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20m to VK/ZL to EU open daily to QRP - give 20m a go! (Part 3)

Continuing the discussion from 20m to VK/ZL to EU open daily to QRP - give 20m a go! (Part 2) - #101 by MM0EFI.

Previous discussions:

Just wondering…
I‘m being picked up often by ZL and VK RBN stations around 5pm UTC with 12-18db. But no stations on the air. Guess it is too early in the morning in ZL/VK…

73s
Ingo

Do you know how hard it is to get 4 SOTA contacts at 7am or 8am in ZL after a high overnight camp - never mind 5am! Even on a 10-pointer. Normally 1+ hour of work - and often achieved only by lurking on the morning net frequencies before they kick off.

5am … ‘tell him he’s dreaming’. (<-- that’s a VK cultural reference btw)

Think ZL chasers are an afternoon/evening crowd! Or at least after morning smoko.

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Was expecting something like that. But anyway good to know and to understand :wink:

Thanks
Ingo

Well quoted :slight_smile:

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Wait til the weekend hopefully. I’m trying again tomorrow morning, fingers crossed.

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Michael Caton from “The Castle” right?

Yes. A film that created quite a number of quotable phrases that are now set firmly into the Australian vernacular.

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Another great evening of SOTA DX.

Thanks Colm EI9KY for the S2S. My first ever contact into Eire and a 10-point summit to boot! Amazing.

Contacts to VK, EU and NA on both 40m and 20m. 50-or-so all up. Reports from Terry G0VWP were similar on both 40 and 20m bands and bith appeatwd open to a wide area.

Miserable night of fog, drizzle & wind and first time I’ve ever put the tent up just to shelter for an activation.

But 300m lower in a comfy hut with the billy boiling and all is good.

Thanks all for a wonderful evening if radio.

Matt - ZL4NVW

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Rock and Pillar - Summit Rock - ZL3/OT-339

This trip was a spin-off of a comment to @EI9KY that I had never managed an EI contact, much less a SOTA one. He contacted me to arrange a S2S attempt - Saturday 14th May at 0500-0600 UTC.

All good, I had a couple of local unactivated peaks handy for such a challenge, withing a hour’s drive and with 1-2 hr walks back down on old farm tracks that were suitable for nighttime travel. except the forecast for the weekend deteriorated steadily as the week went by making these summits impractical, and diminishing my options. Two of my current personal challenges are to activate all peaks in Central Otago, and to reach 2xMG without repeating any peaks. The latter of which meant the list of options was already limited. Coincidentally Sim’s nephew was playing against the Highlanders in Dunedin that weekend, so we decided to head to Dunedin for Friday night, and I would activate the easternmost peak in Central Otago - Summit Rock (ZL3/OT-339, 1450m, 4pts) on the Rock and Pillar Range on the Saturday night (local time).

The Rock and Pillar range is an area of old highcountry farmland at around 1500m. Now retired into the conservation estate and hosting the cushion-fields typical of the area, as well as many of our sub-alpine scrub species. It has 4WD access onto the tops, a good outlook LP over the Pacific, and most importantly two comfy, dry backcountry huts to return to after the activation.

==

As said, the summit is a miserable spot on a cold wet windy night. I started trying to operate with the radio in a dry-bag but was soon forced to put up the tent - good fun in strong gusty winds in the dark! The setup was my usual configuration - FT818 and solid state amp delivering 20w into an end-fed 40m halfwave (the counterpoise visible in the photo is used to operate the antenna as an OCFD on 60m - not needed this activation). The 49 contacts trickled in at a comfortable rate of about 1 per minute, initially on 40m, switching to 20m at 0500. The S2S with Colm (who was accidentally operating QRP at the time) towards the end of the activation - an amazing finish to a great evening of radio.

Following the activation, a warm, dry hut was very welcome - just 300m below the summit.

Summit looking more promising the next day (though it soon started raining again).

And thankfully, this is one of the 5 ‘drive-to’ summits in Central Otago - with 4WD access to within 1km / 100 vertical meters of the summit. Probably the only option I had for this S2S attempt given the weather.

Note - any photos showing sunshine are the next day!

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So, here’s the story from the other side of the world / QSO. As Matt said, we had arranged to both be active on a summit at the same time, which for me meant 6AM local time. I picked Knockmealdown (EI/IS-011) as it’s almost 800m, reasonably close by, and a straight forward hike up. Unfortunately though it meant an 2:45 AM alarm clock and a walk up in the dark, a first for me.
The forecast was good, with some clouds, but low winds, which makes a nice change after a pretty bad winter here for weekend winds. So, the hike began in the dark with my new shiny head torch and after about 30 mins the first signs of light appeared in the sky. Unfortunately, I missed the sunrise, as I was ascending from the western side, but it still looked pretty nice once I got to the saddle and was able to look east.
I had read about a 20m delta loop here on the reflector, and decided to try one for this activation. So Friday evening I built this as it suited the 7m pole I have. The 22.5m length seems a bit short though, as my one resonated at 14.3 MHz, but its close enough, as my KX3 will tune pretty much anything.
I setup on the summit, wx was good - wind almost still and fog / clouds coming and going with sunshine in between. Pretty much dry with just morning dew that was slippy and seemed to wet everything. It’s nice and wide on the summit and it’s facing the sea, with the ridge running roughly NW to SE, so giving a broadside across mainly sea to ZL via LP. All directions point to ZL, as it’s almost the antipode to EI, but I reckoned the more sea the better. I saw Matts spot on 20m for ssb, tuned him in and there he was. Weak but workable. I sent a reply to his CQ and got in first time. Easy peasy :smiley: In my haste I realised afterward that I had forgotten to plug in the external battery, so was running on the KX3 internal batteries, so was only using 5W. It was also my first time using a mic on the new to me KX3, so I hoped that the previous owner had the compression etc setup properly. They did obviously. Job done. S2S to ZL confirmed. I QSYed and put out a few calls on ssb, but no DX takers, only 1 HA reply. The rest of EU must have been stil in bed. I then went to CW and stayed there for the rest of the activation, which gave me 39 QSO’s and 6 to VK (one HEMA summit - so not quite S2S to VK, ) and 1 to JH, another first for me.
The 20m loop seems to have done the business, but it takes a lot of space. To keep the lower section taut and at the recommended 2m above the ground needs long guy lines, I measured 40 paces between pegs, so not suited to a lot of summits. I must do some simulation to see how it radiates on other bands.


First light


Obligatory summit pic


The 20m delta loop.


Panorama on the descent as the cloud started to build

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Thanks for the report, Colm! Glad you were able to work DX with 5 watts :slightly_smiling_face:

The wire length depends on several factors.
This means the 22.5m are rather a hint. The actual length should be determined by shortening the (initially longer) wire until the loop is resonant on the desired frequency.

73, Roman

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Hi
Great to catch you on CW - not strong but easily workable.
How are you feeding the delta loop, 1/3 up one of the sloping legs?

Thanks
Andrew VK1DA/VK2DA

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Hi Colm,

Great to work you from HEMA summit Mount Martha VK3/HVC-087. I was running a KX2 (10 W) to a ZS6BKW as an inverted V with the feed point at around 13 m above ground thanks to a convenient large gum tree. I was also activating a WWFF reference VKFF-2152. Most of my time was spent on 40 m SSB and I noticed your Spot as I was considering closing down. I changed to 20 m CW and there you were, making contact with a VK4. You came back to my first call, which was satisfying.

Thanks again for the contact.

Peter VK3PF

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Hi Andrew,

it’s rather 1/9 (i.e. 70cm). The actual value is uncritical (60…80cm) and has little impact on impedance or gain. It does influence the radiation pattern, though. So, best stay with the given length, where the near vertical component of the radiation pattern has a minimum.

73, Roman

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Hi Andrew, I built it as Roman has shown, with the feed 70cm up the leg. I used fishing snap swivels held in place with tie wraps at the corners. To determine the centre point of the apex, I attached a tie wrap in the centre of the bottom (4.88m from the edge), pegged out both bottom corners on the ground and pulled the top tight and lined it up with the bottom tie wrap. I made the feed point from a bnc connector, a spacer and some M6 stainless steel fittings. The two bottom guy lines are about 15m long or so. I put it on a 7m sotabeams heavy duty mast, so the top can take a bit of pressure to keep the loop in shape. It’s a heavy mast, but hasn’t broken yet. The bottom tie wrap also help you ensure the shape is good then mounted, it should align with the apex. I tied the coax to one of the mast guy lines to keep it away from the wire.
To setup, I found it easiest to peg out the mast fully first, then drop it and roll out the wire, going under one of the guy lines so the bottom of the wire is against the mast, not held away by a guy lines. This depends on the height of your guy lines, mine are tall as I have a narrow mast ring.

Hope this helps.

pic showing the feed and one corner. Hopefully you caan zoom in for details. With the snap swivels, I can detach the wire and wind it up separately, easier than winding up a permanent loop.

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Thanks for the details, very helpful.

73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2DA

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Wow :astonished: I have been just chased by @ZL4NVW at LA/AH-017 SSB! That was a nice surprise :+1: I ran 100W and used elevated trapped vertical on my side it was local sunset 20.00 UTC.

Thanks for chasing Matt!

73 de LB8CG/Mihail.

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The conditions this morning were very good!

I got up extra very early and activated DM/BW-002 from 04:30 UT as DL20SOTA/P

Unfortunately there was not a single chaser from VK or ZL :cry:

…until 06:45 UT I have heard masses of VK stations well ( partly S9 ). With my small power I reached in the pile up however only 3 stations… in SSB!

73 Armin

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If you work a VK/ZL from EU though, that contact goes ‘straight to the pool room’!

73, Jim DL/KK0U

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