Some Reflections on Shack Sloth eligibility, 22nd June 2014

I qualified for the Shack Sloth award on Sunday afternoon after my contact with Rhett, VK3WE/3, who was portable in East Gippsland on VK3/VG 027, Mt Baldhead. I began chasing SOTA operators in March 2013 contacting VK5NIG/P5, Nigel at Mt Crawford, or Mr Mount Crawford as he is called by VK5PAS, Paul, and 15 months later I reached my goal. It has been a great journey! All contacts have been on 40 and 20 metres and mainly SSB with an occasional CW contact as well. I want to improve my CW skills after a long lay off, especially sending in the first instance, with a hand key.

Once again I am reminded of Dante’s Divine Comedy where the climbers are rewarded and the lazy ones…well?

‘Behold for here are mysteries:

The laziness of this one could afford

Comparison with Sloth, as if she were

His energetic sister’

The Divine Comedy, Book 2, Canto 4, Purgatory, Dante, translated by Clive James, Picador, London, 2013

What is this all about? Well Dante (the author) and his companion Virgil are making their way through hell, purgatory and on to heaven. They are in purgatory. They are climbing a peak, yes it is pre-SOTA, and see a narrow gap! You know the feeling, it is cold but you are sweating, you keep wondering how far it is to go to the summit, you wish you had not packed so many batteries and had left a couple of antennas behind. You feel like you are in hell, but suddenly you think you see the summit, then another twist in the track (purgatory) and then finally the summit. (I am not referring to the easy summits which can be approached by car and a short walk). You can sit down and you think this is heaven! Now I can set up my radio, you think. You think you see a chaser sitting near a rock (or think of her/him in the shack) – ‘sloth’ you think, or as one translator says, ‘laziness’.  But you, oh activators you know well, your efforts would be in vain but for the Chasers. Dante Alighieri  wrote his famous trilogy, ‘The Divine Comedy’ in the 13th century. I am a fan and have four translations of this work, not written in Latin, but the vernacular language of Florence, the language we now call Italian. It is an epic poem and I commend it to you. My apologies to Dante for my radio-influenced existential interpretation!

An early reward from Paul, VK5PAS

An early reward from Paul, VK5PAS

Thanks Paul for this splendid certificate. It adds a lot of colour to my blog. I will apply for the SOTA ‘Shack Sloth’ Certificate and Trophy as well and I am very pleased to join this small South Australian group.

Belair National Park, VKFF – 022, 1st June 2014

After most, but not all, of the new-comers had successfully activated Mount Lofty Summit within Cleland Conservation Park, we moved to Belair National Park. I guided the little group of hopefuls to one of my favourite spots in the park where there is plenty of room for a squid pole and wire antennas and not too many people going by. This was my third activation of Belair National Park. I had previously activated the Park on the 26th January 2014 and on 1st  August 2013 making a total of 33 contacts.

There was some interest in alternative power technology so I set up my FT897 and a LiFePO4 battery to show the participants the power and weight advantages of Lithium chemistry batteries compared with Lead Acid batteries. I had just one contact, with VI50CONV, operator John, VK5DJ, the special event station for the South East Radio Group for their forthcoming convention to be held during the June long weekend. So I was pretty pleased with that but then it was time to encourage the newcomers.

Map showing Mount Lofty Summit, Belair NP & other CPs. (Adelaide & Environs free map)

Map showing Mount Lofty Summit, Belair NP & other CPs. (Adelaide & Environs free map)

We also compared the recovered audio from the FT897 with Paul’s FT450. I thought the two radios sounded good with audio that was easily copied in an outside environment, but to my ears the FT450 had the edge. Paul’s view was he thought that the FT897 was better. Not a scientific experiment but an interesting subjective experience.

After VK5PAS, Paul, VK5GW, Graham, VK4FR/P5, Chris and I had lunch (high quality and low calories!) then Chris and I adjourned to my QTH to explore and try out our new ten amp chargers on our LiFePO4 larger capacity batteries.

Paul, VK5PAS, has a much more detailed account of the day on his blog at

Mount Lofty, VK5 SE 005 & Cleland Conservation Park, 1st June 2014

Today on the first day on Winter, when the heavens threatened rain and it was cold, VK5PAS Paul and I, with twelve budding SOTA and Parks activators, travelled to Mount Lofty and then, later in the morning to Belair National Park, to encourage these new comers to pick up the microphone and call CQ SOTA or CQ Parks. It wasn’t the day for Paul and I to activate the Parks, but, when I was invited to operate I did and was delighted to work four stations on Paul’s FT817 on 20 metres: VK5ZAR, Arno; VK2IO, Gerard; VK2KTT, Paul and VK5YX, Hans.

This was my second activation of Mount Lofty and it was an enjoyable day. Paul and I previously activated this summit from the same spot on 6th November 2013. Both Paul and I hope that some of the newcomers, including two brand new amateurs with Foundation Calls, will continue with their endeavours and become regular chasers and perhaps even activators.