The first of April was not only April Fools day but also the first planned 160 metre activity day which coincided with AM day.
First to explain:
160 metres is a medium wave amateur band located just above the standard AM broadcast band. It presents many challenges for the home station, yet alone portable operation. Antenna size, efficiency and propagation work against the portable operator.
Antennas tend to be big. Significant height is required for horizontal wires.
Short vertical antennas are not efficient; worse still due to ground losses.
Propagation, other than local ground waves, requires night time operation.
Having previously trialed my 160m vertical on Mt. Hotham, I selected Mt. Mitchell on the Black Range near Buxton as my summit of choice based on:
Drive up summit.
Good phone coverage.
Not a busy area.
Not too far from home yet decreasing the distance to those north of me.
I have found the most direct access to be via the Maroondah Hwy to Narbethong and then take Plantation Rd then the Black Range Rd (both dirt) which takes you right into the activation zone. Turning off at Jackson’s Break track leads to a large clearing at the junction of what used to be Kelly’s road (now overgrown). This clearing was what I was aiming for, unfortunately it was already occupied with bee hives. Bugger! A look further along Jackson’s Break track came to naught for a suitable location so I crept past the bees down Kelly’s road, over a fallen tree and set up; the tent being on a raised section just above the road and the antennas just in front on the edge of the road. I did wander further down to determine if there would be much traffic, no problems with that & I would hear the chainsaws hours before anyone got to me.
The antennas used were the standard 20 metre extended double zepp doublet and the top loaded 160 metre vertical. With the later, I needed additional spread on the top hat / guy wires to obtain a perfect match on 1825 khz.
First contact was S2S with andrew VK1AD/P on VK2/ST-036 via 80 metres SSB. This was 75 minutes later than my alerted time. What followed proved interesting, especially as I made no 40 metre SSB contacts,
Main operating window was between 04:12 and 08:40 hrs utc.
19 x S2S contacts (includes duplicates) in a total of 35.
160 metres x 16, 80 metres x 10m 40 metres x 5, 30 metres x 3 & 20 metres x 1.
Best DX was on 30 metres later Saturday night and early Sunday morning working VK6RZ, ZL3CC & JF1IRW (Japan) on CW. I worked VK6NU on 20 metres, VK3GGG/P in the Grampians on 80 metres AM. Best 160 metres was to VK2IO/P 725 km away north of Sydney. Most novel was a cross band contact with VK1MA (CW / SSB/ dot counting)
A cold night and chilly morning. Worked the JA at 21:30 hrs whilst in my sleeping bag. Put out a number of calls on 160m, I know that they were heard but went unanswered.
With the sun now out (Daylight savings ended), I had last nights left over pasta for breakfast plus 2 hits of coffee then took time to get everything packed up dry and tidy. My thought was to activate Mt. Dom Dom on the way home and alerted the same on Sotawatch.
Mt Dom Dom is off the Maroondah Hwy and is accessed by Dom Dom Rd at the Black Spur followed by a scrub bash through logging re-growth. There is heaps of room to park where Number 8 road intersects. Number 8 road provides access to Mt. Vinegar but access of late due to logging has been a problem. To my surprise, the gate was open so I ventured forward towards Mt. Vinegar, getting all the way to a second gate (locked) that is only 150 metres (10 vertical metres) outside of the activation zone. (Walked without gear to the summit to determine where the activation zone commenced)
Setting up with the doublet on the side of the road, my first contact was S2S with David VK3IL/P on Mt. King Billy VK3/VE-016. I had activated this one 8 times but my first chase today.
I activated for just over an hour using 40, 80 and 15 metres. Very pleased to work 3 more JA stations on 15m CW including an S2S with JF1NDT (JA/KN-021). I did spend some time trying to get JP3DGT and Andrew HL1ZIH (Korea) both operating from summits on 15 metres.
Better yet, all today’s contacts were QRP 5 watts due to low battery voltage!
Next on the agenda is trek with Allen VK3ARH on the 22nd of April in the Bogong Alpine Area. Stay tuned.