Category Archives: contests

Wyong Field day and three SOTA activations

The Wyong field day is a major hamfest held at Wyong every February, with equipment exhibition and sales, a flea market for used equipment sales, a seminar room and supported by food and refreshments.

I have visited this event every year of the last 10 and have usually looked at the new equipment, passed through the flea market, sometimes buying something unique and desirable (such as the 3 element 6m yagi I bought one year)  but mostly just catching up with friends who I often see only at this event.  Some I never hear on the radio these days but they turn up at Wyong in February.

Having decided in advance to activate several summits on the way to Wyong, Andrew VK1AD (ex VK1NAM) and I set out from Yass at about 9am and reached the parking area in the vicinity of VK2/SY-002 Riley’s mountain at about 12:30, having stopped for coffee on the Hume Highway.

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Sign at the start of the walk up to Riley’s Mtn

The walk from the carpark to the summit was signposted as 2.6km each way or 5.2 km for the round trip.  The track through the forest was in good condition and the forest was green and healthy, with chirping birds the only sound breaking the peace apart from the noise of our boots on the gravel and dirt track.  After about 30-40 mins steady walk we found a sign pointing left labelled “Riley’s Lookout”.  Taking the side path we were soon standing high above the Nepean River enjoying the view of the forest and river.

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Nepean river and Blue Mtns National Park

Considering where to set up our radio gear to activate this rather nice location, we decided to walk the 50m or so back to the main track and set up there, using the sign as a support for the antenna pole.  In no time we had the antenna up in the air, the radio connected to the antenna and power and the microphone and key paddle plugged in.

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Equipment and operator at the lookout sign on Riley’s Mtn

We posted spots on SOTAWATCH  to be sure chasers and other activators looking out for S2S contacts knew we were on the air and where to find our signals.  A good session of contacts ensued with reasonable signals into Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, as well as some closer contacts in various parts of New South Wales.

One of the contacts made was with Marek OK1BIL/VK2 who was operating  at Mt Alexandra with Compton, VK2HRX.  We met Marek at Wyong the next day and had a good chat with him.

Leaving Riley’s mountain after about an hour of operation, we headed northwards to the Great Western Highway and then towards Sydney, onto the Newcastle freeway and eventually turned off the highway near Ourimba, to reach Mt Elliott VK2/HU-093.  Again this was a very pleasant and easy place to operate from, with picnic tables, expanses of grass inviting sevevral poles supporting antennas.  Here we used a 20m quarter wave vertical on one pole and a linked dipole on the other.  On 20m we made a few CW contacts into Europe and some into other parts of Australia.  Conditions were not good enough on 20m to make long distance SSB/voice contacts.

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One of the picnic tables at Mt Elliott was pressed into service as an operating desk
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Andrew VK1AD operating on 40m

Shortly before sundown we closed down and made our way to Wyong where we had booked accomodation for the night (two months earlier, or more).  We had a meal and some cool drinks at Panarotti’s at Tuggerah Westfield.

In the morning I woke early and decided to observe the International Space Station’s pass which was almost directly overhead.   I lost sight of it to the northeast when it was over New Caledonia according to the tracker.   It was brighter than most other things in the sky apart from the moon.

At the Field Day there was a good collection of second hand goods for sale in the flea market, some new items but it was strangely quiet in the corner where one of the larger traders usually is found.   At the VHF seminar, some discussion about the rules for VHF/UHF contests prompted me to make some unplanned comments about operating practices in these events, specifically about the practice of callinq CQ, making all contacts and listening all on 144.150, which many field and home stations appear to do.  A straw poll of those present revealed that while a number of people operated in that event, only a small number of them had made contacts into VK1, only 250km away from the Sydney area.  I suggested that this was due to being stuck on the calling frequency and it would help everyone to make more contacts, make more points in the contest and increase activity if they could move to other parts of the band during these events.  Let’s see whether a direct appeal to the operators has the desired effect.  I wish the contest rules did not specify a calling frequency.

We departed Wyong at about 12 noon and headed homeward. After a lunch break at Pheasants Nest we continued to the turnoff for Mt Wanganderry, VK2/IL-003.  Setting up there we were able to make contacts on 40m using SSB and CW, we did try 20m without any success.  This was a new summit for us both.

The antenna and shelter at Mt Wanganderry
The antenna and shelter at Mt Wanganderry
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Using the sun shelter at Mt Wanganderry

RD contest 2015

The exchange in the RD contest is a signal report in standard RS(T) format, followed by a 3 digit number indicating the number of years the operator has been licenced.  This year it was 50 for me so I thought that was a good excuse to operate in the RD.

I decided to use CW only and use the IC703 at 5 watts output.  This put me into the QRP/CW category.

The bands were ok for east coast contacts on 40m and 80m.  I didn’t hear any VK6 on CW which was unusual.  I did hear one on 20m but conditions were poor there and I was unable to make any contacts.

Total contact count was 100 on the RD logger screen but 99 in the summary – perhaps I confused it at some point when I backed out a contact that didn’t get completed.

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QRP HOURS

The 2013 QRP HOURS event runs on 6 April.

This is a fun event – a contest for QRP stations (5w or less output power) that runs for just one hour on each mode.  First an hour of cw/digital modes, then an hour of SSB.

Due to daylight saving still being in operation in the southern states that night (in fact it’s the last night of DST) the timing is late evening.  That gives everyone time to make those last minute antenna corrections in daylight, get a good evening meal, then settle down with the QRP radio and see how many contacts they can make in an hour.  There are some recommended frequency limits for the contest.

I operated in this event a couple of years ago and enjoyed the experience of making contacts on 80m with my FT817.  5 watts may not sound much but on 80m it goes a long way if you have a real antenna.  I worked several ZL stations and about a dozen contacts on each mode around vk4/2/3/7/5.  My antenna is a dipole supported in the centre by a 20ft (6m) pole and fed with RG58 cable.  Very simple but effective.

in the 2012 event I used an IC703 QRP radio, with the power reduced to an indicated 2w on CW and peaking 1w on ssb voice peaks.  The same antenna was used as the previous year.  Despite a reduced power output I made more contacts than in the previous year, about a dozen on cw and 17 on ssb.  Not a high pressure event.  CW ops, wind your speed back a bit, many of the QRP operators are not frequent CW users and their hand keys won’t match your Formula 1 speed.

Rules etc are at http://vkqrpclub.org/qrp_hours_contest_2013.php

 

Spring VHF/UHF field day Nov 2012

The spring VHF/UHF field day saw the station set up at a new location due to roadworks between Bulls Head and Mt Franklin. The temporary location was between the 5 way intersection known as Piccadilly Circus and Bulls head. Elevation 1305m and some trees on the east and west sides of the ridge. A single pair of power lines, probably running 11kv single phase, provided noise at up to strength 9 on 6m and 2m.

Mount Franklin Road
Latitude: -35.3742
Longitude: 148.804
Altitude: 1305
Accuracy: 17m

Contacts were made northeast up to the port Macquarie area and southwest to the Geelong area on 2m. Best contact on 70cm was with vk3uhf near Geelong.

No contacts outside vk1 were made on higher bands.

A weak Es opening occurred on
the Sunday morning. Several vk4 contacts were made.

Total contacts 104.

Thanks to Bruce VK1HBB and his daughter Tayla VK1FTAY for assisting and operating.

Field Day site for November 2012

VHF/UHF Field day (contests) scoring proposal

After discussion for several months a proposal has been published for revision of the scoring rules for Australian/WIA-sponsored VHF/UHF Field Day contests.

The proposal is here:  vk1da.net/vhffielddayrules.html

A survey of active VHF/UHF amateurs seeking views on the proposal and other aspects of these events is here:  vk1da.net/survey/index.php

The proposal was developed by a group of interested radio amateurs, primarily Colin VK5DK and myself but in consultation with a number of others.