Summer VHF-UHF Field Day 2023

Last field day I went up One Tree Hill and while it’s a great spot (with lots of shade from the trees), most of my contacts were pretty nearby. So this time I decided to head further out and went portable on Anderson Hill road between Loch and Kernot (a little south of the summit of Anderson Hill and the radio rower).

The location has good line of sight towards melbourne, and also some great views. Even saw some birds of prey riding the air currents.

It was a very hot day, but thankfully several degrees cooler than it was in the city. After I setup the weather was fairly calm, but it didn’t take long until the wind picked up. At one point it pushed over my antenna, and broke my beach umbrella, and for the rest of the day I hid in the shadow of my car boot. Really needed a better solution.

I ran 10 watts and a horizontal 3 element 2m Yagi-Uda. The antenna was mounted to speaker tripod a couple of meters up.

In total I made 38 contacts over the 7 hours I was set up, and made some pretty decent contacts (all 2m SSB):

  • VI75G in Geelong - 120km (75th Anniversary of the Geelong Amateur Radio Club)
  • VK3IK in Wallan - 129km
  • VK3ER in McLaughlins Lookout - 161km
  • VK3KQ in Enfield - 183km

I could just hear VK7MD once or twice, but they would have had no hearing me with the conditions.

Was there until sunset, just as the mosquitos came out.

I’m really glad I went out, though I think I’ll take a little break for portable operations for a bit :-)

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Christmas 2022

I had a wonderful time down in Wonthaggi this Christmas.

It felt like I was only there for a day. Very relaxing, and great food.


On Boxing day I went up to Bass Hill, just 20 min from Wonthaggi, to scout a possible location for the 2023 summer VHF/UHF field day. Was worth going just for the views. With my binoculars I could see the Toora wind farm about 65KM away.

Bass Hill is the location of the VK3RSG repeater, and while there is nothing too high powered on the tower, I will need to find a nearby location to reduce interference if I go up again.

That said, I was very lucky as the atmospheric conditions were perfect for VHF/UHF over the bass straight to Tasmania. The instant I turned on my radio I heard VK7MD/Mobile on 2m FM simplex. Incredible.

I talked to several other VK7 stations on 2m FM, 2m SSB and tried some 70cm FM too.

I’m still amazed at what can be achieved with <10 watts and a portable antenna. In the future, I will be keeping a close eye on the conditions for another opportunity.

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New T2LT Antenna for 15m

After hearing reports that 15m was starting to open up, I built a very simple T2LT antenna based on the dimensions from Tim G5TM.

The SWR measured okay, lowest around 1.5. Initial tests looked good, but it was hard to tell as I have S9+ noise at home.

(SWR with ugly balun and ferrite choke. 8m fiberglass pole)

To really test it I needed to away from my local noise, so late Sunday afternoon I headed up to John’s Hill Reserve to try it out. The reserve is quiet, with little rf, and is a little over 400m ASL.

First issue was my Digirig disconnected every time I started to transmit. It took 30min of testing to finally realise that the “ugly balun” was not only ugly, but wasn’t working as a choke either; I was getting RF back into the laptop. Adding a ferrite choke at the end of the feed-line fixed the issue.

In the future I will have to remove the ugly balun, add a BNC connector, and maybe make a choke for 21Mhz. I think I’ll also take the time to play with the lengths to see if I can achieve a better SWR. Callum, M0MCX, has a calculator with different length ratios rather than the standard 14 + 14 wavelength design.

As for results, I’d say they were good.

(PSKReporter, all day FT8 15m)

It was hard to pick out SSB (though I did hear a few Japaneses stations), so I spent most of my time on FT8. There were lots of stations, and I appeared to be able to get out alright. Only made 14 contacts but they were from countries I don’t normally see on 40m including China, South Korea, England, and Ukraine. Very happy.

Oh, and the view was pretty nice too.

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First WWFF Activation

I did nothing all week, so late Sunday afternoon I decided to activate a park for the first time.

I went to Baluk William Nature Conservation Reserve (VKFF-2042) and setup my G90 and EFHW. It wasn’t far away, but I missed a turn, and Google Maps took me on a fun backroad.

Made 23 SSB contacts on 40m in about an hour. It was a bit nerve wracking at the start, but I think I kinda got the hang of it. Was very happy to make a ZL3 contact too.

Will have to pick another interesting park for next weekend.

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Remembrance Day Contest 2022

I took part in my first contest this weekend; The Remembrance Day Contest.

This contest commemorates the Amateurs who died during World War II and is designed to encourage friendly participation and help improve the operating skills of participants. It is held on the weekend closest to the 15th August, the date on which hostilities ceased in the southwest Pacific area.

I headed up to John’s Hill Reserve in the afternoon and setup my G90 + EFHW, and made 20 contacts over about 3:30 hours. While I didn’t make many contacts, I was impressed that all but one station (VK2) was able to hear me on this setup.

Most of all, I think it was helpful in getting my confidence up when talking on the radio. I feel much better about trying to activate POTA now.

Update 2022-09-12

I placed 109 out of 126 for single-operator-phone.

No exactly great given the median was 100 contacts, and the top three all had over 1,000. But I’m still happy about what I achieved.

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Is this what FT8 actually looks like?

Went to new park in Mornington Peninsula with G90 and 40m EFHW yesterday.

I think I preferred it when I could only see 7-8 FT8 contacts each decode, now it’s hard just to find an open frequency.

The most messages I saw during one decode was 38.

Noticed 3 people doing POTA as well, I had never really thought about that. Maybe that’s a way I can avoid talking to people now that no one uses PSK31, or other digital modes.

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HF is better away from people

It turns out the best way to play with radios is away from everyone else.

I tried to find if someone had made a map of noise levels around Melbourne, but couldn’t find anything. Instead, I used a light pollution map, with the idea being less light pollution = less background noise.

Last weekend I spent a couple of hours at night, at boat ramp 50km south-east of the Melbourne CBD. And my hypothesis seems to have checked out.

I took a 6m squid pole, a 40m EFHW (for 40-20-15-10) and an IC-705.

I sent out WSPR beacon on 40m @ 10watts (I think) to see how everything was working, and well, it seemed pretty good.

Call SNR Drift Reporter Rgrid Rdistance
VK3ARD -19 0 KM3T FN42 16,876 km
VK3ARD -16 0 N1IRO FN33 16,799 km
VK3ARD -15 0 WA2TP FN30 16,740 km
VK3ARD -16 0 K3FEF FN21 16,587 km
VK3ARD -17 0 WZ7I FN20 16,559 km
VK3ARD -21 0 VE3CWM FN15 16,532 km
VK3ARD -19 0 W3ENR FM28 16,509 km
VK3ARD -16 0 N2HQI FN13 16,485 km
VK3ARD -19 0 KD2CLR FN13 16,404 km
VK3ARD -15 0 KX4O FM18 16,298 km
VK3ARD -17 0 WB7OND FM05 16,093 km
VK3ARD -11 0 W8AC EN91 16,075 km
VK3ARD -5 0 WD4ELG FM06 16,050 km
VK3ARD -8 0 WA4DT EM94 15,909 km
VK3ARD -5 0 WA2N EM85 15,809 km
VK3ARD -12 0 KX4AZ/T EN74 15,780 km
VK3ARD -17 0 AG0X EL96 15,447 km
VK3ARD -17 0 W3PM EM64 15,405 km
VK3ARD -24 0 N5FOG EL29 14,459 km
VK3ARD -22 0 W5KCR EL29 14,414 km
VK3ARD -24 0 K5TR EM00 14,217 km
VK3ARD -14 0 TI4JWC EK70 14,214 km
VK3ARD -26 0 N0GQ DM79 14,103 km
VK3ARD -14 0 KA7OEI-1 DN31 13,613 km
VK3ARD -18 0 WA5DJJ DM62 13,609 km
VK3ARD -14 0 K5AZZ DM61 13,593 km
VK3ARD -15 0 K7GXB DM34 13,254 km
VK3ARD -18 0 KK6PR CN94 13,090 km
VK3ARD -19 2 N7XNX DM26 13,058 km
VK3ARD -23 0 KT7Y DM06 12,800 km
VK3ARD -19 0 KP4MD CM98 12,785 km
VK3ARD -20 0 NT6V CM87 12,663 km
VK3ARD -22 0 W6REK-66 CM97 12,657 km
VK3ARD -21 0 W6LPM/6 CM97 12,655 km
VK3ARD -25 0 K6JFZ CM97 12,652 km
VK3ARD -2 0 KFS CM87 12,630 km
VK3ARD -21 0 NH6XO BL11 8,945 km
VK3ARD -23 0 VK8TH PH57 3,148 km
VK3ARD -5 0 ZL2QF RF70 2,531 km
VK3ARD -4 0 VK4YA QG62 1,377 km
VK3ARD -15 0 VK4TDI QG62 1,373 km
VK3ARD -10 0 VK2CEL QF57 826 km
VK3ARD -16 0 VK2AMF/1 QF44 482 km
VK3ARD -12 0 VK7JJ QE38 395 km
VK3ARD -12 0 VK3GED QF12 145 km
VK3ARD -22 0 VK3KHZ QF22 20 km

I was also being heard all over the place on FT8 which was nice.

Only made a handful of contacts via FT8, but three in NA, and one in SA which was cool.

Took the time to listen to the new Shortwave Australia Broadcast on 4835 Khz too. Wasn’t perfect, but was still pretty damn good. Had very poor reception on 2310 Khz though. I assume it was my antenna setup?

(Youtube mirror)

I tried to send some SSTV too, but had tech issues (and people were talking everywhere on 40m).

I wish I could do this from home, but I suppose it gets me out the house.

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Arthurs Seat

Visited Arthus Seat last week in the late afternoon. Was nice.

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Learning EAA

I’ve start learning about Electronically Assisted Astronomy (EAA). I’ve only gone out a few times, and while I barely know what I’m doing, it’s been a nice way to spend a few hours outside at night.

I’m using a ASI485MC camera, with an Amazon 70mm doublet refractor, a AZI-Gti Goto Mount, and EQ Adapter (from the Star Adventurer).

Tonight was the first time using the mount in EQ mode and it took a couple of hours to get the process sorted. In the end I managed a 2-minute-of-angle alignment, resulting in tracking, goto, and plate solving all working with zero issues. With luck, next time will be a lot quicker.

While I’m going to claim it’s EAA, and not astrophotography, I still had to process the images a little in Siril. No darks, no flats, under garden lights and a Bortle 7 sky.

Epsilon Carinae

Eta Carinae


I’m pretty sure I’m overexposing everything, but blue channel in-particular is super overexposed and blurry. As I’m using a color camera, I think a IR filter will help… Maybe… Who knows.

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Keyboard Sounds

Short audio sample of typing on my Keychron K2v2 with Boba U4T switches, and MA Blue Cat keycaps.

(Youtube mirror)

I’m way too old for newfangled mech keyboards. This setup is pleasant enough to type on and does sound quite nice to me. But overall is too tactile for my taste.

I also did not realise the Keychron had dropped any future support of remapping the keys on their wireless models when I purchased the K2v2 which was quite disappointing.

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