Presentation at the North East Radio Club

Last night (Friday 8th February 2019), Marija VK5FMAZ and I attended at the clubrooms of the North East Radio Club, and delivered a presentation entitled ‘Having fun in the field’.

We spoke about the WWFF program, the VK5 Parks Award, equipment used, and some operating tips for both activators and hunters.

We also had an amount of gear on display, including awards, transceivers, antennas, portable power supplies, and other sundry equipment.

Many thanks to Tony VK5FBIC who organised our attendance, and many thanks to the members of NERC who attended.

The photos below are courtesy of Stuart VK5STU.

Nurragi Conservation Reserve VKFF-2247

On Saturday 26th January 2019, we celebrated Australia Day, the official National Day of Australia.  It marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson in New South Wales.  It is also one of only three days of the year when Australian amateur radio operators can replace the regular VK prefix with AX.

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I arrived home from a day at work at about 5.30 p.m. local time, and with the help of Marija, packed the car and headed south to the Nurragi Conservation Reserve VKFF-2247.  The park is located about 67 km south east of the city of Adelaide. 

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Above: Map showing the location of the Nurragi Conservation Park, south east of Adelaide.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

I have activated Nurragi twice before, back in August and September 2017, and have well and truly qualified the park for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  For info on those previous activations, and some interesting history on the park, please see my previous posts……. 

https://vk5pas.org/2017/08/14/nurragi-conservation-reserve-vkff-2247/

https://vk5pas.org/2017/09/30/nurragi-conservation-reserve-vkff-2247-2/

Nurragi is an aboriginal word for scrub.  Nurragi is a heritage listed reserve which was dedicated in 1991 by the Minister of Lands dedicated the area as a Nature Conservation and Plantation Reserve under the Crown Lands Act 1929.  A Heritage Agreement has since been established under the Native Vegetation Act 1991.  

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Above:- The Nurragi Conservation Reserve.  Image c/o Friends of Nurragi Association

The park is under the control of the Friends of Nurragi Association, which was established in 1988, and includes representatives of the local Alexandrina Council, Strathalbyn Naturalists, the National Trust of South Australia, and other members of the community.

There are no facilities in the park, however there are a number of information boards, courtesy of the Friends of Nurragi.

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The Nurragi Conservation Reserve has been established to protect the remnant vegetation along the former rail line, and to re-establish flora indigenous to the original Milang Scrub which originally extended from Belvidere in the north to Point Sturt in the south and Finniss to the west.  Today, less than 2% of that vegetation now exists.  The reserve is completely surrounded by land which has been cleared for farming.

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The reserve is 65 hectares in size, and is the remains of a 14 km railway line which operated between Sandegrove and Milang from around 1884 until 1970.  The line linked the river port of Milang to the railway network to the city of Adelaide via Sandegrove and Strathalbyn.  The only siding on this section of the railway line was at Nurragi.  For several years, the reserve terminated at Landseer Road on the outskirts of Milang but in 2001 a further section was dedicated, completing the link through to Milang and Lake Alexandrina.

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Above:- Last day of passenger service to Milang 30/11/68.  Image courtesy of Friends of Nurragi

More than 300 species of Australian native plants can be found in the reserve.  Of those, 67 are of particular conservation significance.  

Various native mammals call the reserve home including Western Grey kangaroos and Brush-Tailed possums.  Birds SA have recorded about 97 species of birds in the reserve including Peaceful Dove, Weebill, Australian Magpie, Little Raven, Grey Shrikethrush, Diamond Firetail, Southern Boobook, Red-capped Robin, Hooded Robin, and Rufous Whistler.

After leaving the town of Strathalbyn, I travelled south on Dry Plains Road, and then turned left onto Nurragi Road.  I set up on the northern side of Nurragi Road.  I ran the Yaesu FT-897, 40 watts, and the 20/40/80m linked dipole for this activation.

I was set up and ready to go by about 6.10 p.m. local time.  Sadly when I turned on the transceiver, I found that the 40m band was very noisy, with static crashes reaching strength 9.  It was the product of a lot of storm activity around Australia.  The temperature in the park was a very pleasant 23 degrees C.  This was off the back of a very hot 46 deg C day the previous day.

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Above:- My operating spot in the park.

First in the log was my good wife, Marija VK5FMAZ, who had seen my self spot on parksnpeaks.  This was followed by Daniel AX4FOMP, who had recently sent me an email expressing his interest in getting involved in the WWFF program.  Next was Nick VK3ANL/AX3ANL, and then Andrew VK2PEZ/VK2ZEP.

Unfortunately the static crashes were loud and I’m sure this affected the number of callers.  The band conditions appeared to be quite good, with good strong signals, from particularly Queensland and Tasmania.  But those static crashes were loud.

I logged a total of 21 stations on 40m, before lowering the squid pole and inserting the 80m legs.  I called CQ on 3.610 and this was answered by Peter VK3ZPF/p who was activating the Sassafras Creek Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2187.  It is always nice to get a Park to Park contact in the log.  This was followed by Les VK5KLV.  It was a bit of a struggle to log Les, as his signal was quite low down amongst the static crashes, but we made it.  I logged a further 5 stations on 80m, before heading off to the 20m band.

I called CQ on 14.310 for a few minutes, with no takers, and then all of a sudden Rob VK4SYD came up with a strong 5/8 signal.  We exchanged signal reports and pleasantries just in time, as not long after we had finished our contact, up came the Over the Horizon Radar, which was over strength 9.  It virtually wiped out the 20m band.

I moved back to 40m, which had become quite busy now, with signals starting to come in from North America.  I called CQ on 7.148 and this was answered by Chuck VK2SS/p, followed by Lee AX2LEE, and then Andrew VK2AC.  I logged a further 8 stations on 40m, before a WB2 station came up on frequency and started calling CQ.  Unfortunately he was unable to hear me.

So to complete the activation I headed back down to the 80m band, where I logged 3 stations, Rob VK4SYD (3rd band worked), Scott VK4CZ, and Andrei ZL1TM in New Zealand.  

After 2 hours in the reserve, it was time to pack up and head home for some late dinner.  I had exactly 44 QSOs in the log.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5FMAZ
  2. AX4FOMP
  3. VK3ANL
  4. AX3ANL
  5. VK2PEZ
  6. VK2ZEP
  7. VK4CZ
  8. VK3PF
  9. VK7JON
  10. VK4SYD
  11. VK4SMA
  12. AX4SMA
  13. VK4PDX
  14. VK2PKT
  15. VK4TJ
  16. VK1HW
  17. AX4MU
  18. VK4MU
  19. VK2TUO
  20. AX4HNS
  21. VK2HMV
  22. VK2XXM
  23. AX2SS/p
  24. AX2LEE
  25. VK2AC
  26. AX4FARR
  27. VK2WQ
  28. VK4MWB
  29. VK4DI
  30. VK7PSJ
  31. VK2AD
  32. VK2RR
  33. VK7GH

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. AX3ZPF/p (Sassafras Creek Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2187)
  2. VK5KLV
  3. VK3PF
  4. VK3ARH
  5. VK5FMAZ
  6. AX5FANA
  7. VK5PL
  8. VK4SYD
  9. VK4CZ
  10. ZL1TM

I worked the following station on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4SYD

 

 

References.

Birds SA, 2019, <https://birdssa.asn.au/location/nurragi-conservation-reserve/>, viewed 28th January 2019

National Trust, 2019, <https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/places/nurragi-conservation-reserve/>, viewed 28th January 2019

Walking SA, 2019, <https://www.walkingsa.org.au/walk/find-a-place-to-walk/nurragi-conservation-reserve-walking-trail/>, viewed 28th January 2019

Wikipedia, 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia_Day>, viewed 28th January 2019

An evening of short wave listening

A few weeks ago, my wife Marija bought me a Tecsun S-2000 short wave receiver and antenna/s for my birthday.  So on Saturday night, for the first time in a long long time, I gave broadcast short wave listening a go.

In a couple of hours of listening, I logged the following stations:-

  • Radio New Zealand, NEW ZEALAND
  • China Radio International, CHINA
  • Voice of Vietnam, VIETNAM
  • National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) Madang, PAPUA NEW GUINEA
  • Reach Beyond Australia, AUSTRALIA
  • Radio Romania International, ROMANIA

My receiver is a Tecsun S-2000.  It covers AM, FM, shortwave, longwave and VHF Air Band broadcasts.

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Here is a review of the Tecsun S-2000 by PCJ Radio Network Plus.

My antenna is a Tecsun Shortwave and AM Outdoor Antenna covering 0.5-30 MHz.  It is based on a longwire antenna design but provides significantly improved reception over a longwire because the the Tecsun Shortwave and AM Outdoor Antenna utilises a matching transformer that acts as a balun with a ratio of 10:1.  At the moment the antenna is in a temporary position, just 1.5 metres off the ground (and that is being kind…probably less).  But it does the job.

I have attached below some info and video on the stations I logged.

Radio New Zealand.

I tuned in to Radio New Zealand on 9765 khz.  This was a broadcast to the Pacific, and not surprising, the signal was strong.  Radio New Zealand was launched in 1948.  Radio New Zealand broadcasts to its neighbouring countries in the Pacific from transmitters located at Rangitaiki, near Taupo, in the North Island.

China Radio International.

I also tuned in to China Radio International on 15210 khz.  China Radio International (CRI) is the broadcaster for the Peoples Republic of China.  It was founded in 1941 as Radio Peking.

Voice of Vietnam.

Next was the Voice of Vietnam 0n 9840 khz.  It is the national radio broadcaster of Socialist Republic of Vietnam.  The first Vietnamese-language radio transmission was made on 2 September 1945, when the President Ho Chi Minh read out the Declaration of Independence.  Prior to 1945, the Vietnamese were banned from owning radio receivers, and broadcasting was under control of the French colonial government, which established the first radio station in Vietnam, Radio Saigon, in the late 1920s.

National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) Madang, PAPUA NEW GUINEA.

I then tuned in to the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) in Madang in PAPUA NEW GUINEA.  Madang is the capital of Madang Province and is a town with a population of 27,420 on the north coast of Papua New Guinea.  The NBC is Papua New Guinea’s state owned broadcaster.  Its head office is in Boroko, Port Moresby, and has approximately 20 locations around the country.

Reach Beyond Australia.

I then tuned in to Reach Beyond Australia on 11865 khz.  This station was previously known as HCJB Australia.  Since 2003, it has been broadcasting from Kununurra in far North West Australia using short wave radio.  The station now broadcasts programs in 29 languages, including 17 South Asia languages.

Radio Romania International.

My final broadcast station for the evening was Radio Romania International on  15460 khz.  Radio Romania International is owned by the Romanian public radio broadcaster Societatea Română de Radiodifuziune (SRR, the national public radio in Romania) that broadcasts abroad. Prior to 1989, the station was known as Radio Bucharest.

I also had a look to see what the receiver’s SSB capabilities were like.  I recorded a little snippet of a QSO between Mike VK2BXE and David HC5DX in Ecuador, and Otap YB7TUU in Indonesia.

Overall I had a lot of fun.  I really had not done any broadcast listening on short wave since the 1980’s.  I was also quite pleased with the receiver’s performance and that of the antenna, which currently is very low to the ground.

 

Some VKFF stats

It is so pleasing to see so many amateurs enjoying the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program here in Australia.  The program has been steadily increasing popularity since its inception in Australia in March 2013.

The graph below shows the steady increase in the total number of activations per year.  In 2013, a total of 171 VKFF activations were undertaken.  This had increased to 1,582 activations in 2018.

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The graph below shows the increase in number of QSOs logged by the activators.  In 2013, activators logged a total of 4,085 contacts.  In 2018, this had increased to 58.505.

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The graph below shows the growth in the number of VKFF activators who have taken part since 2013.  In our first year, a total of 18 activators took part in the VKFF program.  By 2016 this had increased to 86 activators.  It fell off slightly in 2017, back down to 74.  But by 2018, there had been an increase to 87 activators.

Number of VKFF activators.png

The graph below shows the stats for the Top VKFF Hunter.  An award is issued each year to the amateur who logs the most unique VKFF references.  In 2013, the Top VKFF Hunter, worked a total of 39 different VKFF references.  By 2018 this had increased to 894 VKFF references.

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The graph below shows the stats for the Top VKFF Activator.  An award is issued each year to the amateur who activates the most unique VKFF references.  In 2013, the Top VKFF Activator, activated a total of 25 different VKFF references.  By 2018 this had increased to 139 VKFF references.

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I would like to thank all hunters and activators who have taken part in the VKFF program since its inception in 2013.  I hope that everyone has enjoyed themselves along the way, and I hope to see the popularity of the program increase even more in the coming years.