Radio Journalism

The RAOTC Journal for March 23 has two articles by VK5s. The first is How I got to be a Ham by John Drew, VK5DJ, RAOTC member no 951. This is a splendid article and gave me an insight into radio practice and experiences in the 1960s and earlier. John writies about getting on 288 Mhz (one metre band), super regenerative receivers and AM. John has previously been published in that Journal in 2010.

The second article is called Experimenting with 160 metres, by me, John Dawes, RAOTC member no 1764. This is my first time in print with this Journal. Sure I have a conflict of interest, but it gives me a chance to bring to your attention this wonderful Journal.

The Journal is 60 pages and is published each March and September. I commend the RAOTC to you.

Mount George Conservation Park, VKFF-0781, 3rd March 2023

Mount George Conservation Park has been on my to-visit list for a long time. It is nearly a decade since I last activated this park on the 4th August 2013. It was a mid-winter’s day but I succeeded in gaining 18 contacts before retreating to Barry’s house (VK5BW) to attend to my hypothermia with a cup of coffee. I did not give my post for 4th August 2013 a name, but it is accessible within this blog by clicking on the relevant date in the index of dates. And I did not upload my log to WWFF. I suspect that the activation was for the South Australian award (SANCPA), before WWFF began in Australia.



05:48 Peter, VK3PF

06:06 VK3AMO Rob

06:02 VK5NPP, Phil

06{08 VK3ZPF Peter

06:08 VK5KAA, Gordon

06:10 VK3BBB, Brian

06:13 VK2CCP, Brian

06:13 VK5LA, Andy

06:13 VK3UAO, Stuart

06:14 VK5TN, Robin

06:16 VK3GJG, Garrick

06:17 VK5AYL, Sue

06:17 VK3ANL, Nick

06:18 VK5CZ , Ian

06:20 VK5IS, Ian

06:24 VK5UV, Rod

Sixteen contacts were enjoyed. Ah, the magic of radio!

The Tracks

‘There are other approaches to thinking about the ‘ways of the elders’ and my mind immediately focused on the first nations people of this continent and their ways, their tracks, their knowledge of how to get from a to b. I have been unable to find and references to the tracks in the Mylor Conservation Park and how they were formed, but I suspect they are more recent, that is, made by the first Europeans who settled here in 1836. But were their foundations laid down by earlier peoples? It is very likely and Grace Karskens, an historian, citing Sim (1966), a public servant, who stated ‘White men often built their roads along Aboriginal tracks, especially those following ridges1. She is writing about the peoples of the Hawkesbury River and gives many examples, familiar of course, to people living in that part on NSW.

In Adelaide the Pioneer Women’s Trail is 23.7 kilometres long and is rated as a hard walk. It dates from about 1840, and was used for about 30 years as a commercial route, walked by women and girls to take produce grown in the hills to the city for sale. Those heavily laden walkers began their walk about midnight 2.

The area traversed by the trail is divided by the ‘boundary’ between two Aboriginal groups:the Kaurna people who lived on the Adelaide plains and the Western side of the Mount Lofty Ranges and the Peramangk people whose lands extended from the Eastern side of the Mount Lofty Ranges to the Murray River. Some sources suggest the trails through Cleland National Park (Kaurna) and Mount George Conservation Park (Peramangk) are Aboriginal tracks 3′.

  1. Karskens, G., 2020, People of the River: Lost Worlds of early Australia. Sydney. Allen & Unwin.
  2. Steiner, M., 2000, Scott Creek: From Settlement to Conservation. Friends of Scott Creek Conservation Park. p. 7. See also Jones, Bevan, Participation Grows for Pioneer Women’s Walk. The Courier, Wednesday May 25th 2022.
  3. Coles, R. & Hunter, R., 2010, The Ochre Warriers: Peramangk culture and rock art in the Adelaide Ranges. Stepney. Axiom Australia. See p. 13 for the map of the Mount Lofty Ranges showing the boundary of the Peramangk country and other local first nations.

Excerpt from Walking, 2022, John Dawes

The Park

Mount George Conservation Park is one of the Mount Lofty Parks in the Adelaide Hills and is near Bridgewater and adjoins the South Eastern Freeway The map below, courtesy of the Department of Environment and Water, shows the park as two fingers of protected land with private property in between. The South Eastern Freeway is visible at the bottom of the map as are two parking signs. The background is a lighter colour and it is the picnic ground. It is part of the park and dogs are allowed here on leads. I activated within this area and there were very few people in the park. I spoke to one person who wanted to know what I was doing

Today, 9th February 2023, I returned to the park for my daily walk and to take some photos. I decided to walk part of the Ridge Track, coloured blue on the map and on the right-hand side. I set off from the first car park in the picnic ground and arrived at a closed, locked and quite high gate. On closer inspection there is a small pedestrian gate within the larger structure. These could be the gates of hell or heaven, depending on your level of fitness. Walking SA suggests the loop takes about two hours, but I only walk for one hour, so I thought I would tackle the track and walk for 30 minutes and then return.

The photo above shows my walk. I got as far as the creek crossing. So close! Next time I will get to the lookout and the Mount George summit and walk the loop.

Mount George Conservation Park

The Gate to Ridge Track

The Picnic Ground

great bush

Secret forest – dense and magnificent

Heysen Trail marker & Pioneer Womens Trail marker

Heysen Trail 25 year memorial

Footbridge over Cox Creek

World Wildlife Day, 3rd March 2023, posted 4th March 2023

Scott Creek Conservation Park,VKFF-0788

Official UN poster

Late on Friday afternoon 3rd March 2023 I decided to visit Scott Creek Conservation Park to activate for the World Wide Flora and Fauna (WWFF) program in amateur radio, also commemorating World Wildlife Day.

I have activated this park many times and I chose a new location to set up my station. I usually choose Gate 8, a high point about 420 metres above sea level. However, this time I chose to set up at Almanda Mine after checking out two other locations: Gate 14 and the car park near Mackereth Cottage. Gate 14 would be a reasonable spot but the open area near Almanda mine was very good. But I soon found a major issue: there is no mobile phone coverage and I could not spot my station. I decided I would persist and hope some kind fellow-amateur would put up a spot on parknpeaks.

I was going to start my search for contacts on 20 metres and did call on 14.044 CW using VK5PF and on 14.310 using sideband. I was not successful in raising any interest. So I added to the links in my dipole to make it resonant on 40 metres and called on 7.144 Mhz, after checking the frequency was not in use. I called CQ and was answered by Stuart, VK3UAO, who kindly spotted me. Have a look at Stuart’s very fine page at Thanks very much Stuart for the spot.






VK3PF p2p VKFF-2443

VK3BEZ p2p VKFF-2443


VK3ZPF p2p VKFF-2219






I made 13 contacts in a little over half an hour and then packed up and returned home. I didn’t see any wildlife in the park, but at home, I was entertained for about half an hour, by six yellow-tailed cockatoos who decided a hakea bush just outside the kitchen window needed a fresh prune! I like these highly sociable birds who stay close to to each other and talk away while they eat the nuts from the bush. At one stage there were five birds in the bush not much over a meter high, with junior sitting at the high point and having an occasional munch!

Thanks to all of the operators who gave me a call – always appreciated. And I enjoyed participating in World Wildlife Day for 2023.

The photo above is a certificate of participation in the World Wildlife Day 2023. All of the photos used in the certificate were taken by Paul, VK5PAS.

Down-sizing or de-cluttering, 14th February 2023

Farewell 40m CW transmitter

I have already disposed of a home-brewed 160 metre transmitter, power supply and two modulators. They have gone to a good home. I have just photographed my 40 metre CW transmitter prior to its departure to the same good home. This transmitter is built into a re-cycled case and is equipped with three crystals 7030, 7052 and 7.200 and dates from the late 1980s or early 1990s. I did not add a socket to attach a modulator. There was little use of AM the on the 40 metre amateur band then. SSB was king! Now 7.125 Mhz is a sacred site and is used by the AM fraternity as a meeting place. Sadly I do not have a crystal for that frequency, but maybe the new owner can source one here or from overseas.

Photo shows front panel of transmitter. Note the two holes in the front panel near the plate capacitor. I never mutilate panel metres by modifying the label, The metre shows the plate current and you simply tune for a dip, peak the load capacitor and then re-dip.

Top view of transmitter. Note the four pi RF choke near the load capacitator. Secondly, the load capacitor has a 5/8 of an inch shaft. A very good friend on mine, the late Clem Tilbrook, VK5GL, turned up a brass bush 3/8 female and drilled and fitted a grub screw with a quarter inch female end for a tuning knob.

Rear panel showing SO239 socket for the antenna and a 1/4 inch socket for a morse code hand key. I covered some holes with printed circuit board and painted it with aluminuim paint. The old-fashioned dymo labels date the device.

The end view shows the 7.2 Mhz crystal plugged into the front panel and the other two crystals are wired to a rotary switch. In earlier times this style of transmitter would have required three valves: an oscillator valve, an RF amplifier and a rectifier. Threee goes into one! The rectifier is now full wave solid state with four silicon diodes and more efficient than an 80, 5Y3GT or a 6X4 valve and the oscillator and RFamplifier are in one glass envelope, a 6GV8, a very efficient valve. The tank coil is next to the 6GV8 and the output circuit is a pi arrangment (capacitor, coil and capacitor). And there are no key clicks!

We plan to leave at the end of the year after 20 years in our paradise. Four seasons, quietness, RF quiet as well and good neighbours, some humans but mainly birds and marsupials. Three into one is also a metaphor relevant to my down-sizing. reducing the size of my station considerably and saying good bye to all the bits and pieces of I collected over the years and my home brew projects, believing I might just need them in the future!

Chasing VK5TIL, Troubridge Island Conservation Park, VKFF-1108. 13th February 2023

My interest in chasing VK5TIL was especially a response to the WorldWide Fauna and Flora (WWFF) program. The Park is designated VKFF-1108. Here are two excerpts from Logbook of the World (LOTW) showing my contacts. It wll be fascinated to see how many of these will be confirmed. ‘Busted’ qsos and qsls can be caused by many factors. Poor handwriting is one! Stress on the operator being chased is another!

VK5BJE contacts

VK5PF contacts

Once again I thank the organisers and operators of VK5TIL; VK5PAS Paul, VK5MAZ Marija, VK5LA Andy,, VK5FR Chris, VK5HS Ivan and VK2YK Adam.

I will await and see how many of these contacts will be verified in LOTW.

Photo shows eqsl of my AM contact with VK5TIL. The operator was Paul (VK5PAS) and I had just worked VK5TIL on SSB. Paul suggested the AM qso. It is great to have the AM legacy mode qso in my log.

Scott Creek Conservation Park, VKFF-0788, 8th February 2023

This photo shows VK5BJE working VK5TIL. park to park, from Scott Creek Conservation Park. Photo by JCD

I enjoyed two contacts from this park to Troubridge Island late afternoon on the 8th February. It was quite warm and pleasant in the park. My setup was my Yaesu 857 D set for ten watts FM. I used a speaker tripod (light as it is made from aluminium with an extension and a gain vertical antenna on top). The contact was on the two metre FM calling frequency of 146.500. We exchanged signal reports and call-signs – 5 and 3 both ways.

The second contact, about two minutes later at 07:10 UTC was on the ssb calling frequency of 144.100 Mhz. signal reports were 5 and 5 for both of us, possibly demonstrating the superior talk power of ssb and the value of my three element beam. Jenny, held the beam aloft, and horizontal, facing west, and I called VK5TIL.

The operator at VK5TIL was Adam (VK2YK) and we were both delighted with the contacts.

I have activated Scott Creek Conservation Park many times. An index is located on the first page of this blog. Find Scott Creek and click. Below is the eqsl confirming our contact on 144.100 ssb.

Mark Oliphant Conservation Park, VKFF-0782, 7th February 2023

I went for my morning walk of 7th February taking with me a 22 year old radio: a VX5R, by Yaesu. This radio is a three band hand held and I had mine tuned to the two metre band calling frequency of 146.5 Mhz. I knew that the DXpeditioners were to arrive on Troubridge Island on Tuesday morning and were probably setting up their station while I walked. The track I take for about a three and a half kilometre walk reaches a high point of over 435 metres. Anyway I thought I would call VK5TIL and see what might happen. I called VK5TIL and identified as VK5BJE and was amazed when Ivan’s voice (VK5HS) rang out from my radio, with our contact counting as a park to park, p2p, qso. My radio has four power output levels and I was using just 250 milliwatts!

My interest in VK5TIL is because all of the operators are friends of mine and that Troubridge Island ,a Conservation Park, is included in the WWFF program with the number VKFF-1108.

Heath Track

Camp Track has some steep sections

Loftia Track towards the high spot

These three photos are typical track views in the Mark Oliphant Conservation Park. More photos can be found by clicking on the Mark Oliphant Conservation Park in the index on the first page of this blog.

Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park, VKFF-0781, 3rd January 2023

I decided to return to Kenneth Stirling Conservation Park and try for a final activation of at least ten contacts for the Boomerang Award. The VKFF Boomerang Award recognises and rewards activators for multiple activations (at least five) to encourage ongoing visits to parks and generate activity.

I posted my intention to be on air at 00:01 UTC and I was a few minutes late. I was looking for a snake free location! Snakes have become active since the recent burst of warm/hot weather and I like to see what is around me (now more difficult because of the long grass). I get engrossed in my radio activity and it is too easy to not keep an eye open on the surrounds.

I made 11 contacts on HF: one on 80 metres and the remainder on 40. All these contacts were voice (ssb) and I used my VK5BJE call-sign.

Here is my log:

3.610 00:23 VK5KAA 59 58

7.144 00:48 VK5AYL 59 49

00:48 VK5KAA 59 49

00:51 VK2OAK/P p2p VKFF-2084 It was good to get a park to park contact with Malcolm 59 both ways.

00:52 VK3KYF 59 57

00:54 VK7QP 57 44

00:58 Vk3ZSC 56 57

01:00 VK3ACU/P qrp 53 51 Jordan was using an IC705 with power being drawn from the internal battery. I was using my IC705 with an external LiFePO4 battery.

01:04 VK3AHR 59 59 Ron at Wodonga

01:06 VK3PF 59 45

01:08 VK3SMW 59 56 Steve

I then posted on ParksPeaks that I would operate on 7.032 CW, as VK5PF. I called for 15 minutes without success. When I arrived home I checked my post and it was not on the list in ParksnPeaks. I am less surprised now about no CW contacts! I changed my radio for CW as I decided to use my stainless steel paddle which which is held in place by three strong magnets on the steel case of the radio, an FT857D. The IC705 is en-cased in a composite plastic material. Magnets do not work but I have Palm Key which also has magnets but is easier to use being held with the left hand and operated by the right. That is not an entirely satisfactory arrangement so the quest continues. the underlying parameter is to keep everything as simple and as light as possible.

The photos show, Chinese stainless steel paddle; the paddle attached to the FT857D by very strong magnets, the IC705 showing my operating frequency and finally my paper log. I can just decipher my writing!

The stainless steel paddle works well – but bear in mind it is not a precision instrument but with the internal electronic keyer in the radio the cw is quite acceptable.

Finally, I wish to thank all of the chasers and VK3OAK, Malcolm, for the park to park contact. Conditions on 40 metres are improving and I was delighted with my contact with VK3AHR at Wodonga, 5 and 9 both ways. VK2 and further north is conspicuous by absence from my log.

VKFF Hunter 1000 Parks, 4th December 2022

I was delighted to also receive this award for making contacts with radio amateurs in 1000 unique parks.Hunters have had a great time through November and early December because of the increased activity with special park expeditions to Tasmania (VK7) by VK3SRC, VK7XV, VK5PAS and VK5MAZ . These amateurs helped compress the gap between 975 and 1000. Once again thanks to all of the activators and especially the volunteers whom do all of the work behind the scenes to keep the WWFF program going.