Mt Dale VK6/SW-036

The VK6 SoTA programme has started and thanks goes out to everyone who made it possible.

Anxious to get started, I thought a trip up to Mt Dale on my day off would be a great beginning. I have been here a few times before, once camping and a few other times chasing thunderstorms. At one time I would have said that I knew the way through the hills like the back of my hand … but it’s been a while.

A FT-817 was lent to me again by on old friend, until I can get my hands on a X1M, and headed up the hill same way I always remembered. The only real problem, apart from HF conditions, was the road I had always used had been blocked by Water Corporation. For future reference, this is Pickering Brook Road out towards the old Barton’s Mill prison farm.

The best access from the north is on Ashendon Road that runs off Mundaring Weir Road. It is all-weather dirt and is quite well used and subject to quite large potholes that can catch out the unwary. There were a few nasty washaways, narrow but deep, just remember not to be still braking hard when the front wheels go in. A section of Dale Road was also inundated and had water still flowing over it. This bit was quite slippery but the Prado ambled through it happily. I have done the same section many times in a Holden Barina, so don’t be fazed.

Southern access onto Ashendon Road from Brookton Highway is also available. This means less time on dirt roads but greater travelling time from the bulk of the metro area.

IMG_0546.PNG
There is a small picnic/camping area on the right hand side just before the the final ascent. I assume this is where campers and walkers stay on this leg of the Bibbulmun Track. I’ve never really had a look around there apart from noticing some picnic tables in the scrub.

IMG_0553.PNG
Once at the summit I opted for a ‘walk out/walk in’ approach. I could park quite close to the summit but to comply with activation rules I walked outside the activation zone (quite a lot, as it turned out, due to a laggy GPS) and walked back in, carrying all my gear for the activation. I tethered the squid pole to a handy post, placed all the other gear on a small retaining wall, did a Goat spot and started calling. One thing I did notice was the occasional data burst of some kind from the repeater tower on the summit. It only lasted about a second at a time but was quite intermittent and more noticeable on higher frequencies.

IMG_0552.PNG

IMG_0011.JPG

IMG_0556-1.PNG
After an initial flurry of contacts on 40m I tried 15m. Sadly conditions were not conducive to interstellar QRP contacts apart from VK3OHM, who was 5/8 with QSB to me but I was unable to complete the contact. I guess I’ll need to upgrade & join the 20m brigade.

Thanks to all who answered the call on SOTAWatch and the various forums. Looking forward to the next one. Apologies to those on 15m but I had to head back to Perth to pick up the kids from school.

IMG_0012.JPG

IMG_0008.JPG

IMG_0010.JPG

Posted in Amateur Radio Stuff, SoTA - Summits On The Air | 6 Comments

Radio At The Park

More practice and a bit of fun too. Still surprised at the capabilities of 5W.

20140806-170246-61366207.jpg

20140806-170244-61364697.jpg

Posted in Amateur Radio Stuff

Shack on a Letterbox

A friend has kindly lent me his FT-817 and I decided to have a quick play late on Sunday afternoon. 5W, a random wire and a manual tuner works well. Seems to be a lot more sensitive on receive than the Barrett 950. Might just be the lack of bulk QRM from the home dipole that makes the difference.

20140720-170137-61297046.jpg

Posted in Amateur Radio Stuff | 2 Comments

Almost There

Took my completed link dipole up a local sand dune to play today. The conditions were lousy but still managed a couple of local contacts. Nice and quiet up there too, even if it’s only a couple of hundred metres from suburbia. I was thinking of going fully portable but the Barrett 950 is not ideal, too many parts and fairly power hungry. It really does prefer to be mobile. Still, a pleasant afternoon mucking about with radios.

20140701-153441-56081354.jpg

20140701-153442-56082142.jpg

Can just see the city skyline on the horizon and through the smoke.

Posted in Amateur Radio Stuff, Out & About

Portable Dipole

Weather and other factors finally conspired to allow me to work on my portable dipole. The tune on it went way out on 40m after the top section of the squid pole snapped. A quick consult with an old friend and it was suggested that ground effect plays a larger part in dipole function than I was aware. He suggested shortening the legs if the dipole by up to a metre! Bearing in mind that my previous experience was with higher frequencies (11m and above) I thought this was quite excessive. I kept shortening to instruction and found that with a feed point at 5.4m and the legs of the inverted V terminating at .75m above ground level, it had to shorten the legs by 1.2m.

Now I’m aware of this it will be easier to tune antennas in the field simply by doubling the wires back on themselves and using a little insulation tape or, if a semi-permanent fix is required, then a cable tie or two.

The next part will be tuning the links.

20140506-143719.jpg

Thanks to Chris, VK6FDKR, for the chat 🙂

Posted in Amateur Radio Stuff, Out & About | 1 Comment

First SOTA Contact

Thanks to VK2DAG on VK2/NW-006 I now have my first SOTA points. A bit of QSB and QRM but a good copy nonetheless. The traffic faded out completely shortly thereafter, sadly.

Thanks for being up there.

Posted in SoTA - Summits On The Air

VK3YT’s Web SDR

I live in WA, have an ‘F’ call, am interested in Summits on The Air and we appear to be experiencing one of the biggest nulls on 40m in recent history.

This does not mean that I need to miss out.

I recently discovered a Software Driven Radio (actually 4) that can be driven via a web user interface in Melbourne. From here I have been able to enjoy listening to SOTA pileups.

I would like to thank Andy, VK3YT, for allowing us to have access to this technology. Sadly, I probably can’t get SWL points as I’m not at the receiver, but, for the record, here’s my brief log from last weekend.

VK2CZ 7100 4/6 0238 22/2/14
VK3ANL 7095 2/5 0342 22/2/14
VK2QR 7090 5/6 0500 22/2/14
VK2TWR 7100 4/6 0156 23/2/14

Thanks for being out there guys! Forgot to record the summit numbers and I’m going by the system generated time on VK6YT’s software log. I’m still learning.

Posted in Amateur Radio Stuff