RRC & Horus 49 – July 7, 2018

OK, so what is Horus 49? The Amateur Radio Experimenters Group Inc. (AREG) periodically launch High Altitude Balloons for experimental purposes. These balloons carry various payloads to near space, in this case over 36000m high. The payloads of this flight included:

  • 20180708_125301RTTY Telemetry – ‘HORUS’ – 434.650 MHz  (100 baud, 425 Hz Shift, 7N2);
  • WENET Imagery – 441.200 MHz (WENET 115kbps FSK); and
  • Experimental Horus Binary Payload – 434.640 MHz (100 baud 4FSK)

And a special passenger named Anstey the Echidna making his second trip to near space. 2018-07-08--02-11-59-HORUS-20359Anstey the Echidna is a project run by the Tea Tree Gully Library to teach young children how to discover information in the library. Anstey is the library Mascot.

For the Riverland Radio Club this was the second time we have had the fortune of being part of this most interesting and exciting part of the Amateur Radio Hobby. The last time was launch Horus 44 from our club BRL Gathering of April 2017 (no Anstey that time though).

Predictions for this flight had Horus 49 tracking toward Loxton in the Riverland, and while various landing models, based on burst (remotely triggered by ground crews) altitudes, were considered, it was determined that the target landing area would be in the Murray Mallee, with somewhere west of Loxton being the most likely.

A few weeks prior to this when it was realised the flight would carry this far East, Mark VK5QI from the AREG team contacted RRC member Ivan VK5HS asking if the RRC would Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 8.23.25 am.pngbe interested/able to assist in the recovery/chase for this flight. Ivan had only a couple months prior started to set up ‘Chase Car’ equipment, primarily for chasing weather Sonde’s. Ivan was sold on the chase straight away but he couldn’t drive and operate the Chase Car equipment by himself. So other active Sonde chasers from RRC included myself (Danny VK5DW), Pete VK5PE, and Andy VK5LA were all contacted and asked if we could help Ivan with the chase. We three had to give this much thought prior to committing, indeed I reckon it took us a collective few milliseconds to confirm.

Our plan was pretty simple… meet up at my QTH for 0900hrs, set up and get the equipment running and go get it… SIMPLES! Fortunately some of the software and systems being used had been used to chase WX Sonde‘s by a couple of us and thankfully with pretty good success. That said there was a bit riding on this chase… our reputation to start!

So Ivan with Pete rock up at my QTH and Andy not far behind. Ivan and Pete had installed all the equipment into Ivan’s Land cruiser, several antennas appeared on the roof consisting of a 70cm 1/4 wave, a dual band hi gain, a crossed dipole and a high gain 20180708_101032phone antennas to improve phone coverage for uploads to the net. A 240 volt inverter to run 3 laptops was also included. One laptop used for Mark’s VK5QI LoRa tracking software, another for RTTY and the last one for WENET which was used to download photos from the payload. I must say Ivan’s car was looking much like an Echidna, which is kinda ironic given the payload we were about to chase. With this setup we had the capacity to track the flight via multiple signals, allowing us to keep the chase up even if we had system failures. Additionally we had hand held GPS receivers, hand held scanners and hand held radios along with Yagi antennas so we could Direction Find (DF) the payloads if the situation commanded so.

Our team consisted of:

  • Ivan VK5HS (driver seat), Driver and Systems Administrator
  • Pete VK5PE (front left), WENET Operator
  • Andy VK5LA (rear left), RTTY Operator and Navigator
  • Danny VK5DW (rear right), Navigator and LoRa Operator

2018-07-08--00-22-24-HORUS-202E0Chase step 1… Loxton Mini Mart for coffee! Then based on our chase system we headed out to Stott Highway and pulled up at the Stott Hwy/Mindarie Rd intersection (Staging 1 (see map below)) to monitor the launch and wait for some signals to poke their head over the horizon. Right about now I started to experience some issues with the GPS engine attached to the tracking laptop, meaning I could see the live predictions OK but couldn’t see my exact location. Thank goodness for my map reading skills I was able to dead reckon our location most of the time. At the same time Andy had issues with getting a good signal from the RTTY payload along with its laptop playing u20180708_105756p. It’s about now we started to get a bit concerned we weren’t going to have enough contingencies up our sleeve… time to get our heads sorted and solve a few glitches! Right… a quick DF, a swap out of a dodgy GPS engine, a couple restarts, and swap the LoRa data for RTTY data into the tracking laptop and we were GO again. While this was going on Pete was trying to aquire signal on the WENET downlink so he could get some pictures coming through, but alas not enough signal yet! By this time Rob VK5TRM had tracked us down via APRS and turned up in his car, playing chase the chasers.

With enough glitches sorted, but still not at 100%, and signals picking up we headed off toward Wunkar with confidence we were still on track. We got to Wunkar and turned South onto Curtis Rd (Staging 2), pulling over again to monitor Horus 49 for a short while. 20180708_113914 (1)Very shortly after we moved on further and turned East onto Farr Rd (Staging 3). Here we pulled up again, by now very confident we were on the money for a recovery, there was no way we weren’t going to track this thing!!!. That said we weren’t yet 100% operational. So while Ivan and Pete were working on getting more signal to support the required band width of WENET, Ivan seen here with a 3 element Yagi, Andy and I were working on getting other systems sorted. What a team the four of us make!

Cross Dipole w Pre AmpAt some point about here the elevation angle of the flight was at 25 degrees so we swapped to the crossed dipole with a Mini Kits 70cm Pre Amp installed, the predicted landing location was fairly stable now so we moved in closer and pulled up waiting for the balloon to burst. And burst it did at 36306m (36.306kms) up.

We had to run RTTY into the tracking laptop for a while as we lost the LoRa signal, but after a few more kms down Farr Rd and a software restart back onto LoRa all was good again. Cool… we had everything, except internet service, running as required. All was good again! Failure was still not in our thoughts, we were going to win!

 

About 7.5kms East down Farr Rd we identified a track to the South… this was going to be our best access for the recovery, we had less than 10 minutes to get to the predicted landing site. OH NO… lost the GPS again. With total calm, OK maybe a little panic, we pulled up on a small rise (Staging 4), did a bit more DF while we rigged Andy and the RTTY laptop for ‘Moving Map’ onto OziExplorer so Andy and I could work together to guide Ivan into an area adjacent to the landing site (Staging Final). Pete in the meantime was downloading some amazing images via WENET. Rob still in train, albeit very dusty by this time.

20180708_122534We now moved again to the predicted landing spot, with very low cloud and not being able to see the balloon we used a combination of the tracking software, our direction finding antennas and skills we were able to look in the right direction to see Anstey appear out of the clouds and land about 300m West from us in some Mallee scrub (Landing Site). Mark VK5QI and Will VK5AHV called us on HF radio and asked us to wait for them as they were about 3 minutes away, Danny informed them we had just watched it land,

Map Generalsoon Mark and Will arrived, followed by Marcus VK5WTF.

With DF gear in hand and a GPS or two we set off only to find Anstey 8m up a Mallee 20180708_125921tree. Mark had Map Landing Satbrought a squid pole along to our amusement, not initially knowing what that was for we soon found out… Mark had obviously done this before. Anstey needed a bit of gentle prodding with the squid pole to be persuaded from the tree, falling to the ground only to be safely caught by Danny.

 

Marcus then took several group photos of the recovered gear, vehicles and the chase teams. We then packed Anstey 20180708_130050and all the gear away and departed. The AREG members headed back towards Adelaide stopping to recover  a Sonde from the mornings launch. Peter had recovered the Saturday night Sonde earlier. The RRC members headed back to Loxton for lunch, catching up with Bob VK5FO and Ray VK5RR. We then all departed and headed home where Peter and Ivan decommissioned the tracking equipment from Ivan’s vehicle.

We had a lot of fun, watched Anstey safely land, recovered the payloads, and recovered 2 Sondes, learnt a lot and most importantly had heaps of fun. A special thanks to Ivan for his chase car and Pete for assisting Ivan with the setup and decommission thereof.

This story is a combined effort of the RRC Chase Team.

Thanks for reading…

 

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Been a bit quiet… Update Time!

iciclesOK… it’s been a quiet month for us in the RRC. Perhaps the cold weather has been getting to some of us.

Andy VK5LA has still been busy activating parks up and down the Murray etc, Ivan VK5HS has also been out chasing Sondes and also been putting together chase car rigs.

Rob VK5TRM gave the club a presentation on his tracking station setup and I, Danny VK5DW, am working on putting together a HF APRS iGate, but early days at the minute so we’ll see what happens there. Others have been busy too, Ron VK5MRE has finished his Crossed Yagi and it looks really good so keep an ear out for him on the birds. And of course a number of our members helped out on the Riverland Paddling Marathon.

Speaking of APRS some of you may have noticed a couple extra callsigns appearing on APRS.FI about the Riverland, Andy VK5LA and I (Danny) VK5DW have been playing around in this space. Andy has transitioned from TCP/IP (VK5LA-10) to VHF. While I am still fluffing about on TCP/IP I am interested in setting up a HF (VK5DW-15) system, most likely on 30m I think.

gold-trophy_1284-1735Unfortunately posting to our website has gone a bit quiet but none the less the numbers keep ticking over. We have already surpassed our previous best year to date figures for unique visits, likes and comments… and we’re only 6 months into the reporting year. A really pleasing effort I reckon.

The club has been meeting twice a month as per usual and a sub-committee has been put together to start the ball rolling for the BRL Gathering in April next year. I’m sure Ron VK5MRE, Andy VK5LA and Ivan VK5HS will have this all well in hand by the time April rolls around. We’ve got a couple more Tech Nights planned out and we will be building a couple different HF field antennas, members choice, starting next session on Monday night July 23rd.

With July just around the corner it will soon be time for our Annual General Meeting in September. And so some thought has turned to the currency of our Constitution and Rules. It may be that some amendments are tabled for change.

A few little things on the radar for us includes the acquisition of a banner for use at club promotions and activities such as the upcoming Remembrance Day Contest in August in recognition of VP Day. We’re planning to activate for this special event somewhere, somehow.

Anyway that’s enough of an update for now, hopefully when the weather is a bit more kind to us we’ll be out nd about in force again.

Cheers and 73’s,

Danny VK5DW

My First Sonde Chase

Happy Pete 2After watching the progress of a predicted evening landing on Tuesday the 29th near Waikerie I called Ivan VK5HS and he was already thinking what I was thinking. This is close enough to do a recovery.

So on Tuesday evening Ivan and I headed off towards Waikerie. Due to Danny VK5DW not having the time or energy (Editor (VK5DW): very funny Pete!!!) to come along with us my wife Nat decided to tag along to see what I was so excited about.

We arrived at Waikerie at about the same time the Sonde launched and parked in a rest stop with some lighting. Ivan and I set up for tracking putting magnetic antennas on the roof and booting the computers up. Within a few minutes we were locked on to the Sonde and ready to roll. I sat in the back seat with all the gear and became the back seat navigator. After getting an update on the landing site I decide to head to Blanchetown and wait on this side of the river and re assess from there thinking the Sonde might land on either side of the river.

After arriving at the Murray River Blanchetown I was confident we could head toward Nottswell the predicted landing site. I chose a route which looked good on the map until we came to an intersection with a set of gates and a house number which made it look like a private road. Not wanting to knock on the door late at night I decided on an alternative route.

After only a few minutes heading North the decision was made to turn around and go back the way we came as the alternative route would require a possible long walk of 3 or 4 kms (Editor: SOFT!!!).

Arriving back at the same set of gates and house driveway as before, on closer inspection one set of gates was actually a public road. As the landing time as getting very close we moved quickly to a position on the road directly under the predicted flight path with about 3 minutes to spare before landing.

We had been tracking the Sonde on a 5/8  wave antenna with good success but now the Sonde was getting very close the Degrees of elevation was increasing rapidly and when it reach about 35 Degrees we lost the signal Ivan had put an antenna switch on the tracking setup so with a quick flick of the switch we change to the Crossed dipole and had the signal again.

I stood outside the car shinning the torch into the sky hoping I might be lucky enough to catch the reflector in the beam Ivan saw a quick flash of light but I was not quick enough to follow it.

Once the Sonde landed we checked the last GPS coordinates which we received at 60m altitude I entered the coordinates into Hema maps on my iphone and plots the location 1.1KM in from the road. Ivan also confirmed the direction with his hand held yagi and portable radio.

All 3 of us headed in the confirmed direction using both tracking methods. We were pretty lucky it was easy walking with very little scrub. We wTopo Mapere also lucky it was still transmitting as the paddock was full of small white limestone rocks making it hard to see a small white box among them. Using a good high power torch was great and about 200mtrs from the Sonde we could clearly see the light shining on the reflector. After taking the obligatory photos we headed back to the car. The route back to the cars was slightly longer than the route in due to me not following the GPS and thinking I could just head back the same way See pic. If you get the opportunity to do this I highly recommend it even if you have no technical interest my wife still found it interesting and fun.

Happy Pete 1

Editor (VK5DW): Pete VK5PE on the left is still smiling. Well done you three and great story Pete. Thanks for the contribution.

Tech Night – May 2018

Its been a while since our last posting so a quick update on the our Club members builds on their Crossed Yagis.

DSC_0743It was the Riverland Radio Clubs monthly Tech Night tonight which was scheduled for a bring in whatever you want help with night. So Ron VK5MRE and Rob VK5TRM both finished off their take on the build design of Danny VK5DW.

Ivan VK5HS bought in the ‘shorting’ bars for Ron and Rob to complete the Gamma Matches while both Ivan and Danny bought in their antenna analysers to help the lads give the yagis and tune.

20180326_211630Both antennas tuned up quite well and of course not solely satisfied with just an analyser saying the antenna is good to go, a few on air tests just had to be done to prove the point. So out in the car park of the SES Headquarters at Berri there we were trying to throw a signal into a couple repeaters around the area.

After the field tests which included trials of front to back and polarity attenuation, which all seemed quite good, we retired back to the comfort of inside. By now the Sonde WX balloon had been launched from Adelaide, so it was time to get out with Rob’s VK5TRM antenna configured in the 5 element 70cm format to see if the Sonde could be heard.

Adel_BerriYep sure enough it was there, given we are about 200kms away and on the wrong side of the Mt Lofty Ranges we were getting the Sonde from the SES car park with a hand held antenna with the Sonde at only about 4500m elevation. Yep Rob seemed happy with that.

Once again we returned inside for a bit of a chat before retiring for the evening.

Thanks for reading,

Danny VK5DW

1.. 2.. 3.. Sonde

Ivan VK5HS and I, Danny VK5DW, was out again the morning of Friday May 4th for another hunt of the illusive Radio Sonde. The Sonde was expected to be landing in the Wanbi area near the Karoonda Highway about 60kms South of Loxton.

We were hopeful that Rob’s VK5TRM Auto RX tracking station and Ivan’s VK5HS new Auto RX tracking station would provide reporting into HabHub at relatively low altitude.

20180504 - Sonde Hunt - Mindarie - RFHEAD Prediction

So Ivan being from Renmark picks me up on the way through Loxton. As neither of us have the applicable setup for a chase car we headed out leaving my QTH in Loxton at about 0900 (local) with:

  • Android Tablet
  • Lap Top PC
  • GPS Engine for the Lap Top
  • Mobile Phones
  • 2 x Home Brew Yagi’s (Ivan made his in 30mins)
  • Boefeng Hand Held
  • Icom IC-R10 SSB Receiver
  • a lot of positive thoughts!

As we don’t have the capacity to decode the data from the Sonde direct to the laptop we have to rely on internet services such as HabHub. So here are the problems with relying on internet services.

  1. The Sonde tracking is from fixed ground stations in this case the nearest being VK5TRM station over 55kms away, while VK5HS station is over 85kms away. This results in the last known location and altitude being potentially several hundred metres away and up. This makes the potential landing site less definable.
  2. You need to have mobile phone service to have internet access!

OK so the challenge set we get into Alawoona and pull up to monitor the balloon progress for a bit while we still had internet. With increasing confidence it was going to land around the Wanbi / Mindarie area we moved on to Wanbi pulling over periodically so to hold the mobile phone up out the window to get service and thus updates from HabHub.

20180504 - Sonde Hunt - Mindarie - HabHubAfter a while indications were that we needed to be nearer to Mindarie, indeed a few kms East of Mindarie. So into Mindarie we went then East onto McCabe Rd, Great!!! No internet! Do we rely on Direction Finding (DF) with yagis etc or move back till we find service??? Nope, back to get some internet service, there were simply too much risk of change that we would otherwise miss and render us in the middle of nowhere with respect to the Sonde.

Now we’re back into Mindarie just North of the township by a 100m or so, sitting on a slight rise with mobile phone on the roof of Ivan’s car so we could get a bit of signal for the phone. Ahh that’s better we can monitor what the Sonde is doing.

20180504 - Sonde Hunt - MindarieNow we have service again we watch intently while HabHub predictions show the Sonde landing around Wanbi… are we heading back to Wanbi??? It was about now we got a TXT message over the HF radio from Pete VK5PE saaying it looks like it’s going to land on top of the Wanbi PUB. Do we move or do we not? Nope let’s wait and see for a bit… … … Hmmm it seems to be predicting landing sites closer and closer and closer to us, we’ll site tight for a bit longer.

After a while we found ourselves under the flight path, staying put was the correct call, we were going to be within a km or 2 at this stage. I’m still monitoring HabHub while Ivan is out with his yagi and receiver trying to DF it on its approach. Before long data was showing we were in the hot seat. I jest-fully prompted Ivan to walk West to the train track (dis used) and hold his hands out to catch it.

Next thing you know Ivan asks what directing I thought it was coming in, to confirm his DF skills, then I hear a yell from Ivan… “It’s right there, quick get a camera!” Too late, it’s down! Now we had another issue that in the haste to get a camera, remember the phone is still on the roof, we lost sight of the thing… where is it? OK OK stop laughing!

Right lets see if we can get a bit closer, we chose to drive to where we thought would be closer. So this was another lesson… we weren’t closer!!! Not that we knew that yet.

DannyOk so now we’re out of the car, Ivan with R10 receiver and yagi and I with Boafeng Hand Held Transceiver and yagi, trying to DF the signal. Of course the signal at such close range is quite strong so the signal had to be attenuated somehow. Ivan could use the SSB function and also use the squelch functions. He also used the yagi in horizontal polarisation for further attenuation and ran off the back of the yagi. I used the Boafeng, of course FM only, and progressively de-tuned the frequency to create attenuation, used the yagi in horizontal and off the back. Both methods used by Ivan and myself certainly work well enough for DFing the Sonde.

Well that decision to drive a bit closer didn’t work out that well. We ended up walking about 300m instead of my be 100m from where we watched it come down. Anyway we got it and we were pretty chuffed none the less. All packed up and the Sonde (with string, reflector, balloon remains) recovered we headed home.

20180504_122433Taking the ‘bakery’ lead from Mark VK5QI we called into the Loxton Anzac Crescent Deli for our version, ‘Espresso Coffee Thick Shake’. Liquid gold! A great way to wrap up a really fun hunt.

So the lessons here:

  • Anyone can do this with little equipment
  • Laptop or Tablet with internet access is all that is needed
  • In car and independent tracking capacity is desirable
  • Be patient… Keep yourself best positioned for changing predictions
  • You don’t need expensive kit to DF a Sonde
  • If you see it descending… have your camera ready and don’t look away!!!
  • Don’t always think you can drive a bit closer, especially when you see it land in front of you!

Just a little note and suggestion. Please collect the whole shebang, don’t collect just the Sonde and leave the rest for the farmers, or whoever, to have to deal with.

Thanks for reading,

Danny VK5DW

We Did It Again!

G’day all,

Well we did it again. Our website has again exceeded its previous months results in most aspects.

gold-trophy_1284-1735

We broke into the 1.3k views for the month, increased unique visitors for the month by 70%, almost 30% increase in ‘Post’ Likes, and went from only 4 Countries viewing our site in March to 18!

I prepared a speech…

I’d like to thank Mum and Dad… Seriously though I do sincerely want to thank the contributors to our site, particularly Andy VK5LA and Ivan VK5HS for the articles they have sent in for me to post. Also to anyone that has been behind a camera and sent me their happy snaps that I could use to add that something to the articles.

To our Riverland Radio Club members for getting out and about to give us something to blog about, be it park activations, Radio Sonde Hunting, or project building… thanks!

Special mention to Paul VK5PAS and Marija VK5FMAZ for their photos and some would say relentless commitment to Amateur Radio and the allied WWFF program. They are forever posting and sharing not only their own stories but also sharing ours. So thanks Paul and Marija for contributing to our successes here in the Riverland.

Thanks must also go to our patrons, our visitors to our little site. The Riverland Radio Club says thank you!

Please continue to visit our site, keep clicking those ‘Like’ buttons, and please leave a comment or three as we would love to hear your thoughts.

Cheers and 73’s,

Danny VK5DW

ANZAC Day Activation 25/04/2018

Chowilla SignAfter a terrific start to ANZAC Day, attending a wonderful Dawn Service at the Loxton Cross Of Sacrifice then checking on my Grandfather and a couple friends at the Loxton Cemetery, I headed of to the QTH of Ivan VK5HS. The master plan was for Ivan VK5HS, Pete VK5PE, Andy VK5LA, and myself Danny VK5DW to all meet up at Ivan’s place and head off to a couple parks that had not yet been activated.

Map - GeneralWith us all loaded up into a couple vehicles we headed North (well Northish) up to Chowilla. Chowilla parks consist of the Chowilla Game Reserve VKFF-1697 and Chowilla Regional Reserve VKFF-1698. These parks incorporate the Chowilla Floodplain which contains the largest remaining natural river red gum forest in the Lower Murray and a range of diverse aquatic habitats. It is a part of the Chowilla Game and Regional Reserve as well as the Riverland Ramsar wetland of international importance. Chowilla is home to many iconic and endangered native species, including the Murray cod, regent parrot and the southern bell frog and is the traditional home of the First Peoples of the River Murray and Mallee region

For more info on the Chowilla Floodplain check out: Chowilla Fllodplain – DEWNR.

Our first place to activate was Chowilla Game Reserve which  is located adjacent to Murtho on the Northern side of the Murray River, North East of Renmark. Shown on the map here shaded blue.

We headed in on the Old Wentworth Rd, nice bit of track that in a 2WD tray top ute!!! Before turning into the Game Reserve back toward the Murray then following Chowilla 20180425_121156Creek along to the Chowilla Regulator. Finding a nice little spot not far from the Regulator we set up a couple portable stations and got to work at about 0000z. Andy and Ivan fired up on 80m while Pete and I went to 40m.

This was a terrific spot along side the Chowilla Creek with great company and a swag of great and most appreciated contacts. The weather was mid 20 degrees a little overcast and a very light breeze. The site was as quiet as a mouse, QRM and people… we didn’t see anyone until we were leaving. Pete and I stayed on 40m for the duration of our activations while Andy and Ivan made their quotas on 80m and 30m. The ANZAC Day privilege of the ‘AX’ callsign certainly got a fair workout as well.

20180425_120929Ivan made 44 contacts, Andy 45, Pete 28, and I made 46. By this time we were all looking pretty pleased with ourselves.

While Andy was working his last couple Pete and Ivan fired up the BBQ and started to cook up a couple snags, onion and spuds.

After we fed the worms (had lunch) we headed off to our next location in the Chowilla Regional Reserve. Have a look over all our pics of Chowilla Game Reserve in this mosaic.

 

OK so now were on our way to the next site, Pete and I following Ivan and Andy in complete faith with only one 20180425_133634little issue… what’s that… Ivan cracking a U-bolt?!?!? Ummm wrong way?

Anyway a little while latter we pulled into the Chowilla Regional Reserve and found ourselves a comfortable little spot under a bit of shade.

We went straight to work and set up a station and Andy got right into calling CQ Parks.

 

Andy12Pete kicked back and just enjoyed the surroundings while Ivan, Andy and I shared the mic passing back and forth. The constant changing of operators, callsigns, slipping the ‘AX’ prefix in, and the odd little pile up proved to make for a very entertaining time. Sorry to anyone that was getting confused. No fear we knew exactly what we were doing… that’s what we kept telling ourselves.

We were having a wow of a time and in no time at all we had over 10 contacts each. Satisfied we decided it was time to retire back to Ivan’s QTH, unpack and call it a very enjoyable day.

Here is a mosaic of the second Operating Location, Chowilla Regional Reserve VKFF-1698:

For a bunch of ratbag friends just having a fun time we think our contact counts are pretty cool:

  • Ivan VK5HS / AX5HS
    • VKFF1697 – 44
    • VKFF1698 – 17
    • Park to Park – 14
  • Andy VK5LA / AX5LA
    • VKFF1697 – 45
    • VKFF1698 – 18
    • Park to Park – 14
  • Pete VK5PE / AX5PE
    • VKFF1697 – 28
    • Park to Park – 1
  • Danny VK5DW / AX5DW
    • VKFF1697 – 46
    • VKFF1698 – 17
    • Park to Park – 12
  • Totals:
    • VKFF1697 – 163
    • VKFF1698 – 54
      • Combined – 217
    • Park to Park – 41

Here are our 2 Operating Locations:

Chowilla Activation Map

Thanks for reading. Please click ‘Like’ and/or leave a comment.

Cheers and 73’s,

Danny VK5DW

Update 27/04/2018 – A couple more pics in from Pete VK5PE:

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.

20180421_111341

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

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