FYBO Down under

I really must stop doing these types of activations the day after a long run…

The inaugural Freeze Your Butt Off contest was held on the 26th of June. Having already activated VK3/VC-001 and VC-002, VK3/VC-003 seemed the logical choice as an operating location, especially since it’s in an exceedingly nice part of the state. With the cold snap and snow at nearby Mount Donna Buang, it also seemed in the spirit of the contest.

On the road at a leisurely 6:45, I parked the car at the locked gate around 2 hours later having negotiated a slippery and pothole ridden Acheron Way. There was also an enourmous tree that was down shortly before the gate.

Already a little snow at the gate, and the car was reading 1 degree C.

Question of the day, do I lug the show shoes up what I knew would be a steep initial few Km’s. I still don’t know the right answer to this, but I left them in the car anyway. 

Within a few hundred metres I was stripped down to the first layer only on top. Glasses went as well, all fogged up from exertion. I must remember to use contacts.   

Shortly after turning off from Road 15 to 10, the road became almost totally covered  in snow, though only 5cm or so, easy going.
 Once on the top of the first peak and across the saddle the snow became steadily deeper until the summit where I measured it at 22cm. The last few Km’s were very hard going, but I think mostly from tiredness, though the snow made things a little slower. Quite a few recent branch falls from the snow. I expected a climb of over 2 hours given Glenn VK3YY had done this in 1:50 without snow. I arrived in 2:02, after approximately 7.5km.

 On air only 15 minutes after my alert and the first order of business was to try out the new 40m amplifier after it’s recent FET replacement. First use on air proved very promising and given the conditions (no close in NVIS) enabled at least one QSO where otherwise it would have failed. After that, it was mostly left off enabling me to pursue my QRP shack sloth with all the subsequent summit to summits. 

tea time, it got cold really quickly

 Due to the conditions, I did not make anywhere near as many contacts as expected, however I had excellent signals from VK5 and VK4 on 40m. Nothing heard from vk6 on 20m, but the band was filled with traces of US field day stations.

I also had a mid activation antenna failure which I think was responsible for wiping out my QSO with Warren VK3BYD.

I abandoned operations once my right toes started hurting from the cold. Aside from that, I was toasty warm inside the bothy bag, though I found it awkward and CW was nearly impossible due to the awkwardness. I need to work on my setup. I had light snow showers throughout the activation despite the promise of a blue sky at first.


All in all I endured 1 hour and 42 minutes. 1:40 back down to the car, and into the traffic from Mt Donna Buang. It had warmed up to a balmy 4 degrees at the car.

All in all, a good day out for 11 points a new unique, and a bit of a laugh. I may not have the most number of points, but I did put my best effort in for the spirit of the contest.

Many things went right, but one reminder was had: soft plastic becomes quite rigid at low temperatures (totally brittle and will easily break if cold enough). Much of my cabling became difficult to work with as a result. Also my iPhone died again due to low temps, I suspect it’s the battery.

8 thoughts on “FYBO Down under

  1. Great effort Andrew, sorry I missed you, there was so much CW Activity that I struggled to even get the VK CW callsigns, I knew they were there but just to hard to work them. I was sitting at Mt.Randall probably a balmy 18C but it was 1C when I parked the car at 8:00am local. I was QRP barefoot FT-817 and a 58ft long wire with a ZM2 tuner first outing. No squidpole just chucked the wire over a dead tree at about 5-6 metres high. All up I had 18 contacts but conditions were pretty ordinary, could not even get back to Perth on 40 meters but Mike MB was 59 when I worked him for my first contact an hour into the contest. Had some nice contacts on 15 meters into VK3 so vey under used band good for VK6 Contacts.

    Good day out and a lot of fun. John VK6NU

    • You made a few more contacts than me. The field day was frustrating, obviously they’re all running huge amounts of power because otherwise I would have had a huge dx tally…

      15m is on my todo list. I’m so used to convenience of the 40/20 efhw I’m planning on doing a trapped version. None of my current 15m antennas are optimally tuned, I suspect the efhw matching becomes quite critical at the higher frequencies, I seem to have a lot of problems anyway. That band can indeed work wonders at times.

  2. Hi Andrew,
    Nicely told and illustrated story. Activation under those conditions and with the decent hike in deserves a certificate. I have a phone re-charge battery which is great – if I remember to pack it.
    73 Ron VK3AFW

    • Thanks Ron. I’ve been considering getting an external battery for a while but needed to double check the capacity as it’s a mandatory requirement for some longer trail runs. My experience shows it’s well justified! Had I known NVIS was that bad, I might have been more motivated to take the 2m beam, but i was saving every gram given the long hike in and I figured the path on 2m might be a bit poor.

  3. Great effort Andrew, I got cold sitting for an hour at a picnic table at Kangaroo Ground! Enjoyed your story and the pictures of my favourite Yarra Ranges summit walk — it looks beautiful with a blanket of snow. Paul VK3HN

  4. Pingback: FYBO 2016 at Kangaroo Ground | vk3hn

  5. Great effort Andrew. Looks like a nice outing. I was keen to join this too, however the dates didn’t work for me. Instead of FYBO I’m at the opposite end of spectrum – at a resort in Vanuatu – balmy 26 degrees! Hopefully I’ll get out on my return and find some snow.


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