SOTA Activation of Mt Stromlo

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Sep 14 , 2014

Well, I got my second SOTA activation done yesterday on Mt Stromlo, VK1/AC-043. I wanted to test out my gear, and make sure everything works, before I head to Tasmania in a few weeks, hopefully arriving after the SOTA association for VK7 goes live!

Given the Ok by my wife, I drove to the hill! I parked at the rocks and locked gate past the ruins of the telescope, where quite a few mountain bikers were also parked, walked up and scouted around a bit at the trig and the communications gear on the top, before descending the necessary 25m and coming back up again.

I first tried my newly built 2m Yagi:

and managed to contact VK1EM and VK1MA, proving that the antenna ‘works’, I’ll give it a bit more of a workout on the next VHF field day I hope!

After calling for another 15 minutes with no luck, I set up for HF with the also new squidpole from Haverfords, they’d run out of the heavy duty ones, so I have a 9m medium duty pole, it seems to do the trick! My HF antenna is an end fed wire 22m long, with a 4:1 balun and counterpoise, and has worked in the back yard very well over the last month or so!

I had it just about ready to go, and the squidpole fell over. Note for next time, take two, or perhaps three ties to attach the pole to a handy tree!

So with a handy rock bracing the pole, I attempted to get started! And found that my tuner wasn’t getting a tune on 40m! The patch cables I’ve made are a little unreliable, mostly because I had no idea how to actually stick the damn things to the coax! I’ve rectified that now, so next time there shouldn’t be any cabling issues!

Then, I tried to find a free spot on the band, which was non-trivial, twice in a row the frequency I was listening to had someone come up, just as I’d posted the spot on SotaWatch. Perhaps I need to listen for a bit longer before spotting? Any way, plowed through a good number of VK3s and vk2s and another VK1 on 40m, easily getting my 4 QSOs for the summit.

I then had a crack at 20m! I thought 40m was busy, I could hardly find a spot on 20m, and eventually had one single contact, with DL1DVE, my first German contact. That was all I could get on 20m, the band was very busy with Europeans, I called for another 20 minutes or so and heard nothing, I think I probably needed a bit more punch to get through!

By that time I was getting a bit cool, a stiff westerly had come up and the sun had just about gone! All up 11 QSOs, in 1h45m on the hill. Thanks to all the chasers!

Sillily, I didn’t take any photos this time! Too busy thinking about radios! Next time I’ll try and remember!

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