My First Solo SOTA Activation!
Those of you that follow me on Instagram know that I undertook my 2-day face to face lessons and testing in mid-January 2017 to become a licensed amateur radio operator (AKA HAM Operator). In mid-February I received the much-awaited email from Australia's national regulator ACMA that told me I am now a licensed amateur being designated VK1FWBD. In Australia (AKA VK in the AR world) Foundation License holders - the first step, are designated a "F" following the Country (VK) and region (1) parts of our call sign. So all ACT callsigns are VK1...
A few Tuesdays ago I was fortunate enough to be shown a section of the AR world that greatly interests me - Summits On The Air (SOTA). I was shown the ropes by the legendary VK1AD, Andrew who was kind enough to let me dive straight in after he made enough contacts.
SOTA is a points based AR "game" that requires AR operators to climb designated hill or mountains and transmit, often on low power in an attempt to be heard by "chasers" - home based receivers or other SOTA operators - this is called Sumit to Sumit (S2). 4 such contacts are required before a hill or mountain is considered 'activated'.
Andrew was able to get me well placed to start receiving overseas stations (DX stations) on low power. Once the DX stations started rolling in my first calls and first on HF frequencies I knew I was hooked!
I was immensely lucky to have 3 DX stations 2 NZ Stations (ZL) and 1 Japanese station (JA). All while overlooking our gorgeous capital from VK1/AC-040 Mt Ainslie
Andrew's Yaesu radio (I can't remember which one) was pumping out a reduced 10w - to comply with my license requirements, on his linked dipole antenna, were a great match (gotta love an antenna pun).
The following day (Wednesday) my new (preloved) FT817ND radio turned up in the mail and I was keen to get on the air - I booked a day off that Friday and thought I would be a keen bean and try a Friday daytime SOTA activation.
Activating Mt Stromo VK1/AC-043
This time on another 1 pointer, (easy access mountain) with basically a walk of only a few hundred metres.
On Friday after hours of calling, I was not successful in reaching my needed 4 contacts. I was switching between my newly assembled PAC12 antenna on my DJI OSMO MOBILE base as a tripod and a long wire with a matching box from Nelson Antennas (on EBAY) up my 10m Squid pole and no joy. Only sunburn! (Note to self.. maybe you might want to make sure the spotters aren't all at work....)
Time Call Band Mode Notes 04:23z VK1MA 7MHz SSB Matt S54 R43 04:27z VK1AD 7MHz SSB Andrew S59+ R58 04:40z VK1NAM 7MHz SSB Andrew S59 R55 04:47z VK8GMT/P 7MHz SSB Matt S59 R55 05:00z VK3LED 7MHz SSB Col S59 R55 07:10z VK5AW 7MHz SSB Adrian S58 R55 07:12z VK5PAS 7MHz SSB Paul S58 R47
Not to be deterred, I wanted to strike while the iron was hot, so headed back out the next afternoon (Saturday) to a second operating position on the western side of the peak as seen on VK1DI's blog. 2 hours and only local VK1 contacts - but enough to activate (THANK GOD) before moving to a new position as described by the 2m Simplex contacts I was talking to (again thanks to VK1AD and VK1MA who provided radio overwatch for my first solo SOTA session). From this new location, the PAC12 picked up 2 booming VK5 (South Australia) stations.
Radio: Yaesu FT-817ND running on 5w using internal battery
Antenna: PAC12 QRP loaded vertical with ground radials
Radio: Baofeng UV5R, using SMA to BNC antenna connection
Antenna: 2m BNC antenna that came with the Yaesu FT-817ND