SOTA – VK1AD portable 70cm update #24 – Mt Domain

Saturday 24 September 2016, planned SOTA activation of Mt Domain, 1506 metres ASL Namadgi National Park
Maidenhead Grid Locator QF44KM

I’m out with Al VK1RX, our focus for this SOTA activation is to have fun and for Al to pick up 9 activators points to pass through 1000 points for the SOTA Mountain Goat Award.    🙂

Previous SOTA activator:  One only, me!  That’s right, I was last on this summit on 15 June 2013 and no one from the VK1 SOTA troop has followed until now.

Mt Domain SOTA 70cm activation
Radio: Yaesu FT-817ND, UHF 70 cm frequency 432.200 MHz SSB and 439.00 MHz FM.  Anytone 70cm DMR, simplex frequency 439.01250 MHz
Power Level: 5 watts
Antenna: 70cm Slim-Jim
Distance to Canberra GPO (VK1):  32 km (20 miles) at 48 degrees
RF Signal Interference (QRM) on the summit: Nil
Mobile phone service: Telstra 4G four signal bars
SOTA Alert: Yes plus an email to club members
Date posted alert:  19 September 2016
Notice Period: 5 days
Outcome: I didn’t qualify on 70cm SSB but did qualify the peak with a mix of 70cm modes  🙂
Duration to qualify on 70 cm:  40 minutes to work 4 unique chasers, 3 DMR and 1 SSB

My 2016 70cm challenge: qualified 24 from 30 summits activated

Photos: © Copyright 2016 Andrew VK1AD

Where is Mt Domain?  Mt Domain is on the southern end of Tidbinbilla Range overlooking Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.  The 3 hour 6 km walk starts from the intersection of Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Road and Fishing Gap Fire Trails, BTW there are no fish at Fishing Gap, it’s a saddle between Mt Domain and High Range.  From the car park Fishing Gap is a 4 km walk taking one hour.  The average gradient over 4 km is 7.5%

After taking a rest at Fishing Gap we ventured in to the scrub heading north-east following a newly developed walking trail to spot height 1390 metres ASL.  This leg is 1.1 km taking 55 minutes with an average gradient of 24%, its bloody steep!

The last leg is 1.2 km taking 48 minutes with an average gradient of 10%, easier than that previous leg.

Mt Domain GPS track log overlay on Oz Topo

Mt Domain GPS track log overlay on Oz Topo

 

Mt Domain track overlay on Google Earth

Mt Domain track overlay on Google Earth

Track profile, as you can see from the profile the tough section is a 300 metre ascent over 1 km between 4 and 5 km.

Mt Domain track profile

Mt Domain track profile

Ascent data

Mt Domain ascent data

Mt Domain ascent data.  On a flat track the average person can walk 5.5 km in an hour.

Pictures of Mt Domain to help explain its position on Tidbinbilla Range.  This first photo is taken during a walk along Bullen Range VK1/AC-033 looking west.

view west Tidbinbilla Mountain VK1/AC-013 14 km

Mt Domain VK1/AC-020 on the horizon on the far left side of the photo.  In the center of the photo is Tidbinbilla Mountain VK1/AC-013

 

View of Mt Domain from Tidbinbilla Mountain

View of Mt Domain VK1/AC-020 from Tidbinbilla Mountain VK1/AC-013 looking south.  The dam to the right is Corin dam.  The view across the mountain peaks is the heart and beauty of Namadgi National Park.

Start of the trail from Tidbinbilla Reserve Road

Start of a 13 km return walk at Fishing Gap Fire Trail

Start of a 13 km return walk at Fishing Gap Fire Trail

Al completing the hikers register

Al completing the hikers safety register

at Fishing Gap 3.2 km from gate. From here the trail heads into the scrub

at Fishing Gap 4 km from gate. From here the trail heads north-east into the scrub (see next photo)  Don’t forget there are no fish at fishing gap, so leaving the fishing rod and reel at home.  The gap is a saddle between Mt Domain and High Range.

where are the fish?

where are the fish?

Leaving Fishing Gap heading north-east following a new walking trail (this trail was not cut in June 2013)

walking track starts out easy enough however the trail progressively harder

walking trail starts out easy enough however the trail gets progressively harder, seriously bloody hard!

from here the gradient changes to 30%

from here the gradient changes rapidly to 30% then 50%, that’s a 1 metre climb over 2 metres, I wasn’t joking around when I said this section is steep.

working our way through wattle regrowth, its exhausting work

working our way through wattle regrowth, it’s exhausting work   😦

you can just make out the trail looking through the regrowth

you can see a faint foot-pad trail from previous walkers, from here the trail is marked by tape markers hanging from tree branches often above head height.  It pays to look up!

200 metres to go, now on a narrow rock ledge leading to the summit

200 metres to go, with the worst of the regrowth is behind us, we found our way on to a narrow granite rock ledge leading to the summit cairn.

on the summit

on the summit, we made it, 2 hours and 48 minutes so happy to be here.  The Trig Station only 20 metres away is in the scrub among the eucalypt and wattle trees.

Al set up his Icom IC-706 as a HF station while I set up a Yeasu FT-817ND for QRP operation on 2m and 70cm.  As you can see in the photo my antenna choice is separate Slim-Jim vertical antennas for 2m and 70cm.   Once set up I handed the microphone to Al for his chance to work four local VK1 chasers on 2m 146.5 MHz FM leading to the SOTA Mountain Goat Award.  First chaser and S2S was Andrew VK1DA/p operating from Boboyan Range VK1/AC-044, 42 km south-east at 163 degrees.  Next in order were Conrad VK2TCC/m, Wedge VK1GP and for the fourth QSO Al worked Matt VK1MA to achieve 1004 SOTA activator points and the highly sought after SOTA Mountain Goat Award!  Al’s qualification gave rise to calls from nearby mountain goats, the ‘Call of the SOTA Goats!  We heard some strange QRP goat-like bleats emanating from the 817 speaker.  Congratulations Al VK1RX, VK1’s newest SOTA Goat.  🙂

After the excitement of making ‘Goat’ Al worked Tony VK2RI in Bowral 180 km north-east, that’s right 180 km from 5 watts output in to a 2m Slim-Jim antenna mounted 4 metres about the mountain peak at 1506 metres ASL.  Following the surprise of working Tony, Al finished the 2m session with a QSO with Mark VK1EM.

Al moved back to his HF station to work chasers on 40 and 20m.  I continued with my personal 2016 70cm challenge.  With today’s focus on local chasers working Al, there was no shortage on 70cm QSOs.  While my aim is to qualify each peak on 70cm SSB 432.2 MHz somehow I managed to qualify Mt Domain on 70cm digital DMR mode  🙂

VHF/UHF Summit to Summit (S2S) QSOs included Andrew VK1DA/p at Boboyan Range, Andrew VK1MBE/2 at Mt Cowangerong and Graham VK1GVC/p operating from Mt Ainslie.

With 2m and 7cm QSOs in the bag, I decide to have a little fun with the ‘Cute’ Diamond RHM8B HF telescopic whip. You can’t beat having a little fun with radio, after all AR is a hobby, sometimes it’s okay to ‘mess around’ and experiment with inefficient antennas from mountain tops.  With the whip secured to the FT-817 BNC socket I called CQ on 40m to work Glenn VK3YY Summit to Summit at Federation Range 350 km (217 miles) south-west, not bad considering the whip is only 1.7 metres (5.57 feet) long.  While I was working Glenn S2S I could hear Al chatting to Greg VK8GM in Alice Springs on 20m, remember Al is operating his Icom IC-706 in to a 1/2 wave Inverted V dipole.  Wouldn’t it be cool to work Gregg with the ‘Cute’ whip antenna?   BTW the ‘cute’ is not the so-called ‘Miracle Whip Antenna’ although like the miracle antenna I have to agree with the cynics, when it comes to making QSOs with the RHM8B it is a bloody miracle to work chasers on 40 and 20m.   🙂

I changed bands to 20m 14.315 MHz and tailed Al’s QSO with Greg.  I called Greg and to my surprise and more so Al’s, Greg responded with a 5-7 signal report to Alice Springs 1950 km (1211 miles) north-west at 308 degrees, got to be happy with 5-7 from 5 watts and a whip antenna.  Oh boy Andrew the establishment ‘AR purists’ will not be happy with you, fancy taking a risk like that?  Working VK8 with a grossly inefficient whip antenna against a very poor ground consisting of granite rocks and no trailing ground radial (counterpoise), shake your head in shame Andrew!  😮

Extract from VK1AD SOTA Activator Log:  10/11 September 2016 – Boboyan Divide

Time Call Band Mode Notes
00:52z VK1DA/P 144MHz FM Andrew S2S VK1/AC-044 S52 R54 146.5
01:08z VK1EM 433MHz DMR Mark S59 R59 DMR 439.0125
01:10z VK1MA 433MHz DMR Matt S59 R59 DMR
01:16z VK1MBE/P 433MHz SSB Andrew S2S VK1/AC-043 S59 R59 432.2
01:23z VK1MBE/P 144MHz SSB Andrew S2S VK1/AC-043 S59 R59 144.2
01:24z VK1MT 144MHz SSB Matt S59 R59 144.2
01:25z VK1MA 144MHz SSB Matt S59 R59 144.2
01:27z VK1GP 144MHz SSB Wedge S59 R59 144.2
01:30z VK1GVC 433MHz DMR Graham S2S VK1/AC-040 S59 R59 DMR
01:41z VK8GMT/1 433MHz DMR Matt S59 R59 DMR
01:43z VK1MA 433MHz SSB Matt S59 R59 432.2
01:54z VK3YY/P 7MHz SSB Glenn S2S VK3/VN-029 S51 R54 Cute Ant S2S
01:59z VK7ALH 7MHz SSB S58 R52 Cute whip antenna
02:02z VK1MBE/P 14MHz SSB Andrew S2S VK1/AC-043 S59 R59 14.310 cute Ant
02:03z VK1DA/P 14MHz SSB Andrew S2S VK1/AC-043 S58 R51 14.315 cute Ant
02:09z VK8GM 14MHz SSB Greg S58 R57 – Cute whip antenna

Tidbinbilla Mountain 3.5 km as the crow flies.  My last visit Dec 15, I must return to this amazing peak soon.

view north - Tidbinbilla Mountain VK1/AC-013

view north – Tidbinbilla Mountain VK1/AC-013

view east - looking down to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and further afield Canberra

view east – looking down across Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and further afield Canberra

Mt Domain Trig along a very narrow opening in the scrub. No room for antennas here!

Mt Domain Trig along a very narrow opening in the scrub. No room for antennas here!

Mt Domain rock Cairn

Mt Domain rock Cairn.  The photo shows steep slopes left and right of the Trig station

Leaving the summit - start of the descent through wattle regrowth

Leaving the summit – start of the descent through the nasty wattle regrowth, guided by tape markers.    😦

My SOTA VHF and UHF distance records
No 2m or 70cm distance records set today, however Al worked Tony VK2RI in Bowral on 146.5 MHz FM, that’s a signal path of 180 km!  Al was operating my FT-817ND at 5 watts feeding a 2m Slim-Jim antenna.  Go Slim-Jim!

Reference / Links

Mt Domain – 15 June 2013

SOTA Activations using the ‘Cute’ Diamond RHM8B antenna

Mt Taylor 14 November 2014

Mt Stromlo 22 November 2014

VK3YY July 2013

Next activation report – ?

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5 thoughts on “SOTA – VK1AD portable 70cm update #24 – Mt Domain

  1. Pingback: Mt Domain VK1/AC-020 – 15 June 2013 | Get out of the Radio Shack and Live Life

  2. Another excellent write-up Andrew (I’m a bit behind on WordPress catching up!). I really enjoy the mapping and statistics as much as the pictures and reports. Did you do a post in the past on your mapping equipment/software?

    Thanks again
    Chris
    VK4FR/VK5FR

    • Hi Chris, good question. No not specifically for mapping software or operating a portable GPS. What I have attempted to do is demonstrate the usability and effectiveness of both through my blog posts. I think you get the idea. I never really know if that level of detail is of interest to the readers? Clearly, some readers share a common interest with me.

      Andrew VK1AD

  3. Great post Andrew. I’m a new Ham and this is the best SOTA summary report I’ve ever read. I’m still learning the details of running my HT, but I just bought an 817ND and plan to learn how to run it over the cold winter months. I’m a backpacker and plan on lots of QRP in the near future. Also planning to pick up my General over the winter. Thanks for taking the time to post!

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