The weekend was busy with a few multi summit activations from Tony VK3CAT, Andrew VK2ONZ and Kevin VK3KAB all appearing a number of times in my log. Some of these contacts I made from home and I was fortunate enough to pack the gear out on both Saturday and Sunday aftternoons for some portable operating.
On Saturday I went to Warrandyte State Park and set myself up in an elevated spot near Pound Bend. I managed to get the doublet strung between a couple of trees just the way I wanted and had some good contacts on 40 metres as well as a few more summits when they appeared on the band.
I've heard reports that we are on the downside of the current sunspot cycle and that it is not going to last as long as some previous ones, but propogation conditions seem most favourable to me lately. When things quietened off a little on 40 metres mid afternoon, I decided to have a tune around the bands. There was no joy on 15 metres but from mid afternoon 20 metres was jumping with DX.
My first DX contact for the afternoon was Andy RG4F who came back to me with a 55 report. Shortly later things really started to pick up and I had a very comfortable QSO with Andy SP8BRQ in Poland who surprised me with a 58 report. Next was Angelo IS0FDW with a 57 report followed by Victor RX1A in St Petersburg who gave me a 54 report. These were all contacts where I had to jump in and battle with much larger stations in the pileup but still managed to get through. Before packing up for the day, I found a quiet spot on 14.208 Mhz and put out a single CQ call. Ralf DL3EA came straight back to me with a 56 report.
This was the best DX session I have had operating DX with nothing more than 5 watts. I amazed myself as well as most of the stations I worked.
Sunday was similar. I was in need of a decent walk and took off towards the city and ended up at the Studley Park Boathouse. The area was packed with people so I left the car there and went for a nice hike along some of the river tracks and found a nice elevated spot away from the RF and people noise and set up the HF vertical antenna and had a short play on 40 meters. I had one SOTA contact with Kevin VK3KAB on VK3/VN-002 before packing up and walking around Dights Falls and eventually back acrossthe foot bridge near the boathouse aroud the park land past the Yarra Bend Golf Club.
Following the road across the Eastern Freeway, I found another elevated spot high up overlooking the Merri Creek and errected the vertical antenna once again. Signal reports on 40 metres this time were better and again I tried 20 metres.
Most of my portable DX contacts have been on the doublet in the past and I have really only worked a couple of ZL stations before with the vertical. Today was different. I wasn't expecting to do quite as well but I bagged the following: Janez S51DX in Slovenia with 59 both ways, Peter DL5SAM who dropped his power to 5 watts with 56 report sent and 57 report received, Oleg RY3D with a 55 report, Rene DD2VO giving a 54 report and Ivan OE3DIA in Vienna with a 57 report.
It was a fitting end to my afternoon of radio with the last contact being another portable station, Lucy M6ECG/p about 90km northeast of London who was operating from the beach at low tide near her home, QRP with a vertical antenna. It's a constant surprise to me how well 5 watts can work and what is possible when the bands are open.