2022-10-15 VKFF-0049 Team Challenge

It’s been a frightening amount of time since I have been out. The last one I posted was back in April last year, though my log shows that I was also out in November last year. That’s still worrying, though much of it can be attributed to COVID.

Gerard, VK2IO, got in touch with me about the VKFF Team challenge in the days coming up to the close of entries. I decided that I needed to get out. After discussing a few parks, we decided to head back to Bouddi National Park, but this time we’d both be down at Little Beach; again operating in the QRP (under 5 watts) section.

Given how long it has been since I went out,I was more than a little worried that I’d forget to take something out with me; though as you’ll see later this was pretty much the reverse of what happened.

I did have a few new bits of kit to take with me. I finally replaced my old 10m Haverford squid pole with another. Great to see that they’ve changed the base with something a lot less brittle. I also have a new LiFePo4 25AH battery. It’s about twice the width of my 12AH gel cells, but a little under the weight of one of them. I got this specifically so I could operate with the linear for longer periods, though I was not using the linear in this outing; I still wanted to try it out.

Oh I also had a new bag for carrying the poles and star picket in.

One thing I did not have was my little headphone AF filter as I have to do some repairs on it.

APRS

I did actually remember to turn on APRS on my phone before heading out.

While it’s only about a 668m walk from the entrance to the trail to where we set up, I actually parked further back up Grahame Drand added in another down and up to the gate followed by this walk.

I actually set up just a bit to the east of the marker on that map; about 20m west of that bump in the cliff, as that’s where I ran one end of the antenna. Gerard set up just on the grass before the bridge and beach. Unfortunately given how long it’s been since I have been out, while I “thought” I took google earth pictures on my iPad showing where I was in the park, I actually didn’t save them. You can see above though, that I was well within the boundaries.

Setting up

I’m glad I brought the sand pegs with me. The new pole was a joy to put up and work with. I ran the Eastern side over the edge of the cliff about 2 metres up and the western over the top of a tree stump part way up the hill. I accidentally managed to put a bit of a lean on the pole to the west, but having a slight lean on it is a good thing as it minimises (on this day prevented) pole collapses.

I should also note that my little tripod stool was useless in this sand and I found myself moving over a on old log to sit on.

Where Gerard Was

As earlier noted, Gerard was on the end of the grass section just the other side of the beach. It would seem that we probably were a little close as when on the same band we did interfere with each other if we got too close in frequency.

The Activation

Gerard got going a little earlier than I did. My first contact was with VK2BMX, who happened to be a couple of km up the coast operating portable with the Central Coast Amateur Radio Club in Terrigal Haven at 02:19 UTC (1:19pm).

Probably my highlight o f the day was SSB and CW contacts with Steve KG5CIK and CW with Jess W6LEN on 20m.

Propagation was pretty awful during the day, and the presence of this big cliff only metres to the north of my antenna probably didn’t help. As this was also a competition, the WARC bands were also off limits.

As te afternoon we started to hear a lot of Europe coming in on 40m, but with 5 watts, i was no chance in the pile ups. I did hear one European operator trying very hard to get a QRP contact in VK3 but not quite getting there. It was great to hear him at least try.

While I called for a bit on 15m and listened for a few folks (without hearing anything) on 10m, I spent the day on 80, 40 & 20. I did wander over mid afternoon to see how Gerard was doing (and to stretch my legs). My 06:19UTC (5:19pm) contact with VK2LEE on 80m was actually on his radio so I didn’t have to run back. Turns out I got Lee a bit later again on 80m as a duplicate at 07:33UTC (6:33pm). My last contact was VK3GJG at 07:38UTC (6:38pm) at which time we decided we really needed to pack up even though we’d not run the full 6 hours.

Activation Summary

#037 duplicate detected - 20221015 073343 VK2LEE 80M SSB
Modes
SSB: 32
 CW: 8

Parks
 VKFF-0480: 4
 VKFF-2051: 1
 VKFF-0377: 2
 VKFF-1410: 6
 VKFF-0326: 2
 VKFF-0300: 3
 VKFF-2590: 1
 VKFF-2247: 2
21 park contacts - 8 unique

Bands
 40M: 25
 20M: 6
 80M: 9

39 unique contacts (1 duplicate)

40 log entries

End of the day

I thought that I should at least take a couple of photos of the area before I left after packing up.

After a long slog back up that path (with me discovering just how out of shape I am, having to stop and catch my breath a number of times), we got back to our cars and adjourned to Kincumber Pub for some food and liquid refreshment.

The Next Morning

Remember how I said something about the reverse of forgetting to take something at the top of the blog?

Well, I woke up around 7:00am the following and for some reason had the thought, “I remember hanging my packed up antenna (along with two runs of coax and my ropes) over a log above the sand, but I don’t remember packing it”.

As quickly as I could move (given how sore my calves were from the previous day), I checked the bags I had left overnight in the car as I could not bring myself to unpack the previous night.

I quickly threw on some clothes and drove back to the park. This time parking right near the entrance to the trail, and then walked ever so gingerly down that trail again to the beach.

Right where I left it while packing up. Thank goodness for a quiet beach.

I am SO glad that tis was the only thing I had to carry back up that trail to the car. The calves were really not in good shape by the time I got back. I treated myself to a lovely breakfast at Cosmo Coffee in Westfield Tuggerah before heading home.

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