Another weekend, another time to get out and have a look at some SOTA summits.
The plan for this trip was to activate four summits that I had not activated before, VK3/VN-006, 007, 008 and 010. VK3/VN-006 Keppel Ridge is a summit in the shadow of Lake Mountain. The other three are fairly close together a bit further to the east. I started off heading down the Eildon Warbuton Rd, which starts off quite wide, and made my way along to a road to go across to Mt Duffy VK3/VN-007. I found out that Gum Top Rd was closed due to a planned prescribed burn, along with Rough Hill Rd. Even Reefton Logging Rd was closed, so I could not access Mt Duffy, with the two other SOTA summits behind it. Well, I’m out here, I might as well activate something.
Keppel Ridge VK3/VN-006
This was my last planned summit of the day, but it ended up being the first. I headed up Sandstone Rd up to point (ed) 057485. This is a little down from saddle which has a lot of logging regrowth. We would like to avoid that horrible stuff. The forest a little lower down is quite open and gives reasonable access to the summit. Up on top, I ended up activating only a little late from my planned activation of VN-010, and there was plenty of chasers waiting on 40m.
Federation Ridge VK3/VN-003
Next up, to make for a complete day, I wanted to still get 4 summits in. I headed for Lake Mountain, after checking that I had not activated this summit this year. With many summits in VK3, I would rather get fresh activator points for each activation than not. As this summit can be worked on 2m I decided to go for that. Also, last time I was here, I could not use the 2m colinear. I was eager to have a look at the difference. Last time, I could only work Peter VK3PF on SSB, and signals were 51 both ways, good readability, but weak on a 1/4 wave. This time it was 58 and 53, so much better. All the other stations worked were different from last time. It was lightly raining, so I aimed to keep the activation short to not get too wet and to keep the chance of getting four summits in.
Sugerloaf Peak VK3/VN-011
Next up, a good sporting summit with a bit of a rock scramble. It had not rained here yet, so the rocks were dry on the way up. I was tempted to join the dog piles on 40m, but again this was a summit where V1 of the colinear had failed. I was keen to try it here again. This time it failed again! I checked things out and found it was my FM series match stub. I had to use the colinear unmatched, but VK3FABA reported me 58 on the 1/4 wave reported me 60 over on the colinear. Perhaps not really 60 over, but it’s more about 25dB to 30dB up.
Unmatched, the colinear has an SWR of around 2.5, which is not great but it still puts me in business. I’ll need a soldering iron to repair the stub.
I could here Peter VK3PF call on SSB, but he could only dimly hear the CW I sent back. I think a matched colinear could get to Churchill from here, on 5W QRP.
Mt St Leonard VK3/VC-006
Final activation of the day is an old favourite. I went for a quick activation, huddled underneath the public lookout platform for a little bit of shelter. The metal around improved the unmatched colinear to an SWR of around 1.7
It was nice to be able to work Peter VK3PF from here 2m into Churchill. Everyone else was LOS, so plenty of 59 signal reports.
In all, I missed out on the 4 new uniques, instead only adding one. Walked away with 26 SOTA activation points rather than 24. I think my priority order for SOTA is:
1/ New activation uniques
2/ Activation points
3/ S2S points
4/ Chaser points (nice to get if they are there)
Also, I like a challenge, and 2m provides more of that challenge (so long as it is a realistic challenge). 40m has plenty of pileups these days to keep SOTA quite active there, but where 2m is possible, I’ll think I’ll focus on that.
Maybe, I should try 40m CW only as a bit of a challenge and join VK3BYD!
One final note: The internal batteries on my FT-817 are not giving as much operating time as they used to. I reckon its down to about 50% of new. They have had a fair amount of use, but this is not really a fantastic service life. Looks like I’ll be going to an alternative soon. I think I will give the HobbyKing NiMH AA cells a good spin as they look good, otherwise a LiPO will be going in there.
73 Wayne VK3WAM