The access to Warrenheip is from the Western Highway, on the Melbourne side of Ballarat. Turn left to the Kryal Castle turnoff and follow the road around to the summit. The summit has a fair bit of tree cover and didn’t look too squid pole friendly, so I went back down the hill a little to a pull off about 60 metres from the summit and 7 metres below it. I parked here, grabbed the pack and pole and headed off down the road until comfortably out of the activation zone and then turned around and walked back.
There is a row of bollards at the pull off, so the squid pole was strapped to one of them. The portable 50W amplifier was unpacked and connected up to the upgraded EFHW impedance matcher. This matcher can comfortably handle 50W. I was keen to do some comparisons between 5W and 50W with a view to operating at dusk for some DX.
Once on air, 18 stations on 40m were worked in 21 minutes including a summit to summit with Peter, VK3YE on Arthur’s Seat. 12 metres was tried but didnt work anything!
After about 5 minutes or so of calling, things were packed up and put back in the car and I headed over to Mt. Bunninyong only about 16km by road away.
Once at Bunninyong, I parked in front of a pair of towers and scouted around for somewhere to operate from. Again, there was a loop pull off just down from the summit separated from the road by some trees. The pack was put on and I walked some distance down the road until out of the activation zone and then back again.
The squid pole was strapped to a tree and tilted on a slight angle to clear it from the tree foliage. The EFHW was connected up, this time without the amplifier. Ron, VK3AFW was the first station worked with a solid 5×9. Matt, VK1MA, had trouble hearing me, so I dragged the amplifier out and called him back. I had not realised that the key cable between the FT817 and amplifier was not connected, so was still running 5W. After a struggle, we exchanged reports. A few contacts later, I realised the power was low and connected the cable. 19 contacts were made although no summit to summits.
Perrin, VK3XPT was at Sandy Point running QRP and a good 5×5 copy on a miracle whip. Later, he changed to an Alex Loop with slightly less signal, but conditions had also changed a bit.
The amplifier made quite a difference on the contacts where a comparison was made. It made 3-4 S points roughly of difference although of course, S points are pretty subjective and S meters seem to be all over the place. The comment was made that a difficult copy was made into an armchair copy.
Trip fuel economy:
Home to Warrenheip 6.5l/100km (155km)
Bunninyong to home 5.6l/100km