VK3ARR's SOTA Blog

Ego loqui ad viros super montes

Month: January, 2017

01 JAN 2017 – Mt Buller VK3/VE-008

Ah, UTC rollover, that glorious time of double points, and what better way to exploit it than with 10 point roughly drive up summits? Mt Buller fit that bill for me, being a relatively sane drive from Geelong, and also a unique. The drive up, through Alexandra, Yea and Mansfield took about 3 and a half hours, and the walk to the top less than 10 minutes, steep though it is from the summit car park.

Summit panorama

Summit panorama

Once there, it was clear it was going to be a very windy activation. Because of this, I set up closer to the fire watch tower, which was unmanned, and hit 40m for all it was worth. As expected, it was a S2S extravaganza, and the log was quickly filled up. I operated a mixture of search and pounce, and sitting on frequency, and there were a few instances of combined S2S operations as other activators heard me, or I heard others. Lots of cooperation, as always.

Looking north

Looking north

During this time, the fire watch person had arrived, and we had a quick chat; he wasn’t worried about my presence, but I did make it clear if I was getting in his way or causing interference he was to let me know immediately. There were no incidents from my side, although part of his UHF systems did seem to cause breakthrough when he used it occasionally. I wasn’t about to complain: fire watch takes precedence over SOTA.

Imminent risk of DEATH

Imminent risk of DEATH

In total, I had 52 QSOs across the rollover on 40m, and 1 on 20m, being Andrew VK3JBL/6 on VK6/SW-004, for my only VK6 contact, and in total, I added 255 S2S points to my tally, plus the 20 activator points, of course. As I packed up, I realised I’d also picked up some sunburn, which wasn’t as much fun.

South facing panorama

South facing panorama

I had a late lunch in Kilmore, before avoiding the temptation to throw in Pretty Sally on the way back, opting instead to get home at a sane and reasonable hour and not annoy my wife in the process. A fun UTC rollover again!

Back down to the summit village

Back down to the summit village

The topograph

The topograph

Advertisements

27 DEC 2016 – VK3/VN-023 Mt Tarrengower

In a similar vein to the previous activation of Mt Alexander, this was an opportunistic activation of Mt Tarrengower on the way back from Swan Hill. Having some control over the departure time, I noted there were going to be a bunch of ZL stations on the air, and timed my departure to have me arrive on Mt Tarrengower at the right time. It was raining lightly, but cleared as I set up.

In actual fact, I was a little early, and on 20m, I worked Gerard VK2IO first, who basically seems to be first in my log most activations. Then was John ZL1BYZ, who was low down, but workable from ZL1/WK-158, allowing me to complete the ZL1 association for Mountain Hunter. This is association 14. Col VK3LED got in ahead of UTC rollover before I switched to 15m, to try to work the other ZL stations.

I had heard them low down on 20m, but none had responded to my calls, and Warren ZL2AJ had suggested via SMS that 15m might be the go. I managed to work him on ZL1/BP-154, before QSY’ing up 5, and getting Kyle ZL2KGF and John ZL1PO in the logs from ZL1/AK-011 and ZL1/WK-153 respectively. ZL3LF also worked me on 15m, before 3 more on 20m (Gerard, Col post UTC and Ian VK5IS).

Pack up was quick and back into Malden for lunch and the drive home.

23 DEC 2016 – Mt Alexander VK3/VN-016

A quick activation while the family sat in Castlemaine on our way up to family Christmas in Swan Hill. It was a very hot day, and the biggest excitement, if it could be called that of this activation was the radio shutting down due to being in the sun while I set up (and of course being black). Gerard VK2IO was the first in the log on 20m, but I wasn’t able to hear Steve VK7CW. I QSY’d to 40m, and got Steve and three others in the log, before heading back to Castlemaine to pick up the family.

18 DEC 2016 – Mt Cowley VK3/VC-022 and Crowsnest Lookout VK3/VS-049

As part of a recon of an upcoming bushwalk in the Otways, and also as an excuse to get out of doing more work sorting out our new shed, I opted for a jaunt down the Great Ocean Road. The family didn’t feel like coming along, so I decided I’d add in Apollo Bay and make a day of it by doing a new unique, Crowsnest Lookout, which would also push me to 250 activator points.

Ocean from Mt Cowley

Ocean from Mt Cowley

The drive down the road was all you’d expect it to be for this time of the year. Lots of tourists with no idea about slow vehicle turnouts, doing 60km an hour on the straight sections. I reached Mt Cowley about 12:30, and after setting up, quickly got a number of VKs in the log via 40m. After a bit of fiddling around trying to hear a JA activator on 17m (my dipole has no 17m capability, but 15m comes close), I decided to stay on 15m. I worked 3 more contacts here, the highlight being JS1IFK and the ever present ZL1BYZ.

The Cowley Shack.

The Cowley Shack.

As part of the series on SOTA Watches currently on the reflector, and in honour of my grandfather, I carried two watches to use as timekeepers on these activations. The first was a pocket watch of dubious value other than sentimental, although I was sad to discover the movement is broken in it – either the movement itself, or the spring winder. It was back to using the phone for the first activation (the other watch was in the car).

Timepiece number 1

Timepiece number 1

I jumped back into the car, heading into Lorne for a late lunch, before driving down to Apollo Bay. This drive was more eventful. Much of the same, but the guy slamming on the brakes to turn into a lookout, causing the car in front of me to slam on their brakes late, causing me to slam mine on, realise I wasn’t going to stop, and opting instead to steer left off the side of the road to avoid them. The tourist in the car had no idea of the carnage behind them, but the other car was most appreciative of the consideration of not running up the back of her.

Once into Apollo Bay, I followed Tuxion Road out to the location of the lookout – if it can be called that. It’s more a turning circle, and I had to check and double check locations on Google Maps and Peter VK3PF’s blog to make sure I was in the right spot. Once there, I strapped the squid pole to the fence, ran it out roughly on 40m, and got on the air.

Apollo Bay from Tuxion Rd

Apollo Bay from Tuxion Rd

SWR was higher than normal due to the low height and rough layout, but not terrible, and I made a total of 14 QSOs, all on 40m SSB, the highlight being Wynne ZL2ATH, for my first ZL on 40m. The timepiece for this activation was a Sperina mechanical digital watch. This is about 70s vintage, and my grandfather always described it as “the first digital watch”, which is, of course, patently untrue. This one worked better than the first, and I used it to log all 14 QSOs.

The Sperina Mechanical Digital watch.  See the clock face which is like an old school alarm clock

The Sperina Mechanical Digital watch. See the clock face which is like an old school alarm clock

After 40m, it was getting late, so I packed up, phone the wife to find out what to get for dinner on the way home, and drove back, 250 activator points to the good.

22 Oct 2016 – VK/EU S2S party

Andrew VK1AD and Mickey 2E0YYY’s plan to host a VK/EU S2S party rapidly turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy, and as such, it was important I participate! My original plan was to head up to Mt Donna Buang to get 8 points, which would take me across the 250 point mark. My Saturday rapidly ended up not being as timely as possible, so I changed to Mt St Leonard (6 points – to take me to 249), and eventually, I caved and went for VK3/VC-032 (4 points), as time was getting away from me.

After setting up in my usual spot, the day started well with John VK6NU in the log from VK6/SW-042 on SSB, which finalised the VK6 association for me for Mountain Hunter, followed by a S2S with Take JS1UEH on JA/IB-001 on CW. A normal CW chase from VK4BJS was followed by Greg VK8GM on SSB, who was booming in from VK8/AL-100 for the VK8 association in Mountain Hunter.

At this point, I tried settling on a CW frequency to work the EU hordes, and hordes was the operative word. I could pull no partials out of the mess, and in the end, just gave up and went on Search and Pounce mode. First up was JG3NGT/3 on JA/OS-012 on CW, Allen VK3ARH down the road on VK3/VC-018, before a difficult CW S2S with JJ1SWI on JA/KN-020. I could only give him 229 in response to his 419, and by this stage, the 20m path to Japan was almost closed.

Another sting on a CW frequency produced 9A7W, my first Croatian DX contact. I also pounced on Andrew VK3JBL who was on the appropriately named Andrew Hill, before jumping to 40m to work Andrew VK1AD on SSB, and Gerard VK2IO on CW.

I packed up at that point as the sun was almost down, and headed home, encountering the usual crazy wildlife the Australian bush throws at dusk drivers. An enjoyable event, even though the QSO count was down: Mountain Hunted VK6/VK8, JA S2S, and a new DXCC entity.