20m Conditions?

I’ve tried a few ‘chasing’ sessions from my garden over the summer but I am finding it very difficult to hear activators on my available bands of 40/30/20m.

Is 20m working well enough to qualify an activation these days? I am hoping to start up with SOTA activating again next week; I have been busy with vehicle shows over the summer, so I haven’t done any activations since May! 20m and 30m are my favourite bands but the radio that I would like to use is 20m only, so I’m hoping that 20m CW will produce at least 4 QSO’s. Anybody care to comment?

Those that have seen my QSL card will know that I helped my step dad to restore a 1955 Albion Claymore back in 1996, making it exactly 21 years since the lorry was returned to the road. To celebrate the lorry’s 21st ‘re-birthday’, I requested to drive the vehicle on this year’s HCVS Trans Pennine Run from Manchester to Harrogate. It was a very special day for me, it’s not everyday a guy like me gets to drive a 62 year old lorry!

We’ve also been showing our 1989 Volkswagen Polo at classic car shows over the summer, but now ‘Herbie’ has gone into winter hibernation.

You see, not only do I feel nostaligic about those wonderful SOTA activations with QRP (QRPp even!) working the world, but I also think that the older cars and lorries were better too!

Normal SOTA service should resume soon :slight_smile:

73, Colin


With yet another coronal mass ejection recently, I don’t think anyone would dare to forecast anything other than unpredictability. 20m may well provide enough contacts in europe but is very dicey down under. the lower bands are generally a better bet. There are often exceptions but they cannot be relied upon. Frequency and band agility are essential in these conditions.

73 Andrew VK1DA VK2UH

PS. Great pics of the lorry and the Polo. Update: didnt realise one was a video clip, until reading the next comment. I plugged in my earbuds to play it with better sound and heard a lot of very low frequency burble in the sound track of your video. Very impressive. Also when you changed from warp drive down to sub light speed, the engine sounds were very authentic. :slight_smile:

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Colin your picture of the Albion brings back memories. As a VERY young lad I used to accompany my Dad in his BRS’s (British Road Services) Albion running out of Glasgow in the summer to Oban and Lochgilphead (not in the winter in the case of Lochgilphead as it was over the REST AND BE THANKFUL - using the old military road with it’s hairpin bends (the new road had not been built yet) and it was frequently closed due to snow. Having said that he used to ‘chain-up’ to get over. A different breed of HGV driver in those days along with securing the tarps holding down the loads. Though I don’t think my Dad would thank you for the hacks he had on his hands due to salty ropes when securing fish loads)

I think my Mum has a picture of me sitting inside the cab on top of the engine cowling. I’ll see if I can dig it out and give you a shock :slight_smile:



PS: Well done on the double de-clutching, looked nice and smooth

Hi Colin,
I echo what Andrew 1DA said - 20m is inconsistant at the moment. For a quick activation on the HF bands 40 metres remains the best choice I believe.
I was out early for the long path yesterday and while I heard a Japanese and two Australian stations, they didn’t hear me - I expect the stations were running big antenna systems and full power and my measly 20 watts and a dipole wasn’t getting there. Even when there was a determined Australian SOTA chaser in the form of John 6NU heading to his local super station, he couldn’t hear me either. Now I was on SSB. A contact “might” have been possible on CW or FT-8 I don’t know. What I do know is that the contacts I did make on 20m around Europe were difficult due to really deep QSB.

That Lorry looks great - there’s obviously been a lot of effort and care put into its restoration - well done.

73 Ed DD5LP.

Hi Colin
i have been using 20 m on all my activations lately and i have never had any problem making 4 QSOs (CW , 5 watts with an EFHW or vertical doublet). But as others said, propagation is varying strongly and i do not know how 20 m works in the UK, i have had contacts with the UK on 20 m quite often.
vy 73 s Bruno HB9CBR

I read a couple of the other threads after I posted and poor conditions on 20m seem to be the trend at the moment. At least my chasing results seem to be consistent with other’s.

I was trimming a 20m/30m crossed fan dipole yesterday in my local park and I could just about hear SQ6GIT/P on 20m but the signal was extremely low. EA5FV was very loud with me when he was chasing SQ6GIT/P though, so some signals are getting through.

It looks as though I’ll be packing the FT60 and 19" whip next weekend then!

Andrew @VK1DA , yes, the engine in the Albion is a noisy beast! There’s only a thin bit of metal loosely clipped to an angle frame to separate you from the noise. We had a sound deadening bonnet cover made but it’s still pretty noisy in the cab. The engine is actually quite small in old lorry terms, it’s a four cylinder Leyland derived unit with 234 cubic inch (3.83L) displacement.

Jack @GM4COX , Yes, please do look for the picture, I’d be interested to see it. I have ridden in the Albion on the ‘bonnet’, the exhaust manifold is quite close to the panel, it gets a bit toasty on your rear when going up over Shap! :laughing: I’d like to drive the lorry some more and really get to grips with it, I’ve only driven it a few times.

I feel that it won’t be long until these old vehicles disappear from view. My generation isn’t really interested in these prehistoric contraptions, and the interested generations are dropping off the edge. We take so much for granted with modern vehicles, it’s difficult to imagine what it was like only a handful of decades ago. The Albion doesn’t have a heater or power steering, although it does have vacuum assisted brakes. Because this Albion is only a small one, it was restricted to 30mph, rather than the 20mph of bigger lorries, can you imagine doing a long distance journey at 20 or even 30mph all the way? LOL

Ed @DD5LP OK on 40m, just lately all the bands have been rubbish each time I’ve listened at home. I think I’ll use 2FM for a back up this time and then think about 40m for next time.

Bruno @HB9CBR Thanks for that, I’ll have about 3 watts from the K1SWL Hilltop 20 and a dipole.


Yesterday on Great Orme it was like pulling teeth. Today on Moel Ysgyfarnogod it was like shelling peas. YMMV.

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I’ve only done a little listening today, but it seems to be pulling the fast and deep QSB trick quite a bit, which is pretty frustrating. One moment there, gone the next, takes an age to come back (if it does at all)…

I activated G/LD-008 Blencathra today between around 10am and 12pm BST.
My buck-converter didn’t work from the off today so I was stuck with the FT-817 on either 5 watts or 2.5 watts, but I did manage around 10 contacts on 20m and a handful on 40m.
Conditions were variable but it was much better than I hoped for. Getting a spot up is probably the deciding factor however in a number of cases.

Thanks for the information Mark.

I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to make a few CW QSOs on 20m. Just looked at Google maps and was a bit surprised to see that it’s 99 miles to Wasdale Head from home! It will be a long day out next Saturday but I’m determined to activate Scafell Pike this year.

73, Colin

From a peripheric european country and in my current QTH with an endfed antenna in the balcony as you can see in this pic:

I haven’t been able to copy most of the activators spotted on SOTAWATCH lately on 40, 30 and 20m.
Some can be copied for a short time but the QSB makes them vanish.
Sometimes, the signals are so little that they rest uncopiable below the sometimes too high urban noise produced by chargers, LED lamps and so many other things.
I couldn’t chase anything today and just 2 from Norway on 20m the day before (long skip).

I chased very well and easily an activator from Germany on 15m the other day and after CQing on 15m today at 11h utc on QRP 5w, several european skimmers in GW, HB and DL spotted me on RBN with pretty good signals for my QRP 5w on a balcony wire antenna.

I’d like to propose you 15m as a good band to try.

I also managed to copy some of the 10m CW beacons at about 11h utc.

It looks like the higher bands are not dead yet.



Hi Guru,

Thank you for the information. I have never really been a very active ham, I got my licence in July 1997 - 20 years ago - and in all that time I haven’t had a shack. At first I lived with my parents and they weren’t keen on antennas. In 2004 I moved into my own home and around the same time I met Fiona, whom I married in 2007. Our first home had a great garden, but ham radio was well down the priority list at that stage.

The house we moved to, and currently live in, does not have a garden directly connected, instead I rent a small plot from the local farmer, which is a small corner of his field. The distance from my house is about 50 metres, so not too far away.

For the past few years, I’ve enjoyed setting up my SOTA equipment in the garden and chasing SOTA activactors, but this year I’m finding it very hard to work anybody at all. I can just about squeeze in a 40m dipole as long as I use a 10m fishing pole in the centre of the garden. The vee angle is far too acute really but it does seem to work to some degree. The garden is blocked by a hill to the south and buildings to the north, take off both east and west are not great either.

In past years I have been able to work the EU activators on HF CW, but this year it’s very rare that I hear anybody. By far, my easiest association to work is HB9. The main problem is local noise, I realised exactly how bad it actually is when I was testing my new antenna in the local park. The noise level in the park was amazingly low, just like it is on a hill.

Based on your suggestion, I’ll take my 5 band dipole and MTR for back up next weekend I think, I guess that for the fuel and time that I’m going to invest, I really ought to give it I all have to qualify for the Activator points!

Vy 73, Colin


Yes it’s a long way round! I think that drive along Wasdale is one of my favourite Lake District views though good luck with the activation (hope to work you).

Welcome to Cumbria. I often put a destination in SatNav that might only be 20 miles away but that takes me an hour to get there!
One of my passwords had Blencathra in it and when that expired after 6 weeks I thought it about time I actually got myself up there yesterday.
Legs are sore today! It was a nice morning in the Lakes today but the weather turned at lunchtime and we’re in the drizzle now. Checked the alerts this morning and all the SOTA activators clearly thought better of it!

I think I’m around next weekend so I’ll listen out for you - if the weather is good I may get out myself YL willing!

Yes, It was much easier to get to Wasdale Head when we were holidaying near St Bees! I suppose I’m lucky to have the Yorkshire Dales just about 20 miles away and the Lake District just beyond, only a couple of hours from my house.

My parents live near to Hadrian’s Wall, North East of Carlisle, if life wasn’t so busy, it would be a great base to mount some Scottish Borders and Northern Lake District activations.

The weather forecasts change so much, it’s pretty much a waste of time even looking at them! This is the current forecast for Saturday - not sonly inspiring! -


I recommend The Mountain Weather Information Service for the best info, both in terms of reliability and also usefulness - the standard forecast can look spot on only to find that the cloudbase is at 500m and your summit is at 750m - so you’d be finding your way to the top and back again in the cloud, and get wet regardless of whether the forecast is rain!

Cheers, Mark. M0NOM

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