19 April 2015

08 SOTA Activation: One Tree Hill VK1/AC-035

One Tree Hill VK1/AC-035 (18 April 2015)

One Tree Hill is my local SOTA summit and only about 5 km away from me as the crow flies. I wanted to go out for a quick summit activation and get back because I had an idea that I wanted to work out (whenever I rotate the Squid Pole to orient the directional Moxon, my Dipole Antenna would rotate along with it, being tied to the top of the Squid Pole, snagging and winding up - a bit of a hassle. So I had an idea to sort that out, but more about it later.). I therefore thought (but not very deeply...) that my nearest summit would give me a summit activation and some time to work this idea out at home. I completely forgot about the 8.4 Km return walk from Hoskins Street to the Summit and back. What was intended to be a 2 hour affair turned into at least 4.5 hours but it was great...I love One Tree Hill and I have not been up there in a while.

View to the South from 1 Tree Hill with Mount Majura and Mount Ainslie in the background.

View to the South-West with Black Mountain, Mount Taylor and Mount Stromlo in the background.

How to Get There

Access to the summit is via a 4.2 Km footpath that starts out at the corner of Hoskins and Hall Streets in Hall. Hoskins street connects to Victoria Street which in turn connects to the Barton Highway.

Access to One Tree Hill from Hoskins and Hall Streets, Hall.
 The footpath is unsealed but the last hundred meters to the summit has been improved: TAMS installed compacted earth steps to make access easier. There are a few small cattle grids to get over along the way but these have been done really well, most people won't have any hassles to get to the top.

The start of the Train to One Tree Hill Summit

 There is one fork in the path where you should take the left path up the hill. The right path continues on to Forde.

Take the left path to reach the summit.

Special Permissions or Arrangements

None required. Access is via the public Canberra Centenary Trail. Please note that this footpath forms part of the Northern Link to Forde (Hall Village to Forde), which  is closed during Total Fire Bans.

Summit Information

One Tree Hill’s summit is 876 meters above mean sea level and it is worth 1 SOTA activation point. Its Maidenhead locator is QF44nu. There is a bush fire lookout on the other side of the fence (on private property). TAMS has installed a nice Canberra Centenary Trail marker and sturdy wood benches.

There is no shelter on the summit and the sun and wind could be a nuisance.

I set up my squid pole against the northern fence, lashing it to a fence pole with bungee cords, running the dipole cords to the gate on the one side and the fence on the other. Plenty of options for set-up.

Ham Shack on One Tree Hill

Contacts Made

Andrew VK1NAM was on Gourock VK2/ST-012 and we had a good summit to summit on 40 meters SSB and 2 meters FM that bagged me an extra 6 points. Thank you Andrew!  I had good contacts with a few regular Chasers in VK1, VK2 and VK3, but experienced some QSB (signal fading) towards the end.

Just before I signed off, I got a call from Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH who proposed that we try 2 meters FM. I switched to the front connector on the FT817 and got a pretty poor signal report from Andrew who was not too far away in Yass. Upon closer inspection I realised that the little 2M Moxon was pointing towards Canberra, and away from Yass.

This, and the horizontal orientation of the Moxon was the reason for the poor signal report. When I had it pointing in the direction of Yass, Andrew's signal report increased from a 5/4 to a 5/8. Although on-air signal reports cannot be treated as scientific measurements, it was interesting to find that by rotating the Moxon through 180 degrees, I could improve the signal report by an apparent 4 S-points (equivalent to at most 24 dB), suggesting that the Moxon has a front to back ratio of at least a few dB.

Pete VK2FPMC joined in and we did a few experiments where I dropped power levels from 5 watt to 2.5 watt, 1 watt and 0.5 watt, attempting each time to make contact to see what effect it had on the QSO (communication). I could read Pete and Andrew on all but 0.5 watt. I think I missed Andrew VK1DA on the 0.5 watt over because he was also experimenting with his handy talkie's antenna orientation at the same time. He later said that he could null out my horizontally polarized signal completely if his HT Antenna was perfectly vertical.

While this was going on, I heard Andrew VK1NAM call me with a "Summit to Summit". He was behind me and I was able to work him with the rear of the Moxon now pointing towards him. We completed the contact and he gave me a 5/1 signal report - not bad for a 90 degree polarization shift and only 1 watt!

In the picture below you can see that Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH was 37Km to my NNW whereas Andrew VK1NAM was 63 Km to my SW.

Gourock, One Tree Hill and Yass (Courtesy of Garmin Basecamp, OzTopo and Sotamaps)

Thanks again to every Chaser who came up for a contact!

Useful Links

SOTAWATCH Summit Information: http://www.sotawatch.org/summits.php?summit=VK1/AC-035
Canberra Centenary Trail: TAMS Centenary Trail with maps
TAMS Map for Section 3 of the Centenary Trail: Section 3 Northern Border Campsite to Hall Village

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