My one and only activation for Saturday 4th October, 2014, was Hallett Hill, VK5/ SE-003, which is located about 180 km north of Adelaide, and about 2 km north west of the little township of Mount Bryan, in the Mid North of South Australia.
Map courtesy of mapcarta.com
I got up early and after a hearty breakfast at the Commerical Hotel at Jamestown, I headed towards New Campbell Hill, VK5/ SE-007, which is situated on the edge of the Bundaleer Forest Reserve. However, much to my disappointment, there was a sign on the gate at Neindorf Road, stating that access was prohibited due to reforest operations. Bugger ! So I looked at possible alternatives and was lucky enough to make contact with the land owner of Hallett Hill. So south east I headed towards Mount Bryan.
Hallett Hill is an easy summit to access. It is located on private property, so please obtain permission from the land owner prior to entry. Details can be found on the SOTA site. I had activated this summit with Ian VK5CZ in July 2013, but it appears we entered the summit from the northern end via another land owner’s property. This time I travelled out along the Mokota Road, at the southern end of the Mount Bryan township. Upon reaching the T junction, turn left onto Collinsville Road. A few km up on your right you will reach a set of double gates with various signs on them including ‘High Voltage. Authorised personnel only. Keep out‘. This is where you access the summit. The dirt road will take you to the ridge line, where you need to travel north to the actual summit.
map courtesy of googlemaps.com
map courtesy of googlemaps.com
I used a wire fence and post to secure the 7 m squid pole, with some octopus straps. As this was the 2nd year anniversary of the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program) in South Australia, I had the SOTA flag flying proudly. And it was certainly flying! As expected, the wind was very strong on the top of the hill. After all, I was set up amongst a wind farm. Again, for this activation I ran the Yaesu FT-817nd and 5 watts and the linked dipole.
I propped on 7.090 on 40 m and called CQ and this was responded to immediately by Larry VK5LY with a very strong 5/9 plus signal from The Riverland. This was followed by SOTA stalwart, Peter VK3FPSR, Adam VK2YK, and then the ever reliable Col VK5HCF at Mount Gambier. A steady flow of callers from VK2, VK3, and VK5 followed. The band appeared to be very good, with excellent signals coming in from both locally and the eastern states. And I was receiving good signals back from as far afield as New South Wales, with my 5 watts.
Sadly, there was a large amount of noise on 40m, most likely generated by the wind turbines. It was about a strength 3 at times, and was a really annoying squealing sound. So any low signals were quite difficult to copy, if not impossible.
I managed two summit to summit contacts on 40m prior to the UTC rollover. That was with Mark VK3ASC who was portable on Mount Elliot, VK3/ VE-151. Mark had a good 5/7 signal, and he reciprocated with a 5/8 signal report for me. A few contacts later, I was called by Peter VK3PF who was portable on Mount Hooghly, VK3/ VT-049. Peter was very low down (5/2), but fortunately at the time he called, the noise being generated by the wind turbines was low and we were able to make the contact.
After working a total of 26 stations on 40m SSB, I QSYd to 14.310 on 20m SSB and started calling CQ. My first contact on 20m was with Mike VK6MB, who was a little weak (5/3). I received a 4/3 signal report from Mike in Perth. Not bad really, considering the distance is nearly 2,600 km. This was followed by Ian VK1DI, VK7LTD, Matt VK1MA, Ian VK5CZ and Lee VK2LEE. All had good strong signals. I remained on 20m for the UTC rollover and worked a further 10 stations. This included a summit to summit contact with Peter VK3PF on Mount Hooghly, VK3/ VT-049.
I then moved back to 40m to give the SOTA chasers on 40m a chance to pick up another 4 points. First taker there again was Larry VK5LY, followed by Tony VK3CAT and then Nigel VK5NIG. I went on to work a total of 31 stations on 40m SSB after the UTC rollover.
This included a few summit to summit contacts. The first being with Mitch VK3XDM who was portable on Mount Rosea, VK3/ VW-003. Mitch’s signal was a good solid 5/7 and I received a 5/8 report from Mitch. Immediately following this, Glen VK3YY called in from Mount Ritchie, VK3/ VC-003 (5/5 both ways). I then spoke with Rob VK2QR who was portable on Mount Jackson, VK2/ SW-003. As always, Rob had a good signal (5/7 both ways). My final summit to summit contact on 40m SSB was with Andrew VK1NAM/2 who was portable on Baldy Range, VK2/ ST-008. Andrew as an excellent 5/8 signal and I received a 5/9 signal report from Andrew.
I had been patiently waiting for Paul VK1ATP/7 who was on SOTA peak, VK7/ NE-003, to come up on 20m. I had heard him talking with Andrew VK1NAM on 40m, but sadly, due to the wind turbine noise, he was just too weak to work. Just before I was about to pack up, the SOTA Goat app bleated on my i-phone, and it was a spot for Paul on 14.310. I had already lowered the squid pole, and removed the crocodile clips in anticipation. Paul was a beautiful 5/4 signal coming in, and I was fortunate enough to make my first ever VK7 SOTA contact. And a summit to summit to boot. I was very happy.
After about 90 minutes on the hill, it was time to pack up and head off. I had a total of 73 contacts on 40m SSB and 20m SSB in the log.
The following stations were worked:-