The sun was shining as I was making tea and my mind turned naturally to an evening SOTA activation. I have quite an array of portable gear so the immediate problem was what to take? Should I do 2m SSB, low or high power, 10GHz, 70cm, HF SSB etc etc? In the end I decided to use my very minimalist low power (5W) 40m CW gear. 40CW has always been my true love when it comes to SOTA. It’s just so easy. As I was packing, my mind wandered back to SOTA’s very first day. I did 40CW that day too (Long Myndd and Caer Caradoc). Happy days.
An easy drive soon saw me at the parking spot - not the one used by most activators though, but my favourite spot round the other side of the hill. Clad in shorts and tee shirt, no waterproofs, no warm coat, no flask, no compass and no cares. A gentle stroll in the sun along side a stunted wood and thence out onto open moorland. A sharp right and down to my usual spot alongside a handy fence. Setting up took all of five minutes. I had even brought a seat so I sat in comfort, pausing to admire the view and enjoy the early evening sunshine. A light breeze rustled the grasses but apart from that and the occasional birdcall, it was silent.
The radio connected, I started calling CQ. Another advantage of CW (seldom mentioned) is that with a memory keyer you can relax while calling CQ. My little homemade radio has just such a device. I made good use of the time too, picking and eating bilberries (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilberry). This was relaxing stuff… and just as well because I had to call for fully 10 minutes before I got a reply. SOTA regular DL7VKD called and was followed by more silence (except for the sounds on 40m of distant thunderstorms over Europe). There was no pile up, no unruly behaviour, no unseemly rush; just a few gentle contacts. Time for the occasional chat, exchange of names, renewing acquaintances with old friends from many hilltop activations, that sort of stuff. Lovely.
After 25 minutes there were no more takers. I was surprised to count 10 in the log. The sun was still beating down as I packed and sauntered back to the car. Wonderful. This is what SOTA is all about for me. For me it’s not about rushing, not about over-complication, not about commotion, not about reflectors: it’s about eating bilberries in the sun, relaxing and having fun on 40m CW. Perfick.