Mt Lowden is numbered VK2/ST-002 and is located to the east of Rossi in the Southern Tablelands of NSW. Location details at http://sotawatch.org/summits.php?summit=VK2/ST-002
October 13th had been nominated as VK2 SOTA QSO Party day. I was hoping for a busy morning on the radio with activators and chasers looking for contacts. As Mt Lowden attracted an 8 point score we would be a popular find on the bands. We would probably make most of our contacts on 40m but expected a few contacts on 30m and possibly 20.
I left Yass at about 5:45 and could see wisps of mist above the rivers and dams but there a clear sky and it seemed a typical spring day in the southern tablelands as I drove towards my meeting place with Andrew Mosely VK1NAM at Queanbeyan. I stopped just on the edge of Canberra for a quick breakfast and a takeaway coffee. Arriving at the spotlite carpark at 7:05 I saw Andrew’s Skoda Yeti (the sotamobile) so we were soon on our way along the Kings Highway, the Captains Flat road then other connecting roads leading us past Rossi and along the Lowden Forest Road. We first overshot the turnoff up to the Lowden Trig Firetrail, but after correcting that mistake we drove up Lowden Trig Firetrail until reaching the junction with Bald Hill firetrail. At that point we found one of the tyres was mostly deflated and we changed it over for the spare and inflated that. Assumed that one of the sharp rocks strewn along the firetrail had damaged the tyre wall.
The walk up to the comms tower on the lower part of Mt Lowden was easy enough with a few rocky sections and some muddy lower sections. Walking from there to the summit was more difficult, no path, no well formed track, not even the wildlife had established paths to this peak. Some “nasty spiky” bushes as per Ian’s description (http://vk1di.blogspot.com.au/search/label/Mt%20Lowden) and plenty of rocks and fallen trees to negotiate.
As we reached the activation zone, grid locator QF44SL we contacted Glen VK1FB on Mt Gingera, VK1/AC-002 on 2m FM at locator QF44JK. A distance of 68 km according to my iphone app DistBear. Not bad for 2m hand held radios – without repeaters!
After setting up a 40m dipole I got on the air and started working through about 30 contacts. A second antenna was also set up with a coax switch we could use to switch between the two antennas quickly. A/B tests were done periodically and reports were received on the two antennas. Antenna B was consistently rated better. We think antenna A was too close to the ground and too close to trees. Received signals were slightly down compared with the other antenna. More tests to be done on another occasion.
On 2m Andrew VK1NAM had been calling cq on 146.5 FM and on 144.2 SSB. He made 5 contacts, then ran a few contacts on 40m looking especially for S2S contacts.
At about 0045 the band went fairly quiet and while the CW net still seemed to be running down on 7025 and below with good signals, the ssb signals seemed to be absent. A final cq call received a response from a vk3 at good strength but his signal disappeared on the next over, going right down below the noise level. Some ionospheric disturbance must have occurred around that time.
No activity was heard on 10 or 14 Mhz, though signals from JA were heard on 21 CW and 28 CW.
Log- 2m: VK1FB, VK1DO VK1MDC VK2FAJG. 40m: VK1DI VK2AXL VK3PF VK3AFW VK3OHM VK1MDC VK1MA VK2ONZ VK5CY VK1RX/2 VK3MRG VK3FTRV VK3ZPF VK3FPSR VK3CAT VK3BHR VK2YK VK3DET VK2FGJW/p VK2JI Vk3JM VK2YW/p VK2TWR VK2DAG VK3ARR. After 0000 UTC: VK3GHZ VK3AMB VK1DI/2 VK3FSK(? – contact ended when propagation failed)
CW contact count for this activation: nil.