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Modes and bands used by activators


#1

I’ve been wondering, of late, how activations are distributed across bands and modes, and how that distribution varies from region to region, and from month to month. I’d got a vague feeling that I’d been seeing more CW spots (and fewer SSB spots) in the last few weeks, and I wondered whether there was anything more than my imagination behind it…

73, Rick M0LEP


#2

In reply to M0LEP:

You can do a lot with the filters on the database: select Activator Roll of Honour, Association, band, mode, but unfortunately the date won’t show less than a year.

Its a strange thing but CW always seems to show up more strongly on spots than it does in the database, my theory is that more CW chasers spot than SSB/FM chasers!

73

Brian G8ADD


#3

In reply to M0LEP:

From the database Facts and Figures page:

ACTIVATOR QSOs BY MODE
CW : 502560
FM : 323292
SSB : 310862
Data : 1323
Other : 212
AM : 115
PSK : 10

Voice mode QSOs 633k to 502k CW. That split feels right to me.

Andy
M0FMF


#4

In reply to MM0FMF:

You have to take it a little further: there are not a great many FM activations on HF, it is mainly a V/UHF mode, so on HF CW outnumbers (SSB) phone by a significant percentage, whilst on V/UHF FM outnumbers CW+SSB. Also in the early years of SOTA CW was not a popular mode, its popularity has really taken off in recent years, so we have to look at trends over time.

73

Brian G8ADD


#5

In reply to G8ADD:

unfortunately the date won’t show less than a year

Thanks. Finer-grained sampling might throw up some interesting things, as might sampling by, say, month across years. Idle curiosity on my part, mind…

CW always seems to show up more strongly on spots

Yes, spots aren’t necessarily a good indication of what’s going on, but when I checked the spots just now, there’d been spots for 3 SSB and 31 CW activations (all on HF), and 17 FM activations (all on VHF) today.

In reply to MM0FMF:

From the database Facts and Figures page:

Thanks. I guess that’s a breakdown of QSO figures rather than activations?

In reply to G8ADD:

to look at trends over time.

Yep. I was half wondering whether there were any collections of tables anywhere; month-by-month band against mode, mode-by-mode band against month, band-by-bant mode against month, and so on. Again, idle curiosity on my part…

73, Rick M0LEP


#6

In reply to M0LEP:

I just looked at the annual numbers of activators and it seems that the trend is that there are more FM activators than SSB and more SSB activators than CW, leading to the conclusion that the CW operators have a higher productivity: they make more contacts per activation. It also appears that although 2011 is less than three-quarters over, it is already a record year with the biggest increase in the number of activators. I hope the database can stand the strain!

73

Brian G8ADD


#7

In reply to G8ADD:

there are more FM activators than SSB and more SSB activators than CW

Thanks for that. I guess there’s a bit of swings and balances going on, too. The FM, being mostly VHF (light-weight VHF FM handies being less strain to lug up mountains…), is not going to be heard over quite such a wide area as the HF, and, given SOTA tends to be at least a bit QRP-weighted, the CW activators probably have a bit of an edge when it comes to DX… :wink:

73, Rick M0LEP


#8

I’m just beginning to activate sota peaks, I’ve got at least a dozen of them less than 100km from my home qth.
Because I’m qrp and I don’t cw, I use digital mode PSK31 either with netbook or smartphone.
I use the same antenna, rig, netbook and smartphone at my home qth too to get accustomed to my gear.
Why are digital modes so rare on SOTA activations?

Jani OH9FZU


#9

In reply to OH9FZU:

Why are digital modes so rare on SOTA activations?

Jani OH9FZU

I guess that people don’t want to add the weight of a laptop or netbook to their gear: I have chased on PSK and attempted an SSTV activation, the SSTV was a failure because I couldn’t make out what was on the screen in bright sunlight!

73

Brian G8ADD


#10

In reply to OH9FZU:

Jani,

I have recently purchased a small Netbook and have been trying it out from home, my early estimations are that I will get about 4-5 hours battery life when using PSK 31. So hopefully in the not to distant future, I would like to have a go at PSK 31 for SOTA.

I have been looking at the stats on the website, I can see that my holiday planned for the South and South West of the country may require me to reconsider my VHF and UHF only approach. This area seems quite quiet on these bands, HF could be the key down here.

I wonder has anyone ever done Digi VHF? I have done experients on 6m PSK and 2m PSK and the distances you can work are phenomenal. In addition my father has worked a SOTA station that was using D-STAR on 2m simplex!

I am sure that digi modes will become more popular, especially with the advent of lighter battery technology.

73

Matt G8XYJ


#11

In reply to G8ADD:

In reply to OH9FZU:

Why are digital modes so rare on SOTA activations?

Jani OH9FZU

…SSTV was a failure because I couldn’t make out what

was on the screen in bright sunlight!

73

Brian G8ADD

Oh good point, I have used only my smartphone’s PSK31 in bright sunlight.
I guess I better do more field testing with netbook to make sure it works too.

Jani OH9FZU


#12

In reply to G8XYJ:

Having tried PSK31 from a summit here are a few observations.

First, it was incredibly difficult to see the display on a sunny day. You effectively need a lightproof bag over your head and display to see anything. This was using a notebook (ASUS eeePC701). Secondly, it’s extra weight. In my case the netbook and cables needed added just over 1kg to my bag. If you are only walking a short distance then it’s not a major problem but for longer walks it’s less desirable. Thirdly, when using voice or Morse, you will normally work SOTA chasers who know not to waffle and delay you. But digimode operators may not fully comprehend just what it’s like to be sat 800m a mountain in Scotland, i.e. cold and wet! Finally, for me personally, using digimodes on SOTA is not very interesting. It boils down to hitting the macro send buttons and either logging using the software or writing the call in log.

Now you can resolve some of these issues/problems. The first can be solved by using the NUE-PSK unit. Its LCD is easily read in daylight. But it’s much more limited in what it can do compared to a computer based system. Mobile phone displays continue to improve in leaps and bounds. With the availability of phones like iPhone4, Galaxy S&SII, HTC Desire, you can have more than enough CPU power to run advanced signal processing software in a small package with a daylight readable display. These phone based solutions use the inbuilt speaker and microphone so you need to place them by the mic and radio speaker. You need to ensure that on a windy summit, or when it’s raining, the external noise doesn’t limit performance. If you are carrying such a phone anyway then that solves the weight issue. Resolving the issue of contacts with War and Peace ready to send when they hit F1 is hard. You can but hope you get SOTA chasers who know to be brief!

The final point is personal. I’ve had many a long ragchew using PSK31 or better still MFSK16. These have been most enjoyable. But with a lot of SOTA operations being akin to contest operation (quick exchange of report, locator and a word or 2 of pleasantry), digimode operation boils down to the most mundane. You call CQ, you click on a reply and then hit F1,F2,F3 to send your ACK of the caller followed by report, location and some personal info. QSOs become simply nothing more than click and hit the macro keys. With voice QSOs you may have to use a bit of skill to resolve a noisy or weak contact. Especially on a busy band like 40m. Likewise, using Morse requires the operator to actually have a little skill. It’s the fact that the only skill needed for using most digimodes is the ability to plug the gear together and to start the program.

I’ve tried digimodes from a summit, qualified it in fact. But having done it, it doesn’t appeal enough to me to try it again in a hurry. YMMV. If you do try it then I wish you much success.

Andy
MM0FMF


#13

Hi Jani

Smartphone PSK31? Do you know of an app for I-phone that can tx/rx PSK?

Thanks

Tim G4YTD


#14

In reply to G4YTD:
This one for I-phone.
Some Youtube of it working can be found by googling.

http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/i-psk31/id329842689?mt=8

Roger G4OWG


#15

In reply to MM0FMF:
I have an old WindowsCE phone with PocketDigi, which works almost like a computer.
I use a handsfree set mic near rigs speaker, that way I can use my hearing to find strong signals and little interference from wind etc.
For TX the HF set earpiece is wired to rigs mic-in, ptt with vox.

Digital modes need skill too, you see plenty of those who just did like you said using 30W and splattering all over the frequency and they don’t even hear anything cause they have filters wide open and agc on.
Best contact has been with a station who claimed he was using 200W on PSK31, I used less than 2W…

Jani OH9FZU


#16

In reply to G4YTD:

Hi Jani

Smartphone PSK31? Do you know of an app for I-phone that can tx/rx
PSK?

Thanks

Tim G4YTD
Nope, PocketDigi works with old Windows Mobile devices.
For Android there is DroidPSK(havent tried it)
Pictures and video from my gear: http://www.qrz.com/db/OH9FZU

Jani OH9FZU


#17

In reply to OH9FZU:
Thanks All

73

Tim

G4YTD


#18

In reply to G4YTD:

i gave a try to iPSK ( http://iphone-atom1945.blogspot.com/ ) but my major problem was iphone’s CPU noise in FT-817 receiver.

I am highly interested to hear your results (in case you try it).

my email: sv1cox@sota.gr

(tha same author made also the “Multimode” app: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/multimode/id391470170?mt=8 , whith support for RTTY (170 hz, 45 baudot), BPsk31 and QPsk31 modes.