It’s been a while since I’ve posted and about time I started adding some posts on what I’ve been up to since returning to VK at the end of August. Since relocating to Bunbury I’ve been operating portable from a few locations and I’ll be adding some further posts over the Christmas break about Pelican Point and Leschenault Inlet.
In VK6 (or at least in the Perth/Southwest area of VK6) from around October/November until the end of April we tend to get good propagation in a short path direction to Europe and the UK. This tends to happen in the mid to late afternoon on 10 metres from around 08:00 UTC, from 10:00 UTC on 15 metres and later at night on 20 metres from around 14:00 UTC. The added advantage of going the 20 metre route is that it is always cool late at night by the harbour even when the weather has been hot.
I discovered how amazing 20 metres could be on the shortpath in 2013 and blogged about it at the time. Night after night I found myself in pileups on 20 metres with booming signals both ways! I was in Scotland this time last year so missed out.
Over the past month or so I’ve been going out once per week for a late night session on 20 metres and have had mixed results. In late 2015, it’s not as reliable as it was in 2013 but I’ve had some great sessions including tonight’s which I would rate as one of my best. I was QRV shortly after 14:00 UTC and could see almost immediately that the band was in excellent shape.
As you can see from the photographs, the Buddipole was set up as a vertical dipole and I was running 80 watts. The photographs shown were taken at an earlier time one day when I tested the antenna on 15 metres at the same location. One of the downsides of operating late at night is that it’s not worth bothering with photography.
I was hearing booming signals from places such as Thailand, Oman and UAE. A friend in the UK very kindly put me on the cluster and I was called almost immediately by Shaun M0BJL who I know well and have mainly worked on 10 and 15 metres in the past. Shaun wasn’t coming through particularly well and I thought perhaps it wasn’t going to do much to Europe and the UK. How wrong I was!
The ensuing pileup was one of the best I’ve ever experienced with stations from the USA calling me which is a very rare event for me! One of the first callers was K8KT who was receiving me 5/9 in Virginia and he was followed shortly after by WH6OR in Hawaii who receiving me 5/9+. Not bad for a vertical dipole antenna eh!
The biggest surprise of this outing was a contact with Carl 2E0HPI who was portable on the Durham coast on the East coast of England. You’ll see from some earlier posts that I visited Carl in August, 2015 in his home town of Hartlepool and we did some SOTA/WWFF activations. One of these activations was from the Durham coast which added to the thrill for me. Carl and I had been keen to try for a contact between us portable to portable from VK6 to the UK and I had advised that our most likely opportunity was going to be on the shortpath on 20 metres late at night my time.
I must confess that I didn’t like our chances since Carl only runs 5 watts from his Yaesu FT817 and I thought it a tad optimistic. I’ve worked stations in the UK in the past on 20 metres who were running 5 watts but they were using beam antennas with the gain making up for the low power. I had also experienced working back to VK from the UK during my 7 month stay in Scotland so knew it was not in the realms of fantasy!
Carl advised me that a week or two earlier during one of my late night outings that he was hearing me faintly but sadly I couldn’t hear him. This evening, I saw a message on Facebook from him advising that he was hearing me very well so I asked the pileup to standby and called him in and to my amazement I could hear him very faintly. To my astonishment, he was receiving me up to 5/9 so the propagation must have been somewhat amazing! When you look at the photograph of his Super Antenna MP1B it is an amazing achievement. The antenna is some distance from the actual saltwater and it is only a few inches from the ground!
Carl very kindly video recorded our QSO and uploaded it to You Tube and I’ve included it below. I’ve had some great contacts portable with the Buddipole both from here in VK6 and the isle of Mull in Scotland but I would rate this as one of my best to date. The next challenge will be to either work Carl on another band or work him with a stronger signal both ways. Perhaps that’s all down to propagation!
Filed under: Amateur Radio