attach it to the squid pole. I could stand up, hold the Yagi up 2.5m off the ground while making contact as I used my headset and VOX. The main difficulty was logging as my computer was sitting on the ground and there were not enough spare hands to carry out all functions simultaneously. I had to memorise the report, serial number and 6 character grid square – quite a challenge! This became easier as time went on as the same stations were being worked which had the same grid square.

After a couple of contacts on 2m it was time to try 70cm FM. My first contact with VK2TG was quite easy as he was reasonably close by in the Blue Mountains. It was much more difficult to reach Andrew being much further away. I could barely hear his signal which was also only 5W. In the end I stood up on a log to get as far off the ground as possible and used the 50cm whip on the hand-held to make the contact. It took quite a few tries but we got there in the end.

I stayed on the summit for 2 hrs which allowed a second contact with VK2TG on 6m, and then it was time to shift to the next location.

VK2/CT-002 Mt Trickett 1371m 8pts QF46xe Kananga-Boyd NP VKFF-256

Summit: (-33.833099, 149.984207) Carpark: (-33.832176, 149.9838)
A drive-in summit that I’ve activated before. Arrival was just before sunset and I decided to scout around to see if there was a trig point but nothing was found. Last year I had activated closer to the large mast and communications station just down the road. This time I wanted to stay clear of the inevitable high powered VHF/UHF transmitters on that site to reduce the noise floor. I set up on the edge of the forest near the summit in order to get away from the noisy powerline that runs down the clearing where one parks. This turned out to be far enough away to avoid the noise. The legs of the ZS6BKW antenna were woven between branches of the tall straight trees.

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Making contacts on this summit was a struggle. All the Field Day participants I expected to still be around weren’t there as it was after sundown. Luckily Andrew VK1DA was still on after having moved to Mt Gibraltar VK2/IL-001. I managed to crack contacts with Andrew on 6m and 2m but 70cm proved elusive. We put it down to the heavily forested area on the summit preventing any takeoff on that band – and also the QRP and FM restriction due to my gear. See Andrew’s blog. With very little Field Day activity, I spotted on 40m CW and made a couple of contacts but it was very quiet. There was no-one on 40m SSB. Andrew helped me qualify the summit on CW as we had previously only worked on SSB. After 2 hours on the summit for only 8 contacts I pulled the plug to make the long drive to the next one.

VK2/CT-011 Mt Macquarie 1205m 8pts QF46oi

Summit: (-33.646301, 149.180801) Carpark: on summit Turnoff: (-33.649824, 149.169654)
Drove through Oberon, Bathurst and Blayney en-route to the next summit which is near the town of Carcoar. Found myself stuck on a muddy track leading to the summit with lots of logging debris under the car so decided to wait until daylight before moving the car. Overnight temps dropped below zero and in the morning the frost coating the ground and the fallen wood looked spectacular. I was able to clear the wood from under the car and reverse back down the muddy track then continue on the road I had turned off, and with the aid of the topo maps drive a few km right to the summit. Best access from the Mt Macquarie Rd turnoff coordinate is to drive nearly 3 km then at the T junction (-33.644429, 149.190715) turn left and drive 1km straight up to the summit. There are a couple of towers there and a trig point 100m behind the towers.

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Sunday 21 Jun

I set up near the approach road which was open and clear whereas the trig point has overhanging trees. First contact in the log was before 9am and I had 2 hrs before the end of the 24hr Field Day. As expected, things were pretty quiet with only 5 contacts in the log for my first hour, three of those from the same station on different bands – thanks Kim VK2ASY. I made it into the ACT on 2m (but not on 6m) so there was hope for more contacts on that band. With time up my sleeve I was able to dart off and work some SOTA stations that had been spotted. This included VK1RX and VK1NAM on 10m over a distance of 240km – pretty impressive conditions. Later on I was able to work Andrew VK1NAM on 6m as well, but that was after the end of the field day, unfortunately. i put out many more calls on 6m and 2m before 11am but no more contacts were added to the log. After the end of the field day I could concentrate on SOTA contacts so worked through my usual suite of bands and modes starting with 40m CW. Conditions were good on 40m so I was able to work into VK5 and VK7 on SSB. When I got to 20m SSB, only one more contact was made and nothing on CW. Nearing midday so I closed to get to the next summit.

VK2/CT-001 Mt Canobolas 1397m 8pts QF46lp

Summit: (-33.343101, 148.983307) Carpark: on summit
This is another summit on my to-do list. I had been to the summit before but had never done an activation. Drove via a picturesque valley and windfarm next to Mt Macquarie then through Blayney to Orange and then 20km further on is the summit. The trig point is surrounded by a carpark so I set up next to a tree slightly down the slope within 20m of the trig.

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The day was still gloriously sunny but chilly at under 10 degrees. Not having to set up 2m or the netbook made for a quicker start than the 3 previous summits. First in my log were a S2S and 2 parks. Keen to get the 6m contact logged I contacted Kim VK2ASY who lives in Orange and made contact on 52.2 MHz. That was lucky as there were no other callers on 6m or 10m. Then on 20m I was able to qualify the summit on CW including one DX call from G4APO, but sigs were weak. Plenty of chasers on 40m CW and SSB to round out the activation. I closed just after 4pm allowing time to drive back to Orange in the light and tour the town. After a long walk and good feed, I set off for the next summit at 8:30pm.

VK2/CT-031 Mt Bulga 1060m 6pts QF46or

Summit: (-33.259399, 149.186005) Carpark: (-33.26211, 149.18385)
Another new summit for me and the topo maps indicated that it may be possible to drive to the summit. Tried a few different routes and found the tracks impassable and in the process circumnavigated the summit. Ended up parking on one access road and walked to the summit in the dark to check it out, most of the way bashing through the bush while watching the GPS. Having reached the top I found a road going most of the way, but it was not obvious on the GPS. Getting back to the car at night without a track was “interesting”. In all the exploration, I had found a nice camping area at (-33.26147,149.18941) so I returned there for an overnight stay.

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Monday 22 Jun

One can walk to the summit from the camping area, but it is quicker to drive to the carpark location on the main track mentioned above and go directly from there. A track goes all the way up to the trig point so it avoids the bush-bashing. The trees are a bit dense but I was able to set up at the trig point and weave the antenna wire around the tree branches. Kicked off with 40m CW and made many contacts including VK2,3,4 and 5. I then tried 10m but there was nothing doing – the band was completely closed. Ended up on 40m SSB to make more contacts where propagation was fine. Nick VK2AOH had mentioned on SOTAwatch that he could not quite hear me so I reoriented one leg of the antenna 30° by juggling it around some trees. Started calling again and this time had a response from Nick with a 539 report. That was definitely a worthwhile adjustment as no other stations were worked on either 10m or 6m. After that success I packed up and headed to the next summit.

VK2/CT-042 Mt Meehan 1017m 6pts QF46nv

Summit: (-33.094501, 149.143097) Carpark: (-33.09438, 149.13736)
Mt Meehan is another summit north of Orange and a 3/4 hr drive from Mt Bulga. Drive to the specified location in the Mullions Range State Forest and then cross through a gate and walk 500m east up the gentle slope into the AZ. The summit itself is 50m on the other side of the fence on private property amongst the trees and there looked to be a trig point there. The fence posts can be used to support a squid pole and tie off the ends of a doublet so setup was quick.

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Started operating on 40m CW with calls from VK2,3 and 5 then went to 10m CW and was rewarded by a call from Nick VK2AOH. Came back to 40m for a S2S with VK5PAS/VK5KC and VK5BJE and then back to 10m SSB but there were no calls. Switching to 20m SSB and there were weak calls from VK6. Switched to CW to complete with VK6NU and ended on 40m SSB. Received a call from VK4DD who just racked up 1000 points for Shack Sloth – congratulations, Dave!
Closed down after activating for an hour and headed for home.

VK2/CT-007 Mt Lambie 1290m 8pts QF46xm

Summit: (-33.4716, 149.9886) Carpark: on summit Turnoff (-33.454764, 149.974416)
Driving back towards Sydney provided an opportunity to activate Mt Lambie since it is just off the Great Western Hwy. The last activation here was for the John Moyle in March, and the winter bonus made it worth the effort to activate again. Besides, after a couple of hours driving, I deserved a break. Set up on the trig point as usual with the antenna oriented for EU long path.

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Started out on 40m CW and qualified there quite quickly. Went to 10m but there were no contacts, and none on 6m either. I probably should have alerted on SOTAwatch for this summit. Back on 20m there were no calls from EU so I was glad of a CW call from VK6NU. Completed the activation on 40m SSB after 50 minutes and watched the spectacular sunset then packed up for the 2 hour drive home.

Thanks to all chasers and contesters for a great long weekend!

Highlights

  • Rover entry in the Winter VHF-UHF field day
  • 7 summits, 5 winter bonuses, 59 activator points
  • 6 CW-qualified, 6 with 10m/6m contacts
  • 1 VKFF park
  • 5 new summits for me
  • 500 activator points reached: “half a goat” 🙂

Activation log

Date Summit Call
Used
QSOs 1
6
0
8
0
6
0
4
0
3
0
2
0
1
7
1
5
1
2
1
0
6 4 2 7
0
c
2
3
c
S
S
B
C
W
F
M
Points Bonus
Points
Total Points
20 Jun VK2/CT-004 (VK2/CT-004) VK2IO/P 15 2 Y Y 2 Y 1 2 8 3 495
20 Jun VK2/CT-002 (Mt Trickett) VK2IO/P 8 2 1 2 3 Y Y 8 3 506
20 Jun VK2/CT-011 (Mt Macquarie) VK2IO/P 5 1 3 1 Y 1 8 3 517
21 Jun VK2/CT-011 (Mt Macquarie) VK2IO/P 24 Y 1 2 1 Y Y 0 0 517
21 Jun VK2/CT-001 (Mt Canobolas) VK2IO/P 31 Y Y 1 Y Y 8 3 528
21 Jun VK2/CT-031 (Mt Bulga) VK2IO/P 14 Y Y Y 6 0 534
22 Jun VK2/CT-031 (Mt Bulga) VK2IO/P 1 1 1 0 0 534
22 Jun VK2/CT-042 (Mt Meehan) VK2IO/P 21 Y 1 Y 1 Y Y 6 0 540
22 Jun VK2/CT-007 (Mt Lambie) VK2IO/P 13 Y 1 Y Y 0 3 543

Equipment

  • Elecraft KX3 @ 12W powered by 4200 mAh LiFePO4 battery
  • ZS6BKW inverted-Vee doublet at 8m
  • Microwave Modules MML 144/40 linear amp powered by 4200 mAh LiFePO4 battery
  • 3-element tape measure Yagi for 2m
  • Yaesu VX-7R
  • Lenovo S10-3 notebook computer

Rileys Mtn SOTA and Satellite chase 11/4/2015

Rileys Mountain VK2/SY-002 Blue Mountains NP VKFF-041 252m 1pt

50km west of the city lies the second of Sydney’s two summits, VK2/SY-002. Overlooking the Nepean River it is a picturesque spot and the Rileys Mountain Lookout is well within the activation zone. Access is gained by driving to the end of Fairlight Rd Mulgoa and then walking a fire trail for 2km, about a half hour walk. At the top there is the lookout, the Mulgoa trig point and a communications tower. Mobile phone reception is reliable here.

Map of Rileys Mtn area

Map of Rileys Mtn area

Trail sign near the carpark

Trail sign near the carpark

Carpark on Fairlight Rd Mulgoa

Carpark on Fairlight Rd Mulgoa

Turnoff to Rileys Mtn Lookout

Turnoff to Rileys Mtn Lookout

Scoping

On the day, the weather had been rainy and there was complete cloud cover for the walk in. Upon reaching the top, checked out the various landmarks and decided to position 20m from the lookout along the walking path. This is about 200m from the communications tower and Mulgoa trig point. There is a small clearing on the side of the path to set up the portable shack as well as a convenient low tree to strap the squid pole to. I used a new, safer elastic strap that has carabiners on the ends rather than hooks. if the strap were to suddenly recoil, the carabiners are a lot less likely to cause injury. I’d always been concerned with the old straps to keep eyes well away. The new straps are longer and are more stretchy.

Communications tower on Rileys Mtn

Communications tower on Rileys Mtn

Mulgoa trig point

Mulgoa trig point

Goals

The summit activation had two main aims. The first was to log as many summit-to-summit contacts as possible since many activations had been planned for the Saturday. The second was to work through the SO-50 satellite, and to that end a pair of triband held-helds were brought along. I prepared by reading this guide by Howard G6LVB.

Setup

The ZS6BKW doublet was set up on the 10m squid pole and the shack set up. It would be over 2 hours before SO-50 arrived so plenty of time for HF. Setup was completed by 2345z, a little behind schedule due to scoping out the area. During the walk-in, Sid ZS5AYC and Adele ZS5APT had spotted and activated Tenison Woods Mtn VK4/SE-117 in SE Qld. The first few minutes were spent trying to find them on 40m and also 20m, but they had closed. I was interested to work them having been the first activator of Tenison Woods Mtn and having corresponded with Sid about that location during the week.

Shack and antenna near Rileys Mtn Lookout

Shack and antenna near Rileys Mtn Lookout

Safer elastic strap holding the squid pole

Safer elastic strap holding the squid pole

UTC rollover

Shack on Rileys Mountain

Shack on Rileys Mountain

It wasn’t long before some spots started arriving on SOTAwatch. In the 10 mins before UTC rollover, three other summits were on air, and the same were worked after rollover with one new one. With the summit rush over, I could start to work through the bands. As has been my recent habit, I started on 6m SSB and spotted for 52.200 MHz with one chaser call received – better than the usual result. Then I spotted for 40m CW and started working the callers. On the third call, I received an SMS from Andrew VK1NAM who had set up on Mt Stomlo. Not wanting to delay things, I sent QRX on CW and switched back to 6m to work Andrew. Signals were quite weak and there was a slow fade until I could no longer hear Andrew. Still, I was very pleased to have made a S2S on 6m as well as a second contact on that band.

CW

Activation zone, trig pt, summit pt and SOTAwatch pt

Activation zone, trig pt, summit pt and SOTAwatch pt for VK2/SY-002

I returned to 40m CW having left the chasers hanging for 15 mins while I worked Andrew and Marc VK3OHM who came up on 40m SSB. Sorry chasers! There were 3 more contacts on CW then a S2S with Bernard VK2IB on CW. With no more 40m callers I moved to 20m CW and worked two stations including John VK6NU, but his signals were not strong.

SSB

With both CW alerted bands done it was time to move to SSB. I started with 10m and looked around for a clear spot. I could hear US stations so the band was open. I got one call from Anthony VK6MAC and he was very strong. 10m was much better than 20m for VK6. Moving to 15m I had one call from VK5WG and then to 20m where there were three calls.

It was 20 minutes before the satellite pass and I started to set up the two hand-helds. The main things were the sub-audible tone on the 2m transmitter of 67Hz and changing the step to 5 kHz on the UHF receiver. On the receiver the squelch was opened up as signals were expected to be weak. Earphones were used.

SO-50

Ground track for SO-50 pass

Ground track for SO-50 pass

SO-50 was heard just before the bird flew directly overhead. VK2WEL and Hil VK2IUW were there so I put up a few calls. VK2IUW was only a few suburbs away so I heard him S9 on the uplink. A little while later I heard Adam VK2YK call once so tried to call. Fairly shortly afterwards reception was lost completely for me and I heard no more from the satellite. It seemed to go from noise-free to nothing all of a sudden, however, it is outputting only 100mW.

I wasn’t able to log any contacts, but I did hear SO-50 and did get into it with 5W and a simple antenna. I’m happy with that. The S2S will have to wait until next time. We might have done it if Adam hadn’t been affected by de-sense mid-pass. It certainly would have been possible if I’d had a 7/3 element yagi like Adam. Must build one 🙂

40m SSB

With the SO-50 excitement over, I returned to the KX3 and operated on 40m SSB. I put a spot out and started working the chasers. Wasn’t long before there was a call from Adam VK2YK. We got the S2S in on 40m and discussed the activity. Adam had worked 2 stations and also heard me calling. I also worked Hil VK2IUW on 40m who had made contact with Adam through SO-50. It was great catching up with the guys I had heard through the satellite, albeit briefly. Congratulations Adam for making two contacts and giving the S2S a go! It was certainly a lot of fun and bound to be repeated.

Stunning views over the Nepean River from Rileys Mtn Lookout

Stunning views over the Nepean River from Rileys Mtn Lookout

On 40m more calls were fielded from chasers and after a while Sid and Adele called in. They were at Jollys lookout near Mt Nebo, just down the road from Tenison Woods Mtn and a place I had recommended for great views over Brisbane. At first signals were weak until Sid improved the antenna. A spot came up from southern VK7 and I was able to hear and work Reuben VK7FREU, Paul VK7PAH and Justin VK7TW over a 1050km path on 40m from VK7/WC-013. This would not have been possible from home. After that I went back to calling on 40m and worked 4 more chasers and one summit. The activation ended with a few more S2S contacts. I had a chat to Peter VK3PF who had been sitting on VK3/VT-049 all day. He let me know there were no more summit activations coming up for a while so I was safe to close down. After a bite to eat I did just that leaving the summit at 2pm, and on the way back visiting The Rock lookout near the carpark for more great views of the Nepean River.

Results

54 contacts (11 CW), 26 summit-to-summits (19 uniques), 127 S2S pts.
It was exciting (and a little frantic) working SO-50 and I clearly need to build a 70cm beam to improve reception.
Thanks to all the chasers and activators for the contacts.

APRS track to and from the summit

APRS track to and from the summit

Equipment

Elecraft KX3 @ 12W powered by 4200 mAh LiFePO4 battery, ZS6BKW antenna at 8m on 10m squid pole.
Yaesu VX-7R with Diamond SRH940 whip.
Yaesu VX-8R with FGPS2 GPS module and Diamond SRH940 whip.

APRS track

During the walk in and out the 2m APRS beacon was enabled on my VX-8R using the usual callsign VK2IO-7. Given the proximity of the local repeater, it was surprising how few posits made it into the APRS network. It could be due to congestion or perhaps I need to raise my antenna up into the clear and add some ground radials.

Log

Date:10/Apr/2015 Summit:VK2/SY-002 (VK2/SY-002) Call Used:VK2IO/P Points: 0 Bonus: 0

Time Call Band Mode Notes
23:51z VK3TCX/P 7MHz SSB R57 S57 7090 Ian VK3/VE-021
23:54z VK3PF/P 7MHz SSB R58 S58 7095 Peter VK3/VT-049
23:58z VK3XL/P 7MHz SSB R59 S58 7085 Mike VK3/VT-001

Date:11/Apr/2015 Summit:VK2/SY-002 (VK2/SY-002) Call Used:VK2IO/P Points: 1 Bonus: 0

Time Call Band Mode Notes
00:04z VK3EK/P 7MHz SSB R59 S58 7090 Robbie VK3/VE-021
00:06z VK2BJP/3 7MHz SSB R59 S57 7100 Russ VK3/VE-049
00:07z VK3XL/P 7MHz SSB R59 S58 7085 Mike VK3/VT-001
00:08z VK3PF/P 7MHz SSB R58 S57 7095 Peter VK3/VT-049
00:13z VK2WTY 50MHz SSB R51 S52 52200 David in Cherrybrook
00:26z VK3CAT 7MHz CW R339 S569 7032 Tony
00:28z VK2WG 7MHz CW R599 S599 7032 John
00:30z VK2AOH 7MHz CW R559 S589 7032 Nick
00:32z VK1NAM/P 50MHz SSB R41 S41 52200 Andrew VK1/AC-043 slow fade out
00:40z VK3OHM/2 7MHz SSB R59 S59+5 7095 Marc VK2/HU-093
00:47z VK3PF/P 7MHz CW R599 S559 7032 Peter VK3/VT-049
00:49z VK3HRA/P 7MHz CW R559 S559 7032 Allen
00:51z VK2AFA 7MHz CW R599 S599 7032 Sam
00:52z VK2IB/3 7MHz CW R589 S579 7028 Bernard VK3/VE-024
00:57z VK1MBE/2 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7100 Andrew VK2/SM-053
01:09z VK6NU 14MHz CW R519 S529 14062 John
01:13z VK5IS 14MHz CW R579 S599 14062 Ian
01:19z VK3TCX/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7090 Ian VK3/VE-015
01:20z VK3EK/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59 7090 Robbie VK3/VE-015
01:24z VK2BJP/3 7MHz SSB R59 S58 7100 Russ VK3/VE-066
01:37z VK6MAC 28MHz SSB R44 S58 28580 Anthony
01:46z VK5WG 21MHz SSB R55 S55 21385 Nev
01:55z VK3LED 14MHz SSB R52 S57 14285 Col
01:57z VK5EE 14MHz SSB R56 S57 14285 Tom
02:00z VK5ACA 14MHz SSB R56 S58 14285 John
02:06z VK3KAB/P 7MHz SSB R57 S57 7090 Kevin VK3/VN-010
02:28z VK2BJP/3 7MHz SSB R59 S58 7100 Russ VK3/VE-064
02:29z VK2EJH 7MHz SSB R59 S59+10 7090 Erik
02:31z VK3OF 7MHz SSB R54 S59 7090 Rex in Swan Hill
02:31z VK3FPSR/M 7MHz SSB R55 S58 7090 Peter
02:32z VK2YK/P 7MHz SSB R59 S59+10 7090 Adam VK2/HU-074
02:42z VK2IUW 7MHz SSB R59 S59+10 7090 Hil in Glenmore Park
02:46z VK3DAC 7MHz SSB R31 S56 7090 Fred
02:47z VK3YAR 7MHz SSB R43 S59 7090 Ray
02:48z VK4ARW 7MHz SSB R57 S59 7090 Russell in Toowoomba
02:49z VK2EIR 7MHz SSB R58 S59+10 7090 Joe in Castle Hill
02:53z VK1NAM/P 7MHz SSB R58 S57 7090 Andrew VK1/AC-043
02:56z VK4/ZS5AYC 7MHz SSB R59 S54 7090 Sid at Jollys Lookout
02:57z VK4/ZS5APT 7MHz SSB R59 S42 7090 Adele at Jollys Lookout
03:10z VK7FREU 7MHz SSB R41 S43 7080 Reuben VK7/WC-013
03:11z VK7PAH 7MHz SSB R41 S43 7080 Paul VK7/WC-013
03:12z VK7TW/P 7MHz SSB R43 S43 7080 Justin VK7/WC-013
03:16z VK2YPU 7MHz SSB R57 S59+15 7090 Peter in Liverpool
03:18z VK2IB/3 7MHz SSB R57 S58 7090 Bernard VK3/VE-021
03:19z VK2BGL 7MHz SSB R59 S59+20 7090 Steve
03:21z VK3DBP 7MHz SSB R41 S58 7090 Paul
03:22z VK2KTT 7MHz SSB R55 S59 7090 Paul in Coffs Harbour
03:25z VK7BO 7MHz CW R59 S599 7028 Alan
03:28z VK2IB/3 7MHz CW R589 S579 7028 Bernard VK3/VE-021
03:31z VK2BJP/3 7MHz SSB R58 S58 7100 Russ VK3/VE-025
03:37z VK3KAB/P 7MHz SSB R57 S57 7090 Kevin VK3/VN-008

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

Mt Tootie showing the APRS track from Sydney

Mt Tootie showing the APRS track from Sydney

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

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

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

Location

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

Mt Tootie activation zone

Mt Tootie activation zone

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

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

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

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

Mt Tootie trig point and inverted Vee antenna

Mt Tootie trig point and inverted Vee antenna

Operating

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

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

UTC Rollover

Garry checks the matching on the 2m Yagi

Garry checks the matching on the 2m Yagi

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

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

Two "shacks" on Mt Tootie

Two “shacks” on Mt Tootie

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

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

40m propagation

Critical freq chart for Sydney

Critical freq chart for Sydney

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

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

Moving on from 40m

Mt Tootie house over the hill

Mt Tootie house over the hill

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

Long haul 2m SSB

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

Grave of Frederick Ashwell MBE

Grave of Frederick Ashwell MBE

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

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

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

Highlights

VK2IO operating at Mt Tootie

VK2IO operating at Mt Tootie

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

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

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

Log

Before UTC rollover

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

After UTC rollover

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