27122017 – VK3/VC-019
Coming to the end of year and realised I had not activated VK3/VC-019 Mt Warrenheip nor VK3/VC-032.
VK3/VC-019 Mt Warrenheip is 10 minutes down the road with excellent access. Its not a favourite site as weedy and rubbish on the site. VK3/VC-032 is a great site but 30min drive so will address it soon enough.
HB9DQM was planning to activate VK2/SM-0012 so decided to pop out to gain a 10 point S2S.
Setup to the right as there is a stump there that allows a 40M dipole to be strung up. Despite being close to the comms towers this is a better position then heading along the ridge as you avoid the power lines. Worked the other activators out before turning to CW;
- VK/HB9DQM/P on VK2/SM-001
- VK2IO in VKFF-0269
- VK3PF on VK3/VE-097
we have a lot of Roos in the area so this was a novelty for me.
Ok off to plan for VK3/VC-032, tomorrow ? Will be tight as daughters birthday, lets see …..
There was more fencing to be done at brother in-laws farm so no more SOTA for me despite being within stones throw of summits and parks;
2017 VKFF Activation Weekend
This is a annual event organised by VK5PAS Paul framed to promote WWFF. This year there was activator representation from all States and Territories around Australia. There were alerts for 60 VKFF sites posted on ParksnPeaks across 89 activations for 42 activators. Weather and conditions resulted in a couple of cancellations and with these type of events, there are always a group of activators who decide to go on short notice which resulted in this case with at least 75 unique sites activated over the weekend. It is a great weekend to gain P2P contacts.
WWFF activations can be made from a mobile setup. This allows the activators to deploy tarps, tables, more elaborate antenna and higher power radios as the associated with your car is not an issue. I had been acquiring components to complete a HF radio in Subie this year. The final piece was a Outbacker Stealth vertical to replace the unit lost on recent SOTA activations. So this gives me 80 to 6m with the FT891. Can still deploy a independent portable setup or external antenna but have a loaded 1/4 wave vertical with 100w ready to go.
I stayed close to home activating sites that were added to the VKFF list August this year. Whilst the Enfield State Park had been previously activated, this will be the first for both Corindhap and Mount Mercer Nature Conservation Reserves.
WWFF Corindhap Nature Conservation Reserve (VKFF-2070)
Situated on the edge of the town of Corindhap on the Colac-Ballarat Road. Open clear access but no facilities. I had Telstra phone coverage so able to spot and watch ParksnPeaks.org on the iPad.
Secured 24 contacts including 8 P2P contacts;
- VK3FLCS Brett in Mount Sugarloaf Nature Conservation Reserve (VKFF-2158)
- VK5FMAZ Marija in Morgan Conservation Park (VKFF-0911)
- VK5PAS Paul in Morgan Conservation Park (VKFF-0911)
- VK1DI Ian in Mount Pleasant Nature Reserve (VKFF-1775)
- VK3PF Peter in Swallow Lagoon Nature Conservation Reserve (VKFF-2199)
- VK7JON John in Ferndene State Reserve (VKFF-1802)
- VK7FLOK Helen in Ferndene State Reserve (VKFF-1802)
- VK2IO Gerard in Blue Mountains National Park (VKFF-0041)
WWFF Enfield State Park (VKFF-0757)
Enfield State Park was a quick stop on the way to Mt Mercer to gain Park to Park contacts;
- VK2XSE Liz in Balowra State Conservation Area (VKFF-1269)
- VK3ZPF Peter in Main Ridge Nature Conservation Reserve (VKFF-2135)
- VK1DI Ian in Mount Pleasant Nature Reserve (VKFF-1775)
Mount Mercer Nature Conservation Reserve (VKFF-2154)
I had a bit of trouble finding the site. Not because it is hard to find, quite the contrary, the site is on a major road between Bunninyong and Geelong but because it does not have any trees.Driving along the road and looking at the tree’d areas did not work. The GPS was correct as found the sign so after running out of park before trees I realised the intend was to operate from the grassed land. Ok got it. In the 6 years I have been activating SOTA and Parks this i the first grass land, no treed site. There are a few Alpine summits (Mt Feathertop, Mt Marjorie, Mt Hotham) that are as barren but this was a Park.hmmm. Ended up at Gundies Road without finding any clear access so decided to turn back towards Bunnyiong and headed for the start of the park as the sign was down from the CFA shed.
Left the car at the CFA shed and jumped the fence to operate from a chair using the KX3 and dipole off 7M squid pole stopped to the fence. Nice comfy operating position. No need to go too far in. Snakes one reason…
I could hear a lot of static crashes and there was thunder and lightening (to the east) visible so this was not going to be a long activation.
Nothing from the Mt Mercer Wind Farm. This is consistence with an activation of VK3/VS-024 (Mt Misery) near Waubra wind farm on HF and VHF where again no interference could be noted from the wind turbines.
Again the weather was not brilliant and so only operated for half a hour as not keen on the thunder storm activity. Secured 3 P2P contacts;
- VK2IO Gerard in Pitt Town Nature Reserve (VKFF-1984)
- VK5FMAZ Marija in Ridley Conservation Park (VKFF-0932)
- VK5PAS Paul in Ridley Conservation Park (VKFF-0932)
and headed home.
Update: 23122017. Received a ‘Participation certificate’ from Paul. Nice work Paul, thanks
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.
Intend to build a home sensor network based on Arduino and Raspberry devices hosting environmental sensors and home voice activated automation system. Guess this is the Intranet of Things – IoT
Late to the story but can see where this is going. Can remember early days where we were being trained in digital electronics and the wait to access microcontrollers. You can now purchase for next to nothing multi core devices and the tools to develop and interface are amazing.
Picked up a couple of Arduino’s and a Raspberry PI to play with. A kit of sensors off eBay was sourced so as to get a spread of what we can monitor. Its just a case of integrating the pieces.
Current overview as at 102017.
Like all IT deployment security and scaleability have to be the predominate design factors;
“if one thing can prevent the Internet of things from transforming the way we live and work, it will be a breakdown in security”
Current design is simple and will not be connected to the Internet. Voice control will be will Jasper on Raspberry Pi. Pocketsphinx as the STT (Speech To Text) engine so recognition will be performed offline. Not just to keep my data off the Internet but to conserve the rural connection.
- Multiple Andriod based sensors
- RF based sensor network
- Raspberry Pi hosting Jasper automation
- Linux based presentation layer
- Remote control of external (chicken door) instances