Hot morning in the nation’s capital – Mt Taylor 9 February 2014

Mt Taylor VK1/AC-037 856 metres ASL, Canberra Nature Park

The original plan for today was to activate Mt Ginin and Mt Coree both excellent sites for transmitting and receiving 2m VHF DX to the south-west and north-east.  Those plans changed last Thursday when the likely hood of a total fire ban for today became a reality.  Last Thursday the BOM was forecasting 39 degrees and up 30 km/h winds, right on the money!  Yesterday evening the ACT emergency services placed the ACT region under a total fire ban.

When the VK1 SOTA group formed 12 months ago, we established a number of general agreements around safety, one such agreement was to not enter remote areas, such as the Namadgi National Park on days declared as Total Fire Bans.

With the SOTA bug hungry for a little SOTA action, I decided to play it safe and activate Mt Taylor.  Mt Taylor is the closest local summit to my QTH only 2km as the crow flies.  There are different access routes to the summit, I prefer the Hindmarsh Drive end, it’s much steeper than the south-end but shorter in distance, the positive is you get the exercise pain out of the way early then enjoy extra recovery time on the summit.  The climb takes 15 to 20 minutes depending on the level of personal fitness.

Started setting up at 0730 local and was ready to go by 07:50 looking for 2m DX.   Click on the picture below (zoom in) and you will see two radios a FT-857D and a FT-817ND.  The 857D is connected to the home-brew DL6WU 4 el yagi running 45 watts and the 817 is connected to the HF link dipole.  The arrangement with two rigs allows liaison on HF while attempting VHF DX on the 857D.  A little extra weight in the pack doesn’t hurt.

While setting up a water-bombing helicopter (not the Erickson Air-Crane) flew very low over the summit.  A grass fire had started at 8 am, 7 km to my south-west near the township of Tuggeranong.  The helicopter was in the area for an hour.  Sorry no pics, not quick with the camera when distracted by VHF DX signals.

VK1NAM shack on Mt Taylor 4el yagi, FT-857D and FT-817ND and 7m squid pole supporting a 20/40 link dipole

VK1NAM shack on Mt Taylor 4el yagi, FT-857D and FT-817ND and 7m squid pole supporting a 20/40 link dipole

Chasing VHF DX

Conditions on 144.2 MHz were well down by comparison to the fun I had last Saturday on Isaacs Ridge, even the local VK1 experienced VHF DX gurus running +100 watts struggled to make VK3 contacts.  I did call ‘CQ south-west’ a number of times looking for Ron VK3AFW and Bernard VK3AMB.  VK2 contacts were limited to Sydney and Newcastle, nevertheless VHF DX is very addictive just like SOTA, combine the two together and you start to blur the line between having a hobby and addictions.  🙂

View north and north-west.  Very hot and very dry.

View north and north-west. The ground is very dry combined with biting ants and bindi weeds, wahoo!

2m VHF DX contacts:  Rod VK2LAX and Ed VK2JI on VK2/SY-001 Canoelands in Sydney, strange name for a summit but my first VHF SOTA S2S contact in Sydney, Matt VK1MA, Al VK1RX/P on Isaacs Ridge a stone’s throw away, Rod VK2TWR in Nimmitabel, Ian VK1BG, John VK1CJ, Rob VK1KW, Col VK2KOL in Sydney, Andrew VK2FAJG near Queenbeyan, Steve VK2ZT in Newcastle 388 km north-east, Kerry VK2BXT in Camden and Gordon VK3EJ near Cobram 316 km due west.   All signals were readable 5, furthest contact was Steve in Newcastle.  Very pleased with the results, good result for a 4el yagi 1.5 metres above the summit.    If you activate Mt Taylor in the next month or so, watch out for the small biting ants, their focus was my water bottle, hundreds of the little critters trying to find an ounce of water.

view west to the Brindabella ranges

view west to the Brindabella ranges

HF Chasers:  The 40m band was ‘alive’ this morning as opposed to recent months where signal absorption has been the key issue.

Chasers on 40m: Tony VK3CAT, Paul VK5PAS, Marshall VK3MRG, Phil VK3BHR, Peter VK3PF, Gerard VK3JNG, Matt VK2DAG, Ernie VK3DET, Larry VK5LY, Adam VK2YK, Peter VK3PFSR, Glenn VK3YY, Fred VK3JM, Amanda VK3FQSO, Ron VK3AFW, Tom VK5EE, and Bernard VK3AMB.

Chasers on 20m 14.310 MHz:  With 40m being open to VK5 I didn’t have a single VK5 chaser on 20m.  Mike VK6MB waiting patiently in W.A. is a regular on 20m, nice to work you Mike.  The last and 2nd contact on 20m was Mark VK1MDC a local to Canberra.

Summit to Summit (S2S) contacts:  Greg VK2FGJW on VK2/CT-004 near Oberon, Al VK1RX on VK1/AC-041 Isaacs Ridge and Kevin VK3KAB on VK3/VC-003 Mt Ritchie in the Yarra Ranges National Park.

view north east.  Sydney well over the horizon

view north-east. Sydney and Newcastle well over the horizon

If you are interested in making a DL6WU style yagi, visit the website of John VK5DJ and download his yagi calculator.

Related posts for VHF DX:


5 thoughts on “Hot morning in the nation’s capital – Mt Taylor 9 February 2014

  1. Pingback: SOTA – Bobbara Mountain and VHF DX | Get out of the Radio Shack and Live Life

  2. It was Hot Mate but you had a top time look forward to getting out again next week to take advantage of this cool change and think what Paul is saying is true i have gone over to 20 and found it saves the day
    73 Rod

  3. Hi Andrew,

    You had a great signal this morning on 40m. Very pleasing considering how poor 40m has been for us guys here in VK5 lately when chasing VK1 & VK2 summits. I was hearing the other VK1’s and VK2’s early this morning, but not as strong as you today.

    You’ve left me off your list in your blog, but never fear….I see I am in your log on the SOTA database.

    I spoke with a few of the G stations last night on 20m and in conversation the topic of SOTA came up. They mentioned that they had worked you a few times whilst you were on a summit.

    Cheers mate,


    • Hi Paul, sorry about that must have been distracted. You are now in between Tony and Marshall 🙂
      Great to work you on 40m for a change, along with the rest of the VK5 SOTA crew.
      Andrew, VK1NAM

      • No problems Andrew,
        I’ve found the past 2 weekends, that conditions to VK1 & VK2 have been very good in the early morning on 40m SSB. But by time 10 to 10.30 a.m. local time comes around, the band completely falls away. Although frustrating, the interest in band conditions is one of the reasons why us hams keep coming back to the radio.
        73 mate,

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