19 November 2022
In my previous post, I mentioned that I had participated in the WWFF 10th Anniversary weekend using the Eastern Zone Amateur Radio Club callsign – VK3BEZ.
Several Club members have been activating Parks in our region for the Club/Team Challenge following the registration of the Club callsign on Logsearch in July. I had some difficulty in setting up the account but finally managed to have the callsign registered and then a couple of weeks later the Club account was live on the system.
I had activated Tarra-Bulga National Park on two previous occasions, working a total of 150 contacts. Therefore, a logical Park for the Anniversary weekend was Tarra-Bulga, with the aim of building the total number of contacts to the 200 minimum required for the Club/Team category.
I packed the car and headed around to my favourite spot to park in an old picnic area. The picnic infrastructure has been removed, but there is room for a single vehicle to park with plenty of space to set up the station.
Tarra-Bulga National Park VKFF-0480
I have found that mobile phone coverage is patchy in this Park, particularly at the Visitor Centre area at Balook. At my favourite spot, I have coverage, but it can be marginal. I sometimes need to move around a little to have cell service. As a result, receiving and posting Spots can be an issue.
I soon had a line over a tree branch at about 18 m above ground. The area chosen has lots of low undergrowth and a very nicely placed mountain ash. The issue with mature Mountain Ash is that the lowest branches can be well above ground. It took several attempts to launch the throw bag and line over the lowest branch of the chosen tree. I soon had the doublet in the air, with the apex so high that the end of the feed line only just reached the antenna tuner, thus making the apex about 15 m up. The ends were stung out to convenient anchors, with the antenna in Inverted V configuration.
I was on air about 10 minutes prior to UTC midnight and the start of the official Anniversary Weekend start. I started by hunting the Activators already spotted and managed 11 contacts before 0000Z, including seven contacts Park to Park (P2P) contacts to five different references.
After 0000Z, I again initially hunted other Activators already spotted. I then found a clear 40 m frequency and spotted myself. After around 30 minutes of operating, the calls slowed, so I moved to 40 m CW and worked five stations, including one P2P. I then moved to 20 m to hunt another P2P contact before returning to 40 m SSB. Propagation was not terrific for most of the day. I had long periods of calling without replies. I tried different bands and modes, with mixed success. A few contacts here and there, then long periods of calling without replies. Frustrating! There was little NVIS on 40 m, thus most VK3 Activators were not heard.
I pulled out the laptop and set it up to operate FT8. 20 minutes of calling on 10 m yielded only one contact. I then again hunted other Activators who were spotted on SSB or CW on 40 m. I tried 17 m FT8 with only one contact made – T33T on Banaba Island. I tried 40 m FT8, making two P2P contacts. 12 m FT8 yielded only one contact, with Alaska, in over 20 minutes of calling and responding to CQ calls.
I returned to 40 m to hunt Jim VK1RF in a Park on CW before moving to SSB and hunting two more Activators. I then found a clear spot and spotted myself. I made 10 more contacts, including three P2P. With 66 contacts for the Park (55 for the UTC day for the Anniversary), I decided to pack up. I headed back towards home, which gave me two obvious choices for a second Park to activate. I needed to drive through Traralgon South, with two Parks abutting the township. I had already qualified the Flora and Fauna Reserve for the Club Challenge, so the choice was obvious.
Traralgon South Fauna Reserve VKFF-2465
This Park is small, only 1.57 ha. It is a triangular area between the Traralgon Creek Road, the Traralgon South Recreation Reserve and a plantation. Beyond the eastern boundary of the Reserve is a Shared Use path, with a vehicle track between the path and the park boundary. A small vehicle track traverses the reserve. I set up on the side of the small vehicle track, but space is tight. The majority of the Reserve has quite thick undergrowth.
I again started by hunting the Activators spotted, making three P2P contacts with two references. I the found a clear frequency and worked 31 contacts over the next hour, including four P2P. I moved to 40 m CW and spotted, with Gerard VK2IO/p calling for a P2p for the first contact, followed by five more callers. I then moved to 40 m SSB to hunt Deryck VK4FDJL in VKFF-0084. I next tried 20 m SSB, working four stations. I dropped back down to 40 m SSB for a P2P with Alan VK2MET before returning to 20 m CW, making 10 contacts. 10 minutes of calling on 20 m SSB yieled only one contact.
I set up the laptop and tried 20 m FT8, making five contacts. 40 m FT8 produced four contacts. I then tried 30 m FT8, making eight contacts. I finally returned to 40 m SSB, making two more contacts over around 25 minutes. My final contact was a P2P with Richard VK2OKR in VKFF-1349 at around 0805. I decided to pack up and head for home, happy with 74 contacts from the Park.
It was a successful day, despite long periods of calling with few replies. I made a total of 140 contacts on the day, with 129 in the UTC day for the Anniversary Weekend.
Sunday was a bit of a right off – I drove to Rosebud for the SPARC Radiofest and then headed to Glen Waverley to attend a joint birthday celebration of some close friends. I finally was back on the road at around 1630 local and simply headed for home. I did manage to hunt a couple of Park Activators from the vehicle, but am aware that I missed many activations. Several of the contacts made from the car were not logged at my end as I was actually mobile when the contacts were made. I also managed to hunt some stations from home.
Checking LogSearch in early December showed that I had hunted 17 references over the weekend. As a result of the weekend’s activity, I earned three certificates for the Anniversary Weekend.
Many thanks to all the Activators and Hunters, and to the many administration team members.