Today, on a beautiful late Winter’s day, I was able to indulge in two of my passions: music and radio. Each year the Payneham City Concert Band plays a bracket of numbers at the Strathalbyn Band Festival: sufficient to fill a half hour time slot. I have participated a number of times now and, in 2013, I also played radio after the event.
The Festival is a great event, not a competition, but a chance to play to entertain the audience. The Festival extends over two Sundays and we were the first band for the first Sunday and completed our section by noon. Strathalbyn is 55.7 kilometres from Adelaide and is a pleasant drive through the Hills from my place. The town is on the plains below the Hills and overlooks the Coorong Lakes and the Southern Ocean. After our contribution I visited the coffee shop and ordered a sandwich for my lunch and set out to cover the 13 kilometres to the Bullock Hill Conservation Park, which is just off the Strathalbyn to Ashbourne Road. Bullock Hill Conservation Park is a fairly new Park and was gazetted on 30th January 2014. It has been activated a number of times previously but this was my first activation.
The photo above shows the Park notice board being pressed into service to support my ten metre squid pole. The land was too uneven to use the tripod. And the rear of the notice board provided a back stop for my table and gear. I used my newly purchased, and second, Yaesu 857D, for the activation. I purchased my first from Wyong over a decade ago and it gives great service in our 4 x 4. These radios are old technology but they are great for portable use, tolerant of low battery voltage (11.73 volts), rugged, small and easy to use.
I spent a few sessions at home setting up the radio for my usage patterns, particularly the audio response to suit my voice, added some six and two metre beacons, a few for 70 centimetres, a handful of repeaters, WWVH for accurate time keeping and for an indication of propagation on the 20 metre band and 891 ABC Adelaide, for fire warnings in the Summer. I also installed the 500 Hz filter for CW. I had the power set for 10 watts.
I made my first contact at 03:25, with Ron, VK3AFW/P who was operating from Mount Strickland, VK3/VN-030 and my last was with Gordon, VK3EJ, at 06:20 making 46 contacts. It took over three hours to secure these contacts: perhaps everyone was ‘radioed out’ by Sunday afternoon? I tried 20 metres at 06:05 but I could not post myself which is always a handicap. Nevertheless it was a successful activation and, as always, thanks to all who gave me a call.
The following stations were contacted on 40 metres:
VK3AFW/P SOTA VK3/VN-030
VK3KIM/P SOTA VK3/VN-030
VK5AFZ/P Coorong National Park
VK3PF/P SOTA VK3/VT-078 and Bunyip State Park
VK4AAC/P3 Croajingolong National Park
VK5PAS/P Cox Scrub Conservation Reserve VKFF-1701
VK2IO/P SOTA VK2/ST-009 & VKFF-1375
Tried 20m without success
VK4SOE/P (7113 xtal locked transmitter)
Total 46 stations with two duplicates. A glance at the stations contacted shows that propagation to Queensland was quite good, but not for the Western area of Victoria or in South Australia.