From June until November 2020 we managed to get on with getting the VK2VIC Radio shack to lock up stage. Not quite there but it has progressed a lot. Missus and kids, including friends dropping past have all been on the tools. Couldn’t do it without them. Windows were second hand. So as the door frame.
Due to the extreme fire conditions around the region I decided to establish a radio scanner feed providing local coverage of the Rural Fire Service Lake George Zone (Bungendore and surrounding areas of Braidwood) for GRN, PMR and Fire ground communications.
Please Note: During periods when there are no major fire incidents in the region you will hear other areas of NSW. This is on account that NSW RFS use a Central Dispatch (Firecomm) arrangement. If there is a major fire incident in the Lake George Zone, RFS will isolate all other areas so only the Lake George region will be heard. There is also the possibility that you will also hear the ACT Emergency Services just over the border from time to time.
During the fire season you will hear Fire trucks from a number of Brigades – Bungendore, Braidwood, Mulloon, Carwoola, Queanbeyan, Captains Flat, Ridgeway, Farringdon, Wamboin. Expect also to hear SES units providing valuable support too.
Aircraft allocated to fighting fires will have callsigns that will start with FIREBIRD, HELITAK and BOMBER.
Providing this service the following equipment is used.
Uniden 396XT Digital Scanner
Intel NUC computer (Windows 10)
Software: Proscan (Excellent piece of software and worth the purchase)
Network Connectivity: 3G/4G (unfortunately my farm doesn’t have broadband)
After a very quiet few months without any progress on the radio shack we now see some action. Ordered the LVL wood for the sub floor construction. We seem to have spent ages getting the footings done which was 20 holes, each with 5 bags (20kg) each mixed and poured. For those who may be builders you would likely say this has been ‘over engineered’. When consulting span tables I went up on the minimum requirement. The stirrups that I used as you can see in the photo have been very good and I would recommend them. I have to admit that having Rhys helping has been fantastic.
Well the plan was to struggle up VK2/ST-034 Mt Gillamatong but the lovely wife said that with the hot weather and my current fitness level it might not be a good idea. Taking her advice it was decided to look for something a little easier. So even though having activated Mt Ainslie before it would still serve a purpose to give the FT-817 which is a recent addition to the SOTA kit a work out. But still use the trusty Elecraft KX-3.
The purpose was to quietly have a go at some CW to build up some confidence. So I let a couple of guys I know who enjoy CW I was going to transmit on 7.044 at around 12wpm. For the last two weeks I had been listening to Michael VK2CCW’s excellent Monday and Friday CW RX Broadcasts. Looking like I could confidently take it down at 12Wpm. However the struggle was the actual understanding of the ‘short hand’ (a.k.a Syntax). Didn’t want to put up an alert but still managed to work Steve (VK7CW) in Tasmania.
CW Contacts – Chris VK1CT, Steve VK7CW, Andrew VK1DA. Incidentally Andrew VK1DA was on another SOTA Summit Mt Marulan VK2/ST-039
Al VK1RX was also on Mt Ainslie operating 1296Mhz for a direct contact to Andrew VK1DA and Andrew VK1AD on Mt Marulan which was about 60kms away direct. I managed to work both Andrews on Al’s kit.
Other Contacts: VK3PF, VK4TJ, VK1MA, VK1MCW who also happened to be on another Mt Rob Roy VK1/AC-031
My key of choice for the activation today was the RAF ‘Bathtub’ Key.
Nick named “Bathtub” because of its obvious shape. This key’s housing is designed to be water and spark-proof so it could be used in environments where sparks could cause explosions, as on board of planes and ships. It was used on most wartime planes: the large bombers like Lancaster and Halifax as well on the fighter planes. Because it was water proof, it was also used in open canopy planes like the Swordfish, a torpedo bomber, made by Fairey.
The photo below shows my key. Also have included a photo of the key in action from the period.
This summit is most often activated the same day as Bald Mountain VK2/SM-052 as it is only about 15 minutes away.
Great site with fantastic views. No wind which gave Christian the opportunity to fly his DJI Maverick Pro drone. I was very impressed and it will be interesting to see me as a SOTA operator working on a summit from an aerial perspective.
Summit to Summit
VK1ct on VK1/AC-025 (Mt Tennent) on 7.095SSB distance 69km
Other Stations Worked on 7Mhz:
VK3TKK, VK4TJ, VK4AAC/3
Travel Notes – This time we drove to the Activation site via Braidwood. Excellent drive with a large portion of sealed road. Directions are leave Braidwood on the Araleun Road heading south before turning right into Cooma Road. The left turn to join the Badja Firetrail is the sign post ‘Peaks Saddle’. When you leave the Cooma road you will meet a fork in the trail. You need the right fork.
Good activation achieving a successful activation before rollover.
For this deployment we used Christian’s equipment.
Summit to Summit
VK7XDM on VK7/SW-008 (Hartz Peak) on 7.090SSB distance 845km
VK7LTD on VK7/CH-022 (Rats Castle) on 7.095SSB distance 700km
VK7FAMP on VK7/CH-022 (Rats Castle) on 7.095SSB distance 700km
Other Stations Worked on 7Mhz:
VK5IS, VK4TJ, VK3TKK,
Travel Notes – This time we drove to the Activation site via Braidwood. Excellent drive with a large portion of sealed road. Directions are leave Braidwood on the Araleun Road heading south before turning right into Cooma Road. Next right turn which is about 90 minutes will be the ‘Slap Up’ Firetrail. Keep you eyes peeled as you will shoot past it. The turn is whilst you are back on back on a piece of sealed road.
Each year around the same time the local VK1 are host a multiple of activation so that all operators involved can work to achieve the most amount of Summit-2-Summit points in a couple of hours. Mt Foxlow is an 8point summit and at this time of year attracts another 3 winter bonus points.
This year I activated Mt Foxlow with Andrew (VK1AD), Mark (VK1EM) and Andrew (VK2MWP). It was challenging in that the weather was bitterly cold. With the wind chill factors it would have been well below zero.
Summit to Summit Compton (VK2HRX) on VK2/ST-036 (Spring Hill) on 146.500FM distance 58km
Wade (VK1MIC) on VK1/AC-036 (Goorooyarroo) on 146.500FM distance 38km
Andrew (VK1DA) on VK1/AC-036 (Goorooyarroo) on 146.500FM distance 38km
Bill (VK1MCW) on VK1/AC-040 (Mt Ainslie) on 146.500FM distance 37km
Matt (VK1MA) on VK1/AC-043 (Mt Stromlo) on 146.500FM distance 43km
Jim (VK1AT) on VK2/ST-053 (Mt Mundoonen) on 146.500FM distance 86km
Compton (VK2HRX) on VK2/ST-036 (Spring Hill) on 1296FM distance 58km
Wade (VK1MIC) on VK1/AC-036 (Goorooyarroo) on 7.090SSB distance 38km
Angela (VK7FAMP/P) on VK7/SC-021 (Three Thumbs) on 7.090SSB distance 796km
Andrew (VK1MBE) on VK2/SC-007 (Plumbwood Fire Tower) on 7.090SSB distance 64km John (ZL1BYZ) on ZL1/WK-147 (Klondike) on 7.090SSB distance 2275km Rob (VK1RW) on VK1/AC-037 (Mt Taylor) on 146.500FM distance 35km
Jim (VK1AT) on VK2/ST-053 (Mt Mundoonen) on 2.3Ghz distance 86km