Sunday 28 July 2017. Bowning Hill summit VK2/ST-042 is on private property. During the week I called the property owner seeking permission to get access to the summit. Bowning Hill is 6m km north-west of Canberra GPO near the township of Yass, NSW. Marino sheep graze on the property, evidence of the activity is abundant, sheep poop pellets (manure) are everywhere!
Interest in 23cm SOTA activations is growing around VK1. Today Al VK1RX has plans to activate Livingstone Hill while a team of three activators led by Tony VK1VIC inluding Andrew VK1DA and Matt VK1MA are heading to Mt Foxlow also with 23cm gear. 🙂
Livingstone Hill VK2/SM-093 is 111 km south while Mt Foxlow VK2/ST-010 is an even 100 km south-east.
Around Canberra (VK1) and the nearby NSW (VK2) mountain peaks it’s rare to find a summit that one can drive up! On this occasion I took advantage of a 4wd maintenance trail by driving to the summit and deploying a small folding table to operate from. My car is 30 metres away from my operating position. If not for a small table, the other option is to sit on the ground in a thick film of sheep poo 😮
Station gear: Yaesu FT-817ND, SG-Lab 23cm transverter, Yaesu FT-60R HT, dual band 2m/70cm yagi, 12el 23cm yagi. Batteries; 2.4 Ah 3S 12 volt LiPo and a 4.2 Ah 4S 13 volt LiFePO4.
As you can see in the photos the sun is shining yet the temperature on the summit is a chilly 1.8 degrees C with a cold westerly dropping the feels-like to sub-zero.
For a ‘warmer’ my first chaser was with Rob VK1KW on 2m 144.2 MHz followed shortly by a 2nd QSO on 23cm. One down three to go! It wasn’t long before Al VK1RX called on 1296.150 MHz only to report a strange high VSWR reading from his HB9CV 2el PCB yagi. Al mentioned ice, that’s right frozen-H2O ice had formed on the leading edge of his antenna as a blast of cold moist air descended on Livingstone Hill. See phots. Al went QRT for a couple of minutes while he de-iced the antenna by placing the PCB in his warm pocket.
Five or so minutes later Al was back on air however by this time ice had formed on the coax feedline and the casing of his 23cm transverter. Meanwhile I grabbed a 23cm chaser QSO with Ian VK1BG. Rod VK2TWR followed Ian with a huge 5-8 signal report over a 200 km path from Nimmitabel. Great that’s 4 QSOs on 23cm, summit qualified!
On 2m 144.2 MHz chasers included Matt VK1MT, Lawrence VK1LLW, Mike VK2AFW and Dave VK2DVM in Sydney. While listening to Rob VK1KW calling CQ, I heard Jim VK3II 500 km south-west (near Phillip Island) responding to Rob. Rob worked Jim with ease at legal power. I quickly check FlightRadar24 on my iPad for aircraft between Jim’s position and Bowning Hill. Two commercial aircraft in close proximity to each other were heading south along the Sydney – Melbourne flight path. I mentioned to Rob VK1KW two aircraft would be midway between Bowning Hill and Jim’s radio shack in about 5 minutes. With my paltry 5 watts I asked Rob to pass a message to Jim asking Jim to stick around for 5 minutes which thankfully he did. As the aircraft approached the midway position I called Jim VK3II and to my delight he responded with a weak signal report, yep that’s right, a 5 watt 2m 144.2 MHz signal from a 3el beam, using aircraft enhance over 500 km. Jim’s signal to me was 5-5, readable and well above the local noise floor. I have since shared the audio recording of my contact with Jim, with the VK1 group. It’s moments like this where the efforts of going portable are all worth while! 🙂
15 or so minutes later at 23:35 UTC Andrew VK1DA called CQ SOTA on 23cm 1296.150 MHz from Mt Foxlow 100 km south-east. Andrew is also using a 2.5 watt SG-Lab 23cm transverter, feeding an all-brass 4el yagi. Andrew’s signal from Mt Foxlow was peaking 5-9 at Bowning Hill. See photo and Google Earth profile.
Keen to bag Bowning Hill on 23cm, Tony and Matt both called in quick succession. After working the Mt Foxlow team on 2m FM 146.500 simplex, I stuck around for UTC day change to complete a 3rd 23cm summit to summit (S2S) QSO with the crew at Foxlow. 🙂
Maps showing the radio signal path
Al VK1RX at Livingstone Hill. Ice has formed on the leading edge of the HB9CV PCB 2el yagi. Moisture on the PCB tracks is giving rise to a high VSWR. Photo courtesy of Al VK1RX.
Al’s frozen 23cm transverter and ‘iced’ coax feedline. Photo courtesy of Al VK1RX
Andrew VK1DA operating position at Mt Foxlow. Photo courtesy of Andrew VK1DA
Extract of VK1AD SOTA Activator Log: 28 July 2017 Bowning Hill VK2/ST-042 on 23 cm 1296.150 MHz
|21:49z||VK1KW||144MHz||SSB||Rob s59 r59 QF44MT 144.2|
|21:51z||VK1KW||1240MHz||SSB||%QRA%QF44MT% Rob s59 r59 1296|
|22:13z||VK1RX/2||144MHz||SSB||Al s59 r59 S2S QF44NG 144.2|
|22:14z||VK1BG||144MHz||SSB||Ian s59 r59 QF44MS 144.2|
|22:15z||VK1BG||1240MHz||SSB||%QRA%QF44MS% Ian s59 r59 1296|
|22:19z||VK1RX/2||1240MHz||SSB||Al s59 r58 S2S VK2/SM-093 1296 111 km|
|22:22z||VK1MT||144MHz||SSB||Matt s59 r59 144.2|
|22:25z||VK2TWR||1240MHz||SSB||%QRA%QF43PL% Rod s58 r58 1296 200 km|
|22:39z||VK1LWW||144MHz||SSB||s52 r53 144.2|
|22:43z||VK2AMF||144MHz||SSB||Mike s57 r57 QF44PU 144.2|
|23:17z||VK3II||144MHz||SSB||Jim s55 r51 QF21RN 500 km at 5 watts|
|23:18z||VK2DVM||144MHz||SSB||Dave s58 r58 Sydney|
|23:35z||VK1DA/2||1240MHz||SSB||Andrew s59 r59 S2S VK2/ST-010 1296 100 km|
|23:36z||VK1VIC||1240MHz||SSB||Tony s59 r58 S2S VK2/ST-010 1296|
|23:40z||VK1MA/2||1240MHz||SSB||Matt s59 r59 S2S VK2/ST-010 1296|
|23:42z||VK1DA/2||1240MHz||SSB||Andrew s59 r59 S2S VK2/ST-010 1296|
|23:50z||VK1MA/2||144MHz||SSB||Matt s59 r59 S2S VK2/ST-010 146.5|
|23:53z||VK1VIC/2||144MHz||SSB||Tony s59 r59 S2S VK2/ST-010 146.5|
|00:01z||VK1DA/2||1240MHz||SSB||Andrew s59 r58 S2S VK2/ST-010 1296|
|00:02z||VK1MA/2||1240MHz||SSB||Matt s59 r59 S2S VK2/ST-010 1296|
|00:02z||VK1VIC/2||1240MHz||SSB||Tony s59 r59 S2S VK2/ST-010 1296|
- 23cm Awards:
- 23cm Summit to Summit (S2S) 111 km, working Al VK1RX at Livingstone Hill
- 23cm 200 km working Rod VK2TWR at Nimmitabel
- Personal best:
- working Jim VK3II on 2m 144.2 MHz SSB over 500 km with 5 watts