SOTA – VK1AD portable 70cm update #16 Bullen Range

Saturday 7 May 2016, planned SOTA activation of Bullen Range VK1/AC-033, 925 metres ASL Maidenhead Grid Locator QF44MN

Parks Reference: VKFF-0984 Bullen Range Nature Reserve

Possible Summit to Summit contact:  Andrew VK1MBE has plans to activate Mt Perrisher VK2/SM-007 for 10 points.

Bullen Range SOTA 70cm activation
Radio: Yaesu FT-817ND, UHF 70cm frequencies 432.200 MHz USB
Power Level: 5 watts
Antenna: 7el Yagi
Distance to Canberra GPO (VK1): 19 km (11 miles) at 34 degrees
SOTA Alert: Yes
Date posted alert:  2 May 16
Notice Period:  5 days
Outcome:  Qualified Bullen Range on 70cm  🙂
Duration to qualify on 70cm: 20 minutes
My 2016 70cm challenge: qualified 16 from 18 summits activated

Photos: © Copyright 2016 Andrew VK1AD

Weather on the summit: 22 degrees C (71 F), clear day & light winds  🙂  Water consumption 2 litres

Bullen Range is 19 km south-west of Canberra and 5.5 km west of Tuggeranong township.  Situated 3.7 km to my north-west is the NASA/CSIRO Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex  The west side of Bullen Range offers a level of RF attenuation (buffer) to radio signals generated by human activity in and around the suburbs of Canberra.  I attend the Deep Space center’s open day in August 2012 (Science Week in Australia), I recall the 70 metre dish transmitter (S-band 2.1 GHz and C-band 7.1 GHz) is rated at 20 KW, please don’t point the dish at me!  I trust the QRP 5 watts of RF energy emanating from the 432 MHz Yagi will not interfere with the station’s operations.

In 2003 much of Bullen Range Nature Reserve was burnt during the widespread Canberra Firestorm. 13 years on nature’s rehabilitation process is well underway.  Wildlife sighted along the 5 km fire trail corridor included Kangaroos, feral rabbits, a pair of Wedge-tailed eagles and the big surprise for the morning three deer (stag, doe and fawn).  As for vegetation, the summit surrounds are thick with fast-growing eucalypt regrowth, which for me means attenuation of UHF radio signals emanating from or received by the 70cm Yagi.

Running parallel to Bullen Range are two rivers, the Murrumbidgee River corridor to the east and Paddy’s River on the west side of the mountain range.

For directions to this summit see my post SOTA Bullen Range – Summit to Sea Level  3 March 2014  The ascent summit is 302 metres (925 feet) over 4.9 km (3 miles) taking 1 hours and 15 minutes.  Avg Gradient is 4.5%.  The number of gates to navigate through or over has increased by one for a total of six gates.  See my earlier post for pictures of the mountain range.

2 km in to a 5 km walk

a pair of wild Eastern Grey Kangaroos feeding, totally harmless

a pair of wild Eastern Grey Kangaroos feeding, totally harmless

At the summit where the ground is bone dry and fallen trees litter the ground

VK1AD SOTA shack at Bullen Range Canberra

VK1AD SOTA shack at Bullen Range 19 km south-west of Canberra.  The stump makes a perfect ‘bush’ seat when combined with the fallen tree as an operating table.

FT-817ND and 2 position antenna switch to select a linked HF dipole or 6m vertical. The 2m/70cm yagi is connected to the FT-817 front panel BNC connector.

Antenna options – 2 position antenna switch (connected to the rear antenna socket) to select either a linked HF dipole or the 6m vertical.  The 2m/70cm Yagi feed network includes a VHF/UHF duplexer connected to the front panel BNC connector via a two metre (6.5 ft) length of RG58AU.  See the video.

rear view of the FT-817 resting on a Plano 1460 waterproof case.

rear view of the FT-817 resting on a Plano 1460 waterproof case.

6m coaxial 1/2 wave vertical

6m coaxial dipole base in the tree foliage

6m coaxial dipole base in the tree foliage

6m vertical

6m vertical difficult to see in this picture

view of the summit surrounds notice the dense eucalyptus regrowth

view of the summit surrounds notice the dense eucalyptus regrowth.  The pile of rocks (start of a rock cairn) marks the summit.  The squid pole is secured to an up turned root of a tree stump by two “occy” straps  😉

Started the activation by posting a spot using a new mobile phone app ‘SOTA Spotter’ by YO8SAW for Android.    First chaser on the higher bands 2m 144 MHz and 70cm 432 MHz was Matt VK1MA, followed by Rob VK1KW, Ian VK1DI, Mark VK1EM, Paul VK1ATP, Al VK1RX and Andrew VK2UH portable in the back yard 66 km (41 miles) north of Bullen Range.  On 50 MHz chasers included locals Matt VK1MA and Andrew VK2MWP near Queanbeyan 28 km (17 miles) east.  With the exception of Andrew VK2UH most chasers are within a 30 km radius of Bullen Range.

Extract from VK1AD SOTA Activator Log 7 May 16 – Bullen Range on 70cm, 2m and 6m bands

Time Call Band Mode Notes
23:44z VK1MA 144MHz SSB Matt S58 R58 QF44
23:46z VK1MA 433MHz SSB Matt S58 R57 QF44
23:55z VK1KW 433MHz SSB Rob S59 R59 QF44MT
23:59z VK1DI 433MHz SSB Ian S51 R41 QF44
00:01z VK1DI 433MHz SSB Ian S51 R51 QF44
00:03z VK1EM 433MHz SSB Mark S52 R51 QF44
00:04z VK1ATP 433MHz SSB Paul S51 R41 QF44
00:05z VK1MA 433MHz SSB Matt S59 R59 QF44
00:07z VK1KW 144MHz SSB Rob S59 R59 QF44MT 28 km
00:11z VK1RX/P 144MHz SSB Al S59 R59 QF44
00:14z VK1RX/P 433MHz SSB Al S59 R59 QF44
00:17z VK2UH 433MHz SSB Andrew S51 R51 QF45LD 66 km
00:31z VK1RX 50MHz SSB Al S59 R59 QF44
00:34z VK1MA 50MHz SSB Matt S59 R58 QF44
00:35z VK2MWP 50MHz SSB Andrew S59 R57 QF44 28 km

Chasers on HF Bands

17 chasers on 40m 7.085 MHz: Alan VK3FBAT, Mick VK3GGG, Richard VK2NRA, Steve VK7CW, Fred VK3DAC, VK2IO Gerard, Cliff VK2NP, Al VK1RX/M, Garry VK2GAZ, Amanda VK3FQSO, Peter VK3PF, Adam VK2YK, Col VK3LED, Wynne ZL2ATH, Brenton VK3CM, VK7ALH (no name).  During the QSOs with Col, Wynne and Brenton I had the pleasure of someone tuning up on 7.090 which went on for about 5 minutes, why?  No apologies, Grrr

On 30m 10.130 MHz:  Nev VK5WG and Mick VK3GGG (see video)

On 20m 14.315 MHz: Rick VK4RF, John ZL1BYZ and Andrew ZL3CC for a S2S

SOTA Summit to Summit (S2S) contacts:  Andrew to Andrew S2S contacts included Andrew VK1MBE at Mt Perisher in the Snowy Mountains and Andrew ZL3CCC for a new ZL3 summit ZL3/CB-822 Mt Pleasant along with ZL3 as a completed chased Association .  Thanks to both Andrews.

 Video 3 minutes – on 30m 10.130 MHz working Mick VK3GGG near Stawell in the Wimmera Region of Victoria (VK3).  I’m juggling the camera in my right hand and the mic in left hand.

My SOTA VHF and UHF distance records
No 2m or 70cm distance records set today, the furthest 70cm SSB contact over 66 km was with Andrew VK2UH near Yass 🙂

Reference / Links
Canberra 2003 Firestorm –
Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex –
ZL3CC SOTA blog –
YO8SAW SOTA Spotter –



5 thoughts on “SOTA – VK1AD portable 70cm update #16 Bullen Range

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