Author Archive: vk5gr

Thats a Wrap! VK5KI QRT

Thanks to everyone who has worked us. Andy and I will start final teardown in the next 30 minutes and get ready to take the ferry ride back to the mainland this afternoon. I will write up the trip and publish the photos over the weekend.

Remarkable Rocks – Flinders Chase Nat Park – after the January 2020 Bushfires

VK5KI IOTA OC-139 – We plan to be on air by ~1100z tomorrow

NEW UPDATE: 7:40pm (ACDT) 12th July – final preparations for the VK5KI expedition are complete. We have confirmed with the owner and the weather for the ferry crossing looks excellent. With luck we will have fine weather in the afternoon and get all of the antennas up tomorrow. If all goes well we should appear on air, most likely on 40m first sometime tomorrow night our time. Watch the DX Clusters and out Clublog live feed for details.

Weather for the ferry crossing

VK5KI DXpedition News 5th July 2020

VK5KI DXpedition to Kangaroo Island – IOTA OC-139 – UPDATE

Preparations are almost complete for the VK5KI mini DXpedition to Kangaroo Island. We are on track to depart Monday week (July 13th) on the Sealink Ferry to the island, part of the South Australia State East Centre IOTA group.

Andrew VK5AKH and I are preparing to take two stations, the first comprising an Elecraft K3S+KPA500, with the second consisting of an Icom IC7600 and SPE 1.5K-LFA (the amplifier that didnt make it to Tonga). We will have a HexBeam on 20-10m, a dedicated 40m vertical and a multi-band vertical for 160-10m.

We will be operating SSB, CW and multiple digital modes, including FT8. We do not expect to run Fox/Hound mode this trip but stay tuned on the clusters as we could switch over if we are receiving excessive calls.

So why Kangaroo Island?

IOTA Chasing is something you do with a long haul horizon in mind. In my own IOTA chase I have accumulated 300 credits over in 3.5 years. It is clear that this is no quickly DXCC in a weekend activity using FT8. IOTA chasers are dedicated souls who loose vast amounts of sleep digging weak signals out of the noise to add to their tally! No one makes any progress however unless these island groups are activated. As Kangaroo Island is relatively easy to access, it seemed a worthy candidates to place on the air, especially given many other destinations are currently not reachable. Details about IOTA group OC-139 can be found on the website.

This is a Holiday Style expedition

Credit: Kenny Douglas-Hill (Facebook) – Kangaroo Island Fires Jan 2020

VK5 is not rare nor are we most wanted. In IOTA terms, Kangaroo Island (OC-139) has been claimed by an average of 48% of all IOTA award applicants in the last 5 years. As a result, we are going to be on the island more with a view to operate and experiment than chasing hard for a big QSO total. We are also down there to escape the reality of the world in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic for a few days. As such, it is a time for us to unwind, and relax with family.

Having said that, we know there are people out there who need OC-139 in their quest for IOTA awards. We will be happy to give as many ATNi (all time new Islands) out as we can! We will be monitoring the clusters and our social media pages on Facebook so if you are desperate for OC-139 drop us a line and we will see if we can help you with a sked!

While we are down on KI, we also will do our small part for the economy of the island which was so badly damaged by the bush fires in January 2020. We will be spending some time visiting much loved attractions and businesses, spreading a little cheer and the word that (at least once Australia’s borders reopen), Kangaroo Island is still here as wild and beautiful as ever. We will blog about our activities and give you a small look at how the Australian bush recovers from fire as a result of our time on the island as well.

Finally, as always, I will prepare a special bi-fold QSL card that you can request via our QSL manager. The card will feature some information on the bush fire recovery and how it is going on Kangaroo Island.

VK5KI On Air Plans

So when will you see us on air? We will be arriving on the island by ~midday on Monday July 13th. Myself and Andrew will then set about constructing the station while our families and partners head into Kingscote to obtain provisions for our stay.

  • Monday night (~0700Z) 13th July – We hope to have the station operational on at least 40-10m by then – through until at least 1400z.
  • Tuesday July 14th – The 160/80/30m antenna will be erected by lunchtime Tuesday. There is a fair expectation that we will be on air more much of the day looking for whatever openings we can find on a wide range of modes. Particular focus will be placed on EU Short path in the morning on 20m, NA/AS during the day and EU long Path after 0400z 20m. Nightime will likely be 30/40/80m into NA and AS/OC and some attempts will be made to run 80/40/30 early morning into Europe.
  • Wednesday 15th – Friday 17th – we will have usually one station active early in the morning 2100-0000z and probably again with stints between the hours of ~0400-0800z plus after 1000z (until we need to get to sleep). One or two nights will see activity on 80m and possibly 160m (depending on conditions). There are no guarantees however of activity in any of those windows, and activity may occur at other times as well subject to what is happening elsewhere with the family.
  • Saturday 18th – The station will be QRT most likely before 2200z on the 17th (~7.30am 18th July)

Partial tear down will occur Friday afternoon 17th July. We haven’t planned exactly what will be pulled down when. We have a 1.30pm Ferry ride home on Saturday 18th July, and need time to pack and get to the terminal. The multi-band vertical may be the only antenna on air on Friday night but at least it will give us flexibility to operate on any band we choose.

Directed Calling

While this expedition simply operating with the view that we will work everyone, we will preference stations further away if there is a worthwhile opening. If we are, please be aware that we maintain the following policy (as per our other expeditions)

The team has agreed that if you are located in Oceania, South America or Africa, we will accept your call at any time, regardless of which specific region we are calling.

This will apply to VK, ZL, Oceania, South America and African stations only. All other regions, please stand by if your region isnt being called, or please look for us on another band.


We hope to see you on the air! CQ IOTA de VK5KI!

73s de Grant VK5GR

VK5KI IOTA Expedition to OC-139 – New Dates 13-18th July

I am very pleased to announce that the VK5KI Expedition to Kangaroo Island (IOTA OC-139) has been rescheduled, although it has also been scaled down. It will not be coinciding with the IOTA contest for 2020 and instead will be held during the South Australian school holidays between July 13-18th. It is also being converted into a holiday style expedition with myself (VK5GR), Andrew (VK5AKH) and my family. Bands and equipment are to be finalized but it will likely be only one station covering all bands from 80m to 10m. (it remains to be seen if 160m can be activated – we will see).

We are thankful here in South Australia that the authorities have successfully managed my home state’s way through the COVID-19 crisis so far. They were able to reopen intra-state travel over a week ago, including ferry travel to Kangaroo Island. Consequently, many of the other holiday spots locally will be potentially quite busy as people try to overcome cabin fever from the lock-downs. Kangaroo Island, which requires that extra amount of effort and cost with the ferry crossing, should be much quieter, with fewer people and plenty of serenity. We now have a different venue confirmed on the island also, which is quite isolated from the main community. All in all, it should be a great week with some family time , amateur radio and a chance to unwind.

We therefore hope to see you on the air as VK5KI from Kangaroo Island OC-139 in July after all!

73 de Grant VK5GR



Cyclone Harold wipes out Tonga Resort used for A35JT

We have learned today that Cyclone Harold has wrought destruction through the resort we stayed in at Ha’Atafu Beach on the north west tip of Tongatapu Island in Tonga. Our hosts informed us that the facility was wiped out by the storm surge the cyclone brought with it.

Our thoughts are with Fiona and Mateo as they start the task of rebuilding so that they can open again.

(Photo of Blue Banana lodge just down the coast from Teukava)

Ruins of Blue Banana Beach House, west Tongatapu, after TC Harold. Photo: #ToddHenryPhoto

Expeditions for 2020 Cancelled – Time to look back, time to look forward!

2020 was never going to be a busy year given the efforts that went into preparing and running the A35JT expedition to Tonga last year. However, no one predicted the events that would unfold as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic spreading across the globe. Domestic and International travel has been halted and we are all “Staying Home” as the authorities work to bring the spread of the disease under control. As a result, we all have too much time on our hands. Our gardens are being manicured, our hamshack projects are being whittled down, and we are all doing our part to stay safe and stay healthy.

Time to Look Back

Recently I was asked to come on Hayden VK7HH’s HamRadio DX livestream to discuss my world of Amateur Radio over the past 35 years and to talk a little about some of the expeditions I have done to date. I thought you might like to take a look. Its long, but if you want to while away the hours in lockdown then you might find it interesting!.

Time to Look Forward

As for looking forward, I still have a couple of domestic projects in mind and am hoping to bring them to fruition in 2020/2021. It is likely now that VK5KI will be run in July 2021 to coincide with the RSGB IOTA contest, although whether it remains on the same scale is yet to be determined. I am also hoping to do one other domestic IOTAs either late in 2020 or early in 2021 when (hopefully) domestic travel restrictions are lifted. More news on these as the projects develop.

Meanwhile everyone, stay safe, stay healthy and together we will make it through this horror year that has been 2020.

VK5KI DXPedition to Kangaroo Island OC-139: ON HOLD

It is with much reluctance that the VK5KI team have decided to suspend preparations to travel to Kangaroo Island IOTA OC-139 in July.

The rapidly deteriorating situation revolving around the COVID-19 Pandemic has recently seen locals on the island calling for a full quarantine. Out of respect for them, and for the new requests from the Australian Government for people to avoid all non essential travel and inter-person contact, we will reschedule the project to a later time (potentially 2021).

In addition, the RSGB contest committee has announced the following:

RSGB HFCC: IOTA Contest and additonal contests(Nick G4FAL –

We have reached a point with COVID-19 that it is inappropriate for us to run the IOTA Contest in July 2020 in its usual format. We cannot encourage our participants to operate in multi-operator groups nor to travel to island locations where visitors are not currently welcome. We would like your opinion on whether we should cancel outright or should retain a contest this year for single operator, home stations only.

It is clear that the IOTA contest, one of the main drivers for the intended dates, will now not accept the expedition as an entry. This was a major motivation behind our decision.

We will re-plan VK5KI and other IOTA projects once borders and quarantine conditions both reopen.

Meanwhile everyone, stay home, avoid personal contact and stay safe through these extraordinary times! See you on air instead!

New Expedition Planned: VK5KI Kangaroo Is – ON HOLD

VK5KI is now on hold due to COVID-19. Movement is being limited and the IOTA contest rules have been modified to rule out our ability to enter.

We will reshedule once things start to return to normal.

January 2020 has seen some of the worst bush fires tear across Kangaroo Island in living memory. Over half the island (200,000 hectares or 770 square miles) has been burned, more than 50 homes were destroyed, 2 people lost their lives and tens of thousands of animals were killed. These fires, started by dry lightning storms in early January, have hit the community and the environment on the island hard. Now, as the fire is being brought under control thoughts are turning to recovery and rebuilding shattered lives.


With an event like this, and the fires in the Adelaide Hills this summer only 10km from home, I find the events all to close, all too real. The last time I remember fires anything like this was Ash Wednesday in 1983 when we could see the flames tear across the top of Mt Lofty from all over Adelaide. I was only 11 at the time.

Today, knowing people who have been directly impacted and seeing the devastation of the wilderness areas I love, here in my own state, I have been looking for a meaningful way to give back something to those that have been so badly affected. Inspired by the SA Tourism #BookThemOut campaign, aimed at supporting the tourism operators and residents on Kangaroo Island, I hit upon the idea of staging an IOTA expedition to the island later in the year.

VK5KI – Kangaroo Island – IOTA OC-139 – July 22-28th 2020

Kangaroo Island, the largest island in the OC-139 group, will be activated by a small group of amateurs from Adelaide between 22-28th July 2020. They will operate from a property near Emu Bay on the north coast of the island. This coincides with the IOTA Contest in 2020. The plans at this stage include operating on all bands from 160-10m, including as a Multi-2 station during the contest. Outside of the contest expect to see VK5KI on all HF bands and modes.

A special bi-fold QSL card will also be produced for the activation which will be available via M0OXO’s OQRS service (thanks again Charles). The logs will be available via Clublog IOTA matching and LOTW once the Direct QSL cards have been posted (early LOTW is available for those who request a card).

Extent of Kangaroo Island impacted by the fires