Saturday the 28/11/2015 I took part in the inaugural VKFF activation weekend. A tremendous amount of time and effort has been put into making the Australian WWFF program as big as it is by Paul, VK5PAS and it was terrific to see the amount of radio amateurs participating by heading out to set up portably in so many parks over the weekend.
The closest parks to me are Kooyoora State Park, VKFF-0759 and Kara Kara National Park, VKFF-0629. After my lack of contacts from Kara-Kara for the KRMNPA activation weekend, I was determined to try again as I only needed about 2 more contacts to qualify Kara-Kara with 44 contacts for the WWFF program.
The kids had already decided that they weren’t interested in coming along. My husband had to work later on that night, but said he was happy to stay home to babysit while I headed out for the day but I had to be home by 4pm at the latest. So, it was with some trepidation that I took off earlish Saturday morning on my own, being my very first solo activation ever! This may seem like a trivial thing to most seasoned activators, but for me it was a big deal. I am so used to having Bob along to set up everything for me, then I get the fun part of using the PTT button and scribbling down contacts, and then I watch him pack it all away and we head home. So, for me having to do it all my own, with no assistance was a big step for me! My navigational neuron is about the size of a pin-head and is notorious for disconnecting at the most in-opportune times, but I knew where I was heading so wasn’t particularly worried about the travelling or getting lost but the setting up part was slightly terrifying me, and I hoped that it would all go smoothly.
The plan was to do Kara-Kara first, then head to Kooyoora on the way home, doing both activations in one go. I drove to St Arnaud, then continued out along B220 to Stuart Mill, turning right at the Teddington Road sign, then following that road all the way into Kara-Kara NP. There is a great camping area near the reservoirs and there was only one couple with their caravan when I arrived. I drove to one of the picnic tables a little ways from them so as not to disturb them too much and set up in a shady little spot. I used the picnic bench as the support for the squid pole and strung the arms of the dipole out around some high branches conveniently placed nearby. I plugged everything in, connected the 7Ah battery and turned on the X1M, made myself a butterscotch latte and had a listen to the activity on 40m. Set-up complete! I hadn’t managed to break anything and everything looked like it should so I was very pleased with myself. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be, but in saying that I had loads of space where I was, so putting up the inverted V dipole was a breeze. I brought along my tablet so I could have the parksnpeaks website at hand. I am yet to use the tablet with a logging program, as I find it easier and faster to scribble down info and then use the Fast Log Entry program when I get home but that could change.
I was using only 5W and most of the contacts I made were park-to-park which was terrific. Have now qualified this park for WWFF, although it took 3 separate trips!
Contacts made were:
VK2HRX/P – VK2/CT-019
VK4FFAB/P – VKFF-0683
VK1DI/P – VKFF-0855
VK5PAS/P – VKFF-0916
VK5FANA/P – VKFF-0871
VK5NIG/P – VKFF-0933
VK5KLV/P – VKFF-0808
VK5HSX/P – VKFF-0372
VK5GJ/P – VKFF-0826
VK4AAC/5 – VKFF-0904
VK5PL/P – VKFF-0941
VK3ANL – VKFF-0979
I packed up around lunchtime, headed back into St Arnaud for petrol and lunch, then headed for Kooyoora State Park. I turned right onto the Wehla-Wedderburn Rd which then turns into Dunolly-Wedderburn Rd, and then left into Mount View Rd, pulling up just past the Kara-Kara NP signage. There is a cleared area, and a very convenient post marker to use as the squid pole support. This is the same area we used on a previous activation as it is the fastest way for us to get into the park from home. I forgot to pack the picnic rug, so after a quick rustle through the back of the car, I found some shopping bags, which saved me from sitting on the ground. The ants were out in force, but luckily they didn’t seem too interested in me. There was very little shade and things started to heat up after a while, so I pulled the pin and headed for home, getting back just before 4pm.
Contacts made from VKFF-0759 were:
VK5PAS/P – VKFF-0934
VK1DI/P – VKFF-0841
VK3VTH/P – VKFF-0961
VK2IO/P – VKFF-0473
VK3HRA/P – VKFF-0968
VK3PMG/P – VKFF-0740
VK5EE/P – VKFF-0802
VK2NP/P – VKFF-0606
I am still 8 contacts short of the 44 needed for qualifying Kooyoora State Park for WWFF, so next time I go to activate this park, I will head to the Melville Caves picnic area to set up, as there is ample shade and tables to set up on. Plus there are a few geocaches that I am yet to find at Melville Caves.
Thanks to all the activators and chasers over the weekend, I had a great time! Let’s see how big next year’s event will be! 🙂
Congratulations on your solo activations. Getting 44 contacts in one sitting can be quite challenging! I am sorry you are not in my log: but I have been suffering a bit lately (bronchitis) and had a very quiet weekend. I regret greatly I could not participate, however, I am going to try and make up for it (more on that later).
Sorry to hear you have been unwell, I hope you get better very soon! 🙂
Look forward to chatting to you from a park very soon, John. 🙂
Cheers and 73,
Hi Amanda, well done with the solo activations, and the contacts with qrp. Curious as to how you rate the X1M radio, not heard much about them.
St Arnaud regional park could be another one for you in the future, I’ve done that one, and would be a little closer than Kara Kara.
Thanks for the park to park contact, and it was a great weekend all round.
I completely forgot about the St Arnaud Regional Park, I will add that to my “to do” park list. 🙂
The X1M is a bit of a mixed bag really. I liked it for it’s compact size, and as far as QRP radios, it had the best reviews when compared to similiar radios. After owning it though, it’s appeal was lessened by it’s lack of AGC…big signals would splatter the little speaker, and having to adjust for each contact is a pain so I just leave the volume set mid-way and give out mostly 55 reports when I don’t need to adjust the volume, or 58/9 if I have to turn it down as it has no S meter either. The microphone was a bit cheap with dry joints, and had to drill out a hole in the microphone as there was none..it still sounds a little tinny but is acceptable. The X1M also runs quite hot, but for an all-band, SSB + CW QRP rig, it is quite a bit of radio for only a small cost. 🙂
Cheers and 73,
Thanks for the info Amanda, and the lack of an AGC would be a little testing, but you’ve worked around it very well, as with the mic issue. All in all, sounds good value.
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