SOTA Activation 2 Summits Friday 4 October 2013

It’s Friday and today is day 6 of the VK3 tour and I plan to activate Mt Disappointment and Mt St Leonard. The aim for today’s activations is to qualify both summits using 2 metres simplex, adding 2 more summits to the completed list.  Comment. There are far more interested SOTA chasers on 2m in Melbourne than in Canberra. On a recent activation of Booroomba Rock I posted an alert and a self spot, called for 15 minutes and got one chaser.

Mt Disappointment VK3/VC-014 796 metres ASL, Kinglake National Park

Mt Disappointment is in the Kinglake National Park 60 km from Croydon. Access to the Blairs Hut car park and picnic area is from the Wallan-Whittlesea Road turning right into Mahadys Road. Okay yes I am an ‘out-of-towner’ and yes you are right, there are faster and less complex routes to get there.  Anyway, Mahadys road transitions into Lords Road, stay on Lords Road to Mt Disappointment Road.  Don’t do what I did (being an idiot) and think taking a shortcut up a narrow dirt track will get you there any quicker, nope!   The area is logged for Mountain Ash, vehicle tracks are often temporary, not well maintained, not marked on the GPS and have deep wheel ruts.    Yep I found out the hard way and spent 20 minutes back-tracking from a ‘shortcut’.  I eventually found my way to Mt Disappointment Road and then to Blairs Hut picnic area.  If you have local knowledge of the tracks stick with what you know.

From the picnic area the ascent to the summit peak is 80 metres over 1.4 km, easy-going. The recent bad weather and strong winds had dropped some small trees over the formed track, at one point I found myself doing a leopard crawl under a tree trunk with backpack and squid pole.  🙂  Lucky I didn’t encounter passing traffic.

Fig 1:

Mt Disappointment GPS track

Fig 1: Mt Disappointment GPS track 1.4 km walk each way.

Fig 2:

Mt Disappointment track profile

Fig 2: Mt Disappointment track profile

Narrow tracks

Narrow tracks, not a wise decision should have stayed on Lords Road

Tree down

Tree down!  Okay now backtrack to Lords Road

Blairs Hut picnic area

Blairs Hut picnic area

Start of the walking track

Start of the walking track

FT-817 working 2m 146.5 MHz

on the summit FT-817 working 2m simplex

The peak is marked by a picnic table which I didn’t use, and an information board covering some of the history of Hamilton Hume and William Hovell and their 4 days of hardship trying to find a route to the summit. The area around the table is heavily wooded due to recent regrowth and may have affected the 2m transmission.  My aim was to qualify the summit on 2m so I moved roughly 20 or 30 metres to the east into a clearing, which I think is the edge of the Kinglake National Park, a very pleasant, peaceful place perfect for a spot of SOTA action.

Equipment used for the activation: FT-817ND, 2m Slim Jim, 40m EFHW and a 4S 4.2 Ah LiFePO4 battery.

The activation started as planned qualifying the summit on 2 metres with chasers Nick VK3ANL, Perrin VK3XPT, Andrew VK3ARR and Bernard VK3AMB.

On 40m I worked 9 chasers Grant VK2GEL, Matt VK1MA, Paul VK5PAS, Larry VK5LY, Peter VK3PF QRP, Ron VK3AFW, Andrew VK2FAJG, Peter VK3PFSR and Perrin VK3XPT operating a FT-817 into an Alex Loop in doors.

On 20m 3 chasers tested the local ground wave conditions, Nick VK3ANL, Perrin VK3XPT again with the loop and Tony VK3CAT/M.

By a stroke of good luck, I managed to complete one summit to summit (S2S) contact with Grant VK2GEL on VK2/CT-084 Mt Buckaroo.

A note on the 2m contact with Andrew VK3ARR.  The straight line distance to Geelong is about 115 km from Mt Disappointment.  Andrew was operating a HT into a 2m Slim Jim and myself the FT-817 5 watts in to 2m Slim Jim.  Brilliant we made a simplex contact over 115 km aided by two identical antennas Slim Jim to Slim Jim.   Andrew is close to sea level and myself at 796 metres ASL surrounded by eucalyptus regrowth and giant Mountain Ash.  I think that’s a bloody good contact and I am sure Andrew would agree?

After wrapping up the activation I had a chat with Bernard, a local to King Lake West.  Bernard noted I would pass by his property on route to the next summit Mt St Leonard and I should drop in for a meet & greet and have morning tea.  Brilliant!

Thanks Bernard for your hospitality, morning team and a tour of the radio shack. Nice set up. 🙂

Next, Mt St Leonard near Toolangi

VK1NAM shack

VK1NAM SOTA shack (backpack) on Mt Disappointment

2m Slim Jim and 40 EFHW

2m Slim Jim and 40 EFHW.  Notice the dense regrowth behind the pole.

Mt St Leonard VK3/VC-006 1012 metres ASL, Yarra Ranges National Park

Growing up in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and being interested in radio, I always wondered what that mountain was west of Healesville and the obvious knobby bit, (technical term for tower) on top of the mountain?  40 years later and no longer a resident in Melbourne let alone Melbourne’s east, I am about to take my first trip to the summit of Mt St Leonard.  Good grief why did it take so long?

How do you get there,  you can work that out yourself, you need to make your way to Monda Raod.  Drive up Monda Road to the obvious car park among the GIANT Mountain Ash, collect your SOTA gear and start walking.  From the car park the ascent is 100 metres just over 1.3 km, easy-going for an old bloke like me.  One small piece of advice, before leaving home or if you have smart phone or tablet, read VK3YY Glenn’s blog on this site.   Glenn has provided a few pointers on the best spot to activate from.  Thanks Glenn I took your advice seriously.

Fig 3:

Mt St Leonard GPS track

Fig 3: Mt St Leonard GPS track

Fig 4:

Mt St Leonard track profile

Fig 4: Mt St Leonard track profile

start of the walking track

start of the walking track 1.2 km to the summit

management track

management track to the summit – an easy walk

view down the management track

view back down the management track – beautiful old growth semi-rain forest

communications infrastructure

communications infrastructure

lookout tower

lookout tower

summit 1610 m ASL

summit 1010 m ASL awesome panoramic views.

VK1NAM shack on Mt St Leonard in the south-east corner

VK1NAM shack on Mt St Leonard in the south-east corner.

Something I didn’t expect, the ground and vegetation were quite moist, over a 30 minute period I flicked two leeches of my boots. Yeah leeches.

Equipment: same as Mt Disappointment:  FT-817, couple of antennas and a few other bits and pieces, you know the drill.


Started the activation on 2m and silence, hmm oh well try 40m.  12 out of the usual marauding chasers thirsty for 6 points decided to give me a shout.

Bernard VK3AMB, the provider of an excellent morning tea, suggested a contact on 2m, had the pied piper just put out a call? I had 3 chasers cued up behind him, where were they 10 minutes ago?  Never mind, on 2m chasers were Bernard, Glenn VK3YY/M, Tony VK3CAT and Rik then VK3KAN now VK3EQ.

Next spotted myself on 20m and put out a call.  Perrin VK3XPT answered still operating the 817 into the Alex Loop.  Me being the inquisitive type suggested a few experiments with the loop.  I think we spent 15 minutes observing signal reports with Perrin trying the loop in all sorts of positions.  The obvious noticeable difference was when the loop was broadside to my position with a deep null in reception and transmission.  A very effective way to null the effects of local QRM or help track down a local noise source.  Nevertheless the little Alex Loop was producing a ground wave from inside Perrin’s home to Mt St Leonard.  Thanks Perrin that was good fun while keeping an eye out for little blood sucking leeches!

QRM:  No problems on HF, I did experience some ‘pager’ interference on 2m, no surprises given the amount of RF on this hill.  All up an excellent activation, Mt St Leonard is a place to revisit.

squid pole and antennas

squid pole and antennas at the south-east end of the compound. Hint!


2 thoughts on “SOTA Activation 2 Summits Friday 4 October 2013

  1. Pingback: VK3 – Mt Donna Buang and Mt St Leonard | Get out of the Radio Shack and Live Life

  2. Absolutely agree it was a brilliant 2m contact. What’s more impressive is I had the HT sitting inside with a 1/8 wave rubber ducky when I heard your CQ on 2m. Frantic running around to string up the slim jim and we were away! 🙂

    I’d estimate the height of the slim jim was 3m above ground and my QTH is about 15m ASL. The HT puts out about 4W (A Chinese 5W, it would appear).

    Unfortunately, the success of that contact probably filled me with false confidence about my Flinders Peak attempted activation.

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