VK SOTA QSO Party – Webbs Ridge

Webbs Ridge VK2/ST-005 1306 metres ASL, Brindabella National Park VKFF-054

Sunday 30 August 2015.  Today’s SOTA adventure is the VK SOTA QSO Party celebrating two SOTA anniversaries, VK2 and VK6 plus the end of VK1 Winter SOTA QSO.   Today’s event was organised by Andrew VK2UH the VK2 SOTA Association Manager, thanks Andrew.   Seriously, SOTA activators in Australia will go to extremes to activate a summit, we don’t need too many excuses to hold a SOTA QSO Party.  If someone has a good idea, we all jump at the opportunity to chase elusive summit to summit points and take a chance to gain 3 bonus points for activating a peak above 1200 metres ASL.    😎

Andrew VK1MBE had planned an activation of three summits, Webbs Ridge, Dingi Dingi Ridge and Baldy Range all within the boundary of Brindabella National Park VKFF-054.   I visited Dingi Dingi Ridge 18 months ago and wondered how I might get to Webbs Ridge, the trail is beyond the ability of my Skoda Yeti?   I had considered walking the 12 km return track.  Fortunately for me, four weeks ago Andrew suggested I accompany him in his mighty tough yet very nimble Suzuki 4WD.  Thanks Andrew the trip was one I won’t forget, walking the trail would have taken 90 minutes each way.

As it turned out Dingi Dingi Ridge Trail is a 6 km bone-jarring, kidney bruising 4WD adventure to Webbs Ridge Trail taking 30 minutes at an average speed of 14 km/h.   🙂

For a different perspective,  you can read about Rob VK2QRs adventures on SOTA peaks in and around Brindabella National Park @  https://vk2qr.wordpress.com/tag/vk2st-005-webbs-ridge/

Below is an overlay of my Garmin 62S GPS track log on Oz Topo maps.   After the successful activation of Webbs Ridge we headed back along Dingi Dingi Ridge Trail for the start of the Dingi Dingi Ridge scrub-bash at 1311 metres ASL, more on that activation later.

Webbs Ridge VK2/ST-005 GPS track log

Webbs Ridge VK2/ST-005 GPS track log overlay on Oz Topo

Webbs Ridge ascent

Dingi Dingi Trail profile to Webbs Ridge – 210 metre descent followed by a 270 metre ascent over 6 km.

Activation, Chasers and Summit to Summit contacts

Equipment: Yaesu FT-817 QRP powered by a 4S 4.2 Ah LiFePO4.  Antennas 6m coaxial dipole and a HF link dipole for 6/10/20/40m. iPad fitted with a Telstra SIM for 3G/4G reception and SOTA Goat for spots and alerts.

We arrived at the summit 30 minutes ahead of our planned schedule to be on air at 9:15 local (23:15 UTC).   I started my activation on 6m 52.2 MHz USB using an elevated 6m vertical to work Matt VK1MA, Al VK1RX and Rob VK1KW in Canberra 36 km south-east.  Later in the session Mark VK1EM and Andrew VK2MWP both on South Black Range 72 km east of Webbs Ridge checked in for a S2S contact on 6m.  I think Mark had prepared the same homebrew 6m vertical ‘VK2ZOI Flowerpot’ antenna.

40m 7 MHz did not support local NVIS propagation in fact 14 MHz and 144 MHz offered reliable circuits for chasers in VK1.  On 40m VK2, VK3 and VK5 chaser numbers were well down on historical highs of 30 to 50 chasers.  40m chaser contacts were limited to 11 chasers; Andrew VK3BQ, Tom VK5EE, Amanda VK3FQSO, Simon VK3SIM, Paul VK2KTT, Robin VK5TH, Rex VK3OF, John VK5BJE, Andrew VK5MAS, Rick VK4HA, and Tom VK5FTRG.

On the other hand the invitation to join VK SOTA QSO Party meant S2S contacts were plentiful. 12 S2S contacts on various bands; 2m, 6m, 20m and 40m.  I did listen for Compton VK2HRX and Rob VK2GOM on summits west of Sydney,  I could hear chasers from VK3 and VK4 working both, unfortunately their signals were within the depressed NVIS range.    Gerard VK2IO was on a summit ‘The Peak’ 135 km south-east in the Snowy Mountains region bordering the edge of NVIS and ground wave propagation. I made two attempts to chase Gerard, all the time struggling to hear him as signals faded quickly.  After persisting for what seemed to be 5 minutes  we finally made the S2S at 00:11 UTC, this occurred while a very strong 5-9 +20 dB VK4 station persisted in calling over the top of Gerard.  I can tell you the amateur radio operator wasn’t Rick VK4HA.   Very annoying behaviour, particularly when two QRP stations are trying to work each other!  The message to stations running high power, if you can’t hear the second station, please wait for the SOTA activator to call QRZ or CQ SOTA.  🙂

After the last S2S contact with Andrew VK1DA/2 on Yankee Ned Hill VK2/SW-026 23 km west, Andrew and I packed up for the return journey to Dingi Dingi Ridge.  Oh if you are confused with so many Andrews on hills, that’s okay, we had four Andrews scattered around VK1 and VK2.  Andrew VK1DA on Yankee Ned Hill, Andrew VK1MBE and I (Andrew) that’s 2 Andrews on Webbs Ridge and Andrew VK2MWP on South Black Range with Mark VK1EM.  😉

Extract of my S2S contacts

My Summit Date Time UTC Band Mode Callsign Summit Details
VK2/ST-005 29/08/15 23:39 50MHz SSB VK1EM/2 VK2/ST-006 Mark S2S VK2/ST-006 S58 R44
VK2/ST-005 29/08/15 23:40 50MHz SSB VK2MWP/P VK2/ST-006 Andrew S2S VK2/ST-006 S58 R44
VK2/ST-005 29/08/15 23:44 7MHz SSB VK1MTS/2 VK2/ST-053 Roald S2S VK2/ST-053 S59 R58
VK2/ST-005 29/08/15 23:49 7MHz SSB VK5CZ/P VK5/NE-034 Ian S2S VK5/NE-034 S57 R52
VK2/ST-005 29/08/15 23:53 7MHz SSB VK1FJAW/2 VK2/ST-034 Adan S2S VK2/ST-034 S52 R52
VK2/ST-005 29/08/15 23:55 7MHz SSB VK3CAT/P VK3/VC-018 Tony S2S VK3/VC-018 S58 R45
VK2/ST-005 30/08/15 0:02 14MHz SSB VK1EM/2 VK2/ST-006 Mark S2S VK2/ST-006 S59 R59
VK2/ST-005 30/08/15 0:03 14MHz SSB VK2MWP/P VK2/ST-006 Andrew S2S VK2/ST-006 S59 R59
VK2/ST-005 30/08/15 0:11 7MHz SSB VK2IO/P VK2/SM-068 Gerard S2S VK2/SM-068 S51 R31
VK2/ST-005 30/08/15 0:19 7MHz SSB VK3CAT/P VK3/VC-018 Tony S2S VK3/VC-018 S59 R57
VK2/ST-005 30/08/15 0:19 7MHz SSB VK1MTS/2 VK2/ST-053 Roald S2S VK2/ST-053 S58 R58
VK2/ST-005 30/08/15 0:52 144MHz FM VK1DA/2 VK2/SW-026 Andrew S2S VK2/SW-026 S59 R59

Pictures from the summit

operating position - 6m coaxial dipole and HF antenna support

operating position in the scrub off Webbs Ridge Trail – 6m vertical coaxial dipole and HF antenna supports

VK1NAM SOTA Shack on Webbs Ridge

VK1NAM SOTA radio shack on Webbs Ridge, Brindabella National Park VKFF-054

Temperature on the ground is 13 degrees C. Click on the photos to zoom in.

operating view - close up with nature

Operating view – close up with nature.  Look closely at the iPad screen you can see the reflection of the HF antenna and a band link.

Thanks Andrew (1MBE) for the opportunity to activate Webbs Ridge, a new 8 point summit plus a ‘cool’ 3 point winter bonus.  🙂

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2 thoughts on “VK SOTA QSO Party – Webbs Ridge

  1. Pingback: SOTA – VK1AD portable 70cm update #21 – Castle Hill | Get out of the Radio Shack and Live Life

  2. Hi Andrew
    Great to get you in the log and HF, as you say, particularly 40m, has been poor over short distances. A great activation and HI to Suzuki (we have had four of those machines starting in the 1970s).
    cheers

    John D
    VK5BJE

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