Black Rock and Depot Hill SOTA

Early start again after a very friendly night in the pub, meeting and raving about SOTA to the locals who all seemed interested and some wanted to know why their hill is not a summit which has to be positive. So some explaining about prominence with a lot of hand waving or making the pint glass the summit and the bar the low lands is a good way to explain prominence. Pint is a 8 pointer, Scooner 6 points and Butcher 4 points and a Pony not worth climbing, probably only a South Aussie will under stand this analogy .

Black Rock 2015 001 First gate of many for today with Black Rock in the distance.

This is a tricky 4×4 climb up near the top and much to my relief Hugh decided against the danger and we walked the last bit which is a similar distance from where you can drive to anyhow .

Black Rock 2015 004 The Mitsi did this part with ease and we had a good assent, also this track is not used very much so it was very solid under foot and grown over with grasses so good traction. Black Rock 2015 007 This is my last picture of the climb. The view is really great with a 360 deg view for many miles. This summit has no mains power close by so none of the tele services use it but there are a couple solar powered radio installations there.

Black Rock 2015 009 View to Yesterdays Summits to the north.

Black Rock 2015 010 The team at the top, this time we got set up and Hugh had 3 minutes to make 4 contacts before UTC roll over then I could take over for the next UTC day. All weekend Hugh went first leaving me to activate second and every time I was struggling to find enough to qualify it was amazing . Hugh would have a pile up then I was trying on ssb then cw to find enough. But in the end we both got a score and not having the masses chase you will make my logging short work for the same points.

Black Rock 2015 014 Making hard work of it but I did get some ssb and cw qso’s I even tried 15m but no answer there.

Black Rock 2015 015 Time to get back down and on to Depot Hill.


This Summit is south of Black Rock but it is such a massive uplift of rock on the northern side we had to travel probably 25 km to the southern side to find a track to get to the summit . We did not know which track to take, we decided on the one on the CFS map along the main ridge but it ran out but the GPS told us it was about 1 km to the top so we walked. During the walk we found the track again in the high spinifex grass that grows in this area and Mitsi will not get off lightly next time.

Black Rock 2015 017


Black Rock 2015 018 That is a great view from south west of Black Rock , Depot Hill has no stone cairn so we got straight into activating, Hugh on 40m ssb then I went to cw because again not one chaser on 40m ssb answered me . Maybe nobody loves me after all . But I qualified with vk’s on 40m cw  and my first S2S for the weekend, then I got 5 dx stations on 20m cw with my old mate OK2PDT being the first to qso with me he must have been up early.

Black Rock 2015 020 Another great view out to the west and the area is looking really green as they have had good rains this winter so far , but looking at some of the yellowing crops down on the flat lands they could do with more rain asap.

Black Rock 2015 021 Hugh on the job for the last activation of a great weekend.

Black Rock 2015 025 Ian on the key working some dx but it may have been too early for Europe to be out of bed. We had to get off the hill and drive home Hugh had 540 km on the speedo by the time he got home.

Thanks to the land owners for access to the summits and Mitsi for getting us there safely .

cheers Ian vk5cz and Hugh vk5nhg ..


Eke Hill SOTA Activation

After the long walk to Marchant Hill we made it to Eke Hill later in the afternoon only taking the wrong track once. Bendleby Ranges property is a mecca for camping and 4×4 holiday stays with accommodation . You can bush camp or stay in Sheerers Quarters or a Bungalow it has many choices and with many Summits in the area I will stay here next time I activate.

Bendaldy Ranges 2015 031 This is Eke hill from the parking area with a real adventure walk up along this creek, It turns into a cascade type creek and interesting way to make it to the ridge nearer the top

Bendaldy Ranges 2015 032 We lost the walking trail for a while but it was obvious once we got out of the canyon as the Stone Cairn was easy to see .

Bendaldy Ranges 2015 033 Hugh keeps track of all our walks on his trusty old GPS .

Bendaldy Ranges 2015 034 No 2m simplex contacts this time bit far out from my local friends mobile phone works some of the time.

Bendaldy Ranges 2015 046 We finally made the top and that is Marchant Hill way off in the distance our morning activation.

Bendaldy Ranges 2015 043 These cairns are a work of art and are on all these summits, a lot of work

and effort went into building then some time in the 1800’s.

Bendaldy Ranges 2015 048 Hugh working the pile up

Bendaldy Ranges 2015 050 trying for dx on 20m dx and I did qualify on 20m cw this time.

Bendaldy Ranges 2015 039 Great views all round this is looking southeast .

Bendaldy Ranges 2015 044 Great view south .Thanks Jane and Warren for letting us use your tracks and hills at no cost .

73 de Ian vk5cz ..


Marchant Hill SOTA activation

Bendaldy Ranges 2015 002 A very cold 0c as we paused by the old ruins at 7 am to open the first gate on our way to Marchant Hill vk5/ne 043 .

Bendaldy Ranges 2015 005 This is just one of the photos I took of the old homestead where probably the first settlers really got a house established in this harsh land.

Bendaldy Ranges 2015 006 The first selfy of Hugh and I at the gate before heading for the hills. The track is well marked but I must say you need a 4×4 to get through some of the creek crossing , even the Mitsi hit on a couple shorter creeks. We got to the start of our first hike and decided to climb the ridge then follow north but as it turned out we could see thr trig point way off to the north. With lots of ridge walking and trying not to lose any altitude once we had it was a bit tricky so we did lots of up and down anyhow until we could see a clear path to the correct hill.

Bendaldy Ranges 2015 012 We still have a way to got but if you stick at it you get there.

Bendaldy Ranges 2015 018 That’s an old trig point .

Bendaldy Ranges 2015 019 It’s on a Hundred Boundary, those fins line up with a fence line going west for many kilometres, the land is subdivide into 100 square mile blocks that was the first survey methods back god knows when in the 1800’s.

Bendaldy Ranges 2015 023 Hugh working the pile up

Bendaldy Ranges 2015 029 Ian working the not so many left its always hard to get contacts when you go second. But we both got enough and headed back down in a much easier fashion than going up also  we were able to work out an easier path for next time and cut time and distance of the journey.

Bendaldy Ranges 2015 030 lots of honey bees around this small bush nicely out in flower .

We made it back to the ute then headed back to the homestead and start the search for Eke Hill to the south from where we came.

Lochiel Repeater And Antenna Installation

After several years of wondering if or when, we finally got a team to replace the antenna at Lochiel Repeater VK5RLH.

Dale VK5LD Grant VK5AMC and Ian VK5CZ  collected tools and enthusiasm and set off to the repeater site early Saturday Morning and met at the locked gate before assending the hill.

RLH antenna Job 002  View of the salt lake below Clare hills far to the east.

RLH antenna Job 004 Round up at the top.

vk5rlh 013

This is the rusty project we were faced with but an electric angle grinder made easier work of this rusty mess, its been there over 20 years so to be expected. When we cut the sealant off the old cable we were very pleased to find the coax connector in good order so the sealant did the job over that time period.

.vk5rlh 011 These wooden blocks supporting the heliax also needed replacing and a new one was designed by Grant which worked very well. The MFJ analyser tested the coax to still be good in spite of its age.

RLH antenna Job 009 The Team from left to right.

Ian vk5cz, Grant vk5amc , Dale vk5ld.

Thats the new top to replace the rusty one then the antenna is attached to those beafy clamps.

First we disconnected coax and took old antenna off then tested coax and cleaned up connector, then cut off rusty clamps on top sections . All this gear was lowered over the side from 45 feet up with Grant being dog man on the bottom rope. We had to come down and have a rest after every piece of old gear was cut off as its quite physical work tied in up the tower. Dale is quite tall so he had the job on the angle grinder up above his head using one hand to cut the brackets but we got things down saftely.

RLH antenna Job 008 Final preparations by Grant then the well deserved lunch break before we put the new gear on the tower.

RLH antenna Job 010 Dale on the way up to set up new instillations.

RLH antenna Job 012 Top sections on .

RLH antenna Job 015 Wrestling with the clamps and tightening nuts and bolts .

RLH antenna Job 018 Jobs done coax clamped up nicely and some rubber zip tied in places to cushion the cable on side of the tower.

Its a ugly old tower by todays standards but it is a proper communications tower designed probably in the 1960’s.

Stage 2 some time later Repeater Replacement.

Grant says goodbye to the old repeater that has served us well for several years.

RLH final 001

This repeater consisted of a Philips 828 TX/ RX with an extra receiver for 145.000 MHz to receive the WIA news broadcast from Adelaide. It was controlled remotely via DTMF tones by the great roster team of Broadcast operators for the 23 year period it was in use. Later in time a 70 cm link receive radio was added to the system to take the Broadcast from VK5RLZ output at Elizabeth because sometimes the VHF path would be noisy on 145 mhz. This function was left to the discretion of the BC op on the day. This system worked well most of the time but as the old radios and antennas RX ability was slowly getting lossy it was decided to up grade the system. All of the technical work was under taken by Grant for some years and he ended up having a great understanding of how it all worked, and any faults were fixed mostly on site, not too many times if any was a problem never solved. As the 828 became down on receive a back up rig was always kept in the hut and Grant would take the repeater rig home and get it working again on his test bench.

RLH final 004

A log book was kept in the repeater hut and notes kept of any jobs or mods and checks done over the years so it was interesting to read the dates of its conception, some of the entries show a few fine tuning jobs shortly after installation.

28/7/91 was a test day from the site to gauge coverage and possible foot print.

25/10/92 was the day the tower and antenna was installed.

13/12/92 was the day the repeater was installed .

So a great testimony to Lloyd vk5ll and his team of helpers who made it all happen back then, the old repeater was in use for 4 months short of 23 years.

RLH final 005

This is the new instillation of the uni-labs repeater given to us by AREG a group of great radio experimenters in South Australia only too willing to make sure the repeater system remains working and viable for all to use. A special thanks to Graham vk5gh who got us the repeater and made sure it ended up in a good home. Dale made the bottom cabinet to house the cavity resonators and keep them mouse proof. Dale supplied and low voltage cut off in case any power supply issues appeared  in the un maned hut. The old faithful original power supply has been set up to power the tnc for the APRS system , and the bigger Icom power supply is now running the repeater in conjunction with a truck battery on a float charge. Dale also supplied an earth leakage fitting on the end of the coax to earth the feed line in with the hut earth system.

RLH final 007

Ian climbed up the tower several times firstly to check bolts and tighten were necessary on the antenna mounts, then go about installing more rubber tube where the coax was touching the tower and causing rub points. Brett was tower dog man passing up tools saving me from climbing down.  The only other thing to do was secure the feed line on Max’s vertical that was used on the last packet digi repeater in vk5 to function as such. It was turned off in the year 2015 as we decided  no ops were using it and the txt msg probably superseded it long ago.

“Packet Radio them were the days”. VK5RLH site was the middle link for the Packet backbone from VK5RAD Adelaide to VK5RMN at the Bluff and VK5RCO across Spencer Gulf at Cowell.  It served as a vital link for many years during those times of the BBS  Packet Radio System.

RLH final 008

The Crew who had the pleasure of the final instalment of the new repeater .

Left to Right.

Dale vk5ld, Grant vk5amc, Brett vk5zii, Ian vk5cz ..

Probably the last thing to mention is the new repeater has a different time out system for remote Broadcasting so individual operators can send in the WIA news broadcast or any other related Broadcast from there own shack. With the use of an interface between rig and a PC they can download files from the internet and rebroadcast via the repeater for all to hear. We have a growing list of willing broadcasters sending up the WIA news at 7 pm local time on a Sunday evening.

The End

for now Ian vk5cz ..

SOTA By Bike 2015

As promised a while ago I am at last getting to this SOTA by Bike story.

It was early March and grape harvest is finished early, mind you it was not an easy vintage the old vines were all ripe and ready for harvest 2 weeks early and singing out to be picked, Baume’s were going through the roof. We got through the harvest in 8 weeks and picked 4,800 tons with 5 machines going all hours. My body was trashed from long hours in the seat and not many hours of sleep in between but as they say “that’s vintage”,  I wish it was not like that of course.

So with not many miles in my legs and only a few training rides pulling BoB behind my MTB up along the Riesling Trail I must say I was a bit under done on the bike. I did carry 10 kg of sand in a bag in BoB to shock my body into the task and when fully loaded with clothes and radio gear I was pulling 20 kg including BoB. I find the excitement of the first day tends to help and the second day is the hardest and by the end of the ride you think you can do it for ever. I managed to get the right accommodation along the road for every stage and decided to be away for 6 days and activate 3 SOTA summits. Because I don’t carry camping gear or camp I like to stay in cabins so I can take care of my needs and feed myself better I had mixed accommodation with the motel at Quorn being the worse . The motel rooms have these great large lit up  EXIT signs on the veranda near a fire hose for safety reasons but I would say the patrons would be in more danger from sleep deprivation the next day.

My trip Started in Laura and I rode to Melrose the MTB mecca of the mid north and stayed in a quiet room behind the pub. Next morning I walked up Mt Remarkable SOTA vk5/ne-010 it was an early start and I was walking in the dark with lights for an hour or more.


SOTA by Bike 15 004

SOTA by Bike 15 005 That’s were I am headed, it is a benched walking track to the summit of about 6 km distance and it took me around 2 hours 40 minutes to make the top . I had great views out east from the benched trail on these screed slopes from an ancient time and the weather was nice and cool.

SOTA by Bike 15 008 Once up the top  and set up for SOTA I found it very hard to rustle up enough contacts to qualify, 40m was really bad locally and it was only Tom VK5EE who saved me by telling some of his local mates in Mt Gambier to come up on 40m and give me a call . VK6BSA was really strong from his mobile but I could not hear or be heard by any close stations at all. Its a strange feeling to climb up for 3 hours and not qualify I must say, I was getting a bit desperate. I did manage to get Roger VK5NWE on 2m fm simplex so he got Nev VK5WG to try 30m and we managed a low signal swap on a ground wave signal to make maybe 6 QSO’s in total . I hate leaving a summit without giving Nev a contact. The walk down was good taking about 2 hours then I had a really nice bacon burger at the White Pub washed down with a big glass of stout. Then on the bike and off to Wilmington my next over night destination. I found the camp ground down stream about 3 km from town and to my surprise an air conditioned cabin for $20 so I had a nice sleep that night. The funny band conditions were still playing havoc, I set up my usual sked with Grant VK5AMC for Wednesday night but it was a no go, I sent a couple txt msg but no copy via radio either end. Much to my surprise I worked a Japanese station on the same frequency just after Grant gave it away using the KX3 at 5 watts.

Next Morning I was off again on a road called “the gunya” which is a dirt road to Quorn my next destination.

It’s a very hard ride I climbed and descended 430 metres to arrive at Quorn at the same sea level I started out at, my Garmin showed about 30 ups and downs with most of them being Granny Gear climbs with all the weight on board.

Smoko in a creek about half way to Quorn on the gunya

SOTA by Bike 15 015

One thing I will say for BoB he makes for a lot of spinning small gears , it took me 4 hours to go 44 km and I was shattered by the time I got to Quorn. Being in the Motel behind the pub I  had to dodgy up my meals with no real cooking equipment in Motel rooms but I got by. Up early next morning I road out to Richmond Valley a very nice ride even if it is up hill all the way to do SOTA summit Richmond Hill vk5/ne-089.

SOTA by Bike 15 022 I parked by the road side and the hill in the back ground is the Richmond Hill summit about an hours walk away. These days the Goats have made a good track to follow up the hill it was not there a couple years ago when I first made the climb. These are ferrel Goats not SOTA goats. This day band conditions were really good the solar flare had settled down.

SOTA by Bike 15 025 I made QSO’s on ssb and cw this time . On the way back to Quorn I went past Devils Peak summit but it was closed off to the public during fire danger season so I saved it for later. I had a great tail wind for about 20km and set a great speed towing BoB setting a record of 21 kph average speed pulling a trailer. Back in town I was able to get to my usual cabin at the caravan park and even got a echo discount for turning up by bike, it was great to have a room again and good cooking facilities. Just as a by the way this year the Caltrop weed was really bad and I had already had two punctures on my bike so I decided to head back to Melrose via the black top. This was my longest trip to ride 65 km so I was up and out the park by sun up but it made no difference about an hour later I got another puncture this time  on the black top.

SOTA by Bike 15 032 My safe working place bike hanger to keep my good wheel out of the Caltrop prickles. Lucky it happened near a creek crossing I could use the concrete ford as a place to change my tyre. Because I was spinning along on the big chain ring at about 20 kph by the time I stopped all my puncture goo in the tube had blown out . So I just rolled up the tube and put in my last new one but making sure I had checked inside the tyre for prickles sticking in the tyre. It pays to take the tyre completely off the rim and turn it inside out and run fingers around to detect and prickle that have penetrated through. I run Maxis Kevlar walled tyres and on a previous tour I ended up throwing the tyre away because of a Caltrop prickle infestation they just kept on working through giving flats all the time.

SOTA by Bike 15 031

Back at Melrose in the after noon with no summits that I had not already done I went up to the War Memorial near the base on Mt Remarkable and chased a few vk2 and vk3 activators just for something to do, and swapped off a few numbers in the John Moyle field day contest.

SOTA by Bike 15 014


I probably could have done some of the excellent bike trails there as well but radio was the other choice I had, but I went for an evening walk around town to loosen up my sore legs. After a nice meal at the White Pub and my same cabin out the back I hit the sack early in anticipation of another good nights sleep. Well pity the mob at the pub did not have the same idea by 3.30 am the boom box fell silent and all the lads with their xr6 fords and other noisy cars wound out to full noise up the main drag left town so I decided to hit the road as well with hardly any sleep. I had the usual big feed of oats soaked in cold water and powdered milk and was on the road by 5.30 am. I had a good flashing tail light and front light on my bike and also wore my led head lamp so I was well lit up and it was very pleasant at that time of day. I only encountered one vehicle from behind and wondering if it maybe a left over drunk I made sure I was stopped and well off the road before he went past me. I made good time to Laura in about two and half hours to find the local coffee shop serving eggs and bacon so I made sure I had some of that . I had to kill time before going to my sisters place and not wake them up on a Sunday morning to collect my ute and load up to drive to the next summit . vk5/ne-065

SOTA by Bike 15 038

This is where I activated the Bluff summit it was totally burnt out a couple years ago but its great to see how the old bush recovers . Its a leg burner to activate, I had to walk about 3 km to make the top up a bitumen road that is closed off to traffic these days . I had a good activation being Sunday lots of folk chasing and S2S activity .

SOTA by Bike 15 037

That ended a great week of SOTA by bike for me thanks to the chasers and great accommodation establishments along the way.

3 SOTA peaks and 300 od km of cycling and 12 od hours of hiking to play radio.

Best two hobbies in the world IMHO.

73 de ian vk5cz ..


Hallett Hill and Mt Cone

Great early morning drive to Hallett Hill I took the LC Ute this time I needed 4wd to get up Mt Cone later in the day.

Paul found out last time he activated this summit we had been entering via the wrong property. Its a nice drive through the wind towers winding for about 4 km with a couple gates to open and shut. Weather was quite calm for this hill but I needed my hat and wind jacket on while sitting in the rock pile. I put up the 6m/10m link dipole and made contact with Ian vk5is on 6m but had to change over to 10m to make a qso with Nev vk5wg . This new challenge is a bit of a fizzer for vk5’s unless there is a lager group of locals listening out. UTC roll over caught me out I could not count the 6m qso with Ian as I only had 1 qso before roll over . After a couple qso on 10m I swapped antennas for 40m and worked the pile up

of faithful chasers



Hallet Hill 2015 003   to my surprise an un expected visitor in my picture heading up to the radio hut on the hill, I did not know he was there.


Hallet Hill 2015 005  Working through the pile up.


Hallet Hill 2015 010

Smoko and a look at my next summit across the Valley.

Mount Cone .

This is another easy summit if you have a 4wd, the track goes within 100m of the top so I had a short walk after a simple high range 4wd climb to my parking spot beside the comms building up there. At the very top is a smaller building which is a very good wind break to get behind . I had better luck on 6m this time the vertical dipole worked well making qso’s with Roger vk5nwe Ian vk5is and Bill vk5mbd. They were probably all about 50 or 60 km away from me not sure really but on 52.150 ssb all very good signals my closest attempt at qualifying yet. I waited for vk2yw to finish his activation on 40m that way I could jump on his frequency as the shires contest was on as well and the band was a bit busy. I made some Summit 2 Summit qso’s this time and most activity was on 40m ssb but thanks to a few who gave chase on 20m cw and some dx as well later on. I managed a s2s with vk3hra on 20m cw  as my last qso, the shivers were setting in and it was cooling off rather quickly so I gave it away 05.12 utc .

Great day of SOTA looking forward to the next time possibly 3 new ones near Orroroo later this month.

Thanks to the land holders for access to the summits.

Mt Cone 2015 007

6m/10m link vertical dipole.

Mt Cone 2015 004

pretty baron view all round up here no wonder its so windy.

Mt Cone 2015 006

Mount Bryan vk/se-001 in the distance going there soon.

Mt Cone 2015 008

Mt Cone shack

Mt Cone 2015 009

HF Antenna link dipole 20/40m .