Day 1: September 24

My son Cooper and I arrived at our Sunshine Coast 2010 EMU Field Day DXstination on Bald Knob Mountain at 23:00 UTC, after a 90 minute drive up the highway north from Brisbane.

43DA050 Jeff was already there and had erected a tarp-tent to provide some shelter for our portable station. 

Threatening black rain clouds overhead had created a misty blanket jacketing the peak, so the sight of the large blue plastic sheeting as we drove up the volcanic soil track was very well RX indeed!

Despite having spoken many times on the radio over the past 15 years and also being members of the same radio clubs on 3 occasions (Tweed radio, Delta Tango and now Delta-Alfa), Jeff and I had never met face to face before.

The occasion of the Eleven Meters United (EMU) Field Day weekend, then, was more than just about getting away from the hurly-burly of the city for a couple of days and working DX from the field. 

It was also about putting a face to the name and callsign of a long time radio mate and also catching up with another friend, Jos (See pictured right) who’s thrown his weight behind the Oceania Contest for the last few years too!

Just as Jeff and I were getting acquainted, the man in question, 43AR157 Jos from the Albatross Radio Club and owner of the famous Syncro Comms retail outlet in Oz, arrived and immediately began unloading his car with an assortment of radio equipment.  

Now the FD team was complete!

According to Jeff’s map, our field station QTH, Bald Knob Mountain, is the highest point on the Blackall Mountain Range at some 4322m above sea level. 

Local history tells that the mountain itself was named because its lightly forested “bald” features sand out from the surrounding vine forest of nearby villages (Montville, Maleny, Landsborough, Flaxton and Mapleton). 

Whichever the case, the unusual name certainly raised a few eyebrows though I can tell you 😉

In addition to providing a marvelous podium for our EFD DX work with 360 degree yagi take offs to all continents, Bald Knob is also home to numerous communications towers stretching into the heavens with hundreds of antennas for every purpose known to mankind sprouting out like branches from a great metallic beanstalk. 

Fortunately, they did not cause any QRN with our 27 MHz station though which is somewhat surprising given that similar towers near my home QTH create more noise than an ACDC concert!

After a few handshakes and some chuckles at Jos’ awful jokes and weird and wonderful anecdotes, we set about putting the station together to ensure we were on air at 0:00 UTC for the commencement of the event. 

First, we set up a couple of fold out camp tables and placed some radio equipment which included a Yaesu FT-950, Delta Force and Magnum 357 on steroids, as well as a Dirland SWR and power meter, Dirland external speaker and 2 sets of headphones – Senheiser HD280 Pro and RadioShack, on top.

After that, we positioned a red 2 KVA Yamaha generator, which we had hired for the weekend from Kennards Hire, about 20m down the slope and ran an extension cord right up to the camp table beneath the tarp (See picture right).  

There we connected it to a power board underneath from which we could run a couple of power supplies carrying the Doss and Dirland brand names.

Next we erected the first of our antennas — an 18ft Antron 99 by Solarcon which Jos sells plenty of via his radio comms business Syncro — on the top of a 3m high wire security fence which surrounded the communications towers and protected the burgeoning antenna farm from trespassers.

Straight after that we launched into assembling the Sirio SY27-4 yagi and although this was pretty straightforward, we could not get the SWR below 4+, despite copious readjustments of the yagi’s gamma match on the antenna’s 4.03m long boom. 

Getting awfully annoyed and cursing the radio gods for their lack of compliance, we gave up temporarily on the benefits of horizontal polarization and high gain (reportedly 11 dBd, 13.15 dBi) and commenced our activity on the ½ wave vertical, putting out our first call as 43DA/FD-001 at 00:30 UTC.

On the first morning, the band sounded terrific with many stations heard from Southeast Asia and a few from the northern Pacific Ocean area getting our hearts pumping.

Alas, the vertical antenna with its reported 9.9dbi did not bring us the anticipated log dividends however and only a few stations were worked during the am hours. 

These were a couple of the Dx Adventure Radio Club ops in Western Kiribati — 224DA065 Ata on Tarawa Atoll (OC-017/GI-1) who was second in the log with a solid 5/9 signal and 224DA010 Edward on Nonuiti Atoll (OC-017/GI-010) who followed straight after also at 5/9; as well as 79DA101 Choi who dropped in to say hi from his village on Negros Island (Visayan Islands, OC-129) in the Philippines and take a progressive number at a stable 5/3.

In the afternoon, as the grey clouds overheard dispersed and the blustery wind which played havoc with the tarp died down, we agreed to haul the temperamental SY27-4 down from its 5m telescopic mast and swap the coaxial cable from the A-99 to see if it made any difference with the SWR reading. 

Much to our surprise, it did! 

Bewilderingly, it seems there was a short somewhere in the RG-213 cable as the reading was now 1.1 and the rigs were all able to achieve their maximum power output.

Sadly, however, the many Asian DXCC we had heard on the band earlier and been unable to work had vanished and only a couple of Sunshine Coast locals were added to the log in the remaining hours of Day 1;  7 in all!

Although the rain stayed away, a mishmash of bad luck and bad propagation conspired to make Day 1 of the activity a depressing one in radio terms but on the score of fun-in-the-field-with-friends it ranked highly indeed!

With the band asleep at 07:30 UTC and mosquitoes larger than WWII B-29 Superfortress bombers on the warpath, we packed up most of the equipment (except for the yagi which we left still standing) and went our separate ways — myself with the YL and kids to one of the nearby caravan parks in Mapleton where we had booked a lovely cabin by a lake for the weekend — and Jeff and Jos both back to their homes in Caloundra and Palmwoods respectively.

A few glasses of red wine and a pizza that night and the melancholy of a day devoid of radio triumph was forgotten!

Day 2

Filled with renewed gusto and strength of mind to make up for lost time on Day 1, Jeff, Cooper and I arrived early the next morning to usher in the waking of the band. 

43AR157 Jos would be a late starter today as he was attending an important meeting to do with his radio club, Albatross Radio, in Brisbane and promised to join us in the afternoon.

The WX was better than the day before and the views over the rolling green hills, dotted with dairy and hobby farms, of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland to the Pacific Ocean in the distance were magic.

In the first few hours of September 26 our field team was blessed with a DXcellent opening with the United States of America, logging 10 stations from mainland USA all at solid 5/9+ signals, a couple of stations from Mexico which included big guns 10FAT010 Roberto and 10SD011 Hector with 5/7 reports and one station from Maui Island (OC-019/HI-025), 17WR00 Richard at 5/9 also. 

After smashing through some of the frequencies known to attract US ops, we concluded unanimously that the Hi-Gain SY27-4 yagi was performing brilliantly!

Former two-time Oceania Contest winner 172AT101 Philippe on Grande Terre Island (OC-032/FK-004) also dropped in to take a progressive number, as did young 43DA234 Tom in Far North Queensland and 224IR003 Tok on Nonuiti Island (OC-018/GI-010).

At sunup on our southeast Queensland mountain top, we were also thrilled to hear fellow FD station 91DA/FD-001 on Turtle Island (OC-022) a couple of times amongst the QRM but regrettably could not make the contact. 

Unluckily we were not able to work any of the other 30 EFD stations active around the world either, though we were constantly updated with reports from 43DA007 Mike on the phone from South Australia that the EMU Field Day was the talk of the band and many FD stations from all parts of the world were being spotted on the cluster. 

That was surely good news!

Later on, after a few chicken and salad sandwiches, some ANZAC biscuits and a cup of hot coffee, we resumed our EFD activity and logged a few rare stations from the Pacific and Asia regions throughout the afternoon. 

These included 224WR004 Zam on Aranuka Atoll (OC-017/GI-009) and 224IR085 Tau on Tarawa Island (OC-017/GI-001), just north of the equator, 302RA010 Boris in Asiatic Russia, a couple of the Radio Thailand club guys in 153 Division, 91RSN027 near the Mamberamo river in Western Papua, as well as stations in Japan, Korea, Papua New Guinea and Russia.

Despite seeming promising for an opening with Europe on the grey line and a chance to work some of our mates there, the band closed down at around 07:30 UTC again so we signed off and closed down the station for the last time.


On behalf of my fellow team members 43DA050 Jeff and 43AR157 Jos, as well as our many visitors over the 17 hours + of radio operating time, thanks to everyone who called in to say hello and support our participation in this independent EMU event. 

In not so profitable conditions, your enthusiasm and encouragement made the weekend in the field from our rooftop in the clouds overlooking the grandiose sights of southeast Queensland all the more enjoyable!

For those who worked our station, a special EFD QSL card featuring all 31 participating stations from both EMU affiliated and non affiliated radio clubs will be available from me very soon.

Log Statistics

  • Number of Stations Worked: 37
  • Number of DXCC/Divisions Worked: 14 [Australia (43), United States of America (2), Western Kiribati (224), Philippines (79), Mexico (10), New Caledonia (172), Hawaii (17), Thailand (153), Asiatic Russia (302), Indonesia (91), Russia (50), South Korea (100), Papua New Guinea (101) and Japan (25)]
  • Number of Islands Worked: 11 [Australia, (OC-001), Nonuiti (OC-017), Aranuka (OC-017), Tarawa (OC-017), Lihir (OC-069), Grande Terre (OC-032), Hokkaido (AS-078), Negros (OC-129), Maui (OC-019) and New Guinea (OC-034)]