Sunday, 25 May 2014

SOTA Reactivation Mt Rob Roy

I first activated Mt Rob Roy in May last year. This is a good time of year to activate it, as it is a steep climb at first with no tree cover in the summer and at 1100m not quite high enough to attract winter bonus points.

Parked on a side road off Orange Thorn Crescent in Banks and started walking up the steep road.

This first part of the walk is on private property but the owner allows foot traffic okay.

Came to a property gate, found it open. As per usual convention on properties left it open. I found it closed on my return

Followed the road up to a junction, turned off onto the Rob Roy link track. Mt Rob Roy behind the sign.

This takes you to a gate and into Rob Roy Nature Park

The road climbs up still more and joins the Rob Roy Eco Track

Followed the track up to a high point, then took a side route in the scrub up to the summit. Note the rocky marker cairn started by Andrew, VK1NAM. Added a few more rocks to the pile.

A short, easy scramble up to the summit. This trig is unusual, wooden with a metal collar and side struts. Most ACT trigs are all metal. Used the trig for squid pole support and hoisted up the 40/20m linked dipole.

Started on 2m FM on the hand held before UTC changeover working Andrew, VK1NAM on VK1/AC-040 and Andrew VK1DA close by on VK1/AC-033 Bullen Range. Also Matt VK1MA with a strong signal.

Got on 40m, worked VK2QW on VK2/HU-054. Briefly switched dipoles to 12/30m linked dipole to work Andrew VK1DA on 12m along with Matt VK1MA. Both very strong.

Returned to 40m, started a pile up...Many chasers from VK2/VK3 and VK5 with good signals. Another S2S with Julie, VK3FOWL on VK3/VC-030, Flinders Peak.

Returned to my 12/30m linked dipole to try my luck on 30m. Worked Matt VK1MA and Gerard VK2IO but otherwise very quiet.

Heard Peter VK3YE pedestrian mobile calling from Chelsea beach, wading through the water using a squid pole FT817 in a backpack ground wire in the water setup. Always interesting to work Peter trying these pedestrian portable contacts. Check out his YouTube videos. He was initially a very weak 4x1, but then the band changed and he came up to a strongt 5x8 signal!

My station at the base of the trig. The 4AH LifePO4 battery worked well. Stayed around 13.14v most of the time, and had heaps of charge left.

Headed back down for lunch. Southern suburbs of Canberra below

Track log of walk

Sunday, 18 May 2014

SOTA Activation Devils Peak

Andrew VK1NAM asked if anyone would like to do a combined activation of Devils Peak, VK2/ST-003. As I haven't activated this summit yet asked to come along.

Met Andrew off the Brindabella Road and we continued in my car. Turned off onto Blue Range Road, and with some help from Andrew navigated down this to the start of the walk. Road was unsealed but would be okay for a 2WD with care. Parked in an open area near power lines.

Headed into the bush just over the road to the left in the above photo. We initially found it easy going, scrub not bad, however heading to a saddle with a small hill at the base of Devils Peak, struck very bad scrub...

Lots of impenetrable tea tree scrub, boggy marshes and branches and logs made it slow going. You can see from the track log later we detoured quite a lot trying to bypass really thick was pretty bad! Eventually got onto the ridge heading up, thinned out a bit as we got higher.

When we reach the top found still very heavily treed, with few clearings for dipoles. Andrew and I set up our squid poles quite close together in one clearing and made the most of it.

My squid pole the closest with Andrews in the background. Given we had very close antennas couldn't both run HF bands without interference, so Andrew went to 2 m, I started on 12 m using my new 12/30 m linked dipole.

Andrew worked Matt VK1MA on 2m and then I worked him on 12 m, with a very strong signal. Then I went to 40 m. Just missed a couple of S2S stations, but usual chasers were there. Andrew managed to scrape together 4 contacts on 2 m, but hard going. He had a go on 20 m and 40m where he got a S2S with Mark, VK3ASC on VK3/VG-033, so we at least got one S2S contact in the log. I tried spotting and calling on 30 m but no luck, even though I could hear strong stations chatting away on the band.

Operating position on the other side of the log.

My new 4200 MaH LifePO4 battery went well, hardly made a dent in it, still reading over 13.1 v at the end.
Worked 20 contacts all up. Note this peak was in Brindabella National Park, so counted for the VKFF/WWFF awards, VKFF-054.

After the horrendous scrub on the way up we chose a different way down, heading NNE to pick up a ridge heading down. The scrub was thick in places but nowhere near as bad. Once reaching the flat area at the bottom of the peak it was like a walk in the park, hardly any scrub...I would recommend doing this peak this way instead of the horrible scrubby route we took up.

Track log of walk.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

SOTA WARC bands dipole

In preparation for activating Devils Peak, VK2/ST-003, knocked up another linked dipole for the WARC bands, namely 30 m for local VK work and 12 m for the SOTA 12 m challenge.

Set up the dipole in the front driveway on the squid pole.

As per my 20/40m linked dipole, used a small ruler as the link support. In this case a wooden one.

The local electronics store was out of small alligator clips, so just twisted the 2 wire ends together to make the link. Worked well enough. SWR on 12 m was around 1.2:1, on 30 m was 1:1 across the whole band :)

The 4 wire winders for the 2 linked dipoles, 12/30m on the left, 20/40m on the right.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

VKFF Bronze and Silver Awards

Had an email from Paul, VK5PAS, with the Bronze and Silver certificate VKFF Hunter Awards

Bronze Award for working 10 different VKFF areas

Silver Award for 20 different VKFF areas

As far as the Bronze Activator award goes I have activated 10 parks, but 2 of these had less than the 10 contacts required to count. So need a couple more. There are plenty close to Canberra so should not be hard.

30m Dipole

After working another SOTA station on 30m, VK2YK, figured it was time to make a proper antenna for this band instead of the makeshift tuning up the 40 m dipole through the tuner :)

Using a calculator on the web worked out the dipole leg lengths for a frequency of 10.120 Mhz (calling frequency) and 14 degree slope at 6.977 m. Cut the legs just a little longer than this.

Attached the 30 m legs to the balun, red wires, along with 20 m (brown) and 40 m dipoles (black)

Ran one leg to the TV antenna support mast at the front of the house, using yellow nylon cord.

Ran the other leg to a branch of a large tree down the back yard.

Tried tuning up, SWR about 1.2:1 across the whole band! :) Not often I get an antenna to work without some cutting to tune.

To test it, ran JT65. Lots of EU stations on. Worked EA4DBS without too much worry, he gave me -21dB receiving him -8 dB. So receiving well. Lots of digital QRM on 30 m though so a hard band for DX. Anyway should do well for 30 m SOTA chasing.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

VK3FI 473 Khz Beacon

Having read a few articles online about an experimental beacon on 743 Khz by VK3FI in Mildura, decided to try listening out for it.

As I don't have an antenna for this low a frequency, used a trick I have used before to listen for AM broadcast stations. Just pull the PL259 coax plug half way out and use the center conductor only, on half a 40m dipole, works a treat on low frequencies if you don't need to transmit.

Heard the CW beacon ID on 473.6 Khz LSB (473 Khz CW) not moving the S meter but Q5, series of Vs and the call VK3FI. Not bad for around 600 Km West of Canberra. This was around 11pm local time.

Friday, 2 May 2014

World Wide Flora and Fauna WWFF Award and Log4OM

Noticed Log4OM included the World Wide Flora and Fauna Award, so decided to investigate this award system further. After finding the Logsearch page at and getting registered and logging in, found I have already qualified for the basic 10 parks award!

17 Australian Parks worked and even 1 DL park I had worked on 20m JT65 and did not know it!

Applied for the basic award, arrived promptly

Downloaded the list of stations worked in Excel. Lots of park activators I recognized from SOTA activations...The good thing about a lot of SOTA peaks is that they also happen to be in National Parks, so can be points for both award systems.

Fairly simple matter of finding the station worked in my Log4OM log, then Update QSO, Awards Tab and pick the WWF Award, then pick the park code from the drop down list. Make sure to hit the "+" button on the right to add the park to the Current QSO References. I forgot this a couple of times and wondered why not recorded...

To view parks WWFF parks worked, select Utilities, Statistics and Awards, AWARDs tab, Others Sub Tab, select WWF: World Wide Flora and Fauna from the award list and Open.


Found the WWFF parks list is out of date, only went up to VKFF-573. You will need to visit the Log4OM forum and download the latest WWFF list in a file called award_WFF.xml Copy and replace old old file under C:\Users\"your profile"\AppData\Roaming\LogOM\awards. (For Windows 7)