Undaunted by the forecast rain, we went ahead and setup our 24 hour station as VK3KQ/p at McLaughlan Lookout (835m ASL), in the Wombat state Forest near the township of Blackwood.
Friday's intermittent drizzle, constant fog and the muddy ground made the setup of the masts and antennas a bit more of a chore than it usually is, yet we still managed to get everything up, running and on-the-air by early evening.
We ran a 1200W heater from a dedicated 2KVA generator and it kept the operating area of the tent at a very comfortable 21 degrees, even when the outside temperature got down to around 4 degrees. In fact, we ran it on "low" for most of the night, just to keep us all very cosy during our slumber!
An unexpected treat for us was a visit on Saturday evening by Lou VK3ALB and Jenni VK3FJEN who drove all the way from Drysdale - a 218km round trip - to cook us up a magnificent and mouth watering steak dinner - with all the trimmings you'd expect from this 5-star pair. We were dumbfounded, flabbergasted and incredibly delighted - all at once. Bravo Lou and Jenni! We have never eaten so well and enjoyed such great company. I know this is not the first time you have gone to such extraordinary efforts to enhance the enjoyment of others, so thank you again. I am pretty sure it's the GARC way of doing things.
Portable activity was down a little this year, compared to last Winter, no doubt a result of the rain patterns and cold weather that dominate the southern states at this time of year. I felt that perhaps the number of home stations was slightly up on last year, possibly for the same reasons. We worked into VK1,2,3 and 7 with the most challenging contacts to with Rob VK1KW and Matt VK3PP, both at home and both on 70cm - thanks for your patience guys. And a personal favourite contact was with Jim VK3ZKK from home on a handheld, the first time he has ever handed out a contest number in this life! Thanks Jim.
Our three-operator station comprised:
Ralph: 6m/70cm - TS2000 100W into a 3 el beam at 4m height (6m) and 300W into an 18el horizontal yagi /8el vertical yagi with masthead preamp at 6m height (70cm)
Jack: 2m - TS2000 250W into a 15el horizontal yagi /8el vertical yagi with masthead preamp at 9m height
Damian: TS2000 with 100W on 23cm /13cm into a 1.8m dish at 3m height, plus 5w into a 60cm dish for 3/5/10GHz at 4m height
We had some technical challenges - one rotator motor broke its brake (if that makes sense) and we had an issue getting our 10MHz reference signal to the 5GHz transverter. It might have been sticking relays due to the cold - not the first time we've seen that. No doubt Damian will post some photos soon.
Thanks to everyone we worked for making our weekend a success.