SOTA NEWS JUNE 2012
EDITORIAL – by Roy G4SSH
Welcome to the June 2012 edition of SOTA News. My thanks go to the following contributors:- Barry GM4TOE, Martin DF3MC, Skip K6DGW, Peter ON4UP, Wayne VK3WAM, Roger MW0IDX, Mark G0VOF, Colwyn MM0YCJ, Rob and Audrey G4RQJ, Victor GI4ONL, Victor MI0JST, Andy MM0FMF.
SOTA AWARDS FOR MAY 2012 - Barry GM4TOE - SOTA Awards Manager
May has been another bumper month for awards with many people taking advantage of the new facility to have their certificates sent by email. Congratulations to Caroline M3ZCB and Hansruedi HB9AGO on achieving Mountain Goat. DL1FU, one of SOTA’s most prolific chasers, has claimed a trophy to mark his achievement of 50k points all on CW while K6ILM and M0MDA have also claimed their glassware. The top of the Chaser table is really hotting up; Roy G4SSH is still there in the lead but Friedrich is snapping at his heels with others also well up in the chase. Will anyone offer odds on when the 100k mark is reached (and by whom)?
The achievements of Rich, N4EX, must not be underestimated either. SOTA NA is barely 2 years old and Rich is up with the leaders. He runs almost solely QRP CW and yet regularly features in European activators’ logs.
M3ZCB Caroline Blackmun - Mountain Goat
DL1FU Friedrich Winzer - Shack Sloth (50k)
K6ILM Elliott Pisor - Shack Sloth
M0MDA Michael Dailey - Shack Sloth
HB9AGO Hansruedi Stettler 1000 points
KD5ZZK Andrew Norman 250 points
KB3VDR Douglas Quamme 250 points
KB3VDR Douglas Quamme 100 points
G3RDQ David Griffiths 100 points
G4SSH Roy Clayton 60000 points
DL1FU Friedrich Winzer 50000 points
PA0WLB William Dekker 10000 points
N4EX Rich Homolya 5000 points
G1PIE Mark Procter 1000 points
G4ISJ Peter Martin 500 points
G4ISJ Peter Martin 250 points
G6XBF Walt Lambert 250 points
SV2HTC Katsavelis Dimitrios 250 points
SQ9APD Bartosz Kuzma 250 points
G4ISJ Peter Martin 100 points
SV2HTC Katsavelis Dimitrios 100 points
GW6OVD Maldwyn Clee 100 points
G6HZJ David Pemberton 100 points
DL1FU Friedrich Winzer 5000 summits
G3VXJ Bob Rylatt 2500 summits
PA0WLB William Dekker 1500 summits
PA0WLB William Dekker - Mountain Hunter Gold
M1MAJ Martyn Johnson - Mountain Hunter (VHF) Bronze
M3ZCB Caroline Blackmun - Mountain Hunter (VHF) Bronze
G1PIE Mark Procter - Mountain Hunter Bronze
HG4UK Zsolt Gruber - Mountain Explorer Gold
N4EX Rich Homolya - Mountain Explorer Bronze
M1MAJ Martyn Johnson 10th Anniversary GW Activator
M3ZCB Caroline Blackmun 10th Anniversary GW Activator
M3ZCB Caroline Blackmun 10th Anniversary GW Chaser
M1MAJ Martyn Johnson 10th Anniversary GW Chaser
What a difference a few days makes with the UK basking in beautiful warm sunshine (well it was until yesterday when the temperature dropped here by 15 degrees!). Many activators used the improving weather to get out on the hills and make a lot of chasers very happy.
I have noticed a trend in claims for awards; I get a small peak whenever the monthly news appears and then the rest of the month can be very sparse until Roy fires the starting gun asking for contributions for the newsletter. I usually receive 60% of all monthly claims in the week before news items are submitted to Roy – I wonder why – are claimants that desperate to see their name in print? The upshot of this is that I get a sudden workload thrown at me and this can present inevitable delays in the registering, checking and then printing of awards. Incidentally, just because we are now making these awards available by email it does not mean they are sent by return; I still check, register and prepare the certificate as usual but then produce a pdf file rather than a printed certificate so it does take much the same time to leave here.
The 10th Anniversary award for GD will be available from 1 June should anybody like to claim it and awards for GM and GI will follow in July. People who have been waiting for flags to come back into stock shouldn’t have to wait much longer, I hope to have those on the site by June 1st as well (the maker had a production problem). Following a number of requests by folks across that small pond I have also designed bumper stickers for you (and yes, I did consult with one of the W AM’s on the design!); these should be available when you read this report.
This weekend features a long public holiday in the UK for the Queen’s Jubilee so there will probably be a lot of activity with operators sporting a GQ prefix; although unusual it does mean that it is not immediately obvious which Association is being activated because the Regional prefix is dropped, so take care with your logging!
Finally a plug for GB2PRC (Peterborough Regional College) who are planning to be qrv from GW/NW-001 on 6 June during their fund raising efforts for “Help for Heroes”. I have posted an alert for them but be aware some of the operators will not necessarily be licensed but operating under the greetings message facility of the callsign. They hope to be able to claim at least one of the 10th Anniversary awards for their efforts.
Enjoy yourselves on the hill
Barry Horning GM4TOE
SOTA News also congratulates the following stations:-
Hannes HB9AGO on achieving Mount Goat
David G3RDQ who made his 100th activation on 20th May
Mark G1PIE on gaining his Shack Sloth.
Mike 2E0YYY on working the first VK chaser located in Tasmania on the
(Note from Editor: The input for this section is gained from e-mails received, telephone messages and comments on the reflector. If you or a colleague have passed some important SOTA personal milestone please drop me a line for inclusion here - Roy).
NEWS FROM SOTA-DL - from Martin DF3MC
The weather was favourable in May and there was a lot of SOTA-activity in the German Alps. Summits of all nine regions have been on the air.
OM Andy, DK7MG/p succeeded to first-activate the 9 remaining summits in the Benediktenwandgruppe (DL/BE), completing this region. Several first activations were achieved in the Karwendelgebirge (DL/KW) by DM1LE/p and DL4MHA/p, in Allgaeuer Alpen (AL) by DL/PA3FYG/p and in Chiemgauer Alpen (CG) by DJ6TB/p.
During the Friedrichshafen HAM RADIO activators and chasers will meet on Friday and Saturday at 12:00 local time at the “QSL wall” to have a drink and for some SOTA talk.
VY 73 Martin, DF3MC
NEWS FROM THE “ON” ASSOCIATION
On Sunday the 1st of July 2012, the Belgian SOTA association will celebrate its 5 years anniversary. A unique certificate will be rewarded to all SOTA activators who activate at least one of the 14 Belgian SOTA summits that day.
Will you be one of them? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oH9ibDYVU-k
73, Peter - ON4UP
NEWS FROM AUSTRALIA
The first Australian SOTA Association (VK3 - Victoria) commenced on 1st February 2012 and currently has 8 regions and 609 qualifying summits. I have great pleasure in extending a warm welcome to Association Manager Wayne VK3WAM who has agreed to provide a monthly progress report. (Editor)
SOTA VK3 REPORT by Wayne VK3WAM
SOTA has now been operating in VK3 for 4 months, and awareness of the
program continues to grow. Peter VK3PF joined the fray, activating Mt
Ida VK3/VU-009 (for which will need to be corrected from Mt Idle in the
SOTA database in due course) along with Mt William VK3/VS-001 on his way
back from the WIA AGM. May has seen a varied range of summits activated
from One Tree Hill VK3/VS-036 near Ararat, Mt Beckworth VK3/VC-024 near
Ballarat, Mt Cole VK3/VS-009 and Mt Buangor VK3/VS-003 which are in
between Ararat and Ballarat. There have been a few false starts in the
month as well, but we may end up with more than 10 activators before too
Most activations have been HF SSB, but a reasonable portion have been 2m
FM. This is bringing out those who remember the days when there was more
activity on 2m simplex frequencies, such as the national calling
frequency 146.5 FM. DX in the month was mostly restricted to CW, but
there was a W/VK contact on 40m, as well as a 20m SSB contact into G.
All activations in the month were QRP with operators using 817s, but it
is known that there are some kit builders out there. It is also known
that some LiPos are being put together to power some 857s and 706MkIIs
so some higher power activations might be on the horizon for those
eagerly chasing from Europe.
Wayne, VK3WAM, presented SOTA at the Eastern and Mountain District Radio Club (EMDRC) which was warmly received.
The presentation was captured on video, and is available on Youtube at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmdMMBNiUJA There will be an additional
presentation at FAMPARC Saturday morning June the 2nd.
SOTA Chasers were heard from VK7 and VK5, chasing contacts on VK3
summits, but some also made contacts into Europe and asked activators
there for SOTA refs. A few VK1’ers are looking on awaiting the day when
their association will go live, but that is likely to still be a few
months away. Perhaps VK5 will only be a few months behind that.
CANADA/U.S. SOTA REPORT - by Skip K6DGW
As of 24 May 2012
Well, May was a fairly active month for SOTA in the New World. Almost
every NA Association was represented by both activations and chasers,
and some of the activator logs showed that DX is alive and well in Cycle 24.
Total Activations: 109
Number of Individual Activators: 46
Total Unique Summits Activated: 89
Total QSO’s by Activators: 1,257
Total QSO’s Reported by Chasers: 719
Number of Individual Chasers Reporting: 90
Distribution of Chaser QSO’s by Mode and Band:
28MHz: 0.0% CW: 52.0%
24MHz: 0.0% SSB: 43.8%
21MHz: 6.3% FM: 1.9%
I broke out the bands and modes just to see what they looked like and I
guess the bands are about what we would have guessed. 20 meters is the
band of choice of course. This does pose some problems for chasers at
shorter distances from the activations. Mike, KD9KC, has reported NIL
on 20 meters from a number of W5N and and W7/W0 activations, and I have
a very hard time finding activations in the Pacific Northwest on 20.
Nice to see 40 meters climbing some. We’re probably missing out on some
potential QSO’s by not utilizing 30 meters more.
The mode split between CW and SSB is much more even than when NA-SOTA
got started. The only reason I can come up with for the low VHF [FM]
totals is that the majority of the activations took place in W5, W6, and
W7 and most of the summits are too remote for VHF.
QRP To The Field [QRPTTF]: QRPTTF is the creation of Paul, NA5N, and
Jan, N0QT. It’s a 12 hour event and this year was on 28 April in North
America. Paul always adds a “theme” to it each year, "On The Border"
was one where you got bonus points for operating on an international or
state border. This year, Fred, KT5X, suggested a SOTA theme, and Paul
decided we’d have “Get High on QRP.”
Normally, the multipliers are States, Provinces, and DXCC entities.
This year he added SOTA Summit Identifiers. And, to further encourage
field participation, he included a bonus that you multiplied your final
1 if you’re operating from your home station
2 if you’re on a “hill” [we all know what they look like :-)]
3 if you’re on a summit at least 500 feet above terrain
4 if you’re on a SOTA registered summit
Activity was fairly strong … I’ve included a report from Ron, WT5RZ,
who activated W5N/SC-011, W5N/SC-005, and W5N/SC-006 with Mike, KD9KC.
It seems multiple summit activations in one trip are increasing. Your
reporter operated for about 4 hours from Camp Flint, an old WW2 Army
post here in Auburn that is definitely a “hill.”
NA-SOTA Reorganization: When SOTA first arrived in North America, the
associations were organized on VE and US call areas. No one had any
experience with SOTA and needed to start somewhere. Call areas don’t
mean much in the US anymore but it seemed like a good idea at the time.
W6 is just California, but W7 includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho,
Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming and Montana, all of which are blessed
with many summits. W5 includes Mississippi, Louisana, Arkansas, Texas,
Oklahoma, and New Mexico. W0 includes a lot of states too, however it
appears 90%+ of the SOTA summits are in Colorado.
The result is that some of the associations have divided more along
state lines with individual managers to ease the workload. In the case
of W4 and W5, an additional letter was added to the prefix … W5T is
now Texas, W5N is New Mexico, W5O is Oklahoma, and W5A is Arkansas.
Louisana doesn’t have any qualified summits, and I’m not sure if there
is any SOTA activity in Mississippi. W7 remains just W7, at least for
right now. It took a lot of work by a lot of people on both sides of
the Atlantic to make this work, but it appears that everything is
California: The W6 ARM started out with a few hundred summits. It
turns out that California has over 3,500 qualified summits [mountains
tend to form along the boundaries of huge tectonic plates, and a
boundary splits the state in half]. Eric, KU6J, has written a great
deal of software to locate candidate summits from digital elevation
models, and to verify their location, elevation, and prominence using
the accepted SOTA sources such as Peaklist.org and ListsOfJohn.
He and a small team are putting the finishing touches on a W6 ARM update
that will add those 3,500 summits. A non-trivial problem arose with the
current W6 regions in that some would have ended up with more than 999
summits and the SOTA Database imposes that limit. The database also
does not permit renaming an existing SOTA ID. So … the team has been
defining new regions, many of which overlay existing regions and
assigning the summits to them. Much of this will be transparent to
non-California chasers. Still work to do, but W6 will be changing
And, Elliott, K6ILM, is rapidly closing in on the first W6 Shack Sloth.
He may have already made it by the time I’m writing this.
Congratulations Elliott!! Marc, W4MPS, also received his Shack Sloth
award, he reports, “They are made of glass and are hand crafted in
Dingwall, Scotland. Proud addition to the shack.”
From Ron, WT5RZ: This is my first effort into QRPTTF, and it was very
enjoyable. I have been a SOTA operator, and chaser, since the W5 area
was first brought online almost two years ago. This marriage is perfect
and made the day even more adventuresome. Mike, KD9KC and I had both
planned this outing several weeks before QRPTTF participation was
announced, and it was a 3 summit outing. A bit of quick moving in
between, but relatively easy summits begged it from us.
Radio: ATS4B, with 15M, 17M, 20M, 30M, 40M. running a little less than
5W ( at the start of the day) to an Elecraft T1 tuner, 4:1 Balun, 28’ of
300Ohm twin lead to a 44’ doublet on a 28’ fiberglass mast. Although I
brought an additional battery, the small 1000mAh LiPo pack I had was the
only one I used through the 3 summits that we activated and the 4-1/2 to
5 hour of time on the air. It was still at 10.7V when I quit.
Along with the radio adventure, we spotted a large Tom turkey wooing a
mate, and in full strut, with bright red head. Mike tried to get a
photo, but this seemed to disturb our thanksgiving friend, as he let out
a gobble, and took his girlfriend down the hill. I think he said,
something about peeping Toms spoiling the mood and that he was leaving.
Between the three summits, 48 contacts, 24 spc/sotas on 20M, 14 contacts
with 11 spcs on 15M, 62 contacts total. 62 contacts total, a bit of QRM,
a bit of search and pounce, and a whole lotta fun.
And Barry reports from Misery Mountain:
Misery Mountain lived up to its moniker yesterday. Although a beautiful
hike, I learned a few tough lessons:
- Don’t forget the power cable
- If you do forget the power cable, remember to take a pack of AA’s (whew)
- Don’t rely on Topo maps for trailhead location or you might end up
crossing deep fast flowing streams over and over again
- Don’t grossly underestimate your alert activation time because
scouting out crossing points over and over again for deep fast flowing
streams takes time
- If you do grossly underestimate your alert activation time, be sure
to have a method to self spot
- If you don’t have a method to self spot, be sure to bring along
plenty of patience.
- Don’t delay in deploying your bug protection as soon as you get to
the summit and your motion stops.
- Black flies seem innocuous, but their unfelt bites will lead to
hugely swollen digits and hands and no sleep later that night.
That’s going to be it for this issue of Roy’s News. Summer is upon us
[although it’s snowing in the Sierra today] and I expect SOTA activity
will be picking up even more.
Canada/US SOTA Reporter Dude
A Final Reminder.
GB10SOTA by Roger MW0IDX
To celebrate 10 years of the Summits on the Air programme, I will be using a special event call sign GB10SOTA from the summit of Mount Snowdon GW/NW-001 on the 19th, 25th June, 2nd and 9th of July 2012 - weather, work and legs permitting!
I will take my K2 for HF and a VHF/UHF radio with me. If any activators wish to join me, you will be most welcome as I would like to cover as many bands/modes as possible. Please send me an email if you plan on joining me on one of the dates. Email details on QRZ.com.
Time has flown since my first SOTA activation from Snowdon on 2nd March 2002. The Summits on the Air programme has grown and matured into such a wonderful group of like minded friends.
Thank you to all involved with SOTA over the last 10 years and I look forward to working as many of you as possible as GB10SOTA.
(Ed Note:- The Olympic torch was carried to the top of Mount Snowdon GW/NW-001on the 29th May, to be greeted by a crowd of some 200 well-wishers. I hope Roger does not have quite as many supporters up there or he could have a problem erecting his HF antenna !)
SOTA ON TOP BAND - Mark G0VOF
Hello everyone & welcome to this month’s very brief edition of SOTA on Top Band. May was a very quiet month, although with increased solar activity & long daylight hours, conditions on the low bands have been quite poor.
Only one spot for 160m was noted, which was by Peter ON4UP/P on 6th May from ON/ON-019 Bois de Javingue. I missed this activation at the time & although Peter had successful QSO’s on 7, 14,18 & 28 MHz he had no luck on 160m.
So a very quiet month indeed for Top Band chasers.
At the time of writing, the following is the only Top band activation during May that I am aware of, if I have missed any others please let me know.
On the 6th May, Peter ON4UP/P activated ON/ON-019 Bois de Javingue, but no QSO’s were achieved on 160m using SSB.
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 email@example.com
Until next month,
APRIL FOOLS IN THE EASTERN CAIRNGORMS by Colwyn MM0YCJ
Midweek and the Spring was sprung; 23 Celsius was reported on Royal Deeside, it sounded like the place to go at the weekend; the forecast was for sunshine.
A later than planned start (why are they never earlier than planned?), but the road north was quiet so early in the morning on the final day of March. We drove through a sleepy Braemar and parked up at Linn of Quioch (NO117910) by 10:00 hours.
With no midges around so early in the year, we packed our gear and got changed slowly in the bright, luxurious sunshine then headed north up Glen Quoich on the excellent track onto Beinn A’ Bhuird. There were a lot of trees had come down in the gales this year, but they just added to the remote feeling and fitted with the atmosphere of the original Caledonian forest of Scots pine. Glen Quoich is a beautiful place to visit. We reached the end of the glen and started the steady climb up the excellent footpath, well reinstated but it will take a few more years to disguise the original scars of the stalkers old landrover track.
Three hours later there were fine views to the western hills we had been up the previous weekend; Braeriach and Carn Toul. There was some fresh snow at the small summit cairn of Beinn A’Bhuird (GM/ES-004, NJ092006. 1197m) but there was no shelter from the cold, cold wind. We got the tent out to shiver in while activating the summit. Only 4 QSOs and all on 2m using the VX7 and a rucksack antenna. I was too cold to deploy a bigger antenna, so we accepted the 4 QSO’s on ES004 (two summit 2 summit contacts) and headed off to get warm again.
From Beinn A’ Bhuird we headed east across the flat summit plateau to the rim of the Garbh Choire, which has excellent rock climbing in summer. Down to The Sneck, then on to Ben Avon (GM/ES-006), which as a Munro has a good track leading to the summit (NJ131018, 1171m). The shapely summit tor was encrusted in rime ice, which made for an exciting clamber to tick the true summit. We sheltered on the south side of the summit tor in sunshine so used the 40m antenna and FT817; 15 QSO’s in as many minutes.
After packing we turned south east down the Allt an Eas Mhoir into a sheltered corrie. There is an old stalkers track that starts at about the 850m contour that takes you down into the remote Glen Gairn. We walked east along the floor of the glen to arrive at a footbridge and pitched the tent on a fine flat meadow next to the river (NO172998. 510m). It was 19:30 hours, perfect timing for preparing supper before it got dark. The stars were fantastic after darkness fell in the cloudless sky.
After 9 hours of walking we slept well overnight and on April fools day, next morning Ben Avon was coy behind a veil of cloud but we were going in the opposite direction along the stalkers track and up onto the well made landrover tracks which service this grouse moor. You could drive an ordinary car along the tracks they are so good, though preferably someone else’s car! The shoulder of the next peak at an altitude of 720m has heather growing which is fenced off so it cannot be grazed. Monitoring growth in this harsh environment perhaps.
From there, Culardoch (900m) is an easy summit, a fine track can be followed, but there is no effective shelter near the top and so we got the tent out again! Apologies for my failure to transmit on 40m from GM/ES-015; just after 10:00 hours. It was not an April fools day prank! I thought I had found a clear frequency and started transmitting using the FT817, self spotted (good phone signal, as a nearby mast was visible on Morrone GM/CS-060!) then was swamped by overseas contest stations.
Listening to two overseas stations, both @ 5.9, explaining to each other that the frequency was already in use would have been comical if we hadn’t been so cold. I switched to 2m and steadily activated the hill with 5 local QSO’s over about 30 minutes, in between the Sunday morning radio updates. Coming back to 40m it was still chaos with no free space on the band. Culardoch is a fine summit with desirable views, smooth in profile; the result is no prospect of shelter from the cold north wind, so we packed and fled. A lack of fortitude no doubt, but, like frostbite, time waits for no man.
Back down to the wide landrover track and up the adjacent Corbett; Carn Liath (GM/ES-020, 863m), which had a communicating footpath. I activated on 40m, where it was sheltered, somewhat warmer, and the contest had finished. The result, an easy 20 QSO’s on ES-020.
From the summit it was a walk cross country west over the subsidiary top (same height!) and I picked up the Glen Gairn footpath which brings you onto the Ben Avon path (NO116967, 610m). Then I followed that pretty flat path south to the bealach above Glen Slugain (NO117955). Abandoning the path after about a kilometer next to some obvious large boulders it is again rough cross country with no path up 208m vertical meters onto Carn Na Droichaide (GM/ES-025, NO127938, 818m). I could just shelter from the wind behind the cairn and had 25 QSO’s in a similar number of minutes. Finally, the 3km descent down to the car took less than an hour.
Along the way, in addition to the usual birdlife we saw capercaillie, black grouse, red grouse, golden plover, roe and red deer.
Thirty four points in about 34 hours, sunshine and wilderness, SOTA doesn’t get much better than that.
CAN I INSTALL A REMOTE TRANSMITTER AT YOUR QTH SIR? - Roy G4SSH
When I returned home from my monthly visit to my daughter in Cornwall last month I was greeted by the usual pile of letters on the doormat, with a typical mix of 75% junk mail, 20% containing “windows bearing bills” and a few personal ones.
Standing out amongst this lot was a blue card from Yorkshire Water explaining that the water-meter reader had called whilst I was away and would be returning in a week’s time. This was unusual, because the card normally requests that you read the meter yourself and phone or e-mail in the reading.
Came the appointed day and a cheerful man in high-vis jacket rang the doorbell (why do they need fluorescent jackets to read a meter? - perhaps they might get lost in the cupboard under the stairs).
He proceeded to read the meter and then casually said “I have fitted one of these to all your neighbours’ meters last week - is it OK to attach this to yours, which will allow me to read your meter from my van in future without bothering you?” He held out a small plastic sealed unit about the size of a matchbox.
Whoa !! Anything that can allow him to read a meter from outside my property must contain a transmitter and I am averse to stray transmitters in my QTH.
I asked to have a look at this gadget which was a sealed unit about 3 inches x 2 inches
(8 x 5 cm). The only markings were a serial number and a bar code but there was a 2 cm protrusion at one end, which probably housed the antenna. I said I wanted to see it (or hear it) in action before I made a decision, so the chap opened a lap-top and proceeded to run through the installation routine. When this was done I asked him to interrogate the device whilst I checked out my HF and VHF bands. There appeared to be no noticeable QRM.
I asked him what frequency was used but he appeared a bit vague. However considering the small length of the antenna I considered this would be high up in the UHF range. He did say the power was minute - about 10mW. I informed him that I regularly speak to stations across Europe that use 10mW. He did not appear to be convinced.
On the positive side he assured me that the transmitter would only be active when interrogated by his laptop, for a few seconds every three months, and I could have it removed at a later date if I so wished, so I allowed him to go ahead.
Later investigation on the Internet revealed that the system is called Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) and uses a variety of frequencies such as 433/868 MHz and 2 GHz.
One more addition to the ever increasing noise floor level.
I await any future developments with interest.
THE VIEW FROM THE NORTH 41 - Rob and Audrey
A very strange month for weather in this part of the world and after a missed weekend due to a correct, very bad forecast for the last Sunday of the previous month we leapt at the chance of a reasonable day to attack Whitfell.
Sunday May 6th Whitfell.
This is a very pleasant fell, the two main access points being from the Ulpha Fell road and the Corney Fell Road. Neither of these is easily accessed from the M6 so allow plenty of time for the poor road system of the county! The Ulpha road suffers from a lack of suitable parking space, the start being close to a farm with restrictive access and the farmer is known to be hostile to random parkers but sympathetic to those who ask first. We have always used the Corney Fell Road where at the high point there is room for several cars just off the road on the west hand side. (The fell road leaves the A595 just after Duddon Bridge when coming from the south and there is also access from here to the Ulpha road but remember that both can be tricky or closed in bad weather.)
The walk in is a case of following a reasonable path most of the way. Aim initially towards the more northerly of the two rocky outcrops but once between them the path turns toward the most southerly one (Buck Barrow) The route now descends through some normally very boggy ground, strangely dry this year although there are signs of recent drainage work, to a rocky outcrop on the flank of Burnmoor. Take the right fork to avoid climbing it and contour round to finally reach and climb Whitfell. The summit has a shelter but it is in the midst of an area of slippery stones perfect for ankle damage so we usually avoid it and set up on the grassy slopes close by.
Today a cold wind out of the north forces us into more and more layers of kit in spite of the sunshine. Band wise, 5 MHz is a non-starter and after a lot of calls we move to 7 MHz CW. Here I find that my CW is worse than usual. I have been removing quite a lot of infill from the engraved lettering on a radio panel I am restoring and the tip of my thumb has gone permanently numb from holding the probe (the pleasures of old age) This does not help the use of the key so sorry if it was hard work. VHF produced the usual large crop of chasers and even a few on 70 cm in lieu of 4m, less to carry and in no time three hours have gone and it’s time to descend.
Sorry to say chasing has been cut down by a marching advance of Plasma TV’s resulting in an S9+ noise level much of the time, however was this allowed? The weather continues to be very un-conducive to sitting for long periods on exposed hilltops and the forecast once again convinces us to give Sunday a miss so our next activation will be during our visit to York.
Sunday May 20th Bishop Wilton Wold.
Activate a lay by how hard can this be? Answer next to impossible. Rigged for a light weight VHF only activation in sunshine we reckoned without the lack of our usual trusty chasers and an hours calling on 2m produced just one contact and no posting but two frozen activators. In desperation we managed to rig the 5 MHz antenna on a very low mast and with a lot of help from Andy FMF managed to raise the other two contacts required all to the accompaniment of roaring traffic on the nearby road. Not a hill to repeat often!
Sunday May 27th Stoney Cove Pike.
Lovely forecast, wall to wall sunshine, perfect for walking, great day for a hay fever sufferer to have a cold, so off we go. Very surprised at the lack of traffic at the Kirkstone Pass car park (room for about 40 cars) normally filling with walkers at this time of day. Used our usual route which avoids most of the steep stone steps at the start by contouring to the right on a grass ramp at the first real break in the wall to eventually re-join the main path at the large pile of stones at the top of the staircase. Not a good route in poor visibility but nice on a sunny day. Avoid climbing the next little lump by descending on the path by the wall. As you climb Raven Edge (no exposure) some small
deviations on grass will allow you to contour the steeper bits of the path by the wall, easier on the knees but not advisable when the ground is boggy or the visibility poor. Eventually the cross wall heralding arrival at the summit hove into view and we set up shop in the lee of it as the wind, warm but gusty came from every conceivable direction.
First 5MHz and there on FE with psychic precision is Andy FMF who beats us to the channel every Sunday so we start with a summit to summit. The band is very up and down as are the other normal two so pretty soon we are on 2m where my voice causes some hilarity among the regulars as it deviates from normal to Vincent Price with startling regularity, always does if I have a bad throat. In no time we have been there over three hours and that in the sun really is enough so we set off down commenting again on the few walkers out on such a glorious day but when we arrive back at Kirkstone Pass
We are amazed by the scene which most resembles Blackpool beach with hosts of cars and semi clad lobster people. We were watched on our descent as though descending from Everest and four lads came from the pub in only shorts and trainers set off up Red Scree fortunately giving up after about 100yds of the steep track. It looks as if the honey traps of Bowness and Ambleside are beginning to spread, let’s hope walking catches on as well.
Enough moaning, at least the weather is a little more summery. Take care out there and hope to catch you on the air soon
Rob and Audrey G4RQJ
NEWS FROM “THE VICTORS” by GI4ONL & MI0JST
Unfortunately a four letter word, (WORK), seriously reduced our SOTA activity during May; however we did manage a couple of outings.
Sunday 6th saw an early departure at 06:30 with 3 summits planned, EI/IN-027, EI/IN-048 & EI/IN-029, all of these being first time activations. After a 2 hour drive we arrived at our parking place in glorious sunshine and debated if we should take our waterproof gear, but eventually decided to pack it, what a wise decision that was!
The climb to the top of 027 took approx. 1.5 hours and as we were starting to set up the antennae JST jokingly said, “there’s a huge black cloud out to sea, I hope it doesn’t snow” - lesson No.1 - don’t tempt fate, because 10 minutes later we were in a white-out with about 2" of snow falling during the next half hour. As suddenly as it had appeared the snow disappeared and after a further 20 minutes all traces were gone; the sunshine came back and the rest of the day was fine.
Both stations easily activated the summit with the added bonus of some S2S contacts 3 for EI/GI4ONL/P and 1 for EI/MI0JST/P. The return trip to the car was completed in an hour and after a hearty lunch we departed for the next summit, EI/IN-048.
En-route we discussed the various approaches to Urris and agreed they all held similar challenges, opting for what appeared to be the lesser of the evils - lesson No.2 - don’t assume anything! Initially this was an easy walk until the mid-way point, when the terrain changed to an almost vertical face requiring careful selection of footholds and exertion of lots of energy. One and a half hours later we were at the top, got set up and quickly had the summit activated, with ONL getting another S2S. With hindsight we thought our ascent route was just a bit precarious, so a shorter but more direct route was chosen for the descent. Although this route was devoid of the boulders encountered on the climb, it proved to be quite tough going due to copious accumulations of scree and tangled heather stems; however we were back at the Land Rover in just under an hour, unscathed, and ready for more food.
As usual the catering manager, (Mrs JST), had some nice treats in the cool bag which we soon devoured before setting of for our final summit of the day. There are two obvious approaches to Bulbin, a relatively short steep climb or a longer somewhat leisurely walk. After our earlier encounters we decided on the latter and what a good decision it was, the sun was still shining, the scenery was stunning and the easy walk to the top took an hour. Once on the summit we were soon QRV and our final activation of the day was completed with ease.
On return to the Land Rover Victor, (JST) said he had a little surprise in store as he produced a lemon drizzle cake from the cool bag. What a perfect way to end the day, sitting watching the sun go down and enjoying tea and cake in the middle of nowhere with just the skylarks for company.
Our next outing was on Sunday 27th. On probably the hottest day of the year so far, we left home at 08:00 with the temperature already at 19C, we pondered at our sanity as we set off for EI/IN-002! The journey should have taken around 2 hours, however a little lapse in concentration saw us miss a junction which only became apparent half an hour later as Slieve Snaght, (our summit), came into view on the wrong side – oops! Oops indeed, because there are no roads to where we want to be, so, it’s either backtrack for 20 miles or go around the other side of the lake. Either way there is a 30 mile detour. Eventually we arrived at our parking place and had the, by now, traditional pre-climb feast of soup and rolls with a sandwich or two thrown in for good luck.
Research had shown that there was no easy route to the summit and had estimated a trek of approx. 2 hours. As we left the car the temperature had risen to 24C and it was still only 1100, so liberal application of sun cream and plenty of water was the order of the day. After what seemed an eternity we arrived at a waterfall, which after the long dry spell, was somewhat devoid of water, but there was enough to soak our hats and cool our heads.
It was now decision time, should we take the shorter steeper route to the shoulder or should we take the longer less steep route along the ridge. The former was chosen and we followed the course of the waterfall for the next 30 minutes or so and frequently availed of the head cooling properties of the water which was quite fast flowing, but probably only a trickle compared to what it would be during wet weather.
We had been warned that the going here was anything from damp to a quagmire, today it was quite dry with a crusty top covering the blanket bog making it relatively dry, but it was obvious how wet this could be in inclement conditions. The final part of the climb was energy sapping due to the incline coupled with the barrage of rays from the sun, which was almost overhead, in a cloudless sky. Thank goodness we had refilled our water bottles at the waterfall!
The top of EI/IN-002 was similar to so many others in this range, very little vegetation, rocky and strewn with huge boulders and a cairn at the summit. Both stations were soon QRV with JST trying 2FM and ONL on 40CW. After 30 minutes Victor had only worked two stations on 2m so he decided to QSY to 40 SSB and also tried 20 SSB, both bands yielding easy contacts. On 40 CW EI/GI4ONL/P was struggling to find a clear QRG due to the contest activity and QSY’d to 30 CW, but could only raise a few chasers and then tried 20 CW followed by 17 CW; both bands proved fruitless so a brief return to 40 CW finished the activation.
On the return journey we more or less retraced the route back to the waterfall before deciding to take a more direct route to the road followed by a 15 minute walk to the car; it’s difficult to say which was the better route. Lower down on this descent we were faced with trudging through knee high tussock grass which made for quite slow progress, whereas the longer trudge across open ground was followed by a steeper descent down a gully. At 22:55 we arrived home, tired, slightly sunburned but satisfied with having another first time activation in the log.
That’s it for this month, unfortunately that four letter word is going to plague us again in June but we do have a few more first time activations planned.
73 de Victor GI4ONL & Victor MI0JST
CW REPORT FOR MAY 2012 - by Roy G4SSH
May was the month when propagation underwent a dramatic change with the higher bands full of DX stations; unfortunately this also resulted in the lower bands of 80 and 40m becoming very noisy and there were days when these bands had a total fade-out of signals.
The International SOTA weekend on the 5th and 6th May appeared to be a great success, with no less than 220 spots on the Saturday and 120 on the Sunday. This was in spite of the now familiar wide band multi-tone transmitter wiping out 7032 KHz. which started at 0700 on the morning of the 3rd May and continued until 0700 on the 6th May. Many CW activators moved to 10 or 14 MHz but there were many who refused to leave 7032 KHz and were unreadable at my QTH.
The improvement in propagation on the higher bands encouraged many activators to move up one or two bands allowing the North American chasers to copy an increasing number of European activators after noon UTC. There has also been an increase in the number of activators using all bands from 7 MHz to 28 MHz (I made my first 28 MHz SOTA contact of cycle 24 with Jose EA2EA on EA2/SS-023 on the 29th May).
There were quite a few outstanding CW activations during the month, including Gerald GM4OIG in Orkney who activated 9 Scottish Islands, of which 7 were Uniques. We also had Andy GM0UDL on the Scottish Islands later in the month. We even had a guest appearance from Norby using his Czech call of OK8NO on the 26th.
Ireland was well represented by G4ASA on his 3 week annual holiday to EI-land and there was further activity there from Victors GI4ONL and MI0JST. On the 8th F5HTR Bob mounted a bicycle expedition on the French/Italian border, activating 4 summits in each country. Feri HA7UL was operating on both sides of the Hungarian/Slovakian border on the 29th giving points to grateful chasers, as HA7UL and OM/HA7UL.
It was a pleasure to hear Martin DF3MC operating from Scotland, and he delighted many chasers by achieving his lifetime ambition to activate from Ben Nevis.
The number of chasers in the CW pile-ups continue to increase, prompting Arne DL4OCE to attempt to work by callsign numbers on 7032 KHz on the 20th. Unfortunately the chasers were just not pausing to listen and the attempt was abandoned. Kurt F/HB9AFI had better success listening 1 KHz up on the 28th.
I must thank Gerald F6HBI for his assistance on the 17th May. I was operating as G4SSH/A in Cornwall using a short indoor vertical antenna and attempting to break a pile-up on 14 MHz who were all calling my friend and neighbour Kevin, operating as 5B/G0NUP in Cyprus. This was a hopeless task, but Gerald got through whilst sitting on top of F/AM-310 in France and informed Kevin that I was calling, so he called me and we had a fine QSO. Thanks again Gerald, this was very much appreciated.
Heard active above 40m were:-
28 MHz: 9H/HG4UK, F6HBI, EA2EA, F5LKW,
24 MHz F5UKL, F6HBI, EA2EA, EI/GI4ONL,
21 MHz: EI/G4ASA, G0PEB, G4ISJ,
F5UKL, F6HBI, F5VGL,
OE/OM1ADX, OE/OM4DW, OM4DW,
DL/HB9BRJ, DF0AAA, DJ5AA, DJ3AX, DL8DTL,
EA2EA, EA1AER, EA4ESP,
F5UKL, F6HBI, F8FEO, F5LKW,
G0PEB, GW0PEB, G3NYY, MM0FMF, G4ISJ, MM3BRR, MM0ROV, GM0UDL,
HA2VR, HA2MA, HA2LV,
HB9HVK, HB9CGA, HB8BQU,
OE3KAB, OE/OK1ADX, OE3HPU, OE5EEP,
OK2BWB, OK1DDQ, OK1FFU, OK1DVM,
KE5AKL, KD7WPJ, KQ4S, KF4LXB, K7NEW, K7ATN, KR7C,
NM5S, NE1SJ, N1EU, NM5TW, N4EX. NS0TA, NS7P, NG7A,
WH6LE, WS0TA, WN1E,
VA2V, VA2SG, VA2VL, VE2JC W,
DJ3AX, DL/PA9CW, DL6AP, DK1HW, DL/PA9CW, DF3WM, DL8DXL, DK1IO, DL/HB9BRJ, DK7MG, DL/HB9BIN, DK4TN, DF3MC, DL4MHA, DJ5AA, DK1DU, DL/HB9BRJ,
EI/G4ASA, EJ/G4ASA, EI/GI4ONL,
F6HBI, F5HTR, F5UKL, F/HB9AFI, F8FEO, F5VGL, F5LKW,
G3RDQ, GW3RDQ, M1EYP, MQ1EYP, MM/DF3MC, GM4OIG, MM/DF3MC, G4OOE, G4RQJ, MM0ROV, GM0UDL,
HA2PP, HA2MA, HA2LV, HA/OK1DIG, HA7UL, HA2VR, HA5AZC,
OE/DF3MC, OE3HPU, OE5EEP, OE3KAB, OE/OM4DW, OE5DIN, OE/OK1DIG, OE3KAB,
OK1HAG, OK1DVM, OK1FFU, OK2SAM, OK/OM6TC, OK2BWB, OK2SAM, OK2PYA, OK/DJ5AA, OK2HBY, OK8NO, OK1DDQ,
OM/OK1HAG, OM6TC, OM1ADX,
S57XX, S57X, S51ZJ, S5/OK1DIG, S53XX,
Also thanks to the stalwarts who enthusiastically continue to activate on 80 and 160m:-
3.5 MHz N6ZA,
1.8 MHz ON4UP
The recent fine weather brought out activators on expeditions outside their own countries in record proportions. There were at least 30 expeditions, with some activating SOTA’s in 2 or 3 different countries on the same day:-
DL/PA9CW, DL/HB9AFI, DL/HB9BIN, DL.HB9BRJ, DL/OK2QA, DL/HB9BRJ,
OE/OM4DW, OE/OM1ADX, OE/DF3MC, OE/OK1DIG, OE/HB9BIN,
OK/DL2XL, OK/OM6TC, OK/DL4ABO, OK/DJ5AA,
Note from editor:- The above listings are a representative sample of SOTA CW activity for the month, copied from my own SOTA CW QSO’s and information on the Spots page of SOTA Watch. It is a one man job and I cannot note every single call, especially as I am often away from home in summer, operating as G4SSH/A. I receive a few e-mails from activators every month after publication, asking why their calls were omitted from the list; this is not deliberate and your call will be added after publication should you wish.
CONTESTS DURING JUNE 2012
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.
2nd-3rd 1200-1200 SEANET Contest CW, SSB, RTTY
16th -17th 0001-2359 All Asian CW DX Contest
23-24th 1200-1200 Ukraine Digi Contest RTTY & PSK31
SOTA News is normally published at 1200 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 28th 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.
Database Updates by Andy MM0FMF
I have reduced the “dupe strictness” checks when chaser CSV files are uploaded so that you should now be able to upload multiple chases of the same summit, same band, same date, different activator. Until now these chases would be rejected and if you wished your chaser log to be complete you had to enter these same summit, same band chases manually. That should now be fixed. However, there’s bound to be an obscure corner case that still fails. So if you can’t upload a same band, different activator CSV file, email to me and I’ll see what further work is needed.
The following change applies to activators uploading CSV files where their activation cross the UTC date change. Be default, multiple activations can be uploaded in one file. The trigger used to end one activation and start another was either the summit changed or the date changed. If you are well West of Greenwich you would get a UTC date change in the middle of an activation. The fix was to edit the CSV file. It was messy but not difficult especially if you exported from another log program. Now it’s possible to specify in the CSV file that date changes should not be seen as an end of activtion trigger. The default action is as before. If you wish to test this facility please email me and I’ll explain what is needed as this is still experimental.
Finally, a hangover remains after W5 was split into 4 associations and rebanded. Activators who had activated W5 summits have had their scores recalculated to reflect the new points values. Chaser scores of W5 summits are still displaying the old scores. These will get fixed over the coming weeks. If you have chased W5 summits you will find your score will increase.
email problem chaser CSV files or requests for uploading date crossing activator CSV files to mm0fmf_sota AT intermoose.com
I receive many e-mails during the month containing details of activations, milestones reached and general SOTA news. Unless advised otherwise I will use this information in the next edition of SOTA News. It is important therefore that you advise me if any information is not intended for publication
SOTA News Editor
North American input to:-