VKFF-0129 – D’Aguilar National Park

I was quite excited about this activation. D’Aguilar National Park has a few SOTA peaks, so it was a good opportunity to do WWFF activation and activate my first summit¬†at the same time.

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SOTA Ref # Summit name Altitude Latitude Longitude
VK4/SE-032 Mt Samson 760 152.7705 -27.3033
VK4/SE-039 Kluvers Lookout 683 152.7028 -27.2054
VK4/SE-043 Nth of My Byron 662 152.6627 -27.0888
VK4/SE-045 South of Mt Sim Jue 659 152.6781 -27.2626
VK4/SE-060 Mt Archer 547 152.6666 -27.0087
VK4/SE-116 Mount Samson 690 152.8013 -27.3018
VK4/SE-117 Tenison Woods Mtn 770 152.7512 -27.2953

The choice was to go to Mount Glorious and operate from Tenison Woods Mountain, which is SOTA VK4/SE-117.

The weather wasn’t very promising, it was already raining in Brisbane all morning but I was hoping that it would clear by the time I get to the mountain. I left home around 1 PM and I was at Mount Glorious an hour later.

To reach the psummit you need to park off the main road and walk some 150m through the lush rainforest to get there. At this point the rain was bucketing and I had to give up on the SOTA activation this time.

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I drove a few hundred meters back and parked in the side road. Although Google Earth shows that this spot has nearly the same altitude as the summit, this is incorrect. The summit is significantly higher, much more than 25m higher than the spot I operated from.

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Considering this, and the fact that I operated from the car, means that this is not a SOTA activation, only WWFF.

I had to wait for about 20 minutes for the rain to ease off to erect the antenna, a 7m squid pole and linked dipole (15/20/40m). Once set up I was on the air and the 15m was dead again, but 20m was excellent.

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I did most of the contacts on 20m (35 QSOs). About an hour and a bit later I moved to 40m, but the band was very noisy (S9+ QRN) but I managed to log 30 QSOs in about 90 minutes that I spent on the band.

Before leaving I spent some time listening around on 40m and I could hear quite a few EU stations via long path, but they couldn’t copy me with my 7m high inverted vee.

Because of the rain, most of visitors and hikers had left the mountain by 4 PM. I left just after 6. The drive back home was a bit eery but so beautiful. I drove back relatively slowly with my car windows down (the rain had stopped by now) and I din’t see anyone on the road all the way back to The Gap. Some 45 minutes of driving and not a single person, not a single car on the road. I stopped a couple of times to take some more photos and it felt like I had the entire mountain only for myself. It was truly amazing.

Mount Glorious is exactly that – glorious. It’s an absolute must-do if you are visiting Brisbane. If you live in or around Brisbane and you still haven’t been there, well… seriously???

Below are some photos I took yesterday, I hope you enjoy Mount Glorious despite the weather.

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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!

 

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 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.