Sunday, 25 August 2013

SOTA Activation Mt Tennent VK1/AC-025

Mt Tennent lies to the South of Canberra just near the village of Tharwa, and is around 1380m high, so had a bit of a climb ahead of me from around 650m.

Parked at Namadgi Visitors Centre at 8:30am. There was an early morning fog hiding the summit.

The track starts behind the sign. Note you can walk all the way from here to Walhalla in Victoria via the Australian Alps Walking track, around 650km. Went for the shorter walk up Mt Tennent instead...

The track crosses the Naas Rd, then the walk starts. There is a bushwalking register to sign. The track initially crosses old farm land then becomes more rocky with lots of steps.

After about 30 minutes got an SMS from Andrew, VK1NAM advising he was setting up at the summit of Mt Yarara, VK1/AC-030. After another 5 minutes reached a lookout called Cypress Pine. Managed a weak contact with Andrew on the hand held here.

Continued on up with many steps and switchbacks in the track. After 5km reached the junction of the track running to Booroombra Rocks and a fire trail heading for Mt Tennent, 2.5Km away.

The walking got a lot easier for a while.

This track then joins the main road running up to the fire tower, steep but not too bad. After 2 1/2 hours of walking reached the fire tower on top. It's locked.

Views from the top were very good. Looking South East, the Tinderries on the horizon.

Looking West. Note several distant peaks covered in snow, Mt Bimberi on the left and Mt Gingera, Mt Ginini I believe. The rocky peak may be Mt McKeahnie.

Set up the squid pole just below the fire tower, using occy straps on a stump of a wattle tree. Ran the 2 legs of the 40m dipole out to a couple of small saplings.

Set up the FT817 on the nearby rocks. Nice in the sun, not much wind and around 16c.

Got on 40m at 11:30am and got the usual bunch of chasers. Got an S2S with Glenn, VK3YY on VK3/VC-008, Hyde Hill. Managed to contact Andrew VK1NAM on 2m FM on VK1/AC-029, so told Glenn to hang around while Al VK1RX set up on 40m. He go the contact made later. Peter, VK3PF came up later on VK3/VT-037. then Allen VK3HRA on VK3/VU-002. Then we all waited for Tony, VK3CAT to come up on VK3/VC-001 for another S2S.

After this packed up, having made 24 contacts, including some nice hand held to hand held contacts with some Canberra stations.

Stopped on the way down to relax on the seat at Cypress Pine lookout, now in the sun.

Track log of the walk. A 15km total walk with about an 800m height gain...

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Lighthouse chasing from Caseys Beach

After stopping overnight at Batemans Bay headed South on Beach Road, looking for a suitable spot to chase Lighthouse/SOTA activations.

Casey's Beach, about 4Km South of Batemans Bay, looked like a good spot, with a picnic table for the radio and a fence nearby. Set up the 7m squid pole with the 40m dipole running along the fence.

Set up the FT817 and SLA battery on the picnic table.

Lots of strong stations in the RD (Remembrance Day) contest but not many lighthouse stations. Worked VK2EP, Russell at Smokey Cape Lighthouse with a good strong signal. The wind came up strong mid morning and threatened to damage the squid pole, so gave it away and packed up.

Still a pleasant spot to play radio from for a while.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Lighthouse chasing from Surf beach

Went down to Batemans Bay for the weekend, took my SOTA radio gear with me to do some chasing of stations in the International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend ( )

Drove down to Surf Beach, about 7 Km south of Batemans Bay

Just above the beach was a picnic area with tables. Set up my 7m squid pole, 40m dipole on the end of a table and set up my radio on the table.

Ran one leg of the dipole out to the fence and the other to a nearby tree.

Got on 40m and worked

VK2HBG, Gerald, Warden Head Lighthouse
VK3IH, Paul, Cape Liptrap Lighthouse
VK3VTH/7, Tony, Curry Lighthouse King Island
VK3ILH, Jack, Cape Schank Lighthouse
VK2MB, Carlo, Barrenjoey Headland Lighthouse
VK2BV, Raffy, Macquarie Lighthouse

Packed up around midday as the wind was getting stronger and time for lunch. Still a pleasant morning operating on the beach. Temperature around 20c, bit warmer than Canberra.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

SOTA Activation One Tree Hill VK1/AC-035

Andrew VK1NAM had organized a 6 month celebration of VK1 SOTA with several summit activations around VK1, so decided to join the party with a joint activation with Andrew VK1DA of One Tree Hill Vk1/AC-035, a new peak for me.

One Tree Hill lies on the ACT/NSW border at the Northern End of the ACT, just near the village of Hall. It is accessed through private farm property. Met up with Andrew VK1DA at the farm gate, after a call to the farmer by Andrew we were clear to go.

Climbing up the road towards the summit. Foggy below but nice and sunny on the way to the peak.

Looking behind you can see the fog between us and the Brindabellas.

My shadow on the left (with my squid pole) and Andrew's on the right.

After about a 45 minute walk, a bit over 3 Km, reached the top. There is a fire tower, with locked ladder access, and a trig point behind it, but on the wrong side of a barbed wire fence to use.

So dropped down the hill a bit and used the fence posts for our antenna supports. My squid pole with 40m dipole closest, with Andrew VK1DA operating, Andrew's squid pole with a 20m vertical behind it.

Looking South from one leg of the dipole to Canberra. New Gungahlin suburb of Bonner below.

Set up the radio on top of my lunch box. First tried 40m, worked Peter VK3YE pedestrian mobile on the beach in Melbourne with a good signal, always good to hear Peter QRP pedestrian.

Then got the usual frantic pileup of chasers before UTC changeover, 19 contacts. Another 36 more afterwards. Made several S2S contacts, some on the 2M HT with VK2LC/1, VK1MDC, VK1IRC, VK1RX, VK1DR, VK2JI/1, VK1MA, VK1NAM. Interstate S2S with VK5PAS/VK5CZ, VK3MRG, VK5EE.

Later on added the 12m dipole in below the 40m one. Tuned up okay but nothing heard :( Tried a few calls with no luck. Think Andrew didn't have much luck on 20m CW either...Higher HF bands seemed dead. He tried a 6m SSB contact too with VK1NAM, no joy.

Waited until midday for Allen VK3HRA to activate, but not heard until we had packed up and were on the way down.

GPS track log of walk

Headed off to Kingston afterwards, met up with the other activators for a late lunch at an outdoor cafe An enjoyable day playing SOTA and catching up with fellow activators.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Galaxy Note 8 Tablet and Rucksack Radio Tool

Recently purchased a Samsung Galaxy Note 8, I find my mobile phone a bit hard reading for long periods and wanted something for general quick web browsing around the home and while away. My eyesight is not getting any better...

As per my phone I installed Rucksack Radio Tool, for keeping an eye on SOTA :) Looks good on a big screen.

For those unfamiliar with this program it announces in a female voice SOTA peak activations with the association name, frequency and mode. It came in handy today, working VK3WAM Wayne on 4 summits, VK3IL David on VK3/VE-023 Mt Tabletop and Paul VK5PAS on VK5/NE-050 Stokes Hill.

It can be downloaded from The page is in German but not hard to work out the download link, or use Googe Translate. You can also use it to self spot from a summit if you have mobile internet coverage.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

FAROS and 24 Mhz propagation

After playing about yesterday with making up a SOTA dipole for 24 Mhz, thought I would run the program FAROS for a while and check out how 24 Mhz propagation is at the moment.

FAROS is an Automatic NCDXF monitoring program to monitor the 18 beacons on the bands 14, 17,21,24 and 28 Mhz in 18 different locations around the world.

Read all about the beacon network at and FAROS at

Basically I just run FAROS in the laptop in the shack, and it automatically switches my TS480 radio to the 5 different beacon frequencies and logs any beacon it hears.

There is a "History" tab to show what beacons are logged over time.

As you can see 12m, 24 Mhz is far from dead...VK6RBP in Perth comes in well for several hours. KH6WO in Hawaii comes in good for a while, and W6WX West Coast US is good in the mornings too.
As I found Japan, JA2IGY comes in briefly around 0600z. Oddly enough there was even a brief opening to Russian beacon RR9O in the afternoons, and no other bands opened?

Receiving was on a 40/20m dipole, so not even a resonant antenna...

I set up my laptop to FTP the result up to my website so can monitor the bands remotely. Website is

Saturday, 3 August 2013

SOTA 12m Dipole

For the upcoming VK1 multiple SOTA activation next Sunday decided to knock up a dipole antenna for 12m for use on SOTA summits.

Using a calculator on a website I cut each wire leg to 2.857 m and stuck up the dipole in the driveway. 

Set up the FT817 on a camping table nearby, along with the battery and MFJ Tuner/SWR meter

 The SWR was not too bad, about 1.8:1 across the whole 12m band. Getting the full 5 w out.

I then took the squid pole down, added the 40 m dipole in underneath and hoisted it back up.

The SWR came down to pretty much 1:1 across the whole band :)

The SWR on 40m looked good too, so the 2 dipoles seem to get on well...Tried a few calls but no reply, the 12 m band seems rather underutilized...I had a tune around and heard a couple of weak JA Japanese signals, I tried calling one JA but no luck with my QRP signal. Hopefully works better out in the field...