Mt Arden SOTA

After more Lemon Meringue pie at Quorn while I wrote up my previous Blog for Mt Jay South I headed off up to The Argadels where I was booked to stay for the night and 4×4 to Mt Arden the next morning. After a nice greeting from Judy she showed me the cabin I was to stay in which was very nice and even had rain water for the shower which was great. Once I unpacked I decided to go have a look at the track to Mount Arden as a trial run because it was my first serious 4×4 climb in my own vehicle. I must say I was not let down it is a steep and rocky climb with many loose stones on the track which have been dug up and spat out by previous travellers on this hill. Its funny when the pressure is on I seem to grip the steering wheel really tight and get sweaty palms under pressure , it was working I had all of the above symptoms.  I made the mistake of thinking maybe 1st low range would be a good gear but it turned out to be too low and the Colorado was revving like mad just to keep the momentum up for the obstacles I encountered but we made it to the top. The transfer box had that hot oily smell.

Once I turned around to come down it did not seem as steep but I was careful all the same. At a water way half way down I stopped and did some track repairs by picking up the large boulders and filling in some wash outs to help preserve the track.

Arden 4x4 run 007 It don’t look much but it gains about 150m asl in 500m distance. There is a 15 m high comms tower up there but you can’t see it from here.

Arden 4x4 run 011 Great Views all around.

On Sunday morning I tried 2cnd low range on the climb and with all the boulders shifted the Colorado made the climb without all the revving and was much easier to control the wheel slip, the torque e 3 litre   D Max  did the rest, a lesson learnt by me.

Arden 4x4 run 002

I said before how bad 40m band conditions were yesterday on Mt Jay South, well for something to do after evening meal I set up my 53 foot EFRW at the cabin and had a 30 minute QSO with JA1NUT on 40m cw with 8 watts. He had a big signal he was beaming to Russia when I called him but he heard me and turned his 3 el 40m yagi to me and gave me 579 , not bad for 8 w and efrw to JA on 40m.

How ever back to my activation today band conditions were pretty poor again on the short skip but I did manage several vk1 vk2 vk3 vk4 and several S2S contacts on cw and ssb modes.  But today I had to leave the summit with out working Nev vk5wg, I just could not hear him nor he hear me . No short skip on 40m and too far for 2m simplex on the handy rig.

Mt Arden 2015 009 Did the old walk out, walk into activation zone today just to keep it honest.

Mt Arden 2015 010 Great take off point all around from here used my 53 foot EFRW with 9 foot counter poise very convenient sign for sticking up my Squidy.

Mt Arden 2015 011 My shack for the activation these rocks were dug out of the footings holes for the comms towers. KX3 tunes 53 foot wire easily on 15 17 20 40 m with 9 feet cp.

Mt Arden 2015 004 One of the great views from up here, 3 summits in view, Dutchmans, Mount Brown and of course Mount Remarkable way off to the south in the haze.

OK well thanks to the many who chased me today under trying conditions and I managed 26 qso’s with another 5 S2S contacts to log. three qso’s were after UTC roll over so I will make mention in my log when I enter the days scores.

Mt Arden 2015 012 This lazy sod was in middle of the road and I had to stop and shift him he was enjoying some of his first spring sunshine for this year. He was pretty docile so maybe he has not been awake for long.

Thanks to Judy and Malcolm for a great place to stay and a big hill to climb .

cheers  Ian vk5cz ..



Mount Jay SOTA

Got on the road quite early this morning and it was minus 1 c in Clare as I drove through the main street.

Finally made contact on 2m simplex with vk5is near Appila as the road from Clare to Jamestown is on the eastern side of the hills and simplex 2m is a bit difficult. Once near Booleroo I tried 6m fm and found Roger vk5nwe listening there so had a chat with him for a while along the road.

I arranged to meet Michael at 9.30 as he was shearing sheep and I found him hard at it but he hardly stopped to chat he just kept on sheering and gave me instructions at the same time . He seemed to get a sheep shorn in no time at all and grab another out of the catch pen.

Mt Jay 5015 001

After a few creek crossings I finally got the Colorado in 4×4 to tackle the track ahead. Much to my surprise the etrex found the first way point to be pretty close which was the gate at the top of the range where I turned left along the ridge.

Mt Jay 5015 005

That’s the Summit up there, I walked that ridge line from the western side last time I was here that is why I found a way in to the summit on the eastern side which is much more user friendly.  The track was a bit rocky and needed low 4×4 to make this ridge line but nothing to fear or worry about.

Mt Jay 5015 006

This is the view to the west out through Spear Creek with Mount Jay on the right and Mount Jay South is a little out of picture further south.

Mt Jay 5015 007

Just to make a hike I parked here and walked  along that track to the summit, it was a good place to park and I could turn around easier there.

Mt Jay 5015 008

That’s the summit ahead and Mount Brown off to the north so I did walk a kilometre or so to get there but it was a nice day for a stroll .

Mt Jay 5015 009

The shack with squidy on the fence strut . Hugh was out on se -003 and we managed to hook up on 2m via vk5rmn and work out a strategy because 40m was a total wipe out for short contacts . I called cq and started to get a few from the eastern states and act but signals were hard work . I had Nev qsy to 30m and we managed to work on low signal levels but got the reports done. All of a sudden Hugh was 5/7 on 40m again so the band did pick up locally so I could get a few more in the log. On 40m cw I worked about 6 stations and a couple on 20m cw then went back to 40m ssb to work John vk5bje at really strong signals but by then my page was full and I ended up with more than I thought I would get when I first started out.

So thanks to all the chasers and 5 S2S qso’s so plenty to add to my  log.

Mt Jay 5015 011

I walked up from down on the plain last year about 6 kilometres but today I walked only about 1 and my knee lives to go again tomorrow.

Mt Jay 5015 012

View to the south with Mount Remarkable in the back ground, The Battery summit is there also .

Mt Jay 5015 015

Another one done so off back to the ute and on to Quorn to the Quondong Café for the best Lemon Meringue pie in South Australia.

cheers see you on the next one

Ian vk5cz..

My Ute For SOTA

I finally got around to getting an ARB canopy to finish off my SOTA truck . The Colorado seems great on fuel I get at least 100km/10 litres of diesel and it seems to go along the road nicely at 2000 rpm on the speed limit. With the heavy duty springs in the rear it gets a pogo up on bumpy whoops but luckily there are not many of those to travers. It’s an x police paddy wagon so I am not sure how much work it has done hopefully it was mostly use to get coffee for the team at the station.

My Ute 2015 002

The ARB canopy is a great addition and will be handy to store a few things in for my trips away with the lift up side and rear windows  making it easier to stick stuff in or get it out.

My Ute 2015 001  Just another angle while it’s still shiny.

I was able to fit my HF spring mount on the bull bar and the independent to ground vhf antenna on the mud guard, I am working on a spot for a UHF CB rig as well with remote head.

When I go in my shed I can hold back the stainless steel tip on the VHF antenna so it does not scrape on the door way and roller door, but I take the HF whip off of course . That HF whip is a home made 40m helical whip about 1.8 m long and it works very well. I have another whip for 30m home made as well but slightly shorter in length but it works well I have made dx qso’s to USA on 30m cw when I was mobile. My 80m antenna is an old Hustler Loading coil type that attaches to a longer home made Hustler shaft which works extremely well but I don’t go mobile with it, it is pretty long.

My Ute 2015 006

The rigs in my Ute are both Icoms the old “pager swamper” ic 2720 Bloody useless within 10km of a pager but it has duel watch vfo or memory screens so it is handy when mobile to watch a simplex and repeater frequency at the same time.

The  HF rig is an Icom ic 706 2 G with a IT 100 tuner just to nip up the vswr between cw and ssb modes.

Both rigs are remote head so the body of the radio is under the seats and nicely bolted down in the same holes SAPOL used to mount their gear. I only had to remake 1 hole in my bracket to suit fitting my rigs . I was able to run the HF coax under the vehicle rather than under the floor liner and come up through a grommet in the floor but the power cables and remote cable are under the floor liner. My main power comes direct from the battery to a large Anderson Pole plug so it can all disconnect if need be quite easily.

My Ute 2015 004

This is the ic 2720 and large extension speaker under the drivers seat.

My Ute 2015 005

This is the ic 706 under the rear passenger seat with all jacks facing out so it’s easier to plug in or out gear and power, the IT 100 is along side zip tied in place with a large extension speaker facing out which works well.

My Ute 2015 003

This is where the remote heads fitted the best and the cw paddle is handy for some mobile cw, using my left hand  I can rest my palm on the plastic cover on the key for support and sit it on my knee when driving along. The heads are mounted on a flat aluminium plate I made up from a plastic tem plate I made from an ice cream container which was easy to work with to find the best angle and fit. I put part of the plate in the sliders for the ash tray making a tight fit. The bend in the plate down wards is enough to see the heads nicely when driving and the bottom of the plate clips in behind the fitting for the gear lever cover. I used two existing holes in my dash where SAPOL had stuff mounted for my microphones . The mic cord on the 2720 could be a bit shorter and it is made form a cheap flexible lead which gets tangled at times. Icom mics are not really very robust IMHO and the micro PTT switches give out easily I have had 3 Icom mics pack up at the PTT switch over the years. Just a thing about the cw paddle lead I platted it from 3 pieces of light gauge wire as I was sick of trying to find some multi core wire that was robust enough to do the job. So far it has held up well, pretty clever don’t you think.

wire 001

That is my SOTA ute and Rigs I just need to get it dirty now.

thanks for reading cheers

Ian vk5cz  ..


The August SOTA Frenzy

Got under way early from Clare and had a nice drive to Orooroo to stop at the coffee shop and buy some smoko and lunch. I must say the salad roll was really nice after my long walk to my first Summit. I had permission from Ben to walk to the summit but this time I took the Colorado a lot further than I could take my poor old Subaru so the walk was only about 2 km. Up that ridge behind my ute !!.


Stokes 2015 001 Backed the ute up off the side of the track and set out. My legs were a bit sore today I did a couple bike rides on the weekend so not sure why I was so sore today, maybe the 12% hill I started on was the reason. I did the walk in about 40 minutes and the wind was not so strong on the summit so it was a nice day after all.

Stokes 2015 006 Great out look down south from here that must be Coomoroo Hill off to the south. I had lots of chasers on 40m ssb then a follow up on 40m cw, I heard vk6nu call me but lost him . Knowing he was about I re spotted on 20m cw but he was not there but I did manage to get a few more contacts on 20. Thanks to VK1MA for the S2S on 40m , I did listen for him on 28mhz ssb but not having an antenna for 10m I was hopeful. I heard nothing and nobody responded to me on 28 MHz to be expected with current conditions and a non resonate antenna. As I was about to pack up I noticed a spot msg on my phone and vk2yk asked me to try 14.310 ssb and we made a contact there it was lucky I saw the msg I was shutting down my phone and saw it. Thanks everyone for the contacts and Sue and Ben for the use of Stokes Hill.


Next Day Dutchmans Stern .

This was going to be a tough climb when I did it last time in the warmer weather and was afraid more of snake bite than any thing. At the start of the walking track to the top I decided to go up the down track or clockwise around the walking loop as I had a plan to bush bash off that track. With 6 waypoints saved in the e-trex I headed out with great gusto until I saw the creek that looked so easy on Google Earth, I thought it would make a shorter trip to the top. Well the bloody Gamin would not select the mode I needed to have my location the waypoint and the floating arrow to point me where I wanted to go. It was a one foot in the grave moment “I DON’T BELIEVE IT ” the bloody thing was working ok at home when I did several trips around the place looking for my test waypoint. Oh well not to worry the terrain I selected on Google was pretty ambitious anyhow. So I headed up the walking track a lot further which was giving me altitude as I went. Dutchmans 2015 006 The Summit is that hill in the back ground of my shot or somewhere near there. This is somewhere near the start on the walking track which is very well made with a km post every so often just to bother you when you think the top is near and it says 4 km to go. At a certain point though on this track it starts to heard north and that is where I turned south, I still had two waypoints to work with from this spot all the ones up along the creek had been abandoned as being of any use. I found the first one at the top of the ridge and got back to familiar ground I had been on last time I activated this summit. The bush is really thick about chest height most on the time, the greenies have either shot or hunted out the goats so the track was over grown but I was making way as best I could.

Dutchmans 2015 003 This is a shot of the bush I am trying to negotiate through and that is Devils Peak and Mount Brown of in the distance. I did stumble across a survey marker of all things when walking along the top of the range. It was about another 2 km to the waypoint of the actual summit so it was a slow process and I was wondering if I would make the spot time.Dutchmans 2015 008 This is the view out to the north west once on the other side of the range I don’t think it’s a summit but a mighty impressive lump of dirt.

Dutchmans 2015 010 The final climb was easy on this western side of the range the wind was very strong and not as much bush grows here plus the goat made a track up to the top.

Dutchmans 2015 013 This is my poor set up, the poor old pre dinosaur grass tree [yuka] helping modern technology at work by hold up my antenna pole.   The dipole was only about 5 metres at the centre but it still worked pretty good I was working vk2 in the middle of the day on 40m and had a nice pile up of chasers. Nev gave me a call on ssb and I exchanged rst with him on cw so that was a first for me . I have heard Wayne activating on CW only and work SSB chasers so it worked well.  I must say the little YK rig went well but it was very noisy with the wind being so strong I had the volume level up and held my hands over my ears to help hear at times, that made my side tone very loud on tx.  20m was really good around VK, VK2IO gave me 579 and I got John VK6NU in the log this time but he had qsb problems but after I sent his report several times he pieced it together. I must thank Angus VK2SB who was on the frequency calling cq when I first got set up , I worked him and told him I was doing SOTA so he gave me the frequency to continue on with the activation. Thanks to my loyal chasers and a couple new ones VK2SB and VK2NP nice to work you.

Dutchmans 2015 014 This is my shack for the moment its funny I spent at least 4 hours walking there and 3 and a half hours back to the ute and I was on air maybe 30 minutes tops. The rig is the YK HB-1B 5 Band and a SOTA beams link dipole using that very light 2200 mAh battery that weighs a few grams and it runs the rig quite nicely for the time spent on air. I think it would probably give service for an hour or possibly more it did not seem to drop much more than .2 of a volt on the screen and only took maybe 10 minutes on the charger once I got back to camp.

Big day out I walked 16.2 km round trip 4.5 hours walking and about 3 hours stopped, at least the useless garmin told me that much. Not that I am bitter it would not cooperate finding my way points, possibly op error, more than likely the case. Well an un eventful decent but I did find a better goat track down the eastern side of the ridge that got me clear of so much under story bush and into a sheoke forest which was easier. Dare I say I saved a couple way points for next time in the general area to the walking track to try my accent from there  HI.

Thanks again everyone next stop Mount Brown.

Cheers de Ian vk5cz . .


Day Three I drove out to the Argadels to visit with the owners of Mt Arden summit and have a chat about what I wanted to do and gave some information about SOTA. I decided not to go to Mt Arden because of the storm we had  and it would be too windy and slippery for the 4×4 climb. So I now have an excuse to go back again. I headed to Port Augusta to book a canopy for my ute then headed for Spear Creek to lias with another land owner re Mt Jay South another summit I want to do this season. Then I headed for Wilmington to find another farmer on the eastern side of the range who may give me access from the eastern side which will be a lot easier to make the summit. But of course he was not at home but I got a phone number for him and will make it a work in progress.


Day 4 Mount Brown

I had a relaxed start to the day with no real hurry to get a start the day was very foggy and damp and I thought it would clear as the day went on.

Mt Brown 2015 002 The Colorado looks a bit dirty after all the rain but I am sure the local farmers are enjoying this rain on their crops.

Off I set on the 6 km hike to Mt brown it is up along a creek bed for about 3 km so not a hard walk to start out and I saw some very tame locals having breakfast along the way.

Mt Brown 2015 006 I really need a better camera.

Mt Brown 2015 008 Let the fun begin . On my back pack I placed the hood of my rain jacket on my sqiddy and covered the pack with the coat so if it did rain my gear would stay dry. Legs pretty sore on this climb and it took me probably another hour of puff and stop and so on until I reached to top .

Mt Brown 2015 010 Fog and mist covering Devils Peak and Richmond hill back to my north as the track makes its way up.

Mt Brown 2015 011 More Kangaroos one with two heads.

Mt Brown 2015 013 Made it to the top and told a short story in the visitors book then set up for SOTA.

Mt Brown 2015 016 Another selfy of my great hiking boots and rig, the rocks were very slippery when I set up my antenna so I was real careful . I had a very nice pile up waiting for me on 40m of locals the band seemed very quiet so all vk5’s on ssb and vk2io vk3byd vk5is on 40m cw then a re spot and found vk6nu on 20m cw.

I had a short listen to the beacons on 15/17 m and heard a couple ja jcc chasers but decided to pack up and head on down. Thanks for all the contacts.

The end of  another great activating time in Quorn what a great place and really nice folk, the caravan park is great with a good selection of accommodation and nice people to make your stay a welcome one.

Mt Brown 2015 020 Looking a bit worse for ware and after all that I am still suffering from SOTA fever, I can’t explain it and hope there is no cure.

cheers de Ian vk5cz ..




Black Hill VK5/NE-062

Black Hill is a great summit a very challenging climb with many rock steps and large reefs several metres high in places running across the ridges

Hawker 2015 050

We started out from Hawker and had to go back south on the main road to Cradock then turn left and head north again on a main Station track for about 60 km winding up and down through nice country until we reached Hugh’s grid reference.

Hawker 2015 052 Are we there yet ?

From the bottom of the range it is hard to spot the actual summit so we just headed off towards the range hoping the ridge running up would get us to the top.

Hawker 2015 029 Once we had morning Smoko

Hawker 2015 030 And a meeting with one of the locals.

Off we set slowly making our way up the ridge line when we came across these type of rocks sticking up

Hawker 2015 033 This is about half way to the top

Hawker 2015 034 This is a very weathered stone .

On we pushed bush bashing most of the time but gaining altitude with every step we finally made the top of the ridge and saw the stone Cairn off to the north a little further.

Hawker 2015 042 This Summit to the east from us is a next time challenge.

Hawker 2015 043 This was my first sight looking west from the top.

Hawker 2015 044 The top

Hawker 2015 045 I look skinny after that effort.

So on with the activation we had no internet here but Hugh was lucky to make contact straight away on 40m and Phil was kind enough to Spot us on SOTAwatch2 . Hugh worked through the steady pile up then my turn came with a couple on 40m ssb and vk3of was kind enough to spot me on cw so I set up the HB-1B . This time we used the 53 foot end fed again  and I had a pile up on cw straight away as the spot did the trick. I called a few times on 20m cw but did not hear anyone so we packed up and started the scramble back down. It took as long to get down as the climb up 1hr 30 minutes both ways. We both went

A over T on the way down to add to the excitement no damage luckily .

Hawker 2015 047 Hugh hard at it confusing F calls .

Hawker 2015 049 Thanks everyone for all the contacts over the weekend.

We travelled 700 km spent at least $400 each in Hawker on food fuel and accommodation walked about 14 km and activated 3 unique summits .   Thanks to the property owners for the use of the tracks and hills.

73 for now de Ian vk5cz ..

Mt Plantagenet and VK5/NE-031 No Name Summit

Hugh and I set out from Clare Friday afternoon to drive to Hawker to stay overnight for an early start out to Wormba Station a large pastoral property east from Hawker. It happens to have 2 SOTA summits so Hugh did some ground work and got permission to activate them. The first thing we noticed was how helpful Allen was when we arrived he offered to show us how to get to the summit, Hill ne-031 as he was not sure which hill we meant and by the property it looks like there could be more summits there. He offered us one of the farm buggies to drive out but Hugh was keen to give the Mitsi a work out in 4×4 . This buggy was a great machine it was a Daihatsu car one time but was rear ended in a RTA so with some cut and lift it is now a really great short wheel base 4×4 with a small tray for farm gear and all the mod cons in the cabin of a car.

Hawker 2015 004 Allen climbing out of a creek crossing.

Hawker 2015 002Hugh followed soon after.

With many gates to open we headed out to find this summit and only got lost for a short while. Allen was only visiting for the weekend and was not really sure where we wanted to go but he did eventually pick up the over grown track which took us to within a couple kilometres of the summit. We had a lot of altitude already so we were able to continue of foot along a ridge actually walking about a kilometre too far but it was the easiest way to get to the top. No trig point on this summit just a big bald hill with no trees at all. We went down the eastern side a bit to break the wind as it was very windy up there and the big rock was the only thing in sight to hold up the squidy.

Hawker 2015 013 Used Hugh’s IC 703 and link dipole on this activation.

It was very windy even down off the top of the hill so we only made a few contacts each to qualify and get off to the next activation.

Hawker 2015 009 That’s the Summit pretty boring but 6 points makes it worth it. Mt Plantagenet is to the north the afternoons adventure.

We made our way back to the Mitsi in a much more direct line and got across a couple creeks only scraping a couple times on Mitsi’s rear end protection bars.

Off to the next Summits after lunch.

Mt Plantagenet vk5/ne013 is one of the highest points you can drive to in the Flinders Ranges but it is not easy to get there.

We had to return to the homestead then go out east for about a 30 km round trip to make the top. Mitsi handled the climb ok it was not really steep but lots of rocks sticking up making it a bumpy climb. At top are a couple solar powered tele comms  link systems by the look, 4 x 12 el uhf Yagi antennas horizontal in from the south and the same 4 x 12 el uhf Yagi’s vertical polarisation out to the north towards Wilpena Pound. I would love some of that coax they use at home.

Hawker 2015 014 That is south behind me amazing view.

Hawker 2015 017 The morning summit down south.

Hawker 2015 021 Wilpena Pound to the far north.

So we went back off the south eastern side of the summit and found some shelter from the wind again. This time we used my new 53 foot end fed for the first time on a summit and the You Kits MT1 tuner with the HB-1B and the ic 703. The ic 703 did not like to tune by its own tuner so we used the MT1 in line with that rig as well. Anyone who has had a 703 “if it aint happy it don’t tune”. There is room for more experiments to find a end fed wire to suit the 703 more back yard work. The 53 footer is the length the MT1 likes to tune that’s why I ended up with that length .

Hugh had lots of chasers on SSB then I asked Nev vk5wg to spot me on 40m cw and I set up the HB-1B for some cw. I made several vk qso’s on 40m cw and when they ran out I called cq on 14.062 and worked g4obk, eu2mm,s58als then ea2lu and then 20m dried up but thanks for the dx. We still had to get off the rocky hill so we packed up and headed for Hawker. Great day thanks to Mary for letting us use her property and Allen for showing us about with lots of help thrown in.

Hawker 2015 023 Hugh working the pile up what a view .

Hawker 2015 026 Ian on cw.

This is as good as it gets.

73 from Hugh vk5nhg and Ian vk5cz..