Today I made a number of poor decisions in heading out to VKFF-1882.
I had planned to head out nice and early given I needed to drop my son off at the station just before 6am.
Poor decision #1.
As he was not well today, I went back to bed and didn’t wake up until about 9am.
I muddled around the house for a little and ended up at the entrance I had initially planned to take to enter the park.
Poor decision #2
I noted the road closed sign and decided that I didn’t want to walk the extra few hundred metres down Ocean Road Track to where there was actually a picnic area in the park with a covered table. Instead I drove around to Gardiner St and entered the park off Lyon Oval.
I managed to get fully set up by about 12:10pm (02:10 UTC). Just before starting to se the radio I decided to grab the screenshot on google earth showing my location.
Result of poor decision #3
I discovered that half of my dipole was outside the park boundary resulting in me having to relocate one end, and to keep things right I needed to move where I had set up the guyed star picket and squid pole.
You can see in the first google earth screenshot where I ended up with the antenna.
I ended up starting to operate at about 12:34 (03:34UTC).
Things were going slowly and it was about then that I regretted not heading out when I had initially planned.
The other thing that I had noted earlier in the day was that the chance of rain was at 50%. When I started I was not concerned about this as I had clear blue sky.
This didn’t last.
I’d just gotten one contact on 80m. Propagation was really showing itself to be less than optimal as I normally have no trouble contacting Gerard on 80m, even when he is mobile. He was hearing me 3-6 and I was hearing him 4-2. I called for a little longer on 80 then went up to 30m.
I quickly got two contacts there, but then the sprinkle of rain got sufficiently heavy that it was impossible to use the Lenovo tablet that I use for logging (I’d already put some plastic over the top of the radio); so after checking out the rain radar and seeing it really was setting in for a while, I elected to pack up and seek shelter after getting only 20 contacts in my time there.
Poor Decision #4.
I’d left the heavy jacket in the car
The rain continued to get heavier while I spent 20 minutes packing up soaking my jumper by the time I got back to the car. OK maybe going to this park entry was not such a bad idea as I could park about 100m from where I set up, though the other spot would have had me under cover anyway.
I decided to head in to Charlestown and grabbed some lunch and a hot cup of coffee at McDonalds.
Poor Decision #5
When you have a damp jumper, you should really take the bloody thing off. I didn’t and I really didn’t want to take it off in McDonalds due to the air con and teh fact that I only had a T-shirt under it. I should have swapped it for the jacket before going in.
Around 4:00pm (6:00UTC) I noticed (from inside McDonalds) the rain clearing.
Poor decision #6
This one may not be so obvious until later, but the poor decision was to go back to the park and set up again.
It actually cleared up and was sunny.
Poor Decision #7
I moved where I had the antenna. Specifically I made the endpoints a straight one through the squid pole. The reason that this is a poor idea is that the pole will return to being vertical after blowing around (there was quite a lot of wind). When it does this, it will sometimes collapse. It did this quite a lot on me this afternoon.
On one of the collapses the split key-ring I used on the SO-239 socket to attach the connections to the pole broke off. I actually have no idea where it went. I couldn’t find it.
In between having the pole collapse and me put it back up again (did I mention that this happened a lot?) I only managed another four contacts before noticing that I was hearing what sounded like an intermittent on my coax to the dipole.
At this point (around 6:00pm – 8:00UTC) I gave up for the day, as it was also starting to get dark. I did have another 10m run of coax that I could use, but with the instability of the pole as well as the oncoming darkness was just too much.
It was actually full dark as I finished pack up (thank goodness I made one good decision and took my lantern with me for the second set up).
This one gets added to the list of parks that I will have to complete in the future and hope that I have a better time of it then.
Oh, I also forgot enable APRS so I don’t have the map travel data.
For those interested, the grid locator is QF57UA.
Stats for the day
Modes SSB: 24 Parks 0 park contacts - 0 unique Bands 40M: 19 30M: 2 80M: 3 24 unique contacts (0 duplicates) 24 log entries