VK SOTA to North America on 28 MHz

Gibraltar Hill VK2/ST-016 1128 metres ASL, private property Williamsdale, NSW

‘That’s the first time in 12 months of VK1 SOTA, I have qualified a summit on 28 MHz with four DX chasers, pretty neat hey!’

Al VK1RX called me during the week to invite me on a joint SOTA activation of Gibraltar Hill.  Al the skillful negotiator had gained permission from the land owner to get access to the crown land on the top of Gibraltar Hill.  I met Al at his home at 6:30 am where we loaded his car with two back-pack SOTA stations and antennas.  Al mentioned the summit had ample room for two stations with enough space to separate antennas so as not to interfere with each others operation.  What I didn’t realise is how much space there is on Gibraltar Hill.   If you felt the urge, you could operate 1 km apart and still be in the activation zone.

The summit is the home for two aircraft navigation aids, a VOR and the Williamsdale NDB, ‘WLE’ (.-- .-.. .) on 287 KHz.  In addition to the navigation aids there are three commercial communication towers.  (see pictures)  To my surprise the combination of commercial infrastructure and aviation navigation aids, didn’t cause interference (QRM) on HF or VHF.  Perfect, a big open space and plenty of antennas to admire.  🙂

Access to the summit is via private property from Williamsdale Road.  The ascent is just shy of 300 metres over 2.1 km.  The steep section of the climb is a 200 metre ascent over 600 metres.

Today my plan is to start the activation on 28 MHz by 21:30 UTC or 08:30 am with an aim to log chasers in North America.  Prior to leaving home I posted a note on the SOTAWatch Reflector requesting contact with USA chasers on 28 MHz.  This is the second attempt at working the USA, last attempt was a week ago from a SOTA summit on the NSW South Coast, Mogood at 22:00 UTC where I bagged six North American chasers.  If 28 MHz is open to the USA, then I can confidently attempt a S2S exchange with a North American SOTA activator.  If you are reading this from NA, please contact me, I would like to organise a S2S contact on a weekend around 21:00 UTC on 28 MHz SSB.

Equipment: Rig Yaesu FT-857D, antenna home-brewed 10/20/40 m link dipole, coax 10 metre length of RG58AU, battery 4S 4.2 Ah LiFePO4, Watts Up meter and a RC battery alarm. Suitable clothing, food and water to feed the human packhorse me!

The start point off Williamsdale Road is a 20 minute drive from the southern suburbs of Canberra.

Gibraltar Hill GPS track log

Fig 1: Gibraltar Hill GPS track log

Fig 2.

Gibraltar Hill track profile

Fig 2: Gibraltar Hill track profile

Fig 3.

Gibraltar Hill ascent data

Fig 3: Gibraltar Hill ascent data

Start of the walk from Williamsdale Road.

Gibraltar Hill 1128 metres ASL

view east – south ridge line leading to Gibraltar Hill 1128 metres ASL

view west to Clear Range. Michelago Valley

view west to Clear Range and Michelago Valley.  Clear Range is the geographic border of VK1 and VK2

Summit 870 metres

view from the south ridge line to the summit 900 metres to the north-east

cloud rising from the valley below

top of the south ridge formation – cloud rising from the valley 300 metres below

Once in the activation zone, Al set up his station and antenna near the commercial compound and I headed 100 meters to the north to find a fallen tree with the root ball exposed, a perfect support for a 7 metre squid pole. In fact there are two fallen trees at right angles to each other, the second tree makes an ideal seat and bench for the radio gear known as the ‘SOTA shack’.

Set the antenna broadside to the north-east facing North America.

VK1NAM SOTA shack on Gibraltar Hill

VK1NAM SOTA shack on Gibraltar Hill

Started the activation 10 minutes ahead of the planned time on 28.510 MHz USB.  The FT-857D power output is set to 40 watts.   After posting a self spot using RRT and calling CQ SOTA for a minute, I had four North American SOTA chasers responded in quick succession.  That’s the first time in 12 months of VK1 SOTA, I have qualified a summit on 28 MHz with four DX chasers, pretty neat hey!    Below is an extract of the SOTA log for 10 metres.

SOTA log - qualified the summit on 10m with 4 North American chasers

SOTA log – qualified the summit on 10m with 4 North American chasers

Extract of SOTA log - 35 minutes on 28.510 MHz SSB

Extract of SOTA log – 35 minutes on 28.510 MHz SSB

At 22:00 UTC (09:00 local) I changed to 20 meters.  Mike VK6MB was in the clear while Tony VK3CAT was a surprise contact given the short skip distance to Melbourne.  It was good to have Bill VK4NBP in the log, Bill is new to SOTA chasing.  Regular chasers from South Australia were Paul VK5PAS, Nigel VK5NIG, Tim VK5AV and Larry VK5LY.   During the 20m session Andrew VK1MBE checked in on 2m simplex 146.500 FM for a S2S exchange from One Tree Hill VK1/AC-035, 48 km north of Gibraltar Hill.

chasers on 20m and a S2S with Andrew VK1MBE on One Tree Hill

chasers on 20m and a S2S with Andrew VK1MBE on One Tree Hill

7 metre squid pole supporting a Link Dipole for 7, 14 and 28 MHz

7 metre squid pole supporting a Link Dipole for 7, 14 and 28 MHz

At 22:25 UTC I changed to 40m working 14 chasers. Cliff VK2CCJ is new to SOTA chasing, Cliff’s antenna is a HF Magnetic Loop operating from an apartment balcony in Sydney, yes Cliff’s signal was strong pushing 100 watts through the loop.   In the middle of the 40m session the RRT phone app alerted the presence of Ian VK5CZ on 20m SSB activating VK5/NE-051.   Within 30 seconds the antenna was down, 40 m links removed and back to the elevated position, ready for action on 20m.  Love the link dipole..

Extract of SOTA log on 40 metres and a S2S with Ian VK5CZ on 20m

Extract of SOTA log on 40 metres and a S2S with Ian VK5CZ on 20m

Post UTC: 16 chasers on 40m and two summit to summit exchanges with Rob VK2RQ and Rod VK2TWR

40 metres post UTC

40 metres post UTC

aviation VOR and Williamsdale NDB

aviation VOR and Williamsdale NDB

Gibraltar Hill is an excellent SOTA summit with panoramic views and a very low noise floor.  The experiment to log North American SOTA chasers on 10 metres has confirmed the propagation of signals from VK to the USA can be achieved around 20:00 to 22:30 UTC.  The next step is to organise and attempt a S2S attempt with a North American SOTA activator.

Back at the car, the next task was to find the property owners of Livingstone Hill and Mt Colington.  I can confirm Al VK1RX is a master negotiator when dealing with property owners.  Not only did we find the land owners, we were offered coffee or tea and a chat for the best part of an hour.  Well done Al!

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3 thoughts on “VK SOTA to North America on 28 MHz

  1. Pingback: SOTA – VK1AD portable 70cm update #7 – Gibraltar Hill | Get out of the Radio Shack and Live Life

  2. Pingback: Boyne Trig and Durras Mountain – 15 March 2014 | VK1NAM Summits on the Air (SOTA)

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