All posts by mark@

Porta Paddle-II

I decided that I needed to replaced my morse key as I was using a full size straight key which takes up too much pack space.
So I decided ont he Porta Paddle-II kit from
I can’t say how long it took for it to arrive as I ordered it just before Christmas.

The kit comes like this P1202104You need to download the manual from americanmorse or you can just view it online which is what I did as I built it.

The paddle is not very hard to put together and it did not take me very long to get it constructed.  The key is very small as this image will show.  IMG_20160120_215419Here is a close up of the finished paddle ready for some connections. P1202109I am very happy with the finished product and can’t wait to use it for my next activation.

The kit is of a very high quality, though I did have some parts that did not fit as they were either damaged as a result of transit.  I did email Doug about this and he is more than happy to help out in these situations  which is fantastic.

Below is are a few images of the individual parts of the kit and a partially assembled paddles.

P1202107 P1202108

7el 144MHz LN Loop Feed Array (LFA )

Credit for the antenna design goes to G0KSC Sometime ago I built a 144MHz antenna but it proved to be ineffective.  After a lot of research I decided to build a LFA.


6 x 3/8″ Stauff mounts
3 x 1/2″ Stauff mounts
6meters of 3/8″ aluminum tube
2meters of 1/2″ aluminum tube
3meters of 25.4  RHS tube (from Bunnings)
100mm x 160mm x 6mm aluminum (mounting plate)
Tube bender (ebay)
Pipe cutting tool
Right angle aluminum


Finding some of the parts was somewhat of a challenge.  I bought the aluminum from NBS Antennas as they were able to supply 1/2″ and 3/8″ tube.  Their tube 3/8″ fits nicely into the 1/2″ tube.
Mounting the aluminum onto the boom was another challenge too.  You could order mounts from G0KSC like I did and get the wrong mounts.  No point sending them back either.  I managed to find a place in Canberra that supplies the Stauff mounts.  These mounts are used for hydraulic oil lines.


I used the dimensions as per for the directors and the reflector.  The driven elements were another matter.


IMG_20150809_154511 IMG_20150809_154515 IMG_20150823_113826 IMG_20150823_113815 IMG_20150822_114345 IMG_20150822_114337


Six Meter Yagi

Al (VK1RX) put me onto this antenna designed by VK3DIP (Paul).  The link to his page is here
I built mine out of 10mm aluminum tube from Bunnings and I had a 3m length  of 25 x 25mm rhs which I used for the boom.
I will post images of the element mounts at a later stage.  Below are the SWR results.  I am pretty happy with them.
swr_2-6m_yagi swr_1-6m_yagi

This is a picture from the LFA I am currently working on but the element mounts are the same.
IMG_20150809_154511 IMG_20150809_154515


VK2/SW-018 Mt Bramina

Visit number 2 18 April 2015.
Getting to Mt Bramina is along Brindabella Road and then left down Boundary Road.  In the image below there are two possible roads to take.  At the time of the second access we traveled down  boundary road taking the left access as seen on the image.  There is a possibility that this road could have a gate sometime in the future.  This also is the most direct route to Mount Bramina.  Marked at Vehicle Track 7 is where we parked for the walk to the summit.

vk2-sw-018-accessThere is an alternative route to Vehicle Track 7 via Powerline Road.  Powerline road is steep and it does require a 4 wheel drive vehicle.  This can be seen below in the earlier images from recon trip.

The following image shows the path that we took to get to the summit.  According to the maps and the GPS there should have been either a road or a track.  We looked for it and there is nothing.  Not sure if this could have been or might have been a road but its not there.vk2-sw-018-walkHere are some pictures of the walk and where we activated from.  Been to some difficult locations with SOTA but on this trip it really was not the best day for a unique summit activation.


The first time we went to Mt Bramina we had to call it off as Andrew had a sore foot.  So we used this trip as a recon.
We went up powerline road the first time as we were not sure about any locked gates.  This approach requires a 4WD as it is  steep and the track is quite worn.
Looking back down the track

We eventually came back (18 April 2015) on a wet and overcast day.
This time we took a more direct route to the where we were going to park.  The road conditions when wet is difficult as the vehicle will slide around the track.  We had to take it slowly as a result.

Trackuino APRS

So for a while I have been trying to build an APRS for one of my old Yaesu Ft209r’s.  This has been a project for about 2 months now.  I am hoping to make more  with different SSID’s.  One for the SOTA truck and one for when walking to the summit.

Here are a few images of the prototype.

aprs_2 aprs_1This work has been sourced from a number of places.
APRS tracker “Trackuino”
Never Hide by SV1OAN
This is the bread  board  overlay

aprs_breadTesting so far has been pretty good VK1EM-9

VK2/SM-049 MT Tumanang

VK2MWP and I traveled to MT Tumanang VK2/SM-049 on Saturday 22 November.

This was the first approach to the summit from VK2/ST-001 via Cowangerong  Fire trail by myself.  VK1RX attempted this earlier this year but turned back due to poor road/track conditions.

On the day the drive was uneventful and quite enjoyable.  The terrain changes a bit and it reminds of me a little of South Black range in places.

Here is the track we took from Captains Flat road.to_vk2_sm049

This is the elevation profile from Captains Flat Road.


Along the road there were a number of downed trees.  Lucky enough for us they had been cut up just enough for us to pass.


As you can see from the pictures some of the clearance was close.

CIMG1904 CIMG1905I didn’t think the road was too rough, actually the fire trail is in pretty good condition.  The following pictures show the average condtion of the road.

CIMG1894 CIMG1890The next pictures show the type of terrain to expect heading to the summit.


The Trig point was pretty easy to find too.CIMG1884Got to say this was on of the better summits i have been to recently.

This is VK2/ST-001 MT Cowangerong on the way back.

CIMG1910 CIMG1909My next trip to MT Tumanang will include MT Cowangerong  during the winter time as a two summit activation.


VK1/AC-027 Honeysuckle Mountain

Activation date 27 Sep 2014
I had planned to activate this summit and VK1/AC-027 in the same day.   So after I finished AC-026 I drove the short drive to the Honeysuckle car park.  Put the pack on and started out to the summit.

I started  this at just before 10 am and I got some nice pictures of the wildlife grazing in the warm morning sun.

IMG_20140927_094850 IMG_20140927_094927I took a different approach to the management  fire trail.  This ended up being a little longer.


I made my way down one of the tracks and took a picture of AC-027.  It looks pretty steep and quite high as well.


I ended up going to the water tanks that has been mentioned by VK1NAM  Andrew.  This was my first mistake.  I had planned taking Andrew’s track back from the summit and I was going to use that to go to the summit.  Well the night before I changed it back to Andrew’s original path up, ouch.  The going was very slow and difficult.  To make matters worse I came very close to  standing on a black snake.  Got to say that got the heart rate going just a little too much.

When I did eventually get to the activation zone I was able to setup quite well.  I got  a call from VK1MA to see if  I was about.  He was able to provide a spot for me and let me  know where VK2WMP was.

I could also hear VK1FAAS (Simon) calling on 2m.  I called back but I was not heard by him.  I also made contact with VK1NAM (Andrew) on the handheld for a 2m contact.

Matt spotted my for my activation and the pileup started.  I had 3 S2S contacts, VK2WMP, VK1FASS, and VK1DI.  I was being affected by some QSB but most reports were very good.

I  started my pack up and managed to break my squid pole, not happy but these things happen.  I took Andrew’s advise  about the best way to head back down.  I took the path I should have used and I had a much better time coming back down.  There is some thick regrowth but this was not  as bad  as the climb  in.

VK1/AC-026 Booroomba Rocks

This is my first trip to summit AC-026.  I arrived at the car park before 7am which meant I  was running a little early.  There is a very well formed walking track to the top of Booroomba Rocks.  The is a rock climbing area that must be popular because I passed a number of climbers heading to the summit on my way down.

This would have to be on of the biggest  rocks I have ever seen while walking around doing activations.


It took me just under 50 minutes to get to the activation zone.  I started calling just after 8am and  I was rewarded with a few chasers but nothing like I would normally expect.  I guess that’s what you get when you post a time and get there an hour and a half early.  Though I must say that this is a  pretty good summit to work from.  I found a good spot to put up my squid pole.


This was not one of my best activations due to the lack of chasers.

I packed up and headed back down not long before 9am.  The trip down was just as quick as the trip up.  This is a must do activation as it  is not to difficult to get to.  It is steep but nothing like some of the other summits that are out there.


Some pictures from the summit.

IMG_20140927_075805 IMG_20140927_075802 IMG_20140927_075808

VK2/ST-009 MT Palerang

Date 13/9/2014

We arrived just before  day change and the conditions weren’t the best.  The summit was shroud in cloud and everything was pretty damp.

Before we could get the squid pole up turned on Andrew’s HT and we could hear Simon (VK1FAAS).  We put out a few calls to Simon and we went unheard.  Simon was strong to us around a 5/8 to a 5/9.  We missed out on a summit to summit, I guess there is always next time.

We setup and Andrew (VK2MWP) made 4 quick contacts and then I took over for a quick 5 contacts.  We decided that the conditions at the summits were not the best and we quickly packed our gear up.

Below are the gps altitude tracks elevations from the walk up and back.

descent ascent