The Australia Day long weekend found me in Western Victoria. My wife grew up in Horsham and we were in town celebrating her fathers 80th birthday. (happy 80th Karl)..
Not far from Horsham is a pretty famous rock climbing spot called Mt Arapiles, and a quick search showed me this was a sota summit. So. Into the car went the sota backpack and squid pole, giving me an escape plan 🙂 as such..
Sunday. Being Australia Day also gave me the chance to operate as AX3BQ. A special call sign we get to use on a handful of days a year.
I had other things planned and booked for me over the weekend. But managed to sneak away Sunday morning, though jobs preparing for the lunchtime birthday bbq saw me arrive later than expected and later than i had pre alerted. The trip is around 30mins from town and I arrived at the carpark around 10:40am.
The summit access is very easy, there is a very short path/steps from the carpark to the fire lookout tower and lookout that rises about 30m in height. Popping you in the activation zone with ease. My kind of activation!
I climbed the summit and looked for a spot to set up the antenna. to the left is a lookout (but not bench/seat) and the right had the fire lookout tower and a trig point and some commercial gear. I went right and climbed the rocky pile the trig sat on and setup the gear, once again using my (random) 12.5m length of wire up the squid pole in a V format and 2 random bits of wire for the ground. Looked at the watch and realised it was around 23:58z (not enough time to get a UTC day change over operation in), but fired up anyway and started giving out contacts.
As i was operating, a CFA spotter arrived to open up the fire tower and asked what I was doing, he had heard me use the AX3 call sign calling and asked about it, his Father had been a ham and he remembered his father using AX for Australia day in 1979 when it was first issued. I talked to him about the gear, about sota and the Ax call sign and gave him some info on the foundation license and he was going to google for more info. Always keen to increase the ranks.
Once the CFA spotted climbed his tower, fired up his computers and turned on his Aircon, the band noise increased, I was worried noise would be an issue, but with the lookout tower empty, and a test before I setup, was happy with the noise, i was ok, until he arrived, the joys of switch mode power supplies and 7MHz. This impacted on a couple of contacts later in the activation, especially tony VK3CAT, who was at the noise level but made worse with the local hash, and by the time id dug the Dinkey morse key from the bag and tried to reply, he couldn’t hear me. Next time, (ill get my first sota morse qso). If you are not so near the fire tower (when in use) it wouldn’t be an issue, just my setup..
I made my usual effort putting out calls on 20m to try and give some of the distant guys a chance, working into VK2 with this, though not all were successful, I also put out a call on 6m, without any luck!..
There was some S2S activity, which is always a nice bonus, though for me this summit wasn’t a huge effort like some are, and most of the others active on the day had, and lots of people about to work, like others, i was using AX3BQ, but spent the morning giving out the wrong call sign as I mixed and muddled my way through a combination of VK3-AX3BQ, most people got the idea anyway.
I had started later than planned, and had stayed longer than I had been allocated, the SMS’s started to arrive wondering where I was, so a quick packup, and back in the car to return to town for the birthday celebrations. I arrived as everyone was sitting down to the bbq lunch, a feast of food, so much food :), the rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing, personally, i think I had my timing just right 😀 Thanks for all I worked. You all help make sota fun!
|00:05z||VK2FGJW||7MHz||SSB||44/56 (s2s) vk1/ac-008|
|00:11z||AX3SSB||7MHz||SSB||59/57 ash (nutimuk)|
|00:14z||AX3YY||7MHz||SSB||41/41 glenn (s2s) vk3/vt-006|
|00:19z||VK1MBE||7MHz||SSB||57/53 Andrew (s2s) vk1/AC-041|
|00:21z||VK1DI||7MHz||SSB||41/41 ian (s2s) vk2/st-006|
|00:44z||VK3PF||7MHz||SSB||41/51 peter (s2s) vk2/sm-033|
|01:03z||VK2TWR||7MHz||SSB||52/42 (s2s) vk2/sm-033|