Gerard and I teamed up for the VKFF Team Challenge this year and headed back to Wyrrabalong National Park (VKFF-0550) for the event. This was actually the first park that I activated in my WWFF participation.
I was watching his progress coming up from Sydney (Gerard does APRS on 30m from his vehicle) and as I saw he was coming across Mooney Mooney on the M1, I judged I had time to grab a quick bite for breakfast at McDonalds (the quick trek to the west from home below) before heading to our arranged meeting point in the car park of Soldiers Beach Surf Life Saving club.
No, we did not swim to our location, that’s just APRS not doing as frequent location updates as might have been more accurate.
Looking below you would see three set-up points. Gerard set up on the eastern most. He was fortunate enough to have a fence post to anchor the North west end of his antenna to.
I initially set up in the central one but after noting that we were desensing each other (he could hear the clicks of my AGC cutting in and out, I could hear his CW), I moved to the western most point.
This Google Earth image gives a better idea of where we decided to set up.
and this one verifies that we were inside the park. This was taken for my second location. We both set up in the dunes back from the beach.
My “desk” for the day. I had to pull out the Baofeng as I hadn’t charged the FT-70D. The idea was to use 146.500 simplex to talk to each other. Unfortunately that idea only lasted a couple of hours as Gerard’s battery in his hand-held died.
The views from where I set up were spectacular.
Looking to the south.
Looking towards the north.
If you look really carefully, you can just see Gerard’s squid pole to the left of centre. You may need to enlarge the image.
One other thing that I managed to do was to get the little headset adaptor that I built working. Unfortunately, as I didn’t have a wind-shield over the mike, I couldn’t use VOX.
I did have it rigged up so that all of the buttons on the hand-held microphone worked so I simply used the press-to-talk on that.
Looking down on my workspace from a higher part of the dunes to the north of the set-up.
Up to the top of the pole with the beach in the background. Lovely office for the day. I set up the dipole so there would be a continuous bend in the squid pole. Again, I managed to have no unexpected pole collapses.
You can just see the end of the 80m leg of the active side of the dipole descending to the sand. It ended about a foot above the ground. Far less than optimal, but it worked pretty well. I may need to consider adding a second 45cm star-picket and tent pole to my kit.
Looking back to the set-up from the north-west end of the dipole.
Looking back to the set up from the south.
The south-western end of the dipole. I chose to use my tent pole on this end in case we had folks trying to walk under it.
Looking back to the set-up along the south-western end of the dipole.This was the last shot I took of the day. The sea-spray was getting up to the south. The sun was just off to the right and it looked truly spectacular.
To the nuts and bolts of the day.
I managed to get 35 contacts and Gerard managed 50. That makes for a combined total of 85 for the QRP multi-transmitter section (we both ran only 5 watts).
About 4pm we had the CQ World Wide Contest kick off making 40m pretty much unusable. I ended up calling up above 7.2MHz for the first time in my activations. I spent about 45 minutes all up trying to call on 20m but got no joy. As we were in a contest, the WARC bands were out, which is a shame as I generally pick up some contacts on 30m.
Also on 80m, it was frustrating trying to get VK5FMAZ on 3.610 when it sounded like we had someone leaving un unattended CW sender occasionally starting to broadcast over us. It was also sending over me calling CQ on SSB. I did read the callsign, but I’m not going to name and shame in this blog.
Stats for the day
Modes FM: 2 SSB: 33 Parks VKFF-1757: 2 VKFF-1879: 2 VKFF-0719: 2 VKFF-0427: 2 VKFF-2103: 1 VKFF-2366: 1 VKFF-1752: 4 14 park contacts - 7 unique Bands 2M: 1 40M: 26 70CM: 1 80M: 7 35 unique contacts (0 duplicates)
It was nice to get a few more park to park contacts.
You may also notice a contact on VHF and UHF. After we had packed up and were on our way out of the park, we exchanged details using my hand-held and the FT-818 on 2m and 70cm. The entries with me as activator still inside the park and Gerard outside. We also did it the other way around. This also happened within our allotted six hours, in order to make it count.
Oh, during the day I had a few people come up and ask what we were doing, having noticed the two antennas erected.
I also need to work on my fitness; or perhaps my common sense. When we left the surf club we walked down the sandy path from the Surf Life Saving Club to the beach. It didn’t occur to either of us just how steep that would be carrying our gear back. I swear that for ever step back up that path we pushed sand back for half a step. I had to stop half way back up to catch my breath. The stairs about 50m further up would probably have been easier.
All up though, if I exclude the sun burn, it was a highly enjoyably activation.