SOTA – VK1AD portable 70cm update #22 – No Cake!

Sunday 21 August 2016.  A Triple Treat SOTA activation of three VK2 summits – Bald Mountain VK2/SM-052, Big Badja VK2/SM-059 and Dampier VK2/ST-007 93 km south-east of Canberra. Today is also day 2 of the International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend (ILLW) we are putting our trust in the SOTA gods for good NVIS propagation on 3.5 and 7 MHz.

Tony VK1VIC has organised a convoy of enthusiastic SOTA radio amateurs to head south out of Canberra to Gourock and Deua National Parks.  Tony and I met up with Al VK1RX for a 2 hour road trip to Badja via Numeralla, meanwhile Andrew VK1MBE headed south to Snowball via Captains Flat for a recon of Fairfield mountain VK2/ST-020.  Today’s SOTA activation plan includes a S2S rotation between Bald Mountain and Big Badja followed by a convoy of three 4WD vehicles to Dampier VK2/ST-007 via Currambene Creek ford crossing.

It’s 9 am Sunday morning on Bald Mountain, Gourock National Park 82 km south-east of Canberra where the ambient temperature is close to zero C, wind is blowing 30 km/h and there’s patches of snow nearby.  Yep it’s bloody cold, I now have a beanie and gloves on!!  Tony and I completed the set up of our SOTA station with antennas for 80m 3.5 MHz and 70 cm 432.200 MHz.  Al VK1RX and Andrew VK1MBE are setting up on Big Badja 8 km to our south-east in the Deua National Park.

I post a SOTA alert via AUS_SMS for 432.200 MHz USB.  Called CQ SOTA for the best part of 10 minutes without a chaser contact.  First strike on 70 cm and two more summits on today’s list. My gut feel is I’m too far south of Canberra with too many mountain obstacles to impeded the 70cm signal reaching one or two regular SOTA chasers in Canberra.    Rod VK2TWR at Nimmitabel only 67 km south-west is out of action with a broken desk microphone. Bugger!

With no action on 70 cm we moved on to 80m 3.585 MHz and 40m 7.090 MHz.

Bald Mountain – Gourock National Park

Extract from VK1AD SOTA Activator Log:  21 August 2016 – Bald Mountain

Tony and I each had the pleasure of working Gerard VK2IO operating portable from Hornby Lighthouse AU-0041, Sydney Harbour National Park.  Very pleased to have made the contact on 3.5 MHz along with Mat VK1MT and Peter VK3PF.   Summit to Summit contacts included Al and Andrew at Big Badja on 2m simplex for 16 S2S points.   🙂

After 30 minutes of freezing our buts off we packed up and headed for Big Badja.  Too cold to contemplate a session on 20m 14.310 MHz.

Time Call Band Mode Notes
23:04z VK2IO/P 3.5MHz SSB Gerard S58 R58 LH AU-0041 VKFF-0473
23:08z VK1MT 3.5MHz SSB Matt S59 R57
23:11z VK3PF 3.5MHz SSB Peter S58 R55
23:16z VK1MBE/2 144MHz FM Andrew S2S VK2/SM-059 S59 R59 146.5
23:19z VK1RX/2 144MHz FM Al S2S VK2/SM-059 S59 R59 146.5
23:23z VK3BWZ 7MHz SSB Bob S59 R58
23:26z VK3CAT 7MHz SSB Tony S59 R59
23:32z VK5WG 7MHz SSB Nev S59 R57
23:33z VK3SQ 7MHz SSB Geoff S59 R57
23:34z VK3GGG 7MHz SSB Mick S59 R57
23:35z VK5EE 7MHz SSB Tom S58 R57
23:35z VK3MEL 7MHz SSB Mal S59 R59

Photos: © Copyright 2016 Andrew VK1AD

Tony VK1VIC operating on 40m with the radio gear set up on Bald Mountain Trig station

Tony VK1VIC operating on 40m with the radio gear set up on Bald Mountain Trig station.

10 metre pole supporting am 80m 1/2 wave inverted V dipole

10 metre pole supporting an 80m 3.5 MHz 1/2 wave inverted V dipole.  Left is a 70 cm 7el yagi mounted on a tripod

Snow

small patch of snow in the shadows of the eucalypt trees

Big Badja summit Deua National Park

Extract from VK1AD SOTA Activator Log:  21 August 2016 – Big Badja

The highlight of this activation was working Steve ZL2X/p on 14.310 MHz operating from Pencarrow Lighthouse, Wellington Harbour, New Zealand.  I was fortunate to make a second contact with Gerard at Hornby Lighthouse this time on 40m.

Time Call Band Mode Notes
00:58z VK3PF 7MHz SSB Peter S59 R57
01:01z VK2MRX 7MHz SSB Brett S59 R51
01:03z VK3MEL 7MHz SSB Mal S59 R48
01:03z VK5WG 7MHz SSB Nev S59 R54
01:04z VK2XXM 7MHz SSB Rob S58 R58
01:04z VK3CAT/M 7MHz SSB Tony S59 R59
01:05z VK1MBE/2 144MHz FM Andrew S2S VK2/SM-052 S55 R55 146.5 8 km
01:06z VK1RX/2 144MHz FM Al S2S VK2/SM-052 S55 R55 146.5 8 km
01:09z VK2KYA 7MHz SSB Ken S59 R55
01:11z VK3KRV/M 7MHz SSB Ralph S57 R56
01:12z VK3XZ 7MHz SSB Mike S59 R59
01:15z VK7MBD 7MHz SSB Bruce S59 R57
01:16z VK2IO/P 7MHz SSB Gerard S57 R56 AU-0041 VKFF-0473
01:31z VK6XL 14MHz SSB Allen S59 R25
01:32z VK1MA 14MHz SSB Matt S58 R53
01:34z ZL2X/P 14MHz SSB Stephen S58 R55 LH NZ-0012 Wellington Harbour
Tony VK1VIC and Andrew VK1AD operating from Big Badja Trig Station

Tony VK1VIC and Andrew VK1AD operating from Big Badja Trig Station. Wind is 30 to 40 km/h ambient temperature is 6 degrees, feels-like is zero C

FT-857D on Big Badja Trig

Yaesu FT-857D, Yaesu FT-60R and a 4.2 Ah LiFePO4 on Big Badja Trig.  The rock is to prevent the look book from taking off in the strong wind.

Dampier Mountain VK2/ST-007 Deua National Park

Currambene Creek crossing at Snowball

view from the passenger seat of Tony’s 4WD, water depth is about 50 cm just below the door seals

View from the east side of the creek

View from the east side of the creek.  Andrew VK1MBE approaching the ford crossing

Snowball to Dampier 12.5 km taking 40 minutes to drive

Snowball Road to Dampier GPS Track Log

Snowball Road to Dampier GPS Track Log.   Euranbene Mountain via Minuma Range fire trail is closed off to vehicle access, the fire trail has locked gates at both ends.

Dampier Track Profile

Dampier Track Profile

Dampier Mountain

Dampier Trig Station

Dampier Trig Station

Extract from VK1AD SOTA Activator Log:  21 August 2016 – Dampier Mountain

Lighthouse contact – Rob VK4AAC/3 operating portable from Cape Schanck Lighthouse AU-0012, Mornington Peninsula National Park

Time Call Band Mode Notes
03:43z VK4AAC/3 7MHz SSB Rob LH AU-0012 VKFF-0333 S59 R43
03:53z VK3CAT 7MHz SSB Tony S59 R59
03:54z VK3PF 7MHz SSB Peter S59 R59
03:55z VK3LED 7MHz SSB Col S59 R59
04:08z VK1VIC/2 144MHz FM Tony S59 R59

Middle Mountain is there for another day

Driving past Middle Mountain we had a good look at the terrain. Possible approaches to Middle Mountain summit VK2/ST-013 are shown on the map as waypoints 001, 002 and 003.  Waypoint 002 looked to be the best start point and clear of thick undergrowth.  No matter the start point this mountain is steep, check the contour lines.    The summit has been activated once by Rod VK2TWR, I wonder which route Rod took  😉

Middle Mountain

Route options to Middle Mountain summit VK2/ST-013

Notes from today’s SOTA / Lighthouse Triple Treat

Thanks to Tony VK1VIC for organising the day out and to Al and Andrew for the S2S points.  Great company and plenty of laughs with the guys from the VK1 SOTA crew.  🙂

Bald Mountain, Big Badja and Dampier SOTA 70cm activations
Radio: Yaesu FT-857D, UHF 70 cm frequencies 432.200 MHz SSB and 439.000 MHz FM
Power Level: up to 20 watts
Antenna: 7el 70cm yagi (see pic)
Distance to Canberra GPO (VK1):  82 km, 90 km and 93 km
RF Signal Interference (QRM) on the summit: Nil
Mobile phone service: Telstra 3G two signal bars
SOTA Alert: Yes
Date posted alert: 16 August 2016
Notice Period: 5 days
Outcome: No chaser contacts on 70 cm therefore no 70 cm qualification  (sad face)   😦
Duration to qualify on 70 cm:  Not applicable, didn’t qualify on 70 cm

My 2016 70cm challenge: qualified 22 from 27 summits activated

What’s next?   Weather permitting two VK1 border summits, a tough 12 km return walk to Boboyan Divide VK1/AC-019 and a very pleasant 4 km return walk to Pheasant Hill VK1/AC-021 most likely on the weekend 10/11 September 2016.  🙂

Reference / Links
VK1VIC  The Deua Push – Bald Mountain, Big Badja and Dampier 21 August 2016

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