Pooginook Conservation Park VKFF-0929

Map ImageOn Saturday 5th of May I activated another park for WWFF and VKFF.
Pooginook Conservation Park is a plot of mallee about a 45 minute drive, approximately 50 km west of my home QTH.

From the National Parks website…
“The dense Mallee scrub in the northern part of the park provides shelter to a range of wildlife, including Kangaroos, Echidna, Hairy-Nosed Wombats, Fat-Tailed Dunnarts and the rare Malleefowl. In contrast, the southern section features open Mallee as the area was once largely used for wheat farming.

The park provides good opportunities for bird watching. Keep a look out for Black-Eared Miners, Honeyeaters and many other colourful Mallee birds. During spring the park blossoms, displaying a variety of colourful Mallee plants. The park’s camping ground is accessible to conventional vehicles, however, some sections of the boundary road are only accessible by 4WD.”

I drove in to the park from the Goyder Highway, it’s signposted but the sign is old and faded and is white on a brown background. As I pass this sign regularly for work road trips, I knew it was there but if you’re unfamiliar with the area you might miss it.
file5The Park sign itself is old and dilapidated, I’ve noticed a lot of the South Australian Park signs have been upgraded to nice clear easy to read Green/white signs but this one hasn’t made the grade yet…

I only had to drive in a short way until I found a nice clear area to park my vehicle and set up the station…

file1Although the signs have long disappeared I’m fairly sure this is one of the designated camping areas in the park. If you do come here to camp overnight or longer, you will need to bring absolutely everything, as there are no facilities here.

 I wasted no time in setting up the station between my car and a convenient tree. The weather was perfect for a park activation, around 22 degrees with a coolish, light south westerly breeze. Although there were some visible 22Kv power lines running east west about 500 metres away to my north , I hoisted my Link dipole up on its Squidpole so that both legs were at 90 degrees to them to hopefully quench any noise they might generate. I didn’t have to worry however, as the noise floor was non existent, the joys of a quiet park!

 

 

This activation was an interesting “first” for me. This was the first time I would be using a logging program on my iPad to log the Park contacts, instead of the usual paper logs. I hate paper logs, and the work involve in getting the contacts into a computer and emailed off to the right people.

I had done a fair bit of research in looking at a log programs that would be suitable for a park activation. My requirements were quick entry capability, support for VKFF/WWFF and generation of the correct ADIF formatted logs for direct emailing off to the coordinator. There didn’t seem a lot out there.

I was at the stage where I was considering buying an Android tablet so I could run the most excellent VK-Port-log (http://vk3zpf.com/vk-port-a-log). After registering and downloading the app from the files section of the yahoo group, I gave it a try on my android phone. It’s very good but the phone format I find is a little small for the eyes and fingers.

It was while I was looking at the parks and peaks web site where I saw a link to the Parks and peaks iPhone app (https://www.vk5ayl.com/). Sue only had the non logging version available via the App Store so I got in contact with her about the newer V2 version that supports logging. To cut a long story short I soon became a beta tester and was now trying the app in the real world for the first time…

 

 

The app offers spotting and alerting to the parks and peaks website, along with logging of contacts for an activation…

This is all entered as you log the contact, directly into the phone or iPad. It’s very quick and easy to do. Most fields can/will auto populate, for example when you enter a call sign, if there is a matching name in the database (which is updated at the push of a button under settings) it will magically appear in name field.

file11After the QSO’s are done you are left with the log for the activation. You can Scroll through and edit any entry with a double click if you need to.

Then export the log…

file12

It’s really that simple.

Just like Port-a-log has revolutionised portable logging for the Android platform, Parks and Peaks will soon be the go to app for the iOS platform.

Ok, there was a few things about the app that I felt that needed attention and Sue, VK5AYL was most receptive to ideas. I’ll be using this app on all my park activations
from now on, it’s fantastic! No more dread of converting paper logs into the computer. (Yes. There will always be a pen and paper in the go kit just in case)

I ended up with 55 contacts in the log in about 2 1/2 hours. You tend to learn something each activation and for this one, it was “Don’t forget the Aerogard”
I did, and the flies were INCREDIBLY annoying!!

Andy, VK5LA

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Recent Andy VK5LA Activations

On Sunday the 29th April I decreed it “Get out and play Radio day”, as it was the last day of a 2 week Annual leave break for me. A relaxing day in one of our beautiful parks seemed like a perfect way to end my break.

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I’m lucky enough to have the Murray River National Park VKFF-0372 within a stone’s throw from my home location, (see the map) so it was a trivial matter to pack up my portable station (more on this later), pack a lunch and put everything in the car and head out.

The Katarapko section features 9,148 hectares of black box, red gum and lignum covered floodplains and wetlands, that are alive with aquatic bird species. Katarapko Creek itself is a significant creek that flows through the park and provides great canoeing All the creeks and waterways in the park are a very important habitat for native fish. The Ngak Indau walking trail is great for viewing the abundant wetland birdlife. Rilli Island, Media Island and Kapunda Island Conservation Parks are also part of Katarapko. These are easily accessed from the River proper, best from the Loxton boat ramp if in a power boat.
Katarapko itself is divided into three sections: Lock 4 section, Eckert’s Creek section and Katarapko Creek section. Each section has a separate entrance with visitors being unable to move from one section to another through the park.
31960740_10214326205221824_4067388592576528384_nhttps://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/find-a-park/Browse_by_region/Murray_River/murray-river-national-park#about
Katfish Reach is a community environmental rehabilitation project that encompasses the Katarapko and Eckert Creek area. The area has been identified as a priority floodplain for environmental flows, and for broad‐scale rehabilitation works for native fish.
32073015_10214326166300851_3805240496251469824_nhttp://katfish.org.au/ 
In about 5 minutes I was at the park entrance of the Katarapko – Eckerts Creek section of the Murray River National Park.
 

I wasted no time in setting up after finding a suitable site. I had a brief look at several potential areas before deciding on Campsite 14. This area is marked on the map and is at the junction of the Eckert Wide Waters and the South Arm.

There wasn’t a soul around, and the Squidpole was suitably strapped to a convenient tree and the 20-30-40 Metre link dipole hoisted up and the antenna ends tied off. My portable table was called to arms and the station set up in the shade of a lovely old tree in about 10 minutes.

 

 

 

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After a quick bite of lunch, I spent an enjoyable afternoon, easily qualifying the park, making 77 QSO’s across 40 and 30 metres. The band conditions were quite good, and the super low noise floor of operating in an area with no man made noises from power lines or electrical goods allowed me to work stations low down. Most stations were ‘armchair” copy, 5 by 7 being the normal signal report.

I have often been asked about my Antenna and radio setup by operators I contact on the air during my park activations. My portable station seems to work well. I can usually work anyone I can hear, including DX stations. It is a simple setup, and it’s quick and easy to deploy.

 

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The Radio
For the majority of activations, where you drive in to the park and set up “Picnic Style” with a table and chair, you can’t beat a 100 Watt class radio. My choice is the Icom IC-7300, a fantastic rig with a large, easy to read display, excellent receiver and punchy transmit audio. This is my preferred rig, 100 watts of TX power seems to be the way to go while the sun is half asleep and conditions are average.
I also have a Yaesu FT817 that has been a trusted companion over quite a few SOTA activations, many, many VHF/UHF Field days and a few park activations. If I need a light weight option then this little Radio is a fantastic choice.

32081608_10214326171180973_8703392690064064512_nThe Antenna
My antenna at the moment is a very simple “Link Dipole”. There is a million pages of info on the internet about these so I wont elaborate here. A picture tells a thousand words. Mine is for the 20, 30 and 40 Metre Amateur bands, and has been adjusted so that the VSWR is below 1.5:1 on each band. This is so it can be used with a Radio that doesn’t have an antenna tuner, like the FT-817.

32080120_10214326172341002_1110940436966408192_n
 
32074746_10214326167580883_4781961727749128192_nSquid Pole
The ubiquitous Squid pole has be a handy dandy addition to the portable Ham Radio station for quite a few years now. Mine is a one of Australian distributor “Haverford”, 7M heavy duty model. This has served me well over the years. It gets strapped to a Tree, post or other support with an octopus strap.
 
The Table
My table is a lightweight fold up aluminium job I obtained from Cheap as Chips around 10 years ago. It packs up into a bag that’s slightly smaller than your average camping chair.
 
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Other things to make life easy out in a park come from experience. The chair for instance, is quite important since you spend a fair bit of time in it. My wife has a very nice “Jetpilot” branded chair that just seems to be 10 times more comfortable than the average camp chair so I take that with me at every opportunity.
I’ve recently begun using a quality external speaker that points at me when sitting at a table, this makes stations easier to copy. What about headphones? Sorry, not a fan of them. Don’t forget your Hat, your sunscreen and the bloody AeroGaurd!!!

 

 

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Thanks for reading,
Andy VK5LA

 

Loch Luna, Ron VK5MRE’s First Activation – 26/04/2018

On Thursday 26th April, the day after our ANZAC day activation of both the Chowilla Game and Regional Reserves, several members of the Riverland Radio Club had expressed a desire to come along on a park activation and “see what it was all about”, so I decided to activate another close by park in VKFF-1723, The Loch Luna Game Reserve.

Map - GeneralI put out a notification on our Riverland Radio Club SMS group and Ron VK5MRE responded that he was keen to come along and give it a go.

The park is located just West and North of the town of Cobdogla, in the Riverland region of South Australia, about 250Km North East of Adelaide. It’s a beautiful area, very popular with campers, RVers and canoists. Superb creek and river scenery and an abundance of bird life. It’s also full of great fishing spots from both boat and bank and a popular area for those targeting Murray Cod and Callop (Yellow Belly) on lures amongs the hundreds of snags and deep holes in the river and creeks that form part of the Reserve.

It’s easily accessed vith a conventional vehicle, by travelling though the town of Cobdogla and driving out past the Caravan Park and Bruno Bay boat ramp, continuing along the bitumen road for about 1Km.

1524831338013373134941You will soon see the sign designating the Kaiser Strip section of the Game Reserve. Other access points to Loch Luna are from the Barmera-Morgan Road, near Nappers Bridge (6km from Sturt Highway) and also from the Sturt Highway causeway approximately 1.2km (1 min) from the Kingston Bridge.

There are several campsites and lovely canoe access area in which to operate for a park activation, and if you are camping overnight you must book a site.

National Parks South Australia has a good web presence for our parks and the following links are useful. If you are staying overnight you need to book a site from this page…

https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/find-a-park/Browse_by_region/Murray_River/loch-luna-moorook-game-reserves#maps

https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/files/sharedassets/parks/parks/murray-river/loch-luna-and-moorook-game-reserves/loch_luna_gr_optimised.pdf

https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/files/sharedassets/parks/parks/murray-river/loch-luna-and-moorook-game-reserves/loch_luna_gr_campgrounds_2page_optimised.pdf

1524831271085594618473I arrived just after lunch and decided Campsite 6 in the Kaiser Strip looked as good as any, and easily accessible. Campsites 8-14 required a drive on the dirt, so I left that to more capable vehicles.

I parked the car in a cleared section of land between a Large Gum tree (that I planned on strapping the Squid Pole to) and the River Murray itself. It was a delightful location and perfect weather to be playing Radio!

I soon had my linked Dipole laid out after setting up the station on the portable table and the Squid Pole ready to be thrust skyward. Ron, VK5MRE arrived just as I was connecting the coax to the dipole centre and helped me hoist the antenna. We soon had the ends tied off to some other sturdy limbs and the apex of the dipole at about 7M high.

Ron and I made ourselves comfortable at the operating position and tuned to 7.144Mhz. After asking if the frequency was in use a couple of times and finding it vacant, I was soon under way… 15248312883002022962951

the band seemed lively and it didn’t take too long to attract the attention of Brett VK2VW, for my first station in the log. It took a whole 9 minutes to get the first 10 contacts!

15248312280131394856968I then put Ron in the drivers seat and he was soon working stations like a pro! Ron has many years experience as a net control operator, and has a very good set of ears. He is an expert at running stations, and took to working the park pileup like it was nothing.

We had great conditions and most stations were easy copy, especially the VK2, 3 and 4’s The closer VK5 stations were ordinary earlier in the day, but soon conditions changed and Adrian VK5FANA was 59 instead of 31.

Later in the day we began to hear some Euro stations in the background, and were then surprised to be called by both a French and Italian Stations.

All in all a great afternoon introducing Ron to the wonderful world VKFF. I’m sure it will be the first of many for station VK5MRE

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Video thanks to Paul VK5PAS

Andy, VK5LA

Stations worked by VK5LA on 40M

VK2VW
VK3PF
VK2HHA
VK3UH
VK2IO
VK2AIR
VK7JON
VK7RM
VK2VOO/M
VK3GGG
VK3PMG
VK4TJ
VK2NP
VK5DW
VK3ANL
VK4FARR
VK4FDJL
VK3PAT
VK2XSE/M
VK5FANA
VK3SQ
VK2LEE
VK4NH
VK4DXA
ZL4TY/VK4
VK7FRUS
VK4GSF
VK4HDY
VK5KC
VK5MIJ
VK7ABY
VK3NBL
VK5LG/2
VK3EXA
VK3UCD
VK5KL
VK3NCC/P
VK4HNS
VK5PAS
VK5AHR
VK5MJ
VK6DW
VK7QP
VK5FANA
VK4FW/P VKFF-0414
VK5LTD
VK3KMH
ZL1TM
VK3FSTU
VK5FCTC
F4GMY
VK5GP/M
VK2USH
VK2ZVG
IK1GPG
VK2HH
VK2PKT
VK5TRM
VK3SIM