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Keyword: ‘SOTA’

My Third SOTA Activation- Castle Hill VK4/NH-136

September 14, 2014 Leave a comment

Icom IC703 in backpack. Linked dipole in a small tree.


View from the summit almost straight down


World War II pillbox


Operating position


Lovely morning


Looking towards Cape Pallarenda


Don’t worry about him


Nice operating desk

I had planned to arrive at 5 am but I was pretty tired after my very late finish at Mt Marlow yesterday and the 16 kilometres I had walked. I managed to get to the summit of Castle HIll at about 630 am and was set up about 3 minutes later. Castle Hill is in the centre of the city and is the place for the young urban professional to exercise. Hundred of walkers, runners and cyclist will be encountered on the road and on the walking tracks. I drove to the bottom car park area near the old Panorama restaurant and then walked to the summit. I made quite a few contacts on 80m but nothing at all on 40m CW. Conditions very poor at present due to solar flare and CME.

Categories: HF, SOTA

My Second SOTA Activation- Mt Marlow VK4/NH-154

September 14, 2014 Leave a comment

I thought Mt Marlow would be a really easy hike, but it turned out to be moderately difficult given my present lack of fitness. I started at the Pallareda at the beachside park and walked in to the start of the Many Peaks track. This track is 5.7km long. My return journey was down to the  south and back along the lagoon track. I left the beach at 1130 and arrived at the peak at about 1240. I departed the hill top at 1700 and arrived back at the beach after 1840 in the dark. I am a local and I got caught out, so visitors from overseas should be warned about how quickly the sun sets at these latitudes.

I worked quite a few stations on SSB and two on 40m CW for a successful SOTA activation

Track Details below-

Distance: 5.7 km one-way
Time: allow 3 hrs walking time (one-way)

Starting at the western end, or 450 m along the eastern end of the Lagoon trail, this challenging walk across Many Peaks Range leads to the summit of Mount Marlow, before descending through vine thickets and woodland towards the wetlands below. The walk has spectacular views over the Town Common wetlands and along the coastline from the Palm Islands in the north to Cape Cleveland in the south. Some sections of the trail are very steep and there are many steps. In some areas the trail can be indistinct and walkers must follow the orange trail markers. Walkers may return on the same trail or via the Lagoon trail.

Distance: 4.6 km one-way
Time: allow 2 hrs walking time (one-way)

Walkers and mountain bike riders share this trail.

Starting at the intersection of Freshwater and Shelly Beach trails or opposite Walter Nesbit Park at the end of Cape Pallarenda Road, this trail follows the edge of Freshwater Lagoon at the southern base of Many Peaks Range. The trail can become boggy after wet weather. Trail users can return the way they came or can walk the Many Peaks track or ride the Under the Radar trail to complete a loop.


The start of the trail at Pallarenda


Signage at start


Going right is the moderately difficult track. I used this one on the way up. If you prefer you can walk on flat ground to the southern end of the mountain and take an easier route up


Start of the Many Peaks Track


Pretty easy going at first


A great deal of the track is like this only more boulders and rubble underfoot. It is well shaded most of the way.


IPS Antennas?


Kapok in flower


Shady steps early on in the track


Kapok trees and a view of the wetlands


This is why I do SOTA. What a view




View of Castle Hill VK/NH-136


Getting higher and the views is still great


A great place for a rest


Fire in the distance and the 6 point summit of South Pinnacle – next week’s SOTA for me


Beginning to open up


The summit is ahead


The quick way up and down is this way


Swainsona sp.?


The Trig


This is the real name of the summit


My operating position. Dipole slug from trig


Shack with a view, but no shade.


My APRS via iPhone

Categories: HF, QRP, SOTA

My First SOTA Activation VK4/NH-057 Mt Stuart

September 12, 2014 1 comment

This morning 12 Sept 2014 at 4am I set off from my home to Mt Stuart, about a 1 hour drive despite it being just next door. I decided to do my first ever official SOTA activation, and the first one for this region. I chose an easily accessible summit close to Townsville for my fist activation. Access to Mt Stuart VK4/NH-057 is via road almost to the summit. Additional lower car parking is available. In the spirit of SOTA, I of course chose to access the activation zone on foot.

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On arrival at the summit at 5 am I set up on a picnic table. I was carrying my pedestrian mobile setup, an Icom 703 in backpack. I dropped the backpack damaging the vertical antenna and the coax and the morse key :-(. Still I had a spare linked dipole. After several failed attempts to work CW, due to the damaged key, I finally could make the key work by holding it with one hand while working it with the other.

The linked dipole was not a success on 80m despite my antenna analyser showing it as resonant, I had cut it too short- why the analyser showed it resonant I do not know. I rebuilt the 80m section on return home and it is now the correct length.

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This was a good shakedown on an easy summit. I’d recommend this summit to anyone in the area as a good first summit to test your gear. I am now awaiting my 80 litre hiking pack to arrive today, so that I can activate South Pinnacle this weekend. if the pack fails to arrive, I will not be able to do it until next weekend so will do some more easy summits.

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SOTA Planning VK4/NH-027 South Pinnacle 13 and 14 Sept 2014

September 9, 2014 Leave a comment

Date changed for 20/21

Travel plans
4WD to car park at -19.376507° 146.625356°.
Depart Car park -19.376507° 146.625356° at 0800 Saturday 20 Sept (local). Allow 5 hours to get to South Pinnacle on foot via Fredrick Peak and Hidden Pinnacles. Camp just adjacent South Pinnacle.

Weather may be an issue and may have to move it Friday / Saturday if 14 day forecast holds. Stay tuned.

Participant 1
Radio Equipment
Icom IC703
Outbacker Stealth Vertical with 50ft counterpoise
Linked dipole
Chez Key
Small solar panel flexible
Gell Cell
NiMH Battery packs
Wouxon 8D HT

Lightweight one man Bivi
Spleeping mat
Trangia stove
LED lights

Cell phone
Sat phone
SPOT GPS Messenger
Light First aid kit

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Looking for a companion able to undertake this climb preferably with radio gear as well.

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Categories: CW, HF, SOTA

SOTA Planned Activation Mt Stuart VK4/NH-057 28 September 2014

September 5, 2014 Leave a comment

will be activating some one point
summits at times to correspond with local nets, hopefully I can score RST
from 4 of you at least and return the favour without disrupting the net.

Plans (local time)

Friday 0500 to 0700 CW and SSB from Mt Stuart
Saturday 0500 to 0700 CW and SSB from Castle Hill
Saturday 1400 to 1700 CW and SSB from Cape Pallarenda

details at

Equipment will be Icom IC703 in backpack, Outbacker Stealth with 50 ft
counterpoise, possibly a linked dipole on trial, Czech key.

Categories: HF, SOTA

SOTA Activations

September 4, 2014 Leave a comment

SOTA Plans

September 4, 2014 4 comments

Preparing for My First SOTA Expedition

September 12, 2013 Leave a comment

Back in 2008, when I got my foundation call- VK4FOLO- I purchased an Icom IC703 because, even then I had ideas about working backpack mobile and QRP.   The 703 came with a backpack, as a special offer. I wanted to purchase the ICOM backpack antenna then as well, but figured I could do that some time down the track. Now many years later, I am finally going to use the backpack, but the antenna designed for it is no longer available. So today, I set about rigging up something that would work for both pedestrian mobile and SOTA (Summits on the Air). I began by dusting off the IC703’s backpack, which had remained under a bed in the spare room. I then charged up a gell-cell that I had set aside for this purpose some years ago, then tried to come up with a workable antenna. I knew I could fashion a wire antenna, and that it would probably be far superior to a small vertical on the backpack, but I really liked the idea of being quite mobile. I had a Terlin Outbacker Stealth Ultra Antenna for which I had some time ago lost the wander lead. I began by fashioning a wander lead, then removed the heavy spring base to lighten the antenna,  I fashioned an aluminium square section to hold the antenna just at the top of the backpack. Unfortunately, the antenna was not happy to tune with the length of the spring base removed, and the spring base provided an SO230 so I went back to using the spring base, which due to its weight actually serves to hold the antenna in the backpack quite well.


Above is the backpack dusted off.


My first attempt at using the Terlin Stealth Ultra


The finished backpack setup

Categories: HF, SOTA

My Nested Marconi- Ugly but Effective Multi-band Antenna

March 6, 2021 1 comment

Back in 2013 I suffered a massive financial loss. I ended up homeless after running a successful business and owning two properties, one on acreage, where I could have pretty much any antennas I wanted. Despite all that room, my partner was keen that i didn’t cover the whole yard in antennas, so apart from my 160m loop, and an 80m delta loop, my favourite antenna was a ZS6BKW, I had two of them.

Later when I moved to Sydney, I kept a ZS6BKW in storage but never had the room to install it. Somewhere along the way it got lost. At some point I hastily constructed a random length dipole for SOTA and VKFF (WFF) and by the time I got around to looking at it for use at my new QTH, I had cut some of the 450 ohm ladder line off it, leaving it with just 9 or so meters of ladder line, which unfortunately does not correspond to any dipole design. I also had no poles to hand a dipole from. I could attach a pool cleaning wand to an existing TV antenna mount on the house and I had a 12m squid pole. So it was that I started searching for an antenna design that I could build with my scrap pieces of wire and the squid pole- enter the Nested Marconi.

The Nested Marconi design could be build with just 7.5 m of 450 ohm ladder line and would require no more wire than I had in my possession. I could attach the centre to the 12m squid pole, the short horizontal to a tree and the long horizontal to the pool cleaning pole mounted on the house. All attachments would be done with 150 pound fishing line. I added a 20m and 10 m element too. Next write up, I’ll tell you all about what you may encounter if you decide to build one and I”l show the photos of just how ugly it is :-). It would not be difficult with a better set up to make it more attractive 🙂

Categories: Daily News, HF, Home Brew

Time for an Antenna Change

February 4, 2021 Leave a comment

Moving to a regional city has has been great for my ham radio but I’ve not been able to capitalise on it all that well, because of the antenna I have. I can’t seem to locate what I did with my stainless steel ZS6BKW which is a great shame. I doubt I threw it out in my moves over the last 6 years but maybe I did.

Hastily made for WWF and SOTA, the antenna I have has a too short ladder line for the design and in my new location, I just can’t tune a match, not even on 40m. Having spent $5000 moving, I can’t even afford a bit of wire, so I have to work with what I have- I’m guessing, about 9m of 450 ohm ladder line and about 30m of heavy duty speaker wire (what the current antenna is made from) and possibly a bit more wire somewhere.

So while I wait to get a few more dollars in the bank, there are a couple of options I can explore, a nested Marconi or an inverted L. For now I’m going to try the nested Marconi because I have what I need for that.

This antenna was first conceived as a simple dual band antenna in 1988, in an attempt to achieve sensible dual band operation in a small garden of 14m (46 ft) length.

Evolving from a simple end-fed Marconi for 80m, the idea was to use the opposing harmonicrelationships of two ¼ wave elements so that they could be fed on odd harmonics without mutual coupling.

This principle has been used with nested dipole antennas and other specialist multi-band antennas such as the Cobweb, but because of interaction and coupling issues, it’s rarely implemented on end fed wire antennas. With this version of the antenna, interaction between elementsand top resonance have been turned to our advantage allowing for excellent multi-band working, while maintaining a useful radiation pattern and efficiency on almost all Amateur Radio bands.

The suggested dimensions provide for low radiation angle (30 to 40 degrees) on all bands except 30m where the antenna acts as a full size horizontal dipole.  

Low VSWR is achievable on most bands and, with careful construction, up to four bands can be used without ATU.

Radiation resistance is in the range 25 to 200 ohms on all bands, ensuring high radiation efficiency, even with moderate earthing arrangements. Unlike the Windom or G5RV, the fundamental bands can be resonated independently.

Details can be found here

Categories: Daily News, HF, Home Brew