It has been a while

… since the last time I have managed to get out portable, but this afternoon,  the opportunity came up and I grabbed it with both hands.

Yes, the band conditions were not great wtih a CME less than 48 hours ago, but regardless, I still went out.

The location was Mt Gawler – VK5/SE-013 and today, I chose just to operate 15M then 40M, both off the 40M inverted V.

Firstly, it was good to see that the vegetation is slowly regenerating after the fires.


Well, a few things have changed with my setup since last time that I was literally trialing in the field for the first time.  Firstly, the new KX3 firmware that will allow 10W output with a power supply voltage above 10V.  This change means that I can use a 3S lipo and eliminate the (noisy) DC-DC converter I was using with the 4S lipo.  Glad to say it worked out great – and everything worked as expected.

The 2nd one is the ever-elusive quest to simplify logging!


Yep, got a QRPWorks SideKar to go with the KX3 – and a micro wireless keyboard to drive it.


A bit more on it shortly…

It was a really pleasant afternoon and started on 15M

Posted a spot and started calling and only had a single contact on the band – VK5PAS.

After abut 20 minutes of calling CQ SOTA (thank heavens for the voice keyer and playback repeat functions of the KX3!) I moved to 40M and again started calling.

Like 15M the bands were pretty quiet but with the alert, over the next  hour, I put a further 10 contacts in the log.

As expected because of the conditions and time of day there was not much close-in activity – just a couple of mobile stations.

A few of the regular chasers were there, but a surprising number of VK6 stations came back to me – I have never had 3 VK6’s in the log on 40M from here before!

Stations Worked on 40M


Now, Simon, VK2JAZ was asking what I could see from up at Mt Gawler – so I told him exactly what I was seeing – the sunset – and as promised – here is the photo of the sunset I took while we were talking – the photo does not do it justice!20151009_191840

Now, onto the SideKar.

Well, it was a little bit of getting used to using it – and today, I was thankful of it being fairly slow so I had plenty of time to actually use it and get to know how to do the logging.

At the start of the session, I had to read the manual – on how to do some of the setup.  This device is specifically designed with SOTA in mind – and first things I did was to set the clock,  then set my SOTA Reference.  From there, it was pretty much just learning the keyboard shortcuts to make a log entry.

As the SideKar interfaces to the KX3, I did not have to be concerned with frequency and time – it was all recorded with each log entry.

I  was able to enter every contact into the SideKar in real time, It is a couple of keystrokes and all good!

Now of course, with the logs being entered real-time and then when I got home it was simply a matter of exporting the ADIF right from the SideKar to the computer.

As we all know – we need a V2 CSV format for uploading the logs – and I managed to find an online converter to do this.  The converter was not perfect, but took care of most everything – with just a few minor edits needed to get it ready to upload.

I guess that I’ll look at developing a suitable conversion App in the future to export the ADIF as needed for upload to Sotadata.

Now, one of the issues I have had is managing the logs for WWFF – and now, I will be a lot closer to making this a lot easier as well in the future.

Of course, you will see that I used a very small wireless keyboard for interfacing with the SideKar – and it is perfect in so much as it is very lightweight – less than 50g.  You can use any USB or 2.4G Wireless keyboard, so a bigger keyboard might be used in the future for contesting etc, but for now – the lightweight one wins out.

At the moment, I have not really used the other features of the SideKar – extended display for PSK, RTTY and CW, but there is plenty of time for that.

As toys go – Pretty happy with this one, knowing that it makes the job of logging for the portable awards much easier.  Not only is it small and lighter than a laptop – it is useable in full sun – unlike the laptop!

Yes, a big success – and it is going to simplify my logging.

Ok, yeah, I know it turned into a mini-review of the SideKar, but by lowering the burden of having to enter all the paper logs when you get home, it makes the whole idea of going portable a lot more attractive!

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!






Upcoming Special event VI5MCP

Between the 11th and the 26th of July Members of AREG will be activating a special event station VI5MCP.

The Special event is in celebration of the 100 years of Proclamation of the Morialta Falls Pleasure Resort, which we now know as Morialta Conservation Park.  The 100th anniversary of the park is on Wednesday the 15th of July 2015.

Morialta CP is located in the Hills to the East of Adelaide and is a popular location for Portable operations.  Activations of this park qualify for the SANPCPA – South Australia National Parks and Conservations Parks Award and also for WWFF and VKFF as VKFF-783

The Aim of this special event station is to celebrate the 100th anniversary and to  further promote awareness of portable operations and awards.

We are planning on Activations  from the park over the 2 week period and at the moment we have some confirmed and some tentative activations scheduled, please keep an eye on this post as we will update the schedule in the coming days.

VI5MCP Calendar July 2015

Planned activation dates and frequencies/bands
DateLocal Time / UTCBand/FreqNotes
Saturday 11th
Sunday 12th10:00 / 00:30UTC7.140 SSB /147.500 FM then 14.240 or 14.310Around 2 hours
Monday 13th
Tuesday 14th
Wednesday 15th10:00 / 00:30UTC7.140 / 10.130 /14.240 or 14.310Around 2 hours or longer if a lot of chasers
Thursday 16th
Friday 17th
Saturday 18th13:00 -17:30 / 03:30 - 08:00 UTC14.240 or 14.310 and
Looking for EU DX on 20M * running a 2Element on 20M
Sunday 19th10:00 / 00:30UTC7.140 SSB /147.500 FM then 14.240 or 14.310Around 2 hours
Monday 20th
Tuesday 21st
Wednesday 22nd10:00 / 00:30UTC7.140 / 10.130 /14.240 or 14.310Around 2 hours or longer if a lot of chasers
Thursday 23rd
Friday 24th
Saturday 25th
Sunday 26th10:00 / 00:30UTC7.140 SSB /147.500 FM then 14.240 or 14.310Around 2 hours

*Note Mode will be SSB unless specifically noted as otherwise.

Please also check out for the QSL details.

Phased Vertical Antenna Testing

On Sunday when I was out, I finally had the opportunity to do some very basic testing with another Local amatuer whom is approx 20km away  to do some simple testing  of the 4 possible configurations of the Vertical antenna’s.

It was certainly not state of the art, but more real-world evaluation of the Received Signals, so more comparative than anything else.

My Ascii Art

A         B                                                                                                           RX

Ok,  A and B are the 2 Vertical Antenna’s spaced 1/4 wavelength  (5.1Metres)  apart and RX is the Remote station where we were receiving the signal o the various feed configurations.

First Test – a Single Vertical

I connected up to Vertical B and the Rx signal strength was S8, and the baseline we would use to compar all other configurations against.

Second Test – Broadside

Next test was to connect the feedpoint via a T piece to both A and B feedlines.  The expected pattern is a “figure 8” with the nulls towards the RX and the lobes “broadside” to the array.  RX signal was S7. Pretty much as expected it would be weaker than a single antenna.

Third Test – End-fire Away from the RX

To end fire Away from the RX the Feedline was connected to antenna B and a 90Degree phase/delay line was then inserted in between the feedpoint to Antenna A.    So we can say that antenna B is 0 deg, and Antenna A is fed with a 90 degree lag/delay in phase. This should be a cartiod pattern with a deep null towards the RX station and firing in the direction of Antenna A.  The RX sgnal of S6 indicated that this was indeed the case.

Fourth Test – End-fire Array towards the RX

This time, I simply reversed the delay line and had Antenna A as 0 degrees, and Antenna B as  90 degree lag/delay.  This effectively means that that the cartiod pattern is now pointing towards the RX station, with the null towards the A antenna.  The RX signal strenth was S8-9 (subjective – descrbed as a bit better than the  config 1)

The results are about what I would expect – with differences of 6-10db on the signal.

Finally, I did shoot a short video that shows the Antenna configuration as per the Fourth configuration,  Looking from Antenna A towards Antenna B is the direction I was intending to “beam” and in this case, with the very broad forward pattern.

Hope the Video gives a bit of an indication on how I set up the End-fired Phased Vertical Array

Going Portable with multi-elements rocks!