SOTA NEWS MARCH 2013
EDITORIAL – by Roy G4SSH
Welcome to the March 2013 edition of SOTA News. My thanks go to the following contributors:- Barry GM4TOE, Skip K6DGW, Allen VK3HRA, Elliot K6ILM, Kevin G0NUP, Rob and Audrey G4RQJ, Mark G0VOF,
SOTA AWARDS FOR February 2013 By Barry GM4TOE - SOTA Awards Manager
February was another bumper month for awards with claims for four Mountain Goats and two Shack Sloth’s (perhaps a little belated in some cases!). Father and son team M1EYP and M3EYP/M0HGY played catch-up and also highlight that the Chaser awards are available for short wave listeners too, so if you have an interest in SWL operations (or would like to count the ones that “got-away” when Chasing) then maybe the SWL awards are for you. Prolific chasers G4FGJ, K6ILM, N4EX and DL8UVG have also achieved the higher levels of Chaser awards and must be congratulated on their efforts.
1 February saw the start of the Summit to Summit awards but I would not have believed that in less than a month the first certificate would be claimed. The MT thought we had made this sufficiently challenging to make achieving the award targets something to aim for but had little reckoned on there being competition to see who could be at the top of the S2S Roll of Honour (SOTA being non-competitive after all!). Two stations passed the minimum award level during the month but the first award goes to Elliott K6ILM; congratulations on being the first claimant. Mike 2E0YYY is very close behind on points but I am willing to wager that he is way ahead on poundage carried to a summit – no there is not going to be an award for pound-feet (or kilo-metres)!
S55KM Negro Kocar
S57BNX Sabina Dermota
S57D Milos Dermota
M3EYP Jimmy Read
K4PIC Larry Phillips
NS7P Phillip Shepard
M1EYP Tom Read 1500 points
M3EYP Jimmy Read 1000 points
SQ9KDP Rafal Karas 250 points
SQ9ORC Slawomir Kordula 250 points
M0TYM Alastair Hopkins 100 points
M1EYP Tom Read 250 summits
M3EYP Jimmy Read 250 summits
G4FGJ Gordon Stu McGowan 10000 points
M1EYP Tom Read 5000 points
K6ILM Elliott Pisor 5000 points
DL8UVG Volkhard Groenke 5000 points
M0HGY Jimmy Read 2500 points
W0MNA Gary Auchard 2500 points
M1EYP Tom Read 1500 points
M3EYP Jimmy Read 1500 points
N1VWD Bradford McKirryher 1000 points
M6RGF Russ Gott 100 points
GW4VPX Allan Jones 100 points
VK3FABA Bernard Petherbridge 100 points
N4EX Rich Homolya 2000 summits
M1EYP Tom Read 500 summits
M3ZCB Caroline Blackmun 500 summits
KC3RT Gene Patterson 500 summits
M3EYP Jimmy Read 250 summits
W4RK Bill Gerth 250 summits
G-20843 Tom Read 1500 points
M1EYP Tom Read - Bronze
M6RGF Russ Gott - Bronze
M1EYP Tom Read - VHF Bronze
G-20848 Jimmy Read - SWL
G-20843 Tom Read - SWL
Summit to Summit
K6ILM Elliott Pisor 250 points
Once again the claims for awards and purchases of merchandise all appeared towards the end of the month leaving me with a backlog – hopefully nearly cleared!
I need to clarify something I said in last month’s news regarding the Anniversary Awards; the validity period for claims is one calendar year from the 10th Anniversary of the forming of the relevant UK Association which, for England and Wales, was 2 March 2012. So the qualifying period ends at midnight on 1 March 2013. However, this does not mean that the award has to be claimed by this date just the qualifying activations or chases need to be completed by this date. It will be possible to claim the award long after this timescale is passed provided the relevant data matches the award criteria; I will give plenty of notice before I remove the claim form from the website.
Weather conditions in Scotland have been quite dramatic over the last few weeks and a lot of people have been injured or killed on the hills round here, mainly due to avalanches. I would question the statement in the Press that one large team which had to be rescued from the Cairngorms were experienced and well equipped. They had walked something like 10km in the wrong direction before being found after one member of the team had been killed in a fall – he was the only person who had a map and compass. This is not well equipped nor is it a sign of experience. Accidents happen to the most experienced and well equipped but that should not be a reason to stack the odds against yourself.
Be safe on the hills and continue to activate – your chasers need you!
SOTA Awards Manager
SOTA News also congratulates:-
Andrew G4AFI who reached his milestone of 5,000 Chaser points and also reached 1,000 Uniques.
Mike 2E0YYY. A contact with ON9CBQ/P activating ON/ON-001, on the 21 Feb 2013, gave him his 250th unique S2S contact and a total of 633 Summit to Summit contacts.
Dave, M0IBC, 1000 points for Shack Sloth, achieved on the 27th.
From Elliot K6ILM
Thanks for the new Summit to Summit award, serial number one.
A few facts about Mt. Davidson, whence all my s2s transmissions emitted: 8 minute drive from my SF home, then 5 minute climb of 165 vertical feet and under 3 minute descent…allowing multiple trips in any single day to accommodate meals and errand-running. Six different rigs used, with four antennas and three batteries. Cell phone coverage and internet available throughout. Beautiful view of SF Bay, park bench available, 100 foot cross close by, large trees to block the wind, and lots of curious visitors to assuage boredom. Only one thing missing: The city park department wouldn’t let me deploy the tent used by 2e0yyy on Gun, fearing I might be homeless (close enough)…but there was only one hour of precipitation during the 22 days it took to reach the mark
The arrival of 250 S2S points was near simultaneous with the arrival of 5,000 chaser points, so I guess it’s time to tip a few pints and see what DX I’ve been missing in the interim.
Thanks to Andy the road terror for clearing up the log anomalies, to K7ATN and others for helpful text messages and QSO’s while on the peak, and to Barry for allowing my frequent meddling in his award programs. Onward and upward.
Note from the Editor
It is with regret that we say goodbye to our regular VK reporter Wayne, VK3WAM who has kept us up to date with the impressive progress of SOTA in Australia for almost 12 months; from his first report, when he was just about the only VK station on HF, to the present day when we are having multiple daily VK spots both on HF and VHF. His input has been really appreciated and of great interest to the readers.
Many thanks Wayne.
We now welcome a new VK reporter in the form of Allen VK3HRA who is an all-round SOTA enthusiast with 200+ activator points gained with his FT-817 and Buddistick around the summits of Victoria, and who is also a keen chaser with 500+ points. Allen has been involved with SOTA VK since the early days. – Roy
VK REPORT – by Allen VK3HRA
Hi I’m VK3HRA Allen Harvie. Whilst I have been active in SWL and other aspects of radio and electronics since a teenager it was not until 2008 that I obtained a ham licence. Originally VK3FARH then upgraded to a standard licence VK3HRA to support JOTA whilst involved with scouts Australia. Despite living in the country with the space for large antennas, SOTA appealed to me straight away. The combination of bush walking and the challenge of remote QRP radio just worked. Keen activator so you will find me up a mountain with my FT817 or with a National Park. So if you hear me on the air be patience as have properly just spent the last couple of hours bush bashing up a hill and finally reaching the top and either sitting in heat fighting flies or truly soaked through in the cold.
With SOTA you are the pile up!
It’s been a little over one year since SOTA started in Australia. First was VK3 in February 2012, VK5 joined in October 2012 and VK1 in February 2013. Work is currently underway to document VK2.
After the completion of surveys and documentation for VK1, the time had come to test equipment and raise awareness. With several trial activations and local presentations conducted in late January it was a case of waiting for UTC to click over for 1st Feb.
There were activators waiting on six summits, Andrew VK1NAM on Booroomba Rocks, Matt VK1MA at Mt Stromlo, Russell VK1JRM at Tuggeranong Hill, VK1DI on Mt Majura and VK1DA at Mt Taylor and VK1HBB on Mt Ainslie activating with 2M and 40M. Everyone was on the air at the official start time of 0000 UTC so VK1 started with a bit of a splash.
With VK1RX, VK1IRC, VK1NUT and VK1MDC joining during the month it resulted in 11 activators completing 39 activations working 15 unique summits. It was a big start to SOTA in VK1 and a huge opportunity for Chasers to build up their points.
Elsewhere, activity has slowed in VK5 due to fires, hot weather and flies. VK3, whilst not having had a ‘Code red’ day, is experiencing the same concerns with cancelled activations and regions currently out of consideration.
At the Amateur Radio Victoria Central Victorian Radiofest, on Sunday 10/2/13, to spread the word about SOTA, Ron VK3AFW organised a table for Summits on the Air to use. Wayne, VK3WAM gave a 20m presentation about SOTA and 7 unique summits were activated on the day with Mt Macedon (VK3/VC-007) having three separate activations.
On Saturday 23/2/13, the Moorabbin and District Radio Club agreed to host a gathering to celebrate the first anniversary of the commencement of VK3 SOTA activities. Ron VK3AFW gave a demonstration of various antennas and activation options to a large gathering that was close to filling the club’s meeting room. It was a great turnout with most of our VK3 activators present as well as Andrew VK1NAM from VK1.
After the presentation, it was out to the nearby parklands to set up a variety of SOTA stations to have a look at what activators are using, share ideas and to test their antennas with Wayne VK3WAM’s MiniVNA Pro. The results were interesting and are available on Waynes blog - waynemerry.wordpress.com
73 for now,
CANADA/U.S. SOTA REPORT FOR FEBRUARY 2013 by Skip K6DGW
This month’s report will be a bit abbreviated as we’re leaving for about
10 days and I need to get it into Roy. First the statistics. I did fix
my program to eliminate most of the UNK entries, they were the result of
summit names that include embedded commas which confused the parser no
end. There’s still one. As usual, last month’s statistics are in
NORTH AMERICA TOTALS - through 24 Feb
Total Activations: 175 
Nr Unique Activators: 51 
Total Chaser QSO’s: 2337 
Nr Unique Chasers: 120 
Total Summits Activated: 170 
Unique Summits: 111 
2m: 15 (0%) 
6m: 0 (0%) 
10m: 12 (0%) 
12m: 1 (0%) 
15m: 83 (3%) 
17m: 112 (4%) 
20m: 1603 (68%) 
30m: 164 (7%) 
40m: 340 (14%) 
60m: 5 (0%) 
80m: 0 (0%) 
160m: 1 (0%) 
CW: 1449 (62%) 
SSB: 869 (37%) 
FM: 17 (0%) 
AM: 1 (0%) 
Data: 0 (0%) 
Other: 1 (0%) 
With 4 days left in February, the totals for the month might rise a bit,
but it looks like the month held fairly steady with January. I think
the 5 60m QSO’s are a first in NA SOTA however.
Lee, AA4GA, advised me: “My neighbor Larry, K4PIC, made his first SOTA
chaser contact 91 days ago with NM5S…and today, NM5S put him over
1000 chaser points!” That’s quite an achievement, congratulations Larry!
And, Charlie, K0LAF reports: “I finished today with 3014 chaser points
and just wanted to thank all of you activators who have listened for my
poor cw and weak ssb signals. I discovered SOTA last summer and have had
a ball chasing all of you guys and gals.”
503 summits worked (all in North America)
63 on 7Mhz
62 on 10Mhz
352 on 14Mhz
11 on 18Mhz
11 on 21Mhz
1 on 24 Mhz
2 on 28Mhz
“Most worked activator was Dan, WO6M. I worked him 60 times for 324
points and it was my contact with him today that brought me to 3000 points.”
Less than a year to 3K chaser points! Congratulations Charlie!
We have two new NA Associations to report. W0M - Missouri came on-line
this month, as did W5M - Mississippi. W0M has 57 listed summits, the
highest of which is W0M/SF-001 at 540 meters, and Bill, W4RK, has
already activated it. With 57 summits, a Worked All Missouri Summits
[WAMS] award could be in the cards for the new association.
W5M has exactly 1 summit at 222 meters and will pretty much finish the
5th call area. Unfortunately, Louisiana is just flat and we can’t coax
even one P100 high point out of it.
Mark, VE6MCB, offered a report of his activation of Tunnel Mountain
which included several firsts:
"Many firsts today for SOTA Association VE6 Alberta Canada
- 1st SOTA activation for VE6/HC-035,
- 1st SOTA flag flying in VE6 Alberta
- 1st VE6 SOTA QSO on 20m"
"At the last minute I decided to take a drive to Banff and walk up
Tunnel Mountain. It was a gorgeous morning (-9 Celsius warming to +2
Celsius) blue skies, perfect day.
Tunnel Mountain is a short easy 40 minute walk from the centre of Banff.
At this time of year the trail is usually covered in refrozen snow, so
proper foot wear and hiking poles are recommended. I met a NY Julliard
Cello student on the trail (I had to lend him my trekking poles as his
shoe had no traction) so this trail is definitely accessible year round
as long as temperatures are not too low.
Tunnel Mountain is a popular year round trail for runners, even when
snow covered. This peak is significantly lower than the surrounding
ranges (1690m 5550 ft), so 2m handheld are of limited use (repeaters
VE6WRO [D-Star], VE6RMT [soon to have linking with Calgary] are both
easily accessed), unless you might catch someone on simplex in Banff.
Due to the sudden decision to do this peak I did not have time to fully
charge my batteries or give advance notice of my intentions. The low
battery charge meant I was limited to 5watts.
Despite this my plan was to sit on 14.285 and 14.340 until I rustled up
the requisite QSO’s. This proved very successful, after a short time,
thanks to spotting done by N6JZT and AC04 I had 15 activations,
I was using an Elecraft KX3 with a 1/4 wave 5m vertical, 24x
counterpoise mounted 1.5m approx above ground. SWR= 2.0 due to casual
distribution of radials & snow cover."
That’s it for this month from SOTA In The New World.
Canada/US SOTA Reporter Dude
THE VIEW FROM THE NORTH - 50.
February already and the dire weather continues so on Sunday the 3rd it’s off to Lowick High Common or Kirby Moor to give it its local name. This little hill has two approaches that we have used. 1) from just over the hill at Gawthwaite on the A595 when approaching from the south there is a small area on the left with room for a few cars. The path starts from about 100 yds further north on the road and leads over moorland and grass to arrive eventually at a quarry road which can be followed upward onto the large summit plateau. Beware of unfenced quarry workings on the way. The summit is a small mound with a stone pile at SD260840. 2) the preferred route for us is via the Kirby Slate Road. From the south take the B5281 from Gawthwaite on the A595. Take the first minor road on the right and follow it to SD269819. On your right is the beginning of the Slate Road with room for two or three cars but access is required at all times. The Road is access to the wind farm on the summit and is tarmac but the condition is deteriorating and fresh from £400s worth of new wheels (bent by potholes) we don’t take the car up. Braver people and 4x4s can drive up to the end of the tarmac at a utilities building which requires 24 hour access. Just beyond the building is a gate. Through it and follow the wall on the right up a steepish grass slope to a wind farm road. From here the summit is visible across the moor, if in doubt follow the wind farm road to the right curving round to the left past two windmills to a third mill which is close by the summit mound. Much of the route has been paved with aluminium extrusions due to the deep muddy state of the ground cut up by heavy machines.
Once on the summit there are fine views all round and one can only feel sorry for this little top, half of which has been torn away to roof the world and has lately been replaced by dozens of wind turbines.
The activation goes well but we end up staying for three hours which is quite enough on a shelter less hill on a winter’s day with snow flurries and lowering cloud.
By Friday of the next week Audrey is obviously developing a first class cold which keeps us off the summits for the next two Sundays, My old mum would have said ”That’s what you get for sitting on cold hills in the winter” All this got us to thinking about Mountain Goat and getting there. When SOTA started we were out testing a portable antenna on a non SOTA summit and worked poor Shirley (SK) who was on Tal y Fan down in Wales and she gave us the nudge to look into it. A thousand points seemed impossible but we decided as walkers that we would try out a few hills for fun, our annual trip to the Isle of Man came up and a couple of weeks later we arrived at the families house to proudly proclaim that we now had 25 points!
The weather seemed usually sunny and we did many hills in shirtsleeves. Going out virtually every Sunday the total climbed steadily, we started to take SOTA related holidays. Soon it was November 2005 and we were on Moel Famau and 1000 points rolled up and Goatdom was ours. Onwards and upwards but it was January 2011 before we reached 2000 points, the weather seems much worse and has slowed things down quite a lot. Two thousand seems to be regarded as double goat but in fact 2500 is the next step so we carry on and have just passed the 250 point half way mark, the weather seems even worse than usual and to use Star trek terms the carbon units are beginning to malfunction but we will get there and beyond. So if you’re looking at the tables and thinking this is impossible just keep plodding on!
Enough gloom and doom, Sunday 24th and the local radio is full of reports of serious falls and rescues in the fells so we decide to get Audrey back on line with Lambrigg Fell. This little hill allows a nice activation in spite of the windmills and the nearby motorway. The hill is easily reached from J37 of the M6. Head for Kendal and take the first turning on the left signed as a dead end. Past the quarry gates there is plenty of room beside the road. The walk is easy, follow the footpath opposite the quarry road ‘till a cross wall with a gate come into sight, turn right over grass and continue to the confused summit. The top is rather like trying to spot the tallest sand dune! GPS says it is a small outcrop just over the wall and close to a very small tarn, there is a lot of choice today we use the lee of the wall which keeps the icy north easterly at bay. Nice activation all round but 5MHz hard work without a spot and in the face of all the new arrivals.
On 2m fm I was a little harsh on 2E0??? who called me by name when I asked for only the station with Z in the call which he hadn’t. Said I would call him next and we missed recording the full call but when we tried, no sign of him so guess he took the huff. As we don’t know who it was I can only apologise here and hope he reads it. As we walked down both of us noticed a break in the clouds and the sun shone through and was warm even through all the layers of clothing. We both turned our faces to it and basked in the warmth for a couple of minutes and then it was gone. Other friends out walking elsewhere reported a similar experience so maybe spring really is on the way.
A short month and a short report, avoid the potholes
Take care out there
Rob and Audrey
SOTA ON TOP BAND - Mark G0VOF
Hello everyone & welcome to this month’s edition of SOTA on Top Band.
After the record month we had in January, February saw fewer activation on Top Band, although still plenty to write about.
The first activator on the band during the month was Mike 2E0YYY/P on the 2nd of the month during a daytime activation of G/SP-004 Shining Tor. Mike had been experimenting with a Kite antenna & it was this arrangement he used with his FT857 running 50 Watts of SSB. This was to be the first activation of Shining Tor on 160m & after seeing Mike’s self spot I listened for him on 1845KHz. The band was quite noisy but I could pull out Mikes voice & once I was sure it was clear I gave him a call using 100 Watts. Mike answered me straight away & I gave him 57 with me receiving a 59 report. The Kite antenna seemed to work very well & following me were another 5 chasers giving Mike a total of 6 SSB QSO’s, a fine total for a first attempt at 160m. Well done Mike!
Mike has provided a detailed report which can be found here:
Next up was Dan OK1DIG/P who used the band towards the end of a late afternoon activation of OK/US-016 Komárí hurka on 6th February. This proved to be a very productive time of day with Dan making no fewer than 21 QSO’s using CW. A superb total, well done Dan!
Next up, the following day, was Mike 2E0YYY/P once again using his Kite antenna, although this time from G/SP-013 Gun. Being a weekday, many chasers myself included were otherwise engaged, however Mike did make 2 successful contacts on 160m using 50 Watts of SSB. Mike also used the Kite antenna successfully on several other bands & it is certainly provoking some interest from other activators.
Unfortunately, during an activation later in the month, Mike’s kite decided it no longer liked being tethered to the ground & made a successful bid for freedom. It has still not been found. If spotted, please contact Mike 2E0YYY
Mike has provided a report of his second 160m Kite activation here:
Next up on 16th February was prolific 160m activator Ricky MW6GWR/P on his favourite summit GW/NW-063 Ffridd Cocyn. Ricky made one local contact using about 8 Watts of SSB although myself & other chasers were listening for him. This to Ricky from Mike G6TUH: “I listened out for you on the frequency and there were waves of noise - in the peak S8 and in the trough S2. In the first, second and third trough I heard you and on the 4th and 5th trough gave a call. It would be interesting to know if you heard me at all. I put a quick entry on the SOTA spot to say sorry and Mark G0VOF came back saying no joy for him either. Anyway worth a try and glad we spoke on 40. Thanks for the activations. Have a nice weekend. Mike G6TUH”
Ricky returned to the same summit on the 17th & again made one local contact on Top Band amongst many contacts on higher bands.
Well done Ricky!
The penultimate activation on 160m this month was carried out by Peter ON4UP/P on 21st of February from ON/ON-026 Le Mont d’Henri-Chapelle. Peter made 2 contacts on the band at the end of an activation mainly concentrating on 20m. I know Mike G6TUH was very pleased to work Peter from his home in Sussex. Although this should be straightforward with a mostly Sea path Mike does struggle as many of us do, with high local noise, so well done to both of you.
At the time of writing, the final Top Band activations of the month have not yet taken place. If all goes to plan they should be well underway by the time this report is published. First up on Thursday 28th February is expected to be John G4YSS, using the Scarborough Special Events Group callsign GX0OOO/P as he pays another visit to the Northern Pennines. John is planning to activate 3 summits, although which particular 3 have not yet been decided.
Also alerted to be active is Ricky MW6GWR/P from GW/NW-063 Ffridd Cocyn. It doesn’t take a PhD to realise that having two 160m activators out & about at the same time raises the possibility of one those still extremely rare events, a Top Band Summit to Summit! Having put some effort into achieving a few of those myself over the past few years I wish John & Ricky the very best of luck! I really must dig out the data, but as far as I can recall there have been fewer than a dozen 160m S2S’s in the entire history of SOTA!
Best of luck to you both!
Thanks to all activators who used Top Band this month!
At the time of writing, those were the only Top band activations during February that I am aware of, if I have missed any others please let me know.
On the 2nd February, Mike 2E0YYY/P activated G/SP-004 Shining Tor & made 6 QSO’s using SSB.
On the 6th February, Dan OK1DIG/P activated OK/US-016 Komárí hurka & made 21 QSO’s using CW.
On the 7th February, Mike 2E0YYY/P activated G/SP-013 Gun & made 2 QSO’s using SSB.
On the 16th February, Ricky MW6GWR/P activated GW/NW-063 Ffridd Cocyn & made 1 QSO using SSB.
On the 17th February, Ricky MW6GWR/P activated GW/NW-063 Ffridd Cocyn & made 1 QSO using SSB.
On the 21st February, Peter ON4UP/P activated ON/ON-026 Le Mont d’Henri-Chapelle & made 2 QSO’s 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next month,
News from “ The Victors “
Thankfully we have been able to get out on the summits a few times during February and had some more first time activations.
Sunday 3rd Feb saw us head into South West Donegal to activate EI/IN-026 Meenacurrin. After an early(ish) start we discovered en-route that the map library in the Land Rover was missing sheet 10. Normally it would be a relatively easy task to buy one from various shops, however on a Sunday morning trying to find an open shop was proving quite difficult. Eventually we did manage to buy one from a very small store in Glenties. Armed with the map we headed on and searched for a suitable parking spot, which would give access to the summit on a route where the contour lines were not quite so intimate.
The initial part of the route was quite wet & boggy but the going improved as we gained height, at lease so we thought! As we approached the summit and finally caught sight of the trig point the ground was very wet and squelchy and within minutes of arriving the top became engulfed in cloud and the wind strengthened. Victor (EI/MI0JST/P) decided to brave the wx and set up at the trig point while Victor (EI/GI4ONL/P) searched for a solid piece of ground to deploy his Terra Nova Bothy bag. If you have never used a bothy bag you don’t know what you are missing because I was totally unaware how inhospitable the conditions were until JST came over and suggested we should get moving because he was getting very wet. When I emerged from my nylon, (or whatever it is), igloo I was really surprised just how much shelter it had afforded me, because by now the wind had turned into a gale, we were surrounded by dense fog and it was raining quite heavily. We very quickly packed up and began the descent aided by the trusty GPS guiding us back to the various waypoints that had been marked on the ascent.
If I said we got wet on the way down I would be lying = we got saturated!
Back at the Land Rover we got the wet gear removed, tucked into some very welcome soup and sandwiches, and agreed doing another summit was out of the question. The total driving time on the day was just over 5 hours, which for only one summit is quite a lot but despite the bad wx we still had a good day.
Due to that dreaded word WORK we were unable to get out on the next weekend so GI4ONL decided to feed the SOTA rat with an activation of GI/AH-003 Slieveanorra on the 8th and the dog also enjoyed the walk.
After getting all our kit dried out it was a pleasure to see a weather forecast devoid of rain for Sunday 17th so it was game on, the targets this time being EI/IN-028 and EI/IN-062 both 1st time activations Once again we had estimated a 2.5 hour drive to our first parking spot which we reached in 2hrs 20. The climb to the summit of Common Mountain was very straight forward, the ground was boggy in places and occasionally steep, taking just over 1½ hours. We got the stations QRV in around 20 minutes and as ONL was looking for a clear QRG on 40 he was very pleased to find Andy MM0FMF/P on GM/SS-108 and after a couple of attempts he was the first entry in the log, a nice S2S to start the day.
We had agreed that if possible we should only spend around an hour on the summit, but we were actually there for 1.5 hrs. The return trip to the Land Rover was slightly faster than the ascent and after the traditional soup and sandwiches we were soon making our way to Mulmosog Mountain.
After finding a suitable parking spot we set of for the summit, this was an easy walk taking 55 minutes. The top was reasonably dry and we set up about 200 metres apart, earlier in the day we only had 100 metres separation and were causing each other minor QRM so no repeat here. As the sun disappeared over the horizon it was time to pack up and head back to the Land Rover and set course for home. For some reason on these outings on the way home Victor (JST) has a habit of going very quiet, I think he is sleeping but he assures me he is only examining the inside of his eyelids. I am not convinced!
If the forecast for the 17th pleased us we were almost ecstatic with what the met office predicted for the 24th, clear skies, NO RAIN, but quite cold with max 4C. On the radar today we had another 2 first time activations EI/IN-004 & EI/IN-011. Unfortunately we have very few summits within easy reach of where we live so yet another 2 hour plus drive was the order of the day.
We has estimated a 5Km walk into Lavagh More and this would probably have been fairly accurate IF we had been able to follow a direct track to the top. After approx. 2Km we reached what can only be described as a very dangerous quagmire. No matter how many different ways we tried to cross this swamp it became apparent it was impassable and we would have to backtrack. Victor (JST) said something like ,oh gosh, to which I replied ,really, at least I think that’s what we said = NOT! Still better safe than sorry, so we retraced our steps and, staying well to the East of the danger, set off on a new bearing for the top. I had posted an alert for 11:30 and it was now obvious it was going to be well beyond that before we would be on the summit but with no GSM signal we had no way change it. Around midway to the summit we found a window where signal was marginal and I was able to sent a spot announcing a delay until 13:30, not ideal but it was the only available option.
This area of Donegal is generously covered in blanket bog which can be quite arduous to walk over, however because we had no rain all week and low temperatures it wasn’t too bad today being quite frozen in places.
At the summit my thermometer was showing -4 and with the breeze it was just a tad cold so no time was lost in getting the stations QRV with the 1st calls in the logs by 14:00. On the ascent JST had said he would go on 20 metres and ONL was going to use 40 CW however for whatever reason JST sent a spot for himself on 7-SSB without realising there was a French contest. Although chasers appeared to hear him each time he tried to listen for a reply to his calls, some F callsign would completely swamp the QRG. Eventually he QSY’d to 20 and had good success with a few North American contacts. Because of the cold ONL’s hands decided to go on strike and either writing or, even more-so, sending intelligible morse was proving quite difficult so after enduring this for 30 minutes he decided to go QRT & JST soon followed suit. We had taken some BLT rolls with us and I (onl) had left mine sitting outside and as I ate one was curious what was so crunchy in it only to discover it was frozen tomato!
The views from the summit were stunning but we weren’t here for the views so it was rucksacks on and make our way to Silver Hill, which took just under 2 hrs. We were on the summit by 17:00 and were aware that it would probably be dark before we would be back at the Land Rover so no time was lost in getting QRV. 18:00 was our deadline to leave here so we could at least have some daylight for the unknown part of the descent. Apologies to those chasers still calling when we went QRT but time was of the essence.
Despite the almost full moon we ran out of natural light around 18:45 and completed the descent using head torches. This was unknown territory but apart from one slightly precarious ledge it was generally uneventful and we navigated to stay well clear of the inhospitable terrain encountered earlier in the day. Eventually we arrived back at the Land Rover at 19:55 having 14.87 Kms on the trip meter of the GPS. After some light refreshments we headed for home arriving at 22:45 with slightly tired legs but we had a smashing day.
Once again on the journey home I pondered at the fascination JST had with the inside of his eyelids because he certainly examined them for prolonged periods!
That’s it for this month = until the next time:
Victor GI4ONL & Victor MI0JST
CW REPORT FOR FEBRUARY 2013 - by Roy G4SSH
The month of February continued to show a very low level of CW activity, with only a combined total of single figure points available on many days and only a moderate rise in weekend activity.
The wide band multi-tone QRM was active around 7032 KHz at intermittent intervals during the month, but this lasted only a few hours and was not a sustained problem. There were also many weekends when contest traffic wiped out the 40m band causing SOTA activators to move up to 10118 KHz, but this also suffered from QRM due to large pile-ups generated by rare DX-peditions.
Fortunately for chasers there was a steady supply of points from the regulars with Jurg
HB9BIN touring in France in the JU district where he made 352 QSO’s from 10 summits. This trip was a fight against the snow and the water in the keyer. Jurg was also active later in the month as DL/HB9BIN. Lutz DJ3AX was also on tour in Germany, accompanied by his faithful dog Benny and friends Mario DC7CCC (different band CW) and Peter DK2RMP (SSB)
Gerald F6HBI had such a huge pile up F/AM-477 on the 8th that he had to resort to listening
1 up and Jan OK2PDT was active on many days during the first half of the month. It was a pleasure to see spots for HL2, ZS and UT activators and the VK spots increased at an impressive rate during the month.
I was surprised and delighted to hear (and work) my good friend Klaus DF2GN, back on the bands for the fist time in 5 years on the 19th February. I first worked Klaus back in March 2006 and collected many thousands of points from him until he went off the air in August 2008. In that period he was the most prolific activator who specialised in ensuring that every chaser was able to work him by always using 3 or 4 bands and experimenting with his antenna to give the maximum signal possible. Klaus has been active every few days this month with a FB signal to me and his antenna is so efficient that we ran a test on the 27th when he reduced his output down to 400mW and was still 339 with me on 10118 KHz. Welcome back Klaus.
Extracts from the Data Base compiled by Kevin G0NUP (As of 27/02/13)
SOTA CW ACTIVATORS SUBMITTING ENTRIES TO THE DATA BASE ABOVE 7 MHZ DURING JANUARY 2013
CW on 10MHz:
DF3MC/P, DJ3AX/P, DK7MG/P, DL/HB9BIN/P, EA4CWN/P, EI/GI4ONL/P, EI7KH/P,
F/HB9BIN/P, F6HBI/P, F8FEO/P, G4ISJ/P, GI4ONL/P, HB9BIN/P, HB9TVK/P,
K6ILM, K7ATN, KE5AKL, KU6J, LA1ENA/P, M1EYP/P, N0SA, N6XI, NM5S,
OK/OM6TC/P, OK1DIG/P, OK1DVM/P, OK1MLP/P, OK2BDF/P, OK3EQ/P, OM6TC/P,
S57X/P, W4RK, W7TAO, WO6M, WS0TA,
CW on 14MHz:
AC7MA, AE5KA, DF3MC/P, DJ3AX/P, DL/HB9BIN/P, EA2BD/P, F/HB9BIN/P, F6HBI/P,
F8FEO/P, G4ISJ/P, HB9CZF/P, K4ADV, K6ILM, K7ATN, KE5AKL, KT5X, KU6J,
M1EYP/P, MW1EYP/P, N0SA, N1EU, N6XI, N7LKL, NE1SJ, NM5S, OK/OM6TC/P,
OK1DVM/P, OK1MLP/P, OK2BWB/P, OM6TC/P, ON6UU/P, S52CU/P, S53AAN/P, S58R/P,
VA2VL/P, W4RK, W4TZM, W5ODS, W7TAO, WA7NCL, WO6M, WS0TA
CW on 18MHz:
K7ATN, NM5S, OK1DIG/P, OK1DVM/P, OK1MLP/P, S57X/P, W7TAO, WO6M
CW on 21MHz:
DL1ASA/P, K7ATN, KU6J, N6XI, NE1SJ, OK1DIG/P, OK1MLP/P, VK5CZ/P, W4TZM,
W5ODS, WA7NCL, WO6M
CW on 24MHz:
CW on 28MHz:
F6HBI/P, K7ATN, OK1DIG/P,
I have been asked to repeat the following article which last appeared in SOTA News more than a year ago:-
FIRST TIME SOTA HF ACTIVATION USING CW - by Roy G4SSH
It has been very refreshing and interesting to hear activators using CW for the first time during the past month and there are quite a few others who are considering using the mode in order to take advantage of the enhanced readability of the mode when using low power transmitters.
I have been contacted by some of these potential CW ops who have not yet ventured on air with their new found skills, asking for basic advice on the correct procedure to adopt and how to cope with a pile up. I have therefore compiled a short basic guide on how to survive your first live QSO.
Speed is not important, but I would suggest 10 wpm as a basic minimum. Do not worry about your sending speed, but remember to only send at the speed at which your are comfortable reading, You will be welcomed as a newcomer and CW chasers will automatically reply at your sending speed. If anybody sends too fast then ignore them or send “PSE QRS” just once. They will soon get the message.
Do not worry about sending mistakes and do not correct these unless in the callsign. Chasers will know exactly what you are trying to send and will automatically read what you INTENDED to send. Chasers are keen to work you and claim the points so as long as you get their callsign correct there is nothing else that cannot be guessed by an experienced chaser. I often receive “G4 (and 10 dots) GM UR RHT 5H9 BK” and know exactly what was intended.
As a newcomer you will be in great demand by chasers eager to welcome you to CW, so for your first on-air SOTA I would suggest using any frequency apart from 7032 KHz. If you are using HF then choose an 80m spot such as 3558 or 3532 KHz where you will have a small pile up of about 6 chasers, mainly in your own country. Once you have gained experience then move to 10118 KHz where you will again have a relatively limited number of chasers, this time from stations outside your own country. Only move to 7032 KHz when you are confident at handling up to 30 chasers all calling at the same time. However, remember that chasers tend to monitor only 7032 KHz so if you intend using any other HF frequency then you will need to self spot or publish an alert. Avoid weekends if possible, when the number of chasers is almost double the weekday number.
There is no “correct” procedure for activating SOTA on CW, but activators are creatures of habit and tend to formulate their own procedure which becomes known to chasers. Before you venture on air, spend time listening to 7032 KHz and copy the signals that you CAN read and note how they handle the chasers.
One big mistake made by newcomers is to send too much information when they have a large pile-up. They often tend to behave as though they are using SSB with double calls, repeat of the reference, too much chat etc. I have heard a single contact from a newcomer last 5 minutes with 30 chasers waiting and this leads to impatience by the waiting stations who fight amongst themselves in an attempt to collect the points and move on. You must learn to tailor your procedure in order to handle a pile up.
I would therefore suggest the following procedure for your first few CW activations:-
Call “CQ SOTA de 2E0OOO/p” with the SOTA reference. If you have problems sending the “/” then leave it out and do not send the hyphen - “SOTA G TW004” is perfectly understood by all.
Remember that once spotted 99% of chasers waiting will have your call, SOTA reference and name on their screen in front of them, so pick out a caller and send just THEIR call once with RST and then BK only (do NOT use double calls).
The chaser will reply with “BK RST and TNX 73”. You just acknowledge with “73 TU” and the other chasers will call (Total time per contact is about 30 seconds).
Repeat the above. Resist the temptation to send your call every over. After about half a dozen contacts send “DE 2E0OOO/P SOTA G TW004 OP ROY QRZ?
Once you have established this procedure the callers will reply in similar manner and you will quickly reduce the pile up.
The above method is only intended as an example to get you started. Once you gain experience you can vary it as you think fit. The important point is to ensure that YOU take charge of the exchanges. The sound of 30 CW stations all sending their call at the same time can be daunting and sounds like one long tone, Don’t panic, there is no hurry to respond, sit back and wait until you can read a call clearly then reply to that. Do not be pressurised, chasers will continue to send their calls if you do not answer.
If you receive only part of a call then send the bit you DID get, with a question mark, such as SM1? BK. You must ignore any chaser from another country who tries to jump the queue. If you do answer someone else then the discipline will collapse and they will all call.
From the above you will see that the “BK” signal (Break, or Back to you|) is one of the most useful procedural signals you can employ.
If you are feeling the strain of concentration then send PSE QRX, switch off and have a break. I guarantee the chasers will still be there when you return with CQ.
Finally, never just close down without warning. Courtesy demands that you send NW QRT or QSY at the end of the activity.
Good Luck. One thing is for sure, you will experience a feeling of great satisfaction on completion of your first CW activation, which cannot be matched using any other mode. This come from the pride of knowing that all your self training has paid off and you have completed a contact using your own hard earned skills.
CONTESTS DURING MARCH 2013
The following scheduled contests are expected to cause 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 ARRL International DX SSB Contest
9th only 1400-2000 AGCW QRP contest
9th -10th 1600-1600 EA PSK31 contest
16th -18th 0200-0200 BARTG HF RTTY contest
16th -17th 1200-1200 Russian CW and SSB contest
30th -31st 0001-2359 CQ World-wide WPX SSB contest (severe disruption)
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.
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
U.S. and Canadian reports to:-
Fred K6DGW [aka “Skip” on the radio]
Canada/US SOTA Reporter Dude