Another fun activation of Mt McDonald VK1/AC-048….This was my 3rd visit to this, one of my favourite summits in VK1. Three years ago I took the hiker’s track which was a bit of a scrub bash! For my second visit I hiked up the vehicle track. This time, having heard some reports of some track work having been completed, I decided to again take the hiker’s track from the car park as opposed to Mt McDonald Road… Wow – it is soooo much better than my first activation. Easy to navigate, good surface, clear of over-grown scrub – and I reckon it saves a good 15 minutes off the alternative. Unfortunately, I did not take photos of the track…it is just a track – but it is now a very good, easy walking track… In the image below, you can see the shortcut leading up the mountain from the car park “A” off Brindabella Road. The vehicle track “Mount McDonald Road” (vehicle access is closed to the public) is a reasonably easy 40 to 45 minute walk up from the carpark to the summit. The Cotter Dam wall can just be seen at the bottom of the picture – it is overflowing!
I reached the summit at 11am local – and set up first on 2m FM and SSB… First contact, Matt VK1MA – wonderful signal. easy 59 plus each way….. but then… crickets…. I was using my FT-817 for 2m… I could hear Matt and other chasers 57 to 59 (146.5 FM) but I was obviously not keying the radio. .
So I reverted to my trusty FT-60R and qualified on 2m-FM – I then fired up the KX-2 and had great success on 80m,40m an 20m across VK2 VK3 VK5 and ZL… ( CW.. naturally – no microphone thingy!! 🙂 )
I then went back to LOOKING at my FT-817… Prior to an activation, other than check that it is packed, I never “look” at the microphone which spends most of its time coiled up in a small pocket on the radio pack. I knew it just had to be the microphone connection – but I foolishly focused on the connection to the radio itself…. it took me longer than I would have preferred to identify the issue was the connection between the cord and actual microphone.. …
Spare me the ” Use the mic more often Bill!!” 🙂 :).. D’Oh!! Such a quick fix.. It had simply worked loose…disconnect, check, reconnect…. voila!
Simple – and a simple lesson… Never over think it!! While I was thinking $$$ in having my lovely FT-817 repaired – all it took was some basic, simple trouble shooting – something I have always done in all walks of life…….
This hobby is really no different! After solving that issue, I experienced the reward of persistence – I could hear other local operators working Andrew VK1AD who was out on Tumorrama Hill VK2/SW-036 which I activated in early May this year with no 2m contacts. I could NOT hear Andrew – I swapped between the Slim-Jim (mostly vertical) and the rectangular loop antenna which can be seen to the right of the trig in the photo above…. Then with the invaluable coordination efforts of Matt VK1MA I finally heard a weak but readable signal from Andrew 1AD on 144.2 SSB… Using the FT-817 we achieved a 51 each way S2S! Thanks Matt and thanks Andrew for persisting…a promised S2S delivered, taking the S2S total for the day to four.