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
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.
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.
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.
Start of the trail from Tidbinbilla Reserve Road
Leaving Fishing Gap heading north-east following a new walking trail (this trail was not cut in June 2013)
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
|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.
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
SOTA Activations using the ‘Cute’ Diamond RHM8B antenna
Next activation report – ?