With a good weather forecast, Helen and I decided to pack our picnic basket and take a drive to Yalgorup National Park (park number VKFF-552) yesterday for a WWFF activation. I didn’t like the look of the propagation with the very low numbers but decided to give it a go in any event.
The Yalgorup National Park is located roughly halfway between Bunbury and Mandurah with about a 40 minute drive from our current QTH of Eaton. We arrived in the park shortly after 2:00 pm (06:00 UTC) local time and then spent some time looking for somewhere to set up. We initially headed for the Martin Tank campground but felt it a poor location for portable radio. We eventually found the Lake Hayward day area where we were able to park the car with a very short walk of about 50 metres to the lake.
So we unloaded everything from the car, including our table and chairs and all the Buddipole bits and pieces and loaded the 65Ah deep cycle gel battery on the trolley and wheeled it to the lake. I realised immediately that the ground was too hard for tent pegs to be sunk into it to guy the antenna or for the counterpoise/radial wire but fortunately there were some small trees close by for guying. The conditions were very calm with virtually no wind so guying wasn’t crucial.
However, I wanted to be organised because the plan was to be QRV on 20 metres followed by 40 metres. The Buddipole requires a 25 foot counterpoise on 40 metres and needs some elevation in order for the angle of the wire to approach 45 degrees to bring the impedance down towards the 50 ohm level. I was hoping to use two of these wires to improve the antenna’s efficiency but realised that I would not be on air by 07:00 UTC if I did, so settled for just the one. I was on air almost exactly on the dot of 07:00 UTC.
It was obvious to me almost immediately that 20 metres was going to be a waste of time. I had notified various people I know before leaving home of the activation and was also in contact with a VK4 station via SMS who was updating my whereabouts on both the VKFF and SOTA Activation and the World Wide Flora and Fauna Facebook groups. I called CQ endlessly with no replies other than my friend Dave VK2BSY who I often speak with who was pedestrian mobile. A quick tune around the band yielded very few signals and a number of stations complaining how poor the conditions were. I made the decision shortly after to move to 40 metres although I suspected this would be too early.
We reconfigured the Buddipole for 40 metres and managed to get a good SWR. I was on 40m by about 07:45 UTC and it was quiet other than Peter VK6APZ who was booming in higher up the band. I notified my friend in VK4 of the move and began calling CQ. There was nothing for about 10 minutes and then things changed just as I was about to call it quits and go QRT. I was called by VK6MJC in Baldivis, not very far away who I could hardly hear but then it got better.
The signals got stronger and in the next 40 minutes or so I worked another 11 VK stations located in VK2 – VK7 and was very happy to successfully activate the park for the Australian WWFF program. Conditions were particularly good to VK5 and I had a contact with John VK5PO in the Barossa Valley 5/9+ both ways solid as a rock with no QSB whatsoever. I went QRT shortly before 09:00 UTC which gave me enough time to pack up the gear and get it all back to the car before it got dark.
All in all a pleasant afternoon spent enjoying the radio in good temperate weather. I will definitely return to this location again for more radio. I suspect that it will be good for 10 and 15 metres in late spring and summer here when the shortpath propagation gathers momentum.
Filed under: Amateur Radio