Sunday was the inaugural Freeze Your Butt Off (FYBO) context, devised by Ian VK5CZ to encourage portable (parks and SOTA) activity during the SOTA winter bonus period. The timing could not have been better for freezing one’s butt off, as an Antarctic blast of cold air swept up the east coast of Australia on Friday, just two days earlier, resulting in record low temperatures and snow falls down to 500 meters from Bathurst to Ballarat. Melbourne shivered through the coldest June day in almost 20 years on Friday with temperatures as low as 2C on Friday night. It was 4C at 9am Saturday. This is unseasonably cold. I considered activating Melbourne’s nearest SOTA summit Mt Dandenong VK3/VC-025 (2 points) but my time was so short I opted for old favourite Kangaroo Ground which gives a clear take-off in all directions, has facilities, and can be reached in 30 minutes.
I arrived and set up on the picnic table with the MST-400 and center-loaded 40 meter vertical on the DX-wire squid pole. I timed my hour of contesting quite badly, starting at 0400 UTC. The band was empty other than Paul VK5PAS calling like a trooper on 7095 from Ettrick Conservation Park, who I immediately worked. But for the next 30 minutes I struggled to get 5 contacts, and couldn’t complete QSOs with another 3 callers due to deep QSB. Not being on a summit did not help as I could not spot to attract attention.
I worked Paul VK5PAS, Compton VK2HRX on VK2/CT007, Amanda VK3FQSO home station, Mark VK3FOTO/M who was taking his baby daughter for a drive around Mt Dandenong to settle her down, and Gerard VK2IO on VK2/CT011. I think the late morning when the summits activate would be better timing. Also, more than 5 watts may have helped, Paul was using 40 watts and his signal, although affected by QSB, was steady and always sounded comfortably workable.
My FYBO temp was 10 degrees C which was surprisingly chilling when you are not moving! It was my fingers rather than posterior that got cold. Congratulations to those who operated in snow and camped out, including Andrew VK3JBL who activated Mt Richie in the Yarra Ranges for a well deserved 11 points. Paul VK5PAS’s persistence paid off with 151 contacts. Maybe I’ll try it from a summit next year. Thanks to Ian VK5CZ for organising and all who participated.