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!

Team VK5FI

Well, for something completely different.

Team VK5FI is VK5RR and VK5FO, and FI is ‘5RR’s other callsign.

We decided to have a go in the VHF/UHF Spring Field day.  With the introduction of the (up to) 4 band section, and having both reasonable power and antennas for the task on the 3 low bands where we put the station together over a few weeks and yesterday morning got out and had a good solid go in the 8 hour section.  The intention was to operate SSB and FM on 6m, 2m and 70cm

For the location, we decided on the Ardrossan lookout at PF85WN – which is about 80km (los) across the Gulf back to Adelaide.

spring-vhf-uhf-2015Screenshot from contestradar

Now a little about the station we put together

The Common Equipment

To power the station we had a 165aH AGM 12V battery, and A huge thanks to VK5AKH for the loan of his Honda Generator – which we used to “float” the battery and to also provide power to the logging Laptops – we had no issues at all with power for the day.

We had the battery in the trailer, which also served as a support for all the antenna’s.

The station consisted of 3 txcvr’s – 1 for each band we were operating.  All 3 Radios used have remote heads, which makes setting up a lot easier than having to set up right next to the battery in the trailer!

We used the Armstrong method for rotating the beams.

The 6M Station

The station was quite simple – we put back into service the ancient IC-706  and coupled to a 2 Element Beam (horizontal), running a full 100w.

The antenna was on the same pole as the 70cm beam and up at about 4m High.

The 2M Station

On 2m we used the IC-7100 feeding a 6 Element Beam (Vertical) on it’s own pole up at around the 4.5M mark.  After about the first 2 hours, we realized that when you unplug the remote head from an IC-7100, that it reset the output power – so for the first 2 hours, we were only running 1W output instead of the intended 50W!  (and surprisingly, we did not really suffer too much as a result).

We also put up a Slim-Jim vertical at 10M high for 2m and had it connected up to a handheld, but in the end did not use it or the contest.

The 70cm Station

On 70cm we opted to us the TS-2000 – as it is the highest power we have on this band.  It was coupled to a 17 Element short boom yagi (approx 2m long) and put on the same pole as the 6m antenna at about 5M high.  We set the polarity to be 45deg – so not truly vertical or horizontal.

We arrived at the Ardrossan lookout with a bit over an hour to set up.


Overlooking the Gulf from the lookout with the antennas on the roof racks.

So, we positioned ourselves where we could set up and operate and also so as not to be in the way with other visitors to the lookout and set up the station.


The station, set up and ready to go.

Just out of the photo to the left we set up the generator near the rock,  The trailer – it has the battery in it and also supports the 2 (3*) poles for the antenna’s.  The plastic box on the draw bar contains the 3 transceivers – all close to the power source!  On the Other side of the car we tied up a tarp to provide shade over the table we set up to operate from.

The 3rd pole was the 12m spiderbeam pole with the 2m Slim Jim.


The other side.


The trailer with the battery and the poles for the antenna’s – and under the tarp is ‘5RR starting to operate on 2M.  The esky was lunch!

We did a simple split – based on the antenna’s – Ray operated the 2M station and I contended with 6m and 70cm.

We were able to plod along and work a reasonable number of stations from this location.  For the most part on all bands we were able to simply leave the antennas pointed (roughly) at Adelaide, but there were a few exceptions where it was necessary to swing around to the North to make contacts.

The day was not great and the wind was quite strong and at around 5:30 the wind literally ripped the tarp to bits!  We had to take a bit of a break and move from the table into the car to keep operating.

With all stations having remote heads, this was not too much trouble to do – just pick up each remote head and feed them in the back of the car.  It made the rest of the operating more difficult.

According to VKCL we ended up with:

6m –  33 contacts
2m – 48 contacts
70cm –  51 contacts

Lessons and Improvements

Now, we are not really big VHF/UHF operators and it has probably been around 20 years since we did any sort of VHF/UHF contesting, let alone operating portable like this.

A decent, high operating point is a real advantage and having additional antenna gain was most welcome.

2 operators would still be easy to add a 4th band to the mix.  The combination of 6m and 70cm worked out ok.

The Good
  • It was a Fun day out!
  • We made a decent number of contacts on both FM and SSB on the chosen operating bands.
  • The set-up proved to be effective – set up in about 45 minutes, same for station pack-up.
The Improvements
  • Antennas for each band on their own pole.
  • Headphones/headsets!  With 2 operators literally sitting next to each other, and all 3 radios turned up at the same time it was difficult at times to hear.
  • Antenna’s – with the wind they moved around a bit!

For this sort of operating, on even these bands we literally pulled together all the gear we had at short notice and went out to give it a go.  It was obvious that there were stations we could not hear from our location and we later found out that there were several stations in the metro area using nothing more than a handheld – these are the one’s we could not hear.

Even the very modest home stations we were able to work in the Adelaide metro area.

For this style of operating, we had about the right mix of power and antenna gain from where we were.  We had no real issues of interference between the bands, maybe a little be of de-sense but nothing too be worried about.

The antenna choices were proven to be effective – vertical polarization (except 6m – we didn’t have the mast height) and the boom length on 2m and 70cm meant we could rotate them without it physically interfering with the other ones on the other pole – it was not necessary to go larger in this case.  It might be a different story if there were stations further afield that  you were chasing – but with the majority of the activity within close proximity to the Metro area  it was a good mix of being both physically easy to manage and gain.

A review on the logs and we determined that the range of all stations worked was between 61 and 158km from us.

Update – The Results


Division 1

 Portable Loctn: PF85WN - Ardrossan Lookout

 L'tors Actvtd: PF85 

 Section: B2b: Portable Multi-Op, 8 hours, Four Band

 Division: 1: Locator Based Scoring

 Operators: VK5RR Ray, VK5FO Bob

 No.of Contacts: 132

 Total Score: 792

Division 2

 Portable Loctn: PF85WN - Ardrossan Lookout

 L'tors Actvtd: PF85

 Section: B2b: Portable Multi-Op, 8 hours, Four Band

 Division: 2: Distance Based Scoring

 Operators: VK5RR Ray, VK5FO Bob

 No.of Contacts: 132

 Total Score: 24037