VKFF-1488 – Buckley’s Hole Park

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It was in year 2003 when I last visited and operated from Bribie Island. It was still valid for IOTA program and the pile-ups were huge. I spent a weekend in the caravan park with a very basic 20m vertical and two elevated radials and worked the world twice over.

Bribie Island

Shortly after that, IOTA decided to delete the island from the directory due to its proximity to the main land. The distance from the main land has narrowed to next to nothing at low tide at the northern end of the island.

Interestingly, I still get emails from various hams asking where I was operating from as they still need OC-137 Queensland State South Coast group, which Bribie Island belonged to before its deletion.

So, here I am on the island again, nearly 15 years later. The scenery has changed a lot, what once was a completely uninspiring and run-down waterfront, now looks amazing. Well done local council, this place looks truly worth visiting again. I surely will.

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I chose Buckley’s Hole Conservation Park because I can access the park by a car and also operate from the car. I’ve recently injured my foot and while it’s healing well it needs some more time of minimal movement to get really well. I feel like I’m “running on spare” and this is what has primarily kept me off any SOTA activations, but I hope to get up there soon.

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Access to the park is very easy, there is a dirt road that runs off the Tully Street in Bongaree and takes you straight to the middle of the park. Follow the sign to the Red Beach. At the end of this road there is a car park, but it can be really busy and hard to find a free spot.

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I was lucky, though and found a really nice spot where I could erect the squid pole and the linked dipole. The beach was only 20m farther away, full of dog owners taking their canine babies out for a splash. I wish I had my Benny with me.

I’ve set up the antenna in a few minutes and went straight to 15m but the band was pretty much dead for me. Nothing, not one station.

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The next step was to go to 20m, and that worked really, really well. The band was open, I worked a few JA stations and quite a few VKs. This time VK5s were coming strong and it was also nice to hear Stuie, VK8NSB after many years. Most of the QSOs were made on SSB with just a few on CW.

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Around 5pm there were no more replies to my CQ, so I moved to 40m SSB. The good run continued and I had quite a few callers there as well. I also worked OK1CF and a few JAs. Once the calls dried up I moved to CW, but the band was wide open into EU long-path and the stations working in a CW contest were everywhere, the band was literally full. So I spent about 10 minutes there and returned to SSB. A few more minutes of CQing without anyone replying and I decided to call it a day.

In the end there were 53 QSOs in the log in just about 90 minutes on air.

I’m thinking of coming back here, this time with a 1/4 wave vertical for 40m with a few elevated radials, aiming for NA and long-path Europe. Verticals and salt waterfront just do magic!

 

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VKFF-1525 – Daisy Hill Park

The new radio (FT-891) has arrived earlier this week and it was time to give it a go. I have spent some time putting together a linked dipole for 15, 20 and 40 m so this was the antenna of choice for this operation, supported by a 7 m squid pole.

Just before I left home I read that there is a renovation underway in the park so I was a bit nervous about not being able to access it. It turned out that the park was still open and accessible, but many parts were fenced off with obvious works underway to have it ready for the Commonwealth Games.

The park was almost empty, just a few cars parked here and there and about 2-3 couples walking around, otherwise it was a ghost town. I took a drive around the park but the best position for the radio with highest elevation was just about 50 m inside the park.

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I parked there and set up the antenna about 3 m from my car. Any further and we’rd be talking about tangled wires around tree branches and endless scuffle with it … It was OK where it was. The feed point was at 7 m, while the end insulators were about 2 m high.

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The linked dipole worked well, it was a relatively quick job to bring the antenna down and change jumpers to another band, then shoot it up again.

Having said that, getting out of the car and jumping back in it wasn’t the most comfortable job, considering that my “shack” was in my lap, with the radio sitting on the glove-box door.

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The round thing in my lap is the laptop base that I bought at IKEA a few years ago. It has a hard plastic top and the bean bag underneath and it’s perfect for this. See it here.

Conditions were so-so. The 15 m band was dead for me, I just heard one JA station calling YB contest and that was it. On 20 m I could only work into VK3 and one VK7 but my signal was rather weak, S3-S4 most of the time. I also worked KH6PGA, fist mobile and later he called back from home. Out of 46 QSOs only 7 were on 20 m.

The 40 m band was one to go and the log started filling only once I switched to that band. Signals were strong from everywhere and my reports were mostly in the 57-59 range.

I think arriving to the location at 1:30 was way too early, I should have been there at 4 pm and on 40 m only. But hindsight is a beautiful thing.

The afternoon was fun but … Murphy.

Firstly my iPhone earbuds (fake ones, bought on eBay for next to nothing) didn’t work that well with the FT-891, the jack was a bit lose and I had to jiggle it all day long.

The CW paddle had it. I had some issues with it last week, cleaned it and adjusted but it was even worse this time. It would randomly miss a dash or dot and keying on it was incredibly frustrating. VK7CW experienced it first hand where I couldn’t key C for the life of me, it would go VK7K … or VK7Y… so many times, I think Steve must have been giggling quite a bit.

I first thought it was some RF in the cable but it wasn’t, it behaved exactly the same when I switched off vox and keyed without transmitting. It’s a Kent key (paddle) that was bought in 1992, I think it’s time for some shopping.

And finally, the day that started with a beautiful sunshine ended with a bit of a storm and some thunder literally just above me. The last 20 minutes I was just sitting in the car and playing on my phone, being unable to take down the antenna in a heavy rain.

In the end it was an exciting day, 46 QSOs in the log and the WWFF activation of the park is in the bag. Thanks everyone for calling and helping me get over the line 44.

The QSO breakdown is:

  • 20 m 7 QSOs
  • 40 m 39 QSOs
  • CW – 8 QSOs
  • SSB – 38 QSOs
  • VK2 – 14
  • VK3 – 10
  • VK4 – 19
  • VK7 – 1
  • DX – 2 QSOs (KH6 and W6)
  • No VK1, 5, 6 QSOs.

73 and see you again next weekend from somewhere else. Mike VK4DX.

The baby brother has arrived

My FT-DX 3000 now has a little brother. The new Yaesu FT-891 has finally arrived after a long wait over the holiday season.

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The radio is really tiny and so light, when it was delivered today I wasn’t sure if it was the radio or the MFJ tuner that I have also ordered. It turned out to be the radio.

I don’t know why but I was expecting it to be somewhat bigger, probably because FT DX 3000 is so big and FT-891 looks like a mid-size book next to it. I guess it will take a few days to get used to it.

I had a quick play with it but since I don’t have any antennas here at home it will have to wait for the weekend to have it’s premiere on air from one of the WWFF listed parks here around Brisbane.

Today all I could do is throw 10m piece of wire from the 4th floor balcony and listen a bit. The DNR seems to be impressive, even comparing to my FT-DX 3000.

VKFF-1663 – Toohey Forest Park

Yesterday (7 Jan 2018) I did my first WWFF activation;  Toohey Forest Conservation Park РVKFF-1663.

This activity was a case of “let me see what the fuss is all about” and I can say that I found it quite interesting. I managed to log 44 QSOs so I’m quite happy about that.

While waiting for my FT-891, squid pole and some other light stuff delivery I thought I’d give it a go with my home shack gear.

 

The radio I used was FT-DX3000 (10kg), antenna was a multi-band vertical Hustler 6BTV, probably another 10kg, my morse paddle is Kent, with a very heavy base (1.2 kg), coax was a 25m roll of RG213 … The only light things were the batteries, 3 x LiFePO4 4200 mAh, and the hand microphone.

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Yaesu FT-DX3000 with LiFePO4 battery

My multi-band vertical antenna was in pieces for quite some time and with all labeling gone it required a bit of work to figure out which trap is for which band. It took me quite a while to assemble it the right way and even longer to tune it.

This antenna is one of the best multi band verticals but it can be very twitchy to tune it properly. The 40m was still a bit off with SWR around 1:2.5 but I didn’t want to waste any more time.

I ran at 20 watts most of the time, the first battery lasted for about an hour, the other two were somewhat better. Last 15 minutes I ran with about 50 watts, I had the “power to spare” hi.

Conditions were – so-so. Because I had a vertical antenna so the angle of radiation didn’t help much for local work, but it performed okay. I was hoping to work some EU stations on 20 m long-path but there was nothing. I worked one JA station, he was solid S9 and he gave me 59 as well.

Thanks to everyone who called and made this activation a success and also those who helped with spotting me on various DX clusters/lists.

I can’t wait the next opportunity, probably in 2 or 3 weeks time, once my little radio is here.

The new blog is here …

Hi, I’m Mike VK4DX from Brisbane. I have recently moved to an apartment building and having no antenna options here I’m completely QRT when it comes to HF bands operation.

However, thanks to a good friend of mine Mario DJ2MX, in recent weeks I have started considering getting on foot and operating from some summits here in SE Queensland. I have also planned visiting a few islands to get a bit active in the IOTA program.

My SOTA experience is pretty much zero, except from what I’ve read on number of VK SOTA gurus blogs. However I’m pretty excited to join up the ranks.

Equipment wise – I have nothing. Not exactly nothing, but nothing that one can lug up the mountain, such as FT-DX3000. I’m in process of getting a new tiny FT891 and building some portable antennas so that I can be ready around end of January.

The only thing I’m still not sure about is the power, I’m guessing the LiFePo 4 batteries are the way to go, the 8400 mAh sounds the right one to get but Hobby King seems to be out of stock at the moment, which is unfortunate. Hopefully they get some stock pretty soon.

While I’m at it (SOTA), I may think of activating some of the VKFF locations, not sure about the program details, but I’m hoping to educate myself about it in coming days.

I hope to see you all on the air, mostly 40 and 20m.