VKFF Activation Weekend 2021

Saturday 27 November 2021

I had a lunch engagement in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne at 1300 local time which I did not wish to miss. It would be an opportunity to catch up with several friends for the first time in months. I therefore planned my day for an activation in the morning en route to my gathering, with a plan for a second activation afterward on the way home.

I headed towards Melbourne and worked my way around to the first Park.

Churchill National Park VKFF-0621

I found a spot in one of the car parks and soon had a line over a tree branch and hauled the doublet into the air. The breeze made conditions cool, so I connected up to the radio in the car and sat in the vehicle.

As I configured the logging app, a spot came through. I quickly dialled up the frequency and soon had Marija VK5MAZ/p and Paul VK5PAS/p in the log. I checked the spots and soon had another two Activators in the log. I then moved to a clear frequency, spotted myself and started calling. By UTC midnight I had worked 11 stations. The Park was qualified for VKFF and I continued calling. I had set myself a close down time so that I would make my 1300 appointment and ended up extending that shut down time by a few minutes to work stations calling me. There was a bit of moving around to chase other Activators when Spots came up, plus some band changes. Last in the log was a CW contact on 20 m, after which I closed and packed up. I had a total of 44 contacts in the log, including a total of 23 Park to Park contacts.

I then headed off to my lunch engagement.

It was great to catch up face to face with my friends. Of course, as one might expect during a catch up after a long period because of the lockdowns, discussion went on and on…… So my loosely planned second activation started very late. Plus the long lunch meant that I am sure to have missed many Park activations. Such is life!

Bunyip State Park VKFF-0753
VK3/VC-037 (unnamed) 415 m 1 point

I chose to drive around to the Four Brothers Rocks car park in the Bunyip State Park and parked about 100 m from the locked gate. The entire car park area is well inside the AZ of the summit, being above the 400 m contour. I simply set up behind the vehicle using a folding table to support the gear. I tossed a line over a tree branch at about 18 m above ground, resulting in the doublet being raised so that the full length of the feedline was running vertically, with the coax tail just reaching the connector on the radio on the table.

I again started by hunting/chasing the Activators who were spotted and soon had four Park to Park contacts in the log. I then found a clear frequency and started calling. Forty minutes of operating saw a total of 22 in the log on 40 m, mostly SSB. I then dropped down to 80 m to again work Paul VK5PAS/p and Marija VK5MAZ/p. I moved up the band and worked another nine stations. I then tried 20 m and managed only a single contact. 30 m SSB yield three contacts before I returned to 20 m where I worked Scott VK4MGL/p. I then returned to 40 m SSB and worked another 13 stations. I ended up with a total of 51 contacts, including 14 Park to Park contacts.

I packed up and descended back into the valley and made my way south to the Princes Highway and then east to home.

Sunday 28 November 2021

I decided on a different strategy for Sunday. Expecting that there would be many Activators, I decided to attempt to qualify for an award available under the Parks On The Air program (POTA). POTA is mainly US based, but is compatible with WWFF. Some work is required to transform logs for submission to POTA, but is relatively simple through the use of an ADIF editor program such as ADIF Master. I was aiming to qualify for one of the RaDAR awards. RaDAR is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio, an idea developed by Eddie ZS6BNE. The idea is to set up your station and make at least five contacts, then pack up and move a minimum distance (dependent upon transport mode) before you again set up your station and again make at least five contacts, and so on. Each move is called a transition. RaDAR Awards under POTA are available for two, three, five, seven, ten and twelve transitions made within a 24-hour period. To maximise compatibility with VKFF/WWFF and POTA, the logical qualifying number of contacts is 10 contacts, unless you move the minimum distance within a single Park – for example you could set up in a Park, make five contacts, pack up and move say 1 km on foot and again set up and make another five contacts. So my plan for the day was to make at least 10 contacts in a Park, then move to the next Park and again set up the station. As I was using a vehicle, a minimum of six (6) kilometres must be travelled to qualify as a transition.

I was underway at around 0815 local and travelled towards Sale via Loy Yang and Rosedale, with a stop to grab some food at the Rosedale Bakery.

Herb Guyatt Flora Reserve VKFF-2329

This small reserve sits beside the Thomson River at Warruk. There is no vehicle access. I looked at the main access point but decided to examine a gate on the northern edge beside Riverview Road. The gate was locked, but a pedestrian access gate is provided. I parked the car and grabbed the SOTA pack and a folding chair. A walked a short distance into the Park and set up beside the foot path. I soon had a line over a tree branch at about 9 m and the doublet in the air. I positioned the chair so that the feedline was not on the ground. I set up the station on the arm of the chair.

The station inside Herb Guyatt Flora Reserve

Once operational, I followed the standard (for me) procedure: check the Spots and try to work those spotted, then find a clear frequency, spot myself and start calling. I worked two Park Activators before find a clear frequency and spotting. I worked callers before dropping to 80 m to work a local operator, and then returned briefly to 40 m to work another Park to Park contact. 20 minutes of operating had yielded 18 contacts, including six Park to Park contacts.

With no further callers, I packed up and returned to the vehicle and then headed to my selected site at the next Park. The exit from the site required a short back track to access the Princes Highway, then east into Sale and then south towards Longford before turning onto Swing Bridge Drive. The Sale Common was full of water after recent rain events.

Sale Common Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2431

I drove down to the Swing Bridge (closed to vehicles) and onto the track which continues east. There is a small area to the east of the bridge beside the track which is inside the Park boundary, where I set up the station. As I was getting the gear organised, I saw a large black snake on the other side of the fence – probably around 2 m long! It turned around and disappeared into the long grass. Perhaps it is not surprising that I decided to operate from inside the vehicle!

Once set up, I quickly worked three other Activators. I moved to a clear frequency and spotted. Gerard VK2IO/p and John VK5BJE/p called soon after I spotted, giving me two more Parks hunted. About 10 minutes later, I worked Scott VK4MGL/p for another Park. A short jump to 80 m yielded a couple of local stations. I worked 18 stations in just over 20 minutes, including six Park to Park contacts. I quickly packed up and retraced my route to the South Gippsland Highway, then headed south.

The morasses beside the Latrobe and Thomson Rivers were all full, with lots of waterfowl visible.

I drove to about 500 m north of Bradleys Road and pulled into a small track just inside the southern boundary of the next Park to find a spot to set up.

Holey Plains State Park VKFF-0758

I was soon set up and worked Compton VK2HRX in a Park and on a summit on 40 m SSB. Next I worked Paul VK5PAS/p and Marija VK5MAZ/p in a Park. I found a clear frequency and spotted, working four more stations, including Gerard VK2IO/p in a Park. Only seven contacts were made before UTC midnight. I continued calling, working a total of 18 stations over the next 20 minutes. I ended the activation with a total of 25 contacts and 11 Park to Park contacts. I packed up and returned to the Highway and headed south to Lyndons Road and then east a couple of hundred metres to a spot where I could drive into the Park to a spot where I could set up.

Giffard Flora Reserve VKFF-2321

I had planned to operate from an area which is more open, perhaps part of the old Rifle Range. But I found a spot where other vehicles had entered the edge of the reserve which saved me a few hundred metres, so I pulled in there and set up.

I soon had four Park to Park contacts in the log. I found a clear frequency and spotted. I then worked 10 more stations. I then jumped down to 80 m briefly to work a couple of locals before I moved back to 40 m to work another Park to Park. A total of 17 contacts including seven Park to Park. I then packed up and headed back to the Highway and turned south. I turned west onto Boundary Road and drove up to a track that enters the next Park.

Mullungdung Flora & Fauna Reserve VKFF-2406

I was soon set up beside the track. I worked eight Park to Park contacts in the first 15 minutes before I found a clear frequency and spotted. I worked 10 more stations, including three more Park to Park contacts. A total of 18 contacts including 11 Park to Park.

I packed up and retraced my route back to the Highway, then headed north to reach Joyces Road, then North South Road to Kangaroo Swamp Road to the junction with Harrops Highway. Just south of the intersection is a short track into the NW corner of the Park, where I found a spot to park and set up.

Kangaroo Swamp Nature Conservation Reserve VKFF-2121

Mobile phone coverage is marginal here, so I made sure I picked a spot to set up which had signal – not much, but enough.

My first contact was Andy VK3VKT activating the Camperdown Silo – I think the first activation. I then worked four Park to Park contacts before finding a clear frequency to spot myself. I worked 18 more stations, with nine Park to Park contacts, before I closed and packed up. A total of 23 contacts with 13 Park to Park.

I returned to Harrops Highway and headed north to 13 Mile Road, then west to reach Old Rosedale Road, then north to the NW corner of the next Park to set up just off a track within the boundary. Nearby is the Basslink DC transmission line.

Stradbroke Flora & Fauna Reserve VKFF-2443

I was quickly set up and worked seven Park to Park contacts in a few minutes. I found a clear frequency and spotted and started working callers. I soon had six more in the log, including another two Park to Park contacts. I then heard a vehicle approaching from the east – an unusual direction. I spoke with the driver and was soon out of the car and chatting about my activities. The chatting went on and on, so I was significantly delayed. Rather than resuming calling, I quickly packed up and started the trip to the next Park. I had a total of 15 contacts, including eight Park to Park.

I exited north to Gormandale-Stradbroke Road, then headed west to Gormandale, then towards Traralgon. I then headed east on Oakes Road and worked my way around to the next Park.

Merrimans Creek Flora Reserve VKFF-2384

I parked the vehicle in the NW corner of the Reserve, which has a track running inside the western boundary. I was soon set up and worked six Park to Park contacts. I found a clear frequency and spotted, working another 10 stations, including four more Park to Park. I packed up and retraced my route back towards the Hyland Highway and found a spot to park inside the boundary of the next Park.

Gormandale Flora Reserve VKFF-2325

I was soon set up and worked three Park to Park contacts. I found that the VKFF focus frequency was clear, so spotted and started calling. I worked 11 more stations, including another seven Park to Park contacts. With a total of 14 in the log, including 10 Park to Park, I closed down and headed out to the Highway.

The route was not as planned, as I reached a section of road with several trees down across the road – there have been several storm events with very strong winds from unusual directions in recent weeks, resulting in a significant number of trees being brought down. I worked my way back to Onleys Road and around to Gormandale – Callignee Road, which I followed around to where it travels through the next Park. I parked in a spot with a track inside the Park and set up the station.

Callignee Wildlife Reserve VKFF-2287

Shortly after setting up, I had worked three Park to Park contacts. I then spotted and immediately work two more Activators. I then worked another seven stations, including another Park Activator. I had 13 in the log including six Park to Park, so elected to close and pack up.

I returned to the main road and headed towards Traralgon South and worked my way around to the next Park.

Traralgon South Flora and Fauna Reserve VKFF-2464

I parked off Centre Track and was soon set up. I soon had two Activators logged before finding a clear frequency and spotted myself. I worked nine more callers, including two more Activators. I was advised that a VK6 was on 20 m, so quickly changed antennas, but I could not hear the VK6. I packed up and returned to the main road.

I headed north and then around to Traralgon South Road, much quicker than the rough tracks within the Park. I was soon parked within the next Park and quickly set up.

Traralgon South Flora Reserve VKFF-2465

I called for several minutes after spotting before my first contact – Gerard VK2IO/p for another Park to Park. It was late afternoon, so perhaps some were organising their evening meal. Next was Ian VK5CZ in a Park. I then worked another seven contacts, including Paul VK5PAS and Marija VK5MAZ, mobile but still inside the Park. I then reconfigured the antenna and worked Peter VK3ZPF/p in a Park. Peter had not been audible on 40 m. I soon had another two in the log, bringing the total to 12, including five Park to Park contacts. I closed and packed up the station and headed for home.

It had been a long but worthwhile day: 12 Parks activated and each with at least 10 contacts. The 12 Parks activated in a 24 hour period means that I should qualify for the RaDAR Lion Award once the logs are processed with POTA. The time from the first contact in the morning to the last in the afternoon was just over nine hours.

Over the weekend I made 294 contacts, with 133 Park to Park contacts.

As I was rather focussed on the activities at hand, I was very slack about taking photos….

Thanks to all who participated in the Activation Weekend. Special thanks to VKFF National Coordinator Paul VK5PAS and the rest of the VKFF administration team.

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A long weekend trip to NE Victoria – SOTA and SiOTA

I had not been out in the field to play radio much in the last few months, largely due to COVID Restrictions. The weather forecast for the weekend was looking reasonable, with the chance of wet weather on Thursday and again on Sunday and Monday. I received a request from my youngest brother for assistance on Wednesday. That call resulted in me picking up a jet ski from a town about 30 minutes’ drive away on Wednesday afternoon.

I had initially intended to stay off the roads this weekend, as it would be a long weekend for some with the Melbourne Cup holiday on Tuesday, and the Melbourne Metropolitan Region was being released from the COVID travel restrictions at 1800 on Friday.

Friday morning saw me heading off after the mains power had cut out at about 0745 as a result of heavy winds. I later determined that power did not return until around 1600 in the afternoon. I drove east to Bairnsdale, then north to Omeo, across Mount Hotham and then north to Wodonga. The trip was uneventful and the jet ski towed well. There were some minor delays due to roadworks and some traffic in places. The rain and high winds as I crossed Hotham were a deterrent to any portable radio activity. I did manage to work Matt ZL4NVW on ZL3/OT-357 on 20 m SSB from the car as I was driving through Harrietville. I easily reached Wodonga and dropped off the jet ski before heading to my mother’s house.

Saturday 30 October 2021

I was underway at a respectable time. I drove toward Beechworth as I headed for my morning target. Whilst en route, I called Geoff VK3SQ using the hands-free system in the car. That call resulted in an unexpected stop in Beechworth, as Geoff decided to join me on the trip. This resulted in an extended opportunity to chat. We were soon at our target, with both of us having remarked on the very smooth road surface on Mount Stanley Road.

Mount Stanley VK3/VE-126 1052 m 6 points

I parked near the picnic table and we were soon setting up the station at the table. An extra pair of hands made the job simpler. I finished the set up at around 2330 Z.

I was about to spot myself and saw a spot for Park activator, so dialled up their frequency. I awaited my chance to call, and soon had James VK2TER/p in VKFF-2713 in the log. I moved to the SOTA focus frequency and spotted, and soon had a couple of calls in the log. VK port-a-log announced a new spot, so I moved frequency to work Peter VK3ZPF/p in VKFF-2220, followed by Gavin VK2YAK/p at the Stroud Silo VK-STD2.

After UTC midnight, I moved to 40 m CW to chase James VK2TER/p in VKFF-2713, followed by Rod VK1ACE on VK1/AC-041. I moved to a clear frequency, spotted myself and started calling. I soon had five CW contacts in the log. I then moved to 20 m CW, resulting in only one contact. 17 m CW provided another contact, then nothing. I then returned to 40 m CW and soon had another seven in the log. I decided to call it quits and packed up, with 21 contacts logged.

I packed up and we headed back to Geoff’s place for a coffee. Whilst there, we chased Adam VK2YK/5 in VKFF-1688 and Peter VK3ZPF/p at Shelbourne Silo VK-SHE3.

I departed Beechworth and headed back towards Wodonga. I decided that it was too early to return, so detoured to the north and then SW on the Hume Highway to reach the Springhurst exit and drove around to the northern side of the railway station. I took a couple of photos, and then explored options for a site away from power lines. I ended up selecting a spot on Jenvey Lane, about 300 m from the silos and well within the 1 km radius required by the SiOTA rules.

A view of part of the Springhurst Station and the adjacent silos.

Springhurst Silo VK-SPT3 Not previously activated

I tossed a line over a tree branch and soon had the doublet in the air and connected to the IC-706MKIIG in the car. I spotted myself and soon had callers – five stations in about 10 minutes. I then heard an Alert and moved down the band to work Peter VK3ZPF/p at Kingston Silo VK-KNN3 for a Silo to Silo contact. I then returned to my previous frequency and worked 22 stations, including my first contact with one of the newly released 2×1 contest callsigns. Amongst the callers was Scott VK4MGL at the Port of Brisbane Silo VK-PRE4. I finished the activation by chasing Joel VK2VRO on Mount Cobaw VK3/VC-015. I had 29 contacts in the log.

The Springhurst silos

I packed up and drove to Rutherglen. After checking the SiOTA mapping, I set up the station at the northern end of the oval in Barkly Park, about 650 m from the silos.

Rutherglen Silo VK-RTN3 Not previously activated

I used the same configuration as at Springhurst. My first contact was with John VK5HAA on Lagoon Hill VK5/SE-008 on 40 m SSB. I moved up the band and spotted myself. Geoff VK3SQ was the next in the log. I then moved down to work Stephen VK4IDK in VKFF-1218. I returned to my spotted frequency and worked another 14 stations, including Scott VK4MGL who called me from VK-PRE4. I then chased Chris VK1CT/p in VKFF-0841 before spotting on a new frequency and working two more stations. I decided to pack up, with 20 in the log.

The Rutherglen silos

I then drove around to the station to take a photo of the silos before heading back for Wodonga. I stopped just out of Rutherglen to work Peter Vk3ZPF/p on Mount Blackwood VK3/HVC-038 in VKFF-0763. I then resumed the journey back to Wodonga.

Sunday 31 October 2021

I considered my options for playing radio on Sunday morning, and decided on a day of Silo activations. I headed west to Rutherglen and then north to Wahgunyah. I stopped to take a photo of the silos and then moved around to the junction of John and Sarah Street, parking up against the locked gate on John Street. The location showed as being about 950 m from the silos, so not a lot to spare with the 1 km radius allowed.

The Wahgunyah silos

Wahgunyah Silos VK-WHH3 Not previously activated

The Wahgunyah silos are part of the large Uncle Toby factory site. My selected operating site was more than 100 m from the nearest power lines, close to the Murray River and the Carlyle H115 Bushland Reserve (NOT valid for VKFF at this time).

I again set up with the doublet raised with a line over a tree branch connected to the IC-706MKIIG in the car. I sat in the car with the windows open, enjoying the sounds of bird song and trees rustling in the gentle breeze.

My first contact was at 2330Z. I worked three stations within three minutes, but then nothing in the next 10 minutes. I moved to 80 m SSB to make two contacts. I continued calling without any replies. A few minutes after UTC midnight, I moved to 20 m SSB and only made one contact. I then heard an Alert, so moved to 40 m CW to chase Warren VK3BYD on Mount Loch VK3/VE-005 in VKFF-0619. I then moved to 40 m SSB, where I worked Andrew VK1AD/2 on VK2/ST-006 in VKFF-0474. I moved to a clear frequency and spotted myself, and worked another five stations. I then moved to chase John VK5HAA on VK5/SE-010. 90 minutes of calling and chasing/hunting had yielded only 14 contacts. Conditions were tough! I packed up to move to the next silo.

I headed back to the main road and headed south, west and then south again to reach the next target.

Peechelba East Silo VK-PCT3 Not previously activated

This silo is located at the end of a spur line, just north of the junction of and Peechelba Road. I inspected the silos and set up amongst some shady trees just to the west of the silos. Once again, I hauled up the doublet and connected to the radio in the car.

The operating site at Peechelba East

I made two contacts reasonably quickly, but had S5-6 noise. I closed down and relocated a little further NE along Jones Swamp Road, near the very end of the old rail line. I was back on air less than 20 minutes after the last contact. There was still some noise, but at a much lower level than the previous site. I made another four contacts on 40 m SSB. I then tried 20 m SSB, making only two contacts. I moved to 80 m SSB and made a further three contacts. A total of only 11 contacts were made in around an hour – very slow progress. I packed up and headed into Wangaratta.

I grabbed some lunch and then looked for an operating site. Wangaratta has two silos, with overlapping activation zones at a Park – the choice was obvious!

Wangaratta Silo VK-WNR3 Not previously activated

Wareena Park provided the operating site. There is a region where the two activation zones overlap. I set up as far as I could from the power lines but inside the overlap region. I set up in the same manner as earlier.

Wangaratta silo from the western side

First in the log was Gavin VK2YAK in VKFF-1410. I then chased Warren VK3BYD/p on Mount Hotham VK3/VE-006 on 40 m CW. I next called on 80 m SSB, where I worked three stations. I next called on 40 m SSB, where I worked 12 stations in 12 minutes. I then moved to 40 m CW, where I worked 6 stations. A total of 23 stations were worked before I took a break and officially closed for the silo.

Wangaratta West Silo VK-WNT3 Not previously activated

As I was within the activation zone of VK-WNT3, I did not need to move. I was soon back on air calling on 40 m SSB. I worked 13 stations before I moved to hunt Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-1487. I then returned to my previous frequency and worked another eight stations. For my final stint, I moved to 80 m SSB, where I worked five stations. I had a total of 27 contacts in the log. I packed up and headed around to each silo site to grab a photo of each before heading back to Wodonga.

Wangaratta West silo

Conditions had been poor all weekend. Thanks to all who made the effort to make contact.

Monday 1 November 2021

Monday was spent undertaking some tasks around the house for Mum, with a quick trip to a local reserve to chase Nik VK3ZK/p on Mount Feathertop VK3/VE-002. A little later, I saw a spot for Glenn V K3YY on Federation Range VK3/VN-029. I decided to drive to the nearby Huon Hill to attempt a summit to summit (S2S) contact.

Huon Hill VK3/VE-237 425 m 1 point
Wodonga Regional Park VKFF-0980

It took about 15 minutes to drive to the car park below the locked gate just below the activation zone for Huon Hill. I walked up to just below the summit to set up the station in the shade of a large tree.

I soon had Glenn VK2YY in the log. Several minutes later I worked Peter VK3ZPF/p in VKFF-2464, not far from my home. I moved down the band to the SOTA focus frequency, spotted myself and started calling. Over the next 40 minutes I managed to work another 19 stations, including Alan VK3TCP on Mount Warrenheip VK3/VC-019 in VKFF-2402. I decided to close down at about 0350Z.

I earned no activator points for this activation, as I had been on the summit back in February. But I did earn some Chaser and S2S points.

I packed up and returned to base.

Tuesday 2 November 2021

After completing a task for Mum, I headed off at about 1000. I drove to Yackandandah and then to Bruarong and around to Mount Big Ben Road and up to the summit.

Mount Big Ben VK3/VE-105 1154 m 6 points

I set up just below the summit amongst the trees. I was on air with about 10 minutes to spare before UTC midnight. I quickly tuned around to try to make contact with other activators, but succeeded in making contact only with Phil VK2JDL on VK2/MN-063 in VKFF-0114 on 40 m SSB.

After UTC midnight, I had more success. I worked Andrew VK1DA/p and Andrew VK1AD/p, both on VK2/ST-017 on 80 m, followed by another contact with Phil VK2JDL on 40 m. Next was Warren VK3BYD/p in VKFF-0620 on 40 m CW, followed by Marty VK4KC/p in VKFF-1645 on 20 m CW. I then spotted and worked two stations on 40 m CW. Next was 80 m SSB, which gained only one contact. I then went to 40 m SSB to again hunt Marty VK4KC/p. I moved down the band and worked three stations before I had no further callers. Next I tried 20 m CW, where I worked two stations before I jumped to SSB to again work Marty VK4KC/p. I returned to 20 m CW to worked Gerard VK2IO/p.

I then had a string of S2S contacts: Phil VK2JDL on VK2/MN-167 in VKFF-0114 on 40 m SSB, Rik VK3EQ on VK3/VT-036 on 80 m SSB, Andrew VK1AD/2 on VK2/SW-028 on 40 m SSB and Andrew VK1DA/p on the same summit on CW.

I packed up and headed back down the hill. I turned towards Dederang, then north to Kergunyah and then west on Simpson Road to the top of the ridge, then north to the next summit.

(Mount Murramurrangbong ridge) VK3/VE-163 872 m 4 points

I parked just below the summit. The named mountain is to the northwest and lower than the SOTA summit. I soon had the station erected and worked Rik VK3EQ, now on VK3/VT-033. I worked three more stations on 40 m SSB before again working Andrew VK1AD/2, now on VK2/SW-034.

I then tried 40 m CW, working six stations, followed by three more on 20 m CW. I next jumped back to 40 m SB to work Rik VEQ, now on VK3/VT-020. Andrew VK1DA/2 was next on 40 m CW, on VK2/SW-034. I moved up the band and worked two more stations on CW before moving back to 40 m SSB to chase Phil VK2JDL, now on VK2/MN-081 in VKFF-0143. I moved up the band and started calling on 40 m SSB, working another 10 stations, including Rik VK3EQ, now on VK3/VG-015.

I was now 0600Z, so I decided to pack up and return to Wodonga.

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Four Gippsland SOTA summits and a new HEMA Hump

14 October 2021

The weather had been ordinary, with several cold fronts moving through SE Australia. There had been several days with high wind speeds, which make operating radio on high mountain peaks very comfortable and potentially dangerous.

Thursday 14 October was predicted to be a mixed day: heavy rain and strong winds overnight, but clear in the morning with a low chance of rain. Another rain system with possible thunderstorms was forecast from mid-afternoon.

When I woke, I found clear blue skies and the ground wet from the overnight rain. I decided to head out for a multi-summit day to earn some SOTA activator points on the last full day of the Bonus season.

I headed to Traralgon to add fuel to the vehicle, and then headed to Seaton and then north on Springs Road. I was planning to do my normal loop in the reverse direction but leaving out the southern-most summit normally included in the loop (VK3/VT-083). My route was flexible, as I would make route decisions when I reached key road junctions based upon my assessment of the weather. The aim was to activate four SOTA summits eligible for the seasonal bonus points. Given very good conditions and the rain holding off, a fifth bonus summit might be possible.

At around 24 km along Springs Road I reached some 40 km/hr speed signs for road works. A grader was working on resurfacing the road – the road to this point had been unusually smooth, with the resurfacing works completed. Travel through the work zone was smooth, apart from negotiating a long section with a pile of stones about 30 cm high roughly in the middle of the road. Once past the end of the roadworks zone, the surface was more familiar, with many potholes to dodge.

Mount Useful VK3/VT-016 1434 m 8 plus 3 bonus points

Mount Useful summit from Springs Road, about 1 km from the summit.

The final approach track to Mount Useful summit was in excellent condition, having been resurfaced and new drains installed. The snow gums either side of the track had been cut down, presumably to create a fire break either side of the track. I drove up to the fire tower and decided to park near the SW end of the summit clearing, giving me some distance from the solar system and other equipment at the tower area.

I set up the ZS6BKW with a line over a tree branch and assembled the station on my folding camp chair – battery in the arm “cooler” section and the KX2 on the arm of the chair.

I called several times before my first contact – Ian VK5CZ. I guess that I really should have posted a new Spot when ready, after the “Setting up QRV in 10 minutes” spot. I soon had three more Chasers in the log – summit qualified. I called for a couple more minutes with no further responses, so I changed to 20 m CW and spotted. That produced one contact – ZL1TM. Several more CQ calls went unanswered, so I moved to 20 m SSB, producing only a single contact – Marty VK4KC. Further calls went unanswered, so I shut down and packed up.

I returned to Springs Road and headed north. At the junction with Green Hills Link Road, the road changes name to South Road. The weather was still fine when I reached Mt Selma Road, so I continued north to Jameson-Licola Road, then NW to N7 Track. I then negotiated the side track up onto the plateau of Connors Plain.

Connors Plain VK3/VT-022 1305 m 8 plus 3 bonus points

The edge of the Activation Zone for the summit is just below the edge of the plateau. I parked the car and soon had a line over a tree branch. I set up the station again in the same manner as the earlier summit, after having posted a Spot that I was setting up.

I again spotted myself and started calling on 40 m CW. I worked six (6) stations over about 12 minutes. With no further callers, I moved to SSB and worked five (5) stations in less than five minutes. After more CQ calls, I moved to 20 m CW to work two ZL stations. I finally spotted for 80 m SSB and worked one further station.

I packed up and headed back down to the main road, then back tracked to South Road and around to Mt Selma Road, then headed west to Mt Selma Track and up to the top of the hill.

Mount Selma VK3/VT-013 1464 m 8 plus 3 bonus points

Once I parked the vehicle, I spotted that I was setting up. I set up in the same manner as the previous summits.

First in the log was Bob VK2B YF/p in Gulaga National Park VKFF-0221. Signals were weak over the distance on 40 m SSB. I then moved to 40 m CW, where I worked six stations. I then moved to 40 m SSB and worked another five stations. I noted that Matt VK1MA spotted that conditions were poor. With no further callers, I decided to shut down and pack up.

A few clouds had appeared, but I decided to head west towards Walhalla Road. Once at the junction, I decided to head north and around to Mount Matlock.

Mount Matlock VK3/VC-001 1372 m 8 plus 3 bonus points

I parked just south of the summit trig and set up the station in the same manner as the earlier summits, after spotting that I was on site. John VK4TJ was first in the log, only 8 minutes after I had spotted that I was setting up. Three more chasers followed soon after John. With no further responses, I moved to 80 m SSB and worked three stations in VK3. I then moved to 40 m SSB and worked Matt VK1MA. I moved to 40 m CW and worked only Ian VK5CZ. I returned to 80 m, this time on CW to work two contacts.

I noted that the clouds were building, so closed the station and packed up.

I headed out to Warburton-Woods Point Road and headed west.

VK3/HVC-002 (unnamed) “1243 m” Not previously activated

All HEMA summits are worth 1 point. This summit had not yet been activated, partly because of the COVID restrictions.

I parked just north of the junction with Turners Track, on the north side of the main road. I loaded up the SOTA rucksack and walked south along Turners Track after negotiating the very solid locked gate. I walked the short distance to the obvious high point, close to a track junction with a logging road coming in from the west.

I had previously looked at the mapping for this Hump. The highest spot height displayed on the official Victorian maps (Mapshare Vic) is 1215 m, located about 612 m further south along a very flat ridge. The entire ridge top, even the area where I parked north of the main road, is above the 1200 m contour. I set up close to the track junction, tossing a line over a tree branch to raise the lightweight ZS6BKW doublet. I used a low tree stump as a seat. The site was not very inspiring, the edge of a very large area which had been logged.

A panorama of VK3/HVC-002 from close to the activation site.

I spotted myself and started calling CQ. First in the log was Nev VK5WG, some five minutes later. Propagation conditions were poor. It was another eight minutes to the next contact, with another shortly afterwards. I went several minutes without any further responses. I moved to 80 m CW and worked Andrew VK1DA under trying conditions – weak signals and a very noisy band. I moved to 80 m SSB and made only one contact. I spotted on 40 m CW and called for several minutes without any responses. A spot came through for Bob VK2BYF/p on 80 m. I had listened for Bob on 40 m SSB earlier on several occasions earlier in the day, but could hear only hunters. I quickly moved to Bob’s 80 m frequency and was hearing both Bob and hunters. I waited for a chance to call and finally worked Bob in Bermagui Flora Reserve VKFF-3043.

I had been watching very dark clouds build to the south and east. The temperature had dropped significantly over the past 20 minutes and the air was feeling very damp. I decided to pack up and head back to the car.

As I headed west on Warburton-Woods Point Road, I looked back as I passed the logging road junction. It appeared as if the gate was open, but I did not stop to check.

After a couple of minutes of driving, the rain started. As I headed south on Nine Mile Road, the rain intensity increased and then turned to hail. My normal route home from here would be towards Tanjil Bren, but a significant part of the Mount Baw Baw Tourist Road is still closed following significant damage during a storm event back in June. I detoured via Tooronga Road to reach Noojee and then headed south to the Princes Highway and then east to home.

During the drive on the Highway, broadcast radio were reporting weather warnings of flash flooding at Traralgon. It appears that I had timed my activations just right – four SOTA summits qualified plus a new HEMA Hump qualified before the rain hit. Given the weather condition, the fifth SOTA summit was abandoned.

Thanks to all who attempted to make contact with me during the day under trying propagation conditions.

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A mixed day – chasing radiosondes and a Park activation

Saturday 9 October 2021

Activity out of the shack has been somewhat limited recently due to COVID lockdowns, together with some work occurring at home. I had some work being done at home which limited opportunities to head out to play radio. The major job at home was completed late on Saturday morning. There is still a significant amount of clean-up work to follow, which will keep me busy over the next few weeks.

During the morning, I managed to chase a few Activators out in VK2, VK4 and VK5. Once the tasks were completed outside, I checked the morning radiosonde launch from Tullamarine Airport. The first radiosonde had a temperature sensor fault, as did another two radiosondes launched. I needed to head to Traralgon to pick up a job which I dropped off on Thursday. I then headed towards Yallourn, the predicted landing area of the first radiosonde launched.

I drove around to within a few hundred metres of the landing site of the first ‘sonde (S5050093) and obtained a ground fix. The ‘sonde appeared to be located around 15 m above ground level based on the position fix and the topographic mapping. I decided against attempting recovery, given the challenge of locating the landowner plus a long walk down into the gully with the high probability that the ‘sonde was high up in a tree!

I switched the receiver across to the frequency of the second ‘sonde launched, again with a faulty temperature sensor. I drove around to the end of the closest road and then worked my way up through a patch of native vegetation to locate the ‘sonde on the ground just south of a large blackberry patch. I recovered the ‘sonde and headed back to the car.

S5110229 radiosonde as found

I drove back out and in towards Newborough. Once in the vicinity of the predicted landing site and the last position fix, I changed the receiver frequency. I could not find any signal – nothing. A more sensitive receiver was tuned up, but again no signal was found. I can only conclude that someone had found the ‘sonde (S5110029) and switched it off.

A fourth ‘sonde had been launched, so I retuned the receiver and headed towards the predicted landing zone. At that time, predictions had it landing in the Yallourn Open Cut Mine just north of the Princes Highway. I parked near a motorcycle training facility and checked the position of the ‘sonde – I had driven past it. I doubled back to close to a road junction and parked off the side of the road. I had seen the reflector and balloon remnants on the uphill side of the road as I was looking for a spot to safely park. The sonde was just west of the nearby road junction.

The tether line ran across the road and over a bush on the northern side of the road. I took some photos and then scrambled down the embankment and recovered the ‘sonde. I then scrambled back up the slope, crossed the road and started winding up the tether line. I then placed the reflector in the back canopy of the vehicle and headed to Yallourn North and then around to the southern edge of the Moondarra State Park.

The final positions of the four radiosonde as shown on tracker.sondehub.org

VKFF-0764 Moondarra State Park

I drove along Hunter Road, which marks the southern boundary, until I came to a track junction which had space for me to park off the edge of the road reserve and thus be inside the park boundary.

I set up with the ZS6BKW held aloft with a line thrown over a tree branch and the ends running parallel to the road, roughly east-west. I connected the feedline to the IC-706MKIIG system in the car – as there was a cool breeze and not much shade, I decided to operate from inside the car, with a couple of windows open for air flow.

Just as I finished setting up, a 4WD pulled up. I explained what I was doing. The driver stated that he wanted to drive a short distance down the track to cut some firewood. I said that he could go ahead if he had sufficient room to get past my car, which he did safely. The only downside was that the log that he was cutting was only about 60 m away, thus I had some acoustic noise QRM during the activation.

I spotted myself on 40 m SSB and soon had callers calling me. I worked 8 stations before taking a pause and dropping down to 80 m SSB to work Brian VK3BCM on Mount Stanley VK3/VE-126. I then returned to 40 m SSB to continue calling.

Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-1197 called me for a Park to Park.

After about 45 minutes, things had slowed significantly and I dropped down the band to chase John VK5HAA/p on Brown Hill Range VK5/SE-004. I had listened earlier for John when he was spotted on 20 m SSB and CW, but had not heard him. I also worked James VK2TER/p in VKFF-1340 for Park to Park contacts on SSB and later CW.

I then dropped down to 40 m CW and worked two (2) stations. I then moved to 20 m CW and worked four stations.

A spot came through, so I changed to 20 m SSB and listened and called several times before breaking the pile up. I soon had Paul VK0PD at Casey Base in VKFF-0571 in the log for another Park to Park.

Next in the log was Tony VK5FBIC/p in VKFF-1880 on 40 m SSB.

I then moved to 80 m SSB to work five (5) stations. I tried 30 m SSB, where I worked two stations. A brief stint on 30 m CW resulted in no contacts.

I moved back to 40 m SSB and worked another eight (8) stations; bring the total of contacts in the log to 46, after about 2 hours and 20 minutes of operating. I decided to close down, pack up and head for home.

Thanks to all the Hunters who worked me.

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A notable contact with VK0

The latest issue of Amateur Radio magazine (Vol 89, No 5 2021) has a theme of Australian amateur radio involvement in Antarctica.

A link appeared on a Facebook group to a QSL card for two contacts made on 50 MHz – SSB and FM – made between Darin VK0IX at Casey Base and Mike VK3BDL on 31 January 1995.

The article by Rex VK7MO in the issue of Amateur Radio plus the Facebook appearance of the 6 m QSL card reminded me of a card in my collection. I think that the caption on the VK0MT QSL card in Rex’s article may be captioned incorrectly: it says that the contact was made via EME, yet Rex’s text refers to a meteor scatter contact as well as an EME contact. I know that Rex made contact with David VK0MT on Macquarie Island on 2 m via meteor scatter, as Rex helped me to arrange a sked for me with David for an attempt at a similar contact.

Back then, I was VK3KAI, a call which I still hold.

Very early on a cool March morning (19 March 2005), I drove to a high spot on the Grand Ridge Road near Blackwarry. A contact from home was unlikely, as I had a range of hills located not far to my south. I set up my portable station for 2 m, using a 10 element Yagi at 6 m above ground. The operating spot was off the side of the road, with the car parked parallel to a fence. The ground to the south dropped away quickly and I had a clear shot at the horizon. I was running 100 W and we were using FSK441a mode.

From memory, the first pings were seen at around 1915 UTC. Things progressed reasonable quickly initially, but it took a long time to complete the contact – with both stations receiving “73” messages, which occurred at 2016 UTC. So the contact took just over an hour to complete. There was no significant meteor shower at the time, so we were relying on random meteors.

Based on the Maidenhead locators for both stations, the distance covered was about 2010 km.

As you can see on the obverse of the QSL card from David, it is believed that this was the first 2 m meteor scatter contact between VK3 and VK0 Macquarie Island.

Thanks to Rex for the liaison for the sked and many thanks to David for the contact and for hand delivering the QSL card at the GippsTech Conference.

The contact was one of the contacts that enable me to apply for and receive the Worked All VK Call Areas VHF Award, an award very rarely issued for the 2 m band – 6 m awards are a little more common. My certificate was #51, but I understand that only four (4) have been issued for contacts made on 2 m (144 MHz).

The front of the VK0MT QSL card.
The obverse of the QSL card.
The Worked All VK Call Areas VHF Award certificate for 144 MHz operations.
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Lightweight ZS6BKW doublet for portable operations

A recurring topic of discussion amongst amateur radio operators who activate at portable field locations is “Which antenna do you use?” or something similar.

Each person has their own preference.

I started my SOTA operations using a home built Link Dipole. It was heavy, as it was built with materials on hand. I subsequently built a lightweight version, as described elsewhere on this blog. Both versions of the antenna suffered some mechanical failures due to the repeated deployment causing fatigue fractures in the wire.

Many operators make other antenna choices: end fed half wave, random length wire, small transmitting loop (a.k.a. magnetic loop), vertical antenna and the list goes on…..

One key consideration when making antenna choices for portable operation must be antenna efficiency. As portable antennas will often be operating at relatively low heights, ground losses will dominate antenna performance. Adding additional losses due to input transformers or physically small antennas can easily affect the success of an activation, especially when operating QRP.

After yet another fatigue fracture induced fault in a heavier link dipole during a Park activation, I decided to build a new antenna which would be stored in the back of the vehicle. I decided to build a doublet and thus remove the need to raise and lower the antenna to open or close links, a required activity for every band change with a link dipole. I considered several options, but decided on the ZS6BKW antenna. One downside of such a doublet is that one needs an antenna matching unit (or ATU if you prefer) on some bands, but this was not an issue for me as I had such units at hand. For SOTA activations, my KX2 has the ATU option installed.

The ZS6BKW is a based on the legendary G5RV doublet. Brian Austin G0GSF (ex ZS6BKW) wrote the article, first published in RadioZS (June 1985) and also in Sprat (#130, Spring 2007). There are many articles on the internet, but perhaps the most useful reference can be found here. This article includes the article “The ZS6BKW Antenna – from the horse’s mouth” plus some additional information.

My first ZS6BKW has built using uncoated 49 strand “600 lb” stainless steel wire, purchased at a local hunting & fishing store. It is 1.8 mm diameter. One attraction was that it was unlikely to break during normal operation in the field! I used 450 ohm ladder line for the feed line section. The antenna worked well, so when my lightweight SOTA antenna failed again, I considered options for its replacement.

I determined my antenna dimensions using Figure 2 of the Austin article. The figure allows one to choose a doublet length and the appropriate feedline length based on the feedline impedance. 300 ohm feedline suits longer doublet length – a possibly less desirable characteristic for portable use.

For SOTA operation, something lighter was desirable. I spent a little time over a long period looking to source some 300 ohm “TV ribbon”. Not a lot of time each time that I thought to go searching for it, but these thoughts came infrequently! I eventually found some in a hardware store in Traralgon when wondering around waiting for the vehicle to be fitted with new tyres. There were two rolls on the cable rack – one with about half of the cable gone, plus a roll which was nearly full. The latter was covered with a thick layer of dust. The price tag said 30 cents per metre. When an assistant arrived, I asked for a price for the whole roll, hoping for a discount. After several minutes, she returned and advised that the price was incorrect and should be more than twice the price estimated ($30 for 100 m) based on the displayed price. She did advise that I could have the whole roll for $30. I accepted.

The next task was to consider the wire for the horizontal span. I ruled out the lightweight DX-Wire used on the lightweight link dipole: it is very light and reasonably strong, but it is prone to fatigue fractures if you manage to induce a kink in the wire. I settled on some 1 mm stainless steel wire rope purchased at the local large green-clad hardware warehouse. A roll of 50 m cost less than $15. The wire is made up of 19 strands of 316 Marine Grade stainless steel wire, with 17 kg working load and breaking load of 85 kg. Larger sizes are also available, but the small size fitted my needs. The 50 m roll would make 1.5 antennas.

I also purchased some 1 mm ferrules to form small loops at the ends of the wire.

I made a centre insulator/joiner from some 1.6 mm fibreglass pcb material, without any copper cladding, cut from a scrapped board. Once I had cut the required shape, I made several holes: 2 x 1.6 mm holes each side of centre to feed in the inner ends of the horizontal wires, a larger central hole at the top as a tie-on point, some holes joined to form 2 slots to feed in the feedline, a hole to anchor a terminal block and some holes to take cable ties to fix the feed to the centre insulator.

The doublet centre assembly.

The prototype doublet centre. Each side of the doublet comes in through two (2) holes and then bends into either side of the terminal block. You could apply some conductive compound to the ends of the wire if desired. Similarly, the feedline enters via two slots cut in the insulator and then into the terminal block. A cable tie anchors the feedline to the pcb below the first slot to further reduce stain on the feedline.

I assembled the antenna using small loops at the ends and directly tying off some builder’s line to the loops, thus saving a small amount of mass from end insulators. Prior to forming the loops, I had slid some heat shrink tubing over the wire so that I could later cover any sharp ends on the wire. I erected the antenna in the backyard using a 10 m squid pole, with the antenna in a typical inverted V configuration. I then checked the impedance with an antenna analyser and soon had the system resonant at 14.23 MHz.

I next fashioned a small scrap of single-sided pcb material to form a termination for the rig end of the feedline and to join to some RG316 coax. I added some holes to use cable ties to fix the feedline and the coax to the board and soldered the lines to the hand-cut tracks. It was a little crude, but works for me.

As a precaution, I fitted a choke balun on the coax near the feedline junction.

A small pcb fashioned by hand to facilitate the junction between the coax and the 300 ohm feeder. The coax is fed through a ferrite to form a choke. A Velcro tie facilitates winding up and storing the antenna assembly.

The entire antenna and winders comes in at 460 g.

The antenna assembly ready for the backpack. Each half of the doublet is wound on a “Wonder Wabbit Winder”.

I have the option of raising the antenna centre with a squid pole or by throwing a line over a tree branch. The antenna seems to work well. Band changing is now a breeze: change bands, dial up the required frequency and hit the TUNE button. Ready to go! The KX2 ATU usually manages to find a match. To date, I have made contacts on all bands from 80 m through to 15 m. Propagation conditions being what they are at/near the bottom of the solar cycle, I have not yet used the antenna on on 12 or 10 m.

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A new VK3/VT summit

Friday 10 September 2021

After a few weeks of lockdown due to COVID, regional Victoria, other than Greater Shepparton, was released from movement restrictions at midnight Thursday 9 September. I was keen to get out and play radio!

I had an appointment early in the morning, which meant that I could not depart home until around 1045 local time. I packed the gear in the car and headed off ASAP. I drove to Traralgon South and then to Balook, then west along the Grand Ridge Road.

Along the way, I encountered a tree service cleaning up some debris across the road. I continued on to my anticipated access route.

VK3/VT-091 (unnamed) 686 m 2 points NYA

This is a new summit, added on the VK3 update on 1 September 2021.

I had identified the summit and forwarded the suggestion along with some other changes for the VK3 Association, most of which were implemented on 1 September 2021.

The logical route to the summit was via the Grand Ridge Road, then south down Whitelaws Track. All looked good, until I reached four trees across the road! I decided to try alternate approaches.

The first alternative from the mapping was Transmission Track. But I found no obvious northern end, later confirmed by exploration from the south after completing the activation – the track simply ends at the end of a logged area.

The next option was either Hour Road or Gossipers Track from the west. Despite the mapping, both tracks start at essentially the same location. Hour Road looked very overgrown, so I started up Gossipers Track. All was fine for a while, until I reached a muddy patch. I stopped and engaged 4WD before continuing up the track. The scrub encroached, giving the vehicle some more scratches…. I drove up to the junction with Transmission Track and then headed south. I passed an overgrown track which looked to head to the summit, but continued on to a side track to a knoll just south of the summit. The GPS data and maps indicated I was above the 680 m contour, with the summit plus saddle and the knoll were above the 870 m contour, thus well inside the AZ. The summit itself had been logged and one could walk up to the summit by the very weedy track that I saw as I approached my operating site.

Looking east towards Mount Tassie with its large towers.

I set up using the ZS6BKW raised via a line over a tree branch, then set up the KX2 and battery on a folding table a few metres away from the vehicle.

The temperature was around 8C, with a light breeze – cool but comfortable. I had spotted that I was setting up at around 0157Z and started calling on 40 m CW at 0205Z.

First in the log on this new summit was Gerard VK2IO/p in Double Island Point Conservation Park VKFF-1532. I worked another seven stations over the next 20 minutes before moving to SSB.

The first station on SSB was again Gerard VK2IO/p at Double Island Point Conservation Park. I worked another 14 stations over the next 25 minutes before moving to 20 m, where I worked 2 stations on SSB and then another 2 on CW.

I then moved back to 40 m CW without spotting to work VK1DA and VK5CZ before closing down.

I had 29 contacts in the log – many more than the 4 required for SOTA!

Thanks to all who chased. I am happy that you have a new chased summit.

After taking a couple of photos, I packed up and headed out. I first explored north along Transmission Track to find a dead end. I then returned to Gossipers Track and headed east to Whitelaws Track, then headed south to the junction with Hour Road. It looked very overgrown. I was sure that I saw some raised dust, indicating that perhaps the road had been cleared, so retraced my route and headed north along Whitelaws Track, only to find the same the same set of downed trees. Although I had a small chainsaw on board, I decided against clearing the road. I returned to Gossipers Track and followed it back out to the Grand Ridge Road, the headed back to Balook.

Tarra-Bulga National Park VKFF-0480

One of the National Parks signs, this one at the western edge of the Park.

I briefly dropped into the Visitor Centre car park at Balook. As I had previously experienced, there was poor ‘phone coverage at the site, so I headed further east to the old small picnic area east of the junction of Grand Ridge Road and Cooks Road. This site is just inside the Park boundary and just south of the main road.

I parked in the clearing and set up with a line over a tree branch. My first couple of throws missed the mark, but throw three was over a branch at about 17 m above ground.

The station at Tarra-Bulga National Park.

I raised the centre of the heavy duty ZS6BKW and had to stop at about 15 m above ground – any higher and the feed line would not reach the radio! Once tied off, the ends were at about 4 m above ground.

I set up the IC-7300 on the tail gate of the vehicle and soon started calling on 40 m SSB. Calls came in thick and fast, with VK1MA first in the log, before I called CQ. I worked 39 stations in 39 minutes. I then moved to 40 m CW, working 15 stations over the next 30 minutes, including Jess W6LEN. Thanks to Andrei ZL1TM for the heads up that Jess was calling – he was there, but weak compared to the locals.

I was about to pack up when I heard a spot on the ‘phone. I then worked Andy VK5LA again, this time on 40 m SSB.

I then packed up, with 55 in the log, all on 40 m. I did not go to any other bands, as I was starting to feel cold.

I then headed for home.

I had a great day out playing radio, especially for my first day out after weeks of lockdown.

Thanks to all who chased or hunted!

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Another VKFF Hunter Honour Roll Award – 1900 entities worked

The past couple of months have seen a reduction in the number of Activators who have been able to venture into the field to activate, primarily due to movement restrictions imposed by the responses of various state governments to the COVID19 pandemic.

Some Activators have been out, most notably in Queensland. A small number of Activators have been out in NSW and Victoria, when restrictions allowed.

According to the Logsearch system, my next step in the VKFF Hunter Honour Roll Award was reached on 18 August 2021, when contacts were recorded by Daryl VK3AWA and Deryck VK4FDJL. The addition of the last log was seen by me on 22 August, when I checked the Logsearch system.

Of course, I have made a few other contacts in the last two months as a Hunter, but with entities which I had previously worked.

So particular thanks on this occasion to the following Activators, with whom I made contacts to gain the latest 25 new entities worked:

Rob VK4AAC/P        8 entities
Deryck VK4FDJL      6 entities
Gerard VK2IO/P        5 entities
Daryl VK3AWA        2 entities
Gerald VK2HBG/P    2 entities
Bob VK2BYF/P         1 entity
Dean VK3KXR/P       1 entity

Thanks to all Activators and a big thank you to all the admin team members here in VK and at the global level.

The VKFF Hunter Award Honour Roll 1900 certificate

Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area Award

VKFF National Coordinator Paul VK5PAS also recently reminded everyone of a special Award for activating or working activators operating from one or more of the eight National Parks which make up the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, during November and December 2020 as part of the 20th Anniversary of declaration of the World Heritage area.

I checked my logs and found that I had worked two qualifying Parks during that period and therefore claimed the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area – the 20th anniversary of World Heritage Listing Award.

The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area 20th anniversary Hunter certificate

Thanks to Paul VK5PAS and the VKFF Team and the Activators who made the effort to activate the Parks.

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10th KRMPNA Activity Weekend 2021 – postscript

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Tony VK3XV / VK3VTH had announced a special Award for the 10th running of the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award (KRMNPA) Activity Weekend.

Two special Operating Awards were sponsored by Amateur Radio Victoria, one each for the Top Activator and the Top Hunter across the 48 Hour weekend period. The Rules meant that some contacts which were valid for VKFF / WWFF purposes were not valid for the Operating Awards. My approach was to work everyone one that I could and to then “massage” the final log to remove the contacts which were invalid for the Operating Awards.

Tony VK3XV announced the outcome of the Operating Awards on 17 May 2021. It then took quite some time for the physical awards to be prepared and posted, a process impacted by further COVID19 restrictions.

Tony announced the Awards as follows:

The winning Activator is Peter VK3PF/P…………  Peter put in a truly mammoth effort, requiring much accurate planning (and even more accurate driving) to activate 12 VK3 National Parks.  A total of 290 eligible contacts were logged across the weekend, resulting in a points total tally of 3480.   Very well done Peter!  The Chasers “Thank You” for providing many Parks in challenging circumstances.

The winning Hunter is Gerard VK2IO/P………. Gerard went Portable in VK2 from various VKFF Parks across the weekend, working an amazing 26, of a total available 29 activated VK3 National Parks!   With 47 eligible contacts into KRMNPA parks, Gerard’s total points tally was 1222.   Very well done Gerard!   The Chasers also “Thank You” for providing many new VKFF Parks and the Activators appreciated your Calls.”

The Award actually arrived in early July. It is rather fancy and presented some challenges in obtaining a reasonable photo of it due to the highly reflective surface. Please excuse the reflected items in the photo, taken in a rather “busy” radio shack!

Award plaque
The KRMNPA 2021 Top Activator plaque

Many thanks to Amateur Radio Victoria and especially to Tony VK3XV for the Award. It was clear to me that the goals of the Special Awards:
To promote and encourage Portable activity
were well and truly met, despite the challenging weather conditions.

Many thanks go to all who participated in the weekend, whether as Activator or as Hunter. Congratulations to Gerard VK2IO for his Top Hunter award.

Posted in KRMNPA, WWFF | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Another VKFF Hunter Award Honour Roll step achieved

I reached the 1850 references worked step of the VKFF Hunter Award (Honour Roll) on 29 June 2021.

There have been a small number of Activators in particular who have been “out and about”.

Gerard VK2IO has been on the road for most of June. Gerard had been activating Parks and some SOTA summits when a COVID lock down in Sydney was announced, so his plans adapted by continuing his trip. He was in the greater Brisbane area when restrictions were announced for Brisbane and some surrounding local government areas. Gerard managed to move to the west and was able to continue his radio activities.

Marty VK4KC had also been out and about, mainly fitting activations around some work-related activities which took him well north of his home area.

Bob VK2BYF and Gerard VK2HBG have been out activating Parks to the south and west of greater Sydney from their homes in the Shoalhaven area.

Rob VK4AAC has been on an extended caravan trip in western and northern Queensland and has activated several Parks which were new Parks for most Hunters.

There have been others able to be out Activating, providing all Hunters with some targets.

On 7 July 2021, I noticed that I had qualified for the next step of the Honour Roll – 1875 references worked.

The latest 25 references came from only 5 Activators:

Marty VK4KC – 16 references
Peter VK3TKK – 5 references
Gerard VK2IO – 2 references
Bob VK2BYF and Rob VK4AAC – one reference each.

As always, thanks to all the Activators and the Hunters, and thanks again to all involved in the VKFF and WWFF administration teams.

The VKFF Hunter Award (Honour Roll) 1875 references worked certificate
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