January 2012 from Cape Reinga

It was pre planned mid 2011, to operate portable from Cape Reinga in the first week of January 2012 for a few days to activate a relatively rare grid square (RF65) towards VK on 144, 432 MHz and 1296 MHz.

The original emphasis was the 432 MHz band. That operation was reasonably successful with five VK stations worked on 70 cm. They were VK2AH, VK2BCC, VK2TK, VK2AMS and VK2DVZ. Distances ranged from around 1910 km to 2076 km.  

Because the shortest path distance to Australia is around 1900 km a tropospheric duct was required. Those ducts are easy to predict ahead by three or four days using tools such as the Weather maps (on the VK logger) and the Hepburn propagation charts.

There was four days of portable operation from Cape Reinga. The site chosen this time was inland from the Cape by about 11 km at RF65JM near Te-Paki trig or the Pandora track. This site was more private and was next to a now unused quarry.

Below are a few words from each day of operation.

Monday 2nd January 2012.

Channel 5A (138.276 MHz) was heard in and out of the noise with weak tropo. No contact resulted to VK on tropo in the morning, but later in the afternoon there was a Sporadic E opening on 2 m and in the log were VK3DUT, VK3UH and VK3UCQ only. That was short lived and just after that occurred; tropo was now open to VK2. In the log on 2 m were VK2DVZ, VK2DO and VK2ZT.

Tuesday 3rd January 2012.

This day will always be remembered as the “Big Es Day”. In the morning the tropo was getting better towards VK and CH5A was very strong. Worked on 2 m tropo were VK2BCC, VK2DVZ, VKDO, VK2ZT, VK2BX, VK2AH, and VK2TK. And on 432 MHz, VK2BCC and VK2TK in the log.

At midday exactly, or 2300z while listening with head phone on, VK5BC/p was heard (to my surprise) on 144 MHz and we made an easy 55 contact both ways with a path distance of 3258 km. Then worked VK5NY just after along with VK5DK. Below is the 2 m Es logged that day ending at 2:08 NZT or 01:08z. In order of stations logged and all with Es.

VK5BC, VK5NY, VK2KOL, VK2BCC, ZL4DK, Heard ZL4IS, VK5DK, VK3AMZ, VK2DO, VK3XPD, VK3AFW, VK3OE, VK3AKK, VK3BDL, VK3LN, VK5DK, VK3ALB, VK3PY, VK3DUT, VK3OE, VK3AMK, VK3AXH, VK3GHZ, VK3OER, VK2MJW, VK3KU, VK3GHZ, VK3ZLP, VK2ZT, VK3AXH, VK3LN, VK3UH, VK3EBQ, VK3UCQ, VK3ZQB, VK3NYG and VK5DK whom was the last station. I hope the above call signs are recorded correctly.

Wednesday 4th January 2012.

Channel 5A very strong again. In the early morning the VK3RED beacon on 144.435 MHz was received at S2. There was a good tropo towards VK3, but no stations from VK3 were worked. That beacon diminished soon after and then the VK2RSY 144.420 MHz beacon was easily heard. It would appear that the inversion layer or duct was moving north. The VK2RSY beacon was short lived also. Often the case with past experience, as the morning goes on or with sun rise the temperature inversion weakens.

In the log that day with only tropo and on 2 m. VK2DVZ, VK2BCC, VK2ZT, VK2BX, VK2DO, VK2TK, VK2FLR, VK2KOL, VK2AH, VK2TS, VK2AMS, VK2MAX and VK2AH. On 432 MHz worked VK2AMS, VK2TK, VK2DVZ and VK2AH. VK2ZT was heard on 432 MHz but not worked. Heard on 1296 MHz to VK2DVZ, with no two way contact.

Thursday 5th January 2012.

The 2 m band was closed and CH5A was only heard with MS or meteor scatter. Two VK stations were heard on meteor scatter with full call signs and they were VK2DO and VK2DVZ. One local contact and that was with ZL1CN. We then tramped to Te-Paki Trig.


Total station in the log including beacons was 92. Actual individual station worked to VK (including 4 ZL stations ZL2IP, ZL1IU, ZL2TAL ZL4DK) was 43 in total.

Radio gear:

TS700A to a 200 Watt PA with VK5EME low noise 2 m preamp with 5 element Yagi built by ZL1RS. FT817ND on 432 MHz feeding a 4M-120W Tono PA with 15 element Yagi on 432 MHz. ICOM 202 (or FT817ND) with MMT1296 feeding a 150 Watt PA on 1296 MHz. Numerous large rechargeable batteries. Headphones used for an extra 3 to 6 dB advantage.

Cheers, Steve ZL1TPH/p RF65JM Cape Reinga 2012


The BIG 2 m Es day ...MAGIC !!! 

Below; A view towards the West from RF65JM Cape Reinga.

At the end of each day; with no internet access at RF65 at the top of ZL, back at base camp (RF64 100 km South ZL from the top of New Zealand) it was so neat to catch up with each day’s event, record maps and spots, chat to friends and to see the prior daily activities on the VK Logger. You can’t beat a good drop of “Lion Red” beer after a good days DX.


Back home in Orewa five days later. The Wife asked me where have you been, "I said working some VHF DX up North ...

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