Activated 24 & 25 April 2014
With some last minute planning the night before, I set off early on Anzac Day with the intention of activating four summits. The weather forecast was looking good and there was no sign of rain on the BOM radars over the state.
My first stop was Mt St Leonard VK3/VC-006. On my last activation here was on 15 June last year and following my problems with excessive RF noise working HF from the viewing platform I opted this time to set up amongst the grass and rocks on the far side of the towers. This was as far away as I could practically get from the powerlines that I think were the main issue last time.
With the HF vertical antenna set up I turned on the radio and the meter showed S3 noise which was a massive improvement over last time. The only other noise to contend with was atmospheric crashes that were quite strong and making reception on 40 metres particularly difficult for VK1 and VK2 stations.
For this activation I used AX3MRG/P, the AX prefix being permitted for use on occasions of special national or international significance such as ANZAC Day and Australia Day. First to answer my calls was Andrew AX2UH. For the next 45 minutes I worked a steady stream of chasers including a CW cross-mode contact with Wayne AX3WAM working from VK3/VT-018.
When things slowed down I decided to hang around for the UTC new day and maximise summit to summit points. I then worked Nick VK3ANL/P on VK3/VE-014 both sides of the rollover, followed by more s2s contacts with Mark AX3ASC, Nigel AX5NIG/P on VK5/SE-013 and Matt VK2DAG/P on VK2/NT-009. As soon as I worked Matt, I pulled the antenna down and packed up to head off to Mt Dom Dom.
Activated 25 April 2014
It is surprising how quickly a recently logged forest can regrow. On my last visit here back ten months ago access to the summit was relatively easy. Most of the new growth was only waist high and traversing obstacles like burned logs and occasional rocks was not a problem. This time around however many of the new growth saplings were around 3 metres high and the undergrowth was extremely dense making for a real bush bashing excersise. For anyone contemplating doing this summit be aware that it is now a real challenge. Be prepared to bruise your shins on unseen logs as you push through. Wear long pants and sleeves as well as glasses for eye protection. I still received several cuts and scrapes on arms and legs despite being well covered.
It took me a good deal longer to get into the activation zone than anticipated and the going got even harder in the top third of the ascent. I arrived within metres of where I operated last time according to the GPS but it was not really recognisable. Not needing to bash through any further I set up the HF vertical antenna in the tightest operating position I have worked from to date. I was unable to spread the counterpoise radials out very effectively but still got on 40 metres and quickly worked four s2s stations in a row, Peter VK3PF, Rob VK3EK, Glenn VK3YY and Bernard VK2IB/3 sharing the same summit as VK3PF.
Because of the sub optimal setup, my signal was well down on usual according to most reports and reception at my end was also poor. Allen VK3HRA was also on a summit and we could both just hear each other if the wind was blowing the right way but it was not enough to log a s2s contact. All in all, eleven contacts logged before I gladly packed up to crash my way back to the vehicle and picking up a few more bumps and scrapes along the way. As this area is frequently logged, future activators will have an easier time if an adjoining section to the summit is cleared. Otherwise I would pick several nearby summits as alternatives.
Activated 25 April 2014
After the hard slog on Mt Dom Dom, Mt Gordon was a breeze. Nothing here changed from my last visit apart from the weather which was much better. I parked near the gateposts on the saddle of the hill and quickly walked to the summit and set up in exactly the same spot with the same antenna and quickly picked up s2s contacts with Bernard VK2IB/3 and Peter VK3PF both on VK3/VE-029 and Rob VK3EK on VK3/VG-125.
Over the next twenty minutes I worked a total of 18 stations with much easier operating conditions and better reports. I didn't hang around here for too long as I was particularly eager to visit Mt Strickland and try working the greyline DX into Europe.
Activated 25 April 2014
After reading the blog of Glenn VK3YY on his activation of Mt Strickland I chose this as my final summit of the day due to ease of access and clear area to easily throw up the doublet for the chance of some 20 metre DX.
One can drive right to the summit and I drove to the top coming in the same way as Glenn had done and drove back down the other side outside the activation zone where I parked. Strolling back to the top I quickly worked out how to string the doublet broadside to Europe using a couple of dead standing trees in the edge of the clearing. My operating table was a stump and I pulled out my plastic mat to sit on.
I was on air at 0649z on 40 metres first with another s2s contact for the day with Rob VK3EK this time on VK3/VG-144. I quickly logged eight contacts on 40 metres before changing to 20 metres and tuning the doublet when I was aware that Ed DD5LP/P (VK2JI) was operating from DL/AL-169. I quickly found him on 14.310 Mhz as per the alert he had posted earlier and jumped in. He came back to me and I had my first s2s contact into Europe logged. With 5 watts from me it was my prize contact of the day and most worthwhile hanging around and planning for. Thanks Ed!
After the short QSO with Ed I moved up to 14.315 Mhz and started calling for more DX as the sun was setting and the temperature rapidly falling. My calls were answered by Mike G6TUH who was pleased to log another VK summit. My last contact for the day was John VK4TJ and after a few more minutes of calling without a reply I quickly pulled down the antenna and packed up before it got too dark.
Thanks to all the chasers I worked today, especially Ed and Mike. With my first DX s2s contact completed and very few DX summits worked from home due to horrible RF noise, I'm very motivated to plan some more DX activations in the coming weeks and will certainly post my intentions on SOTAWATCH prior.