Japan/North America S2S event at Mt Elliot 23-Apr-17

As a followup to the VK/NA S2S event on 13th January UTC, Kevin AC2KL proposed a simultaneous activation event for Japan and North American SOTA stations. The timing was set for Sunday morning 23rd April in Japan and Saturday night in NA. With almost two months notice operators had plenty of time to plan their activations.

Australia is in a very similar time zone to Japan so the prospect of joining in with the event and making some summit-to-summit contacts was more than enticing. It would mean an early start so I organised a stay nearby to an easy drive-up summit allowing maximum operating time.

Mt Elliot

Mt Elliot, VK2/HU-093 is the summit I activate every year for New Year and the most convenient for the event. Arriving at the summit just after dawn it was a cool, clear and sunny day. Rather than operating at the usual spot I scouted around for a better location further away from the roadside power lines. RF noise on the summit is generally pretty low, but it would be critical to minimise QRM in order to work the weaker DX stations. The actual activation zone is huge. Upon checking out the lookout platform there did not seem enough room to string the antenna, a 28m long ZS6BKW horizontal inverted-Vee. Another location was found further back where there was a table and a fence post for attaching the squid pole. This was about 20m further away from the power lines than the usual table.

Antennas

As well as the ZS6BKW I wanted to use my 20m quarter wave ground plane because of its lower angle of radiation. Using a single 9m squid pole allows both antennas to be supported. An egg insulator near the top of the squid pole with a rope through it is used to raise and lower the ground plane. The squid pole was lashed to a fence post about 4m from the table. The ground plane was set up with four elevated radials but was not exactly vertical as I only had a 2m run of coax to go from the base to the table. The ZS6BKW was set up to be broadside to NA.

170423MtElliotShack

Operating position at Mt Elliot VK2/HU-093

The station consisted of a KX3 transceiver, KL-405 linear amplifier and a two-way antennas switch. The KX3 has an in-built antenna matcher so can be used on any band. The linear would only be useable on 40m, 20m and 17m where there is a good impedance match with the antennas. Only 1-2 Watts input is needed to drive the linear to full output of 50-60 Watts. It also has a receive pre-amp that can be useful for very weak signals.

Logging

To make this activation more interesting, I decided to do my logging electronically rather than on a paper log. This would be done using VK Port-a-log on the mobile phone, an application that I use religiously for spotting but have thus far ignored the logging side. This would be the trial run for the rest of my week long activating trip.

Activating

Once the station was set up the spots on SOTAwatch were checked through looking especially for NA SOTA stations. There were no audible ones so the JA stations were investigated. First summit-to-summit contact was with Hayashi JA4RQO on 15m and reports of 519 sent and 319 received. With the antenna favouring NA there was no expectation of big signals from Japan. Next S2S was on 17m with Takeshi JS1UEH and reports of 419 sent and 339 received.

Moved up the 17m band and put out a spot and started calling CQ. Rather elated when I heard Peter WA7JTM call back from Summit Mountain W7A/CS-026 in Arizona with a 449 report and I gave him 319. The power output was only 12 Watts at this stage. That surprise call was followed up with two more NA calls – both home stations: Tom NQ7R in Arizona and Larry K0RS in Colorado. These stations were also S1 so I was amazed they could hear me.

At that point the calls dried up so I started scooting around the bands checking for other SOTA activators. I worked Toru JH0CJH on 15m with 319 sent and then Jun JI1IHV on 17m with 419 sent. Signals were certainly pretty consistent. Received reports were between S1 and S3. Then I put out a spot on 20m and started calling but there were no responses at all. I noticed that the noise level was slightly elevated on 20m compared to the higher bands so there was a chance someone heard me and called but was lost in the noise.

170423MtElliotSite

Antennas and shack at Mt Elliot VK2/HU-093

It was time to give 15m a try so I spotted there and started calling. First in the log (again) was Peter WA7JTM for another S2S on a different band. Thanks Peter! Signal reports on both bands were pretty similar. That was followed by two more S2S calls from Japan: Minoru JL1NIE and Gen JS1IFK. When the calls dried up again I started chasing.

John ZL1BYZ was easy to work for the first ZL S2S on 17m and then Katsu JP3DGT and JG1GPY. Then the first of the VK activators came on. It was Andrew VK1AD at Bobbara Mtn VK2/ST-044 about 300km away and I worked him on 40m SSB. He had actually been on the higher bands for nearly an hour but I only had a very, very weak copy on him on 17m SSB so it was not QSO quality.

It was 2330z or 9:30am local and I had 11 S2S in the log so put up a posting on the facebook SOTA group in the hope of attracting some more chasers. Before UTC rollover I chased Peter VK3PF on 40m at VK4/SE-045. At that point I remembered I had brought the linear so plugged it in to work Charlie NJ7V at Humboldt Mountain W7A/AW-040 for another Arizona S2S on 17m. Signals were hanging in there at S1. In the final minute of UTC Saturday worked Wade VK1FWBD at Mt Gibraltar VK2/IL-001 on 40m SSB.

UTC Rollover

Just after UTC rollover I worked Andrew VK1AD, Wade VK1FWBD and Peter VK3PF for second S2S contacts plus some chasers on 40m SSB. Then spotted back on 17m and worked some chasers as well as Yukio JF1NDT, then chased Steve JS6TMW on 15m for his first JA-VK S2S. Some more VK activators were on air so worked Tony VK3CAT an Allen VK3ARH at Big Hill VK3/VE-059. They were on a two day hiking tour through a few summits.

Spotted again on 15m and yielded two chasers: VK6NU and JA1VRY. The DX had dried up so it was time to get to 40m and work the locals. Spotting for CW yielded 5 chasers and a S2S from Ian VK5CZ at Tothill Range VK5/SE-010. Strangely there was an SSB station calling me on the CW frequency which turned out to be an S2S from Nick VK3ANL on Mt Torbreck VK3/VN-001. Sometimes we call using CW within the SSB passband so this was quite unusual.

CW contacts had dried up so I spotted on 40m SSB and worked 12 chasers. It was packup time and just as I started there was a spot from Warren ZL2AJ at Hikurangi ZL1/MW-105 on 20m SSB. His signal was weak so I used the linear and he was the last contact and S2S for the day.

QRT

It was certainly a very successful activation with more DX S2S than I could have dreamed of. There were 25 S2S contacts including 3 NA, 9 JA, 2 ZL and 11 VK. The best band for DX was 17m with 15m coming second. 20m was pretty useless. I did compare the 20m ground plane with the ZS6BKW and found that in some cases the ground plane yielded stronger received signals. A more useful test would have been if I had one for the 17m band so it could be worth adding links into the ground plane to make it multi-band. The logging went pretty smoothly once I became familiar with a few idiocyncracies. I found I could click on a spot and have the information appear in the logging window which saved having to type in callsigns and summit references. All 55 contacts were successfully recorded and only minor editing was needed after the event. This would bode well for the rest of the trip. Time on summit was just under 5 hours.

Thank you to all the other activators, the chasers and Kevin AC2KL for initiating the event. I hope to participate in another one just like it!

Log

Time Call Frequency Mode Summit
2124 JA4RQO/4 21.063MHz CW JA/SN-077
2129 JS1UEH/1 18.091MHz CW JA/TG-107
2139 WA7JTM 18.093MHz CW W7A/CS-026
2141 NQ7R 18.093MHz CW
2142 K0RS 18.093MHz CW
2151 JH0CJH/2 21.065MHz CW JA/SO-061
2202 JI1IHV/1 18.075MHz CW JA/KN-006
2220 WA7JTM 21.061MHz CW W7A/CS-026
2225 JL1NIE/1 21.061MHz CW JA/YN-032
2230 JS1IFK 21.061MHz CW
2240 ZL1BYZ 18.0925MHz CW ZL1/WK-086
2242 JP3DGT/3 18.080MHz CW JA/HG-068
2258 JG1GPY/1 18.0817MHz CW JA/YN-043
2304 VK1AD/2 7.085MHz SSB VK2/ST-044
2308 VK2YW 7.085MHz SSB
2317 JF1IRW 18.094MHz CW
2318 KG6DX 18.094MHz CW
2320 JA1VRY 18.094MHz CW
2340 VK3PF/4 7.085MHz SSB VK4/SE-045
2358 NJ7V 18.0875MHz CW W7A/AW-040
2359 VK1FWBD/P 7.090MHz SSB VK2/IL-001
0003 VK1AD/2 7.080MHz SSB VK2/ST-044
0005 VK1FWBD/P 7.090MHz SSB VK2/IL-001
0011 VK3PF/4 7.085MHz SSB VK4/SE-045
0013 VK2YW 7.100MHz SSB
0013 VK3SQ 7.100MHz SSB
0013 VK3MCD 7.100MHz SSB
0017 VK2JDR 18.093MHz CW
0024 JA1VVH 18.093MHz CW
0029 JF1NDT/1 18.093MHz CW JA/YN-032
0034 JS6TMW/6 21.062MHz CW JA6/ON-041
0046 VK3CAT/P 7.032MHz CW VK3/VE-059
0048 VK3ARH/P 7.032MHz CW VK3/VE-059
0053 JA1VRY 21.061MHz CW
0103 VK6NU 21.061MHz CW
0108 VK7CW 7.032MHz CW
0109 VK4RF 7.032MHz CW
0112 VK4TJ 7.032MHz CW
0114 VK2MWP 7.032MHz CW
0115 VK2NP 7.032MHz CW
0117 VK5CZ 7.032MHz CW VK5/SE-010
0121 VK3ANL/P 7.032MHz SSB VK3/VN-001
0124 VK1MA 7.095MHz SSB
0125 VK4RF 7.095MHz SSB
0125 VK4HA 7.095MHz SSB
0127 VK1FWBD/P 7.095MHz SSB VK2/IL-005
0128 VK5BJE/3 7.095MHz SSB
0129 VK2NP 7.095MHz SSB
0130 VK1AT/3 7.095MHz SSB
0134 VK3ZPF 7.095MHz SSB
0136 VK3TUN/P 7.095MHz SSB
0136 VK1DW 7.095MHz SSB
0137 VK2LX 7.095MHz SSB
0138 VK7VZ 7.095MHz SSB
0143 ZL2AJ 14.295MHz SSB ZL1/MW-105

SOTA first activation of Udoyama JA/SO-120 – 14 Feb 2016

As part of my 2016 Japan trip I travelled to Shizuoka, 180km and about 3 hours drive south of Tokyo. I activated Udoyama JA/SO-120 for the first time with help from my friends Yoshi JG1VOZ and Hiro JA2LXT. This summlt is more accessible to Shizuoka city than Takanesan JA/SO-099 previously considered. Near JA/SO-120 there is a peak and lookout with a TV tower called Nihondaira Prefectural Natural Park and we went there first only to find ourselves 300m away from the real peak. I dare say it would not have been in the Activation Zone either. One must continue on the Shimizu Nihondaira Parkway to (34.9749, 138.4695) and then drive up a rough track 300m and then walk up a steep muddy track 200m to the summit with some bush bashing. The summit is marked with a tag saying 307m and is at (34.973099, 138.4697), locator PM94FX.

160214UdoyamaShack

Shack on Udoyama JA/SO-120

The summit is overgrown with lots of trees. I used a linked ground plane and threw the end of the antenna over a tree. On 20m I made four VK/ZL SSB contacts and three VK on CW using the callsign JR2YFM/2. On 40m CW I made four local contacts. Ended up with more contacts than at Shiroyama JA/KN-022 in less time. I was able to stay on 3 Watts throughout the one hour activation. One contact was a S2S with Takeshi JS1UEH at JA/IB-006 on 40m – my first for JA. This was also a first activation of Udoyama JA/SO-120.

160214UdoyamaRig

Rig and log book on Udoyama JA/SO-120

Thank you for all the contacts and for those that chased. One discovery via SOTAwatch was that 7032 is used for RTTY in Japan. When 40m is open to JA from VK it may be better to stay below 7032.

There is a short video from this activation here.

SOTA activation of Mt Vial and Mt Brune in France 06/09/2014

Mont Vial F/AM-461 360° panorama

Mont Vial F/AM-461 360° panorama

Tourist map showing Mt Vial and Mt Brune relative to Nice

Tourist map showing Mt Vial and Mt Brune relative to Nice

Mont Vial F/AM-461 Gorges de la Vésubie et du Var FFF-146 1550m 4pts

A day proclaimed for celebrating the first anniversary of SOTA in VK2 made for a good reason to do a summit activation while in France. Staying near Nice there are plenty of high mountains at the bottom end of the Alps so I chose one of the nearest 4 point summits just to the north. At only 30km away it didn’t seem far, but the topography is such that it is 60km by road. The hire car has a navigation system, but unfortunately does not have the road to the summit so I set it for the nearest town Toudon. On the tourist map for Nice, Mont Vial F/AM-461 is clearly marked so I expected it to be well signposted. This turned out not be the case so I ended up using google maps to find the access road after retracing my steps from Toudon. The mountains here are steep so access was via a series of switchbacks on a narrow, well-maintained road which takes you up from the 950m elevation of the main road. It is possible to drive almost right to the top at 1520m elevation so I parked down from the top to be outside the activation zone. There are a series of communication towers along the ridge just down from the peak. The furthest where the road ends is 300m away and the closest is 100m away. I did not expect much QRM from these.

The panorama image above was constructed from 11 separate images stitched together. It shows the operating point in the centre of the picture and the towers on the right. The left of the picture shows the Var river valley that leads towards Nice, more or less running north-south. The views there were breathtaking. No wonder it is marked on the tourist map!

Trig point, pole and 40m antenna on Mt Vial

Trig point, pole and 40m antenna on Mt Vial

Once at the peak I posted out a spot using RRT for 20m CW and started setting up the radio and 20m ground plane antenna. The trig point metalwork was used as an attachment point for my 5.4m squid pole with the radiator hanging off it. On RRT I could see some spots for VK stations. The first I tuned to was Andrew VK1NAM who was on Mt McDonald VK1/AC-048. It was pretty surprising to hear Andrew’s voice coming through with some QSB. I gave him a call and he actually heard me just using 5 Watts! There were some clicking noises on the frequency which I put down to the local communications transmitters, and luckily the noise blanker did a pretty good job of dispatching them. My first VK contact from EU – and on SSB too!

I listened on the other frequencies that VKs had spotted but no-one else was heard. It should have been possible to hear VK1MA and VK1MBE but I was probably a bit late getting started – too close to the VK1 sunset.

It was time to get active on my spotted frequency. Once I got started there were plenty of calls and I realised I was out of practice when it comes to handling pileups on CW. After a few EU stations, Andrew VK1DA called in from Mt Gillamatong VK2/ST-034 for my first CW S2S contact with VK. I also worked Tony VK3CAT on CW and when the contacts dried up I shifted to 20m SSB. I was able to work 4 more home stations and a summit-to-summit with Bob VK5FO on Mt Gawler VK5/SW-013. At 0752z it was getting late in the long path window and Bob’s signal was starting to fade. When I next had a chance to tune back his signal was gone completely.

Shack on Mt Vial with KX3 and enhanced RHM8B antenna

Shack on Mt Vial with KX3 and enhanced RHM8B antenna

I started to look around for other summit-to-summit opportunities but there was nothing more on 20m. With spots for 30m and 40m it was time to modify the antenna for those bands. I connected the Diamond RHM8B to the rig and attached the radiator for the ground plane to the top of the telescopic whip with a jumper lead. This gave me a radiator about 7m long – almost a quarter wave for 30m. To accommodate the extra length I had to lift up the squid pole onto the trig point metalwork to give it some extra height. The photo shows the final arrangement. After tuning the loading coil for 30m I was able to work Wolf DL4MHA on DM/BW-131.

After a time a spot appeared for Ed DD5LP on 40m. He had been on 20m working VK and too near for a contact on that band. On 40m he had a fine signal and was an easy contact. I had not worked him since he moved to EU so it was good to have a chat. At the end he wanted to close down to vacate the peak and get home so left me with the frequency. I stayed around on Mt Vial for some more S2S contacts on 40m and 30m.

All in all a successful activation with 3 VK S2S, 5 VK home stations and 5 EU S2S contacts as well as a bunch of EU home stations. All these were worked using 5 Watts from the internal batteries of the KX3.

Mt Vial log

Date:06/Sep/2014 Summit:F/AM-461 (Mont Vial) Call Used:F/VK2IO/P Points: 4 Bonus: 0

Time Call Band Mode Notes
07:11z VK1NAM/P 14MHz SSB R51 S47 14290 Andrew VK1/AC-048
07:22z YO2BP 14MHz CW R559 S559 14062 Alex
07:23z MW0BBU 14MHz CW R339 S559 14062 Steve
07:24z G0VOF 14MHz CW R559 S559 14062 Mark
07:26z VK1DA/P 14MHz CW R539 S519 14062 Andrew VK2/ST-034
07:27z SP9AMH 14MHz CW R449 S319 14062 Marius
07:31z VK3CAT 14MHz CW R339 S539 14062 Tony
07:32z EA2DT 14MHz CW R559 S599 14062 Manuel
07:33z OM5DP 14MHz CW R559 S559 14062 Martin
07:41z VK2YK 14MHz SSB R31 S43 14345 Adam
07:44z VK8GM 14MHz SSB R52 S55 14345 Greg
07:45z G0RQL 14MHz SSB R56 S56 14345 Don
07:46z VK3EK 14MHz SSB R54 S56 14345 Robbie
07:47z VK3WE 14MHz SSB R51 S55 14345 Rhett
07:52z VK5FO/P 14MHz SSB R54 S33 14303 Bob VK5/SE-013
08:00z DL4MHA/P 10MHz CW R559 S579 10124 Wolfgang DM/BW-131
08:30z DD5LP/P 7MHz SSB R55 S56 7185 Ed DL/AM-001
08:38z F/DC4XH/P 7MHz SSB R56 S58 7185 Peter
08:56z OK2SAM/P 10MHz CW R539 S559 10117
09:01z OE5EEP/P 7MHz CW R559 S559 7033.5 Heinz OE/OO-033
09:13z OE9HRV/P 7MHz SSB R44 S58 7100 Herbert OE/OO-096

Mont Brune F/AM-472 1518m 4pts

View from Mt Brune F/AM-472

View from Mt Brune F/AM-472

The next mountain was Mt Brune F/AM-472 about 15 km from Mt Vial. I used google maps to find the turnoff to this one. It meant driving back to the main road and then carrying on through some small towns and then turning off the D27 road at elevation 1080m to again negotiate some switchbacks. The narrow path up the mountainside was not as well maintained as the one for Mt Vial, but still easily negotiated with a 2-wheel drive. Once near the top at elevation 1380m there is a carpark and then a steep climb on foot to the summit with no really obvious main track. It took about 15 mins of hard climbing to get up to the top at 1518m. There are no towers on top – access would not be possible!

Shack on Mt Brune with KX3 and 20m ground plane

Shack on Mt Brune with KX3 and 20m ground plane

I had limited time so decided just to operate on 20m. Setting up the ground plane is very quick as there are no adjustments so I was on air in no time. All contacts were on SSB except the last which was a S2S contact with Roger F5LKW on Montagne de la Canaille F/CR-254. It was too late for any VK contacts and I didn’t have time to chase too many summit-to-summits.

I had 14 minutes of operating time and made 13 contacts so well and truly qualified the summit. The climb down was much more enjoyable than the climb up and I was soon back in the car on my way to do a collection at Nice airport. My activating for the day was over.

A few days later I received a message on the SOTA reflector from Gerald F6HBI asking why I did not activate Cime des Colettes F/AM-478. This summit sits in between Mt Vial and Mt Brune and is also a 4 point summit. I did look into when planning the day, but access to the summit seemed to require a long hike so I would not have time to get there. It was quicker to drive to Mont Brune for the second summit. It would have been great if I’d had time to do the three summits in the one day.

Mt Brune log

Date:06/Sep/2014 Summit:F/AM-472 (Mont Brune) Call Used:F/VK2IO/P Points: 4 Bonus: 0

Time Call Band Mode Notes
10:36z EB2JU 14MHz SSB R59 S57 14345
10:37z G0RJL 14MHz SSB R57 S55 14345 Don
10:37z G6WRW 14MHz SSB R55 S55 14345 Caroline
10:38z EA2DT 14MHz SSB R31 S53 14345 Manuel
10:39z G0VWP 14MHz SSB R55 S57 14345
10:40z OK1SDE 14MHz SSB R55 S57 14345
10:40z M0ONI 14MHz SSB R44 S55 14345
10:41z DL8UVG 14MHz SSB R55 S55 14345
10:41z G3XQE 14MHz SSB R53 S55 14345 Ken
10:42z EB1JFK 14MHz SSB R41 S53 14345
10:44z DL3HXX 14MHz SSB R44 S55 14345
10:45z DM7MRE/P 14MHz SSB R55 S54 14345
10:50z F5LKW/P 14MHz CW R559 S519 14061 Roger F/CR-254

Thanks to all chasers and activators.
I had a great day out in France celebrating the VK2 SOTA anniversary!

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

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

Mt Elliot

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

Gear

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

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

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

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

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

On Air

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

"Small backpack" SOTA station on Mt Elliot

“Small backpack” SOTA station on Mt Elliot

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

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

20m ground plane

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

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

30m

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

Operating on 30m with RHM8B and 5.1m wire

Operating on 30m with RHM8B and 5.1m wire

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

Another S2S – “just”

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

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

Lessons learnt

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

Log

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

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

Thanks to all the activators and chasers!

Postscript

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