Talk at Elizabeth ARC

Last night (Wednesday 3rd December, 2014) I headed up the Elizabeth Amateur Radio Club to deliver a presentation on the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program.  The talk was attended by about 15 members of the club who showed a keen interest in the SOTA program. vk5lz2 The presentation including all aspects of SOTA, including its history, how summits qualify for SOTA, some operating tips, and favoured equipment used.  I also brought along my Yaesu FT-817, linked dipole, some SOTA awards, and my Shack Sloth trophy.

There were a few park activators present, who hopefully now will give SOTA a crack here in VK5.  One fella is travelling to Europe soon, and showed a keen interest in activating some summits whilst there on holidays.

Thanks to Allen VK5MAK for asking me to talk to the group.

Monarto Conservation Park

On Tuesday night (2nd December 2014) I arrived home from work to find no internet coverage from my ISP and then no power.  So I packed up the radio gear and headed for the Monarto Conservation Park, which is about 65 km east of Adelaide.

Screenshot 2014-12-04 22.23.54

Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

I have activated the Monarto Conservation Park previously (on 2 occasions).  Please have a look at my previous posts for more information on those activations, and also for information on the park itself.

https://vk5pas.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/monarto-conservation-park/

https://vk5pas.wordpress.com/2014/05/18/monarto-conservation-park-2/

I set up in the same spot as the last 2 occasions, which was the carpark on the eastern side of the park.  There is plenty of room here to string out a dipole, and stay out of the bush and of course all of the associated nasties that like living in the bush and come out on hot evenings (which this was).  I set up my fold up table and deck chair, and the Yaesu FT450, 40 watts and the 40m/20m linked dipole.

Screenshot 2014-12-04 22.23.34

Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

It was a warm evening, but there were showers coming in from the west and there was lots of storm activity.  So the static crashes on 40m were S9 plus at times.  I placed a CQ call on 7.095 and was immediately greeted by Andrew VK2UH who had a great 5/9 signal coming in from New South Wales.  Andrew was defeating the static crashes without any problems.  After a bit of a chinwag with Andrew I was called by regular park hunter, Tom VK5EE in Mount Gambier, and then Damien VK5FDEC running 10 watts from his new Yaesu FT857.  My fourth contact was Rob VK4FFAB.  It was a struggle to get Rob’s call but we got there in the end.  Rob was a 3/4, simply because of the static crashes.  If they were not there, I would have received Rob perfectly, as there was certainly no man made noise in the park.  Thanks for your perseverance Rob.

I had a steady flow of callers during the 90 minutes that I was set up in the park.  The band was in very good condition and it was a real shame about the static crashes.  I had callers from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, and VK7.  Almost all of the States and Territories were represented.

And here is where all the noise was coming from…..

Screenshot 2014-12-02 23.07.26

Image courtesy of http://www.weatherzone.com.au

Screenshot 2014-12-02 23.08.47

Image courtesy of http://www.weatherzone.com.au

Fortunately the rain stayed away.  I had a few light sprinkles, but it remained a very warm evening.  By the time I packed up at about 8.15 p.m. the sun was setting and I was rewarded with a spectacular sunset.  And I was still in a t-shirt.

The signals coming in from VK5 during this activation were outstanding.  Peter VK5NAQ, Charlie VK5KDK, Hans VK5YX, Nev VK5WG, John VK5FMJC, Ian VK5IS, Arno VK5ZAR, and Roger VK5NWE were all 20/9 to 30/9 in signal strength.

A few QRP callers gave me a shout.  They were Kevin VK7HKN running 5 watts from his Yaesu FT-817, and Eric VK3FMSC also running 5 watts.  And Ken VK3TKQ who was mobile at Mount Evelyn, had a beautiful 5/9 signal into Monarto.

But the strongest signal of the activation was reserved for Roger VK4YB near Caboolture in Queensland.  Roger was 40/9 to me, and his 2 element beam was working an absolute treat. What a signal!

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This was a very enjoyable activation despite the QRN.  It is very evident from this activation and other evening activations that I have done, that the 40m band opens up beautifully to all parts of Australia at this time.  So why not try an evening park activation and work all of Australia.

I had a total of 28 contacts during this activation.

The following stations were worked:-

  1. Andrew VK2UH
  2. Tom VK5EE
  3. Damien VK5FDEC
  4. Rob VK4FFAB
  5. Ken VK3TKQ/m
  6. Peter VK5NAQ
  7. Lee VK2LEE
  8. Kevin VK7HKN
  9. Charlie VK5KDK
  10. Greg VK7FGGT
  11. Hans VK5YX
  12. Ian VK3AXF
  13. Nick VK2DX
  14. Nev VK5WG
  15. Andrew VK1NAM
  16. Mark VK7MK
  17. Ian VK3FIAN
  18. John VK5FMJC
  19. Ian VK5IS
  20. Roger VK4YB
  21. Col VK5FCDL
  22. Arno VK5ZAR
  23. Phil VK3BHR
  24. Ian VK5CZ
  25. Eric VK3FMSC
  26. Jess VK6JES
  27. Roger VK5NWE
  28. Nick VK3FCCK

Coorong National Park, VKFF-115

On Sunday, 23rd November, 2014, with my wife Marija, I headed down to the Coorong National Park, VKFF-115.  It was a beautiful warm day, and we had just bought ourselves a new Toyota Hi Lux, so it was a a couple of great reasons to go for a drive.

Screenshot 2014-12-04 18.18.23

Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

I have activated the Coorong National Park a number of times previously.  This is a spectacular part of South Australia which stretched for more than 130 km and protects a string of salt water lagoons which are sheltered from the Southern Ocean by the sweeping sand dunes of the Younghusband Peninsula.  The Coorong is a wetland of international signficance. For more information on the Coorong National Park, please have a look at…..

http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/Browse_by_region/Limestone_Coast/Coorong_National_Park

Rather than travelling along the South Eastern Freeway and the Dukes Highway, we headed out along the Wellington Road from home, and down through the beautiful wine growing region of Langhorne Creek, and then on to the little town of Wellington on the River Murray.  There, we put the 4WD onto the ferry and travelled over the Murray and then on to Meningie on the banks of Lake Albert.  From Meningie we continued south east along the Princes Highway.

Initially, we drove along 400 Mile Road and down to the Coorong.  However, as it was a warm day and there was no immediate shade at that location, we decided to turn around and head for Parnka Point, where I have operated from a number of times before.  I knew that there were shelters at Parnka Point, where I could set up out of the sun.

Screenshot 2014-12-04 18.18.55

Map courtesy of mapcarta.com

My first contact was with Rod VK5VRB at Meadows in the Adelaide Hills with a very strong 5/9 signal.  This was followed by SOTA guru (and recently converted parks hunter) Andrew VK1NAM, Hans VK5YX running 5 watts from his home brew MFJ transceiver, and Ian VK3AXH.  I went on to work a number of stations in VK3 & VK5.

After working a total of 15 stations on 40m, I ventured over to 20m, where I put out a number of CQ calls on the nominated World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) frequency of 14.244, but had no takers.  It was still only 3.00 p.m. and a little too early for the 20m band to be open long path to Europe.  A quick tune around the 20m band confirmed this, with very little activity heard.  I did hear Anatoly RZ3ZM calling CQ on 14.228 and gave him a call and received a 5/5 signal report from Russia with my 40 watts.

I then went up to 14.310 and asked if the frequency was in use, and was advised by  Adam VK2YK that Bob VK5FO was on the frequency on a SOTA summit.  I could not hear a peep out of Bob, despite the fact that he was just 150 km away.  So I went down to 14.305 and was soon called by Adam VK2YK with a very strong 5/9 signal.  This was followed by VK7EB/p.  I started calling CQ again, but sadly some stations came up on 14.303 speaking German, and that was the end of that.  I was forced to QSY due to the bleedover.  So I tuned across the band and found John EA7BA in QSO with some of my mates including Brian ZL2ASH.  I gave John a call in Almeria in Spain and he gave me a 5/9 signal report.  Brian ZL2ASH in Wellington gave me a 5/6 signal report and Tony F5VBY gave me a 5/8 signal report from France.

I then tuned across the band and found 14.252 clear so I called CQ and this was responded to my Allan VK6APP.  Allan was struggling with me and I was certainly struggling with Allan.  Sadly his modulation was very distorted, and it was a difficult QSO.  A number of subsequent CQ calls went unanswered.

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I then worked a special event call YO555BU.  I then went to 14.252 and called CQ again, and this time I had a steady flow of callers from Europe.  My first contact was with Max IK1GPG, followed by Zenek SP5INQ, and then UA9LT.  I went on to work a total of 15 stations from Europe, but the Yaesu FT-450 kept cutting out as the 44 amp hour power pack was getting low.  I am sorry to the European stations that were still calling when I went QRT.

After a total time of 2 hours in the park, I had 38 contacts in the log.  We packed up the gear and headed for us.  This time taking the Princes Highway to Tailem Bend and then back along the South Eastern Freeway.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. Rod VK5VRB
  2. Andrew VK1NAM
  3. Hans VK5YX
  4. Ian VK3AXH
  5. David VK5NQP
  6. Tony VK3CAT
  7. Nigel VK5NIG
  8. Brian VK5FMID
  9. Peter  VK3ZPF
  10. Bill VK5MBD
  11. Ian VK5CZ
  12. David VK5KC
  13. Ian VK3VIN
  14. Tom VK5EE
  15. Keith VK5ND

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. Anatoly RZ3ZM
  2. Adam VK2YK
  3. K7EB/p
  4. John EA7BA
  5. Brian ZL2ASH
  6. Tony F5VBY
  7. Allan VK6APP
  8. YO5SBU
  9. Max IK1GPG
  10. SP5INQ
  11. UA9LT
  12. Luciano I5FLN
  13. Marnix OP7M
  14. DF1YQ
  15. I5JFG
  16. G0KIK
  17. RA3PCI
  18. HA6OB
  19. IZ2IHO
  20. DL1EKO
  21. UR7ET
  22. UT5PI