Three summits and two National Parks in one weekend

Well, the plan was to activate three SOTA summits and two KRNMPA National Parks last weekend. I intended to travel to Warrnambool to drop my son off, camp overnight in the Grampians National Park, activate two summits in the park, camp Saturday night at the Little Desert National Park and activate one more summit on Sunday. After all that I’d pick my son up and come home.
Overnight camp
The plan changed when my son decided to stay in Warrnambool until Monday. This meant I was able to go home early. Although this also meant I would not get as many summits as I wanted, I could get some more work on the shower I am repairing. With this in mind I set a new plan to work only one SOTA activation, in the Grampians National Park and briefly activate the Little Desert National Park before heading home.
Hiking up Mt Zero
After a brief stop in Warrnambool I headed to the Wannon Crossing camp site. This is a small camp site which Parks Victoria show as having four sites. I was the only one there and set my tent and went to bed. I didn’t sleep too well as it was not my normal tent and I didn’t have a stretcher in it. I must remember when I am driving to camps, rather than hiking, that I can take extra items such as an inflatable mattress.
Securing the 10 m pole
On Saturday morning I packed camp and left site about 7:00 am. I called in at the Brumbuk information centre at Halls Gap to pay my camp fee for Wannon Crossing however they were not open. From Halls Gap I traveled up the Mt Victoria Rd and then headed into Mt Zero from the west.
Arriving at the Mt Zero Picnic Area around 8:45 am I set off to the summit along the well-defined track. As the track started to rise I was reminded that the pack on my back was heavier than usual. In the pack, in addition to my normal SOTA station, I had added a 9 metre squid pole, a 20/40 metre ground plane and coax, an antenna switch and a video camera. I was planning to set up two antennas on the summit, my linked inverted vee and the ground plane, and compare signals between them. The popular theory is that, on 40 metres, the inverted vee is good for local contacts and the vertical is good for DX contacts.
Inverted vee antenna
 The path from the car park starts out as a dirt track, progresses to steps after crossing Mt Zero Rd. Once the 46 steps run out the path becomes rock. From here to the summit the path is marked with yellow triangles on the rock showing the way up. At one point the track splits in two. In one direction is a narrow path between two boulders. So narrow in fact I couldn’t fit through with the pack on my back. The alternate route, although a little longer, has no such limitations.
Toward the top of the hill the climb is assisted by a handrail. This was very useful to hold on to while making the final pitch. The summit of Mt Zero is just big rocks with a few small trees that have grown in the crevices. There is a fence on three sides of the summit as it falls away very steeply to the valley floor below. About 15 metres past the summit is a trig point, just slightly lower. There is also a cairn on top showing azimuth and distance to various hills, lakes and other landmarks.
I looked around and found a suitable rock to attach the 10 metre pole that holds the inverted vee and it was soon in place. I set the vertical up on the fence. This meant I needed to wrap the wire element around the pole to raise the feed point about one metre to get it above the fence. In hindsight I should have taken some rope and guyed the pole clear of the fence.
20/40 m trapped vertical
Once on air, with the FT817, I quickly made nine QSOs on 40 metres, comparing the signal strengths of the first five stations between the two antennas.
This showed that the vertical was a much lower strength to VK3 stations than the inverted vee, while stations further away reported a lesser decrease between the two antennas. This supported the earlier view. I have shown the reported signal strengths in the table below.
I then moved to 20 metres and made three contacts there. I again compared the two antennas and saw less variation between them.
20/40 m trapped vertical
I called a little on 15 metres but couldn’t get any contacts.
I started packing up around 11:00 and was nearly done when I had the first visitors for the day. I had heard a couple as they approached and when they arrived I was greeted with ‘Chasing some DX are you?’ It was VK2BCL and his wife who were touring the Grampians. After a brief chat I continued to pack all the gear away and my visitors headed down. After a bit of lunch I too head for the car park.
From Mt Zero I drove to Dimboola and then into the Little Desert National Park. I set up on the bank of the Wimmera River and operated from the car using the FT757 and the inverted vee.
Again contacts on 40 metres came quickly and after 15 minutes I had nine in the log. Moving to 20 metres saw only one QSO and 15 metres produced two.
Leaving the Little Desert National Park at 2:30 pm I headed straight home, pausing only to take a photo of Mt Zero. The sign on the highway shows the height as 340 m however the topographic map at land.vic.gov.au, and the SOTA VK3 ARM, show the height as 391 m. Either way, it’s a valid SOTA summit.
Working 40 m QSOs at Mt Zero
Arriving home at 7:30 pm I had completed the main aim of the trip – activation of Little Desert National Park. That leave just four parks that I have not activated.
Perhaps I’ll get these on the next trip away?
STATION WORKED
BAND WORKED
INVERTED VEE SIGNAL SENT
GROUND PLANE SIGNAL SENT
INVERTED VEE SIGNAL RECEIVED
GROUND PLANE SIGNAL RECEIVED
VK3PF
40M
59
55
NOT READABLE
VK5PAS
40M
59+
59
59+
58
VK3HTA
40M
59
58
58
53
VK3AZZ
40M
58
54
58
51
VK3VZX
40M
59
53
52
NOT READABLE
VK4TE
20M
59
58
52
52
VK2ABT/4
20M
57
51
57
50
VK6GLX
20M
58
58
55
52
73
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One Response to Three summits and two National Parks in one weekend

  1. Pingback: Easter SOTA Activations VK3/VW-020 & VW-022 - VK3BQ

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