More info re the Kangaroo Island Park activations

A little bit more info re my Kangaroo Island Conservation Park activations.  I made a total of 542 QSOs from the 10 parks.  I was fortunate enough to reach the 44 QSO in each park, which is required for the global World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.

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Despite the bands being rather poor of late, I did manage to work some DX in Europe on 20m.  This was during the activations at Beyeria and Baudin, with some openings on the long path.

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I also made a total of 17 Park to Park contacts, which included two Park to Park contacts into Europe.  The first being with Danny OT4V who was in ONFF-0296 and then Swa ON5SWA who was in ONFF-0499.

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Here is a link to Danny’s WordPress site…..

http://www.on4vt.be/

As you would expect, the 40m band was the most used band during my activations, with a total of 396 contacts logged there.  A total of 76 contacts were logged on 20m, whilst 70 were logged on 80m.  I found 80m to be a very reliable band for close in contacts.  Many of the stations logged on 80m were not readable on 40m.  These contacts on 80m were mostly made during the late afternoon-early evening.  But a number were made during the day.

The antenna used was a 20/40/80m linked dipole supported on the top of a 7 metre heavy duty squid pole (antenna as inverted vee configuration).

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The 80m band was a real pleasant surprise for me.  At my first park activation I worked Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula at 0205 UTC.  At Parndarna, my third park for Monday, I worked 9 stations between 0809-0818 UTC (5.39 p.m.SA local time – 5.48 p.m. SA local time).  These stations were from VK5 (Yorke Peninsula, Adelaide Hills, Mid North and the Adelaide metropolitan area), VK2 (Bathurst), VK7 (Flinders Island), and VK3 (Stawell in western Victoria, Melbourne, and Wodonga).  All signal reports were 5/9 both ways.

At Lathami Conservation Park, my last activation for Tuesday, I worked a total of 25 stations on 80m from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5.  This was between 0910 UTC – 0951 UTC (6.40 p.m. SA local time – 7.20 p.m. SA local time).  Contacts were as far and wide as Melbourne, Canberra Sydney, and Brisbane, with most signal reports being 5/9.  Two of the interesting contacts here on 80m were with Trevor VK5ATQ running 2 watts from a home brew DSB tx, and with special event station VI1BLT50.

At Pelican Lagoon during Wednesday morning it was clear that close in propagation was quite difficult.  I only logged 1 VK5 on 40m and that was Michael VK5FMLO in the southern suburbs of Adelaide.  But on 80m at around 11.00 a.m. SA local time I was able to work Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula, David VK5PL in the Barossa Valley, and John VK5DJ, Tom VK5EE and Brian VK5FMID all at Mount Gambier/Millicent in the south east of the State.  I also logged Mick VK3GGG at Stawell in western Victoria, Chris VK3PAT in Melbourne, Robert VK2XXM at MacLean (between Coffs Harbour and Lismore) and Marc VK3OHM in Melbourne.  I was even called by Brian VK3MCD on SOTA peak VK3/ VE-080.

At my second activation for Wednesday, at Lashmar Conservation Park I worked Adrian VK5FANA on the Yorke Peninsula, Michael VK5FMLO in the southern Adelaide suburbs, Mick VK3GG in western Victoria, and Gerry VK5NMG at Moonta Bay.  These 80m contacts were at 2.15 p.m. SA local time.

And finally, at my last activation whilst on Kangaroo Island, at Baudin Conservation Park, I made a total of 16 contacts on 80m betwen 0716 UTC – 0737 UTC (4.46 p.m. SA local time – 5.07 p.m. SA local time).  Contacts were made with VK3GGG, VK4RF, VK5FMLO, VK5PL, VK3BSG, VK5BRT, VK3FI, VK5FMID, VK5FANA, VK2NP, VK5FVSV, VK1DI, and VK3SQ.  Most of the signal report exchanges were 5/9 both ways.

So, please give bands other than 40m a go.  Particularly 80m.  You might be very pleasantly surprised.

Kangaroo Island parks

At the conclusion of the International Lighthouse & Lightship Weekend (ILLW) I remained on Kangaroo Island for a further 2 nights and activated a total of 10 Conservation Parks as follows….

  1. Simpson Conservation Park VKFF-1098 – 54 contacts
  2. Dudley Conservation Park VKFF-0809 – 47 contacts
  3. Parndana Conservation Park VKFF-0925 – 60 contacts
  4. Cygnet Estuary Conservation Park VKFF-1130 – 53 contacts
  5. Nepean Bay Conservation Park VKFF-1067 – 54 contacts
  6. Beyeria Conservation Park VKFF-1005 – 71 contacts
  7. Lathami Conservation Park VKFF-0903 – 48 contacts
  8. Pelican Lagoon Conservation Park VKFF-0926 – 45 contacts
  9. Lashmar Conservation Park VKFF-0902 – 49 contacts
  10. Baudin Conservation Park VKFF-1002 – 61 contacts

I will put up some more info and photos about each activation in the coming weeks.

ILLW 2016 and Cape Willoughby Conservation Park 5CP-033 and VKFF-1014

For the 2016 International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend (ILLW), myself and 4 other members of the Adelaide Hills Amateur Radio Society, ventured over to Kangaroo Island to operate from the Cape Willoughby lighthouse.

The ILLW is NOT a contest.  It is a fun weekend to promote the plight of lighthouses and promote the hobby of amateur radio.  The ILLW came into being in 1998 as the Scottish Northern Lights Award run by the Ayr Amateur Radio Group, and has blossomed since that time.  In 2016, around 500 lighthouses were registered with ILLW to be activated.

The 2016 ILLW Cape Willoughby lighthouse team consisted of:

  1. myself, VK5PAS
  2. Chris VK4FR/5
  3. Andrew VK5CV
  4. John VK5EMI
  5. Michael VK5FVSV

Kangaroo Island is situated about 100 km south of Adelaide, whilst Cape Willoughby is located about 28 km south east of Penneshaw.

  • Cape Willoughby lighthouse AU-0095 (ILLW)
  • Kangaroo Island OC-139 (IOTA)
  • Cape Willoughby Conservation Park 5CP-033 (VK5 Parks Award) and VKFF-1014 (WWFF)
  •  VK Shires – KI5

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Above:-Map showing the location of Cape Willoughby on the eastern side of Kangaroo Island.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

It was an early start for me on Friday morning, as I had booked the 9.00 a.m. ferry over to Kangaroo Island.  The Sealink ferry departs from Cape Jervis at the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula and travels to Penneshaw on the eastern side of Kangaroo Island.  The drive from my home to Cape Jervis takes me through the Adelaide Hills and the Fleurieu Peninsula and is a distance of around 105 km (about 90 minutes drive time).  As it was early morning there were plenty of kangaroos on the road, so it was relatively slow going.

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Above:- Some of the locals, Western Grey kangaroos.

The weather on Friday morning was less than ideal……quite heavy rain at times and bitterly cold.  But, what do you expect?  Its August after all, and the end of winter in Australia.  But for the hams in the United Kingdom and European where the ILLW originated, fairer weather is experienced.  There was the occasional blue patch or two in amongst the very dark clouds.  Fortunately it was not windy, so I was confident that the ferry would be able to berth at Penneshaw on the island.  Back in 2012 when we went to the island for the ILLW, we almost didn’t make it.  The weather was absolutely terrible and it took half a dozen attempts for the ferry to berth, with the Captain giving us a warning that he would try one last time.  If not it was back to Cape Jervis.  Fortunately we got there!

Despite it being a gloomy morning, the drive down to Cape Jervis took me through some beautiful countryside.  I soon was able to see the Starfish Hill windfarm, which was the very first windfarm in South Australia.  And I soon started to roll downhill towards Cape Jervis, with some great views of Kangaroo Island across Backstairs Passage.

Cape Jervis then came into view, along with the Cape Jervis lighthouse.  The little town is named after the headland at the western tip of Fleurieu Peninsula which was named on 23rd March 1802, by explorer Matthew Flinders after John Jervis, the 1st Earl of St Vincent.

Upon arrival at Cape Jervis I met up with Mike who had also booked the 9.00 a.m. ferry.  We booked ourselves and out vehicles in, and I enjoyed a nice hot cup of coffee whilst having a listen on the IC7000 in the Toyota Hi Lux.  It wasn’t long before boarding commenced on the ferry.  The Sealink ferry is around 50 metres in length and has a capacity of 250 passengers.  It can accomodate up to 55 vehicles.  The trip over to the island, which takes around 45 minutes, was quite pleasant.  The water was certainly nowhere near as choppy as I’ve experienced on previous journeys.

After arriving on Kangaroo Island Mike and I met up with John VK5EMI and his wife Dee.  We then drove around to the local supermarket for some provisions before heading out to the lighthouse along the Cape Willoughby Road.  We were warned that the road out to the lighthouse was terrible.  But our experience that day was that the road, which starts out as bitumen and then turns to dirt, was actually very good.  Particulary, compared to previous years.  About 3 km out from our destination, the mighty structure of the Cape Willoughby lighthouse came into view.

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Above:- The view of the lighthouse from the Cape Willoughby Road.

Cape Willoughby once played a vital role in the shipping trade of the young colony of South Australia before the advent of efficient forms of land transport.  The Cape Willoughby lighthouse was built to assist the safe journey of ships passing through the treacherous stretch of water known as Backstairs Passage during a time of rapidly expanding coastal shipping trade between the eastern colonies and the colony of South Australia.  The lighthouse was originally known as the Sturt Light after the explorer Captain Charles Sturt. The tower took over two years to construct and the workers lived in tents during this time. South Australia’s first lighthouse was officially opened in January 1852, and manned 24 hours a day by 3 lightkeepers who lived here with their families.

Cape Willoughby Lighthouse was constructed from locally available granite and lime mortar. Quarrying is evident near the lighthouse atop the cliffs of Devils Kitchen. It is thought holes were hand-drilled into the rock in the quarry and filled with wood. This was kept wet and the expanding wood would crack the rock which was then shaped prior to construction. The result was a circular tower of roughly dressed granite masonry.

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Above:- Image of the Cape Willoughby lighthouse, showing the old weather station (one of our operating spots).  Image courtesy of Trove.

The walls of the lighthouse are 1.4m thick at the base and taper to 0.86m thick at the top. The tower, from the base to the balcony, is 20.5 metres high (67 feet and 3 inches) and is round for wind resistance. The interior base of the tower is one of the widest in Australia and the lightkeepers and their families were even known to have hosted parties and dances here.

The original Deville Lantern room housed optical apparatus (light) consisting of 15 multiple wick oil burner lamps. This was reflected intermittently by revolving reflectors powered by a weight driven motor, and appeared as a flashing light. Its greatest intensity was every 1.5 minutes and in clear weather could reach 24 nautical miles.

In 1925 the lantern room and light were replaced by a more modern and powerful Chance Brothers system. The light consisted of a pressurised incandescent kerosene lantern with a three ton revolving Fresnel lens. The lens floated in a bath of mercury to reduce friction when turning. It was driven by 146lb weights which had to be wound up every 2.5 hours working on a system similar in principle as a grandfather clock. The mercury proved to be a health hazard to the lightkeepers.

In 1959 the lighthouse was electrified by two diesel powered generators installed at the station.  The lightstation became fully automated in 1974-75 when 240 volts main power was connected. A standby diesel generator and battery bank provided backup during power failure. The lantern house was also removed and was replaced with new fibreglass lantern housing. The original housing was later installed atop a stub tower in the Kingscote Museum, where it remains to this day.

The original wooden jarrah spiral staircase was also replaced with a steel structure due to wet rot and continual use.  Cape Willoughby Lightstation was one of the last manned lighthouses in Australia. It was officially automated (unmanned) in 1992.

In 2003, the lightstation was downgraded when a ML300 beacon was installed, consisting of a 35 Watt 12 Volt lamp, which is visible for 11 nautical miles. In March 2011, this was replaced with a Vega LED beacon. It is powered by two 12 Volt batteries, and the battery float is charged from the mains.

As a bonus, the lighthouse is situated in the Cape Willoughby Conservation Park, which comprises around 44 acres.  The park was established on 28th March 2002.

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Above:- Aerial shot of the Cape Willoughby lighthouse.  Image is courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

When we arrived at Cape Willoughby we touched base with Adele from the Department of Environment Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR).  We were fortunate in that upon our arrival there were two whales frolicking in the adjacent Antechamber Bay.  It was a calm but cloudy morning, and Adele and commented on how nice the weather was compared to previous trips to Cape Willoughby.  But, we had spoken too soon.  It wasn’t long and it was hailing.  Cape Willoughby experiences dramatic weather changes.  Here are a few stats:

  • 23 days of gales or worse (63-130 km/hr)
  • 136 days of strong winds (50 + km/hr)
  • 2 days of hail
  • 3 days of fog
  • 8 days of thunder
  • 543 mm of rain

Our accomodation for the weekend was the Seymour cottage, one of the Cape Willoughby lighthouse keepers heritage cottages.  There are three cottages: the Seymour, the Thomas, and the Cawthorne.  The Cawthorne contains the DEWNR office and the visitor centre.  Both the Seymour and the Thomas can accomodate up to eight guests and contain five bedrooms.

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Above:- View of the three old lighthouse keepers cottages and the lighthouse.

We commenced the arduous task of unpacking and Mike, John and I then commenced setting up some stations.  Once Andrew and Chris had arrived in the early afternoon it was time to start erecting the antennas.  We are fortunate in that we are allowed access to the lighthouse, and we established a halyard to allow us to hoist up some antennas.

We even set up a 160m antenna, hoping for some action on that band.  Each end of the 160m dipole was supported by some painters poles.

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Above:- the 160m antenna.

Our antennas comprised the following:

  1. broadband folded dipole
  2. 80/40/20m linked dipole.
  3. Hex beam
  4. 160m dipole
  5. Par end fed

It took quite a few hours to set up our gear whilst battling variable weather conditions.  A phone and a separate digital station were established in the old weather station, whilst a further two stations were set up in the shed/museum at the back of the Seymour cottage.

Friday evening was pizza night.  Andrew was put to the test with his home made pizza skills and I must say he did very well.  All washed down with a few bottles of very nice red.

After tea, Chris had a bit of a play on the digital modes (JT65 and PSK31), working into Asiatic Russia, European Russia, USA, and Japan on both 40m and 20m.   Leo in Georgia USA Chris’ very first contact in the log for VK5CWL on JT65.  Nori JA7FLI was our first contact in the log on PSK31.  The digi set up consisted of an Elecraft K3 and Signal link device.

Meanwhile, I scouted across the 40m band on SSB, working a number of VK’s, New Zealand, French Polynesia, Papua New Guinea, and the USA.  Our first SSB contact in the log was with Peter VK2NEO near Leeton in New South Wales.  I also booked in to the 7130 DX Net and made a number of contacts there.  The SSB station in the weather station consisted of a Yaesu FT-450.

Andrew operated from the museum and logged a number of contacts on the 80m band in VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and New Zealand.  The two museum stations included a Flex Maestro (very nice!!!).

A handful of lighthouse stations were logged on Friday evening.  They were:

  • VK6CLL, Cape Leeuwin lighthouse AU-0008 within the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park VKFF-0283
    • 40m
  • VK5ARC/p, Point Malcolm lighthouse AU-0029
    • 40m
  • VK2ATZ/p, Norah Head lighthouse AU-0024
    • 40m

 

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Above:- Chris VK4FR/5 and Paul VK5PAS, operating in the old weather station.

It had been a long day, so we all retired relatively early, expecting a big Saturday.  We had a total of 50 contacts in the log already, in seven different countries (Australia, Asiatic Russia, French Polynesia, Japan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and USA).

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I had slept pretty poorly on Friday night, so it was an early start for me on Saturday morning (2oth August 2016).  And I’m very pleased it was, because I was rewarded by an amazing sunrise and an incredible moon.  What I was very pleased with, was that Saturday morning was nice and calm and clear.  Very chilly, but very calm.  Certainly a morning ‘to bottle’ at Cape Willoughby.   I snuck in a little activity on 40m, working around 17 stations before breakfast.  The first station in the VK5CWL log for Saturday was Lewis VK2FGLB in Sydney.  This was closely followed by husband and wife team, Joe VK3YSP and Julie VK3YSP operating portable at the Queenscliff lighthouse AU-0051.  Joe and Julie are a dynamic team who are always promoting amateur radio.

After breakfast it was time to start filling up the VK5CWL logbooks.  Andrew commenced on 80m and later moved to 160m whilst John operated on 40m working into VK2, VK3, VK5, and VK7.  Mike hit the 20m band and worked a number of lighthouse stations in VK2 and New Zealand.  And Chris got back into the digital modes.  As the day progressed, we changed operators, alternating between bands and stations.

Because the weather on Saturday was quite good, we had a steady flow of visitors out to Cape Willoughby and there was some significant engagement with onlookers.  I had brought along ‘Calling CQ’ brochures from the WIA, and brochures regarding the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award, and the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  We all took time out to explain the hobby of amateur radio and why we were operating from the lighthouse.

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Above: John VK5EMI at the mic being watched on by some amused spectators.

We had also circulated a number of promotional flyers which were put on display at various tourism venues around the island.

ILLW 2016 promo

Saturday night was lasagne night.  My wife Marija had made up some home made lasagne, which again, surprise surprise, was accompanied by further bottles of red wine.   We certainly did not go hungry on this trip.

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Above: Lasagne night.  Mike VK5FVSV, John VK5EMI & Andrew VK5CV

Some of the more interesting contacts during Saturday were with special event station VI6BLT50 to commemorate the Battle of Lang Tan, and also Heath VK3TWO/6 who was on Barrow Island OC-140 off the coast of Onslow in north west Western Australia.  We also spoke with Gavin VK7FLI on Flinders Island.  Ian VK5CZ gave us a call whilst he was on the top of SOTA peak Mount Benjamin VK5/ NE-083.  And we logged YB71RI/0.  This special event station (SES) is to commemorate the 71st Indpendence Day of the Republic of Indonesia.

A bit of fun was had again on JT65, with contacts into India, Ukraine, France, Japan, China, Alaska, Indonesia, and Reunion Island.

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Above:- view from the top of the lighthouse.

Only a small amount of DX was worked on 20m SSB, as the multiband folded dipole was not performing well.  Contacts were made into Alaska, Russia, USA, England, Canary Islands, Ukraine, and Portugal.

By the end of Saturday (20th August 2016) we had logged a further 224 QSOs.  This included the following lighthouse stations:

  • VK3YSP/p, Queenscliff lighthouse AU-0051
    • 40m
  • VK3FOWL/p, Queenscliff lighthouse AU-0051
    • 40m
  • VK4BAR/p, Cleveland Point lighthouse AU-0014
    • 40m, 20m
  • VK2/GW0VML/p, Ballina lighthouse AU-0001
    • 20m
  • ZL1KBR/p, Bean Rock lighthouse NEW ZEALAND NZ-0011
    • 20m
  • VK3VTH/7, Curry Head lighthouse AU-0016 King Island
    • 40m
  • ZL2X, Pencarrow lighthouse NEW ZEALAND NZ-0012
    • 20m
  • ZL6LH, Piha lighthouse NEW ZEALAND NZ-0006
    • 20m
  • VK6CNL, Cape Naturaliste lighthouse AU-0010
    • 20m
  • VK6CLL, Cape Leeuwin lighthouse AU-0008
    • 20m
  • VK3ATL/p, Point Lonsdale lighthouse AU-0050
    • 40m
  • VK4CHB, New Burnett Heads lighthouse AU-0104
    • 20m
  • VK3SPL, Split Point lighthouse AU-0032
    • 40m
  • VK2MB, Barronjoey lighthouse AU-0046
    • 40m, 20m
  • VK7LH, Low Head lighthouse AU-0048
    • 80m, 40m
  • VK7TAZ, Eddystone Point lighthouse AU-0087
    • 80m, 40m
  • VK5CJ, Cape Jaffa lighthouse AU-0007
    • 40m
  • VK5PBZ/p, Port Germein lighthouse AU0069
    • 40m
  • VK3APC/p, Eastern Light Mcrae AU-0017
    • 160m, 80m, 40m.
  • VK3OLS, Cape Otway lighthouse AU-0011
    • 40m
  • VK6BRC/p, Casuarina lighthouse AU-0086
    • 20m
  • VK2BOR/p, Tacking Point lighthouse AU-0034
    • 40m, 20m
  • VK2LR/p, Clarence Head lighthouse AU-0013
    • 20m
  • VK2EP, Smoky Cape lighthouse AU-0031
    • 40m
  • VK7HKN/p, Cape Tourville lighthouse AU-0119 in Freycinet National ParkVKFF-0188
    • 40m
  • VK5ARC/p, Point Malcolm lighthouse AU-0029
    • 160m, 40m, 20m
  • VK5CJL, Cape Jervis lighthouse AU-0094
    • 160m, 80m 20m
  • VK4BW, Burnett Heads Historical lighthouse AU-0004
    • 40m
  • VK7NWT/p, Round Hill Point lighthouse AU-0111
    • 80m
  • VK2HBG/p, Warden Head Ulladulla AU-0035
    • 40m
  • VK3DX, Lady Bay Upper & Lady Bay Lower Warrnambool AU-0049 & AU-0096
    • 80m
  • VK6AHR/p, North Mole lighthouse, Fremantle AU-0073
    • 80m

Sunday morning (21st August 2016) was another beautiful morning at Cape Willoughby.  Again it was quite calm and there was no rain. We had been quite blessed with the weather.  There was a clear view out to The Pages Conservation Park, and the Aloe Vera plants leading to the lighthouse were alive with Superb Blue Wrens.

Our first contact for Sunday morning was on 40m with Mal VK6LC operating with the special call of VI6BLT50 to commemorate the Battle of Lang Tan.  A number of other interesting contacts were made on Sunday including a QSO with Gerard VK2IO who was portable in the Sydney Habour National Park VKFF- 0473.  We also worked Ian VK5CZ on SOTA peak Mount Arden VK5/ NE-034, and Tony VK1VIC/2 and VK1RX /2 who were on SOTA peak Dampier VK2/ST-007.  We also logged the Battle of Long Tan station, VI4BLT50 and Neil VK4HNS/2 portable in Kwiambi National Park VKFF-0274.

Another one of the Indonesian special event stations, YB71RI/7 was logged on 40m.  Another very interesting contact was with Jack VK7IL, whose father was a lighthouse keeper on King Island.  We also spoke with Brenton VK3YB running just 500 milliwatts from his Double Sideband (DSB) transceiver.  Peter VK3YE also made it into the log, operating QRP with 5 watts on Chelsea Beach.

Sunday also saw an improvement for us in the DX stakes on 20m SSB.  We had erected a SOTAbeams 20m/40m linked dipole and used this instead of the broadband folded dipole. Chris and I put this up in the absolute pouring rain, and I headed off for a hot shower after we had got the antenna up in the air.  There was no comparison.  A large number of stations were worked in Europe as a result.  John and I had a nice little pile up going there at one stage.  If only we could have worked out in time, how to go split on the 450.

By the end of Sunday we had logged a further 253 stations, including the following lighthouse stations:

  • VK2HBG/p, Warden Head Ulladulla lighthouse AU-0035
    • 40m
  • VK3VTH/p, Currie Light King Island AU-0016
    • 40m
  • VK4GHL, Grassy Hill lighthouse AU-0019
    • 40m
  • VK3DNQ/p, Cape Nelson lighthouse AU-0055
    • 40m
  • VK3DX, Lady Bay Upper and Lady Bay Lower AU-0049 and AU-0096
    • 40m
  • VK7NWT/p, Round Hill Point AU-0111
    • 40m
  • VK6CNL, Cape Naturaliste lighthouse AU- 0010
    • 20m
  • VK7LH, Low Head lighthouse AU-0048
    • 40m
  • VK6CLL, Cape Leeuwin lighthouse AU-0008
    • 20m
  • VK4CHB, New Burnett Heads lighthouse AU-0104
    • 20m
  • GB2GNL, Girdleness lighthouse SCOTLAND UK-0037
    • 20m
  • VK4AAC/3, Cape Schanck lighthouse AU-0012 in the Mornington Peninsula National Park VKFF-0333
    • 40m

Monday morning’s sunrise was no less spectacular than that of the previous two mornings.  It was a very calm, but very brisk morning at Cape Willoughby.  There was a little bit of time for radio activity before packing up the gear and calling it quits for another ILLW event.

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I made a handful of contacts on 40m as did John VK5EMI, whilst Andrew VK5CV made some contacts on 80m.  It was very slow going with very long periods of CQ calls with no replies.  But we did manage to have three more lighthouse contacts:

  • VK3SRC, Queenscliff lighthouse AU-0051
    • 40m
  • VK3SPL, Split Point lighthouse AU-0032
    • 40m
  • VK7LH, Low Head lighthouse AU-0048
    • 40m

And we also made contact with Neil VK4HNS who was portable at the Kwiambi National Park VKFF-0274.  Another 20 QSOs were added to the VK5CWL log on Monday morning.  Our final contact as VK5CWL for the ILLW 2016 was with Peter VK5AWP, with John VK5EMI at the mic at VK5CWL.

Our final QSO count for the 2016 ILLW was 547 contacts on the 160, 80, 40, 30, 20 and 2 m bands, on PHONE, CW, PSK, and JT65.  We worked a total of 36 different countries.  A breakdown of our contacts is as follows……

  • 504- PHONE (HF)
  • 28 – JT65
  • 6 – PSK31
  • 2 – CW
  • 7 – 2m Crafers repeater

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Whilst at Cape Willoughby we tried as many bands as possible.  We even gave 10m and 15m a go, but despite numerous CQ calls at various times of the day, we had no takers.  Most of our activity, not surprising, was on the 40m band with a total of 277 QSOs.  Followed by 20m, where a lot of DX in Europe was worked.  And then followed by 80m.  But we did have some fun on 160m, making 13 contacts into VK2, VK3, VK5, and VK6.

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A total of 36 different DXCC entites were logged.  Countries (DXCC entities) worked were as follows:

  1. Alaska
  2. Asiatic Russia
  3. Australia
  4. Austria
  5. Belgium
  6. Canada
  7. Canary Islands
  8. China
  9. Croatia
  10. Czech Republic
  11. Denmark
  12. England
  13. Estonia
  14. European Russia
  15. Germany
  16. Finland
  17. France
  18. French Polynesia
  19. Hungary
  20. India
  21. Indonesia
  22. Italy
  23. Japan
  24. Netherlands
  25. New Zealand
  26. Papua New Guinea
  27. Poland
  28. Reunion Island
  29. Scotland
  30. Slovak Republic
  31. Slovenia
  32. Spain
  33. Sweden
  34. Switzerland
  35. Ukraine
  36. USA

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As was to be expected most of our activity was over the weekend itself – Saturday and Sunday.   A total of 224 QSOs were made on Saturday and 253 on Sunday.  See the bar graph below….

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 9.24.23 PM

We made a total of 61 contacts with other lighthouses around the world.  The majority of those were in Australia (a total of 57), but we did work 3 lighthouses in New Zealand, and one in Scotland.  Of the 65 Australian lighthouses that were listed as entrants for 2016 on the ILLW page, we worked 31 of them.  Almost 50%.  Along with three more that were not recorded on the list.

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 11.13.56 PM

All in all, another very enjoyable and successful ILLW weekend at Cape Willoughby.  Thanks as always to the DEWNR staff at Cape Willoughby.  They cannot help enough.  We highly recommend a stay here.  And also thanks to Transport SA for allowing us to use the railing of the lighthouse.

Please remember our website which can be found at…..

http://vk5cwl.weebly.com/

If you would like a QSL card for VK5CWL, we will QSL via the Bureau, Direct, eQSL and LOTW.  Until next year.

 

 

References.

Government of South Australia, 2016, <http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/Browse_by_region/kangaroo-island/cape-willoughby-conservation-park&gt;, viewed 17th August 2016

Wikipedia, 2016, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Willoughby_Conservation_Park&gt;, viewed 17th August 2016

Totness Recreation Park VKFF-1754 and the RD Contest

The Remembrance Day (RD) Contest commemorates those amateur radio operators who made the supreme sacrifice and died during World War Two.  The contest is designed to encourage friendly participation and help improve operating skills of participants.  The RD Contest is held on the weekend closest to the 15th August, the date on which hostilities ceased in the southwest Pacific area.  This year the RD Contest took place on Saturday  13th and Sunday 14th August 2016 and I took part, operating portable from the Totness Recreation Park, VKFF-1754.  The aim of the RD is for amateurs in Australia (VK), New Zealand (ZL) and Papua New Guinea (P2) to contact other amateurs in VK, ZL and P2.

The RD Contest is one of a handful of Contests that I go in each year.  I did read some derogatory comments on Facebook regarding contests leading up to the RD.  But for me, this is one of the amazing things about amateur radio, in that there as so many different incredible facets.  And what floats one persons boat, may not necessarily turn on the next.

Totness was recently added to the Directory for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program, and I activated the park for the very first time on Wednesday 3rd August 2016, just a week or so ago.  For more information on the park, and that particular activation, please see my previous post……

https://vk5pas.org/2016/08/03/totness-recreation-park-vkff-1754/

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 7.57.52 PM

Above:- Map showing the location of the Totness Recreation Park in the Adelaide Hills near Mount Barker.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

Although my noise floor at home on 40m is pretty good compared to some of my amateur friends, I decided to operate from the park as I was assured that there would be no man made noise at all.  A dead quite band is fantastic.  My noise floor at home during the day on 40m is around S5.  I suffer quite a bit from plasma TV noise, inverters, etc.  But from parks and summits it is ‘ham heaven’, generally with ZERO noise.  You can hear a pin drop on the bands.

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 7.58.22 PM

Above:- Aerial shot showing the location of my home QTH with respect to the Totness Recreation Park.  Image courtesy of Protected Planet.

I headed to the same spot as I had operated from previously.  This is off Haines Fire Track.  Due to the recent heavy rains, there is a lot of water on the track and plenty of very big potholes.  So if you are planning on heading there soon in a conventional vehicle, I suggest slow going.  There is a nice cleared area between the boundary fence and the scrubline, and plenty of room to string out a number of antennas.  And a good spot to park your vehicle.  My wife Marija kindly drove up with me in her vehicle, a little Mitsubish Lancer, and I’m sure I could hear Marija cursing and swearing from behind me, re the road conditions.

For a few years now I’ve been using a little app called ‘treksafe‘.  Using GPS and mobile phone coverage, it allows you to provide a line of communication with friends and family on your location.  Not that I needed to use it this time, as Marija knew exactly where I was.  But I highly recommend that you have a look at this great little app.

DSC_1679

Marija helped me to set up and I was all ready to go by 0200 UTC (11.30 a.m. South Australian local time).  For the RD I ran my Yaesu FT-857d set at 40 watts output, and the 20/40/80 linked dipole which I supported on the 7m heavy duty squid pole from Haverfords.  I tied one end of the dipole off to the boundary fenceline and used a fallen limb from a tree to secure the other leg in place.  

It was not a particularly nice day weather wise, with just small pieces of blue sky and quite a low temperature.  Netherless, we also set up the solar panels, hoping for a bit of sunshine to top up the 44 amp hour power pack.  

I took my Apple Mac laptop out into the field for the first time in a very long time and used VK Contest Logger (VKCL) for the RD.  I normally run a paper log out in the field and when I get home I use Fast Log Entry (FLE) to rapidly create an ADIF file which I then upload to my electronic log (Maclogger DX) and also to WWFF Logsearch.  But by running VKCL I was able to see what stations I had and hadn’t worked in the 3 hour brackets of the contest.

I’ve been asked a few times how I secure the squid pole.  Well, it depends on the activation.  If I’m activating a SOTA summit where I have to climb or a park where I have to walk in, along the Heysen Trail for example, I secure it in any way I can.  Octopus straps are an amateurs friend.  I carry quite a few of these, of various sizes.  The squiddy gets attached to a tree, a rock, a stump, whatever I can find.  But if I activate an easy summit or park, I use a squid pole holder and sit the squid pole in that, and hold it in place with an octopus strap.

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 7.56.45 PM

Above:- Aerial shot showing my operating spot in the north western corner of the Totness Recreation Park.  Image courtesy of Protected Planet.

Totness is a beautiful little park with very thick scrub.  The wattle was blooming, and there were quite a few Western Grey kangaroos grazing in the paddock on the western side of the park.  As I’ve mentioned, some more interesting history on the park can be found on my previous post.

https://vk5pas.org/2016/08/03/totness-recreation-park-vkff-1754/

As I had a bit of time up my sleeve, I walked along one of the tracks in the park to take some photos.  You can get some nice views out through the trees towards Mount Barker and Littlehampton.  Until you reach this point, you would never know that you were so close to a built up area. 

I then returned to my station set up an listened to the RD Contest opening address.  I also worked Rob VK4AAC/3 who was portable in the Nooramunga Coastal Park VKFF-0748.

At 0300 UTC it was all go for the RD.  My first contact in the RD was on 40m with Peter VK5KX who had a booming signal.  This was a good sign as recent close in propagation has been very spasmodic.  Next up was Gerard VK2IO/p who was portable in the Maroota Ridge State Conservation Area VKFF-1348.  It was nice to get a Park to Park (P2P) contact.  I also worked Marcus VK5WTF/p P2P.  Marcus was portable in the Red Banks Conservation Park VKFF-1086.   

I worked a total of 45 stations in around one hour, from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7 on 40m and then headed off to 20m.  I must say that despite conditions being very good, it was relatively slow going on 40m.  As I was in the contest, I did not self spot on parksnpeaks, as this is directly linked to the DX Cluster, and this would be in violation of WIA General Rules for contests.

My first contact on 20m was with Martin VK7GN in Tasmania, followed by Dianne VK4HH and the VK4TS team in Queensland.  All had booming signals.  I made a total of 40 contacts on 20m into VK2, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7, and VK8.  I also logged including Owen ZL2GLG, Andrew ZL3CC, Mike ZL1MRC.  They were all booming in from across the Tasman.  Sadly, they were to be my only New Zealand stations for the whole contest.  And I didn’t work any stations from Papua New Guinea (P29).

My one VK5 contact on 20m was with Geoff VK5HEL at Murray Bridge, about 40 km to the east of me.  I was really surprised to hear Geoff with such a lovely signal (a genuine 5/9).  It was also nice to log Heath VK3TWO/VK6 who was on Barrow Island, OC-140.  Barrow Island is about 50 km northwest off the Pilbara coast of Western Australia.

I then headed back to 40m where I worked a further 103 stations in VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, and VK7.  This included some more Park to Park action with Ray VK2HJW/p portable in the Royal National Park VKFF-0435, Mark VK5MK in the Yumbarra Conservation Park VKFF-1129, and Marcus VK5WTF/p (love that call sign) in the Red Banks Conservation Park VKFF-1086.  

When things slowed down I tuned around the 40m and found that the Europeans were coming in extremely well.  In fact they were the strongest on 40m that I had heard in a while.  There were around 6 European stations on 40m who were S8-S9.  The strongest was EA1DLU from Spain who was 5/9 plus.  I tried to break through the USA/South American/VK pile up to work him but was unsuccessful.

I then found Rob VK4FFAB/p on 7.195 calling CQ from Bunyaville Conservation Park VKFF-1493 (5/3 R and 5/7 S).

It was down with the squid pole and in with the links on the dipole for 80 metres.  It was around 0845 UTC (6.15 p.m. local time) and it was now dark, so I expected 80m would be humming along nicely.  And it certainly was.  I made a total of 199 QSOS into VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7, and VK8.  I just needed a VK9 and a VK0 to round it off, but that wasn’t to happen.  I also scored a few more Park to Park contacts with Marcus VK5WTF in the Red Banks Conservation Park and Gerard VK2IO in the Maroota Ridge State Conservation Area VKFF-1348.

My last contact for Saturday was with John VK5PO at 1218 UTC (9.48 p.m. South Australian local time).  It was now absolutely freezing and I was starving, so it was home for me.  Tea that night was from ‘the Golden Arches’ (McDonalds).

On Sunday morning (14th August) I got up around 8.30 a.m. and with the help of Marija, packed the 4WD again, and headed back out to Totness.  It was another chilly morning, with the temperature being around 5 degrees C.  I was set up and on air by just after 2330 UTC (9.00 a.m. local time).  My first contact was with Gerald VK2HBG.  I scoured around the band and worked a few stations before propping on a frequency and calling CQ contest.  It was very slow going.  I made a total of 40 contacts into VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, and VK5.  This included P2P contacts with Gerard VK2IO/p, Ray VK2HJW/p  and Marcus VK5WTF/p again.  Marcus was about 5/5 to me and I was 5/5 to him, and we decided to give 80m a go to see if our signals came up.  Before QSYing, Hauke VK1HW came up and put me in the log, before I headed off to 80m.

I met Marcus on 3.600 and sure enough signals were dramatically improved.  Marcus was running QRP and was 5/9, and he gave me a 5/9 plus.  Marcus advised that he had been listening on 20m and it was open to VK2, VK4 and VK7.  After chatting with Marcus, I called CQ on 3.605 for around 5 minutes but had no takers, so based on the comments from Marcus I headed off to 20m.  My first contact there was with Dianne VK4HH, followed by Paul VK2KTT and then Dave VK4DA, all with excellent signals.  I made a total of 13 contacts on 20m into VK2, VK4, and VK6.

I then moved back to 40m where I made a total of 62 contacts into VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5 and VK7.  This included a QSO with Peter VK3YE who was pedestrian mobile in ankle deep water,  Keener than me!  My last QSO for the RD was with Erik VK7EK. 

So for the 2016 RD Contest I ended up with a total of 426 contacts.  These contacts were made on the 20, 40 and 80m bands on SSB.

A breakdown of the bands I used and the number of QSOs on each of those is as follows:-

  • 20m – 52
  • 40m – 252
  • 80m – 122

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 10.09.41 PM.png

As you can see, most of the activity for me during the RD was on the 40m band (as expected).  But 80m also provided some excellent conditions and a lot of contacts across Australia at night (and locally in the middle of the day).

Below is a chart from VKCL showing my activity during the contest.  A lot of activity for the first 8-9 hours of the contest before I went QRT for some shut eye.  And then another 3 hours at the end of the contest on Sunday morning.

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 8.38.17 PM

And here is a chart showing my activity on the 40m band.  Activity for me on 40m was between 0300-0400 and 0520-0830 on Saturday.  And then on Sunday morning between 2330-0015 and 0055-0300 UTC.

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 8.38.41 PM

And my activity on the 20m band.  Activity for me on 20m was between 0400-0515 UTC on Saturday.  And then on Sunday morning between 0030 – 0055 UTC.

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 8.38.29 PM

And finally my activity on the 80m band.  Activity for me on 80m was between 0845-1215 UTC on Saturday.  And then just the one QSO on Sunday morning.

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 8.48.22 PM

 

I did receive a handful of calls from amateurs who clearly had not read the rules of the contest and gave me a sequential serial number, and some no numbers at all……they just wanted a chat.  It always pays to read the rules.  I also heard this happening to some other amateurs, with patience lost by some of those.

On Sunday morning I called a few stations who were 5/9 to me, but sadly they could not hear me as they were suffering from high noise levels.  It’s a real shame that a few more amateurs didn’t give portable operation a go.  It is an amazing experience to be able to work stations who are only just operating with milliwatts and hand out a 5/1 signal report but have an ‘armchair’ QSO.

The RD is a great contest which I can highly recommend.  And it is truly for a very very worthy cause.

At the end of the contest I put out a few calls on 7.144 and worked a handful of stations including Rob VK4AAC/3 who was portable in the Wilsons Promontory National Park VKFF-0539.  I then headed to 20m where I worked 6 stations including Albert S58AL from Slovenia.

I then packed up and headed home for some lunch and an afternoon of watching the Olympics and the AFL on TV.

 

References.

WIA, 2016, <http://www.wia.org.au/members/contests/rdcontest/&gt;, viewed 14th August 2016

Cox Scrub Conservation Reserve, VKFF-1701.

After getting home from Black Bullock Hill, Marija and I enjoyed some lunch, and as it was such a beautiful sunny day I decided to head out to activate a brand new park, the Cox Scrub Conservation Reserve, VKFF-1701.  This reference is not to be confused with the nearby Cox Scrub Conservation Park!  The reserve was one of a number of recent additions to the VKFF list for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  This was to be the very first time it had been activated.

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 11.21.20 AM.jpg

Above:- Map showing the location of the Cox Scrub Conservation Reserve on the Fleurieu Peninsula, south east of Adelaide.  Map courtesy of Protected Planet.

I drove down to Strathalbyn and along the way I worked John VK5BJE who was operating portable in the Bullock Hill Conservation Park, 5CP-265 and VKFF-0873.  Close in propagation has recently been very poor, so I was surprised to hear John coming in so well.  Although not strong, he was a perfect 5/2 into my mobile, about 35 km away.  I stopped briefly just outside of Strathalbyn to enjoy some views of the town and the surrounding countryside and down to Lake Alexandrina.

I then got mobile again and listened in to John working a  number of stations on 40m.  As I grew ever so closer to John his signal became stronger and stronger, until John was 5/9 plus.

DSC_1647

After leaving the Ashbourne Road West, I turned left to head south on Bull Creek Road, passing through the little town of Ashbourne and the Green Man Inn.  I continued south on Bull Creek Road, passing the Cox Scrub Conservation Park on my right.  As I reached the south eastern corner of the Conservation Park, the north western corner of the Conservation Reserve soon came into view on my left.

I entered the park via a dirt track on the eastern side of Bull Creek Road.  There are no signs for the park, so make sure you’ve done your homework on where the park is located prior to leaving home.  A few of the tracks in the park were not passable due to fallen trees and limbs, a result of the recent terrible weather that some parts of South Australia had experienced during July.

I set up in a clearing alongside one of the tracks.  I used the Yaesu FT-857d, set on 40 watts output and the 20m/40m/80m linked dipole sitting on the top of the 7m heavy duty squid pole.  I tied the ends of the dipole off to some of the gum trees so the legs were about 3 feet off the ground.

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 11.21.04 AM.jpg

Above:- Aerial shot of the Cox Scrub Conservation Reserve showing my operating spot near the southern part of the park.  Image courtesy of Protected Planet.

I have been unable to find much information on the Cox Scrub Conservation Reserve on the internet.  It is much smaller in size to its neighbouring Conservation Park brother which is about 544 hectares in size.  Many of the native plants in the park were in flower during my visit.

After setting up I quickly went to 7.110 and worked John VK5BJE in the Bullock Hill Conservation Park.  John was booming in.  Not unexpecting, considering he was just 3-4 km to my north east.

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 11.21.30 AM

Here is a link to John’s WordPress site and some info on his activation….

Bullock Hill Conservation Park, VKFF-0873 & 5CP-265, 7th August 2016

I then headed up the band to 7.144 where I commenced calling CQ, which was answered by Rick VK4RF/VK4HA.  This was followed by Tony VK3CAT who was portable on SOTA peak Mount Dom Dom VK3/ VN-017 with a good 5/5 signal.  About 12 QSOs later I was called by Gerard VK2IO who was portable on SOTA peak Mount Palerang VK2/ ST-009 which was located within the Tallaganda State Conservation Reserve VKFF-1375.  A bonus, a SOTA contact and my second Park to Park from the Reserve.  Despite band conditions being quite good, callers were spasmodic, so after working a total of 18 stations on 40m, I headed off to 14.310 on 20m.

I commenced calling CQ and Peter VK6RZ came back to my call with a beautiful 5/8 signal.  This was followed by Rick VK4RF/VK4HA and then Jonathan VK6JON mobile 7.  I worked a further 7 stations on 20m, including another Park to Park, this time with Phil VK6ADF who was activating the Green Mount National Park VKFF-0218.  Despite the fact that Phil was running just 2.5 watts from a Yaesu FT-817nd I was able to hear him perfectly (5/3 sent and 5/5 received).

I then headed back to 7.144 and worked a total of 6 stations until I had to QSY.  I was being hammered by New Zealand and VK stations working Mark AF6TC who had come up on 7.145, just above me.  So it was down to 7.144 where I continued to work the mini pile up which had ensued.  But it wasn’t long and I was experiencing QRM again.  mark had followed me down the band and was just 1 kc above me again.  I QSY’d again but this wasn’t before I worked a total of 17 stations in VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, and VK7.  This included three further Park to Park contacts with Matt VK5ZM and Garry VK5FGRY who were both portable in the Morialta Conservation Park 5CP-142 and VKFF-1783, andd then Phil VK6ADF in the Green Mount National Park VKFF-0218.

I headed down to 7.120 and worked a further 7 stations from VK1, VK3, VK4 and New Zealand, before heading off to 80.  The sun was starting to set and it was getting quite cool in the park.  I headed to 3.610 but that was occupied by some very strong ZL’s so I headed up to 3.620 where I called CQ.  First station in the log on 80m was Mick VK3GGG, followed by Peter VK3HSB and Peter VK5PL.  I worked a total of 14 stations on 80m from VK1, VK2, VK3, and VK5.

It was time to head for home.  I had a total of 73 contacts in the log and a new park to add to my Activator list.

The following stations were worked on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK5BJE/p (VKFF-0873)
  2. VK4RF
  3. VK4HA
  4. VK3CAT/p (SOTA VK3/ VN-017)
  5. VK3FOTO/m
  6. VK4FAAS
  7. VK3MCX
  8. VK2SR
  9. VK2LEE
  10. VK3SQ
  11. VK3UH
  12. VK4HNS
  13. VK4FFAB
  14. VK3KR
  15. VK3FSPG
  16. VK2IO/p (SOTA VK2/ ST-009 and VKFF-135)
  17. VK1ZZ/4
  18. VK3FJD
  19. VK3BBB
  20. VK3ELH
  21. VK3FOWL
  22. VK3FADM
  23. VK3FMAA
  24. VK3BL
  25. VK2HJW/p
  26. VK2PKT
  27. VK3PF
  28. VK5ZM/p (VKFF-0783)
  29. VK3GGG
  30. VK3PMG
  31. VK4ARW
  32. VK3NE
  33. VK3OY
  34. VK5FGRY/p (VKFF-0783)
  35. VK3SFG
  36. VK4JK
  37. VK3MCK
  38. VK3ANL
  39. VK6NI
  40. VK6JOn/7
  41. VK6ADF/p (VKFF-0218)
  42. VK1MA
  43. VK4ME
  44. VK4QQ
  45. ZL4KD
  46. VK3FDAP
  47. VK3HSB
  48. VK6NU

The following stations were worked on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK6RZ
  2. VK4RF
  3. VK4HA
  4. VK6JON/7
  5. VK7CW
  6. VK4DD
  7. VK6ADF/p (VKFF-0218)
  8. VK6MSC
  9. VK7BO
  10. VK4ETT
  11. VK4MON

The following stations were worked on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK3GGG
  2. VK3PMG
  3. VK3HSB
  4. VK5PL
  5. VK1MA
  6. VK1HW
  7. VK5BJE
  8. VK5FANA
  9. VK3TJS
  10. VK2LEE
  11. VK1DI
  12. VK3PAT
  13. VK2NED
  14. VK5RY