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SOTA long DX on 20m


I write this short post with my smartphone just to say that SOTA long DX QSOs are still possible on 20m.
I was chased by several NA stations, including W0 and W6 during my activation of Mt. Erreniega one week ago and I chased yesterday from my QTH in the village the following activators:
1745 KH7AL W0C/FR-034 20m-CW
1811 WB0USI W6/NS-189 20m-CW
1916 KX0R W0C/FR-174 20m-CW

Don’t forget 20m is still a great potential for DX.



Yep. On Saturday John ZL1BYZ reached me in Oregon from the northern part of New Zealand - a distance of roughly 7000 miles or 11000 km. Although I have this feeling he’s got some kind of super station down there.


Same experience with 20m here. George/N1GB gave me a 579 when I was activating DL/MF-056 Auerspitz last Thursday. I was running ca. 4 W into an EFHW with traps attached to a 6m carbon-fibre pole in an inverted-vee configuration. It was my first DX on a SOTA summit, so I was pretty surprised.

73 de Martin, DK3IT


Indeed, Guru,
Sometimes, when things are working well, it’s like magic. The log below is from an antenna test at local midnight in Arizona. Note that (because of the time of day) No one from North America was worked. G stations reported hearing both short and long path signals. Running 100W to an elevated feed vertical with 6 radials.

Date:13/Jun/2014 Summit:W7A/AW-057 (Tumamoc Hill) Call Used:K6HPX/P Points: 4 Bonus: 3 Delete
Time Call Band Mode Notes
06:42z G4SGX 14MHz CW IAN
06:44z OE7FMH 14MHz CW
06:45z VK2IO 14MHz CW
06:46z G4OBK 14MHz CW
06:47z IK3DRO 14MHz CW
06:47z VK2DAG 14MHz CW
06:50z HB9DAX 14MHz CW FRED
06:51z F5SQA 14MHz CW
06:53z G4TJC 14MHz CW
06:54z VK7CW 14MHz CW
06:56z VK3WE 14MHz CW
07:01z DJ5AV 14MHz CW
07:03z EA2CW/P 14MHz CW
07:06z OH6NPV 14MHz CW


Hi Ken,
That info shows how easier was life back in 2014…
It’s harder in these days but there’s still chances for great DX contacts.
All we need to do is trying, as we did las monday :wink:



Many thanks for the update Guru. I am aiming to be out again in a few weeks time, so hopefully conditions will still be okay. Unfortunately last month weather conditions were not conducive to rigging the vertical antenna with its 4 radials.

Well done working the US summits from home. That is not possible at my QTH as it is far too noisy here. S2S is the only way I can work the guys activating over there.

73, Gerald G4OIG


Operating as an activator from E7 and 9A/DH, over the last year I had a few DX QSO’s on the 20m band:

12/11/2017 13:13 AC1Z 599 559
09/06/2017 11:28 K4DY 599 539
08/07/2017 11:10 K4DY 599 529
26/08/2017 11:25 K4DY 599 439
25/12/2017 12:28 K4DY 599 559
25/12/2017 12:18 K4MF 599 559
21/07/2017 13:31 KA1R 599 599
04/11/2017 12:28 N1EU 599 449
11/11/2017 13:23 N1GB 599 599
10/12/2017 12:44 N1GB 599 449
29/12/2017 14:25 N1GB 599 549
29/12/2017 15:30 N1GB 599 559
30/12/2017 14:22 N1GB 599 579
14/10/2017 13:21 N4EX 599 339
30/12/2017 14:24 N4EX 599 439
04/11/2017 12:14 VE2JCW 599 219

This is a too small sample for any serious conclusions, but it looks like the distance limit for my 5W transmitter and (not always well-matched) vertical antenna is the US/VE East Coast and the time of contacts corresponds to the morning time over there.

The reports I’ve got varied significantly in both R and S figures. Still, some were quite good. My regular 599 is probably a bit of exaggeration in terms of the S units, but the fact is that all the DX signals have been clear and legible.

73’s de Zoran/E70AA


Hi Guru

You are right! Long DX SOTA QSO are still possible.

Some examples:
ZL1BYZ 24DEC2017 10:38z my SOTA ref CT/BA-013 (Xmtas present ?)
N4EX 12JAN2018 14:01z my SOTA CT/AL-003
VK7CW 21OCT2017 07:39z my SOTA CT/ES-005

Always less than 5W and EFLW or dipole antenna at 5m above ground.

We should keep trying!

73 de Pedro, CT1DBS/CU3HF


I’m finding my biggest difficulty in working European ops is they frequently need to be off their mountain due to daylight and wx constraints before 20m breaks open here in Colorado. I expect this situation will improve with longer days, but it’s difficult near the winter solstice. It’s easier with southern and eastern EU and I was happy to catch Pedro, CT1DBS from CT/BB-013 this morning @1538z. ¡ Obrigado !

Larry, K0RS


Yes, John ZL1BYZ “can hear very well”


It is rare to work with Europe from US West Coast during SOTA activations. My last SOTA long DX on 20 m was EA1DR on 6/6/2016 at 23:27 UTC from Mt. Baden-Powell W6/CT-004.


Hi Guru

You’re right again… :wink:

Today (16JAN2018) I had the chance to use some free time in another region of the country and bagged 2 more summits (KX-2 + EFLW @ 5W)

And, again, I had the pleasure to do some DX:
VE2JCW 13:16:07 20m CW
N4EX 13:11:21 20m CW
K4DY 13:08:00 20m CW

K0RS 15:38:07 20m CW
VE2JCW 15:36:07 20m CW

So, never give up and keep trying. The SOTA activator has a DX waiting for him in any summit… :wink:

73 de Pedro, CT1DBS/CU3HF


13/01/2018 16:32z NA6MG (5 watts) 20m/cw W6/SD-261 -> EA2LU
16/01/2018 16:34z NA6MG (5 watts) 20m/cw W6/CT-014 -> CT1HIX


This certainly is an interesting set of posts. DX from SOTA peaks is one of the great thrills we share!

While it’s true that DX was more common a few years ago, even with the solar flux near quiet-sun levels, we have some top-notch chasers who can hear many activators and then make contact with us.

On Dec 20, 2017, I was activating W0C/SP-111 on 20M CW, and I had the pleasure of contacting ZL1BYX at 1815Z. Almost as soon as I signed with John, next contact, EA2IF, Guru, called me from the other side of the planet at 1817Z. Since 1815 was near local noon in Colorado, this worked very well indeed.

I was truly amazed when it happened, and I’ll never forget the feeling of amazement that this can occur with an almost quiet sun. The solar flux was 74 that day.

While I often hear Guru EA2IF and Jorge EA2LU chasing other activators from my home station, and I have logged them both many times when I was on peaks, it’s very rare to hear an EU activator above the noise here at home. So far, I’ve never made an S2S contact with any EU station…but I’m listening. Part of the problem is just the time difference - they like to finish up and go home long before I’m hiking up the mountain.

Lately I’ve had several easy contacts from JH1MXV. Activators, take note - he’s looking for you - and he can hear you. The secret is to be on the mountain after 2200Z. This is late in the afternoon for a winter day. Those of you on our West Coast definitely have the advantage for activators in Asia and the Pacific.

There aren’t many secrets to working DX from a SOTA peak. Here are a few basic principles:

  1. Orient the antenna in the direction where you expect DX. You need to understand your antenna pattern to do this.

  2. Set up your station on the side of the mountain that offers a low wave angle in the direction of the likely DX.

  3. Choose quiet summits away from development or other noise sources.

  4. Time your activation for the expected DX.

  5. Post an alert and make sure you’re spotted somehow.

  6. Listen for DX all the time. EA2IF and EA2LU are capable of breaking into a pile on 20M CW and will do so.

  7. Some DX stations will not call until the very end - this means being extra careful to listen and tune around near the end of a session in case DX is calling.

  8. Send your information several times and do repeats as needed.

  9. Be sure to try 20M and 17M CW, and perhaps 15M if it’s open.

  10. On a craggy high summit, even a wire only 10 feet above the rocks will work DX with 5W. Don’t compromise too much though - I usually use 10W now, I always have at least 1/2 wave of wire up for 20 and 17M - usually 20M of wire - and I use an end-fed inverted-L setup with no lossy coax. I always use a homebrew tuner so the system presents a perfect 50-ohm load to the KX2 or ATS-3B. Using a miniature or compact system makes no sense to me.

  11. There’s a certain positive attitude that really matters. These top-notch chasers have it, it shows, you can hear it!! As an activator you need this too - this is what makes you stay on a band after you’ve worked all the easy callers, call CQ a few more times, give them time to see your spot, get on the air, etc. Wait a while - try another band - magic may happen!

  12. Miracles do happen. I have worked DX on SOTA peaks when I was on the wrong side of the mountain from the chaser, and over 50 feet below the rock summit - barely in the activation zone. I’ve made DX contacts using dead trees as poles - or live trees - to support the wire, when I forgot my pole, or left it down in the woods. I’ve made DX contacts sitting on 4-5 feet of snow, with an end-fed wire, and no counterpoise. Many times DX has happened where I had to set up well below the summit to get out of the wind, with the wire below the summit ridge. Many activations on high summits end up with more than half of the wire only a few feet above the rocks - yet the DX is there calling!! I’ve worked DX with the high-Z feed wire lying across a few rocks right by the pole. I’ve worked many DX stations off the end of the wire - on some summits, you have to use what you have.

  13. Last but not least - CW works better for DX than SSB…but SSB will do it if conditions are good! A little more power never hurts if you can manage it…




Hi Larry

Thanks you for the QSO across the pond. HPE CU AGN.


Pedro, CT1DBS


Speaking soley as a chaser, putting out a call for DX might be a way to go too. I’ve heard DX calling an activator but be unable to bust the pileup of domestic chasers and then give up and quit trying.


Yes, I’ve heard that, too. As a chaser I make a point of telling the activator that there is a USA station calling him if I hear one, this results in the activator calling in the DX and usually a contact, but sometimes the DX station either doesn’t hear the call due to QSB or has given up. Many chasers help like this, alerting activators to DX or S2S calls, it is part of the fellowship of SOTA!


Hi George:
I was stalking to chase you yesterday at the house QTH in the village but it wasn’t possible
to copy you neither on 10.114 nor later on 14.063.
I’ll keep trying.



Was chuffed to work K4MF from Sharp Haw, G/NP-029, this afternoon. I was running my first release Mountain Topper into a home brew lightweight dipole on a 4m /12ft pole. The power output from my MTR is in the region of 4 watts.

It still amazes me that it’s possible to detect such a small signal, launched from a poor antenna, at over 4000 miles.

I can’t wait for the conditions to start improving again, it’s gonna be mega!



I agree! It is the most important reason I love it HF/CW qrp QSO! before leaving summit I call CQ even a few times on 20m and… here it is…dx