SOTA – 23 cm action at Bald Mountain and Big Badja

Saturday 8 July 2017. Thee enthusiastic SOTA activators Andrew VK1MBE, Al VK1RX and myself have plans to activate three summits Bald Mountain, Big Badja Hill and Dampier in the Gourock and Deua National Parks, 2.5 hours south-east of Canberra.

Our plan is to rotate two SOTA stations between Bald Mountain VK2/SM-052 and Big Badja Hill VK2/SM-059 then take a convoy of two vehicles over to Dampier VK2/ST-007, 45 minutes south-east of Big Badja.

Left home at 6:30 am with Andrew VK1MBE, we met Al VK1RX 15 minutes later on the Monaro Hwy east of Calwell township.  Travel time to Bald Mountain is 2 hours.  Fastest route from Canberra is via the Monaro Hwy south to Bredbo. At Bredbo leave the Monaro Hwy and head east on Jerangle Road to Anembo.  At Anembo turn right on to Anembo Road and head south to intersect Slap Up Firetrail.  Follow Slap Up Firetrail to the summit of Bald Mountain.  Slap Up Firetrail passes directly over the summit.   One alternate route is via Cooma and Numeralla taking an extra 30 minutes.

Andrew VK1MBE and I set up at Bald Mountain while Al continued along Slap Up Firetrail to Big Badja Firetrail.  Al established his station at Big Badja for S2S contacts with Andrew and I plus Tony VK1VIC at Mt Cowangerong, Captains Flat Wx Radar installation.  Al at Big Badja, Andrew and I at Bald Mountain worked Rod VK2TWR at Nimmitabel on 23 cm for 5-9 reports each way, not bad for 2.5 watts output!   For Al and Andrew this event was their first shot at a 23cm SOTA activation.  We were grateful for Rod joining us on 23cm, thanks Rod.  πŸ™‚

23cm action from Bald Mountain VK2/SM-052 at 1469 metres ASL, Grid Locator QF44SB

on the summit of Bald Mountain – 12el yagi beaming north-west to work VK1KW in Canberra over a 94 km path

I completed three 23cm QSOs including Rob VK1KW, Rod VK2TWR and Al VK1RX for a 23cm S2S QSO between Bald Mountain and Big Badja.  Tony VK1VIC/2 checked in for a 2m HT S2S QSO on 146.5 FM from Mt Cowangerong, 32 km north of Bald Mountain. Meanwhile Andrew worked one chaser Nev VK5WG on 40m. 40m band conditions were so bad Andrew was forced to set up his 80m antenna extensions.  If not for 80m, we wouldn’t have qualified before UTC midnight  πŸ™‚

Extract of VK1AD SOTA Activator Log: 7 July 2017 Bald Mountain

Time Call Band Mode Notes
23:15z VK1KW 1240MHz SSB %QRA%QF44MT% Rob s51 r51 1296.150 94 km
23:23z VK2TWR 1240MHz SSB %QRA%QF43PL% Rod s59 r58 1296.150 70 km
23:33z VK1RX/2 1240MHz SSB Al s59 r59 S2S VK2/SM-059 1296.150
23:47z VK2IO 3.5MHz SSB Gerard s59 r35, summit qualified
23:49z VK1MA 3.5MHz SSB Matt s59 r59
00:02z VK1RX/2 1240MHz SSB Al s59 r59 S2S VK2/SM-059 1296.150
00:13z VK1VIC/2 144MHz FM Tony s53 r51 S2S VK2/ST-001 146.5 2m HT 32 km

After 1 hour at Bald Mountain Andrew and I moved to Big Badja Hill.  En route we met Al halfway for a short break and a hot brew. Although the sun was visible through scattered clouds the feels-like temperature at 1400 metre ASL was closer to zero degrees C brrr.  Two layers of warm jackets, beanies (head and ear warmers) and glovers were the order of the day.  Yep the local temp was bloody cold!  πŸ˜‰

23cm action from Big Badja VK2/SM-059 at 1362 metres ASL, Grid Locator QF43SX

Andrew VK1MBE operating on HF 80m 3.605 MHz.  Antenna apex is a short 6 metres.

VK1MBE operating on 80m SSB

At Big Badja my best 23cm SSB contact for the day was a short QSO with Dave VK2JDS 322 km north near the townships of Orange and Bathurst NSW. The signal had a recognisable audible flutter, a characteristic of multi-path aircraft enhancement.  Midway along the 23cm signal path are the main Melbourne-Sydney and Sydney-Canberra commercial flight path corridors.

Extract of VK1AD SOTA Activator Log: 8 July 2017 Big Badja

Time Call Band Mode Notes
01:28z VK2TWR 1240MHz SSB %QRA%QF43PL%Rod s59 r59 1296.150 70 km
01:35z VK1RX/2 1240MHz SSB Al s59 r59 S2S VK2/SM-059 1296.150 8 km
01:36z VK1RX/2 1240MHz SSB Al s59 r59 S2S VK2/SM-059 1296.150 8 km
01:57z VK1VIC/2 144MHz FM Tony s57 r57 S2S VK2/ST-001 39 km using 2m HT
02:28z VK1MA 3.5MHz SSB Matt s59 r59
02:53z VK2JDS/P 1240MHz SSB %QRA%QF46PV% Dave s51 r51 1296.150 322 km

FT-817 IF 144.150 MHz SSB feeding a SG-Lab 23 cm transverter for output on 1296.150 MHz

23cm yagi beaming north to work VK2JDS over a 322 km path

Homebrew 23 cm 12el Yagi

three 23cm 1296.150 MHz SSB contacts, VK2JDS 322 km, VK1KW 94 km and VK2TWR 70 km

8 July 2017 – 23cm 1296 MHz SSB contacts

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