Category Archives: VK5 Parks Activations

VKFF Weekend Nov 2015

For the VKFF Activation weekend, we found the time to get out to one of the new SA parks that had recently been added to the VKFF list.  On the Saturday afternoon, we were able to get out to the Ramco Point CP – VKFF-0930

This is a little gem of a park that at first it is unclear on it’s boundaries,  but with a little bit of searching, we were able to find it.  The frustrating bit is this park is not listed on Google Maps but it is listed on the Protected Planet Maps.

Now, this has not always been Ramco Point CP – as is evidence from the old signs on the borders to the park.

Ramco Forest Reserve
Ramco Forest Reserve

The park extends from between the Ramco Lagoon, up the cliff face to a small area adjacent to the Cadell Valley Road, where we entered the park.

We found a suitable spot not far from the top of the cliffs on an un-used track and set up.  It was not the highest point in the park, but down the slope a bit which did offer a bit of extra protection should the wind have come up.

Ramco Pt CP
Ramco Pt CP

We picked a spot where there was a tree to tie up the squid pole and offer a bit of shade for the afternoon.

The Shack for the day
The Shack for the day
Setting up
Setting up
Map courtesy of protected planet
Map courtesy of protected planet

The red dot on the map was our operating position on the cliff top.

We arrived mid-afternoon as the hope was to work EU if 20M was open. We were a bit early so started out on 15M.

Once we were set up we called  first on 15M and worked Rick VK4RF for the very first contact from Ramco Point CP as a VKFF park.

We made a handful of contacts before heading to 40M where we made quite a few more before trying 20M.  Well, 20M did not really open up and we only had a single, very difficult DX contact on 20 with DK4RM, so we headed back to 40M and kept working the stations in an attempt to get the 44 and make it a valid WWFF activation.

A highlight was to work Peter, VK3YE who was flying a kite on Chelsea beach to support a wire antenna on 40M,

As the day went on 40M also improved and eventually, we had logged 44 contacts!  We did work a few more as there were a couple of duplicates in the logs – with contacts on different bands and also a couple of others who had moved to different parks.

The Results

We ended the day with 53 stations logged, 4 on 15M, 6 on 20M and 43 on 40M and in the mix we worked 11 VKFF Park to Park contacts.  With just 2 repeats (different bands), 1 duplicate, and another contact that was with VK3ZPF from 2 different parks, we well and truly passed the 44 with a total of 48 unique contacts for the day.

Of course, Ramco Point CP also qualifies for the SANPCA as well, and this was a new one for me as an activator.

This was also a good day, as before we went out to the park I logged a further 7 VKFF parks as a chaser – and that is well over 1/2 of the activators who were out on Saturday who I logged.

Just before packing up, I walked to the cliff-top to take in the spectacular views offered here.

Murray River - Downstream
Murray River – Downstream

The view downstream – right in the foreground down the cliff you can see the backwater where the Ramco Lagoon flows into the Murray River.

If you look at the map, from our operating position, this is the view towards to top of the map

Murray River - Upstream
Murray River – Upstream

Looking upstream, again with the Ramco Lagoon in the foreground and a bit more to the right, then the Murray River  all the way back to Waikerie. This is the view from the red dot towards the bottom right on the map.

We were blessed with a very pleasant operating spot, a few steps away from spectacular view up and down the Murray River and a really nice day with temperatures in the mid 20’s  – It simply doesn’t get much better than this!

VI5MCP so far

With Winter hitting us here in VK5 and cold, wet and windy conditions it has made for some very short expeditions out to activate VI5MCP.

On Saturday afternoon (11th July), we got out and set up on 20M and logged 7 stations before it closed out – the very first contact was a DX station S58AL from Slovenia. Also on 20M we logged Germany, Azores, Indonesia as well as a few VK stations. We switched over to 40M and worked a further 12 stations from VK1,2,3,4 and 5. As it was now dark, and very cold (around 3deg) it was time to pack up and get warm!  We were using a vertical on 20m and an inverted V on 40M with the KX3 running 10W.

Sunday Morning saw very similar wx – cold and windy with a threat of rain. as we arrived there was a very light drizzle, and as soon as it stopped we set up. Again it was quite cold and windy and we also did get a few spots of rain. It was fairly slow going, and worked 19 stations across VK3 and VK5 on 40M before going to 15M, where we worked our only dx station of the day KA1R. We tried other bands – 30M and 20M each without any takers. We were joined by Andy Vk5AKH and he added a further contact to the logs on 40M for a tally of 21. As it was slow and starting to rain, we called it a day.  For this activation, we were just using an Inverted V dipole on each band and the KX3 at 10W.

This morning, Ben, VK5BB braved the elements and set up the station. He worked 13 contacts on 40M before the rain came in. I managed to work him from the Office on 2m Simplex when the rain stopped and he was packing up the HF antenna and he also made a 2nd contact on 2m to give him a tally of 15.

So, as of right now, this gives us 55 contacts and 6 countries in the logs. not too bad considering that it is the middle of winter!

The next activity will be on Saturday where we will be running a 100W 20m station with a 2 ele beam looking for EU.

Clublog of the last 50 contacts.

Warren CP

On Thursday afternoon I found myself with a few spare hours so on the spur of the moment, grabbed the Kit and headed out to a new (for me) Conservation Park.  It was good to be able to just get out into one of the Parks and play radio for a few hours.

I took a look on the map and decided that a new one was in order – and Warren CP is just a short 35 minute drive.

Warren_CPWarren CP is not far from Willamstown, and the entry that we chose is just 4km down a well-maintained dirt road.

There is a boardwalk for the first 100m or so of the track, and a good close look at the various Maps – Google maps and a newer resource – SA Maps  – using a combination of various overlays (including topo, and the Conservation boundaries overlay) got me not only to the park, but also assistied in finding a decent operating position once there.

I decided that a short 800m walk into the park and set-up in a cleared area on the hill near the entrance was a pretty good location and a short 10 minute walk in and started setting up

The operating Spot was in a small clearing just up among the trees
The operating Spot was in a small clearing just up among the trees

I had decided that I was going to have a crack on 20M and of course finish up on 40M.

So, I chose to go with just a single 1/4 Wave vertical for 20M and hope it was good enough to get a few contacts logged.

I was using a brand new “Sota Post” as a support for my squid pole and was also trying it out in the real-world for the first time.  It is a 12mm round SS spike that gets driven into the ground, and a lightened “star picket” with an in-built slide hammer.

The ground was surprisingly hard and By standing on it, I could get the post about 200mm into the ground.  then, this is where the slide hammer came into play and it was used to drive the post the next 300mm in.



This is a custom made post and proved to be just the ticket – sort of a trade off between being not too heavy to carry with you and not so light that it would not support a squid pole.

So first off was to set up the 20M vertical

Warren CP setting upRay ‘5RR was checking the tuning of the Antenna once we set up.  You can see some of the elevated ground radials as well.

Managed to get set up and on air just before 06:30UTC – which is about the right time to work a bit of EU DX.

Calling CQ Parks on 20M
Calling CQ Parks on 20M

It took a few minutes to find a clear frequency and then start calling CQ Parks.

The first Reply was from Italy and over the next 45 Minutes or so managed to work 29 Stations in 8 Countries.  the Highlight of the day was working F5XL who was portable in FFF-034 – not only my first EU WWFF contact, but while portable as well!

Countries worked on 20m were  Italy, Australia, Germany, France, Belgium, Azores,  Hungary, Ukraine and the UK.  What was good was to see not only some of the now familiar EU chaser callsigns in the logs but also to get a few new ones as well.

Yes, it does help that I was spotted on ParksnPeaks as well as on the DX cluster.

The bands did start to close out as the sun started to dip, so it was a rapid pull down the vertical and put up the 40M dipole to try and work a few.  On 40M Worked VK1, VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK6 stations with the highlight of being able to give VK3OF another unique SA park for his list.

With the sun almost gone it was a rapid pull-down – and again the slide-hammer on the “Sota Post” was very helpful in actually getting the pole back out of the ground!  Yes, it took a few hits in the upwards direction to get it to jump out!

We got packed up and back to the car just as it got dark.

All in all it was a pretty good activation – especially considering it was a week-day evening with less than 1 hour of notice.  It just goes to show how popular the chasing of the parks is – so if you have even a couple of hours on a week day evening, get out there and give it a go –  you never know what you might come up with!






Brookfield CP VKFF-822

Today on fairly short notice We had to head out to the Riverland.  As I have driven past Brookfield CP several times but never stopped to activate it, I  made the decision to stop for a couple of hours and Activate a new one for me.

We drove into the CP and followed the tracks around to the Picnic area and found a suitable place to set up.

We were running a bit later than I wanted to be there, and arrived and got on the air just after 06:30UTC – I was hoping to be there around 05:30 to work LP EU.

I have been working on  some New Antenna’s – yes plural – for 20M and thought that this was the perfect opportunity to try them out.

So, I set up, had a listen and the bands were quite busy, found a clear frequency, sent a spot and was pretty busy for the next hour!  It was so hectic that it was about 45 minutes before I had time to pause for a photo of the set-up today!

Brookfield CP 20150509

The Antenna system that I used today is a pair of phased  1/4 wave verticals with elevated ground plane.    Using 2x 7M squid poles,  the feedpoint is at the 2M high mark, and the 4 ground radials on each antenna slope back and are tied off to convenient places at ground level.  Each Antenna is spaced at 1/4 wavelength apart and theoretically I should have about 3.5db gain and around 10db F/B and a nice low take-off angle of somewhere around 17 deg.

Given the requirement for precise  spacing, I used a convenient sign next to the track to mount 1 Antenna to then measured out the required distance and direction and used a post I carry with me to support the 2nd pole.

Each Antenna has a 1/4 wavelength of 50 Ohm Coax attached o them, and for the phasing line, I used a 1/4 Wave length of 75 Ohm Coax, then a “T” to the Feedline (or in this case, directly to the KX3)

Now, My ASCII Art of the feed arrangements

1 represents each Vertical Antenna, physically spaced 5M apart (1/4 wavelength).  The ___50____ is 1/4 Wavelength (electrical) of 50 Ohm feedline, smilar is the __75___ for the electrical 1/4 wavelength 75 Ohm coax phasing line,  The “T” is the Feedpoint, where I can run a 50 Ohm Coax to the operating position or simply plug in directly to the Transceiver.

1_____50_____ – _____75_____ T _____50_____ 1

<<< Direction of Antenna Pattern

When Tuning the Antenna’s, Individually they tuned up very well – with a 1.3:1 VSWR across the whole band.  I took my time making sure that they were both exactly the same before connecting them together.  Once joined together, the Antenna Array came in at 1.4:1 across the 20M band, and of curse tuned no problem at all with the KX3.

I realize that given the need for 2 poles and to actually get them into the ground at the right places that I may not be able to use this antenna set-up on every activation, but yeah, when I can, I’ll give it a go.

Up until now I have only been using a dipole as an Inverted V on 20M at about 8M high when I go portable – and while it has been OK, the signals today were really good!  Yes, It might have been conditions, but I think that the much lower radiation angle might have played an important part of the success.

It was hardly any more trouble to get on the air than a single dipole,  it was all up in under 10 minutes.

Back to the Activation!  From 06:41UTC until 07:28UTC I logged 35 contacts on 20M with only 2 of them from VK!  They were mostly EU and just 1 from the US.  According to my logs, Today was a brilliant success as I added 5 new Countries to my logs for portable operations as well – so pretty pleased.

As we needed to exit Brookfield CP by sun-down, and 20M was slowing down, I quickly rolled out the EFHW for 40M and threw it up about 3M high between a couple of trees and posted a spot, and in the next 20 minutes or so worked the 9 required stations to log 44 contacts.  Knowing that a lot of regular hunters are in Canberra for the WIA Event this weekend, I was glad to be able to rustle up the last few needed contacts!

All things considered, with short notice, using a brand new antenna set-up, being about 90 minutes late, this was a great activation and I was really happy with how this antenna array performed.  Now, I just need to do it all again to prove it was not just good conditions today!

Brookfiled CP Sign 20150509

It was nearly dark when leaving the park and I grabbed a quick photo of the Sign (that is in need of repair) as we left the park.

VI5ANZAC Activation report

Tuesday evening (28th April) A small group of us put the VI5ANZAC special event call on air with a QRP portable activation from Morialta Conservation Park.

Morialta Conservation Park   the location of our operation
Morialta Conservation Park the location of our operation

First off, let’s step back a few weeks.  I was chatting with Grant VK5GR and he asked if I was available for 1 evening during the week whilst AREG has the VI5ANZAC callsign to put it on the air.  It eventually came to pass that the best option would be for me to lead a small group and do it as a QRP portable activation from one of the Local Conservation Parks just East of Adelaide in the Mt Lofty Ranges, the rest is now history!

This was not going to be an issue getting a portable station set up, so of course, we went 1 better and put 2 portable stations together so we could do our best to cover more than 1 band.  If you have been following, you would have seen my proposed activation details

With a whole 2 weeks to get it together, I set about doing a quick review of available operators within the Club and then on the qt also invited Paul VK5PAS to come along.  It was literally a case of hoping we had decent weather!  The best laid plans and we had a last minute work commitment by one of the operators, but still we managed to pull it all together.

The Wx held out and we had a predicted clear evening (no rain or wind) but knowing it would be still quite cool on the the top of the hill.

We were not disappointed!

Sun setting over Adelaide
Sun setting over Adelaide

On Tuesday afternoon, I met Gary, VK5FGRY on site at around 17:00 local time and we started getting set up for the evening.

A quick review of where to set up antenna’s and we got started.

Bob (left) and Gary (right) setting up  one of the Squid poles next to the tent
Bob (left) and Gary (right) setting up one of the Squid poles next to the tent

Paul VK5PAS arrived as we were setting up and assisted with the final details and we had the station ready to go and started calling at around and the first contact was logged at 08:49

Just as we got underway, Andy, VK5AKH arrived, and Ray VK5RR arrived about 20 minutes later.

Andy (front) and Paul (back) operating the 2 stations
Andy (front) and Paul (back) operating the 2 stations

The initial flurry on 40m was to be expected and we worked at a steady pace, rotating thru the operators on 40m for the next 90 minutes or so.   As the calls dried up on 40m we wound down the calling somewhat and 40m did in fact close out for all local contacts as well.  We could hear quite a bit of DX, but not work it.

The 2nd station started out on 20m and it was very slow – as feared, we had only just caught the tail end of 20m and had just a handful of contacts.

Gary (center) Ray (right) watching the operations by Bob
Gary (center) Ray (right) watching the operations by Bob

Given the conditions, we decided to move the 2nd station over to 80M earlier than we had initially planned and started calling there as well.  It was a slow and steady trickle of takers on 80m and we had an unusual request – could we try 160m!

Well, this was a bit of a challenge in itself as we were not at all prepared to have any sort of antenna on top band, but being challenged, we jury-rigged an EFHW as an extension onto the end of 1 of the 80M dipole elements, hit the tune button on the KX3 and managed to get it to tune!

Andy Operating one of the Stations
Andy Operating one of the Stations

The 2 stations for this operation were both KX3 Transceivers  with a headset running 10 watts on SSB, each set up with a laptop for logging.

Yes, we did manage 2 contacts on 160m – the first to Mt Gambier (400km) and the 2nd to an Adelaide Station.  Pretty impressive really considering the “Antenna” and power we were using!

Grant, VK5GR was a very late arrival and his plan was to set up and see how many local contacts we could get on 2m and 70cm to add to the mix.

Once everything really slowed down, we decided to call it quits just on 21:30 local time (12:00 UTC) and started pulling the station down.  Within 30 minutes we had everything down and packed up, with the final task to check the logs and upload them.

The final tally for the Tuesday Evening QRP* activation  (QRP on HF) was as follows.

Total contacts logged 73

160m 2
80m 12
40m 45
20m 3

2m 5
70cm 5

In the mix we had 1x US, 2 x ZL and remaining VK1 (VI1ANZAC), VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6 and VK7 -so a good representation right across the country, and we only missed on getting a VK8 in the logs.

Operators for the evening

VK5FO, Bob
VK5PAS, Paul
VK5AKH, Andy
VK5RR, Ray

and Grant VK5GR

Without the awesome logistical support from Gary VK5FGRY we would not have been as comfortable in the heated tent!

Bob (l) Andy (mid) and Paul (r) in the heated operating tent
Bob (l) Andy (mid) and Paul (r) in the heated operating tent

A big thanks to all the chasers who make such an activation even more enjoyable, and yes, all of the logs will be uploaded to WWFF in the coming days as the HF operation was compliant with VKFF and from a recognized park.

Thanks To Paul for the photos from the Evening’s Event.

Check out Paul’s report as well.