Category Archives: SOTA

Portable Station

While out this morning  on VK5/SE-013, I finally remembered to take a few photos of my setup, so here goes!

After sitting on the ground too many times, it has come down to this!  A lightweight table – just big enough for the KX3, paper log and laptop (for the easy summits) -and best of all, got it on special for only $30!

This summit is a very easy one, and we have set up here, with the squid pole for the dipole tied up to a post just behind me.   The 2nd set of headphones – yep – for 5RR who took the photos today.  Earphones are an essential – they keep the ears warm on the cold summit, and if there is any wind you really need them to hear.

The headset just makes it easy – and the Yamaha CM-500 is a mid-priced headset that matches up with the KX3 pretty well – I always get great audio reports.


The station from the operating position – the walkstool can be seen, and for the astute, you will see the foot switch – the black disk on the ground near the corner of the table, which keeps both hands free for logging or tuning. Usually just have a 9aH SLAB for power – means we can go for about 5 hours between charges.  The little blue box near the KX3 is the power conditioner – a great addition – it allows input from between 8-30V and you can set the output from 2-16V @ 6A (QS-1212CCBA 80W).

The whole lot, squid pole supporting the antenna, stools, table and bag to pack everything up in, ready for the next summit.

So, what does your portable station look like?

Oh, yeah, Forgot to mention, worked 40 stations on 3 bands and 3 S2S contacts in about 2 hours on a very nice morning.

Multi-band activation

After a fortnight ago, when we took VK5/SE-013 to surpass the 1K qso’s logged, it was almost an anti-climax last weekend to head back up on Saturday, Sunday and Monday evenings and work quite a few EU contacts on 20M including several S2S contacts as well.

Today, the noise at home was actually low enough and I managed to chase a few other summits from home!

With the band conditions even better this week, I had a little bit of time and got back out to the summit – with the aim of doing a walk from 10M down to 40M and see what I could work.   When activating I normally only do 20 and then 40, but as long as there is enough time, I’ll give it a shot across other bands as well in the future.

So, I set up the dipole and wound it out to about 4M long each side, plugged in the KX3, hit the tune and made a few calls on 10M, while at the same time, self spotting.  Nothing heard on 10M after about 10 minutes, so jumped down to 12M and again just hit the tune button again.  Sent a spot, and again called for about 10 minutes with no takers.

So, dropped the dipole down a bit, and rolled out the dipole another meter or so on each end, put it back up, hit the tune button, and then went looking for a clear frequency on 15M.  Again, self-spotted and put out a call.  This is where it started to get interesting and I worked 10 stations over the next  15 minutes – including my first chaser from South Africa.  When the calls stopped, another QSY this time down to  17M.  Again, a push of the tune button, and self spot, and worked a couple more stations  here as well.

Again, dropped the antenna and wound out the dipole to  5.5M a side for 20M.  Back in the air, found a clear frequency and put up a spot and worked another 5 stations here.

It was starting to get cold and the sun was most definitely on the way down, so again, a quick extension of the dipole out for 30M.  Again, find a quite frequency, hit the tune, self spot and call.  And again, a few takers – this time no DX and just VK chasers.

As always, before leaving, I rolled out the dipole to the full length and spotted and called on 40M.  I called for about 5 minutes without a reply and was about to give up – as Nigel, VK5NIG had been up here earlier in the day and worked most of the regular VK chasers for the day.  But as luck would have it, I did get a few contacts, including a ZL chaser – which was another first for the day.

All in all, it was a quick activation, we tried 7 bands, worked stations on 5 of the bands, DX on 4 bands and had a few new countries in the chase today. So many “first’s” today – I logged the first 17M Contacts for the Summit – still a few bands to go to have contacts logged all bands, but another day.

As I worked down the bands, there were a couple of people whom I worked on more than 1 band, they were following the spots.  I worked G0RQL on 15 and 20M, DL0CS also on 15 and 20M, DJ5AV on 15 and 17M, VK6NU on 15, 20 and 30M and ZS5J on 15 and 17M.

The total QSO count across the 5 bands where there were answers to my call (including the multiples) put 25 worked stations in the log.

With chasers across the bands, it was interesting to note how the signal reports were on the different bands, and a clear indication as to what the conditions were like today – certainly a lot better than they have been on the higher bands!

Again, another fun afternoon up on VK5/SE-013, and it just goes to show that even now with 10 activations of this summit under my belt, there is always something new to try – be it new bands or new countries to work,  Now, the next big challenge for the regular activators is to get the activation count up from 72 to past 150 and into the world top 50 list.

1st VK summit to reach 1,000 QSO’s

After I activated Mt Gawler last Monday, I noted that the Sotawatch page was showing 971 QSO’s and 64 Activations.

Knowing this is a favourite local hill, I gathered up some contacts and got in touch with a few of the regular activators to see if they all wanted to get together on Saturday morning to push the QSO count up to over 1,000.

I had replies from VK5NIG  (36 Activations), VK5STU (7 activations),  VK5AKH (the first SOTA Activator of this summit) and myself VK5FO (7 Activations) and we all planned to meet and make it happen.

We all met near the trig point around 23:00UTC on the 29/08/2014 and we decided to set up 2 stations –  one on 20M and one on 40M.

I got on 40M and called and started working some of the regular VK Chasers.   Conditions were not that good and it was pretty hard going, but I did manage to gain 18 contacts in the log, including 1 S2S before UTC roll-over.

At the same time, Nigel and Stuart were calling on 20M and made a couple of contacts.

After roll-over, Nigel was calling and worked 5 or 6 more stations, then Stuart VK5STU called.  We were close to our target.  While we were doing a count of the contacts in the logs, Stuart worked VK3CAT S2S from VK3/VC-001 Mt Matlock for the 1,000th Contact from Mt Gawler.  Yes, around 00:10 on 30/08/2014 we achieved what I hoped we would.

After we made the milestone contact, Andy set up a 30M dipole and made a call and made 4 more contacts.

Conditions were not great, so we decided to call it a day, but not before a photo!

VK5_se-013-1kThe Team (L-R)  VK5FO Bob, VK5RR Ray, VK5AKH Andy (front) VK5STU Stuart and Mr Mt Gawler himself – VK5NIG Nigel.


This is a pretty big milestone event for SOTA in VK – as it is now officially the first VK summit to have 1,000 QSO’s.

We had awesome weather and made a great time of it, and we all look forward to working everyone from our local hill for the next 1K and beyond.  The next target we have our eyes on is to see if we can get into the top 50 list of most activated summits, but this might take some time!

It was such a nice day

.. And I slept in and missed something else I had planned, so I went out and Played radio instead.

A quick look on sotawatch and noted a few people out and about, so a quick dash up to Mt Gawler – VK5/SE-013 after I had a great time yesterday.  Arrived around 01:00 UTC and just had a bit of a listen around the bands for a couple of hours,

Finally, saw a spot for VK3HRA on VK3/VT-013 and jumped on for a S2S contact.  At this point the charsers realized I was about to I moved up 5khz and put out a call to work a steady stream of takers over the next 30-40 minutes.  A lot of regular chasers in there and another S2S with VK1NAM on VK1/AC-027

Worked a few more – for a total of 25 contacts from VK1, VK2, VK3 and VK5 stations, most on 40M , but gave a quick call on 20M before leaving for the last couple of contacts who could not hear me on 40 before heading home for a late lunch.

When we got home, I turned on and had a quick listen around the bands – only to be confronted by my usual S9+ on 40M and S7-9 on 20M noise.  Yep, Mt Gawler, only 10km away is a whole different experience.

After Lunch, made the rash decision to shoot up to Mt Lofty – VK5/SE-005 to see if we could work a bit of Europe on 20M if it was open.

And work Europe we did! Found a clear frequency – as 20M was quite busy – put out a call and self-spotted.  For the next 40 minutes worked 29 EU stations.  There were a whole lot more but really had a hard time pulling callsigns out of the pile-up at times!  It was 0710 to 0748 UTC, which was the last hour before sunset here.

I didn’t log who, but I did have 1 station say that I was their First VK SOTA summit, quite a few saying that it was a new summit for them as well.

The noise started coming up and a couple of strong stations who could not hear me came up on the frequency, but given the sun was just starting to go down, I called it quits on 20M and dropped the dipole and unwound it for 40M and pushed it back up.

Again, a single spot and a 10 minute mad dash on 40M and had another 13  calls from VK1,2,3 and 5’s in the log.

A quiet RF environment for RX, a 10W Radio and calling CQ sota when EU is open – Fun!  Today was the first day that I have really used the KX3 – and Yes, it is a great little radio for taking portable – a great RX and very easy to operate all-band, it might just be the perfect portable 🙂

Given that the days are starting to get longer, and Mt Gawler is a lot closer for me to get to, I can see me jumping up there maybe on a few week days and calling on 20M as well and seeing how that goes.

VK5/SE-013 is not Mt Nigel!

This morning, decided to give the New KX3 a go – given that I had finally got everything all together!

Should have taken a couple of photos, but hey, too busy working everyone today!

Of course, Mt GAWLER being only a 15 minute drive and a decent quiet HF location compared to home, it is my “go-to” location for portable operations.

Finally managed to get together my new lightweight 40M dipole wound up on some new winders cut from corro board.  So, with 1/2 of each dipole un-wound, a quick check on 20M and it was tuned pretty close – bumped the ATU and it locked right in.

Gave a call for about 15 minutes, but no replies, so switched over to 40M at 2341 and made a call – only to be flat out until the day rolled over – when I was smashed!

The KX3 Rx is very nice! was able to hear just about everyone today, possibly only missed 1 or 2 who were calling who were right down in the noise.

What was good today, was a couple of S2S contacts – 1 before and another after UTC roll-over, both not the best conditions, but glad to be able to complete and log them both.

With 23 Contacts before UTC and a further 29 after roll-over, it was a very busy time for about 40 minutes!

And for all the chasers who tried to tell me that this summit has now been named Mt Nigel, well, keep an eye on the spots – this sounds like a challenge to me 🙂  With the days starting to get longer, Chasers better keep an eye out, I might just head out on weekday evenings so we can re-name this Hill to Mt Bob!

I won’t list all the contacts, just the Prefixes:

VK1, VK2, VK3, VK5, VK6 and VK7 stations were all worked today, logs are all uploaded, so chaser’s the points should validate once you upload your logs.

VK5/SE-013 is Mt Gawler, or It can also be called Mt Bob, but NOT Mt Nigel 🙂