2019-05-12 Medowie State Conservation Area (VKFF-1349)

This trip started with a whole lot of problems and the like but ended out being a pretty good day.

I had originally intended to get out nice and early as I needed to be home around 5pm to set my audio gear up for an online gig at 6pm.

Alarm went off at 6am. Turned it off and said “Nope, not happening”.

Got up around 9am and took my time packing the car being ever so careful to make sure I didn’t forget anything, noting the red back on my office floor that contains my mallet, tent-pegs, velcro and some electrical tools (can you see where this is heading?)

Headed off around 11am posting that I should be QRV in about 90 minutes.

I failed to account for a couple of things.

First, I had about 56 km of fuel in the car so I needed to address that (aside, why do I always manage to choose expensive days to fill the car? That was more than $70!).

Then it turned out that I’d put the wrong location in to my GPS. Fortunately it was close enough that I didn’t really lose a lot of time. Pulled over and corrected it when I realised.

It was just a little further than I thought I needed to go. Indeed, If I’d got the location right I could have taken a quicker route heading up the Pacific Highway and turning right on to Medowie Road rather than driving around Grahamstown Dam from the south.

map

My original plan had been to drive on to Daniel James Trail (1) and set up just past the bend. Google street view suggested this was possible as they had driven down the trail. When I arrived there was a locked gate.

If not for the presence of power lines I could have set up there as it wasn’t a bad looking spot and just within the park boundary.

I then headed on to look at location (2), which I’d though was location (3). It really didn’t have anywhere to set up so I drove back around to (3).

Boundary Road heading to (3), is only a road in the broadest possible terms. After driving down it about 500m I said “Nup”, turned around and headed back to Medowie Rd.

I recalled driving past a trail (4) to the south of Ringwood Rd while going from (2) to (3) and decided to have a look at that.

This is where I ended up setting up.

Google Earth

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The route I took initially was to turn east at the Raymond Terrace exit from the Pacific Highway, driving around the southern end of Grahamstown Dam, then left at the roundabout on to Medowie Rd. I have previously activated Tilligerry State Conservation Area from the South-East of that intersection.

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From the above and below pictures we can confirm that I was well within the park boundaries.

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The Setup

To continue with the tail of woe.

AS I went to set up I realised that I had left a few things at home. Remember what I said about that red bag in my office with the tent  pegs, mallet and velcro in it (as well as a few tools)? Yup, it was still in my office. Also ntd that in order to put PA gear in teh car last week that I had removed my table.

This meant that I would not be able to set up the star picket to mount the squid-pole against, and that I would have to set up out of the back of the car.

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I really need to clean that out a bit, but you can see the set-up.

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Batteries on the ground beside where I was set up.

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I had to tie the squid pole to this tree. I think it was an ironbark. In order to avoid getting the antenna snagged on the bark I made sure that I put a good lean towards the trail on it by carefully choosing my end-points.

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I was a little further than I meant to be from this end. The normal cord I used would have been too high over the branch for me to tie off, so I got to use the heavier rope for the second time ever. To get over the branch I tied the one sand peg I had with me to the heavier rope and threw it over. This was the centre conductor end of the dipole, and I got it to a good height.

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Tied off simply around the trunk. That’s the great thing about a lightweight antenna. You don’t need great knots; although, I did have to search my memory back to my scouting days to remember how to tie a sheet bend to join two unequal sizes of rope.

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Looking back to the car and squid pole from the northern end.

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The southern end was a little lower but sufficiently high to allow for vehicles to come usb the trail (and there were a few of them).

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Looking North to the car and squid pole.

dsc_0034And I remembered to grab a shot of the park sign on the way out. This is on the corner of Medowie Rd and Ringwood Rd.

The Activation

So much for QRV at 12:30. I got up and running 1:38pm (3:38UTC), getting off the mark snagging a park to park with Linda VK7QP in VKFF-0625.

I was using the linear to work with 25W, but it was making strong clicking noises.

Went up to 7.144 and started calling. The linear was doing the same thing talking to Peter (VK3PF), so I turned it off, dropping back to 5W.

It was a really busy activation. I actually got 45 contacts in about 68 minutes.

There was a bit of short skip around during that time so that really helped. Unusually I got Gerard VK2IO on 40m. I generally need to drop down to 80m as we are too close to manage 40.

When it quoted down at about 2:34, I decided to try some CW.  It was hard to find somewhere to go, there was a lot of CW around. I ended up on 7.008 and managed six CW contacts before heading up, unsuccessfully, to 30m.

By this time I figured out why the linear was misbehaving. I had managed to bump the SSB/AM switch to AM. It was having a hellish time trying to find an AM carrier while I was using SSB. So, heading up to 20m I was able to bump it up to 100W.

Started calling on 14.244, only to have someone else (WH6WI), start calling on 14.245. I tried giving him a call. He could tell that someone was there, but my 100W was not enough for him to hear me properly. Someone else then started up on 14.2445 so I headed up to 14.310.

The only contact that I got on 20m was Adam VK2YK, located about 2-3km from me.

Now I had the linear sorted out I headed back to 40m using 100W at about 3:26pm and things again got really busy, really quickly.

I think I can safely say that I am really not very good with handling dog piles. I think I may have missed a few Europeans, but did manage to get 5-5 signal repairs from both IK1GPG (Max) and IK4GRP (Lauro) in Italy; as well as park to parks with Jonathan (VK7JON) and Helen (VK7FOLK) in VKFF-2903 and David VK3CMZ/P activating from Andersons Mills (for Mills on the air).

I called it a day after talking to Ivan VK5HS/M at 4:01pm, packed up and headed home by going North on Medowie Rd the left onto the Pacific Highway, getting home by 5:35pm, and (just) managed to get the sound gear set up for 6pm.

It was only after I got home that I realised that APRSdroid on my phone hadn’t been working. That’s why I don’t have APRS maps for this activation. The host that it was trying to talk to appeared to have it’s DNS entry disappear.

The Statistics

Modes
 CW: 6
SSB: 71

Parks
 VKFF-0625: 1
 VKFF-0624: 1
 VKFF-2903: 2
4 park contacts - 3 unique

Bands
 40M: 76
 20M: 1

77 unique contacts (0 duplicates)

77 log entries
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