I don’t have any current plans, but I’ve been wondering how likely I’d be to have success qualifying VK1 summits on 2m or 70cm with just an FM handheld. The few summits which are more or less in the heart of Canberra would be easiest, I guess, but wondering about other ones too.
Almost all my SOTA QSO’s have been on HF, mostly 80m and 40m, at least largely due to being a long way from any towns (aka areas with increased amateur population) mostly in the VK2/SM region. But VK1 is only a couple of hours drive away - so I’ve been considering trying to combine an activation or two with other activities - hence my question.
I wonder if there’s any VHF/UHF nets?
If anyone has any suggestions, best times/days of the week - anything relevant, I’d be interested.
Ask the Andrews, brother.
From what I have observed you need to spot and pick your time of day and the day. Then you will qualify. Summits more than 20 km outside of the town may be harder. Wait for a knowledgeable response from Andrew. Or Ian. Or Andrew.
2m FM can be used to qualify from the suburban summits (Ainslie, Black Mt, Majura, Isaacs Ridge, Taylor, Tuggeranong or Stromlo, however it pays to notify the locals well in advance and send a reminder via at least the sota mailing list ozsota on groups.io, ideally also on sotavk1area (groups.io) and possibly also the general vk1 mailing list vk1-reflect on the same server. Sending messages via any of those requires joining them, which is the usual join, identify and verify process. Every sota activator and chaser is recommended to join ozsota anyway and most VK chat is to be found there.
Without these alerts, even with sotawatch alerts (which are highly recommended anyway) it can be a very quiet place on 2m simplex and 70cm is even quieter during the week. The only exception to this “rule” is in the period on Sunday morning at 9:30am onwards when the locals turn on their radios to call back the news broadcast and say it was a great broadcast etc. (whether they heard the news or not ). SOTA activations that are notified early in the callback sequence generally have a number of contacts afterwards, at least on 2m. The broadcast and callbacks are usually conducted on the Mt Ginini repeater (146.950 with 91.5 hz tone). Call back the broadcast, tell them you are on a summit and hoping to make contacts on 146.5. Then QSY and call cq occasionally.
The drive-ups are Ainslie, Black Mt and Stromlo. Black Mt has all the silent QRM from the broadcasting services. Most modern HTs fail on that site, transmitting well but generally hearing no replies because the receiver is flattened by the strong local signals. Older HTs and mobiles that don’t have wide receive coverage are usually better. On the other local hills, there is generally no problem. And HF is fine on Black Mt.
73 Andrew VK1DA/2UH
Forgot to mention that on Sunday 1st August there will be the traditional VK1 SOTA Winter QSO Party and S2S fest. If you come to VK1 that day you should have an above average chance of making contacts from any VK1 summit.
Wx sometimes forces a postponement, but if it’s the regular frosty clear morning, it will be a morning to make lots of vk1 sota contacts.
I’m a frequent SOTA activator using the 2m and 23cm bands.
Select the link below and scroll to the bottom of the page for additional links (1 to 24) to my 2016 VK1 and VK2 70cm activations.
The VK1 VHF-UHF Dx net operates between 8 am and 9 am local. The calling frequency is 144.200 MHz USB. This group of operators rarely look at SOTAWatch.
If you want to qual a summit with four unique callsigns on 2m and 70cm, you need to organise your chasers with at least 48 hours notice.
You may wish to join the VK1 SOTA group on the Groups.Io platform and post your intentions with plenty of notice. Note this is in addition to posting SOTA activation alerts at SOTAWATCH3. SOTAWATCH3 is the primary source for alerts.
Good luck with your future activation plans.
Andrew VK1AD (the other Andrew)
Hi Ron, Andrew and Andrew,
Thanks a lot for all the replies, I’ve now got a much clearer picture .
Looks like signing up to that other group might be a good idea!
But possibly I may just take HF as well, if and when I do an activation - more fun!
Sorry about the late reply, yesterday I was out with my local club (SMARC) for the Winter VHF/UHF field day, at Merimbula on the south coast. A nice day out, but almost a complete lack of propagation (and signals…) on 2 and 6 meters…
Hi Steven, all good advice from the others. But can I just stress the issues faced with receiver overload in particular on Black Mountain and to a lesser extent on Mt Ainslie and Mt Majura. Cheap garbage bowfangs in particular will mostly fail to hear much on these summits - and even the more expensive ones will at times struggle. If you have a 2m filter (refer excellent construction article by Dale VK1DSH on this topic), that will significantly improve things for you. Alternatively running a radio with a decent front end and a tuned 2m antenna will also help.
Best times are the weekends with advance notice, although there are enough people around to do a midweek activation (again with an alert on both SOTAwatch and the VK1 SOTA group).
Thanks for the tips. My handheld is cheap… so it’s definitely going to be squashed!