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Vehicle usage - where is the limit?


#1

The question about QSO with activation team member triggered me to analyze SOTA General Rules again (perhaps that is a good side-effect, to refresh them…)

One element says about motorized vehicle (3.7.1.3)

Operations must not be in, or in the close vicinity of , a motor vehicle. No part of the station may be connected in any way with the motor vehicle.

The element drawing my attention is the “close vicinity”. I sometimes drive up the peak, and there is no way to stop a vehicle legally on the way, while on the peak there is a car parking. This is ok for parking the car, but how does this correspond to operating acc. to 3.7.1.3? Is this ok if I for whatever reason ascend a summit and I am near the car as this is what the topography and local rules dictate?

Also, sometimes when doing business travels, I take a chance to activate a nearby summit when on my way back to the airport, but since I am with my luggage inside, I would rather not lose my rental car from my eyesight.

Does the second sentence as quoted above precise the previous one clarifying its meaning to not using the car for the activation operations on the air?

I saw Andy’s (MM0FMF) comment to another motorized-vehicle situation in another thread:

Rig not powered from vehicle.
Antenna not supported from vehicle.
Operator not sat on/in the vehicle.
Operator not using vehicle to shelter from WX. (sun/wind/rain/cold etc.)

Does this fully explain the intent of the clause 3.7.1.3?

I would like to also share this with SOTA-SP group after receiving a clarification, as I think many of us use the car and it would be good to have a clear distinction what is still accepted and what is not under any circumstances .

Thanks. If this thread is a duplicate, please let me know. I swear I saw some discussions in the past but I cannot find them to clearly define answers for the above


#2

Easy way to look at it in my opinion. Doesn’t matter if the car is 5 meters , 500 meters or 5 kms away, Just treat your set up as if its not there and you will be right.

73

John VK6NU


#3

This rule is deliberately left a little vague, parly because of the situation that you describe with legal parking only at the summit, but also because of the program being committed to inclusiveness. An aged or disabled driver is expected to leave the car in accordance with Andy’s comments that you quote, but it is left to that driver to decide how far to move taking account of his/her condition. We would expect a fit person to set up in the AZ well away from the car, a less fit person will decide how far to move in accordance with the spirit of the program. In rare cases the only access might be the car park, in which case it is reasonable for the rule to only apply to the activator’s vehicle.


#4

I think this rule might need some reconsideration as the growth of SOTA continues. Why couldn’t a vehicle be used as shelter during a storm by having the coax cable run into the window to the radio sitting on your lap. There are no physical or electrical connections to the vehicle at all. In a storm this would be safer than trying to shelter under a tarp or Bothy bag. Also, how about the almost totally handicapped ham that could still operate 2 meters or 440 with a handheld radio but is seriously limited to mobility. Why should a person with those limitations be restricted from operating SOTA just because he/she cannot safely or easily get out of a vehicle? Something to think about as this program grows and I’ve had handicapped people say they cannot participate in SOTA because of this rule.

Gary A. - W0MNA


#5

Gary is a Giant in the SOTA world, and I do not dismiss his concerns lightly. But if it is not safe to operate outdoor, shouldn’t prudence suggest that you should abandon your SOTA activation? Go do a POTA activation that day.

Won’t this “almost totally handicapped ham” need a specialty vehicle to transport themselves solo? Probably. Deploy a motorized wheelchair mere feet from a van (with antennas attached for all I care), and operate to their hearts content. Or travel with an assistant.

Do they live in their car? Probably not. Their travel distance from the car to an acceptable operating position is almost certainly shorter than their travel distance from their home interior to their car.

Keep the rule vague and make the effort YOU are able to. A specific one size fits all rule will never work for EVERYONE. Don’t change a thing, and accept the solutions employed by genuine edge cases.

Glenn AB3TQ


#6

Because it would no longer be SOTA!

Wouldn’t some people reason that if you can do it in bad weather, why not do it in good weather? Oh, and whilst we are in the car, why not save the batteries by powering it from the car? Hey, there’s a perfectly good antenna on the roof, why bother with assembling the pole? We have a saying, “give them an inch and they will take a mile!”

I would say that if he can get into the car, it should be possible to get out. In accordance with our policy of inclusivity he would not need to go far. In fact some years ago the MT decided that they would permit the use of a mobility scooter to those who needed one.

That is the MT thinking.


#7

Because being sat in you car is MOST DEFINITELY in a vehicle.

"Operations must not be in, or in the close vicinity of , a motor vehicle

What about close vicinty? Well Ron VK3AFW suggested very sensible test. Set up your SOTA station and start operating. If someone drove the car away whilst you were operating and it did not affect your station one iota, then you are perfectly within the rules.


#8

Did one last week using this rationale. However, I must admit… there was one thing I would have missed if the vehicle drove away… my ability to shout for a cuppa from Sue who was in the van :joy: :joy: :joy: :joy: :joy: :joy: :joy: :joy:


#9

This rule is deliberately left a little vague, parly because of the situation that you describe with legal parking only at the summit, but also because of the program being committed to inclusiveness. An aged or disabled driver is expected to leave the car in accordance with Andy’s comments that you quote, but it is left to that driver to decide how far to move taking account of his/her condition. We would expect a fit person to set up in the AZ well away from the car, a less fit person will decide how far to move in accordance with the spirit of the program. In rare cases the only access might be the car park, in which case it is reasonable for the rule to only apply to the activator’s vehicle.

What about close vicinty? Well Ron VK3AFW suggested very sensible test. Set up your SOTA station and start operating. If someone drove the car away whilst you were operating and it did not affect your station one iota, then you are perfectly within the rules.

Thanks, those two especially clarify 100% to me and I will share them on Polish SOTA forum, so that we can concentrate on the fun of SOTA operations instead of forum “fights”… :slight_smile:


#10

I disagree that sitting in a vehicle is no longer SOTA. SOTA is about getting to a summit, setting up to operate and making contacts. The vehicle is simply a tool to protect you from a quick moving storm that comes up while on a summit, i.e. keeping you safe. A few years ago we took a handicapped ham to a summit and it took four of us to get him where he could operate. The vehicle was in the AZ but following the rules we didn’t leave him in it. He really enjoyed it but has since had another stroke but can still do CW and voice. I would not want to try getting him up on that drive-up summit again by myself. You’re putting to much emphasis on the vehicle. Why should it matter if the person is sitting in a vehicle as long as he keeps his operation legal per the rules? A mobility scooter was out of the question as it would not travel over the ground where he needed to go. Not trying to argue, just pointing out that a vehicle is nothing but a safe place to operate for some people as long as they keep it legal, and not use the antenna or vehicle battery. This ham I’m describing has not been on a summit since that last time three years ago. We never operate that way but it’s something that does limit some handicapped people from doing the activator part of the program.


#11

Because not being in a vehicle is one of the rules, so that cannot be legal.

Can this disabled ham sit in a camp chair next to the car? That would be sufficient to meet the rules.

wunder


#12

The point Brian G8ADD made was that we draw the line somewhere. In this case, we choose to be much more on the side of the inclusive (we make the rule vague), but we argue that there should be a limit. Setting a rule where you can operate from a car is viewed as a step too far as perfectly able people would start operating from the top of summits in cars, which is not the intent of the rule, nor the intent of opening it up to allow less able hams the opportunity to SOTA.

As Walt hints at in his reply, the amount of hams that are able to operate in general, but not able to operate from a camp chair next to a car, is relatively small. That may change in the future as the ham population ages, which is why we continually review the rules to make sure they continue to make sense. But right now, the limit seems (to me at least) sane and reasonable, without being overly restrictive.


#13

Aside from the rules, please have lots of :+1: from me for doing that for him.


#14

I don’t disagree with any of the comments and understand the rule for no operating from a vehicle. Just trying to figure out a better way this SOTA program is usable to as many hams as possible giving that the majority of us are aging. I’d hate to give up chasing or activating just because I could no longer get in or out of a vehicle without relying on others. Just because a person becomes handicapped shouldn’t mean they have to give up on a lifelong hobby. Guess you’d have to have worked with a seriously handicapped person to fully understand the comments I’ve made. Good conversation overall and good comments.


#15

It matters because of what SOTA is. SOTA was intended from its very beginning to be a blend of ham radio and something best described as hill craft or mountain craft. It was not devised as just a matter of getting to a high place by whatever means offer themselves, it was intended to offer a sense of adventure, of physical achievement.

Hams will age, and they may develop disabilities. This is something I myself am painfully aware of, after a life of mountaineering and climbing I find that at 76 years of age I am no longer fit enough to romp up the higher and steeper summits that once gave me so much pleasure, I have to limit myself to toiling up the easier routes and the intermediate or lower summits where sometimes I can look with affection at the giants that were once my playground. This does not awaken in me a desire to dilute the ethos of SOTA. The mountains remain, the challenge remains for those with a thirst and ability to meet that challenge.

Let us be clear, there are actually precious few drive-on summits, or summits served by mountain railways, cable cars etc. These few summits are devoid of adventure, or physical achievement, or the need for hill craft, but they allow the physically disadvantaged ham a taste of what the rest of the activating SOTA participants experience by the sweat of their brows, so they remain in the program - something which is itself questioned from time to time by fit purists, but they will remain in the spirit of inclusiveness. The nature of disability is that it may unfortunately eventually exclude the sufferer from even the easiest of summits. This is regrettable but it is the nature of life. Eventually - I hope in many years time - my involvement in SOTA will be limited to chasing and looking at photographs. I will still remember the hill craft that was gained on so many expeditions, and the pleasure that it gave me to exercise that hill craft - you can take me out of the mountains but you cannot take the mountains out of me - and I will not want to drag SOTA down to a physical level that suits me, it is what it is.


#16

SOTA is about getting to a summit, setting up to operate and making contacts. The vehicle is simply a tool to protect you from a quick moving storm that comes up while on a summit, i.e. keeping you safe.

How about - when a sudden WX problem occurs, I assume the rules do not forbid to use it as a temporary shelter, and continue operations after the weather smooths down. If I understood the intent of the rule correctly as described above - it says only about activation operation itself which cannot be using the vehicle aid either as a shelter or as a gear support.


#17

I’m very impressed with the accessibility of the SOTA program, especially for handicapped participants.

It is much better than the advancement policies for the Boy Scouts of America. I’m a former Scoutmaster, on our local advancement committee, and have a developmentally disabled son. Some advancement requirements are carefully worded, like “demonstrate that you know” a knot, which could be a Scout with limited manual dexterity talking another Scout through tying the knot. But replacing requirements with appropriate equivalents has too high a bar. The Scout must make every effort before a replacement is allowed.

The SOTA rules are simple, clear, and allow lots of flexibility. No sport, game, or program can be accessible to every single person, but SOTA is better than most.

wunder


#18

I agree the rules here are pretty clear…

So not from the vehicle and if not very far from - then you can always come back for shelter but then you stop activation for that time period.

Well these rules are of course stated as it is and it is up to us to apply them. There is no one that will check the actual conditions but we have to decide if we want play that game according to the rules…or not.

There are different levels of difficulty of the summits mainly based on ASL altitude so everybody can choose the summit being accessible according to all elements taken into account like health conditions and so on.

Idea is to carry on all gear and work portable from batteries/solar so most of the time QRP
it can be as light as under 1 kg or as heavy as more that 10 kg… depending the distance to walk and your physical condition. WX is always something to consider when climbing higher mountains.

Usually you are getting to some point by motor vehicle then you walk… it can be 500m or 10km.

How about getting to Mt Everest by helicopter and climbing last 100 m ?
Possibly could be acceptable, but I would not feel comfortable with myself claiming I activated Mt Everest.

73 Thomas


#19

When the rules were being drawn up I did discuss them with a disability campaigning organisation in the UK. They felt that the scheme was reasonably accessible. Of course that was a long while ago and opinions and expectations do change.


#20

Having working in education full-time until recently, and still doing some work in schools, I am confident that SOTA ticks all the inclusion boxes - and then some.

BTW, I’d say climbing the final 100m to Everest would be well worthy of scoring a 10 point activation. The vast majority of helicopters can’t get anywhere near 8700m ASL though…