SOTA – Canberra – Blue Mountains – Wyong

Saturday 21 February 2015.  Today I will accompany Andrew VK1DA and Paul VK1ATP on a road trip to the NSW Central Coast, where we will attend the Annual Wyong Amateur Radio Field Day on Sunday.  Andrew and I (2 Andrews) volunteered to run a static SOTA display with the aim of recruiting new Sloths and Goats, that’s Chasers and Activators to the SOTA program.

Ordinarily the drive from Canberra to Wyong via the Hume Hwy will take 4 to 5 hours, however Andrew had better plans, lets take the scenic route over the Blue Mountains and activate three SOTA peaks, Mt Trickett, Mt Bindo and Mt Tomah.   Hmm that adds a further 5 hours to the trip, okay let’s do it!

I left home at 6 am, picked up Paul on the north-side then drove to Andrew’s QTH near Yass arriving at 7 am.  We loaded Andrew’s car with three overnight bags, two HF SOTA kits and the 1294 MHz (23 cm) gear on loan from Compton VK2HRX.  With the exception of my SOTA backpack, everything else fitted in the generous boot space.

Route:  Yass to Goulburn via the Hume Hwy, Goulburn to Oberon via Taralga and Abercrombie Roads, then a short drive from Oberon to Mt Trickett via Edith Road.  We made the first summit at 00:00 UTC (11 am local) 5 hours after leaving home.  We did take an opportunity for a short break at the Goulburn Bakery, as one should.   🙂

VK2/CT-002 Mt Trickett summit in cloud. The summit is within the Kanangra-Boyd National Park (VKFF-256) boundary.

Mt Trickett

view of Mt Trickett summit in thick cloud

Paul and I set up 50 meters into the scrub away from the road and overhead power lines.  QRM from the nearby power lines was S8, fortunately the FT-817 noise limiter circuit reduced the noise to S3.   Paul set up his FT-817 and a 6m Delta Loop plus an Inverted V EFHW on 20m while Andrew set up the 23 cm gear to attempt a contact with Compton in Sydney.

We shared one FT-817 on 40m to make sure each of us made four unique contacts to qualify the summit, then set about trying other bands.

My chaser contacts,18 in 30 minutes included: Nick VK3ANL, Lee VK2LEE, Matt VK1MA, Peter VK3FPSR, Bernard VK3AV, Peter VK3PF, Adam VK2YK, Peter VK4JD, Amanda VK3FQSO, Allen VK3HRA, Compton VK2HRX, Greg VK2EXA, Fred VK3DAC, Col VK3LED, John VK2YW, Ian VK5IS, Mick VK2MTB, Michael VK3FMHY and Paul VK3DBP.

Found a small clearing and a log to operate from.  The blue raincoat is providing the radio some level of protection from the drizzle.

VK1NAM SOTA Shack on Mt Trickett

VK1NAM SOTA Shack on Mt Trickett

VK1ATP SOTA Shack on Mt Trickett

VK1ATP operating a FT-817 into a 40m EFHW

Mt Bindo VK2/CT-003.  We left Mt Trickett at 01:00 UTC for a 45 minute drive to Mt Bindo peak the highest point in the Hampton State Forest a softwood pine plantation.

To avoid the narrow and busy road around Jenolan Caves we drove back along Edit Road 10km towards Oberon, turned right into Titania Road, then right again at the intersection of Titania and Duckmaloi Road.  Continue on Duckmaloi Road to Hampton.  At Hampton take the Bindo Boundary Road, a gravel road suitable for 2 wheel drive vehicles.  Instead of taking Boundary Road, I had plotted a route along Airstrip Road, hmm lucky for us Andrew’s car (a tank) has high clearance. Airstrip track is slippery in parts with some deep wheel ruts, just a few surprises for the driver!  Well done Andrew!   Note to self, next time avoid Airstrip Road  😉

Arrived on the summit at 01:45 UTC.  Again, Andrew was having a hoot setting up the 23 cm gear, while Paul set up his 817 and an EFHW antenna on the edge of the clearing.  I chose a corner fence post to support the squid pole.  With 100 metres between the HF dipole antennas, there was no obvious sign of harmonic interference on 40 and 20m.  Meanwhile Andrew had the 23 cm FM rig fired up looking for a simplex contact.

My chaser contacts (11) on 40m were: Garry VK2GAZ, Rob VK3EK, Peter VK3FPSR, Amanda VK3FQSO, Bernard VK3AV, Col VK3LED, Paul VK3DBP, Nick VK3ANL, Allen VK3HRA, Brian VK3MCD, Compton VK2HRX and Mick VK2CMP.

One Summit to Summit (S2S) contact:  Kevin VK3KAB on VK3/VE-033 Mt Number 3.

Mt Bindo Trig could do with some TLC, she’s looking a bit shabby and missing the name plate.  Where are the ‘Friends of Mt Bindo Trig’ when you need them?

Mt Bindo Trig

Mt Bindo Trig

Mt Bindo fire tower in cloud

Mt Bindo

VK1DA setting up a 23 cm yagi on a corner fence post

After 30 minutes on the summit, heavy cloud turned to rain just as Andrew VK1DA completed his four contacts on 40m.  🙂

VK1DA in the mist operating the 817 on 40m

VK1DA in the mist operating the FT-817 on 40m

Next summit Mount Tomah VK2/CT-043, Bells Line of Road.  The drive from Mt Bindo is 1 hour and 30 minutes.  From Hampton take Jenolan Caves Road to the Great Western Hwy, next Browns Gap Road and the Darling Causeway to Bells Line of Road.  Turn right on to the Bells Line of Road for a short 20 km drive to Rainbow Ravine Road.  If you don’t fancy the narrow lane on Browns Gap Road continue along the Great Western Hwy to Mount Victoria to the Darling Causeway.

Arrived on the summit close to 03:50 UTC.  I set up on the side of Charlies Road under a tree using a tree branch to raise the link dipole antenna to about 6 metres above the ground.

On air at 04:10 UTC for a 30 minute activation on 7 MHz.  Chasers were Gerard VK2IO, Lee VK2LEE, Peter VK3FPSR, Frank VK2HFS, Bernard VK3AV, Garry VK2GAZ, Adam VK2YK, David VK2WTY, Rob VK3EK, Amanda VK3FQSO, Ray VK3YAR, Ron VK3AFW, Ian VK1DI and Fred VK3DAC.

Paul made 5 chaser contacts on 20m while Andrew worked one chaser on 23 cm to qualify the summit.  😉

VK1NAM SOTA Shack on Mt Tomah

VK1NAM SOTA Shack on a road side at Mt Tomah. Grass is wet from rain earlier in the day.

Too close to the tower, interference (QRM) is strong at S8.  Source of the noise may include the nearby overhead power lines.  On this site the FT-817 noise limiter did little to cut the severity of the noise.

Mt Tomar communications compound - QRM S8

Mt Tomah communications compound – QRM S8  😦

Andrew setting up the 23 cm gear for a simplex contact with chasers in Sydney.  Check the 23 cm stacked array mounted on a fence post.

VK1DA - 23 yagi mounted on a fence pole

VK1DA – 23 cm yagi array mounted on a fence post

FT-817 power settings. Throughout the day there was a hint in signal reports that I completely ignored. Turned out my 817 power output was set to 2.5 watts, well spotted Andrew.

That’s it folks, three SOTA summits, 9 hours of travel for three unique peaks, 22 activator points and 18 S2S points.  Later in the day we arrived at Wyong close to 7 pm, 11 hours after leaving home.  Thanks Andrew and Paul for a great ‘SOTA’ day out and good company.   🙂

Oh forgot to mention mobile phone reception with Optus, was intermittent on all three summits.

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2 thoughts on “SOTA – Canberra – Blue Mountains – Wyong

  1. A great read! One tiny observation though… Mt. Trickett is VK2/CT-002 and not -003. Editing might help with Google indexing for anyone researching that summit. 73 – Rob VK2GOM

  2. Great write up Andrew, loved the first photo of Mt.Trickett in the cloud. You guys got lush grass on your summits, that’s a rarity in VK6.

    73

    John VK6NU

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