SOTA Mt Mundoonen – 10m opening to VK3, VK4 and VK5

VK2/ST-053 Mount Mundoonen 810 metres ASL, Mundoonen Nature Reserve

Saturday 13 December 2014. Mount Mundoonen is 12 km East of Yass via the Hume Hwy and Sheldricks Lane. There is ample space to park a car between the old Hume Hwy and the summit management track.  The summit hosts a range of commercial and mobile phone communications infrastructure plus an aircraft radio navigation aid Non-directional beacon (NDB) ‘YAS’ on 335 KHz.

I met Andrew VK1DA at Sheldricks Lane for a joint activation of Mt Mundoonen.  Andrew had recently surveyed this mountain which was approved by SOTA MT to be included in the VK2 1 December 2014 update.   Thanks Andrew it’s a privilege to undertake this joint activation with you.  Known activators for the day: Warren VK3BYD, Allen VK3HRA, Gerard VK2IO, Bernard VK2IB, Andrew VK1MBE plus James VK1DR.  Allen VK3HRA is very close to achieving 1000 activators points for the SOTA Goat Award.

My SOTA Station
Rigs: Yaesu FT-857D, Yaesu FT-60 dual band HT;
Antennas: 2m Slim Jim and a HF multi band link dipole;
Batteries: 2 x 4S 4.2 Ah LiFePO4.

Previous activator: Ian VK1DI 6 December 2014 (see Ian’s blog)

Ascent is 110 metres over 1.2 km taking 20 minutes.  We plan to be on air by 2200 UTC or 9 am local.

Mt Mundoonen GPS track log

Mt Mundoonen GPS track log

Track profile

Mt Mundoonen track profile

Mt Mundoonen track profile

Turn left off the Hume Hwy at Sheldricks Lane

Turn left off the Hume Hwy into Sheldricks Lane

Mundoonen Nature Reserve, management track to the summit

Mundoonen Nature Reserve, management track to the summit authorised vehicles only, park the car here.

gravel track to start

to start a gravel track, easy-going

track changes to a paved road

track changes to a bitumen road, nice!

don't take this track, it doesn't lead to the summit

don’t take this track, it doesn’t lead to the summit, besides it’s very steep!

air navigation aid non-directional beacon 'YAS' NDB 355 KHz

on the summit – radio navigation aid non-directional beacon NDB ‘YAS’ 335 KHz

QRM from the beacon on 20m 14.310 MHz is obvious with the NDB morse ‘YAS’ breaking through at S5. The 335 KHz product will find a way into the radio front end when tuned to 14.3** MHz.

When Andrew and I arrived on the summit a maintenance crew were undertaking repairs to the mobile phone tower at the north end, which effectively closed off half of the available space.  Andrew set up on the Mundoonen Trig, while I found a short tree to support the squid pole a little too close to the NBD.   Next time I will try the north end well clear of the NDB.

VK1NAM SOTA shack on Mt Mundoonen

VK1NAM SOTA shack on Mt Mundoonen

So what’s the 10m opening about?  I started the activation at 22:03 on 2m 144.2 MHz USB looking to qualify the summit on VHF.  Three VK1 chasers responded to my RRT spot, Ian VK1DI, Roald VK1FIVE and Al VK1RX unfortunately I didn’t make the fourth contact on 2m.  Next I posted a spot for 10m 28.510 MHz looking for USA chasers. First chaser was Ian VK1DI with a strong signal 5-9, as Ian was finalising the contact I heard Ron VK3AFW make a call at 22:20 UTC.  Wow 10m is open to Melbourne 600 km SW and as far as South Australia.   🙂

The 10m opening lasted for 15 minutes working Ian VK1DI, Ron VK3AFW, Tony VK3CAT, Nick VK3ANL, Tom VK5EE, Bernard VK3AV, Mike VK3XL, Steve VK2NSS, Matt VK1MA, Nev VK5WG and Ray VK3YAR.  6 VK3s, 2 VK5s and 3 VK1/VK2 locals.  Moving on…

An aspect of SOTA I find interesting and a challenge is to be vigilant for activators who don’t post alerts on SOTAWatch, who instead just pop up on a summit with little or no warning.  In such circumstances the radio and antenna must be sufficiently agile for you to change frequency quickly to catch the activator.  The FT-857D memories are programmed with all of my SOTA frequency requirements plus when I turn the radio on for the first time I set VFO A to 7.090 MHz and VFO B to 14.310 MHz.  My antenna is a homebrew multi-band link dipole currently configured for 10m, 20m and 40m.  I can change bands in 30 seconds that’s plenty of time to catch an unannounced SOTA activator.    10m had gone quiet, SOTA Goat alerted to an activation by Peter VK3PF/P on 40m, Peter is on Mt Skene VK3/VE-031.  Conditions on 40m SSB were ordinary, Peter’s signal was well down at 5-2 quite surprising for a S2S contact.  Stayed on 40m for a further 9 SOTA chasers and Matt VK1MA on 2m 146.5 FM.

40m went quiet at 2320 UTC, so back to 10m this time on 28.520 MHz.   After calling CQ for less than a minute Gerard VK2IO/P responded for a S2S contact from VK2/IL-006 (unnamed) Gerard’s signal was a steady 5-1 5-3 report.  The distance between summits is 140 km, I suspect the signal between antennas was a ground wave.  Next on 10m was Rob VK4FFAS then Andrew VK2ONZ 1000 km north-east in northern NSW.  I could have stayed on 10m in the lead up to UTC midnight, however another alert from SOTA Goat indicated Bernard VK2IB/3 had been spotted on 7MHz LSB activating Razorback Range VK3/VG-033 near Mitta Mitta in Victoria.  Conditions on 40m had improved Bernard’s signal was 5-8. With 5 minutes to go before UTC change, I stayed on 40m to work Mark VK1EM and Andrew VK2UH.

After UTC change the chaser group had dwindled to 10 plus four S2S contacts, Bernard VK2IB/3, Gerard VK2IO/P, Peter VK3PF/P and a new S2S contact with Andrew VK1MBE and James VK1DR both on VK2/SM-036 (unnamed) in the Kosciuszko National Park.

I did try 20m before and after UTC posting spots for 14.310 MHz, nothing heard possible due to desense caused by the NDB.

In summary a good morning out for a new dual activation with Andrew and 4 points to my activators log. 30 chasers before UTC and 11 after plus seven S2S contacts for 58 points towards the S2S log.  I didn’t hear from Warren VK3BYD or Allen VK3HRA, I’m sure Allen will make SOTA Goat status .  14 contacts on 10m 28.510 and 28.520 MHz how good is that!?  A great result, I’m looking forward to more 10m contacts plus 6m contacts during the VK summer 😉

radio gear FT-857D

radio gear FT-857D