After chatting with Ken VK3KIM on Friday night at the MDRC club meeting and again at home on Saturday, a short notice joint activation was planned for Sunday.
The WX forecast was OK so late Saturday afternoon, everything was confirmed for a leisurely departure from Kens house (a near neighbour) at 9:30 AM.
The traffic at this hour was a little heavier than anticipated so we were a little behind our ETA. Heavy fog / damp cloud out from Healesville had me thinking I could be deploying the new Bothy Bag! See Sota Gear for my equipment updates.
Summit Information for VK3/VC-006
Mt St Leonard – 1012m, 6 points
But no, on entering the activation zone, the sun broke through, or rather we ascended through the cloud base into a clear and sunny day. Not much of a view thaoug except for the tops of cloud.
As Ken was going to try VHF from his hand held first, I set up close to the summit hoping that the QRM would not be too bad (It ranged from tolerable to horrible)
Ken had some success on 2 metres FM into Western VK3 plus an S2S with Allen VK3ARH on VK3/VC-032 near Ballan.
My first contacts were 40m SSB with Andrew and Al (VK1AD/2 & VK1RX/2) on VK2/ST-011 and Allen VK3ARH. This was followed by 5 CW contacts of which a very weak VK3BYD/2 was worked for another S2S on VK2/SW-043 Reports were peaked 419 so not great propagation.
Went to 15 metres looking for a JA activators and chasers. 3 solid contacts were had from VK4 plus local VK3 stations.
There was a DX station calling that sounded like having an N, S, 7 & P in their call but I just could not get enough of their signal out through the QRM. Tried 12 meters but nothing heard.
Post Script 16/03/16 – it seems that the callsign was probably NS7P – Phillip in Oregon. On a quite summit this would have been an easy contact.
Quietest operating position at VC-006 (but still offering a VHF path to Melbourne) is at the most southerly point of the access road where there is a walking track to Donelly’ Weir. This point is about 10 metres vertical from the summit. The disadvantage here is that it can be very cold – as I found out on a previous early morning activation. No sunshine and numb fingers on the paddle!
Whilst Ken was using the KX3 on SSB, I went for a stroll to the look out with my VX7R. I worked Ron VK3AFW with patchy reports then was surprised with a VK4VDX (Roland) in Logan city. Not bad for 5 watts. Using a clone of diamond (SRH-940) top loaded tri band rubber duck antenna.
No luck with contacting Peter VK3PF on 6 or 2 metres FM. There was some inversion and I think we may have been in the duct and signals from those below were attenuated. This could go some way to explaining Ron’s low signal.
Plenty of distractions were had. Ranging from an explanation of what we were doing to discussions on back packs.
We packed up in good time then headed back to the car which was still in the cloud.
Healesville was in full sunshine and busy. Grabbed a roll for lunch at the bakery (not Beechworth) then headed up the road to Toolebewong. My Garmin 2927 with standard base map was completely lost where as Garmin topo V5 was fine.
Summit Information for VK3/VC-033
Mt Toolebewong – 735m, 4 points
Ken & I set up in a clearing just before the Private Road sign and just above the Telecommunications site.
Band conditions were now much better on 40m and a string of 11 CW contacts were had plus Andrew and Al again but this time on VK2/ST-016.
Ken took over on SSB as I organised some tea and coffee. We also worked Tony VK7LTD/P on VK7/WC-065 ON 40m SSB.
Time to head home.
The activation site was in some shade from the now full sun but there were plenty of mozzies about and blood was drawn. Tried 15 and 20 metres but nothing heard on these bands at all!
Home by 6:00 pm. BBQ dinner to cook.
Thanks Ken for the company.