12 volt battery, Redback 30, 30th March 2017

Front view showing voltmeter

The photo above shows a front view of my Redback 30 ‘thumper’. Andrew, VK1AD, requested a picture and description of this battery which can be seen on the ground in a photo (of me holding the squid pole) of my post about Scott Conservation Park. Here is a link to that activation:


I activated this Park on two days early in March while attending a wedding at Port Elliot. The battery pack is made at Mount Barker SA and contains two gel cell 12 volt batteries wired in parallel to provide a 33 amp hour battery. It is very well made as you can see from the photos. It is all held together by substantial screws and rivets. It has a handle on the top which makes carrying the battery quite easy, and as it is a mere 33 amp hour pack, it is not too heavy. Paul, VK5PAS, told me about the shop at Mount Barker and the business has a good range of 12 volt equipment. I use my battery to augment but not replace my LiFePO4 batteries. On our interstate holidays it is not always possible to charge batteries where we stay, particularly if I miss charging them for a day or two. The ‘thumper’ can be charged while in use using solar cells, providing of course that the sun is shining!

input end 75 amp hour Anderson connector

The photo above shows the input end or charging end. 75 amp Anderson Power pole connectors are used and I simply grip each connector with a cable equipped with alligator clips observing correct polarity. I use a five amp hour smart charger which is quite small and easily packed in my gear.

end view showing 50 amp hour Anderson connectors

The output end is equipped with double 50 amp hour Anderson Connectors. I have made up adapters which I add to the 30 amp hour connector when I use this battery rather than a LiFePo4 battery. I usually set my radios to 20 watts and this battery will last a full 44 contact activation for WWFF at a park. The other advantage of this battery is that I can, and occasionally do, operate at 40 watts on the 20 metre band and it does this well. Having a volt meter on the front of the battery is of great assistance. I never take the battery below 11 volts: hence my reminder on the front panel. 11 volts is slightly higher than the manufacturer recommends so I have a safety margin.

Scott Conservation Park, VKFF-0934 & 5CP-206, 3rd & 5th March 2017

A saxophonist friend of mine, to be married on Saturday afternoon 4th March 2017, provided an excuse for an extended long weekend on the South Coast of South Australia. We stayed in a cabin at Port Elliot where the ceremony was held. We travelled from Scott Creek to Port Elliot via Echunga, Meadows, Bullock Hill Conservation Park, Goolwa and then on to Port Elliot. We enjoyed our lunch at Goolwa before checking into our accommodation at Port Elliot. After settling in to our accommodation we set out for Hindmarsh Island with the intention of an activation from the Coorong National Park at its most Westerly end. It wasn’t to be. I will explain more later in a new post. Scott Conservation Park, about eight kilometres from Goolwa, provided an easily accessible alternative. This Park has been activated previously by Paul, VK5PAS. You should check out his excellent blog at https://vk5pas.org/

I have now activated all three South Australian Conservation Parks with Scott in their names: Scott Creek Conservation Park, Mount Scott Conservation Park and finally, Scott Conservation Park. If you would like to read about these activations then please click on the name of the Park on the index, which is just below the calendar on the front page.

Scott Conservation Park, comprising 210 hectares of land on the southern edge of the Mount Lofty Ranges is quite spectacular with magnificent trees (see below), deep creek lines and a walking trail of 2.7 kilometres which takes you through the park.

Warning about snakes

Creek in Scott CP

This photo shows the depth of the creek: the walking track crosses the creek bed at two locations (JCD photo)

We walked the trail plus another fire track for about an hour after my Sunday activation and enjoyed the scenery.

Scott CP Friday activation spot

A magnificent eucalypt at Scott Conservation Park, Friday 3rd March 2017, JCD photo

Scott CP Sunday afternoonScott Conservation Park, Sunday 5th March 2017, operating location. JCD photo

VK5BJE at Scott Conservation Park

My Sunday afternoon operating location on a fire trail. JCD photo

Saturday afternoon 3rd March 2017 – sunny warm day

On Saturday we found a clearing that had been used by campers. They had left rubbish behind. My wife cleared the rubbish, which we returned to Port Elliot and soon the spot was pristine. This location is about half way between the two car parks and is visible from the gravel road.

I found 7.150 Mhz to be clear and I called CQ at 06:05 UTC and was answered by Peter, VK3PF. His signal was 5 and 9 and mine was 4 and 4, noise was obviously a factor at Peter’s home. Then followed VK3GGG, VK4FW, VK3PMG, VK4AAC/4 (park to park contact with Rob who was in VKFF-1219,  Tuchekoi National Park, Queensland) VK3FSPG, VK3MRP, VK3MQ, VK3YSP/M, VK3FOWL/M, VK3ZPQ, VK7JON, VK3TKK/M, VK3SS,  VK3ELH,  VK3OW, VK2HHA, VK3VIN and VK1DI. Conditions on 40 metres were quite good although I was unable to work any South Australian signals. The closest station to me was probably Mick in Stawell, VK3GGG/VK3PMG. The band went quiet despite many CQ calls. I then moved to the 80 metre band and enjoyed contacts with the following stations on 3.610 Mhz: 07:28 VK5YX, VK5MRT, VK5FMWW, VK5FVSV, and at 07:18 VK5PAS/M, Paul, who was driving to Spring Mount Conservation Park for a Friday evening activation. At 07:38 I enjoyed my final contact for the afternoon, with Paul, VK5PAS/P, operating from Spring Mount Conservation Park, VKFF-0739, making my second Park to Park contact for the day.  We had to leave to go and buy some food for our evening meal.

Sunday afternoon 5th March 2017 – warm overcast day

I planned to become a digital station on Sunday afternoon using my VK5PF call sign and set up on 15 metres hoping to work some Asian stations using JT-65. What I had left out of the equation, however, is how do you see a computer screen in the great outdoors even on an overcast day? Oh well I will try again. So I decided to set up again for 4o metres ssb on 7.135 Mhz, which was clear. At 04:20 my first contact was with Allen, VK3ARH, s 56 r 53 and then in quick succession, VK3PF, VK3FPSR, VK3YXC, VK3QA, VK3BBB, VK3LX,  VK3GGG, VK3PMG, VK3SQ, 04:39 VK3DAC/3, Fred was in VKFF-0762, Leaghur State Park, my first Park to Park contact for the day,  VK1DI, VK3FEVT, VK1AT, at 04:49,VK3CWF, Bill at the Organ Pipes National Park, VKFF-0627 and at 04:55, VK3PAT/3, Chris at Alpine National Park, VKFF-0619, my third Park to Park contact for the day. Still on 40m I worked VK4HNS/4 and VK5KAI before migrating to 80 metres where I enjoyed contacts with VK5TW, VK5YX, VK5BB, and VK3GGG/VK3PMG. A big thank you to all of the operators who gave me a call at Scott Conservation Park. I made 48 contacts. I thought band conditions were reasonable and as usual there was no short skip into South Australia, at least not for stations within about 200 kilometres from Adelaide. However, tuning across the 40 metre band I thought activity was down for a Sunday afternoon. All contacts have been up-loaded to Log Book of the World and eqsls are available from VK5BJE/P.

Cockle Train entering Goolwa station

There is a lot to see and do around Goolwa (and I have not mentioned the wineries!). This photo shows the Cockle Train entering Goolwa Station on return from Victor Harbor.

Oscar W

The Oscar W in her home Port of Goolwa.

Beach at Port Elliot

Port Elliot from the headland.

Indigenous perspective on early European contact at park at Port Elliot

An Indigenous perspective on the coming of the Europeans and a creation myth.

Bullock Hill Conservation Park, VKFF-0783, March 2017: an addendum

I last activated Bullock Hill Conservation Park on the 7th August 2016 for the WWFF program. Here is a link to that activation: https://vk5bje.com/category/bullock-hill-conservation-park/

Forty six contacts were made but the duplicates reduced my to total to 43 not 44. So my visit on Friday 3rd March 2017 was to complete my activation for the WWFF program. I planned it to be short. We were travelling to Port Elliot for a wedding of a saxophonist friend of mine on Saturday afternoon and I was hoping to activate the Coorong National Park on Friday afternoon from the most Westerly part of the Park. I advised a friend of mine who lives at Strathalbyn, Tony, VK5MRT, that it would be interesting to try a 2 metre band contact from the Bullock Hill Conservation Park to his place using FM on 146.500. I had my 857D radio in the 4 x 4 monitoring 146.500 as we approached Meadows and at the top of the hill leaving Meadows and taking the road to Ashbourne, I could hear both Tony and Peter, VK5PET, communicating on 146.500 Mhz. I joined in indicating we were on our way to Bullock Hill Conservation Park and would be there in 15 to 20 minutes. I was hopeful as we drove down the winding road to Ashbourne, where signals were still breaking through, that I could complete my activation with a handful of 2 metre contacts. However, I drove past the parking lot as I was heading to the Park from Ashbourne. I had a sense that I had made a mistake but soon I was on a hill and speaking with both Garry, VK5ZK and Tony, VK5MRT, on 146.500 FM who were assisting with directions. After some discussion I reversed and re-traced our route and soon found the car park. Vegetation covered the view from Ashbourne but it is clearly visible approaching from Strathalbyn.

After setting up I soon had a contact with Garry, VK5ZK at Goolwa and I could hear Peter clearly but Tony’s signal was breaking up. Unfortunately I was unable to have contacts with Tony and Peter: they could not hear me! I should have taken a 2 metre hand held radio as a climb up the hill might have made communications possible. That can wait for another time and I have no doubt that using SSB or CW would have made the distance as well.

Here is a log of my contacts:

01:05 VK5ZK, Garry, 146.5oo Mhz s59 r54

01:19 VK5MRT, Tony, 3.594 Mhz s56 r55

01:23 VK5PET, Peter, 3.594 Mhz s56 r56

01:25 VK5ZK, Garry, 3.594 Mhz s59 r54

My operating conditions were my Yaesu 857D a short vertical, ten watts on FM and 20 watts on SSB. Thanks to Garry, Peter and Tony for their efforts and patience on the day. It was fun.

If you have a look at the photo of the Park identification notice for 7th August and compare it with the photo taken by my xyl, Jenny, you can clearly see how the Park has dried off, despite a wet year.

Bullock Hill showing how dry it is

JCD photo

The Park

Bullock Hill Conservation Park was proclaimed as a conservation park on the 30th January 2104. The Park has hills and gullies and is 200 hectares.