SOTA NEWS APRIL 2009
Welcome to the April edition of SOTA News. I am publishing this edition a day earlier than usual because I have been made aware that Tiscali, my ISP provider, are on the point of going into administration, which could mean a complete withdrawal of service without prior notice.
My thanks go to the following contributors:- Barry GM4TOE, Tom M1EYP, John G4YSS, Rob G4RQJ, Hans PA0HRM, Myke G6DDQ.
EDITORIAL – by Roy G4SSH
The first half of March saw an improvement in the weather and an increase in the number of spots as activators took advantage of the last few days of winter bonus. There were also many SOTA activators heard testing on different modes. The Wouxun KG-699 4m hand-held from China at under £100 appears to have attracted a lot of converts to this band, with even a Slovenian 4m clan being formed.
SOTA AWARDS MARCH 2009. By Barry GM4TOE - SOTA Awards Manager.
March has bee quite a busy month for certificates, so first an apology for the delay in sending them out. My printer decided to go to that place where old printers go to die and so I invested in a high quality colour laser printer – unfortunately the certificate blanks have to be printed on an inkjet so I was a little stuffed. My neighbour has leapt into the breech in the short term and lent me his printer so certificates should be winging their way to the proud recipients.
Now the “better” weather is approaching it is hoped that the number of activations will increase and this should be reflected in rapidly rising scores. A plug for the International SOTA Weekend at the beginning of May; I hope that this results in a dramatic increase in scores especially as several activators have advised that they will be trying to put some uniques on the air for this event. Meanwhile it is snowing here in Tomintoul (28 March) so guess who will wimp out from activating this weekend!.
Special mention should be made of the achievements this period of David G3RDQ on reaching the total of 1000 Unique summits chased and Martyn M1MAJ on reaching the 2500 point chaser milestone
Finally, may I repeat my plea – when you email or post me a request for an award please tell me what you are applying for AND do not forget to let me know your address!
2E0EDX Ian Taylor 250 points
G0EWN Gordon Fiander 250 points
HA7UL 100 points
G3RDQ David Griffiths 1000 points
M1MAJ Martyn Johnson 2500 points
G0SLR Roy Lisle 500 points
2E0BMO Roger Rimmer 500 points
M6ADL Tony Ciathos 100 points
HB9SVT Thomas Gehrig 100 points
Congratulations to the following who achieved license upgrades during the month
Helen 2E0YHB to M0YHN
Steve 2E0KPO to M0KPO
Martin 2E0DMZ to M0ZIF
Sean newly licenced as M6IRU
Congratulations also to Mike GW0DSP, who on the 17th March completed his goal of contacting every SOTA summit in England, Wales and the Isle of Man. An outstanding feat of chasing. During an activation of Hope Mountain on the 18th March Mike made 66 contacts with 23 DXCC countries, including 5B4AGN from Cyprus, using his FT-857 with 30w into a 6 band linked dipole. The extra power makes a big difference.
The successful W2 SOTA activation by Tom N2YTF and Dave W2VV caused a lot of excitement for chasers across Europe on the 17th March when contacts were made on 20m SSB and CW. Propagation favoured Southern Europe with chasers in Germany, the Czech Republic and Hungary reporting good signals. Other chasers in the UK and Northern Germany reported nothing heard or very weak signals.
SOTA Netherlands exist a little over half a year now. All four summits have been activated and we expect more activity this spring and summer. One summit (Torenberg PA/PA-004) is difficult to access and we consider to qualify a more appropriate hill near Arnhem.
The list of Dutch chasers shows nine active chasers, PA3CWG leading with over 5000 points and two other chasers having acquired over 3000 points. The activator list comprises five Dutch activators, PA0HRM leading with 72 points.
Best regards and see you from the summits,
5B / G0OOO by Roy G4SSH
I was 2000 miles away from home, on holiday in Cyprus and had just rung the bell at the house of my good friend Steve 5B4AHA, when to my amazement the door was flung open by a complete stranger who shook me warmly by the hand and said “Welcome Roy G4SSH – I recognise you from your photo on the SOTA web site” !
I knew that SOTA was becoming known world-wide but even so this was quite a surprise. However, he introduced himself as keen SOTA activator Rolf HB9DGV, whom I have contacted many times on the air. He was also visiting Steve, along with his colleague Franz HB9AII both on holiday in Cyprus and active using QRP from their hotel in Larnaca. Rolf even had his strap-on Morse key, used on activations, and was disappointed that Mount Olympus was not yet part of the SOTA Association !
I did manage to get on the air, as scheduled, at 0900 UTC on March 26th but propagation was not good, with quite a lot of background noise from distant thunderstorms. I still managed a couple of hundred contacts as 5B/G0OOO, including many regular SOTA chasers - with a call like that you only call CQ once and you have a pile up. It was a real pleasure to be called by John G4YSS and reply with G0OOO - the tables were turned for a change.
The following day was a washout – literally. At 0900 UTC the sky turned black, there was torrential rain, hail, thunder and lightening as a tropical storm hit the island. A small tornado caused damage in Larnaca and for safety reasons all antennas had to be disconnected. However, the sky cleared by 1300 and I did manage a couple of hours on 14055 and 10117 KHz before I had to depart for the airport, but the background QRN was very high and it was a struggle to read stations in Northern Europe and the UK. USA and JA stations were no problem.
It was still an enjoyable experience and special QSL cards are in the process of being printed. Cards will be dispatched via the Buro for all contacts made, or direct to G0OOO if required.
ONE INTO SIX WILL GO
Well deserved congratulations go to John G4YSS, operating as GX0OOO/p, for a magnificent 29 hour operation on the 15th March, the last day of Winter Bonus.
Leaving Scarborough at 1900 on the 14th, John commenced operating from the summit of Little Mell Fell at midnight, spent the night in his car ready for an early start at 0520, to be on the air from Helvellyn at 0730. This was followed by Seat Sandal, Fairfield, St Sunday Crag and Blencathra. He finally pulled the plug at 2030 on the Sunday evening and arrived back home at midnight. A possible haul of 42 points in a single day for SOTA chasers and all 6 summits were qualified on 160 metres.
A magnificent marathon which established quite a few records for a single day, including 60 activator points and 7400 feet ascended carrying QRO equipment for HF.
SOTA AT NORBRECK by Tom M1EYP
Summits on the Air is again represented at the NARSA Rally
at Norbreck, Sunday April 5th 2009. There will be a variety
of items and photos on display, Powerpoint presentations and
a raffle (with a major prize) in support of a worthy amateur
The stand is being organised by Rob G4RQJ, Audrey, Tom M1EYP
and Jimmy M3EYP, plus other well-known activators who will
be dropping in to man the stand at various times through the
As well as giving information about, and promoting the SOTA
programme, the stand also serves as a "meet & greet"
location for all SOTA participants. So make sure you visit
the stand, where you are bound to find plenty of activators
and chasers on either side of the tables.
Hope to meet you there.
ICE by G4SSH
The idea for this article, which will be of interest to SOTA activators, was suggested by Myke G6DDQ, who has added details of a recent upgrade. As my own daughter-in-law is a Paramedic I am well aware of the value of this system and have ICE details programmed into my mobile phone.
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY (ICE) is a program that enables first responders, such as paramedics, firefighters, mountain rescue services and police officers to identify victims and contact their next of kin, in order to obtain important medical information. The program was conceived in May 2005 and promoted by British paramedic Bob Brotchie.
It encourages people to enter emergency contacts in their cell phone address book under the name “ICE”. A person can list multiple emergency contacts as “ICE1”, “ICE2”, etc. The popularity of the program has spread across Europe and Australia and has started to grow into North America.
Research carried out by Vodaphone showed that fewer than 25% of people carry any details of who they would like telephoned following a serious accident. The idea has taken off since the July 7th 2005 London Bomb attacks.
When interviewed on the BBC, paramedic Bob Brotchie said:
“I was reflecting on some difficult calls I’ve attended, where people were unable to speak to me through injury or illness and we were unable to find out who they were. I discovered that many people, obviously, carry mobile phones and we were using them to discover who they were. It occurred to me that if we had a uniform approach to searching inside a mobile phone for an emergency contact then that would make it easier for everyone.”
ICE UDATE by Myke G6DDQ
In the past much has been made about ICE and mobile phones. A relatively new system, replacing the old Talisman necklace is now available on the market at a reasonable price.
The device is UTAG-ICE and is a simple USB PC compatible digital dog tag which will store all your personal and medical information in a waterproof form which can be carried in a variety of fashions.
It is compatible with Microsoft OS (sorry for swearing and lowering myself to the depths of insanity) and is self starting. I wear one of these, they look like a dog tag with the Star of Life emblem embossed on them.
Further information is available at www.utagice.com
THE VIEW FROM THE NORTH 3 - by Rob and Audrey
Really nice to see quite a number of new UK activators out recently. We hope you all get as much pleasure from SOTA as we do.
A good forecast so off we go to Whitfell. These western fells are not easy to reach from the motorway system and as a result are quiet and much more pleasant than the “Honey Pots” of the east. Whitfell can be done from the Corney Fell road or the Birker Fell road. Parking is difficult on the latter and the farmer is reported to be hostile to cars blocking tractor access, (reasonable really).
The start point, SD150896, is the summit of the Corney Fell road with room for about six cars. Leave the M6 at J36, A590 west bound to Greenod; take A5092 to Duddon Bridge (single file with traffic lights). Just after the bridge turn right onto the fell road. Warning. Many workers use this single track road en route Sellafield-Barrow, usually at 60mph plus. At shift change times just pull in and let them go! Allow about one and a half hours from the M6! The walk in is straight forward, the views to the south are super, you can even see Walney Island (home QTH) and its bridge. On a nice clear day it will suit an active family but is a little boggy in the centre section.
Unfortunately today is misty but forecast to clear. We take the route between Paddy Crag and Buck Barrow, youngsters will love scrambling on little rocky Buck Barrow! Buck Barrow can be contoured to the south but the path is not well defined. Just after the boggy section contour Burn Moor to its south (not worth the effort of climbing it) and from here ascend Whitfell to its summit shelter. The shelter looks good but for a lot of wind conditions it has the value of a chocolate fire guard and is as slippery as a Teflon banana skin! We settled for the rocks about 10yds east of the trig where a quick heavy burst of rain added charm to the by now thick mist. 5MHz was sulking and FE occupied but we managed to raise Geoff G6MZX on FL. His computer promptly crashed slowing up the posting. Happily Geoff recovered it and we worked just six more before a QSY to7MHz which was on good form but nil on 10MHz. 2M SSB produced most of the regulars. Only five on 2 FM the last being G0OXV which was rather appropriate as we had spent the previous few minutes shivering in the fog and cursing the weather men for their clear and sunny forecast, Keith apologised but we still had thick fog all the way down!
Sunday 8th Fountains Fell.
About 2hrs drive from home but the forecast said better in the east so we gave it a shot. An easy walk up the Pennine Way path and across the moor. We like this hill but the strong wind and resultant chill factor made for a difficult activation. There was not a lot of snow but what there was blew about constantly as spindrift making visibility poor at times. All bands except 10MHz were reasonable but I had trouble with the key which kept giving me strings of dashes whether I asked for them or not! I guess most people just thought that my sending was even worse than usual, sorry. If my coping in the gale was correct then SM1CXE made shack Sloth with this contact. Well done Roland. One and a half hours were enough for this one today, sorry if you missed us.
During the Fountains Fell activation we tested our new Self Inflating Sit Mats. I always regarded these as a little effete but old age takes its toll! They proved to be very effective, comfortable and keeping the cold away from the parts that it should not reach! About £6.50 on the internet and well worth it.
Sunday 15th Pike O’ Blisco.
The start point for this one is the Three Shires Stone at the summit of Wrynose Pass. This small obelisk marks the point where the borders of the old counties of Lancashire Cumberland and Westmorland met and reminds me that we now live in the occupied territories of Lancashire! We approach from the west unlike most people, about one and a half hours drive. From the east head towards the Langdale valley from Ambleside and keep going west. Wrynose Pass is a winding, single track road with passing places and if you find it nerve racking to drive up then don’t try Hard Knott which is much worse! There are often quite shaken looking drivers to be seen wondering if they can avoid the passes, not easy. There is space for maybe twelve cars at the top but avoid the passing places.
The walk up is straight forward, follow the track to Red Tarn then turn right up the multi-pathed track to the rocky summit. If like me you don’t like heights then beware of the north side of the summit cairn. On a clear day the walk would suit an active family but toddlers would need a lot of carrying and watching on the top! We set up on the south summit, lots of small grass terraces, pick a sheltered one. 5Hz was not working at all (one S2S with Longridge Fell) but 7and 10 both produced lots of contacts into the continent. 2M SSB and fm both worked well and even managed a cw s2s with Rick M0RCP/P on Ingleborough. Great to make it in the mode Rick. Seemed to be a lot of folk looking down their noses at us but no one spoke, then four fell runners cane through, ”Like your style” shouted their leader with a cheery thumbs up, quite made the day!
We were trying our new Aqua Scribe pads on this one. Excellent, I even stood on mine with a muddy boot but just washed it off when we got home. This week’s bad CW excuse however was the little pencil supplied with the pad. I hold my pencil in my right fingers while sending and it was short enough to catch my thumb quite a lot. Strugglers will be pleased to hear that I have replaced it with a longer one for next week to reduce the spare dahs!!
Sunday 22nd Whitbarrow Scar
After a week of super weather the forecast was once again poor for the hills with high winds forecast so we reluctantly decided on a little one yet again. Whitbarrow Scar is the hill on your right as you drive west on the A590 about fifteen minutes after leaving the M6 J36. To the west, south and east it presents very steep escarpments heavily wooded, the summit plateau is a very large walled enclosure, presumably to stop livestock falling off! Leave the A590 at a junction signed Whitherslack. From the east there is a section of single carriage way trunk road with two speed cameras leading into a dual carriageway; just into this is the turning. Head straight ahead, narrow and twisty in places until you reach Witherslack Hall now a school. Take the lane on the right by the gate (unsurfaced) to a space for about six cars SD 437 860.
From here follow the path along the side of the football pitch, cross the stile behind the goal line and continue up into the woods. The path is steep with a narrow 50 yd stretch with some exposure. In summer this is hidden by the trees which give confidence if not safety. It is much worse on the way down. Once inside the enclosure wall the panic is over. There is little shelter on the summit and the forecast was right about the gale. We sat with our backs to it for two and a half hours. It was cold! 5Mhz was in good form but 7Mhz was contest bound We found DK1BN/P on a DM summit but could not break the pile up with our QRP so eventually tried QSS QSS (see previous suggestions re summit to summit) and Walter came straight back so maybe it works!
Only two other CW contacts though so no need for my usual poor CW excuse. Both 2m modes worked well but no response on CW. By now the wind had become seriously strong so we decided to avoid the exposed section and descend via Bell Rake. Follow the track from the summit marker in a northerly direction, seemingly curving away from the required direction but leading through woods to a wall with gates and stiles. Do not cross the wall but follow it round leading eventually to the gate at the head of Bell Rake. Follow the path as it zig zags down and at the sign post take the permitted path back to Witherslack Hall. A nice walk for the family but if in doubt use Bell Rake both ways. I am not the only activator who doesn’t like the exposed alternative. hi hi.
Nice to welcome WOTA in this part of the country. Having done quite a lot of radio from the local hills long prior to SOTA (Homebrew super regen handheld with about half a watt of am ) we can vouch for the difficulty of getting out from some of the smaller ones. Still, it reminds people there are many nice outings to be had in the Lakes without rushing up Helvellyn, nice as it is. If we can help anyone with information on the LDs particularly the south just drop us an Email, any routes will be those we have used and will not involve any exposure! Enjoy it all and take care
Rob and Audrey
OFF THE BEATEN Track – By Tom M1EYP.
From the SOTA Database captured 19/3/09)
SOTA 4m Activators - World Top 20
1 G6DDQ 337
2 G4RQJ 106
3 G4BLH 88
4 2E0EDX 76
5 G0HDX 71
6 GW8OGI 69
7 G4OWG 66
8 G4YSS 61
9 G4OIG 56
10 GW4EVX 46
11 G6MZX 36
12 G8HXE 34
13 M0ZZO 32
14 MW0IDX 29
15 2E0XIS 14
=15 S57XX 14
=15 S57D 14
=15 S57OPZ 14
=15 S57BNX 14
20 S54KM 11
=20 G1INK 11
SOTA 6m Chasers - World Top 10
1 M3ULV 90
2 M0XLT 38
3 GM4FAM 36
4 G4BLH 29
5 G4JZF 25
6 GW4BVE 21
=6 MW0IDX 21
8 G4OWG 17
=8 GW7AAV 17
=8 GW0DSP 17
SOTA CW REPORT for March 2009 - by Roy G4SSH
The first half of the month of March saw an increase in the recent low level of CW activity, especially at weekends, and there were some days when in excess of 70 chaser points were available. However, there is usually a seasonal drop in activations during the second half of March, once the winter bonus period comes to an close. Unfortunately, I was on holiday in Cyprus from the 17th to the 29th, so am unable to comment on the last two weeks and apologise if I miss listing any activations…
There were cross-border expeditions heard from MW/DL1RNN, MW/DJ3AX, ON/LX1NO, DL/OK2QA and DL/HA2VR. A change of country usually has quite a dramatic change in the signal strength and whilst it was a pleasure to copy Gyula at 599 from Germany, in place of the usual 339 from his home in Hungary, it was a disappointment to be unable to copy the two Lutz’s DJ3AX and DL1RNN. This was due to the skip distance from Wales on 40m, and I missed their usual strong signals from Germany on 40 metres. Perhaps it was the absence of Benny as a portable ground plane.
There were quite a few disruptions from contest stations on 7032 KHz at weekends, but most activators checked the list of contests beforehand and moved up to 30m or down below 7030 KHz.
Heard active around 10118 KHz were - S53X, S57X, S57XX, LA1ENA, HA7UL, S58MU, F5VGL, F5UKL, OK4DX, MW/DLK1RNN, MW/DJ3AX, OH7BF, DL/O0K2QA, G0AZS, OK6DJ and G3CWI.
Feri HA5UL moved down 10 KHz during contest weekends and usually found a clear spot around 7.022 KHz. The 20m band was also providing good SOTA contacts as we moved into spring propagation, with HA and French SOTA activators, in particular, using this band.
Heard active on 144 MHz CW were Tom M1EYP, Barry GM4TOE and Mike GW0DSP and it was a pleasure to hear CW activators on 80m from GW0DSP, GX0OOO, G0AZS, M0RCP and M1EYP.
A warm welcome is extended to the following newcomers heard activating on CW for the first time:- Arpi HA3OD, Zoltan HA3HK,
I know I have mentioned this before, but SOTA CW activators are creatures of habit and knowledge of individual preferences can often mean the difference between chasing success or failure. A good example of this was a morning alert posted by Andre F5UKL who had alerted for his usual spots on 40, 30 and 20m. Unfortunately I had an appointment elsewhere right on his scheduled activation time, and on my return one hour later saw that he had indeed done the usual rounds. It looked as though this was a “gotaway” but I also knew that if he kept to his usual procedure he would return for a final call on 40m – and sure enough I managed a contact on 7032 KHz. Thanks for keeping to the familiar routine Andre !
A powerful multi-tone transmission centred on 7032 KHz and with a bandwidth of 4 KHz commenced operations in the middle of March, causing great problems for SOTA CW activators and chasers. This transmission is active for many hours and has forced activators down to below 7030 KHz.
HILL OF THE MONTH by Tom M1EYP
Pen Llithrig y Wrach GW/NW-013 - 799m - 6 points
Creigiau Gleision GW/NW-028 - 678m - 4 points
Perhaps it should be pluralised to “Hills” this time, for it
is difficult to discuss either Pen Llithrig y Wrach
GW/NW-013 or Creigiau Gleision GW/NW-028 without mentioning
the other. The two make a natural pair for fine 10 point
SOTA expedition and day out.
One possibility is to park at the campsite SH687602, for a
small charge. A long reservoir road (no access to public
vehicles) is then followed, then a path to meet the ridge at
SH694633. This is also a popular initial approach for
Carnedd Llewelyn GW/NW-002. You would turn left here and
follow the ridge to the summit.
However, for the pairing of NW-013 and NW-028, you would
turn right and climb to the summit of Pen yr Helgi Du. The
only thing is, this summit at 833m ASL is parented by
Carnedd Llewelyn GW/NW-002, meaning that you now have a near
200m descent before the final climb up Pen Llithrig y Wrach
For a challenging circuit, the activator can then descend
north-westwards to the head of Llyn Cowlyd Reservoir before
looping around to ascend along faint paths to the summit of
Creigiau Gleision GW/NW-028.
Because of the extra ascent and descent involved, most
activators will attack these two summits from further East
along the A5, and more directly South. A rough track leaves
the A5 at SH716591, and this is driveable with care up to
the farmhouse and bunkhouse at Tal-y-waun. It is
permissible to park here for the day.
The bridleway leads away from the back of the bunkhouse, and
gives good walking down to the south end of Llyn Cowlyd
Reservoir. This point (X) is the fork in the route, with
Pen Llithrig y Wrach straight ahead, and Creeigiau Gleision
to the right.
For Creigiau Gleision, head directly East, and pick the most
gradual ascent over the broadest crest of the hill. Aim for
the lowest point of the ridge. This is over soggy heather
initially, but then the walking improves on the steeper
flanks with firm grassy terrain.
Turning left on the ridge, the rocky outcrop summit is
before you. Either scramble directly up from there, or walk
past the summit and double back, taking a slightly gentler
and defined path. There is no shelter on the summit, which
is quite rocky and affords fine views in good weather. Drop
a little lower for a better spot for HF antennas.
From point (X), climb the stile and just ascend in a
straight line directly upwards. Some of the grassy slopes
are very steep, but only right at the bottom is some very
mild scrambling required. There is a maze of "sheep tracks"
on the slopes of this hill, and pretty much all of them will
converge on the summit. Probably the best line is to head
just to the left of the large crags, and then bend round to
As the hill narrows towards the summit, a more distinct path
appears towards the steep vertical face down to the
reservoir. This is now a gentle walk to the summit cairn.
There is lots of room for HF antennas on this summit, but no
shelter whatsoever. If shelter is required, it may be
necessary to drop as much as 10m vertically from the summit
to gain respite from any prevailing wind.
Both hills offer good VHF take-off to the Midlands and
North-West, so activation qualifications are easy even on a
2m FM handheld. Cobdens Hotel is handily placed on the A5
for a pleasant post-activation real ale, sat in the mountain
bar at the back. The rear wall of this bar is the rock of a
real mountain, complete with ferns and a stream passing
An alternative drive-in and initial approach for this pair
might be from Brwynog Uchaf to the north, via the narrow
lanes from Trefiw.
CONTESTS DURING APRIL 2009
The following scheduled contests are expected to cause severe QRM to SOTA activity, especially on the 40m band. Activators should plan accordingly with alternate spots/bands. This is not a complete list of contests.
4th – 5th 1200-2359 QRP ARCI CW Contest
4th – 5th 1500-1500 SP CW/SSB DX Contest
4th – 5th 1600-1600 EA RTTY Contest
11th only 1200-1800 PSK 31 Contest
11th-12th Yuri Gagarin CW Contest
12th only 0001-2359 SKCC CW Contest
12th only 0900-1100 DIG CW QSO Party
18th-19th YU CW DX Contest
19th only 0700-0900 EA QRP Contest
19th only 0900-1700 YU CW DX Contest
19th only 1100-1300 EA QRP Contest
25th-26th 1200-1200 SP RTTY Contest
25th-26th Helvetia Contest CW/SSB/Digi
SOTA News can only be as interesting as the items submitted. If you think your particular field of interest is not being covered then please submit an article by the 25th of the month. Have you a favourite SOTA? favourite mode? favourite rig, antenna, or favourite band? How did you find your first day / month / year as an activator or chaser? Your comments and experiences will be read by SOTA enthusiasts all across Europe and beyond, and your input will be most welcome.
SOTA News Editor