VK3/VC-016 Mount Beenak

Having spent the months since the JMFD reducing the number of oscillators in my 23cm transverter to the intended number, it was time to test it out during the vhf/uhf field day. I had made one sketchy contact with vk3er over 170km, with the other side doing all the work with a 2m dish. Hopefully with less oscillations and pointing the antenna in the right direction, the results would be better.

I’d also built a 15/20m linked dipole which i’d trimmed at home the preious weekend. Intent here was to test it out and give vk6 a chance at some contacts. I also packed the random end fed, unun and antenna tuner for 40m, the same setup i’d used for Mount William where it received great, but i received terrible reports.

By the time i’d packed the car and filled with fuel, it was 1:50pm. 1 hour to gembrook, then another half an hour to the bottom of tower track and the locked gate. i was clearly not going to make the alert time. While the other roads are in great condition, Black Sands road has one or two patches where care needs to be taken due to potholes. The climb on that road afterwards also is suffering some more erosion with the recent rains.

This time, taking almost more HF gear for the vhf field day (see how seriously I was taking this?) I took the 65+10 pack, which was rather empty, but still heavy, probably 15kg. It still took two trips despite the half empty pack, one with the pack, and a second one for the 23cm yagi I forgot in the back seat of the car. The peacefulness of the park was somewhat disturbed when I realised this shortly before reaching the summit. Didn’t see another person or car after turning off the Gembrook/Launching Place road, although I heard one trail bike nearby, and plenty of hunters in the distance.

On air on 15 first with the 5.4m squid pole and linked dipole, an hour later than planned, with 3 local contacts, vk3cat, vk3war, vk3zpf. Mike vk6mb could hear the chasers but not me. I suffered from a very high noise floor. No luck on 20m and so turned my attention to the field day.

The messy shack

The messy shack, 23cm transverter under  the 817

A quick contact on 2m in the contest to qualify the summit, then went hunting on 1296. I managed two random contacts, the highlight being vk3alb/p 171km away. Easy 59 after peaking the 10el beam. The other contact was Gavin vk3hy/p at only 21km in Kallista, with a 59+ signal.

Sunset with beam pointing to vk3hy

Sunset with beam pointing to vk3hy

Given the ease of these 1296 contacts, and the surprise at the other end (everyone else was liasing from lower bands as is normal practice), 1W into a small beam will work for SOTA, especially with alerts and sorting out beam headings in advance. The question is, how far, when we don’t have a big gun on the other end?

The sun was setting at this point, so spotted for 40m and hung up the end fed which tuned up no problems despite losing 10cm when pulling it down at home in the morning. Worked vk2twr, vk3fqso and vk2io. Conditions on 40 were not good and a high noise level which I discovered was coming from the 23cm transverter, most likely the Si9933 PLL. Despite being pleasant earlier, as soon as the sun set it got cold quickly. Walked back down in the dark, made my self a cuppa and drove home.

One of these days I’m going to get away earlier in they day and not have to rush everything, however that may be in 14 years time when the children have finished school. It was however satisfying to have confirmed the 23cm transverter is fixed, and also that I received reasonable reports on HF compared to last time.

One annoyance was that the z-817 and the transverter share the accessory port so switching between hf and 23cm is more than a button press. I’d discovered a related annoyance last time when switching to 70cm would still trigger the transverter when it’s not needed. With a tcxo the warm up time is minimal, but I’d prefer to leave it running nonetheless. Might need a separate radio or switch box.

Next projects to improve portable operating: 2+3 el beam for 2/70, G8GML panel antenna for 23cm and a longer squid pole. Protective cases for the electronics would also be nice. The SLAB’s days are numbered… my legs are looking forward to LiFe. I deliberately overpacked this time as the walk up is not difficult and didn’t want to leave anything to chance.

Equipment list:
FT817+Z-817 antenna tuner
23cm transverter
12m random end fed+9:1 unun
15/20m linked dipole
10el 23cm yagi (cute but fragile)
10m rg58
5m rg174
2m rg213
camera tripod for beam
5.4m squid pole
multimeter,23cm swr meter, patch cables, minor tools, compass
water, snacks, emergency blanket, extra layers, gloves, hat, torch/lantern

Of the above list, only the tools, swr meter, rg58 and emergency blanket (yay!) went unused.

One thought on “VK3/VC-016 Mount Beenak

  1. Hi Andrew

    Just wondering what type of Transverter and 23cm SWR Meter you are using?

    I am presently putting together a VK3XDK transverter and hoping to mate it to a Mini Kits PA (for 10W output)

    Your Antenna survived being blown over on last Sunday?

    Phil – VK2JDL

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