My wife, Jenny and I decided to take a few days off and we originally planned to re-visit the Riverland for a birdwatching and amateur radio experience. We like the Riverland and have visited many times. However, after checking the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) web pages to consider some of the newly listed parks on the WWFF list, I saw that they were closed because of flooding. I was particularly interested in two parks that have not been activated as yet. Oh well, someone else might be able to have the pleasure!
Our replacement location was Port Augusta and environs. We like this part of the state and Port Augusta has been the launching pad for many of our 4×4 adventures in the past. We left home on Monday 26th September just before lunch and Clements Gap Conservation Park, VKFF-0812 was in our sights. We arranged accommodation at Port Pirie before we departed home. Clements Gap is just south of Port Pirie. In preparing for my visit I read Paul’s blog (VK5PAS). He has previously activated this park and, as usual, it was very helpful. Les, VK5KLV, from Port Augusta, responded to my post on the Yahoo group advising of my intention to visit the area. He activated this park very recently and warned of the flies and mosquitos. He suggested lots of repellant and a fly net as well if I did not want to supplement my diet with flies! I plastered my clothes with repellent but the little ‘nasties’ still found me!
Gap Road dissects the park. The park is a bush land oasis in an agricultural area. I found a spot on the left hand side of the road in a clearing.
The clearing is accessible by 4×4 and is visible on the Mapcarta map (under the nts in Clements Post Office, the left hand side of the road travelling right to left on the map).
Cumquat tree: native to Asia and Pacific area. There were many in the Park JCD photo
As we were to travel to Port Pirie for the evening and I only had about two hours to play I decided to erect my two band antenna for 40 and 20 metres.
I was on the air at 06:21 UTC and enjoyed 21 contact with VK 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 stations all on 40 metres. I tried 20 metres without success. Thanks to all who gave me a call and a special thanks to those who spotted me on parks and peaks. I did not have internet coverage at this point. My station comprised my Yaesu 857D set for 20 watts, powered from my 33 amp hour battery ‘thumper’, which was kept charged from the sun using my solar panels.
While I did advertise that I would call CQ on 7.144 and did for a few minutes without success I then had a listen on the bands. I finished on 7.115 and worked the following stations:
At my activation of Belair National Park, on the 10th September 2016, with Paul, VK5PAS and Marija, VK5FMAZ, I noticed that the regulator for my panels had came away from the back of the panel on which it was mounted. During manufacture the regulator, in a small plastic box, was glued to the inside of one of the panels, that is, on the back of the panel. The glue had failed. The regulator is not a flat box, but has four small feet, one on each corner moulded into the plastic. Glue had been applied to each of the four feet. These feet were about three (3) millimetres above the level of the back of the regulator. My challenge was to re-fix the regulator to the back of the panel. I used a hot melt glue and ‘secured’ the regulator. My first outing with the repaired solar panels was at Clements Gap Conservation Park. It was not long before the glue failed!
It was suggested to me by one of my amateur friends that double-sided tape would probably work. On the way into Port Augusta I purchased a roll of quality double-sided tape from a local motor spares shop. I thought I would cover the back of the plastic box with three or four strips of tape and a fix the regulator in the same spot used by the manufacturer. It was at this point I noticed the raised feet described above. So I had to think of another method using the costly tape! I covered the front of the regulator with strips of tape and then, using the ends of the tape, applied them to the back of the panel hoping that this will suffice.
Another amateur friend suggested screwing the regular box to the aluminium extrusions that form the frames of the panels. In my view the aluminium is too thin for this purpose and would require countersinking the screw heads to enable to two panels to come together to form something like a ‘book’. I will welcome suggestions from anyone else who has experienced this problem. I have not been able to try out my repair as the weather has deteriorated and the parks have been closed.