20151123_175507It’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. Read the rest of this entry

With our great run of weather forecast to come to an end, Helen and I decided to go to Wellington National Park this afternoon to activate it for the World Wide Flora and Fauna (WWFF) program.

We did a walk there about a month after moving to Bunbury earlier this year when we had overseas visitors and we started from the Wellington Dam and walked to the Honeymoon Pool about 6 kilometres along the Collie River. It’s a very nice park but very basic with few facilities.

Read the rest of this entry

Kirkibost Pier Great Bernera

Kirkibost Pier Great Bernera

Having gone to the trouble of bringing my HF amateur radio gear on our Scotland Western Isles trip, my aim was to get in a portable session from each of the isles we visited. It was hard work at times hauling the Yaesu FT857, the 7Ah battery, the trickle charger and Buddipole antenna, but it was in a backpack which has wheels and an extendable handle so it wasn’t too challenging.

As has been the case with a lot of places in Scotland, I found it challenging to find waterside locations where I could get close to the water on this trip due to sea walls etc. Another frustration with my portable set ups on the trip, other than on Mull, was that I decided, in the interests of weight etc. to leave my MFJ tuner behind making changes of band difficult in the field.

On the morning of September 25, we decided to try and find a good location to set up in the morning before departing from Lewis to Harris in the afternoon after returning our rental car. The weather was drizzly and windy but we wanted to take advantage of the opportunity since we had the luxury of a car where the radio and battery could be easily kept dry.

We decided to drive out towards Great Bernera located on the West Coast of Lewis which is located beyond the

Buddipole set up at Kirkibost Pier

Buddipole set up at Kirkibost Pier

Callanish Stones. After driving around for a while trying to find somewhere we would get close to the water we came across the Kirkibost Pier. This looked a good location where we could set up the Buddipole antenna close to the water.

The antenna set up was a bit challenging due to the wind and because it was difficult to put the tent pegs into the ground for the Buddipole guying kit, but we eventually got there. We were up and running at around 10:00 UTC, which was later than intended. The antenna was set up on 20m with Europe booming in, which of course is not exactly a rare event in this part of the world. I made two contacts into Italy and Spain and then went QRT not hearing much else on the band.

Disappointing after the effort taken in finding the location etc. but the weather was poor and we had a rental car to return to Stornoway.

I’ve been staying in Albany over the Easter long weekend and I thought I’d try some portable operation today with the Buddipole antenna. I set up at Lower King by the water this afternoon just before 4:00 pm, with the rig inside the car powered by an external car battery. I set up on 20 metres because 10 sounded fairly quiet.

Initially, I thought I may not have elevated the counterpoise wire sufficiently from the ground (I had suspended it in a shrub) with my first two contacts providing weak signal reports. However, this concern quickly passed after making a number of contacts with good signal reports in countries including Italy, Germany, the UK and Indonesia.

I mainly worked British stations, including three portable operators on the South Coast of England. One of these operators was Pete M3KXZ using just 10 watts from a mobile set up in his car! I ended the afternoon’s contacts with a 5/9 report from Bill, K4VSV in South Carolina which was a good way to end the afternoon.

I took some photographs of the set up which I’ve posted here – please click on the photographs to view a larger version.

Buddipole set up at Lower King Buddipole set up at Lower King Buddipole set up at Lower King

Well I certainly had a very enjoyable evening on air last night and I don’t think I’ve ever had so many contacts, DX or otherwise in the one session. I’ve spent about 2 hours today entering them into the website logbook application that I’ve developed and they number around 35. It is a fairly rare occurrence for me to make many contacts in the one session with my modest setup and 100 watts so it was most enjoyable.

The evening got off to a poor start with poor conditions to the US for the Southern Cross DX Net. I checked in at about shortly before 13:00z and battled with very bad QRN from stations close by and poor conditions.

I gave up on the net and decided to call CQ DX at around 14:00z and I’m pleased that I did. Over the course of the next 2 1/2 hours I worked endless European stations with a pileup the likes of which I don’t ever recall experiencing. I’ve realised today that this was helped by a number of the stations worked spotting me on the DX cluster so thanks to the following stations:- UY7QN, UV7QA, ON5MA, R6AN, RX6CC, YO8SSB. There would have been more contacts but I feel that each station deserves the courtesy of a minute or two to get beyond “your signal is xxxx 73s”.

Countries worked during the evening included Belgium, England, France, Italy, China, Germany, Greece, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Russia, South Africa, Romania and Slovenia.

I also enjoyed a long QSO with Owen ZL2OPB who I had not spoken with before and Steve G3TPW near York where I visited last November. Also good to catch up with Paul AX5PAS (VK5PAS using a special event callsign for Australia Day and has a website here) and Jason AX2LAW (VK2LAW who was using a special event callsign for Australia Day).

I finally went QRT at around 16:30z mainly because I was worried that the car battery that I using was running out of charge and would cut me off air at any moment. May the excellent DX continue!