Gippstech 2013 and SOTA activations

Hi all,

Last weekend I headed over to Churchill for a fix of VHF and up at Gippstech 2013. The weather was poor, so I did not bring any radio gear for activations afterwards.

Gippstech 2013

The conference was held in the usual place at Monash University, Churchill campus. It was quite interesting with topics from 50MHz to the latest adventures on 10GHz and up. The mm bands have come a long way in recent years.

Of course, on weekends there is a lot of SOTA activity. Certain persons were seen disappearing into the car park where squid poles and other items suitable for SOTA chasing seemed to be appearing:

Peter VK3PF and Rik VK3KAN discussing a lightweight 4.3m squid pole

Peter VK3PF and Rik VK3KAN discussing a squid pole

Rik VK3KAN grabbed a lightweight squid pole that is less than 50cm retracted and very light weight. This could go in all overnight packs rather than being outside. Hmmm, quite interesting.

Other people were caught out at times:

Ron VK3AFW chasing SOTA

Ron VK3AFW chasing SOTA

The weather was rainy at times, but a good time was had at conference and SOTA discussion with le tour on the TV at Peter’s. My chaser score went up over 15% just this weekend!

Mt Useful VK3/VT-016

As Gippstech wound up, I planned to head home, but after consulting the radar, the idea grew to head up to Mt Useful with Andrew VK1DA and Peter VK3PF for a bit of SOTA fun. It had been raining all morning and early afternoon, but it seemed that the WX was lifting. Peter also informed us that there was a shelter that we could activate from. This emboldened us, so into Peter’s Subaru for the trip up. The road is quite good quality, and quite passable in a 2wd pretty much all the way to the top. With the wet conditions, the road was a little soft in places, but careful driving in a 2wd would still get through. Peter had already activated this summit recently, so he dropped us off near the edge of the activation zone and then he drove to the summit. Andrew and I headed down a little just to be certain that we were out of the activation zone and then headed in (carrying all of the activation gear).

We used Peter’s squid pole and 20/40 linked dipole. One of the links had come out, so it was 40 on one side and 20 on the other. After discovering this, the signal came up and it was good signals all around.


The road into Mt Useful passes another SOTA summit. Time was late, but this summit has a good path into the Latrobe Valley. Peter called some of his club members in the Latrobe Valley, who were willing to help us out on a quick 2m activation. We hoped to get to the summit before dark, but we were also uncertain if the access road was closed due to bushfires early in the year. We left the main Mt Useful Rd about 5km north east of the summit and headed across. The road is in good condition, again quite accessible in a 2wd. It goes right into the activation zone, but not quite to the top. We drove past the activation zone and parked about 35m vertical metres down from the top.

Conditions had cleared right up. We took turns, with two of us near the car, and one climbing up about 20 vertical metres to get well into the activation zone. Peter’s mates were good signals in, plus by taking turns, each of us also chased the summit. We decided not to use 40m, due to the approaching dusk meaning the skip zone would have been building by then. Also, we did not want to stretch the WX luck too far.

With that, it was 17 activation points – including three bonus points – from 2 summits. Not bad for a quick little side trip from the conference.

Regards, 73 Wayne VK3WAM