Category Archives: VK3/VE-019

‘Summit Prowler IV’ — Homebrew 160m to 17m QRP SSB/CW transceiver for portable and SOTA use

‘Summit Prowler IV’ is a scratch-built six-band SSB and CW transceiver, designed for portable and SOTA activations. It is based on Leon VK2DOB’s MST3 (Minimal Sideband Transceiver, third version) from 2016, with alterations to support multiple bands, my Arduino-based digital VFO/controller and keyer, and a few extras to support portable operating. The transceiver is a conventional single-conversion superhet with 12MHz IF and an si5351 and Arduino Nano-based digital VFO. This project comes after having done more than 50 activations with my 2013 MST Mk I kit radio on 40m SSB. This rig has performed well on 40m SSB (and CW after I added it) and has launched my interest in SOTA activating, turning me into an occasional weekend ‘summit prowler‘.

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Mt Hotham SOTA Weekend Feb 2-4 2018

VK3’s ARH, YY and PF on Mt Murray.

On the weekend of the 3rd and 4th Feb 2018 I joined about 18 others at Brian VK3MCD’s now annual VK Mt Hotham SOTA weekend, starting with a night on Mt Buffalo camping at Lake Catani the night before, and with some activations at Falls Creek on Friday. With the summits at Mt Buffalo (The Horn, The Hump) and Falls Creek (Mt Nelse, Mt Cope), then 2 days four wheel driving, I accumulated 124 activator points.  A productive long weekend!

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Three summits on Mt Buffalo: The Hump (VK3/VE-019), The Horn (VE-014) and Mt McLeod (VE-034) 2017

The annual Australia Day holiday, Thursday January 26th 2017, set up an opportunity for a break and some alpine walking and activating.  Leaving Melbourne on Wednesday 25th I drove to Mt Buffalo and camped at Lake Catani on the Mt Buffalo plateau. Mt Buffalo is a mountain plateau (1400 meters) and national park, about 350 km north east of Melbourne.  This is a sub-alpine camp site which must be reserved ahead of arrival with Parks Victoria. There are lots of good camping spots under low snow-gums, a pristine fresh water lake that you can swim in, hot showers, no drinking water, and (apparently) a population of endemic dingoes.  Just down the road is former ski spot Dingo Dell, where I’ve ski’d many years earlier.  I had no idea that it is named after these Australian native dogs.

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Unplanned dual activation of The Hump VK3/VE-019 with David VK3IL

School holidays for me involves balancing time at work with time at home.  This June-July I decided to take the First Harmonic (FH) away for a 4-day middle weekend trip to Bright in north-east Victoria, just the two of us.  FH has wanted to explore snow for some time, and I thought the combination of snow, cafes and bike trails would be a winner.  We arrived in Bright on Friday afternoon, checked into our modest but cozy accommodation, and planned our trip to Mt Buffalo for Saturday and Falls Creek for skiing on Sunday.  The next day, with hired chains in the back, we drove up to the Mt Buffalo plateau, to find not more than pockets and a dusting of snow.  The local guide in the information center had told us this was the worst snow season for 30 years.  After making a meager snow man on the oval near the Chalet, I convinced FH to climb The Hump (VK3/VE-019) with radio gear in pack.

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Where the ascent begins, on the main summit road near Cresta valley.

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