Gower C.P. 5CP-079. VKFF-0798.

Once I had finished my activation of the Tantanoola Caves C.P. I moved around the corner, (see map in the Tantanoola Caves C.P. post below), and set up in my usual spot in a small clearing 50 metres from the four way corner on the North Western edge of the Park.

This spot has just enough room to set up a 40 metre antenna, park the car off the road and still have room for the table and chair, battery etc. I have driven around most of the Park boundary and have yet to find a better spot as most of the Park appears to be covered in knee deep bracken fern. After my close encounter with an amorous pair of Tiger snakes whilst at Penambol C.P. on the Saturday afternoon this puts me off as it’s a fair distance to medical help if you get bitten.

My first contact occured at 04:42 UTC and was with Andrew, VK5MR who was portable in the Lake Torrens N.P. West of Roxby Downs, so I started this activation off in style with a rare one.

I stayed in this park for about an hour and a half before packing up and heading home but, although it was hard work getting my eight contacts I enjoyed every minute. The weather was reasonable, given that at one point it rained over at Tantanoola and the clouds looked threatening all day. (Although the sun came out and it warmed up as I was heading home.

Click to enlarge

Here is a copy of my F.L.E. log entry for this Park.

Although not big on quantity it is big on quality.

Many thanks to those who gave me a call, (and who I was fortunate enough to be able to actually work due to the up and down conditions).

As I said before, I enjoyed the day, and hope that I can overcome my lack of motivation and get out in the bush again soon.

73 & 44 to all.

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TANTANOOLA CAVES C.P. 5CP-225. VKFF-0804

The weekend of the 1st and 2nd of April 2017 was the 4th. Anniversary activation weekend for the VK5 Parks Award.

As I have been involved with this Award scheme pretty much right from the start I was keen to do some activating myself.

As I had chosen to go to Penambol C.P. on the Saturday afternoon for a “Meet and Greet” with Tony VK3XV and XYL Sheryl,  I decided that I would activate Tantanoola C.P. in the late morning on Sunday, (At present I do the rebroadcast of the W.I.A. National News and then the local call backs here in the South East Of S.A. so it is impossible to get an early start on Sunday morning), followed by Gower C.P. in the afternoon.

I got to Tantanoola C.P. pretty much on time but because I had built a new antenna it took a little while to get it set up.

(I have built a (roughly), 80 metre half wave dipole fed with 450 Ohm ladder line which I was keen to try out, as sometimes lately 80 metres seems to perform better during the day than 40 metres. I was also hoping that the internal tuner in the KX3 would tune it on all bands. The swr at 3.610 Mhz showed 1:1 but I could hear very little on the band. I did make two contacts though, before I switched over to 40 metres). 40 metres also appeared to tune up with an indicated swr of 1:1 across the band but I am not sure how much of my ten watts was actually being radiated. (The swr on 20 meters appears to be about 4.6:1, not good so some work to do there).

I set up on the lawns between the carpark and the Highway at the Caves Interpretive Centre. Using one of the park type benches it is an easy spot to set up in.

My first contact on 3.610 Mhz was Allen, VK3ARH, at 01:50 U.T.C. closely followed by Peter, VK3PF/3 who was in the Little Desert N.P. Both of these were a bit difficult with a 4 x 3 sent to Allen and 5 x 2 received. Peter was 4 x 4  to me and I gave him a 5 x 7. After calling for a few minutes and not being able to hear anything by scanning up and down the band I switched over to 40 metres which resulted in a slow but steady trickle of callers. I did not have phone coverage and was not able to self spot, unfortunately.

At one stage I had quite a long and enjoyable chat to Gerrard, VK2IO who was portable in the Werakata C.P..

I stuck around until 0340 U.T.C. but as I had indicated that I would be at Gower at about 2 p.m. local I decided to pack up and move to keep the faith.

I forgot to take any still or video footage of this activation for which I apologise.

Here is a copy of my F.L.E. log for this Park:-

Many thanks to all who gave me a call and it was nice to catch up with you again after a long absence on my part.

I look forward to doing it again soon’

73 & 44

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Meet & Greet with Tony. VK3XV/5. (VK3VTH)

As I was looking at Paul, VK5PAS’s spreadsheet of activations for the VK5 4th Anniversary activation weekend I realised that Tony and XYL Sheryl would be activating Penambol C.P. on the Saturday afternoon.

As Penambol C.P. is only 15 minutes from Mt. Gambier I decided that I would arrange to meet them there and “catch up”.

Tony has provided me with many contacts over the last few years, (From parks in both S.A. and Victoria and the odd S.O.T.A. summits as well), so I was keen to have a face to face and thank him personally for his efforts, particularly with The Keith Roget Memorial Parks Award scheme. (I am the fortunate holder of the “Worked all 45 Victorian Parks Award).

I arrived at the park at about 2 p.m. S.A. time to find a bloke sitting on a deck chair with a Heil headset on. A “Troopy” was parked inconspicuosly in a small clearing in the scrub that surrounds the operating spot – which I had suggested that Tony might like to try so I was pretty sure that I had the right bloke.

As I got out of the car Tony yelled out hello and away we went. I totally destroyed Tony’s q.s.o. rate and he even lost his spot.

A short time later Sheryl walked into the park from the gate. She had been for a walk along the Butterfly Walk and, after introductions and a bit of a chat, she headed off along the Wombat Walk with her camera in hand.

Tony was using a Par 20/40 end fed antenna to good effect, no doubt helped along by his 100 watts from the Elecraft K3 and his 100 Amp/hour battery. Tony has an excellent setup for his portable operating although it does mean at times that he has a bit of heavy carrying to do.

Tony and XYL Sheryl are a very nice couple and they obviously really enjoy being out and about together in this great Country of ours.

At this point I moved a few hundred metres away and set up my new homebrew multiband antenna, ( an 80 metre half wave dipole fed with 450 Ohm ladder line), to try it out. I had a listen on 80 metres, (it showed 1:1 swr on the KX3 using the internal tuner but I heard nothing. I heard a few stations on 40 metres (1:1 indicated again) but Tony was so close that he swamped the band so I gave him a very quick call to help his tally, and then packed up. (I had not intended to activate this Park anyway).

Whilst I was setting up I walked down the track a bit and hung one of the dipole ends up in a tree branch when I noticed a movement on the track. About 3 -4 metres away was a sight to strike terror into the heart of any grown man. A couple copulating in plain view. Some have no shame.

I was a bit reluctant to leave the antenna where it was but decided that, as the Tiger snakes did not appear to know that I was there, it should all be OK and carried on with my testing.

Unfortunately the swr on 20 metres was an indicated 4.6:1 so further work is required on that one. (I will probably have to add / subtract a bit from the length of the feedline.

The snakes were still hard at it when I started to pack up. (Stamina?)

After I had finished my quick test I packed up and headed back across to Tony’s operating spot and again interrupted his qso rate. (He  lost his frequency again as well.)

I chatted to Tony and Sheryl for a short time then we said our goodbyes and I headed for home.

I am very glad that I decided to go to Penambol as it is always nice to put a face to a name or callsign and this afternoon was no exception.

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2016 VKFF Anniversary activation weekend.

Tom, VK5EE and I decided that as we had not been out since April it was long past time that we got off our fat backsides and ventured out into the great outdoors.

This weekend is always a good one to get the airwaves hopping.

We had decided to activate three parks for the Sunday and so, after Tom had finished his duties as broadcast officer for the South East Radio Group we headed North from Mount Gambier toward Penola.

PENOLA C.P. (VKFF-0803, 5CP-177)

Just before Penola we turned left on to the new heavy vehicle by-pass and skirted around Penola.  (The by-pass stops at Clay Wells road, (which goes West toward Robe). We turned left onto Clay Wells Road and travelled for approx. 13 km to the Penola Conservation Park which is located on the right hand, or Northern side of Clay Wells road.

penola-c-p

 

Just West of the start of the park is the Park sign on the main road frontage. We turned in there and drove in about half a km. Here the track opened out into a nice clear area with some signs about the park and a picnic table.

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We threw a weighted line up into the gum just behind the picnic table and hauled the end fed half wave 40 metre antenna up so that the apex was at about 10-12 metres and we were good to go. (This was achieved after two or three massive tangles in the very light throw line that I use which was, of course, greeted with maximum laughter from Tom who sometimes is worse than no help at all)?

Apart from a large number of big Bull ant mounds this was a very nice spot to operate from. (Somewhat spoilt by the braindead idiots who had been there before us and pulled track marker posts out of the ground and left rubbish lying about). The Bull ants did not bother us by the way.

I managed to work nine stations and I thank all of those who called while I was on the mike.

penola-c-p-log-27-11-2016

I will return to this park again as it is a nice spot to operate from. Quiet too.

 

CALECTASIA C.P. (VKFF-1010, 5CP-028)

We turned right out of Penola C.P. and continued West on Clay Wells Road for approx. 15 kms. which bought us to Calectasia C.P. which is on the left hand, (Southern), side of the Clay Wells Road just before you get to Bakers Drain.

Unfortunately there are power lines running along the frontage of this park and they have provided us with shocking noise levels each time we have activated this park. It is hard to get the car off the road as well as the entrance is very soft sand and it is very easy to get bogged. (As I have managed to do three times now).

calectasia-c-p

I am reluctant to bother with this park again as it is not pleasant at all with very limited options for antenna placement. We tied one part of the end fed to a tree 20 metres inside the park but the squid pole support and everything else was set up on the track leading to the gate. This is not strictly according to the rules but sometimes we just have to do the best we can.

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My apologies for the photo as it was taken last year when I did this park but I did not take any new ones this time as I totally forgot to do so.

I managed 6 contacts during my turn operating from here and I thank those who called.

 

REEDY CREEK C.P. (VKFF-0931, 5CP-196).

Carrying on West from Calectasia we travelled just over 32 km until we reached Kangaroo Inn. Just as we reached the Western edge of this little settlement we turned right into Jorgensens Road, (Good white metal road),

27-11-2016

We drove North for, (I am guessing this time) about 4-5 km, passing the bulk of the park on our right. At the Northern end of the park is a white metal intersection with the road to the right being a farm entrance driveway with a red mail box on a post, (I think it is an old milk churn painted red). We turned in and turned around and set up on the driveway as the park itself is really overgrown and it would be almost impossible to put up an antenna in there, let alone move around, without the risk of seeing a snake.

This park will be a huge fire risk when the reeds dry out.

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Luckily for us the farmer had very thoughtfully mowed all the area along his driveway and we were able to set up on nice clean ground. Again we slung the antenna up into the massive gum tree that stands there, (only two attempts required and no tangles), and we were able to orient the end fed as an inverted V without blocking the track at all.

This is another very pleasant spot to operate from with no noise at all registering on the KX3 meter. Fantastic.

Tom did most of the operating from this one but the band had died a bit and I only managed 2 contacts from here. Many thanks Greg, VK5GJ and Norm, VK5GI who were portable in the Aldinga Scrub C.P. VKFF-0866.

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I would like to again thank all those who gave Tom and I a call during the day and I offer a special thanks to Paul, VK5PAS for his untiring efforts in promoting Amateur Radio in general and portable activity from parks and peaks in particular.

I look forward to my/our next outing in a park and hope to work you then.

Thanks for reading this. I hope that you enjoy it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3rd. Annual VK5 Parks Weekend

Another fantastic day out in the bush. Great weather and pretty good propagation although some qsb was about.

I was supposed to activate three parks for the day

  • Furner C.P. 5CP-072
  • Reedy Creek C.P. 5CP-196 VKFF-0931
  • Calectasia C.P. 5CP-028 VKFF-1010

Unfortunately I ran out of time and my hip started acting up so I decided to give Calectasia a miss and headed home in “sook” mode.

The Shopping Trolley Mk. 11 performed well and I am quite pleased with it at this stage.

Anyway- time for the detailed info.

First up was the Furner C.P.:-

FURNER C.P. 5CP-072. VKFF-0882 

WHERE IS IT?

 

Furner C.P. 5CP-072. VKFF-0882

I turned off the Princes Highway and headed East on Eastern Road. There are two tall phone towers on the left as you travel along. After about 2 km there is a block of scrub on the left. When the pine tree plantation starts turn left onto the track between the scrub and the pines and follow it around as marked by the yellow line on the map.

I set up about where the line on the map ends.

WHAT IS IT?

Furner Conservation Park

I was a little later getting set up than I had anticipated so I started a bit behind the eight ball.

03.04.2016

As I pulled up I saw a nice fat female deer but she ran off before I could get the camera out.

After the obligatory photo of myself standing alongside the park sign I moved up the hill a bit and set the 40 metre P.A.R. mono band end fed up as an inverted V roughly East West along the fence line and I set up the station on the fire break just inside the park fence.

I saw a couple of bull ants but they did not bother me during the activation. There were, however heaps of Lady Bugs flying about but they seemed to avoid me. (Not so the car though as there were about 50 – 80 of them in there when I packed up).

I was very lucky as I had been listening on our 2 metre repeater, (146.900 MHz) on the way up and heard from Tom, VK5NFT that conditions were pretty poor but from the time I turned on the KX3 conditions seemed to have improved a lot as I had very little trouble working anyone

I worked the first contact at 01:57 U.T.C. and the last at 02:54 U.T.C.

Here is my log:-

2016-04-04_132828

I thoroughly enjoyed this activation and would like to thank all those who gave me a call.

Thanks also to those kind Amateurs who spotted me on Parks n Peaks. Very much appreciated as there is no doubt at all that spotting helps attract the callers.

Here is the only bit of video that I was able to record:-

When I checked the camera I had forgotten to turn the external microphone on?????????.

 

Reedy Creek C.P. 5CP-196. VKFF-0931

Where is it?.

Reedy Creek C.P. 5CP-196. VKFF-0931I travelled back out to the Princes Highway by retracing my route in. Once at the highway I turned right and travelled a few kilometres North until I reached the Beachport Penola cross road where I turned right. When I reached Kangaroo Inn I turned left onto the Robe Penola Road and after about 200 metres I turned Right into Jorgensons Road. The park is about 5 – 6 kms. on the right. For this one I threw my throw weight up into a tree at a height of about 10 metres and set up the 40 metre P.A.R. end fed. (Again as an inverted V).

03.04.2016

WHAT IS IT?

Reedy Creek Conservation Park

 

Conditions were quite good again from this park and I was kept pretty busy. As I approached the required 44 contacts to qualify the park for the W.W.F.F. award I kept looking at my watch and debating to stay and get the extra few or head for park number 3 as I had said I would. In the end I decided that I would pack up and head for Calectasia as the time was getting on. Once I started to pack up my hip started to give me a bit of stick.

Here is my log for this Park:-

Reedy Creek C.P. F.L.E. LogI headed off to Calectasia but when I got there I nearly got the shopping trolley bogged in the very soft sand. Together with the time slipping away, the sore hip and no pain killers I decided to skip the park and head for home. My apologies to everyone for that but I will go back and do all three again soon.

Again, many thanks to all who called and especially those who put spots up for me.

My video of this activation is here:-

The cap on backwards is purely to keep the sun off the back of the neck, not as a fashion statement.

I look forward to working all of you from a park again soon.

73

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New Shopping Trolley – Antennas and radios.

It has taken a little while but my Icom 208H and the Yaesu FT-857 are now in the new car.

Both are out of sight and I must thank Norbert, VK5MQ for an extremely tidy installation.

 

Front on view

Front on view

As you can see from the photos I had a custom made aluminium number plate mount made for the front. This was then powder coated to match the grill colour.

Viewed from the side

Viewed from the side

I think it looks pretty good without looking too cumbersome.

The Icom 208H position

The Icom 208H position

The two metre dual band whip works OK but I still have some work to do with the HF side of things. I have yet to make a bracket to mount the remote head of the 857 and it may be necessary to run a tuner of some sort for the 40 metre mono band antenna, (Fitting on R.H.S. of mounting plate), as it has a limited bandwidth.

I am currently thinking of putting the 857 remote head just in front of the gear selector on the front edge of the silver part of the console. It would be mounted in such a way that it is easily removed for security as it will be pretty visible in that spot.

The white cable which is visible in the console shot is the audio lead from both radios into the cars auxiliary socket to the in car audio system. It works well with no hum and stacks of volume. (If required).

So far it looks to be pretty well free of any vehicle generated noise of any real consequence. (Fingers crossed).

Cheers,

Col. VK5HCF

 

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SHOPPING TROLLEY – Mk. 2

 

Well.

After 10 years and 88,000 kms the 2005 Ford Fiesta, (a.k.a. “The Shopping Trolley”) has gone.

IMG_0771

This was a great little car which served us very well and which was economical and reliable.

However I felt that it was time to upgrade and the xyl agreed. (?)

 

After a bit of research and some looking around we found an ex demo 2014 Kia Rio SLI with 140 km. on the clock and we traded the Fiesta on it.

1980 x 1280

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After 4 days of ownership we are very happy with our choice.

The real test however will be when it ventures out to a park.

I am confident that it will perform well but we will have to wait and see.

Watch this space for warts and all comments.

Cheers,

 

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