NEW SOTA Challenge for 2015/2016

A few days ago the latest Summits on the Air (SOTA) Challenge was announced.  The previous challenge period 2013/2014 was the 12 m band.  In 2015/2016, the official SOTA challenge will be to make contacts on 6m and 10m.


See below for the rules which are similar for chasers and activators……

For every unique summit you chase on 10m or 6m you get a multiplier.
For every unique activator chased you get 1 chaser challenge point.
Your final score is chaser challenge points * multipliers.

For every unique summit you activate on 10m or 6m you get a multiplier.
For every unique chaser worked you get 1 activator challenge point.
Your final score is activator challenge points * multipliers.

Duration: The challenge runs for 6months in total split into two separate 3 month periods. Each period coincides with the Sporadic E season in either the Northern or Southern Hemispheres. The first period runs from 15th May 2015 to 14th August 2015. The second period runs from 15th November 2015 to 14th February 2016. No matter where you live, you can operate in both periods but during 1 period your chances of make contacts are massively improved.

Certificates:  There will be certificates for the top chaser and activator.  There will be certificates for best chaser and activator on an association by association basis as well.  The final number of certificates awarded will be based on the activity levels.


1. The dates for the Southern SpE window are subject to adjustment.  It will be 3 months but the start and stop date may move to ensure we align with the peak SpE period.
2. We are aware that 6m may not be generally available in some countries. In that case you only need activate on 10m and your score will only be compared against other’s10m scores.

More information can be found on the SOTA reflector at…..

WWFF Activator certificate & DXFF Activator certificate

Thanks to Pit, YO3JW, I received the following World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program certificates yesterday via e-mail…..

WWFF Activator certificate

This certificate verifies that I have activated at least 11 x WWFF reference areas (and obtained the required 44 contacts in each).

WWFF DXFF Activator certificate

This certificate verifies that I have activated 3 x references in 3 x different DXCC countries: Australia, Germany, & Belgium (from my recent trip to Europe).  When I go overseas again, I will try to activate some more WWFF parks in some different countries.

A 11 VK5PAS 2014 055

DXFF A3 VK5PAS 2014 025


I love getting out to the parks as most know.  I enjoy the fresh air, and the bushwalking aspect, as well as the radio.  One of my other interests whilst in the parks is birdwatching.  Of the feathered kind!  In any event, most of the parks I visit, aren’t frequented by the other type of ‘bird’.  Other than my wife occasionally.

When I was a little fella, my father bred finches and parrots, and that is where my interest started.  My first ever bird book was called Australian Birds, written by Robin Hill, that was released in 1967.  Mum and Dad bought me this book when I was about 5 years old, and I still have it to this day.


Anyway, back on track.  I joined the birdlife AUSTRALIA supporter network, and I now receive an electronic newsletter from birdlife AUSTRALIA.  It is well worth subscribing to.


The birdlife AUSTRALIA wesbite can be found at…..

There is some fantastic information there and it is well worth a look.

I also registered at BIRDS in BACKYARDS, and I receive an electronic newsletter from them also.  Their website can be found at…..

Screenshot 2014-12-07 22.47.04

There is some terrific information on their website also.

So there you go.  If you are interested in bird watching like me, you may want to have a look at birdlife AUSTRALIA and BIRDS in BACKYARDS.




Ridley Conservation Park

Following my activation at the Swan Reach Conservation Park, I headed towards Swan Reach township, and then travelled down to the Ridley Conservation Park (CP), which is located about 124 km north east of Adelaide, and about 13 km south of the town of Swan Reach on the River Murray.

Screenshot 2014-12-07 13.38.22

Map courtesy of

The Ridley CP is located on the western side of the Mannum-Swan Reach Road (Murraylands Road).  It is a long narrow park, 10 km x 0.4 km, and covers an area of about 414.3 hectares.  The southern boundary of the park is on the edge of the valley of the River Marne.  This is the location of Hayward’s Hill, which is the highest point in the park.  About 35 % of the park comprises an open scrub of Red Mallee and Yorrell.  There are also some stands of Murray Pine and associated areas of shrubland dominated by Hop Bush and Cassias.  The remaining 65 % of the park comprises low open woodland of Native Apricot and False Sandalwood.  The understorey consists of Spear-grass and ephemeral herbs.

The park was originally set aside to conserve native vegetation and bird habitats.  Also, the open areas of the park include a number of warrens of the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat.  Other native animals found in the park include echidnas, and Western Grey kangaroos.


Southern Hairy-nosed wombat.   Image courtesy of wikipedia.

I last activated this park in May, 2013.  For more information on that activation, please have a look at my previous post at…..

Screenshot 2014-12-07 13.38.13

Map courtesy of

I set up just off the eastern side of Murraylands Road.  I had arrived at the park a little later than planned.  I was meant to be on air at 0700 UTC (5.30 p.m.), but it wasn’t until 0750 UTC that I was set up and ready to go.  It was still warm (I was in a t-shirt), but it was very dark and very windy.

As often happens, I asked if the frequency was in (I was on 7.095) and I was answered by the ever reliable John VK5BJE who advised the frequency was all mine.  This was followed by a call from John VK5FTCT in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, with a beautiful 5/9 signal.

Again, for this activation, I worked a handful of QRP operators.  The first of those was Nev VK5WG, at Crustal Brook running 5 watts from his X1M, and then Greg VK5GJ at Meadows, also running 5 watts.  And then Peter VK5NAQ at Balaklava in the Mid North, who was also running just 5 watts.

The strongest station worked was Paul VK7CC on the north coast of Tasmania, who had a great 5/9 plus signal (nearly 30/9).  Paul’s signal report for me was 10/9.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I had been on 7.095 for 35 minutes, chatting to stations in VK2, VK3, and VK5, when a couple of VK2 fellas decided they would come up on 7.093.  So that was pretty much the end of that.  They were causing just too much splatter and I was forced to wrap up my activity on 7.095.  I think it was a planned ‘sked’ frequency and they were not going to move for anyone, despite me hearing a station I had worked, asking them to QSY.  I lowered the squid pole and removed the links in the 40m/20m linked dipole, and had a listen on 20m.  I worked just 2 stations there.  They being JD1BOX on Ogaswara, and then Rich G0OWU at Wrens Nest in England.

It was starting to get a bit cool, and the wind was certainly not abating.  This combined with the fact that the sun was starting to set, meant that the wombats and kangaroos would now be getting active.  So I packed up the gear and headed home.  I had a total of 20 contacts in the log.

The following stations were worked:-

  1. John VK5BJE
  2. John VK5FTCT
  3. Nev VK5WG
  4. Greg VK5GJ
  5. Terry VK3UP
  6. Brian VK5FMID
  7. Arno VK5ZAR
  8. Ian VK5CZ
  9. John VK2AWJ
  10. Jeff VK5HEL
  11. Greg VK2QE
  12. Tom VK5FTRG
  13. Bruce VK2FBJM
  14. Ron VK2NZL
  15. Rob VK2DRB/m
  16. Damien VK5FDEC
  17. Paul VK7CC
  18. Peter VK5NAQ

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. JD1BOX
  2. Rich G0OWU



National Pakrs and Wildlife Service, 1984, ‘Conservation Parks of the Murraylands (Western Plains) Management Plans’

Swan Reach Conservation Park

Yesterday (Saturday 6th December, 2014) I headed to the Swan Reach Conservation Park (CP), which is located about 167 km north east of Adelaide, and about 10 km west of the town of Swan Reach.

Screenshot 2014-12-07 12.51.57

Map courtesy of

The park covers an area of about 2,017 hectares and encompasses an area of gently undulating country.  It consists of typical mallee vegetation.  The park is home to a large variety of birdlife including Wedge tailed Eagle, Purple-crowned Lorikett, Mallee Ringneck, Australian Owlet-nightjar, and Singing Honeyeater.  A large number of native mammals can also be found including the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat, Western Grey Kangaroos, and Red Kangaroos.  A large number of native reptiles are also found here including Central Bearded Dragons and Gould’s Goannas.  I did not see any wombats but certainly saw quite a few kangaroos.

I last activated the Swan Reach CP on the 11th May 2013.  Please have a look at my previous post for information on that activation…..

I turned right onto a dirt road, off the Sedan-Swan Reach Road, and travelled south.  After travelling south for a km or so, I then found a small track running off to the east, and drove down the track until I found a small clearing, where I set up my gear.  Again for this activation, I used my Yaesu FT-450, 40 watts, and a 40m/20m linked dipole, supported on a 7m squid pole.

Screenshot 2014-12-07 12.51.08

Map courtesy of

My CQ call was responded to by Stuart VK5STU with a strong 5/9 signal from the north eastern suburbs of Adelaide.  This was followed by Arno VK5ZAR and then Steve VK3SRB mobile at Mitcham in Melbourne.  Steve had a terrific 5/9 signal from his mobile.

I had a few good QRP contacts whilst in the park.  The first was with Ian VK3VIN who was running his little Argonaut transceiver on just 3 watts.  Ian was a good 5/7 signal.  We tried out ‘how low can we go?’.  Ian dropped his power down to just 1 watt and I was able to receive his signal 5/5, without any problems.  I lowered my power down from 40 watts where I was 5/9, to 10 watts and received a 5/8 signal report.  I then lowered the power output down to 5 watts and received a 5/6-7 signal report from Ian.

I then worked Greg VK5GJ in Meadows, in the southern Mount Lofty Ranges.  Greg was running just 5 watts and was 5/5.  And my last QRP contact was with Peter VK5NAQ, who despite running just 5 watts, was 5/9 plus to Swan Reach.  Peter always has a terrific signal.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After an hour in the park, I had a total of 17 contacts in the log from VK2, VK3, & VK5.

The following stations were worked:-

  1. Stuart VK5STU
  2. Arno VK5ZAR
  3. Steve VK3SRB/m
  4. Ian VK5KKT
  5. Ian VK3VIN
  6. Peter VK3PF
  7. Steve VK3FSWB
  8. Col VK5FCDL
  9. Mike VK3ZMD
  10. Andy VK2FBAC
  11. Nev VK5WG
  12. Barry VK3MBW
  13. Ron VK5VH
  14. Greg VK5GJ
  15. John VK5FTCT
  16. Peter VK5NAQ
  17. Bruce VK2FBJM



National Parks and Wildlife Service, 1983, ‘Conservation Parks of the Murraylands (western Plains) Management Plans