Mt Lowden activation for SOTA 13 Oct 2013

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.

Parked on Lowden Trig trail
Parked on Lowden Trig trail
Mt Lowden main peak
Mt Lowden main peak
Comms tower at lower Lowden peak
Comms tower at lower Lowden peak
Clearing at comms tower
Clearing at comms tower
Some clear spots
Some clear spots
Treed slopes
Treed slopes
Equipment setup
Equipment setup
VK1DA/p
VK1DA at Mt Lowden
view to the south from the saddle
view to the south from the saddle
view to the south
view to the south

 

SOTA activation of Mt Cowangerong VK2/ST-001

On Sunday 6th October I activated VK2/ST-001 which is the site of a weather radar installation owned by the Bureau of Meterology.

The previous activators from Canberra had provided plenty of good information about how to get there and what to expect when I arrived.  See VK1NAM’s blog and VK1DI’s blog for those details.

The Cowangerong Track off the Captains Flat road was littered with stones, rocks, dirt etc, due to recent road treatment by the machine parked on the side of the road a few hundred metres in.  It is about 10 mins drive to the mountain from the Capt Flat road.  I drove right up to the peak and turned back down to be sure of being outside the activation zone.  This took me almost all the way back to the Cowangerong Track.

It was a few minutes walk back up the slope to the summit, where the compound surrounds a few buildings and the weather radar tower.

I first setup in the clearing to the south of the compound but after listening to 7 mhz and having one contact with the background noise at s7 I decided to spend a bit more time and move my whole station further away from the compound, going about 20m into the forest roughly south of the compound.

39 contacts made.  Stations worked: VK1NAM/3 VK3AFW VK3PF VK3GAJG VK3JM VK1RX VK2YW VK5LY VK3CAT VK3FPSR VK2FHRK VK3FB VK3UBY VK3LO VK3DET VK3GHS Vk5WG VK5CZ/p VK3AMB VK3YY/p VK3YE/pm VK1DI VK3MCD VK2GEL/p

And after 0000 UTC, VK3CAT, VK2JI (30m) VK7NWT VK5LA VK5PAS VK3AFW VK3UP VK1DI VK3PF VK1MA/2 VK3FPSR VK3UBY VK3MRG and VK1NAM mobile in vk3.

Duration of operation from first contact to last was about 2 hours 30mins less the 20mins while moving the station away from the noise.  This operation was completely done using a 3S LIPO battery, which was 12.4v at the start of the operation and was 11.4v at the end.  The two SLABs I took were not needed.  The ATU ran off the LIPO too, for the few seconds of power it requires when changing bands and resetting.

The radio, ATU, log book, pack
The radio, ATU, log book, pack
Black squid pole just visible centre
Black squid pole just visible centre
VK1DA operating the gear
VK1DA operating the gear