Boboyan Divide VK1/AC-019 1510 metres ASL, Namadgi National Park VKFF-377
It’s Sunday and the weather forecast is for a fine cool day, perfect for SOTA activities deep in the Namadgi National Park along the ACT/NSW South Border. The plan for today is to activate Boboyan Divide at 1510 metres ASL then early in the afternoon Pheasant Hill at 1455 metres ASL. Both peaks are in the boundary of Namadgi NP a registered park (VKFF-377) for the WWFF awards program. The good news is both peaks qualify for the seasonal winter bonus of 3 points.
My goal for today is to qualify both summits to amass 503 activator points, half way to Mountain Goat status. VK1 SOTA started on 1 February 2013, in 16 months I have activate 184 summits across VK1, VK2 and VK3 of which 78 peaks are unique. On average VK1 summits are scored 4 points lower than the same peak height in VK2 and VK3. On the other hand VK1 activators have easy access to local noise free summits ideal for SOTA DX. Hence the higher count of summit activations to achieve 500 points. 🙂
Where is Boboyan Divide? From my QTH in the southern suburbs of Canberra the drive is 74 km heading south along Boboyan Road. At the ACT/NSW south border pick up the border track (no vehicle access) and head south-east for a 300 metre ascent over a 6 km. On the way you will climb an extra 100 metres to Burnt Hill then descend 80 metres into the valley between Burnt Hill and Boboyan Divide. From the valley the ascent starts again for 280 meters over 2.5 km. It’s a tough climb, total ascent is 380 meters taking 1 hour 40 minutes, see profile below.
A cold foggy morning -2 degrees Celsius
Story board on the history of surveying the ACT/NSW South Border
A typical SOTA shack, spread yourself and the gear out on a fallen tree. A very comfortable seating position straddling a log.
Antenna choice for today’s activation is the homebrew 40m center loaded vertical, first opportunity to test the antenna in a real-world application (not a computer software simulation or Excel spreadsheet exercise) using a FT817ND set to 5 watts output. Believe it or not low power operation (QRP) on 40m brings great reward. Chasers who run QRO, challenge yourself wind back the power from 300 watts to 100 watts then go the extra mile down to 10 watts. You might be surprised to know the activator, who in most cases is in a noise free environment will receive your signal at 5-8, come on try it out.
Antenna details see post 26 June 2014 (40m center loaded vertical supported by a 5 metre squid pole)
How did the antenna perform? Based on signal reports from distant stations in VK5 and VK2 it seems the antenna is producing a mid angle lobe towards NVIS with signal reports ranging from 5-2 to 5-8. From Melbourne reports ranged from 5-7 to 5-9 while regional VK3 reports varied from 5-2 to 5-9. Stations in VK1 at 600 metres ASL, nearby VK2 or within a 200 km radius were too far away for ground wave and too close for NVIS, reporting weak signal reception 4-1 to 4-3 an indication the local guys were under the main lobe. Three fellow SOTA activators Al VK1RX, Andrew VK1MBE and Rob VK3EK who had the advantage of height were within the ground wave or NVIS component, reporting 5-8. I didn’t take the 40m 1/2 wave dipole to run a real-time comparison test, might reserve that test for a future activation.
Did the antenna inhibit or impact the operation from the summit? The 40 minute activation prior to UTC midnight netted 26 chasers including 4 summit to summit contacts, see log for details. In circumstances where space on a summit might be a premium, the loaded 1/4 wave vertical is a good lightweight compromise to a half wave dipole,
VK1NAM SOTA activator log Boboyan Divide 21 Jun 14
Stayed on the summit post UTC for 20 minutes working 18 chasers. The walk back to the car was 1 hour and 20 minutes. That’s 12 km before lunch 🙂
Next summit Pheasant Hill VK1/AC-021 a 5 km return walk.