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SOTA NEWS - June 2007


#1

Hi Everyone.

Welcome to the June edition of SOTA News. Once again I have had quite a few contributions, but not as many as I would like. Also I have again managed to be late with the news but hope to be on time next month. If you have anything newsworthy don’t wait until the last minute, just send whenever you get something. That way I might get my act together and produce something on time.

My thanks go to John GW4BVE, Tom M1EYP, Roy G4SSH, Mike GW0DSP, Jim G0CQK, Richard G4ERP, Gerald G4OIG and anyone I may have forgotten

All information can be emailed to james at mcginty dot net

Summer Safety

I haven’t heard of any disasters this month so it looks like everyone is exercising a lot of care. The recent wet weather has kept many people indoors and those who have been on the hills were obviously well equipped.

Keep looking out for that rain but do remember that the weather is changeable. Make sure you are well prepared for hot and dry as well as cold and wet (or any other combination).

Outings and Events

North Wales Weekend 14/15 July

The main SOTA site still shows the Lake district Weekend as 14-15 July. This is not going ahead and has been changed to North Wales. As mentioned last month the venue is Rowen YHA in North Wales.

M0ZZO, 2E0XIS and G6DDQ will be activating GW/NW-001, Snowdon on the Saturday (with possibly one other hill) and GW/NW-040, Tal y Fan, which can be reached on foot from the hostel, on the Sunday.

The hostel is self catering and can sleep 24. It does book quite quickly so if you want to come along please book yourself in. As of Friday 6th July there were still some spaces available.

Details on the Hostel can be found at Rowen YHA or phone them on 0870 770 6012. I hope to meet up with a few of you there.

24 in 24

Those of you who subscribe to the RHB (Relative Hills of Britain) Yahoo reflector will be aware that several Marilyn baggers have attempted (and achieved) bagging 24 hills in 24 hours. There are various sections for this including all on foot, Self drive and Chauffeured.

Myself, (M0ZZO) and Myke G6DDQ got to thinking whether or not this could be done under the SOTA banner to include activations of 24 summits in 24 hours.

After a couple of months of rough planning we thought that the whole of the Welsh Borders could be activated in one hit but didn’t think we could do it in 24 hours. Thanks to Matt, 2E0XIS chauffeuring as around, doing the catering and being chief chaser we made it with minutes to spare.

In all it took 6 months of planning to get just the right route between the hills and map out the best activation spot for each summit.

I won’t detail the route and activation spots here in case anyone else wants to have a go. I will of course assist anyone that wants to do it.

We didn’t think we were going to manage it, so took quite a leisurely approach until about hill 19 when we realised we could do it. We picked up the pace a bit and just crept in under the 24 hours.

Highlights

1 The sheer joy of walking in the pitch dark in shirt sleeves.
2 Breakfast from a café in Kington. I have NEVER had a better sausage buttie.
3 Excellent weather while the rest of the UK was being flooded.
4 Friendly farmer letting us park in his field at Hergest Ridge.
5 The Finish on The Wrekin.

Low Lights
1 Not finding the path on Black Mountain right at the start and having to approach form the other side.
2 The GOML who chased Matt and his van away while legally parked at Burrow.
3 Missing some wonderful scenery and views while walking in the Dark.
4 Waking up at the sound of the horn to find a cyclist with no lights cutting across in front of the van. If it had not been for Matt’s driving skills we would have killed him (and missed out on the last hill).
5 The journey back to Essex

Worthy of note

1 Cows look really surprised when you stumble into them wearing a head torch at 02:00
2 The look on the golfers faces when you call CQ on FORE metres
3 Although June has the most daylight it also has the most gorse, heather, bracken and fern
4 What it says on the map and what is on the ground often have little resemblance, especially in the dark
5 A degree of madness is essential for this sort of venture.

Overall this was a fantastic 24 hours but probably not something we will repeat.

No doubt some other madcap idea will appear for next year. Any suggestions?

Ham Radio 2007 - Friedrichshafen

There was a large SOTA contingent present at the Friedrichshafen show on Saturday this year. Mike G4BLH and John GW4BVE planned to be there on Saturday and Steve G1INK originally planned to visit the show on Friday.

Thunderstorms changed Steve’s plans and the UK contingent were able to meet with EU activators and chasers on Saturday. SOTA people at the show included DL2GN, DH3IAJ, DL4FDM, DL1JMS, DL2LTO, DL2LUX, DL4PB,DF2PI, F8BBL HB9AFI, GW4BVE, G4BLH and G1INK. Andy MM0FMF was there somewhere but didn’t seem to meet up with the other SOTA people - it is a very large show.

Matthias DL1JMS assisted by Uli DL2LTO gave a talk to a very attentive audience on Saturday afternoon. Hopefully his work will have stimulated some new activators and chasers, but at the very least was a very good public relations event.

For those who haven’t visited Friedrichshafen before, the show is nothing like a UK rally. For a start it is at least three times larger than the biggest UK event. The major equipment manufacturers have stands along with national radio societies.

The fleamarket is huge and not full of second-hand domestic equipment. There are ample supplies of beer and food with seating to drink, eat and talk. Last but not least it is easy and cheap to travel around the area on public transport.

Fritz DL4FDM and John GW4BVE have published some photos on the SOTA Flickr photo group. See: http://www.flickr.com/groups/SOTA/

Errata

Looks like I got away with it again last month and have had no errors reported. I will do my best to include some this time out.

Activity

Plenty of activity going on this Month and lots of people hitting milestones. I have mentioned just a few here as it is hard to keep up with all the achievements so apologies to anyone who has been missed,

Peter ON3WAB achieved Shack Sloth on 7th June with a QSO with Mike
GW0DSP who was activating Hope Mountain GW/NW-062. Peter G3TJE reached half a goat with his activation of Staple Hill G/SC 007. Pete EI7CC reached 4000 chaser points on 20th June. F5AKL, ON3WAB, DL4FCK and HB9CKV all reached Shack Sloth

G1INK became the 9th person to reach the double Goat level while he Was activating in DL. DF2GN also made it to double Goat just a few days previously.

Steve also became only the 3rd person to achieve 250 uniques. Well done Steve.

Joining a very exclusive club at the triple Goat level is Robin GM7PKT. It couldn’t be a more exclusive club - Robin is the only member. A fantastic achievement Robin. Robin has publish some amazing statistics on the reflector. http://www.SOTAwatch.org/beta/reflector.php?topic=692#foot

SOTANews suspects that he will soon be joined by Roberto –DJ2AY who is just over 100 points short of the mark and amassing points at quite a rate.

Do you know of anyone else who has reached a major SOTA milestone.
These might not be obvious from the results table and they might not
be
high scores, but they may be a major achievement for the activator or
chaser involved. Please let the SOTANews team know on:
james at mcginty.net

The Welsh Borders proved to be quit popular in june with several activators out and about in addition to the major expedition described above. Ian G7KXV activated 17 hills in 5 days (We were on opposite sides of Wapley at the same time and missed each other by less than 2 minutes. -editor). This leaves Ian just 2 hills short of joining a very small band of activators with over 200 uniques.

Talking of uniques, your editor – James, M0ZZO finally lost his 100% unique status during the WB outing at the end of June. Gerald G4OIG on 91 maintains his status of 100% uniques.

Jimmy M3EYP recorded his 100th Unique summit activated on the Old Man of Coniston G/LD-013 on Saturday 16th June - still just 14 years of age.

Not strictly June, but interesting nonetheless. The May bank holiday saw the first SOTA activation of any Jura summits. You may recall a message in the Yahoo SOTA group way back in October 2006 from Allan MM1BJP looking for SOTA operators to man the summit checkpoints for the Jura Fell Race on spring 2007 bank holiday weekend.

When the weekend arrived, 10 radio amateurs, including 4 SOTA activators Jack GM4COX, Anne GM4UXX, Jim GM0CQK and Allan MM1BJP converged on a cottage at Tarbert approx 12 miles north of Craighouse. An excursion to check radio coverage on Friday saw the first action, with SI-053 activated on 2m VHF by MM1BJP and 5mhz by GM0CQK.

On Saturday the day of the Fell Race, transport took the teams of marshals to the west side of the various summits for a supposedly easier ascent!!!. When there were opportunities dependent on race comms traffic, QSO’s using just milliwatts between the 5 SOTA summits of the race qualified them all, GM4COX on SI-013, MM1BJP on SI-018, GM0CQK on SI-022, GM4UXX on SI-045 and 2M0OVV on SI-053. As checkpoints closed, GM4COX stayed on the summit to offer SI-013 to the HF chasers while the others accompanied their marshals off the hills.

Sunday was a chance to relax with a couple of small 1 pointers, GM4UXX and GM4COX activating SI-148 while GM0CQK activated SI-149, before leaving the island on Monday. The team has been asked to return for next years Fell Race so look out for a few more Jura summits on spring bank holiday weekend 2008. One of these days certain of these activators may get round to entering their data in the SOTA database!!

One for the Chasers

Gerald G4OIOG writes….

I will be trying to get some more GW summits under my belt and then pick up some DC’s later on in the month… including DC-006 Carnmenellis which seems to be on many peoples list. Maybe an extended multi-band thrash on that one…

EI Expedition

Frank G3RMD will be visiting EI in July. Watch out from him when he
activates some of the EI/IE summits and possibly even some GI summits.
This is not a pure SOTA trip so other activities like golf and family
may get in the way of SOTA activating!!! Frank has significantly
improved his set up since his EI trip last year and now runs QRO from
good antenna systems, so he should be a good signal on HF and VHF.

SOTA Fun Evenings

It started on 2/6/07 with the Reflector posting of a spur of the moment idea from Mike GW0DSP to start some SOTA fun evenings throughout the summer months.

The general idea was to get as many amateurs to “nip” up their respective local SOTA summit at activate at the same time and on the same mode, with the aims of…….

  1. Promoting SOTA awareness
  2. Encouraging and increasing 2m-fm and 2m-ssb usage for SOTA
  3. Having loads of fun

The Reflector topic seemed very popular and eventually had a list of 69 entries on the thread.

All of the interested stations discussed the format of the fun evenings and decided democratically that Tuesday evenings were the most popular choice and would coincide with the regular evening contests, this could result in a bit of “back scratching” with contesters and SOTA activators helping each other out.

We decided that the fairest way open to all classes of licensee was to activate at 18:00 – 18:30 UTC on 2-fm, then 18:30 – 19:00 UTC on 2m-ssb, then from 19:00 UTC onwards, anything goes re Band/Mode.

The first Fun Evening was alerted for Tuesday 5/6/07 and first signs were that there was the possibility of a station or two turning out, what followed was phenomenal.

Numerous stations turned out for the evening and many s2s contacts ensued throughout the UK, Mike GW0DSP commented “The evening was a huge success and a terrific time was had by all concerned, both activators and chasers alike. I managed a total of 6 s2s contacts.

Special thanks go to everyone for their efforts on the summits, not forgetting the sterling work of the chasers/spotters, who also relayed any spots to the summit stations so we could go “hunting”.

The general consensus is to make every effort to keep the Fun Evenings going continuously throughout the remaining summer months.

The 2nd SOTA Fun evening took place on the 12/6/07 and even though there was unsettled/bad weather across the region, several stations turned out once more and another good evening was had by all concerned,

Unfortunately the typical UK weather got the better of us for the third planned evening, so in the interests of safety a cancellation notice was posted on the Reflector.

For any news of upcoming events, simply keep an eye on the Reflector and anyone wishing to participate as an activator, just alert as per a normal activator.

Snowdon GW/NW-001 even busier than usual on Saturday 23rd June when activated by Jimmy M3EYP and Tom M1EYP.

An acoustic concert was being given by Mike Peters of the 80s band The Alarm. Mike, as well as being a star rock musician, is a keen walker and fundraiser for cancer and leukemia charities. He has also performed atop the Empire State Building and has plans for performing at Everest Base Camp. Mike himself is in remission after fighting cancer.

5MHz and HF Propagation

The sun has been fairly quiet this month with flares and coronal holes not dramatically affecting HF propagation. While there have not been huge variations in F layer propagation from day to day the conditions have been far from good.

D layer absorption continues to affect 80m and most UK activators have avoided using this frequency until winter conditions are here again - brrr. However 80m should not be forgotten for those early morning and evening activations, when the D layer has not formed or has decayed.

5MHz, the prime UK frequency for inter-G summit operations, still carried the majority of the traffic but was disappointing in terms of signal strengths and amounts of QSB. This is as a result of the F2 critical frequency (foF2) barely reaching our 5MHz operating channels even in the middle of the day.

The F2 layer was visible to the Chilton ionosonde at noon UTC on 25days in June. On those days the mean ordinary mode critical frequency was 5.1MHz, which explains the low signal strength and QSB. The lowest FoF2 was 4.2MHz on the 18th and the highest 5.8MHz on the 10th. Generally the short range QSO will have been by the extraordinary mode and therefore weaker or via E layer.

The E layer has had a significant influence on propagation this month. The invisibility of the F2 layer to the Chilton Ionosonde on 5 days this month was caused by intense ionisation of the E layer - sporadic E. On a couple of days the E layer critical frequency reached 9MHz and you will have heard good inter G conditions on 7MHz with everyone mentioning “short skip”.

Sporadic E was very noticeable on 28MHz and 50MHz. 28Mhz has been open between Europe and the UK and summits have been workable on this band. It is really worth giving 28MHz a try on activations between now and September.

50MHz has also been open from the UK although very much less frequently than 28MHz. Richard G3CWI has been trying this frequency but he has not managed to catch the good propagation so far.

Have we got anyone interested in tropospheric propagation in the SOTA group? Do you monitor the beacons? Would you like to write a few words for SOTAnews? You do not have to be an expert. If you are willing to contribute please let the SOTANews team know.

Please email james at mcginty dot net

SOTA Images

More than 200 photos were added to the SOTA Flickr photo group during
June. There are now nearly 1700 photos on the group, which is a
slight reduction on last month’s total of around 1750. Three people
have removed their photos as they felt that advice to limit the number of similar photos posted to the group was unacceptable.

John GW4BVE, the administrator of the group, temporarily lowered the posting limit to 20 photos per person per month, but this has now been restored to the original 40 per month and some guidelines published.

Last month the animals of the month on the group were dogs but this month it is Llamas. Yes there are Llamas resident on a SOTA summit!!! Have a look at Mike’s (GW0DSP) photos of Hope Mountain GW/NW-062.

SOTAwatch

SOTAwatch2 is still in Beta but seems to be the only place for discussions at the moment. I did get a couple of articles via the Yahoo group and at least one person there was unaware of the discussion group on the Beta reflector. It must be close to time for making the big switch over. Until then please join in the discussions at: http://www.SOTAwatch.org/beta

Non UK Associations

On July 1st Belgium became the 17th SOTA Association and with only 8 summits it is the second smallest (After the Isle of Man with 5). The first activation was on the opening day by Danny - OQ1C. Just a single point from ON/ON-008, Kemmelberg but SOTANews suspects it won’t be long before all 8 hills are activated.

SOTA is now over 5 years old and it is good to see an expanding programme. Many awards schemes have failed long before this. Congratulations to the management team for keeping it going. Hopefully there will be news of other associations in the near future.

New Association Managers

As reported on the reflector both Scotland and England have new association managers.

Scotland has Andy MM0FMF, who it is understood has updated the Scottish ARM.

England has James M0ZZO, who has not yet updated the English ARM but will be doing so shortly.

Farewell to Horse Head Moor

The first duty of M0ZZO as new Association manager is to announce that G/NP-021, Horse Head Moor will no longer be a SOTA summit. It will be replaced by G/NP 031, Birks Fell at midnight on August 31st. This change comes about after much measuring took place and it was determined that Birks fell was the high point on the ridge made up of Kirk Gill Moor and Horse head Moor.

Make sure you get that activation of Horse Head in before the deadline.

SOTA CW REPORT (from Roy G4SSH)

The month of June saw yet a further increase in SOTA CW activity. The longer daylight hours resulted in a series of SOTA CW tours around Germany, France and the Czech Republic, often producing between 4 and 6 activations in a single day. In addition to this there were cross-border activations by DL stations signing HB9/, OK/ and F/ plus HB9’s signing /F and LX signing /DL. The inter-European CW SOTA spot around 7.032 MHz became very congested at times, with up to 4 activations running simultaneously. It is interesting to note that unlike SSB or FM transmissions, SOTA CW activity does not seem to show a marked peak at weekends, but remains steady throughout the weekdays (perhaps this reflects the age of the CW enthusiast). On one Tuesday there were in excess of 90 CW SOTA points offered by activators.

The number of CW chasers across Europe has also kept pace with activators, with around 50 regular callsigns from at least 15 different countries identified in the pile-ups. This has started to create its own problems around 7.032 MHz, with over-enthusiastic chasers attempting to guard the spot by demanding that stations calling CQ “Pse QSY for SOTA” and deliberate jamming of contest stations by chasers calling “SOTA” continuously in an attempt to force them to vacate the spot. This does not enhance the image of SOTA.

At times there are now so many CW stations calling that regular activators have had to modify their procedures by repeating the callsign of the chaser after sending the exchange and the BK because the initial reply is often not heard under the flood of other callsigns. (Important tip for newcomers - always adjust your rig for full CW break-in, otherwise you will be wasting your time calling when the activator is already sending).

Propagation has been good on the higher bands now that we have moved into the summer season, with 10.118 MHz providing many pile-ups, and 14.062 MHz also giving good contacts. Some of the southern European stations are already using 30m in addition to 40m, but there are still many OK, and HA activators using 5w to a dipole on 40m that are mainly inaudible in the UK. A few calls on 10.118 KHz would greatly increase their chaser totals.

The number of newcomers to CW has also increased, with many QRS stations emerging during June. The most impressive rise has been from France, where from a handful of stations when they launched a few months ago, we now have 14 regular activators on CW. Belgian SOTA stations join on the 1st July with CW activations already promised.

Klaus DF2GN, one of Europe’s most prolific activators, continues to call CQ SOTA at around 8wpm at the end of his skeds and now has a regular following of newcomers to the mode who prefer a more relaxed contact once the pile-up has dissipated.

Hill of the Month

I received to entries for this feature in June and as there are no other short snippets to finish off with I have decided to publish both.

The first is from Gerald G4OIG

My vote for a hill of the month would have to go to Allt Yr Esgair, GW/SW-023. I think that I waxed lyrical enough in my report (4 South Wales summits) and certainly my enthusiasm for the hill was seconded by Peter G3TJE. The hill is accessed from the north via a very pleasant bridleway, this initially being a stoned track (and I mean stones, not just hardcore) between high hedges full of active creatures, all going about their business at just gone 7 a.m. on the bright morning I ascended this summit.

The track comes to a junction where a left turn is made and then it is onwards and upwards on earth and stone at a very steady rate as it winds left and right through a strip of vegetation, eventually coming out into the open. The remainder of the track, which incidentally is a long distance bridleway, is in the open and the views just develop as you get higher.

At the summit to the north east neighbouring SOTA summits Mynydd Llangorse and Mynydd Troed are just across the valley with Waun Fach beyond. In the westerly direction several SOTA summits can be seen as far as Waun Rhyd and Pen Y Fan. Tor Y Foel is just to the south and if I’d known exactly where to look I’m sure I’d have been able to pick out Sugar Loaf Mountain. The summit has a wall with projecting stones for seats both sides and a board setting out the various summits that can be seen.

All very pleasant with the panorama stretching 360 degrees. Despite being relatively low down, there is a clear path out to the north and on 2m signals still made it past the easterly summits in Cheltenham at good strength. On the descent the path actually splits into two - footpath to the left and bridleway to the right - I took the footpath for a different route to my ascent and it equally as enjoyable. No-one seen on the way up, at the summit or on the way down - just as I like it, perfect!

The Second is from Richard G4ERP

My vote for a June activation goes to Chanctonbury G/SE-009. The ascent took far longer than anticipated as a result of numerous stops to investigate the flora of the region. I have never seen so many species in such a short walk, including at least two varieties of orchid, native echium, thymes, gentians – and so the list goes on.

Park in the free car park at TQ120119 but note that access from the dual carriageway is only from the North. From here, there is the wide chalk track which joins the South Downs Way at TQ130116. This is longer than the more direct bridle path route but is much easier walking. Once you cross the cattle grid near the summit, head north to the trig point. There is plenty of room for antennas and the VHF takeoff is superb.

A short detour from the cattle grid would allow you to view the recently-restored dew pond, dating from around 1870 which is now an SSSI. See

The ascent is approximately 430 feet over 1.2 miles .

That’s the lot for this month. As I was late (again) it won’t be long till the next issue so let me have some of the more interesting stuff. I am sure many of you will have eyed up hills near holiday destinations. So let me know how they went.

As always any news should be sent to

James at mcginty.net

73 es gd dx
James M0ZZO


#2

In reply to M0ZZO:

June is now sticky and May is now unstuck and can be found by doing a search for ‘news’ in the reflector search box.

73, Jon


#3

Just testing if I can post to this sticky, in anticipation of MT reaching a decision re: the News.

73 Mike


#4

In reply to GW0DSP:

Hi Mike,

Yes, anyone can post here. In fact the idea was that the news could actually start a thread so people can comment and feedback on the month’s news.

Sorry about delay from MT. We are busy and sometimes not all present at the same time!

73, Jon (from London hotel on work trip!)


#5

In reply to GM4ZFZ:

Thanks for the info Jon.

I was hoping to start another thread (same heading) to replace James’ one and get you to make it a sticky with my callsign if it’s no trouble for you.

I’m setting a target to try and publish the news on the 1st of each month.

73 Mike GW0DSP


#6

In reply to GW0DSP:

Hi Mike,

Yes, that’s exactly right.

Once you start a thread for the next news, let me know and I’ll make it sticky and unstick this one! Old news will then just revert to order of last post like any other thread - but will remain in the system for searching, etc.

73, Jon


#7

In reply to GM4ZFZ:

Hi Jon

Thanks again, I’ll let you know the posting I want to be made sticky.
Thank you for your help and support.

73 Mike