Last Saturday afternoon, a group of us decided to do a portable session on the North West coast of Tasmania (VK7) during the John Moyle Field Day event which ran from March 17 UTC 01:00 until March 18 UTC 00:59. We set up at Brickmakers Beach which is located on the coast about a 40 minute drive from Burnie, just to the West of Port Latta. This location is part of the Little Peggs Beach State Reserve and is included in the WWFF program. Helen VK7FOLK and I have set up on a number of occasions at this location and activated it for the WWFF (Worldwide Flora and Fauna ) parks program and it’s a great spot. I also thought it a good location because you are able to park a close distance from the portable location and there are also public toilets there.

The John Moyle event is an annual event which aims to “… encourage and provide familiarisation with portable and field operation …” If you are competitive then you would either enter as either an individual or club station and hammer away. We had five hams present, Helen VK7FOLK, Jonathan VK7JON, Graeme VK7KT, Mike VK7MD and Les VK7OT and also Graeme’s wife Tanya and son Campbell were there as well. Three of us operated during the event with our own callsigns so we were never going to be able to compete seriously individually. Our aim was to have a fun afternoon of ham radio by the coast and a good time was had by all.

Photograph of Graeme VK7KT and Mike VK7MD (left to right) whilst Helen VK7FOLK looks on.

Please click on the photo for a larger size.

When we arrived, by chance we met Dave VK7LG who was parked in the car park. Dave lives in Deloraine and came over to say hello. I guess the Terlin Outbacker antenna and various bits of radio kit that were being removed from the car were a dead giveaway for him!

The weather forecast looked good with poor weather due from the Sunday so the timing was good. The weather was excellent when we arrived around midday local time (UTC + 11 hours) and started setting up. Graeme VK7KT very kindly supplied a gazebo (which was a huge help with the blazing sun), his Kenwood TS2000, an excellent sized table and a generator. I must confess that I wasn’t keen on the use of a generator, expecting to have our tranquill afternoon spoilt by a sound resembling a lawnmower. How wrong I was …

John Moyle Field Day set up at Brickmakers Beach, N.W. Tasmania
Photograph showing our set up at Brickmakers Beach. Photograph taken by Mike VK7MD’s drone. Many thanks to Mike for the photograph and video footage on the day.

Please click on the photo for a larger size.

The generator was completely conspicuous and I didn’t hear any hint of it during the event. Wow! Helen and I are of course used to using small lightweight batteries during activations which require us to limit our power output. It was a rare luxury for me being able to operate at 50-100 watts without a care in the world about power consumption and battery life. I’m still trying to work out how Graeme squeezed all of this into his car along with Tanya and Campbell! :-)

We had three antennas with us for the event:-

  1. SOTABEAMS Band Hopper four band dipole which operates on 20, 30, 40 and 80 metres mounted on a 7 metre fishing pole.
  2. Buddipole antenna set up as a vertical dipole – this was set up initially on 15 metres and then on 20 metres.
  3. 5 element beam for 2 metres – sadly no signals whatsoever were heard on this antenna during the event. Graeme VK7KT and Mike VK7MD both reported hearing ducting into VK3 earlier in the day but none was evident when we listened on both 2m SSB and FM.

We were QRV shortly after 02:15 UTC (13:15 local) and Helen and Graeme were raring to go on 40 metres with the linked dipole. There were plenty of callers and they both had a good run of contacts. Shortly after 04:00 UTC (15:00 local) I gave it a go on the 20 metre band using the linked dipole and picked up 20 contacts in about 30 minutes. I then moved to 15 metres and tried out the Buddipole and made just the one contact with Cliff VK2NP in Sydney. Helen managed 3 contacts on 15 metres as well.

Helen VK7FOLK enjoying a stint on the microphone.

Please click on the photo for a larger size.

The event was a VK/ZL/P2 event but no stations were worked outside of VK during the event. We did start hearing some European stations towards late afternoon/early evening time but they couldn’t hear us with the linked dipole. I suspect that a vertical would have done a better job of getting through. Graeme did a final session on 40m and we started packing up just after 07:30 UTC (18:30 local). We had intended packing up around this time in any event but the wind was also starting to pick up so it was good timing. A quick glance at the log shows around 100 contacts made during the event.

Les VK7OT doing his best to improve the stability of the fishing pole that was supporting the inverted vee antenna.

Please click on the photo for a larger size.

Filed under: Amateur Radio