Summit to Summit – VHF Aircraft Enhancement 31 March 2013

VHF DX Summit to Summit with VK3HRA/p Allen on Mt Beckworth VK3/VC-024 QF12UQ from Mt Ginini VK1/AC-007 QF44JI – 494 km

On Sunday 3 March 2013 VK1DA Andrew and I successfully activated Mt Ginini 1760 metres ASL, on VHF DX working a mix of operators in VK2 and VK3.  Contributing to the success are the commercial aircraft flying between Melbourne and Sydney at 35,000 to 40,000 feet.  Aircraft enhancement (AE) mode is fast and is known to trigger pile ups.  I have limited experience at AE  however my observations in this blog are based on the practical application of AE.  When an aircraft is in the ideal position, say mid way between two stations there is a short period where the signal peaks then fades away.  To catch the AE you have to be listening for the lift in RST and quickly make contact before the signal fades. The lift can be as short as 30 seconds or it may last for 5 minutes depending on the aircraft size and flight path or alignment between the operating stations.

With the above in mind I sought interest from VK3 activators to attempt a summit to summit via AE.  Allen VK3HRA volunteered and nominated Mt Beckworth 635 metres ASL.  I chose to activate Mt Ginini at 1760 metres ASL.

Allen and I discussed the planning via email and decided to attempt the activation on Easter Sunday at 0800 local (2100) UTC  30 March 2013.  Activation frequency will be 144.220 USB and liaison on 7.090 LSB.  Equipment: Allen will be running his FT897 on internal batteries at 20 watts into an Elk 5 element log.  I will be using the FT857D on external batteries at 40 watts into a 4el yagi.  SOTA flag will be flying!

The weather forecast for Ginin is zero degrees with a 30 to 40 km/h wind (see picture below) it was freezing.  Allen was looking forward to rain. (see link below)

Mt Ginini 7:45 am minus 5 degrees

Mt Ginini 7:45 am minus 5 degrees with wind chill

The VHF DX window opened at 07:50 with a contact to VK3DUT Norm 254 km away.  I made 18 unique contacts and had the pleasure of VK3AFW Ron and VK3DUT Norm twice.  Below is an extract from the SOTA activation log:
Time Call Band Mode Notes
20:50z VK3DUT 144MHz SSB Norm S55 R59 QF32WE 254 km
21:00z VK3VG 144MHz SSB Trevor S55 R55 Kyabram QF23MQ 345 km
21:00z VK2DO 144MHz SSB Cris S59 R59 South Coast Batemans Bay
21:05z VK2SS 144MHz SSB Chuck at Ovens Mt QF56VO 455 km
21:06z VK1BG 144MHz SSB Ian in Canberra S59 R59
21:10z VK2BCC 144MHz SSB Collin S51 R59 QF56di 261 km
21:15z VK1CJ 144MHz SSB John in Canberra S59 R59
21:20z VK1MA 144MHz SSB Matt in Canberra S59 R59
21:25z VK3EK 144MHz SSB Rob in Bairnsdale QF32te 262 km
21:30z VK3WAM/1 144MHz SSB Wayne S2S VK1/AC-005 S59 R59
21:31z VK3BJM 144MHz SSB Barry S51 R54 in Kyneton QF22ES 432 km
21:32z VK3AFW 144MHz SSB Ron S51 R51 QF22MC 417 km
21:35z VK3AMZ 144MHz SSB Arie S51 R51 QF33EE 461 km
21:37z VK1KW 144MHz SSB Rob in Canberra S59 R59
21:40z VK3BBB 144MHz SSB Brian in Traralgon S51 R53 QF31GT 346 km
21:50z VK3XQ 144MHz SSB Rob in Yea S51 R59 QF22QQ 357 km
22:03z VK3PI 144MHz SSB Mark in Porepunkah S59 R59
22:08z VK3HRA/P 144MHz SSB Allen S2S VK3/VC-024 S51 R52 QF44JI to QF12UQ 490 km fisrt AE between VK1 and VK3
22:25z VK3DUT 144MHz SSB Norm S55 R55
22:40z VK3AFW 144MHz SSB Ron S51 R51

After a bit of a struggle Allen and I finally nailed the S2S contact at 23:08 UTC with a 51 and 52 RST.  This is the first SOTA VHF Summit to Summit (S2S) via aircraft enhancement mode in VK.  see Allen’s Blog

4 el yagi

4 el yagi and 2m slim jim

As well as working Allen I also squeezed in a S2S with VK3WAM/p Wayne on VK1/AC-005 Mt Scabby (see Wayne’s VK1 Wilderness adventure).  As soon as I finish here I’m off to Mt Coree for another activation and a S2S with Wayne on Mt Kelly VK1/AC-004.  It was a great pleasure to work SOTA chasers VK3AFW Ron on AE and locals VK2UH Andrew and VK1MA Matt.

radio shack at 9:30 a little warmer at 2 degrees

radio shack at 9:30 a little warmer at 2 degrees

On 40m HF I worked 18 stations before UTC and 13 after.  VK3MRG Marshall was portable on Mt Nelson near Hobart with a 5-6 5-7 report.   Being the Easter weekend there were plenty of portable operators some did not know about SOTA in VK.  I took the opportunity to inform and educate them of the pleasures of SOTA. I left out the freezing weather, don’t want to scare them off.

Thanks Allen for taking a chance, I think we have a new angle to SOTA in VK.

Andrew, VK1NAM