For my first solo HF activation I chose a local summit Tuggeranong Hill. It will be a chance to test out all my new Yaesu 817nd and my SOTA Beams linked dipole. To see what this mountain radio stuff was all about my XYL (wife) accompanied me.
After a short drive we reached the access road to the summit near a power substation in Theodore at around 10:00 (00:00UTC). The peak was a short 25 minute walk along the access road to the summit with great views towards the Brindabellas including Mount Tennant.
On the top of the summit is the television broadcast antennas for Tuggeranong as the Tuggeranong valley below cannot see the television broadcast antennas in Belconnen. These would later prove to be troublesome on 2M.
We got set-up under the trig putting down a tarpaulin I had bought that was much to big. I strapped my squid pole to the trig using some occy straps. Then I unwound my new Two Band Dipole from SOTA Beams in the UK. On top of the pole I placed the dipole centre which has a convenient hole for mounting on top of poles.
Next I raised the pole to it’s full height and then pegged out the two ends of the dipole.
Finally I unpacked my new Yaesu 817nd and connected it up. I am using a 4200 mAh LiFePO4 to power my rig it should give me four to five hours of run time which is more than enough.
While I was setting up I talked to VK1NAM on 2M but conditions where poor and I could only make out very little.
By now it was 11:30 (01:30 UTC) I posted a SOTA spot and got things under way on 40M. Over the next 20 minutes I worked twenty contacts. Initially I worked the local crowd in VK1 with good 5/8 and 5/9 reports. Then in quick order I worked a large volume of VK3 stations deep into Victoria and into Melbourne. Propagation into VK3 was good and I received a number of 5/8 and 5/7 reports. I only spoke to a few VK2 stations as propagation into NSW must have been poor with my father unable to hear me in Northern Sydney.
Once the 40M pileup had subsided I tried my luck again on 2M. This time I walked approximately 150m from the trig and managed to talk to VK1MA. Like Mount Majura my HT was being de-sensed by the strong RF from the television broadcast antennas.
We then packed up and had a quick 20 minute walk back to the car.
This activation was a good learning experience for me. I found that the tarp I bought was much to big and I will replace it shortly. Also my 34L pack was not large enough for all my SOTA gear so I have since upgraded to a 60L pack that is much more roomy.