MINI DX-PEDITION TO THE TOOLANGI STATE FOREST
("IT DOESN'T ALWAYS GO TO PLAN")
By Rob Wagner, VK3BW, Melbourne, Australia
(This story is sourced to the
EDXP DX-LOG, June 15, 2002)
I made the supreme effort
this morning! Got up early. Saturday, too! Loaded all the gear
in the car and was on the road by 7 am. The DX should be excellent
on this mid-winter's morning, I thought. So I drove for about
an hour to Mt St Leonard in the Toolangi State Forest, between
Healesville and Kinglake, north east of Melbourne.
Found a great spot in the bush, just off the road near a walking track. Unrolled about 70 metres of wire, hooked it up and settled down for some African DX on 60mb. What's that horrendous noise all over the band? Hash everywhere and strong carriers every 20 khz or so. Heard a few stations through it but this was not what I got up so early for.
Now, I should point out that on top of Mt St Leonard is a lookout to a fabulous view. AND every repeater and transmitter known to mankind is also situated there! I once took a ham band VHF handheld transceiver to the summit. The thing went bananas! Couldn't handle the multitude of signals and spurs. So, although I was not near the summit, I suspected that I was picking up loads of hash from all those transmitters.
I rolled in the 70 metres of wire, packed it all up and got on the road again. There were a few other places to try, but time was running out. So I headed towards the Kinglake National Park. Now, this park is divided into a number of bits, it's fragmented and has some small settlements and development in certain sections. I found a really great area in the large western section, where part of the property is used by Melbourne Water as a catchment area (Wallaby Creek). Found another great spot, rolled out the 70 metres of wire, hooked it up and settled in for more listeningsound familiar?
What?! More hash and carriers? What's going on here? There wasn't a powerline for miles!
It was at this point that I started to smell a rather large rat. My recently purchased FRG100 was the rig in the car this time as I was very keen to try it out in the field. It came with a KP-100 keypad, a small black box to enable easy frequency entry and several other basic controls. It can get you from one end of the SW spectrum to the other in an instant, and I also like the single keystroke in 5khz steps for tuning the international bands (similar operation to the Sangean 909 et al.). This keypad plugs into the 6-pin DIN plug at the back of the rig. The same CAT (Computer Aided Transceiver) socket can be used for control from a computer.
As I was tapping in frequencies, I noticed what sounded like ignition noise. But no other cars anywhere! Hmmmmm. I unplugged the device from the rig. Hash gone! Carriers gone! SW bands nice and quiet!
So, I wound the car window down and chucked the keypad far into the bush. No, not really. but it was very tempting. Now, I haven't noticed this problem as severe as this at home, although I had observed some additional interference compared to what I usually experience. But it seems that when the usual man-made noise is very low or absent, the racket from this keypad is so much more noticeable.
I found another unusual thing about the FRG100, too. With the longwire antenna, reception on 60, 49 and 41 metres was great (once I solved the keypad problem). Yet, on 31mb, it appeared as deaf as a post. Again, not an experience I have at home. But, while trying to work out why I couldn't hear anything on 31mb, I accidentally touched the ATU and receiver chassis. Suddenly signals galore! So I attached about 3 metres of wire, to the earth terminal of the rig and just let it hang out the car window. This was enough to wake up the 31mb with plenty of signals. Yet the new earth wire made absolutely no difference to the lower frequencies. Again, I don't have this problem at home. The rig is usually earthed and I use dipoles to the coax antenna input of the receiver.
So, the morning's exercise was a very good learning experience - a chance to get to know the new receiver. As a result of all this mucking around, my time for listening evaporated pretty quickly. After starting out from home at 7 am, I was finally ready for listening just before 10am. So, I gave it several hours and noted the following:
5030 RTV Burkina, Ouagadougou. The last of the Africans to leave 60mb, with sign off at 0000.
5070 WWCR Nashville. English programming at 0000 to f/out 0050
6155 RTE Ireland - Rampisham *0130-0200*
7580 WHRA at 0100
Plus many previous heard stations for the survey.
I have a few unidentifieds though and need some advice on these. Weak signals were noted on the following frequencies:
5960 at 0020
5990 at 0020
6035 at 0025 (is this AWR?)
6060 at 0025
6085 at 0200
7200 at 0030
7220 at 0050
7270 at 0030
7455 at 0100
7465 at 0100
7570 at 0100 (VOR??)
9770 at 0120
9950 at 0120
Any help greatly appreciated.
So ends another DX adventure in the bush.