So in 2015 I started my first full year in the VKFF/WWFF program with an activation of The Great Sandy and an over night camping trip at Lake Cootharabra, in a tent and a 3x3m shelter we nick named the Taj Mahal. The antenna was a home brewed linked dipole, the radio was an IC-718, my home radio, it was 40 deg C and we almost died of heat exhaustion, I made 30+ contacts and it was a bit of a struggle.
This was my first camping trip in about 8 years, and the first for my partner in over 25 years, who had some bad experiences camping as a kid and refused to ever go camping again. I talked her into this trip and we have not looked back since.
Fast forward 12 months, we are again back at The Great Sandy, but the tent has been upgraded to a camper trailer, the antenna is now a Sotabeams 20,30,40,80m linked dipole, the radio is an FT-897, i now know enough morse to get by and make some contacts, I still struggle for contacts, but now im less worried about making 44, and more concerned in having fun and enjoying time with my partner and doing outdoors things, Oh and playing radio too.
My partner is into craft, sewing and all sorts of non radio things, but, being supportive of my pursuits as she is, there are some benefits and spin-offs, like this table mat with my call sign and other bits embroidered on to it so i do not forget who I am. I will have personalised shirts coming soon too.
Spur of the moment CW session while out portable. Was profitable with a number of contacts being made, I was not really prepared, its been a while since i had done any practice, had no cheat sheet, was hand holding my key because i had no double sided tickety tape to gaff it to my radio. Poor ZL1 and JA6 stations got all the “IM A NOOB GET ME OUT OF HERE”
ZL1DCO i could not for the life of me key a bloody Z –.. yeah super easy, but i was sending ..– and or -..- until i got it right had to listen 3 times to him repeating his call before it sunk into my brain and my brain make my hand do the right things.
JA6BGA hehe G was the next letter, and –. and like a real spaz i was sending .– W eventually i got why he was sending his call 3 times, over and over to my replies, 5 mins later i got my error a quick SRY and the correct call and all was done.
Worked VK3, 4, 7 ZL, JA and S5 (Slovenia) on 15m CW, and Dom in New Caledonia, ZL and some VK’s on 40m , not bad for a spur of the moment idea to get the key out. VK7SM was first, as you can see in the photo on my phone decoder. Decoder Bad Yeah, no contacts worse LOL.
Audio from the FT-897 is crap on a stick pretty much, I need to add in a good set of headphones to fix some of that, something on the todo list now. If you ever wonder how I operate in the dark, its pretty much as per the pic below, I dont look at the front of the radio, i lock the vfo and use my ears for all reports, the way it should be done, this is the only way to hear weak signals in the noise because the speaker is not front facing. The light is an LED Bat Light, the clock is in UTC, and the beer is always XXXX and cold. And since i had a tablet explode, logging is now paper and pencil.
So the results for each of the parks is as follows:
The Great Sandy: Vk2,3,4,5,6,7,8 New Zealand, Japan (33 Contacts)
Noosa: Vk1,2,3,4,5 (22 contacts)
Mt Coolum: Vk2,3,4,5, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Slovenia (36 contacts)
Finally, after 2 miserable, wet and windy days, sunrise over Lake Cootharabra. Its a lovely location, well worth the visit and camp out. It did not last long, we got rained on when we were 80% packed up, meaning setting up the camper at home to dry and clean it. Just about every camping trip we have done in the last 8 months has rained. LOL