VK3/VC-037 and antenna tuning

I’ve known about this summit since Tony VK3CAT activated late last year and it looked like an easy one to get. Wanting to test out the amplifier and tune my ground plane it seemed a good choice for an afternoon activation. Unfortunately the forecast was for heavy rain starting from the afternoon, however by 2pm it was obvious this was mostly hanging to the west and only slowly approaching.

Following Glenn VK3YY’s as usual excellent directions I arrived just before the alerted time and setup. As it was a drive up, the laptop and scalar analyzer came with me and the following was produced initially:

Antenna was right at the bottom of the band edge which is what I remembered. After a bit of trimming I got the following (uncalibrated so off by 15dB or so):

1.5 swr across the band,  1.2 in the middle, much more suited for SSB operation in the upper half. Not too shabby. The radials will receive some attention next time.

Putting the 817 and amp on and things were very strange with a pronounced lack of band noise on 20m after I started. However I did manage to work S58AL,VK4FE, VK8GM, ZL1BYZ and ZL1TZW on 20 with good reports received but I struggled at times hearing the other side. When I switched off the amp after the last station the band noise immediately rose and a lightbulb lit up. The LED I added was drawing current through the relay coil so was preventing the RX/TX relay from releasing the contacts. Doh. Test activation well and truly justified, I never picked that up on the bench. 

Announcing I was listening on 144.150 I pulled down the ground plane and put the EFHW up for 40M. Contacts followed on 40m with VK2YK, VK5PAS, VK2FENG, VK5IS and VK2IO/M. No contacts made on 2m probably due to the last minute notice.

During this some rain arrived but not enough to pull the bothy bag out, I just covered the rig and relied on the waterproof paper of the logbook.

Leaving at 6:10 after a short second guess of my route, I was home by 7:30. Most of the drive was in heavy rain with plenty of water on the road in places. Well timed indeed.

Not a bad little summit, easy to get to, room for antennas, squidpole supports, a very scenic drive there and I qualified it with a 40 or 50dB attenuator on receive! Apologies to those who could hear this alligator but could not be heard themselves.

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