VK2JI – SOTA in VK2 – 21st. December – Activation of VK2/HU-080 (Summit Point)

Preparation:

This was an activation of a new summit for me. At the same time, I wanted to try to operate the digital PSK31 mode from the summit and use my new QRP amplifier to lift the FT817’s maximum 5w output to about 18w.

The access to Summit point is along Mount Sugerloaf Road from just outside of Seahampton. This is a normal small tarmac road and easy to drive right up to the Sugarloaf Mountain transmitter towers. Just before reaching the towers I needed to take a left turn onto Sugarloaf Range Road. This is a mud track but is fairly well maintained and easy to drive with a normal 2WD car as long you watch out for the occasional pot holes. 3.9 km down this road we come to the road up to the actual summit. This is less well maintained, very rutted and pot holes are the smallest concern as some sharp high rocks in the middle of the road means that a lot of care is needed to travel this road and not destroy your car. A high clearance 2WD or 4WD vehicle would be more suited to this track however this is not nearly as bad as the Broken Back Road that I tried to navigate a couple of weeks earlier up to HU-068 (Broken Back Range) and had to turn back. For one thing this road to Summit Point was only a couple of kilometres long. Simply follow this road until it stops rising and look to the left where there is an area to park and the rock with carvings – as shown in the video below.

S-Point-800

From here it is a steep climb on foot, on a slippery surface as there are lots of twigs and dead undergrowth meaning it is difficult the get a good foot hold while climbing and even more “tricky” on the way back down. Once I reached the top, there is a fairly wide flattish level with many trees suitable for attaching antenna to. I had arrived here about 30 minutes ahead of schedule however once I had everything set up I had lost 15 minutes of that advantage. I was on-air on 7.090 at 23:30 UTC (UTC day 20/12/2013 still) and managed to work 10 stations both before and 10 after UTC rollover (list below), all but two of these were on 40m SSB, the last two being on 30m SSB. Band conditions were not good with very deep QSB at times.

As I said above, one of the purposes for this activation was to test out my solid state linear to give a little more output for more distant contacts. Initially I thought it was actually causing me to lose signal strength on receive but this turned out to be two things – the delay in the RF sensing relay from switching back over and the conditions. Once I could make some “with and without” tests with the linear, it appears that on average I gain 2 S-points with the linear in circuit over not having it in circuit. So worth having and I need to look at fixing the relay delay. The other thing I wanted to try (and was unsuccessful with) was using a digital mode (PSK31) from the summit. Normally to do this you need a PC an interface and the rig, which is impractical to carry up a summit. I have the DROIDPSK software (from Wolphi plc) installed on my Android phone and his very small WolphiLink interface box to connect to the FT-817. The main problem I hit was that I could not clearly see the phone’s screen in the sunlight to be able to adjust it to receive signals. I believe I was transmitting PSK correctly but when I received signals back they appeared to be off frequency in the audio pass band and I could not see the screen to tune them in. I also need to practice more using PSK from home, so that I know more of the ins and outs of how it is supposed to work. Perhaps next time I try this on a summit, I will take my 7 inch Android tablet so that the program screen is more readable however the suggestion from Ron to take along a cardboard box to shield the screen (be it on a phone or a tablet) seems like a good idea also.

All in all not a bad mornings activation and with all such outings I have learned more things that I need to look into before I get that illusive “perfect” set-up.

Video

Equipment

Yaesu FT817ND transceiver (5W) Ramsey Electronics QAMP40 (18W) WolphiLink, DROIDPSK and Android 4 smart phone.

SOTABeams linked dipole in Inverted-V format on a 6m squid pole

Stations worked on 40m pre UTC Rollover:

VK2JDS Dave
VK3VBI Ron
VK1MDC Mark
VK2WG John (VK2YW operating the Wagga club station)
VK2IO Gerard
VK3FPSR Peter
VK2PHP/P Phil
VK2UH Andrew
VK5WG
VK3BYD

Stations worked on 40m post UTC Rollover:

VK2DDS Brenton
VK1MDC Mark
VK3FPSR Peter
VK4TSB Stewart
VK1RX Al
VK2FJPR John
VK2UH Andrew
VK1NAM Andrew

Stations worked on 30m:

VK3AFW Ron

VK3CAT Tony

VK2JI – SOTA in VK2 – 4th. December – Evening activation of VK2/HU-093 (Mt. Elliot) for EU chasers & S2S

Preparation:

This activation was in response to a request from Klaus DF2GN for a DM – VK Summit to Summit (S2S) contact.

I arrived on-site a little earlier than planned which allowed me to walk down and back up the trail (to meet the access on foot into the AZ zone ARM guideline) and set up and be operational 15 minutes early at 07:15 UTC. I did not stay as long as originally planned due to a plague of strange looking flies swarming around me despite the liberal use of insect repellant but the evening was a success. I regret not packing up 10 minutes later however as I might have managed a second S2S with GM4COX but I’m happy with my S2S with Klaus DF2GN portable on DM/BW-195, which was the main reason for the trip. I also worked another German chaser and eight VK chasers. I had hoped to have my “qrp” amplifier fully working to boost the FT817’s 5w output but it was not to be and while I had it with me, the unreliability of its operation at present, made me decide to work just with the FT-817 “barefoot”. They also say, don’t make two changes at the same time and I have made another change to my set-up. While looking for some parts last week, I came across a project that I built (or to be more accurate, boxed) some time ago. It is a 150W battery booster. Fed with anything above about 10V it can output anything up to 35V DC using it’s inverter. I had set this to output 13.8V previously and now decided to try using it with my 3S (11V) LiPo battery and what do you know – it works perfectly. I have an alarm on the LiPo to sense if any cell is dropping below a safe level and in the 1.5 hrs of operation all went well. I have found no interference from the inverter in the DC voltage booster. Perhaps this is a solution for others who are looking to use 3S LiPos to supply rigs (or amplifiers) that prefer a 13.8V supply. The booster and 2 x 5000maH LiPo batteries fit easily in a Jaycar SLAB battery bag with room to spare for cables sensors etc.

booster

In case anyone is interested in the DC-DC convertor – it cost me AU$7.98 including postage – the same item is now available for $5-$6. A whole list of them can be found on eBay here.

My apologies to the stations, both chasers and activators who came on a little after I packed up, but the flies were getting really unbearable!

Pictures:

 000220131204 000320131204
 

Video

The audio pickup of received sound is not so good……

Equipment

Yaesu FT817ND transceiver (5W)

SOTABeams linked dipole in Inverted-V format on a 6m squid pole

Stations worked on 20m:

VK5PAS Paul
DF2GN/P (S2S) Klaus on DM/BW-195
DJ5AV Mike
VK3AMB Bernard
VK3CAT Tony
VK1NAM Andrew
VK2IO Gerard
VK1DI Ian

Stations worked on 40m:

VK2AXL Jack.

VK3PF/QRP Peter.