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SOTA NEWS JAN 2012 (Part 1)


#1

SOTA NEWS JANUARY 2012 (PART ONE OF TWO)

EDITORIAL – by Roy G4SSH

Welcome to the January 2012 edition of SOTA News. My thanks go to the following contributors:- Barry GM4TOE, Fred K6DGW, Tom M1EYP, Mark G0VOF, Ignacio EA2BD, Paul K1CM, Colwyn M6YCJ, Peter M1CNL, Dave M0TUB, Rod M0JLA, Vlado Z35M, Rado S58R, Rob & Audrey G4RQJ.

For the first time ever we managed to exceed the reflector limit of 65,535 characters, requiring the news to be split into two parts.

Right on cue, the fine weather that had been enjoyed all across Europe during the month of November came to an abrupt end, just in time for the start of Winter Bonus.

Consequently there was no mad rush to activate for extra points and the number of activations barely reached double figures for the majority of days in December. The milder weather did arrive during the latter part of the month but fierce gales, icy roads and driving rain caused many activations to be postponed. On a brighter note there were 45 spots on Christmas day, in sharp contrast to recent years when only a handful of activations were recorded on the 25th; perhaps activators were making the best of poor weather in order to beat the end-of-year deadline.


SOTA AWARDS DECEMBER 2011 - Barry GM4TOE - SOTA Awards Manager

December has been an extremely quiet month for awards; in fact the majority of claims have arrived in the last seven days! G4AFI has managed to achieve Shack Sloth in just one year (if I ignore his first chase in October 2010 then it is to the day!); well done. Congratulations once again to Roy G4SSH who has now reached (and exceeded) the 55000 Chaser point level, our most prolific Chaser is once again at the forefront of SOTA records. The achievements of I3VAD and G4OOE should not be underestimated though – reaching the 5000 point level is no mean achievement in itself.

Trophies

There were no claims for trophies this month

Certificates claimed

Activator
OE6BHE Heiko Barber 500 points
OE6PID Peter Schantl 250 points
OE6BID Barbara Schantl 250 points
DO1GER Dr. Gerhard Multerer 100 points
G1STQ John Taylor 100 points
SM0HPL Anders Wandahl 100 points
I1YDT Dino Bossolasco 100 points

Chaser
G4SSH Roy Clayton 55000 points
I3VAD Giancarlo Scarpa 5000 points
G4OOE Nick Langmead 5000 points
ON4FI Karel Naessens 2500 points
2W0LYD Barry Vile 2500 points
N4EX Rich Homolya 2500 points
DO1GER Dr. Gerhard Multerer 2000 points
G4AFI Andrew Cheetham 1000 points
K7ASQ Andrew Quamme 100 points

Chaser Unique
I3VAD Giancarlo Scarpa 1000 summits
DO1GER Dr. Gerhard Multerer 250 summits

Mountain Hunter
DB7MM Dr. Michael Multerer - Mountain Hunter Bronze
DO1GER Dr. Gerhard Multerer - Mountain Hunter Bronze
ON3FMB Bart Aerts - Mountain Hunter Bronze
ON3EA Eddy Vandoninck - Mountain Hunter Bronze

Reaching the end of the ninth year for SOTA it might be worth looking back to see what has been achieved in the last twelve months. Records have not just been broken; they have been smashed beyond the wildest imaginings of the scheme founders.

In 2011 we issued the following awards:

Mountain Goat - 11

Shack Sloth - 51

Shack Sloth (Unique) - 1

Activator 100 - 28
Activator 250 - 19
Activator 500 - 8

Activator Unique 100 - 2

Chaser 100 - 40
Chaser 250 - 20
Chaser 500 - 21
Chaser 2500 - 14
Chaser 5000 - 4
Chaser 10000 - 2
Chaser 20000 - 2
Chaser 40000 - 1
Chaser 45000 - 1
Chaser 50000 - 1
Chaser 55000 - 1

Chaser Unique 100 - 9
Chaser Unique 250 - 7
Chaser Unique 500 - 4
Chaser Unique 1000 - 1
Chaser Unique 2500 - 3
Chaser Unique 5000 - 1

Mountain Explorer Bronze - 4
Mountain Explorer Gold - 1

Mountain Hunter (V) Bronze - 3
Mountain Hunter Bronze - 22
Mountain Hunter Silver - 5
Mountain Hunter Gold - 7
Mountain Hunter Platinum - 3

Presently we are looking at other trophies that might be made available and also what activities can take place to mark the tenth anniversary of the formation of Summits on the Air. Merchandising has always been a low key affair within SOTA but in the last quarter of 2011 the SOTA shop was put onto the internet (www.sotashop.co.uk and www.sotashop.com ) with a small range of SOTA branded merchandise and also a one-stop location to claim awards. Many participants now use this facility to claim their awards and can realise a discount on postage for multiple applications.

This is the season for making New Year resolutions, which most of us fail to keep! Instead of resolving to give up smoking, beer, the attractions of the other gender why not give yourself a target to achieve in 2012? Chasers could try activation; Activators could concentrate more on chasing; what about looking at the unique summits you have not visited? Many new countries have joined the SOTA community this year and there are many first activations waiting to be made (even here in the UK there are vast numbers of GM summits yet to be activated). My personal target – to complete the GM/ES summits, I have 17 still to do and, once I have my walking abilities back, will be off.

Thank you all for your support of SOTA; without the awards programme, and the funding it generates, we would not be able to provide the database or SOTAwatch which are vital to the successful operation of Summits on the Air.

May I wish everybody a Peaceful 2012

73

Barry Horning GM4TOE
Awards Manager


Congratulations also to:

  • Liz M6EPW on gaining 250 chaser points since gaining her licence at the end of August

  • Dave M0TUB, on activating 100 unique summits since February 2011.

  • Adrian MM0DHY who achieved Mountain Goat status on the 10/12 on Bheinn a’Ghlo. Not only did Adrian reach 1000pts he did it with a 100% unique activation history.

  • Jean Pierre VA2SG ,who achieved Shack Sloth with 1000 chaser points

  • Andy MM0FMF on reaching his 250th activation on the 27th December whilst operating from The Minch Moor SS-133.

  • Carolyn G6WRW and Helen for a magnificent achievement in activating 4 SOTA’s
    (98 QSO’s) whilst on holiday in the W5 & W7 regions of the USA.


A YEAR OF DATABASE UPDATES - Andy MM0FMF

I took on the job of Database Manager in August 2010 but it was the
following December before I did my first update to the codebase. This
was to provide some end of year stats for the news. As it was I thought
I broken the database webserver and my lifeline Gary, the previous
database manager and architect wasn’t available to help. I went away and
had a cup of tea and on my return everything was working.

Looking at my backups I can see there have been 21 updates over the past
year. A number which surprises me as I did them all and certainly don’t
remember be so active working on the code. Many of these were minor
tweaks such as listing associations in callsign prefix order rather than
the order they were created. Others were much bigger such as the ability
to display the chaser and activator awards you can claim based on your
logs. The chaser and activator honour roll displays have been enhanced
with the ability to display time limited ranges and to change the sort
order. That change has allowed the return of the confirmation marker,
something I was regularly receiving requests to reinstate. CSV uploads
have been santised, you can now log duplicate chases of the same summit
on the same day for those who like to chase both voice and CW. This
allows your SOTA log to be a more accurate version of your main log.

So a whole plethora of tiny changes that hopefully add to up a more
useful tool for SOTA chasers and activators.

Changes being worked on now are some improved stats facilities for
Association Managers so they can see what is happening in their regions,
fixing a number of bugs to do with last activated by and activation
count errors. And finally, an awards confirmation page for Barry GM4TOE
our awards manager. Many of you must think Barry has super human ESP
powers as you send him scant emails requesting awards often omitting
your callsign and even the award you are claiming. So it’s time to give
Barry something that makes his life easier. No, not a big pointy stick
to poke people with but something that accurately breaks down logs so he
can spends seconds not hours checking awards.

Once more I need to thank Gary G0HJQ who wrote the original database, if
he hadn’t done such a good job it would have been much harder for me to
pick up supporting and upgrading the database system. Also Gary was
there when I needed the odd bit of help and especially when I managed to
give every one 3 bonus points for every summit they had activated!

For those interested, total traffic to the database webserver was 70GB
for 2011. The database files now occupy about 342MB in situ on the
server which zips down to 74MB. I’m moderately amused to see that my own
IP address does not make it into the top 25 users of the database based
on bytes transferred. Considering I do a dynamic backup of the changes
everyday (i.e. I download everyone’s uploads to my local database) I’d
love to know what some of you are doing to have 5x my traffic stats! Of
course, none of these figures comes close to Baidu, the Chinese search
engine which is the biggest consumer of database bandwidth by an
enormous factor.

The breakdown on web browser usage is:

Browser, hits, %age
MS Internet Explorer, 152963, 42 %
Firefox, 150945, 41.4 %
Google Chrome, 39617, 10.8 %
Safari, 11201, 3 %
Opera, 6517, 1.7 %

HNY for 2012

Andy, MM0FMF
Database Manager


Z3 SOTA ASSOCIATION REVIEW - by Vlado Z35M

A total of 133 activations in 2011 (72 more than last year), achieved by 3 activators.

Five Z3 chasers in 2011 made 680 QSO’s (last year was better with 1106 QSO’s).

A total of 218 activations from 87 unique Z3 SOTA summits since May 2009, not bad at all for a small activators community of 5 operators. In the same period a total of 2088 chasers QSO’s were made.

Summit of Krstovar, Vodno Z3/WM-046 with 84 activations so far is one of the most activated SOTA summits, and in the same time has the world wide highest QSO total (4286 contacts) among the summits in height range above 1000 m a.s.l.

In the next year we expect our first Mountain Goat.

Vlado, Z35M
Z3 SOTA AM


S5 REVIEW OF THE YEAR – from Rado S58R

S5 SOTA activators and hunters were very active in 2011.

For a small country on the sunny side of the Alps ( 20,273 km2 area, with only two million inhabitants ) we are very active in SOTA, and our Activators and Chasers have achieved excellent results:-

Activator
S55KM – Negro, with more than 1,000 points in one year,

Chaser
S51ZG – Janez with more then 19,000 points in one year.

And S56CW – Marko, the first ever SOTA activation from Mont Blanc.

So, Slovenia is not so small… HI

HNY and GL in 2012

73
S58R Rado
S5 Association Manager


REVIEW OF THE YEAR - from a newcomer in 2011. Ignacio EA2BD

One thing that had always impressed me was the idea of carrying a radio and making contacts with simple and really portable equipment. I had been roughly aware of the SOTA organization for many years, but for some reason I didn’t enter into the scheme earlier. It was the inclusion of the EA summits in the programme that motivated me to start chasing the summits being activated by nearby hams on VHF.

Let me explain the point of view of a newcomer and why SOTA has now evolved into my favorite ham activity.

Soon after starting, I became trapped by the fascinating world of SOTA and I also started chasing on the HF bands. Wow! What a thrill to read the often fading signals of portable activators, and to get their calls out from the persistent local QRM here in my city of Pamplona. It was so exciting, thinking about all those operators running their radios, fighting against cold or windy conditions up there on their summits…

I quickly noticed that the spirit during pile-ups was pure; not the aggressive style often heard on a DX expeditions, but SOTA chasers trying to support the difficult conditions of the activators on the other side (with some exceptions, of course…).

I started considering the purchase of a multiband portable rig and I finally exchanged my FT-100D for a used FT-817, plus an Antenna tuner. At the time I could not imagine the huge satisfaction and pride that this little rig would reward me with during the year, and the amazing discovery of activating using QRP mode. I set up my rig and antenna and decided to give SOTA a try as an activator.

So far I have activated four summits and compared to my previous experiences activating some other national awards, SOTA was so different. I was so surprised that I could be heard with 2.5 watts from such a distant places. It is also a source of great satisfaction when I arrive back home and count the QSO’s in my notebook, often deciphering the hand-written notes scribbled in a hurry up on the summit and upload them in the database.
What else can I say? I’ve started activating in CW as well, and verified for myself just how low power CW is so much more efficient than phone. My skills have also improved and I rejoice with satisfaction to be able to control a pile-up and little by little calm down my nerves whilst doing that. Until now I thought QRP would be a waste of time when compared to a standard 100w rig; but I was wrong. It is much more exciting to get the QSO whilst running low power.

SOTA is addictive, but more importantly; the relationship between the chaser and the activator is one of mutual respect, with few cases of bad competitive manners. It gives me a warm feeling of being part of pure ham spirit and belonging to part of a big family. It’s so nice to get used to the frequent operator’s callsigns when you often hear them calling together with you, or putting a new reference on air.

Communication of experiences and sharing of ideas to improve is great; it is another proof of the nice ambient feeling generated among the members of this scheme.

It’s now one year since I started to participate in the SOTA programme, in late December 2010, and all I have to say is “Thanks”. I hope and trust that this warm atmosphere will continue for many, many years. I will try to contribute as best as I can.

I am grateful to all the people that contributed to start this programme, especially the ones that maintain the system, database, rules, results, trophies and web pages…

My best wishes for you all and hopefully I’ll activate sometime during the Christmas period.

Best regards, Merry Christmas and may God bless the New Year 2012 for you and your families.

73
Ignacio EA2BD


CANADA/US SOTA REPORT FOR DECEMBER 2011 – Fred K6DGW

Happy New Year to all! 2011 saw significant SOTA growth in North
America. We added several new states to our associations, a number of
new peaks to existing associations, and had several presentations on
SOTA to radio clubs including one by Steve “The Goatmeister” at the ARRL
Pacific Division Convention [Pacificon]. Despite the onset of winter,
activations have not abated.

A couple of notes for the report: First off, note the appearance of a
number of new activator calls! We’re also seeing new chaser calls
appearing in the logs. Secondly, a number of the reports contained no
activation date so I used the date on the email.

ACTIVATIONS:

11/24 W4/RA-034 KJ4VPK
11/25 W7/CN-024 KK7DS K7TAY
11/26 W7/NC-003 KK7DS K7TAY
11/29 W7/WV-076 NS7P+Christina
11/30 W0/FR-198 K0MOS
12/02 W5/SI-001 W5/G6WRW
12/03 W7/BC-064 W7IMC
12/03 W7/BC-070 W7IMC
12/03 W3/SV-018 KB3UYT KB3WGF AB3CE+Jonathan
12/04 W1/HA-039 W1DMH
12/04 W1/HA-095 N1RCQ
12/04 W1/HA-040 KB1RJC
12/04 W3/SV-018 KB3UYT
12/04 W0/FR-140 NW5W KI6YMZ KD0PNS
12/04 W4/SH-011 K4QS
12/04 W1/CR-003 N1FJ
12/10 W7/SR-091 W7IMC KF7DDT
12/10 W7/SR-123 W7IMC KF7DDT
12/10 W0/FR-155 K0MOS
12/10 W7/CC-118 W7RIS NH6Z
12/11 W4/SH-013 K4QS
12/11 W1/CR-015 N1FJ
12/13 W7/SK-173 N7KN
12/13 W3/WE-004 K3TN WA3SEE
12/14 W7/CC-111 NS7P+Christina
12/17 W7/SR-145 W7IMC KF7DDT
12/17 W0/FR-046 K0MOS
12/17 W0/FR-146 K0MOS
12/18 W7/WC-011 KU7J
12/23 W0/FR-058 K0MOS
12/25 W6/CD-012 K6TW
12/26 W4/HB-002 K4QS
12/26 W0/FR-056 K0MOS
12/26 W7/SR-127 W7IMC
12/26 W7/SR-146 W7IMC
12/26 W7/CM-078 KK7DS K7TAY
12/29 W5/MA-004 WO5X

for a total of 37 activations, an average of just over one per day. I
believe WO5X has made the first activation in the W5 Arkansas division.
Several are double summits in one day, we had one tw-summit/two-day
activation with a camp over between them, and numerous summit-to-summit
contacts. The activation reports contain a lot of snow :slight_smile: Apparently
that doesn’t deter our activators.

OTHER NA NEWS:

Work is well underway on the Montana division, which I believe will
complete the W7 Association. There has been some email list chatter
about the possibility of a Hawai’i Association which isn’t exactly
continental North America but we’d gladly adopt them. And, while the
number of Hawaiian peaks is small compared to the Western US, many
of them are stunningly high.

Thanks for all the reports. Again, if you can summarize date, summit
ID, and calls at the beginning of your reports, it makes it easier for
me. Looking forward to a great 2012 with lots of sunspots,

73,

Skip K6DGW
Canada/US SOTA Reporter Dude
Auburn CA
k6dgw@foothill.net or k6dgw@arrl.net


SOME THOUGHTS ON SOTA - from the former colony of Massachusetts.

I had no idea what SOTA meant until the end of September when I heard Rich, N4EX, and Dennis, WA2USA, operating from the top of a mountain called Clingmans Dome in the western mountains of North Carolina. When I discovered on the SOTA website that Clingmans Dome, also known as W4/WM-001, was worth ten points in a world where most hilltops are worth 1 point, I saw it as a good omen and decided to sign up and go questing after summits.

I operate QRP CW only, so I have had no luck with EU activations as yet, except for HB9BIN/p, but in just over two months I have managed to accumulate 86 points, most of which were supplied by Rich and Dennis, both of whom are excellent CW operators with very good ears. If I had caught all of their activations, I would have qualified for a certificate by now. I look forward to hearing them again when the weather allows.

I live about 12 miles south of Boston, where there isn’t a SOTA-approved hill within many, many miles, which means I will be a SOTA couch potato for the foreseeable future. I run 5 watts with a K2 and indoor loop antennas on 40 through 10 meters.

Many thanks to SOTA for running such an enjoyable and well-organized activity.

73
Paul, K1CM/EI4CM


MOUNT BLAIR - By Colwyn M6YCJ

Occasionally, events contrive to help rather than hinder. An afternoon work meeting up north on 1st December gave me the chance of an activation with those elusive winter bonus points! I needed to find a peak, on the way home, with an easy and preferably short ascent.

The weather had finally come good as I motored up the A93 Glenshee road, which was busy with homeward commuters. The outside temperature was minus 0.5 Celsius as I took the B861 signposted to Cray. GM/ES-035, Mount Blair (744m) seemed to fit the bill. There is a spot height on the road of 362m giving a notional ascent of only 382metres. There was nowhere to park safely by the start of the footpath (NO157646) but I found a lay-by off road (NO155642) being careful not to block the gate (only space for one or two cars).

Along the road for 500m, through the gate then follow the path south east to the summit. Couldn’t be simpler! The path is a gentle ascent for the first 150 metres and was probably used when the large communications tower was placed on the summit. Low down the grass had grown over the track surface suggesting recent disuse, but higher up it remains an open scar.

There was a light covering of snow at the 500m contour, which combined with the moonlight meant no need for a head torch. No wind as I crossed the fence (sorry, I didn’t record the altitude of the gate). Then the steeper section which got me sweating under all the layers of fleece I was wearing. The gradient soon relented and I was on top in just over an hour. The view was excellent. Some light cloud through which the moon shone and the street lights of Perth, Montrose and even perhaps the northern lights of auld Aberdeen. It was a splendid evening, but no genuine northern lights!

There is a fine array of summit furniture; trig station, large cairn, fences, stone horseshoe seat with memorial plaques and the large communications tower just below the summit.

The 40m band was busy and I tried calling / responding for about 10 minutes. I found 7.116MHz was quiet and called CQ in earnest. Then self spotted at 18:42. After 20 minutes there was still no contact and then a foreign station bludgeoned in and took over. To be fair he did ask if the frequency was clear and I can only assume he couldn’t hear my 5 watt reply.

Changing to 7.155MHz again produced no responses. This uncertainty is the challenge and attraction of SOTA. The climbing and weather are two problems, but variability of conditions and calling QRP are the real unknowns. So, I exited my bivvy shelter and with cold fingers I made up my 2m YAGI and listened in.

Success! I cheekily broke in to 2M0XGP (MM6XGP on SOTA watch spot, thanks Gordon) and MM6AUG to thankfully get my first two contacts.

I then heard some folk in Fife preparing a Morse lesson for transmission at 19:30, but squeezed GM0AIR in as my third contact, a few fraught seconds before he started transmitting Morse, that’s dedication!

GM1CMF was the fourth (hill activated!) and then GM4NTX and MM0TGB finished the evening. GM4NTX mentioned I was dropping out completely suggesting there is a loose wire, perhaps somewhere in the antenna? A switch to the SWR meter confirmed an intermittent fault. Something to troubleshoot before my next day out!

Despite the nice weather and my multiple layers it was bitterly cold by now with a layer of frost covering everything. Even the moon hid for a moment, hinting that my time was up! So, I reluctantly packed and, following my uphill tracks, headed back down the snowy hill, which soon warmed me. So, a fine moonlit evening hill walking and my first winter bonus points of the season.

There is a small locked hut servicing the summit radio tower which would offer shelter from the wind in almost any direction, so, with a good track to follow and shelter, GM/ES-035 might be a good SOTA option for less than perfect weather.

73
Colwyn
M6YCJ


REVIEW OF MY FIRST YEAR IN SOTA – By Peter M1CNL.

Thanks to all the activators & chasers that I have worked over the last year (well nearly).

I signed on to SOTA at the end of March 2011. Since then I have collected a total of 745 chaser points & 148 uniques. I have also activated 4 summits, GW/NW076, GW/NW044, G/CE004 & G/SE002. Contacts for all four are listed below.

GW/NW044, 05.08.11 on 145.350 MHz

G6ODU, G0HRT, M3LIU, M1BUL, G6NFR, G4RQJ, M0XOC/p (Hand-Held using 2w) MW3UDA, G1OHM, G4UXH, G4XKC, M1NTO, MW3KML,G0IBE/p (on G/CE003 - my first s2s) G0ORD, M0RCP/p (on G/LD003 my second 2s2, G4ZRP, G4BLH, M0DXT, 2E0XSD.

GW/NW076 19.08.11 on 145.575 MHz

G0HRT/p (on G/NP010 Pen y Ghent)(s2s) M1KAL/p on G/NP004 Whernside (s2s) GW4GRW, M3OUA, 2E0TDX/p on G/NP005 Ingleborough (s2s), 2E0XYL/p (s2s) G4ZRP, M3EYP.

G/SE002 21.08.11 on 145.525 MHz.

M6TAG, M3UQE, then on 145.450, G0HYG/p, M6TAD, G0ROT.

G/CE 01.10.11 on 145.425, MHz

2E0FCP, M6MSK/p, M3ZKQ, G4TGW/m, G4HZG, G6PVA/m, M6DNU/p, M3TSK, 2E0CTM/p, 2E0KDH, M0LDY, M0DJF, 2E0DAQ and M0IDR.

Equipment used was an ADI AT201 Hand-Held FM rig running 5w from an external slab, to a homemade 300 ohm ribbon Slim-Jim antenna on an 8m pole

My happiest moment were the s2s contacts with the three G/NP summits on only my second activation.

Again, many thanks for all the help and support,

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all in SOTA.

73
Peter M1CNL


SOTA ON TOP BAND - Mark G0VOF

Hello everyone & welcome to this month’s edition of SOTA on Top Band. After the limited activity of earlier months, the shorter daylight hours in the Northern hemisphere during December have lead to a dramatic increase in SOTA Top Band activity. At the time of writing I am aware of 14 activations by 7 activators of 10 summits. This may well be a record month for the number of activations on 160m as I am certainly not aware of a month with more activity than that, and the month has not finished yet!

So, with a lot to report, I will try to keep things brief.

The first activation this month was a team effort by Joska HA6OY, Gyula HA6QR & Janos HA6PJ on the evening of the 6th December when they activated HA/EM-012 Karancs on 160m. The border between Hungary & Slovakia passes over this summit, hence it is also listed as OM/BB-030 Karanc in the newly formed OM Slovakia SOTA association. This was the first activation of this summit on 160m & also as far as I am aware the first OM SOTA activation on Top Band, which proved very successful with the team achieving a total of 34 QSO’s between them on either side of the border on the band. CW was used throughout with a good geographical spread of chasers around Europe being worked, as this activation took place several hours after sunset. Congratulations to Joska, Gyula & Janos on their achievement!

On the evening of the 10th December, Peter ON4UP used an activation ON/ON-006 La Croix Scaille to test a 6m vertical antenna he has been working on. Using SSB Peter had 3 QSO’s on the band before changing the loading coil at the base of the antenna to continue the activation on 80m. Peter has kindly provided a photo showing the 160m coil in use, with the 80m coil ready for use next to the ATU. Thank you Peter for the information & the photo below:

On 12th December John G4YSS was active again using the Scarborough Special Events Group callsign GX0OOO/P & he activated 2 summits, G/NP-017 Fountains Fell & G/NP-031 Birks Fell accompanied by William, & Jess the Spaniel. The activation of Fountains Fell took place not long after sunrise so conditions on the band were still quite reasonable with John achieving 5 QSO’s on 160m. This is a relatively local summit for me so I was pleased to work John at 599 both ways just using my horizontal antenna. The weather was decidedly poor, with Hail, Sleet, Wind & drifting snow with John struggling to keep things in place at times.

After activating the summit on several more bands John & company moved on to the second summit of the day G/NP-031 Birks Fell, at which he arrived much earlier than planned. After first activating the summit on various other bands John had left 160m until last in the hope that conditions would be better later in the day, but as it was still early afternoon only 2 QSO’s were had before John finally packed up due to the deteriorating weather.

Activating in poor weather can test the enthusiasm of any activator to go out on the hills again, but John was not deterred & was out again on 22nd December, this time activating England’s highest peak outside the Lake District, G/NP-001 Cross Fell.

This is a summit that has eluded me as a chaser on any band so hearing that John would activating Cross Fell on 160m I put up my 50ft vertical to give us both the best chance of a QSO. John had alerted for 0830z, but had been delayed by very poor conditions under foot & had relayed via Roy G4SSH that he may not be QRV until 0910z, by which time I would be at work. I decided to hang on at home until the last minute & thankfully this paid off as John commenced calling at around 0846z. I was pleased to be first in the log & listened for another 10 minutes while John worked a total of 8 chasers from around the UK & Ireland, all using CW. This activation was not without incident, with a couple of falls & a run in with some ferocious local wildlife! John’s activation report (link included below) will elaborate.

John’s second summit of the day was G/NP-003 Burnhope Seat, which was a last minute change to the original plan of G/NP-007 Wild Boar Fell due to the inclement weather. This activation would be taking place much later in the day than the activation of G/NP-031 Birks Fell a couple of weeks earlier & with 160m once again being left until last would mean this part of the activation taking place close to sunset, with hopefully better band conditions. After success on several other bands John started up on 160m CW with a creditable run of 8 contacts. Once further CQ’s brought no response, John decided to try SSB before finally closing down. After a small QSY up the band, 3 stations managed to work John on SSB before his battery voltage dropped too low to power his radio on transmit. A total of 11 QSO’s on top band just before the onset of darkness was excellent & no doubt if battery power had permitted, there would have been several more.

As usual, John has provided very comprehensive activation reports for both outings this month, links to which can be found below:

12th December – G/NP17 & G/NP-031 http://www.sotawatch.org/reflector.php?topic=6395

22nd December – G/NP-001 & G/NP-003 http://www.sotawatch.org/reflector.php?topic=6428

On the 26th December Joska HA6OY/P & Gyula HA6QR/P were also out again, this time activating HA/KM-001 Csóványos at night using QRP. Between them they achieved a superb 27 QSO’s on 160m with a good spread of chasers around Europe. This is a very good demonstration of what can be achieved on the band at night with low power & a good antenna. I did listen for both Joska & Gyula using both of my antennas but sadly the noise level here was just too high for a QSO. I did hear several chasers working them though & at one point Gyula’s signal briefly rose out of the noise for a couple seconds, but not sufficient for me to have been able to work him.

Joska has kindly put a video of this activation online, which clearly shows the weather conditions & equipment used. It also shows the method used to keep your insides warm in the sub-zero temperatures Hi!

Superb video Joska, Thank you for sharing it!

On the 27th December Phil G4OBK decided to activate G/TW-004 Bishop Wilton Wold following a trip to the city of York. This summit is very flat & has an extremely large activation zone & can be activated with practically no ascent involved. Phil kindly emailed me some information on this activation, which I have included here:

“Hi Mark,

I had to drop off some family members in York at 4.00pm so decided after the wind dropped at lunchtime to make a detour on my way back to Pickering on to TW-004 as I had not activated it this year. I packed the 130’ long wire and 30 foot pole and LDG Z-100 ATU and coupled up the earth to the metal fence. I ran the full 100w and needed it from some of the reports! The end of the inverted L was only 6 feet off the deck so not very efficient. I had to fumble in the dark to erect it and didn’t fancy setting up an end pole so used a power pole. I was down the lane, which runs off the A166 at SE 832551. I had 38 QSO’s in total with 8 on 160m CW & 1 on SSB with your good self. Reg G3WPF was the strongest, you were 2nd and Peter G3TJE was third. The Scarborough boys were all weak but readable as they all use antennas not designed for the band. Nick G4OOE was strongest of the three – he has a G5RV, but I think it’s only half size, not sure!

73 and hope to work you again soon – all the best for the new year!”

Thanks for this activation Phil & for the others throughout the year, especially those on Top Band!

On the afternoon of 28th December I had to make a short shopping trip myself & noticed that my 50ft Top Band vertical, along with my 10m half-wave vertical were bending quite severely in the very strong winds that were blowing through here at the time. I made a mental note to take the 50ft vertical down when I got home. When I returned less than 30 minutes later it was too late, as the wind had already done the job for me with the top third of the pole over the hedge on one side & the rest planted in the lawn on the other side. Although it is only lightweight carbon fibre, thankfully nobody was underneath when it came down. I probably could affect a temporary repair, but it really needs replacing completely so I am back to only having my 80m loop to use on 160m, which is far from ideal.

This was a little unfortunate for me, as that evening Joska HA6OY was once again active on 160m, this time from HA/KM-014 Nagy-Kopasz, where he achieved a stunning total of 18 QSO’s, once again all using CW, & I assume QRP.

This was Joska’s third 160m activation during the month, all of which took place after dark in true winter conditions.

The results achieved on Top Band by Joska, Gyula & Janos this month are superb & I wish them even greater success in 2012!

Also on the evening of 28th December, Frank ON6UU was active on 160m from ON/ON-006 La Croix Scaille but at the time of writing I do not know how successful this activation was.

So, a tremendous increase in Top Band activity this month, & at the time of writing there are still two days left! A huge Thank you to all who have ventured onto 160m from summits this month, & to all chasers that worked them, for making the effort involved in activating on 160m worthwhile!

Thank you to all contributors this month, your input is very much appreciated!

At the time of writing, the following are all the Top band activations during December that I am aware of, if I have missed any others please let me know.

On the 6th December, Joska HA6OY/P activated HA/EM-012 Karancs, & achieved 6 QSO’s on 160m, all CW.

On the 6th December, Gyula OM/HA6QR/P activated OM/BB-030 Karanc, & achieved 11 QSO’s on 160m, all CW.

On the 6th December, Janos OM/HA6PJ/P activated OM/BB-030 Karanc, & achieved 5 QSO’s on 160m, all CW.

On the 6th December, Janos HA6PJ/P activated HA/EM-012 Karancs, & achieved 12 QSO’s on 160m, all CW.

On the 10th December, Peter ON4UP/P activated ON/ON-006 La Croix Scaille, & achieved 3 QSO’s on 160m, all SSB.

On the 12th December, John GX0OOO/P (G4YSS) activated G/NP-017 Fountains Fell, & achieved 5 QSO’s on 160m, all CW.

On the 12th December, John GX0OOO/P (G4YSS) activated G/NP-017 Birks Fell, & achieved 2 QSO’s on 160m, both CW.

On the 22nd December, John GX0OOO/P (G4YSS) activated G/NP-001 Cross Fell, & achieved 8 QSO’s on 160m, all CW.

On the 22nd December, John GX0OOO/P (G4YSS) activated G/NP-003 Burnhope Seat, & achieved 12 QSO’s on 160m, 9 CW & 3 SSB.

On the 26th December, Joska HA6OY/P activated HA/KM-001 Csóványos, & achieved 16 QSO’s on 160m, all CW.

On the 26th December, Gyula HA6QR/P activated HA/KM-001 Csóványos, & achieved 11 QSO’s on 160m, all CW.

On the 27th December, Phil G4OBK/P activated G/TW-004 Bishop Wilton Wold, & achieved 9 QSO’s on 160m, 8 CW & 1 SSB.

On the 28th December, Joska HA6OY/P activated HA/KM-014 Nagy-Kopasz, & achieved 18 QSO’s on 160m, all CW.

On the 28th December, Frank ON6UU/P activated ON/ON-006 La Croix Scaille,(no further details at present)

As always, If you do have any suggestions on things that you think should be included, or if you wish to contribute tips, ideas or anything else that you think may help others on the band please email them to me at mark@brownhill.demon.co.uk

Until next month,

A Very Merry Christmas & a Happy and Healthy 2012 to all Activators & Chasers!

Best 73,

Mark G0VOF


SOTA Statistics By Tom M1EYP – data captured on 15/16 December 2011


All-time number of activator QSO’s in the SOTA programme:
1 — G1INK ---- 30119
2 — LX1NO ---- 20493
3 — M1EYP — 17552
4 — HB9AFI — 16799
5 — DJ3AX ---- 13426
6 — G4RQJ — 13278
7 — GM7PKT – 12353
8 — HB9BAB – 11659
9 — HA7UL ---- 11303
10 – OK1DDQ – 11272
11 – G4YSS ---- 10787
12 – S57XX ------ 10407
13 – DL3SBA — 10394
14 – G4WSB — 10219
15 – S53X -------- 9312
16 – HA2VR ----- 9089
17 – HB9BIN ---- 8187
18 – DH0DK ----- 8168
19 – DK1BN ----- 8077
20 – GW4BVE – 7755

And now the calendar year totals for the last three years:
Activator QSO’s 2011

1 — HB9BIN – 6275
2 — M1EYP – 4889
3 — 2E0YYY - 4546
4 — OK1EQ – 4436
5 — HB9AFI – 4026
6 — G1INK — 3926
7 — F6HBI ---- 3665
8 — G4WSB - 3660
9 — LX1NO — 3624
10 - EA5ER — 3363
11 - HA7UL — 3292
12 - HA2VR – 3193
13 - HB9BAB - 3099
14 - OK1DIG – 2945
15 - PA3FYG - 2683
16 - OE8SPW - 2648
17 - S55KM ---- 2586
18 - S57X ------- 2545
19 - S57XX ----- 2490
20 - G6WRW – 2476
Activator QSO’s 2010

1 — G4WSB – 6506
2 — LX1NO ---- 4269
3 — HB9AFI — 3491
4 — HA7UL ---- 3417
5 — OK1DDQ - 3184
6 — M1EYP — 3146
7 — S57XX ----- 3091
8 — G3NYY — 3038
9 — DL3SBA – 2649
10 - OE8SPW - 2575
11 - OK1MCS - 2561
12 - HB9BAB – 2523
13 - G1INK ----- 2491
14 - Z35M ------ 2435
15 - LA1ENA – 2329
16 - S53X ------- 2304
17 - F6EAH ---- 2300
18 - HA5LV ---- 2117
19 - F5UKL ---- 2083
20 - HA5MA — 2053

Activator QSO’s 2009

1 — HA7UL ---- 4392
2 — G1INK ----- 4388
3 — S53X ------- 3767
4 — DK1BN ---- 3466
5 — DL3SBA – 3321
6 — M1EYP ---- 3104
7 — OK1CYC – 3077
8 — HB9AFI ---- 3030
9 — OK1DDQ – 2955
10 - S57XX ------ 2813
11 - OK1FFU — 2306
12 - HB9BAB — 2273
13 - F5UKL ------ 2263
14 - LA1ENA ---- 2146
15 - S57X --------- 2135
16 - HA3HK ------ 2133
17 - G3NYY ------ 2023
18 - DJ3AX ------- 1989
19 - G6WRW ---- 1983
20 - G4RQJ ------- 1862

All-time number of SOTA activations

1 — M1EYP ---- 1158
2 — G1INK ------ 870
3 — GM7PKT — 797
4 — DL2HSC — 754
5 — G3CWI ----- 732
6 — HB9BAB — 726
7 — G4RQJ ---- 636
8 — DJ3AX ----- 595
9 — HB9AFI ---- 589
10 – LA1KHA — 569
11 – LX1NO ---- 511
12 – DH0DK ---- 503
13 – GW4BVE – 464
14 – M1AVV ---- 461
15 – G4YSS ---- 453
16 – DG0JMB – 437
17 – G4WSB — 434
18 – DM2KL ---- 432
19 – M3EYP ---- 422
20 – G4ERP ---- 414

SOTA activations in 2011

1 — LA1KHA — 258
2 — HB9BAB — 208
3 — HB9BIN ---- 173
4 — S55KM ----- 169
5 — S56LXN ---- 160
6 — OE5RTP — 148
7 — M1EYP ----- 143
8 — OE5IRO ---- 131
9 — HB9AFI ----- 123
10 – S57MS ----- 115
11 – OK1EQ — 114
12 – G4WSB — 114
13 – DC7CCC – 114
14 – 2W0LYD – 108
15= - EB2FDT – 100
15= - M0TUB ---- 100
15= - LX1NO ---- 100
18 – S52TC ------ 96
19 – M0JLA ------ 95
20= - OE8SPW – 90
20= - OK1CZ ----- 90

All-time activations with the most QSO’s

1 — EA5WP ------ EA5/CS-001 – Penyagolosa -------------- 03/09/2011 – 706
2 — EA5ER/P ---- EA5/AT-039 – Ifach -------------------- 20/11/2011 – 491
3 — EA5ER/P ---- EA5/VL-013 – Silla -------------------- 02/10/2011 – 451
4 — HA3HK/P ---- HA/DD-012 — Fonyódi-hegy ------------- 20/06/2011 – 430
5 — EA5ER/P ---- EA5/VL-009 – Benicadell ---------------- 04/06/2011 – 402
6 — HA3HK/P ---- HA/DD-018 — Kastély-domb ------------- 21/04/2011 – 381
7 — EA2RKG/P – EA2/SS-055 – Ollagon -------------------- 22/01/2011 – 370
8 — MW1EYP/P - GW/NW-012 – Cadair Berwyn -------------- 02/08/2011 – 369
9 — SM3TLG/P – SM/GA-001 — Blacksås ------------------ 11/08/2010 – 364
10 – EA2RKG/P - EA2/SS-047 – Jaizkibel ------------------- 02/01/2011 – 341
11 – Z35M/P ------ Z3/WM-046 – Krstovar, Vodno ---------- 20/03/2010 – 337
12 – EA5ER/P ---- EA5/AT-023 – Ascensión ----------------- 01/10/2011 – 331
13 – DL8JJ/P ----- DM/HE-017 — Taufstein --------------- 27/08/2011 – 329
14 – EA3EGB/P – EA3/GI-011 — Tossa D´alp -------------- 30/01/2011 – 316
15 – EA5ER/P ---- EA5/VL-016 — Falconera -------------- 09/04/2011 – 310
16 – EA3EGB/P – EA3/GI-015 — Puig Estela ------------- 20/02/2011 – 307
17 – EA3EGB/P – EA3/GI-027 — Mare de Déu del Mont ---- 05/12/2010 – 305
18 – EA5ER/P ---- EA5/AB-003 – Almenaras --------------- 24/09/2011 – 303
=18 - LX1NO ------ LX/LX-003 ----- Kiirchbësch ----------- 03/03/2010 – 303
20 – EA5ER/P ---- EA5/VL-012 — Safor, La --------------- 16/04/2011 – 301

Associations with the highest average number of activations per summit

1 — G ------ 47.00
2 — GD — 46.40
3 — GW — 26.33
4 — ON — 15.59
5 — PA ---- 14.25
6 — HA ---- 10.97
7 — S5 ---- 10.07
8 — 9H ---- 8.50
9 — LX ---- 8.00
10 - OK — 5.94
11 - GI ---- 4.02
12 - OZ — 4.00
13 - HB0 – 3.64
14 - DM — 3.61
15 - GM — 3.47
16 - HB ---- 2.46
17 - OE ---- 1.51
18 - SP ---- 1.40
19 - SV ---- 1.39
20 - EA2 – 1.28
21 - EA8 – 1.04


Number of activations in 2011: (for this purpose, the UK associations are grouped together, as are the Germany, Spain and USA associations).

As of data capture on 16th December 2011, there had been 16,547 SOTA activations during the year. These were distributed as follows:

1 — UK ------------------ 3857
2 — Slovenia ---------- 1887
3 — Germany --------- 1877
4 — Czechia ---------- 1860
5 — Austria ------------ 1580
6 — Spain -------------- 949
7 — Switzerland ------ 886
8 — USA ---------------- 756
9 — France ------------- 526
10 – Hungary ----------- 485
11 – Norway ------------ 397
12 – Greece ------------ 361
13 – Poland ------------ 209
14 – South Korea ---- 182
15 – Belgium ---------- 156
16 – Macedonia ------ 124
17 – Italy ----------- 92
18 – Canada ----------- 78
19 – Ireland ------------ 56
20 – Sweden ---------- 36
21 – Slovakia ---------- 30
22 – Portugal ---------- 24
23 – Finland ----------- 23
24 – Denmark -------- 22
25 – Ukraine ---------- 20
26 – Netherlands ---- 19
27 – Romania -------- 18
28 – Bosnia & HG – 13
29 – Luxembourg ---- 12
30 – Malta ----------- 7
31 – South Africa ---- 5

It is interesting to compare this raw data with the approximate number of licensed amateurs in each country. The following table is ranked according to the number of activations per 1000 radio amateurs in each country, in 2011. Of course, it is necessary to bear in mind that many activations take place by amateurs visiting from another country, and there are some associations where this forms the majority of the activity.

1 — Slovenia ----------- 290.3
2 — Czechia ----------- 262.5
3 — Austria ------------ 254.3
4 — Macedonia ------- 200.0
5 — Switzerland ------ 161.1
6 — Greece ------------ 122.3
7 — Norway ------------ 74.9
8 — UK ------------------ 66.0
9 — Hungary ----------- 53.9
10 – Ireland ------------- 33.8
11 – Slovakia ---------- 32.3
12 – Belgium ---------- 29.5
13 – France ----------- 28.4
14 – Germany -------- 23.6
15 – Luxembourg ---- 22.9
16 – Spain ------------- 16.2
17 – Malta ------------- 14.9
18 – Poland ----------- 13.1
19 – Bosnia & HG – 7.4
20 – Portugal --------- 5.7
21 – Romania -------- 5.1
22 – Finland ---------- 3.9
23 – Sweden --------- 3.3
24 – Italy --------------- 3.1
25 – Denmark -------- 2.2
26 – Canada ---------- 1.8
27 – Netherlands ---- 1.3
28 – South Korea — 1.3
29 – Ukraine ---------- 1.2
30 – USA -------------- 1.1
31 – South Africa — 0.8

73, Tom M1EYP


END OF YEAR, TOP HIGH SCORING POINTS.

All Associations - all time Honour Roll - as of noon UTC 31st December 2011.
ACTIVATOR

CW…HB9AFI……3182
SSB…GM7PKT….3581
FM…GM7PKT……4823

CHASER

CW……G4SSH…… 55555
SSB……G0RQL……23879
FM…….G4BLH….16776

ACTIVATOR UNIQUES

CW …….LX1NO……511
SSB…….G1INK……471
FM………GM7PKT… 305

CHASER UNIQUES

CW………G4SSH…… 5555
SSB……G0RQL… 2381
FM ……S56IHX… 400

END OF YEAR TOP CHASER SCORES BY MODE FOR THE LAST 6 YEARS

……….2006………2007……….2008……….2009….………2010……….2011

CW….3247……….9052……….9934……….10564…….10363…….13462
SSB….3381……….5410……….4618……….3546………4620 ………6117
FM… 2717……….3077…….3412………3400………3992……….5846

CW (up 30%) SSB (31%) and FM (47%) all show an increase in 2011 over 2010. and once more the Slovenian chasers have a remarkable FM record, with twenty-one S5 calls listed in the top 25 stations in the all-associations 2011 FM chaser honour roll.

Congratulations to Janez S51ZG who gained 19515 Chaser points in 2011 - a remarkable achievement which breaks all records for a single year.

On behalf of the 2000+ chasers listed in the SOTA data base (1500 chasers at the start of 2011), I would like to thank all activators for their contribution to the programme.

The foremost aim of these tables is to recognise the effort and dedication that all activators have put into the SOTA programme. The abandonment of many attempted activations in gale force winds and driving rain during December served to highlight the difficulties that can be encountered by activators. Roy G4SSH


AN ANTI-PAGER FILTER FOR 2m Handys - by Rod M0JLA

(The article on the construction of a Helical Filter for 2m was published in the December 2011 SOTA News and Rod added the follow-up at the end of the news, on the 10th December. As most people will have read the news before that date I reproduce his comments below:- Ed.)

Thanks for publishing my notes on the Helical filter. I can now report a successful field test on Cyrn-y-Brain GW/NW-042.

Viki and I took CyB and Moel-y-Gamelin separately as visibility was good. Both using VX-7s; she on 2m and me on 70cm. Before I reached the summit of CyB we had a short QSO on 2m. While activating I switched to 2m (to find how she was doing) and heard some very garbled speech which might have ended JLA. I replied suggesting QSY 444.500 and, having done so, received an immediate reply. We then switched summits. The filter was deployed and Viki activated CyB with no trouble, including a QSO with me on 2m from MyG. The only inconclusive aspect of the test is that we didn’t swap radios but as both of us had had trouble on recent activations I think both radios were affected by the pager swamping.

I will take the opportunity to offer many thanks to all those who made contact during our three day, six summit expedition. In particular, special thanks to Bob G6ODU for the full 6 QSO’s with me, and, I think, the same with Viki. It was good to end the activations with a quite unexpected chat to Colin G8JSM who gave me the encouragement to continue when things went wrong; thanks again.

73,
Rod, M0JLA


The Ups and Downs of Christmas at ‘Home’ in GI – Dave MI0TUB

As Christmas time rolled in it was time to pack up the car with Mrs TUB (M6JBZ) Jill, the local QRM, my two boys, Daniel and Ben and Tigger the dog. You can decide for yourself just who the QRM remark refers to!! – I’m not brave enough to state it here. This year I decided to allow a little more room for my passengers by reducing my selected radio equipment to my basic SOTA kit & a power supply for operating from the in-laws house, near Lisburn. I had been in contact last year with MI6TCA, Brian, and received an email from him in October. Brian had managed to achieve his full licence and obtained a call sign change to MI0TGO. He had noted my activity earlier in the year on Slieves Donard and Commedagh and was interested in having a ‘ramble’ to see what one of my SOTA activations consisted of and signed his email Mi0 The Great Outdoors.

Now Brian is a very pleasant, gentle giant and describes himself as built for stamina not for speed. He has many years experience of hiking in around the Mourne Mountains and I was excited at the prospect of having my very own guide to take me around a Mountain Range which comes complete with it’s own rescue service. We arrived in Dublin Port in the early hours of Tues 20th Dec morning, having crossed the Irish Sea via Holyhead, and drove the 2 hours north to my /P QTH in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. Roy, G4SSH, informs me that my CW is improving but those that have worked me on a summit will not have realised is that it is sent with a Belfast born, Northern Ireland accent.

I spoke to Brian on the Weds and we informally arranged an outing to Slieve Muck GI/MM-007 (a 6 pointer), subject to ‘domestic’ arrangements. He was a little delayed in reaching our start point and so Robert, my father-in-law, and I set off from our agreed start point at the junction of the Kilkeel |Road and a service road to Spelga Dam. I carried my IC-E92D on my belt to listen out for Brian having arranged our first ‘eyeball’ at the top of Muck itself. The weather was dry, very mild for the time of year and just a little bit windy and Robert and I made gentle progress toward the summit via the direct but steep route following the dry stone wall which provided great shelter. It took about 50 minutes to reach the top where I set up my 2m dipole attached to the trig point with a rubber bungee in my usual manner. It took 15 minutes of calling to get the 4 local stations needed to qualify the summit on FM. NI radio amateurs don’t seem to do much SOTA stuff and therefore there is not a very big chasing community.

With the wind blowing, I elected leave the Trig and join Robert on the sheltered side of the wall to do a spot of SSB on 60m and CW on the alerted 10.118 MHz. I met Alfie on the way. Alfie, Brian’s dog, is a beautiful Alaskan Malamute and provided a tail wagging, friendly introduction. Brian appeared from the mist a few moments later; we shook hands and made our way to a more sheltered area to the South of the wall. It quickly became obvious that Brian was comfortable in his environment as he brewed up a welcome cuppa tea. I erected my wire dipole using the stile as a support. I had alerted for 60m on 5.3985 MHz but this was in use by Gerry LA0HK who did not seem keen to surrender it’s use for a second (which was fair enough). I worked him and then QSY’d to 5.3715 MHz where I worked Steve GW7AAV who promptly assisted with a spot.

Another three stations (GW4ZPL John, G4AFI Andrew and GW4JUN Vic) brought the total to 5 60m contacts. I had also alerted for 30m and re-linked the dipole accordingly. Having called for several minutes without any reply I surrendered and re-linked again for 40m and managed a swift 7 QSO’s on CW who were all but 1 regular chasers. Brian gestured toward Robert who was feeling the cold and was starting his descent. A quick photo shoot at the Trig with my IC-E92D and Brian and I soon caught up. The ground underfoot was very sodden in places and our descent, to remain as a group, took some time. Robert’s feet suffered somewhat although his pride managed to hide this all the way to the car. I dumped my backpack on the ground and started to load up the car – the first summit of the GI tour in the bag.I made a loose arrangement with Brian for another trip and we headed off separately for home.

The next day, Christmas Eve, I took the kids out for a McDonalds and convinced them for a short outing to the summit of Slieve Croob GI/MM-010. With a promise that they could remain in the car during a short activation I set off with a smash and grab in sight. I navigated quickly to the path which lead all the way to the summit, having been told the gate would likely be open. When I arrived there was no gate – so that was easy. I drove to the top to find the concrete path stopped well short of the summit and became a grassy track. The summit was in cloud and out of sight. I looked in the back of the Landrover for the IC-E92D and couldn’t find it to hand so grabbed my back pack with FT-817 and set off up the track to the top. The kids were happy to DS for a wee while so all was well. It then appeared, or not as the case was to be, the summit. Having left the map in the car, I was sure, whilst in the cloud, I must be in the AZ so set up my 2m dipole which was lashed to a stile post. I got 4 contacts after about 15 mins or so calling. The only regular chaser was one I have worked several times on CW, George GI4SRQ. I packed up pronto and beetled straight back to the car. Something just felt wrong and I grabbed the map to check that the fence with the stile was in the AZ. Nope, wrong track and about 100m or so elevation short so a wasted effort all round. Prior preparation and planning prevents p*** poor performance etc etc and this proved to be the case. I emailed George to declare my error and he duly deleted his chaser entry.

Now this was my first failed activation and I felt a dented pride at the stupidity and incompetence I had demonstrated to myself. I rang Brian, admitted what I had done and arranged to meet with him the next day for a decent outing. We were to take on Eagle Mountain GI/MM-008 and Slievemoughanmore GI/MM-009. This was a round trip of around 6 miles to pick up 2 summits (16 points inc bonus) only ever activated once before and this in May 2003. Well, at least Brian was in charge of the navigation! I packed up my stuff to set off and couldn’t put my hand on the IC-E92D. This was to be a major down point as it was nowhere to be found either in the car or in the house. I set off a few minutes early, with that sickly feeling, so that I could search the parking area at the base of Slieve Muck. This was to no avail, I was gutted and still am as it still hasn’t turned up.

Brian’s 15 year old son Philip joined us and we set off on route. We parked one car at the same spot as two days before and drove all of us, including Alfie, about a mile and a half further south along the Kilkeel Road to another parking spot. We set off up hill on a track toward the top of Pigeon Rock before following the contours around it to the SW. It was downhill and across country from here around The Forks and the base of Slievemoughanmore and over some very boggy ground and a river to the Windy Gap at about 400m elevation. This was a total distance so far of around 3km and took us to the base of Eagle Mountain. About 1km to go but with a rise of 238m, I found the ascent to the summit both steep and challenging. As the cairn came into sight it became much easier although a snow storm detracted from my sensation of joy somewhat. With little time to spare I set up the dipole for 60m. Unfortunately, it would appear that one extension leg of the 60m dipole was still at the top of Slieve Muck keeping my IC-E92D company and that was why I didn’t call on that band. As I looked for it, I stepped backwards and heard a crunch as my lightweight headset gave way under boot. I had alerted for 10.118 MHz and called on that band. I gave up after not hearing a squeak after 5-6 mins calling – was this to be another failed activation after such an arduous trek and irritating issues? I re-linked for 40m and was delighted to hear Kevin G0NUP. I asked for a spot which he must have done and a mini pile up ensued. Now delighted I worked 12 regulars including G4SSH, DL5ZG, DL5WA, G0TDM, ON5QRP, DL1FU, G4WSX, G4RDQ and G4AFI before declaring I was QRT. I heard Mike DJ5AV and Nick G4OOE calling and as very regular chasers felt the need to give them this summit, unique until now to VHF chasers only. I managed to get 5 QSOs on 2m too before we packed up. These included John GW4ZPL and GI4SRQ George whom I was able to apologise to in person for the Slieve Croob fiasco!

With time marching on, I packed up and we departed for the reverse descent and immediate ascent of the adjacent Slievemoughanmore. We arrived at the top about an hour later and in the midst of yet another snow storm and took shelter behind the wall. This was a big one and was accompanied by an angry looking cloud or two. I put up the 2m dipole, connected the coax and promptly got a dig from the loose BNC end. “Did I get a dig?” I thought as I touched my hand again to see. Yikes, not half, I looked at the BNC end which was now arcing like a cooker igniter. I had not seen this before and elected to lower the antenna immediately, lest it should attract an even larger spark. After the storm had passed I qualified the hill on 2m FM with 6 contacts in 12 minutes including John GW4ZPL and Barry 2W0LYD. It was now 15:20 and we still had to descend Slievemoughanmore, climb and descend Pigeon Rock Mountain and cover another 3km or so to get back to the car. For that reason I did not attempt an HF activation and apologise to any chasers who were expecting a call. Very tired, and again with wet feet, I arrived back at the car at 16:45, just as dusk fell.

Despite the issues, breakages and losses etc it had been a very successful day out with a lasting sense of achievement. A good walk, some great company and 16 SOTA points in the bag. Time for a break until after Christmas.

Having eaten too much over Christmas, it was time for a little exercise. I convinced Jill (Mrs TUB) to come with me on the 27th Dec to activate Slieve Croob whilst on the way to visit some friends in Newcastle, Co Down. If nothing else, at least she would find the correct track…………Having alerted for an estimated 12:30 we left in reasonable time and navigated directly to the car park at the foot of Slieve Croob. It was a very windy day and the summit was covered in cloud. We had the two kids (Ben 8& Daniel 9) with us too, who were a little miffed to discover we were ‘doing a hill’. This made our progress just a little slow. Daniel was in good form and zoomed ahead while Jill and I ‘assisted’ Ben who continuously asked “why do we have to climb up hills” – a very reasonable question which we found hard to answer in any sort of convincing way. We reached the top and Jill and the kids took cover in a rock shelter beside the trig whilst I set up for 2m. Once again I was surprised to work as many mainland stations including GM4PPT Dick, M0XSD & M6EPW Colin and Liz, 2W0CYM Alun, GW4ZPl John, G6ODU Bob and M6DHV Dave. Local contacts included GI0PVG Tom, GI4MBM Sam, MI0IRZ/M David and GI1ANG Oliver. Jill also qualified the summit with the minimum 4 required before I packed all up for the descent. It was just too windy to consider a dipole for HF and I apologise again to any chasers who were awaiting a call. The cloud cleared a little on the descent and revealed some fantastic views on the way back to the car.

Today, 28th Dec, was the finale to SOTA GI.

MI0TGO, Brain, arrived on time at 08:15 this morning. We had Slieve Binnian GI/MM-003 and Slievelamagan GI/MM-006 in mind and I had alerted this for 2m and 7.032 on CW. After a ‘wee cuppa’ we set off and arrived at the Carrick Little car park towards 09:45. We booted up and set off without undue delay. We followed the path until it met up with the Mourne Wall, which we followed to the summit. A steady climb, in reasonable shelter, we were oblivious to the conditions we were about to meet as we reached the summit. The wind was brutal and must have been in excess of 100mph plus at times. We found sufficient shelter amongst the rocks and I erected the 2m dipole. A CQ call resulted in 6 QSOs in 6 mins including Alun 2W0CYM, Sam GI4MBM, John GW4ZPL, Liz M6EPW, Colin M0XSD and Barry 2W0LYD/M. I could support the dipole no longer and packed it away pronto.

Shortly after we started our descent my colleague, Brian MI0TGO, who must be 15+ stone, was lifted off his feet and deposited in a heap! This wind and the accompanying snow showers and hail was my first real introduction to extreme weather on a mountain… but worth it. We elected to give Slievelamagan GI/MM-006 a miss, discretion being the better part of valour.

We descended via the base of Slievelamagan and then followed the well defined track back to the car park. The day’s walk was around 12km and my thighs continue to burn as I write!!

Anyway, a few days work in Belfast before I return to Warrington, so no more SOTA this year. I have greatly exceeded my SOTA expectations which started in Feb this year. I have managed 105 activations and 253 SOTA points. I have had some exceptional walks, seen many beautiful bits of our countryside which I would otherwise never have come across and got myself a bit fitter too.

I will be taking an enforced break from SOTA activating for a short while but will continue to chase when I can.

Thanks to all the Chasers who have called me this year. I have really enjoyed your company and will be joining you for a while.

A Happy New Year and safe descents to all.

Regards

Dave
M(I)0TUB


(To Part 2 for remainder of the News)