VK1 SOTA 1st Year Anniversary Celebrations 1 Feb 14

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

Today marks the 1st year anniversary of SOTA operations in VK1.  The original plan for the activator group was to hold a combined BBQ and activation at Mt Stromlo.  With another weekend of very high midday temperatures around 38 degrees C, that’s 100 F on the old scale, the group agreed to undertake early activations of local summits in the suburban area.   1 February also marks the 2nd anniversary of SOTA in VK3.  The VK3 group will be celebrating their anniversary with a gathering of SOTA enthusiasts and a BBQ at the Moorabbin & District Radio Club.

VK1 activators planning to be out and about are Al VK1RX, Ian VK1DI, Andrew VK1MBE/2 and myself Andrew VK1NAM.  Joining in on the activity is Greg VK2FGJW near Orange, Rod VK2TWR in the snowy mountains, Nick VK3ANL in central Victoria and Ben VK5TX, Sam VK2AFA and Josh VK2JOS all three in the Hunter region.

The start of the walk is the Canberra Centenary trail off Long Gully Road.   The western face of Isaacs Ridge is a softwood pine plantation.   Not marked on the map and after a short distance the Centenary trail turns left heading north along a fire trail in the pine plantation.  Don’t take the left turn, instead continue straight ahead (north-east) up a fire trail for a steep ascent to the summit.   The ascent is 126 metres over 800 metres taking 25 minutes.

Fig 1.

Isaacs Ridge GPS track log

Fig 1: Isaacs Ridge GPS track log

Fig 2.

Isaacs Ridge track profile

Fig 2: Isaacs Ridge track profile

Fig 3.

Isaacs Ridge ascent data

Fig 3: Isaacs Ridge ascent data

The summit peak is at the south end of the ridge line as shown in Figure 1 and Figure 2.  The north end has a clear uninterrupted view of the horizon to the north, north-west, west and south-west.  The north end is about 14 metres below the south peak, well inside the 25 metre activation zone.

Isaacs Ridge is known for high levels of interference on 7 MHz at S6 to S8 signal strength.  The likely source is one of five commercial repeater installations on the 400 metre long ridge.  One of the installations has a 3 wire folded HF dipole antenna for 3 to 30 MHz, this could be the source.  To give you an idea of the intensity of the noise I captured 58 seconds of the FT-857D audio using a digital camera.

Although the noise on 7 MHz was a major pain making reception of weak signal or QRP stations almost unreadable, reception on 14 MHz was relatively noise free, quite surprising given 14 MHz is the second harmonic.  I persisted with the HF activation to work chasers who’s signal strength or audio was sufficient to compete with or break through the QRM.  Unfortunately one or two VK2 and VK3 QRP chasers didn’t cut through the noise.

The chasers who did break through the QRM were Mark VK1MDC, Ron VK3AFW, Tony VK3CAT, Brian VK3MDC, Paul VK5PAS, Ed VK2JI, Nev VK5WG, Mark VK3DEE, Tom VK5FTRG, Larry VK5LY, Peter VK3FPSR, Darren VK2NNN, Peter VK3PF/M, Andrew VK3ARR, Adam VK2YK, John VK2WG, Amanda VK3FQSO, Frank VK3GFS and Warren VK3BYD.  Ron, Tony and Brian were operating from the Moorabbin Club while Peter (PF) was on route to the VK3 SOTA gathering.

On 20m 14.310 MHz reception was fine, chasers were Nev VK5WG, Larry VK5LY, Andrew VK2UH, Mike VK6MB, Paul VK5PAS, Ian VK5CZ and Paul VK2KTT.

On 2m simplex 146.5 MHz FM I worked Al VK1RX S2S on One Tree Hill and Matt VK1MA.  Adam VK2YK in Newcastle and I attempted a contact on 144.2 USB with opposing polarization or polarization mismatch.  Whilst I could just make out Adam’s voice, it was far from being a confirmed contact.  No harm trying.

Summit to Summit contacts:  Ian VK1DI on Black Mountain, Rod VK2TWR on SM-046, Al VK1RX/2 on Spring Hill, Andrew VK1MBE/2 and Greg VK2FGJW both on Mt Canobolas near Orange, Nick VK3ANL on Briarty Hill and after UTC Al VK1RX/P on One Tree Hill.

Earlier I spent 50 minutes on 2m (noise free) working 2m DX and a S2S with Greg VK2FGJW on Mt Canobolas near Orange.  Select this link for the Isaacs Ridge 2m VHF DX report.

In summary a very good morning celebrating the 1st VK1 SOTA anniversary on Isaacs Ridge.  Of particular note was the success on 2m 144.2 MHz USB working stations in Taree via VHF tropo, 513 km to my north.  Conditions on 20m were excellent working VK5 and VK6 with ease.  40m operations are problematic, competing with high levels of interference from a nearly source.