Federation Range SOTA VK3-VN003

The SOTA winter bonus expires on the 14th October,  so headed out to Federation Range which has a height of 1453 metres (1200+ metres required for bonus).  I had planned this a week ago, but the weather  was not good so left it for a better day.

The track heads out from the Lake Mountain carpark.  Lake Mountain has its own summit, but it is slightly lower than the Federation Range peak.

After Peter VK3PF’s suggestions, I located the Royston trail and headed out. The layout of Lake Mountain had changed since I was last there a few years ago and it was not obvious where the trail started, I had cross country ski’d back this trail before but it all looked different.  The Black Saturday fire destruction was evident everywhere.

Using Viewmaster on the Android phone with the SOTA coordinates loaded, it was a pretty easy walk to identify the summit area, probably only about 2.5 kms walk from the car park.

I setup a 7 metre vertical on a squid pole with a loading coil over the pole base for matching.  Three ground radials completed the antenna setup and the match was 1:1 on 40m without any change of taps.

A distorted shot of the base loading

As band conditions have been a bit depressed over the last few days, thought it would be a good idea to bring the home built amplifier. The amp only weighs 420 grams and a small 2200 mAh battery, another 200 grams.

The amplifier is good for 50W from a 3S Lipo pack for the first half of charge then drops down to about 30W at minimum charge on the pack.  Its amazing how much power you can get from a small Lipo  pack.

Operating location

I made 18 contacts, 16 on 7MHz and 2 on 144MHz over an activation time of 90 minutes. I hadn’t intended to stay this long, but it was nice sitting in the sun with sparkling drifts of snow nearby. Worked Peter VK3ZPF over on Spion Kopje on both 40m and 2m with big signals on 2m. Also worked Peter VK3PF on 2m and 40m.
Other contacts included VK2, VK3, VK5 and VK7. I think I had the first snow cooled amplifier. It was starting to get quite hot.

Battery energy usage was 1240mAH out of 2200mAh for the amplifier battery and 800mAh out of 2500mAh for the FT817 internal battery. Was a bit surprised and thought that more energy would have been used from the amplifier battery. I had a spare 3700mAh and 2200mAh with me that didn’t even get used.

Track on the way back

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