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WFF experiment


#1

I had some time to spare today in between dropping and collecting Liam at his youth club. I thought I would find out what happens if you call “WFF” from a summit and see what all the fuss was about. First job was to look up the WFF reference for The Cloud G/SP-015. It didn’t have one - and I couldn’t see one for Staffordshire Moorlands for Gun G/SP-013. But Shining Tor G/SP-004 did, as part of the Peak District GFF-014, and as there was ample time available, I took the longer (and very pleasant) drive up to there from Congleton. Before leaving home, I also informed Charles M0OXO, the G WFF Manager, as recommended by the WFF website. I later found out that Gun is just inside the south-western boundary of the Peak National Park, so could qualify for WFF GFF-014 also.

I pulled in at the usual parking spot a little down the road from the Cat & Fiddle pub, and commenced the familiar walk to Shining Tor summit, which I enjoyed nonetheless. Upon arrival at summit, I noticed that I had packed the wrong SOTA pole - one without the top three thinner sections! These are necessary for the MM20 (“Magic Moggy” - vertical with groundplane) antenna, as the driven element extends from the lowest section of pole right to the top. I spent some time trying to work out a way around this.

After considering ways of taping the base of my pole to near the top of a wooden footpath sign, or attempting to balance it atop a drystone wall with (effectively) a very low guying point, a mental reality check hit me in the nick of time! The vertical element would just have to hang slackly and loosely down the pole and allow the wind to blow it around. I got rid of some of the excess slack by fixing a very low guying point on the pole. The three groundplane radials are the guys, but the whole system remained upstanding on the summit for the two and a half hours I was there.

SWR was fine, and DL6KVA came straight back to my first call on 14.012MHz CW, with 599 reports both ways. Then it was another SOTA chaser, HA7UG. I had alerted for 14.013MHz, so I guess these two must have been checking for me - many thanks. I was calling CQ CQ SOTA es WFF, M1EYP/P, SOTA G/SP-004 es WFF GFF-014. By the third contact, six minutes into the operation, I had a gigantic pile-up, so big and unruly that it slowed my QSO rate right down!

I like stations to call just once - I can work down a pile-up so much quicker that way. But many on frequency were not prepared to call once or even twice. Some were sending their call seven or eight times before dropping key to find out if they’ve been called in. Furthermore, some of the worst culprits also seemed to have really bad, dirty tones, so that their dahs and dits could not be separated from each other!

While it is always tempting to allow a bad operator to the front of the queue just to get them off the frequency, I am too stubborn for that, so some stations were kept waiting a long time, despite the disruptive effect they were having on my frequency. As the afternoon wore on, the general operating from the WFF chasers improved, and so it seems it was wise to be stubborn!

I was also astonished, and a little disappointed at the amount of times I responded with a clear partial - like “SP?”, “SP8?” - and some other station with a call that could in no way be confused with the partial I requested persisted in repeating his callsign. Again, I refused to budge - even though in some cases it was taking 3 minutes to complete a rubber stamp QSO through the QRM - and eventually I was rewarded with more considerate operating on my QRG.

I had started on 14.012MHz CW, but skipped from there to 14.058MHz, and occasionally onto 14.065MHz and 14.059MHz. Without me sending any self-spots, I tended to be found by SOTA chasers who spotted me, as well as the WFF pack - so many thanks to the SOTA chasers for that. I note I did get spotted four times on the DX Cluster as well. I don’t know if WFF has its own spotting/alerting facility, but I seemed to get thoroughly pounced upon by WFF enthusiasts!

Two radio amateurs spoke to me as they walked across the summit. One even said “Is this one SP-013?”. I corrected him, and he went on to bemoan the fact that Shutlingsloe isn’t a Marilyn. By 1.30pm, I was very cold, in fact I was shivering, and realising that I had to quickly get warmer or get off the hill. Cue the introduction of the bothy bag, which I perhaps should have been using already. I soon got warmed up in this, and importantly so as the afternoon started to turn very cold indeed.

As I packed away at my pre-determined time of 2.30pm (I had to dismantle, descend and drive back to Congleton to collect Liam for 4pm), it was dreadfully cold. A large group of students were comparing notes on the summit. They were backpacking - training for an expedition in Nepal in fact, and still four hours walk from evening camp. It was desperately cold and I didn’t envy them one bit!

I failed to get properly warmed up on the descent and was pleased to reach the car and its heater! Briefly, I pulled in at the Cat & Fiddle car park, thinking of a quick pint, hot mulled wine and bag of pork scratchings, but ultimately decided that I didn’t want to exit the car again so soon! So I was early for collecting Liam in Congleton, and home well before 5pm, in time to hear the final score of Bradford City 0, Macclesfield Town 1 coming through on Canalside Community Radio 102.8, as I was putting the clean laundry away!

On summit, I made 80 QSOs, all on 20m CW, and into 25 DXCCs, the pick of which were USA, Canada and Israel. Many thanks to all the SOTA chasers that worked and/or spotted me. Later in my email inbox was a message with QSO data - but from a station that I hadn’t worked. It was right in the thick of the big pile-up though, so I assume one of those situations where the caller doesn’t really hear you going back with his callsign, and assumes it is him you are responding to!

Regarding the WFF thing - I might call it again sometime - but it can actually reduce the amount of QSOs you get with some of the alligators and poor operators that chase WFF on your QRG. Will I pre-announce a future WFF activation? Maybe. Will I follow the requests on the WFF website to submit a full log, photos, proof, video etc within three months? Not a chance!

Tom M1EYP


#2

In reply to M1EYP:
There was some appalling operating on phone, too. Lutz DL3SBA/P coped with his unfailing skill and good humour whilst a collection of alligators that would have graced any zoo proceeded to call all over every contact, even whilst he was talking to people. There were one or two tune-up merchants and the funny noise brigade from time to time but they caused far less disruption than bona fide amateurs with neither sense or manners.

I think you have the right approach, Tom, ignore the alligators, make them behave to earn their points. After all, by the fourth contact you have achieved your points, by working them you are doing them a favour, it is up to them to earn it!

73

Brian G8ADD


#3

4th contact Brian??? The 1st scores me another activation to the list! Who cares about the 4th when its the third time I’ve been up it this year (and the 32nd in total)?

Still undecided whether adding “WFF” to my calls gets me more contacts or less, ultimately. I’ve not worked out what the global fascination is with it. Studying the website, something doesn’t quite add up!

At least the MM20 antenna is verified as back in full fitness after its recent repair.

Tom M1EYP


#4

In reply to M1EYP:

SWR was fine, and DL6KVA came straight back to my first call on
14.012MHz CW, with 599 reports both ways. Then it was another SOTA
chaser, HA7UG.

On each of my four recent HF activations, Laci HA7UG has been first or second in the log each time. Who needs the cluster when we have Laci :slight_smile:

Without me sending any
self-spots, I tended to be found by SOTA chasers who spotted me, as
well as the WFF pack - so many thanks to the SOTA chasers for that. I
note I did get spotted four times on the DX Cluster as well. I don’t
know if WFF has its own spotting/alerting facility, but I seemed to
get thoroughly pounced upon by WFF enthusiasts!

I’m not aware of any WWF-specific spotting system (other than the DX Cluster) but there are Groups on Yahoo (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/wff44/) and Google (http://groups.google.com/group/euff) where alerts are posted - plus a fairly extensive email alert list.

In general, I agree with your assessment of some operators (my experience is limited to SSB though) where a few are incable of listening to the operator. But sadly that is not a WFF-specific problem, that is a general behavioural thing.

What I can say is that announcing WFF has increased my QSO count, over just calling SOTA. If that means a few WFF people start chasing SOTA then that’s got to be a positive thing?

Andrew


#5

In reply to M1EYP:
The worst are the “tune-up merchants”, maybe I am being paranoid but the quiet often seem to appear a few minutes after you start to work a few station.

I was on OK/VY-011 and tried to call(ssb) Lutz for a S2S … No Chance! The pile up was horrid, I called him about a dozen times (I can only run 10 watts max) and gave up, I wanted to save the battery for the next summit.

The WFF does not seem to be running in the Czech Republic as I can not find any reference numbers for the Czech national parks on their website and I could not find any info on station requirements.

Perhaps one approach would be to just call “SOTA” for the first half of your time then after that go to “WFF”

Darius OK7OK


#6

In reply to OK7OK:

Darius,
I have QSO with OK8FK/P from OK FF 014 at 17/09/2010

Feri


#7

In reply to OK7OK:

The WFF does not seem to be running in the Czech Republic as I can not
find any reference numbers for the Czech national parks on their
website…

Hi Darius,

Download the WFF directory at this link and you will find 34 OK references.

http://www.wff44.com/en/news/show/1379/

Regards, Mike G4BLH


#8

I think that is a fine idea Darius, and if I am going to put ‘WFF’ in my calls again, I will do so after exhausting everything I can get by mentioning SOTA. That might keep the frequency more orderly, and of course give preferential treatment to SOTA chasers over WFF chasers.

I agree entirely with Andrew about the bonus of working Laci HA7UG early into an activation. This guarantees a spot on SOTAwatch, and where appropriate, an appearance on the DX Cluster. You know that if you work Laci, you can sit back, relax, and get on with your operating without even having to think of issuing a self-spot via Spotlite or SMSBOT.

I do tend to agree that the problems discussed are general amateur radio problems. Some of the aspects that are occasional minor irritations in SOTA - like ignoring partials, the wrong station believing he is being worked by the activator, sending of calls many times instead of once or twice. etc - seem to be multiplied dramatically when you go onto 20m, or mention “WFF”!

I did both yesterday, and what a contrast it was from my recent SOTA operating in GI. There I was on 40m CW, and not calling “WFF”. The result was that on 7.032 I could work down a very well behaved pile up and make 42 QSOs in 30 minutes. Will the alligators ever realise that they get worked faster if they operate considerately? Perhaps, by definition, not - they are not listening to what is going on!

Tom M1EYP


#9

In reply to M6ADB:

In general, I agree with your assessment of some operators (my
experience is limited to SSB though) where a few are incapable of
listening to the operator. But sadly that is not a WFF-specific
problem, that is a general behavioural thing.

I had similar problems on 40m ssb yesterday on G/TW-005. After I got found by the pack the result of every qrz call was a wall of noise. There were a few especially obnoxious stations who got studiously ignored.

I operated for a couple of hours and did 64 contacts before the cold started to get to me so I packed up and was ready for the 2 hour drive home just as it started getting dark and foggy again.

Colin G8TMV


#10

In reply to M1EYP:

They are certainly general amateur radio problems, but they are made worse by the nature of SOTA, there seems to be an air of desperation about the alligators, they know that they only have a limited time to make the contact before the activator either has to descend or runs out of battery power. To get their contact within the time available they are prepared to trample on everybody else (including, it seems, the activator himself!)

Perhaps we should put together a “black list” and remove the worst offenders from the database…perhaps any station who is complained about by a certain number of activators. Expunge them and they will have no reason to trample on everybody!

I can’t help thinking that this draconian solution would benefit amateur radio in general - future DXpeditions would thank us!

73

Brian G8ADD


#11

In reply to G8ADD:

Perhaps we should put together a “black list” and remove the
worst offenders from the database…perhaps any station who is
complained about by a certain number of activators. Expunge them and
they will have no reason to trample on everybody!

I’m not convinced that they’d leave us alone… they’d simply blanket QRM the station to stop ANYONE getting the credit.

And responding to such a database is fine when sat in front of the keyboard, but it would then have to be another piece of paper to take on an activation…

73 Andrew
M6ADB


#12

In reply to M6ADB:

I’m not convinced that they’d leave us alone… they’d simply blanket
QRM the station to stop ANYONE getting the credit.

And responding to such a database is fine when sat in front of the
keyboard, but it would then have to be another piece of paper to take
on an activation…

73 Andrew
M6ADB

There would be no need to carry extra paper, Andrew, my suggestion is that after a sufficient number of complaints about operators from activators, the administrators (such as me!) would remove their callsigns from the database and inform them that they were no longer participants in the SOTA program because they were bringing the program into disrepute. Some might join the QRMing nutters, but they would hardly be more disruptive than they are already, and they are more likely to turn their hyper-competitiveness to other programs…or, just barely possibly, reform their ways! :slight_smile:

73

Brian G8ADD


#13

In reply to G8ADD:

my suggestion is
that after a sufficient number of complaints about operators from
activators, the administrators (such as me!) would remove their
callsigns from the database and inform them that they were no longer
participants in the SOTA program.

Maybe a thread on this Reflector suggesting such a banning system (with a suitably eye catching title) and asking for discussion might act as a wake up call for the problem stations.

Colin G8TMV


#14

In reply to M1EYP:

“First job was to look up the WFF reference for The Cloud G/SP-015. It didn’t have one - and neither did Gun G/SP-013.”

Last time I looked Gun Hill was in the Peak Park, in fact my last activation was a joint sota/wff afair.


#15

In reply to G8ADD:

… my suggestion …

OK, now understood.

Andrew


#16

These things sort themselves out Brian. The activators, like the DX stations, will make the decisions about who to work, in what order and who (if anyone) to ignore - or make wait. It is a classic “peer review” situation and does not need MT to intervene further, in my opinion.

The situations are best managed by activators’ own choice of band and mode. I might have had a moan, but in all honesty I knew what I was getting into when I called “WFF” on 20m CW. Easily avoided by using a less popular band/mode - or by calling “CQ 2” on 2m FM from Kisdon G/NP-026 when you need a 4th contact. Then - peace at last!

Tom M1EYP


#17

In reply to G1INK:

Yes, looks like it is - just! Thanks for the heads up Steve.

Tom M1EYP


#18

In reply to G8TMV:

Maybe a thread on this Reflector suggesting such a banning system
(with a suitably eye catching title) and asking for discussion might
act as a wake up call for the problem stations.

Won’t have any effect. The people who do this, who won’t play fair, won’t wait their turn, must win at all costs are at worst psychopaths and at best sociopaths. They don’t give a toss about you and your feelings or views of fairness or cooperation. They don’t empathise with other people’s feelings and don’t believe their actions are in any way wrong. Thus there is no reason for the threat of any generic sanction to be possibly intended at them when they know they have done no wrong in the first place.

Andy
MM0FMF


#19

Hi Tom,

I know what you mean concerning the pile-ups when activatin WFF.

I did Skiddaw and Lake District in august at the same time and sometimes it really gets to your nerves when people keep calling because " they know you " and think they can get away with it. The italians are specialists at that. You have to stay in control or otherwise they will drown you, hihi.

Working by numbers is a solution but even then it is no garantuee but at least it gives the weaker stations a chance to work you.

Remember: You made the effort to do the activation: YOU ARE IN CONTROL !!

A minute of silence does wonders as well. Usually the culprits do not have the patience to wait and QSY to another one they might miss otherwise. :slight_smile:

At present I have come to a point where a few stations are on my black list; this means I will not work them anymore, whatever. One station started swearing at me because I did not come back to him after he called me 3 times. His loss.

73, Peter, ON3WAB


#20

In reply to MM0FMF:

This is probably true, Andy, but I can’t help thinking that after a few prominent offenders have been made an example of, the others might tread a little more carefully!

Tom, I do see your point, but why should the sociopaths be allowed to dictate your operating habits?

73

Brian G8ADD