Last Summits Up North 2021

After the 6 summit marathon out of Benbleby Ranges Hugh and I did a day trip to Yunta for 3 summits.

Because there was road works on The Barrier Highway, Hugh found a way via mostly dirt roads to Peterborough from his home to try to save hold ups at the work sites. Once out of Peterborough we headed for Dawson then a back way into Nackara Hill which turned into some back tracking to find a way. When we got to the western end of the old road we normally take from the Eastern side we found a brand new fence across the roadway and no gate near by. We had to drive North towards Yunta then take another station track to get to the Summit. Being about 40 minutes late we were lucky enough to have a small group on 80m waiting for us after their normal morning Sked. Hugh and I went tag team on 80m SSB then got off the summit and headed to Yunta still another 90km away. On the way to Teetulpa Station we usually go to Waroonee Hill first it saves time getting there and we need to drive about 12 km of station tracks to the parking spot. Un eventful hike up probably the greenest we have seen it for a few years, we got on 80m SSB to find some chasers waiting then Hugh topped up his score on 40m SSB and I worked a few more on 40m CW.

SOTA flag full of wind VK5CZ on the Morse Paddle.
View out East from the Summit.

The poor old land scape is still not recovered from years of drought but it’s better than we have seen it for a while. Hugh and I got off the hill and then had to travel about 35 km to the next summit north of the homestead. Karkala Ridge is a 1.2 km hike up from the parking spot which is not a hard slog but quite rocky under foot.

Hugh on Air on Karkala Ridge.

The wind was very strong on this afternoon summit so we only put the Squid pole up 6 metres and leaned it into the wind to keep it up. The bush we used to tie to is broken down by hungry goats so is no longer a viable support therefor we bungeed the pole around the rock shelf and packed extra rocks for support. No shortage of rocks up here.

Nice afternoon activation with plenty of chasers then the long drive back to Clare through lots of road works to make the journey even slower. Just an easy 600 odd kilometre day out on SOTA.

Hawker Summits.

Some time later I have been researching access to more Summits around Hawker probably inspired by our visit to Mt Arden where you can see all the summits near Hawker, I made it my business to find out land owners contact details in that area. Of course its never easy but Mr Google did shed some light for me, I did a search on the Pastoral lease name and sure enough they had won some prizes in a Ram show with their prize Merino Rams a few years ago. Another search for the family name in the White Pages gave me a phone number. I ring this number some what nervous to the reaction at the other end of course, a total stranger calling on the phone to ask access to his hill so I can talk on the radio. It takes a bit of work explaining what this is all about assuming he has not hung up the phone by now. I would say in my case this is the hardest part of SOTA, asking and working with land owners for access to their properties, the hikes up are tough in some cases but this is harder than that I think. Up shot was the Summit I was talking about turns out not to be on his land but another fella owns it. OK well what about this other hill over here, that one was on his property and another hill over the other side of the road is too. It’s getting better all the time up until the let down of course, He wants more information about what I want to do and do I have public risk insurance and so on . He was a bit astounded why anyone would want to hike up his hill and talk on a radio and I was slowly giving up altogether when he said to call around one day and show him my gear and how I plan to go about it. So an appointment booked in advance sometime next year in winter should be good enough fingers crossed to grant access then. We ended up friends I think, time will tell. The good part about getting access to more summits around Hawker makes it more worth while to go and stay there for a couple days to do them all, at the moment I have only two summits on my list and a possible 6 others if permission could be sorted. That means money spent in Hawker for Food, Fuel and Accommodation and the land owner gets free premium wine from the beautiful Clare Valley. Sorry I diverge.

Evening view of Mt Elm the summit I would like to visit.

Turns out west of Hawker town is a summit that permission is already granted to bush walkers so I made an evening visit just to find the activation zone ready for the next day.

Yourambulla Range Summit was my first time to activate there so exciting day for me first new summit in many years.

A great well marked hike not that hard just a couple rock scrambles and I saw 1 Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby pretty rare around these parts no picture he scampered off well before I had a camera ready.

I got to the summit just before UTC roll over and was able to hand out two lots of chaser points for this summit as it is only a 1 point summit helps double the chasers score. I did not make any QSO on 40m SSB which surprised me but I had a large pile up on 40m CW so that was good.

View to the North
Antenna is up now for rest of my Kit.

I finished up in good time on Yourumbulla Range and headed for Hawker to refuel then out East to Worumba Station to visit Mt Plantagenet one of the 8 point summits I visit but its a drive up. After a nice chat with Mary I headed for the summit being by myself I had to open and shut several gate to get there. This summit has a well made track to the top it is possible to drive up in high range 4×4 as the road is in very good order these days.

Stone Cairn on Mt Plantagenet.

I had a good amount of QSO’s once set up and the weather was really nice not much wind and very sunny.

A large group on 80m although the band was not so good this time during middle of the day but I worked everyone who heard me. Several callers on 40m SSB and even more on 40m CW turns out to be a great activation the only thing now in to get off the hill deal with the gates and head for home.

Black Rock Peak and Stokes Hill

Another day trip to a couple summits around Orroroo this time a bit closer in but still a 460 km trip.

We left Hugh’s place right on 6am and hit the usual dirt roads north taking a new way from Peterborough this time to reach Black Rock peak probably an hour before Alert time. That’s OK good to be in front for a change. This summit is a 4×4 up to near the top, we went about half a kilometre further on the track this time to a new closer park spot from the Activation Zone.

Because we were early a quick TxT msg to VK5IS who got on 2m to a few local stations we were away getting a score tag team on 80m SSB then Hugh did the 40m SSB chasers and I handed out some 40m CW before roll over then again after roll over as well and a few ZL ops on 20m CW.

Hugh at work on Black Rock Peak

Hugh had a good score on 40m SSB even making it to ZL.

VK5CZ on the Old Corse Mode.

I made several CW contacts on 40m after Tag team on 80m SSB with Hugh several regulars were not on 80m but still found 4 QSO’s on 80m.

After UTC roll over I got several more stations giving me a total of 15 contacts for the Activation.

On the way to Stoke Hill which is about 65 km away we dropped some wine off to our farmers then hit the dirt tracks again to make Stokes Hill in good time. We had a lunch break there and I let some air out of my tyres to tackle the steep rocky accent of Stoke’s Hill. It takes about 40 minutes in low range 1st and 2nd gear on this track, Hugh had to clean a few fallen logs and some diff banger rocks out of the way but all went well on the climb.

Hugh on 40m SSB. WOT a chair and table ??

The Chair and table were still in the back of my Ute from a recent VKFF parks visit so we set up in style this time.

Only 3 stations on 80m but we did work some local VK5’s on 40m SSB and CW with really strong signals good to have some short skip for a change.

Love Morse Code.

Nice group of chasers on 40m CW a S2S with VK3ARR on VK3/VS-048 and a new chaser on 40m CW VK2LI first time caller for me. Got 2 extra ZL stations on 20m CW as well.

Great weather again hardly any wind and Spring in well on the way up there, another good rain soon would be good.

Slowly ever so Slowly back off the Mountain on the down track taking about 30 minutes to get back to the roads and head for home.

Views North form Black Rock Peak
View South from Stokes Hill some of the up track below.

Managed a QSO with VK5AMC/ tractor mobile via VK5RLH 2m repeater at Lochiel 167 km away from my Ute rig on 50 watts.

Thanks to the Chasers and Land Owners for another lot of SOTA fun.

Thanks for reading my Blog.

Regards Ian vk5cz ..

Winter SOTA Summits 2021

Well Hugh and I have been quite busy working through the list of Summits over the past couple of months.

Checking the photo’s on my phone reminded me to maybe write another Blog about this lot of Summits that we got done during Winter.

It was much more pleasant and less stressful up north this year as its been quite wet with some good rain events to green things up much more than the last 5 years of drought death dust and mayhem.

The environment is slowly recovering and we even heard some birds singing on Dutchman’s Stern I don’t think I have ever heard that bird call before. Such small birds in the bushes you can never get to see them for very long as they dart about. Dutchmans was a single summit for the day we arrived at lunch time to start the walk which was a first time to do it this way. Hugh had not been to this summit before and the walk time was about 1 hour 20 minutes this time. We managed to make a few contacts as it was later in the day and the 80m crowd saved us this time to make a score, there were not many SSB chasers for Hugh on 40m and I made a few contacts on 40m CW as the rain clouds gathered we packed up and headed for the car park 6 km away.

Next day was a 3 summit day with a plan to be on Mt Benjamin early and just pick up the 80m gang at 7.30 for the morning sked time then go onto the other two summits for the rest of the day. A quick activation on the first summit and we were off the hill and ready to start the hike to Richman Hill after morning coffee break at the parking spot. Richman Hill is a tough climb with more than its prominence from the car park side to make the top. After the ankle burning climb and thick bush to get through we made the top around 0215 UTC or close to lunch time local time.

On the Way to Richman Hill

Good amount of contacts for Hugh on 80 and 40m SSB and I made some good contacts on 40m CW and also got into ZL and VK2 on 20m CW this time. I did not hear my usual ZL chasers on 40m probably because they could not hear me well enough so I called a couple times on 20m and like magic 3 ZL regulars in the log.

After we got off the Summit it is only a short drive to Devils Peak where we had a lunch break in the car park before tackling the next Ankle burner with a rock climb to make this summit.

Hugh on the Rock Face on the way up.

This was a bit hard for us old fellas and lots of erosion has gone on here this year on the so called walking track. Its a bit tricky and slippery on these rock slopes and probably more dangerous on the way down than up but we made the summit in good time to meet our Alert time.

VK5CZ on the Morse paddle FT817 is the radio.

That reminds me the fT817 has been my tool of trade for quite a few summits on these trips. The microphone on the KX3 has been playing up and good friend Gordon VK5GY volunteered to fix it for me which turned out to be a mic cord issue of course. At the time of writing I now have a fixed KX3 mic but the FT 817 did maybe 10 summits with us lately and it reminds me of what a great radio they are and I enjoy using it every time, amazing where you can get with 5 watts of power.

We both had a good round up of chasers on 80m again in the middle of the afternoon in spite of the antenna for 80m not really fitting very well on our rocky perch on the Peak. The extensions are run out as far as possible off the ground then the ends thrown over the edge on both ends. I had some good contacts on 40m CW this time and no need to go to 20m my ZL chasers were all worked easily on 40m this time. After a very careful accent of Devils Peak we made it back to the Colorado and and headed to the caravan park for a good nights rest up for day 3 of SOTA.

Day 3 rolled around and we set of to The Argadells homestead quite early as we had an Alert time on SW3 for UTC roll over so Hugh could hand out scores to the chasers before UTC roll over and I went on air after UTC roll over that way the chasers get a double score as we are worked on differing calendar days.

We had an un eventful drive up to Mt Arden I recon its the best I have ever seen the track to the top, it can be a bit daunting to drive this track as on the way up in places all you can see out front is the bonnet of the vehicle and blue sky. No problems for my trusty Colorado in low range second gear all the way pulling nice and low down, made it look easy.

View out to the North East from Mt Arden.

Checking my log for this summit I see we only found 3 QSO on 80m SSB so Hugh would have made the rest of his score on 40m SSB. I had a good number of chasers on 40m CW and some others on 20m CW.

View to the South from Mt Arden.
Hugh is hard at work Luxury he had a chair.

Done away with the clip board for my log.

That was a great time away the weather was nice, not too hot and it did not rain on us even though it came close on Dutchman’s Stern. Back to the caravan park so Hugh could hook up his caravan and I headed to Laura to drop off my KX3 Microphone to Gordon.

Next big SOTA was what we call The Bendleby Ranges trip where we stay as accomms and travel out from there to do 6 summits. This trip takes in about 700 km of driving and 30 odd km of hiking to get around them all.

Hugh on air on Peaked Hill.

Peaked Hill was the first summit in the morning on the way to Bendleby Ranges, some contacts on 80m first then Hugh made a couple 40m SSB QSO and I made 2 CW QSO to have the KX2 die mid activation. Turns out the battery was flat, ok I will put my battery on whoops the Anderson pole connector pulls off Hugh’s power lead. Bugger can’t fix it here so we gave up and moved on. Eke Hill is the southern summit on Bendleby property so we booked in to the accomms first them went out to the summit after lunch. A great summit with a nice walk up along the creek then up a long rock shelf to make the summit in about 30 minutes for 1.2 km.

Stone Cairn on Eke Hill looking out to the East.
Operating Position On Eke Hill.

We had a good group of 80m Chasers this time and Hugh made some 40m SSB QSO and I had 3 40m CW QSO.

Off the hill in good time and a good training walk around the camp ground getting ready for a gut buster the next morning on Black Hill.

Hugh on the hike to Black Hill.

The next morning we were up and on the road by 7am for a long dirt road trip of 100km on station tracks to make Black Hill summit for a morning activation. This is one of the harder hikes we do in our program and Hugh had only been there once before so he was keen to try my proven track to the summit.

We worked hard in hard terrain to make the Alert time and tried to make the before roll over time again but missed out. Its such a hard climb I like to try to walk about 16 minutes per KM but on this hike it took 30 minutes to do one of the KM’s in the middle so more than an hour to go 3.2 km. But we did our best and got 5 QSO on 80m SSB and no QSO on 40m SSB I worked VK1DA on 40m CW that was it this time. Probably only spent 20 minutes on the summit, just seems crazy sometimes, to do all that driving and slog to have around 5 minutes each of on air time.

That’s what you call a Slab.

This photo is taken on the way off the summit we came down a different way, on the way up we climbed that slab to make the top. It’s pretty tough going, the SOTA transporter is parked in the bare area out east by the creek line.

Back to the SOTA transporter to back track for 40km to the next park up spot for unnamed summit VK5/NE-031 on Worumba Station.

Being late afternoon by the time we arrived on Hill 031 as we call it there were only 3 chasers on 80m SSB and Hugh made some 40m QSO on SSB and I gave out some points to 8 CW chasers on 40m so a good round up in the end. We had an uneventful hike back to the Mitsi and a 60km drive back to Bendleby accomms and another rest up for the next day.

Day 3 of this Adventure had the most hiking of the 3 days away.

Morning summit was Marchant Hill a 6 point summit with a 3.5 km hike around several hills and gullies as the easiest way we have worked out to get there. It been several attempts to get this path worked out over the years.

This time the weather was quite pleasant other times we have been there the wind has been really strong.

Hugh and I had 6 Chasers on 80m SSB this time handing out a score before and after roll over again this time, then I made 4 quick QSO on 40m cw as Hugh rolled up the kit so we could get off to Price Hill.

Price Hill is a great summit right in the middle of Hawker, Carrieton and Bendleby Ranges with nothing in its way. This is a park and hike in from the East of 3.5 km following a water way for some of the way then just hard slog to the top.

Once again we took a different path around the side of a smaller hill trying to make a more direct line to the saddle that takes you to the top. Seems sometimes it ends up being not much easier anyhow but It pays to experiment on this hobby.

Hugh on Price Hill.

The views from up here are an amazing vista full circle but the wind was very strong so we only had the pole up 6 metres but the antenna still worked ok. We only made 4 80m QSO this time but had a good score on 40m this time, Hugh had a lot of SSB contacts and I scored 10 CW contacts with a couple new chasers this time. Always nice to work a new chaser.

Old Dry Bore on Pamatta Station.

We got off the hill late afternoon and a quick Coffee break Hugh headed home via Orroroo and I took some dirt tracks ending up in Laura to pick up my KX3 Microphone from Gordon. It was a very good time out on the summits with a few tough climbs now behind us until next year.

Thanks to all the Chasers and the Land owners who have been a great support to Hugh and I and the SOTA program granting access to their properties and Summits.

Thanks for reading my Blog.

Regards Ian vk5cz..

Lagoon Hill S2S DX to USA.

Lagoon Hill is a nice Summit located in The Julia Ranges about 50 km from my home town of Clare, its one of those summits I save locally for a quick visit on a Sunday.

Hugh was off bush walking so it was time to get some ankle burn on Lagoon Hill and it does not disappoint once the accent starts. Farmer Jeff has the neighboring property and he lets me walk across his paddock to get to the boundary of Lagoon Hill property. Another difference with this summit is it’s a Heritage Trust private conservation area, but I have permission from the Trust Director to access the Trig point via a Crown Land easement that ends in a 1 acre area around the trig point ideal amount of room to set up my SOTA station.

Now to access I need to follow the easement along a fence line at the bottom of the hill for a while then once I come to two large stones in the fence line, these are the original survey markers placed there many years ago. With my cap on backwards I head east up to the top of the summit in about 400 metres of distance with roughly 160 metres of gain in the land to the top. Its a killer for sure but with plenty of rests you eventually make the top, this time it took 43 minute to go about 2 km from the parked Ute.

Lots of Yacka Bushes Rocks and Sheoaks on the way up.

Now once on the summit and recovered a bit I set up my 20/40/80 link dipole on a 7 metre telescopic pole getting ready to start the activation and on my Alert time too for a change.

The first contacts are on 80m SSB with some local chasers from around country SA. I then changed to 40m CW and worked into VK 2 3 4 5 with good signals and also got a good report from ZL1BQD in New Zealand.

While on 40m I went to SSB and worked more VK stations in VK 2 3 then Hugh called me on 2m FM while he was on his bush walk some 30 km away from me.

SOTA Flag Flying

The dipole runs out nicely along the ridge line and all bands can fit in between the Sheoak trees.

The old log serves as a good support for my pole and of course I have a cushion to sit on and operate the radio.

My SOTA Shack KX3 radio at 10w of power out, I use a paper note book and pencil to log the calls.

Once I had run out of Chasers on 40m I took down the bigger Dipole and put up a 20/17/15 metre 3 band link Dipole I made so I could try some higher bands.

On 20m CW I worked VK2IO and YC1RIK in Indonesia but no response to a quick CQ on 20m SSB.

Time to change bands and try 17m on CW, I heard a couple beacons quite well on 18.110 so I though conditions should be ok. After the first CQ JH1MXV and ZL1BYZ answered me straight away so the Spotting was working on the net ok. It was getting windy on the hill and I put in my ear buds so I could hear the radio better and I noticed when I called CQ on CW I could hear the tail end of my CW characters in my ear buds like an echo sound. It shows the great Receiver and Full Break In on the KX3 works well. It was a bit off putting to start but I have had this experience before and I thought if there was this sound my signal was being propagated some where out there. Listing for a while I heard a faint signal sending S2S S2S meaning Summit 2 Summit. I had checked my phone before and thought I did not see any other VK ops out on SOTA today, then NN7M put in his callsign. WoW USA S2S its only happened to me once before in 9 years of SOTA. I slowed my CW speed a little to help with the QSB on the path but we managed to make a RST swap plus Summit Reference swap quite easily in the end. NN7M was on W7W/SK-173 and the copy was so good I even heard him correct a mistake he sent in the Reference. It is so cool to make these Summit 2 Summit contacts on low power, Ryan sent a comment in his signoff Spot on the SW3 page he was running 5 watts and I had the KX3 at10w for the activation. Having the proper resonate link Dipole is also a big help rather than some compromised tuned up antenna that might work ok in some circumstances but not as efficient or consistent when making DX contacts further than one would expect.

Great View out to the East from here.

One last try on 15m CW I worked YC1RIK again with a slightly better reception than our QSO on 20m earlier but good of him to chase me on other bands.

This is a view from Tothill Range Summit looking back to Lagoon Hill this Summit gave me my first S2S with USA NJ7V 23/04/2017, its been a while.

Great view all around this area and the Farmers could sure use some rain so they can make a start on cropping for season 21/22.

View out to the North Tothill Range Summit and many others out there.

Thanks to all the chasers for 20 QSO’s in a 3 hour period of living the dream on SOTA.

Thanks to the land owners

Thanks for reading my Blog.

See you on the next one ..




3 Summits in One Day and 2 Long Hikes.

Middle of May already and Hugh and I have several summits in the log for this year. The cooler Summer and Autumn gave some opportunities to get out on Summits much sooner this year. April 17th was good for getting a 3 summit day trip done so we chose Hogshead, Coomaroo and Maurice Hill as a big day out on Summits.

Hogshead VK5/NE-051 is near Pekina and a rather steep climb up in a very short distance of about 900m from the parking spot.

Great view out to the South from Hogshead Summit

On this Summit is a great example of a Stone Cairn that are on many of the summits we visit.

Hugh worked on 2 metres this time with his home made Flower Pot antenna with good results having good coverage to several local chasers on 2m FM.

I had several contacts on 80m SSB with the local group of chasers then made contact with some interstate chasers on 40m CW to give me 9 QSO in total.

Hazy day being so dry up here but nice weather for us on the hill.

This one in the log Hugh and I headed off to the next summit via some dirt roads near Mt Robert and hitting the bitumen road near Morchard before turning off to the Coomaroo Summit. It was Hugh’s first visit to this summit so he now has a new one to his list and it’s about a 2km to hike up from the parking spot.

Once again Hugh was able to work several 2m FM contacts from here but had to resort to 40m to find a couple extra contacts to make a score of more than 4 QSO.

It was hard to find chasers on Coomaroo as it was around lunch time by the time we got there and the bands were a bit quiet but we managed to find a mixture this time of VK and ZL stations I could work on cw. Hugh had a couple chasers on 2m FM and lucky to find a couple more on 80m SSB. We did not stay long as it was another 40 km back to the next summit along some more back roads. This activity lets you find a way on roads that would never be travelled by me other wise.

Next Stop Maurice Hill VK5/NE-049

Maurice Hill is a drive up summit so a good reason to leave it until last for the day when the old legs might be a bit sore from the mornings hikes.

Operating on Maurice Hill behind this rock shelf out of the wind.


This was a bit of an unusual activation for us as Hugh found enough contacts on 2m FM but we could not get much sense out of 80m SSB with the locals this time. I did however work VK5PAS VK5MAZ mobile in VK3, VK3PF at home and VK7QP in Tasmania on 80m during the day. It seemed the further away the caller was the better the signal.

A good amount of 40m SSB and CW chasers from VK 2 3 5 6 and some ZLs as well. My contact with VK3YE appeared on one of his portable operating You Tubes I noticed the other day on 40m CW.

Back to Clare and fill in the logs after a big day out on summits with Hugh.

With a few rest days but not wanting to lose any fitness Hugh and I headed for Mount Brown VK5/NE-014.

It was a mid week activation this time and really nice weather as it can get pretty windy on Mount Brown as it is over 900 m ASL. We left the SOTA transporter at 9 am thinking it would be about 2 hours to the top but we were suffering a bit on this hike and it ended up being 2 and a half hours to make it. We had the pressure on to make our Spot time on SW3 but lucky for us there were plenty of chasers waiting.

I set up HF on the side of the walking track and Hugh climbed onto the viewing platform and set up his Flower Pot antenna again for VHF 2m FM.

Being so high above sea level Hugh had very good coverage on 2m working as far south as Moonta Bay on FM voice with the signal path being over water in Spencer Gulf for most of the time.

Hugh made a good score on 2m FM then also worked some chasers of 40m SSB to top up his score.

Platform on top of Mt Brown.
The Flower Pot Antenna

Great take off point on VHF from on the Platform we both had plenty of contacts while on Mt Brown.

The hard walk up was worth it as we were both pretty sore and tired by the time we got back to my Ute with 12.5 km in the legs and feet.

Devils Peak and Dutchman’s Stern across the Valley.

Amazing views from the platform above the trees on Mt brown.

Next Summit in view Mt Remarkable off to the South.

Next big hike is Mt Remarkable, Hugh and I and a local non ham friend Garry started from Melrose early to make the 2 hour hike to the summit which is 6.2km on the North track.

Screed Slopes site of a plane crash.
Having a rest near plane crash site at 5 km mark on the trail.
Farmers Dry Seeding on Willowie Plains.

Once we arrived at the summit and got set up the weather was really nice and warm with hardly any wind on the summit. Hugh set up his Flower Pot again and made some VHF 2m FM contacts. I set up the HF and made lots of contacts on 80m SSB with local VK5 chasers and the Special Event call sign VK100AF for 100 years of the Air Force.

Garry Chilled out on the bench while Hugh and I did the SOTA thing then we headed off back down the Mountain on the new South track as a different way down.

Link Dipole set up on a bench quite handy as a resting bench too.

All I can say about the South track is it meanders for a lot longer and is steeper and a very rough surface making it a harder way to get off the Mountain and it’s at least 1 km further if not more.

Great day for a hike and nice to get some long hikes done for this year I only have Dutchman’s Stern Summit to do some time later.

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

regards

Ian vk5cz ..


3 More Autumn Summits

I can drive another km closer from here but just having smoko before I head off to activate the summit.

I only need to hike for 1 km once parked up and its a steady climb to the top.

Once set up and ready to activate I had a good pile up on 80m SSB with 6 QSO then onto 40m 5 QSO on CW and 3 on SSB. Swapping to 20m CW I made 6 QSO and no answer to my CQ on 20m SSB or 17m CW .

I run out of shade quite quickly under this small tree so did not stay on the summit very long as it was getting quite hot.

Thanks to the chasers on this one.

Next chance to do some Summits with Hugh came up on 5th April or Easter Monday.

With all the access permissions granted Hugh and I made an early start from his place to beat the UTC roll over again on New Mount Campbell. This proved a bit tricky as the hike was quite hard for us through the long dry grass and steep pinch to the top. Hugh had not done any hiking for quite a while so we took it easy and arrived at the top in an hour or so.

Hugh inspecting a shepherds hut from a by gone era.

Hugh gave his 2m Flower Pot 2m antenna a run this summit and made plenty of VHF qso’s to qualify the summit before making some QSO on 80m SSB.

I had a lot of chasers on 80m SSB this time working 8 chasers before going to 40m where I scored 6 QSO on CW then no answer on SSB I went to 17m and worked JA ZL and K0RS again.

After a hike back off the summit we headed north of Jamestown to Mt Nadguri VK5/NE-058 a drive up summit we can access. It was getting quite hot the temperature was 31c by lunch time so we did not drive all the way to the summit as the grass was very dry in the middle of the track and I was worried about my hot vehicle in this situation. Hugh and I decided after a short walk instead to set up under an old tree with some shade but I could not extend my pole up to 7m so the dipole was up at about 5.5 metres for my link dipole. It did not seem to make a lot of difference as far as working went the lack of 80m chasers was mostly due to being there at lunch time probably. Hugh just managed to get 4 QSO on 2m FM and I got only 2 80m QSO this time. I noticed on SW3 a couple on summits active in vk1 so I was quick to track them down on 40m SSB working VK1MIC on VK1/AC-039 then VK1AD on VK1/AC-043 for 2 S2S in the log. 40m CW in the afternoon seemed better than the morning this time and quickly rounded up 6 QSO on CW and 7 QSO on SSB on 40m then ZL VK4 VK5 VK6 on 20m CW.

Thanks to the chasers and land owners for access.

Thanks for reading my Blog.

Regards Ian vk5cz ..


Start of SOTA for 2021

My first Blog with the new WordPress format so I hope it turns out ok I find it a bit hard to change stuff on this format. Must be set in my ways with the old format.

The Obvious first activation for 2021 was a New Years roll over event so VK5/SE-013 Mt Gawler was the closest 1 point summit to visit New Years Morning. Adam VK2YK/5 came out to meet up for the first time and activate with me which was great to have some company. Couldn’t find any photos for this one but I remember it being a warm morning with no shade in my set up posy so I did not stay on the summit long but did manage to work enough stations either side of UTC 00:00 to get two activations for the one trip. Before roll over I had 8 QSO with some local vk5 chasers on 80m SSB then 3 Summit 2 Summit contacts into vk3 on 40m CW, then after roll over scraping in with 5 QSO being 2 on 80m SSB and 3 QSO on 40m CW with a bonus 2 S2S in that lot.

Checking back in my SOTA logbook I remember it being a very pleasant 26c day on 6th February so I decided to make the long hike to The Battery summit VK5/NE-055. This is a good 11km hike round trip and a good training hike for the rest of my season as it is not a slog really to get there and back as I follow a fire track which runs along the top of the Range. Not a lot of altitude gain on this one in spite of the 5.5 km distance to walk there, with only a short gully to cross through then the climb up to the Battery summit track close to the set up point.

I had a nice group of chasers this time with 5 QSO on 80m SSB from the locals then a quick fire round of 5 S2S with VK3 Activators on 40m CW, then 3 other CW QSO on 40m CW before changing to 40m SSB and finding another 6 QSO there with another S2S with VK4 which is quite rare these days. Resetting the link dipole to 20m only netted ZL1BYZ on CW so I set up my new link dipole for the higher bands and worked some DX to ZL W6 and JA with another S2S with old mate JP1DGT on JA/KT-017, all on the 17m band. No answer to my CW on 15m I decided it was a good score anyhow so set off back to the SOTA transporter for lunch and coffee on the tailboard of my Ute which is common practice for me. This summit hike is a good one to push the hiking pace for some quality miles in the legs so My hike time was 1hour 20 minutes there and 1 hour 30 minutes return not bad for an old fella.

Sorry Folks still no photos but my next outing was another nice cool morning snd the Wife and Hounds came for a day out this time to Hallett Hill VK5/SE-003.

This activation was a bit different I decided seeing the higher bands have been open and there were a few JA activators out on this day I would try some DX before Roll over then make it a bit more normal activation after roll over. I first put up the 3 band link dipole for 20m 17m 15m and listening to the beacons 17m seemed to be working best to JA so I started there. Much to my surprise I got several VK chasers along with ZL1BYZ as well but the band did not disappoint I worked S2S with JR8MHA/6 on JA6/MZ-027 with good signal swaps both ways. After UTC roll over I put up my normal 20m 40m link dipole and extensions for 80m netted 5 80m QSO before switching to 40m CW with 4 QSO including a S2S with VK7LTD on VK7/WC-005. On 40m SSB I made 4 more QSO with a S2S with VK7FAMP also on VK7/WC-005. The last band to try was 20m CW and worked 4 ZL and VK3ARH as my last QSO for the day. A great day out , Rocky and Jack took a particular interest in a couple old Rabbit burrows in a rock pile near by the summit so that kept the hounds amused while we were there.

At last some pictures.

View to a cloud covered Mt Bryan north from Mount Cone.

Hugh and I went to Mount Cone on the morning of 26th March to activate two Summits for the day.

The plan was to be there before UTC roll over and Hugh could activate on 80m with the locals and I would try for some DX on the higher bands. It worked out well but 15m was the best band this day with an S2S with ZL1BQD on ZL1/AK-014 and S2S with JP3DGT on JA/SI-019, then some other JA ZL chasers and a surprise call from K0RS.

So all went well before roll over Hugh had given all the locals a score for their logs and I was intending to do the same after UTC roll over but a big rain shower came across the valley and we quickly packed all the gear into our bags asap.

My bag and I got wet but I managed to get my gear in out of the rain, it looked like hanging around so we headed off to the next Summit for the day which was about an hours drive to Brown Hill Range.

We arrived at Brown Hill Range VK5/se-004 in good time and we were on air a bit before Alert time but sometimes its a bit hard to get those times right seeing we got rained out on the first one and did not spend the expected time there.

However SW3 is a handy tool and if the Chasers are on their game they will be watching and waiting anyhow.

On this summit Hugh and I stuck to the theme for the day Hugh worked the chasers on 80m and I set up the link dipole for the higher bands. After a quick QSO with VK5GY on Hugh’s rig I went to work on 17m CW netting VK2IO then 2 other JA stations then an S2S with JI3BAP on JA/OS-001 a 10 pointer.

Both 15m and 20m gave me several more QSO from VK ZL JA BX YC on CW so a very nice mixture of DX this time too which gives me some hope that the bands are going to only get better as the new cycle lifts in Sunspot numbers.

That was all I had for this Blog I must say now that I have had some more practice with WordPress its seems ok to use.

Thanks to all the chasers for giving Hugh and I a score on these summits, thanks to the land owners for access.

Thanks for reading my Blogs.

Regards Ian vk5cz ..

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 ..

My SOTA Link Dipole.

My favorite antenna for SOTA is a home brew 40/20 link Dipole with Extensions for 80 metres. I carry a 7 metre Squid Pole to the summit as well for support, and set it up with the end strings right to the ground to get the best inverted V config with a good degree angle for the dipole. Loops on the end of the strings are used to tie off to rocks mostly, saves carrying tent pegs on summits where the ground is usually too hard to use pegs any how.

 

This is the rolled up Dipole and 80m Extensions

10m of RG 174 feed line wound through a toroide type 43 to limit common mode on the coax. I made the winding first then fitted the BNC line socket after the Choke was wound. 6 turns one way cross over 6 turns back the other way. The Loop on the string ends are used to make a slip knot type loop around a rock to hold the ends of the dipole in place. Plus it comes in handy for when you want to wind up the antenna.

To fit the antenna to my Squid Pole I came up with a grey plastic wall plug that fits nicely in the end of my pole, it has never failed in all the time I have used it. Drill out the wall plug, poke the string through and tie a knot. When it fits in the top the string is slightly compressed and it holds in place nicely.

The reason for the yellow zip tie around the top section serves a good purpose. When the squid pole is fully collapsed the smallest section would always fall down inside the other sections. The zip tie leaves some of the smallest section sitting inside but above all the other sections so I can get a hand on it to fit up the antenna. Now if you bungee up your squid pole to a post or stump with out first pulling out the top section you have to undo every thing to get it out wasting time. With the zip tie on top its just sitting nicely in the top of the pole waiting for you.

 

Time to explore my link methods and reasons. On most summits I visit there are lots of rocks and short prickly bush or grasses to tangle or break things if you are impatient. The antenna is most vulnerable when putting it up, when I made my antenna I only used one Alligator Clip per link. On the Highest frequency end I cut an inch off the outer case and tinned the wire with solder then tightly wrapped it around the outer case on the yellow wire. This give a good connection for the clip to grip on when closing the link and one less thing to hook on stuff causing a fail if I had used two clips per link.

This is the 80m extension hook up point on the very end of the 40m section of the dipole. I chose Bullet connectors for this job and a plastic fitting to give extra support to the extension wire. The small knot tied in the 40m end string is there as strain relief for the extension wire when the antenna is up. Plug the bullet connector into place then place this green fitting behind the knot on the string then run out you extension wire.

With an 80m antenna on a summit it becomes a big span of wire so in my case I set up the 40/20 inverted V like normal then add the extensions to the already supported dipole leaving all support strings hooked up to rocks or what ever is my end support. When you finish on 80m you can just unplug the extension and leave it in place until you roll up the antenna at the end of the activation. I usually roll up my extensions first then the rest of the antenna last leaving less chance to get thing caught up on the floor of the summit.

Activation done lots of chasers and S2S its time to roll up the antenna and head to the next summit.

   

Start with extensions first with the loop on the end of the string over your Pinky finger and roll in figure of 8 pattern around Finger and Thumb.

 

 

With the 40/20 dipole start with the support string first and roll until a couple turns of the dipole end is on your hand as well, this is where I tie a simple knot around the first part.

  

Take the wound up string section off you fingers and place it between your fingers at the back of your hand then continue rolling the rest of the antenna on in the same figure of 8 pattern.

  When both bundles are rolled up then I place the tie through the green fitting. Now my main reason for rolling it this way is again to help with erecting the antenna on the next summit, it is tangle free and less likely to snag on the way up and you can visually monitor for snags.

My coax is rolled up by the same method I roll up all coax that is on the ground at the radio end and tie it off then when the Squid pole is lowered I roll up the rest and tie it off with a different tie. It helps to keep it safe from big feet stepping on it when putting up the antenna. Yes of course I am speaking from learned experiences when it comes to SOTA antennas on a summit I have the tee shirt remember.

  Nice and Compact for my SOTA bag.

Hope this helps someone in their Quest for Mountain Goat.

Thanks to George KX0R for showing me this method of rolling up an antenna.

Regards

Ian vk5cz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Longer Hikes 8 and 6 Pointers.

Hikes to three 8 point and one 6 point summits on my list are all 12 plus km round trips with Mt Bryan the exception its only about a 2 km hike up with 100 m gain for the first kilometre then 230 m gain for the last km its an ankle burner for sure. On checking on Google Earth I was surprised to see the car park is at 600 m ASL.

I digress.

For 300 summits I hiked solo to Mt Remarkable as a special visit for that occasion, Ian VK5IS joined me on my next hike to Mt Brown. We made good progress leaving the Ute at 9 am giving a window of about 2 hours to make the Alert time on top. Fantastic weather on this day hardly any wind we headed up the creek for 3 km before the track ramped up the angle and the pain.

Mount Brown VK5/NE-014.

   

This spot is where the puff is about to really start so we had a drink and took off some clothing.

   Great Views out to the north you can see 4 other summits to the north from here, still about 1.5 km to the top, 1 hour done.

   

The 2 Ian’s hard at work taking turns giving out points VK5IS on 80/40m ssb and VK5CZ on 80m ssb/cw then 40m cw. Doesn’t seem to be the same amount of chasers on 40m ssb anymore, Ian only had one qso i think from memory.

   

This trail post is ideal for setting up the link dipole and much easier here than on the pile of rocks above us. We both had a good number of locals on 80m then a small pile up on 40m cw of faithful chasers but no ZL this time. Walk time was 1hr 39 min for 6.3 km so a good pace and probably my least painful experience on this summit. Being mid SOTA season for me I guess we should be fitter than normal.

Thanks chasers on Mt Brown the 2 Ian’s ..

Mt Bryan VK5/SE-001

I headed out of Clare early in the morning in nice sunshine and very little wind which is the ideal weather to visit Mt Bryan, it can be really windy on that summit from past experiences. I take a few dirt roads over The Camels Hump range and exit near Mt Bryan Township to cut some kilometres off my trip.

   

On the road just near Hill Town the fog was starting to get thicker as I went and could only drive quite slowly all the way until Mt Bryan township.

   

Razor Back Hill on the southern side of the summit covered in fog and my view of Mt Bryan as I left the SOTA transporter.

   

Fog bank over Caroona Creek Mt Bryan East area.

   

Slowly gaining altitude as the fog lifts.

   

View out west to the Brown Hill wind farm and SOTA summit and my shirt drying in the breeze.

I saw another hiker on the way up he was just ahead of me but I had to wait until the top to talk to him I could not gain on him enough on the climb. He was interested in what I was doing and took a few photos of me on CW, which seems to amaze most non ham folks that see me operate cw.

Had a nice group on 80m ssb first then 11 cw contacts on 40m with a pile up to work through to start off, always good to get them. No answer at all on 40m ssb, having plenty of time I spotted on 20m to find 2 ZL’s waiting for me and VK4DBJ on cw, a nice surprise and new contact for me.

Walk time up was 53 minutes walking, pretty slow going with some steep gain percentages but a good track as part of The Heysen Trail.

Thanks chasers on Mt Bryan VK5/SE-001

The Dutchmans Stern. VK5/NE-028

Leaving Clare at 6 am and minus 2c it was a frosty drive all the way until after sunrise north of Wilmington, I met Ian VK5IS in Laura again for another SOTA with the 2 Ian’s.

After a quick Coffee break and feed at The Dutchman’s Stern car park we hit the walking trail at 9 am allowing 2 hours to make the summit. Lots of female Kangaroos grazing on the side of the track with a small head sticking out of the pouch was a nice greeting to their world. The way to the summit is via the South Track which is about 6.2 km to the top, not as much gain in the ground to the top of this one as it is only around 200 metres of gain from the car park. We made our usual 4 km in the first hour then stopped for a drink and take off any warmer clothes etc.

   

Lower part of the track wanders around the sides of the gullies on a gradual climb for the first 5 km until we reach the spot to turn off the trail and head bush for the last 1.5 km of bush bash. The first time I visited here there were a lot of Goats and they made a track to follow but now it is all over grown again.

   

We are having a spell and checking the views out to the East,the Sheoaks seem to only grow after a certain height on the sides of the hills with lots of Spinifex, Yacka Bush and rocks as the under story.

   

Devils Peak, Richman Hill and Mount Brown  off to the south from here some other summits I visit in this area. It is also always good to see the other side of the range out to the West it means we are nearly there.

   

Summit in sight and after setting up, hard at work on 80m ssb working the local chasers. Ian and I had a turn at working the 80m ssb callers then Ian went on 40m ssb to get a couple more scores to qualify then I had a go on 40m cw. Made 4 more contacts on 40m cw to VK3PF VK2IO ZL2IFB and ZL1BYZ, but no answer to my cq on 20m cw. I have made a Flower Pot antenna out of coax for 2m and had it hanging in a bush, we made a test QSO to VK5WE and VK5GY several km south of where we were. I tested the path to VK5RLH repeater and got it back at half scale on my VX8 handheld, it was 173 km as a straight line on Google earth. Interesting thing was the straight line path was West of the Flinders in line almost with Highway 1 and Mambray Creek. That is probably why it was an unexpected good signal to me having none of the Flinders Ranges south of us in the way.

Back to the best cafe in the Flinders the Quondong Cafe for a quick Covid-19 coffee out side the shop then back to Laura to drop Ian off.

The walk was 12.6 km took 3 hrs 40 minutes on the move and we arrived back to the SOTA transporter a bit sore but I think feeling better than other times we have done this hike.

Thanks Ian for your company once again.

Thanks to the Chasers on Dutchmans Stern VK5/NE-028.

Thanks for reading My Blog.

Regards Ian vk5cz ..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

300 Summits and Beyond

Mount Remarkable VK5/NE-010 was my choice for summit number 300.

It’s a good hike of 6.2 km with about 580 metres of gain from the car park for a worthy hike and my personal achievement in the SOTA program.

   

Coffee break and feed and a quick sked on 3.680 with the locals before I leave the SOTA Transporter it was a nice cool morning probably 8c, My goal to make the top in 2 hrs.

   

The walking track has had a lot of clean out type work with fire rakes by the look getting rid of a lot of the loose rocks that normally kill your feet on this hike. I took my jumper off at Cathedral Rock noticing the valley below was fogged in but a really nice sunny day to look forward too on the mountain

Checking the E trex 30 I was on time walking the first 2 km in 28 minutes but that was about to change as the angles ramped up a bit more. Stopping at 4km was my next major pause at 1 hour to have a drink and snack I got some nice pictures near the plane crash site on the screed slopes.

   

Melrose and all the area around was still blanketed with fog, nice to see some green crops below for a change.

   

Screed slopes are always interesting and provide a good open view off the mountain, I made it here to this point in 1 hour.

     

Then more screed slopes with 1.5 km to go and now under pressure to make my Alert time.

The new monument at the top mentioning how Edward John Eyre named the Mountain Mount Remarkable as he had seen it from many places on his exploration trips around the State in 1840.

The Parks people have cleaned out the very large pile of rocks that was there before and made it a lot easier to set up my antenna.

   

Shots of the larger area now set up with tables ideal for resting my Squid Pole on to put up the antenna.

   

Once I was set up and on air a group of about 30 school boys reached the summit on a school hike, in no time I had them all sitting on these benches giving them an impromptu lecture on Amateur Radio the original social media. Then had them all wondering what all the beep beep was about as I was working some chasers on CW, ideal I thought to my self show them what a dinosaur I am.

School Boys rounded up by their teachers who thanked me for the free lesson and an interesting diversion, off they went on the rest of their hike. Several other hikers came along also that day it’s probably the most people I have ever exposed to the hobby on any summit.

Well once I got set up and on air there was a steady flow of chasers on 80m ssb and cw then the same on 40m ssb and cw topping of with a few qso on 20m cw as well. VK1MCW,VK1DA and ZL1BYZ made the effort of working me from a summit, 3 S2S in the log, thanks to you folks for that. After a few double ups of contacts on other bands and modes my score was soon up to 30 qso so I decided to try to qualify the VKFF award as well. As the SOTAwatch3 site is linked to Parks and Peaks I set about gaining a score of 44 qso. It took a while to get the last 3 or 4 but they came through giving me 1 activation towards the Boomerang Award in VKFF.

   

Great day on the mountain and a good walk back to the car park, I got a couple photos now the fog had lifted. 300 summits is a mile stone for me its taken 7 years to get to this stage of my SOTA experience and I still want to go on and do a lot more summits in the future.

Thanks to all the chasers and summit to summit activators who gave me a contact on this day on Mount Remarkable.

Thanks for reading my Blog.

Regards

Ian vk5cz ..