My Quest Is Nearly Done.

How lucky am I ? I am now so close to Mountain Goat I can smell me.

2 points to Mountain Goat.

I have done a few more summits in the last couple of weeks bringing total to 19 for this year so far. We have had some good rain and this poor old land is looking much better now and it is not so distressing to venture out on the summits and see the wildlife dead and half starved. Properties destocked and dust and rocks is all you could see, but I noticed some green grass pushing through and the bush looking much better.

I featured my new bag in my last Blog and I must say now that my left shoulder is healing from my operation it is very good to wear over my left shoulder and it sits nicely in place for hiking. I had a few issues when I wore it over my right shoulder it would slowly work it’s way around in front of my hip making it uncomfortable, but at the time it was the only way I could carry it and continue hiking to my mission.

The first big hike with the new bag was Mount Brown  with Ian vk5is who came on the 13 km round trip with me to gain 8 points.

   

Great View of Dutchman’s Stern and Devils Peak, Ian hard at work and a threat of rain.

We found the hike quite hard this year, we are both another year older but we still made 16 minute kilometres on the hike so not too bad. There were not many chasers on Mount Brown this time and we had a rain storm threatening over head so we went tag team on the mike on 40m ssb to hurry it along. A few happy snaps then get underway back down off the mountain but the rain did not really eventuate, just a few spots.

 

Raining in the South and Dust storm in the North.

Next two summits were with Hugh vk5nhg who is getting into his new season 2019 with a trip to Mt Cone first on the way to Mount Bryan. We headed out from home to arrive at the bottom of Mt Cone to find it covered in low cloud and mist. It was quite cold and a little windy so we set up behind the comms hut at the top. The radio for this summit was my kit and the FT 817 which suffered badly from interference from the other services up there but we managed quite a good score as the chasers gave us really good report on 5 watts. Hugh went first before utc roll over then I went second after roll over, doing it this way makes it more interesting for the chasers as they can score both activations as a separate day.

 Hugh had a good pile up of chasers on 80/40m ssb and I had a mix of 80m ssb and 40m cw, amazing how that FT 817 gets out at times just using a low dipole.

We drove off Mt Cone in bright sunshine to head to Mt Bryan to arrive at the gate and found it locked and the secret key missing from the hide e hole. This meant we had to back track around to the Eastern side of the Mount and hike up. Arriving at the hike entrance we had a coffee break looking up at the Mountain completely covered in cloud and mist, Hugh put on his rain coat and off we went. Its a 3km hike from the carpark at 600m asl to 936m asl at the top and I recon the last kilometre has the most gain so it really hurts for me to walk up. With lots of short bursts and spells we made it in good time really, about 1 hours. It was very windy right on top and of course Hugh’s rain coat did the trick it fined up.

 

We both had some good contacts on 40m Hugh working all the ssb chasers and I cleaned up on ssb and cw chasers with a ssb s2s with vk1mcw. We had trouble on 80m getting over the high noise levels into vk5wg but managed to do a swap eventually. It turned out there was a loose connection at one of the links in the dipole and all that really helped us get out at all was the antenna tuner in Hugh’s mighty KX2.

 

Usual great views from Mt Bryan but not a very nice place to visit on a windy day.

 

Great sunrise on my hike to The Bluff vk5/ne-065

Which was a 3 km hike up the road this time. I met with the Park Ranger and he said it is ok to hike up the road these days making it much easier and a shorter overall hike by about 4 km.

 

Rig of choice this activation is the fT817 as it fits in my new bag easier than the KX3. The bush is recovering nicely from the bushfire that decimated this area a few years ago. I have to set up here on the road side as the new young bush is just too thick to penetrate let alone hang up an antenna. This spot is about 20m below the summit. Very good band conditions today I was able to make a S2S with Mot JP1QEC/0 on 17m band. My antenna for 17m is my link dipole as the accidental ocf, having one of the 20m links open and the long end being set up for 80m it is close to a 37 metre long ocf dipole fed 9 metres in from the short end. Once Mot was in the log I set up and worked Nev on 80m and he was my only contact on that band. Making 14 qso’s on 40m ssb and cw and the S2S before utc roll over I was able to reset and work most of the chasers again and some new ones after role over. A good mix of ssb and cw on 40m then changed to 20m and worked 3 zl stations on cw but got no answer on 20m ssb even though i did spot my intentions. Today zl1bwg worked me with his new FT818 which is my first qso with this model rig that I know of, a great two way qrp qso.

 

I managed to climb to the top of the summit through the thick bush and get some photos of the Western side of the range. Looking down you can see Port Pirie and Point Lowly on the other side of Spencer Gulf.

That’s me all caught up for now, and I am very excited about my next activation which will be a 2 pointer from Mt Horrocks which was my first summit when SOTA first started in vk5 in October 2012. I need to get in touch with my faithful chasers and get a good party type activation going with as many other SOTA ops as possible.

I do intend to keep SOTA going and will be heading out again soon to keep Ian or Hugh going on activating and add to my own log also.

Thanks to the chasers and land owners.

Thanks for reading my Blog.

Regards Ian vk5cz ..

 

 

 

 

 

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2019 SOTA trips Underway.

With the long hot summer this year I have done a lot of my SOTA chasing from the back yard using several antennas so I decided to revisit the 52 foot end fed random wire. The MT1 You Kits LC tuner tunes this combination easily and it seems to work very well on bands above 40m with the FT 817. Just using my shortest 5m squid pole as a support it makes a very light weight combination for portable work. I set up with about 15 feet vertical up from the ground and the other 37 feet horizontal across the yard in an inverted L config. Straight into the MT1 and the tuner works nicely with the FT 817 combo giving good results chasing VK ZL and JA activators from 40m to 15m, and the rig seems happy to give full power on all bands. I even worked Tom M1EYP on a summit in UK on 30m cw with this antenna during the EU SOTA Party.

 

Set up in the Yard to chase SOTA and VKFF Parks.

My first solo SOTA was for the VK S2S QSO Party organised by some of the VK1 activators so it was a good opportunity to score some S2S points. Tothill Range vk5/se-010 was my choice for the activation, not far to drive there and about a 1 km hike to the summit. My time on the summit was limited but I scored 5 S2S qso and several other chasers on 3.6 ssb 7 ssb and cw, best qso was with Wade vk1mic on 3.6 mhz ssb during the afternoon.

   

Views from Tothill Range.

Next SOTA trip was to Brown Hill Range vk5/se-004.

During my cycling or walking on the Riesling Trail I have got to know some of the regular walkers who use the trail. I have come to know M&M or Michael and Margret who are regular walkers and of course I tell them of my SOTA exploits, so they came with me to Brown Hill Range to see what’s involved in a SOTA activation. It was quite cold at the summit and we spent some time behind the rocks out of the wind and M&M enjoyed the views from up there and I was able to point out the surrounding distant summits.

Another S2S with JP1QEC on 18 mhz which is proving to be a good band to Japan during the mornings, then lots of regular chasers on 80/40m ssb or cw.

   

View to the north and hard at work on cw.

Hogshead vk5/ne-051 and Coomaroo vk5/ne-088 were the next two summit trip and this time Ian vk5is joined me for the joint activation for both summits. Ian went first before utc roll over that way we could count both activation’s as separate days on the hill enabling the chasers to score us both. We both made  an S2S qso with Glen vk3yy on vk3/ve-004 before roll over then after Ian finished working everyone it was the new utc day so I worked them again. No dx this time but a good score on 80/40m. Hogshead is a tough climb to get to the top even though it is only about 1 km to hike up it’s a good to test our form on our summit climbs.

 

Ian vk5is at work, very dry up north still.

After a nice coffee and lunch break in Orroroo we headed for the afternoon activation at Coomaroo vk5/ne-088. This summit is a steady 2km hike to the top but not too hard so good to have some quality hiking instead of a slog to the top.

We only managed a few qso’s in the afternoon but enough to qualify then hike back to the SOTA transporter to meet a dead line invitation for coffee and Cake at The Fullerville Coffee and Radio Store.

Down out of the wind on Comaroo.

I had a STOP!! to my SOTA activities for a while as I needed to go to Hospital and get a Pace Maker fitted, I have been in denial for some time over my dizzy spells and really low heart rate. But now all fixed so next thing to do is test myself out on a steep climb to see how I go. First activation was only a 1km hike easy to vk5/ne-058 Mt Nadjuri. While I was having coffee before I headed off on the hike I checked SOTAWatch2 to see if Mot was on his summit and found JP3DGT out on a summit and I was able to work him from my Ute radio and the whip on 20m. Did not score a S2S if you’re wondering. Seeing Mot was on 20m I had the pressure on to hike over and set up antennas in time to catch him. The wind was very strong so I set up behind a rock shelf and got the antenna on top. Mot was a very good signal on 17m again and I worked him with the Accidental OCF antenna I discovered one other time which works very well on 17m.

 

SOTA Flag flying in the wind, Good qso with JP1QEC S2S again.

 

Rain Clouds first in a while.

I headed to Jamestown for a lunch break then off to hike to New Mount Campbell my test for the heart rate. Lots of sheep lambing in the pine forest so I made a detour around them as best I could before getting back on track. Now this Forest area has been split in half and sold I need permission from the new land owner who was good and granted permission to hike my similar track to the summit. Because the land has been split the new fence is hard to cross so I needed to hike up the fence line to a gate right on top of the ridge. This was the test for me but with lots of recovery stops I made it and did not seem to feel so much pain in my legs as usual. I had a chance also to test and use my new Man bag as I can’t have a back pack strap over my left shoulder where the pace maker is until it heals up more. I need to modify the wrap around strap as it seems to be in the wrong place to stop the bag from sliding around to the hip side of my body. More experimenting. I managed to fit enough gear in my bag for the activation but need to cut down on some spares and a smaller water bottle to fit. Coax and wire winders do not fit very well so I wrapped coax and antennas up differently to pack without the winders. I only took 1 battery, no rest board and a separate clock for timing, cw key and leads and mic in a bag of their own. It all fits nicely with these changes so once I get this strap issue worked out it should be good. I found out it is not really water proof as it rained when I was hiking back to my Ute but nothing got wet inside the bag.

 

This is the Steepest part and that’s the goal along the stone wall to top.

Rain clouds building and I just managed to get some qso’s in the log then quickly pack up, sorry to any chasers I missed I did not want to get my gear too wet. I had a heavy shower of rain to walk back to the Ute, can’t remember the last time it has rained me out, this drought has been so long.

 

R&D on the perfect SOTA Man Bag goes on. She’s right not guna rain.

This Summit is a great place to visit but I recon next time I will do it later in the year when all the sheep have finished lambing so they are not disturbed by me walking through the paddock. The Farmer made a visit to fill there feeders while I was there so they are used to having people around them but I would feel better not to disturb them while they are doing it tough in this drought.

Thanks to the land owners and chasers, thanks for reading my Blog.

Ian vk5cz ..