SOTA Activation Mount McDonald – Saturday 6 Sep 14

Mount McDonald VK1/AC-048 789 metres ASL, Cotter Catchment

My focus for SOTA and long-term goal continues to be the Platinum S2S Award at 5000 points.

On Saturday afternoon I activated Mount McDonald next to the Cotter Dam to chase European SOTA activators long path to VK, from 06:00 UTC to 07:50 UTC.  This is my second activation of this summit for 2014, therefore there are no SOTA activator points in it for me.  The benefit of chasing SOTA activators from a SOTA peak is the points chased count towards the SOTA Summit to Summit Award (S2S).  The major draw card to operating from a peak is the low RF noise floor when compared to the abundance of interference in the suburbs.  Last December I achieved the Silver S2S Award at 1000 points, by activating Mt Palerang for a S2S contact with Warren VK3BYD activating Mt Loch in the Victoria Alpine National Park.    The next level in the S2S award scheme is the Gold S2S Award at 2500 points, my S2S points tally before this activation was 2305 points from 528 S2S contacts.

Activator alerts posted on SOTAWatch

Locals Matt VK1MA and Andrew VK1DA have plans to activate summits in VK2 for the VK2 SOTA 1st Anniversary.  Activators in Europe are Herbert OE9HRV in Austria, Mike 2E0YYY in England,  Lutz DL3SBA and Ed DD5LP both in Germany and Gerard VK2IO on holiday in France.  I wasn’t sure which radio Gerard would be using, regardless making a S2S contact with Gerard in France would be the highlight.


Yaesu FT857D output 35 watts, batteries 2 x 4S 4.2 Ah LifePO4, Yaesu dual band HT FT-60, antennas 10/20/40 link dipole and a 2m Slim Jim, squid poles 7 metre and 5 metre poles.

How do you get to Mount McDonald?

From Canberra’s western suburbs take the Cotter Road to Brindabella Road.  Turn right into Brindabella Road stay on Brindabella Road for 2km, on your left you will see a car park and locked gate.  Beyond the gate is a management track leading to the Cotter Dam scenic lookout.

GPS track log 200 metre ascent over 2.8 km

Mt McDonald GPS track log

Mt McDonald GPS track log

view down along the access track

view looking back along the access track

approaching the peak

approaching Mount McDonald peak at 789 metres ASL

view south along Bullen Range down to the Murrumbidgee River corridor

Set up the gear on the south-west corner of the Trig

VK1NAM SOTA shack and Mount MacDonald Trig

VK1NAM SOTA shack and Mount MacDonald Trig

First S2S contact was with Matt VK1MA on 14 MHz activating Mount Tumorrama at 1218 metres ASL in the NSW South West Slopes region.  I’m very glad I caught Matt, he was about to pack up and head off to an unnamed summit VK2/SW-024 off Brindabella Road 13 km north-west of the Brindabella township.

Next two S2S contacts were made with regular activators Herbert OE9HRV on a mountain peak in Austria OE/OO-106 Gmundnerberg at 884 metres ASL and Mike 2E0YYY on a popular summit G/SP-004 known as Shining Tor at 559 metres ASL in the Southern Pennines region of England.

Andrew VK1DA also operating portable in VK2 with an IC703 at 10 watts, was the fourth S2S contact activating VK2/ST-034 Mt Gillamatong at 900 metres ASL.  Mt Gillamatong near the township of Braidwood is a relatively easy access summit (no scrub bashing) with commanding views.  A trip to Mt Gillamatong requires a detour to the Braidwood Bakery to sample the local delights.  My favourite is the Vegetable Pastie followed by a Vanilla Slice  😉

Lutz DL3SBA operating from a peak in Germany  DM/BW-260 Witthoh at 860 metres ALS was the fifth S2S contact.  My last S2S contact with Lutz was in December 2013 from Spring Hill VK1/AC-035.

Next and a very pleasant surprise was Gerard VK2IO on F/AM-461 Mont Vial at 1550 metres ASL in the Alpes Méridionales region of France.  At first Gerard’s signal was low in the noise, we persisted with the contact to eventually make a S5-1 R4-7 contact, amazing considering Gerard’s rig was operating on internal batteries for a tiny 5 watts output.  Thanks Gerard for persisting with the contact.   🙂

The last S2S contact and well after sunset at 07:44 UTC was with Matt VK1MA who was now on the unnamed summit VK2/SW-024, 27 km west of Mount McDonald. As with all S2S contacts for the afternoon this contact was made on 14MHz.

During the evening I followed Ed DD5LP around the 20m band to chase a second German summit. Ed was activating DL/AM-001 Peissenberg at 988 metres ASL, a successful chase of this summit would add a second DL to my chaser log.   Each time I called, I called S2S a lot, Ed didn’t respond.  This was a surprising result given the relative ease in contacting Lutz on summit at a similar height.   Reading Ed’s blog he was operating a Yaesu FT817 into a 25 watt amplifier feeding an inverted V dipole with the apex at 6 metres.   o_O

Summit to Summit log

Callsign Reference Name Band Distance (km)
VK1MA/2 VK2/SW-027 Mount Tumorrama 14MHz 41
OE9HRV/P OE/OO-106 Gmundnerberg 14MHz 16100
2E0YYY/P G/SP-004 Shining Tor 14MHz 16997
VK1DA/2 VK2/ST-034 Mt Gillamatong 14MHz 77
DL3SBA/P DM/NW-260 Unnenberg 14MHz 16480
F/VK2IO/P F/AM-461 Mont Vial 14MHz 16638
VK1MA/2 VK2/SW-024 VK2/SW-024 14MHz 27

On 40m the VK chaser group made up of 21 chasers from VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5 responded to my RRT self spot.  This group included a VKFF activation by Peter VK3APW activating Terric Terrick National Park VKFF-630.  During the 40m session Peter VK3YE called in operating QRP with one of his magnetic loop antennas, Peter’s signal was readable 5 strength 8.

On 20m VK chasers were Ian VK1DI, Greg VK8GM, John VK6WC, Ben VK2DOC in Far North Queensland, Paul VK1ATP and later Fred VK1FH.

10 countries in the log: Austria, Belgium England, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Russia, Spain and Switzerland.

Inverted V dipole broadside south-west and north-east

10/20/40 link dipole and 2m Slim Jim

10/20/40 link dipole and 2m Slim Jim

sun setting on Mount MacDonald

view west – sun setting behind the Brindabella Ranges

Did I achieve what I had set out for myself?   Sure did and very happy with the result, my S2S points improved by 34 points from seven S2S contacts.  The tally is now 2339 points from 535 S2S contacts.  Only 161 points to the Gold award   😀

Extract of VK1NAM SOTA activator’s log for Mt McDonald VK1/AC-048 – 6 Sep 14

Time UTC Band Mode Callsign Notes
5:02 14MHz SSB VK1MA/2 Matt S2S VK2/SW-027 S58 R58
5:12 7MHz SSB VK3APW/P Peter S59 R55 VKFF-630
5:17 7MHz SSB VK3FQSO Amanda S55 R55
5:18 7MHz SSB VK1EM Mark S59 R55
5:19 7MHz SSB VK3PF Peter S58 R58
5:19 7MHz SSB VK3CAT Tony S59 R59
5:20 7MHz SSB VK3AWG Chris S38 R59
5:21 7MHz SSB VK3MRG/P Marshall S58 R58
5:22 7MHz SSB VK3TCX Ian S59 R57
5:22 7MHz SSB VK3AFW/P Ron S58 R57 at Yark
5:23 7MHz SSB VK2YK Adam S59 R59
5:25 7MHz SSB VK5CZ Ian S57 R53
5:27 7MHz SSB VK3ZPF Peter S59 R57
5:27 7MHz SSB VK3YE/P Peter S58 R56 Mag Loop
5:29 7MHz SSB VK3UH Ken S59 R59
5:29 7MHz SSB VK3EK Rob S59 R59
5:30 7MHz SSB VK5LY Larry S59 R54
5:31 7MHz SSB VK3DAC Fred S59 R59
5:32 7MHz SSB VK2NNN Darren S59 R59
5:33 7MHz SSB VK3FMSC/P Errik S59 R59
5:37 7MHz SSB VK3AXF Ian S59 R59
5:39 7MHz SSB VK2ODD Doug S59 R59
5:44 14MHz SSB VK1DI Ian S59 R59
5:52 14MHz SSB OE9HRV/P Herbert S2S OE/OO-106 S57 R34
5:56 14MHz SSB ON5SWA Frans S55 R53   Belgium
5:59 14MHz SSB S58AL Albert S58 R57 Slovenia
6:04 14MHz SSB RA3PCI Surgey S57 R55 Russia
6:05 14MHz SSB IK1GPG Max S58 R58 Italy
6:11 14MHz SSB 2E0YYY/P Mike S2S G/SP-004 S53 R51 England
6:22 14MHz SSB DJ5AV Michael S59 R56 Germany
6:26 14MHz SSB OE7FMH Franz S59 R44   Austria
6:27 14MHz SSB EA2DT Manuel S57 R51   Spain
6:29 14MHz SSB VK8GM Greg S59 R57
6:32 14MHz SSB VK6WC John S57 R55
6:44 14MHz SSB VK1DA/2 Andrew S2S VK2/ST-034 S51 R52
6:47 14MHz SSB EA5YI Abelardo S57 R57   Spain
6:49 14MHz SSB HB9CEX Peter S59 R55   Switzerland
6:50 14MHz SSB DJ9MH Hajo S57 R33   Germany
6:51 14MHz SSB HB9CAT Marco S58 R44   Switzerland
6:52 14MHz SSB VK2DOC Ben S57 R13   portable FNQ
6:56 14MHz SSB DL3SBA/P Lutz S2S DM/BW-260 S57 R44 Germany
6:58 14MHz SSB G0RQL Don S56 R56   England
7:07 14MHz SSB VK1ATP Paul S59 R59
7:08 14MHz SSB F/VK2IO/P Gerard S2S F/AM-461 S51 R47 France
7:27 14MHz SSB VK1FH Fred S59 R59
7:44 14MHz SSB VK1MA/2 Matt S2S VK2/SW-024 S58 R59

2 thoughts on “SOTA Activation Mount McDonald – Saturday 6 Sep 14

  1. Pingback: SOTA activation of Mt Vial and Mt Brune in France 06/09/2014 | vk2io

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