SOTA NEWS OCTOBER 2009
EDITORIAL – by Roy G4SSH
This edition has been a bit of a rush as I only arrived home from holiday late on the evening of the 29th September and I am suffering from Turbo-Prop lag.
However, welcome to the October edition of SOTA News. My thanks go to the following few regular contributors, without whom there would be no SOTA News:-
Barry GM4TOE, Roland SM1CXE, Rob & Audrey G4RJQ and Tom M1EYP.
NEW SOTA MOUNTAIN EXPLORER AWARD - SOTA Awards Manager
Some months ago I asked for suggestions for new awards but there was not a lot of input. However, Phil G4OBK made a suggestion which has been welcomed by the management team and I am now in a position to announce the new Mountain Explorer award.
This is a new SOTA award designed (for the time being) to be an award for activators. This recognises that there are now 30 Associations based worldwide and that many activators take the opportunity presented by the CEPT regulations to take their equipment with them on vacation. This award rewards those activators that operate in associations which are not necessarily their home association.
The essence of the award is to recognise the qualification of Summits, in accordance with SOTA General Rules and the local association’s rules, in a number of different associations.
BRONZE AWARD - confirmed activation of at least one summit in each of 5 Associations
SILVER AWARD – confirmed activation of at least one summit in each of 10 Associations
GOLD AWARD – confirmed activation of at least one summit in each of 15 Associations
PLATINUM AWARD - confirmed activation of at least one summit in each of 20 Associations
GLOBETROTTER AWARD – confirmed activation of at least one summit in every participating association
Example: To claim the Bronze Award an activator would need to have activated one summit in at least five qualifying associations – these could be GM, G, F, DL and ON as an example.
The Award will comprise a specially designed certificate with the class embossed onto the certificate. A participant may upgrade to the next level by either returning their certificate for endorsement with the next level or by having a new certificate issued with all participating levels embossed onto it.
The Award will be issued from January 2010 and summits may be claimed retrospectively (you do not have to start over; summits previously activated under the programme will qualify). Each activation must be registered on the SOTA database in the normal way and a new filter will be incorporated onto the database to track progress and allow checking of activators’ claims.
Chasers are not being ignored and it is hoped that before January we can introduce a chaser award along the above lines and offering a real challenge. Details are being finalised and will be announced in the coming weeks.
SOTA AWARDS - SEPTEMBER 2009
Can I make a plea to everyone who plans to claim a SOTA award to enter the
details of their contacts into the database. We do not ask for QSL card
confirmation for claims but by using the database it does mean that checking
is an easy exercise. Without details in the database every QSO has to be
cross-checked manually, and this can take a long time, meaning that your
award will be delayed until I can find the time to trace all your claimed
The number of awards claimed this month is down from previous months.
M1AVV, Simon, has claimed his Mountain Goat trophy although he actually achieved this target in 2008 while DK1HW, Wolfgang, has achieved the Shack Sloth target. Congratulations to all award applicants.
DK1HW Wolfgang Hetzel Shack Sloth
M1AVV Simon Linney Mountain Goat
SV2LLB Kostas Tzioros 250 points
OE5REO Martin Reiter 100 points
2E0FSR Chris Darlow 100 points
DK1HW Wolfgang Hetzel 1000 points
ON4CAS Egbert Hertsen 250 points
Now for the bad news. Over the last 18 months Royal Mail have dramatically increased postal charges, particularly within the UK, and the costs of materials including the blank certificates, the trophy blanks and envelopes have also risen. The charges for awards no longer cover their costs. The small excess on each award has paid for the hosting of the database, SOTAwatch and the reflector and at the current charge we cannot meet these costs. Consequently we have reluctantly had to determine a revised scale of charges for SOTA awards as follows:
Europe (inc UK) £2.50 Paypal £2.75
Rest of World £3.50 Paypal £3.75
UK £25 Paypal £27
Europe £27 Paypal £29
Rest of World £28 Paypal £30
Charges for extra engraving on a trophy remain at £1 per letter as the engraver has not raised her charges to me.
To give anybody wanting to claim an award the MT have agreed to hold off these price increases until 1 January 2010 so if you would like to claim an award at the current pricing you have three months to do so (although please don’t leave it until the end of December).
Finally, the T shirts and polo shirts have been delivered and I am in the process of parceling them up and posting them to those that placed orders. I have a selection of shirts in various sizes and colours now in stock so if you would like a shirt but missed the order date please email me with your requirements and I will let you know what I have available.
Barry Horning GM4TOE
SOTA Awards Manager
Congratulations also to:
Dzianis DD1LD, who became the first mountain goat within the DL association.
To Paul G4MD for activating 250 Uniques. Only 9 activators in the world have reached the 250 Uniques level so it is quite a significant achievement.
TRENDS IN SOTA ACTIVITY – By Tom M1EYP
2m activations by UK activators
G GW GM GI GD UK total
2002 220 67 27 13 0 327
2003 708 152 152 31 0 1043
2004 1253 301 297 10 1 1862
2005 1819 264 244 11 1 2339
2006 2049 179 244 22 6 2500
2007 2165 278 257 35 1 2736
2008 2122 148 230 28 1 2529
2009* 1606 89 152 17 0 1864*
*2009 so far - projected end of year total is 2567
All activations by UK activators
G GW GM GI GD UK total
2002 265 75 35 13 0 388
2003 759 163 213 31 0 1166
2004 1293 320 350 10 1 1974
2005 2029 305 328 11 1 2674
2006 2441 240 352 24 6 3063
2007 2794 433 399 36 1 3663
2008 2866 259 322 28 0 3475
2009* 2141 133 222 18 0 2514*
*2009 so far - projected end of year total is 3463
Note: This is a survey of activations undertaken BY
activators from each association, rather than activations IN
each association. So activations by a G station operating
/P in GW or DL (for instance) will be included in the G
total. Holiday activations by LA stations (for instance)
will not be shown in the figures for G, GW etc.
Obviously, the stats are only as accurate as the logs
submitted to the Database. A small number of activators
have deleted logs from the Database, or never entered them
in the first place, but overall it should be an accurate
Tom Read M1EYP
Note from editor – it is particularly difficult to produce tables in SOTA News, as the reflector strips out spaces which appear in the original version. - Roy
THE VIEW FROM THE NORTH 9 By Rob and Audrey G4RJQ
Sunday 27th September, Binsey.
This little hill really is the view from the north, being the most northerly of the Lake District SOTA’s, even for us it’s a two hour drive, more if you miss out the fell roads. As a result it is rarely activated, the previous activation being us last year at this time. It’s a shame because although it’s only a one pointer, Binsey is quite a nice little hill and suited to a family walk. Also it is quite close to Keswick if you’re in the area. From the A591 just north of Bassenthwaite, at the Black Dog Inn take the minor road on the right and head for Ireby. Just after a Y junction take a small lane on the left which has room for about five cars on the right about 50 yards in (NY235351). This is the start point and from here it’s a direct climb up the grassy track after crossing the stile (can be a bit muddy just at the start). The bulk of our contacts were 7MHz CW, 5 and 10 were poor. South bound VHF RF does not fare well from this summit as there is a lot of Lake District in the way and there is not a great deal of local activity that could make things difficult for a 2m h/held activation with rubber duck!
Been thinking about a couple of topics raised recently.
CW etiquette - and I am firmly in contest mode on the hills, basically because nowadays I have trouble remembering my own name let alone anyone else’s. Audrey tries hard to prompt me but conversation and CW at the same time is not one of my strong points, so please don’t be offended if I miss out on names, blame it on old age, I do! By the way, can anyone send CW and hold a conversation at the same time? I certainly can’t and at least one former professional operator of our acquaintance admits to not being able to. Maybe it uses the same bit of brain.
Calling Channels. I always observe the calling channels on 2m and 70cms but wonder how others do on bands like 4m in areas of low activity? Here I am tempted to stay on the calling channel in the hope of attracting further activity. I check with any locals to see if this would upset anyone, often this results in them calling up a friend to make another contact for us. If anyone complains I will QSY instantly, ideally to have a QSO with the aggrieved station. This is obviously not something to be done in areas of high local activity but in some more remote areas seems to be common practice.
Sunday 6th September, Dent
Another little unpopular hill rarely activated. A long drive for a single point deters most people. We usually do it when the forecast is poor for the higher fells as it is today. From the middle roundabout at Egremont bypass (A595) take the minor road heading north east to Black How plantation (NY 023135). There is room for a couple of cars at the gateway into the plantation if there are no logging operations. Look for the Coast to Coast signs. After a few hundred yards climb there are signs on the left for the permissive path that takes the C to C through the woods and out to the summit of Dent. This route is very muddy and it is possible instead to continue up the logging road to the next opening on the left which leads to the other path just as it exits the woods. It was fine when we reached the summit but deteriorated rapidly to heavy rain and gale force wind that made the antenna into a struggle! 10MHz was by far the best band. Only one contact on 2m ssb and fm, not a good hill to the south! When starting on 4m we found that the 4m rig, having more sense than us was sitting at home in a warm dry shack. We decided to join it.
Sunday 13th September. Seat Sandal.
A well documented hill. We always climb it via Raise Beck at the summit of Dunmail Raise. There is usually parking space in the lay by on the east side of the road by the AA box. Today it was almost full at 1030am, we found a space. A few minutes later a large party emerged from the house at the south end (some sort of hostel?) and departed in about six cars leaving plenty of room. Has anyone noticed the large rock on the right about half way up the climb from the top of Raise Beck to the summit? It looks like a huge bird of prey as you stagger towards it but as you close on it, it seems more to resemble two toads doing what toads do. Well it is quite a boring grass slope and you’re only half way up it now! On top nice sunshine but a cutting north easterly blowing but a fair degree of shelter including a wall. All bands were reasonable but 5MHz was yet again disappointing in spite of a spot from Ken GM4AXY. Again we failed to spot King Dunmails crown in Grisdale Tarn, jettisoned as he fled after loosing a battle down at the summit of the pass that bears his name. Even I am not old enough to remember when (945AD) but there is a cairn said by some to be Dunmains tomb on the centre island of the dual carriage way. As they say locally “Nowt gud ere cum o’er Raise”
See that vertigo has raised its head on Whitbarrow Scar. The path above the school has quite a drop on one side. This is masked by trees in summer and I always like to think that I would lodge firmly in one long before hitting the bottom. Bell rake is a much more pleasant alternative, see View from the North 3. We will condense the summit info from the old V f t Ns for the rarer hills and put it with the Tips on the individual summit details in due course.
Sunday 20th September, Black Combe
Summer visit to our local favourite. This hill is neglected because of its remoteness but the effort of climbing it is well rewarded on a clear day with spectacular views in all directions. From the M6 take the A590 to Greenodd, then the A595 signed Whitehaven. Workington, to Witcham. Look for the church on the right just after a homemade Craft sign, there is room here for about 12 cars. Less if it’s a Sunday with a service. Take the narrow path at the side of the churchyard which leads on to a lane. Turn left along the lane which turns into a bridleway running behind the farm. Turn right just past the farm and through a gate onto the good path through bracken.
Wainwright said of this path, it can be ascended in carpet slippers but is unremitting; a fair assessment as nowhere from here to the summit is truly level. It’s all uphill! Just after the spot where the path splits in two up a bank there is a green banked track on the left heading away from the target. This turns higher up to rejoin the main path and is quite a pleasant alternative. Basically just keep going up the track until a small pile of stones at the head of a now indistinct arrow of stones points the way to the summit cairn about 250yds on the right. There is a reasonable shelter but it does tend to be busy on a nice day as this is a popular walk with locals. The walk is suitable for all ages on a nice day but toddlers will need a bit of carrying. We operated away from the shelter on the open fell, the activation area is large but there is little shelter from the wind. All bands went well thanks to spots, even managed four on 4m! Poor Nick G0HIK/P was struggling on Muncaster fell to our north and very much in Black Combes shadow. We tried to direct traffic to him and he did eventually manage to qualify the top. Black Combe summit can cloud up very suddenly and suffer from a cold wind despite high temperatures below so be sure to take note of your escape route back to the good track.
Today the visibility was superb and the views splendid so we descended via the south summit. Head south past a small tarn to reach a large beehive like pile of stones now sadly falling into disrepair. From here head west downhill over grass (no path) to rejoin the main path. Lots of blackberries in the lane so blackberry crumble and custard for pudding! Black Combe really is a fine summit but a nasty trap for aircraft, particularly in WW2 when there was a training airfield at Millom and another on Walney. There are two Australian war graves in the church yard just over the wall on your left as you start your walk. There is a small aviation museum on part of the site of RAF Millom which is worth a visit (check times). Locally they say “Nowt gud er cum rownd t’Combe “
Had some thoughts about carrying radios in rucksacks. We always use a Drysack which works well in rain but:-
- Disconnect any external batteries.
2, For radios with a separate on/off switch leave the volume full up and squelch off. That way if the rig gets knocked on (FT817, s are prone to this) at least you hear it and can save the battery.
- Unplug the mic/key. If the rig does get turned on by mistake it is less likely to transmit into no load until the batteries or the PA die.
Sunday 27th September Lambrigg Fell
We need to be off the hill early to help with dismantling the club station at the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway also the wx for the bigger hills is not good so we decide on this little fairly local fell. This is a very easy hill and would suit travellers on the M6 who like windmills. Leave at junction 37 and head west about half a mile towards Kendal. Look for a sign to Roan quarry on the left. There is plenty of parking space down the road past the entrance but remember that large lorries use it during the working day. From here walk back and cross the main busy, fast road to a gate with a bridleway sign. Follow this past a utilities building to join a stone wall heading north, wet in places. Eventually arrive at a gate in the wall as it swings east.
From here follow the wall to its highest point and you are there. The summit is ill defined; the gps suggests a small bank to the north of the wall but the eye would go for the high point of the wall. The wall is not easily crossed and a decision is best made at the gate mentioned earlier. Both (and one or two other high points) are well inside the activation zone. 5 MHz went well but was not helped by the IQ0 with the carrier. This was deliberate jamming which targeted us in spite of QSY, s between FE and FM and we can only hope that his PA expires soon due to the very long periods of carrier transmission. 7 and 10 MHz were poor and 2m ssb not a lot better but 2FM came through as usual. Only three yet again on 4m Where is number four when you want them?
Next weekend look out for us on Normanby Top, Newark Rally, Hack Green Rally (SOTA sweatshirts) and Billinge Hill in no particular order.
All the talk of post codes for summits makes us wonder, if we send a postcard to the cairn on Scafell pike with the correct postcode will Postman Pat with or without his black and white cat have to stagger up there to deliver it or will he use his helicopter?
73 till next time
Rob and Audrey
SOTA QSL CARDS - by Roland SM1CXE
We have beautiful “late-summer” WX just now on Gotland Island, so the choice is
to be in the shack and chase all mountaineers, or to be outside and get some sunshine - Hi.
Now back to my subject. Yesterday I received a bunch of QSL cards at our
local club and - of course - several cards from SOTA activators. BUT - some of the hams have sent me a lot of cards - almost one for each contact - and that is very generous!
One card for the very first QSO would be all ok for me…Most of the SOTA-cards are very beautiful which makes me a bit embarrassed at my own simple QSL-card - but I am just a “mean Senior Citizen”- Hi.
Maybe this is a comment for SOTA News
All the best and 73
(Reply from the Editor)
Roland, this is a subject that is often aired by newcomers, both in SOTA News and on the Reflector. However, this has not been raised for quite a while now and we have many recent newcomers to SOTA, both Chasers and Activators, so I have searched back through the records to 2007 when the subject was raised on the Reflector.
I will reproduce my post and the replies received, in order to give you, and others, an insight into the feelings of SOTA chasers and activators on this subject:-
REFLECTER POST BY G4SSH ON 5th DECEMBER 2007
“In the past few months the number of QSL cards arriving through my letterbox from the QSL Bureau from SOTA activators has been steadily increasing. My QSL sub-manager has just had a pre-Christmas clear-out with the result that I have this morning received 70 SOTA QSL’s. Many are multiple cards from the same station, with 15 from one activator, 10 from another and batches of 6 from others.
This raises the question “Do these activators expect a return QSL from me in reply?” I cannot really feel that someone wants 15 identical cards from me as a chaser, so I am going to have to formulate a policy to deal with these.
To date I have been replying to each incoming QSL from a different activator just once, because it is always a pleasure to contact a SOTA station for the first time and thank them for their effort, even though QSL’s are not required to confirm a SOTA contact.
Some QSO’s are particularly special and deserve a direct card, which is always a pleasure to answer. It is the sheer volume of Bureau cards which is becoming a problem
Some activators go to considerable lengths to take photographs and produce an individual QSL featuring a picture of each particular SOTA and these are appreciated. It would seem churlish not to acknowledge the effort involved.
I would be interested to know how others deal with SOTA QSL’s. I note that some activators now have “No QSL’s” embedded in their Alerts details”.
I have exactly the same problem as Roy, but from an activators viewpoint. Whilst I enjoy receiving QSL cards in general, I see no point in receiving cards from the same chasers for every summit I do. I had 33 identical cards from one chaser until Monday when I received a pack from the Buro containing another 12 cards from that station, making 45 now with more on the way no doubt. If anyone is waiting for a card from me, please bear with me whilst I have some new ones printed. I have also noticed an increase in cards received from SWL stations. These are welcome as it’s always nice to know where your signal can be heard.
Your thread provokes a simple question. As you may know, I only came back to the bands in August this year after a long sabbatical. I rejoined the RSGB and sent my six envelopes to my QSL manager. Since then I have had 527 contacts, worked 77 DXCC entities, but have yet to receive a single QSL card, SOTA or otherwise. Is this normal in your experience?
I did join eQSL and immediately send a card on each log entry through HRD and have received about 50 cards through this system but it is not the same. I would happily respond to any SOTA card through the Bureau but am mystified by the lack of responses.
The majority of cards in my packs were from European stations for QSO’s in late 2006 or early 2007, so expect a delay of at least 12 months before you start to receive cards via the Bureau. Cards from more distant stations were mainly for contacts in 2004 and 2005 but some were dated back to 1995.
I find its about one year via the Buro for UK and European QSL’s and much longer for distant countries, yes some took 11 years!
Have you looked at the ARRL’s Logbook of the world.(https://p1k.arrl.org/lotw/default) its a good way of getting 50% of your contacts confirmed without any qsl being sent. A lot of the big DX-peditions are now using this system BS7H was the last one I had confirmed this way. Sometimes the direct ones take a year which is not good for the blood pressure.
I produced my activator QSL cards with a Perl/ImageMagick script from a photo and adif-file. Then I loaded the produced files to my web page and informed the chasers that they can download the files if they wish to do so. I was surprised that most of the comments were positive and only few said that they do not wish to receive eQSLs. I do not recommend flooding the mail boxes with QSL card files however. In my case most of the activations have been also first time activations for the summits, so my feeling was that they deserve a special QSL card. Still I wanted to avoid the cost and trouble to print them (but I will send one card via Buro to those who have requested a printed version).
The normal rule for the QSL’s is to send a card for the first contact or if it is specially requested.
73, Jaakko OH7BF/F5VGL
It does seem strange that some would want to collect the same card multiple times, because as you say, QSL’s are not required in SOTA. I think I would adopt a similar approach, gladly QSL’ing the first incoming card from a station (if I haven’t already sent mine out) and any “special” cards to commemorate special contacts.
As you say, there are some splendid well-designed colour SOTA-themed QSL cards out there. I am happy to QSL each different design from one activator, if he/she has gone to the trouble of producing individual cards per each summit.
Now you have reminded me, I have a rather big pile of cards I need to work through…
PS When I started SWL’ing the amateur bands, and sending out SWL report cards via the Buro in 1996, it then took about 2.5 years for the return QSL cards to start trickling through the Buro. I wouldn’t worry just yet hi!
Hi to all,
I was, I am and I will always be 100% QSL! (23,000 QSO’s in the log up to now, and 40 % returned).
As for the SOTA, here’s what I do:
1/ As a chaser, I feel the same:100% QSL , with 5 QSO’s per QSL card.
2/ As an activator, I (and I’m not the only one!) make it a point of honour to make a QSL card for each activated summit. .So far, I’ve only got 22 cards, and I doubt I’ll get any more. So, it’s 22 cards for those who’ve contacted me each time, which is not the case. These QSL cards have been realised with photos taken on the spot to give a picture of the summit to those who’ve kindly contacted me. Therefore they cost something that I pay for, but that’s no problem for me, on the contrary, it’s a pleasure!
But the way I manage my log prevents me from not sending any to those who don’t want to.
To those people, I’d say that:
1/ My QSL cards as a SOTA activator surely mustn’t clutter up their letter boxes.
2/ As soon as they get them, they can destroy them and put them in the bin: it’s not something that should take long, and I certainly won’t be offended by that, everyone should act as they feel!
73, André F5AKL
I can’t comment on e-QSL but the truth is if you want to knock up DXCC particularly on rare DX-peditions you have to QSL direct or via a QSL manager, and I always gave a small contribution to help with their outlay. I have worked 331 DXCC countries some years back but my DXCC would be much depleted if it was through the bureau -. nothing wrong with the bureau but I recall not all countries have a bureau anyway. I don’t chase DX anymore here, nor claimed anything
73s Alistair GW0VMZ
First, I’m very sorry for my bad English, so I can’t say exactly what I mean.
”with 15 from one activator, 10 from another”
Reading Roy’s item, I think I’m concerned, because I sent lot of SOTA QSL cards two months ago. And, has everybody could think, Roy was almost in my 40 activator logs so I think I’m the one who sent him 15 QSL cards and my SOTA friend F5AKL, Andy, sent the 10 others.
When I started in SOTA (April 1st 2007) I sent all my first SOTA activation QSL card direct, by mail. Today, I’ve received only one answer via bureau.
Then, it was a pleasure for me to create a new QSL card for each activation, generally using a photo on the summit. As you know, it needs time and money to do that job.
Of course, it was always F6ENO/P, but I thought that chasers would be happy to receive new summit confirmation.
Sending these QSL cards was a pleasure for me, and it is a great surprise to see that I spread disruption in some shacks.
So, friends, as said Andy earlier, you can put my QSL cards in your garbage can. And if it is such a hard job, do not answer.
When I’m reading my activator logs, I can see that 99% of my callers are well known such as Roy, Mike, John, Ambrosi, Fritz (father and son) Dan, Al etc… etc… they all have received one or more QSL cards from me. So, may I think that I don’t have no more QSL card to send to them ?
PS: as I said, I cant explain really what I feel today. So I’ll write a French reflector item about that subject
73 to all
I am always very happy receiving your beautiful QSL-cards!
Also the special-cards of HB9BAB, HA5CQZ, GX0OOO, G4YSS, F5VGL, F5AKL, etc. are very much appreciated.
Today I got a letter from the HB9-bureau with 2 QSL’s of F6ENO (hi),
a “special-QSL” of HB9AFI/p (TNX Kurt!) and my first QSL from a SWL who
was portable on a summit (HE9SOL/p on HB/AI-010).
As an activator I know how it is to get 50 cards from one chaser,
but never mind, maybe he needs the QSL’s for any other awards.
As a chaser I send a QSL for the 1st contact, but sri I don’t use a
computer-log, so sometimes more than one
Vy73 de Fritz DL4FDM
Many thanks for the helpful comments guys. I was only thinking I might have had 1 or 2 by now. I know 3B7C said it would be up to a year to complete their massive list.
Personally I would QSL 100%, even with SOTA and my HRD log tells me whether I have sent one previously. Having now realised that some activators send individual cards from some summits, I am looking forward to getting one of them, and would certainly duplicate under that situation just to say ‘Thank you’.
It took me about 10 months from my start date with sota for the Buro cards to start coming in.
I too have received multiple cards, but I have a personal policy of replying to the first card received, sometimes through the Buro sometimes direct.
I don’t have a problem with multiple QSL cards, in fact I see it as an honour that an op takes the time, trouble and the expense to send me a card and after 22 years as a ham, it still puts a smile of anticipation on my face each time a Buro envelope drops through my door.
It has to be down to each individual how they deal with replies, but count your lucky stars that someone enjoyed the contact with you and sent you a card in mutual friendship.
73 Mike GW0DSP
One funny thing for those who know how to handle the jpeg files (my web QSL’s): the file contains a lot of information. For example the camera model, date and time, exposure time, F number, flash, compression and the original image size. If the photo was corrected with a Photoshop, then this information was replaced by Photoshop information. Of course the file was resized since for the computer screen you do not need so many pixels. There is also a watermark in each file.
Of course the best way to QSL without extra bells and whistles is probably the LoTW (or eQSL if you prefer that system). We have already the ADIF standard for the log files, but presently there are too many conversions tools between different formats.
73, Jaakko OH7BF/F5VGL
I think common sense is the way to go. I have received/requested a couple of special SOTA cards, 1st 5megs QSO, 1st CW QSO, the QSO that marked 1000 chaser points etc. I wouldn’t send a card for every contact on every hill though as I don’t think that’s fair on the activator. I could see the point in one card for each first contact with an individual activator. To each his own I suppose, and of course cost has to come into it.
I’m with Mike though, I love getting the little envelope from the bureau and sorting through the cards. Mind you since I got one with an attractive YL who appeared to have lost her clothes my XYL has vetted them first!
My current batch of QSL cards was done by UX5UO print. His prices are very reasonable and the quality is good.
Handling about 800-1000 requests per month (average), I am surprised to get QSL requests from chasers who actually got the activated references already confirmed through the SOTA DB.
I don’t make up fancy QSL cards for low profile activities (I’m not only doing SOTA, as some may know) and I don’t send first since from my point of view, if the QSO is confirmed through the SOTA DB, it makes no sense to also request a paper card, which doesn’t mean I’m in favour of e-QSL’ing. I don’t use LoTW for other reasons and I don’t care about e-QSL.cc, but requesting 20 Qs for a DL/… activity, well…
Apropos of the time taken for cards to get through the bureaux, a year is about the minimum before they start drifting through. The system is intrinsically batch in nature - for example, the RSGB will hold on to your cards until there are enough to fill the envelope you provided (or the weight limit for postage attached has been reached). That could be a considerable time!
Regarding QSL’ing for SOTA contacts, I must say I can’t see a lot of point. The programme does not require QSL’s and one is hardly working DX. I suggest that most people would have little or no interest in receiving cards (and certainly not multiple cards) for SOTA QSO’s. Sending unsolicited cards for what are really local QSO’s is plain wasteful and hard to justify when we are all being urged to cut down on waste. A more sensible approach is to send a QSL card only if the other party explicitly requests it. QSLL (I’ll send you one if you’ll send me one) is also quite effective at weeding out unwanted QSL’s.
73, John G3WVG
just for example for how the QSL’s (could) run in Germany.
02.10.2007 DL1XYZ/p QSO with G4CMQ
09.10.2007 DL1XYZ writes the QSL for G4CMQ
29.10.2007 DL1XYZ brings the QSL to the local radio club
25.11.2007 the QSL-Manager of the local radio club sends the qsl to
the national radio club (DARC).
15.01.2007 the QSL-Manager of the national radio club sends the qsl
to the RSGB.
19.01.2007 the QSL arrives at the RSGB-HQ.
From now on I don’t know (and how often) the RSGB sends the qsl´s to
I am the local QSL-mgr and send the club-QSL’s every 3-4
weeks to DARC. But I know from other clubs who
send the cards once or twice a year only to DARC…
In Switzerland each individual members can send the QSL’s
direct to the national radio club (USKA) and receives the
cards direct from USKA. So its a bit faster than in DL. hi
Vy73 Fritz DL4FDM
Of course, as an SWL, the time is doubled. When I was sending out SWL report cards, the station I heard wouldn’t have known the card was on its way, so wouldn’t send one back until it was received. Even so, there were not really any incoming buro cards until after about two years (suggesting a year each way to make the trip).
When I receive a package from the Buro nowadays, it will typically include QSL cards from 1996 SWL reports and from 2001 QSO’s - suggesting that 5+ years each way is not all that uncommon!
Try QSL’ing with the shortwave broadcast stations. It’s entirely direct of course - there used to be some Buro’s that handled reports to QSLs from broadcasters - but not any more -but return rates are generally high, and prompt. The cards are very attractive too.
WRAP-UP POST BY G4SSH ON 6th DECEMBHER 2007
Thank you for the many and varied replies. This has been an interesting exercise and the responses range from activators and chasers who consider it a point of honour to always QSL 100% to every station contacted, whilst others can see no point in SOTA QSL cards whatsoever, which are not required to confirm contacts.
However, it is also obvious that some activators take great deal of pride and time producing unique photographic souvenir cards of every individual SOTA, which is a source of great personal satisfaction to them and of great interest to some chasers.
The answer to my question “Do activators expect a card from a chaser for every multiple card received” would appear to be “No”. I guess it is up to individual choice.
The general consensus seems to be that it is courteous to reply to cards received for first SOTA contacts or special occasions and this seems to be a good compromise.
I am QSL manager for GX0OOO, GC0OOO, GS0OOO (etc) and our policy is not to automatically send out QSL cards for SOTA contacts, but we always reply to any cards received via the Bureau or direct as we can appreciate that some operators like to collect Prefixes, WAB areas or UK counties.
Thanks Roy for your reply,
Now, I understand a bit more about SOTA.
As you know, I’m a newcomer in SOTA; I started only one year ago.
I was wrong when thinking that SOTA was an amateur activity like others.
I missed some important points as:
SOTA doesn’t need any QSO confirmation. Good idea ! I agree with this. For me, the QSL card was not sent to confirm the QSO but for the fun since, after 32 ham years, it’s always a pleasure for me to receive a card; I thought it was the same for other guys.
SOTA is a run to points. Fine ! for those who like competition. I do like competition, contests and so on, but, as you know, I’m not for the “599 K” of for the “four and down”. I’ll never win any radio race, but I don’t care.
Well Roy, I do not wish replies to my several cards of course ! Only one will be appreciated. I didn’t know that you were GX0OOO manager when, few months ago, I sent some cards to John in direct. I received back some nice QSL cards from John’s expeditions, fine !.
And for now, I will go back to my computer to stand up the new 2008 French summits data base… Last year, we spent several months for that work (thanks to Les G3VQO, Andy F5AKL and Ghislain F6CEL) and hope our job was appreciated by SOTA community.
73 Alain F6ENO
I send a QSL card to every station I work for the first time.
If receive a card from an activator then I confirm this of course.
Dear SOTA friends, OM’s,
At this moment we send to all stations with we make a QSO, long or short, during our Belgian sota round ON/ON-001 ----> ON/ON-008 a QSL-card. The front side of the card is always the same but the backside has contained other information. .Later if we draw to the neighbouring countries, perhaps the card will change always. Probably it becomes by each sota-reference another front.
Personally I gladly receive a QSL-card from each worked station. It is also an affirmative that the QSO was successful.
THE QSO IS SHORT - BUT QSL CARDS ARE FOREVER
Luc ON6DSL and Nick ON3DSN
Father and son
To view further comments on this subject, written in French, by Andre F5AKL, Alain F5ENO, Lionel F5NEP and F0FNC, please enter SOTA QSL CARDS into the Reflector search box, then select Item 2. – Editor
CW REPORT FOIR SEPTEMBER 2009 by Roy G4SSH
As expected, SOTA activity returned to a more leisurely pace, during the month of September, dropping from the peaks of 50+ spots per day in August to around 30, and just a handful of spots on some weekdays. CW enthusiasts also suffered from start of the Autumn contest season with the weekend of the 19-20th taken out by the SAC Swedish CW contest and the last weekend was swamped by the World Wide RTTY contest for most of the time. As a result many activators moved away from 7032 KHz to the higher bands:-
28 MHz M1EYP,
21 MHz Z35M,
18 MHz F5UKL, M1EYP,
14 MHz SM5BTC, M1EYP, VA2SG, F5UKL, M1EYP, Z35M, OH7BF,
10 MHz E/DD1LD, OK1FFU, DL4FDM, LA1KHA, LA1ENA, G4RJQ, S57X S53XX, S51RU, F5UKL, LA1KHA, MW/HB9CZF, OK1LV, OE/S53X, HG4UK. OE5EEP, S53X, OE/DL4CW, GW0DSP, HA6QR, S57XX, G4RJQ, OE2SNL, OK1FFU, DK1BN, OK1CZ, S51RU, Z35M, OK1DDQ, HA7UL, G4OIG, OH7BF, OE/DL4CW, OK1HRA, OK1XMS, DK1HW, DD1LD.
A warm welcome is extended to the following activators heard active using CW for the first time during September :-
Sven SM5BTC, Dusan S51WX, Dominik HB9CZF, Bernard F6BKD, Jon LA8WF,
Jozsef HA5CW, Marjan S51RU, Jirka OK2HIJ, Jean F8AYU, Guido HB9BQB, Eriic HB9HI, Marjan S51RU, Volker DK2MT, OK1XMS, Walter OE4PWW,.
The number of cross border expeditions appeared to increase as we moved away from the summer holiday season. .Heard active outside their own country and qualifying towards the new Mountain Explorer award were:-
OE/DD1LD, OE/DJ5KZ, OE/DL4CW, OE/S53X, OE/DEJ3AX, OE/DL3VTL OE/S53X, OE/DD1LD, LA/HB9IAB, M/DL1RNN, F/HB9AFI, MW/HB9CZF, DL/OK1XVZ, OK/DL3VTL, GS0OOO, DL/HB9BAB, F/HB9HI, DL/HB9CMI, OK/OE5DIN, DL/HB9BGG, F/HB9AFI, DL/HB9AGO.
I was particularly surprised by the number of activators who visited Austria during the month.
Congratulations to the following chasers who appeared as activators for the first time during September:- OE6WIG, G3HKO, HA5CW
Unfortunately the decline in CW operating standards continues on 7032 KHz where it has now become regular practice for chasers to send their call through a QSO taking place. The old axiom “If you can’t hear him you can’t work him” appears to have been forgotten.
One station in particular is causing much deliberate QRM to other chasers. He usually sends his call continuously, off frequency, then gets frustrated and holds the key down, or calls CQ slowly on top of the activator. He is not a regular chaser and does not appear in the SOTA tables, but collects SOTA’s in a random fashion. Most of the regular responsible chasers are well aware of his tactics.
On the same subject, and although not deliberate QRM, I was puzzled by the number of chasers who kept saying “RTTY PSE QSY” to stations in the Worldwide RTTY contest on 7032 KHz. This only made reception twice as difficult!
I am not sure whether this is just a CW problem, but I have noticed recently that many chasers are reluctant to spot an activator. Time and time again I hear up to a dozen regular chasers work an activator without a spot being generated. Then, when one does appear, it carries the callsign of one of the half dozen or so regular CW spotters. Strangely enough the length of time taken for a spot to appear is directly proportional to the number of points on offer!
IT HAS TO BE TRUE – IT IS WRITTEN DOWN
I have been using Morse code, both professionally and for recreation, for well over 50 years now and one of the quirks that always puzzles me is the fact that if the person you are in contact with writes down incorrect information than they always assume that their version is correct.
This is particularly true in amateur radio if the error is in either your callsign or name.
If I send G4SSS by mistake, or he receives G4SSS then this is the call he will use for the rest of the QSO and he naturally assumes that I am making a pigs ear of my call. Even a direct remark “My call is G4SSH” falls on deaf ears and he will cheerfully say QSL and sign off using the wrong call.
This same effect is often demonstrated in SOTA when an incorrect reference is spotted. This mistake will happily be accepted by dozens of chasers without question, especially of the activator is only sending his reference at infrequent intervals. They either do not listen to the reference, or assume that the activator is sending the wrong reference.
LIST OF CONTESTS DURING OCTOBER 2009:-
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.
4th only 0900-1100 DARC 40m Hell contest
10th only 0001-2359 FOC CW Contest
11th only 0001-2359 SKCC CW sprint
17th-18th 0001-2300 JA World-Wide RTTY contest
17th -18th 1500-2359 Worked all Germany CW / SSB contest
18th-19th 1200-2300 QRP ARCI CW QSO party
24th-25th 0001-2300 CQ World-Wide SSB DX contest (Major QRM to 40m)
SOTA News is normally published around noon local time on the last day of the 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, and your input will be most welcome.
SOTA News Editor