Mt Warrenheip redux

by vk3arr

With the children and wife off on a play date, and with Rod VK2TWR and Al VK1RX aiming a 40 point marathon, I decided I’d head up to Mt Warrenheip again to work some S2S. In addition, Andrew VK1NAM was on VK1/AC-036 with Greg VK2FGJW. I got away a little later than anticipated, but still managed to make it before UTC rollover. I was toting my usual gear, including a few new additional links to the 40/20m linked dipole to give me 15 and 12m.

Retrofitting a linked dipole isn’t a smart move, but I still managed to get things tuned reasonably well. This particular linked dipole started out as a 20m dipole, then had links added for 40m, which affected tuning a little on 20m, but the addition of the 15m and 12m links fixed up 20m tuning. The tuning for 15m is a little off, but still less than 1.5 across the entire band. 12m was spot on.

Meanwhile, back on Mt Warrenheip, I had set up at the same location I had the time before. I stretched out on the road, tied off one dipole leg to one of the communication tower’s access gates and the other to a tree, and got to work.

I worked Greg S2S first on 7090 kHz, then QSY’d up 5 to work 14 stations before the UTC rollover. There was the usual crowd of chasers, although mainly from external to VK3, which was a little surprising. There was one new chaser, Amanda VK3FQSO up in Wedderburn, and my signal made it as far as Newcastle and Matt VK2DAG.

After UTC, I worked 25 stations, including my first VK7 chase from VK7DIK. A QSY up to 20m found VK2JNG north of Armidale in NSW, but no VK6. I’d looked at the IPS website to see what the best frequency was predicted to be – 17m apparently. I tried 15m, but could not get into VK6. I did manage to get my first VK4 chase, Dave VK4OZY.
I also worked Tony VK3CAT for 10 points and Glenn VK3YY for 2 points summit to summit. Rather than dropping the linked dipole, I was still getting a decent enough signal using the 15m setting, so just worked them that way with reduced reports. Also on 15m was BD4CRZ, Zhu in China, but I wasn’t able to break through the pileup of JA stations. I could also hear a few, but no one else came back to work me.

Around this point in time, I did have to move my gear, as a maintenance tech for one of the dishes on the tower arrived to deal with a fault. A little more on that later.

Back down on 40m, Rod and Al finally made VK2/SM-010 after a long walk they hadn’t anticipated, so I worked them both for another 10 points of S2S action. While I was listening, they worked Gerard VK2IO who was 15 minutes away from his summit, so I decided to hang around to get some more points. By this stage it was 2pm and I was very hungry, so I was hoping it would be worth it. Waiting an extra half hour (= a SOTA “15 minutes from summit”) for 1 point would upset my stomach. Fortunately for me, it was 6 more valuable points.

In the end, I worked VK7 and VK4 for the first time from a summit, made my first QSO on 15m. I chased 32 points from the summit, more than I’d hoped, despite Rod and Al being delayed, thanks to Tony and Glenn. I also added a few new unique summits. The eventual S2S with Rod pushed me over 250 S2S points, and to 125 unique summits chased. I also pushed past 900 points chasing (now up to 947) so I’m in the home stretch now towards Sloth status.

As for the maintenance tech, he was there looking after a failed backbone microwave link on 18GHz. He got very interested when he discovered I was playing radio and we spent a bit of time dancing around when I started, what I was doing, what frequencies I was using etc, etc. Basically a thinly veiled attempt to blame me for his problems. He was polite and nice about it, but it took a little bit of time showing logs and frequencies to get him to drop the concerns.

I don’t think he expected me to understand how his systems worked, including pointing out things like given the capacity of the link, the IF needed to be in the 100s of MHz, not the 10s, and the fact his problems started at 9:30, and I didn’t pitch up until 10:30. I work in IT support too, so I understand a reasonable amount about the troubleshooting process. By the end of it, he’d come around to my way of thinking, but it did make me late home, to my wife’s annoyance. It does show the value of keeping accurate logs. He had no right to inspect my log, but he could also have made my life difficult as he’d heard my callsign and calling CQ. A bit of courtesy and accurate logs kept him on side. Oh, and showing I wasn’t a complete mug at this “support” game.

As I was leaving, some of his colleagues turned up, and I have a suspicion he was trying to blame me as much to solve his problem as to avoid having to climb the tower. The younger of the two who’d just arrived was putting on climbing harnesses as I disappeared around the corner.