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My FT8 SOTA setup


Thanks for the detailed response Burke, I’ll have a read of that at the weekend. I fancy trying the mode out at home (it should solve some of the shortcomings of my home setup), but remain to be convinced about carrying the extra equipment up a hill.


I send the ref# as part of my 73.

KF7NP N6WT -01
W6SC-100 73

I prefer to send RRR instead of RR73. Now in doing it that way I have to hit the Log QSO button at the end.



Just to elaborate on this. When you send your R-01 or RRR the QSO is confirmed. Sending 73 is just a pleasantry.

So I figure sending the ref with 73 is ok.



You are right Tom.

Then next time i will use F5LKW/P
73 Roger


Tuesday 8th January 2019 - Gun G/SP-013

I fancied doing a 30m FT8 activation. Problem was, my 30m dipole was broken, and I hadn’t yet built my new 30m GP antenna. Bit then I remembered my SOTABEAMS Bandhopper 4 linked dipole - and off I went!

18 QSOs made, including a call from US chaser N1GB, so pretty pleasing. My routines on WSJT-X seemed to work well, so I took a photo of a full QSO:


Did try to work you FT8 but didn’t see a CQ from you, so just sent M1EYP/P G6UYG IO82 quite a few times but no joy, maybe 30m ground wave from Shrewsbury not quite making the trip.



Well done Tom on your FT8 activation - it can’t be easy operating that mode portable. Nothing seen in North Yorkshire of your call in the bandmap. Too close for me on 10 MHz, in the dead zone. I saw that SOTA enthusiast OK1ZE was calling you without success, so I called Vaclav and we had a QSO. Better yesterday fo rme on SOTA FT8 with Roger F5LKW/P on 40m from F/CR-209, Roger was coming in very well, gave him a -16 report.

73 Phil


Yeah OK1ZE struggled to receive my final RR73 to know the QSO was good, but he got it eventually and he’s in the log.

I’m still waiting for my first FT8 SOTA chase and indeed S2S.


I’ll keep looking for you Tom whenever you are out with the FT8 and I am in! Nice to do something a bit different.

73 Phil


Just out of curiosity Kent, would it not be easier to just include the ref # with TX5 using a saved macro? Would basically save 15 seconds on each Q :wink: FT8 newbie here and I think I’m the one who asked you over on the FB SOTA group on your setup. Finally downloaded here on the 26th of Dec after resisting this mode for so (much too) long. I’ve actually been having a blast with it here and will be getting something to go with the KX2 soon. I also played around this past weekend in the ARRL RTTY Roundup. Quite impressive. Almost WAS in a couple of hours of playing, with 11 DX entities. Not bad for just starting out…Anyway, thanks to you and Burke for taking the time to show your setups…Later, Todd KH2TJ


You need the RR73 to give the sign that the QSO is good, complete, for it to be logged etc. “/” is a problem in FT8 - either side of it is a different “word”. It’s hard to get the full proper SOTA ref in any other TX without having to abbreviate either the ref or the callsign. Having been activating on FT8 for a number of weeks now, I’ve definitely come to the conclusion that it saves time and understanding overall just to dedicate one whole extra TX to the sSOTA ref.


Would it help to use a different delimiter character, eg G:SP004 if the slash character has a special meaning?



The ref# is the TX5. I load W6SC-100 73 into the Tx Macros under settings.

My feeling is, Im not in a hurry so I dont care about losing 15 seconds. SOTA is not a contest exchange. It says in the SOTA rules that the ref should be given often.

I did not do any FT8 in the RTTY RU this last weekend. I guess I am just a purist at heart. I did 1033 Q’s just RTTY. The only state I was missing was North Dakota and most of Canada was missing.

For me FT8 is a tool to work needed DX for DXCC. It is not a contest mode. But this is me, your mileage may vary.



Not exactly. In ver 1 of FT8 the standard was RRR then the next exchange was 73. If you go back and look at ver 1 it said dont use RR73 unless you are very sure of a successful QSO, like you have a very strong signal. In a QRP situation like SOTA you are not sure. I will use RRR.



Hi Kent,
From experience I agree it is probably best to use RRR for a QRP activation. For the TX5 message I load
W7A MN143 73. The W7 call area has multiple associations so the space makes it clearer where the association ends and the region begins. There is still 1 character remaining if needed. The presence of the 73 also indicates the end of a QSO so operators are not confused thinking the reference is some kind of a call sign. I actually worked a few stations in the RU during my activation Saturday. It is a pain to keep switching between the contest mode and normal mode because you need to go to the settings menu. Doing this also resets the frequency if you are not operating on a frequency in the frequency list. Bad programming in my opinion to change an unrelated setting just because you opened the setting menu. Was a problem when working the contest and DX using a non listed frequency. The contest mode enable should be on the main screen. Every time I switched back to the contest some DX would appear in normal mode and I would switch back to work them. Still was able to work multiple JA stations. Hopefully an S2S some day on FT8.


I’d suggest you get your self on the VK Discord group as this will make co-ordination a little eassier. Someone here will be able to direct you if you need it. Quite possibe there will be several of us out on 2 summits during our annual Hotham event. Mt Hotham is a ski resort in VK3 with many 10 point summits around which are drive ups with a 4WD or easy to moderate walks during our summer. There are a couple of more arduous walk in’s as well.
I just tested my set up tonight on the IC910 for the 23cm attempt. Good to go.


Wednesday 9th January 2019 - Walbury Hill G/SE-001

Not such good results on FT8 this time. We’re spending a few days in Marianne’s hometown of Southampton, and called in on Walbury on the way south.

It’s a very quick and easy walk along a byway from a parking area, with s short walk over a field full of sheep to the trig point.

Jimmy M0HGY set up a SOTABEAMS MFD and easily made 6 QSOs on 2m FM. I set up a SOTABEAMS BH4 set for 40m. On reflection, it was probably too late for 40m QRP within 30 minutes of local sunset.

I made one QSO with an EA station on 40m FT8. Two more attempted QSOs with DL stations were not completed.

With time cracking on and the likelihood of an impatient XYL waiting at the car, I plugged in the Palm Paddle and rattled off the three more QSOs required for the point.

80m FT8 is Iikely in the coming days.


I beg to differ. When you send RRR, if you do not then receive 73 from the other station you have no way of knowing that he received your RRR, so the QSO is not complete.

Walt (G3NYY)


I’m at loss to know why anyone would need FT-8 to work VK from G. Done 3 SOTA activations this year and worked VK on all of them, with nothing more than a mic and homebrew antenna.

A couple of days ago, CT2GSN/p worked ZL1BYZ with 5 watts ssb, from CT/MN-030. The surprise in his voice was priceless. Now that’s real radio! The video is up on the usual places.


But he did receive you signal report that he acknowledged with his R-01 and that is all that is needed. At that point I am hitting Log QSO. No need for the 73.