About 2 weeks ago I was surfing the web and became aware that the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) had a special event callsign for the current COVID-19 restrictions. Over the past few months, I have worked many of the European COVID-19 special event calls, but I had not heard the VK special callsign on air, so I decided to apply for its use and give it a workout.
I headed to the WIA website and to the callsign roster and booked the use of the callsign of VK20HOME for a three day period – Saturday 4th July 2020 – Monday 6th July 2020.
More than 30 countries have activated HOME or STAYHOME suffixes this year. The WIA applied for the VK20HOME callsign after an official request from Martti Lane OH2BH who asked if the WIA would like to participate in the global stay home event endorsed by the IARU.
I had the weekend of the 4th & 5th July off work, but I had to work on Monday. This left me with 2 and a bit days to have some fun on-air and hopefully remind a few people of the dangers of this disease which in recent days has really flared up in Victoria in Australia.
I have just moved QTH to Ashbourne, about 63 km SSE of Adelaide and have been here just 5 weeks. As a result, I have no dedicated shack and no substantial antennas up at this stage. My station for this event was my normal portable set up, consisting of the Yaesu FT-857d, 30 watts output, and my 20/40/80m linked dipole, which was in an inverted vee configuration, just 7 metres at the apex (supported on a 7-metre heavy duty squid pole). My gear was set up underneath my back verandah overlooking the paddocks. So I was a definite STAY AT HOME station.
I started off on Saturday morning by booking into the BRL Net, the Riverland Radio Club’s Net on 7.115 on the 40m band. First in the log was Dennis VK2HHA in Albury.
After logging a number of stations on the Net I moved up the band and found Gerald VK2HBG calling CQ using the special event call of VI110WIA in commemoration and celebration of the WIA’s 110 years of operation.
For the remainder of the day, I moved between 40m, 80m and 20m, calling CQ. All up on my first day with the call I logged a total of 101 stations from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7, and New Zealand.
This included a couple of park activators: Tony VK3TNL/2 at Cameron Corner in the Sturt National Park VKFF-0470, and Pete VK2FPAR/p in the Thirlmere Lakes National Park VKFF-0486.
The best contact of the day was on 40m with Noel ZL3AHW who was mobile in New Zealand. I often work Noel on the 10m band. Noel was a good 5/4 signal and he gave me a 5/6. I was able to copy Noel perfectly as my new QTH at Ashbourne has absolutely no man-made noise. It is an absolute pleasure to operate on air from this new location.
I also worked a handful of New Zealand stations on 80m during the evening who were taking part in their Memorial Day Contest.
I had a bit of a sleep in on Sunday, but after breakfast, I headed outside for some more action as VK20HOME. First up, I checked in to the Australian Ham Radio Net on 7.097 and logged Ron VK3AHR from Wodonga with a big signal, along with a number of other stations on the Net.
I then moved up the band and called CQ logging a steady flow of callers. I then took a break for lunch and also about 2 & 1/2 hours of cleaning up my shed. I then headed back to the radio and logged a number of stations on 40m before heading to the 20m band where I booked into the ANZA DX Net.
I then moved back to 40m and after dinner headed to the 80m bad. All up on Sunday I logged a total of 108 stations from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7, New Zealand, and the USA. This included speaking with Gerard again, VI110WIA, Greg NR6Q in California USA, Glenn VK3YY/p on the top of a SOTA peak, Tony VK3TNL/2 in the Kinchega National Park VKFF-0263, Woody WW1WW in New Hampshire USA, and a number of New Zealand stations.
I was also very pleased to work a number of QRP stations: Trevor VK3DCQ on 2 watts; Peter VK3PWG/p on 2.5 watts, Steven VK2ZVG/p on 5 watts; and Steve VK1FSWB on 5 watts.
I had to work on Monday, but on arriving home from work I headed straight outside and started calling CQ on 40m. I logged 14 stations before heading over to 80m where I worked 9 stations, and it was then back to 40m for the OZ DX Net. I logged 8 stations on the Net from VK1, VK2, VK4, VK5, New Zealand, and the USA.
To conclude my time with VK20HOME I moved back to 80m where I logged just 4 more stations. Conditions were quite difficult due to very loud static crashes.
I logged a total of 35 stations on Monday evening.
So after a and a bit days as VK20HOME, I logged a total of 244 contacts.
Most of my contacts were around VK and into New Zealand as can be seen from the map below. My current set up is less than ideal for DX contacts.
But I did manage a few contacts into the USA, which considering my station, I was very happy about.
The majority of my contacts were on the 40m band with 171 contacts, followed by 80m with 60 contacts. I found the 20m band to be very poor with just 13 contacts logged on that band to VK2, VK3, VK4, VK6, VK7, New Zealand, and the USA. There was no long path propagation to Europe.
Victorian (VK3) stations featured the most in my log, with a total of 90 QSOs, followed by VK2 with 59 QSOs. I worked 10 stations in New Zealand and just 3 stations in the USA.
THANK YOU to everyone who called. I had a lot of fun.