Tag Archives: ham radio

Mt Tantangera VK2/SM-024 activated on 10th December 2016

I was invited to join in an activation of Mt Tantangera by Andrew Moseley VK1AD, and was very pleased to be able to join him in this expedition.

Andrew collected me from my weekday accommodation in south Canberra at 7:30am on a brilliant summer’s day that Saturday morning.   We decided to take both our packs to give us the option of working on several bands simultaneously.

The route taken was through Tharwa, south of Canberra, along Boboyan road until it meets the Snowy Mountains Highway between Cooma and Adaminaby, but only a few km short of Adminaby.  The trip through the mountains took us past familiar scenery, Mount Tennant just after Tharwa, the Clear Range to our east, the turnoffs for the old Orroral Valley and Honeysuckle Creek tracking stations, including various SOTA summits like Booroomba Rocks, then past Boboyan Range and Pheasant Hill.

After 2 hours we arrived at the Rocky Plains camping ground.  We prepared for the walk to Mt Tantangera, adding sunscreen, hats, packs with water and food, antenna poles and navigation details.

Track up from Rocky Plains camp ground
Bush view to the side of the track
Track easy to follow
View to the south west while en route to Tantangera
bushland
Andrew VK1AD stops to take a photo too, sometimes!
A track marker showing 1km to the summit – a welcome sign

Many of the horse riders camp at Rocky plains and some even set up temporary areas for their horses to roam in, with temporary electric fencing.  The initial climb up to the saddle is steady and follows a bridle trail.  Some hoof marks are apparent in the soil as you climb upwards.  The condition of the soil was damp but firm.

On arrival at the summit, a very wide flat area, we found the trig point was ideal for attaching a pole to.  Initially we set up our equipment and antennas expecting we would be able to operate the two stations on different bands.  However I received wideband noise whenever Andrew’s FT857 was transmitting.  I decided to move my equipment about 30m away, assuming it was a proximity problem and a bit of spacing would help.

That did work ok, so it was then time to get onto the bands and hand out some reports.  The bands did not appear to be in good condition.  I made relatively few contacts considering the exotic nature of the summit and its SOTA value of 10 points for anyone making a contact.   I decided to use CW mainly so as to give the CW operators a contact, and I knew we would swap bands later so Andrew would be operating on 40m ssb.

I made one contact on 20m CW, then 6 on 40m CW.  One S2S contact was also made with Ian VK1DI at Booroomba Rocks on 2m.  One of the photos taken was of a March Fly (aka Horse Fly) of which there were many.

March Fly
Station setup (photo: Andrew VK1AD)
Lake Eucumbene in the distance

Thanks to Andrew for offering to share this activation.  While band conditions were less than ideal, we had a great day out in the snowy mountains region and enjoyed our walking and radio operation.

Mt Majura SOTA activation on 13 April 14

I was late arriving at the summit of Mt Majura partly due to forgetting what a long walk it is.  For some reason I had 30 mins in my mind but obviously I was mixing it up with other summits in vk1 because it took more like 50 mins this time.

I made most of the contacts on 40m plus a few on 20 and 12m.

There were quite a number of family groups, walkers, runners and cyclists on the summit during the 2 hours I was there.  I wonder if one of them picked up my reading glasses without realising they were mine.

I was also puzzled by a comment from some walkers I passed on the way up.  They suggested I should have identification to prove I was doing something legal and legitimate.  Perhaps reflecting their past employment they seemed to think someone with a radio was rather suspicious.

I pointed out that mobile phones are radios and have access to anywhere in the world, with GPS and other functions that are far more powerful than a simple voice and morse radio.  We chatted amicably for a few minutes and departed in our separate directions afterwards.

16 contacts made.

Some photos taken on the return trip.

image001

image013

image002image003image006image007

 

 

VK9NA expedition

Late comments about the VK9NA expedition I joined in January 2011.  This was a VHF/UHF/microwave and 2m EME operation.  Due to quite poor conditions for tropo across to the mainland, we eventually did most of the operation on 2m EME.  However we did try to make contacts and ran a lot of CQs on 144 MHz every day.  We did make some contacts but there were nowhere near the number of tropo contacts made last year.  The 144 MHz band was the main band used for this work.

We activated the station every day on 6m as well, from the hotel site.

Due to the high winds experienced on the hill we moved the EME station to the Guide Hall where we had been kindly offered the use of the grounds.

On Norfolk the internet access is provided by Wifi connections at hotels/resorts and a few in the Burnt Pine business area. I found it was necessary to buy several different cards to get access via NIDS, Norfolk telecom and another account for access at the hotel I stayed at. Wifi access from Mt Pitt was good, from the hotel the others stayed at, access to NIDS was not good.

The radio conditions on vhf up were not as good as they had been in 2010. This was partly due to physical weather conditions, including strong winds for the duration of the operation from 8th to 20th January. On the weekend of the summer field day conditions were very poor and the only contacts made with the mainland that weekend were on 6m, and there were not many of them.

The 2m EME operation was very successful.  Over a hundred contacts were made using JT65 via the FT897 and a laptop computer running the WSJT software.  A TE systems amplifier boosted the output power of the FT897 for EME work.  The list of stations worked is at the VK9NA website.

I greatly enjoyed the event.  I learned how to use WSJT on both FSK441 and JT65B, and learned a bit about pointing a very large 2m antenna (19 elements, 12 metres length) at the moon and periodically repointing it. For about half or more of the time, the moon was not visible so we were relying on compass bearings corrected for mag offset/declination and an inclinometer for the elevation.

I also became familiar with the FT897 and found what a great radio it is for this kind of operation. The other radios used were FT817 and a TS2000 which I found to be a very good radio too.

The TS2000 has an option to automatically transmit CW at a 700 hz offset (actually the offset equals your selected cw beat note and sidetone frequency) when you switch from USB to CW. It also has an option to automatically switch from SSB to CW mode if you press the key, whether it’s an automatic key or a hand key. Very neat.

Apart from the radio aspects it was also great to get to know Michael VK3KH, Alan VK3XPD, Kevin VK4UH. We were fortunate in being well organised on the social and meals front by Michael’s wife Roz and her sister Gail, and Alan’s wife Aileen all of whom made this event that much more enjoyable.

We did attend a few local special events such as the fish fry, the progressive dinner and the re-enactment drama based on the voyage of the Bounty, the eventual mutiny led by Fletcher Christian and the exile of the mutineers at Pitcairn Island. This history is a proud aspect of the Norfolk Island culture today.

A great event and a fun filled 10 day trip for me.

Here are some photos at Flickr:

Here is one photo of the EME antenna.  Remember  it is 12 metres long.  There are 19 elements.  Click the photo for a larger view. The long “element” in the centre of the boom is just a truss boom – the antenna has vertical and horizontal stabilisation to prevent it flexing and losing gain. EME antenna at VK9NA

2010 Spring VHF/UHF Field day on 7 bands

For this event I took my usual station on 50 to 1296 MHz, plus my transverter and gridpack for 2403 MHz, Ted VK1BL’s transverter and gridpack for 3400 and Dale VK1DSH’s 10 GHz station (IC202, transverter, dish and tripod).

Contacts were made on all these bands.

Performance of the station on 1296 MHz was not as good as in previous years.  This may be due to conditions, or to a problem with my antenna or my location on Mt Ginini.  It is becoming increasingly more difficult to find suitable places where even two required directions are not partly blocked by the trees on that mountain.

Some pictures are already on http://www.flickr.com/photos/exposite/sets and I’ll be putting some also onto the vk1da.net photo pages.

Dayton Hamvention trip 2010

After reading about the Dayton Hamvention for over 30 years I decided this year I should see it for myself.

Well it is a big show.  Very big.  Have a look at the Hamvention website and you’ll find maps of the covered exhibition areas and the flea market area which is described as being 9 acres.  I observed that some lanes of what is normally a car park were not fully occupied, and some discussion on the hamvention mailing list (see yahoo groups) indicated that there were many more vendors in the flea market area in past years.

There were over 200 vendors in the covered areas.  The Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA) conducted exams for those who wanted to take out a ham licence, or upgrade from Technician or General to a higher grade. Candidates were lined up outside the examination areas all day, Friday and Saturday.  Hundreds must have been examined.

All the equipment manufacturers you have heard of and a lot you haven’t were present with impressive displays of their wares.

New to me were the Kenwood TS590 (HF/6m 100w transceiver), the Flex 1500 (HF/6m 5w transceiver) and the Elecraft 500w power amplifier.

I also saw a rotary 80m dipole on display from Array Solutions.  It looked to be about 50ft or 15m long, with loading coils and loading sections on each end of the dipole. It may have been shorter.

In the flea market there were many hundred vintage radios, ATUs, cables, antennas, connectors, you name it.  My vote for the most unusual item was the F16 simulator.

I came close to buying several new items but eventually just picked up some small components I want for my new antennas, some microwave attenuators and a G4DDK preamp kit for 2.4 GHz.

I met G4DDK at stand 915 where he and Kent WA5VJB were displaying and selling various items including a range of Kent’s pcb antennas including log periodic and skeleton horns for frequencies from 400 MHz to 10 GHz.

The event wound up officially at about 1pm on Sunday.  After that the exhibitor’s area was closed.

I missed out on a great deal I had been offered on an SDR-IQ receiver on Saturday afternoon.  I didn’t realise how many vendors would either close early on Sunday or not turn up at all.  I’ve emailed RF Space and have received a reply already, so all may not be lost.

Dayton Hamvention: well worth going and seeing it, but only if you already have a reason to go to the US.  It’s a long way for 2.5 days of hamfest.

At the VHF weak signal group dinner on Friday night, I met and chatted with a number of other people about VHF activities in Australia and heard discussions on contest rules that were familiar issues.  Should contest points be based on distance or on grid squares, or power, or what?  In the VHF sprints they are trying a distance based formula based on 6 character grid locators.  They have found that this approach has been well accepted by contest participants.  It is now quite feasible to calculate distances based on 6 character locators, since computers are so common.  Maybe this is what Australian VHF operators would like.  The grid square bonus system is much simpler but some people think it doesn’t give recognition or incentives for longer distance contacts.