VK3ARR's SOTA Blog

Ego loqui ad viros super montes

DX chasing

The past few days have been great for chasing. In particular, on Saturday, having had to forfeit our first tennis final due to one of our players breaking his arm, I was looking for something to cheer me up. That came in the form of Greg VK8GM taking advantage of the start of the new VK8 association to activate VK8/AL-153. He was fairly weak on 20m, but I was using my 40m dipole so no real surprises there. A 44 signal from him, just above the noise, and 51 from me, using nominal 20W. This was the fifth unique association I’d worked.

I also reached out to a few NA stations calling for the ARRL DX contest, as mentioned in the last blog post, before working Peter VK3ZPF on Dingo Ridge (VK3/VC-028) and Allen VK3HRA on Mt Warrenheip (VK3/VC-019). Allen was desperate to head to 20m, and my call delayed that a bit, but he took it in good cheer, and I kept it short. The prize, on 20m, was some Europe DX.

Mike 2E0YYY was up on Shining Tor (G/SP-004) in the Southern Pennines region of England. He was very low down and completely unworkable on my 40m dipole, and marginal on the Buddistick which was still set up. I perhaps could have worked him on the peaks, but it would have been hard. I quickly strung out the linked dipole, ran the feedline back into the radio and put out a call. He was better, a 3/1 signal to me, and I worked him with 60W and a 4/2 signal. That made two new associations for the day.

I passed 1300 chaser points with Andrew VK3BQ on top of Mt Macedon (VK3/VC-007), before last night working Mike again, for a new association (GW – Wales), on top of GW/NW-070. I’d seen his alert, and was home from work early enough to have the dipole strung out ready for him. I saw the spot after dinner, and raced out. I worked him second call, with his signal higher this time (3/3) though still scratchy, and my signal to him 5 and 5. Three new associations in under a week.

My challenge now is to work out which of those will be my first completed association for the Mountain Hunter award. This requires two contacts in the association as a chaser, and all three are unqualified on 1 so far. Once I qualify one of those, I’ll have reached the Bronze level of the Mountain Hunter award.

Finally, all this DX stuff wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Andrew VK1NAM. He probably wasn’t the first VK to work DX on a summit, nor will he be the last, but few have a claim on his persistence at attempting the long-haul back to the antipodes. He’s done it with 50W and he’s done it with 5W, and he’s encouraged plenty of others (myself included) to try as well. He’s demonstrated over and over again what is possible, even in the face of a few that have found it difficult. What’s been great is his enthusiasm has infected those in Europe and the UK as well, who are now providing chasing opportunities for us over here, and chasing us when we activate. My first activation on 20m gave me 1 DX entity. My next produced lots more. So well done, Andrew, and hats off to you.

New Toys part Deux

Hot Shots or Hot Shots Part Deux? The age old question. Both funny films in their own right. Is it won by Admiral Benson’s declaration that, on seeing his men ready to fly their mission, saying “What I wouldn’t give to be 30 years younger. And a woman.” Or is it won by President Benson’s declaration to Saddam Hussein that they’d “settle this in the ol’ Navy way. First person to die, loses.” I don’t know, and I still can’t split them easily, but if you forced me to, I’d say that I’d fallen for the first one, as Topper said, “like a blind roofer.”

And so, if you’re still reading, I think I’ll go for New Toys part one (the FT-857) as my preferred new toy, although part Deux is still good too. I have a need for a good portable antenna that doesn’t require a 7m squid pole, and after reading a few reviews, I went with the Buddistick. Andrew VK1NAM is a fan of the RHM8 by Diamond, but a lot of NA SOTA folks use the Buddistick or Buddipole. The price wasn’t substantially different, so I went with the Buddistick.

It’s very portable, coming with a nice carry case that would fit nicely into a suitcase or backpack, and in testing on the weekend proved itself to work very well. I had it set up outside and was able to work several ARRL DX stations with it, including K3ZJ who gave me a 5/7 from a 100W nominal signal (peaking about 70W), and AG5Z in Mississippi, who gave me a *cough* 5/9. A 5/9, you say? You must be joking! If I were joking, I would have said, “What do you do with an elephant with three balls? You walk him and pitch to the Rhino.”

These were my first two NA stations worked, and with a compromised vertical antenna, with some good signal reports. Of course, the 5/9 is just the contest exchange, but I didn’t get the sense I was low down on any of the contacts. Using the principle of reciprocity, given their 500W outputs and 5/7 signals, my 100W or so was probably about a 5/4. So I’m happy with the performance, and happy with the portability of it. I’ll still use my linked dipole around Victoria, but if I activate when I travel, the Buddistick will be the first antenna thrown in.

A zip up bag with two antennae, height extenders, a loading coil, a long wire counterpoise and a mounting clamp.

A zip up bag with two antennae, height extenders, a loading coil, a long wire counterpoise and a mounting clamp.

deployed on a cheap camera tripod

deployed on a cheap camera tripod