Sota Activations – Ballarat VK3/VC-018 and VK3/VC-019

Work had me in ballarat early friday morning the other week for a number of tasks, with a busy day of meetings then conference calls and other activities, however, i had some time between the calls and needed to NOT be driving while they were underway so i decided to get in a couple of activations, sitting myself in the car while working before a quick wander into the activation zone and a play between tasks.

After completing the mornings tasks, I had time to head up to the first summit of the day, Mount Bunninyong VK3/VC-018 at the south east end of ballarat, and is the nicer of the two summits with a picnic area, lookout tower and toilet block. I parked in the carpark and did my work before grabbing the gear for a quick walk out of the zone down the walking track to the west before heading back to the tables for a quick setup!.

Ive been using my tester 40m dipole the last couple of activations. (i really need to build the proper version) It really does perform well. However I discovered a problem, as I was setting up the antenna, I broke the wire off the centre conductor of coax. A quick look in the bag and I grabbed a cable tie (i have a bunch of cable ties and a small pair of side cutters in the sota go bag JUST IN CASE) and was able to wrap the antenna wire around the coax centre and cable tie them together as best I could to get back on air.

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I quickly strung out the dipole and was on air around midday. Conditions were all over the shop, a number of local VK3 stations had trouble hearing me (and I wondered if the broken antenna was the culprit) but at the same time VK1/2 and VK5 were 5/9. So i think it was juts midday conditions with recent solar activity.

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I tested another innovation/idea, this one related to the earth/counterpoise connection. While this shouldn’t really be necessary with the dipole antenna, i try and connect a ground radial for each activation anyway. I had been manually connecting this to the Elecraft T1 atu and radio back earth points, but this isn’t always quick/easy and often risks dropping the connector screw in the grass. I made up some earth point fly leads using anderson power pole connectors, and this works a treat, quick connection of the earth wire and ATU!.

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In the end, 13 stations worked, with the normal mix of chasers and different weekday people, thanks for those who made an effort with this summit. In addition to a S2S that is always nice to achieve.

Date:29/Aug/2014 Summit:VK3/VC-018 (Mt Buninyong) Call Used:VK3BQ Points: 4 Bonus: 0

Time Call Band Mode Notes
02:01z VK2JDL 7MHz SSB 52/54 Phil S2S vk2/nw-026
02:04z VK5WG 7MHz SSB 57/53 Nev
02:05z VK5CZ 7MHz SSB 55/52 Ian
02:06z VK3DET 7MHz SSB 59/59 earnie
02:07z VK3GRW 7MHz SSB 59/59 Greg
02:08z VK3FPSR/M 7MHz SSB 22/22 Peter
02:08z VK3FQSO 7MHz SSB 57/53 Amanda
02:09z VK3PF/M 7MHz SSB 52/54 Peter
02:10z VK3NCC 7MHz SSB 31/52 Colin
02:11z VK1DI 7MHz SSB 58/59 Ian
02:12z VK3EK 7MHz SSB 59/57 Rob
02:13z VK3BHR 7MHz SSB 58/57 Phil
02:14z VK7VAZ 7MHz SSB 59/53 Adam


Back to the car and back to work for more conference call meetings, Once those were done, I made my way to the second summit, Mt Warrenheip VK3/VC-019 is at the north eastern end of ballarat and nearer the western why and the trip home. I arrived on this summit mid afternoon, and was able to park and finish off the work tasks before once again grabbing the gear and making a quick dash down the side of the hill from the telstra tower before the walk back into the activation zone and another quick setup.

This time I didn’t have a nice bit of room, and my dipole wasn’t very straight, I wasn’t too fussed and quickly setup, putting out a call just before 3:30pm local time. This summit had 16 Activations, with a similar mix of stations worked. with a S2S. at the start of the activation, i had local stations with the same issue, i was really weak with them, maybe the dipole was still playing up,  but contacts further afield were much stronger. it came good in the end. Conditions?

At the same time, Andrew VK1NAM was on a hill in canberra trying to work S2S into Europe, I headed unto 20m and tried to call the european station, who I could hear peaking s4/5 at time, but he was running ~150watts, and my not working well 40m dipole on 20m and ~5w qrp wasn’t enough to overcome the distance.

I also had some work phone calls and things I needed to complete while sitting and playing radio! but I was setup and comfortable so operated sporadically over 1hr of the afternoon.

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Date:29/Aug/2014 Summit:VK3/VC-019 (Mt Warrenheip) Call Used:VK3BQ Points: 4 Bonus: 0

Time Call Band Mode Notes
05:21z VK3EK 7MHz SSB 59/58 Rob
05:21z VK1DI 7MHz SSB 57/58 Ian
05:25z VK5CZ 7MHz SSB 58/55 Ian
05:26z VK2KEV 7MHz SSB 58/55 Kevin
05:27z VK2XD 7MHz SSB 59/57 Geoff
05:28z VK3FPSR/M 7MHz SSB 41/41 Peter
05:32z VK3PF/M 7MHz SSB 31/57 Peter
05:44z VK2QR/P 7MHz SSB 57/57 Rob S2S VK2/SM-051
06:07z VK3ASC/5 7MHz SSB 58/59 Mark (Flinders Rangers)
06:15z VK3AFW 7MHz SSB 58/59 Ron
06:17z VK3FQSO 7MHz SSB 57/58 Amanda (with Burnt Dinner)
06:18z VK2YK 7MHz SSB 57/55 Adam
06:19z VK5YX 7MHz SSB 58/58 Hans
06:32z VK3NQP 7MHz SSB 57/58 David
06:33z VK1MA 7MHz SSB 57/58 Matt
06:35z VK3PF 7MHz SSB 58/59 Peter

Thanks to all i worked on the two activations.

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