SOTA NEWS JUNE 2010
EDITORIAL – by Roy G4SSH
Welcome to the June 2010 edition of SOTA News. My thanks go to the following contributors:- Barry GM4TOE, Rob and Audrey G4RQJ, Tom M1EYP, David G3RDQ, Norby LX1NO and Heinz OE5EEP.
May was the month when HF propagation really began to change from winter to summer conditions, which allowed activators to use the higher bands. There were spots generated for every HF band from 1.8 up to 28 MHz, including the WARC bands. Unfortunately, the lower bands of 7 MHz, 5 MHz and 3.5 MHz deteriorated badly and have remained very poor for the last few weeks.
SOTA AWARDS FOR MAY 2010 - By Barry GM4TOE - SOTA Awards Manager
Claims are starting to pick up again although the main activity still seems to be in the shack rather than on the hill – but every shack point claimed means a hill has been activated so hopefully we will see some acceleration in Activator claims.
Congratulations to David 2E0DAI on making Shack Sloth AND his Activator 100 certificate too. Graham G3OHC decided it was his turn to confuse me with his claim for Chaser 10000, a milestone he achieved some months ago (in fact he is nearing 20000); then I realised he had made the claim for CW only contacts. No problem with that, it seems that he is the first to have realised that it is perfectly within the rules to apply additional filters when applying for certificates. I now await Tom M1EYP to claim the Activator 100 “All Cloud” award!
It is very evident that Graham is a prolific Chaser as 2500 unique summits chased is also impressive.
Congratulations to all claimants this month, and my apologies for delays in sending certificates due to my poor stock control on envelopes!
2E0DAI David Holman
DL2AJB Jens Bremeier 100 points
2E0DAI David Holman 100 points
G3OHC Graham Badger 10000 points (All CW)
2E0DAI David Holman 1000 points
2E0BTR Geoff Passey 1000 points
2E0VEK Kevin Lowcock 500 points
M0ZIF Martin Hazel 250 points
G6HXL Derek Latham 100 points
G1UGH Terry Chaplin 100 points
DL2AJB Jens Bremeier 100 points
G3OHC Graham Badger 2500 summits
HB9BIN Jurg Regli 500 summits
The Activity Weekend was a fantastic success even if the weather (for some of us) was less than friendly! With the activity from the USA and Canada I wonder if anyone is able to claim the Silver (or higher) Mountain Hunter Award which requires intercontinental contacts to qualify?
I have said it before, but it would be helpful to mention it again, that the issue of Awards is what pays for the Database and SOTAwatch. Without these essential tools SOTA would not be the success it is today but the hosting fees need to be paid and this money comes from the small profit we make on Awards and latterly on the sale of branded shirts (and a number of very kind donations). Juggling the accounts to pay for these items and the forward purchase of certificates, trophies and other consumables is quite a task and members of the Management Team regularly dip into their own pockets to subsidise these expenses until income catches up with expenditure.
The weather here in Scotland just cannot make its mind up. Last weekend was so hot it meant hill walking in as little clothing as modesty would allow and this weekend the Cairngorm ski resort is open for business with fresh snow on a firm base and expects to be open well into June and perhaps for the whole summer! No walking the High Tops for me this weekend.
Barry Horning GM4TOE
SOTA Awards Manager
It is with great regret that SOTA News heard the sad news that Dave G4GKE died suddenly on Saturday the 8th of May 2010 and we offer our deep condolences to his family. Dave was a keep chaser of SOTA, WAB, IOTA etc., and he will be sadly missed by many activators and chasers alike.
TRENDS IN SOTA ACTIVITY By Tom M1EYP
The following table shows the number of world SOTA
activations each year that included each of the main modes:
Year – FM ---- SSB — CW
2002 – 325 — 41 ---- 80
2003 – 1166 – 324 — 107
2004 – 2668 – 950 — 138
2005 – 3616 – 1645 – 340
2006 – 3874 – 1994 – 1069
2007 – 5107 – 3146 – 2435
2008 – 5888 – 3222 – 3589
2009 – 4784 – 3517 – 3962
It is interesting to note that FM remains out in front as
the mode used by most activators. It does appear that the
distribution is evening out though. However, the data for
2010 so far indicates that FM might be pulling away from SSB
and CW again in terms of the number of activations on which
it is used.
The following table shows the number of chaser QSO’s claimed
in the SOTA Database for each of the main modes:
Year – FM ----- SSB ---- CW
2002 – 146 ---- 33 ----- 53
2003 – 1894 — 751 ---- 126
2004 – 9024 — 1960 — 117
2005 – 12583 – 6431 — 1557
2006 – 14103 – 10644 – 10488
2007 – 16752 – 25744 – 37991
2008 – 19184 – 27510 – 76001
2009 – 20529 – 29943 – 76423
Here we see the incredible explosion of CW activity in SOTA
over the past four years. In spite of this, both FM and SSB
activity continued to grow, in fact by more (both in
percentage increase and raw numbers) than CW from 2008 to
Activators are making more QSO’s per activation. This is
currently at 15.54 QSO’s per activation, and is a figure that
seems to rise year on year. Over the lifetime of SOTA, the
total number of activator QSO’s for the three main modes are:
CW : 301351
FM : 229482
More activators use FM than use CW, so we conclude that CW
activators tend to make larger number of QSO’s than FM
activators. Many, of course, often use both modes (and
often more) within each activation.
NOTES FROM OE By Heinz OE5EEP
Christian, OE5HCE, has (finally) managed to activate a summit in CW (May
24th and already in the database!). He is already mountain goat with FM/SSB
Recently I have observed that CW stations are replying at about my speed,
but clearly out of their own comfort zone. If they also use a hand key
all you get is unreadable gibberish (This is why I would recommend
starting CW with a paddle from the beginning).
I would encourage all chasers to call at whatever speed they feel comfortable with
even if it is significantly lower than the speed of the activator. I will always QRS to
match the speed of the caller. Admittedly this is not so easy when you have to step through menus to decrease your keying speed so I usually insert longer spaces in the sent text.
I wonder what other activators are experiencing? I am not a high speed guy myself.
On Friday afternoon the 29th May I was home at 4pm local time, a little earlier than expected. The weather forecast was really bad with high likelihood of thunderstorms and heavy rain. After a quick check of the weather radar, which showed most of the rain further north, I decided to do a quick one on a nearby summit.
I picked Hongar, 943m, OE/OO-096, which is one of my favourite summits, because it has benches and a table on the summit. I was on the air for about 40 mins, working on 30m and 40m CW. I took down the antenna in a light drizzle and reached the car before it really started to rain. When I was back home I realized that I had left my fibreglass pole on the summit. The forecast for today was even worse, so I decided to go back immediately. Without back pack and gear I went up again in continuous rain, found my mast and was back at the car at 2045 local time. A double trip to a summit which I will long remember…
Note from the Editor:
Heinz mentions one of the biggest drawbacks with Menu driven rigs, which is the need to access the menu in order to change CW speed. This is usually so complicated and takes so much time that the activator (who does not have the manual available) will often retain the set CW speed and insert longer spaces in order to reduce the overall speed.
However, it is worth remembering that the Yaesu family of FT-817, FT-857 and FT-897 rigs can be customised to give a variable CW speed control on the front panel.
This only takes a few seconds:
Access Menu 1 by pressing the F key and rotating the MEM/VFO CH knob. This is the Extended Menu and is OFF by default. Turn it ON.
Access Menu 57. This selects the function which is engaged when you press the Memory/VFO CH knob. The default is MHz/Memory. Select CW SPEED.
Return to normal operation. Now when you wish to change keying speed you just press the MEM/VFO CH knob, increase or decrease the speed by turning the knob and press again to return to normal operation. (This is not possible on some FT-817 models).
Congratulations to Norby LX1NO, who completed his activation of the last few G/SE SOTA’s during the month, using his U.K. call of M0NMS
Norby e-mailed me with the following request to chasers:-
“I would highly appreciate if people would send their callsign only ONCE when calling me. It is especially the stronger ones who regularly give their callsigns twice. I’m wondering what for? I consider this to be a nuisance. Is it done on purpose to overrun all the other callers?”
Note from the Editor – It is always well worth listening closely to the information that Norby is sending before you call him. As a prolific SOTA activator he usually sends “CQ SOTA”, but has also activated many Luxemburg Castles “CQ LCA” and more recently the Flora and Fauna Awards “CQ FF” Some of the FF references are identical to SOTA references. On occasions Norby will activate a summit as CQ SOTA, then activate lower down the hill as CQ FF which can be outside the SOTA activation zone.
ISLE OF WIGHT SUMMITS by David G3RDQ
Some notes that might inspire others to hop over to the island and take the bus!
I had been thinking how I might activate one or both of the SOTA summits on the Isle of Wight , G/SE-008 St Boniface Down and G/SE-012 Brighstone Down. These were the only local summits (summits within 80Km of my home) that I had not yet activated and I would need to catch a ferry to the island and have some means of transport to get around.
There are several ferry routes to the island and my transport options seemed to be to take my bicycle, scooter or a car on the ferry. I know that at least one passenger ferry allows bicycles to be taken at no extra cost.
Whilst looking at details of the Red Funnel ferries from Southampton to Cowes I noticed that they were offering half price tickets during weekends in May. This ferry crossing is quick (takes about 25 minutes) and leaves every 30 minutes, but I was not sure if it allowed bicycles.
So what about going as a foot passenger and using buses to get round the island?
I have used buses to get close to some other local summits and after looking at bus routes on the island I decided that it would be feasible here too. Bus travel does tend to be a bit slow and I was not sure if both summits could be activated in one visit, so I decided to aim to activate Brighstone Down, G/SE-012 and only do the other summit if there was time.
I noticed that neither summit had been activated on 30m, so this band would be my first choice on arrival. It would also be my first opportunity to try out Andy’s SMS self spot facility since becoming a user. The weather forecast for Saturday 15th May was good, so I got ready to go that day.
That morning our dog ‘Shortie’ got me up early (well early for me !) so I was ready to leave home after breakfast at 7am. I took my scooter to Winchester railway station and caught the 0734 train, arriving Southampton at 0756. There is a free bus that runs between the railway station and the ferry terminal and I arrived in time to buy a ticket and catch the 0815 ferry. I arrived in Cowes at 0845.
At the ferry terminal in Cowes there is a bus (number 1) to Newport leaving every 7-8 minutes. The bus to Brighstone (number 7) from Newport runs every hour, leaving at 23 minutes past the hour and I was able to catch the 0923 bus arriving at Brighstone (by the Three Bishops pub) at about 0945. A few yards to the west is North Street which leads directly to one of the many paths up Brighstone Down.
I soon found the trig point at the top of the hill which is quite well hidden amongst the gorse bushes and I was set up and having first QSO on 30m at 1050 local time, having first sent an SMS self-spot for a frequency that was clear. After about 60 minutes I had completed 17 QSO’s on 30m CW including S2S contacts with Kjell, LA1KHA/P and Aage, LA1ENA/P. I then made 11 QSO’s on 60m SSB and decided that it was time to move on if there was any chance of a second summit and getting home at a reasonable hour.
I hurried down the hill thinking that I would probably just miss the 1223 bus back to Newport. However, luck was on my side as the path I followed down the hill came out on the road just to the east of Brighstone and just a few yards to the left was a bus stop called Brighstone cemetery. This would have been a quicker starting point on the way up, although the path was very overgrown near to the road. The bus arrived after just a few minutes.
Back at Newport, and after just a few minutes wait, I caught the 1300 bus to Ventnor this was the number 7 bus that leaves every 30 minutes. I had decided to get off the bus at Wroxall and walk up to St Boniface Down from the south rather than walking up north from Ventnor. I got off the bus by the Four Seasons pub in Wroxall (next stop after Wroxall church). Here you can walk up the lane that runs alongside the pub, which eventually becomes a footpath. I kept straight ahead, ignoring the ‘bridleway to the downs’ sign on the left, and by 1420 I was set up for 30m on G/SE-008.
On powering up the FT817, which was still set to 60m from the last summit, I heard Paul ,G4MD/P on G/NP-009 , so quickly reset the antenna to 60m for a nice S2S contact before returning to 30m CW and making 6 QSO’s with DL, HB, and OK.
I then moved to 60 m SSB and had a nice S2S with Phil ,G3YPQ/P on G/DC-002 but contacts were a bit slow which I decided was probably due to the number of G operators occupied watching the football (the FA cup final). I finally moved to 40m CW where I found DK1HW/P on DM/BW-336 and SM0HPL/P on SM/DA-014.
Finally, whilst trying to complete a contact with DC7CCC, my little 2.1AH slab died. Sorry Mario !
I returned back down the hill to the Four Seasons pub at Wroxall. Caught the number 7 bus to Newport and the number 1 bus to the ferry terminal. I then caught the 1830 train from Southampton to Winchester and arrived home about 1915 (all times are local BST)
So if you are put off activating the two Isle of Wight summits by the need to take your car to the island, perhaps you should consider using a quick passenger ferry and then letting the bus take the strain.
THE VIEW FROM THE NORTH 17 by Rob and Audrey G4RQJ
Once again a very quiet time with poor conditions on HF leaving many of the more easterly activations inaudible this far west. Even did a quick check on the gear but its all OK, the S5-8 local noise level does not help either.
Sunday 2nd May. Black Combe.
Sota weekend so our local larger hill seemed an obvious target. A pleasant climb but the temperature on top was Arctic. HF was not playing and we had to resort to a call on 2m to get a posting to start things off (thanks Sue). Only five on 60m,four on 30m cw and none on 30m, an unusually low total. Thankfully lots of callers on 2m as usual but yet again the PRP76 let us down on 4m and is scheduled to be shot. This summit is very popular with both locals and visitors so we were kept busy with interested spectators but after three hours we were glad to be out of the wind and moving.
Plenty of parking space at Whicham church and even if there is a service on there is usually room on the grass beside the track, the walk is pleasant but unremitting, just keep going until you reach a large arrow of stones set in the ground by the track. This points to the shelter and trig, out of sight, about 400yds across the summit plateau. The last section of track is not well defined so it’s best to take note of the direction in case of sudden cloud cover which is not unusual on this seaside fell. Children will like this fell but may moan on the longer straight ramp like sections.
This brings to mind a Wainwright statement that hills become old friends after a number of visits and while not for a minute belittling uniques only activities, there is a lot of pleasure to be had visiting old friends, Black Combe being one.
Had a query via a friend for someone looking for a place with a good takeoff, to operate close to a vehicle inside the National Park for the WFF Green Day event on 12th June. Not strictly SOTA of course but a difficult question. Most of the high roads in the park, being passes are narrow and screened by hills, just the wrong thing. We finally suggested Corney Fell road avoiding the passing places but it’s a long way across for any visitors to come. Anyone any better suggestions?
Four metres really is becoming a” bête noire” for us technically. The prp76 is always in trouble lately and conversion of a pmr rig for home use has not exactly gone to plan in spite of lots of help from the appropriate group. This is a shame because we like the band but we have an anniversary shortly and a Wouxun may be a suitable treat.
Sunday 9th May. Baystones.
Panic on Sunday morning as we could not decide if the summit had been deleted or not and fancied a trip up it. Eventually decided that it was still a good one so off we went. HF once again did not sparkle but 2m yet again made up for it. Lots of walking parties passing through and SOTA’s fame seems to be spreading as quite a few had seen activations previously. This can only be a good thing there’s nothing better than being a fixture, less likely to get complaints. A shame that this hill has once again failed the 150m test, it’s a nice walk up Nanny Lane from Troutbeck but rules are rules.
A very quiet week SOTA wise, brightened by a qso with Gerald G4OGI on Tarn Crag. Misread the posting for 70cms and arrived on the frequency to hear only gasping, then the penny dropped, it’s CW and the rx is on FM! The antenna is only an indoor halo for 2m but the SWR looks OK so switching to CW with a key hastily hooked on to the FT817 with croc clips we managed a quick contact, our first chased summit on 70cms cw.
Off to Somerset for the week so no internet etc but we decided to do some southern summits.
Sunday 16th May. Long Knoll
A lot of rain and a large group of cows with calves helped us decide on a VHF only activation on this one, sorry. Very few takers apart from contest stations, no SOTA regulars and very little local knowledge of what it was all about. The hill itself is a simple pleasant woodland and grassy walk and the reported exposure did not bother me (Rob) a confirmed vertigoist (I made that one up). The cow squadron was of more concern to us townsfolk but they seemed happy if a little inquisitive.
Sunday 16th May. Win Green
There is a Roman road on the map, straight as a die from this summit to the A30 just east of Shaftsbury. If so it makes a fine job of hiding its arrival and we wasted an awful lot of time trying to find it before returning to the town and taking the road via the zigzags which threatened difficulties, but in reality is almost a motorway with bends. The walk is about 100yds to a fine beech copse on the summit. We had just set up when the heavens opened and we were forced into imperfect cover among the trees. Contacts were very difficult and were it not for the help of a couple of G3’s on the Isle of Wight whose QSO we interrupted in error we would not have qualified the hill. Thoroughly soaked back at the car the rain continued to beat down with local roads flooded and littered with broken branches, how different from the mild weather of the north!
PS. The Roman road does set off from the summit, straight as an arrow Heaven alone knows were it ends up!
Tuesday 18th May. Beacon Batch.
A perfect little summit on a beautiful day, only a short walk from the car park at the head of Burrington Combe. We occupied one of the “craters” for a nice operating site. Radio was something else! 5MHz produced only GW7AAV, a struggle and in spite of Steve’s posting and 25 minutes calling no other contacts. 7 MHz produced nine CW contacts, 10 MHz just the one. On to 2m and here the best part of an hours calling on SSB and FM produced NOTHING nil, no takers. We are truly spoiled by our regular faithful chasers in the North.
Back home and another quiet SOTA week with the technical gremlins mounting a strong attack. No progress on 4m but have ordered a Wouxan from HK for portable use on the band only to find they are now available in UK direct! The trusty FTdx401 that is the 80m workhorse has suffered a serious switch failure, anyone know of a cheap source of 8 pole 3way rotary switches? and the 2m shack rig is reported as drifting again, probably a memory battery to replace but it’s all work!
See some discussion about buildings on summits and can confirm that there is a WW2 pillbox on the summit of Mull Hill GD-005 which is useable in the event of bad weather, the only hazard being the concrete beam at the entrance which permits people of five foot two (Audrey) unrestricted access but is most hostile to taller folk, my ears are still ringing from the impact.
Talk of GD reminds us that we will be there at the end of June, beginning of July and hope to activate all the summits at least once and probably more times depending of course on the weather. We will use as many bands and modes as possible and those who work us once on each of the five summits will receive the GD4RQJ/P 2010 certificate. There were just six winners last year. There is a wifi hotspot in Douglas so may have limited access which could depend on how many burgers we can eat.
We must apologise for the rather short effort this month, it’s been quiet radiowise and busy otherwise.
Take it steady out there and 73
Rob and Audrey.
CW REPORT FOR MAY 2010
The month of May was a very variable month for CW activity. The International SOTA Weekend over the 1st and 2nd May produced many activations, averaging well over 150 CW points on both days. Unfortunately, HF propagation was poor on the Saturday and an EA CW contest made things difficult on 40m on the Sunday.
Propagation on the higher bands began to improve during the month and many activators (especially French stations) took advantage of this by commencing on 21 or 14 MHz, then dropping down to finally contact the remaining chasers on 10.118 and 7.032 MHz. Unfortunately the 40m band became very poor during the month resulting in many distant QRP activations from HA, OK, OE, S5, HB and Z3 becoming totally inaudible below the noise level on 40m at my QTH. Many activators and chasers have been struggling with the QSB and there have been many frustrating instances of stations replying to a call only to loose contact immediately afterwards.
However, for the first time 10.118 KHz became the first choice calling spot for many activators.
Check out this list of stations heard active on other bands than 40m:-
28 MHz:- LA1ENA, F5LKW, F5UKL, UT/HA5CQZ, HA5TI, SV5/DJ5AA
24 MHz:- SV5/DJ5AA
21 MHz:- F5LKW, F5UKL, SV5/DJ5AA, G3NYY,
18 MHz:- HA5CQZ, HA5OB, F5UKL, M1EYP,
DK1HW, DL2XL, DL4OCE, DL8VKO,
F5UKL, F5LKW, F4EMK, F5VGL,
GI4FLG, GW8OGI, M1EYP, MM0ROV, M0NMS, G3RDQ, DL/LX1NO,
HA7UL, HA5MA, HA5LV.
Z35M, Z35F, Z30A
DL4CW, DF3MC, DL/LX1NO, DJ3AX, DL5DXS, DK1HW, DL2XL, DK1BN, DK0QW, DD1LD, DL/OE5EEP, DK4TN.
F5HTR, F6ENO, F5LKW, F5UKL, F5VGL,
GS0OOO, M1EYP, M0GIA, GW3NYY, MM0FMF, M0NMS, G3NYY,
HA5OB, HG4UK, HA5CQZ, HA5TI, HA5LV, HA5MA, UT/HG4UK,
LA1KHA, LA1ENA, LA8BCA,
OE8GBK, OE/DL4CW, OE5EEP, OE/DF3MC
OK1CYC, OK1DXK, OK2QA, OK1DDQ, OK1DSX,
S57XX, S51RU, S53X, S51ZJ, S53XX,
3.5 MHz:- M1EYP, M0GIA, G4OBK, HA6QY, HA6QR, F8FCA,
1.8 MHz:- M0GIA, LA1ENA, HA6OY, S59UAR, GS0OOO,
There were also many days with short skip. I even managed contacts with activators in the U.K. on 10 MHz, which is very rare, being located half way down the country.
A warm welcome is extended to the following record number of SOTA activators heard using CW for the first time during May:-
Blagoj Z35F, Z30A, Z33A, S58RCP, Marek SP9HTY, Kaz SP9GFI, Geert PA7ZEE, Radio Club Lasce S59UAR, DARC Club G-54 DP8P, Arne DL4OCE, Mario DL0QW, Larry DK8VKO, Chris OE5HCE, SUNDSVALLS RADIOAMATORER SK3BG. Uwe DK4TN, Terge LA8BCA.
The improvement in the weather also brought out very many cross-border activations. Heard active on expeditions outside their own country were:-
OE/DL4CW, OE/DF3MC, LX/S53XX, DL/HB9BAB, F/HB9AFI, UT/HA5CQ, UT/HG4UK, M0NMS (Norby), OK/DL8DXL, EJ/G4ESJ, DL/HB9AGO, SV5/DJ5AA, DL/OE5EEP, OK/DL2XL.
CONTESTS DURING JUNE 2010
The following scheduled contests are expected to cause severe QRM to SOTA activity, especially on the 40m band. Activators should plan accordingly with alternate spots/bands. This is not a complete list of contests.
5th-6th 1200-1200 SEANET Contest CW, SSB, RTTY
5th-6th 1500-1500 IARU Region 1 CW Field Day
12th only 0001-2359 Bill Windle QSO party
13th only 0001-2359 SKCC weekend sprint
12-13th 1500-1500 GACW WW CW Contest
19th -20th 0001-2359 All Asian CW DX Contest
26-27th 1200-1200 Ukraine Digi Contest RTTY & PSK31
SOTA News is normally published around noon UTC on the last day of each month and can only be as interesting as the items submitted. If you think your particular field of interest is not being covered then please submit an article by the 25th of the month. Have you a favourite SOTA? favourite mode? favourite rig, antenna, or favourite band? How did you find your first day / month / year as an activator or chaser? Your comments and experiences will be read by SOTA enthusiasts all across Europe and beyond, in a total of 24 different countries. Your input will be most welcome.