Other SOTA sites: SOTAwatch | SOTA Home | Database | Video | Photos | Shop | Mapping | FAQs | Facebook | Contact SOTA

Good days and bad days


Is it just me or do other chasers feel like they lost a thousand pounds when a contact gets away?

Yesterday was a bad day. While I should have been pleased to be getting two uniques from the EYP team and one from John GW4BVE, not to mention all the points I bagged I could not get out of my head that two others had slipped from my grasp.

On their first two summits I heard Tom and Jimmy as they worked John and Pete but then when they QSYed to their own frequency, zilch!

Today was even worse. 80m was in an abysmal state and I only heard two stations working Jimmy all day and nothing from the Macc’ lads themselves.

Fortunately I have been out for a nice meal tonight with some of the guys and gals from our 2m evening net, so I can reflect just how much this SOTA effects my mood. Heck I must be addicted. Anyone recommend a good shrink?

73 Steve GW7AAV (who is going slightly mad)


In reply to GW7AAV:

Hi Steve

I know the feeling. This is a complaint from which all dedicated chasers suffer. To be told that “you can’t get 'em all” is of little comfort. Sod’s Law dictates that any chaser nipping out for a newspaper will miss the only 10 pointer of the day.

However I am told that there is only one known sure-fire remedy which is as follows:-

Wait until you have a good day (these do happen) then keep about 10% of the total points in reserve (so if you work 50 points then do not enter 5, but mark them in your log). In a couple of months you will have a few dozen points in your “emergency reserve”.

Next time you have a bad day, say you miss a couple of 6 pointers, just shrug your shoulders, and help yourself to 12 points from the reserve - problem solved !

I am told that this system even allows the most dedicated SOTA chaser to have a holiday and enjoy themselves!



In reply to GW7AAV:
Hi Steve

I know what you mean. Just for a change I was at home within hearing distance of the radio yesterday and hoped to pick up some summits from Tom.

Well I didn’t hear a peep all day until the last one… and then it was a short activation exacerbated by a particularly unruly CW pile up… verging on DXpedition “zoo” antics :slight_smile:

…so I missed out. :frowning:

Conditions don’t seem too good at the moment but I hope to do an activation this week to cheer myself… and for a change, I’m going to try CW on 5 MHz rather than SSB. How’s your CW coming along Steve? :slight_smile:

73 Marc G0AZS


Glad I wasn’t the only one to be disappointed with my pile-up on my activation of Trostan GI/AH-001. I say that with some hesitation - I don’t want to tempt the fate of being roundly ignored by chasers in future!

It was a huge pile-up, and the only time I have ever cut short without working them all. Most stations announced their callsigns once, and while it was nigh on impossible to actually read them in the pile-up, it was possible to pick out some recognisable fists, and call those stations in for the QSOs. Unfortunately, these QSOs were then severely disrupted by other stations insisting on sending their callsign a further three or four times, meaning I had to ask for repeats of reports up to 3 times, significantly slowing down the process. Repeatedly, a station other than the one I had called in answered, and then proceeded to send me reports. Each time, I single-mindedly continued with the station I was trying to work, only to hear “R R 73 TU” from the station I wasn’t working afterwards! Even my pausing to send “PSE ONLY STATION CALLED” failed to improve the situation.

Jimmy M3EYP (MI3EYP/P) was sitting alongside me waiting to go on 3.660MHz SSB for his own activation, but my CW activation was taking much longer than it should have done because of the above, and we had limited daylight left to qualify the summit, pack-up and complete the long descent. So, with continued repeating of callsigns and being answered by stations I didn’t call, I am afraid I abandoned the CW activation, and sent “SRI STORM PSE QSY 3.660 SSB”. For at that point, a very sudden and unpleasant heavy hailstorm started, and safety became an even greater priority.

I thought that there would be lots of those that were still waiting for the CW QSO going over to chase our summit on SSB, but 3.660MHz was silent, despite Jimmy’s calls. He got his contacts on 2m FM into Scotland.

I am happy to report that every other CW activation in the GI trip, both before and after this one, was conducted most properly by all chasers, making it very easy for me to quickly work the pile-ups down. Thank you for this.

I’m not sure why the Saturday evening activation on Trostan GI/AH-001 turned out so differently from the rest. If any of the CW ops that worked me on several GI summits noticed something that I did that was different for that summit, that may have contributed to this effect, please let me know. I am a newbie on CW with a great deal still to learn!

Cheers, Tom


In reply to M1EYP:
The thing that puzzles me, Tom, is why you were so much stronger on CW than SSB on 80, to the point where the CW signals once or twice were S7 and the SSB virtually inaudible immediately after!


Brian G8ADD


In reply to M1EYP:
Hi Tom

Thanks to you and Jimmy for all your efforts… at least I managed a couple of QSO’s with you. However most of the time you were all but inaudible (or just a dit or two) and I’m sorry to say I never head Jimmy once. I think signals were so borderline down here, it was a nice illustration of the apparent 10-20dB gain that CW (with a narrow filter) can give you sometimes.

The AH-001 activation was interesting in that I think there were a couple of factors that precipitated the pile up situation. (and don’t worry about pointing it out, it won’t surprise any of us that were listening)

Firstly it was later, and thus the propagation and skip length had changed such that myself (in the south of G) and more of the EU chasers cold actually hear you quite well versus earlier in the day. This clearly made the pile up bigger.

Secondly and more to your point, there were a few stations (from all areas) who I heard calling over and over even when I could hear you were trying to work someone else. There were even some that would make a long call with their callsign sent 3 times or more. That obviously takes longer as you cant reply to anyone until they’ve finished.

Now they either couldn’t hear you (so they shouldn’t have called) or (and I may be cynical here :slight_smile: ) they were using a typical DXpediton chasing antic of being disruptive and thus you work them just to get rid of them. Now a DXpedition with say a Spiderbeam, a KW and maybe a split QRG can deal with that quickly but it made your life difficult as a QRP station on a summit.

The funniest thing was that I heard you send your message (in the clear) about the storm and the QSY but one of the stronger (and more disruptive callers) kept sending even when you had departed the frequency. I’m not sure how they expected to hear you reply even if you had! :slight_smile:

Anyway, although it was a shame that I didn’t get to work you on GI/AH-001, I was more frustrated at how we, as chasers, had made it difficult for you… hence my less than tongue in cheek request to Roy for a “pile up etiquette” piece in his CW report. That I’m pleased to see he has started…

So thanks again and at least I have a couple of other GI summits in the log. :slight_smile:

73 Marc HB9/G0AZS


In reply to M1EYP:
Hi Tom
Last Saturday night at 1710z and heading for dusk on 3.5 MHz from AH-001 brought in a lot more continental callers. I was one of the lucky ones to work you early on but that was a struggle with all the alligator callers and at least one or more ops who thought that you were going back to them when you were going back to other stations. I was listening on a 450 feet long dedicated receive antenna directed to USA (GI direction) so I knew you were talking to me.

It was a mixture of people who couldn’t hear you and people who didn’t understand what was going on due to lack of experience. It’s fine taking up CW to work SOTA but you need to cut your teeth by operating on the mode normally as well. Trainees ought to have some normal rubber stamp none-SOTA QSOs and listen to and practice calling stations in contests - I suggest trying the RSGB ROPOCO 1 Contest this Sunday morning on 80m 07-09z. It’s a test of anyones skill as you send postcodes to each other. Start off by sending your own and then pass on the one that is sent to you. Scoring rates are quite low - you may make 50 QSOs in 2 hours if you are doing well - accuracy is the key so speeds are generally quite low. Suggest folks at least have a listen and learn a little about the procedure used. The procedure used by activators on summits usually by necessity has to be quick and slick - all very much like working stations in a contest.

Thank you for all the GI activity - it kept me in the shack and it was thoroughly enjoyable chasing you. Congratulations on handling the pile ups so well despite the limited time you have spent learning the art. This was the first time I have worked you as the skip distance on 7 MHz for your Cloud activations is always too short for me to hear you.

The option of working split with an FT-817 are fiddly compared to the likes of an FT1000MP or base rig used by chasers with two proper VFOs. I hope the standard of operating by chasers doesn’t mean activators have to go down that road. A CW filter and a decent poor of ears on a hill (like your ears Tom!) should be enough to work down a moderate pile up to nothing.

Thank you to Roy for the SOTA News and the very constructive operating tips he gave.

Great working you Tom,



In reply to M1EYP:

Thanks to Jimmy and yourself for for putting on the GI summits. Even with the disappointments caused by poor conditions the effort was most appreciated. Maybe when you get the information about the ones you did and your experiences on line it will encourage others to follow in your footsteps. I hope to be one of them.

73 Steve GW7AAV