Results of 2017 CQ WPX Contest

This morning I checked the web re the results of the 2017 CQ WPX Contest which was held on 25th and 26th March 2017.  And to my surprise, there was a certificate waiting there for me.  It was a certificate for first place in Australia for the Single Op Low Power All Bands section.

The WPX Contest is based on an award offered by CQ Magazine for working all prefixes. Held on the last weekend of March (SSB) and May (CW), the contest draws thousands of entries from around the world.

I made a total of 454 QSOs over the weekend, with a score of 372,876 points.

I came first in Australia in this category, 6th in Oceania, and 845th in the World.  I was closely followed by Steve VK2NSS in 2nd place with 207,060 points.

The top scoring station in Australia, who was in the Multi-Two category was VK4KW with 10,344,536 points.  The top scorer in the world was CN3A in Morocco with a total of 8,158 QSOs and a score of 55,670,247 points.

Many thanks to CQ Magazine and the organisers of this contest.

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New VKFF structure

The WWFF program has been running in Australia since March 2013, so about 4 & 1/2 years. In that time the program has exploded in popularity, with park activators now being heard almost every day of the week (even in the middle of the week).

I have now issued just a little short of 2,100 VKFF certificates to VK’s and other amateurs all around the world during that period.

makenatureyourshack

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Now has come the time that I need a little help to keep the VKFF program afloat, as I am spending a number of hours each day in front of the computer, maintaining the website, issuing awards, and uploading logs. Much to the chagrin of my very understanding wife Marija. This together with a number of other pies I have my fingers in.

I have now sourced some very good volunteers who are going to assist in the VKFF program, and I thank these individuals very very much. They are as follows:-

Ian VK1DI.

Gerard VK2IO.

Mick VK3GGG.

Mark VK4SMA.

Hans VK6XN.

Jonathan VK7JON.

Commencing Wednesday 18th October 2017 the above gentlemen will act as State/Territory representatives in the VKFF program. They will be responsible for uploading logs for activations from their respective State/Territory, and also processing/forwarding award applications/certificates for amateurs from their respective State/Territory.

So, for example, if you activate a park in VK1 (no matter what your call may be), the log will now be forwarded to Ian VK1DI. If you activate a park in VK2, then Gerard VK2IO is your contact, etc, etc.

If you apply for a VKFF award (excluding OCCFF & the special awards), you will receive the award via the respective State/Territory rep mentioned above.

Hans VK6XN will also be doing VK8.

I will continue to upload logs and process awards for VK5’s.

I will also continue in my role as the VKFF National co-ordinator, and thanks to the volunteers mentioned above, I will now be able to focus more on National VKFF issues.

More info on the new VKFF Team can be found on the WWFF Australia website at…..

http://www.wwffaustralia.com/vkff-team.html

I again, thank the gentlemen mentioned above for volunteering their time. It is greatly appreciated.

Do not hesitate to contact me should you have any queries.

73 and ’44’,

Paul VK5PAS
VKFF National co-ordinator.
vk5pas@wia.org.au

Ted Powell Memorial Top 5 DX Challenge certificate

Last night I checked my emails and I was very pleasantly surprised to find I had a certificate in my inbox waiting for me.  It was a certificate for Ted Powell (VK2AU) Memorial Top 5 DX Challenge for the period July-September 2017.

This contest was developed by the Fisher’s Ghost Amateur Radio Club in memory of Ted Powell, who became a silent key on 16 March 2014. Ted’s passion was working rare DX and collecting QSL cards. At the time of his passing, Ted had worked 301 entities and confirmed 300 by QSL cards.

The objective of the “Most Wanted” category is to work the most wanted DXCC entity during an award period. The winner will be the station who works the most wanted DXCC entity based on its ranking in Clublog’s Most Wanted list current at the beginning of the award period.

THANKYOU to the Fishers Ghost Amateur Radio Club.

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Mount Billy Conservation Park 5CP-143 and VKFF-0912

Yesterday afternoon (Sunday 15th October 2017) I drove down to the Fleurieu Peninsula, to activate the Mount Billy Conservation Park 5CP-143 and VKFF-0912.  This was the third time I had activated the park so it was to count towards the Boomerang Award for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.  The activation also counted towards the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award.

The park is located about 75 km south of Adelaide and about 70 km south west of my home in the Adelaide Hills.

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Above:- Map showing the location of the Mount Billy Conservation Park.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

Prior to leaving home I checked the solar figures and they didn’t look particularly good with the solar flux index being down compared to previous days and the A index very high.  But it was too beautiful an afternoon not to head out, with bright sunshine, not a cloud in the sky, and a temperature of about 21 deg C.

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A check of the Hourly Area Prediction Chart (HAP) for Adelaide showed that again, the close in propagation was not going to work on 40m.

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The Mount Billy Conservation Park is about 198 hectares in size and was proclaimed on the 12th day of August 1999.  The park is located off the Hindmarsh Tiers Road, abut 13 km north of Victor Harbor and is adjacent to the Hindmarsh Valley Reservoir.  The reservoir is no longer in official use, but was once part of the supply chain of water supply to the town of Victor Harbor.  The land which is now the park served as the adjacent catchment area.  Upon the closing of the reservoir, land was transferred from SA Water to the Department of Water Natural Resources (DEWNR).

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Above:- Aerial shot of the Mount Billy Conservation Park, looking north.  Image courtesy of Google maps

Mount Billy represents some of the best preserved mallee and forest communities within the southern Mount Lofty Ranges.  Main habitats within the park include Low Woodland – Pink Gum, Brown Stringybark, Cup Gum, and Golden Wattle; and Woodland – Pink Gum, South Australian Blue Gum, over Golden Wattle.

In the northern area of the park where I operated the vegetation is quite low, with the soil being very sandy.

The southern section of the park is more rugged in terrain and contains the thick Gum Woodlands, creeks, and ferns.

During my visit the park was alive with various native shrubs in flower.

About 80 native bird species have been recorded in the park including Superb Fairywren, Eastern Spinebill, Crescent Honeyeater, Brown Thornbill, Grey Shrikethrush, Australian Golden Whistler, Sacred Kingfisher, Common Bronzewing, Red-rumped Parrot, Buff-rumped Thornbill, and Yellow Thornbill.

Numerous native animals call the park home including Western Grey kangaroos and the endangered Southern Brown Bandicoot.

To get to the park from my home I travelled through the Adelaide Hills to the town of Meadows and then on to Willunga.  I then travelled south on the Victor Harbor Road until I reached Pambula Road.  There were some great views to be enjoyed of Victor Harbor from the roadside.

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This is certainly beautiful country down here on the Fleurieu Peninsula.

I then reached the junction with Hindmarsh Tiers Road where I turned right and I soon made it to gate 1 of the park, located in the north eastern corner of Mount Billy.

There is a small area here alongside of the gate where you can park your car.  Although the gate is locked, the authorities do have a pedestrian access area to the park.  I walked a short distance down one of the tracks and started setting up my station, comprising the Yaesu FT-857d and the 20/40/80m linked dipole.

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Above:- Map showing the park, and my operating spot.  Map courtesy of Location SA Map Viewer.

Whilst I was setting up, a vehicle arrived at the park.  It was a lady from the Friends of Mount Billy.  We had a chat about the park and I explained to her what it was that I was doing in the park.  She seemed very interested and I gave her my business card and some promo brochures on WWFF and the VK5 Parks Award.

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The Friends of Mount Billy have regular working bees to generally monitor the condition of the park and to perform important weeding tasks.  More information can be found at….

http://www.friendsofparkssa.org.au/members-directory/friends-of-mt-billy

I was set up and ready to go a little ahead of my scheduled time of 0500 UTC.  After switching the radio on, the 857d was already on 7.144 and I heard Gerard VK2IO/p calling CQ from the Windsor Downs Nature Reserve VKFF-2020.  I still hadn’t secured the ends of the dipole, but it sounded as if Gerard was about to go QRT, so I gave him a call.  It was a nice way to start the activation with a Park to Park contact.  I then had a tune across the band and heard Jonathan VK7JON on 7.135 in the Little Peggs Beach State Reserve VKFF-1812.  But Jonathan had a mini pile up going, so I headed back to 7.144 where I started calling CQ.  Peter VK3PF was first in the log, followed by Dennis VK2HHA, and then Marshall VK3MRG/p.

The 40m band was in average condition, with signals from Victoria (VK3) being well down compared to normal.  However, on the plus side, Cliff VK2NP’s signal was the strongest I had ever heard him….5/9 plus, with Cliff also giving me a 5/9, which is very rare.  As conditions were a little rough, callers were far less than I normally experience, so I took the opportunity of having a listen across the band, hoping to work Jonathan VK7JON.  Sadly when I had a listen on 7.135, Jonathan had gone, so I moved back to 7.144, and was very pleasantly surprised when Helen VK7FOLK/p called me from Little Peggs Beach State Reserve VKFF-1812.  I then logged Jonathan.

I was about to hand the frequency over to Helen and Jonathan, when Gerard VK2IO/p came up, this time in a new park, the Castlereagh Nature Reserve VKFF-1905.  After logging Gerard I headed off to the 80m band hoping to log some VK5’s.

First in the log on 80m was Marija VK5FMAZ, followed by Greg VK5GJ who was 5/9.  Greg lowered his power down to 400 milliwatts and was still a good 5/4 to Mount Billy.  Despite conditions being good around VK5 on 80m, John VK5BJE was my only other caller.  John was 5/9 plus from Scott Creek in the Adelaide Hills.

I then lowered the squid pole and removed the links and headed to the 20m band.  I called CQ on 14.310 and this was answered by regular park activator and hunter Phil VK6ADF.  Unfortunately Phil was my only caller, despite a self spot on parksnpeaks and posts on some of the Facebook sites.  So I tuned across the 20m band and found Tony 3D2AG calling CQ, with a 5/7 signal.  I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make it to Tony, but I decided to give it a go.  I was very surprised when Tony came back to me and gave me a 5/5 from Fiji.

To complete the activation I headed back to 40m and logged a further 9 stations from VK1, VK2, VK3, and VK4.  Tex VK1TX in Camberra was the strongest signal of the day, being 5/9 ++++.

With 45 contacts in the log and a rumbling stomach, it was time for me to pack up and head home.

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Above:- Looking north along the track towards my operating spot and the gate on Hindmarsh Tiers Road.

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2IO/p (Windsor Downs Nature Reserve VKFF-2020)
  2. VK3PF
  3. VK2HHA
  4. VK3MRG/p
  5. VK3OHM
  6. VK3FCMC/p
  7. VK3MDH/p
  8. VK4RF
  9. VK4HA
  10. VK7VZ/2
  11. VK2PKT
  12. VK7DW
  13. VK2NP
  14. VK3KRH
  15. Vk2YK
  16. VK3ZPF
  17. VK1LAJ/p
  18. VK7QP
  19. VK3BNJ
  20. VK2VRC
  21. VK3SQ
  22. VK4TJ
  23. VK3FMKE
  24. VK3VGB
  25. VK2JNG/p
  26. VK3HBG
  27. VK5MR
  28. VK7FOLK/p (Little Peggs Beach State Reserve VKFF-1812)
  29. VK7JON/p (Little Peggs Beach State Reserve VKFF-1812)
  30. VK2IO/p (Castlereagh Nature Reserve VKFF-1905)
  31. VK2FANT
  32. VK3FADM/1
  33. VK1DI
  34. VK2GPT
  35. VK2VX
  36. VK1TX
  37. VK4QQ
  38. VK3SFG
  39. VK2OA
  40. VK7FOTR

I worked the following stations on 80m SSB:-

  1. VK5FMAZ
  2. VK5GJ
  3. VK5BJE

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK6ADF
  2. 3D2AG

After packing up I decided to explore the western side of the park.  First I stopped off to have a look at the old Hindmarsh Valley reservoir which is located on the southern boundary of the park.

I then continued north on Nettle Hill Road.  It was quite appropriate that I came across these goats in a paddock adjacent to Mount Billy.

There were some very nice views to be enjoyed of the western side of the park from Nettle Hill Road.

I then travelled east along the Hindmarsh Tiers Road through the beautiful Hindmarsh Valley, named after John Hindmarsh, the first Governor of South Australia.

I stopped off briefly to have a look at the old Hindmarsh Valley School which was established way back in 1867.

I then started travelling north on the Victor Harbor Road, again stopping briefly to have a look at the old stone wall at Cut Hill which was built in 1868 by Jabez Grimble under contract to the Central Roads Board.  These old stone walls are truly remarkable.  Bullock carts had the tendency to overturn on the steep hillside at this location, and as a result Grimble was employed to make the descent into Victor Harbor safer.  Jabez had undertaken previous road and bridge works in the district.

The metre high dry stone parapet is what travellers along the Victor Harbor Road can see.  However, the wall is actually about 5 metres in height on the creek side.  It is reported that after Jabez had paid off the workmen assisting him in the construction of the wall, there was no money left for Jabez and his family.

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Above:- Jabez Grimble.  c/o Encounter Bay Family History Group

The Encounter Bay Family History Group has further information on Jabez Grimble which can be found at……

http://encounterbayfhg.org.au/grimble/

I made one final stop on my way home.  I was keen to check out to see if there was any access to the Hesperilla Conservation Park.  This is one of two parks which I have not activated down on the Fleurieu Peninsula.  I was fortunate in that I found a guy rounding up his chooks and he pointed me to a very rough track, which sure enough led down to the park.  Hesperilla is swampland and frogs were plentiful during my visit, which I am sure meant plenty of Red Bellied snakes and Tiger Snakes.  This is a park which I will need to return to.

 

 

References.

Birds SA, 2017, <http://www.birdssa.asn.au/location/mount-billy-conservation-park/&gt;, viewed 16 October 2017

Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 2011, ‘Parks of the Fleurieu Peninsula’

Friends of Parks South Australia, 2017, <http://www.friendsofparkssa.org.au/members-directory/friends-of-mt-billy&gt;, viewed 16th October 2017

Weekend Notes, 2017, <https://www.weekendnotes.com/cut-hill-victor-harbor-road/&gt;, viewed 16th October 2017

NSW NPWS 50 year celebration certificate

The New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) celebrates its 50 year anniversary this year.

To celebrate this event, the VKFF program is offering certificates to both activators and hunters, for having activated, or having made contact with 5 different NSW VKFF reference areas during October 2017.

I have qualified for the hunter certificate

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Thanks to the following VK2 activators:-

  • Gerard VK2JNG
  • Laurie VK2GZ
  • Adam VK2YK

2017 Oceania DX Contest

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Well, another Oceania DX Contest has been and gone.  This is one of a handful of contests that I always compete in each year.

I ended up making a total of 506 contacts with a claimed score of 311,202 points.  Those contacts were made on 10, 15, 20 & 40m SSB.  This was up quite a bit from last year when I made a total of 276 contacts.

Equipment used during the contest:-

  • Yaesu FT-1000
  • 100 watts
  • TET-Emtron TE-53 5 element yagi @ 16 metres (for 10m, 15m, & 20m)
  • home brew dipole inverted vee (for 40m)
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Above:- The 5 el yagi and the linked dipole hanging off the side of the tower,

Yesterday (Saturday 7th October 2017), leading up to the contest, the 20m band was in excellent condition on the long path to Europe.  I worked quite a pile up leading up to the contest.  Sadly, half an hour into the contest my noise floor on 20m went from S2 to S7.  This noise seems to come up quite regularly very late in the afternoon here and I have no idea on where it is coming from.  So as a result, it put a huge dent in my DXing on 20m.  In the end I had to give 20m away, with 33 contacts in the log from Europe & New Zealand, and I headed to 40m feeling hugely frustrated.

Unfortunately my 40m antenna is less than ideal for working DX, but I still managed to work French Caledonia, USA, and New Zealand on 40m.  I headed back to 20m at around 0845 UTC to find that the man made noise had gone, but so had the propagation to Europe on the long path.  I decided to beam to the north and as a result I worked numerous JA’s, Asiatic Russia, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, Ukraine, USA, VK6, and VK8.

I then moved back to 40m at about 1000 UTC (8.30 p.m.).  It was now dark.  I worked about a dozen stations from Australia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Asiatic Russia, Indonesia, Tonga, and East Kiribati.  I heard a number of other DX stations, but sadly my 100 watts and the dipole were just not cutting though.

It was approaching 1100 UTC so I headed back to 20m and found that the band was starting to open up on the short path to Europe.  The previous few nights I had been on afternoon shift at work, arriving home at around 1300 UTC (11.30 p.m. local time), with conditions short path to Europe being quite good.  Sadly, conditions during the contest were not quite as good as previous nights.  However I did have a good run of Europeans, South East Asia, the Sub Continent, and Middle East stations coming back to my CQ call.

I called it a night at about 1530 UTC (2.00 a.m. local time) with a total of 225 stations in the log.

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Above:- Map showing my contacts during the contest.

On Sunday morning I made my way out of bed at about 10.00 a.m. and headed back to the shack.  There wasn’t much happening on 20m or 40m so I had a listen on 15m and found the band open to Japan and South East Asia.  I logged a little over 60 stations.

At about 0200 UTC I tried my luck on the 10m band which was wide open to JA, but sadly there were not a lot of stations to be found.  I logged just 10 stations before heading over to 20m.  It was too early for any propagation to Europe but I did log a little over a dozen stations from VK and ZL.  I then flicked between 20m and 15, working stations  from South East Asia, USA, Australia and the Pacific.

Just before 0400 UTC I headed back to 40m and worked about 26 VK’s with conditions there being very good.  I then head a listen on 10m and 15m again, but stations heard there were quite low, with propagation to South East Asia dropping quite dramatically from earlier in the day.  I did hear VK9XI on Christmas Island and tried in vain to work them.  Almost, but not close enough!

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At around 0500 UTC (3.30 p.m.) I moved back to 20m.  The band was just starting to open up on the long path to Europe, with a dozen or so Europeans logged, and also VK and Tonga.  I again moved back to 40m and logged a handful of VK’s, waiting for 20m to open up.

At about 0600 UTC I headed back to 20m and found that the band was really starting to open up now on the long path to Europe.  Sadly conditions were nowhere near as good as the day previous.  I also experienced a lot of QRM making it very difficult to pick up the weaker stations.  Fortunately, the terrible noise I often experience on 20m was not present.  There was at least one blessing.

At around 0700 UTC I decided to have a listen on 15m and I am very pleased that I did.  The band was not only open to JA, but I worked a large number of stations on the short path into Europe.  Although the European signals were not super strong, it was really pleasing to hear Europe coming through.

At 0800 UTC, the end of the contest, I had 506 contacts in the log.

I worked a total of 55 different countries during the contest.  the following countries were logged:-

  1. Aland Islands
  2. Asiatic Russia
  3. Australia
  4. Austraia
  5. Belarus
  6. Belgium
  7. Brunei
  8. Canada
  9. China
  10. Cyprus
  11. Czech Republic
  12. Denmark
  13. East Kiribati
  14. East Malaysia
  15. England
  16. Estonia
  17. Finland
  18. France
  19. Germany
  20. Greece
  21. Hong Kong
  22. Hungary
  23. India
  24. Indonesia
  25. Italy
  26. Japan
  27. Kazakhstan
  28. Latvia
  29. Lithuania
  30. Netherklands
  31. New Caledonis
  32. New Zealand
  33. Northern Ireland
  34. Norway
  35.  Philippines
  36. Poland
  37. Portugal
  38. Romania
  39. Russia
  40. Scotland
  41. Singapore
  42. Slovak Republic
  43. Slovenia
  44. South Korea
  45. Spain
  46. Sweden
  47. Switzerland
  48. Taiwan
  49. Thailand
  50. Tonga
  51. Ukraine
  52. United Arab Emirates
  53. United States of America
  54. Wales
  55. West Malaysia

thinking-mind

Points to come out of the contest for me:-

  • get a dedicated antenna for the 80m band.  I do not have an antenna for that band so I missed out on any contacts on 80m.
  • Get my Heil headset fixed so I can use it in conjunction with the foot pedal.  I used the desk mic for the contest and as a result, have a crook neck.
  • Arrange for a voice recording.  Calling CQ all day long is not a good thing.
  • Get motivated to do my upgrade so I can run some more power.
  • Continue to look at a potential QTH move so I can get a more substantial antenna up in the air for 40m.

Thanks to everyone who called and thanks to the Oceania DX Contest Committee for another great contest.

I take my hat off to some of the VK big guns I heard during the contest, including VK5ARG, VK4HH, VK4NM, VK4KW, VK2AU, VK2XZ, VK6NE, and VK4FG.  Good luck to everyone who entered.

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