SOTA NEWS - SEPTEMBER 2015 - Part 1 of 2
Editorial - by Roy G4SSH
Welcome to the September 2015 edition of SOTA News. My thanks go to the following contributors:- Barry GM4TOE, Elliott K6EL, Allen VK3HRA, Mark G0VOF, Kevin G0NUP, Rob and Audrey G4RQJ, Nick GI4OOE, Geoff 2I0NON, Phil G4OBK, Martin OE5REO, Jürg HB9BIN, Ignacio EA2BD, Karl M3FEH, Geert PA7ZEE, Paul HB9DST, Peter ON4UP.
The August edition of SOTA News was viewed 925 times.
SOTA AWARDS AUGUST 2015 from Barry GM4TOE - SOTA Awards Manager
August is always a quiet month for awards and this year is no different.
Four new Mountain Goats, F5UBH, HB9FPM, K7SO and HB9JOE, join the growing ranks of Activators who have reached this level (246 at the last count) and are joined by HB9BIN who has now reached 5000 points placing him at number 8 in the Activator Honour Roll. NS7P has just claimed the latest 50K Chaser certificate and is joined on the Supersloth roll by N7CW.
Finally a mention for Caroline M3ZCB who has now managed to Complete (i.e. Activate and Chase) 250 Unique summits; this award is only claimed by a very select few although there are many who could claim what is a quite difficult award to achieve. (For the record: one individual over 500 summits, 15 at 250 or more, and a further 68 at 100 or more summits. A very select sample indeed)
F5UBH Christophe Toullec
HB9FPM Eva Thiemann
K7SO Sat Kirpal S. Khalsa
HB9BIN Dr. Jurg Regli 5000 points
HB9FPM Eva Thiemann 1000 points
HB9JOE Andreas Thiemann 1000 points
G4TJC Simon Melhuish 500 points
CT1BHG Joao Cardoso 500 points
DK4MH Marcus Halczok 250 points
VK5PAS Paul Simmonds 250 points
OH3KRH Jari Leivo 100 points
HB9EIV Michael Rass 100 points
DK4MH Marcus Halczok 100 points
F6HHK Bruno Bally 100 points
W1DMH Douglas Houston 250 summits
NS7P Phillip Shepard 50000 points
N7CW Bud Semon 10000 points
OH3KRH Jari Leivo 1000 points
G0FEX Kenneth Porter 500 points
N1AW Al Woodhull 500 points
G0FEX Kenneth Porter 250 points
HB9FBG Mauro Santus 250 points
HB9EIV Michael Rass 100 points
SP6NVB Bogdan Morawski 100 points
DO4KAI Kai Wendt 100 points
DL2SBA Dietmar Krause 100 points
W1DMH Douglas Houston Platinum
ON6ZQ Christophe David Silver
PA7T Clemens Hesse Bronze
W3AAX Jason Johnston Bronze
M3ZCB Caroline Blackmun 250 summits
The issue of certificates caught me out this month; I knew my stock of certificate blanks was running low but that I had enough to cover all orders to date and a few beside. I came to do my regular printing run and found that the last certificate blanks were damaged and would not feed through the printer. Panic! This meant I had to find a printer who could turnaround an order of blanks on a heavyweight paper (160g/m) in as short a timescale as possible and at a sensible price. Luckily after some searching (and being told by two print shops I have used in the past that it couldn’t be done) I managed to get a delivery within 7 days of placing the order. Hopefully I have caught up with the backlog. I have also run out of Mountain Goat trophy blanks (delivery with me in about a week) and Flags (delivery next Tuesday). This is worse than keeping the xyl’s emporium stocked!
This is the time of year when I look at the merchandise I have in stock and decide what is not selling and what might be introduced to tempt people around the World to open their wallets! I will be making a once in a lifetime offer (well for the remainder of 2015) on the insulated mugs and also making some other small personalised merchandise items available (Name badges - an essential item at rallies and conventions and possibly keyrings); just need to finalise the costings.
Finally, may I re-iterate the timescale for purchases of both Awards and merchandise. The processing of orders is undertaken in my spare time (and that can be in short supply) so I hope to put certificates and merchandise into the mail system within 10 days of an order being placed (and you have to allow for the postal system over and above that) and trophies within 28 days. Chasing me at [timecale + 1 hour] does not engender a good response!
Please take care when out and about on the hills
SOTA Awards Manager
MOURNE MOUNTAINS EXPEDITION - by 2I0NON & GI4OOE
We are planning to activate as many of the Mourne Mountains as possible
between 2nd - 9th September 2015. We will be using 145-fm QRO with some HF
We have alerted our plans but these are just a rough outline and
could change depending on weather and our level of fitness etc.
Hopefully, we will have good wifi at our base in Rostrevor and we will
be able to alert any daily changes.
Geoff & Nick
VISIT TO GM/WS by John G(M)4YSS
I will be on holiday in Fort William, driving up on the 6th and returning on the 17th September as part of my Ruby Wedding anniversary present.
Weather permitting I will be targeting GM/WS summits in the Glencoe area using club callsign GS0OOO/p.
My desire is to use HF QRO on 40 and 30m, but much depends of band conditions.
Expedition to Czechia and Poland - by Phil G4OBK
I am looking forward to walking and operating SOTA from the OK/KR area Orlické Hory (Eagle Mountains) range on the Czechia / Poland border for four days from September 25th - 28th. I will be based near to Destne. I will operate on QRP CW using the 20m and 30m bands with an FT-817 and link dipole. I will activate as many summits as I can in the time available. I will also operate from at least one summit in the Poland SP/SS area for another counter towards the Mountain Explorer Award.
73 Phil G4OBK
OE5 SOTA DAY from Martin OE5REO
We will hold this year’s OE5-SOTA Day on Saturday, September 19, 2015 in the Phyrn-Priel Region of OE5. Anybody interested in SOTA is welcome to join the fun! The plan is to activate as many summits as possible in the area. Please post your planned activations on SOTAWatch and try to spread out to different summits. There are plenty in this area and it should be easy to find one that fits to your skills and interests.
Until now there are 13 activations alerted on SOTAwatch, most of them will be qrv on VHF and HF … so it will be a pretty busy day for chasers as well.
We will then gather at Gasthof Niesl, A-4572 St. Pankraz 5, www.gasthaus-niesl.at at around 15.00 local time for a Get-Together. After having food, drinks and the obligatory group picture we will have some SOTA related presentations. The meeting is open end.
Thank you very much, 73 de
The 2nd SOTA session at Ham Radio Friedrichshafen 2016 on June 25, 2016.
Dear SOTA Community,
The 1st SOTA session at Ham Radio Friedrichshafen 2015 was a great success. The trade show management counted 120 participants and reported this figure to DARC. The “Schweiz” meeting room was filled almost beyond capacity. Because there were chairs for only 80 to 100 people, some attendees sat on the tables on the left side and rear of the room, while more sat on the floor on the right side. As a result, DARC has promised to let us use the larger “Österreich” meeting room at Ham Radio 2016 on Saturday, June 25, 2016. This room accommodates 270 people.
The concept of SOTA is making progress at Ham Radio, and with Saturday we are getting a more attractive date and a larger room. Those who were not able to attend the session at Ham Radio 2015 can find the slide presentations at this link: http://hb9sota.ch/hb9sota-hamradio/.
The event was also described very positively by Michael DB7MM in the 8/2015 edition of Funkamateur (page 904, in the section Bergfunk-QTC).
For the 2nd SOTA session we would like to stick to the following proven concept:
• A question/answer session with Andy MM0FMF from the SOTA Management Team.
• Short presentations lasting 10 to 15 minutes covering alternating topics of rigs, antennas and operating techniques.
• Door prizes will be sponsored again by Richard G3CWI at SOTABEAMS.
• We plan to retain English as the event’s primary language.
• Following the event, availability of the documentation for every presentation, including slides, at http://hb9sota.ch/hb9sota-hamradio/.
We would like to widen the group of speakers for Ham Radio 2016. We thus ask that any and all SOTA participants with interesting potential topics for a short presentation about rigs, antennas or operating techniques pertaining to SOTA get in touch with us at email@example.com.
We hope that at Ham Radio 2016 we can once again provide you with an interesting program full of useful information. Until then, we wish you continued fun with this hobby and look forward to our next SOTA QSO.
Paul HB9DST, VP of HB9SOTA and Jürg Regli, HB9BIN, Association Manager Switzerland
ON Association news
On Saturday August the 3rd, Christophe completed all 17 ON summits by chasing ON/ON-018 and 019. Therefore he got the electronic certificate of ‘Completed all ON summits’. Congrats Christophe!
This award is a ON association award for those who have activated and chased all ON summits. All info can be found in the ON ARM: http://www.sota.org.uk/docs/ARM-ON-English.pdf
73, Peter – ON4UP
ON association manager
ANTENNA TESTING LAST SUMMER. - by Ignacio EA2BD
I find building antennas to be one of the most interesting parts of this hobby. I used to build and test different wire antennas when on holidays and it’s something I still do with much pleasure. I want to share my testing experience during the last summer with 2 antennas; one for activating and one for chasing.
- Activating with EFHW aerial (end fed half wave)
99% of my activation in the past was done with Vertical antennas, using either a random wire + tuner or a tuned GP (quarter wave). I prefer Verticals because they require a single fixing point of the supporting pole, and this is easier than fixing a dipole, which requires 3 fixing points (center + 2 extremes). But on the other hand I need some extra time to deploy the radials when erecting a vertical, and to wind them back up when leaving the summit.
I was happy with the performance of verticals but I got interested on the End Fed. Many SOTA friends use it and after reading several articles, I decided to check if an antenna with no radials would perform as good as my vertical.
Although End fed is a monoband antenna, I decided it would worth testing a multiband version. Mine works for 40-20-10 meters. I decided to get rid of a Tuner and I built a single feeder that works well with the 3 bands. I followed the plans shown on:
This EFHW is 12 m long and carries a coil for 40m of 34 microHenry. I used the toroid FT114-43, that is enough for QRP and is smaller than the FT240-43 shown on the web page.
All my July and August activations were done with this antenna, and I find a good reception and similar number of QSO’s when compared to what I got using a Vertical. I believe Omni directional coverage was achieved by installing it as an Inverted Vee, on a 5m long pole, working best when extremes are high enough over ground (1 meter). You know HF propagation nowadays is not at its best, but the antenna performed very well.
Sometimes, depending on the summit , by unknown reason I had high SWR (3 or 4:1) and I found a quick cure by adding a short cable to enlarge the wire about 15 cm, thus changing resonance to get a good SWR.
I feed it with a light RG-174 coaxial of 3 meters and I found that coax interacts with the aerial; it modifies resonance a bit when setting the rig aside the Vee, inside the Vee or outwards of it.
I think that I will keep on using it regularly for my activations, although the major penalty is the lack of the 30m band, where I sometimes lose the chance of gathering some S2S contacts. The 3 fixing points required were not a problem in the end and now I’ve learned how to install it very fast.
- Chasing with a multiband Delta Loop
On my holidays I visited relatives in several different places where I stayed for days. In such a situation, far from home, I have to install any kind of compromise antenna.
Over many years I have tested long wires, random wires, doublets, almost any kind of wire that I could throw out a window or install without causing troubles to my family, hi.
I have never tested a Delta before and I thought it would be interesting to try a multiband version.I heard the “ears” of the Delta are very good, but was this true? Again, this antenna is a mono band but I heard that by feeding it with a parallel line and using a tuner it could perform as multiband.
I played a bit with antenna simulation software to decide the length of the Delta. I intended to use it to chase between 40 to 10m (the whole set, why not?), and found that the overall length modifies impedance of each band. After running back and forth, I found that a Delta with a perimeter of 27 meters would have suitable impedances not very high in most bands to allow the tuner to deal with it. Yes, 40m band would probably have a lower performance, but keeping 27 meters would be more handy and easy to install without disturbing my relatives.
I built and installed one in an almost horizontal position, lying down over the roof of a house, up at about 8 m above ground. I didn’t expect much at such a low height, thinking it would probably perform like a NVIS antenna, but the results of this non-resonant antenna have proven that I was wrong. It’s been a pleasure to chase with it for a week in August. I used an automatic tuner (LDG Z11 Pro II) next to a homebrew 1:1 Current balun. This auto tuner memorizes the settings per band so that band changes are instant without a delay.
My holiday setup was completed with a FT-857 set to 30 watts, and to my joy I logged easily all European activation in progress. It was a pleasure to see a spot, jump to the frequency and hear the activator in all cases!
I had no problems being heard from the first call, running the Delta with low power. I felt stronger signals came from closer stations due to the low height of my installation. I have to explain that the house was in a small village, free from city noise, and the background noise was as silent as on a summit.
I am so satisfied with the design that I am willing to test it at home versus my regular OCF Dipole. At home I have plenty of QRN in some frequencies and I dream to get rid of that. Who knows? Now I have to think how to route the parallel line down… A new project is born!
Thanks all activators and see you soon.
VY 73 de Ignacio EA2BD
MY FIRST SOTA YEAR - from Karl M3FEH
Greetings one and all. I thought that I would drop a small news item into the September news letter.
The month of September 2015 sees my very first anniversary of being a SOTA chaser and the start of being an activator. It all kicked off on the 11th September 2014, a month after coming back on the air after long time off, being in a new county of Cornwall and also in my role as carer for my partner. Once I found out about SOTA and had worked my first station (on a Polish summit) followed by a couple more activators that day, this really hooked me. I had found something different on the amateur radio bands that I could really get my teeth into and which I have continued to enjoy ever since.
During this year I have made a number of SOTA friends across Europe, and the friendliness of contacts has been most enjoyable, but friends did warn me that it would be addictive and they were not far wrong. Now that August draws to a close I find myself chasing the 8k points mark and possibly before long I could become the first UK novice to reach super sloth (in SSB only).
This has been all on 10W and I find it intriguing that a good number of SOTA stations are only using 10w or less, which makes it more challenging.
This has lead me to start activating and building my own portable antennas with a 1/4w 40m vertical and the Inverted V 1/2w 40m dual portable antenna, both operated from my local hill G/DC-003 and well tested. What made this even more of a bug for me was my first activator contact into VK5PAS which really surprised me with my home brew and only 10w.
I now need few more bits of gear to make my portable station even more portable and lighter than it is now, before ascending up bigger hills. But by activating, it was nice to give something back after all this time as a chaser, which gave me a good feeling indeed.
Roll on 2nd year of my SOTA. All being well I shall activate from more local summits.
Catch you on air some time.
Karl M3FEH & M3FEH/p
MY ROAD TO SUPER SHACK SLOTH by Geert PA7ZEE
My first QSO as an activator was in 2008 when we had a vacation in Czechia and Germany. On the terrace of our hotel I had just finished connecting my Elecraft KX1 to a random wire in a tree and made a few QSO’s, meanwile enjoing a good German beer.
Coming home I was curious about the name of the hill where the hotel was situated. I entered ‘Pöhlberg’ in Google and found all out about SOTA. This was all new to me and looked very interesting. However, I was busy with our local radio club, organising events like field days, training of people to get their license and radio lessons in schools,
Although I was retired from work, there was not much SOTA time. Fortunately, during the last year there came a little more spare time and I became more active as a chaser and as an activator.
Last month I reached a milestone as a chaser: I became a Super Shack Sloth within a year after reaching the Shack Sloth status. Finally, after a QSO with Terje LA8BCA, I had exactly 10.000 points.
The data base told me:
You are a Shack Sloth with 10000 points.
Shack Sloth achieved on 25-Aug-2014
10x Shack Sloth achieved on 20-Aug-2015
I would like to thank all the activators who are so essential for obtaining this result. Jan OK2PDT and Heinz HB9BCB are the activators I worked most; with Jan over 100 QSO’s when I include also his activations outside Czechia.
Some information about my station: transceiver Yaesu FT-920 via a MFJ Balanced Tuner and 450 ohm window line connected to an inverted vee antenna 2 x 17 m.
73 de Geert PA7ZEE
THE VIEW FROM THE NORTH - 92 from Rob and Audrey G4RQJ
Second start on this month as the laptop decided it was not going to save the previous attempt!
We were unable to get a hill in on Sunday 2nd due to my boots and coat being still away for repair but we decided to collect them from Burnley on Tuesday and then to take in a hill on the way home by way of a test run. The firm LSR has done a very good job on both items and are the only people reasonably near us still in business, remember when the local cobbler could resole a walking boot?
We decided on Sharp Haw close to Skipton as a suitable target so made our way to Bog Lane where the popular walk to the summit starts. The hill is very much on the distant horizon at the start, in reality it is not too far but feels further, being a relentless plod. The actual hill is quite small but feels higher than it is as the summit is rather pointed. A wall crosses the approach path and has to be crossed via an iron ladder made ingeniously from old bed irons, the wear on the upper ends caused by countless hands says something about its age. Take care as the rungs are slippery for modern boots. Sadly the seat that stands beside the ladder as a little rest stop for walkers has collapsed and lies in ruins. Today it is very windy and we have to take shelter on the eastern slope just a few feet below the summit. The summit itself has superb views and today it is extremely obvious that a very severe squall is on its way and will hit us in about five minutes, we struggle into waterproofs just in time. The wind and rain are very strong and hf is not an option, just seven contacts on 2m FM and we head off down, a shame as we were hoping for a longer activation.
Sunday 9th and a horrid day with thick cloud. A good place to check local conditions in the area is the new set of webcams on Hoad Hill in Ulverston. The north camera looks into the Lake District, East camera looks at Yorkshire, South camera looks across Morecombe Bay, all useful pointers to conditions on the ground. The West camera looks out over Ulverston towards us on Walney Island. Today all four have grey screens; the cloud is down even on this little hill
As a result of all this it was once again Tuesday before we managed another hill, this time Hard Knot Fell. This summit is best reached from the summit of Hard Knot Pass a steep narrow road, single track with few passing places many deep potholes and no guard rails. The Pass has recently been discovered by the national press who portray it as a nice day out for visitors. This results in an overpowering smell of burned clutches and groups of white knuckled drivers vying to follow someone else down. This would be funny if not for the fact that it is dangerous for the driver inexperienced in this sort of thing. The day after our activation the Pass was closed most of the day when a vehicle fell over the edge.
There is room for about five cars at the head of the pass but be careful not to block the limited passing places. The walk up to the Fell top is a real pleasure and carefully following the contouring path which leaves the straight up section about half way up on the right makes it easy. The two large flat sections higher up have to be crossed and can be very boggy, ten years ago the second one was a full time lake but in recent times it has dried to be just a bog. The final climb is a steep little scrambly section and the views from the summit are spectacular for a small summit. The wind over the top was very cold and three hours was enough. We have climbed this hill in the middle of winter and been warmer, we were wearing virtually the same kit and this is midsummer! We were glad to be down the pass and out of the way of visitors; it is safer in the winter with just the ice to contend with.
Been a bit of chat lately about finding summits, routes etc so here is a system we use, those outside UK or experienced activators look away now. First find the map reference for your target from our summits section and also check for previous activators findings, route advice etc. Now go to Streetmap.co.uk (not openstreetmap) and enter the map reference in the search box e.g. SS 891 415 which will produce a range of maps in different scales all with the summit marked. 1:25,000 and 1: 50,000 are most useful and are printable. The snag is that not all of the reference lines are labeled on your partial map but you have the reference of the summit so can work back from it. If the phrase “Across the hall then up the stairs” means nothing to you then take a look at how to use map references before going further, it’s important! Mark the line numbers on the top, bottom and both sides of your map. As a previous employer of mine (Rob) used to say on endless posters "Don’t think check!” so make sure you are right it’s good practice for map reading. Find the suggested start points’ map reference and find it on your map, is it in the right place? Don’t think check. You should now have a printable A4 map of your target and the route to it. Make a couple of copies and use in a waterproof transparent case, your ink is water soluble. We keep our versions in an index file case and have quite an extensive collection, it sounds a lot of work but it is a useful way of keeping your hand in.
Sunday 16th Aug and a trip down south to avoid the weather in the Lake District. Finding the start point for this one can be difficult in the lanes round Chipping, set your GPS for Startifants Lane, yes that’s right, boy at the back stop sniggering. There is room for parking along the lane and also in the lane that leads up onto the hill but this lane is narrow and turning can be difficult. Those familiar with the climb will remember the first fifty yards being a modern paved section. Unfortunately it was as steep as a roof and really required a cat ladder for safe passage particularly when wet or icy. This set people to walking besides the paving creating almost waist deep troughs on either side. The good news is that it is all piled in a heap having been dug up and the site left to recover. The path now diverts to the right up the slope then returns to join the path at the top of the now removed “roof”, a route we have been using for some years. The path up Parlick, the first hill to be climbed is grassy, eroded and steep and those not wishing to scale the full majesty of Parlick should turn to the right at the top of the cleft that runs beside the path to find a path that contours the hill and returns to the main path where the ascent of Fair Snape begins. The summit plateau is large and normally busy but today it is quiet. A group of youngsters arrives as we are activating They eventually send a young lady to politely ask what we are doing .As we explain she keeps saying “cool” and they head off saying they will look it all up on the internet. We hope that they really are impressed and that “cool” has not changed sides like" bad ".
Unfortunately that is it for this month, our absence from the hills for the last couple of weeks is due to Audrey having acquired a rather nasty flu type virus that has quite knocked her back and with our Welsh Borders trip due at the start of next month the only sensible option has been rest and recovery. We should be at the Telford Rally so hope to meet up with some of you all there
For now, take care out there
Rob and Audrey
TOP BAND REPORT from Mark G0VOF
No Top Band activations were reported during the month of August
********************** CONTINUED IN PART 2 *********************
SOTA news from North America
CW Report for August
Extracts from SOTA Data Base
SOTA News contacts.