Moorook Game Reserve Activation 21/04/2018

20180421_141734Another new park activation again today. Moorook Game Reserve, VKFF-1729, is 1236ha of reserve located just downstream of the Moorook township. Incorperated in the reserve is Wachtals Lagoon which is visible on the right of the Sturt Hwy as you approach Cobdogla then Barmera. Opposite this is Loch Luna Game Reserve.

 

Moorook Game Reserve Activation area map

Ivan VK5HS, Danny VK5DW (me) and Pete VK5FPLR (Pete come along to have a look at this park activation thingy), headed to the reserve this morning setting up my equipment initially on 40m while Ivan set up his gear on 80m after rigging 20180421_111435up a quick makeshift 80m extension for his 40m linked dipole antenna. Ivan thought he had his 80m antenna with him so when the propagation wasn’t playing very nicely we had to do something, after all this was the first time this park was to be activated… we weren’t about to let a bit of a propagation challenge get in our way. So with a bit of Fig’ 8 speaker wire Ivan had in the back of his car we measured out a piece, split it in half (now 2 single strands) and twitched it in place. Hmmm not quite resonant but luckily the home brew tuner worked a treat.

So here we are, Ivan on 80m and I had moved to 20m by this time… we had to try something. After a bit of hard work we had made a small handful of contacts each. Pushing on we finally returned to 40m after a while and the propagation gods must have had a change of heart, things started to go our way.

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With propagation now going our way, fantastic weather (a few clouds, low 30’s, light breeze), terrific surroundings of nature and of course the mighty Murray flowing past we felt like kings.

While things were going much better now on 40m, Ivan fired up on his satellite outfit and easily made a number of contacts including into ZL. Of course none of these counted to our park activation.

We were fortunate to have contacts from VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, and VK7 with a good handful of Park to Park contacts each as well. In total we made about 90 something contacts between us, so we both got over the 44 each. Ivan and I would like to thank all the stations we made contact with today… we had a great fun day which would not have been without all the Hunters and other Activators. Thanks everyone, much appreciated.

A couple photos are included here for you to have a look over.

Thanks for reading,

Danny VK5DW

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Ivan VK5HS Radio Sonde Hunt

It’s not often Radio Sondes travel as far as the Riverland, but on Friday evening Mr Balloon aka Mark VK5QI sent me a message advising the predictions looked good for us to maybe have a go at retrieving a Sonde. The seed was sown, I quickly hobbled a bit of kit together and prepared for the chase.

After a successful  first chase attempt along with Danny VK5DW on the Saturday morning flight I watched the Saturday evening flight hoping to learn more about the tracking program and flight information.

Observing the data as it was displayed on Habhub,  https://tracker.habhub.org, I took great interest in learning about the speed the balloon travels at and the varying temperatures, balloon height and other variables.

HabHubI watched the Adelaide area reporting stations data as the balloon drifted to the East and after a while the stations of VK5THB and VK5TRM started reporting the data. I also monitored the prediction software, comparing the accuracy of the program and the actual landing location.

The  balloon finally landed very close to the reporting station of VK5THB.  The last heard position of the balloon was at 51m and travelling at 31km/h and 88 degrees.

So with the data in mind I thought I might head out early Sunday morning to try and retrieve the equipment. With the data from the HabHub and APRS, https://aprs.fi, websites I then used google maps satellite view to look at the terrain the balloon had likely landed in. It looked to be cleared scrub land, so I made the decision… I will attempt an early Sunday morning  retrieval.

In preparing the necessary equipment for the retrieval, I mounted a quarter wave 402MHz vertical on the Cruiser roof attached to a Yaesu VX7 handheld. This was to alert me when I was getting close to the landing site. I loaded up my 70cm yagi along with a AOR8000 scanner set to USB, this was to be used while on foot to locate the Radio Sonde. I recorded the location info from HabHub  by means of a photo of the screen on my mobile.

OziExp2I then entered the last known position of Radio Sonde in to the OziExplorer software on my laptop. I also attached my GPS receiver so I could run the moving map function. I also entered the last known position on my hand held GPS unit.

Setting off at 0600hrs Sunday morning I headed of to the last known location. When I got within a couple of Km’s from the site I turned on my VX7 with external antenna attached so I could hear the transmitter. To my dismay… not a peep from the Sonde!  I then pulled up as close as I could to the last known position and put my direction finding gear together. Sweeping around in all directions, still no signals. I hadn’t thought about the battery life of the Sonde.

After a calming coffee and a bit of thought I grabbed my hand held GPS, 402MHz receiver with yagi attached  and started walking in the general direction of the Sondes plotted location. After about a 500m walk I was rewarded with a visual location of the silver radar reflector. I collected all Reflector and GPSthe equipment up and proceed back to the vehicle.

Lessons learnt from my 2 Sonde chases are:

  • Don’t rely on the internet when chasing balloons in remote areas where you may loose phone signals
  • Consider the battery life of the Sonde, I had been told it is approximately 6 hours
  • You do not need expensive tracking antenna’s, mine is home brew the plans are on the   https://rrc.org.au/2018/03/27/tech-night-march-2018/

This Sonde landed not far from Bob VK5FO’s receiving station so I sent Bob a quick early morning text message so he knew I was chasing this Sonde. I didn’t want either of us wasting our time, luckily for me I had it all to myself. Interestingly Bob has setup a site, http://vk5fo.com/553/wx-sonde, so you can enter planned chase. This is to advise other chasers you are out retrieving a particular Sonde so they don’t travel big distances to find the Sonde has been retrieved by another chaser.

Sonde and GPS

My plans for the recovered Sondes are to have them reprogrammed so they can be used for future Riverland Radio Club projects.

I would like to thank Mark VK5QI for all his work in the Sonde tracking programs. All the RX stations need a special mention, without them we wouldn’t be able to have accurate data to retrieve the Sondes. Rob VK5TRM tracked the first Sonde Danny VK5DW and I found down to approx. 150m and Bob VK5THB tracked the second Sonde down to 50m, this assisted in a speedy retrieval of both units.

As Mark VK5QI always mentions the bakeries on his chases, I stopped at the Waikerie Bakery to have a coffee and cake. Have to keep the tradition up, Hi Hi.

Thanks for reading,

Ivan VK5HS

Radio Sonde Hunting

A quick little last minute outing for Ivan VK5HS and Danny VK5DW.

The weather albeit terrible for most things, blowing a gale and dust a plenty, it provided an opportunity not always available to those of us in the Riverland. The winds were predicted to carry a Bureau Of Meteorology Radio Sonde Weather Balloon over Loxton/Berri areas.

After a bit of very late planning on Friday night we were to set out, the first time for the both of us, on Saturday morning to see if we could get ourselves one of these Radio Sonde thingies.

We don’t have anything specific set up for balloon chasing so we pulled together a couple bits and pieces with the hope we would get a bit lucky. We took with us a laptop PC, an Android tablet, a UHF SSB receiver, a 70cm hand held and a 70cm yagi. We were anticipating failure but hoping for success.

We met up and got underway only to have the predictions change, which was going to take us into a no phone coverage area… what will we do without internet??? Oh well we’re moving now, lets see what happens!

We managed, somehow, to hold onto internet coverage for a good part of our outing but when lost we worked as best we could from the point last known, thanks to the last info we had from HabHub (Rob VK5TRM, RRC member, was the last data we saw), albeit still several hundred meters high… the thing could be anywhere!

20180414_104828Luckily the things hadn’t died when it hit the ground and we managed to pick up a signal. After a bit of radio detection finding we moved into position along Gordon Rd. We worked to a point near a farm house and had some certainty by this time it was in their paddock.

We called into the farmhouse and met up with Bill the property owner, luckily also known to Danny VK5DW. We explained what we were doing and that we believed a weather balloon had come down in his paddock. Bill was more than happy for us to go and have a go at finding the thing.20180414_104842

After about a 2km drive into Bill’s paddock the signal seems to be adjacent to us… on the other side of the fence. So out we get and a couple more sweeps with the SSB RXer and yagi we agreed it was out there. After about 150m walk… eureka there it was, and so was the cattle. Not really time to hang around and attract too much attention to ourselves.

20180414_105857Just a little pleased with ourselves we headed back to the car, being sand blasted as we went, and back home.

This is the first time either of us had been in a balloon chase and had a blast. The Radio Sonde is likely to be reprogrammed so we can use it for Chase training by the RRC.

Cheers and 73’s,

Danny VK5DW

VK5FMAZ Marija – Field Radio Group Cover Photo

The Field Radio Facebook group has almost 4000 group members from the world over, and it is with great and proud pleasure that the Riverland Radio Club recognises one of VK5’s own for being featured as Field Radio Group Photo.

Screenshot_20180409-182549More over, Marija VK5FMAZ, is a Foundation call and one of far too few lady operators. Marija is an avid and experienced field operator frequently out and about in the parks and on the peeks with husband Paul VK5PAS. In a hobby that seems to be largely dominated by males we think it’s wonderful to see Marija featured along with the respect availed, and rightly so, to a Foundation operator. Well deserved recognition for a terrific advocate of Amatuer Radio.

Full credit to Marija from the Riverland Radio Club, congratulations and well done!

Field Radio Facebook site: http://www.facebook.com/groups/FieldRadio/

Field Radio Website: http://www.fieldradio.org

2018 BRL Gathering

Re blogged from Paul VK5PAS, Thanks Paul.

 

vk5pas

On Saturday morning (7th April 2018) Marija and I left the motel at Renmark and made our way out to the historic Overland Corner Hotel for the 2018 BRL Gathering.  Each year in April the Riverland Radio Club hold a get together at Overland Corner, where amateurs travel from far and wide for a weekend of socialising and sharing their ham experiences.  This year, 2018, is the fourth year that such an event has been held, and Marija and I have been to each of these.

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The BRL Gathering takes place at the Overland Corner Hotel which dates back to 1859.  For more information on this historic hotel, please see my post re the 2017 BRL Gathering at…….

https://vk5pas.org/2017/04/27/2017-brl-gathering-at-overland-corner/

This really is a great day of catching up with fellow hams and their partners.  There were a number of familiar faces, but this year I was really pleased to…

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The 2018 BRL Gathering Story

Map - Overland Corner Hotel

What a great weekend. The Riverland Radio Club (RRC) again hosted the BRL Gathering at the historic and iconic Overland Corner Hotel, located on the Goyder Highway a short 21km drive North West of Barmera, SA.

Originally set up as a watering hole for drovers and overlanders operating between New South Wales and the Adelaide Colony, it also served as a temporary camping ground for steamers passing through on the River Murray, which flows a mere 600ft from the hotel. The historic building was erected in 1859, and since that time has served as a staging point, a general store, a police station and even the local Post Office.

In 1965, the building was purchased by the National Trust of South Australia and, with the aid of locally raised and commonwealth funding, the fossilised limestone building was completely restored. It now stands as a beacon of history in the Riverland, and is the oldest structure to remain standing in the area. Today, the Overland Corner operates as a hotel, serving some of the finest cuisine in the Riverland amongst the beautiful backdrop and serene settings of Overland Corner.

DSC_0742The Saturday kicked off at about 0700hrs as usual with RRC member Andy VK5LA cooking up a storm for breakfast. On offer was an all time traditional favorite, Bacon and Eggs.

Andy also followed up with a bit of a cook up fare-welling the remaining on the Sunday morning.

As most would know Saturday is the 20180407_085157traditional day for the BRL HF Saturday Net (I know right… the Saturday Net is on a Saturday!), which is typically run by Ron VK5MRE from his home QTH. Of course we couldn’t have the BRL Gathering without the also iconic Ron so we set up a HF Field Station, thanks to Danny VK5DW for the equipment, for Ron to operate from. So from 0830hrs local the BRL Net went on as usual with much better propagation compared to the 2017 BRL Gathering Net. The net was as always quite popular with about 30 some contacts. Those that coundn’t make it to the Gathering could call in and chat to several regulars that did attend.

As one of the activities for our guests three of the RRC members bought along their satellite crossed yagis etc for anyone to have a go at. The yagis have been of interest to a number of our members of late with a couple different variations on the common theme. A number of contacts were made with Ivan VK5HS, Rob VK5TRM, and Danny VK5DW all contacting ZL.

We also had a pre-loved section for those to move their pre-loved equipment to a new-loved owner.A few things up for grabs from multi band HF yagi, rotator, receivers and other odds and ends.

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The Home Brew Competition is an area we are looking at DSC_0766growing for future Gatherings. There was antennas, a cross band portable repeater, antenna tuner, and others. The inaugural winner, Grant VK5VGC walked away the winner this year with the trophy.

We at the RRC are proud to be the hosts of such a wonderful Amateur Radio social event, an event feel we are keen to maintain.

Attendees at the 2018 BRL Gathering were:

  • Ron VK5MRE, partner Jeanette
  • Rob VK5TRM
  • Ivan VK5HS
  • Danny VK5DW
  • Andy VK5LA, partner Liz (Chef and Sous Chef)
  • Peter VK5FPLR
  • Rob VK5TS, partner Sandy
  • Tony VK5MRT
  • Robbie VK5FRSM, partner Mary
  • Allen VK5FD, partner Jean
  • Mick VK3GGG, partner Anne
  • Joe VK2EIR
  • Frank VK3VEF
  • Marija VK5FMAZ
  • Therese VK3FMTT
  • Keith VK5ND
  • Roger VK5WE
  • John VK5MJC
  • Bill VK5MBD
  • Ray VK5RR
  • Bob VK5FO
  • Mal VK5MJ
  • Steve VK3FSMT
  • Paul VK5PAS
  • Adrian VK5AJR
  • Tony VK5ZAI, partner Jill
  • Keith VK3FMKE
  • Grant VK5VGC
  • Dennis VK5LDM, partner Robyn
  • Adrian VK5AW
  • Dennis VK2HHA

And the winners are…

For support to the BRL HF Nets:

  • Dennis VK2HHA Relays for the Group

Most BRL Members Worked with 47 stations:

  • Mal VK5MJ
  • Frank VK3VEF

Home Brew Competition:

  • Grant VK5VGC

16000th BRL Nets Check In:

  • Paul VK5FUZZ

XYL Awards:

  • Marija VK5FMAZ
  • Therese VK3FMTT

Long Distance Awards:

  • Frank VK3VEF
  • Tony VK5ZAI

Thanks for having a read. Cheers and 73’s,

VK5BRL – Riverland Radio Club

 

2018 BRL Gathering Taste of Happy Snaps

Hey everyone, I have here a couple photos for an early taste of the Riverland Radio Clubs’ 2018 BRL Gathering.

I will be posting a more comprehensive suite of photos when they become available from our official event photographer, Marija VK5FMAZ. So keep an eye out for the next post.

Cheers and 73’s,

Danny VK5DW

5th year anniversary certificate

Repost from VK5PAS Paul…

vk5pas

Tonight I started emailing out the participation certificates to all activators who took part in the 5th year anniversary activation weekend for the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award.

The certificate features Peter VK5PE, Andy VK5LA & Danny VK5DW during one of their activations in the Riverland.  The photograph was taken by the 4th operator, Ivan VK5HS.  Thanks Ivan for allowing me to use the photo.

Thanks to everyone who took part in the weekend (there were a total of 17 amateurs who took part as activators, including Tony VK3XV/5).

VK5PAS 5th year participation.png

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BRL Gathering 2018 Kicks Off

Well here we are, the 2018 BRL Gathering has kicked off and the Overland Corner Hotel.

A field station has been set up so the BRL Net will be run from the Gathering starting at 0830 local time on 7.115MHz. Ron VK5MRE will be calling for check ins using the club call VK5BRL, so if you haven’t been able to join us at the Gathering please keep an ear out 21768863_10154647731396184_3618258097243425186_oand give Ron a call. If you couldn’t make it here in person at least let us try and make you a part of the Gathering on air. For those that could make it this year there will be a chance to grab the mic off Ron and make your presence known.

21766693_10154647732351184_5846354428546626353_nWe have a busy day ahead starting with a cooked breakfast, tea and coffee welcoming our guests. The BRL Net is at the normal time and we have 3 satellite rigs ready for people to have a crack at the 7 passes throughout the day.

Don’t forget the Home Brew Competition and of course the Pre-Loved Items sale.

Somewhere along the line we should be able to fit in a bit of face to face catch up time.

Here’s to a great day!