I already have over 14k Sota qsos but can’t remember a spot SSB or CW on 2m. Why?
Last Saturday I wanted to know and took my 4ele (weight with pole 0.8kg) and the 10W transverter (0.2kg) to the summit DM/NS-163. Bernd, DL2DXA was 275km away on his summit. A quick note via WhatsApp and we were at 144,280 in qso.
Why is 2m SSB/CW so unusual for Sota? The widespread Yaesu FT-817 or the Icom 705 invite you to do so.
It wasn’t always this way. In the early days, 2m sota (FM and SSB especially) were staples and the norm with activations on HF rarer. Since there are now more associations the possibilities of intra and intercontinental DX is a big draw. Even when 7Mhz and 5Mhz became popular 2m was still the goto band.
I have had days working German, Polish and French stations on 2m ssb from my local summit G/SP-010 using just 2.5 watts and a 9 element beam. They were back in around 2008, and my guess is that if I tried now on a non contest day, I would struggle to get the 4 required qsos on 2m SSB.
A shame yes, but a consequence of the expansion of the programme. That doesn’t mean that activations aren’t possible, just require more thought and a backup plan. Or maybe an MT sanctioned challenge perhaps?
I would personally like to see an increase in the use of 2m and 70cm SSB (I don’t use CW but throw that in too )
Interestingly, I had my first 2m ssb contact yesterday from GM/SS-211, Sell moor hill. A work colleague had mentioned the contest so I took a scan down the band and caught one qso. I also heard some CW as well on 2m yesterday. It was a weekend of firsts for me, I had my first qso’s on 10m the day before .
My MG was achieved on 2m and 70cm, mostly using SSB. Outside of contest periods, in general there has definitely been a reduction in the level of interest in 2m SSB over the past decade. The number of home stations with 2m SSB capability are fewer, so the number of contacts made is now considerably less than it used to be. However I still carry 2m SSB kit up the hills unless I’m concentrating on HF such as in the S2S events.
I seem to recall my best 2m DX is from GW to DL, but the contact that will forever stick in my mind is that when I was on the Knap of Trowieglen GM/SI-110 back in 2012. I made several contacts courtesy of a tropspheric duct which culminated in a QSO with Don G0RQL at a distance of 887km. As I venture further north in Scotland the use for 2m SSB diminishes, but I hope to be making contacts for many years to come.
Currently I have 471 summits out of 557 summits activated (almost 85%) on 2m SSB. Last deployed on Monmenach GM/ES-028 back in April, but no contacts ensued. Last 2m SSB contacts from Blath Bhalg GM/CS-094 in March. Must try harder.
Good question, I guess it is much to do with flavour of the month.
40 years ago 2m SSB was the rage, then people found they liked arm chair contacts on FM. I am sure the number of 2m SSB home stations has greatly declined and are only active on contest nights.
We did have a Sota CW day a couple of years ago. I carried 857, 2 HB9CV, 213 feeder, power splitter and mast to a Sota hilltop in NW. I worked about 10 CW stations, one S2S and a DL club station at 800km.
It was a lot of effort, I get more satisfaction with a bit of wet string on 17m.
When the RSGB terminated the geographical band plan in th 1970s (can’t remember when exactly) I had the choice of converting my homebrew AM rig to FM or go commercial, and plumped for SSB with a Liner-2 so that I didn’t need to change my antenna. I subsequently worked into most of Western EU both by duct and by sporadic E. My best DX was LZ in KN22, I think I got further than that but one logbook went missing when I moved house. In the 1980s it was often impossible in the evening to find a clear channel on either SSB or FM but 70cm was very quiet - a few years earlier it had been more busy than 2m!
Right now I am better equipped for SSB than FM on 2m, my beams are horizontal but I have a white stick for FM. There is just the trifling problem that I have to climb on a fragile garage roof to lower the beams, as the rotator is stuck with the beam pointing west, and at 82 I don’t relish the job!
Tom, I just knew I would scroll down and see a post from you making that point. But aren’t you being a bit disingenuous? What percentage (roughly) of those 2m SSB/CW QSOs coincided with a 2m contest that you participated in [using contest exchange rules]?
I know your point [because you make it every time this topic comes up] is that: if you want 2m SSB/CW do a SOTA when e.g. a backpackers contest is on. That’s true and that’s great, and I admire your doing that, and if I got my act together I probably could too.
But [and it’s a big BUT] I think the point (or the question) Christoph is making, why isn’t SSB/CW used on all the other days, like when it’s convenient for me to go hillwalking? Chris, I share your frustration, I think there’s something special about those modes on VHF/UHF. Also, I find it a bit unsatisfying to have to piggyback onto a contest where most of those contesters aren’t interested in SOTA.
Maybe I’m just being nostalgic. One of the ways I got good enough for the Morse Test [back in the 90’s] to get my ‘full’ licence was to have 2m CW QRP QSOs – usually portable – with a second-hand FT290 Mk I.
Anyway, to answer Chris’s question, my favoured cause is the abolition of the Morse Test which allowed Class B [VHF and above only] licensees onto the HF bands. Many old-hands like me noted a huge drop off in CW and SSB on 2m after that time.
Conclusion: 2m SSB/CW modes [outside of contests] has joined the club of ‘minority sports’ where you probably have to arrange QSOs by special means other than relying on alerts & self-spots.
BTW: the exception was the SOTA one-day event(s) a few years ago - organised by Tom I think - promoting the use of lesser-used modes.
And one of those was my first CW contact in over 40 years. I’m sure my keying was pretty ropey but it re-ignited a love for CW that I now get a lot of pleasure from, so it wasn’t a wasted trip at all - thanks David!
Not disingenuous at all Andy. The data is the data - and it is true.
Let me flip your question and ask you if SOTA QSOs should only be valued when they occur on a band/mode/time that you wouldn’t normally expect them to succeed?
Let me now answer your question more directly and say that some of them are contest QSOs and some aren’t. The SSB ones probably heavily weighted towards contest QSOs, the CW ones probably slightly in favour of non-contest.
But who cares? They are ALL SOTA activator QSOs and SOTA is always my priority when playing radio from a hilltop.
If Tuesday nights and Saturday/Sunday afternoons are not convenient for you Andy, then all you have to do is choose when IS convenient, post an alert, and a topic on the Reflector to drum up interest. As you mentioned, I’ve done this many times for all sorts of things - 2m CW, SSTV, Datamodes, MS etc.
No one doubts the data is true. It was disingenuous because you just put the data up without explaining the circumstance so many readers might think Chris didn’t have a valid point, whereas as you now say the majority of them - I suspect a large majority - were contest QSOs with you on a SOTA summit. As I said before, there’s nothing wrong with that [in fact it’s great], but your original post, unexplained, was misleading.
No. It would be ridiculous to think that, and I don’t know why you would even pose the question. It’s a red herring.
Chris and I and probably others care that 2m SSB/CW has largely become a contest only thing (which is great for contesters, no problem) rather than a general SOTA thing as it was 20 years ago.
Evenings and weekends are rarely convenient for me. My personal circumstances mean I activate weekday mornings and early afternoons.
I have many times taking my FT817 and 3-el Yagi on local SOTA summits to do 2m CW, SSB and FM [usually in that order], alerting and self-spotting, and rarely got a CW reply and hardly more SSB ones.
Searching the reflector I’m reminded I did participate once in the 2m Backpackers contest in 2021. I had some luck (from G/LD-050). But if I ever got the chance to do it again on a Sunday, I would probably activate from a G/SP summit to be in range of more participants.
To be fair, the G/SP summits are not really condusive to VHF contesting. They tend to have plataeu summits. Obviously a few exceptions such as G/SP-015 and G/SP-017 can be good (as well as easy to carry gear up). For the North-West UK I would say that GW/NW-042, GW/NW-043, GW/NW-044 or GW/NW-051 seem do the best.
This is not to say you wouldn’t do better from an SP summit than G/LD-050. If you do decide to do another one check the multiplier status. If postcodes are a multiplier then stay away from North Wales (or at least the western part). I once did a backpackers from GW/NW-014 many moons ago and every postcode seemed to be LL so my multiplier count was 1
Nostalgia is a dangerous thing. 20 years ago there were 29 activators using 2m SSB in the UK, and 169 activations that included 2m SSB. Of these, only 7 activators recorded 5 or more 2m SSB activations in the year.
20 years ago there were 24 chasers active on 2m SSB in the UK, with 293 chaser QSOs recorded. Of these, only 5 chasers recorded 5 or more 2m SSB QSOs.
This year so far, there has been 49 activators in the UK using 2m SSB, though only 116 activations between them. (My contest-combined activations accounted for only 7 of these BTW). Like in 2003, 7 activators were “regulars” with 5 or more activations on 2m SSB.
This year so far, 59 chasers have recorded SOTA chases on 2m SSB, a total of 168 chaser QSOs. 7 of them did so on 5 or more occasions.
So there’s the hard facts. The number of people participating in SOTA on 2m SSB has actually risen over that 20 year period by a whopping 123%, but the actual amount of activity has diminished by around 38%. Then you bear in mind that we’re only 2/3 of the way through 2023, which suggests that QSO numbers could actually be very similar to 2003 by year’s end. 2m SSB is not a “general SOTA thing” now, nor was it in 2003.
Because I don’t know why you you want to disregard thousands of 2m SSB SOTA activator QSOs because I thought it would be a good idea to activate on that band/mode at times when there was lots of activity across the UK and Europe!
Alerting and self-spotting alone doesn’t cut it when you’re planning something relatively unusual (ie not 40m/20m CW/SSB or 2m FM). You need to get a Reflector discussion going to drum up interest and get enthusiastic people involved. I’m happy to “put my money where my mouth is” on this and set up a SOTA 2m SSB activity session, on a weekday morning - simply as a “proof of concept”.