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MW6OZB Newly licenced, looking for SOTA advice


#1

Hi all,

I’m newly licenced and am a keen outdoors type so SOTA really appeals to me.

I’ve done a fair bit of reading up on SOTA and more or less get the gist of how things work but wanted to iron out a few details.

Firstly, the calling channel. Are there any specific channels that are sort of designated for SOTA?

I went on to SOTA Watch yesterday and advised we’d be on a local summit on 145,500. (I only have a 2M/70cm handie at present). In hindsight perhaps we shouldn’t have chosen 145,500 but we obviously planned an immediate QSY once getting a contact.

My question is, if we instead nominate a specific frequency and its being used at the pre-agreed time, what happens next? I can’t decide which is going to annoy people more. Jumping in on a used frequency or putting out calls on 145,500?

My other question is, if we make 4 contacts at an agreed summit (we failed yesterday) is there some sort of GPS validation protocol to show we are actually where we say we are? I noticed there is a SOTA app but just wanted to confirm what needs to be done, whether we need to prove our GPS location etc.

Many thanks for everyone’s help in advance. I look forward to attempting to get some points over the coming weeks although perhaps I need to look at making up a better antenna than what my whip is going to give me but I’ll look in to that once I know what I’m doing about the above.

Cheers,

Dave


#2

Whilst I am primarily an HF operator, when I do a 2m activation I spot and call on 145.500 then QSY. In most cases whoever calls you will spot you on the new freq. Once the QSO is complete any others who have seen the spot and within range will call you on the new freq. Once calls dry up you just return to 500 and start process again - simples

Good luck with activations

73 Glyn


#3

Well done on getting your license, Dave, and welcome to SOTA.

It is normal procedure to put out calls on 145.500 and then QSY to another frequency, that is what 145.500 is for. Where your rig has two VFOs, such as the FT817, you can leave one VFO on the calling channel and the other on your selected working channel, switching between them with the A/B button.

There is no requirement for GPS evidence, SOTA works on trust.

There are no specific SOTA channels but activators tend to congregate near - rather than on - QRP frequencies such as 14.285 MHz.

Brian


#4

Lovely, thanks chaps.
Am I along the right lines by specifically asking for contact from SOTA chasers?

That just about clears up the procedure side for me then.

What’s your recommendations for notice time on SOTA Watch? We only gave around 2 hours yesterday which I understand is probably not generally enough.

Dave


#5

Get out there, make the mistakes, learn.

Works for me :slight_smile:

karl


#6

Hi Dave

Welcome to SOTA

When you arrive on summit, it is also a good idea call CQ SOTA and to ask chasers to “spot” you as alerts go out on SOTAwatch and via twitter.

Regular chasers will be generally happy to do this for you.

Enjoy the summits and hopefully I can work you in the near future.

Dave
(M6RUG)


#7

That’s a difficult question. If you look at the alerts you will see alerts appear for activations happening almost immediately. They give chasers less time to be aware of the impending activation. You’ll also see alerts with significant time till the activation. This may be because someone is planning a holiday etc. There is no right answer, but if you are doing a summit which is not activated very often, or doing an odd band/mode combination, then more advanced notice will be better.

In the end you’ll need to look at what others are doing and act likewise learning where more notice would be better.

There are places where you should have no issues activating using a 2m FM handy with its rubber duck. But, of course, the better the antenna then the more chasers you should work. There are many threads on here where people have discussed antennas for each kind of SOTA activation. Click the magnifying glass top right, type you search query and read the past discussions.

Lots to read, ingest and try. You’ll make silly mistakes on the way, we all have done as we learnt what is best for us. Remember, the man who never made a mistake never made anything!

Well done on the license pass. TIme to start on the IL now.


#8

Congrats on the licence.

For alerts, as far in advance as possible. You can edit or delete an alert so don’t worry too much.

Once on the summit it’s worth giving a call, if nobody answers then use SMS (you need to register with Andy first) or the web interface or one of the dedicated apps like “Rucksack Radio” to put an actual spot up.

73, Colin G8TMV


#9

Hi and welcome Dave,
Contacts do not have to be with SOTA chasers, however if you spot your activation on SOTAWatch (via one of the many Android or iPhone apps) when you are on the summit waiting for calls, you are most likely to get SOTA chasers calling you. If (as sometimes happens) you don’t have cell phone coverage from a summit, you can go to a local repeater and ask for stations to go to a simplex channel and work you (the repeater contact does not count for SOTA but the simplex one does). Alternatively search around the simplex channels and call anyone you like - a contact is a contact is a contact! You need 1 contact to have “activated” the summit but 4 contacts (with different stations) to be ble to claim the activation points.

Clarification on SOTAWatch - there is an alerts section and a spots section. The alerts section is where you post your estimated time at the summit, usually we do this a few days before the activation. The spots part of SOTAWatch is like the DX Clusters and are real time entries that are put there once you are operational. The spots can be posted by yourself (self-spot) or by one of the chasers. Having a spot on SOTAWatch is what causes (at least on HF), pile-ups.

73 Ed.


#10

Thanks for all your help. I hadn’t realised it could be any contact! So in affect just a cq call could be enough. Frustratingly we intercepted a net whilst up there and made contact with several amateurs but hadn’t realised we could have counted them!
You’ve prompted some new questions now I’m afraid.

Do the 4 contacts all have to be on the same band? Or could you get say 2 on 2M and 2 on 70cm’s?

Typical process is then to give the summit code from what I’ve read, so SW-019 for us yesterday.

Once doing this with 4 contacts, what is the process for requesting the points? Does it rely on those you spoke to also submitting something online to confirm contact has been made?

It probably seems as though I’ve done no research but these are all questions after reading the guides I’m embarrassed to say!!

Dave


#11

Also, is SOTA Goat a good app to use for uploading Spots?

Anything anyone finds better? It needs to be an iOS app.

Dave


#12

Read the rules.
Read the rules again.
If you find a rule that doesn’t make sense or doesn’t answer your question, ask the MT.


#13

Hi Dave and welcome to the mad house.

[quote=“MW6OZB, post:10, topic:12778”]
Do the 4 contacts all have to be on the same band? Or could you get say 2 on 2M and 2 on 70cm’s?
[/quote] The contacts can be any band or mode. 1 on 2m, 1 on 70cm, 1 on 40m and 1 on 20m PSK.

[quote=“MW6OZB, post:10, topic:12778”]
Typical process is then to give the summit code from what I’ve read, so SW-019 for us yesterday.
[/quote] Yes. not on every contact made but every 2 or 3 QSO’s made.

[quote=“MW6OZB, post:10, topic:12778”]
Once doing this with 4 contacts, what is the process for requesting the points? Does it rely on those you spoke to also submitting something online to confirm contact has been made?
[/quote] No, just enter your log in the database the software does the rest. Mainly because not every contact will be a SOTA chaser.

Enjoy, 73 Neil


#14

No need to be afraid Dave - all on this reflector are willing to help someone new (we were all new to this once and NONE of us are 100% experts yet and (thankfully) never will be).

OK on to your points:

Do the 4 contacts all have to be on the same band? Or could you get say 2 on 2M and 2 on 70cm’s?

Any band - no restrictions (as long as you are allowed to operate on the band of course). A mix of 2m and 40m used to be quite common for example, 2m and 70cm is fine. Just needs to be different stations.

Typical process is then to give the summit code from what I’ve read, so SW-019 for us yesterday.

That would be G/SW-019 rather than just SW-019 (especially if on HF) but normally not to every contact - I announce my summit code every 10 minutes or so. In 99% of the cases, the chaser already has your summit from the Spot on the SOTAWatch site - and your name as well.

Once doing this with 4 contacts, what is the process for requesting the points? Does it rely on those you spoke to also submitting something online to confirm contact has been made?

NO - no confirmation at all is required - SOTA works on the trust process. You enter your activators log into the database here: http://sotadata.org.uk/AddActivation.aspx (by the way you need to register for a (free) userid, this is a different ID to the one for SotaWatch and different to the one for the main SOTA webpage http://sota.org.uk )
Most chasers do log the contact however, which is useful sometimes if you want to check that you wrote their call sign down correctly. The SOTA database is a great tool, but takes a little getting used to if searching for others logs (chasers or activators).

is SOTA Goat a good app to use for uploading Spots?
Anything anyone finds better? It needs to be an iOS app.

SOTA Goat is the “de-facto” app for iOS - as I don’t have an iPhone, I can’t say if there are better apps, but I do know SOTA Goat is the most used on the iOS platform. I use Android phones and tablets, there are many choices for the Android platform.

By the way, you can also send a formatted SMS once you register your phone number, so you can spot without having to buy SOTA Goat but SOTA Goat also shows other peoples spots who are on and through that you may be able to get a summit to summit S2S contact, where you will get chaser points for the contact (as well as it counting to your required minimum 4 contacts to get the activator points for your summit).

73 Ed.


#15

Hi Dave. Welcome to the SOTA madhouse. I understand you were operating from ‘SW-019’ the other day and DD5LP suggested that you should have said G/SW-019 but I have a feeling he may have been mistaken. As your call sign in MW6OZB I suspect you were in Wales so the correct reference would have been GW/SW-019 (Mynydd Twyn-glas). Am I right? This is all that a keen SOTA chaser needs to know to find your location but, working on 2m (or 70cm) you may find that over half your contacts don’t even know what SOTA is so this reference isn’t much help. When in more remote locations (in mid-Wales) it is quite a challenge to come up with the nearest town or city! I do not expect that my chasers have seen my spot (I often don’t have one as I don’t normally self spot and don’t need to ask anyone to spot me).

As you have been told, it doesn’t matter who the contact is. The rules say, as far as I understand, 4 different call signs are all that you need although most of us look for more if conditions allow. The snag is that the more contacts you get the more you have to type into the database! On occasions (when desperate) I have broken into a net or conversation and asked for contacts (very politely) and almost always this is accepted and people are very helpful. However, if you find a contact on a repeater then you MUST ask them to QSY to 145.475 (or whatever your chosen frequency is) as the contact must be simplex and not through a repeater.

I operate only on 2m and 70cm with a Yaesu VX7R handy (max 5w) and find I can get quite a few contacts (in the more populated areas) with a 11" stick aerial (much better than a rubber duck) but for better results I use SOTAbeam style 2m/70cm dipole made of overflow water pipe erected about 1.5m above the ground. The pipes separate into a neat bundle of 3 or 4 lengths which are lashed to the rucksack much to the interest of other walkers! In the last couple of weeks it might have been possible to qualify a hill from summits to summits (S2S) with other activators but the high hills (2+ pointers) will become a lot quieter tomorrow as the winter bonus finishes tonight! I look forward to a S2S in due course.

73 Viki M6BWA


#16

Great to have another activator in Wales! Welcome to the SOTA programme and well done on being licensed. I was in EXACTLY the same position as you in 2011. A newly qualified Foundation licence holder with a 2M/70cm handheld and a bucket load of enthusiasm.

Lots of good advice on here which I won’t repeat.

But one thing I will emphasise is what Viki M6BWA (who VERY often operates in Wales) has said. For most summits in South Wales you will have a good solid activation on 2m or 70cm with an FM handheld, as long as you improve on the standard antenna. The simple dipole she mentions makes all the difference. I’ve done Summit to Summit from North Wales to Ben Cruachan, near Oban with a 2m handie and a dipole. I am sure others will have even better QSOs.

What I am getting at is that you can get started with your simple handheld and a relatively simple antenna upgrade. You may never need to upgrade from that if you choose not to. That’s the great thing about SOTA, so many ways to do it.

This may be sacrilege to say this on here, but I’m a hillwalker and climber first and an amateur radio operator second. So I fit my activation around enjoying the hills. You mentioned you are a “keen outdoors type” so don’t be afraid of taking the view that SOTA will complement your hill going, without it becoming a drag on your hill experience.

Enjoy! I hope to speak to you soon

Gerald
MW0WML (Mold, North Wales)


#17

Accepted Vicki - I should have checked GW not G - my point was not to drop the association part of the reference, as there are SW references in other associations.(e.g. both GW and GI have an SW region). Of course on VHF/UHF it’s also good to know your Maidenhead Locator square for contacts with people who don’t know the SOTA system. The maidenhead locator is shown as QTH locator in the SOTA summits information page.

Ed.


#18

Hi Dave

Nut house, try the Sota asylum once you in here you will never leave rather like that Eagles song.

It is addictive and fun from a chasers and activators point of view.

Spend a little time looking through the rules.

Now as calling out from the summit have a listen to other activators on air and produce you own style but remember at least every five to ten minutes call sign and summit ref as you may find pile up, your just working through them one after another , But remember you are in control of it.

My first activation was a total cock up failed even to get on air just was not geared up right antenna wise as its far windier than down below levels. Since then i have developed my antennas to be more portable and make the light as possible and simple to get up and down i have one 8m squid pole on it i can have any one time a 1/4w vert, 1/2w inverted L both Wire antennas and at 40mb and a 6m moxon beam. But there so many ways you ca set up antennas as you will find out.

But end of day get out there and enjoy and study the maps on internet so you can plan routes etc as i only recently found out one sota site in Devon is under military grounds and some days you have no excess due to the army shooting on site.

But get out there and enjoy

Karl M3FEH


#19

Welcome to SOTA Dave MW6OZB - hopefully work you one day on the bands.

Picking up on one point, I would say that I agree with Dave RUG’s comment above. Particularly when operating 2m FM, it is important to let potential contacts know what the purpose is for you being portable. Sitting on a hill top in sometimes adverse weather conditions is far different to what /P may convey, which could be a cosy seat in a caravan for example. You may be in a position where you want to make a few quick contacts before getting off the hill to a warmer more sheltered position or just on your way back to the car. Under such circumstances, you won’t be that interested in a full run down of someone’s shack or what they had for breakfast. So calling CQ SOTA does help make the contacts a bit more snappy. If you are sat basking in warm sunshine and want to chat, by all means do so, but don’t be afraid to limit the time on making contacts to suit your situation. Above all, prepare well and aim to enjoy both the exercise and the radio and you won’t go far wrong.

73, Gerald G4OIG


#20

Hi Dave, some very good advice in amongst the above responses, so I won’t belabour the points. Only comment really left to make is to stress the benefits of alerting. It is important to not get too worried if you don’t make an alerted time or bands - or even if you need to cancel an activation. If you need to cancel, then so be it, people are not going to be bothered.

By alerting, you are letting people know that there will be activity and to listen out for you. This allows people to plan other activities out of the shack if they know there should be nothing happening, but if there is a liklihood of an activation going ahead, they will often make an effort to be around the shack to try and chase you. Secondly, other activators may rejig their timings or hang around for a little longer to ry for a summit to summit contact with you - a benefit for both of you.

Have I missed bands or alerted activation times? Most certainly - I think few of us have not done so as there are always factors at play that will impact on an activation. Have I canceled an activation? Again, the answer is yes, many of us have had to for various reasons including weather, traffic, inability to access a chosen summit or personal reasons that have cropped up at the last minute. But by alerting (and when appropriate cancelling the alerts), the rest of the SOTA community is aware of what is going on.

No chance of workign you from VK on 2m I am afraid, but if you get onto HF, it is always possible (there have been many VK to EU S2S contacts made in the last couple of years). Hope to hear of many successful activations from you!

Matt
VK1MA