Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award

As mentioned in my blog entry for Mt Mugga Mugga I managed to work the last of the 45 Victorian National Parks required for the Keith Roget Memorial National Park Award. This was Rob, VK4AAC/3 activating Lower Goulburn National Park, almost 2 years to the day after starting chasing Victorian National Park activations for the award.

The award details are on the WIA Amateur Radio Victoria website https://www.amateurradio.com.au/awards

The award arrived in the post today. Thanks to the awards manager Tony VK3XV

















Monday, 19 September 2016

WWFF VKFF Hunter Honour Roll 325 Award

Following chasing several VKFF parks activations lately, several while activating parks myself, managed to hunt over 325 parks and claim the next award. Here is the award, the 3 Sisters lookout in the Blue Mountains National Park at Katoomba to the West of Sydney.


Thanks to the VKFF awards manager Paul VK5PAS.


Sunday, 11 September 2016

Mt Mugga Mugga Nature Reserve VKFF-0852

With a bit of a break in the rainy weather on Sunday afternoon decided to do another WWFF park activation, this time visiting Mt Mugga Mugga Nature Reserve, VKFF-0852, an unactivated park.

Mt Mugga Mugga is one of 3 hills along Red Hill Ridge just South of Parliament House, Red Hill to the North, Davidson Trig in the middle and Mt Mugga Mugga to the South, on the other side of Hindmarsh Drive. I accessed it via the Suburb of O'Malley coming off Dalman Cres towards Wallangara St, Mt Mugga Mugga clearly visible.


There is a old stone quarry on the side of Mt Mugga Mugga, visible on the right. The park runs around the quarry, shown in grey on the map below, which is on private land. Map from Openstreetmaps. There are several access points into the park from Wallangara St, Keyar St and Akame Circuit. I used one off Akame Circuit.


There was a locked gate here, with a gap for walkers. Note the mud from all the recent rain...


Just behind the green parks noticeboard sign was a small gum tree suitable for squid pole support.


Dipole legs tied to nearby trees. The dipole crossed the track but high enough to allow walkers underneath. There were a few walkers and mountain bike riders using the track.


Radio shack on the table. Used my Kenwood TS480 radio set to 40w output.


Got on 40 m. First in the log 3 park to park contacts with Paul, VK5PAS, John VK5BJE and Pauls wife Marija VK5FMAZ, activating Belair National Park, VKFF-0022. This was a special event activation, the 125th Anniversary of Belair National Park. You can read about it in Paul's blog

My next contact was another park to park with Rob, VK4AAC/3 activating Lower Goulburn National Park, VKFF-0741. This was a much needed contact for me, the last of the 45 Victorian National Parks I needed for the Keith Roget Memorial National Park Award! I had been chasing these parks for the award since 2012, and had waited for months to get this last park. Sending off for the award.

Spotted myself on ParksnPeaks and got the usual chasers from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK7. Several more park to park contacts followed:

VK5KLV/p Les in VKFF-0812 Clements Gap Conservation Park
VK2LAD/p Steve in VKFF-0547  Woomagarma National Park
VK3PF/p Peter in VKFF-0976 Shepparton Regional Park

VK3ANL/4 Nick on SOTA summit VK4/SE-117 Tennison Woods Mountain. This was also in a park, VKFF-0129 DÁguilar National Park near Brisbane.

VK7LTD/p Tony in VKFF-1144 Lime Bay State Reserve

VK4FE/p Fred in VKFF-1208 Mount Lewis National Park.  This park is in far North Queensland near Port Douglas, an impressive contact on 40 m! He was about an S3 and I got received S2

VK2YK/p Adam in VKFF-1349 Medowie State Conservation Area
VK5WTF/p Marcus in VKFF-0933 Sandy Creek Conservation Park

Changed the dipole links to 20 m, tuning about found and made another park to park

VK6LDX/p Lewis in VKFF-0446 Serpentine National Park .

I tried spotting myself on 20 m and calling, but no takers...

Returned to 40 m. Noticed only had a few more contacts to go to reach the 44 needed to complete the park for a WWFF point, so hung about, despite the cold wind now blowing. Made it to 45 contacts so all done for this park :)

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

WWFF parks and grid squares in Australia

Having chased WWFF many park activators in some fairly rare VK locations, thought I would try mapping out all my WWFF park locations, displaying their grid squares in Google Earth on Australia.

This is fairly easy to do using my logging program Log4OM. First I set up a special Search Parameter, finding all contacts where the SIG field is WWFF. All my contacts with WWFF parks have this Adif field set to this value.



I can then display just WWFF park contacts in Log4OM. Changing the layout can see the SIG and SIG INFO fields, the SIG INFO field has the park number worked.


To fill in Grid Squares, for each park used the ParksnPeaks website, Parks link to look up each park, which in the park details has the Grid Square. eg for VKFF-0618 Alfred National Park, the Grid Square is QF42qk.


After filling in all park contact Grid Squares, selected them all, and used the "Plot KML"button to plot them all out in Google Earth. I chose to use 4 digits only and 3D View based on QSO count.

Here is the final result in Google Earth, displaying all Australian Grid Squares that I have chased a park in.



The park activations grid squares worked line up with population density pretty well, for overseas readers the population of Australia mainly live close to the West, South and East Coasts, the Centre of the continent is mainly desert and sparsely populated. I do have a few out of the way parks though.

There are peaks in parks numbers worked in Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney Grid Squares.

Heres how I'm going so far for each call area/state

VK1 - ACT

Easy, all in one grid square, QF44. I do also live there :)

VK2 - NSW.

There is a shortage of grids worked in Western NSW, probably due it being semi-desert and not many people. I have worked some of the remote areas though such as Sturt NP in the far North West corner. Surprisingly have not worked any parks just North of Canberra in QF45, although have worked Amateurs there, eg in Yass. Also a hole in the Coast in QG60 around Grafton, but have worked stations in this area, just not in parks. Probably take some time to get them all...

VK3 - Victoria

I have got the whole State covered! Its a small state rich with Parks and Amateurs to activate them.

VK4 - Queensland

Mainly in the South East and some up in far North Queensland. Its a really big state... Have to wait for expeditions to fill in the gaps...

VK5 - South Australia

The South East, where most of the population lives is well activated. There have been a few expeditions to say the Flinders Ranges to get some of the inland squares.

Some of South Australia is restricted access, eg Woomera and Aboriginal land in the North West, so will be hard to get all squares.

VK6 - Western Australia

A vast area with most of the activity around the South West corner. To activate parks in the North looking at weeks of travel to get there... Have managed to get a few rare grids though.

VK7 - Tasmania

Although small it will be hard to make park activations on the West Coast, wilderness with no roads, and long tough walking to get to.

VK8 - Northern Territory

Despite a few park activations have not worked any yet. Most is desert and low population, and permits are required to enter aboriginal land. Plus its too far away to reach on 40 m here in the daytime, so need good propagation on say 20 m to work.




Friday, 2 September 2016

Portable Dipole Centre Connector

When I started doing portable SOTA operating back in 2013 I quickly improvised a portable dipole centre connector, consisting of a plastic Sistema brand food container, 2 screw terminal posts to attach the wires and a hook to attach to the top of the squid pole, to a wire loop embedded in the top section.

Over the years this has served me well, able to attach one or more dipole legs for operating on different bands. However plastic Sistema boxes are not too strong, and I've had to replace the container a few times as rocks and falls out in the field have taken their toll, cracking the case...


After the last bit of damage decided must get something a bit more rugged, and purchased a dipole connector from Tet-Emtron Antennas in Western Australia, http://www.tetemtron.com.au/Dipole-centre-kit-with-insulators-p/te-dck2.htm


Here it is


And the reverse side


Also got a pair of wire winders to replace the fragile wooden ones I made up. A little heavier but more robust.


Need to try it out in the field on my next SOTA/WWFF expedition...

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Aranda Bushland Nature Reserve VKFF-0833

With a nice sunny Saturday afternoon decided to activate a nearby WWFF park. I chose Aranda Bushland Nature Reserve VKFF-0833, as it is close by and only needed 9 contacts to complete for a WWFF activation point.

Last time I activated it walked up Aranda Hill, so for a change picked a spot off Bindubi Street, where there was an access gate off the road.


This gate is in the South West corner of the park, at the end of Old Weetangera Road, an old road from a time when Canberra was a group of sheep stations... Map courtesy of Openstreetmap


Note this is not very far away from Black Mountain, SOTA summit VK1/AC-042 and Telstra Tower. Walking a bit to the South I could see it quite well.


Set up the squid pole on the park sign, running one of the dipole legs out to the fence


The other leg to a nearby tree. The dipole cleared the road okay, did get some use by joggers, walkers and mountain bike riders.


Radio shack on the table, my TS-480SAT set to 40 W output.


Got on 40 m. The band was in good shape, nice to hear as has been poor conditions lately with nearby NVIS signals missing.

Started with a couple of park to park contacts, Ken VK2KYO/3 in VKFF-0620 Chiltern-Mt Pilot NP, and Rob VK4AAC/3 in VKFF-0627 Organ Pipes NP.

Got on 7.144 Mhz and got spotted, a steady stream of hunters followed.

Another couple of park to park contacts, Neil VK4HNS/p in VKFF-0702 Pidna NP, and Stuart VK5STU/p in VKFF-1739 Para Wirra Recreation Park.

After hunters dried up on 40 m briefly tried 20 m, but no contacts. Saw a spot on 40 m for John VK2AWJ/p in VKFF-0373 Murray-sunset NP, and made my 5th park to park contact.

Had made 26 contacts so qualified the park okay. Headed home for afternoon tea.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Clyde River National Park VKFF-0102

I'd driven down to Batemans Bay from Canberra on Friday night, spending the day there to escape Canberra winter for a while. The temperature in Canberra on Saturday was a maximum of 8 degrees, a nice sunny 17 degrees Celsius in Batemans Bay, a lot more pleasant :). I did need to return, so stopped for a quick activation of Clyde River National Park VKFF-0102 on the way home.

As per my last activation turned off the Kings Highway just to the North of Batemans Bay onto Rotary Drive, stopping at Holmes Lookout overlooking Batemans Bay


Set up the squid pole on one of the tables and tied the dipole legs to a couple of nearby trees.


Radio on the table. Used my FT-817 this time running 5 w.


Got on 40 m. This was the ILLW (International Lighthouse/Lightship Weekend) so started by chasing a lighthouse station, VK3ATL/p activating Point Londsdale Lighthouse AU0028, with a good 59 signal.

Spotted myself on ParksnPeaks. Worked Hans VK5YX, Mike VK3GYH, Peter VK3PF, Geoff VK3SQ, Craig VK3WAR and Peter VK3TKK mobile in Melbourne.

No close by contacts such as VK1, NVIS propagation seemed to be missing, as has happened a lot lately :(

Contacts seemed to dry up after this, and still had a fair drive home, so packed up after 7 contacts. A nice spot though, plan to return to complete the 44 contacts needed for a WWFF point.