Mt Bryan – VK5/SE-001

An early morning start was needed to get us up to Mt Bryan – the highest summit in the Mt Lofty Ranges.   This is a summit that is only available during the winter month’s as the Heysen trail, which leads up to the summit is closed during the summer fire-ban season from 15 November – 30 April

We planned to be on the summit at 23:00UTC, so we could take advantage of the Day Roll-Over and hopefully secure a few more contacts.

Weather was looking up, it had been a pretty clear night, but in the 5 minutes we were putting the gear into the car low clouds started rolling in from the South – not a great sign.

After a 2 hour drive we arrived at Mt Bryan and then headed the 17km up Mt Bryan Road East, arriving at the Heysen trail for the hike to the summit just after 7am to be greeted my a magnificent sunrise!

Sunrise My BryanIt was a little ominous to look up and not be able to see the summit as it was covered in clouds.

mt bryanSomewhere up in the clouds is the summit that we were on the way to.

mt bryanYes, somewhere in the cloud there is a summit.

mt bryanJust below the cloud-line on the way to the summit.

We made it up to the top and signed the visitors book, then found somewhere out of the wind to set up ,and were on air on 40m at about 23:15

top of mt bryanThere was a summit in the clouds!

Yes, the hike up the hill is a comfortable 1hr 15 minutes from the road, with about a 4kg pack, radio, battery, drink, antenna, squid pole and chair.

We used the fence post just down between the peak with the old trig point and the memorial cairn on it to attach the squid pole – as it was the only point in the activation zone that was a little bit out of the wind!


on the summitWhen it is cold and damp, I was very glad to have brought a chair and not been sitting on the ground!

on the summit

We were in the cloud and managed 25 contacts before the day rolled over.  Just before day roll-over a very fine rain started that was getting right thru everything.

A further 14 contacts were made before we pulled the plug at just after 00:15 and packed up.

A few more photos on the summit before we made our way back down the trail – where the wind had picked up and the rain was just blasting thru!

stone chair

The stone chair

mt bryan trig pointThe remains of the original trig point

Back at the car in just under an hour from leaving the summit, we headed back and stopped by the Burra Bakery for a pie on the way home.

13/06/14 worked the following stations:


And after the day rolled over, worked the following on the 14/06/14


A big thanks for everyone that called in making the hike to the summit worth the effort!

Mt Gawler

SOTA Summit VK5/SE-013

Went out and did my first SOTA activation this afternoon.  It was a nice day and I had a little bit of time.  This summit is very accessible and only a 15 minute drive from home.  On the way home we posted an alert to sotawatch in the hope we would have a successful activation.

We found a suitable spot to do the activation on the side of the road, and turned around, then jumped out and walked into the zone with my kit.

Put up the 40M dipole and tuned to 7.095 and put out a CQ call at 06:23UTC.

CQ 40 this is VK5FO…

You might note that in the photo, I am holding my headphones away from my ear – a necessity as i do not have any ALC on the RX and don’t need a strong station blasting my ears out!

Within a minute on the 2nd call, VK5NIG replied to my call and let me know that he had been out and activated this site earlier in the day!  (next time, look at the alerts before heading out…)

The responses to my calls came thick and fast and over the next hour. I had 33 contacts in the log for the activation.

On the way home, I got an e-mail that had a short video attached from vk5fgry – from his portable location in Morialta CP (about 16km away) he recorded my last logged contact for the activation with VK3FB/p


By this time a few of my earlier contacts let me know that my signal was getting pretty bad – like my battery was getting flat, so I packed up and called it an afternoon.

just under an hour and 33 logged, a pretty successful 1st SOTA activation.


There are a few other easily accessible summits that I will get out and activate in the coming weeks.





Montacute CP

This afternoon, I packed up the new KN-Q7A Transceiver, the T1 Tuner, Squid Pole, 40M dipole, and a Battery and headed out to Montacute CP.


We drove to the end of the road, and walked into the Park along a section of the Heyson Trail for about 15 minutes up to near the top of the hill.

We set up just up the trail, near the top/right where it bends around near the crest of the hill.  Within a few minutes, I was sitting on the side of the track and calling on 40M.

Now, today was a special day as I was operating my new KN-Q7A Transceiver for the first time after a false start on Saturday, where I went out and found that The tuning was a little off!

I started calling and within a few minutes had my first contact in the log – and by all accounts, from everyone who answered I was doing pretty good from the approx 12 Watts I was transmitting.  Yes, that is my tuning “cheat sheet” – as the Transceiver only has a VXO.  Before heading out, we set up an SDR and plotted the frequencies and made a note of the dial readings for each 5khz step and then the maximum and minimum.   I only have 7072 to 7102 tuning range and it will do for the next few weeks until I build the DDS kit and mod it!

My “Portable Station” – we found a nice little plastic box that fits everything needed – radio, tuner, battery, antenna, patch cables and a logbook, just the 1 box and the squid pole makes going portable very lightweight.  For the astute, you will note, no internal speaker (wasting valuable space that will be used for other mods) instead, it is a speaker/mic which is quite reasonable.

Thanks to everyone who called and a bigger thanks to a few others who came down into my tuning range to respond to my call!

This afternoon, we worked the following VK’s –  5ZAR, 3PF, 3ANL, 3FPY/5, 5WG, 5FMID, 3AMB, 5PAS/p*, 5LY, 5FGMH, 5KGP, 5BB, 5CZ, 5FGRY/p*

There were a few new calls in the log and a few now familiar ones as well!

VK5PAS was portable operating from Mt George CP, and VK5FGRY was  also portable in Morialta CP, for 2 Park to Park contacts in the logs.

Lets face it, it is not just about playing Radio that makes it worthwhile getting out into the Parks because as we were packing up, the sun was just setting and it was quite spectacular!

With a sunset and view like this, why wouldn’t you want to be out there!

We were also rewarded with lots of birds and a couple of Kangaroo’s  crossing the track on our way back down.

Yep, if you look carefully, you will see that I took one of these sunset  Images and added it to my blog as the banner image.

… and then… Since Gary (VK5FGRY) was at Morialta CP, and literally only a 15 minute drive away, we dropped in there on the way home – why only do 1 park when you can do 2!

Gary was set up using his new 10M Pole from DX-wire and it is slightly larger on the top section than a standard squid pole making the whole 10M useable – certainly a good looking pole that is worthy of adding to the portable kit.  I borrowed Gary’s dipole and worked a couple more interesting stations.

VK5NIG was portable on Summit SE-013 – Mount Gawler and then VK3NBI/p and he was working from the Cape Ottway Lighthouse – getting everything ready for the Lighthouse Weekend in August.

For anyone looking for a nice lightweight radio, from the reports I had back today, that this one should be a real contender for a lightweight rig to put in a pack and get out there, certainly a lot easier than taking the IC-706 which we used for the first few activations, and in it’s current state, very battery-friendly on receive (only 40ma).

With today’s activation(s) I have now done 5 unique CP’s and probably now also logged enough as a hunter to qualify for a bronze hunter, not bad for a month!

Look forward to logging you from another park soon.

40M SSB Transceiver kit

A few days ago my KN-Q7A 40M SSB txcvr kit by crkits arrived.


When it turned up, I had to take a 2nd look – this thing is tiny – somehow I thought it was going to be bigger.

I have been putting it all together and at the moment the RX is finished and working, just the Output (Power Amp) Stage and physically putting it all together to go.

I spent a few hours over 2 evening and the assembly instructions are both logical and very good!  It is not a kit for the first time builder, but on the same token, with a few kits under your belt it would be an easy one to tackle.

Already, I am reasonably impressed with the receiver.  it has a nice, tight bandwidth –  350-2100hz, and about -45db at 2500hz.  Sensitivity-wise, I am only guessing, but based on my Vertical antenna and dipole, it is quite comparable to both the Icom 706 and the TS-2000 (with the TS 2000 set to 300hz/2200hz filter bandwidth).   I usually like to use 200/2400 on the filter so this receiver is very close.

Initially I am building it as-is and once it is all up and working I’ll then go and do a few mods to improve it in a couple of areas.

I went with the 7080-7100 VXO version and a quick check and It tunes from around 7077 – 7102, just perfect to cover 7090 and 7100 (and a little more as well).  Already, I have found that tuning is very touchy, but that will be solved when I modify it and add a DDS – yep I have the ILER DDS Kit  which will  replace the VXO – it will give me decent stability and be much easier to tune.


As this is a kit, it can be built to fit inside the case of the Transceiver, with the display in the top.

There are some nice suggestions over at David – VK3IL‘s blog for some mods that he has done and a bit of discussion relating to other possible mods as well.

The only other mods I am looking at is to add some audio processing before the Mixer – just a tad of compression to keep the average output power up,  probably looking at replacing or adding an extra audio stage  with some ALC and also to replace the toroid in the output transformer as per David’s suggestion.

Hopefully I’ll have it on air in a few days time, then start on all the mods.

CQ Parks

de AX5FO Calling CQ from Torrens Island Conservation Park.


Lets just step back a bit and see what it took to get here.  Last Monday, I gave Andy ‘5AKH a call and asked if could borrow his KX3 as I was planning to go over to Torrens Island CP  and Activate it on Anzac Day.  My request was countered with ” Can I borrow a kayak and I’ll bring my radio with me!”

With a final check of the weather reports and tides  saw us meet up at St Kilda boat ramp at around 08:00 (local time) where we sorted ourselves out and packed up to paddle the approx 2km over to Torrens Island Conservation Park.


We arrived a little after 9am right on low tide and dragged the Kayaks up above the expected tide level onto the beach.  We quickly assembled the station – a sand spike to hold the squid pole, up with the pole and we tied off the dipole to some mangroves.

At 23:47 UTC 24/04/2014 I made a CQ call on 7.100 and over the next 20 – 30 minutes we worked  11 stations.   We think that this was the first time this CP had been activated and when Paul, ‘5PAS came up,  we asked and he was fairly sure that it was the first as well.

Whilst I was working thru the calls, Andy was also busy, taking a few photos – you can see them on his Blog.

After the initial contacts, Andy came up and he also called CQ as AX5AKH.   Of course, given that the new day (UTC) had rolled over, he had a few repeat calls, but within the next 20 -30 minutes he logged 8 contacts in the log.

We then switched over and I made a CQ call under the Club Call of AX5ARG and we made 2 contacts.

About this time we had a visitor drop in on us – Matt, VK5ZM was out with his boys in the boat and he had gone via St Kilda and picked up Ray VK5RR and they joined us on Torrens Island.

Since he was there,  and we had both been calling, we told Matt to give it a go!  He also put out a call – and logged a further 7 stations in just 6 minutes!

With the tide showing signs of coming in, I made a final call and logged 3 more stations before we decided to pack up and head back to St Kilda.

A big thanks to everyone who answered our calls from this first activation of Torrens Island CP.  Given that the only access to the CP is via water, it takes a bit more planning and effort than the CP that you can drive right up to and I can hope that someone else will activate this CP again so I can log it as a hunter.

Much like the ANZAC’s 99 years ago, we arrived by boat and landed on the beach, but unlike all that time ago, we did not have anyone shooting at us.  Lest We Forget.

We came, we landed, we called CQ.

Apologies to anyone up front if you were calling as AX instead of VK, as we only logged the number’s and not the prefixes for most stations.  Please do let me know if you called as AX and I will adjust my logs.


Bob Operating as AX5FO:

VK5ZAR, VK5LY, VK3UBY, VK5QI (Happy Birthday Mark), VK5ZKT, VK5HCF, VK3FQSO, AX5PAS, VK3ZPF, VK5KGP, VK5ZK   Then I logged VK3HRA, VK5FTRG and AX5KX.

Andy Operating as AX5AKH


Bob Operating the Club Callsign  AX5ARG logged 2 calls

00:14UTC 25/04/2014 VK5ZEA
00:15UTC 25/04/2014 VK5LA

Finally, Matt Operating as AX5ZM

VK5HCF, VK5ZAR, VK5LI/p, AX5MTM/p, VK5DT, VK5WG and VK5FGRY who was portable from Morialta CP for a Park to Park contact.

Cannot promise to add a new park to the activated list next time, but hope to hear you from another NP or CP on 40M soon!