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SOTA NEWS December 2007


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The Sota News Team welcomes you to……….

SOTA NEWS DECEMBER 2007

Your SOTA News Team is…

Mike GW0DSP (Chief Editor) John GW4BVE and Roy G4SSH ( Regular Monthly Correspondents), with thanks this month to the following…

Roger MW0IDX, Les G3VQO (obo MT), Steve G1INK, Richard G4ERP, Frank G3RMD, Tom M1EYP, Dave M0DFA, Steve 2E0KPO, Clive M1YAM, Mick 2E0HJD, Ian GW8OGI, Mike G4BLH, Ron GW4EVX

HAPPY NEW YEAR

The SOTA NEWS team wishes all of our readers a very happy, prosperous, healthy and safe new year for 2008.

Today is not just the start of another year it is also a time when we can all start afresh as activators within SOTA. All of the summits become uniques again as far as scoring activator points is concerned. When you are out there earning your points, please remember at all times to keep it safe. Take the time to read through John G4YSS safety (November SOTA News) feature once more, it offers valuable information which could possibly prevent an accident, injury, or worse.

PLEASE NOTE

The January News will probably be a few days late because I am not back from Scotland until the 2nd February at the earliest. Apologies for any inconvenience caused, normal service will return after the GM trip.

73 Mike GW0DSP (Chief Editor)

SOTA MANAGEMENT TEAM NOTIFICATIONS

Reminder. Reflector posting of 3/12/2007 Re: Additional Data Available in Logs

In response to an earlier request from Alain F6ENO, and as part of the
on-going programme of improvements to the SOTA database, from 2nd
December, additional columns have been added to the data exported for
activator and chaser logs.

Activator logs now include two new columns, points and bonus, although
the points value is only shown for the first QSO of each activation.

Chaser logs now include a new column for points.

Hopefully, this additional information will enable users to maintain
their SOTA records in a wider variety of personal formats.

Les G3VQO obo SOTA Management Team

Reminder, Reflector posting of 29/12/2007 Re: SOTA Database Changes.

The SOTA Database has been updated with some new DM summits, valid from 1-1-08, and some other minor corrections. It will also make the switch between G/WB-001 and GW/SW-041 as from 1-1-08.

Questions have been asked in the past about why the personal stats on SOTAwatch - “My Activations”/“My Chases” - seem out-of-date. This is because it requires me to manually update it, so if it has been a few weeks the figures can get left behind.

I have now set something up so that the stats should get updated at least once every day. They should be up-to-date now, and the system should be up and running properly by 5-1-08.

Happy New Year,

Tom M1EYP

EASY SOTA (Possible Disabled Accessible Summits)

We have decided to leave this item in the news permanently.

You are probably aware that Steve 2E0KPO has been putting together a list of SOTA summits which would possibly offer access to disabled people who are wheelchair bound. He has now completed the task and has compiled an extensive list of summits which either meet the criteria to suit wheel chair access, or very easy access on foot. Steve has included self explanatory notes for each summit, so as to give a very good description of what can be expected on arrival at the summit. Steve’s list has now been included on the Burton ARC website and can be viewed on the link below.

http://www.burtonarc.co.uk/sota_easy.htm

SOTA MILESTONES FOR THIS EDITION

CHASERS

100 Points

250 Points

Mario HB9HAT

Reiner DO3UB

Jean-Louis F5NHJ

Phil 2E0PHL

500 Points

John G4WSX

Robert M3PQQ

1,000 points (Shack Sloth)

David G1HAK

Stewart G0LGS

Janos HA4FY

Graham G4FUJ

Des G3HKO

2,500 points

Barry M3PXW

5,000 Points

Nik HB9EAA

Fritz HB9RE

Don G0RQL

10,000 points (Supersloth)

15,000 Points ( Supersloth and a half )

100 Unique summits chased

John G4WSX

250 Unique summits chased

Martyn M1MAJ

500 Unique summits chased

1,000 Unique summits chased

Peter HB9BYZ

Ken HB9DOT

ACTIVATORS

100 activator points

250 activator points

Andy MM0FMF

1,000 points (Mountain Goat)

100 uniques activated (1st time summit activated in sota history)

Fritz DL4FDM

PERSONAL ACHIEVEMENTS

GW4BVE Milestone

John GW4BVE activated Caliber Isaf GW/MW-031 on 30th December. Nothing special about that? It is not even a rare summit or even a challenge to ascend. It wasn’t even a long distance to travel, being only a few miles from John’s home QTH. However it was rather special for John in that it was his final GW/MW summit to be activated. John is the only activator to have activated all the GW/NW and all the GW/MW summits. There are no prizes for guessing his next target!

DL4FDM makes it 100 first time unique activations

Congratulations go to Fritz DL4FDM, who has now activated no less than 100 summits for their first ever activation. Fritz 100th summit 1st was achieved when he activated the summit of Schindhubel DM/RP-297 on 13th December 2007. Fritz had a huge pile up to deal with on 80m-cw, 40m-cw and 40m-ssb.
Well done on a fantastic achievement Fritz.

GW0DSP hits the 100 mark

On 29/12/07, Mike GW0DSP celebrated his 100th SOTA activation when he did a joint activation of Cyrniau Nod GW/NW0034 with Barry 2W0PXW.

SOTA STATISTICS
Lies, Damn Lies and SOTA Statistics

The last SOTA statistics examined the activation of GW summits and laid to rest the rumour that GW activations were dramatically declining. It seemed more appropriate at the end of a year to examine a broader base, so we decided to look the number of times that activator callsigns appear in chaser logs and publish the top ten activators for each year.

As usual a few notes are appropriate to describe the methodology used. The statistics were compiled between Christmas and New Year, so there are a few days of QSOs missing from the 2007 table. The calls listed are the home calls of the activators, but included in the figures are contacts using all the variations of the call. For example the figures for G1INK include contacts with G1INK, GW1INK, GM1INK, DL/G1INK etc. and all variations of the suffix such as /P, /M or no suffix at all. Where a call has been changed or upgraded or the operator uses two callsigns they were treated as separate entities, however checks were done and the tables would not have been affected by combining the scores of the callsigns of well known activators. So here it is, the table of the most chased activators showing the number of QSOs logged by chasers for each activator:

2007
DF2GN 5193
G1INK 3072
DH8DX 2478
DJ3AX 1936
GM7PKT 1647
HB9AFI 1611
G3RMD 1560
G3TJE 1540
DJ5AA 1534
GW4BVE 1434

2006
G7KXV 1630
G1INK 1571
DF2GN 1341
G0PZO 1071
HB9AFI 948
GM7PKT 935
GW4BVE 903
G4RQJ 867
G3TJE 826
DL4FDM 821

2005
G1INK 1760
G4RQJ 874
GM7PKT 821
GW4BVE 638
M1YAM 621
G0PZO 610
G3CWI 570
G6LKB 518
G3TJE 461
GM4COX 413

2004
G1INK 1424
G4RQJ 503
MW0YLS 493
M1YAM 322
G0OXV 301
M0DFA 295
GW4BVE 277
M1EYO 262
M1EYP 246
GW0VMW 237

2003
M1EYO 236
GM4COX 209
G4RQJ 175
MW0YLS 167
M0DFA 146
GM4TOE 94
GM7PKT 91
G3CWI 86
M1EYP 79
MW0IDX 71

2002
G3CWI 32
M1EYO 31
G4RQJ 24
GM4COX 17
MW3GTE 14
G0RQK 12
G4YSS 10
M0IDX 7
G4ELZ 7
G3WGU 6

The tables speak for themselves, but one operator, Steve G1INK, has been outstanding in providing large numbers of chaser contacts consistently over the last four years. Well done Steve and thanks on behalf of all chasers to you and everyone else in the tables. Klaus DF2GN’s score for 2007 stands well above the rest and reflects his willingness to use both CW and SSB on multiple bands, develop efficient antennas and stay on summits for extended periods. An outstanding result - thanks Klaus.

Who will be in the 2008 table? The “hit and run” merchants will have to activate a lot of summits before they get anywhere near the scores of the activators in the 2007 table. A “SOTA Statistics” thread will be started on the SOTA reflector for discussion on this subject.

GOATS, SLOTHS AND ‘SUPERSLOTHS’ By Tom M1EYP

At the time of writing, there have been a total of 32
Mountain Goats (1000 activator points) in the world of SOTA.
The breakdown of these is as follows:

G: 11
GW: 3
GM: 3
DL: 14
HB: 1
The Shack Sloth award - for chasing 1000 points from the
shack - has been participated in keenly by a large number of
amateurs, with over 150 gaining Shack Sloth status.
The awards have been achieved as follows:
G: 58
GW: 12
GM: 8
GI: 1
GD: 1
EI: 1
DL: 41
HB: 11
F: 9
PA: 3
ON: 1
OE: 1
OK: 1
LX: 1
LY: 1
HA: 1

A version of the ‘Shack Sloth’ award is available for SWLs,
and this has been achieved by two G (England) SWLs (Roger Leighton & Ian Bradbury BRS188236) and one ON (Belgium) SWL (Peter Destoop ONL-5923) so far.

73 Tom M1EYP

MOBILE INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY NUMBER
From Mick 2E0HJD

The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile phones is 112. If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile network and there is an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly this number 112 can be dialled even if the keypad is locked. Try it out.

With a cautionary warning about not relying on mobiles in an emergency !!!

73 Mick 2E0HJD

POPULAR GERMAN SUMMIT

Kahleberg DM/SX-003 has become the first non UK summit to enter into the top 50 most popular summits with 56 activations at the time of writing. Kahleberg lies in 49th place at the time of writing, it is a 10 point summit and stands at 905 metres. Well done to all of the activators who have made this such a popular summit.

The most popular SOTA summit is still G/SP-015 The Cloud, but that is purely down to the multiple activations of a local activator.

(Editor)

SNOWDON GW/NW-001 REACHES 100th

Snowdon GW/NW-001 became the 5th GW/NW summit to experience it’s 100th activation on 30/12/07 when Roger MW0IDX/P along with activating partner Richard GW0VMW/P completed successful activations of Wales’ Highest summit.
This was a fitting tribute to Roger who was also the very first person to activate Snowdon under the SOTA banner, way back on the 2nd of March 2002.
Congratulations Roger
(Editor)

RAMBLING (ABOUT, AND) IN THE EMERALD ISLE. By Frank G3RMD

I was asked to write a few paragraphs on the joys of SOTA activating in Ireland. My experience of hill walking in Ireland is quite limited, so I will start by apologizing to those who are better informed, for any errors or omissions.

My family takes an annual holiday in County Wexford, where most of the time is given over to renewing friendships, playing golf, sailing and over-indulging in the local beverages. Despite this heavy burden, I have managed to escape and activate a few hills, and have amassed a few facts (and rumours) on the pleasures of walking in East Coast Ireland.

I have carried out a number of activations in IE/IE and a few in GI/MM and used Ireland Ordnance Survey (Discovery Series) maps, which are obtainable from any tourist office or bookshop in Ireland. There are a very limited number of 1:25,000 scale maps available, but you will probably have to use Discovery series 1:50,000 maps, which are not quite up to UK OS standards and are barely adequate. Maps are also available on the internet - see http://www.themapshop.co.uk/europe/rest/ireland.htm. Minor paths are not shown and sensible use of a GPS is definitely required. Bear in mind that the Irish Grid system is different from the British system, but all GPS devices accommodate this.

In the busier walking areas Wicklow Hills (EI/IE), Mourne Mountains (GI/MM), near major conurbations, navigation is easy on well-defined paths. On more remote hills, tracks are quite indistinct or non-existent, and navigation becomes much more challenging. On Backstairs Mountain IE-006, I walked alone for 8 hours and saw no one. It is imperative that a route card is left with a responsible adult, prior to expedition.

Another good source of route material is the book, Walking in Ireland (ISBN 1-86450-323-8) and I have found the web site, mountainviews.ie, very useful.

Wonderful hill walking is available in the Mourne Mountains in GI. The walk from Newcastle, Co. Down up the Glen River to the summit of Slieve Donnard, (GI/MM-001) is very attractive. It combines rushing waterfalls, superb mountain scenery against the backdrop of the Irish Sea, with great views of Scotland and the Isle of Man. When combined with Slieve Commedagh (GI/MM-002) it delivers 18 easily earned SOTA points and a great days walking.

Another excellent pairing is Slieve Bearnagh and Slieve Meelbeg via the Trassey River route following the Brandy Pad (An old smugglers path). Bearnagh is a stunning Mountain with cathedral like granite outcrops on its summit. Great to scramble on after the slog up. The Mournes are very popular with climbers and walkers, in a great setting of mountains and lakes. Sheet 29 of the Northern Ireland Discoverer series covers all of the major SOTA peaks.

Access to the countryside in Ireland is a fraught issue due to the near absence of legally recognized rights of way. Access across private land in mountain areas is generally good, but not a right. I personally, have not had any problems over access, and most farmers are glad to have a chat and are very welcoming. People are very hospitable, both North and South, and I have no doubt anyone walking in Ireland will be welcomed.

Activations have been carried out using VHF and HF (ssb and cw). VHF paths from Eastern Ireland to most of the UK were surprisingly good into most of the major SOTA areas from N. Yorkshire to Devon, (using 50W to a 4ele), and HF contacts on 7 MHz and 3.5MHz have been easy on both bands. 5MHz is not yet available in EI but I understand this is about to change. It currently looks like 5MHz will not be available for visitors operating under CEPT reciprocal arrangements in EI. 5MHz is permitted in GI.

Only 14 summits out of the 131 have been activated in EI/IS and there are still 51 out of 72 summits un-activated in EI/IE. Only 3 summits out of 97 have been activated in EI/IN, but in EI/IW you could not only claim a new unique summit but the first activation of the association as no summits have been activated there yet!!

So if you want to activate some wonderful hills in stunning scenery, and probably be the first to do so, head west, young man (or woman), but be prepared for all weather seasons in one day.

73 Frank G3RMD

UK NVIS PROPAGATION by John GW4BVE

Well the UK NVIS propagation for SOTA activators can only be described as being very variable last month. 3.5MHz is reliable in the middle of the winter period but is of course busy and perhaps subject to more local noise at the chaser end of the link. 5MHz has been marginal with F2 critical frequencies hovering around our channels, but most UK paths being workable. Even 7MHz provided some UK propagation, see the example on the 15th below.

Let’s have a look at some FoF2 figures for last month. The mean F2 critical frequency at 1200 utc for December was around 5.42MHz. The lowest was 4.8MHz on the 23rd. The highest was 6.4MHz on the 15th. There were only a couple of days where there was any significant sporadic E noticeable at midday utc.

On 3rd Frank G3RMD was monitoring 5MHz and 3.5MHz around the time of the activations by Robert G0PEB on 5MHz and John GX0OOO/P on 3.5MHz. He heard 5MHz NVIS conditions improve as the critical frequency increased and 3.5MHz signals weaken as the D layer built up later. Of course in summer this effect is much more pronounced and the D layer absorption can make 3.5MHz almost unusable to QRP stations during the day. Frequency agility is the secret. Still on the 3rd, UK stations were working each other at good signal strengths on 5MHz at around 2030utc which was very unusual, however the propagation mode turned out to be E layer with reflections around 5MHz shown on the Chilton ionogram until 2340utc…

On the 9th Geoff G4CPA activated SB-009 around 0915. He was initially struggling for contacts on 5MHz with the F2 critical frequency around 4.3 to 4.9MHz. He reported poor conditions at 0945. At 1010z the FoF2 was 4.3MHz but shot up to 5.7MHz at 1020. At 1015 Geoff’s signals were good to GW4BVE in Welshpool and to Brian G3NIJ in Newcastle. One thing that we tend to forget is that the critical frequencies are lower the further north you go, but unfortunately the ionosondes providing the measurements are in the southern part of the country in Chilton and at RAF Fairford.

On the15th around 1020utc most UK stations calling Klaus DF2GN on 7.118MHz were S9 in Welshpool with only the stations less than 50 miles away inaudible, for example Barry M3PXW in Ellesmere Port. Initially I thought this must be E layer propagation, but it was actually via the F layer and the F2 critical frequency peaked at around 6.9MHz at this time. Around 1100utc Barry GM4TOE had 8 UK contacts on 7MHz from Ben Rinnes ES-021. Conditions were still excellent on 5MHz at 1520utc when Ian G7KXV completed working his pile-up of 24 stations from Great Knout berry Hill G/NP-015. It can be worth checking for UK propagation on 7MHz but don’t be holding your breath as it doesn’t occur that often at this time of the sunspot cycle.

5MHz was still in reasonable form on the 16th but Geoff G4CPA had to wait for a clear channel on 5MHz as they were all occupied by Sunday morning nets and other SOTA stations. 5MHz has been fairly busy during the month, especially at weekends. On 22nd Paul G0HNW reported that 5 of the 7 channels were in use at one point and 3 of these were SOTA activators.

On the 26th despite the FoF2 being marginal and varying, Robin GM7PKT worked many UK stations on 5MHz… Although the critical frequency in the GM is lower, this is outweighed by the longer paths to the majority of the UK chasers. Unfortunately this did not help Ken GM0AXY and Christine GM4YMM who were much too close in Edinburgh and were unable to hear Robin on 5MHz. Happily there was propagation to Edinburgh on 3.5MHz and the QSOs were completed on that frequency.

On the 30th the F2 critical frequency at 1200utc was 5.62MHz but by 1310utc it had dropped to 4.52MHz, which just shows that 5MHz is very variable from hour to hour as well as from day to day. The description that is commonly used is “strange propagation” and this is quite justified at this time of the sunspot cycle.

At this time of year it is traditional to look forward to the year ahead. What can we expect in 2008 for UK NVIS propagation? Well the propagation is unlikely to get worse. Some predictions say that solar flux level will not rise significantly (currently 70-80) until the start of 2009 – yes 2009. If these predictions are correct then NVIS conditions will not change appreciably from those we have experienced in the last 12 months. On a more positive note Dave M0DFA pointed me to some material published by NASA. A high latitude active region with reversed magnetic polarity has appeared on the solar disc. This just could be the start of solar cycle 24. If you want to read the full story as published by NASA have a look here:

http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2007/14dec_excitement.htm?list163655

My gut feeling and that is all it is, says that cycle 24 will have started by the middle of 2008 and there will have been a significant increase in solar flux levels by the end of the year. So during the rest of the winter, 3.5MHz will be the most reliable frequency while the D layer absorption is low. Into spring and summer the D layer absorbs ion will increase during the day and make 3.5MHz less usable especially for QRP operators. As the daylight hours increase so will the hours when FoF2 (F2 critical frequency) rises above 5MHz, so 5MHz will again become the frequency of choice except for those very early and very late activations. There will be very few F layer inter-G openings on 7MHz but there may be some particularly on the longer paths later in the year. E layer openings will of course continue and 7MHz operators will report “short skip” conditions mainly during the traditional sporadic E season, but the openings will be, as described, sporadic and unpredictable. At some point the flux will start to rapidly increase and then we will be celebrating the start of solar cycle 24. The rise of activity at the start of a new cycle is always more rapid than the decay, so within a couple of years, or even less, we could be back to regular and reliable inter-G propagation on 7MHz during daylight hours.

That’s it for 2007. Please try to get any NVIS snippets to me by around 28th January so the complete article can be sent to Mike GW0DSP for publication on the first of the month. Best wishes for 2008 and may the propagation gods be with you.

73 John GW4BVE

SOTA ACTIVATING ON 4m and 6m By Ron GW4EVX

I was unable to get out onto the hills during December so have no personal activity to report on but the intrepid Ian GW8OGI was active on six occasions and gave 4m a try on each one.

Ian runs 5 Watts from a Nabishi N401L hand-held to a slim Jim made from 300 ohm ribbon and supported on a fishing pole.
I had not heard of this particular rig before and Ian describes it as a re-badged Icom.

Pictures available at:

Hand –held 4m radios are quite scarce since none of the major amateur radio manufacturers produce them and not many used low-band PMR radios seem to appear on the market.
Garex Electronics advertise a Pye PFX converted to 4m for £54.95 which seems good value although I have no personal experience of this radio. I believe the antenna connector is non standard so it may be difficult (though not impossible!) to use an external antenna.

http://www.garex.co.uk/pmr/pfx.htm

For those with fat wallets it is of course possible to buy a new PMR low band hand-held!

Ian went up to Mike, DSP’s office, Hope Mountain, NW-062 on Tuesday, 4th December and had eight contacts on 4m.

G4BLH Mike, Nelson Lancs
G6TGO Ian, 18km S of Manchester
M3SMK Stuart, Rochdale
G8HDS Phil, also Rochdale
MW1FGQ John, Holywell
G7ICY Steve, Chester
G6ZFZ Wolverhampton
G6ZSG S.W. Birmingham.

Remember this was a weekday, so very good going!
I have also worked the first six stations from local hills in the past so while they may not all be regular chasers they usually monitor 70.45MHz throughout the day.

On Thursday the 6th Ian went to NW-073, Mynydd Rhydd Du which he describes as not a great place for VHF as it is shielded by the Clwydian Range from the major population areas

Just the one 4m contact from here with John G0NAJ in Dukinfield, another regular 4m band monitor.

On the 13th Ian went to Moel Hebog NW-014 and on the 16th to Elidir Fawr NW-005 but had no success on 4m.

On the 20th he made an evening visit to Foel Fenlli NW-051 (my office!) but problems with the rig prevented any 4m operation.

A visit to Glyder Fawr NW-003 on the 22nd was more successful and yielded contacts with Mike G4BLH and John G1VGF located near Blackpool.

The slim Jim used by Ian is based on a design on The Four Metres website,

http://www.70mhz.org/slimjim.htm

He used this as a rough guide and ended up with very different dimensions for the stub and feeder attachment points as each brand and type of cable behaves differently.

The main site itself is packed with useful information and well worth a browse.

Hope to be out on the local hills in January if the weather is kind enough.

Best wishes for 2008.

Ron, GW4EVX

2 METRE SOTA ACTIVITY BY MOONLIGHT By Ian GW8OGI

I took advantage of still conditions and a nearly full moon to safely go up Foel Fenlli NW-051 on the evening of 20/12. There was a strong tropo opening on 2 metres. It was really peaceful on the summit on such a windless moonlit night. In addition to local contacts, I worked……….

G0NCE Owen, Rochester Kent
G0AZS Marc, Aylesbury

Both contacts were on 2 metre CW with 5 watts and a telescopic whip. First time I’ve worked 2 metre CW.
After putting up the 3 element yagi, with 5 watts SSB, I worked Swedish special event station: SC300VL in JO68SD

Sadly, my time was soon up and I had to leave to pick up my son.
Mountain of the month for me!! Not a cloud in the sky and not a breath
of wind. The ground frozen solid and coated with frost, all lit up by
the brilliant moonlight.

Well that’s it, except to wish you all the best for the season and
a happy 2008 with lots of SOTA points and good DX!

73

Ian GW8OGI

23cms NEWS By GW8OGI & G4BLH

My contacts on 23cms for December – GW8OGI/P

4/12/07 on Hope Mountain GW/NW-062, with 500mw and a Bi-quad antenna, I managed contacts with…….

GW4BVE John, Nr. Welshpool
MW1FGQ John, Holywell.

Also

Mike G4BLH/P (on a local non-Sota high spot) worked John G4BVE/P on Great Shunner Fell, G/NP-006 on 12/12/07
Mike G4BLH/P (on a local non-Sota high spot) worked John G4BVE/P on Great Whernside, G/NP-008 on 13/12/07
Nothing else known of this month I’m afraid. I called CQ from a few others
but no replies.

Mike G4BLH says that Don, G0RQL, informed him that he has indeed got a tri-band
handheld rig, (144MHz/433MHz/1297Mhz) namely a Standard C568A. It only runs 35mw on 23cms, but Don also has a 19 ele beam at 30ft. I’ve worked Don on 2 metres from North Wales, so hopefully it should be possible on 23cms under the right conditions.

There is a picture of Don’s rig on the link below.

73 and happy New Year to all

Ian GW8OGI and Mike G4BLH

SOTA CW REPORT BY ROY G4SSH

Looking back over the past year, the most notable event of 2007 was, without doubt, the dramatic increase in CW activity, as revealed by a glance through my chaser log:-

In my SOTA CW report of January 2007 I wrote “There are about40 regular activators using CW. Of these, 17 are from Germany, 12 from Switzerland, 6 from the U.K, 4 from Hungary and 2 from Austria”. In the 12 months since that report was written this total has increased by 300%, with more than 120 regular CW activators. 52 are from Germany, 18 from Switzerland, 6 from Hungary, 7 from Austria, 4 from Belgium,20 from France and 12 from the Czech Republic. I have not included the increase in UK stations using CW because I only use HF and consequently hear very few UK stations. However the data-base shows in excess of 40 UK CW activators, of which about a dozen are regulars.

The biggest boost to CW activations came when France joined the SOTA organisation on the 1st April. From a modest start with just a few enthusiasts ( F5RGY, F6ENO, F5VGL and F8BBL) this quickly multiplied until by the end of the year there were 20 regular stations active from France. The mode again received a further boost when OK stations joined on 1st May, bringing a further dozen regular CW activators into the fold. The introduction of these new countries with such a heavy bias towards CW activations meant that chasers collecting SOTA uniques were in a very advantageous position over their non-CW colleagues.

Perhaps encouraged by the above, it was very gratifying to see the number of chasers who resolved to either learn (or refresh) their CW skills. By the end of the year there were around a dozen newcomers using the mode. In response to this development, and determined to encourage this trend, Klaus DF2GN/p introduced a QRS session at the end of his activations, which continued throughout the year. It is satisfying to note that some of these stations are now regularly calling in during the normal QRQ exchanges.

A good example of dedication and determination was seen from Tom. M1EYP who commenced copying CW very slowly and by the end of the year had reached a speed of around 18 wpm and is now chasing and activating using CW. Congratulations also to M0COP, G0NES, G4BLH and ON3WAB.

SOTA CW activity peaked during the summer and early autumn when it became routine for dozens of CW activators to be spotted in a single day and chasers were able to collect in excess of 70 points as a matter of routine, and occasionally more than 100.

Unfortunately the bad weather which curtailed so many SOTA activities in November continued into the Winter Bonus period, with very few CW stations active during the first half of December, either in the UK or mainland Europe. There were many days without a single spot and the only regular activators during this period were Dan DH8DX, Klaus DF2GN, Jurg HB9BAB and John GX0OOO, who is one of the few SOTA activators to use the 160m band, with considerable success.

Mid winter propagation on 40m became very poor on some days last month, with long-skip conditions, resulting in stations from the USA (K4IN in particular) being audible up to noon and EU stations very weak or inaudible. Even 30m (normally a most reliable SOTA band) was suffering by only being useful for a few hours either side of noon.

Fortunately the weather did improve and activations returned to normal during the second half of the month. On the 23rd December Klaus DF2GN was active from BW-055 using 50w to a new antenna, which brought in 130 QSO’s. Whilst active on 10.118 KHz CW he was called by K4DY in North Carolina, which I believe was the first EU-USA SOTA exchange

It is interesting to compare the difference between SOTA chasing in summer and mid-winter. In summer it is common for activations to be heard from 0630 until 1900 UTC (sometimes even later on Tuesday evenings). In mid-winter, chasing becomes a much more relaxed affair. With barely six hours of daylight the window for activations rarely commences before 0900 and is usually over shortly after noon.

A warm welcome is extended to new SOTA CW activators Mario DL4MFM, Peter HB9CMI, Vlad OK1XVZ and Vaclav Pribl OK1AUP, first heard on the air during December.

.It is interesting to read comments on the reflector from activators who have encouraged their children to become licensed (in many cases the enthusiasm comes from the offspring themselves). In these modern times Amateur Radio can seem rather old-fashioned and of little advantage to a career, so I will relate this true story.

A few years ago my daughter, encouraged by seeing her older brother successfully train to become a Marine Radio Officer and later pursue a career ashore in communications, followed him through Radio College with the intention of using the qualification to gain entry to an Electronics and Electrical Engineering degree course at University. She had no interest in Amateur Radio, but with her training and my encouragement took the examination and become licensed as M5OOO. The licence was put in a drawer with little interest in going on-air.

Came the first day at King’s College, University of London, when newcomers were assembled for an introduction by the Head of Electronics, who welcomed all students and posed a simple question “Who knows the meaning of SWR?” Out of 150 new entrants only my daughter raised her hand. The Professor then came down from the rostrum, shook my daughter by the hand and said "I am G3…and I am looking for someone to help me set up an amateur radio station at the university, what is your call?

Needless to say, having the Head of Electronics take a personal interest in her progress did not harm her career prospects one bit. The project was completed and club callsign G0KCL obtained. A few years later my daughter was appointed Director at Ofcom. You never know when that extra qualification will separate you from the crowd.

My Best Wishes for 2008 to all SOTA activators, chasers and SWL’s.

Roy G4SSH

SOTA USED and ABUSED

This is a new idea from Richard G4ERP, a section where various products have been tested for sota use and a report can be given on the items to help others.

Extremities Action Sticky Windy Gloves

Used for only 2 months.
Weight: 70g for the pair.

Forget the trendy name these gloves really are the business for winter activations. They are a great compromise between protection for your – err – extremities and dexterity. Setting up the station is no problem and writing is easy. Even SMA connectors aren’t a challenge. They’re not very waterproof and aren’t completely windproof, but hey, you can’t have everything. Keep them in your sack as your spare gloves and swap to them when you reach the summit.
Verdict: Excellent. My Peter Storm fingerless gloves are now well-and-truly pensioned off.
Richard G4ERP

Blacks Titanium tent pegs

Used for 18 months.
Weight: 7g each.

They are thin, extremely strong and have maintained their points despite being used extensively on rocky summits. Unlike aluminium or steel guys, they will find their way into any small cracks. Even frozen ground is relatively easy. They come in a pack of six. One tip: close up the loop a bit using a strong vice. This helps the rope to stay captive whilst you put up the mast. Be careful whilst doing this as a slipping peg could do you some damage.

Verdict: Expensive but excellent.

Richard G4ERP

SOTA PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR

The last time I had a spur of the moment idea, it turned into the SOTA Fun Evenings which began in the summer of last year and hopefully we will resurrect them in the spring of 2008. My latest notion came about after nominating Geoff G4CPA as personality of the month (November Sota News) after his TV appearance. Why not a SOTA personality of the year?

Due to the popularity of the event, it was decided that three places would be awarded.
I contacted Steve 2E0KPO and asked if he could design certificates for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places. Steve obliged in record time and emailed the templates to me on the same day and they are now printed out and will be posted out to the winners early in the new year.

Voting commenced on the 10/12/07 and a close date was set for 21/12/07 due to the approaching Holidays. The idea was a big success and attracted 110 votes for 38 different personalities. Votes were recorded with several different reasons given for your choices of nominees and some of your votes even came in for Sota dogs. The whole vote was done in what can only be described as “in the spirit” and was typical of the fun family atmosphere we share within our SOTA community. The voting was very close for the top three places with just 4 votes separating them. Only the top 3 are shown here, but a full list (in no specific order) of those voted for is available on email request. Here are the results, with the main reasons given for election. The certificates will be posted out early in the new year.

The winners are as follows…….

SOTA Personality of the Year 2007 is…… Klaus DF2GN

Reasons given: A very prolific activator, for superb operating techniques and a consistent big signal, for consistently ensuring that every last chaser is worked by using several bands and modes, especially for encouragement to new cw ops with his QRS cw sessions and then returning to various frequencies to catch anyone who may have missed him first time around. A true gentleman on the air.

Runner up is…… Steve G1INK

Reasons given: A very prolific activator. Superb QRO activations covering many bands which offer everyone at home or overseas the chance to work him. Superb operational skills, especially when in DL last year enabling many UK chasers to work him back home. A very warm, friendly and gentlemanly style of operation.

Third place is…… Mike GW0DSP

Reasons given…… A very prolific and reliable chaser/spotter, almost 100% certainty to reply to CQ. Multiple activations of local summit for no points. Outstanding Sota achievements reached in less than a year. Fastest to date to reach Superslothdom. Doing a great job of the News, offers an interesting and varied news bulletin. Outspoken and will say it as it is on the Reflector.

Congratulations to everyone who received votes and a big thank you to everyone who took the time and effort to vote.

(Editor)

SOTA FLICKR GROUP

The SOTA Flickr group now has over 100 members and has over 3,000 photographs on display. The standard of the photographs is very good and the site is a real blessing to prospective activators, who get to see what they face on the summits. The photographs also bring the summit views to those of us who would otherwise never get to see them close up.

FLICKR PHOTO OF THE MONTH

Wow, yet another month of very high quality photos for the Sota Flickr Group, anyone could have won this month. Once again we have a clear winner, which has received several votes. Congratulations go to Gerald G4OIG for his superb winter sunrise scene from Long Knoll G/SC-007. The exposure is perfect, on what is technically a very difficult shot, well done Gerald. Gerald is the first UK SOTA participant to win the photo of the month since this feature was added to the news in October 2007, the previous winners being Dan DH8DX in October and Jurg HB9BAB in November. Please keep your votes coming in every month for Photo of the Month.

Gerald’s winning photo of the month can be viewed on the link below.

(Editor)

HILL OF THE MONTH By Tom M1EYP

I nominate Great Whernside G/NP-008 (704 Metres, 6 Points)

This is a relatively straightforward 6 points for the activator, but classic high wild Yorkshire moor land fell walking. Parking at Tor Dyke, east of Kettlewell, it is
first necessary to descend slightly through a fairly boggy area, before climbing up the fell side. A couple of eroded channels can be quite tricky and certainly present some
technical challenge if there is ice about, but there then follows an excellent graded stretch contouring along the lip of the ridge to the summit.

Views are good if not spectacular, and I have generally found this to be a quiet and peaceful place. A torch lit descent after the winter nightfall was enjoyed by us, and
added to the atmosphere. A large stone shelter with high walls exists a few hundred
metres along the ridge and is well within the activation zone if the wind needs to be avoided. The parking spot at Tor Dyke affords the possibility of a ‘double’ taking in
Buckden Pike G/NP-009 (and the aircraft wreckage) on the other side of the road.

Tom M1EYP

FORTHCOMING EVENTS

Scotland SOTA Trip

Steve G1INK, Mick 2E0HJD and Mike GW0DSP will be in Scotland for 5 days, commencing 28/1/08. We will be staying at The Caledonian Hotel, Fort William and hope to activate as many summits as the weather allows while we are up there. There is a slight chance that we may just possibly sample the local brew too.

Steve and Mick will be activating the bigger summits and due to my condition, I will be activating the easier summits, if such a thing exists in GM/WS. I also intend to do a bit of winter cod fishing along with playing radio.

I (GW0DSP) will make myself available to activate any rare WAB squares also, so if there are any squares in or around the Fort William area, or on the route between North Wales and Fort William, then please feel free to email me the details along with your phone number so that I can ring you when I am QRV in your wanted square. I will do my best to activate any requested square.

(Editor)

24 in 24

As a team, we have now made the decision to increase the team to 6 members, made up of 2 activators and 4 chasers. This decision was made in view of the controversy surrounding the use of club call signs or any chaser using 2 callsigns which he/she holds. Club calls etc has never been an option for this team, but the thought of not getting the required 4 contacts in the wee hours was enough to persuade us to take 4 chasers with us. Two more people have now been included from the list of callsigns who applied as chasers. It is my pleasure to officially welcome Paul G4MD and Ian G7ADF to the team, which is now complete and as follows…….

Activators will be Barry M3PXW and Steve G1INK
Chasers/support crew will be, Mick 2E0HJD, Paul G4MD, Ian G7ADF and Mike GW0DSP. As stated earlier, speed is of the essence, but the lads will try and work as many “outside” chasers as is possible while on the run, please give them your support. Our intended route will be published shortly.

You can view the Hospital’s letter of authority for the charity here
http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=2043371841&size=l

You can view the sponsorship form ( front ) here
http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=2044169232&size=l

You can view the sponsorship form ( rear ) here
http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=2044169480&size=l

(Editor)

INJURIES and ILLNESS

Clive M1YAM says…………

There’s no improvement what so ever as yet, the right side of my face has no movement at all, it seems as if it’s just a waiting game and We’ll see what happens, at least I am off the steroids now which played havoc with my other medications.
I don’t think I can do myself any harm if I attempt an activation in the cold weather and I must admit, I am a bit like John G4YSS for liking the cold icy mornings, anyway just steady away and I’ll see how things go.

It was pleasing to hear Clive back on the summits on 13/12/07, when he activated G/SP-004 Shining Tor. Welcome back Clive.

Ian G7KXV……

Ian G7KXV is recovering nicely after his recent knee replacement surgery and made a welcome return to activating on 15/12/07 when he activated G/NP-015Great Knoutberry Hill. The SOTA News Team and your fellow Sota participants wish you a very warm welcome back on to the hills Ian.

Dave M0DFA sent this update in………

Today’s angiogram showed that my angina is due to the artery down the middle of my chest being partially blocked - hence the pain when I get too energetic. This was clearly visible on the X-ray pictures. As this is the only artery affected, and apparently only in one place, treatment will be the insertion of a stent, probably in early January, over in Stoke.
A stent looks a bit like a short section of coax outer, made of titanium mesh. It is inserted over a balloon on the end of a catheter pushed along an artery, possibly accessed in an arm, or in the groin (like today’s effort). The balloon is inflated when it gets to the constriction and expands the stent, squashing the constricting material and opening up the artery. The stent stays in place when the balloon is deflated and the catheter removed.
After rehabilitation, I should be almost back to pre-angina condition.
Today’s procedure means that I am unlikely to be allowed back in the shack tomorrow.
Mike - I’ll leave you to edit this for SOTA News, and please give my thanks for the interest and concern which SOTA people have shown. By being open about it, I hope to put the message across that

  1. Its a warning that even the relatively fit can be affected
  2. Its not the end of the world

I WILL BE BACK!!

73s, Dave, M0DFA/G6DTN

ERRATA

Luckily, there appears to have been no errors reported in last month’s news.

That’s it for another month, for another year also. As we try to expand the News, the SOTA News Team hopes that there is something of interest for everyone. As always, your feedback, whether good or bad, is always very welcome so that we can do our best to improve the news for you and include any other topics at your request.

On behalf of the SOTA News Team, thank you for your continued support.

Mike GW0DSP (Chief Editor)


#2

In reply to GW0DSP:

MOBILE INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY NUMBER
From Mick 2E0HJD

The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile phones is 112. If you find
yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile network and there is
an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network
to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly this
number 112 can be dialled even if the keypad is locked. Try it out.

With a cautionary warning about not relying on mobiles in an emergency
!!!

112 is the harmonised emergency number for the European Union only. It does not work worldwide. Moreover it works on all telephones not just mobile phones. There is no difference between dialling 999 and 112 in the UK, both calls are routed and handled exactly the same. Finally, 112 is not guaranteed to work on all mobile phones when the keypad is locked. 112 will only work through a locked keypad on a modern phone.

Andy
MM0FMF


#3

In reply to MM0FMF:

Thanks for the news Mike

112 WILL work on mobiles with out the SIM card

Barry
2E0PXW


#4

hi all,

es tnx for the flowers , hi :slight_smile:

but i think we have to say thank you to all activators and chasers all over the associations !
some om´s haven´t the time and not so many summits in their home-area as i have.
i worked on the new summit-list in DM/BW a few weeks with a minimum of 3hours per day on it :slight_smile: its a really hard work to work these summits out. in the black-forest alone are so many summits…
and so its not so a big thing for me to do all these activations.think in most associations its harder for the activators to do sota.
therefore i try again in 2008 to reach most chasers and give a few points back. that means… multimode/multiband es qro in future.
a little bit crazy and sota-addicted as on the first sota activation,too :slight_smile:

so thanks all for nice qso´s in 2007 and hpe cu on my next activations

vy 73 Klaus

P.S. i think DH8DX Dan worked sum DX before me, include US .
30m-cw is a very good band also for dx, but the activity in my last
summits is not so high and sometimes i have only 1 or 2 qso´s in the log.
why not set a dx-cluster spot for these bands by low activity. maybe more possible associations and chasers have a look on sota from different dxcc´s then…i have now more chasers in ssb-mode, who have their first contact with me only by a info in the dx-cluster and now they are regulars :slight_smile:


#5

In reply to DF2GN:

Klaus, you are a very worthy winner. Congratulations.

vy 73 Mike GW0DSP


#6

Klaus, you are a very worthy winner. Congratulations

Also in my opinion!
Many congratulations Klaus and many tnx
taking so much time on cold, wet summits
to work all the chasers in the pile-ups!

Many tnx also for the excellent SOTA-news to
the “news-team” and a happy new year to all
SOTA-friends.

Vy73 es sota4ever de Fritz HB9CSA/DL4FDM


#7

In reply to DF2GN:
Congratulations Klaus !
It’s always a pleasure to hear your signals

Best 73 and wishes for 2008

Alain F6ENO


#8

In reply to GW0DSP:

Many thanks for yet another informative and interesting news report Mike. Almost as good as waiting for ‘Radcom’ to arrive.

In reply to DF2GN:

A worthy winner Klaus. Congratulations and many thanks for the 219 chaser points you have given me since October.

HNY to all activators and chasers.

Best 73’s
David/G4CMQ


#9

Many thanks for another comprehensive and detailed report Mike (and all the contributors)- it took me several sessions to read through it. Probably more information than the average RadCom, Hi!

Congratulations to you Klaus - you are always consistent and a true gentleman prepared to spend time working all who call. Congratulations also to Steve and Mike for your contributions to making SOTA what it is.

73, Gerald


#10

Great newsletter Mike…

…and well done Klaus. A thoroughly deserved win.

73 Marc GØAZS


#11

Very interesting read again Mike !! Thank you

And Herzlichen Glückwunsh to Klaus. Many thanks for all your efforts. You are a worthy nr 1 SOTA personality!!

Not to forget nrs 2 and 3 Steve and Mike.

Peter


#12

In reply to DF2GN:

Congrats dr Klaus,also to Steve and Mike,Great contributions to SOTA.

Vy 73 de Geoff,G4CPA