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Can We Have a 'To Be Determined' Summit Reference?


#1

We sometimes have instances when an activator plans to activate a summit but doesn’t know which one it will actually be. In other instances they plan to activate several summits but don’t know the order in which they will be activating them. In such cases, A special summit reference that means ‘To Be Determined’ would be handy for use in SOTAWatch alerts.

These situations are typically handled by an activator making an educated guess as to the summit references and placing them in their alerts. If the guess ends up being incorrect, chasers may end up logging the wrong reference and (for CW activators) RBNGate auto-spots the activator on the “wrong” summit. Confusion and spot clutter often ensues as many people post correction spots. If a ‘To Be Determined’ reference were used instead, chasers would know that they need to pay particular attention to the actual summit reference given over the air, and less confusion would ensue.

This weekend we have one other possible application in which a ‘To Be Determined’ reference could be useful:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nasota/message/12117

Tim K6TW will be hiking around Death Valley where there likely won’t be any cell, Internet or APRS service. He plans to activate some summits but doesn’t know which ones or when he will activate them. If I were to also modify RBNGate to allow activators to extend their spotting windows when needed (e.g., to 48 hours instead of the standard 4 hours), a ‘To Be Determined’ alert would allow him to be spotted without confusion during any such activation:

I can think of three ways that a ‘To Be Determined’ summit reference could be implemented, but I don’t know the level of effort required for Andy (presumably) or if any of these are even feasible. Here they are in order of increasing desirability:

  1. A single global summit reference such as “XX/XX-000”.

  2. A summit reference that is available in each association such as “G/XX-000” and “W5N/XX-000”. This would help chasers to know the area of the world that the activator plans to be in.

  3. A summit reference that is available in each region such as “W6/NS-000” and “W6/SD-000”. This would provide chasers with even better information as to the activator’s planned geographic location.

Of course none of these ‘To Be Determined’ references would be allowed in log entries. Or if allowing them in logs is easier to implement, then they wouldn’t be counted or scored when present.

None of these capabilities are essential or even important. This was just an idea that popped into my head so I thought I’d post it for consideration.

73,

Eric KU6J

===========================================
Free SOTA Spot Monitor Software:
http://www.ku6j.com


#2

In reply to KU6J:

Hello Eric,

Just a thought in reply.

I think it is a good idea for an activator to ask someone to spot you on the SOTA cluster when you have worked them because they do not have access to do it themselves. I have done it and many do.

How to find them? It helps if a preferred frequency +/- is given in an alert and an ETA +/-. I think it all goes back to the days when there were no spots and other internet stuff; a bit of SWLing.

I suppose the trouble is, especially here in EU land, that an activation running a couple of watts can be buried by QRM but there will always be someone, somewhere, who can hear them and send out the relevant information for others.

73
Mike G6TUH


#3

In reply to KU6J:

Eric,

I have posted alerts such as W7Y/NW-0?? or in some regions with three question marks. Actually you could put question marks for the region or association as well if you are near a boundary and have not made a firm decision on what summits you will activate.

Very seldom do I have a firm plan, so I am interested in the best method to give the chasers a heads up that there will most likely be an activation of some summit.

Doug, N7NGO


#4

In reply to KU6J:
“If a ‘To Be Determined’ reference were used instead, chasers would know that they need to pay particular attention to the actual summit reference given over the air, and less confusion would ensue.”

I was under the illusion that the summit reference needed to be passed in order to log a valid ‘chase’. If the chaser cannot hear the summit reference during the QSO, then they should not log it? Seems simple enough.


#5

In reply to G6TUH:

How to find them? It helps if a preferred frequency +/- is given in an
alert and an ETA +/-. I think it all goes back to the days when there
were no spots and other internet stuff; a bit of SWLing.

I suppose the trouble is, especially here in EU land, that an
activation running a couple of watts can be buried by QRM but there
will always be someone, somewhere, who can hear them and send out the
relevant information for others.

Yes Mike, the traditional listen-for-the-activator method works well in areas of the world such as EU where there is a large chaser population (if QRM doesn’t bury the activator as you say) but works less well in areas where there are fewer chasers that can potentially hear the activator. Yesterday was a good example of the latter.

When Tim K6TW finally came on the air late in the day, I happened to glance at my RBN spot listing for known SOTA activators and noticed that RBN had heard Tim 5 minutes earlier. RBNGate did not send this spot through to SOTAWatch because there was no corresponding alert. I’m the only person who can see RBN spots filtered down to just those for known activators since this is a capability in SOTA Spot Monitor v2 that I haven’t released yet.

Tim was inside my skip zone and I couldn’t hear him at all, but I could hear that he was in a rag chew with someone who wasn’t a chaser. I spotted him to SOTAWatch as being on W6/SN-001 Mt. Whitney (my favorite ‘To Be Determined’ summit reference) and commented that I had no copy on Tim and didn’t know his actual summit. Barry N1EU then came on frequency, worked Tim and spotted him properly, and all was well.

Perhaps his ragchew contact would have created a SOTA account and spotted him, or perhaps Barry or another chaser would have eventually encountered him on their own without the benefit of my spot, I don’t know. I think many activators prefer to have an additional means of being spotted if the traditional methods don’t work out. If that method doesn’t potentially cause confusion by spotting an incorrect summit reference, then all the better.

73,

Eric KU6J

===========================================
Free SOTA Spot Monitor Software:
http://www.ku6j.com


#6

In reply to KU6J:

Hello Eric,

Fair points. Especially:

“…Yes Mike, the traditional listen-for-the-activator method works well in areas of the world such as EU where there is a large chaser population (if QRM doesn’t bury the activator as you say) but works less well in areas where there are fewer chasers that can potentially hear the activator. Yesterday was a good example of the latter. …”

I think I should have thought global rather than Region 1 :wink:

73

Mike G6TUH


#7

In reply to MM3WWV:

I was under the illusion that the summit reference needed to be passed
in order to log a valid ‘chase’. If the chaser cannot hear the summit
reference during the QSO, then they should not log it? Seems simple
enough.

I agree, but see “ARE YOU LISTENING ??? (2)” by Roy G4SSH in this month’s SOTA news.

http://www.sotawatch.org/reflector.php?topic=7673

That is the type of situation I was thinking of and hoping to prevent in the future. Here is an excerpt from Roy’s article:


The latest disaster occurred on the 30th January when Andre F5UKL was automatically spotted on 28.059 KHz at 1125z on F/PE-145, which was in accordance with Andres Alert.

Over the next 2 hours he was automatically spotted as being on PE-145 on 24, 21, and 18 MHz as he came down the bands, none of which were audible to me. He finally arrived on 14061 KHz at 1320z and I was first to answer his CQ SOTA. We exchanged reports before Andre said SRI ROY SOTA CANCELLED HR FFF 1142 ONLY. I immediately posted the information on SOTA Watch.

So Andre had been active for almost TWO HOURS repeatedly being alerted as on a valid SOTA and in all that time not a single chaser had either listened to the exchange or bothered to spot the information. At a rough estimate that must have been close to 100 chasers not listening or reacting to vital information from the chaser. The moral is simple; chasers should take the automatic spotting system only as a guide that a station is active on a given frequency; the remaining information must be confirmed by listening to the activator.

73,

Eric KU6J

===========================================
Free SOTA Spot Monitor Software:
http://www.ku6j.com


#8

In reply to MM3WWV:

I was under the illusion that the summit reference needed to be passed
in order to log a valid ‘chase’. If the chaser cannot hear the summit
reference during the QSO, then they should not log it? Seems simple
enough.

It would be … except that’s not what the rules say!

73 de Les, G3VQO


#9

In reply to N7NGO:

I have posted alerts such as W7Y/NW-0?? or in some regions with three
question marks. Actually you could put question marks for the region
or association as well if you are near a boundary and have not made a
firm decision on what summits you will activate.

Thanks Doug! I didn’t think that SOTAWatch would accept invalid summit references, but I did a test and both the alert entry form and Andy’s Spotlite form appear to only validate the SOTA association. They don’t validate the summit reference, and you can indeed enter alerts and spots for a summit such as “W6/NS-???”.

I don’t know if this behavior is by design or just due to an oversight in the coding. Even if it is an oversight, this old software developer saying most certainly applies: “One man’s bug is another man’s feature”. :slight_smile:

Using question marks to create a ‘To Be Determined’ summit reference will work just fine, and I’ll add that info to my RBNGate FAQ. No further effort need be expended (other than me improving RBNGate so that an activator can specify a longer spotting window if they wish).

73,

Eric KU6J

===========================================
Free SOTA Spot Monitor Software:
http://www.ku6j.com


#10

In reply to G3VQO:
100% correct Les. Having read the rules there, it indeed only requires valid callsigns and signal reports to be exchanged. Basically it’s only recommended that summit ref’ be passed. I still think it’s up to the chaser to be certain of the summit reference before logging though.
I’ll maybe check the rules next time before I jump in :wink:

Roddy 2m0iob