Sota Activation – VK3/VC-002 Mt Donna Buang 2014

Im in the middle of painting my house, and its taking a very long time, my only aspiration in life, be rich enough to pay someone else to paint for me, as such most weekends recently have been spent sanding, prepping, painting, swearing, re sanding, re painting, as i work through the house, both inside and out. The painting is progressing, but sota has taken a back seat while i undertake this other task. However, with winter progressing, the outside finial touch/finishing off jobs become harder, and with the opportunity to get a winter bonus, and rain forecast for sunday. I charged up the battery and headed for the hills. I also had a newly developed dipole antenna i wanted to test! But took the trusty random wire and Z Match just in case.

I worked Mt Donna Buang in 2013, back then it was a lovely warm spring day, However, this day wasn’t so nice. I had the family with me as usual, and we stopped in Warburton for lunch at the bakery as a really heavy rain shower hit the town, we were running behind schedule, so I changed my alert and headed up the mountain, unsure if i would activate given the weather, but on a family drive regardless.

As we headed up the hill, the rain stopped, but we entered the clouds from about 800m, it was very thick, at some points down to around 10m visibility from the car. We continued on upwards and I made the decision to do it (or at least try). Im Australia’s most lazy Sota activator! And this summit was no exception. The “Snow” car-park is at around 1200m and a 200m walk to the summit, i pulled up in the show car-park, grabbed my gear  and my big child Nathan and walked the rest of the way, my wife a small child drove the car to the top car-park to stay warm and dry!

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We arrived at the top and were met by my wife and small child Toby, Toby and Nathan took off up the lookout tower as Christine followed in the cold wind and mist. I headed over the the summit marker and began to set up my gear. The mist was damp, and the wind cool, but I decide to take a bit more time and setup the new 40m dipole, nothing fancy, this was a simple tester antenna using my core flute wire winders and dipole centre, 8m of LMR195 coax and the ability to test drive my new Elecraft-T1 ATU. I made the antenna a couple of weeks back, and had hoped to get a chance to tune it at the local park before taking it to a mountain, but time and weather got in the way, so this first install was also the tuning run!. I had with my my youkits antenna analyser and the initial cutting at the radio room result was a 5.4Mhz dipole! I took around 30cm off each end and measured again with a 6.5Mhz dipole now built! Another ~15cm off had me near enough to 7Mhz and with the wind and mist, i choose to operate rather than fine tune/optimise.

The mountain has a shelter/hut with a fire place in it, another group of people on the mountain were setup in the shelter and had the fire going, the rest of the family receded to the warmth while i started my activation.

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I had only ever operated sota with my Z match and random wire antenna, everyone always commented that while I was always readable, i was never super strong. The dipole! wow. I turned on the radio and started to tune around, 40m had activity everywhere, people chatting, ZL stations, I ended up on 7.130Mhz as most spots below this were occupied. I put out a CQ Call and got a response almost straight away, everyone was strong to me, and I had good contacts into VK5 and mid VK2, Andrew VK1NAM on his trial loaded vertical antenna in his front yard in Canberra as well as the usual suspects. 20 contacts all up. After the 40m effort, I headed up to 20m, tuned the dipole with the tuner and tried to spot, I called for a bit but without much luck by this time the family had had enough of the weather and wanted to head home. My little LCD clock has a thermometer on it, and this showed 5.8 degrees.

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The summit was a success, the new 40m dipole worked a treat, and the T1 ATU, while not required with a resonant antenna, worked very well with quick tuning and easy operation on the non resonant bands.I didn’t get to try CW, nor PSK31/RTTY, if the weather wasn’t so inclement i may have spent more time on some other modes. I now have my first winter bonus points!

As we headed down the mountain, the back(dirt) road between Healesville and the summit was still open, it usually is closed at queens birthday weekend for the winter, this is a nice alternative return trip and we took the dirt track down the side of the hill, stopping at a couple of places to have a look at some mini waterfalls that form on the side of the hill after rain. A nice end to a family trip into the mountains.


Date:15/Jun/2014 Summit:VK3/VC-002 (Mt Donna Buang) Call Used:VK3BQ Points: 8 Bonus: 3 

Time Call Band Mode Notes
04:16z VK5CZ 7MHz SSB 57/53
04:17z VK2UH 7MHz SSB 59/58
04:18z VK3PF 7MHz SSB 55/59 thanks peter
04:18z VK3FPSR 7MHz SSB 59/59 thanks peter
04:19z VK3AFW 7MHz SSB 59/59 thanks Ron
04:20z VK1MA 7MHz SSB 57/55
04:21z VK3WAR 7MHz SSB 59/59 thanks craig
04:22z VK2DAG 7MHz SSB 57/57 thanks matt
04:22z VK2IO 7MHz SSB 59/55
04:23z VK3FQSO 7MHz SSB 59/56 thanks Amanda
04:23z VK2HV 7MHz SSB 55/59 thanks paul
04:24z VK3BYD 7MHz SSB 57/59
04:26z VK2TWR 7MHz SSB 59/58 thanks rod
04:27z VK3CRG 7MHz SSB 59/59 thanks Craig
04:28z VK3ASC 7MHz SSB 57/58 thanks mark
04:29z VK3DET 7MHz SSB 59/59 thanks earnie
04:31z VK1NAM 7MHz SSB 58/58 thanks Andrew
04:35z VK2KTT 7MHz SSB 55/55
04:36z VK2FADV 7MHz SSB 57/57
04:37z VK2YK 7MHz SSB 56/59

One thought on “Sota Activation – VK3/VC-002 Mt Donna Buang 2014

  1. Hi Andrew the change to a half wave dipole is a good outcome for you and the chaser group. Your signal to my QTH, even with a mismatch on polarisation was well above historical averages. Well done.
    Andrew, VK1NAM

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