Keith Roget Memorial National Park Award activation Weekend 2017
11112017 – VK3/VE-093 Black Mountain in (VKFF-0069) Burrowa-Pine Mountain National park
11112017 – Chiltern-Mount Pilot National Park (VKFF-0620)
12112017 – Brisbane Ranges National Park (VKFF-0055)
The annual KRMNPA activation weekend is designed to encourage portable activities in Victoria’s 45 National Parks. Tony VK3VX maintains this award and this year had 37 parks activationed out of 45 potential sites.
I have 14 (now 12) outstanding parks to address. Decided to group these two together. Given the distance its a overnight trip. I pack the car and catch the train on the edge of Melbourne then go to work.
Drove up the highway, refuelled in Wodonga and proceeded to drive out to Burrowa-Pine Mountain National park to camp in Hinces Creek camp ground.,
Setup on dark and called it a night. Up early the next day, had breakfast and coffee and proceeded to travel back to the road and around to access Jephcott and Jewell Rd.
11112017 – VK3/VE-093 Black Mountain in (VKFF-0069) Burrowa-Pine Mountain National park.
There are several summits in this park for SOTA. The intention was to activate the park for KRMNPA so SOTA summit was a bonus. Chose Black Mountain as previous activators described a open summit with good access.
Access was good, turn into Jephcott and Jewell Rd and follow Black Mountain Track. The track turns into Black Mountain Walking track and is signed as 4WD only. No issues with continuing in Subie as the track is still open and good. Parked short of the summit at a defined parking area. The track continued over the summit but was getting rough and for the extra 400m not worth passing a good parking spot.
Only need a single contact to qualify for KRMNPA , 4 for SOTA and 10 to claim VKFF.
It was slow because early but I had time to wait for the other activators to wake up.
Qualified the Summit on CW then proceeded to chase parks contacts.
- Peter VK3ZPF in Lake Eildon National Park (VKFF-0625) on 10,12,20 and 40M
- Simon VK3/G7WKX in Alpine National Park (VKFF-0619)
- Mal VK3OAK in Lower Glenelg National Park (VKFF-0296)
- Sam Vk2GPL in Royal National Park (VKFF-0435)
- Tony VK3XV in Kara Kara (St Arnaud Range) National Park (VKFF-0629)
- Mick VK3PMG in Budj Bim (formerly Mount Eccles) National Park (VKFF-0345)
- Chris VK3FHCI in Budj Bim (formerly Mount Eccles) National Park (VKFF-0345)
Highlight was the S2S and P2P with Simon VK3/G7WKX who was up on Mt Mt Bogong with a 2M handheld. Initial contact was marginal so ran a 2M ribbon antenna up the squid pole and secured the contact.
11112017 – Chiltern-Mount Pilot National Park (VKFF-0620)
Chiltern-Mount Pilot National Park is a short deviation from the freeway on the way home. I had driven past this site several times in the past on the way back from family events in Albury.
Setup in Honeysuckle Picnic ground. Turn left off the highway and follow the signs to the park. Open clear area that I had to myself so setup dipole and proceeded to call for contacts.
Picked up P2P with;
- Gerard VK2IO in Prospect Nature Reserve (VKFF-1986)
- Peter VK3ZPF in Yarra Ranges National Park (VKFF-0556)
- Peter VK3PF in Tarra-Bulga National Park (VKFF-0480)
- Paul VK5PAS and Marija VK5FMAZ in Croajingolong National Park (VKFF-0119)
- Mal VK3OAK in Mount Richmond National Park (VKFF-0361)
Warren VK3BYD came in for a visit. Had a nice chat about radios, antenna and failing code whilst out in the park, where such conversations should take place.
Contacts then slowed as it appears the other activators were travelling between parks. Still had 4hrs drive ahead of me so packed up and headed home.
12112017 – Brisbane Ranges National Park (VKFF-0055)
There was no-one planning to activate the Brisbane Ranges National Park over the weekend so given its proximity to home I decided to take a couple of hours on Sunday and activate.
Came in along Meredith-Steiglitz Road. There were controlled burns in progress so the intended access roads were closed. Ended up driving into Steigilitz to turn into the park. Once in the park it was a case of finding a suitably open area as intended to deploy the dipole as HF was continuing the marginal conditions we are was not on the getting use to. Setup clear of the roads as a steady stream of Parks vehicles went through dare say involved with the burns.
Not clouds but smoke from fuel reduction fires. Reminder summer and fire season in coming.
Was not pushing hard for contacts, more a case of available if anyone looking for the site. P2P with Niel VK4HNS in Knapp Creek Conservation Park (VKFF-1574)
Thanks to Tony VK3XV for organising another excellent KRMNPA weekend.
06112017 – VK3/VT-034
Intention was to activate two summits. VK3/VT-062 and VK3/VT-034 however this was not to be.
The original plan was for VK3/VT-034 and VK3/VE-016 Mt Useful. Mt Baw Baw area is on the edge of reasonable driving for a day activation (Mt Erica with VK3YY).Was going over the maps and noticed VK3/VT-062. I am allways looking for new summits to activate. This summit has only been activated once by Peter VK3PF and I had a contact from his activation. Good access and as always keen to secure a complete saw Mt Useful dropped and replaced with VK3/VE-062.
Parked at WalhallaRd and Low Saddle Road just before the bridge over Aberfeldy River. Good area off road.
The track is open and clear. Given the weather was degrading such a track is welcome. The walk is steep as up hill right from the work go;
So off I went following the track on a grey day. up up up.. rain .. down .. up down then a river came into view. This did not feel right. The GPS confirmed I was off the proposed route. Pulled out the map from pack and had a look to discover the track as planned did not match the track on the ground. It had been re defined. It is not unusual to find tracks such as this in the bush. The original went along the ridge line. Have come across several instances where a new track was cut (Mt Emu) to give better fire access. The new track will follow the existing one then cut around the summits avoiding the tops to rejoin on the other side. Once done the previous track is covered up to discourage use. Normally you will walk on the new part as it avoids a steep climd. The Garmoin maps that my GPS and printed maps are based on do not show such changes.
This track was not heading up to the summit and I was facing a water crossing. This was not what I was expecting.
There is a creek marked on the map marked as ‘intermittent’. I saw campers on the other side on the way down also two 4WDs were coming down behind me. There was nothing to indicate a 4WD had crossed the river here recently. The water was moving and deep, this was not an intermittent creek. The 4WDs decided not to proceed and to turn back.
Simple country lad and does not cross rivers when he doesn’t have to. Anyway this was not relvent as I had strayed off the track. Looking at the ridges on the map I did not believe this track was heading back to the summit. Ok head back up and find the old track.
The 4WDers offered me a lift back to my car but I declined and headed back up to the top looking for the original track. Once back up to the original track I went bush along the ridge line. There were trees and other obstacles across the old route but still clear as to direction. It was another 1.5K or so to go to the summit equivalent to what I had just covered to look at a river. Given the rain was back I decided to abandon the walk out to VK3/VT-062 then back so headed back to the car and proceed to VK3/VT-034. VK3/VT-062 will be addressed at a later time.
Peter VK3PF has more information as to desirable access – https://vk3pf.wordpress.com/page/6/
06112017 – VK3/VT-034
Access to VK3/VT-034 is via good 2WD roads. Down Springs Road then turn into Williamson Spur. There is a track heading up to the summit from intersection of Army Track and Williamson Spur trk. It was raining and the track wet so did not push my luck by driving into the summit so parked and headed up to the summit. Walked in circles for a while before setting up the dipole as trying to avoid the burnt timber. Again wet. Seems to be only able to activate in the wet these days. Qualified on CW then worked Paul and Marija in VKFF-0758
20102017 – VK3/VE-106 in (VKFF-0619) Alpine National Park
VK3/VE-108 & VK3/VE-116
These summits run along a ridge line near Jamison. There are four summits of interest , one had not been previously activated and the other three has only been activated by Wayne VK3WAM 4 years ago. Whilst Wayne camped at Grannies Flat and walked up Mitchell track, I was going to camp at the mine and walk down Mitchell’s track.
Headed up Friday afternoon to camp in the area and have a early start. The trip had interesting start, I could smell then see smoke inside the car. It was coming from the passenger side. This was the Friday before a long weekend so very heavy traffic.Whilst negotiating heavy traffic to pull off the road, turned the interior fan off hoping that was the source.Then the HF antenna on my car came off and was last seen going under a truck on the highway. Ended up in the service centre on the outskirts of Melbourne. Closer inspection revealed the power connector to the interior fan was damaged and was shorting. Easy fix. Having accounted for the smoke I decided to proceed as planned. Disappointed to loose the antenna. It was a Outbacker I sourced from a Ham fest. I put in on before leaving the train station and must not have done so tight enough. It will be a loss.
Proceeded down the highway to Mansfield. Out of Mansfield turned towards Jamison looking for Steiners Road. Navigating Steiners Road in daylight was the goal of leaving early. This 2WD road will take me to the end of the ridge line for easy access to the summits. Arrived at the mine at the end of Steiner Road and Mitchell’s Track in time to to setup tent, eat and watch the sun go down.
Sunset VIew of VK3/VE-108
It was a windy and wet night and a old slate quarry provided a protected spot to camp.
20102017 – VK3/VE-106 in (VKFF-619) Alpine National Park
The first summit VK3/VE-106 was a quick trip back down Steiner Road then a short but trackless walk through the bush. Well ferned and treed but no issues with access as basically following the ridge line.
Despite being early on a Saturday morning qualified the summit with the usual CW culprits, VK3CAT Tony, VK7CW Steve, VK2IO Gerard, VK3BYD Warren and VK3PF Peter. Having qualified and after calls on SSB I was happy to pack up and head back as not expecting the remainding summits to give their points easly.
Back down Steiners to Mitchells track. Up Mitchells track to access this summit. Parked Subie off track allowing room for others to pass (no others seen) and walked the short distance to the summit to setup in a messy activation zone.
Qualified CW again with the same chasers. Using a trapped 20/30/40 end fed half wave. This antenna is compact and easy to deploy in tight conditions. Signal reports were low except for VK2 & VK7. The KX3 tuned the antena to alow local contacts on 80M.
Mitchells track is 4WD. Whilst I was up on the track, saw no reason to proceed any further down the track with Subie. There were no access issues so far but it was obvious that should the weather turn this would make the steep climbs into a slippery nightmare and not the place to be driving Subie. Anyway here for a walk and this only involves following the track. The track is open and clear but takes a lot of work as basically up then down.
Walked the 3Km from VK3/VE-108 to VK3/VE-116 along the track only going bush to gain access to the summit.
First contact was with VK2JNG Gerard in WWFF Mallanganee National Park (VKFF-0301) then the rest were CW contacts.
At this point Tony VK3CAT who was out but not on a summit messaged me with a weather warning. I looked across to see a small strom heading straight for me. No more radio. Packed as quick as I could up as having all this wire in the sky during a storm was not appealing. Also decided to drop the final summit (VK3/VE-152) as the additional 3+hours to walk down, activate and walk back was not appealing in these conditions. Only 4Km but heavy ascent and descents. The goal now was to get back to solid roads assuming the wind and rain was going to continue.
Negotiated the short bush bash back to the track from the summit before the rain came, then it came down, hail wind and more hail. Agree thats there is no such thing as bad weather, just under prepared walkers, so I got the wet weather gear on and after hiding from the hail and wind walked back to the car.
The track turned into a water way. Had trouble walking up in spots due to slipping. I still had to negotiate this track to get back to Steiners Rd. At this point despite being wet I was happy that I didn’t push it and drive down. Once back at the car continued down Mitchells track where I meet a branch (small tree size!) across the track. Quickly negotiated this obstacle and continued across the ridge line. Happy to get back on Steiners Road as felt safer on this road and proceeded to drive out back to sealed roads.
Once back on sealed roads still had 4hrs to travel to arrive home late after an uneventful trip.
This is an excellent spot to pick up remote summits. You could spend a day working the summits on Mitchell track, camp the night then spend the next day heading out along the ridge lines to The Govenor (VK3/VE-046) via VK3/VE106 which whilst only trip 6.5km would be slow given the undergrowth.
Three Private Summits VK3/VC-017, VK3/VC-012 and VK3/VC-013
Not having enough time to travel across the the Alpine for a end of bonus period jaunt and keen to get out to play radio, I decided to tidy up some local summits.
These are on private land and each only activated a single time.
20092017 – VK3/VC-017 – The Jim Jim
The Jim Jim is on private land behind Mt Macadon.
My method of finding owners for private summits is to start as close to the summit as I can and start asking. It does not take long to find who to ask.
A review of maps show that the ‘Hanging Rock Winery’ is the closest buildings to the site. So in this case started with phone calls to the winery.
Contacted the Winery and hit pay-dirt first go. After a brief chat with the owners access was secured. Had to go into the cellar and let Andrew the manager know but no issues.
Looking for ward to testing a 20/30/40 trapped end fed halfwave that I had just made. The summit is nIce and clear and flat so setup. However, the battery was flat and the KX3 shut down. This was surprising as had charged two nights earlier and normally get a couple of activations out of the internal Eneloop batteries. I had not brought a spare up. There was spare gear in the car but decided to try with the 2M handie as it was a nice day and I had time.
Qualified on 2M, picked up a Merlot and Shiraz Mourvedre Grenache and made it back to the train station to pick up my daughter and head home.
08102017 – VK3/VC-012 Black Range.
Drove across and started the tried and proved plan of starting as close to the summits as I can. Approached a farmer at the base of the summit. He was not the owner but knew who is. The owners live in Melbourne. He would pass my details on and I will receive a phone call. More to do here to secure access. Expect to have to chase access as not all people take the SOTA summit access quest as seriously as it should be treated. Current plan is to return in two weeks and go back to the initial contact seeking further information. May activate Organ Pipes for KRMNPA & WWFF whilst in the area.
08102017 – VK3/VC-013 – Mt William
With access for Black Range off the cards for today proceeded to drive to Mt William. Applied the same rules and headed for the closest building according to Google maps. Drove up Staffords Lane as maps indicated it was a through road. It is but not the main access road as turned into a red steep track quickly and has gates across the top. It did look like an easement but decided not to go through the gates as it is not a good position to be negoating access from. Quite steep and great views,
Obvious could not access summit without crossing private land and that this was no the road to the building I had initially targeted so returned back to the main road and drove down and turned into the first farm off Pyalong Road. There was a new house which was avoided and proceeded up to a farm house.
Bingo. Meet Noel. Hppy to chat and so it appears there are three owners of the summit. One who owns the top which holds a coms tower, another that owns the part coming from the east and Noel who has the land from the north. Noel had no issues with allowing access across his land so decided to go from his side
Noel recommended that I avoid Staffords Rd due to it being steap (yes confirmed that!) instead to head back down Pyalong Road, into West Goldie, across Red Gat to turn into William road and eventiually Hockings Rd. Proceeded as instructed and parked the car at the other end of the easement as saw no reason to push through the gates. Walked across then up towards the summit staying on Noels side. Setup in once in the zone but off the top. Nice clear spot but compromise so not expecting brilliant results.
Setup the EFHW 20/30/40 . Quite activation and had to go to 80m to secure local contacts. The internal tuner in the KX3 tuned the end fed to secure 80m contacts. The intent of the antenna is for use with MTR where weight is going to be an issue. Picked up a a S2S with VK3CAT Tony on VK3/VC-002 Mt Donna Buang again on 80m. Spent an hour calling on each band and packed up and back at car well before the rain came down.
Have not heard back from the owners of VK3/VC-012 Black Range so will plan a trip to activate WWFF Organ Pipes National Park (VKFF-0627) and VK3/VC-007 Mt Macedon and go back to request additional contact information.
20082017 – VK3/VC-018 Mt Bunnyiong
VK1 SOTA activation day and a test run for miniHFPA HF Packer Amp.
Noticed the alerts going up for VK1 2017 Winter SOTA Party so decided to go to local summit to play SOTA one what looked like a reasonable day to go out. Propagation recently has been terrible for NVIS so decided it was time to test my newest toy, a miniHFPA HF Packer Amp. This is a 35 watt linear amplifier designed for portable operations.
Decided to a to build a lightweight amplifier that can be backpacked to sites and be powered by a light weight LIPO 3S battery. Did look at commercial options. There are several out there a assembled Chinese unit and there are several kits available from eBay but appeared not to have adequate filters and lacking harmonic suppression. Glenn VK3YY describes building a unit based on W6JLs designs. There are a lot of kits around which would be more accurately described as harmonic generators.
I went for the HF Packer kit. I have decided to build as much as I can and not being a electronics engineer more that happy to assemble kits. The new 35w kit was announced and I put my name down for a unit. Not the cheapest options but was expecting a unit that was well designed and meet the conditions of my licence
The build went well. The biggest issue I had was using unleaded solder. My fixed temp iron was not hot enough. A new variable iron fixed the issue and the build progressed. Once completed had issues completing the testing process. The issue came down to incorrect marking of the RF ports. Once addressed (Thanks David) the device leapt into action.
So going from 5w to 35w output is a gain of 8.45dB. Given 6dB is a S point expecting an additional 2 sS points for my signal reports. VK7CW and VK2YW gave me a 599 with the amp in use.Off top a great start. Later without the amp in use I received a 559 from VK2WP. None of the contacts were soliciting reports as my CW is only good for making contacts not setting up experiments. Pre roll over SSB contact with VK1CT received 59 and post received 45. No one described poor signal so very happy with results.
At 717grams it won’t be a frequent addition to SOTA activations but when conditions are not good and the trek supports the additional unit and battery 35W it will be available.
The 4500mAh 3S 30C LIPO was at 80% after hour of use. Time for new batteries so will be going for a 2500/3000 mAh unit.
So the next is to develop a suitable antenna. Used a trapped 20/40 unit based on SOTABeams 100w traps for this activation.This unit is too heavy for SOTA however so looking at options.The AMP is rated at 35W for 60/40 & 30/20m bands. Will need a resonate antenna to avoid carrying a tuner so looking at a EFHW (End Fed Half Wave) instance. There is a lot of information out there. David VK3IL page describes a similar quest he went on and a search of the SOTA forum search pointed me towards HB9TVK. Thinking of using T80-6 for traps and a T140-43 for the matching transformer, RG178 coax and lightweight wire. Yes looking at grams here and the trap weight has to be trimmed else the wire will sag too much and can’t be seen on a summit with a sagging antenna!
More on antenna as options are finalised. Also will be building a CW radio for wet harsh conditions. Ordered the QRP-Labs single-band 5W CW transceiver kit and will build into a waterproof case.
Parked at the gate of Road Fifteen off Acheron Road. Got out, grated up and got on with the walk,
Mt Ritchie is a great walk. Your are walking down a maintained road that is seasonally shut. No issues with navigation or rough areas just a case of keep going up until you reach the summit.
Using a Garmin VirbX and still getting use to it. The mountain is square just my mount is not aligned.
Not as much snow this year as previous. The summit is a clear open space with signs to use as squidpole mount and enough room for a long antenna. I took 41m end fed as expecting the use of 80M given recent conditions.
Looking down the antenna here to the operating position. 41m end fed. The KX3 tunes it to everything. 9 contacts. All CW. Two S2s. First for the day with VK5CZ on VK5/NE-082 and after a lot of work with VK4JAZ on VK4/SE-117. This contact demonstrated the value of CW. It was marginal at best but we managed to get through. Two 80m contacts to work the local CW enthusiasts. Despite being 10℃ and being a ‘sunny’ day the wind was chilling and kept rugged up. Spent an hour on the summit and decided it was time to head home picking up another summit on the way.
VK3/VN-030 Mt Strickland
After reading Paul VK3HN blog I added Mt Strickland to the list for the day. Had been up and yes it was was a clean run.
Headed back down Acheron Road to turn right into Feiglins road to Mt Strickland.
Operating position on Mt Strickland. This is a open summit with enough room for the biggest antenna. I ran up the 20/40 dipole as was intending to qualify and keep heading home.
Park contact with VK4SMA in Mount Perry Conservation park and two ZL contacts. Headed back down to Acheron Road then into Healesville and home. Back in time for tea.
2 Summits, 2 S2S and 22K steps for the day.
08072017 – VK3/VT-010 (Talbot Peak)
In KRMNPA – 3NP-004, WWFFID – VKFF-0020, Baw Baw National Park.
This is one of the closest 10 Pointer SOTA summit to me. Taking advantage of the winter bounus period to gain another 3 points. 13 in total.
I was planning to go into the Alpine for a new site but the cold weather (well it is winter) put an end to those plans. Decided to take this site instead.
Glenn VK3YY was keen to also get out and we had both been chased off this hill three years ago due to bad weather so both keen to revisit.
VK3ARH July 2014 in different conditions.
Drove down and picked up Glenn on the way through Melbourne. We took Glenn’s car as I had already done 2hrs driving so happy to rest. The drive up was cold but no snow. Previous attempt to activation of this site was aborted due to harsh weather whoever this was to be text book.
Glenn VK3YY and myself on the way up July 2017, much better conditions.
Good access. You park at the Mt Erica car park then follow the AAWT. We hit snow half way up and whilst it was cold it was a pleasant walk as all geared up.
We are looking for Talbot Peak with is just off track and behind Mt Erica.
The summit was not as open as I remembered and had to weaved the dipole through the trees. I worked CW whilst Glenn worked SSB.
3 S2S contacts, VK1RX on VK2/SM-052, VK2HRA on VK2/CT-019 and VK3OAK on VK2/ST-039. The rest of my contacts (9) were with the usual culprits on CW being VK3CAT,VK2IO, VK7CW,VK3BYD,VK2JDR,VK5CZ,VK2UH,ZL1BYZ and VK4FW. True to the weather predictions, the morning was great but then on 13:00 the grey clouds started to drop snow. Given previous experience and as we had both qualified comfortable we packed up and headed down the the car.
Nice acivation. Worth getting up early for. Will be back next year.