Oceania DX SSB Contest 2018 – AREG Portable

Once again the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group entered the Oceania DX Contest from a portable station established on the ranges ~100km north of Adelaide. The group established a DX capable HF station with verticals on 160/80/40m and beams+verticals on 20/15/10m at full legal power (400W) with the explicit aims of:

  • experimenting with antennas and antenna systems
  • training operators in contesting
  • experimenting with filtering and transceiver configurations

The planning for the event starts several months out with a planning night held back in the club rooms. Each band is assigned a captain who leads the group responsible for that particular station. All up about 20 members are involved in some way in the design, construction and operation of the multi-multi portable station.

Propagation and Station Design Night

Low Band Station Development

Testing the 80m vertical

Each year a new part of the system is constructed. This years major advancements occurred firstly with the low band station lead by Steve VK5SFA and Grant VK5GR (160/80m). New vertical antennas were designed and tested, with the 80m antenna being trialed during the Trans Tasman Low Band Challenge contest in July. 80m was based on a folded 1/4 wave vertical monopole with elevated radials derived from a modified crankIR vertical.

The 160m antenna was based on a capacity hat loaded 17m vertical (derived from designs by DJ0IP). After several working bees Steve gathered a group together and staged a test and tune day in a local park in Adelaide a few weeks before the event.

The addition of these antennas this year replaced the dipoles used last year. The intention from moving to verticals was to lower the angle of radiation, thus (hopefully) improving our chances for DX. The low band station was then ready for action.

High Band Station Upgrades

On the high band station Matt VK5ZM was scrambling to complete the design of the antenna switching network for the SO2R (Single Operator 2 Radio) 20/15/10m station. This system is unique in that it manages the antenna switching between both bands and radios to enable one operator to call CQ on two bands at the same time. Last year was the first time “the beast” as it is known was tried. This year the rest of the automation needed to be completed with the antenna selection and switching boards. Matt worked tirelessly to complete the system integration in time.

After all the preparations we were ready for the contest weekend.

Day 1 – Friday – Construction begins

With a virgin site to occupy, members started out early from Adelaide on the Friday. The first antenna to make it into the air was the 80m vertical, ready by about 11am. Oly VK5XDX, Steve VK5SFA, Grant VK5GR and Mark VK5QI all helped getting the first array into the air. Team 2 then arrived and started on the 40m antennas while Team 1 started on 160m. Lead by Andy VK5AKH, the 40m team included Peter VK5KX, Gerard VK5ZCV, Paul VK5PH and Scott VK5TST (who also set up the camp kitchen).

80m vertical

The 40m team got cracking and in short order got their first antenna in the air as well, which was an inverted V intended for domestic contacts (much higher angle of radiation).

40m inverted V (for domestic contacts)

While the inverted V went up work progressed preparing to raise the 160m antenna. This was the first trial of the weekend. As the antenna was raised, the top 7m section which was made from a 9m squid pole failed. The top hat wires were proving to be quite heavy and hard to control as the tower was raised using a temporary derrick.

160m Erection Failure No.1 (17m version)

Fortunately the squid pole wasn’t damaged and we were able to lower the array and reset for a second try. Unfortunately Murphy had invaded the site and the next 3 attempts didn’t go any better, with the 4th try seeing the demise of the squid pole as it shattered. The moral of the story was that Squid poles are just not sturdy enough for this application,and the capacity hat wires should be made of lighter materials.

160m top hat loaded vertical (12m version)

Facing the prospect of no 160m antenna at all, the team hit upon a plan to put up a 12m version of the antenna, and compensate with the antenna matching unit. Finally on the 5th attempt with the light failing the antenna and its 700m worth of radials came into resonance with a good VSWR. Time would tell whether it would radiate well the next night as the contest started.

Team 2 on 40m meanwhile was having more luck. Their second antenna was an elevated feed 40m quarter-wave vertical with elevated radials. After realizing a couple of components of the feed system had been left behind, some bush mechanics were performed and the antenna climbed into the sky.

Makeshift 40m feed point mounts

40m vertical

The WIFI coax relay switch was installed and the LMR400 feeders for both 160 and 40m were run nearly 200m back to the operating hut.

Finally, the 40m station was setup and the team began test contacts during Friday night using a ICOM IC7610 and SPE 1.3KFA linear followed by a Low Band Systems 1500W filter.

Andy VK5AKH driving 40m

Compared the last year we were back on schedule with all antennas in the air for 160-40m by the end of day 1.

Day 2 – Saturday – Construction and Contest Start

Saturday saw more of the construction crew arrive and work start on the high band station as well as loading all of the radios into the operating cabin. Matt VK5ZM arrived with his done Daniel VK5FDNA and then the team was joined by Darin VK5IX and Kim VK5FJ who bolstered the crew building the high band station. By now there are people everywhere (so if I have missed someone please let me know so I can add you). By lunchtime the last of the antennas were deployed with the verticals setup for 21 and 28MHz and the tri-band spider beam was in the air for 20/15/10m. The antenna combining and switching network was also established.

Rigging the Spiderbeam

10/15/20m Spider Beam with 80m and the microwave site in the background

10 and 15m verticals – phased with the Spiderbeam

To support the station, a tent city was assembled providing sleeping quarters for the radio crew. Site logistics were managed and the kitchen staffed by Scott VK5TST. A key aspect of the event is to keep the team well caffeinated and fed. Assisted by Sharon VK5FSAW who shopped and planned the menu, Scott kept everyone plied with everything their stomachs desired.

Scott making “GOOOOD” Coffee

So far this year the team had been blessed with excellent weather as well. Unlike last year when the station was built with 30-40knot winds howling over the hills, it was mostly calm this year making construction much easier.

Finally, as the start time approached, the finishing touches were put on the station and facilities. 40/80 and 160m opened up on queue at 0800z and the contest began.

Murphy however decided to show his hand again, this time around the high band station. PTT switching issues were uncovered at the last minute and unfortunately the TR switching was damaged in one of the SO2R station amplifiers. Matt VK5ZM struggled on but in the end the last minute rush to complete the development of the antenna switching network the preceding week meant that there just wasn’t enough time to debug the rest of the SO2R station. About 30 minutes into the contest the sad decision was made to demote it to a single radio. This delayed activating the 20m station by about an hour. None the less, once all was ready away we went with 3 active operating positions across 4 bands (with manual switching on 80/160m).

Night fell, dinner was served and everyone settled into the routine of calling CQ. Oly, who was a new contester in the team quickly proved he was a machine on both the 160/80 and the 20m station while a steady crew manned 40m.

VK5ARG by night

Through the night the score slowly built with the effort invested in the low band station in particular raking in points, although not so many multipliers. 20m proved as always to be the multiplier gathering band. Even so, the following map shows the reach achieved by the 160/80m station:

80m and 160m contacts

Grant VK5GR driving 80m with Matt VK5ZM working on the SO2R in the background

Kim VK5FJ Driving 160/80m

40m meanwhile was powering along as well with lots of traffic from Europe as well as a reasonable amount from North America. Nighttime on 40m was hard going however when the band filled with a huge number of YB contest stations. This should have been a blessing, but obviously their noise floor was such that they couldn’t hear our 400W despite our 5×9 copy of them.

40m Contacts

As the night wore on, 80m was hit by another curse. Two of the dreaded northern radar stations appeared, one taking out 3720-3780 and another taking 3790-3850. For a while we had a 10kHz gap in which to eek out contacts before one of the radars moved down to fill it – thus putting an end to any aspirations of working DX on 80m.

20m meanwhile powered on into the night before giving up on Short Path Europe around midnight. At this point, we entered the “long dark teatime of the soul” in contesting – the graveyard shift where we called incessantly but made little progress. Little did we know that with sunrise things were about to get much worst.

Day 3 – Sunday Morning

The team had been watching the solar forecasts for the preceding couple of days and had reached the point where we were dreading what would happen on Sunday. Sure enough, just when we didn’t want them to, the predictions came true with a geomagnetic storm starting on the daylight side of the planet over the Pacific. We watched as the T index dived lower and lower, creeping across the equator and rendering our North American and later our Asian and European (LP) paths useless.

20, 15 and 10m contacts

Even contact with Japan was problematic. Then the real rub set in. We would call JA stations we could hear, but they would answer with us saying “Sorry no contact JA Only!”. There was a JA domestic contest on and they did not want to give us a QSO! We tried repeatedly Sunday morning on 20m and occasionally on 15m but to no avail. Robbed of our one great hope for prefix multipliers in JA, plus no North American short path (and only a fleeting 20 minute long path NA opening) our score progressed along at a glacial pace.

In the face of adversity we soldiered on and took the time to train some new operators. 11 Year old Daniel VK5FDNA, who had only just qualified for his foundation license a few weeks before, was coached through a couple of contacts with his dad Matt VK5ZM.

VK5FDNA learning how to drive the station from dad (VK5ZM)

Meanwhile we also had Gerard VK5ZCV get some practice in as well. It was clear we weren’t going to set any records this year so we  decided to use the time we had well, sowing the seeds for next year.

We also had some visitors to the site during Sunday with Ben VK5BB and Olga VK5FOLG making the trip up for a look as did Paul VK5PH. Ady (newly licensed as VK5FADE) brought his family along to see what it was that we had been talking about at the club over the past couple of months. It was great to see some new faces looking to discover what the contest station and scene was all about.

Later in the afternoon 40m came back to life and we were able to put a few more EU and South American stations in the log.

Mark VK5QI Driving 40m

Finally as the contest drew to a close, it seemed on 20m at least as though we ran out of stations to work. The signals we could hear were all in the log. We had even stooped so low as to beg a contact from a couple of VK nets. In the end we could only muster less than half our score from 2017. Given the amount of effort that went in to building the station, a bit of a disappointing result, however a result none the less.

So, as the sun set over the site, the station wound down. The team then retired to the meals area for a baked potato feast with all the trimmings.

Sunset from Koch’s Hill

After dinner quite a few headed for home and a comfortable bed while the die hards remained on site to work some more DX.

Day 4 – Tear Down

The next morning fresh troops arrived from Adelaide, and the process of packing up began. Our luck with the weather finally failed us with winds approaching 40 knots ripping over the site. None the less, timed between gusts, all the antennas were safely lowered to the ground and carefully packed back into their cases and bags for transport home.

What had taken 2 days to build was secured on trailers and ready to roll in under 5 hours. The remains of the team then headed to Kapunda Bakery for lunch before dispersing back to our home QTHs ready to think about 2019.

Thank You!

The contest band captains couldn’t have done it without all of the help received from members of the club. So in no particular order, we would like to thank the following:

VK5TST, VK5XDX, VK5SFA, VK5GR, VK5AKH, VK5QI, VK5FJ, VK5ZM, VK5FDNA, VK5KX, VK5ZCV, VK5PH, VK5IX, VK5FSAW who all helped design, construct, provide logistics in terms of food and sanitation, man the station on air and then tear down VK5ARG for 2018! (and apologies if I have missed someone). It is a huge team effort each year and this year was no exception.

OCDX Contest Low Band Antenna Test & Tune Day

The Low Band station team for the AREG OCDX effort this year are planning a working bee this Sunday (Sept 23rd) starting at 1pm. The aim is to erect, tune and test the 160m vertical that we plan on using for the contest. We will be using the vacant paddock on Lyons Road in Dernancourt just west of the Hope Valley reservoir (opposite the community hall).

If you would like to come and help, offer words of encouragement or go for a walk laying 700m of radials out, you would be most welcome. As the wavelength suggests, everything is big at 160m. The vertical will be 17m tall and have 16x40m ground radials so it will take a bit to get it in the air. Any help will be welcome.

We also plan on doing a verification test of the 80m vertical as well time permitting.


Update: 24th September – we had the antenna in the air on Sunday after a couple of mechanical hiccups. Tuning was proving a little complicated and an alternate matching network is being drawn up to overcome this.

Here are some photos from the tune and test day. A big thanks to everyone who came along and helped (VK5FGRY, VK5FO, VK5RR, VK5TST, VK5XDX, VK5SL, VK5GR, VK5SFA, VK5ZAR).

VK5ARG RD Contest Results 2018 – 1st Place Multi-One

The Remembrance Day Contest Results are out for 2018 and we are pleased to announce that VK5ARG scored first place this year in the Multi-One category with 875 points. Thank you team for all your efforts in the freezing conditions and we look forward to running it again in 2019! A special thanks also to Paul VK5PH who let us use his hills QTH for the event.

AREG and the WIA RD Contest 2018

RD Trophy

The Remembrance Day Contest 2018 has come and gone. This year AREG put it’s club station on the air from a new location thanks to Paul VK5PH and his new hills retreat. Just 20 minutes into the Adelaide Hills, this new location was absolutely RF quiet and had an excellent HF takeoff angle in almost every direction. At 548m ASL, it was only 150m below Mt Lofty (the highest peak in the southern Mt Lofty Ranges).

The operation was led by Grant VK5GR who supplied the station, with assistance from Andrew VK5AKH who supplied the main generator and AC power grid. Quite a few AREG club members came up to the site and helped construct the station, as well as Paul,  Gerard VK5ZQV and Paris VK5FPAR from AHARS.

The core operating team consisted of Theo VK5MTM, Andrew VK5AKH, Grant VK5GR, Mark VK5QI, Chris VK5FR, Matt VK5ZM and Paul VK5PH. Construction assistance was provided by Kym VK5FJ, Dennis VK5FDEN and Irene with catering provided by Sharon VK5FSAW. It was  great to see so many members braving the freezing conditions to make their way up the mountain to support the event. Special thanks to Andrew and Mark who also took on towing the rented port-a-loo up to the site.


Preparations began the week before when the first antenna was erected and tested. Paul, Gerard, Mark and Grant erected the 80/40m crossed inverted V antenna and tuned it in horrific wind conditions the previous Saturday (with winds gusting at 50-70km/h). That feat achieved meant that the following weekend things would go more smoothly (or so we thought).

The Friday night before the event saw Chris VK5FR and Grant VK5GR pack the station trailer ready for a 6.30am departure the next day. A huge thanks to Chris for his help.

On Saturday VK5GR, VK5FSAW and their daughter headed out along with VK5QI, VK5FR, VK5MTM, VK5ZQV and VK5PH and arrived on site around 7.30am. The first order of business was to erect the pre-tuned 40/80 dipoles into the air and then build the station. The weather hadn’t improved much over the previous week with conditions still somewhat blustery with rain and biting cold thrown in for good measure.

80/40m crossed inverted V dipoles on a 10m fibre glass mast

Once 40 and 80m was complete, the team turned their attention to the 160m antenna. This antenna was the same one VK5GR took to Vanuatu earlier in the year (that at the time he was able to put up single handed). This time, with the wind, rain, slush, mud and cold it was a very different prospect with numerous false starts and growing frustration as we raced against the clock and the weather. After about 90 minutes the first attempt was shelved as the weather closed in. The crew retreated inside the main shed to complete the setup of the station and get ready at least for 40/80 at the start of the contest. The team planned on returning to the 160m antenna project in the afternoon once the contest was running.

By a fortuitous mis-calculation, the team thought it started at 11.30am local and had completed preparations by 11.00am. This was fortunate as then the heavens opened. Down came the hail and sleet, up came the wind and boom went the thunder as antennas were hastily unplugged. It was as though someone didn’t like the teams presence on the hill. The temperature dropped even lower reaching 2 degrees Celsius at midday and the wind chill climbed. The thunder passed by 11.20am so cautiously the antennas were reconnected, only to be met with S7-9 hail static. Finally the worst of the weather passed and things settled down for the expected start at 11.30am. The clock clicked over and VK5ARG started calling CQ – only to see no one else on the band. A hastily recheck of the rules and the mistake was realized. Phew – three was another hour available to further preparations around the site.

The final bugs were worked out of the software system and some tidy up completed before finally opening on time at 0300z (12:30pm).

Mark VK5QI operating VK5ARG

By 0500z (2.30pm) the weather cleared enough that a second attempt at 160m was made. It has to be said that if it wasn’t for the calm arrival of Kim VK5FJ, VK5ARG may not have been heard on top band this contest! Finally, however, the inverted L was rasied into the air and tuned successfully. VK5GR was very happy to see it tune up with a 1.4:1 VSWR around 1840kHz with about 40kHz of bandwidth. It later was proved to work extremely well despite the horrible QRN (storm static) that was to descend across the low bands later that night (due to a large thunderstorm in the Tasman sea).

160m Inverted L built on a 12m Spiderbeam fibre glass pole (8x25m radials)

Back a the operating table, the station itself consisted of an Electaft K3S Transceiver, with a KPA500 Linear and a KAT500 tuner (needed for the CW section of 80m). The logging and CW keying was provided using N1MM software with a Microham Keyer II. All up a very capable station (with one niggle with a SW fault with the voice keyer on the K3S which is being investigated further).

As night fell, Paul VK5PH fired up the BBQ and all the operators were treated to a great meal thanks to the catering planning and shopping of Sharon VK5FSAW. Operators kept rotating to keep everyone fresh and the contacts rolled into the logs. Since the plan was to run for the full 24hrs, Paul VK5PH took the first shift in the graveyard zone (2200pm-0300am). Grant and Andrew then took over for 0300-0700 just as the temperature fell even further…

Overall, the bulk of the contacts were made on 160 and 80m at night and 40m during the day, with a small number of VK6 and VK4 stations on 20m. Nothing was seen on 15 or 10m despite repeated spot checks and the odd CQ call. None the less, the tally continued to rise, with a final score of over 530 contacts and 880 points. Most importantly, everyone who came had a lot of fun, despite the cold temperatures and the weather.

Finally, a big thank you to everyone from AREG and AHARS who participated and in particular a huge thank you to all of the amateurs across Australia and New Zealand who took part! VK5ARG looks forward to running in the RD Contest yet again in 2019!

(Photos thanks to Mark VK5QI)

VK5ARG in the Trans-Tasman Low Band Challenge Contest 2018

Another TT-Lowband contest has come and gone and this year AREG has set a new personal best score! A huge thanks to everyone who came along and operated, helped set up or sat in the bleechers cheering us on. A huge thanks to Steve VK5SFA who allowed us to setup a 3 seat Multi-Multi station in his home covering all three bands. Steve also fed the team (the BBQ was excellent) and kept us plied with copious quantities of coffee! The unofficial final score was 5360 points for 280 QSOs over the 6 hour event. We now eagerly await the official results.

The Station

The setup consisted of the following:

160m – 2 turn Magnetic Loop Antenna (which is barely 5kHz wide and difficult to tune in hunt and peck mode – much easier when we were running)

80m – we had a choice of 2 antennas – an Inverted V with it’s apex at ~9m above ground as an NVIS antenna and an 80m monopole which worked better for the longer paths such as ZL.

40m – we had a rotatory dipole as part of Steve’s SteppIR  Beam

The transceivers this time it was an all ICOM affair with:

An IC7600 and SPE-1.3KFA Amp on 40m,

An IC7610 and Elecraft KPA500 on 80m

An IC7700 and an AMCOM1000 on 160m

All stations were running 400W PEP simultaneously thanks to a set of 500W rated filters from Low Band Systems loaned to us by Peter VK5KX (thanks Pete!).

The Team

We had a great turnout from the club with lots of people contributing. Thanks must be given to Grant VK5GR, Mark VK5QI and Andrew VK5AKH who together with Steve provided the station equipment. Chris VK5FR also helped with installation on the day. We were also visited by Ben VK5BB and Olga VK5FOLG whom we are trying to recruit as future contest operators – great to see you drop by!

The operating team then consisted of Theo VK5MTM, Darin VK5IX, Steve VK5SFA, Grant VK5GR, Mark VK5QI, Andrew VK5AKH. Between the 6 of us we kept all three stations manned running CW and SSB for the full 6 hours – a fantastic result.

We also had Matthew VK5ZM and his son Daniel along with Darin’s son Cameron and Steve’s wife Linda as the cheer squad. It was all most pleasant being able to sit in the lounge chairs with the contestors going hard at it all around us. A fantastic atmosphere and a great night.

The Contest

So how did it go? 80m was the stand out band of the evening with it generating the majority of the contacts. 40m was great early on but once the sun set across the contest area the band filled up with stations from across the Pacific with the hum of several other contests running at the same time. Unfortunately the TT Low Band contest doesn’t allow you to log calls from other than VK & ZL so 40m became very hard going later in the evening. 160m saw a steady stream of signals throughout the night and was a lot of fun, although challenging to work search and pounce as it would take 2-3 minutes to change even 5kHz in frequency to call someone new on SSB.

All up the following map tells the tale of where we managed to work in the contest

Map processed through tools.adventureradio.de/analyzer/

Conclusion

Overall it was a great night and this year has cemented this as a regular fixture in the club’s contesting calendar! We now eagerly look forward to the results to see how we did!

VK5ARG on the air OCDX Contest 2017

The Oceania SSB DX Contest is over for another year, and AREG again participated in the Multi-Multi category. The team set the bar very high for themselves this year with a new site and new antennas and equipment to try out. It has taken 4 months of construction work (since the Australian Contesting Technical College event held in May) but the results were worth it, with the club improving over our previous all time best scores. Hats off to the many members of AREG who contributed to this effort.

YearScoreCategoryOperating Location
20171,907,423Multi-MultiKoch Hill
20161,388,251Multi-MultiYounghusband
20151,662,552Multi-MultiPara Wirra
2014959,616Multi-OneYounghusband
20131,073,252Multi-TwoYounghusband

(Video by Gary VK5FGRY of activity inside the main station hut)

It was all made possible by Steve VK5SFA who negotiated access to the new site on behalf of the club at a dis-used microwave site ~70km north of Adelaide. Ordinarily we would have operated from Para Wirra conservation park but it wasnt available this year. Having seen what this site can do on HF now with noise and take off angles I suspect we have found a new home for AREG Club contesting

Theo VK5MTM has made the following summary video of what we ran at the station which gives a very good idea of what was going on (and the conditions we faced with the wind on site).

Band by band we had the following

160/80m – Led by Grant VK5GR and Steve VK5SFA

1x Elecraft K3 Transceiver + KPA500 Amplifier + KAT500 ATU
1x Dual-Band 80/160m dipole at 25m oriented NE/SW towards North America (resonant on 3790kHz/1850kHz)
1x Tri-Band 40/80/160m Trapped dipole at 27m oriented NW/SE towards Europe (resonant nearer 3640kHz and mis-behaving at 160m likely due to the microwave tower right next to it).

40m – Led by Andrew VK5AKH

1x Icom IC7600 + Acom 1000 Amplifier
1x Elevated feed 1/4 wavelength vertical (19m high to the top)
1x Inverted V (10m high for domestic NVIS coverage)

Both antennas were switchable via a remote WiFi link and were down range 250m to provide some isolation to the rest of the stations. Mark VK5QI provided the WiFi switching control while Andrew achieved a fantastic feat of engineering standing up a 6m mast with another 14m mast on top of it to support the 40m antenna.

20m – Led by Darin VK5IX & Peter VK5KX

1x Elecraft K3 Transceiver + Elecraft KPA500 Amplifier
1x 20m Monoband 3 element SpiderBeam
1x 20m Elevated Feed 1/4 wave vertical (designed by Steve VK5SFA)

Darin coordinated the construction of this station and allowed others to do much of the operating. We had some spectacular openings on 20m particularly short path in the evening hours to Europe with this setup with S9++ reports being received from Switzerland.

15m & 10m SO2R – Led by Matt VK5ZM and Peter VK5KX

2x Elecraft K3 Tranceivers + 2x KPA500 Amplifiers
1x MicroHam MK2R+ SO2R Controller
3x 25A SMPS PSU’s
2x RFSpace SDR’s (SDR-IQ & CloudIQ)
3x HP i7 SFF PC’s & 24″ Monitors
3x StackMatch (designed VK5ZM)
1x 6×2 Crossbar Remote antenna switching matrix (designed VK5ZM)
1x Low Band Systems 20/15/10m Triplexer
3x Low Band System 500W Filters
1x Tri-Band 20/15/10m SpiderBeam + Alpha Spid rotator + 7.5m pump-up mast
1x 15m elevated feed vertical (by VK5SFA) + 1x 10m elevated feed vertical (BudiPole)

This station would not have been possible without borrowing equipment or assistance from the following AREG members; Chris VK5CP, Peter VK5KX, Matt VK5ZM, Scott VK5TST, Steve VK5SFA & Andrew VK5XFG.

This was by far the most complicated of all of the stations, and the most fun as you can see in the following video showing the “Dueling CQ” call pattern to have one operator run both 15 and 10m simultaneously.

Everyone wanted a turn at running what can best be described as “The Beast”. You certainly had to have your wits about you when operating it. The addition of antenna control where combinations of beam, vertical or both in parallel on both 15m & 10m also added additional spice.

Once you got the hang of it however, it was a lot of fun and helped keep VK5ARG visible and active on both 15m & 10m. A more detailed description of the setup will be on Matt VK5ZM’s personal blog soon.

On top of all of the radio activities was the logistics of supporting the nearly 20 person team on top of a very exposed hilltop for 4 days.

The first setup day was Friday before the contest. On site we battled 20-30 knot winds all day over very rocky terrain. To offset the hardships, Scott VK5TST volunteered to lead the camp logistics, and in conjunction with Sharon VK5FSAW (offsite) undertook the catering and most importantly the coffee supply role (the team consumed over 1.5kg of coffee beans over the weekend). Portable toilets, tents, cooking facilities and most importantly on Sunday a TV viewing area to watch the Bathurst 1000 motor race (an iconic race on the Australian motorsport calendar) were all part of Scott’s domain. No one went hungry and everyone was very happy with the facilities!

It was great to see some members also come up for the afternoon on Sunday to see what we were all up to. We hope to coax Olga VK5FOLG and Ben VK5BB to do more operating next year!

Conclusion

Everyone who took part had a fantastic time. I will attempt here to name everyone who contributed and apologies if I missed someone out:

VK5AKH, VK5ZM, VK5KX, VK5GR, VK5SFA, VK5FDEN, VK5MTM, VK5TST, VK5NAL, VK5IX, VK5QI, VK5CP, VK5FGRY & VK5FSAW. Thanks also to our visitors VK5BB and VK5FOLG plus VK5DGR and Sheree and most importantly thanks to the land-owners (3 of them) who allowed us to sprawl our station across the top of the hill for the contest.

Finally thanks to everyone who worked us and made the effort constructing the station worthwhile!

VK5ARG’s Big Build – OCDX 2017 Koch Hill

This year AREG has a new site to trial for the OCDX Contest. With exceptional HF take off angles in all major directions this site could be something special. Work installing the 160-10m station started today with 160-40m complete (mostly) and work begun on 20 + 15/10m. That will be completed in the morning!

Here are some of the shots from today thanks to Mark VK5QI