Yesterday my partner and I went to the Arthur Pieman Conservation area on the North West Coast of Tasmania to do an activation under the WWFF (World Wide Flora and Fauna) program.
Helen recently got her Foundation licence (callsign VK7FOLK) and this was her first activation using her own callsign so she was a bit nervous. This conservation area is very large, occupying over 1,030 square kilometres, which considering the size of the entire state is a big area! We drove due West from our home in Burnie along the Bass Highway and reached the West coast just north of the township of Arthur River and south of Marrawah.
We drove a short distance south on the C214 road and found a gravel road and drove in. We drove for
about 5 kilometres and found ourselves right by the coast. We couldn’t have found a better location and the weather was absolutely perfect at around 14 celcius and lots of sunshine. We had deliberately chosen this day because of the forecast since there’s been lots of rain recently and it’s pouring down as I write this post one day after the event. So an overall distance from home of around 140 kilometres.
When I am fortunate enough to be portable close to the coast I always set up two antennas:-*
- My Buddipole portable antenna as a vertical dipole for 20 metres – there’s no beating this antenna and configuration when it’s within metres of the saltwater. It was mounted on a tripod at approximately 3 metres from the ground and about 5 metres from Bass Strait.
- Linked dipole for 40 metres – set up as an inverted vee on top of a 7 metre fishing pole. This antenna also has provision for 20, 30 and 80 metres but I don’t use it for any bands other than 40 metres when close to the sea. The vertical far outperforms it in these locations.
We were set up and ready to operate just after 02:00 UTC (13:00 local time) and after eating a well earned lunch Helen was on the microphone around 02:30 UTC on 40 metres. Helen is only allowed to use 10 watts with her class of licence so I wasn’t sure how she would go. Fortunately we had nothing to worry about and she was off and running with Paul VK5PAS being her first caller.
We got the impression that conditions had been poor during the morning with some stations commenting on this but Helen racked up 34 contacts in a little under 2 hours. A great effort for her first activation. There were some quiet spells and after her contact with Gerard VK2IO she had no further takers and decided to call it quits. There was also some heavy QSB in some instances but this is not surprising with the 10 watt power level.
Looking back at her log, she had contacts from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK7. Not surprisingly these
were mainly from VK3 and VK5 with just three from VK2. Gerard was the only caller in the Sydney area and was struggling to hear Helen so conditions were not in her favour in that direction. They were better to Wagga Wagga where John VK2YW was receiving Helen 5/7.
I was on the microphone shortly after 04:30 UTC (15:30 local time) and used the Buddipole set up on 20 metres. I wasn’t sure what to expect of 20 metres since with daylight savings this is a bit early for long path Europe propagation. I called CQ and worked several Russian stations shortly after.
I was then called by the only VK stations I worked during the activation, Dale VK4NBX near Gympie in S. Queensland who was booming in and receiving me up to 5/9 +20db to my amazement and Hans VK6XN in Perth who could hardly hear me. I ended up with just under 30 contacts in all on 20 metres durng the activation. The band was very open with some booming signals but it was a struggle to get many callers.
I was called by other stations in France, Italy, Hungary, Belarus and,Germany and I called stations in Italy, Austria and the Czech Republic. My best contact of the afternoon was with my friend Lauro IK4GRO who was in his car and we were receiving each other up to 5/9 to my surprise. I went QRT shortly after 07:00 UTC (18:00 local time) and Helen and I hurriedly packed everything away and we were on our way home in about an hour.
We were both very tired and hungry when we arrived home at around 09:30 UTC (20:30 local time) after a fun day. Thanks to all who called.