Very nicely done, congrats Manuel.
Thanks for the information Barry, I didn’t expect that! Still trying to figure out how the bands work over here; very different from what I’m used to. 15m was planned/alerted yesterday, but as the last band (which then didn’t happen because of the rain). Will do better next time
At the risk of annoying some people, here’s another activation report.
Mont Dore 772 m (FK/SP-063). This one has nice official hiking paths from two sides. I went up from the south/ocean side. The parking is at 70 m; the ascent took about 1.5 hours, and again a lot of sweat was lost in the process as temperatures reached 30 °C . Much of the path from the south has been made less slippery with plastic grids and wooden steps – according to a sign at the trailhead, there are 1380 of the latter to the summit (I didn’t recount). Excellent views at the top, and many other hikers.
The antenna installation with its large solar array at the summit caused some QRM especially on 17/20m, so after working 15m, I moved away from the summit and found a new location with a suitable rock to tie my pole to. Unfortunately that place was sheltered from the wind (what a change, to actually not want shelter from the wind!), but not in the shade, so it was very hot, and my KX2 kept complaining about high temperatures and started acting up (no, it wasn’t the SWR). In the end I could only make short overs. Interestingly, my JUMA PA-100D didn’t have any problems with the heat.
There was quite a JA pile-up on 15m, with 45 JAs worked in total (some also on 17m and one on 20m). Several US stations made the trip as well; states worked: AK, WA, CA, MT and OR on 15/17m. 20m SSB brought a QSO with an OM in Brazil. An S2S with @JP3DGT on 15m (thanks! ) was hard work for us both as signals were weak, and I was especially delighted to work Sam @FK8DD, the SOTA AM for FK, who helped me confirm the licensing situation beforehand.
Of note was the very good discipline of the Japanese stations. Whenever I asked for North American stations only, or for a particular partial callsign, all the others were quiet, and almost nobody engaged in repeat or tail-calling – so it was very efficient. I wish pile-ups at home were like that!
In other news, I have identified a potential candidate summit for nighttime activation (EU/NA DX). Will check its suitability in the next few days. It’s not easy to find such summits in general, as most summits are either quite far away from the next road, or have access restrictions due to private land, mining operations etc.
vy 73 de FK/HB9DQM/P
Thanks for the 3 bands today and for slowing down for me. You may need another sun hat for the rig,
Genuine S9 on 15 and 17 m, not so strong on 20 m. I hope to work you on at least one more summit during your stay.
Thank you Manuel.
I was invited to VK <> EU QSO party last year.
It is the second S2S. \ (^ O ^) /
de Katsu JP3DGT
Well done on making so many contacts!
Gerald M0WML and I activated VK2/IL-015 but we did not ever hear your signal on 20m SSB. We probably just missed you. John ZL1BYZ reported that you were having radio issues. The two JA activators were not heard either but I did work Katsu many hours later driving home through the city. Go figure!
My KX3 sometimes overheats on summits. The black case sucks up heat when in direct sunlight so I always try to shade it as well as myself especially now that I’m using electronic logging.
Catch you on the next FK summit.
Gerard - VK2IO
Your doing great Manuel. Shame about the KX2 overheating issues, the Elecraft KX radio’s do seem to have a problem with this. I wonder is this a common problem with radio’s in the field or are the KX’s a bit wimpy in this regard? It seems quite a common problem with them.
I’ve never had a problem with my KX3, even on hot days and in direct sunlight (but I know others who have, especially with older versions). However, it seems that my KX2 is a bit more sensitive, not surprising given the small case. I’ll remember to bring a cloth or something in the future to shield it from direct sunlight, as I think that will solve the problem
Niiiiice! It makes me want to go back.
I am glad you are having fun and managing to get a lot of contacts including a nice S2S. It is good you caught-up with Sam, FK8DD. If the opportunity presents itself, you should try going to the club meeting in Noumea and meet all the other guys. FK8IK, Michel, was the person who tried to activate recently but had to cancel due to an illness so I am sure he would be interested in chatting with you. A very nice group of OMs over there. Keep the pictures coming
Hope the cloth solves it for you. I just flip my groundsheet over the radio if I can’t find where the shade has shifted to. Mine is the original KX3 and it’s used at full power with a high TX/RX duty cycle which is mostly fine. Other folks have solved it by bolting on a heat sink but I don’t like the aesthetics or extra weight and bulk. A pocket fan might be a good non-intrusive alternative.
– Gerard, VK2IO
Apologies for the short and unannounced activation of FK/SP-121 today. The goal was to scout out what I thought might be an easy summit for a potential nighttime activation. I could only start the hike at 09:00 as I had to take my partner to language school, so way too late for hiking by local standards (sunrise is at 05:00).
This summit is also known as “Plateau des Deux Branches”, since it is located between the north and east branch of the Dumbéa river. The trail starts easy, crossing the river (or what is currently left of it) and following it for a bit, before heading into the vegetation and along the ridge to the summit. It is only 2.4 km one way, and about 350 vertical meters, but heavily overgrown on much of its length, turning this into a bushwhacking-esque adventure of a kind that I have not experienced before.
Typical state of the trail
The antenna pole had to be carried by hand, as it was difficult enough not to get stuck in the bushes/trees without it sticking out from the backpack. The markings (small bits of red/white tape tied to trees, and a couple of cairns) are few and far between, and it’s easy to lose the trail in the vegetation. Perhaps I’m just spoiled from HB9 hiking trails! Well, add to that the scorching heat, and there would be enough reasons to turn around. However, I soldiered on, gathering lots of small scrapes, with the summit luring me from afar, and eventually reached the highest point.
View of the two branches from a clearing on the ridge
Et voilà, le plateau!
The activation was on 15m only, resulting in 5 QSOs (2 x NA). I put up a 20m antenna after that, but by the time I was done, my little electronic gadgets had decided that it was simply too hot: my iPhone told me it had to cool down before I could use it again, so I couldn’t self-spot, and the KX2 was running very hot as well (probably wasn’t shielded from the sun well enough), and I had to make long pauses between CW characters to keep it from exceeding 60 °C PA temperature, the point at which it shuts down. So no QSOs on 20m I’m afraid.
I would have abandoned this unsuitable footwear too…
The way down was just as “interesting” as up, and I felt like an animal at times, plowing through the vegetation, negotiating some steep rocky bits (= scrambling on ascent). As I was driving off in my car, which had thankfully been in the shade, the display showed 33 °C.
This was, by far, my hardest-earned 1 pointer.
Hi Manuel, what date do you arrive in ZL and where? I’ll be on the North Island from tomorrow (7th) arriving in Auckland and South Island from 16th Nov, arriving on the ferry from Wellington. We leave from Christchurch on the 2nd December.
Well done Manuel. Sorry missed you today, yes no announcement. I looked at the sota watch screen about 10 minutes after the last of 3 spots for you on 15m. Thanks for the write up about your adventure.
73 John ZL1BYZ.
It appears that I’ll be in ZL a few weeks too late to meet up, Gerald! I will arrive in Auckland on Nov 30 and probably depart from Christchurch around Dec 20 (flight to VK not booked yet). Have fun in ZL! I’ll be keeping a close eye on your itinerary, as it looks like you have something similar in mind
Well done on beating your way through the vegetation and making the activation. And thanks for the QSO. Maybe a little cardboard box with the ends removed could be used to provide shade and ventilation. It would fold flat in the pack and only has to last for a couple of activations. I did notice your CW was slower today but thought you were being kind.
In VK we have a number of SOTA peaks that once had vehicle access to the top but bush fire has destroyed the fire spotters lookout hut at the end of the track and the replacement has been sited on another peak. The curators have allowed the regrowth of the forest which not only prevents vehicle access but makes hiking more of a trial than it should be. Popular destinations without facilities on top are occasionally provided with a maintained trail but in VK7 and VK3 and probably elsewhere the less popular ones are being deliberately allowed to regress. The need to meet OH&S requirements for a trail makes it more costly than just cutting out a 1 m wide swathe through the bush with a chain saw and machete.
That summit doesn’t seem like a good option for a night time descent, unless you can get a team of clearance workers up there pronto.
When I checked SOTA Watch you were already done.
Hopefully I’ll catch you on the air at least once before you leave.
OMG I would not have gone anywhere near all those spiders. no sota points are worth that much!
It seems that the spiders are not poisonous, well unless you are a fly, and that there are no poisonous snakes on the main island.
I hope it wasn’t too hard a climb today and a clear track. Thanks for the two bands today. I was waiting for UTC rollover before chasing on 20 m but you had decided to call it a day just as I was tuning to your frequency. Maybe you will return this evening?
I made a mistake and used my 10 m sloping wire which is my 160 m antenna, but you were good copy anyway.
Saw the spots on 18.086 cw and 14.306 ssb today for FK/SP-123. Listened but could not copy anything sadly.
Conditions are less than stellar at the moment…
I hope you managed to have a few QSOs. Edit : Just saw the log : 64 QSOs! Happy days.
Finally found an easy summit that would be suitable for a nighttime activation! Monts Maa FK/SP-123 has a dirt road that goes all the way to the summit. Although a bit narrow and overgrown on the final section, it would be no problem to negotiate with a 4x4 pickup (which I happen to have here *). Alas, there is a locked gate about 4.5 km from the summit, so one has to walk for about an hour (+ 350 m ascent) on the very gently rising road. I talked to a man who was just locking the gate again after letting two vehicles pass (which were not going to the summit, but to the bay that is behind it), and he said it was OK to go up there on foot, and that it was “magnifique”, but to watch out for hunters. I think I’ll wear a reflective vest if I go there again at night.
A big tree next to the summit provided shade and antenna support, so no problem concentrating on making QSOs – without anything overheating
A total of 64 QSOs was made. 15m worked very well again, with many US stations worked (AL, AZ, CA, CO, FL, IL, KY, MI, MO, MT, NC, OR, TN, TX, WA, WI), lots of JAs, and of course VK/ZL. Also one QSO each with Venezuela, Chile and Canada (BC). On 17m, more JA/VK/ZL were worked, and also a few US west coast stations.
20m sounded dead – no QSOs, and no signals heard when tuning across the band around 00:00 UTC. @VK3AFW sorry about that, I didn’t think that anybody heard me, so I decided to call it a day (pun intended) right at UTC rollover! But I think I did announce that I was going QRT. The concept of being able to activate right through a rollover, giving chasers the chance to get the points again, is still new to me as an EU goat.
The weather forecast for this weekend keeps changing, but doesn’t look so bad, so perhaps this could be a chance for an EU DX attempt! I’ll post/alert when I have decided which day. Most likely it would be Sunday (UTC), unless the forecast changes again.
In other news, I’ve just returned from a meeting of ARANC (Association des Radio Amateurs en Nouvelle-Calédonie) members here in Nouméa, and have had the pleasure to meet, among others, Sam FK8DD (the FK SOTA AM), and Michel FK8IK, who is very interested in SOTA. Perhaps there will be some activations by “real” FK OMs next year!
Monts Maa seen from an access road
Another one of those typical red/white summit poles
* Paid for a Dacia Duster, got a very run-down one at the airport, complained at the main rental office, and got a shiny new Nissan Navara (= Nissan Frontier) with 15 km on the odometer for the same price because they didn’t have another Dacia in good condition. Not sure if it’s a good thing though, as most cars on the streets here have some dents. But I didn’t find the driving/drivers particularly bad so far… and the pickup is very useful as some of the more remote (dirt) roads I’ve already driven on had huge potholes and cracks.