Sunday 20 November 2016
Saturday morning was consumed by a working bee at the Eastern Zone Amateur Radio Club clubrooms. Around 10 members attended with a significant clean-up of trees occurring, together with trimming of steep banks and cutting the grass. Reports on Sunday indicated that our local landlords were very happy with the results of the work done.
Whilst at the clean-up, I mentioned to one of the members that I was considering attending the Rosebud Hamfest the following day, with a possible side trip for a Park activation in the afternoon. He was interested, so arrangements were set for Sunday morning.
I was awake well before the alarm and ready to hit the road once Ross VK3FREB arrived. We were underway at around 0730 local time. Traffic was reasonably light and good progress was made. We stopped in Lyndhurst for a coffee and then headed down to Eastbourne Primary School in Rosebud and parked the vehicle. We arrived at about 0920, so it had been a reasonable trip. During the trip, I charged the battery on the new “toy” that had arrived on Friday: a Pocket SDR (PSDR) designed and built by Michael Colton and crowd funded via Kickstarter. More on the unit at a later date: there is significant software work and documentation yet to be completed.
We briefly caught up with a couple of people on arrival. We eventually joined the queue to purchase our entry ticket. For me, the morning was much of the same: a quick look at some of the seller tables interrupted by people wanting to chat, some of whom I showed the PSDR. Those interested in SOTA and/or QRP were impressed with the look and feel of the unit.
There was not much of interest to me on the sales tables, so most of the day was spent chatting with others. I did catch the last 15 minutes of the SPARC talk on the Club screwdriver antenna project, which sounded interesting. Hopefully they will eventually make some kits of key mechanical components and perhaps assembled controller boards available for sale, once they have ironed out any issues.
In addition to the sales tables and talks, there were several displays outside the main hall. The local CFA brigade was in attendance and the new CFA firefighting Squirrel helicopter arrived mid-morning and was open for inspection. WICEN had a display, as did CREST.
I did purchase some 6 m squid poles, after making a call to a fellow amateur who had asked about sourcing a pole during the Saturday working bee. More chats with amateurs and people admiring the PSDR until the prize draw occurred. No luck for myself of Ross, but I did resist purchasing any extra tickets. I grabbed a hamburger from the Rotary Club caravan outside and had some more chats before we finally headed off.
Mornington Peninsula traffic can be heavy, especially so on a fine autumn weekend. There was a long queue of cars waiting to turn out of Allambi Avenue into Boneo Road. I needed to turn left to fuel the car and most of the cars in front wanted to turn right to head toward the Mornington Peninsula Freeway, so I did a U turn and made my way to Eastbourne Road via the back streets. Traffic on Point Nepean Road was horrific, so we used the side streets to get to the nearest service station. We then used back roads to head south and then west to get to Boneo Road well south of the Freeway and then headed roughly towards Flinders and our target destination.
Mornington Peninsula National Park VKFF-0333
My target was Highfield, at Bunkhouse Break off Boneo Road (Rosebud-Flinders Road). The Parks Victoria website notes that there is a small car park with a walking track to a spot where one can view grazing kangaroos. I parked between the line of sheoaks and the car park fence.
I used a fence post to support the squid pole and Ross and I set up the 40 m / 20 m inverted V at a slight angle to the fence line and hooked the feedline up to the IC706MkIIG in the car.
I had previously activated this Park at its western end, from the London Bridge car park, but still needed 17 more contacts. Once set up, I checked ParksnPeaks to see if any other Activators were out and about. First in the log was Rob VK4AAC/3 in Mount Eccles National Park. I tried calling Peter VK3ZPF/p in Dandenong Ranges NP, but he could not hear me, so I found a clear frequency and spotted myself. Peter VK3FPSR called, followed by Gerard VK2IO/p in Worimi State Conservation Park and then Geoff VK3SQ. I tried again to work Peter VK3ZPF/p, tail-ending another contact, and finally managed to complete an exchange for another Park to Park. The next 15 minutes were spent calling with no replies. I then caught Bernard VK3AV/p at London Bridge, also in Mornington Peninsula National Park.
Back on my posted frequency, I called for another 10 minutes without any responses. I was then called by Tom VK5EE, out at the SERG Christmas BBQ. The result was a string of calls spaced out over the next 15 minutes, as amateurs could be lured to a radio to call me, with a few others calling me in between the Mt Gambier amateurs. I ended up with 22 contacts in the log for just over an hour of operating. So another Park qualified for WWFF.
We packed up and headed east, then north to Red Hill and west to Arthurs Seat.
Arthurs Seat VK3/VC-031 305 m 1 point
Arthurs Seat State Park VKFF-0750
I have previously activated this summit, but that was before the State Park was added to the VKFF system. Ross was willing to spend some time sitting out on the grass, so we stopped and grabbed the SOTA pack out of the car. We parked just west of the Purves Road junction and headed slightly down the hill to the edge of the mown area. I used a sign post to support he squid pole and set up the antenna along the edge of the mown grass. As we were setting up the gear, I noticed bull ants on the ground, so we moved a couple of metres up slope.
First in the log was Bernard VK3AV/p, now in Point Nepean National Park VKFF-0628, followed by Gerard VK2IO/p in VKFF-1399. I moved to 7.090 and started calling and had a steady stream of callers, working a total of 25 stations in 30 minutes. So the SOTA summit was comfortably qualified and the Park qualified for VKFF. I will need another visit to accumulate the 44 contacts required for WWFF.
I stopped operating as no callers came back to my calls plus the noise level was rapidly rising as a band of thunderstorms moved across northern Victoria and NSW. We packed up and headed back to the car and took the scenic winding descent down the hill, enjoying the views across the Bay. We travelled on the Mornington Peninsula Freeway initially. A little after the Mornington exit, traffic slowed to a crawl. I took the next exit (Bungower Road) when we finally got to it, then headed east to Tyabb-Tooradin Road and then towards Tooradin and on towards home. I used a few back roads to avoid the worst of the Sunday afternoon traffic, but we made reasonable time to be home a little after 1800.
Overall, a good day out.