An end to my logbook dramas

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Cover

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Inside pages

I have always had a paper log for my radio contacts, and when I first started I had the ARRL logbooks which were handy, but the cost does add up when you go through the pages of a logbook adding contacts as I do. It is not uncommon for a page or two to get filled up with just one weekend of chasing SOTA and Parks activators. 🙂 After my last logbook had been used up, I resorted to scrap bits of paper, a notepad here and there and made a complete headache for myself trying to organise it all. So, I decided to make my own as I have a binder machine at home and my CISS system. Being a girly girl, it is in pink/purple but you can of course change the colours so please feel free to download and use the files if you would like.

hamlogbooktemplate                                                                                              mainlogbookcover

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By vk3fqso

Balloon Launch – 19/04/15

Early Sunday morning had the whole family bundled into the car on our way to meet up with Joe, VK3YSP and Julie, VK3FOWL for the launch of their first balloon. Bob had installed all the necessary programs for us to be able to track Joe and Julie’s balloon on his notebook and with his Sangean and internet connection we were set! Redesdale was the place picked for the launch and the projected landing would be somewhere near Eildon, with Joe and Julie chasing the balloon in their car to be able to retrieve it when it finally landed.

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Julie and the kids with the main component of the balloon, containing the transmitter.

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Filling the latex weather balloon with helium.

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Almost done! 🙂

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balloon2It was a bitingly cold day and we did get rained on at one stage but the balloon launch went well although the temperature of the transmitter was higher than anticipated. At one stage, we thought the balloon had burst but it was just a glitch and it continued on its ascent which at times was up to 36m per second. The kids thought it was exciting and very interesting, with discussions on how, what, when and where they would release their own balloons. 🙂 There was a playground nearby so they took off and played happily until we had to leave. We lost transmission with the balloon when it was over Seymour and later on Joe let us know that they had retrieved the balloon not far from there. It was all very interesting and I’m sure that Joe and Julie will be planning another launch very soon.

kidstrain

By vk3fqso

Geocaching Event weekend – 18/04/15

Last weekend was the annual Wedderburn Geocaching Event organised by my neighbours, “The Old Blokes”. Attendance has steadily increased each year that is has been held and this year we had quite a crowd in town at Jacka Park for the BBQ lunch and it seemed an even bigger crowd than anticipated at the Motel later on for the Evening Meal.

Some of the crowd at the Lunchtime BBQ.

Some of the crowd at the Lunchtime BBQ.

I had this year organised a GeoBingo game, a Scavenger Hunt for the children, two raffles and bound logbooks for both events so suffice to say, it was a big weekend with hardly any radio chasing opportunities! Below you will find the PDFs for everything I created. Feel free to steal them for your geo-event! 🙂

geologbookcover     geoeventlogbooka4      scavengerhuntkids    geobingo(2)(6)

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Raffles just for fun – each had a glass mug filled with chocolates, a box of crackers, a notebook and pen and a manicure set.

Everything went very well, with one cacher lucky enough to score a Gold Nugget that was raffled off by Loddon Tourism…what an awesome prize to win! By all accounts, the caches were well-received and up to the usual great standards of “The Old Blokes” hides with everyone looking forward to next year’s events. The motel struggled with the onslaught of dining cachers on Saturday night, with not enough tables and chairs to seat everyone and some people having to wait almost 2 hours for their food! I was glad that I had decided to eat at home with the family and was able to order drinks instead relatively quickly. Apparently, the motel served about 95 meals that night so coupled with the drinks that were consumed by everyone, they would have made a tidy profit that night!

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The calm before the storm! Early on before most of the geocachers had arrived.

By vk3fqso

CISS – Continuous Ink Supply System

I have completely abandoned my blog of late..too busy with life in general but I hope to post some more within the next few days. Now, I know that this blog post has nothing to do with Ham Radio or Geocaching but it is relevant to a certain extent, especially with the amounts of printing I did for the Wedderburn Geocaching event last weekend! 🙂

If you have not heard of the CISS system for printers yet, please do yourself a favour and google it and then see if your printer is compatible. There are now many companies offering a CISS but I went with a company called Rihac (http://www.rihac.com.au/index.php) because they were located in Victoria and I figured if I needed extra supplies I could get them overnight if needed. The savings of such a system are considerable when taking into account this example: http://www.rihac.com.au/info_pages.php?pages_id=92

Anyway, I had heard of CISS from another homeschooler and decided I needed one as I was pretty stingy with printing to conserve my printer cartridges as they were so expensive to replace. I started keeping an eye on printers that came up for sale and checking to see if they were supported by the CISS and finally one did. The printer I got was the Epson Workforce 2530 and it happened to be on sale at Kmart for $89. It is the usual fax, scanner, printer combo and is wireless so I don’t need to have my laptop set up next to it. I bought it, then ordered the CISS system for it and have been so pleased that I no longer have to replace expensive ink cartridges.

I have printed out ridiculous amounts of black and coloured pages since I have installed mine and I have only just now ordered my first bottle of black ink to top up my system since I have owned it for almost a year now…the coloured inks still have about half left which will last for a good while yet. I only used about a 1/4 of the new ink bottle to top up my black ink completely so the bottles will last you for ages. It is not that difficult to install; I even managed to do it my own!  The only thing you have to do is to make sure that you don’t have the ink higher than your printer head. I have my ink system sitting in an old lunch box in case of spillage although I have never had a leak. The only thing I have noticed is that if I don’t do any printing for a couple of weeks, I need to do a head clean and nozzle check but that takes only a couple of minutes and I’m good to go. I love that I can now print with gay abandon and now my only worry is if I have enough reams of paper in the draw! 🙂

By vk3fqso

AM just for fun :)

This morning I got up and did the usual morning routine and then sat down to pay bills online as one does with a nice cup of tea and didn’t think of anything else until around 9ish and I suddenly realised that I hadn’t had the ParksnPeaks website running as I usually do when my laptop is on. Low and behold, VK3ARR had been spotted on SSB so I quickly flicked on my Alinco and raced up to 7.180. Yep, he was still there so I called in and made the contact and Andrew mentioned about using AM earlier and I then remembered that some of the VK1 guys were also planning on trying AM on their summits today. I haven’t actually used AM yet, the Alinco does have the capacity to do it but I guess I just never thought to use anything other than SSB as that seems to be the most common form used…and CW of course, but I’m not ready to go there yet!

So, anyway, moving along until just after dinner for us and the spots were coming up for Gerard, VK2IO and then he went to 40m AM and so a quick scramble of tuning and checking out the settings and I was calling into Gerard in AM mode! It being my first try of AM, things sounded differently to SSB and there was a lot more noise etc. but made the contact and then went up the band to get Andrew, VK1NAM and finally Andrew, VK1DA. I was using only 4 watts according to the Alinco Manual and was receiving 56 and even 59 signals…awesome! It’s always nice to try out something totally different to the usual so pretty pleased with how it all went.

Now I know that I couldn’t be as cool as having an Andrew Mode to Andrew Mode but my name starts with an A too, so I included myself in today’s festivities of AM just because! 😛

By vk3fqso

Geocaching stuff

The annual Geocaching event held in Wedderburn each year is nearly upon us! I ordered a magnetic name badge specifically for this year’s event as I have seen most cachers sporting name badges at other events…I guess the sticky white label with permanent marker just doesn’t cut it anymore! I have my name stamp for signing logs and a handful of my original pathtags for trading with other pathtag enthusiasts. My new pathtag is being designed by someone else and will incorporate SOTA, WWFF, geocaching and butterflies; just a few of my favourite things. 🙂 I should have them very soon, but unfortunately, not in time for the Wedderburn event. I’ve already been the tester for all the caches that have been put out for this year and the kids got a kick out of the ‘night cache’ so I think it will be another enjoyable event for those that attend! 🙂

cachebadge

By vk3fqso

SANPCPA 2nd year Anniversary weekend

For most people reading this blog, you would know by now that I am a regular hunter/chaser in all things radio! So, it will probably be of no surprise to you, that over the weekend I chased a whole bunch of activators out and about in VK5 for the 2nd year anniversary of the SANPCPA (South Australia National Park and Conservation Park Award). I managed to score 22 unique parks and had a total of 61 contacts ..a successful weekend of radio I say! 🙂

I honestly can’t remember the first time I heard of the SANPCPA program, but I was hooked from then on. I don’t know what it is that appeals to me about these sorts of award programs with radio, but I like it. Perhaps it is the ongoing sense of achievement when one more park is crossed off my master list or maybe it is the short and concise (for the most part :p ) exchange for the contacts; I’m not really one to chat for extended times on air, I usually either have nothing to say, or too much to say, that I fumble as my mouth tries to play catch-up with my brain. I’m essentially a very shy person and even hate to talk on my phone most of the time, so why the radio bug has hit me, I’m not sure but I am very glad. I’ve met and talked with some wonderful people, all of whom I would never have known existed if it wasn’t for amateur radio.

Since gaining my F-call, I have filled up a few logbooks with many contacts, mostly VK but some DX…I am studying for my upgrade but I guess that I am having too much fun with my measly 10W, that it is not really foremost in my mind…not to mention that I have a family and household to run as well so my time is limited (except of course, when it comes to chasing/hunting :p). I would love to have access to the 20m band so I will get there eventually, I just need to devote as much time to studying as I do to chasing/hunting because electronics has never been a part of my life until now so it’s a sharp learning curve!!

Anyway, I digress..I get the easy job of sitting in my comfy shack at home whilst, you the activator, slug it out getting to the top of a summit or going portable in a park somewhere around the country and ultimately aid me in getting more certificates for my shack walls. THANK YOU!! I hope to repay you later on down the track. 🙂

By vk3fqso

JMMFD Contest 2015

Yesterday I took part in the John Moyle Memorial Field Day (JMMFD) contest. The contest is run each year in memory of the late John Moyle who was a long term editor of the Wireless Weekly, (later: Radio & Hobbies; later: Radio Television & Hobbies), from 1947 until his untimely death in 1960. He served in the RAAF with distinction and was responsible for a number of innovative solutions in keeping radio and radar equipment working under wartime conditions and difficult working conditions. The WIA, (Wireless Institute of Australia), decided that a suitable long term memorial to John Moyle would be a Field Day with a focus on portable or field operation. The contest has been conducted annually ever since.

Whilst it is essentially a contest for Portable operators, Home stations can also participate and so that is what I did. I decided early Saturday morning that I would take part, so a little planning was needed on my behalf to ensure that the kids were fed dinner at the usual time as I wanted to start at 3:30 UTC and go through until 9:30 UTC and be done in time to put the kids to bed. My “shack” is now set-up in the living room, so I was able to keep an eye on the kids even whilst contesting. Whilst not a stranger to contesting, this was the first time I had been in the JMMFD so I read the rules, had a listen on air to the exchanges, downloaded the newest version of VKCL and popped on my headphones and got to work. It was a little hard going at some stages, I stuck to the 40m band only, SSB and was able to make contacts with all states except VK6 and VK7, although I did make a SOTA contact with Kerry, VK7PAK in the early stages of the contest but this did not count towards the JMMFD. Some stations had a hard time hearing me with my 10W but we persevered and were able to make the exchanges needed to validate the contacts. I managed to get a few SOTA and VKFF contacts as well which was a bonus! I went “fishing” for contacts mostly, scrolling up and down the band grabbing contacts as I found them, although sometimes I set-up on a clear frequency and called for a while. I wasn’t being too serious, just happy to give numbers out and got up and left my station numerous times as I was needed by my kids, but did my 6 hour time limit and submitted my log electronically that night. Some of the numbers people were giving out were quite high which was a credit to their contesting stations and themselves…terrific effort! Everyone was very friendly and I enjoyed participating and look forward to next year. 🙂

By vk3fqso

Mt Moliagul – VK3/VN-024

We had to make a shopping excursion to Maryborough so I took the opportunity to activate Mt Moliagul as it was on our way. It also has a geocache at the summit and another 2 caches close by. Mt Moliagul is clearly visible as you are driving towards it; is 525m high and is worth 2 points. I had a quick look at other SOTA blogs who had previously activated the summit and had an idea of what to expect.

The town of Moliagul is famous for the discovery of the world’s largest gold nugget, the Welcome Stranger in 1869. Numerous other nugget finds have been made in the area and in its heyday was quite a large bustling town but these days it is a quiet little place with a hotel, museum and church. There is also a monument erected in honour of Reverend John Flynn, the founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia who was born in Moliagul in 1880.

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Exploring the summit

The lookout to Mt Moliagul is quite easy to find, just look for the big brown tourist signpost, turn off the hwy at this point and follow the road which will come to a fork, take the left with the Moliagul sign and follow this one all the way to the top. It is accessible by 2 wheel drive although there is quite a lot of large rocks strewn over the road which you would have to avoid. It’s a steady climb and winds a bit, but then opens up nicely when the communication towers come into view. As you can drive up to the summit, the “walk out and back into the activation zone” approach was taken to activate the summit. It was extremely windy at the top and the views are phenomenal. Driving up you don’t realise how high you really are until you reach the summit. An eagle flew over us to say hi and honestly, I don’t think I will ever tire of seeing these glorious birds. It’s a delight each and every time I see one! 🙂

 An Eagle having a sticky-beak at what we were up to

An Eagle having a sticky-beak at what we were up to

I gave the kids my Dakota 20 so they could go and hunt down the cache while the “shack” was erected. The squid pole was strapped to the sign post at the top. The antenna set-up was the typical inverted V and there was a handy pile of rocks that I was able to sit on for the activation. I used the X1M and signal reports were great, and almost everyone was a 59 from where I was set up with no noticeable noise from all the communications gear nearby. I was struggling a little (alot!!) with the wind to stop it from whipping up my logbook pages..so note to self, to throw a couple more bulldog clips in the backpack for next time! My first call was answered by Phil, VK3BHR and he kindly put up a spot for me because I didn’t have any coverage on my phone (Optus) and then the chaser calls came in quickly. I started at 2:14 UTC and by 2:30 UTC I was done! Thanks to everyone that called in and also to John, VK2YW who gave me some suggestions on my audio. It would seem that more investigation with the X1M microphone needs to be done. Drilling a hole through the casing did help, but obviously not enough and speaking sideways onto the mic sounded the best. Perhaps, I will try another mic and see how it sounds, as the workmanship on the X1M microphone is quite cheap. When I opened it up, there was very little to it, and most solder joints were dry indicating a less than perfect job was done on the mic in the first place.

My operating position

Activation completed, time for caching! Off the kids took me to the other side of the towers and down the mountain a little to…a tree stump. Seriously, the amount of cache hides I have found in tree stump hollows is beyond a joke! Anyway, suffice to say, cache was found, log signed, the kids didn’t take any swag, but we left my usual small butterfly bag of swag and popped the cache back in it’s spot. We packed up not long after, and drove on down the mountain. We missed the turn for the next cache, so left that one for another time. We did stop on the way home not far from Moliagul to get another cache which turned out to be a magnetic one, very easy to find. I had the log signed about 1 minute from leaving the car to look for the cache. Short and sweet which is great, as we had frozen stuff in the car so didn’t want to take all day.

We found it!

We found it!

Checking out all the cache swag

Checking out all the cache swag

All in all, it was a great day with the objectives of shopping, SOTA and geocaching all achieved in record time! 😛

Stations worked:

VK3BHR, VK5WG, VK3PF, VK3JBL, VK2IO, VK3NBL, VK2MWP, VK3EK, VK3DAC, VK2HFS, VK3FPSR, VK2YW, VK5EE

Geocaches found:

GC20KD1: High on Moliagul

GC3Y7D8: Watch out for Kangaroos

By vk3fqso

Mt Korong – VK3/VU-012

I decided that I wanted to activate Mt Korong as it is only about 10 minutes drive from home and this was to be my first solo activation so if anything went horribly wrong, my husband wouldn’t be too far away! My walk up the hill would be put to good use by grabbing three geocaches along the way. I, rather foolishly, assumed that would be the three stops I would need to make it to the top: One cache at the start, the second halfway up and the third at the summit. More on that folly later!

In the end, it was a whole family outing instead…more hands to carry more stuff up the hill! Mt Korong is 364 metres above sea level and is a prominent sight when driving along the Calder Highway from Wedderburn to Inglewood. We pulled into the Picnic Area and parked under some shade, unloaded the backpack and squid pole and I got my Dakota 20 set to the first geocache. It was about 130m from where we were, so off we went. The granite boulders were a little tricky to navigate but we scrambled up and after a bit of searching, the cache was located, log signed, swag exchanged, cache put back in it’s hidey spot for the next cacher to find all within about 10 minutes. Beauty!! 1 down, 2 more to go. Easy peasy!

Half-way

Half-way

Taking a breather

Taking a breather

Cache number 2 set on the Dakota and off we set out on a steep climb for the next 330 metres! I consider myself sort of fit, in that I walk around our hilly (steep in some places) property for 2kms most days but I was stopping for breathers more than I liked! This hill is deceptively tough-going! My hubby was barely puffing, my girls (10 and 9 years old) seemed to be making it okay, but my little boy (7 years old) and myself were having a bit of struggle and we weren’t even halfway there! On we trudged, finding shade when we could to catch our breath. The single lane track is actually quite good all the way up, it is dirt and rock and fairly open in some parts although it is easy to veer off but if you stick to the brown dirt path, it is easy to follow. Someone has placed white markers all along the main track from the “Bat Cave” to the summit which is quite helpful.

Bat Cave!

Bat Cave!

We finally made it to the aptly named “Bat Cave” which is home to the second geocache of this trip. After checking out the rock formations, the cache was an easy find 4 metres from the cave entrance. After the obligatory log signing and replacing, we looked up and assumed the summit was just ahead. A quick input of the coordinates for the final cache which is on the summit, showed us as being another 300+ metres from our final destination…aarrgghh! By this time, I think the joy of climbing Mt Donkey Kong (my kids nick-name for the Mt, and for those that don’t know Donkey Kong, he is the main character from a game on SNES!) had lost it’s shine. At this stage, Daddy decided to make his way to the top with most of the gear to get a head start on putting up the antenna as we were running about a half hour behind schedule so the kids and I made our way slowly up to the top. About 80metres from the summit, the track disappears for the most part and you have to channel your inner mountain goat to scramble up the granite boulders. I don’t think you would want to venture up here in the wet unless you were on a suicide mission so glad that we choose a nice, sunny day to tackle it. There are numerous cairns placed along the face of the rocks to mark the path to the summit and finally the trig point comes into view and you know that the end is near!

Antenna set up on the Trig point. Inverted V.

Antenna set up on the Trig point. Inverted V.

My operating position in a hollow amongst the granite. The march flies didn't seem too interested in us which was terrific!

My operating position in a hollow amongst the granite. The march flies didn’t seem too interested in us which was terrific!

On reaching the top, WOW! 360 degree views of beautiful landscape. Well worth the effort! We were even rewarded by seeing 3 eagles soaring above us! We had a bite to eat, coffee made, plugged in the X1M and I made my way to 7.095 as 7.090 was in use. My first contact was Peter, VK3PF who gave me a 4 and 5 which I was quite happy with as I knew the X1M really only puts out about 4.5W so I wasn’t expecting my signal reports to be as great as I usually get on the TS 120V which is what I have used on previous activations in parks. Peter kindly put up a spot for me and then for the next half an hour, the calls came in steadly and when I finally went QRT to find the last geocache, I had 23 contacts in the log. The third geocache ended up being 6 metres from where we were set-up so a successful day had been had. It’s great when I can combine two of my hobbies together and portable radio and geocaching really do seem to work nicely together, getting you outdoors in lovely places. 🙂

Siesta Time! :)

Siesta Time! 🙂

Stations worked:

VK3PF, VK2IB/P (S2S), VK3EK, VK3DBP, VK7BO, VK5CZ, VK3MTB/P (VKFF-771), VK2YW, VK3YAR, VK5WG, VK2YK, VK2LX, VK3LED, VK3FPSR, VK1NAM, VK3HRA, VK3XL, VK5XR, VK5BJE/P (VKFF-788), VK3YSP, VK3FOWL, VK2UH, VK3CRG/P (VKFF-055)

Geocaches found:

GC25PMR – Mount Korong #1: Base Camp

GC25PMX – Mount Korong #2: Batman’s Cave

GC25PNO – Mount Korong #3: The Summit

 

By vk3fqso