Category Archives: SOTA

Long Weekend

Easter weekend presents an opportunity for portable activation’s -well 4 opportunities as it turned out.

Although the weather was not perfect, i took the opportunity on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday to get out portable somewhere!

Friday Afternoon – Horsnell Gully CP

Horsnell Gully CP

This is a new CP for me.  I have driven past within 1-2km several times but never stopped and activated.  It was a late afternoon activation of this CP and set up not far from the entrance tied up to the fence.  set up using and EFHW as an inverted L.

We accessed the CP at the end of Coach Road (top end off Ridge Rd).  Chose this end of the park as it is further away from houses (and QRM) and also about 200M higher in elevation than down towards the bottom of this CP.  Surprisingly, even though there is HT power lines running alongside the CP and all within about 500M of where we set up there were no issues with noise at all like you can get.


As soon as I set up, I managed to work Peter VK3PF who was set up in Cape Liptrap Coastal Park MP(VKFF-745) before finding a frequency and managing to log around 20 contacts on 40M mainly with VK3 and VK5 chasers.

Now, i wish I had made better notes, but 1 contact with a VK3 was a highlight as I gave this hunter the contact to push them to Gold for the SANPCA award.

Saturday Evening – QPR Hours Contest – Mt Gawler VK5/SE-013

Qrp Hours 2015 Mt gawler

For the QRP hours contest on Saturday evening, I headed up to Mt Gawler – VK5/SE-013 and set up the 80m dipole as an inverted V

It was a bit sub-optimum with the height of the apex being only about 8M high.  The first hour I operated PSK31 and managed a handful of contacts including VK1, VK3, VK5 and VK6 using 3W.  The 2nd hour, for SSB whilst not a real high score was tough going, the noise on 80M was a bit of a battle, but did manage contacts to VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5 using only 5W.

So, remember, if you worked me during the hours contest, Please go ahead and claim your Sota contact – I have uploaded the logs to Sotadata

Sunday – Black Bullock Hill VK5/SE-016


Yes, you might see the Deep Creek CP sign, but the Summit is not in the CP!  the CP is around another 6km down the road, You can almost see the trig point in the background just over the fence on private property.

This was an opportunistic Activation and also a new summit for me.  I was down on the Peninsular and given that it was only about 40km out of my way, headed home via this “summit”.  As we were setting up, we were watching the rain coming in and threatening to drown us.

It was far quicker than I really wanted, and signals were not too great, but did manage to work several of the regulars and even manage a S2S with VK3KAB on VK3/VE-023.

A total of 22 contacts logged across VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4 and VK5 – most on 40m and a couple on 20M.

this activation pushed my activator points up to a massive 30 points – so at this rate, it will only be another 34 years until I reach goatdom!

A very easy summit to activate apart from the distance!


Monday Mt Lofty – Trifecta Activation

My Lofty always was a double – with VK5/SE-005 and Cleland CP, but with the recent addition of Cleland CP to VKFF as VKFF-778 it makes the trifecta.  Any chasers here now can get credit for all 3.

Monday weather was miserable.  I was watching the weather radar and it indicated that there should be a bit of a break for a couple of hours, so we headed out.

Got to the parking area and whilst it was a bit windy and cold, it was not raining.  Within 5 minutes of setting up it got a bit horrible – just enough drizzle to get everything damp, but not quite strong enough to drive me off the summit.

Before I decided it was too cold I managed to log 26 contacts across VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5 most on 40M and a few on 20M.

I did not quite hit the 44 contacts this time, but once I do I’ll submit a log for WWFF.

No photos from here -it was too cold to push the button on the phone to get something!


Across the weekend, I used the FX-4a and an EFHW cut for 40M for 3 of the activation’s.  exception was for the QRP hours contest where I used the KX3 and an 80M dipole.

My normal fare antenna-wise is to use a dipole.  I wanted to try using the EFHW as some operators swear by them and some swear AT them!  I also use the T1 tuner to get the best possible match and so far am finding that It is very difficult to get a good match on 40M.  It does manage to match it, but I might need to take a further look at this.

I am sort of in the middle of the road with this antenna.  Yes, it is trivial to deploy, Yes, it does seem to tune up reasonably OK on all bands from 40-10M with both the KX3 internal tuner and the T1 External tuner, and yes, still manage to put 20-30 contacts into my logs for each outing I have used it.  Now once I manage to get the tuning sorted out for 40M I will simply add it to my kit and use as required.  Always good to have choices as sometimes it can be difficult to find the 3rd point to deploy a dipole, but it is usually trivial to get somewhere to tie up a squid pole and then a single end of the EFHW wire in an inverted L type of configuration.

4 activation’s, total of around 6 -7 hours and I only used about 50% of 1 of my 4S, 5000maH Lipo’s.  really loving these batteries – even in the cold they seem to be performing really well.

Now, the last thing I need to do is to put the gear together into 2 kits and have a choice of how I operate somewhat – the lightweight kit with the KX3 and the even lighter kit with the FX-4a for the longer hikes where every extra gram counts!


After Breakfast

A bit of an impromptu Activation today of Mt Lofty.

Work has been getting in the way of heading out portable over the last week or so but today, I grabbed an opportunity.

Well, this morning had a very nice brunch at the Crafers Gourmet Deli which was is only 4 km from the summit.  Highly recommended – grab a meal, then do a SOTA activation!  On the way out the door, grabbed the bag and checked that I had everything I needed.

First off Breakfast was awesome!


Yeah, it was worth the drive to the Cafe!

Anyway after a nice meal, it was off to Mt Lofty summit.

We set up about 100m from the car park just inside the gates on 40M  and put up a spot and gave a few calls.

It was pretty tough going – some of the worst conditions I can remember for a long time on 40M – Every single contact was a challenge.  So much that it was a releif when I made the 4th and qualified this summit (first time in 2015)

After a struggle on 40, with 10 contacts logged across VK2,3 and 7.  There were some chasers who were way down in the noise, that I could not pull out.

And a Big THANKS (NOT!) to the “helpful” person who decided that they felt the need to relay callsigns and signal reports and therefore invalidating a couple of contacts.  Whilst you think you are helping, you only guarantee that a chaser is not logged and gets no points.

I tried 30M next.  It was a lot better, the contacts were quite a bit easier – and put 4 into the log here from VK1,2 and 3.  30M is the sweet spot most of the time from VK5 into VK1 – or the 900km distance mark nearly every time I try 30, I end up with VK1 chasers in the log.  Today was no exception and the noise on 30 was quite a bit lower than on 40.


While I was calling on 30M (yeah gotta love the voice keyer on the KX3!)

Off to 20M, hoping to pick up any of the VK6 boys – but no such luck. Did manage to pull out a couple who said they could not hear me on both lower bands at all so it was worth the try.  20M added 6 more chasers to the logs from VK3,4 and a surprise – VK5 as well.  Once again, 20M conditions were not brilliant, but the noise was even less than the lower bands and it made the contacts that much easier.

Finally I jumped back to 40M and hoped that the conditions had improved, but well, lets just say that not really!  I did add a few extra contacts to the logs across VK3 and 5.

One thing for sure the WX was about perfect for a summit hovering around the 20 deg mark and nice and sunny.

Finally pulled the plug after about 90 minutes and had 26 contacts logged.  Thanks to all the chasers who persisted in tough conditions to make this an enjoyable activation.


I have recently switched over to using 4S 5000maH Lipo batteries for my portable  operations – and dropped the weight down from 2.7kg for a 9aH SLAB to 550g.  Today, I did this whole 90 minute activation using the same battery that I had for my last 2 Friday evening Twilight Activation’s.  I have not written them up, but the first was nearly 3 1/2 hours, and the 2nd was about 2/12 hours.  At the end of today, this put just over 7 hours of operations on the battery – and at the end it was still about 35% charge remaining.

I have just finished floating it up and in fact, it was only 60% down.

This is a massive improvement over the time I was getting from the SLAB’s with their inherent high internal resistance and low voltage.

Yes, 4S Lipo when fully charged is 16.8V, which is a tad hot for the KX3 – so yes, I do utilize a battery conditioner which I have posted about before.

For the $32 for the battery (hard case from hobby king) it is one of the best investments I have made for my portable kit.  Now I know that with the 2 batteries I have, I can do at least 10 hours of portable operations and not need to worry.

Don’t take it for granted.

… yeah , the scenery and beauty of our summits that is.

As I am sure most SOTA chasers will be aware, there was a devastating bushfire that swept thru the the Mt Gawler summit and burnt nearly 12,000Ha and several homes.

Today was the first time I ventured back up this hill since the fires 3 weeks ago.

What I mean by not taking it for granted was this – I go up there “all the time” and only have a very small number of photos of the scenery.  I did manage to pull a photo from my 2014/2015 roll-over activation – and that was because we set up a 6M beam  and I wanted a photo of that.

So, first off the before.

Mt Gawler

You cannot really see a great deal – but you can see that it it typical eucalyptus bush.

The first view of smoke – towards Mt Gawler
Mt gawler fire

The during – This was when the fire was at it’s worst and looking directly towards Mt Gawler.

Fire in the hills

The photo was from 7km away and yes, those flames are well over 50M tall!

Today, 3 weeks later.

After the fire

Not quite the same perspective as the before photo, but from a similar spot – yes, burnt right up to the fenceline and really destroyed a lot of the bush for sure.

Another spot – this is just opposite the gateway to Noel’s property (where the trig point is) and that pile of cut down trees that were probably over the road is where I used to park the car when activating.  No, not enough space to pull off the road anymore, so I will be activating from a bit further along the road for the time being.

Mt Gawler

Now, what I am truly looking forward to over the next several month’s is watching the transformation of this summit and surrounds back to what it was.

But yet again, thus summit surprised me – with the wildlife!  We had a kangaroo come up thru the burnt area to within about 10m of us, and then hopped off, and when we were leaving, one of the Emu’s we often see was spotted on the back deck of a house that survived – joining a party!

The fire was intense in this area and no doubt, it will be a good few years before it is anything like it was but also what we saw was amazing – at how close this fire got to so many houses and the house are still there without too much sign of damage.

Anyway, onto the Activation!

Had a really pleasant afternoon, and  started out on 40M and was able to provide points to 22 stations across VK1, VK2,VK3 and VK5.  It was not too hectic, just a few times where there was more than 1 caller, but worked everyone eventually!

Jumped up to 20M hoping for a little bit of EU action, and worked VK6MB, ON5SWA, DJ5AV and OK2PDT – then it was as someone switched off the band to EU – could hear a little bit but way down, but pleased to have at least some DX.

A quick try on 17M, but no takers, so jumped onto 30M and picked up a couple more, before jumping back to 40M and had a couple of final contacts before packing up.

Yeah, I’ll be making more of an effort to take a couple of photos each and every time I head out be it to a summit or a park, because you literally never know if it will ever be the same again.

Thanks again to all the chasers – look forward to working everyone from another summit or park soon!

Edit: addition of a few extra photos.

 Extra Photos

After a post on the Yahoo Group, Ed shared a video from his Activation on the SA SOTA 1st anniversary  I actually have some photos that are from the same direction as early in the video.

It just goes to show, that sometimes what we take for granted ( a local hill) is something special for a visitor!

Mt gawler

Mt Gawler

Looking Out across towards Gawler, and for the astute, if you look at the Emu photo in the coat of arms activation it is the same direction

Towards Gawler from Mt Gawler

And Finally, check Ed’s video carefully for the Signpost at Mt Gawler Road and Richardson Road – the tree is no more.



Ed’s video is a further reminder that the Camera is an essential part of the portable kit, and should be used every single outing.

3 days 3 new summits

Whilst on a recent trip to VK2 to participate in my other pastime of Marathon Kayaking, I made sure to pack my SOTA kit and planned to activate at least a couple of summits.

I had limited time, but managed to find a couple of hours on 3 consecutive (week) days and was able to do 3 activations

Summit 1 – VK2/HU-080

On Monday (27/10), I was only 15km away from Summit Point, which is about 5km North of Mt Sugarloaf, a hill I had climbed countless times as a kid.

A quick look at the website, and access seemed to be reasonably easy – with a drive up to near Mt Sugarloaf then a 4.8km drive on a well maintained dirt road to a small parking area just below the summit.

Carved Rock near the track to the summit
Carved Rock near the track to the summit

I grabbed everything and did the quick walk up to the summit, obligatory photo of the summit then moved just below the plateau and set up out of the wind.

Summit of Summit Point
Summit of Summit Point

I decided to try several bands 15-40M.

Yes, it was a week-day, and I was hopeful that the band gods would be kind and grant an EU opening, but no such luck.

I had contacts on 17 (the first 17m contact for this summit), 20, 30 and 40m with a total of 11 contacts – not bad for a Monday afternoon!

CQ Sota.....
CQ Sota…..


Summit 2 – VK2/IL-007

On Tuesday, we were heading down to the South Coast and after checking, Knight’s Hill, looked to be reasonably easy to access and not too far out of the way.

We were only going to have a short time to do the activation, so decided to just do 40m and 20m as well in the hope of adding some VK5 or 6’s to the logs.

Given we could drive right to the activation one with no access to the actual summit, parked up, grabbed the gear and did the walk in/out of the zone then set up, tieing the squid pole to a convenient post near the side of the road.

Knights Hill summit behind a locked gate.
Knights Hill summit behind a locked gate.


It was pretty windy again, with nowhere out of the wind, so just set up and made the best of it, sitting on the ground.


Managed 9 contacts on 40m and a single contact on 20m in about 20 minutes.  Once again, not bad for a Tuesday afternoon.

Did I say it was windy on this hill?
Did I say it was windy on this hill?

You can see the RG316 being blown well away from the squid pole!

Summit 3 – VK2/IL-001

Finally, on Wednesday, we made a diversion on  the drive back to VK5 and called into Mt Gibraltar.  Again, this summit was chosen because it seemed like a fairly easy one to get to in the limited time we had, given that there is a road around the summit that is within the activation zone.

We drove around the summit and found a convenient parking spot near the side of the road that also had a track both up and down.  Grabbed the gear, walked down and out of the activation zone, came back up across the road and onto a sparse rocky area with just enough places to set up.

Setting Up
Setting Up

A convenient flat rock would serve as an operating position, you can see the comms towers in the background at the summit.


Just about ready to start, plugging the coax into the KX3.


Once again, being a weekday, we decided to start out on 40m then also try 20m once the calls dried up.  We had 13 contacts on 40m and again, just the 1 on 20m.  Again, given that it was early afternoon on a Wednesday, I was pretty happy to get the contacts.

One of the contacts, Andrew, VK2UH invited us in for a coffee on our way past his QTH, which we did a few hours later.


Anyone who has ever been up to this summit will know that it is not the most attractive, and this was the view out to the East from the operating position.  At least the access was easy!

With these 3 summits I have pushed my Activator score to a massive 23 points, yep, maybe in a few years I’ll be up to the front left hoof of that goat 🙂  A big thanks to all of the chasers who make it worthwhile.  As an aside, I was able to chase a few activators from the mobile as well – bumping my sloth count up just a little bit as well.

The coat of arms activation

.. or just some of the reasons why SOTA is so much fun!

On Wednesday evening, having finished work early, I grabbed my gear and ducked out for a quick Activation on Mt Gawler.

given it was still reasonably early, and even though the WSPR maps didn’t indicate an EU path, I gave a shout on 20M for a little while – There were a couple in there, but only managed to complete a contact with Don, G0RQL – for the 8th time from this summit.

Yet again, this summit surprised me – as when we were setting up, about 20 feet away in the scrub there was a Kangaroo just sitting there watching.  I didn’t have anything other than the camera in my phone and I could not even see the kangaroo in the pictures I took.

It just kept grazing on the grass and keeping an eye on us for nearly an hour before it moved off, all the while working several VK stations on 40M, and a repeat contact when I gave a call on 30M.

As we were packing up, with the sun starting to set, we moved a little bit over the road towards the sunset – which was spectacular, and lo and behold, there were a couple of Emu’s wandering around in the Paddock amongst the Alpacas.  One of then decided to check us out and came right up to the fence to check us out!

The emu that came up to the fence to check us out
The emu that came up to the fence to check us out

I did grab a few pictures with my phone, but none of them were much good – But still thought I would share 1.


Mt Gawler sunset

And of course, the Sunset was not too bad either!

Mt Gawler sunset

And it did get better just as the sun hit the horizon.

Yeah, only a handful of contacts, but still one of the most enjoyable activation’s none the less.