VHF DX from Isaacs Ridge – 1 February 2014

Isaacs Ridge VK1/AC-041 840 metres ASL, Canberra Nature Park, Grid QF44NO

Today is the 1st anniversary of SOTA in VK1 which coincides with the 2nd anniversary of SOTA in VK3.  To celebrate the day I decided to activate Isaacs Ridge notorious for QRM on 40m and she didn’t let me down.  The plan is to spend 45 minutes on 2m 144.2 looking for tropo or aircraft enhancement contacts, then QSY to 40 and 20 for an even spread of chasers as far as VK6.

The VHF antenna choice for Isaacs Ridge is a 3el Arrow which I modified last year for higher gain to a 5el yagi.  Isaacs Ridge is very rocky, has hard ground with little tree or natural support for a squid pole.  My best approach is to change the yagi configuration back to 3 elements and mount the antenna on a camera tripod.

Who else will be activating for the VK1 and VK3 anniversaries?  Greg VK2FGJW plans to be on Mt Canobolas VK2/CT-001 near Orange 227 km north of Canberra and is keen for a S2S contact on 2m.  Greg will be operating a FT-817 with a simple 2m dipole.  Andrew VK1MBE is planning to join Greg on Mt Canobolas around 2300 UTC.   Al VK1RX will be a little closer to Canberra on Spring Hill VK2/ST-036, later Al plans to activate One Tree Hill VK1/AC-035 near the township of Hall.  Ian VK1DI plans to activate  Black Mountain VK1/AC-042, while Rod VK2TWR will be running across the tops of 4 or 5 Snowy Mountain Peaks.  I checked SOTAWatch for new alerts Nick VK3ANL is planning an activation of Briarty Hill VK3/VC-029.  The trio of Ben VK5TX, Josh VK2JOS and Sam VK2AFA are planning activations in the NSW Northern Tablelands area.


At 20:50 UTC I fired up the FT-857D changed the VHF power output to 40 watts and turned the 3el Arrow due north.  Within minutes I contacted Ross VK2DVZ at grid QF68GF just north of Taree that’s 513 km with a 5-8 and 5-4 report. Yep 513 km out of the FT-857 and the 3el Arrow.  Next contacts were Steve VK2ZT QF56FW and Greg VK1AI local to Canberra.  Next was a distant S2S call, it was Greg VK2FGJW on Mt Canobolas.  Greg was readable with a 51 report, thanks Greg for the S2S on 2m, 227 km on 5 watts from a 1/2 wave dipole, well done mate.

Okay what next?    Chaos, separately and within 5 minutes of each other a VK4 and a VK7 called into the group.  Yes a VK7 on 144.2 into Canberra and even further as far as Sydney.  Me and my little 3 el yagi and 40 watts were no match for the ‘Big Guns’ running 400 watts, so I spent a little while listening to the DX chase.   Fascinating to listen to.

So here is an extract of the VHF DX activity.  Best contact for the session was with Ross VK2DVZ near Taree 513 km and running close second Mark VK2AMS at QF68FC Taree 496 km both due north from Isaacs Ridge.  Awesome Tropo!

Time UTC Frequency Mode Callsign Summit Details
20:50 144.2 SSB VK2DVZ Ross S58 R54  Taree QF68GF 513 km
20:55 144.2 SSB VK2ZT Steve S55 R56 Medowie QF57FW 390 km
20:58 144.2 SSB VK1AI Greg S59 R59  Canberra
21:00 144.2 SSB VK2FGJW/P VK2/CT-001 Greg S2S VK2/CT-001 S51 R59 QF46LP 227 km
21:01 144.2 SSB VK2KOL Col QF56JF S57 R58  236 km
21:02 144.2 SSB VK2BCC Colin S58 R59 QF56DI 222 km
21:07 144.2 SSB VK2YW John in Wagga Wagga S51 R51
21:17 144.220 SSB VK2NC Dave in Sydney S59 R59
21:20 144.2 SSB VK2AMS Mark S53 R54 Taree QF68FC 496 km
21:22 144.2 SSB VK2IJM John in Berowra S59 R59
21:30 144.220 SSB VK2FAD John S54 R55 QF56SS 327 km
21:35 144.2 SSB VK1KW/M Rob S57 R55 near Yass
21:45 144.2 SSB VK3EJ Gordon S53 R55 Cobram QF24TB 321 km
VK1NAM SOAT shack.  An Arrow 2m 3el yagi mounted on a camera tripod and a HF link dipole

VK1NAM SOTA shack. An Arrow 2m 3el yagi mounted on a camera tripod and a HF link dipole

Radio shack FT-857D

Perfect size boulder for the radio shack FT-857D and somewhere to sit

Close up of the 3el Arrow yagi

Close up of the 3el Arrow

View north west

View north west

View north to Taree NSW

View down the barrel of the yagi and over the horizon to Taree NSW

View west to Tidbinbilla Peak over Mt Taylor in the foreground

View west to Tidbinbilla Peak. In the foreground Mt Taylor.  Over the horizon is where John VK2YW hangs out at Wagga Wagga

Infrastructure blocking the view east

Infrastructure blocking the view east


4 thoughts on “VHF DX from Isaacs Ridge – 1 February 2014

  1. Nice one Andrew, I’m still yet to work any VHF DX. I worked my first EU pile on 20m from up at the concrete posts on the southern tip of the ridge (still s6 QRM on 40m though).

    I see my marker posts make good squid pole supports for the SOTA shack too! 🙂

    Roald VK1MTS

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