2018-12-09 Cockle Bay Nature Reserve

I was looking through the list of parks in order of distance from where I live and noticed that I had not done VKFF-1908. It’s not in an ideal location being right down on the water with the hills above Gosford not too far away, but I decided to tick it off the list.

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So it was a good trip southwards (about 50 minutes).

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I parked at at the small parking area at the end of the road. Listened to the end of the morning WIA broadcast and called back on 2m VK2RAG, then walked into the reserve with my gear.

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As you can see, above, I set up within the park boundaries (about a hundred yards in). The ground was pretty soft, but not wet. I was able to get away with guying the star picket with normal pegs and didn’t need to resort to the sand pegs.

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A little more geographic context.

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…, and some proper geographic context. You can see Bouddi National Park to the south-east.

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Set up the star picket and pole in the middle of an open area such that I could run the dipole NW-SE.

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Looking NW from the SE end. As you can see I had to use tent poles and the 45cm star pickets for the ends as nothing was really available to tie off to.

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Looking South-East from the NW end.

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I ended up using two velcro straps on this end as it kept wanting to twist.

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The “desk” for the day.

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I made my very first CW QSO today with Gerard, VK2IO, on 15m no less.This is where I used the key. Keying with my right hand and holding it in place with my left.

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While I heard a number of birds around, this was the only wildlife I was able to capture with the camera.

Today had some challenges.

I felt like things were going very slowly. It took me ages to get to eight calls. I got a message from John (VK4TJ) that my signal seemed to be there and then disappear.

I pulled the pole all the way down to check that everything looked ok. It did. While raising it again, I got to a point and noticed the noise drop on the radio. Fearing that I was perhaps looking at an issue in a PL259 when it was supporting too much coax, I tried changing the coax run (fortunately I have two 10m runs).

No dice. Once I got past a certain height it went bad (the SWR also went off the scale).

It turns out to be the first 10cm or so of the antenna. Specifically where I had tied it to the ring so there would not be tension on the spade connector to the SO239 socket.

I managed to get everything running again by moving the knot such that the “dodgy” section was no longer under tension.

I’ll need to replace that bit of hookup wire. This could be a hangover from when I had the other leg break under tension at Tea Tree Picnic area.

When I fix that, I’ll also get the Antenna analyser out on it, as every band except for 40m has excellent SWR. I just happen to use 40m more than anywhere else. When you are only using 6 watts getting the SWR right is important.

Right, so I managed to get going again. It was still a pretty slow day. 40m was all over the place. I recall hearing one station call me back at a good 5-7, only to drop in to the noise on me calling them in.

I also heard quite a bit of activity on 6m (50.100MHz). I had a VK4 hear that I was there and ask me to go to 50.120MHz, but I was not quite strong enough for him to work me.

After going for about six hours I was getting concerned that I wouldn’t get to 44. I managed a couple on 80m to take me to four required.

At this point I pulled the key out again and worked John with each of his three callsigns on both 80m and 40m CW getting me over the line.

I was only about 20 minutes late for the appointment I had that evening.

Today’s Stats

I’ll have to modify my script to not warn me for having CW contacts.

Modes
 CW: 7
SSB: 39

Parks
 VKFF-1493: 1
 VKFF-0187: 2
 VKFF-0619: 1
 VKFF-0937: 1
5 park contacts - 4 unique

Bands
 40M: 27
 15M: 1
 30M: 9
 80M: 9

46 unique contacts (0 duplicates)
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