SOTA Activation Spring Hill – 1 December 2013

Spring Hill VK2/ST-036 876 metres ASL

Spring Hill is on private property located 4.4 km north-east of the Barton Highway along Nanima Road.  The owner Phil is a member of the ACT hang glider/paragliders club.  Phil has registered Spring Hill as a launch site for use by licensed glider pilots.

I called Phil yesterday, Phil was happy to grant me access to his property and the summit. He advised to leave the car at the visitors car park positioned in front of a cattle grid/entrance gate.  The walk takes you past a residence, a lake then on to a 4WD track not suitable for 2WD vehicles.

The ascent is 238 metres over 2.3 km.  The hardest section of the walk is up the western face along the 4WD track to the ridge.  In some respects the walk is similar to the Mt Taylor ascent.  Once on the ridge the remaining distance 600 metres is easy.  It took 40 minutes to reach the summit, I stopped twice to chat with John VK2YW/M on route to to a SOTA summit VK2/RI-001 Mt Jingellic.  John and I were accessing the 2m linked repeaters in the Wagga Wagga district.  My HT was tuned to the VK2RBE Mt Bethungra repeater near Junee, with an input frequency of 146.175 MHz FM.

Spring Hill is a new SOTA activation for me, previous activator was Andrew VK1DA/2UH on 17 Nov 13.  Before departing home I checked SOTAWatch for possible S2S contacts.  Al VK1RX would be operating from Mount Kembla in the Illawarra Region near Wollongong and there was an alert from K7NIT for W7O/CE-068 on 20m.  I haven’t worked a U.S. summit so I packed the FT857D, I suspect I have little chance of making the distance or K7NIT might be operating low power QRP.

In addition to the FT-857D I will take a new FT-817 and a light duty EFHW for it’s first work-out.  This turned out to be a ‘heavy’ activation carrying 2 radios, 2 squid poles, three antennas and 2 LiFePO4 batteries and a small LiPo for the 817.

Fig 1:

Spring Hill GPS track log

Fig 1: Spring Hill GPS track log from the designated car park to the summit.

Fig 2:

Spring Hill track profile

Fig 2: Spring Hill track profile

Click on any picture to zoom in

Spring Hill Car Park

visitors car park

Spring Hill

Spring Hill

Passed a couple of cows and kangaroos along the way.  The flies were constant, I can’t recall having so many flies buzzing around me.  I thought One Tree Hill was bad for flies, this hill is worse, much worse.

Happy cow but no SOTA goats

a happy cow but no SOTA goats

Spring Hill Ridge 600 metres to go

Spring Hill Ridge 600 metres to go

Matt VK1MA called me on the mobile phone to let me know Al VK1RX was waiting on VK2/IL-015 Mount Kembla.  Shortly after arriving at the summit trig I quickly deployed the FT-817 and a light duty EFHW supported by a 7 metre squid pole.  Pictured below is the 817 powered by a LiPo 3S 2.2 Ah.

FT-817 working Al VK1RX on VK2/ST-015

FT-817 working Al VK1RX on VK2/IL-015 173 km north-east

40M EFHW quick deployment to work Al VK1RX/P on VK2/ST-015

light duty 40M EFHW on a 7m squid pole for a quick deployment

After working Al I packed away the FT-817 and set up the FT-857D, 2M Slim Jim and a 20/40m link dipole.

Spring Hill Trig

Spring Hill Trigonometric station

Squid poles secured to the trig

Squid poles secured to the trig

Commercial repeater compound

Commercial repeater compound

The summit provides amazing 360 degree panoramic views.  An Eagle was soaring overhead looking for its next meal.

Started the activation at 2300 UTC on 2m 144.2 SSB chased by Matt VK1MA for a single VK1 contact.  The VHF antenna is a home-brew 2m Slim Jim made from 450 ohm open feed line for a tough durable antenna yet very flexible for its deployment options.  The antenna’s radiation angle is around 8 degrees above the horizontal plane.  If you are considering emptying your wallet on a commercial 2m antenna, have a go at making a 2m Slim Jim first.

Changed to 20m and listened for K7NIT on 14.346 MHz, nothing heard.  Put out a few blind calls, I suspect the station is running low power, I did hear one U.S. chaser give a 5-5 report.  Changed to 14.310 to work VK chasers.  On frequency was Matt VK1MA, Larry VK5LY and Paul VK5PAS.

At 23:28 I moved to 40m 7.090 MHz with an immediate contact with Peter VK3PF. Peter was my fourth unique chaser contact for the morning.   I went on to work 25 more chasers before UTC change.

QRP chasers were, Peter VK3PF, Steve VK3JY portable, Bernard VK3AMB, Fred VK3JM, Perrin VK3XPT portable and Andrew VK2UH in nearby Yass.  Perrin VK3XPT was experimenting with a ‘Miracle’ and an EFHW antenna.  The miracle was that the Miracle antenna produced a 5-5 report to me yet I was 5-2 to Perrin.  Hmm I think the 40m dipole at 9 metres was doing the work 🙂  Nevertheless it’s good to see operators experimenting with different antennas.  Great work Perrin, its a pity you didn’t have the Alex Loop for a comparison.

Following UTC change chasers numbers were similar with 20 on 40m and 6 on 20m. John VK6NU reported in I didn’t hear from Mike VK6MB.   Not sure what’s happened to the VK1 chaser group, I have noticed a decline in VK1 SOTA chasers over the last few for months.  Today is the first time I have worked only one VK1 chaser.  Thanks Al VK1RX and Matt VK1MA for the VK1 contacts although strictly speaking Al was out of the Territory portable VK2.

The commercial infrastructure and the nearby power lines didn’t emit QRM on HF or VHF frequencies.

A note on summits scores for VK1 and VK2:

Spring Hill is in NSW (VK2) while One Tree Hill is in the ACT (VK1).  The two summits are 5 km apart and both the same height at 876 metres ASL, yes the same height.  One Tree Hill in VK1 is scored at 1 point while Spring Hill in VK2 is scored at 4 points.  This is an excellent example of the inequity being applied to VK1 summit scores.  There is no shortage of similar examples where the inequity between VK1 and VK2 can be demonstrated.


2 thoughts on “SOTA Activation Spring Hill – 1 December 2013

  1. Pingback: SOTA DX – 101 Chasers :) | Get out of the Radio Shack and Live Life

  2. Hi Andrew,
    Thanks for another contact. You had a nice signal on 20m. I kept listening on freq for the USA SOTA station but couldn’t hear anything definitive. I also heard the 5/5 exchange that you heard.
    As for the inequities with summits & their height ASL & points allocated, I understand your frustration. I just put a post on the Yahoo Group site about that subject. In my opinion, there is no simple answer, as there are lots of factors to consider when thinking about the deserved points of a summit.
    As we know a summit of low height ASL (low SOTA points) can often be far more challenging to reach than a summit of high height ASL (which earns more points).
    Best 73,

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