VK3ARR's SOTA Blog

Ego loqui ad viros super montes

VK7/SC-045 – Mt Rumney

After Salamanca, the kids wanted to head back to the motel and my wife thought that was a good idea. I asked my wife what she wanted for the afternoon, and she said an afternoon without the kids. She said this right as I was playing with SOTA Finder on my phone, and seeing Mt Rumney not 5km away from where we were staying in Bellerive. It looked a drive up, and had promise, so I told my wife I’d take the kids to the mountain, give her a few hours to herself, and kill multiple birds with one stone.

The kids would need some bribing first, though. For the whole trip, we’d borrowed Harry Potter audiobooks, and we were halfway through the Chamber of Secrets. I offered the kids, who never liked leaving the car during a good bit, the opportunity to listen to Harry Potter for hours. They leapt at the opportunity. I bundled them in the car, drove to the top of Mt Rumney and began to set up.

I used the linked dipole this time, and this seemed to work a lot better. 40m was in good enough shape that I got 12 stations in the log in relatively quick time, including John ZL1BYZ again.

A switch to 20m brought in an Italian station who thought I was WWFF, and 3 VKs, before a raft of European DX, including OK, ON, DL and OE. I worked John ZL1BYZ again, with 20m allowing more of a chat, before another VK. At this point, I checked on the kids, who had learnt how to change the disc, which gave me about another 74 minutes. None of them needed toilet breaks yet.

At this point, I figured two from two, so I put up a spot for CW on 14.061 and immediately had a sense of dread. 20m was open to Europe, and my CW skills on callsigns wasn’t great. I had two takers though, OK1PDT for a new mode, and PA1BR for a new entity on CW. A switch back to SSB brought in Don G0RQL for another DXCC, before I worked Andrew VK1AD on 40m (an arranged call) and Warren ZL2AJ back on 20m after work.

At this point, the kids were still happy, but time was pressing, so I packed it all up and we went home. Kids happy, wife happy, lots of DX and survived 20m CW, so I was happy!

VK7/SC-001 – Mt Wellington

After reaching Hobart, I had permission to finally tackle some SOTA. I knew that Mt Wellington was an easy drive-up, so I decided to try instead Collins Cap, after dropping the wife and kids in town. I had read a number of articles on this particular walk, and parked the car at an unexpected locked gate up from Myrtle Forest. The walk in was therefore longer than anticipated, and by the time I reached Myrtle Falls, I was doing the maths in my head and realising that I’d have about 5 minutes on the summit to set up, activate and pack up to make it back to Hobart in time.

I cancelled my alert, and then decided to go straight to Mt Wellington. I would have about 90 minutes at the top on the basis of the agreed meeting point with the family.

As mentioned, Mt Wellington is the easiest 10 pointer you’ll do, a simple drive right to the top. The summit is always crowded, so I set up near the shelter I’d seen on Justin VK7TW’s blog. Unfortunately, there were a lot of people around, so I opted to use the vertical, attached to the fascia board of the shelter, and strung out the counterpoise along the rock line.

I started on 40m, and Col VK3LED came back at 11:36 am to give me my 14th association, VK7. A slow effort led to 4 contacts on 40m SSB – not the vertical’s most efficient band. I decided, therefore, to use 20m. I worked two contacts on 20m on SSB and then decided I’d go for it. I’d use CW on an activation.

My CW skills are OK. They aren’t fantastic, but I’d probably pass a 5 wpm test if I had to. I have been practicing at 15wpm, at which speed I’m not much cop. So, I spotted myself on 14.061 MHz, and after a short while, back came an almost unintelligible stream of CW at about 30 wpm. I asked them to QRS, and I realised I had a ZL station, ZL1BYZ in the log. BYZ? BQZ? BYZ? BQZ? something like that, anyway. I settled on BYZ, and was grateful to see I was right!

Rick VK4RF also responded, and I answered a few kids’ questions about morse code while I packed up. I met up with the family at Salamanca Place, and had lunch and took the kids off my wife’s hands.

A really bad shot of Hobart from the top

A really bad shot of Hobart from the top

Freycinet National Park – VKFF-188 – 14 April 2016

A Tasmanian family holiday presented an interesting opportunity to grab SOTA summits, and perhaps some parks. We started in the north of the state, where I saw quite a few SOTA summits, but most were reasonable climbs or requiring too much time, so I settled for a bit of 2m repeater action, using my handheld to get into the Mt Barrow repeater, about 100km away to the east of where we were staying. I spoke with VK7CR (Huonville, via linked repeater) and VK7VDX on Flinders Island – an ex-Geelong person.

After the north, we headed to the east coast, and stayed a few nights in Coles Bay. There are also SOTA summits here – the accessible one, Mt Amos, calling for a 5 hr return walk graded extremely difficult. I opted out although I doubt I would have been allowed to anyway as I was the only driver and injury meant having to cancel the planned trip.

Coles Bay

Coles Bay

In the morning, we climbed up to Wineglass Bay Lookout, explored Cape Tourville lighthouse, and then had lunch by Honeymoon Bay. Eventually, the kids were tired and wanted to stay at the accommodation for a bit, so my wife agreed to let me take the radio and set up in Freycinet NP for VKFF. I chose Cape Tourville to set up at, as it seemed the easiest spot, and I had seen some good areas to tie a dipole off to.

Wineglass Bay

Wineglass Bay

Honeymoon Bay

Honeymoon Bay

I set up out of the way, and discovered that the BNC connector on the balun was loose, and the lack of a screwdriver prevented me from reaching it to fix it. I settled for jiggling the cable to get what I needed. This was after trying for 30 minutes to make a decent contact.

Once the problem was troubleshooted (troubleshot?) I managed to work 20-odd contacts on 40m, including a park-to-park, before eventually I had to descend. At that point, I realised the rock I had been sitting on had blocked blood flow to my left leg, and this had made it numb. Having no feeling and trying to walk around packing up is a difficult thing, and after the pins and needles subsided, I completed the tear down and walked back to the car. Freycinet is a beautiful part of the world, and I shall have to return in order to get the remaining contacts for 44.

Cape Tourville Lighthouse

Cape Tourville Lighthouse

AM Weekend – 2 April 2016

In what has now become a yearly tradition (well, two years now…) the weekend of April Fool’s Day is a day to drag out AM DSB-FC onto a Summit and take the time to make contacts, thus demonstrating the wisdom of SSB for the rest of the year.

This time, as last time, I headed up to Mt Buninyong. I worked Peter VK3PF first on SSB to get a park in the log, before switching to AM and heading right up above 7.150MHz. I worked 8 on AM, including Allen VK3ARH who asked me why I hadn’t told him I was coming up to his local summit.

I then switched to SSB on 40m and on 20m, the highlight being working Mike VK6MB on 40m (and also on 20m). Allen showed up around then, and while I fiddled about on some of the higher bands (the only contact being Tony VK3CAT on 10m), we discussed various SOTA related matters.

We finished up chasing Russ VK2BJP/3 for a S2S on VK3/VE-014, and then Gerard on VK2/HU-056.

All up, a great day’s activation, and a finer appreciation for the joys of SSB, which, even if not as efficient a mode as CW, is certainly a damn sight more efficient than AM!