SOTA – VK1AD portable 70cm update #18 – Boboyan Snowman

Sunday 17 July 2016, planned SOTA activation of Boboyan Range, 1489 metres ASL Maidenhead Grid Locator QF44ME

Parks Reference: VKFF-0377 Namadgi National Park

Possible Summit to Summit contacts:  Al VK1RX has plans to activate VK2/ST-003 Devils Peak, Brindabella National Park for 8 activator points.  Matt VK1MA has plans to activate Mt Ainslie VK1/AC-040 for 1 activator point.

Boboyan Range SOTA 70cm activation
Radio: Yaesu FT-857D, UHF 70cm frequency 432.200 MHz USB
Power Level: up to 15 watts (if required), actual power setting 10 watts
Antennas: 7el Yagi and a Slim Jim
Distance to Canberra GPO (VK1): 62 km (38.5 miles) at 11 degrees
Mobile phone service: Telstra 3G two signal bars
SOTA Alert: Yes, plus an email to all CRARC members.  The email to club members attracted 1 additional chaser  😦

Date posted alert:  10 July 2016
Notice Period: 6 days
Outcome: Qualified Boboyan Range on 70cm SSB  🙂
Duration to qualify on 70cm: 15 minutes

My 2016 70cm challenge: qualified 19 from 21 summits activated

Photos: © Copyright 2016 Andrew VK1AD

Weather on the summit: 10 degrees C (50 F), sunny day with light winds  🙂
Water consumption 1litre.   Winter bonus 3 points.

Two years ago, almost to the date Ian VK1DI activate this peak in the snow, that was Sunday 13 July 2014.  Last Wednesday, 13 July 2016 Canberra suburbs received a bonanza snow fall down to 600 meters above sea level (ASL).  The highest point on Boboyan Range is 1489 metres ASL, I am curious to know if this week’s snowfall has survived on Boboyan Range?

Boboyan Range is 62 km south of Canberra, access to the summit is a 1.3 km scrub bash from Boboyan Road.  There are no formed trails to the summit.  From the off-road car park at 1400 metres ASL, I will plot a bearing of 209 degrees climbing 80 vertical metres over 600 meters to a plateau. Once on the plateau set a new bearing of 190 degrees and walk 600 metres to a small stone cairn.  The terrain high point is visible within 150 metres of the summit.

My goal for this activation is to work at least four chasers on 70 cm 432.200 SSB commencing at 2340 UTC or immediately after the WIA VK1 news broadcast. The 30 minute VK1 news broadcast is relayed via the Mt Ginini 2m repeater on 146.950 MHz FM. The news broadcast starts at 9 am, there is little to be gained by calling CQ SOTA on 70 cm SSB when most of Canberra’s Hams are listening to the weekly news.

My second goal is to complete 70 cm S2S contacts with Al and Matt.  IMHO, the risk of failure is high due to two blocking features, Mt Tennent at 1384 metres ASL and Tidbinbilla Mountain at 1615 metres ASL.    Tidbinbilla Mountain is in the direct signal path to Devils Peak at 1321 metres ASL, 65 km bearing 345 degrees.  Mt Tennent is likely to block my signal to chasers living in the northern and western suburbs of Canberra, folks on the east side of Mt Tennent should hear me.  Matt VK1MA has opted to deploy his SOTA radio gear to Mt Ainslie 30 km north-east of Mt Tennent.  Mt Ainslie at 843 metres ASL should offer a good signal path to Boboyan Range.

Left home at 7 am, first stop 50 km south of Canberra GPO on Boboyan Road.

Namandgi National Park VKFF-0377

Boboyan Road, boundary of Namandgi National Park VKFF-0377

Frosty - Orroral Valley to the right

Frosty – Orroral Valley to the right.  Orroal Valley is the former site for the NASA deep space communications station which closed in the 80s.  The deep space station is now in the Tidbinbilla Valley.

2nd stop at the intersection of Boboyan Road and Brandy Flat Road to check the outside temperature. Bloody freezing, brrr

Outside the car minus '-4' degrees C

Stationary on Boboyan Road shoulder. Outside temperature is a cool minus 4 degrees C

10 minutes later I parked the SOTA Yeti off Boboyan Road at S 35.81959° E 149.00495° 1400 metres ASL. The drive time from my home in Canberra was 1 hour.   Departed the car at 2210 UTC (8:10 am local).

Boboyan Range GPS track log - 17 July 2016

Boboyan Range GPS track log – 17 July 2016.  The ascent is 90 meters over 1.2 km taking 30 minutes to complete.

snow!

snow!  Boboyan Road

snow

snow on Boboyan Range plateau, how cool!  🙂

snow

more snow, so exciting!  I can honestly say the 3 winter bonus points are welcome

Native fauna in this area of the Namadgi National Park includes the Boboyan Snowman, sightings are rare and often without photographic evidence. The Boboyan Snowman is a shy creature which surfaces from it’s winter hideout lying silently ready to feast on unsuspecting victims.  😛

Boboyan Snowman

Native to these parts is the Boboyan Snowman – callsign ‘SN0MAN’*

Arrived at the summit on time at 2240 UTC (08:40 am) to set up.  I checked my mobile phone for Telstra’s 3G service, all good two signal bars.  While setting up the 70 cm yagi and HF dipole antennas, I listened to the WIA news broadcast on my 2m HT.  A note about Mt Ginini Amateur Radio Repeaters.  Mt Ginini 2m and 70 cm repeaters provide a reliable wide-area coverage over Namadgi National Park.  The repeaters serve as an important ‘safety’ feature for VK1 and nearby VK2 SOTA activators.

VK1AD SOTA Shack on Boboyan Range

VK1AD SOTA Shack on Boboyan Range.  The blue drop-sheet (tarp) is a permanent accessory to my SOTA gear.  Ample space among the trees to set up the SOTA station.

Started the activation at 2335 UTC after posting a SMS SOTA spot via Telstra mobile service.  First chaser on 432.200 MHz  was Rod VK2TWR 80 km SE.  Thee minutes passed before Chris VK2DO responded to a CQ SOTA call from his QTH 112 km east.  Next chaser was Rob VK1KW running high power from his station in Canberra (QF44MT).  Fourth and not the last chaser on 432 was Matt VK1MA/P activating Mt Ainslie VK1/AC-040, thanks Matt.  During the QSO with Matt I received an SMS from Paul VK1ATP saying ‘no 70cm reception, heading to Red Hill’.

Having qualified on 70cm SSB, I sent an SMS to Al VK1RX for a status update.  Al responded with ‘listening on 432.2’.  We called each other three times but unable to complete a valid 70 cm S2S contact, Tidbinbilla Mountain at 1615 meters is in the way.  Meanwhile Matt on Mt Ainslie could hear Al quite well, I asked Matt to pass a message to Al requesting he QSY to 144.200 after working local VK1 chasers on 432.2.

At 2356 UTC I changed frequency to 144.200 MHz SSB to work Chris VK2DO. A minute later Al called to complete the S2S contact between Devils Peak and Boboyan Range, thanks Al.  With UTC change approaching I stayed on 144.200 MHz.  At UTC change I worked Al for a second S2S then changed frequency to 432.200.  Back on 70 cm I completed the second round of contacts working Rob VK1KW and Matt VK1MA/P.  At 0008 UTC Paul VK1ATP called from Red Hill VKFF-0860 for a 5-9 signal report and a fifth unique chaser on 70 cm, excellent!  🙂

Summary and lessons learnt.  Amateur radio stations operating east of an imaginary line extending through Boboyan Range and Mt Tennent, Matt VK1MA/P, Paul VK1ATP/P at Red Hill and Chris VK2DO on the NSW South Coast had good signal paths to Boboyan Range.  When Paul VK1ATP was at the in-laws, behind Red Hill using a 70 cm yagi antenna he didn’t copy my signal.    Rob VK1KW on the north side of Canberra is operating a high-power 70 cm amplifier connected to a yagi antenna array.  Rob is a regular chaser on 70cm, 2m and 6m, I guess the high power combined with an array of antennas made the difference.  Al VK1RX located west of Mt Tennent and in the shadow of Tidbinbilla Mountain did not copy my 70cm signal.  Rod VK2TWR in Nimmitabel NSW south-east of Boboyan Range has a good outlook.

If you plan to activate this peak on 70 cm, ask the VK1 chasers to line up on the east side of Mt Tennent or ask them to head to Nimmitabel for an early breakfast at Rod’s place.  🙂

Extract from VK1AD SOTA Activator Log 17 July 16 – Boboyan Range 70cm, 2m and 6m bands

Time Call Band Mode Notes
23:38z VK2TWR 433MHz SSB Rod S59 R59  432.200  80 km
23:41z VK2DO 433MHz SSB Chris S55 R57 112 km
23:44z VK1KW 433MHz SSB Rob S59 R59 QF44MT 68 km
23:53z VK1MA/P 433MHz SSB Matt S2S VK1/AC-040 S59 R58 VKFF-0850 63 km
23:57z VK2DO 144MHz SSB Chris S59 R59 144.200  112 km
23:58z VK1RX/2 144MHz SSB Al S2S VK2/ST-003 S51 R51 65 km
00:01z VK1RX/2 144MHz SSB Al S2S VK2/ST-003 S51 R51 65 km
00:04z VK1KW 433MHz SSB Rob S59 R59 QF44MT 68 km
00:05z VK1MA/P 433MHz SSB Matt S2S VK1/AC-040 S59 R59 VKFF-0850 63 km
00:08z VK1ATP/P 433MHz SSB Paul S59 R56 at Red Hill VKFF-0860 60 km
00:16z VK2DO 50MHz SSB Chris S59 R55 50.160 112 km
00:20z VK1EM 50MHz SSB Mark S59 R51 68 km
00:20z VK1KW 50MHz SSB Rob S59 R53 QF44MT 68 km

Chasers on HF Bands

13 unique chasers on 40m 7.095 MHz: Matt VK1MA/P S2S, Mick VK3GGG, Tony VK3CAT, Ron VK3AFW, Col VK3LED, Adrian VK5FANA, Brett VK2FASV, Gerard VK2IO, Peter VK3ZPF, Peter VK3PF, Paul VK3HN, Jeff VK5JK and Rick VK4RF.

On 30m 10.135 MHz:  Nev VK5WG, Rick VK4RF and Steve VK7CW

On 20m 14.310 MHz: Rick VK4RF, Mike VK6MB, Tim VK6EI, John VK6NU, Wayne VK6EH and John VK6VZZ

On 15m 21.300 MHz and 10m 28.480 MHz nil chasers

7el yagi close up

7el yagi mounted on a telescopic pole at 4 metres.  Sorry, I didn’t frame the picture very well, the pole and the yagi are almost camouflaged by the forest canopy

close up

Close up, keep the radio away from the snow!  Powered radio circuits mixed with H2O produce a bad outcome.

stone cairn started in 2014. Each new activator makes a contribution to the structure. Today I added 10 stones to the cairn

snow is melting in the mid day sun.  I started this stone cairn in March 2014.  Subsequent SOTA activators have made a contribution to the structure. Today, I improved the cairn with the addition of 10 rocks from the surrounding area.  Progress is slow..

My SOTA VHF and UHF distance records
No 2m or 70cm distance records set today.  Furthest 70 cm SSB contact was with Chris VK2DO, 112 km at 83 degrees east.

*Callsign credit to Andrew VK1DA

Reference / Links

Boboyan Range – VK1DI SOTA activation 13 July 2014

Boboyan Range – VK1NAM & VK1RX SOTA activation 30 March 2014

 

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