I figured that my recent trip to Australia would be a good opportunity to use my new HT a bit more, so I spent some time investigating what the laws are with regard to American hams operating there. The gist of it is that you get privileges pretty similar to those of your American license, you can operate for up to 30 days without having to get special permission, and you have to identify yourself with your call sign and a suffix of "/VK." Armed with that knowlege I packed the HT, along with its 6m rubber duck and 18" 2m/440 flexi-whip, into my backpack. I figured I would at least hop on a local repeater, and maybe even try to work a satellite pass if possible.
Unfortunately a combination of being very busy with wedding planning and, surprisingly, a bit of mic stage fright at times, kept me from diving in. I did scan around for a bit and found a local 2m system that seemed reasonably active. Finally I found a spare half hour, gritted my teeth, and said, "This is KJ6AKQ/VK, that's kilo juliet six, alpha kilo quebec slash VK, visiting from America and monitoring." I've never heard of a pile-on happening on a 2m repeater, but I think the response I got can safely be described that way.
I only had time to work one station, Ian/VK3VIG. We talked about what I was doing in Australia, how I liked it, what rig I was using, what we did for New Year's, and then I asked if there were any other repeaters around that I should know about. Ian told me about one in particular, VK3RHF. It's a four-way system that simulcasts on 23cm, 70cm, 6m and 10m. He said I might be able to get some DX on it if the 10m conditions were any good. An Aussie ham in #hamradio had told me that he heard someone in Melbourne, distant to him, on 10m via a repeater matching this description. I figured this must be it.
Sadly, I wasn't able to get another chance to get on the air and try it. I'll be back in Melbourne in March for my wedding, but I'm not sure my marriage will last very long if I try and bring the HT on that trip.
I did manage to break out the radio on one other occasion, though not for accessing a repeater. I saw that there were going to be two successive satellite passes, one by AO-51 with an 89 degree max angle, and one by SO-50 with a 33 degree max angle. I was able to hear the AO-51 pass as it was right overhead, but only for a couple of seconds! I thought it would last a lot longer than that. The SO-50 pass later on lasted a lot longer before I lost it. Considering I was waving my antenna around in the blind, with nothing more than a keychain compass and the knowledge that the bird was due west at 33 degrees, I was pleased. But even then, the audio was too garbled for me to really copy anything like a call sign. I just heard some quieting, and voices.
Now that I'm back home, I'm hoping to get to work on my micro diplexer and handheld satellite antenna this weekend. With any luck that'll be the subject of my next couple of posts.