SOTA – VK1AD portable 70cm update #19 – Livingstone Hill

Captain’s Log Stardate 2016.205  Sunday 24 July 2016, planned SOTA activation of Livingstone Hill, 932 metres ASL, 6 points Maidenhead Grid Locator QF44NG

Possible Summit to Summit contacts:  Andrew VK3ARR has plans to activate Flinders Peak VK3/VC-030, 50 km south-west of Melbourne.  Andrew will be testing a homebrew 4el 2m yagi, like myself Andrew would like to work radio amateur VHF Dx stations via Aircraft Enhancement (AE).

Livingstone Hill 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
Antenna: 70 cm 7el Yagi
Distance to Canberra GPO (VK1): 52km (32.3 miles) at 358 degrees
Mobile phone service: Telstra 3G four signal bars
SOTA Alert: Yes, plus an email to all CRARC members
Date posted alert:
  21 July 2016
Notice Period: 3 days
Outcome: Qualified Boboyan Range on 70cm SSB  🙂
Duration to qualify on 70cm: 45 minutes

My 2016 70cm challenge: qualified 20 from 22 summits activated

Photos: © Copyright 2016 Andrew VK1AD

Weather on the summit: 1 to 4 degrees C (33 to 39 F), cloudy day 25 km winds.
Water consumption 1 litre.   Winter bonus: N/A

Left home at 7 am for a 50 minute drive heading south along the Monaro Highway to Mount Livingstone Road, 3.5 km south of Michelago.  From Mount Livingstone Road the ascent is 80 metres over 610 metres taking 15 minutes to walk, for an easy 6 activator points.  Meanwhile back in VK1 a 900 metre summit is scored at 2 points.  😦

Livingstone Hill cairn is on private property.  The owner has granted radio amateurs access to the cairn via a maintenance 4WD track.  The summit hosts commercial radio and mobile phone repeaters, elsewhere the hill is a home to a flock of woolly Merino sheep, Baaa!

QRM.  Minor levels on 40m only.  The noise cycles as aircon units attached to the comms infrastructure cycle on and off. 

Once again my goal is to work at least four chasers on 70 cm 432.200 SSB commencing at 2330 UTC plus have a shot at working Andrew VK3ARR S2S via AE.  The signal path to Flinders Peak is 488 km at 238 degrees. My chances of an AE contact on 2m are slim to zip. My proximity to nearby peaks at heights of 1600 and 2000 metres ASL will attenuate my 50 watt SSB signal.  Lets see how I go?

Livingstone Hill to Canberra GPO terrain profile – few vertical obstructions

SM-093 to Cbr GPO profile

SM-093 to Canberra GPO terrain profile (Google Earth)

Arrived at the summit 30 minutes earlier than planned, primarily to have time to listen for Andrew.  While setting up VHF/UHF and HF antennas I placed my UTC clock in the shade to get an ambient temperature reading.   After 15-20 minutes of assembling antennas the temperature reading settled at 1 degree C (8:50 am), yep it’s cold. Thinking back to the walk, I did notice small pools of ice on track.  40 minutes later the ambient temperature reached 1.8 degrees C, brr bloody cold!!

If you are following my 2016 70 cm SOTA challenge, you may recall I often struggle to work four chasers on 432.2 MHz, I usually get there it just takes time and patience. I wonder if I might have a better chance of getting a signal response from NCC-1701. It would seem my persistent emails to Canberra Regional Amateur Radio Club (CRACR) members are starting to payoff.  Today two additional chasers took the opportunity to call me, Malcolm VK1AAH and Matt VK1MH for a total of 7 unique chasers on 70 cm. Believe me I don’t plan get ahead of myself, I’m only as good as the last activation. I do hope two more chasers is the start of a developing trend among VK1 radio amateurs, to take an interest in SOTA especially on the higher bands.  🙂

Below is an extract from my SOTA log and a few pics of my SOTA station set up on Livingstone Hill.  After 2.5 hours of sitting on my butt I started to shiver, that’s a signal to pack-up and head home.  As you can see from my log I failed to work Andrew VK3ARR on Flinders Peak, that’s okay I am confident we will have another opportunity soon.  On 2m SSB all was not lost, I did hear Ron VK3AFW on the Morse key and I’m very happy to have made contact with Gordon VK3EJ in Cobram, 316 km due west.  Gordon is a regular VHF DX’er.

On 6m 50.160 MHz I cranked-up the power setting to 80 watts, which sucked the life out of my 4S 4.2 Ah LiFePO4 battery, in the vain hope of pushing a readable voice signal to Glenn VK3YY.  I’m confident you all know the outcome, that’s right zip!  If you don’t at least try you will never know..

Extract from VK1AD SOTA Activator Log 24 July 16 – Livingstone Hill 70cm, 2m and 6m bands

Time Call Band Mode Notes
22:58z VK1KW 144MHz SSB Rob S59 R59 144.2  62 km
23:00z VK1KW 433MHz SSB Rob S59 R59 432.2
23:01z VK1MA 433MHz SSB Matt S59 R55  432.2
23:02z VK1KW 50MHz SSB Rob S59 R55 50.160
23:05z VK3EJ 144MHz SSB Gordon S58 R55 Cobram 144.2 316 km
23:20z VK2TWR 144MHz SSB Rod S59 R59 144.2  87 km
23:20z VK2TWR 433MHz SSB Rod S59 R59 432.2
23:39z VK2COW 433MHz SSB Dimitrios S58 R57 432.2 80 km
23:43z VK1AAH 433MHz SSB Malcolm S59 R59 432.2  42 km
23:44z VK1MH 433MHz SSB Matt S51 R51  4342.2  60 km
23:48z VK2COW 144MHz SSB Dimitrios S59 R59 144.2
23:51z VK1EM 144MHz SSB Mark S51 R51 144.2 60 km
23:54z VK2MWP 144MHz SSB Andrew S52 R51 144.2  45 km
23:56z VK1RX/M 144MHz SSB Al S58 R57 144.2  33 km
23:58z VK1RX/M 433MHz SSB Al S51 R55 432.2
00:00z VK1MA/P 144MHz SSB Matt S2S VK1/AC-043 S59 R59 144.2
00:03z VK1MA/P 433MHz SSB Matt S2S VK1/AC-043 S58 R57 432.2
00:04z VK1KW 433MHz SSB Rob S59 R59 432.2
00:05z VK2MWP 144MHz SSB Andrew S51 R51 144.2
00:05z VK1EM 144MHz SSB Mark S51 R51  144.2
00:06z VK1KW 144MHz SSB Rob S59 R59  144.2
00:07z VK1DI 144MHz SSB Ian S51 R51  144.2 58 km
00:45z VK2HPN/M 144MHz FM Phil S59 R59 146.5 FM mobile

sample of pictures taken at the summit


FT-857D and my iPad running FlightRadar24



1.8 degrees C (35 F) at 9:28 am (23:28 UTC)


view south-west Clear Range, Namadgi National Park. Yagi antenna attempting to beam a signal over the horizon to VK3 Melbourne 470 km SW


dual band 70cm/2m yagi


VK1AD SOTA shack at Livingstone Hill cairn

Summary and lessons learnt.  7 unique chasers on 70 cm, my best effort to date.  Stay home when the overnight temperature is minus 5 degrees C and the wind gusts are peaking at 35 km per hour.  😮

Chasers on HF Bands

10 unique chasers on 40m 7.100 MHz: Tony VK3CAT, Adam VK2YK, Matt VK1MA S2S, Mick VK3GGG, Tom VK5EE, Paul VK5PAS, Gerard VK2IO, Adrian VK5FANA, Mitch VK7XDM and Col VK3LED.  Conditions on 40m were poor with long periods of silence, the short QSOs with Gerard, Adrian, Mitch and Col are courtesy of my 8.4 Ah LiFePO4 battery having cracked the FT-857D output power to 80 watts.

On 30m 10.130 MHz:  Nev VK5WG and Rob VK2XXM

On 20m 14.310 & 14.315 MHz: S2S with John ZL1BYZ on ZL1/WK-141, Nev VK5W, Mike VK6MB, Ian VK5CZ, Matt VK1MA S2S and John ZL1DT

On 15m 21.300 MHz nil chasers

Summit to Summit contacts: John ZL1BYZ/P on ZL1/WK-141 in the Waikato region of New Zealand and Matt VK1MA/P at Mount Stromlo Canberra.

My SOTA VHF and UHF distance records
No 2m or 70cm distance records set today.   Furthest 70 cm SSB contacts: Rod VK2TWR 87 km at 172 degrees south and Dimitrios VK2COW QRP 5 watts, 80 km at 7 degrees north.   On 2m Gordon VK3EJ is 316 km due west @ 265 degrees.


4 thoughts on “SOTA – VK1AD portable 70cm update #19 – Livingstone Hill

  1. Pingback: SOTA – VK1AD portable 70cm update #20 – Honeysuckle | Get out of the Radio Shack and Live Life

  2. G’day Andrew,
    I guess this is perhaps one of your easier summits apart from the cold!
    Very interested in your AE attempts, seems a fascinating part of the hobby and an excellent corridor to be trying it in between SYD-MEL.


  3. Hi Andrew
    A good activation, great description and brilliant photos and, I admire your capacity to put up with the cold!
    John D

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