VKFF Parks On The Air

Spring Gully Conservation Park VKFF-0816 PF96hc22.

I have been thinking to Activate a park on Digital modes for quite a while, Saturday afternoon was a great day to give it a go. The other twist was to only use the 6 and 10 metre bands to see if I could make 44 QSO’s to qualify the park. So going away from the norm a bit I made up a link dipole that will get me on 4 bands above 17 metres. I forgot to include 6 metres in the dipole so I made up a flower pot vertical end fed half wave that could hang below the dipole once everything was on my Squid pole and up in the air.

The Flower Pot vertical worked extremely well for a simple halfwave vertical antenna, I was able to get very good reports to ZL1 and ZL3 on my first CQ call then to VK 1 2 3 5 7 within the next 20 minutes on 6m.

Setting up the computer and software for FT8 mode was done at home before I went out to the park with a couple simple macro files set up with the park reference and a CQ Parks macro as well. In settings for FT8 I put in the exact Locator Grid for Spring Gully Conservation Park and used my phone once set up in the park as a hot spot to put the Laptop on line so I could set the Internet Time to make sure my PC clock was right. While online from the park I could also watch PSK reporter to check for other operators who may be on as well. My Samsung Tablet was used to spot my intensions on Parks and Peaks with my Band/Mode information for any Hunters who might be looking for me. The main issue with a Windows Laptop out in the field is seeing the screen in the bright daylight. I lost my Cursor a few times while trying to operate the program but soon found a spot to park it when I was not using it.

Once I run out of contacts on 6 metres and getting 7 Hunters in my log I hooked up the Link Dipole on 10m and called CQ Parks.

Straight off from my first CQ call I worked VK2 ZL1 JG1 right away keeping me busy logging in my paper log at the same time as saving them in the Software. Working through the contacts and calling CQ over a period 0430 UTC until 0600 UTC I had the required 44 QSO’s to Qualify the park. One interesting thing I noticed about FT8 and 10 metres from this park I was able to work VK5IS and VK5GY near Laura and VK5JK near Victor Harbour the distances would have to be in the range of 100 km for Laura and maybe 200 km to VK5JK.

This little shady tree was very handy to sit under but the wx was quite good for a summers day.

43 years ago I used to park my car here and talk on my AM CB radio from this location and work some dx at that time with a helical whip and 4 watts of AM. Some time later I used this location for a Summer VHF/UHF contest and I made contacts to VK4 on 2m SSB and stations all around VK5 on 2m 70cm bands.

Its a great location for portable radio and just so happens to be a park in the VKFF program and an easy spot to set up antennas in the shade for a sunny day activation.

During this activation using FT8 mode and 30 watts of power I was able to contact Japan Indonesia Thailand Russia New Zealand and VK1 VK2 VK3 VK5 VK6 VK7 with varying signal reports from most stations. I think only 2 QSO’s failed to complete and I was able to send my Park Reference VKFF-0816 as a final transmission once the 73 macro came through from the Hunters. It was great fun to get out of my comfort zone and deal with the callers on my screen I could hardly see and get them in my paper log at the same time. FT8 is often talked about in unfavorable terms as being easy or not real Ham radio but I think it’s where the action is at this point in time and it propagates so well with low signal levels and poor propagation. I was pleased that several of my usual SOTA or Parks Hunters switched to FT8 to give me a call and a score. I will do this again sometime soon I recon while the summer E’s are here and there is a good chance to make contacts on the higher frequencies with relative ease.

Thanks to all the Hunters and thanks for reading my Blog

Regards Ian vk5cz ..

2 comments on “VKFF Parks On The Air

  1. vk5bje says:

    Hi Ian a most interesting post. I once tried JT65 but struggled to find the cursor and see the screen. It certainly paid off for you! Six metres was really good. thanks JD

  2. VK4FR/VK5FR says:

    Absolutely magnificent work Ian! The digital modes are on my Bucket List and hopefully I can free up some time this year for a Park Activation.
    I would be most interested in the macros you used and if there is a ‘Standard’ WWFF format?

    Chris
    VK5FR

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