Hotham SOTA Summit 2019
The fourth Hotham SOTA Summit again organised by Brian VK3BCM and hosted at Huette Lodge, Mt Hotham. This is a great site with summits aplenty. The weekend starts on Friday with the drive up. We are talking nearly 6hrs from home so need to break it up with a couple of activations. Decided to stay away from Mt Buffalo this year so picked two sites just off the main roads.
01/Feb/2019 VK3/VU-002 (Mt Wombat) in VKFF-2403
Just off the Hume highway through Euroa. Its a clean drive up as has a CFA lookout and several comms towers on site. Drove up and parked the car in the clear so the bloke in the tower can see no issues. Went past the aviation site and ran up the end-fed down the edge. This end-fed is a none resonate 27.2m long light weight with a 9:1 unbalanced to unbalanced (unun) based on Andrews work. The shorter antenna is intended to be long enough to tune 80M whilst also compact enough to fit tight sites. I have a 40m long one with 64:1 matching unit based on Davids work, that works a treat but needs a lot of room. The shorter unit was ideal on this site. Whilst there is open area you have to setup heading down a slop so the compact was run up with the 7m squid pole and with the wire running away from the comms sites heading down the edge. This was not to avoid noise but to stay in the clear and so not to be perceived as a threat to the sites. Quick activation with S2S (VK2IO on VK3/VG-004 and VK3BCM on VK3/VE-005) a chat with the CFA bloke in the tower to find out what the fires were up to. Back down and onto the highway to continue.
Had the car on 40m and picked up CW contacts with VK3HN and VK3PF on the way up.
I had been on this site before so know its a rabbit warren. Plantation roads are dynamic at the best of times. I called Warren VK3BYD as he had been recently and had a track to follow. I could hear activations from the car and able to contact VK1MIC & VK3PF from the HT. There were CW spots coming through so ran the endfed up and picked up VK1DA and VK2IO S2S CW, the best SOTA contact. Once worked the other activators out had a contact with VK3EQ and headed back down as wanted to keep moving to be at Hotham in light.
Arrived at the lodge to meet up with regulars (Peter VK3PF,Alan VK3FABT, Brian VK3BCM, Ron and Ruth VK3AFW, Compton VK2HRX, David VK3IL, Glenn VK3YY, Leigh VK3SG, Phil and Kathy VK3BHR and Ken VK3KIM) and new attendees being Andrew VK1DA, Gerard VK2IO, Wade VK1MIC, Adele ZS5APT and Sid ZS5AYC. It was great to catch with old and new friends. Rik VK3EQ was also in the area. Some off these people I have had regular contacts with going back 6 years and finally meet in the flesh. The conversation quickly turns two planning as many had activated on the way up and Saturday is always a early start to maximise opportunities whilst in the area. Summit to Summits are the goal so timings have to be clear. There were maps a plenty and some smooth lemon based drink.
Early to bed as early start.
Saturday went out with David VK3IL, Glenn VK3YY and Phil VK3BHR in Davids 4WD. We headed off to Omeo down Alpine Road towards Mt Nugong.
01/Feb/2019 VK3/VG-018 (Mt Nugong)
Mt Nugong is a drive-up summit basically following Nunniong Road off Bindi Rd. As there is a communications tower on site the road is good quality.
This was an activation of real hams as Phil setup his hand crafted 40M SSB radio for HF and Glenn deploying his home made 2m antenna for 2m contacts.
Glenn VK3YY with Phil VK3BHR using 2m yagi.
I secured S2S with other activators in the area including VK3EQ on HF and with VK3KIM , VK3PF and VK2HRX on 2M.
Could see the Timbarra fire in the distance. Didn’t affect Mt Nugong nor Bindi or any of our planned activities but we were watching. (35km SSW of Corryong North of Timbarra and Buchan and west of the Gelantipy Road between Gelantipy and Murrindal Fire Not yet under control Sat 9th Feb)
Keeping on time is essential to maintain alignment with the other parties so we packed up and headed to Mt Bindi. This involved heading back and along Nunniong Road, then north to Sawpit Road. Then following Granite Flat Link Track to Escarpment Track, then north to reach to Mount Bindi Track.
02/Feb/2019VK3/VG-017 (Mt Bindi)
I ran up the KX and 27.2m end fed down the road on Mt Bindi to secure CW contacts including a S2S with VK3PF and with regulars including VK3BYD, VK7CW and VK5CZ. Another S2S with VK3EQ was secured on 2m. Once qualified again we kept moving to try and keep aligned with the other groups.
Phil VK3BHR on Mt Bindi
We headed back to Nunniong Plains Track via Sawpit Road and Lake Hill. Lake Hill trk was the roughest we experienced and would be a challenge in the wet but not a issue in current conditions. Once on Nunniong Road took the advice from last night and headed up the longer way but quicker route to eventually head down Jam Tin Flat. Worked out we missed the turn to the summit once ran out of hills so turned back and down Blue Shirt to an open wide AZ.
02/Feb/2019VK3/VG-011 (Mt Nunniong)
David VK3IL, Phil VK3BHR and Myself qualifying VK3/VG—011 on 2M. Photo Glenn VK3YY
02/Feb/2019VK3/VG-012 (Brumby Hill)
Retrace back to Jam Tin Flat Track, then north along Nunniong Road to Limestone Road which passed through the AZ of Brumby Hill VK3/VG-012. Brumby HIll is a clear site. The road is in the AZ but setup behind the gate to be safe. Phil ran up HF and it was quite. 2M as also quite with Glenn deploying the beam again. Then the other sites came up and it was on for all. Four S2S on unique sites and HF payed off as chased by regulars VK5PAS,ZL1BYZ,VK5IS & VK4TJ. Day coming to an end and we still had work to do.
02/Feb/2019VK3/VG-022 (Mt Pendergast)
We had had a big day with but Mt Pendergast was too good to drive past. The intent was for a quick activation as we had two hours drove to get back to Hotham for the evenings activities. Its is a clear but steep drive up to the comms site. By this part of the day the boys had had enough of me and kicked me out on the road out of the AZ and so were able to gaining contacts as soon as they got to the summit. I also need the walk to stretch my back and get the step count up. Glenn got his beam out and by the time I got there they were chasing the boys on VK3/VG-014. Qualified and started the trip back.
02/Feb/2019VK3/VE-006 (Mt Hotham)
VK1DA’s 4 element 23cm beam. Photo David VK3IL
M\BY the time we got there then summit was rocking. Ron had HF up, Wade was playing with FT8, Andrew had setup a 23cm station (1296.150 SSB) so I jumped at the opportunity to secure microwave S2S with Andrew VK3JBL on VK3/VN-001Mt Torbreck and Crompton VK2HRX on VK3/VE-030.
Rik came in from the wild and after snacks and a bear that turned up from nowhere , we headed back down to The General for dinner.
Again once back at the lodge we discussed the next day and out came the radios for show and tell. Plans were made, timings confirmed and off to bed for another big day.
02/Feb/2019VK3/VE-005 (Mt Loch)
Its was a busy site. I was the second for the day. Rick and Paul were up and gone early. I was the afternoon shift as thinking of being there for UTC rollover. Rick and Paul got out there and qualified in 1:18 (TBV) I was slighlty slower but not by much and didn’t have a snake to deal with. Its a great walk to a clear site with a perfect antenna mount.Great activation qualified before getting the pack off. Total of 24 contacts, 8 distinct S2S sites, 40/80M CW contacts and killer views.
The weather was amazing. Typical Alpine conditions, needed the jacket on the walk out, jumper on site and sunscreen on the way back.
Thanks again to thanks to Brian and Kathy for hosting another memorable weekend in the Victorian Alps. I will be back next year for what has to be the premier SOTA activation fest in VK.