18 April 2015

05 SOTA Activation: Mount Bowning VK2/ST-042 with VK1DA, VK1NAM and VK1PFMC (17 April 2015)

Mount Bowning VK2/ST-042

Andrew VK1DA and Andrew VK1NAM arranged the activation of Mount Bowning near Yass and Pete VK2PFMC and I jumped aboard. Andrew VK1NAM collected me from my house at 07:30 on Saturday and we drove down to Yass where we met up with Andrew and Pete. One of the Andrews made arrangements with the owners of the property so we were able to gain access to Mt. Bowning from Black Range Bowning road.

The weather was rotten so we took the easy option by driving to a clearing near the top in Andrew VK1DA's Landcruiser FJ. We walked the last 50 meters or so and set-up in a small tin shack. There was a lot of RF interference though, so we ended up moving the antenna further from the bush fire lookout and ended up, out in the open, trying to keep the radios covered under a tarp.

The first 30 minutes was pretty cold, wet and windy but all of us managed to snag a few contacts, with Andrew VK1DA and I working on HF and Pete and Andrew VK1NAM on Andrew's UHF HT. After a bit the weather opened up, and Andrew VK1DA broke out his paddle for some CW contacts.
Meanwhile Pete, Andrew VK1NAM and I tried some of my home brew antennas. Firstly the little 2Meter Moxon, then the 2Meter/70cm Yagi and finally a toroid coupled RG213 Magnetic Loop antenna with variable capacitor.

2 Meter Fold-up Moxon

The Moxon and Yagis worked great, with the 3-element Yagi beating  the little fold-up 2 meter Moxon by about 20dB, according to Matt VK1MA's signal report, whom we worked on both antennas within about 15 minutes. We also managed to make 2 SSB contacts with the 70cm vertical Yagi (on the same beam as, and perpendicular to the 2 meter Yagi).

Finally I broke out the 40 meter Magnetic Loop and its variable capacitor, which I lovingly installed into a snug box, with reduction drive for fine tuning... Only to be hugely disappointed. The Mag Loop may be great on RX (receive) but there on the hill it failed dismally on TX (transmit), with me trying about 50 times to complete a QSO with VK3KAB but unable to do so. We had to complete the QSO on Andrew VK1DA/2UH's 40 Meter dipole. You cannot buy experience and I learned that day that I could not depend on that Mag Loop.

How to Get There

Access to Mount Bowning is through private property. We used "Common Road" (which runs between the Hume Highway and Black Range road on the western side of Mount Bowning a.k.a. Bowning Hill) to reach the it. Please note that some mapping products, including Google Maps, refer to "Common Road" as "Black Range Bowning Road".  This road can be reached from Yass Valley Road, which is about 10 Km from the Yass MacDonalds and Caltex Service station next to the Hume Highway.

Mt. Bowning with the Hume Highway to Melbourne to its North

Special Permissions or Arrangements

One needs to pass through private property in order to reach Mt. Bowning. Access can be arranged with the property owners, whose mobile phone number is on the gate of the property. 

Summit Information

Mount Bowning’s summit is 792 meters above mean sea level and it is worth 4 SOTA activation point. Its Maidenhead locator is QF45jf.

The summit is open with great views all round. There is a bush fire lookout, and a few mobile phone installations. The S7+ RF interference on 40 meters, is certainly due to some of the equipment up there. We found it much better, towards the northern side of the hill, away from the lookout. There is a small tin shack with a door that may serve as shelter in case the weather turns for the worst, and there are also a few tallish shrubs on the northern side of the mobile installations that could also protect against wind from the South and West.

We did not walk all the way up, having used the gravel road to about 50 meters from the summit, but it is approximately 2 Km from the farm house and should take no more than 90 minutes to walk.

View to the North from Mount Bowning


Useful Links
SOTAWATCH Summit Information: http://www.sotawatch.org/summits.php?summit=VK2/ST-042

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