SOTA Activation – VK7/SC-052

View east towards Tasman Peninsula and Iron Pot

View east towards Tasman Peninsula and Iron Pot

SOTA20141011-003

On Saturday the 11th of October 2014 I undertook my first SOTA activation and the first activation for VK7/SC-052 – Tinderbox Hills. It was a rushed affair with work and family meaning I was not properly prepared come Saturday morning. But after an initial stumbling block (15 minutes into my walk, realising I’d left my batteries at home) I did successfully activate the summit.

The summit is easily accessible via a good track maintained by Kingborough Council. With both easy parking found at the end of Estuary Drive, and then a clearly signposted start of the track. And as per the sign, it’s a ‘moderate’ walk taking at most 45 minutes to get to the top.

Start point (car park) for VK/SC-052.

Start point (car park) for VK/SC-052.

Along the way you’re presented with rather nice views both east and west – as after all, you’re walking along the single ridgeline of a peinsula. To the west you look down over Northwest Bay to Margate, and out to the east you can clearly see Iron Pot, Opossum Bay and onto Tasman Peninsula – and also clear to New Zealand (but obviously not visible). And if you look back down the track you can see Mt. Wellington rising above the tree line.

Overview of the walk for VK/SC-052.

Overview of the walk for VK/SC-052.

There are a couple of rocky areas and some step bits to keep the heart moving, however I did see two ladies arrive at the top after me arrive on mountain bikes.

Of note though – and something readily seen on the maps from LIST map – is that the summit is actually on private land. This is further emphasised by signs from the Council as there is no fence line. However, the boundary is between about 10 to 15 meters vertically of the summit, and luckily SOTA rules are that you must be within 25 meters of the summit (vertically). And better yet, the sign-post provided for a reasonable support for my squid pole extend and 2m half-wave dipole attached.

(The boundary line can be seen as the grey line intersecting the close up map on the right.)

Map showing set-up location right on the private boundary line - noting the summit of VK/SC-052 is actually on private land.

Map showing set-up location right on the private boundary line – noting the summit of VK/SC-052 is actually on private land.

My plans for the day were to activate on 2m FM, 2m SSB and 40m SSB. As it was, on 2m I only made three contacts (not enough for an activation), so lucky 40m than filled in the remainder by providing 18 contacts.

A resulting rough breakdown for 40m:

  • VK7 x 2 (however, I think neither had heard of SOTA so I’m not sure they’ll be logged)
  • VK2 x 2
  • VK5 x 1 – as a S2S (and obviously my first for that, and his – VK5CZ – to a VK7 summit)
  • VK3 x 13

I’m hoping that in future I might have more success on 2m – especially some SSB – but I think I’ll need to make sure I attempt to make more locals aware of the activation. Indeed, I would love to be able to activate some of the local peaks (Mt. Wellington – VK7/SC-001 and Mt. Rumney – VK7/SC-045) with nothing but 2m. But we’ll have to see what can be done.

But that all said, a fun time was had and some lessons were learn’t – such as, I carried far more battery power than I needed, and seeing they were two 4Ah SLABs, it would’ve been great to have taken only one. And I’m definitely looking to get organised and get another activation happening soon!

Thanks to everyone who took the time to reply to the calls. 🙂

VK7 SOTA Peaks Available for Preview

VK7 SOTA Peaks Available for Preview

In the early hours of this morning, Justin (VK7TW) shared what may be (still needs final confirmation) the peaks and ARM for VK7 go-live. You can find them in the files section of the SOTA Australia Yahoo Group.

So now it’s possible to start planning ahead for the big day. I’ve just had a quick play with the list and provide the following images for your viewing. It includes:

  • A view of all of VK7 and its peaks – gives you a good idea of just how many there are;
  • The a focus around Hobart – still heaps just around the capital
  • The a look up at some peaks that caught my eye around Lake Pedder
  • And finally a zoom in on those interesting peaks/islands in Lake Pedder – plus a 50m contour overlay to give an idea of difficulty – it’s not just a quick whip around in a kayak to all three. 🙂

Enjoy!

SOTA FAQ

Reading through the various SOTA doco on the sota.org.uk sites, I felt it was missing one key element. A simple documenting the steps for getting started – ie. your first chase/activation.

Thankfully in VK land, Andrew Davis (VK1DA/VK2UH) has come to the rescue with yet another great addition to his VK FAQ.

I highly recommend if you’re keen to get started in SOTA and you’re after some good concise info – with links out to all the other stuff – then you can do no worse than visiting Andrew’s Summits of the Air section of his FAQ. I especially point you to the section titled ‘What next? How do I join in?’ – as that’s what I’ve found lacking on the official SOTA sites.

Links:

SOTA in VK7 Imminent!

Attended the REAST SOTA presentation last Wednesday night, and to my great excitement Justin (VK7TW) informed the group he’s been told by the SOTA organisers that most likely VK7 will go live 1st October 2014!! I can’t wait!!

So I spent the week-end scoping out and hiking up one of the local candidate peaks and making another antenna. On both accounts things didn’t go quite according to plan, but fingers crossed, the first week-end in October I’ll be hilltop activating something! 😉

And here’s a copy of the short write-up I did for the news:

Wednesday, 3rd September at the Queens Domain saw another interesting presentation by Justin (VK7TW), this time on SOTA – Summits On The Air.

The presentation started with the exciting news that SOTA is expected to go live in VK7 on the 1st of October 2014. In preparation for this Justin ran the group through the important aspects of SOTA. This included the rules and reference manual, the possible awards, along with the common frequencies and considerations when going summiting.

Of great interest, a preview and discussion was provided of the 695 candidate summits. This was followed by a discussion of some potential portable setups people may wish to consider, including a look at an FT-817ND, portable tuner and squid pole arrangement – not to mention the key concern of portable power.

Sources for additional information online were provided, including the Yahoo mailing list, SOTAwatch and the SOTA Australian FAQ by Andrew Davis (VK1DA/VK2UH).

Thanks go out to Justin, Peter (VK3PF) and the team for all the work of getting SOTA active in VK7 and following it up with an informative presentation.

Links are available on the text edition of the broadcast.

SOTA Australia FAQ – http://vkfaq.ampr.org/opersota.php

Mailing list – https://au.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/SOTA_Australia/info

SOTA Watch – http://www.sotawatch.org/

(73, Ian, VK7IS)

SOTA closer for VK7

I don’t always catch the week-end broadcasts, but I was mighty happy that I did this week-end. Here’s the start of the VK7 news:

I am pleased to let you know that the mapping of candidate peaks for VK7 has been completed and checked and the listing has been submitted to the SOTA organisation in the United Kingdom for final checking and uploading into the SOTA watch database.

I will let you know once the final checking has been completed and summit logging can commence.

I can’t wait!! It’s been a big effort by the team mapping all the summits and I for one am very thankful for their efforts.

I’ve been keen on SOTA since I saw the initial mention of SOTA Australia in ‘Amateur Radio’ magazine way back after I got my license – and hence I’ve owned my FT-817ND ever since. It then seemed to stagnate for many years, but suddenly out of the blue it took off with a vengeance, and not long after I left VK1 (for VK7)… VK1 went live. I couldn’t believe it.

But soon, I’ll be able to join in on the action down here. And hopefully, I might even be able to sort out my interference issues at my QTH and do a bit of spotting – but that’s still a work in progress… more soon.

SOTA Australia – VK1NAM Blog

Summits of the Air seem to have really kicked off with a gusto in Australia, and it’s great to see. I’m really looking forward to when VK7 is up and running – if only I had more time to help with peak identification. In the meantime, I’m reading the yahoo group and will hopefully get my home 40m antenna up so that I can at least do some ‘chasing’.

Out of all this activity the dedicated SOTA australia blogs are starting to come about. One that I’ve found very impressive is that of VK1NAM. It seems highly active with lots of photos, maps and details. I recommend having a look over at:

http://vk1nam.wordpress.com/

Remembrance Day Contest

The week-end just past saw the running of the annual Remembrance Day Contest. I was only aware it was on a couple of days before hand, but decided I'd at least throw out a few calls from home.

Being only my second ever HF contest – my first being the QRP Hours contest earlier in the year – I wasn't really concerned about my result. I mainly just wanted to see what I could do on HF from home.

In then end, only 20 contacts were made with 100W, but all up I only spent a few hours playing, so that seemed pretty good – but pale in comparison to other stations getting well over 700!! But even by Saturday night after a couple of hours I'd already contacted VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6 and VK7 (no VK8 at all for the contest). I was surprised!! Not having done much on HF before, a few of those call areas were a first time!

Further, I had some other firsts. I successfully tuned up my random wire for 160m (which is MF, so that was nice) and made my first ever 160m contact with VK4HH. Additionally I also made a first time contact on 20m – actually in the end I made contacts on 160m, 80m, 40m and 20m (did try 15m and 10m but to no avail).

Anyway, it was good fun and next year I might try to plan ahead and make a dedicated attempt at it – maybe incorporating some CW!