Dear SOTA colleges. I am brand new to SOTA and to QRP. Just got myself a FT817ND, small solar panel and the usual 12V Gel/gas tight lead battery, my home brew dipole and a 6 meter fishing pole for center mast.
Nostalgia aside! This SOTA activation did not work! NOBODY answered my 2 hour long CQ call! What a letdown!
Well, I got two choices: One is to forget the whole QRP thing! The other is to take it as a challenge and work at it, (with your help and advice I hope), until I get to know the ropes of this new niche of the hobby.
What went wrong? I have some few topics I would like to highlight, and I am open for any suggestions from you.
• Too short notice?
I posted myself only the night before on sotawatch.org as Upcoming Activations. Was that too short notice for chasers to plan with? I see some guys post planed activations many many days in advance.
• Non attractive summit? (Only 1 point!)
I tried to activate the summit: LA/TM-029 As I am new to SOTA, I really do not know… But It sure looks like chasers did not even bother lift the microphone for the “One-Point-Only” summit in Norway! Am I on to something? If so it is a little discouraging for us that are not super-athletes nor mountaineers! I am never going to climb Mount Everest you know! But I enjoy a 2-5 hours hike up a summit. Is that not enough for you?
• Wrong day, and wrong time of the day?
My activation was made on Friday 9’th July 2010 (a workday for those that did do not have summer holidays), and it was in real life from about 11 to 13 UTC.
Maybe on a weekend day more chasers have the opportunity to sit in the shack? All I need is 4 QSO’s! One would think that with whole Europe as play ground there would be four chasers on the air!?
• Wrong frequencies?
I chose 40 and 60 meter bands for their “normal” propagation characteristics during day time. My aim was to be accessible for chasers in northern Europe from my Norwegian summit.
- 40m frequency I operated: 7.118 MHz LSB, This frequency is above 7.100 MHz which was up to not long ago the upper band-limit. I was wondering if there are a lot of hams out there that still can’t transmit above 100? Would it be smarter to choose a LSB frequency that lies below 7.100 MHz so as to be more accessible to more hams?
- 60m frequency I operated: 5.3985 MHz USB. This frequency is accessible to Norwegian, UK, Canada, Island, Denmark, Greenland and “almost” Finland. (Finland: 5.3986) OK, what is the deal with 60m band in Europe? I really do not know. One thing I know is that this band is rarely included in any multiband antennas you buy of the shelf! So my point is that if you want to be QRV on this band I guess you have to make some antenna (like a dipole for example) yourself! AND, you need a rig that is open for transmit on the band. How many hams, or chasers have access to this band? I really have no idea! Any suggestions?
- Too much RF absorption on 60 m band going up and down through the E layer during one skip in day time?
As we know, the E layer acts as a “dampener” as it absorbs RF energy of low frequencies ( long wave lengths) as they go through on the way up and down from the F layer in the ionosphere. (This is why we do not hear AM stations on 0.5 to 1.6 MHz band during day time!) I really thought that 60 meter band would be OK to use even in the middle of the day (max excitation of the E layer). I know 80 meter is affected, and 160 meter almost useless…. But 60 meter? Am I mistaken? Any suggestions?
• Lousy propagation conditions that day?
The solar flux was around 78 on 9 July 2010. In my opinion, and limited experience, I do believe that this should be enough to comfortably make a one skip QSO during day time on 40 and 60 meter bands. OK, the bands were kind of quiet! It could have been problems with my antenna, and it could also have been the propagation. I did notice some merchant QSB that day on many stations. How about you? What was your experience of these bands that day?
• “Latest SPOTS”, and the concept of SPOTTING… Do I REALLY have to SPOT myself on the web to arise any interest?
OK, now I have to tread VERY carefully to not step on any toes! I definitely do not want to insinuate that anybody is “cheating”! Definitely not!
Maybe I just have to face it that the real world, and the world how we like it to be ideally are two very different things!
I would shortly state that one of the things that attracts me to QRP, HF-pack, HF-wilderness hiking and SOTA is to get away from the grid, the infrastructure, the long arm of internet (be it IP access via cell phone or whatever) and still have a nice QSO with some colleagues of the hobby. All from a summit or from way inside the wilderness.
Do I really have to make sure I bring with me Internet access out there so that I can SPOT myself on the web for anybody to bother talk to me?
I am not stupid, so I do understand that this would help a lot! BUT, I really was hoping that it was not crucial!
Am I too naive if I think that listing myself on upcoming activations on the web is enough to at least get the 4 QSO’s needed?
Sorry that this got too long! Hope you find the time to comment! I really would appreciate any advice!
Best regards from LA4CIA, Lewi.