Scott Creek Conservation Park, VKFF-0788 & 5CP-207, 25th March 2016

A Good Friday activation

On Friday afternoon, Good Friday, VK5PAS, and I, visited Scott Creek Conservation Park for a joint activation. In addition to the usual HF station we wished to add to the number of bands used by adding some VHF and UHF capability. But more on that later.

I have activated this park many times and have qualified the park for the WWFF program. Here is a link to my last activation:

https://vk5bje.com/2015/03/14/scott-creek-conservtion-park-vkff-788-14th-march-2015/

Our objectives were:

First, to field test a Spiderbeam asymmetrical dipole designed to work on five HF bands. This antenna is quite impressive and well-made, but like most, if not all, Off Centre Fed (OCF) antennas, presents a higher than desirable VSWR on some of the bands. Paul, who is the reviewer, will say more about this. If you use 100 watts and want an excellent antenna for camping, are prepared to use a coupler (antenna tuner) on occasions, this antenna is worthy of consideration.

Second, to conduct an HF activation. This task mainly fell to Paul (VK5PAS), who operated on the 40, 20 and 15 metre bands.

Finally, to try and sample antennas for six metres (a dipole), two metres, a Cushcraft three element beam and a six element log periodic style antenna (made by ATN antennas) for 70 centimetres.  I did not bring any 23 cm gear and nor did I operate on six metres and 70 centimetres. I will in the future. The beam antennas are supported by a three piece aluminium mast which is guyed. This mast can be erected by one person but it easier with two! Thanks to Paul for driving the tent pegs into the ground while I held the mast.  I use good quality semi-rigid coax fitted with N connectors for VHF and UHF. The antenna is rotated by the armstong method and an orienteering compass provides the bearings. My radio for this activation was a Yaesu 897 operating at 20 watts. Two LiFePO4 batteries were used: of 4.200 and 8.400 amp hours capacity.

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This photo, courtesy of Paul, VK5PAS, shows my operating position, about 20 metres from where Paul’s station was located.

The weather was good, warm with the temperature in the low twenties, sunny and with just a gentle breeze.

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This photo, also from Paul, VK5PAS, shows my two metre antenna, a simple three element beam fed with quality semi-rigid coaxial cable (unfortunately the identification markings have rubbed off with lots of use).

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The final picture, also courtesy of Paul, is a close up of the beam showing the gamma match.

Contacts

After field testing the OCF dipole I set up my two-metre station at 05:25z. I checked the Mount Gambier beacon, VK5RSE, on 144.550, at Mount Graham. This beacon is listed in the Wireless Institute of Australia call-book as having 25 watts transmit output. The beacon was showing 5 and 2 on my FT897 and climbed to 5 and 5 on the peak of the QSB cycle. The QSB cycles were even and thus predictable. At this point my confidence soared. The Mount Lofty beacon, VK5VF, 144.450, about ten kilometres from our operating location (as the wedge-tailed eagle flies) was really loud! I placed a post on Parksnpeaks and hoped for the best. I called on 144.110 for a few times without success, so I soon moved to the calling frequency of 144.100.

05:42 VK5KC, David, 5 and 9, both ways

05:44 VK5AKK, Phil, 5 and 9, both ways

05:54 VK5MC, Chris at Millicent in South Eastern South Australia 5 and 4 and 5 and 5

05:57 VK5GY, Gordon, operating at Bullock Hill Conservation Park, 5 and 5 both ways. Gordon was holding his beam in one hand! Gordon told me he is celebrating 40 years of being an amateur (in the UK and Australia) so I shared my 40 year story with Gordon and gave him a second call (06:01) as VK5PF, 5 and 5 both ways.

Paul told me there were operators on 40 metres who wished to contact me – so we swapped stations.

So on 7.150 I had the following contacts:

06:06 VK5FMID, Brian, 5 and 9 both ways

06:08 VK2IO, Gerard 5 and 7, 5 and 4

06:08 VK4AAC/P3, Rob 5 and 9 and 4 and 7. Rob was in a noisy caravan park.

06:11 VK5KHZ, Hans, 5 and 9 both ways

06:13 VK3ZMD, Mike 5 and 8, 5 and 7

06:17 VK5FANA, Adrian 5 and 9 both ways

06:18 VK4FW, Bill near Kingaroy, 5 and 9, 5 and 4

06:19 VK3CDR, Chris 5 and 9 both ways

06:22 VK4GSF, George, Toowoomba, 5 and 9 both ways

06:23 VK3GWS/P, Grant at Beechworth 5 and 9 both ways

While I was working away on 40 metres I could hear Paul on two metres. We decided to swap radios when it went a bit quiet on 40 metres. I called CQ on 144.100.

06:36 VK5DK, 144.100, Col at Mount Gambier, 5 and 9, 5 and 8. I was delighted: a good haul on two metres with a modest station – 20 watts and a three element beam! Col, of course, has a great set up on two metres and most other higher bands.

06:40 VK5NC, Trevor at Mount Gambier, 5 and 3, 5 and 4

06:46 VK3LY, Bill from Nhill, 5 and 3, 5 and 1

I called a few more times and then decided I should set up on 146.500 FM. VK5FANA, Adrian, advised he would travel to the top of a nearby hill and give me a call. Unfortunately we did not make a contact. I suspect we could have made it but our efforts did not correspond in time.

Later using Paul’s hand-held radio I had contacts with:

07:20 VK5PET, Peter, Mark Oliphant Conservation Park, 5 and 9 both ways

07:21 Rick, VK5FGFK (and a second contact from me, VK5PF), Mark Oliphant Conservation Park, 5 and 9 both ways

and later, 07:40, with David, VK5KC on 52.200 ssb, 5 and 3 both ways. Twenty two contacts on three bands: 10 on 40m; 11 on two metres and one on six metres was my total for the day and 11 contacts on two metres were very satisfying.

Here is a link to Paul’s, VK5PAS, YouTube channel which captures some of the fun and excitement of this style of portable activation. Thanks to all of the operators who gave us a call.

 

 

 

 

 

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VK5PF: a 40 year celebration, 8th March 2016

In November 2016 I will celebrate 40 years as an active radio amateur. I decided at the end of last year, as a birthday present, to apply to the Australian Media and Communication Authority (ACMA) for a two-letter advanced call sign. In case you think I am being ‘greedy’, in our small state of South Australia, there are about 200 hundred two letter call-signs remaining, including some highly desirable ones for CW (morse code use).

The Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA), the peak body for radio amateurs, and the agency under contract from the ACMA to administer call-signs, requires an amateur to choose two preferences, in case the first one has already been applied for. I made two call-sign choices and sent off my application to the WIA for processing and forwarding on to the ACMA. I enclosed the fee. And then I got on with other things.

There were, when I first considered this application, about three call-signs of deceased amateur friends of mine available, all amateurs I held in high regard. Indeed one was an employee in my Department. I always thought he had a desirable call-sign, was very technically proficient and a great home constructor of microwave transmitting and receiving equipment, but I didn’t think I could walk in his footsteps as an amateur. The second call-sign was that of an amateur I mention in my blog. He was a 160 metre ‘home-brew’ man! (see About) The third call-sign of an Amateur Television (ATV) colleague of mine was snapped up while I was debating whether to proceed down this path. I purchased crystals from him.

After much thinking I decided to apply for a call-sign with which I had no association and did not know any of the previous owners.

Now VK5PF will present no great challenge to that other well-known ‘Papa-Fox(trot) active in South East Australia!  I intend to use this call-sign both from home and from Parks and Sota Peaks for CW (morse code) low power transmissions only. I think VK5PF is a pretty good CW call-sign! And there is no ‘e’ in this call-sign, in CW a dit!

I would like to express my appreciation to our regulator, the ACMA, and, of course, to the WIA.