SOTA – VK1AD portable 70cm update #20 – Honeysuckle

Saturday 30 July 2016, planned SOTA activation of Honeysuckle Mountain, 1360 metres ASL, 4 points Maidenhead Grid Locator QF44LJ

Possible Summit to Summit contacts:  Al VK1RX and Andrew VK1MBE  have plans for a joint activate of Booroomba Rocks VK1/AC-026. Tony VK1VIC has plans to activate Livingstone Hill VK2/SM-093.

Honeysuckle Mountain SOTA 70cm activation
Radio: Yaesu FT-817ND, UHF 70cm frequency 432.200 MHz USB and 439.00 FM
Power Level: QRP 5 watts
Antenna: 70 cm 1/2 wave dipole (see pictures)
Distance to Canberra GPO (VK1): 36 km (22 miles) at 26 degrees
Mobile phone service: Telstra 3G two signal bars
SOTA Alert: Yes, plus an email to all CRARC members
Date posted alert:
  26 July 2016
Notice Period: 5 days
Outcome: Qualified Honeysuckle Mountain on 70cm SSB  🙂
Duration to qualify on 70cm: 13 minutes

My 2016 70cm challenge: qualified 21 from 23 summits activated

Photos: © Copyright 2016 Andrew VK1AD

Weather on the summit: 6 to 9 degrees C (42 to 48 F), sunny day with light winds.
Water consumption 1.5 litres.   Winter bonus: 3 points

RF Signal Interference (QRM) on the summit: Nil

Left home at 7 am for a 45 minute drive to Honeysuckle Creek campground.   From Honeysuckle Creek campground the ascent is 273 metres over 1.9 km taking 1 hour and 10 minutes.  For convenience I have divided the ascent into two legs:

  • Leg 1. From the car park take a fire trail heading of 163 degrees.  The fire trail terminates at two large water tanks. See picture
  • Leg 2. Once at the water tanks (S35.5870° E148.9794°) turn right into the scrub and take a bearing of 136 degrees for a 185 metre ascent over 944 metres taking 55 minutes.  This leg has an average gradient of 19 percent.  That’s a slope of 11 degrees at a ratio of 1 to 5.1, yep it’s steep.

This trip is my fourth visit to Honeysuckle peak.  Honeysuckle Creek campground and the surrounding areas of Namadgi National Park were destroyed in the 2003 firestorm.  It’s fabulous to see nature establish the eucalyptus forest and native wildlife kangaroos, wallabies and wombats.  Reptiles native to Namadgi, lizards and snakes are hibernating in the cold weather.

Track log from Honeysuckle Creek campground

Honeysuckle GPS track log

Honeysuckle GPS track log

Honeysuckle track profile

Honeysuckle track profile

Honeysuckle ascent data

Honeysuckle ascent data

Honeysuckle scrub bash GPS log in red  – from the water tanks to the summit

Honeysuckle Mt Scrub Bash log

Honeysuckle scrub bash log – from the water tanks to the summit

Scrub bash ascent profile

Honeysuckle scrub bash ascent profile

Scrub bash ascent profile

Honeysuckle scrub bash ascent data

Below is an extract from my SOTA log and a few pics of my SOTA station set up on Honeysuckle Mountain.  Worked six unique chasers on 70cm, signal reports are well down on last week due to the signal path attenuation and my operation at 5 watts:  Chasers included: Rob VK1KW, Matt VK1MA, Dale VK1DSH, Matt VK1MT, Andrew VK1MBE and Al VK1RX.   Dale VK1DSH and Matt VK1MT are new chasers on 70cm.   No long distant VHF DX’ers today, Mt Tennent is a major obstacle between Honeysuckle and Canberra suburbs.

Summit to Summit contacts on 70cm and 2m: Al VK1RX/P and Andrew VK1MBE/P both operating from Booroomba Rocks peak, 3.2 km (1.9 miles) north at a bearing of 8 degrees.

Extract from VK1AD SOTA Activator Log 30 July 16 – Honeysuckle Mountain 70cm and 2m bands

Time Call Band Mode Notes
23:54z VK1KW 433MHz SSB Rob S57 R55 432.2
23:56z VK1MA 433MHz SSB Matt S51 R51 432.2
23:57z VK1MBE/P 144MHz FM Andrew S2S VK1/AC-026 S59 R59  146.5
23:58z VK1RX/P 144MHz FM Al S2S VK1/AC-026 S59 R59  146.5
23:59z VK1DSH 433MHz SSB Dale S55 R57 432.2
00:01z VK1MA 433MHz SSB Matt S56 R51 432.2
00:02z VK1MBE/P 144MHz SSB Andrew S2S VK1/AC-026 S59 R59 146.5
00:03z VK1DSH 433MHz FM Dale S55 R55 439.00
00:07z VK1MBE/P 433MHz FM Andrew S2S VK1/AC-026 S59 R59 439.00
00:08z VK1RX/P 433MHz FM Al S2S VK1/AC-026 S59 R59 439.00
00:09z VK1MT 433MHz FM Matt S56 R56 439.00

Honeysuckle Mountain – don’t be fooled it’s tougher than it looks

view south-east Honeysuckle Mountain from Honeysuckle Creek Campground

view south-east Honeysuckle Mountain from Honeysuckle Creek Campground

Water Tanks (Sep 2013)

Water tanks

4wd maintenance trail terminates at two water tanks

20160730_083423

a difficult scrub bash to the summit.  Appropriate clothing to wear is a long sleeve shirt, denim pants, boots, gaiters, hat and leather gloves.

recent fuel reduction burns have thinned out the regrowth from the 2003 Canberra firestorm

recent fuel reduction burns have thinned out the regrowth from the 2003 Canberra firestorm.  What’s left is scrubby saplings exposing slabs of granite and burnt out charcoal remains of trees and tree stumps.  By now I’m dirty, almost charcoal black from climbing over and around burnt out trees.  Please take a few minutes to compare these pictures to the 2013 photos (see links below)

harsh environment

harsh environment to walk through

20160730_090131

a couple of large obstacles to navigate around, too dangerous to think about going over

20160730_090142

did the tree fall on the granite tor or did it’s roots once grow over the large boulder?

At the summit

20160730_110322

among the granite tors VK1AD SOTA shack at Honeysuckle Mountain

20160730_100548

70 cm dipole supported by a short lightweight 5 metre squid pole

70cm dipole close up. The center feed point is a banana binding post to BNC connector

70cm dipole close up. The center feed point is a banana binding post to BNC connector. Both 1/4 wave elements are solid 3 mm copper wire.

20160730_110352

summit surrounds – this environment is known for black, brown and tiger snakes.  Good news the snakes are hibernating for winter.  RF ‘ground’ is very poor, fragments of granite boulders are layered around the summit in a 100 metre radius.

20160730_111646

click on the photo to zoom in – In the center of the picture you can see Booroomba Rocks peak VK1/AC-026 (3 km line-of-sight) with a light dusting of snow.  Al VK1RX and Andrew VK1MBE are conducting a join SOTA activation from the peak.  FYI Booroomba Rocks is 17 metres higher (ASL) than Honeysuckle Mt.

Chasers on HF Bands

Only six unique chasers on 40m 7.110 MHz:  Nev VK5WG, Rick VK4RF, Steve VK7CW, Paul VK5PAS, Tom VK5EE, and Mick VK3GGG.  No NVIS contacts within 500 km to radio amateurs in VK2 and VK3

On 30m 10.130 MHz:  One local chaser Matt VK1MA, no other contacts outside of VK1

On 20m: Nil

Weak signal HF Summit to Summit contacts on 40m:  Tony VK1VIC/2 at Livingstone Hill, Ian VK5CZ at Mount Bryan VK5/SE-001, Glenn VK3YY at Mt Macedon VK3/VC-007 and Al VK1RX/P at Booroomba Rocks peak.

My SOTA VHF and UHF distance records
No 2m or 70cm distance records set today.  All VHF/UHF chasers are within a 50 km radius.

Reference / Links

Honeysuckle Creek – VK1NAM SOTA activation 5 May 2013

Honeysuckle Creek – VK1NAM SOTA activation 30 August 2013

Next activation report – Sunday 7 August 2016, VK1 Winter SOTA QSO from Goorooyarroo (VK1/AC-036) a former WW2 bombing range.

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