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Your first SOTA activation


My first attempted SOTA activation was of G/TW-001, Urra Moor, Round Hill, in August 2014.

  • I wasn’t able to speak to anyone with SOTA experience before the activation;
  • I went with a friend, and both wives;
  • I was looking forward to a nice walk on the moors, but my friend drove us to within 20 metres of the trig point;
  • I had charged my battery before the event, but one of the cells failed during transmit. Luckily I could borrow my mates battery;
  • I didn’t know anything about alerting or spotting, so I didn’t do either;
  • I was using CW and calling on 40, 30 & 20 metres, but didn’t get any contacts.

I learnt an awful lot on that day, but didn’t do another activation until a year later.

I have carried out many activations since them, all successful apart from one, where a combination of unfortunate circumstances led to a failed activation.

What some may call failures, are really learning opportunities.



Hope you didn’t get stumped on how to setup the “shack” :grinning:


You have two?:wink:


One’s enough :grinning:


This was my first SOTA excursion, Rennfeld OE/ST-205, summer 2015:

It was a SOTA Wanderung organised by the CW Schule Graz. I made my first CW QSO with OE6GUG (Günter), although I did not log the QSOs on the database. My first real SOTA activation was again with the CW Schule Graz on Fürstenstand OE/ST-299:

This was in autumn of 2015, I went last and we were all freezing by the time I had finished, although you don’t see me activating in the photo. From left to right are Bernd OE6DOE, Gerhard OE6RDD (who organises the event every year), Joseph OE6LKG and Thomas OE6TPF. The first of many ejoyable activations.
de S5/OE6FEG/P
P.S. hopefully QRV tomorrow since the weather doesn’t look great for flying. Matt


Here’s my first activation (Aug. 2016). It was a simple 1-pointer really close to town. I had a blast with 24 qso’s in 35 minutes. My equipment has changed quite a bit since then!


What a vibrant background! I guess you enjoyed it a lot, Mike.


Nice topic indeed.
Mine was in June 2017 so a bit more than a year ago.
Some () said think big or not think at all.
So I’ve took 10 points rated pretty active volcano FR/RE-003.
First activation so lot of mistakes to start with taking too much unnecessary gear!
2 HF radios (10 W + 100W), heavy SLAB, small amp, 2 antennas and 10m fishing pole. All more than 10kg to carry on… never again.
I was afraid that it won’t work for me as few days before I struggled a lot to make any contact. Thus thought that it would be a huge failure and I was asking myself why I am doing all that and felt like self punishment when climbing on 2500+ m summit maybe for nothing.
My preferred 20m SSB was dead… and was completely disappointed thinking about my first and probably last activation. Then I moved on15m and after several CQs I got reply from JA!
They put me on the cluster and made few more contacts - all with JA!
SSB with 30W and pretty good reports 10.000 kms away.
I forgot being tired and since then climbing other summits although only on Indian Ocean for time being.

73 Thomas


My first activation was in August 2016. I had my MTR and a small LiPo, so I was fine with the weight, but my fishing pole hadn’t come yet. Therefore I had to pick a wooded summit so I could get my antenna off the ground. The radio part went fine, and I managed to make six contacts on 30 meters. I also discovered that my tuner wouldn’t work on 20 meters.

However, I hadn’t studied the maps enough, and picked a route that was around 11 miles one way. I was very tired and sore when I got back to my car, with a few blisters on my feet.

Since then I’ve done hundreds more summits, and only hiked 20 mile days when I intended to.


My first activation was on 31.07.2012, two weeks after my first SOTA qso with Rado S58R/P on S5/PK-013 and a month after my return into the world of HAM radio (after being absent for some 35 years!). My first summit was very familiar to me, so no surprises expected. Also the equipment was tested 100 % - it was completely the same as used at home. So, operating procedures were my greatest concern, Listened carefully other SOTA activators and after having 19 SOTA activators in my chaser log, I decided to go to the summit. It was Osolnik S5/CP-022, and my equipment was KX3 @4W powered with NiMH batteries and a short mobile whip antenna with 2 elevated radials. Oh, those were the days, band conditions were much better than today. With such power and such antenna I loged 59 QSOs, two of them S2S (with Heinz HB9BCB/P and Kurt HB9AFI).

73, Mirko S52CU


Hello, this is a photo of my first activation on January 9, 2016 using a kenwood TS-480 and a homemade dipole for 20m and 40m. Currently the configuration in my backpack has been changing antennas and transceivers by lowering the weight in my back. I was accompanied by my XYL and my dog, the summit was not difficult to try the first time (EA5 / CS-012). The meteorology was fabulous despite being in January, and I remember a lot of excitement with a tremendous pile- up, situation that was new for me to be on the other side of the activity. In total I got 185 qso operating in the bands of 40m and 20m.
More than two years after the first time, the excitement and illusion continue there every time I take my radio to the mountains.73


Glad you asked Chris… my first activation was on August 4, 2012 when a good friend and i hiked to the summit of Telescope Peak (W6/CD-003) in Death Valley, California. At over 11,000 feet in elevation and a 14 mile round trip, it was a long trek to the top. While the temps in Death Valley soared over 110 degrees F, it hovered around 75-80 the whole way. The only SOTA gear i carried was an old Radio Shack HTX-202 two meter hand held. Sadly, I was only able to logt 3 QSOs for the activation. No points. No worries. I went back the following year after refining my technique and got the points. Surprisingly my close friend stayed home.! Telescope%20Peak%20371|666x499
de Mike NS1TA (ex W6AH)


My first activation was one of my local “playground” hills, Grey Hill GM/SS-256 on 26th Nov 2006.
Only 6 contacts on 2m handheld with a quarter wave whip on a pole.
Furthest contact that day was M0PEG in Maryport 104km.

Weather was very misty to start

but soon cleared up.

Ailsa Craig GM/SS-246 in the background.

73 Neil


Wow, Brocken spectre!



12 November 2005… I’d been aware of SOTA for a couple of years, finally decided to give it a go… nipped up my local summit, G/CE-002 Walton Hill with my FT290, using it’s telescopic antenna and a 7Ah SLAB… Had such a blast I followed up by driving straight to G/WB-009 to do another! Activation rate increased pretty well exponentially from there until curtailed by increasing distances to unique summits :-s

I’ve learned a lot since then but the thrill of doing a new Unique activation is as strong as ever.

73 de Paul G4MD


Having been a SOTA chaser since June 2010 I had it in my mind to become an activator at some stage. My son and his family were living in Buchs, a small village near Zurich Switzerland and I thought it would be a great idea to activate a summit while my xyl and I were visiting the family. I can’t remember how I contacted Juerg HB9BAB but he kindly invited me to join him on a visit to HB/ZH-015 Altberg his regularly visited and nearby SOTA summit. It just so happened that Juerg lived only a few kilometres from where my son lived. On 2 December 2010 I met Juerg as planned and we walked up to the summit along the paths through the snow until we reached the 30 metres high observation tower on the summit. We both carefully climbed the steps and Juerg took out his transceiver not much bigger than a tobacco tin, elecraft tuner and electronic keyer. He threw a wire antenna off the side of the tower and a counterpoise along the top. We first set up on 7-cw and to my delight and amazement the first two stations worked were Roy G4SSH and Kevin G0NUP both fellow members of the Scarborough Special Events Group. On recently checking the log I saw that I had also worked Phil G4OBK another member of the group! After the activation we had a meal in the local hostelry at the summit and then walked back to Juerg’s home where we had some home made delicious apple strudel kindly supplied by his xyl Ann-Leise. It was certainly a great life changing day and from that moment on I was hooked on being a SOTA activator!

Altberg Tower

Juerg HB9BAB/P setting up his equipment.

HB9/G4OOE/P first qso with G4SSH on HB/ZH-015

A very special activation and thanks to Juerg and all the chasers.



I had the 817 and SB270, though the wind at the summit decided against that. Could I qualify this with a handheld?

73 Chris M0RSF


It’s a nice wee hill. I just scraped 4 on there once with a handheld. It was a warm Summer day when I did it but still grey. Instead of wind I had showers that started just as I got to the trig. Holding an umbrella, handheld and trying to log was “fun”. As with all damp activations, the showers stopped once back at the car :frowning:



A lovely hill. I activated Sharp Haw day before yesterday, on Saturday. Lovely walk up from Flasby but cold breeze on the summit. So I sat in sunshine in the lee of the summit and activated on HF. Only 6 contacts.


Hello Colwyn,

I must have just missed you. I activated Sharp Haw on Saturday morning.

73 Chris M0RSF