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Light at the End of the Tunnel?


Hi Mike,

Heard a voice call “CQ SOTA” and recognized it was you, but not a single word copied after that, just some noises that sounded like you in QSO. Lack of gain at this end I’m afraid.

Over the years I have gone from a TH6 to a 4 ele tribander and now this year to a 2 ele pentabander beam with the signals falling in line with the drop in gain. A 5 ele monobander would have made QSO possible but those days are gone. Sorry but I will have to wait for even better conditions.



Hi Ron,

Many thanks for trying, I can’t ask for more than that.

Crazy conditions on the high frequencies yesterday. I’ll post a report of my activation shortly.

73 Mike


Quick activation report G/CE-002 Walton Hill Wednesday 06/09

With the SFI well over 100 again, I had high hopes for DX for this activation. However, the sun decided to throw a curved ball and if there’s one thing a Radio Ham can’t argue with, it’s the sun.

At 0615 I was QRV on 20m and initially, the band was in good shape to EU. 29 contacts were quickly in the log, including Ed DD5LP and later on, Brian G8ADD, Ken G0FEX a s2s with Bojan, signing 9A/S56LXN/p.

Then it was the turn of John ZL1BYZ to call in. John was a weaker signal than normal, but signal reports were completed both ways, to make a valid contact. Ernie VK3DET followed John straight in…Cheers Ernie. A few more EU contacts were made, when John, VK6WC gave me a call. John was a good signal. Gez M0NTC was next and a few more EU contacts followed him, before the band finally dried up.

Next was 2m fm, where the going was slow. I’ve never really rated WaltonHill as a good VHF spot and I wasn’t exactly rushed off my feet. For example contacts into GW are rare on FM and a vertical. Nevertheless Graham G7WFK called in as did Steven G4TCU Gez M0NTC, Peter M1CNL…

After 50 minutes, I decided to take one last look at 20m ssb. When I tuned along the band, there was nothing, it was as dead as a dodo. The promised solar flair had clearly hit planet earth and wrecked HF. A look at 40m found the same problem. I couldn’t hear a thing on 10m either…In fact, I checked the coax, to make sure it was still connected!!!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about HF over the years, never write off the mighty Antron-99, it is more than capable of pulling rabbits out of the hat and today was no exception.

On what can only be described as a broken 20m band along came Rudolph OE7RDI for a s2s, then out of nowhere, my good friend Bill W1OW from Massachusetts at 1010z. How on earth did Bill manage that? A few more contacts were logged but by now the going was painfully slow and so, I chucked the towel in.

I’ve been lucky enough to have made some great DX contacts over my years activating SOTA summits, however, I was really pleased to make contacts with VK/ZL and W, in these tough band conditions.

70 contacts for the activation.

Once again, the Antron-99 delivered the goods. There are very few antennas, which could have found the DX and DXCC’s this wonderful antenna did in such testing conditions as yesterday.

55 contacts on 20m ssb
15 contacts on 2m fm

For those of you who took a look at the picture of the FT-857, you’ll notice it’s tuned to 88.3, Radio 2. This was so I could listen to Ken Bruce’s PopMaster quiz, at about 0925z :blush:

73 Mike


What did you score? I got 39 and a blue tooth speaker :wink:


Quick Activation Report, G/SP-004, Shining Tor, 10/09/2017…Joint with recently licensed, Mike M6WMZ, his first SOTA activation.

The WX was miserable, low cloud, soggy track so I got pretty wet on the way up. I was just too lazy to change into boots, so my trainers and feet were soaked when I reached trig point.

What else…Well, it was back to business as usual on 20m…hard work, with deep and rapid QSB. At 0640z, I was QRV where I logged 6 EU contacts, when up popped John ZL1BYZ. John was weak but workable and once again signal reports were exchanged and he was in my log for the fourth consecutive activation. Many thanks John.

Ernie VK3DET, heard me, he called me back, I heard him and then, he disappeared into the QSB without signal reports being exchanged. What a cruel hobby this can be at times…In fact, I was unable to buy a contact into VK this morning.

Nice to get Paul M0PLA on groundwave and Miki HA8WX for a s2s. Things dragged along slowly, when new Shack Sloth Jackie ZL1WA, called in. I was delighted to give her a couple of more points.
A few more EU contacts were made, including Guru, EA2IF with his QRP station and Thor LA3FKA, from North of the Arctic Circle. At this point I decided to call it a day and hand the mic to Mike M6MWZ.

Mike had been listening to what was going on and I asked him if he fancied HF suggesting 40m or 20m or perhaps, VHF? Looking at the state of the HF bands, I suggested he maybe better off working VHF and he quickly agreed.

In about 10 minutes, the X-200 colinear was in the air and he put out a CQ on 500. In just under 40 minutes, he was delighted to have 26 contacts in his log book. If it hadn’t been for the lousy WX, I reckon he would still be up there!

I think Mike was really surprised to find the distances he was covering with a colinear working 2m fm, from the 1834 foot summit of Shining Tor. Anyhow, it seems we have a new SOTA convert.

All in all, a difficult morning on 20m, however, a couple of nice DX contacts into ZL, made the journey well worthwhile.

31 contacts on 20m.
1 contact on 2m fm.

Thanks to all the Chasers…



Is this right, SFI 271…


They have posted a few funny figures in recent days! Spaceweather.com gives 107 SFU and that seems more sensible - if the figure of 271 was correct then 6 metres would probably be open to VK!


I’ve worked no end of VK on 6m with flux numbers much lower than that :sunglasses:



It’s not quite as simple as a good number as INK says. Multi-hop E’s works when the clouds are in the right alignment. No good having lots of ionisation if it isn’t in the right places.

F layer works when really buzzing and lower layers are not diverting or adsorbing the signal. A couple of days ago signals from VE and W were weak but from FK8 were strong enough to light a globe (well almost). Yet the numbers suggested excellent long hop dx.



Back down to 92 this morning.

Lets hope the X-flare’s effects on the ionesphere have gone soon, so that the bands are easier to use HI.


Hi Ed,

If I was unable to work VK with my vertical and the excellent take-off of G/SP-004 Shining Tor yesterday, when the SFI was over 100, I see little prospect of it at the moment. Having said this, brief openings do suddenly happen. Right place at the right time, I guess.

73 Mike


Looking at the scope on 20m today, I can see 2 possibly 3 stations (none of them strong) - it’s still dead here. Can’t hear Phil in OK, but that’s not surprising as the first hop skip distance from here is farther away than he is.

By the way just stumbled on Gwyn, G4FKH’s great webpage at http://www.predtest.uk/area.html

I should be able to get into North Africa, great at the moment - shame there’s no one there!


A quick activation report, G/SP-017 Billinge Hill. 14 September

As per normal, for any chance of working DX, a 0445 local time alarm call was required.

When the alarm went off, it was absolutley chucking it down. Adding to my misery, the SFI was an antenna crippling 74 and K index 2. As it happens, I nearly went back to bed.

However, I took a chance on the WX clearing and after almost an hour of heavy rain driving to Billinge, it suddenly brightened up. The walk to the trig point is only about 15 minutes, and as usual, the Antron-99 was bungeed to the fence and tuned up for 20m ssb. Looking along the band, it was exactly as I expected, conditions were pretty dreadful and I was well aware, that the chances of working any VK/ZL were slim to none

A self spot was sent at 0641z and 10 minutes later, I was surprised to have the summit qualified, with thanks to Andy HB9JOE. There was no sign of VZ/ZL and this came as little surpise to me. Contacts were slow and so I took to some rag-chewing. Michael, DJ5AV, kindly came back and informed me there where a couple of VK’s further down the frequency. I could hear them and tried calling. They tried to work me, but I was just too weak. So, I headed back to my QRG.

Then at 0711z John ZL1BYZ called in! Ten minutes earlier I would have bet my house against working ZL, but there you have it. Five minutes after John, Jacky ZL1WA was in the log too.

There were a number of VK’s trying to get through, however, the propagation just wasn’t there. Then at about 0745, I heard John VK6NU, who had worked really hard to make the contact. His patience finally paid off. From personal experience, if you had asked me which VK State I was least likely to work in such rubbish conditions, VK6 Perth, would be right near the top.

There were a few more EU contacts logged, however, my begging was now falling on deaf ears and so, I decided to have a listen elswhere. Above 20m was dead and the 40m band was like a graveyard.

That was my cue, to pack up and head for Burger King.

The 20m conditions were as bad as I can remember, this confirmed by the low number of contacts that entered my log.

Just 26, all 20m ssb.



Nice job Mike. Burger King after Billinge Hill? Just when you thought your day couldn’t get any worse…


For the DX Chasers, I have alerted for 0630z from G/SP-004 Shining Tor, Sunday. The purpose of this excersise is to see if I can work Andrew VK1AD s2s. Andrew will be activating, VK2/ST-053, Mt Mundoonen, a summit I don’t think I’ve worked before.

However, the solar numbers are pretty much garbage. SFI, at 72 and the K index has just dropped from 6, to 3.

DX calls would be much appreciated.

Conditions such as these, are a test of both an Activators antenna and patience…

73 Mike


Quick Activation Report G/SP-010, Winter Hill, 08/10/2017.

Great start to the morning, finding the M6 Motorway closed. Then it chucked it down all the way to Winter Hill.

Eventually, I was QRV at 0655z, about half an hour late.

Good to get groundwave contacts with Al M0BKQ and Graeme M0OAT.

There was a good run of Europeans on the 20m band, until Ernie VK3DET called in at 0720z. Not a bad copy with his signal coming up all the time, cheers Ernie!

Marc VK3OHM, was the next DX. Then the last of the VK’s, Jonathan VK7JON/M, with a great signal and finally, my drought into Tasmania, was ended. Cheers Jonathan, thanks for driving to your favourite spot, to make the contact! Really appreciated.

Loads of calls were coming in from Europe, good to work Sylvia OE5YYN…Great signal!

At 0757, Tadashi JA1VRY, Japans number one chaser, called in. This was a rare contact into Europe for him. He’d called five minutes earlier, but I couldn’t pull him out. Second time he called in and his patience was rewarded. Tricky contact but signal reports were exchanged…Thanks to Tadashi, for our second SOTA contact.
That proved to be the end of the DX. However, EU was still coming in for quite some time, until I eventually pulled the plug at 0920z, when the skies opened up.

IMHO, the take-off from Winter Hill leaves a lot to be desired. It’s as flat as a pancake. In 262 activations, no-one has ever left this summit with 100 contacts and that didn’t change today…

98 contacts logged, all 20m ssb.

Thanks to all the callers, great fun, despite the rubbish WX…

73 Mike


Awesome Mike. You are the 20m DX master. Hope you enjoyed your walk.


Hi Mickey!

Congratulations on your DX from Winter Hill. I have noticed for some time that the VK’s and JA’s seem to peak an hour later down here than they do in IO83. For example, yesterday (8th Oct) you worked all your DX between 0700 and 0800 UTC. I was on 20m that morning, and worked many VK and JA stations between 0800 and 0900 UTC. Also a couple of PY’s.

Quite interesting.

Walt (G3NYY in Tewkesbury)


That’s interesting that you are seeing a North-South difference in the time slot Walt. I am seeing a West-East one!

It’s an amazing hobby isn’t it! There’s certainly no certainty when it comes to propagation!



Hi Walt,

The propagation into VK/ZL is definitely happening later as the year moves on. To be honest, looking for DX from IO83 at 0630z, is probably just wasting the precious battery. Working Japan JA1VRY, on 20m yesterday, was something of a surprise for me. IIRC, last time I worked JA, was at the begining of March this year and that was also Tadashi JA1VRY.

73 Mickey