Sunday 17 April 2016, planned SOTA activation of Mount McDonald VK1/AC-048, 789 metres ASL Maidenhead Grid Locator QF44LQ
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government represented by Parks ACT has a program of controlled burns (fuel reduction burns) running this month. The prescribed burns are within the Namadgi National Park and some ACT Nature Reserves, which for me means no access to the higher VK1 peaks, instead I am limited to local peaks worth 1 activator point. 😦
Today’s plan is to activate Mount McDonald on 2m and 70cm SSB. Mount McDonald at 789 metres ASL is close to the eastern flank of the Brindabella Ranges peaking at 1700 meters ASL. From Mount McDonald looking south-west towards Melbourne the Brindabella Ranges are a radio signal ‘road block’, attenuating most if not all of my 144 MHz SSB signal. For this activation my best option is to rotate the 3el yagi starting from the west and working through north to the east and south-east for Canberra southern suburbs. The outlook to the north and east is free of vertical obstructions, aircraft enhancement is likely for 2m propagation into Sydney and further north to Newcastle and Port Macquarie.
Mount McDonald SOTA 70cm activation
Radio: Yaesu FT-857D, UHF 70cm frequencies 432.200 and 432.160 USB
Power Level: 15 watts
Antenna: 7el Yagi
Distance to Canberra GPO (VK1): 18 km (11 miles) at 81 degrees
SOTA Alert: Yes
Date posted alert: 15 April 2016
Notice Period: 2 days
Outcome: Qualified Mount McDonald on 70cm 🙂
Duration to qualify on 70cm: 21 minutes 😉
My 2016 70cm challenge: qualified 14 from 16 summits activated
Photos: © Copyright 2016 Andrew VK1AD
Weather on the summit: 20 degrees C, overcast day & light winds 🙂 Water consumption 1 litre
For directions to this summit see my post SOTA Mount McDonald 18 February 2014 The ascent to the summit is 205 metres (672 feet) over 2.8 km (1.7 miles) taking 45 minutes.
At the summit
For this activation I don’t have prearranged chasers in Melbourne (480 km south-west) listening on 144.200 MHz. I started the activation at 2155 UTC on 144.200 MHz by posting spots to SOTAWatch plus VKLOGGER (144 MHz and above). To qualify the summit on 70cm I need 4 unique chaser contacts. Without too much fuss I qualified the summit on 432 MHz in 21 minutes, 70cm contacts included Graeme VK2FPQ, Dave VK1DJA, Rob VK1KW, Ian VK1DI, Wedge VK1GP, Al VK1RX and Andrew VK1MBE.
Of interest to the readers, and myself are the types of 2m and 70cm antennas used by chasers. Al VK1RX and Andrew VK2UH have kindly sent in photos of their respective temporary ‘backyard’ 2m and 70 cm horizontal polarised antennas. Al’s ‘backyard’ portable antenna comprises of a 2m copper wire 1/2 wave dipole and a 70cm ground plane mounted in the horizontal plane, neither of these antennas are a permanent feature in Al’s backyard. On 70cm Al and I experimented with QRP power levels down to 2 watts, thanks Al.
Andrew’s antenna is described as a ‘precision’ 2m 1/2 wave dipole which features a natural parabolic curve to vary the reactance along the driven elements. It is unclear what if any advantage the drooping elements may make to the performance of the antenna and the radiated signal. Andrew describes this antenna as a temporary arrangement for 2m SOTA chasing which doubles as a deployable antenna for 2m and 70cm SOTA activations. I think Andrew has stumbled on an inovative design which may prove to be the secret to 5-9 signal reports 😉
See pictures below. If you would like to share a photo of your 2m or 70cm portable ‘backyard’ antenna I am happy to include the photo in this blog?
Extract from VK1AD SOTA Activator Log – Mount McDonald on 70cm, 2m and 6m bands
|21:58z||VK2NSS||144MHz||SSB||Steve S59 R59 38 km north|
|22:02z||VK2FPQ||144MHz||SSB||Graeme S55 R52 QF55DG 137 km near Wollongong|
|22:05z||VK2FPQ||433MHz||SSB||Graeme S51 R51 QF55DG 137 km|
|22:08z||VK1DJA||144MHz||SSB||Dave S59 R59 QF44|
|22:10z||VK1DJA||433MHz||SSB||Dave S59 R58 QF44|
|22:14z||VK1KW||144MHz||SSB||Rob S59 R59 QF44MT|
|22:15z||VK1KW||433MHz||SSB||Rob S59 R57 QF44MT|
|22:16z||VK1DI||433MHz||SSB||Ian QRP S58 R58 QF44|
|22:21z||VK1GP||144MHz||SSB||Wedge S58 R59 QF44|
|22:24z||VK1GP||433MHz||SSB||Wedge S59 R59 QF44|
|22:28z||VK1RX/P||144MHz||SSB||Al S59 R59 QF44 portable|
|22:29z||VK1RX/P||433MHz||SSB||Al S59 R59 QF44 portable|
|22:32z||VK1RX/P||433MHz||SSB||both QRP 2 watts S58 R58|
|22:36z||VK2BHO||144MHz||SSB||John S51 R31 QF55KK 193 km|
|22:38z||VK2BXT||144MHz||SSB||Kerry S55 R52 217 km north-east|
|22:41z||VK3EJ||144MHz||SSB||Gordon S55 R54 QF24TB 309 km|
|22:44z||VK1BG||144MHz||SSB||Ian S59 R59 QF44|
|22:46z||VK1AI||144MHz||SSB||Greg S59 R59 QF44|
|23:17z||VK1MA||50MHz||SSB||Matt S59 R59 QF44|
|23:40z||VK2UH||144MHz||SSB||Andrew S51 R52 QF45LD 52 km 359 deg|
|00:42z||VK1MBE||433MHz||SSB||Andrew S59 R59 QF44 13 km|
|00:17z||VK1ATP||144MHz||SSB||Paul S58 R58 QF44|
|00:17z||VK1MA||144MHz||SSB||Matt S59 R59 QF44|
SOTA Chasers – Examples of backyard 2m and 70cm antennas
VK1RX portable backyard VHF/UHF antenna arrangement connected to an Icom IC-706
Andrew VK2UH portable backyard precision 2m dipole connected to a Yaesu FT-817 power output 5 watts
Chasers on the HF Bands
On 40m 7.095 MHz, 21 chasers including my first contact with Chris VK4FR mobile traveling across the Hay Plain, NSW. Chris is a regular contributor to this blog. A 2nd first-time contact was with Maria VK5FMAZ operating portable in a conservation park with hubby Paul VK5PAS. One Summit to Summit (S2S) contact made later in the session with Andrew VK1DA/2 at Mt Mundoonen VK2/ST-053.
SOTA to VKFF Park contacts included Peter VK3ZPF operating from VKFF-0055 Brisbane Ranges NP, Gerard VK2IO in VKFF-0595 Hunter Wetlands NP and Maria and Paul both in VKFF-0823 Cooltong Conservation Park.
On 30m 10.130 MHz, one chaser Steve VK7CW and I did hear Mike VK6MB with a 5-2 signal report.
On 20m 14.310 MHz one local chaser Peter VK1XP.
On 15m 21.350 MHz and 10m 28.480 MHz one local chaser Andrew VK2MWP.
After 3 hours and 40 minutes of non stop radio chat, I packed up and headed back to the car for lunch.
My SOTA VHF and UHF distance records
No 2m or 70cm distance records set today, the furthest 2m SSB contact was with Gordon VK3EJ near Cobram over 309 km while on 70cm I made a weak SSB signal contact with Graeme VK2FPQ near Wollongong 137 km north-east. 🙂