Spring Hill is a prominent hill to the east of the Barton Highway between Yass and Canberra. As I live in Yass and work in Canberra I see it every day of the week.
It happens that the owner, Phil Robinson, is a member of the hang gliding community and his hill is registered as a launching site. There are mentions of it on the web.
I contacted Phil and told him of my interest in walking up the hill with a backpack full of radio gear. He was fine with that and told me to leave my car in the parking area at the front gate, then walk up the track to the hilltop. Due to the traffic up the hill he asks users for a voluntary donation towards upkeep of the road.
I arrived at the gate slightly after my planned time so I did not stop to take photos on the way up the hill. It took about 35 minutes to get to the top where the view is amazing due to the almost total lack of trees. 360 degrees apart from the building housing the comms equipment. A mains power line runs up the eastern side of the hill. There was a stiff easterly blowing so I located myself about 5m below the hilltop on the western side.
The first antenna I erected was a quarter wave vertical for 20m, with 3 elevated radials. This worked ok but I was not sure about it – the dimensions were correct for the band but it needed the tuner to be usable. It was way off frequency and I will be investigating that at home some time with a dip meter.
Having spotted myself using SOTAWATCH.ORG I spent 15 mins or more calling cq on CW without success. I received several calls from US stations who were calling blind ie they were not answering my cq, they were calling on my advertised frequency. I had two ssb contacts on 20m after that with VK5 (South Australia) and VK6 (Western Australia) but reports indicated that my station was not working as well as it should.
I then pulled down the vertical and assembled my 40/20 dipole antenna, which was a proven performer. I got onto 40m SSB at about 10:30 local time and worked through a long list of callers before 11AM which is 0000 UTC. After that I worked most of them again.
I did try 2m FM but the only call I had was from Andrew VK1NAM on Mt Clear, about 80km to the south and on the other side of Canberra.
Photos from Flickr.com, using Awesome Flickr Gallery plugin for WordPress.