SOTA DX from One Tree Hill – 4 March 2014

One Tree Hill VK1/AC-035 876 metres ASL, QF44NU, Canberra Nature Park

“From Australia down under I continued with the EU/UK DX chase to sunset at 08:25 UTC working stations in England, Hungary, Germany, Slovenia, France, Italy, Greece,  Austria, Finland, Portugal, Belgium, Spain, Sweden and general DX contacts in New Zealand, America and finally Venezuela”

The plan is to activate One Tree Hill around 07:15 UTC for SOTA DX and EU Summit to Summit (S2S) contacts.  I left work at 16:30 for a 20 minute drive to the township of Hall close to the ACT northern border with NSW.

One Tree Hill is the last of 10 one point local summits to be activated in 2014. The summit walking track is a part of the Canberra Centenary trail which opened in October last year. The track starts in the township of Hall and meanders north along a public access corridor surrounded by private property.  For track details see One Tree Hill post 7 November 2013. Distance to the summit is 4.2 km which should take between 50 to 60 minutes, less if you cycle.  On this occasion I motored along to be on the summit inside of 50 minutes.  Temperature is 26 degrees, heart is beating away and I’m dam hot.  Unlike the trek in November, the number of annoying cattle dung flies is low however, the large biting March flies are back.  March flies (in small numbers) attack humans, livestock and domestic pets to acquire blood. One of Australia’s nasty little critters!

Equipment for the activation: FT-857D, 20/40m link dipole, 4S 4.2 Ah LiFePO4 battery, two 7 metre squid poles, 10 metre length of coax RG58AU, mobile phone with RRT or SOTA Goat, insect repellant, food, water, head lamp and a first aid kit.

One Tree Hill Lookout platform  – the summit has a very low RF noise floor, perfect for SOTA and chasing DX.

VK1NAM SOTA shack on One Tree Hill lookout platform

view north-east VK1NAM SOTA shack on One Tree Hill lookout platform

The ground in front of the lookout falls away quickly to a fence line.  On my last visit I had the leg of the right or east element end tied off at a fence.   Although the antenna radiated a signal long path to EU, I was not happy with the sharp angle between the elements.

Antenna – 7 November 2013

HF link dipole for 10, 20 and 40m

20/40m link dipole – 7 November 2013

This time to raise the dipole end, I carried a second 7 metre squid pole to elevate the right side element 4 to 5 meters above the fence line.

Compare the two pictures – below is the same antenna using a squid pole to raise the end of the right element.

20/40 link dipole

20/40m link dipole – 4 March 2014

2nd squid pole to raise the dipole element

2nd squid pole to raise the dipole element 4 to 5 metres above the fence line.  The land falls away quickly.

dipole element secured to a fence adjoining private property

left dipole element secured to a fence adjoining private property.  The fence line is within a metre of the ACT/NSW border.

Close up of the gear

close up of the gear

FT-857D on 40m

FT-857D on 40m for local VK chasers

Fellow SOTA activator Andrew VK1DA was planning a simultaneous 2m activation of Black Mountain VK1/AC-042, but at short notice changed the activation to Mt Ainslie.  View south to Canberra – a fuel reduction burn operation underway at Black Mountain.

Reduction burn around Black Mountain

Reduction burn around Black Mountain.  Mt Ainslie is left of center.

Black Mountain reduction burn

Black Mountain – reduction burn

Started the activation at 07:07 UTC on 40m, 7.122 MHz (7.090 was occupied) for local VK chasers around the south-east states of Australia. Confident I would qualify the summit on 20m, I wanted to share the single summit point with local VK SOTA chasers for 10 minutes to anyone quick off the mark.   VK chasers were Mark VK1MDC, Gerard VK2IO, Bernard VK3AMB, Peter VK3PF, Peter VK3FPSR and Nev VK5WG.  Thanks guys good to work you.

Started the DX session at 07:20 UTC with a spot on 14.320 MHz called CQ SOTA a couple of times, within seconds Mike G6TUH in Sussex was the first chaser with a solid S5-9 R5-6 report.  Next, two Russian stations started transmitting over the top of me, commonly known as ‘crocodiles’, on the same frequency.  I moved to 14.310 MHz for clear air and followed up with a new RRT spot.  Next three chasers were Michael DJ5AV, George EA2LU and Colin G4UXH.

Summit to Summit contacts were Andrew VK1DA operating on 2m FM from Mt Ainsle VK1/AC-040 and at 16,385 km Herbert OE9HRV/p on an Austrian summit OE/VB-501 Hittisberg.  Thanks Herbert a solid 5-8 signal to One Tree Hill.

From Australia ‘down under’ I continued with the EU/UK DX chase to sunset at 08:25 UTC working stations in England, Hungary, Germany, Slovenia, France, Italy, Greece,  Austria, Finland, Portugal, Belgium, Spain, Sweden and general DX contacts in New Zealand, America and finally Venezuela.

3 U.S. stations worked were Matt K5UQ in New Orleans, Gary AB9LF in Memphis, and Bill W1OW from Massachusetts.  The surprise contact for the evening was Mike YV4MT near Valencia, Venezuela, 15,300 km.

VK SOTA chasers on 20m were Greg VK8GM, Ian VK5CZ Paul VK5PAS, Steve VK4KUS, VK1MA Matt, VK6NU John and Patrick VK5MPJ.  Patrick mentioned he was new to SOTA chasing, thanks Patrick hope you enjoy the growing VK SOTA activity.

This activation is the eighth in a series of SOTA DX activations involving DX summit to summit contacts between VK and EU.  I trust I have consistently demonstrated this is not a fluke or Andrew being ‘lucky’, it is what its is, a well planned activity taking advantage of the grey-line propagation window between VK and Europe.  In doing so I have attempted to promote mountain top activations as an alternative to noisy suburbs.  We have seen a measure of good will between VK and EU SOTA activators/chasers, demonstrated through reciprocal activations from the EU and UK, which has benefited all chasers in VK.   During the Australia spring, summer and autumn seasons working the last 90 minutes of daylight is a proven method of chasing summits in Europe.   It’s now over to other VK SOTA activators and chasers to take up the challenge.  Get out on a summit, 90 minutes before sunset and work the grey-line.

While writing this post, I had the pleasure of chasing Mike 2E0YYY on GW/NW-070 Great Orme in North Wales.  Mike started his activation at 07:00 UTC, a deliberate decision to work the last hour of daylight in VK.

Here is an extract of my SOTA activator log from VK1/AC-035 4 March 2014

UTC Band Mode Callsign Summit Details
7:07 7MHz SSB VK1MDC Mark S59 R59
7:09 7MHz SSB VK2IO Gerard S58 R58
7:11 7MHz SSB VK3AMB Bernard S59 R59
7:12 7MHz SSB VK3PF Peter QRP S59 R59
7:13 7MHz SSB VK3FPSR Peter S59 R59
7:14 14MHz SSB VK5WG Nev S59 R55
7:21 14MHz SSB G6TUH Mike S59 R56 UK
7:22 14MHz SSB DJ5AV Michael S59 R58 Germany
7:23 14MHz SSB EA2LU George S59 R56 Spain
7:23 14MHz SSB G4UHX Colin S59 R55 UK
7:24 144MHz FM VK1DA/P VK1/AC-040 Andrew S2S VK1/AC-040 S59 R59
7:25 14MHz SSB G0RQL Don S59 R56 UK
7:26 14MHz SSB HA5LV Viktor S59 R57 Hungary
7:27 14MHz SSB DL1DVE Tom S58 R57 Germany
7:29 14MHz SSB S51NT Jannko S59 R57 Slovenia
7:30 14MHz SSB HA8BE Bela S59 R57 Hungary
7:31 14MHz SSB VK8GM Greg S59 R59
7:32 14MHz SSB F5IDJ Valery S59 R59 France
7:33 14MHz SSB IZ5ILF Massimo S59 R58 Italy
7:35 14MHz SSB K5UQ Matt S58 R55 New Orleans
7:38 14MHz SSB VK5CZ Ian S59 R59
7:40 14MHz SSB SV2OXW Makis S55 R33 Greece
7:41 14MHz SSB EA5CTE Juan S58 R59 Spain
7:42 14MHz SSB SM6BQL Folke S59 R55 Sweden
7:45 14MHz SSB ZL3OZ Ken S59 R59 Timaru New Zealand
7:47 14MHz SSB G0VWP Terry S58 R55 UK
7:49 14MHz SSB VK5PAS Paul S59 R59
7:50 14MHz SSB VK4KUS Steve S59 R59
7:50 14MHz SSB IK2ILH Maurizio S58 R55 Milano
7:51 14MHz SSB YV4MT Mike S59 R59 Venezuela
7:52 14MHz SSB OE7HPI Holger S57 R43 Austria
7:53 14MHz SSB OH6IU Pehr S59 R55 Finland
7:54 14MHz SSB I5RMY Mauro S58 R56 Italy
7:55 14MHz SSB CU3BL Manuel S57 R57 Portugal
7:56 14MHz SSB OH6JE Jon S57 R53 Finland
7:58 14MHz SSB IN3EIS Giranni S58 R57 Italy
7:59 14MHz SSB ON5SWA Frans S57 R52 Belgium
8:00 14MHz SSB EA2CKX Pedro S57 R52 Spain
8:01 14MHz SSB AB9LF Gary S58 R58 Memphis
8:04 14MHz SSB W1OW Bill S58 R59 Massachusetts
8:05 14MHz SSB VK1MA Matt S59 R59
8:06 14MHz SSB VK6NU John S58 R57 long haul to VK6
8:08 14MHz SSB OE7PHI John S56 R41 Austria
8:09 14MHz SSB 2E0JJM John S56 R55 London
8:10 14MHz SSB VK5MPJ Patrick S59 R55
8:13 14MHz SSB OE9HRV/P OE/VB-501 Herbert S2S OE/VB-501 S58 R46 16,385 km
8:16 14MHz SSB DL4FW Hans S53 R53 Germany
8:23 14MHZ SSB VK1DI Ian S59 R59
8:24 14MHZ SSB HB9MKV Rudi S59 R51 Switzerland