Another worthwhile SOTA day all round. I have been doing most of my activating of summits on a Sunday but today was different. I had some work related commitments in the morning but was free in the afternoon. It turned out to be another pleasant day and I wanted to make the most of every opportunity to activate as many summits as possible before the depths of winter really hit.
Between my work related obligations this morning I was able to play chaser and work a few SOTA summits from home. The first was VK3KAB/p just prior to the UTC rollover on VK3/VT-026. Later at lunchtime I scored another 3 summits: VK1RX/p on VK1/AC-035, VK3WAM/p on VK3/VN-015 and first time activator, Hiro VK3EHG/p on VK3/VC-030. Hiro was getting out very nicely on 2metres FM with limited power and I received him 59 at my home QTH. I hope we hear a lot more from Hiro on summits in the future. I have seen some of his equipment which includes a KN-Q7A SSB QRP transceiver kit that he has built – the perfect 40 metre SSB kit for SOTA activations.
I convinced my two daughters and XYL to accompany me to the Cathedral Ranges State Park to activate Sugarloaf Peak. It has been probably about 15 years since I last visited here, well prior to having an amateur radio licence. My wife had fond memories (pre harmonics) of our last climb to the peak and agreed it would be a worthwhile afternoon. We left home around 1.00pm and drove the scenic route through Eltham and the Christmas Hills down to Yarra Glen and then across to Healesville and The Black Spur, a delightful drive at any time of year.
Now about the activation. According to the SOTA web stats, there have been only two previous activations, both by Wayne VK3WAM/p with all contacts on 2 metres. I was able to get several repeaters easily with the HT which meant some very likely simplex contacts into Melbourne. All my 18 contacts today however were on 40 metres. Unfortunately I didn't log any S2S contacts. I received good reports using my vertical antenna and The FT-817ND and worked VK3, VK7, VK1, VK5 and a station in VK2.
Band conditions were very good. This was proved by the fact that my first two QSO's were with only half a watt of power to VK7KO and VK1MA. In my haste to get on air, I tuned on lowest power and forgot to crank the FT-817 to the maximum 5 watts. A couple of subsequent stations I worked that had been listening from the outset commented that they could hear me with half a watt but the 5 watts made all the difference. I'm sure my half watt would have worked even better if I used the doublet in this case but this may also demonstrate the effectiveness vertical antenna. I operated from 0606 to 0640 UTC. Not too long as I was aware of the sun setting. By the time I went QRT, packed up and got back to the carpark with the family, it was almost dark.
So there is another varied day. Managing to satisfy work duties, get outdoors, play radio and keep the family amused all in a day. Getting to the next summit in a timed and orderly fashion is no guarantee. I'll get there when I can and at little or no notice!