Bulgo Hill VK2/IL-017 Royal National Park VKFF-435 293m 1pt
a call to AMs
Andrew VK1DA proposed using AM for a bit of fun as this mode is rarely used by SOTA operators, and also to prepare for upcoming ANZAC celebrations. I only use AM for tuning up – never for QSOs on a summit. It was time to change all that. My expectations weren’t high as Amplitude Modulation has nowhere near the penetrating power of single sideband, and with low power thrown into the mix, it reduced the range even more. The proposed outing was timed to be an “after work” activity. This time of day sees very good propagation on 40m, the main target band, so this would work in our favour.
The day before, SOTAwatch alerts were up from Andrew VK1DA and Andrew VK1NAM as well as Adan VK1FJAW. The weather was looking good so I thought I might as well join in. Chose to return to Bulgo Hill for my second activation of this peak. After all, there were some summit-to-summits in the offing! Access to Bulgo Hill was as per my previous activation. Last time I used 4 guy ropes to hold up the squid pole which was somewhat time consuming to set up. This time I spent more time looking around for a supportive tree – and I found one. There was foliage hanging down over the top, but it was high enough to not cause too much obstruction. In any case the antenna was at least 8m high which is fine. I also set it up perpendicular to the track where last time the antenna ran along it. This does mean diving into the bush with the antenna ends, but the better signals should make that worth while.
Once set up I started calling on 6m SSB hoping for a summit-to-summit with VK1NAM, but there were no takers. Then I tried 10m AM and SSB but nothing was heard. After about 10 minutes with some SMS exchanges with Andrew, switched to 40m AM, set the KX3 to 12 Watts and started calling. The power meter read about 5 Watts when unmodulated and kicked up to around 8W when I started yakking. The mic gain was left at the same level as for SSB and the speech processor was on as usual. There was a LSB station 5 kHz down the band and nothing nearby up the band so plenty of bandwidth for operating on AM.
Spotted myself on SOTAwatch on 40m and first cab off the rank was Andrew VK1NAM with the first of the summit-to-summit contacts, this one from Mt Stromlo VK1/AC-043. After 20 minutes and 17 chaser contacts, Andrew VK1DA came on for the second S2S. He was on Black Mountain VK1/AC-042. Read his full report here. Five minutes later, Adan VK1FJAW called in from Mt Taylor VK1/AC-037 completing the trifecta. There were two more chasers after that bringing the total to 19 AM contacts on 40m from call areas VK1,2,3,4 and 5. That was definitely better than expected! Audio was generally good with the usual selective fading typical of AM on HF. Some of the weaker signals sounded a little weird and modulation level varied but was usually fine. The summit is at least 1km from the nearest power line so QRM wasn’t an issue. The only competition was band noise, and that wasn’t excessive.
With no more AM chasers I switched to CW on 40m and racked up 4 contacts. It was getting dark but I wanted to keep going. I put on the head torch, spotted myself on 20m and started calling there and made 7 contacts into EU. At 7:10pm with just moonlight left, I pulled the plug and closed down. Walking the 1.5km back to the car via moonlight with not a breath of wind was magical. And what a great activation. Using AM really was a lot of fun!
Association Manager alert – some might say an Activation Moan 🙂
Before visiting the summit I looked into the exact location of the peak as last year there had been discussion that the coordinate was out, and I had found that to be so myself. Using google Earth I was able to create a plot of the activation zone and locate the peak. Accordingly, it shows the summit at coordinate (-34.1922, 151.0297) with 293m elevation. This is a departure from the position on SOTAwatch of (-34.1916, 151.0307) at 300m. On google earth the elevation here is 7m lower at only 286m. it is still well within the activation zone. The image shows yellow pins at the 2 positions. At the peak I checked my coordinate before activating and it was close to the one from google Earth. At some point, the values on SOTAwatch should be reviewed.
30 successful contacts (mostly on AM) and 3 S2S in under 70 mins made for a really enjoyable activation and proved that AM mode need not be feared. Thanks chasers and activators! You could say it was AMazing!
Elecraft KX3 @ 12W powered by 4200 mAh LiFePO4 battery.
ZS6BKW antenna at 8m on 10m squid pole.
Date:01/Apr/2015 Summit:VK2/IL-017 (Bulgo Hill) Call Used:VK2IO/P Points: 1 Bonus: 0
|06:59z||VK1NAM/P||7MHz||AM||R58 S57 7180 Andrew VK1/AC-043|
|07:02z||VK2YW||7MHz||AM||R59 S59 7180 John|
|07:06z||VK2JMW||7MHz||AM||R57 S59 7180 Ian|
|07:06z||VK3BHR||7MHz||AM||R55 S55 7180 Phil|
|07:08z||VK3FQSO||7MHz||AM||R44 S54 7180 Amanda|
|07:08z||VK3DBP/2||7MHz||AM||R59 S57 7180 Paul in Batemans Bay|
|07:09z||VK4JD||7MHz||AM||R49 S59 7180 Peter|
|07:10z||VK1MA||7MHz||AM||R59 S57 7180 Matt|
|07:11z||VK3DAC||7MHz||AM||R57 S55 7180 Fred|
|07:12z||VK1ATP||7MHz||AM||R59 S56 7180 Paul|
|07:13z||VK5WG||7MHz||AM||R42 S56 7180 Nev|
|07:15z||VK5IS||7MHz||AM||R55 S55 7180 Ian|
|07:15z||VK3PF||7MHz||AM||R44 S56 7180 Peter|
|07:16z||VK1EM||7MHz||AM||R45 S58 7180 Mark|
|07:17z||VK1DA/P||7MHz||AM||R59 S58 7180 Andrew VK1/AC-042|
|07:21z||VK2LEE||7MHz||AM||R59+10 S59+10 7180 Lee|
|07:23z||VK1FJAW/P||7MHz||AM||R59 S57 7180 Adan VK1/AC-037|
|07:27z||VK3ARR||7MHz||AM||R54 S57 7180 Andrew|
|07:30z||VK2VK||7MHz||AM||R55 S59 7180 Russell|
|07:42z||VK3CAT/P||7MHz||CW||R579 S599 7032 Tony|
|07:44z||VK2AFA||7MHz||CW||R599 S599 7032 Sam|
|07:45z||VK2GDI||7MHz||CW||R599 S599 7032 Ian|
|07:49z||VK3RY||7MHz||CW||R599 S599 7032 Helen|
|07:54z||CU3AA||14MHz||CW||R559 S559 14062 Joao|
|07:56z||ON4FI||14MHz||CW||R539 S559 14062 Karel|
|08:01z||DJ5AV||14MHz||CW||R529 S539 14063 Michael|
|08:02z||DK4RM||14MHz||CW||R559 S559 14063 Xaver|
|08:05z||OK2QA||14MHz||CW||R339 S559 14063 Ruda|
|08:06z||DL1ASF||14MHz||CW||R559 S559 14063 Klaus|
|08:08z||DL3JPN||14MHz||CW||R539 S559 14063 Steffen|