French Island National Park, VKFF-0622 with John VK2AWJ

Today at 7:00 am I met up with John VK2AWJ to travel over to French Island. This was my fifth trip over with previous trips in 2010, 2012, January 2016 and March 2016. This trip was to accompany John and allow him to activate French Island National Park with the safety of an experienced activator and to start the 2016 KRMNPA activation weekend.

dsc06135-resizedMy plan was to get off the boat and walk to the first observation deck, about 1.2 km along road and dirt/sandy track. I say ‘plan’ because unfortunately I missed the second opening between Coast Rd and the walking track and we walked 2 km more than planned. Sorry John.

Once at the deck John set up his end fed wire antenna with squid pole and started working stations on 40m fairly quickly.

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John VK2AWJ working 40m

I set my linked dipole on my squid pole and made a couple of QSOs on 20m.

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Linked dipole and end fed wire (behind)

Keen not to miss the boat we packed up after 2 hours and took the shorter route back to the jetty and we were back on the mainland at 1:30 pm.

A good day out and always good to revisit French Island.

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Blog update day

After a busy 12 months I have finally had a day free to sit down and write some blog updates for recent SOTA and WWFF activations.

The following pages have been added:

 

Posted in Amateur Radio, Android, FT450D, KRMNPA, Radio awards, SOTA, WWFF | Leave a comment

New VK port-a-log version – V20161102_01

I have released a new version of my Android logging app VK port-a-log.

The new version is V20161102_01 and contains more new features;

  • Logging and spotting support for VK Shires Award program
  • Increased WWFF coverage – now includes non VKFF/ZLFF spots
  • Updated VKFF park lists
  • All fields csv file output for importing into Excel
  • QTH field increased to 100 characters
  • SOTAwatch spot post comment field increased to 44 characters
  • ParksnPeaks spot post comment field increased to 44 characters
  • External keyboard now supported with keyboard short cuts – see basic user guide
  • Option for GPS prompting when not QTHR
  • Option to keep screen alive – can be heavy on battery
  • Minor change to names.csv formatting
  • Corrections to some incorrect names in names.csv
  • All other existing names and settings are retained when new version is installed

Many of these additions have come from direct feedback from users and for that I am thankful.

VK port-a-log can be downloaded from the  files section of the vk3zpf_logger Yahoo group.
Joining the vk3zpf_logger Yahoo group allows you to email bug reports and suggestion direct to the developer (me) and share your ideas with other users.screenshot_20161103-194001

 

 

screenshot_20161103-193804  screenshot_20161103-193645

Posted in Amateur Radio, Android, KRMNPA, Radio awards, SOTA, VK Shires, WWFF | Leave a comment

One SOTA activation and two non-activations

Today was a public holiday for the Melbourne Cup. A horse race and we get a day off. I got up early and headed north planning to activate SOTA summits Mt Ritchie VK3/VC-003, Mt Vinegar VK3/VC-005 and Mt Gordon VK3/VN-027. Activating these three summits would boost my points tally by 18 and would be a good re-start after winter.

I arrived at the base of VK3/VC-003 Mt Ritchie at about 7:45 and was heading up the track about 10 minutes later. I’ve been to Mt Ritchie before with Allen VK3HRA in 2014 and I knew what the access was like. It’s mostly a gentle climb with two or three steep sections. From the gate to the summit is about 6.5 km.

I arrived at the summit about 9:35 and started to set up. I took the antenna bag from my back pack, then my coat, my reading glasses, then a tarp I had purchased on the way. I then took out the logging tablet, an external keyboard, headphones and battery. I laid all this out under a tree limb I had chosen for the antenna.

As I was tying the throw weigh to the rope I noticed something was missing. Something critical to the whole activation. I had no radio!

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All the equipment – except one item!

With no radio I was unable to activate the summit so I packed all my gear back into the pack and, somewhat disappointed, headed back down the hill to the car.

Back at the car I decided I didn’t have another 13 km of walking in me so I head for Mt Vinegar VK3/VC-005. I had activated Mt Vinegar in 2013 and the access is easy. Take Acheron Way to the north, turn left at Carters Gap Rd, pass Mt Vinegar Track and turn sharp left at Road Eight. Then follow Road Eight to a sharp right turn then a sharp left corner and stop at the gate, about 200 m from the summit.

Unfortunately just after the sharp left corner there was a tree down across the path. From here to the summit was about 2.5 km and, to be honest, I just didn’t feel that enthused after my first walk for no points. So I turned around and head to Mt Gordon VK3/VN-027.

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Blocked access to Mt Vinegar

I arrived at Mt Gordon at about 12:30 just as it started to rain. After a short walk I was ready to set up the antenna and noticed some wildlife nearby. An Echidna was feasting on an ant colony and was happy to pose for photos. This was my third visit to Mt Gordon with previous activation being in snow in 2013 and heat in 2014. The rain had stopped just after I got the antenna in the air.

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An Echidna at Mt Gordon

I was on air, finally, just after 1:00 pm. As this was the last summit for the day I used my FT450D and ran it at 100 Watts. I laid out the tarp ready to cover the radio if the rain returned. I made 21 QSOs on 40m and one QSO on 20m and also got to test my VK port-a-log app with an external keyboard. I qualified the summit and added 4 points to my SOTA Activation score.

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Operating position at Mt Gordon

At least the day wasn’t a total failure!

73

Posted in Amateur Radio, FT450D, Radio awards, SOTA | 1 Comment

VHF SOTA activation of VK3/VC-006 Mt St Leonard

Today was a Public Holiday  and I went hiking with Tom and Kath, whom I have know for about 15 years, and two friends of theirs. The hike was from Donnellys Weir up to Mt St Leonard and back to Donnellys Weir. http://www.trailhiking.com.au/donnelly-weir-mt-st-leonard  All up the journey was 23.6 km with total climb of nearly 1300 metres. This was a tough walk in the park! I’ve activated VK3/VC-006 Mt St Leonard before in 2013.

We left the weir about 7:15 am and made it to the Mt St Leonard summit at 12:30 pm. Whilst the others in the hike party were enjoying the view and having lunch I was able to  get 4 quick contacts on 2m. One contact with Glenn VK3YY was a summit to summit with Glenn being over at Andrew Hill VK3/VN-020. Mt St Leonard is also within the Yarra Rages National Park, VKFF-0556.

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Working 2m handheld from the top of the observation platform

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Very cold group shot at the top

After lunch we walked back down to the weir arriving at about 4:30 pm. this is, without doubt, the toughest SOTA activation I have done so far.

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The up and back route of nearly 24 km

73

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