I have been chasing some DX. It became a COVID 19 inspired activity. Any way, by late December 2020, I had over 100 countries/entities confirmed in Log Book of the World and so I sent off an application to the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) for the DX Century Award. The certificate is reproduced above. It is difficult to say what was the most desirable or challenging country/entity in my list of 100. Chasing Grant Willis (VK5GR) in Niue, E6AG (September 2017), Vanuatu, YJ0AG (April 2018) and Tonga, A35TJ (September 2019) and, not forgetting Kangaroo Island, July 2020, (VK5KI), was fun as Grant is a South Australian. Most of my single sideband contacts (voice) were made with a power of 100 watts (peak envelope [pep] equal to 25 watts carrier) but in more recent times I was able to use 400 watts pep with a solid state amplifier and data contacts were made with 25 watts for JT65 and 30 watts for FT8. Thanks to all of the operators in these countries/entities who gave me contacts and it was great fun to be on the end of a ‘pile-up’ (many stations calling me at once). These pile-ups happened quite frequently.
I was pleased to have both LOTW and QSL card confirmation of my two contacts with AP2TN.
One thing that chasing DX requires is patience! If you look at the screen shot of my contact with TX3T you will see that is was confirmed on LOTW in February 2021. However, you will notice that looking at the QSL card front and rear, reproduced above, the contact took place on the 3rd November 2011. I did not use paper cards in my application for the DXCC. I must say I was pleased to receive the confirmation on LOTW as it shows as a new contact in 2021. TX3T was a DXpedition station.
I was enjoying a bit of time on 15 metres using FT8 when I worked this special station from Belgium – OT6SAFE, encouraging amateurs to stay at home because of Covid 19. While the contact has not been confirmed on Log Book of the World I did receive a confirmation in the form of the certificate shown above.
The contact was made on 23rd December 2020 at 009:51 UTC.on the fourth line from the top of the LOTW excerpt.
I have been using Log Book of the World for many years and have uploaded about 7,000 contacts. Confirmations dribble in, often many years after the contacts were made.
Here is my current LOTW status for the DXCC: I need two more confirmations. I am waiting LOTW confirmations for Kalingrad and Sardinia. I have worked Luxembourg, Pakistan and Crete and none of these stations confirm on LOTW. I have about 130 countries/entities confirmed, the balance with QSL cards. Eventually I might sort them all out and apply for a WIA award – But I enjoy working them more!
My digital station is an IC7300 dedicated for digital. I run 30 watts to a three element beam (20, 15 and 10 metres) and an OCF (off-centre fed dipole) for 80, 40 and 18 metres and a half-wave end fed for 30 metres.
My wife, Jenny, and I, have for the past ten years driven to Sydney to see our son and his family for Christmas. Our usual practice was to make a leisurely trip to reach our destination, staying over night at about three locations and activating some parks for the WWFF program. This year is different. We stayed in our own backyard. Victor Harbor was our base for three days over Christmas. And for the first time since July I was able to activate a park – Mount Billy Conservation Park. We decided we would not visit Sydney because of Covid 19 and the possibility of not getting back to South Australia or being ‘detained’ in Victoria.
So on Boxing Day we set out to activate Mount Billy Conservation Park. Mount Billy CP is just a short drive from Victor Highway taking the Adelaide Road and then a left hand turn off the highway to the Park The walking trail around the park is just 4.7 kilometres and has some steep sections and is graded moderate.
My location: just inside a gate. I left enough room for a park vehicle to access the park if necessary. JCD photo.
My activation commenced on Christmas day, a few minutes before UTC roll over and counts for the VKFF program as well as the SA Parks award as I was really portable. My station comprised a Yaesu 857D running at 10 watts to a linked dipole powered by a small lead acid battery. I used both the 40 and 20 metre bands and conditions were just average. The skip distance was so short on 40 metres that contacts were easily made into Adelaide and near environs. Gerard, VK2IO/P reported that he could not hear me on 40 metres near Sydney. We had a successful contact on the 20 metre band.
Mount Billy CP showing fire trail and walking track. JCD photo
00:01 26th December 2020
Thanks to all the operators who gave me a call – they are always appreciated.
Mark Oliphant Conservation Park, VKFF-0782 & 5CP 127
Mark Oliphant Conservation Park
Yes, it has been a long time since my call has been heard from a National Park. My last activation was on 31st July 2019 and on the 31st August 2019 I was admitted to hospital for major surgery.
…tell me my fate Put me upright, make me walk straight
These reflective words from Bob Dylan’s wonderful song ‘Mother of Muses’ from his recent album (Rough and Rowdy Ways, Columbia) touched me and I could identify with them immediately. I can walk straight but the upright stance still needs a bit of work! My muse is a local physiotherapist.
The last 12 months have gone by fast but I did do some other things. In amateur radio I have become active in DMR which has quite a steep learning curve to master the basics (more so than DStar or C4FM). I have a hot spot operational as I am a little too far from the repeater for hand held radio access. If I had a shack radio (mobile, not high on my priority list) I would be able to access the repeater direct. I once tried DMR portable but did not have my radio programmed properly (see my blog post https://vk5bje.com/category/mount-ainslie-nature-reserve-vkff-0850/). I put DMR aside from that time until a few months ago when I decided to re-kindle my interest.
I have kept up my cw although not at the same pace as when Gerard, VK2IO was portable through winter of 2019 in VK2, VK3 , VK5 and VK8 and we, on some days, had two or three cw contacts. And I have written a two volume Memoir, not for publication but it does include a chapter on amateur radio.
So Sunday 2nd August, National Tree Day, was a beautiful, warm mid-winter day. I had posted my intention to activate the Mark Oliphant Conservation Park, which is about two kilometres from home. As I look out my family room window to see Mount Lofty, the Mark Oliphant Conservation Park is in the foreground. Gerard, VK2IO/5 activated this park while in Adelaide. I have activated this park four times for WWFF and SANCPA. My most recent activation was in 2016. I have also walked the various trails through the park on many occasions over the last year. I have a goal of one half hour walk per day and most days my walk is between 50 minutes and one hour. It has helped me to get reasonably fit again and aid in my recovery. I never thought much of this park, especially when comparing it with Scott Creek Conservation Park which is also nearby and where I walk most frequently. However, I have revised my opinion and the walks are quite excellent, steep approaches and very picturesque, especially in the higher parts of the park. On Sunday with the dappled light filtering through the trees it was beautiful.
This park was re-named to honour Sir Mark Oliphant (born 8th October 1901 and died 14th July 2000) academic, nuclear physicist and former Governor of South Australia (1971 – 1976). While Governor he spoke up about the conservation values in the Adelaide Hills (for more information about Sir Marc see Wikipedia and Obituaries Australia).
My station comprised my FT857D set for ten watts, a linked dipole and 33 amp hour gel cell battery. I used my Ipad to access the internet, but I should have read the SA National Parks and Wildlife information on this park where it is stated that mobile coverage is patchy in places. My location was one such place and a new spot for me – perfect in every way except for patchy mobile coverage. I could see Parksnpeaks and spent my time chasing other stations. The one attempt to put up a spot did not work and re-located me (at the speed of light) to another park some kilometres away!
I have previously activated this park on four occasions, most recently 15th January 2016 and have it qualified for wwff. I will now be able to count the five activations for the boomerang award! Click on Mark Oliphant Conservation Park in the Index on the right hand side of my blog page if you wish to see more photos including the naming plaque for Sir Mark Oliphant (see post on 1st December 2015).
What I did fail to do was to take the manual for the 857D. It is just over 12 months since I used the radio and I could not remember which of the three rear sockets was the correct one for the CW key. John, VK5HAA, kindly checked the on-line manual, and I was rewarded with working John twice (CW): once as VK5PF and the second time with VK5BJE. I always struggled with the orphan ‘e’ on the end of my call for CW but the practice I have done over the last three or so years found me rattling off the ‘e’ like a real ‘old-timer’! Well, I should be honest. I am an ‘old-timer’!
I was on the air at 01:17 and my first contact was with Gerard, VK2IO/P. Gerard was in VK2/ST-039 also VKFF-1195
2. 01:23 VK2YK/5 Adam at VKFF-1023 Cuddlee Creek Conservation Park
3. VK5PAS/P Paul, Bullock Hill Conservation Park, VKFF-0873
4. VK5CZ/P Ian, VKFF-0871 Bird Island Conservation Park
5. VK5PAS/P Paul, VKFF-0873
6. VK5IS Ian
7. VK5GY Gordon
8. VK5HAA John
10, VK2YK/P 59 57 VKFF-1023 Cudlee Creek Conservation Park
11. VK5AYL Sue
12. VK3SG Leith
13. VK3ZPF/QRP Peter
14. VK3VDX Ian’
15. VK2VH Rob
16. VK4AAC/2 Rob
17, 40m CW as VK5PF
18. VK5HAA, John 599 599
40m CW as VK5BJE
19. VK5HAA 599 599 John
20. VK5HAA John
21. VK5PI Mark
22. VK3PF Peter VKFF-0619 Alpine National Park
23. VK2HHA Dennis
25. VK4FDJL Deryk VKFF-0315 Millstream Falls National Park
26. VK5FMAZ Marija VKFF-0873 Bullock Hill Conservation Park
26 contacts with some duplicates, that is same call, same band, same mode.
Bert Hansen, then VK3BH, taught me morse code in 1974 at the WIA radio theory course which I refer to in my About page. He was a very good telegraphist. Recently Mike Flowers, K6MKF, Secretary of the Northern Califorian DX Club, sent me the following card for VK3BH. Mike had found my reference to VK3BH after ‘poking around on the web’.
The operator’s name was Charles Whitelaw and the card was sent to W6IKQ. This card and others were sent to Mike from the daughter of one of the Northern California DX Club’s founding members, Felix “Phil” Caldera, W6IKQ. The card was obviously an important confirmation and included the message on the rear side. Note that there is no VK country reference, although the call area number three (3) is included in the call-sign. Mike thought I would like a copy. The card is dated 7th April 1938 just before World War II and just before Australian amateurs were required to shut down their stations. I never met Charles Whitelaw but I suspect that there may still be a few amateurs alive who remember him.
The question that arises for me is, was Bert Hansen the next holder of the call sign after Charles Whitelaw? I cannot answer that as I did not own a call-book until 1976. Someone in VK3 may know the answer. Thanks for the card Mike and the history associated with it. I am sorry you have to postpone your visit to Australia because of Covid 19.
I was pleased to cross the 800 threshold late in August 2019. Thanks to all of the activators who made this award possible. In more recent times CW (VK5PF) contacts are making nearly a quarter of my qsos. That has slowed down a bit with Gerard, VK2IO, overseas at the moment.
”World Ranger Day both commemorates Rangers killed or injured in the line of duty and celebrates the critical work Rangers do to protect the world’s natural and cultural treasures.
World Ranger Day is observed annually on the 31st of July and is
celebrated by the International Ranger Federation’s (IRF’s) member
Associations, The Thin Green Line Foundation, and by organisations,
schools and individuals who support the work of Rangers and the IRF
The first World Ranger Day was observed in 2007 on the 15th anniversary of the founding of the IRF.
Let’s pause for a moment to reflect on the sacrifice that these Rangers make; to honour the fallen Rangers and their colleagues who still bravely undertake their role in the field.”
The Photo and article comes from the This Green Line Organisation.
I chose to spend some of a bleak and cold winter’s day in Adelaide in the Mylor Conservation Park. This park is close to home: about six kilometers and is one of a number of the Greater Mount Lofty Parks nearby. I have activated the park a number of times and here is a link to my most recent activation:
I worked Peter, VK3PF/P, at 02:59 from The Tara Bulga National Park (VKFF-0480). I had just set up and the antenna was set for 40 metres. However, I knew I had locals waiting for me on 80 metres and the following stations were worked:
VK3TKK/p VKFF-2452 The SpitWildlife Reserve
VK2IO/5 Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs National Park VKFF-1114
VK6MB/3 Wychitella Nature Conservation Park VKFF-2236
VK2IO/5 Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs National Park VKFF-1114
VK3PI/P Kinglake National Park VKFF-0264 and VK3/VU-009
VK4HNS/P Tamborine National Park VKFF-0475
VK3PF/P Traralgon South Nature Reserve VKFF-2465
I made 21 contacts which included 11 park to park qsos. Soon after 04:12 I indicated that I would go QRT. It was cold!
I thank all of the chasers who gave me a contact and was delighted with my 80 metre results of seven stations which included two from VK3 and Gerard, VK2IO/5 at the Mound Springs in outback South Australia. I was pleased to participate in World Ranger Day from Mylor Conservation Park. I enjoyed the time out in the park especially the friendly, familiar voices and the chasing of other park operators.
I sent off an application yesterday for this award for working 744 unique references. And the certificate was in my email this morning! I have had a bit of fun ever the last few weeks chasing VK2IO, VK6MB, VK3PF and VK1DI while they have been operating from parks in a variety of states. It has been really good to gain so many new parks. A big thank you to the activators.