Hello to everyone,
Welcome to my first attempt at the news, my fingers are crossed that I get it somewhere resembling ok, so please forgive me for any errors. I hope to improve with practice. It is my intention to always report the news in an unbiased way, but I will never print anything which in my opinion, could be controversial in any way so as to be harmful to SOTA
I think that my first job should be to pass on our thanks to James M0ZZO for the magnificent job that he has done in providing us with the news each month in the past. We wish you all the best in any new ventures James.
To those of you who don’t know me, I’ll give you a little bit of my background.
I am 54 years old and married to Anne for 32years. We have three children, who are all adults now. My work background was in mechanical engineering and I ran my own business, specialising in the welding of both ferrous and none ferrous metals and in machining within very fine tolerances. This ended after many years of struggling with my back problems.
My interest in electronics began at a very early age, and I built my first receiver,( A cats whisker from a kit ) at the age of 11 years. I passed the RAE in December 1984 and received my ‘B’ call sign in January 1985. I went on to pass the 12 wpm Morse test at Liverpool after six weeks of learning the code and received my ‘A’ call sign GW0DSP in November of 1985. I was approached and asked to take a 25 wpm morse test, which I passed and consequently became a RSGB morse examiner for the county of Clwyd (now renamed Flintshire).
I became involved with sota and made my first contact with Ian G7KXV/P on 16/1/2007, so I’m relatively new to the sota organisation, but I have become a very active chaser and activator.
It is my intention to try and get the news posted on the Reflector on the 1st of each calendar month, i.e. the January news will be posted on 1st February, etc. Where possible, I will try and keep the same format which James used for the news and I will rely heavily on input from all of you.
Please forward any information or stories etc to…… firstname.lastname@example.org A lot of the old sections will be the same but I would like to add a couple of new sections also. These sections may appear in a slightly different order in the news.
To honour individual achievements. This will be for all milestones from 100 chaser points certificate, right through to Superslothdom and above. Also, the various milestones for activators, up to Mountain Goat and beyond. I will also include milestones for unique summits chased and/or activated. If you pass through any milestone, please email me at the email address above and let me know.
A new idea, please give me your opinion on this topic.
Have you ever wondered, who is the fastest to hit the various Sota Milestones?
If anyone has claim to a record, i.e. fastest to reach Shack Sloth, Super Sloth, Mountain Goat, most activations etc. Also first to complete all G/GM/GW etc. All claims will be checked and the fastest selected and posted here, until beaten.
It would be useful to inform people of any forthcoming Sota expeditions.
A few recent ones that spring to mind are when Steve G1INK was in Germany, John GW4BVE was in Ireland and Steve & Helen GW7AAV/GW7AAU visited Scotland.
Warning can also be given of any forth coming rare summit activations.
I am hoping to include some of the International associations in our news, and I will be inviting our many friends overseas to contribute any info of expeditions, milestones, etc to our news.
If anyone would like to contribute any news items from overseas, then please send them to me at email@example.com
Hill of the month
This has been covered in the past but this time I want your input on the hill of the month, whether good or bad and state your reasons.
I will pick what I think is the winner each month.
Photo of the month
Just another idea, which I would hope will encourage more activators and chasers to put their photos on the Flickr website. Sota participants can email me there favourite Flickr photo each month and the one/s with the most votes will be the winner/s. This/these could be for pure photographic skill and/or pictures deemed to be funny. Please give me your feedback if you want this feature included in the news, or not.
This has always been a prominent and highly popular feature of the news and after exchanging emails with Roy G4SSH, I am pleased to say that Roy will continue to supply us with his very informative cw write ups as he did with James.
Thank you Roy.
Another regular feature enjoyed by all, written by John GW4BVE.
I have been in touch with John and he will be forwarding his propagation reports as normal plus some extra snippets for the news as time allows.
Thank you John.
Thank you to everyone in advance for your assistance and support. I will welcome any new ideas and criticism, good or bad, which will help me to improve the news for everyone.
SOTA NEWS SEPTEMBER – 2007
Many thanks to, Roy G4SSH, John GW4BVE, Roger MW0IDX, Glyn GM4CFS, Martyn M1MAJ and Tom M1EYP, for their superb input and support.
From Glyn GM4CFS
In an earlier topic I said that the XYL had given me permission to spend the week walking whilst she and the boys visit her sister in Southport. Well a plan of sorts is in place. I will be dropping them off at Southport on Saturday tea-time (6th Oct) and will proceed to my B&B in Windermere. The intention is to walk as many days as weather and body allow, leaving the Lakes on the Friday 12th Oct. I am making no plans as to which hills to do on which day, but will do my very best to promulgate the summit prior to departing the hotel. I will also spotlite when at the summits. The summits so far being considered - in no particular order or priority are……
Helvellyn, Fairfield, Seat Sandal, Red Screes, StonyCove Pike, Harter Fell, Holme Fell & Gummer How. That gives me a smattering of 1 pointers if the legs need a break. I will try to operate on 145-fm, 144-ssb, 7.032 cw, 7.116/060 ssb, FE ssb/cw, 10.116. Maybe not all modes each summit – it depends very much on time on the summits and wx etc. If anyone has any thoughts on routes to any of the above mentioned they will be gratefully received. Also if anyone wants to know the secret to getting a 7 day pass to go walking, submit your request on the back of a £20 note to me QTHR :-))
I look forward to working as many of you as possible. If anyone wants join me for a beer in the evenings you are more than welcome.
24 in 24 (Editor)
I am posting this one well in advance.
My friend and sometimes activating partner Barry M3PXW wanted to do some form of charity event with the proceeds going to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
This hospital has been a blessing to Barry and his partner Sam when one of their young boys was diagnosed with heart problems and was treated at Alder Hey.
Barry suggested an attempt at the 24 summits in 24 hours, I’m sure you are all well aware of this challenge. The Welsh Borders summits will be used for the challenge because of the geographic simplicity they present, plus the fact that they are all pretty close to major towns or cities which will offer up chasers should the need arise. 2 metres FM will be used on all summits, with the activators employing handheld transceivers and Rubber Duck antennas.
Quite a lot of preliminary work has been carried out already on figuring out the best route to take and more importantly, in choosing the hardest climb as a starting point because the time ascending the first summit won’t go against the 24 hours period, as will the descent time of the final summit. The countdown clock will be started as the microphone is keyed for the first activation.
A team is beginning to form and to date, it looks like the members will be Barry M3PXW (The Whippet), Steve G1INK, Mick 2E0HJD and myself, Mike GW0DSP.
A fifth team member will be added before our preparations are completed. Anyone wishing to be considered for the final place in the team, please email me and your callsign will be put forward to the team, whose decision on the 5th team member will be final.
Up to now, it seems that Steve and Barry will do all of the activating, both are very fit lads. Mick and I will be chasers, drivers, brew & food makers etc, as will the fifth team member. It is hoped to attempt the challenge in either late April or May 2008, when the lighter nights return, along with some warmer weather. The event will be very well publicised in this news column, well in advance, and will be alerted on sotawatch2 with approximate times for each activation. Spots will be welcomed, but we would ask ALL chasers to appreciate that speed will be of the essence and the activations will have to be of the 4 and dash type, with the possibility of a few chasers being worked on each summit, but no promises. In addition to the alerts and spots, we intend to take lots of pictures for the Flickr site, where and when conditions allow and maybe an accompanying video.
Watch this space for more updates of the event and please do your best to cheer the team on if/when we pass through your area and also, why not consider sponsoring the event for this worthy cause.
SOTA MILESTONES FOR THIS EDITION
1,000 pts Shack Sloth
Roger G4OWG. Roger also reached 2500 SWL points in October.
10,000 pts Super Sloth
1,000 Unique summits chased
100 unique summits activated
Rob G4RQJ (accompanied as always by Audrey)
250 Activator points
1,000 Activator Points “Mountain Goat” Award
Kurt HB9AFI (First ever HB9 Mountain Goat)
Since the last news bulletin, John GW4BVE has completed activations of the complete set of 75 GW/NW summits. Well done John on a terrific achievement.
Tom M1EYP has achieved or is on the brink of the following personal goals….
100th personal activation of “The Cloud” G/SP-015 (Should be accomplished at 15:15 utc today).
200 G/SP activations.
500 SOTA activations. (Should be accomplished accomplished 15:15 utc today).
Here’s Tom’s brief explanation of how all of his targets came together at once…………
“OK Mike, hitting the landmarks thick and fast now.
This evening 28/9/07 on Gun G/SP-013, it will be my 200th activation in my home region - G/SP.
I will activate The Cloud G/SP-015 at some point over the weekend which will mean that my next activation after that will be my 100th activation of The Cloud, and my 500th activation in SOTA. And then if I can gather up 8 points in one or more activations, I will eventually reach Mountain Goat, and with the smallest points-per-activation average of any MG to date! (Or putting a positive spin on it, it could be said achieved with the greatest
number of activations to date)”.
All of the above, are the milestones which I knew of personally, or were sent to me by email. Apologies to all operators who have passed a milestone but are not mentioned.
Roger MW0IDX has kindly offered to inform me in future, of all stations who apply for milestone certificates and trophies.
MARTYN M1MAJ & CAROLINE M3ZCB BUSY IN LD
Martyn M1MAJ and Caroline M3ZCB had a week’s holiday in the Lake
District in early September. Including those summits activated on the journey, we activated a total of 11 summits, all of them new uniques for Caroline and all but one new for Martyn. In general Martyn was using 5MHz while Caroline used mostly2m FM but on some occasions 2m SSB was used also.
The weather was generally excellent, though there were a couple of occasions with severe atmospheric attenuation in the 430-750 THz band.
On 11th September the following milestones were reached:
Our 25th wedding anniversary
Martyn reached “Shack Sloth”. Having started the holiday 50 points short, there was a good chance of reaching it with a summit-to-summit, but in the end it turned out to be a climb-to-summit with Colin G0RQK/P on Helvellyn, while we were on the way up Grisedale Pike. By coincidence, Colin had been on Grisedale Pike the previous evening and taken me up to 999 chaser points.
It may be worth noting that although 5MHz has enabled me to pick up lots of chaser points from home, most of those contacts have actually used my portable equipment. Only 3 of my chaser contacts have used more than 5W at my end and I’ve added enough points since to make me a QRP sloth.
Less happily, our first failed activation.
We activated Watch Hill rather late in the day. 5MHz was a bit of a struggle, with lots of QSYing been needed to find a usable channel, but I qualified the summit easily enough in the end. However Caroline just couldn’t make herself heard on 2m. We could hear another summit activation in progress but for some reason they didn’t hear her calling, nor was Caroline able to intercept any of their chasers, despite hearing them strongly. We were beginning to wonder if the transmitter was working, but she did eventually get one contact with good reports both ways. In the end we were beaten by the light so she had to make do with just one QSO. It was a disappointment, but it’s only one point and it looks like it still counts as a unique.
On the next day, 12th September:
Our first 10-pointer, Skiddaw. Martyn passed 250 activator points.
We really enjoyed the week.
Thanks to everybody for the contacts, especially Colin GI0RQK when he’s at home, and all the 5MHz regulars, you know who you are.
There have been a couple of recent injuries on SOTA activations. Clive M1YAM injured his foot while activating WS-347 and John GW4BVE tore his soleus muscle on an expedition to NW-005 and NW-026. John thought his injury was less serious than it turned out and he had to shorten his expedition in the Moelwyns with Frank G3RMD last week.
The SOTA News team, along with all SOTA participants, wishes both activators a speedy recovery and return to activating.
WALES ASSOCIATION REFERENCE MANUAL
Roger MW0IDX released a new version of the Wales ARM, issue 1.7, on 7th August 2007. This corrected the entry for Maesglase NW-029, which is now consistent with the RHB definition of this summit. Roger is aware of a couple of minor spelling errors and inconsistencies between the ARM data and the database. These will be corrected as a batch in due course.
UK NVIS PROPAGATION BY JOHN GW4BVE
When will sunspot cycle 24 start? It can’t be too soon for HF SOTA activators - we must be nearly at the bottom of cycle 23 now. Only two years ago, or even one year ago activators could call on 5.3985MHz ( FE) and work the whole of the UK at very good signal strengths using 5 watts, but not now.
The GM activators have some advantages with the longer paths to the majority of chasers, but even they are not immune to the lack of sunspots. The key to HF NVIS activating at the bottom of the sunspot cycle is frequency agility and today (29th September) was a brilliant example of that requirement. John M0JDK/P on WB-007 around 10:00z had a few contacts on 5MHz but had to resort to European contacts on 7MHz to fill his log. At 11:15z Mike G4BLH/P called on 5MHz FE from NP-001 with no response but on 3.670Mhz qualified the summit reasonably easily. One hour later Jack GM4COX was totally inaudible in Welshpool on 5MHz but up to 59 in Merthyr Tydfil. On 3.5MHz Jack’s signalswere a good 53 in Welshpool. Another hour later Robin GM7PKT/P on Ben Nevis WS-001 - nothing small for Robin - was 53 in Welshpool on 5MHz, 21(yes really) on 3.666MHz and most surprising 43 on 7.150MHz.So the month of September has been very variable for inter G communication by HF,particularly on 5MHz.
The mean FoF2 for midday utc for the month was 5.11MHz with a high of 5.62Mhz on the 27th and a low of 4.05Mhz on the 7th. The operation above the critical
frequency explains the marginal conditions, particularly on the shorter paths. While the F layer was not really assisting us there was sporadic E propagation that would provide short skip propagation on 5MHz and even up to 7MHz on 7 days in the first half of the month and 2 days in the second half of the month. As a result of the variable 5MHz propagation many HF activators now use 3.5MHz as either their primary HF inter-G frequency or at least as a backup. We are now moving into winter conditions with less D layer absorption in the day and therefore stronger 3.5MHz signals. Sporadic E is reducing, so if sunspot activity does not start to increase, 3.5MHz is likely to be the most reliable HF frequency for daytime inter G communications over the next few months.
SOTA CW REPORT BY ROY G4SSH
CW enthusiasts often remark that completing a CW exchange, especially under difficult conditions, bestows a sense of pride and achievement in their self-taught operating skills that no other mode of operation can provide. This simple fact is often difficult to understand by non-CW ops and is one of the reasons why the mode remains so popular. Perhaps this is also one of the reasons why there are so many “wild-card” CW SOTA activations. There are at least a dozen regular CW activators who will appear on 7.032 MHz calling CQ SOTA without any alerts being posted. Last month in a typical day there were up to 15 CW activations when the alerts list had shown a blank sheet. Some of these are as a result of the activator not being logged into the data-base,
but others are a last minute decision to just go out to enjoy an expedition and experience the pleasure of using Morse on the air. Some people remark that they would rather hear the familiar voice of a friend in SSB, but to an experienced CW operator every individual has their own particular “FIST” which can often be immediately identified, even on just the "QRL?"
Speaking of QRL? There appears to be a move by some stations to use “?” or QSO? or QRZ? before sending CQ a few seconds later (which is often sent on top of a QRP SOTA activation). This causes great confusion and annoyance and is not a substitute for using the internationally understood QRL?
There has been a noticeable improvement in HF propagation during the last few weeks as we moved into autumn conditions. I regularly spend a week in Cornwall where I chase SOTA’s as G4SSH/A with an FT897 and a six foot indoor vertical antenna. During the summer I have averaged about 50 CW points per week from this QTH. Last week I amassed an incredible 340 points, including one outstanding day (23rd Sept) when I had 140 points in the log. Mind you, being on the South Coast is much better for propagation than North Yorkshire. (French stations, in particular, are much louder). Taking advantage of the QTH I even worked 3B7C from there.
Although 7.032 MHz is regarded as the Inter-EU SOTA CW spot, there is still much SOTA activity around the 30m spot of 10.118 MHz. This is a much quieter band which usually gives much better propagation between the UK and EU. The problem is that most CW chasers leave their receiver tuned to 7.032, so an alert or a spot for 30m activity is essential. In spite of this drawback it is interesting to note that the data-base shows that more than 100 chasers from 16 different countries use 30m and a few stations have gained more than 1000 chaser points on this single band alone.
The rapid increase in SOTA CW activations throughout Europe is creating many opportunities for S2S contacts, especially around 7.032 MHz, when there are often three or four CW SOTA stations active at the same time. (Last month Klaus moved down 10 KHz to 7022 to clear the pile-up). Unfortunately the normal QRP power of an activator is often not capable of breaking through the QRO power of chasing stations and there were many instances of failed S2S calls last month. Can I appeal to activating stations to please make it a routine to pause at intervals when working through a pile-up and call for /P? only. This will provide a clear path for any waiting activators on a summit and so ensure a successful S2S contact.
We are now into the Autumn contest season. The last week in September was the CQ World-Wide RTTY contest, when the 40m band was swamped with high power RTTY stations from 7.025 to 7.065 MHz. It was almost impossible for chasers to read SOTA stations under the RTTY stations. Under these conditions the chaser has a much harder task than the activator when attempting to read weak QRP signals, perhaps in a noisy QTH, whereas the activator is usually reading 100w and perhaps from a beam antenna in a generally quieter location.
Heinz OE5EEP/P solved the problem by calling on 30m and Klaus reacted to conditions, by moving down to 7.020 MHz and enjoying a quiet spot. Myself and quite a few others chasers called it a day rather than struggle with the horrific noise, and chasers were noticeably thinner on the ground after noon. Please remember that 7.032 is not mandatory for SOTA use. An alternative calling spot 10 KHz down, around 7.020 would solve this problem on 40m.
The last weekend in October is the World-Wide SSB contest when exactly the same conditions will occur on 40m. Let us be prepared to move out of contest QRM.
We appear to have a disgruntled op., who sends “SSB” very slowly on top of SOTA CW activators on 7032 KHz. I can understand the sentiment but he/she sometimes sends it on top of Klaus and Fritz, who always switch to SSB after the CW sked !
SOTA FLICKR GROUP
There are now around 2400 photos on the SOTA Flickr group. The recent
photos from F & DL activators are superb, but the most popular photo is
from Clive M1YAM and is of his injured foot. Photos can be viewed at:
Clive’s foot can be viewed at:
FLICKR PHOTO OF THE MONTH
I don’t think anyone could argue with my choice to get the ball rolling on this topic, It has to be Clive M1YAM’s photo of his colourful foot, accompanied by John GW4BVE’s witty comment.
HILL OF THE MONTH
There is only one candidate for Hill of the Month included in this news edition. It was forwarded by Glyn GM4CFS……
I am submitting an entry for the worst hill or ‘most hard fought 1 point’.
What I had thought would be a pleasant stroll for a 1 pointer was nothing but. Everything started OK with an easy walk up through the forest on a well maintained forest track. However, the next forest track that I was going to take towards the summit, which was shown on the map, had in fact vanished.
After much scratching of heads I realised that the very nice people at the Forestry Commission had replanted the area and obliterated what had previously been a broad track/fire break. No problem, I could almost see the summit from this point so I headed off on the straight line approach, through what first appeared from a distance to be a mixture of grass and some bracken. Having cleared the tree line I was confronted with head high bracken and the ground strewn with the debris of previous tree felling.
Much cursing and pain later, I appeared on top of the hill to find the whole area boggy, infested with flies and mossies and the most uninspiring views in all directions. I have had easier and more enjoyable walks up 6 - 10 pointers.
Maybe we should consider comfort or pain bonuses for hills like this!!!
Well that’s about it for this, my first attempt of the news, I only had a week to sort it out, hi.
Your feedback, whether good or bad, is very welcome so I can do my best to improve the news for you and include any other topics at your request.