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.
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.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.