Well it was a nice cool morning on New Years Day so Hugh and I made it to Mt Lofty to activate before and after UTC roll over and get double points for the one visit. It was great that lots of other activators have made a tradition of the New Year morning SOTA activation as we had 8 Summit 2 Summit qso with a smaller group of home chasers in the log. Had a few low signal contacts on 80m locally as the band seemed a bit depressed but conditions was quite good on 40m but really low noise levels as if it was a higher frequency in use. Sorry did not take any photos on Mt Lofty that I can find anywhere on my devices but a nice area to set up east of the car park near the walking trail although this day there seemed to be more bike riders than hikers. One group of cyclists stopped and asked if we were doing comms for a bike ride and thanked us for helping out, don’t think they under stood really what SOTA was about but did my best to set them right.
My next SOTA activity was Illawarra Hill VK5/SE-014 in early March it was a nice cool evening activation this time Starting out with local chasers on 80m at 07.00 utc. After qualifying the summit on SSB and CW on 80/40m it was time to give some Digital modes a go. As Illawarra Hill is a drive up summit it was not far to carry heavier kit to my activating spot behind a lonely tree I was able to use my FT 891 and Laptop for this activation. I had the Parks link dipole and 8m squid pole as well so it is probably my best set up to use.
This is JS8call mode it works as good as FT8 and was a very successful activation as far as contacts I managed to work 12 stations on 40m vk and zl and 1 station in The Philippines on JS8 and 3 JA stations on FT8. FT8 is a good mode to use but much harder to send the right macro files related to SOTA whereas JS8 is more flexible with what info can be sent relevant to SOTA.
Talk about luxury table and chairs higher powered rig and coffee on hand I stayed on the summit until quite late 10.30 utc.
Next SOTA trip was early March on Tothill Range VK5/SE-010 near Black Springs in the Julia Ranges a very nice summit to visit with a gradual 1km hike to the summit as a good one to start off the season. Problem for me was this was another late afternoon activation and my legs were sore from the morning 40km Mountain Bike ride. But with lots of little rests on the way up I made it to the top on Alert Time to get on with it. Five local chasers on 80m is a great way to start the activation as its qualified before the hard work starts.
Using my light weight system for this activation and the KX3 at 8 watts I made 4 easy qso on 40m ssb and 7 qso on 40m cw with a QRP 2 QRP with VK6EA was a great contact on 40m cw. Still like using my Man Bag to cart the gear it is nice and compact and lighter than my normal back pack only down side is I can’t take a lot of water but on shorter hikes its perfect.
Unfortunately its still very dry out here and rain is really needed to recover from the drought.
Last summit for this Blog was The Battery VK5/NE-055 near Wilmington in the Flinders Ranges.
I tried during the week to activate but when I arrived there the park was closed for Feral animal shooting with a helicopter. To save something from the wasted trip I found this nice place to set up outside the park and chase JP1QEC who was on a summit in Japan. I had lots of qsb problems to hear him on 20m cw but he was a great signal on 17m cw which seems to work very well in our morning time to Japan.
So I left home on the next Sunday to try again as the park had re opened. To hike to the Battery Summit its 4 km distance along the Rim Road then cross over a gully to Battery Track for the other 1.5 km to the summit.
I really enjoy this longer hike as its good training for the rest of the season and puts some base km in the old legs for what is to come during the rest of the SOTA season. Really nice cool breeze from the east kept me cool and it did not hurt as much on the climb up out of Stoney Creek Gully as I thought it might. So the great summer of cycling and hikes is paying off.
This is the pile of rocks at the summit on top of the Battery the cold burn last season cleared it out a lot more than how it was last time I was there.
This is the full 9 kg back pack kit as I need to carry more water on this hike, KX3 at 8 watts was plenty to work the group on 80m ssb some old friends gave chase as well as regular chasers on 80m, only 1 ssb qso on 40m then a nice pile up of 7 on 40m cw with a S2S with Peter VK3PF on VK3/VE-257.
I did not get any answer on 20m cw so re Spotted to give 17m a try.
Not really having a 17m antenna but knowing from past experience my 20/40m link dipole can be turned into an Off Centre Fed Dipole antenna. Leaving one 20/40m link closed and the other open for 20m it becomes an OCF that firstly the KX3 tunes easily and it works very well on 17m. Magic. The spot did the trick I first worked ZL1BYZ with a good report then 4 JA stations called with good reports both ways, I seem to remember a couple of the Japanese guys are SOTA activators/ chasers too. To end the day ZL2ATH was worked as well with a bit lower signal than the rest but as the longest side of the antenna was run out to the north maybe it radiates better to JA than ZL.
After a nice walk back to the Colorado taking slightly longer than heading to the summit I was foot sore but pleased with the pleasant hike and SOTA activation
10.73 km Hike 2.5 hrs walking 4.3 km avg speed 117w avg pwr 202m elevation gain 1,167 Calories, I had a big Pasty at the Wirrabara Bakery to replace those Calories.
Thanks to the chasers and thanks for reading my Blog