1st SOTA Expedition a complete failure!

Hi Jody,

Thank you. I am working on a linked 20/40 as we speak.

I was wondering if any other higher frequencies band between 20 and 10m could be useful for sota. Just to know if it’d be worth it to add one more link to the dipole.


You may find 17m and 15m are useful at times. Some of the JA activators use those bands quite successfully.

My 40m linked dipole works on 10m. Has come in useful occassionally.

I have just modified my 40/20m linked dipole to add 30m. I have seen while chasing that there are some days when 20m is not so hot but 30m is working. I have seen where others have tried 15m, 12m, and 10m from time to time, but I have never heard them on those bands whenever I’m chasing. It will be a few years before 15-12-10 will be reliable bands. I guess when that time comes I will add some more links.

I generally put my linked dipole up as an Inverted V, using a Jackite Fiberglass Pole as the center support.

Jody - K3JZD

Hear, hear to that! Exactly my experience. I’m getting up towards 500 activations and I’ve had a few failures along the way (plus some “just scraped 4 contacts”). I use completely different kit to what I started with. Also I use different approaches for different hills. Factors like walk length/difficulty, weather expected (wind or rain most important factors), known ability for VHF chaser coverage, who I am out with (will they wait about, or do I need to make a quick activation).

It’s not just you. I’m pretty new to the whole SOTA thing, especially activations. My first outing I got zero contacts. I chose a remote peak during the middle of the day on a weekday and tried in vain to reach anyone with a 5w 2m HT. Lesson learned.

My second activation attempt I chose a busy holiday weekend but still distant from a major metropolitan area. I got two contacts immediately on the 2m HT, but then called in vain for the next 45 minutes. At least I activated it even if I didn’t get any points myself.

Last night I did an unofficial activation. I took a HF rig and a new portable antenna up to the summit of a peak near my QTH just to see what would happen. I spent an inordinate amount of time messing about with gear but ended up being pretty successful with reaching folks. I took a lot of notes, marked things with colored tape, and will make some adjustments to what I bring next time.

All that said, it has been a fun learning experience. I usually get frustrated pretty easily, but I’ve enjoyed improving each time I’ve gone out.

I suddenly got back into amateur radio earlier this year after around 30 years off the air. It was SOTA that inspired me back into the hobby and it was just before some trips to hilly areas so I needed to get my gear together really quickly. I tried an activation of my local peak with a 2m handheld and an HF magnetic loop antenna. I achieved one QSO on 2m and nothing on the loop. The next trip up England’s highest peak also achieved just one QSO on the handheld. I only had 2 weeks before going to Wales for a 2 week family holiday on which I was determined to activate Snowdon, Wales’s highest peak. So I quickly got a 4m fishing pole and some 300 ohm ribbon cable and made a 2m slim jim. It was a great success! I made about 8 QSOs from Snowdon including 2 S2S. I also did 3 more successful activations in the area. So it took just a little improvement in my kit to achieve my first SOTA success.

Chris, the 40M dipole should work fine on 15M (3L/2).

73, Barry N1EU

Ok, it looks like the consensus is 20/40 and then use those dipoles wirh other bands if really want to, but not necessary.
This is great, I will test everything this weekend, and hopefully I’ll get to chase some activations.
Next week we climb!

I’ll post some pics of the equipment I carry, I am pretty sure I will need some schooling there too :grinning:

Chris, KC1BGK

Sounds familiar :slight_smile:
Went up EA6/MA-040 last year. Antenna needed way more ground so didn’t worked out. Big climb under the burning sun but no QSO’s made. I was sad as well but did a retry with another antenna this year.

Victory! Made 9 QSO’s although the Kp is very high so HF bands where poor.

Moral: keep you heads up and give it another try. Lot’s of tips in this topic that could help. (In fact; I will use some of those as well)

The most valuable suggestion made is to do your first activation (or second) together with an experienced SOTA activator. This will allow you to look, compare and discuss improvements that can be made. In addition you don’t have to worry too much about forgetting essential equipment.

good luck, Hans PB2T


A lot of good suggestions from the other folks. Yeah, my first shot at SOTA was a bust also. I hiked up 1200 feet to the top with my wife and another friend during a cool and windy day. We’re in our 60’s, not 20 year-old olympians. Setting up in the wind, it was great to have some help. I got on 20 M and lo and behold it was one of ARRl’s century competition weekends. The kilowatts were everywhere with the usual 10 second QSOs and my 10 watts didn’t have a chance. After 45 minutes I could see my wife and friend were starting to be concerned about the cold and the long slog down on rocky tall weed soil. I wrapped it up without a single nibble and we got down just after sunset. It was a remote hill and 2m probably wouldn’t have cut it as a backup. Moral of that story - don’t pick a big contest weekend, have your expedition spotted by someone and start earlier.

The same equipment has done the job many times since then with great results(not all SOTA), so it’s not the norm to be on the losing end. And yes, my wife has accompanied me a number of times up some 2 hour climbs on shaky slopes just for the view and photos while I play radio man. We even climbed the wrong hill once (not a SOTA peak after checking when there) and still made contacts and had fun. Take a good lunch and a nice dessert. It goes a long way to smoothing over any trials along the way.

Safe travels,
Den, W7KMV
Tucson, AZ

1 Like

Hello all,
I made it out to the field to test the linked dipoles I built after your wonderful feedback.
I built a 20/40m liked dipole and even though I only had the V apex about 12’ off the ground and at sea level, it worked wonderfully and I was able to make a few phone contacts from New Hampshire to Georgia, Minnesota and Ohio.
So I am confident that on my next expedition I should at least have the potential for some contacts.
What a difference from those hamsticks!!!
Well, I am a newbie after all.

I have built also a 1:1 balun. Nobody mentioned it, so I am not sure if you guys use any, but at least here where I tested it, it seems to help with RFI and keeping it a bit quieter.

If everything goes well I might go out this weekend, I will post an alert this time if I manage the time for an activation, Else I will be chasing some :smile:

My overall carry weight is still high, but I cannot afford to LiFe batteries and lightweight SOTABeam equipment yet, but I have strong legs and It wilk do for now :slight_smile:

Chris, KC1BGK

Perhaps of interest, one of the guys on the ham radio 360 Podcast is trying to build a linked dipole where you don’t need to take the antenna down to change links. The links themselves will have a small microcontroller on them that on command open and close a relay. Communictaions to them is performed via Bluetooth (that the processor in use has built into it).

I’ll be interested to see if the system works with the RF present in the wire and possibly RF voltages depending whether operating on 40m (relay closed) or 20m (relay open).

I guess if this does work, the next option will be frequency sensing in the units so that they switch the relays automatically rather than having to be manually switched from the ground (or perhaps simply have another controller on the ground connected to the rigs cat port to know when the operator changes the band and then it changes the links as needed).

Technology, technology …
73 Ed.

I don’t normally need to take the aerial down to change links.
The 60m/40m /80m (coil insertion) link is only at head height at best.
The 5m fishing pole will bend enough for me to pull down the 20m/40m+ link and reset the clips at full stretch. If the ground is too low at the link point (as is often the case in peat bogs) then I just drop the pole, reset the links and push the pole up again.
However, being able to reset the links without getting up would encourage more frequent band changes - perhaps to seek s2s; the only chasing available with S5+ noise at home :smile:

No unun/balun but but a strain relief loop with a bit of cord to drop over the top of the pole and rest on the dipole T-piece.
God wishes for the next activation.


We’ve all had failures with activations and they aren’t necessarily limited to the first ones!

There’s a fairly active Facebook page called the SOTAjerks that has many relatively local members to your location. It might be a page to keep an eye on and perhaps hook up with a local activator on a summit or two. No sense starting from the beginning when you benefit from other’s experiences.

Many of the suggestions you’ve received are very good. Speaking from experience I certainly agree a 20/40 meter linked dipole is very hard to beat. Set up as an inverted V off a fishing pole it always seems to do the job. Simple too and you can’t beat simple!

Here’s the link to the SOTAjerks FB page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/141887235871029/

Keep at it, there’s lots of good weather left before winter, and then it’s 3 point bonus time!


1 Like


Well you gathered your radio gear and went outdoors to a summit. That is an accomplishment that many hams never ever do in a life time. So that is a milestone for sure.

You have gotten many good responses and suggestions and sounds like you are soon to be back on a summit. Will watch for your post and would love to put you in my log.

After your first time of being chased on a summit you will look back fondly on that first experience and just laugh! Stories to tell the grandkids when you get some of those.

73 John N0EVH