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Andy plus a cast of thousands 2017 reviews


#1

Another year just about done and dusted.

49 activations
9 completes
55 S2S contacts
8 bands used (60m, 40m, 30m, 20m, 17m, 15m, 2m & 13cms)

Only 49 activations this year. I remember there being plenty of weekends with rubbish WX that has lowered my tally coupled with me becoming a more “soft” activator only going out when the WX is nice.

It did bite into my plan to have actiavted all the GM/SS summits South of the Clyde and Forth. I had 32 to do at the start of the year and only managed 23 of them leaving 9 to do. That group include some good walks, some hills with fearsome reputations, one on an abandonned open-cast coal mine and the mythical Mullwharcher. All apart from one, Benbeoch, all are awkward drives on awkward roads and suggest it to be worthwhile to spend a night in the area to save on driving there and back a few times. However, a wee expedition after the Blackpool Rally saw 10 summits worked 4.5 days which made this biggest dent into the total and was thoroughly enjoyable.

I managed a total of 35 uniques and activated in 5 regions, GM/CS, GM/ES, GM/SI, GM/SS and EA8/GC.

I bought a new mountain bike with paniers etc. to enable some distant access summits to be done. But a broken tailgate on the pickup scotched those plans. Tailgate just about sorted so they will help with at least 3 of the remaining SS summits.

I finally visited Shetland, home of my ancestors and made my furthest North landfall on Saxa Vord. You realise just how far North you are when you can work people easily on the South coast of England on 20m as it’s 1000km away! I also had two very calm crossings on the ferry which helped massively. I only managed 6 activations leaving plenty more summits to do and lots more to see. I particularly want to activate Foula and Fair Isle but they are difficult to guarantee access as transport to them is so WX dependent. A return trip is on the cards.

I normally tag some European activations on to my trip to the rally at Friedrichshafen and visit to the Embedded Linux Conference. No Friedrichshafen this year and whilst I did visit ELC in Prague (fantastic city) I didn’t have the time to activate, pressures at work meant a prompt return. Boo! Next year’s ELC is Edinburgh which is no use in tagging activations onto flights my employers have paid for. It does mean I’m carrying a lot of this year’s vacation time into next year.

The main fun this year has been the regular Summer / Autumn activities on 13cms. We bought a job lot of transverters and have 4 with SOTA activators and others in the Edinburgh area. I’ve had S2S and simplex contacts with both SOTA regulars and my many microwave friends. It’s been hugely entertaining and educating. Best £185 of radio fun since I bought my 1st FT817. 13cms activity has dropped off recently due to a prolonged cold spell up here, SMA connectors are no fun when it’s below zero. We have a 13cms group on groups.io which is good to stir up activity amongst non-SOTA people. And the model of bring your own chasers with you on an obscure band has prompted Pom DG7ACF to start a similar group in Germany but on 23cms. Similarly there’s some regular 23cms SOTA activity in VK driven by Andrew VK1AD.

DB worked has continued in the background, no big changes but significant changes “under the hood”. More to do here.

Plans for 2018?

Finish the SS summits.

More 13cms activations and maybe build a PA for 13cms.

Build my 30m QCX transceiver.

Activate a summit North of the Arctic Circle. This started as a daft idea but seems to have been a popular goal with chasers and activators and having costed it up, it’s not that pricey. There are plenty of simple OH summits that don’t need serious walking gear. So a fly/drive expedition is quite achievable. And in memory of an uncle who served on 7 convoys to Murmansk in WWII, I think I’ll have to drive to the Finnish / Russian border and photograph the road sign that says Murmansk 140km in both Roman and Cyrillic scripts!

Easter time French expedition. I get to stay at my sister’s QTH in the South of France, so I’ll eat and drink like a king for the cost of a few bottles of Malt. That means I can bag plenty of F/PE and F/CR summits in the area. Mont Ventoux an easy but worthy target.

Feel free to add your own personal reviews of the year onto this thread and I’ll change the title to something more apt.

All the best to everyone for 2018.


#2

Hi Andy,

Let me be the first to congratulate you for your achievements and more importantly for your enthusiasm during 2017. 49 summits is a lot and there’s a fair spread geographically.

13cm seems a refreshing place to go and nicely balances out the ones who activate Top Band.

Kola run! Now those lads were heroes. I have read many a book about the PQ-QP convoys and survival rates were terrible. What with subs, aircraft and if I remember right, the Scharnhorst was involved once. Loch Ewe mostly the start point. An interesting Uncle who can only be admired. I lost a Grandfather in 1939. His ship was mined off Cromer.

Fair Isle and Foula both have aircraft remains (or did on my 1970’s listing). NGR 212717 - HE111 (1940) and NGR 948396 - RJAF Canso respectively. I might be able to find out more. Some friends of mine were up there a few years ago to see the aircraft and quite by chance met Bill G4WSB, activating at the time.

Happy New Year to you and everybody including all the ops who supported my activations this year. It’s not looking like I’ll be out again this side of NY.

Many thanks, once again, for the work put in by the SOTA Management Team, who work for nothing not just to maintain SOTA but to improve its reach. Your efforts are much appreciated.

Good luck in 2018 Andy, with your goal of all GM/SS!
73, John.


#3

Great update Andy.

My own Activator year was an interesting one.
Starting steady, with only 127 points put on in the first six months.

Then I went on holiday into mainland Europe in the camper van.
I put on 488 points, in 9 Associations, across 13 regions, in seven weeks or so… plus quite a lot of driving. Almost all unique hills for me. I also got some great days out with local activators!
In the later part of the year I travelled further afield and with the wonderful assistance of several local activators I got 4 more associations in Australia and New Zealand.

For 2018 I’ll be trying to finish the last of my uniques in GW. I have 3 in GW/MW (including Upper Park, where I have a cunning plan to do it properly and within the rules) and another 31 in GW/SW, mostly the lower hills.

I’m also going to be on Lewis in May. (I may regret posting this here!) So some unactivated summits may be done. Getting rare as hens teeth in GM now.

After that it will be a trip to Sweden for the Tandem Club rally. On the way I suspect FL, ON, PA, DM, OZ and LA may get some activations.

It’s just a pity Ecuador and Argentina don’t have Associations (yet) as I’ll be there in the next few weeks… still, mustn’t be greedy!


#4

The year went differently than I expected. Around March I looked at my 730 score and thought if I could get 30 points per month, I could make 1000 by the end of the year! * Then in April the health complications started and after a bout in hospital I next activated my local driveup in June for zero points.

Eventually I made less than half the target but I’m a bit closer to the 1k. The home station completion has stagnated and my chaser score has stalled somewhat. I stopped doing weekly and dropped to monthly log updates via FLE. Catching up on the log recently I found I was 3 months behind. Waiting for the end of December to complete that.

The increase in 1296 mhz activity locally has been a welcome move and my SG-LAB transverter was pulled out of the box and commissioned for a few activations. Local activity other than SOTA operators is very spasmodic or focussed on other special interests like HF DXCC and HF digital.

I guess this is typical in most parts of the world.

Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH

  • tell him he’s dreaming… (The Castle)

#5

Good idea Andy… I’ll play.

69 Activation’s// 600points (498pts + 102 Winter bonus pts)
31 SOTA Completes
42 S2S
80, 60, 40, 30, 20, 17m… plus some VHF

This was to be my Mountain Goat Year and I started out strong with three two-day trips down to W4V Association… but one was a wash-out of really bad winter weather and I retreated with only 9points. In April I executed the missed weekends summits in fantastic Spring weather including my hardest day-out of the year to activate Maintop and the The Priest on the AT with a ~17mile // 3500ft assent hike.

I made the move to 60m with the suggestion from N4EX (rich) and this has been a staple of my activations since the spring, adding extensions for my link dipole.

I made my first CW activation in April on Cross Mountain, due to the inability to get a spot or make any contacts on SSB… that was a baptism of fire! and I was very happy to have SOTAhole get me a spot from my CQ’s

As close as I was to reach MG, but wanting to keep it 100% uniques, I started to explore the northern part of West Virginia and on 03/Jun/2017 on W8V/PH-007 (Red Spruce Knob) I completed my MG activation. Mark NK8Q came along that weekend to enjoy the fun!

After 44 activations by mid-June and then Roving for the VHF contest, the “13 colonies” event, and then Field-day. I was a little burned out… I restarted activations in September. The “pressure” was off :slight_smile:

Now it was time to retrace some of my steps and continue my goal to get to 1000 activator points with CW activations.

I have activated with K0LIN (fellow British person), Mark NK8Q, Chris W3CDW and more recently Bob WC30 this year, having some good-times.

I’ve really enjoyed my trips down to Virginia (Shenandoah and the Blue Ridge Parkway) and next year hope to explore the BRP a little further south… ticking off a few more in the SH and BR regions…
Also I have still to finish SV region here in W3 and there are still “virgin” SOTA summits here in W3… but we’re seeing an increase in activity and more W3 activators so I doubt they’ll be there for much longer.

I’d like to also mention… the Pressure in the leader board for W3 region… David N3II and Jill N3ICE… have been prolific and their steady pressure also kept me moving.

Happy New Year to all… time to get planning 2018…

Richard // N2GBR


#6

So a fly/drive expedition is quite achievable. And in memory of an uncle who served on 7 convoys to Murmansk in WWII, I think I’ll have to drive to the Finnish / Russian border and photograph the road sign that says Murmansk 140km in both Roman and Cyrillic scripts!

You may check before if you’re permitted to go there. You can’t just go to the Russian border as they have a 3 to 4 km wide borderzone which nobody is allowed to enter.

When driving in Finland be sure ALWAYS to have 50 Euros cash with you since issues with your non-finish credit card will occur at the automatic filling stations. Finland is huge, the population dense in the arctic circle is about 2-8 per square kilometre, and it’s a long way to go to the next filling station which probably will be automatic, too. But they always accept cash so you better have enough cash with you. This does not apply to manned filling stations, supermarkets, hotels, ALKO etc., only the quite big number of automatic filling stations.

Ahoi
Pom


#7

This is the kind of info you need BEFORE you get there, thanks! The cash is probably less of an issue to people from the UK. As we don’t use Euros, a UK holiday maker is much more likely to have obtained a large number of Euros before travelling to get a good exchange rate. But the point is noted and I’d already started checking on locations for fuel. It does look remarkably unpopulated up there.

I was thinking of nipping into Finnmark in Norway to grab a summit or two, well it would be rude to go all that way and miss out on a new association just a “short” drive away! The sign I noticed was in Norway not Finland when I was checking out the area using Google Maps.

I wonder if the Google StreetView cars just drove to the border points and ignored the restrictions as they seem to get very close?


#8

Assuming the road sign is located near Kirkenes you best hire a campervan. Or at lest, have camping gear with you. It all looks so near on the maps, but the distances are beyond imagination however it’s so damn relaxing gliding down a nordic road with the cruise control set to 90.

The google guys seem to had special permission in Finland. This is the closest i dared to get near the Kusamo custom station without having a visa for Russia.

This is google, a good 200 m further on but it’s still 200 m to the border from the building.

However, near Kirkenes yo can get in sight of Russia and you may find one of the famous “Don’t piss towards Russia!” signs. :sweat_smile:

Ahoi
Pom


#9

I noticed that. I mapped a route from near the Finnish summit of Sanna to Nordkapp, the Northernmost point of Europe. It didn’t look far to be honest. But the result was 570km or 8.5hrs driving. I started re-planning at that point.


#10

Hi Andy,

still another day available tomorrow, so I may manage one final activation this year, although weather forecast is not looking good.

78 activations in total
don’t do completes so null points
66 S2S contacts
3 bands used I think (40m, 20m & 2m)

with 78 activations this year, I also remember there being plenty of weekends with rubbish WX I thought I was becoming a “soft” activator but the activation of GM/CS-093 yesterday convinced me otherwise.

I recall no particular plans for last year, but needless to say I achieved them all!

All 78 were personal uniques with my first activation in North America (W6/SN-033) and also southern hemisphere (VP8/EF-013 & VP8/EF-001) I think I activated in 7 countries.

I visited Shetland a few years ago and I also keen to activate Foula and Fair Isle as well.

The mainland European activations were usually skiing and climbing trips. The Belgian activation was at the side of a football pitch, it was pretty flat so I
it should have been in the activation zone!

Plans for 2018?

I am retiring from full-time employment and plan to start by spending the month of March skiing in The Alps.

I activated three summits North of the Arctic Circle in 2014, on a cross-country skiing trip. Even a trip to South Georgia would not get an activation in the Antarctic circle (?)

Thanks to everyone with whom I spoke in 2017 and all the very best to everyone for 2018.

Colwyn
MM0YCJ


#11

Editted to update chasing charts taking into account the chases in the last 2 days of December.
Also to mention that I have reached some interesting round number milestones this year, i.e. 500 activator points, 17000 chaser points and 2000 S2S points.

Dear all,
Let me present my 2017 SOTA activity summarized in the following charts for either activating or chasing:

ACTIVATING:

CHASING:

Best 73,

Guru


#12

Life can be quite capricious and looking back over the last 12 months all in all its been quite marvelous and quite unexpected.

I had lots of fun activation trips, interacted with many and racked up the miles in my quest to better understand the western states that are a key part of my adopted home.

February and July had me touring western states with Guy, N7UN and a chance to stay with Ken K6HPX in AZ during the February trip. All fun and very memorable. Mike, KX6A and I went mad one day in June and activated five 8 pointers in a day near LA as a part of a bigger effort to accumulate points.

I applied the after burners in June and July making MG on July 9th, 2 days shy of the 2 year start in SOTA. During the last 4 weeks I racked up around 260 points! I was lucky enough to do my MG trip with a childhood friend from London.

Late July had me in CO and it was great to have dinner with Carry (KX0R), Brad (WA6MM) and others.

September had Andy (MM0FMF) and I enjoying lunch together in Edinburgh.

The mountains are great but what really counts in the end are the people we do it with and interact with.

2017 stats;

  • 501 points
  • 71 activations (most/many unique)
  • 8 new associations (UT, AZ, CO, WY, NE, Scotland, Czech, Switzerland)
  • Blog views capped 5,000

I did get a bit burnt out after the MG run but have been out and about since then. It’s more about the memorable experience now than the point building but I suspect that is true for many once in Goatdom.

I’m looking forward to 2018 as I anticipate being back in old Blighty for a significant portion of the year and activating Gx-land as often as I can. I have all the RSGB license material and need to find a place to sit my exams to get a UK license and move beyond calling Mx/W6PNG.

The last 2 years of SOTA has been an unexpectedly wonderful journey and as much as I play my part it is nothing without you. Thanks to all that have supported me in 2017.

Paul W6PNG


#13

A pretty lack-lustre year for me, with the ever-increasing electronic smog and ever decreasing sunspots I managed just a pathetic 1,881 chaser points, all phone (CW is too easy!:wink:) and an even more pathetic two activations. Must do better in 2018!!!


#14

Hi, Andy!
I read your post with great interest. Long time ago, reading a book and watching a movie about PQ-17 convoy has deeply impressed me. This impression was further detailed with the stories of my father in law, who served as marine officer on submarine and torpedo boat beyond the Polar circle in the Barents sea.
If talking about personal achievements in SOTA programme, at first i intended to do at least one activation monthly, to activate a few summits that are new for me, including some initial activations.
At the same time, i wanted to involve my ham-radio friends, who practice hiking, and to overall promote this great programme.
What was achieved?
We did 7 activations and gained 37 points. Two summits were new for me; and activation of Kirel summit R9U
/SO-035 in the bonus period was an initial acsention within SOTA.
I also engaged my friend Oleg RV9WNM and Alex UA8WAA in the programme. Both are active hikers, mountain maraphoners, and Alex is experienced telegrapher and contestist.
This year i also managed to work on a 18 MHz bandwidth that was new for me.

Plans for 2018?
I hope to got out in the Ural mountains at least once a month to activate new summits, and to do few initial activations.
I also plan to gain lacking 19 points and to get a 100point hunter diploma. Maybe i will be the first ham-radio practinioner with Russian callsign who will be awarded it.
I also would enjoy hosting any foreign activators to jointly activate dome of the picturesque Southern Ural summits, or to visit SOTA friends abroad.
I wish everyone a great new year and success in all the endeavours!


#15

You certainly would - and I think applying for any Chaser or Activator award would make you the first on those lists (I have not checked though - just from my memory)

73
Barry GM4TOE
SOTA Awards Manager