Following our return to Edinburgh from our Scottish isle trip, Frank MM0HST was also kind enough to loan me his Yaesu ATAS-120A antenna to use with his FT857D transceiver. This model of antenna is great to use with the FT857D because it is auto tunable and interfaces with the transceiver’s menu system. So once you configure the transceiver via the menu you have an antenna which auto tunes at the touch of a button on 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12 and 10 metres.
I must confess that this was something of a luxury for me because I don’t generally have an antenna tuner with me when I operate either using the Buddipole or the Outbacker antenna. It was really useful being able to monitor the different bands 20 through to 10 metres and be in a position to transmit almost instantly. This sure proved handy on many occasions.
My next challenge was to find somewhere with a good vantage point to operate from near to the saltwater similar to what I do when in VK. This proved difficult to find because I found that waterside locations in Edinburgh (and elsewhere in Scotland and England) usually had high sea walls making it impossible to get within a close distance.
By complete fluke I stumbled on to Granton Harbour which was only about a 10 minute drive in the car from where we were staying in Edinburgh while we were there. At Granton I was able to park the car on a boat launch ramp by the edge of the water and you don’t get much closer to saltwater than that. If you click on the photo to the left you can see the ramp near the building.
I think that the location coupled with the time of year (I was operating from November, 2014 ) combined to provide me with an unexpected good run to VK. I had a very good run mainly on 15 metres with the FT857D, the ATAS-120A antenna and a power output of between 10 – 40 watts. I had expected the location to be poor towards VK on the long path on 20 metres and I was proved right.
My theory is that the highrise apartment block across the road that you can see in the photograph impeded the longpath direction to the west because I also found the location poor for contacts to North and South America.
Of course, we are spoilt in VK with our long path contacts because we have the luxury of it being during our afternoons whilst our British counterparts have the fun of dragging themselves out of bed into sometimes freezing cold conditions early in the morning whilst it is still dark! So the prospect of not working DX on the long path wasn’t too much of a disappointment .
I also realised that there was a good path to VK6 in the mid-afternoon on 17 metres after speaking with Peter VK6APZ. Peter was receiving me up to 5/8 and we had three QSOs whilst I was in Edinburgh, all on 17 metres.
I was working VK via the shortpath on 15 metres anything from about 9:00 UTC up until around 11:30 UTC so no going out in the cold and dark for me (ok, yes, it was cold at times still). I realised for the first time that this location was going to be special when I heard Nick VK2DX on 12 metres at 11:10 UTC on November 8 from the Granton Harbour location. Nick was a signal strength of 5/7-8 and I was somewhat surprised. I decided to call him not expecting to get through the pileup but to my surprise he heard me on the first try and gave me a respectable 5/6-7 signal report. It was at that moment that I realised that I had found a good location from where to work VK. I received an email from Nick saying that he wished he’d recorded the contact.
The same day I heard Richard VK2FJC but was unable to work him. I subsequently worked him on both 12m and 15m on November 14 which was a thrill. Unfortunately QSOs with VK5SFA and VK8NSB who I heard on most bands whilst I was there eluded me. They were always in huge pileups which I was unable to get through in competition with UK and European stations with big antennas and lots of power.
Sadly the QSOs with Richard and Nick were the only ones to VK on 12m whilst over there. I listened often when QRV and never heard any VK again. 10m was also a disappointment with few QSOs into VK but I was fortunate enough to speak with my friend Graham VK6RO one morning. We could only just hear each other to make out who it was and exchange signal reports. The only other VKs worked on 10m were Brett VK2WWV in Dubbo and Steve VK2NSS near Canberra. I did hear VKs on a few instances on 10m but they were either too faint to hear me or like Andrew VK6IA always in huge pileups and unable to hear me.
From Granton I worked stations in VK1 through to VK8 on 15 metres and was absolutely thrilled with this. One station that I spoke with on numerous occasions and have struck up a friendship with, is Mark VK2PH, located in Otford, south of Sydney. Glancing at my log, I logged 6 QSOs with Mark on 15 metres from Granton Harbour between mid-November and February. Mark is one of the friendliest hams I have met to date and I’m thrilled to have met him and feel it ironic that I probably would not have done so from VK6!
Looking back through the log, I also met a number of other VKs on 15m whilst at the Granton Harbour location and had multiple QSOs with the following stations –
VK4XAC – Alan
VK1MA – Matt
VK4FFAB – Rob
VK4FSCC – Glenn
VK5PAS – Paul
VK6YTS – Jason
Does very well with his G5RV antenna.
Probably the VK I heard the most on 15m
Rob and Glenn do exceptionally well with their low power.
Always great to speak with Paul.
Jason was the only VK6 station I heard on 15m and we spoke on three occasions on the band.
The best signal report I got was from Steve VK4KUS who reported that I hit 5/9 during a QSO on 15m when I put the power output up from 20 to 40 watts and I was somewhat surprised.
I would also like to say a special thank you to Shaun M0BJL. I had spoken with Shaun on 10m from VK6 on a few occasions before our trip and to my amazement I was able to speak with Shaun at Granton Harbour on 15 metres. Shaun kindly worked “in company” with me on a number of occasions assisting me with some of the VK contacts that I made. Shaun, thank you very much .
In the past 3 years, mobile and portable amateur radio never ceases to surprise me, particularly near saltwater and Granton Harbour, Edinburgh was no exception. I will remember my times there in the little Honda fondly in years to come.
Filed under: Amateur Radio