Thursday, 30 January 2014

SOTA 2500 Chaser Points

One nice effect of all the S2S contacts on my recent SOTA activations was to get me over 2500 chaser points, and another shack sloth award! Although not really in the shack for some of them...

The certificate arrived today.

Monday, 27 January 2014

SOTA reactivation Pheasant Hill

After doing the tough walk up Gourock yesterday thought I would reactivate an easier peak, I decided to revisit Pheasant Hill. For access notes see my earlier Blog on this hill at SOTA Activation Pheasant Hill

Arrived at Brayshaws hut at 9: 30 am, fine and sunny day. Pheasant Hill behind it.

Walked up the hill, seemed to take longer this time, followed the ridge which made for less steep climbing but missed some of the grassy open areas on the way. Got to the top after about 50 minutes. The log I used last time was in the full sun this time of year, so picked another spot a little lower down, using a fallen tree for support.

Set up the radio on a nearby log, using a rock as a handy seat. It was in the shade, until later on when the sun moved further overhead.

Got on 40 m. Found most signals weak with severe fading. Started by working VK3PF Peter and VK2TWR Rod S2S on VK3/VC-011, then worked VK2FGJW/1 Greg on VK1/AC-023 Mt Coree.
Greg let me use his frequency. Worked several chasers, including Paul VK5PAS/P in Port Gawler CP. Had Andrew VK1NAM call me who faded out, a while later he came back, very severe QSB. We briefly tried 2m SSB with no luck, mainly due to my antenna, the FT817 whip...Ended up making 21 contacts before heading back down after lunch.

Return a little better, still seemed to find lots of scrub though...Track log of walk.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

SOTA Activation Gourock

After activating South Black Range decided to try activating nearby peak Gourock, VK2/ST-012. Never been activated before, I had left it alone as suspected a bit of a scrub bash, but decided to check it out today anyway.

Drove back to Hoskinstown, then to Rossi, followed the road onto Lowden Forest Road

Part way along this road stopped for lunch at Lowden Forest Park, a nice picnic spot with an old water wheel.

Continued along Lowden Forest Road until it ended at a logging area at the base of Gourock. Parked and continued to the left using a trail bike riders track. From here about a Km from the summit.

Climbed a bit of this, then took some old logging tracks up the mountain

Got quite steep. After a while these logging tracks ran out, then just bush bashed up the side of the mountain. Not too thick, although did get cut legs from Lawyer vine, local vine that looks and acts like barbed wire...

After about half an hour of walking got to the summit ridge.

As I didn't have the peak waypoint in the GPS just headed up to what looked like the highest point, a cluster of rocks.

Set up the squid pole on a nearby stump and the 40m dipole to a couple of trees.

Radio and myself on a nearby log.

Got on 40m. Was able to spot myself and got a pileup going. One S2S with Allen, AX3HRA on VK3/VS-048. Made 28 contacts. Packed up and headed down almost the same way, although did seem to get more lawyer vine than the way up :(

I wondered why there was no trig or rocky cairn. At home downloaded the track log, found Gourock has 2 minor peaks close together, I had picked the wrong one... As only 10 m or so difference still in the activation zone though.

Track log of drive/walk.

SOTA reactivation South Black Range

On Sotawatch noticed many activations mid morning, so headed back to one of my favourite SOTA peaks, VK2/ST-006 South Black Range.

Drive as per my previous activation VK2/ST-002 Weather nice and sunny, if a little cool, only 14c on the car readout. Got to the top around 10 am.

Set up the squid pole as per last time on the same stump in front of it. This stump is a little loose, but does the job, with trees spaced nicely for the dipole ends.

Set up the radio on the nearby rock.

Signals were nice and strong from VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5. Worked several S2S contacts, at one stage a group of us activators all jumped on one frequency and had fun trying to work each other, not really knowing the original user of the frequency...

VK2HRX/3 on VK3/VG-014
VK2FGJW/1 on VK1/AC-008
VK2KXN/3 on VK3/VG-014
VK1MBE/p on VK1/AC-041
AX3YY/p on VK3/VT-006
AX3BQ/p on VK3/VW-022
AX3HRA/p on VK3/VS-051
VK3PF/2 on VK2/SM-033
AX3CAT/p on VK3/VN-002

21 contacts before UTC changeover and 15 after.

Packed up around noon. As such a nice day decided to do a nearby unactivated peak, Gourock, VK2/ST-012. Report to follow

Saturday, 25 January 2014

SOTA Activation Mt Stromlo BBQ

There was a sugggestion for the 12 month anniversary of the VK1 Association of a BBQ get together, I suggested we use the BBQ on Mt Stromlo as this is in the activation zone of the summit. So activated the BBQ area to check if suitable.

First went up to the proper summit to get a reading of height on the GPS.

Then walked down the hill towards Scope Restaurant. The BBQ is next to Scope Restaurant.

Found the BBQ. 2 electric hot plates. There used to be a table and chairs here, this was gone...

Tried the 2 hot plates, both worked fine.

Checked the GPS, around 15 m below the summit here so still inside the activation zone. Set up the squid pole on the support for a sign long gone. Found a problem here, there were overhead power lines, so could only get the squid pole up safely at 6 m height.

Set up the radio on the lawn in the shade of a tree.

Got on 40m, started well working with 2 S2S contacts, VK2FPJR on VK2/IL-006, VK3ANL on VK3/VC-018. Later on worked Peter VK3PF and Rod VK2TWR on VK2/SM-036, and VK3ZPF on VK3/VT-059. Made 26 contacts. Waited for UTC rollover at 11am local time.

Just at 11 am an S8 noise came up, just like the last time I activated here! Whatever it is is time dependent, so this spot may or may not have the same problem for a lunch time BBQ. So BBQ facilities okay, radio maybe not okay...

Thursday, 16 January 2014

SOTA 250 Unique Chaser Award

I recently reached another milestone in SOTA hunting, chasing 250 unique summits. 

This took some chasing, as the same summits tend to get activated by different activators, unique ones usually done by activators after something untouched.

Here is a breakdown of unique summits worked by association

Most unique peaks were VK3, unsurprising as one of the first associations to get going. VK2 is catching up though...The 35 summits in VK1 is quite good, there are only 43 all together! VK5 is challenging to work, VK4 even more so...There is 1 VK9 contact, Norfolk Island. Yet to get any non VK summits but will get done with right conditions...

Using a bit of fiddling with Excel and the total summits list, mapped out my unique summits worked. 

Saturday, 11 January 2014

SOTA reactivation Mt Majura

Mt Majura was the first VK1 summit I activated after VK1 went live in the 1st February 2013, returned again for another point.

As per last time started from the Hackett Horse Paddocks off Antill St

Sign for Mt Majura walks nearby

Follow the road and then continue on the bend up the mountain

The track joins another running along the base of Mt Majura. Followed this to the right then up a track on the left up stairs

This track snakes up the mountain, bends to the right then joins the main ridge track running between Mt Ainslie and Mt Majura

This track is steep in places...eventually come to a gate with the Mt Majura summit road

Just after the gate is the trig

As per last time used the round metal thing to support the squid pole.

Hid under a nearby bush in the shade

Got on 40m. Band quite good, worked VK2/VK3 and VK5s with good signals. A S2S with VK3BQ on VK3/VC-032. Worked 1 chaser on 2m FM, VK1MBE. On 20m only 2 locals, VK1NAM and VK1MDC. Gave it away at getting too hot.

Track log of walk

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

eQSL eAustralia Award

Noticed eQSL recently added a new award, "eAustralia", for making 1 contact with 8 or more of the 10 Australian VK call areas.

Seems I had worked VK1-VK8

Most call areas had at least 1 contact. VK8 quite rare, at least for me, only 1 contact..VK1 quite easy for me, imagine quite rare for overseas amateurs.

Applied for the award which was promptly approved!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

SOTA Activation VK1/AC-036 Goorooyarroo

SOTA peak VK1/AC-036, Goorooyarroo has remained unactivated, mainly because it was believed to be dangerous to approach. It lies near the Majura military firing range, so approaching from the West is impossible due to the risk of UXO (Unexploded Ordinance). Route from the North is Private property, so the East through Goorooyarroo reserve looks to be the only possible way.

A visiting amateur put an Alert on Sotawatch intending to activate it, this caused a few emails in the local VK1 SOTA community trying to warn him of the dangers. Fortunately he mixed up this summit with nearby Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve in the ACT, so no risky activation was made.

Anyway this caused some discussion about possibly activating this summit. Matt VK1MA spoke to the Ranger for this National Park at NPWS Queanbeyan, he advised there is a fire trail from a locked gate to the SE of the summit, that takes you directly to it.

Matt and I discussed this option, and after studying six maps and other online referenced decided to give this route a try. We met up at the Eaglehawk Service Station, then drove down the Federal Highway, turning down Sutton Rd. The access road is an unnamed minor dirt track next to another private driveway, Matt and I missed this at first...If you get to Norton Rd you have gone too far! Road on the left in photo.

After a while this road bends to the right. On the left is a gate with a sign for Goorooyarroo Reserve, with a warning about unexploded ordinance...

Matt had confirmed with the ranger that it was okay to enter, just stay on the road. So we headed off on the road. Steepish in places with loose rocks but not too hard.

After less than half an hour reached the summit, about 2.1 Km walk.

The gate had some worrying signs, Majura Military Range nearby. We didn't enter...

Set up my squid pole on a nearby stump. Had a bit of a lean to it...Ran out 40 m and 20 m dipoles.

Shack set up on the fly

Matt VK1MA had a 10m squid pole, with an OCF dipole so he could run on several bands.

He had brought a neat little seat to operate on

Matt got on 40 m first and qualified the summit. Tried to use 20 m but got QRMed from Matt. I went to 40 m and made 15 contacts, Matt tried 12m with no luck...I tried 20 m afterwards and managed a few contacts, with Paul, VK5PAS, Andrew VK1NAM and Matt VK2DAG. There was some sort of radar noise on 20 m which cut in and out, so some problems when it was going...Matt I think made a few contacts on 30 m and 2 m.

We packed up around noon and headed back down to the cars, took about 20 minutes.
While back at the cars we worked Compton, VK2HRX on VK2/ST-007 using Matts mobile setup, thanks Matt.

Track log of the walk. 2.1 Km each way with 150 m climb.

Friday, 3 January 2014

VK1DI's QSOs for 2013

As per 2012 here is a breakdown of my Radio Logbook contacts for 2013.

Produced by exporting my log in Ham Radio Deluxe into an xml file, opening this in Excel and using Pivot Table Reports

Breakdown by Band

40m is easily my most active band, due mainly to SOTA chasing, followed by 2m, also SOTA contacts.
Still active on 10m, but not as much as last year. Note use of WARC bands 12m and 30m now.

Breakdown by Mode

SSB replaces JT65 as the most popular mode, again SOTA related. 2m FM also gets a boost...JT65 still used but not as much now days.

Breakdown by Continent

Mainly OC, ie SOTA Australian contacts. North America next popular.

Breakdown by Country

Australian SOTA contacts dominate...