Alan VK3XE
Amateur radio adventures

First SOTA

As I started going down the path of becoming licenced, and I seen a great chat with Radio Runner ZL4RA on HamRadioDX talking about his adventures with SOTA in New Zealand, and thought it looked like a good bit of type 2 fun, and a great incentive to get outside instead of being stuck in front of the computer once again.

Between lockdowns and being busy since I got licenced I hadn’t actually been able to get out since I got my licence. I needed to plan a bit more carefully, as I only have a HT and so wanted to keep in site of Melbourne to make it easier to find some contacts.

I headed up to Pretty Sally (VK3/VC-034), which was easy to find on a foggy morning, but had no luck with the accessible part of the activation zone all facing away from Melbourne.

Next up I headed for Mt Cobaw (VK3/VC-015), but signage at Lancefield said that the access was closed due to the recent storms that did a lot of damage around Melbourne. Headed for Mt Macedon (VK3/VC-007), which sadly had a road closure on the back road for the same reason. As I worked my way south to try Mt Macedon from the opposite side, decided to duck in to Woodend to the bakery that has always treated me well. Found out while I was there that both accesses to Mt Macedon were closed.

Feeling concerned and a little disappointed at how my day went, I last went up to Mt Gisborne (VK3/VC-039), where my luck finally turned around.

I was using my home built 70cm yagi, and quickly got 3 contacts after spotting. I spoke to Bill VK3CWH who suggested we try 2m from his location in Footscray. Was concerned about the base antenna on my HT not being enough, but we had a quick go and he reported a higher 59+ signal report than when I was on 70cm.

This was my first ever SOTA (as well as my first on air contact since I as licenced), and Bill said he’d put the word out I needed some simplex contacts, which very quickly arrived. Had great coverage to Mt Waverly and Mt Martha, and was a 35 to Peter VK3YE in Chelsea, which I was very impressed with.

The access for Mt Gisborne is the second gate on the left on Woodlands Dr about 200m from Mt Gisborne Rd (just past the Telstra hut on the left), and an easy walk up to the summit. I lucked on to a great place for a first activation, and was happy to see it all worked out in the end.

I am getting organised to give this HF thing a spin too, which will make this a lot easier