A First Activation, Tough times! G/SP-002 Black Hill

Well, i have been contemplating it for a while… Black Hill, my Local SOTA! Only 20 mins in the car from my house…

Messaged a pal if he fancied it Andy M7BOA, he did so we set off up the hill! Now im pretty unfit and love my pies and beer a bit too much, but i do enjoy a walk! We decided upon setting off from the “isle of skye road” following the pennine way to the summit trig point, and activating from there! (bags me another WAB trig too). anyway, i found it a proper SLOG up that hill, the climb up was relentless! nearly gave up at least once, but, i made it!

Contacts were very slow on the Yaesu FT4XE and Andy Baofeng was deaf, so we need to sort better kit next time… I managed the required 4, just! started with G6WBS/P Shane with a S2S from G/SP-015 the cloud, then a pal of mine came on out of the blue, G8UVC Peter in Oldham many many minutes later another S2S. M0RWX/P Robert on G/NP-005 Ingleborough and finally M1HLL/P stan on Rivington pike!

4 contacts in the bag, and struggling we decided to head back to the vehicles. Great little afternoon out all in, and im bloomin aching now legs will be dead tomorrow! haha

Andy M7BOA By the trig

Fantastic Views

The “trig”

4 in the log, time to go!!

Cheers for the contacts all those I worked, and look forward to the next one!

73 2E0JWA - Alan


Well done!

Secret to getting over the tired legs is to get out and do another one …



hahaha! Dont think i could if i wanted too!

Not put off though, i have plans to do more… :slight_smile:



Cold comfort, I know, but it does get easier!

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Well done! Did you send out an alert and a spot when on the summit? This can make a big difference. I failed on a summit in Sussex partly because I didn’t advertise it.

It might also be worth trying an improved antenna. The Diamond RH770 works well or you could look at using a mast with a flowerpot or Slim Jim. :slight_smile:

Hi Alan,

Many thanks for the S2S yesterday.
As pointed out, alerting and then spotting yourself of the SOTA website (e.g. via SOTA Goat app or other spotting app) will increase your chances of success, but chasers will have to hear you and vice versa.
With a rubber duck, this possibility is greatly reduced versus some other options:

1/ Rubber duck replacement:
e.g. Diamond RH770
Keep the antenna vertical and you will hear many more stations (and they can hear you)

2/ 2m/70cm dipole / Slim Jim

These will require a small fibreglass pole and will allow you to gain some height.

For instance: Caperlan Lakeside-1 travel 600 from decathlon.co.uk

You can then either make a Slim-Jim yourself (https://www.essexham.co.uk/slim-jim) or buy a commercially available one:
e.g. from:

Nelson Antennas Rollup Slim Jim:

N9TAX (Requires an additional piece of coax)

Spectrum Communications: 2m Slim-G
(My preferred option, but bit bulky and awkward in very high winds).

2m Antenna, Spectrum Slim-G, 3/4 wave RX and TX antenna. Made in Dorset UK. | eBay

Whatever you do, enjoy your activations!

73, Robert

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I guess it’s normal for first few activations to be hard work until you get the hang of it … of my first three activations only one was a success, and that was only by tail-ending a club net. Then I dumped the Baofeng and got a better radio with 6m pole and flowerpot antenna for 2m and things magically got a lot easier.

John and Robert are spot on with the RH770 as well - I found it had a 8dB advantage to the supplied rubberduck on my FT65. I think the Baofeng rubberduck was even worse.

Cheers and good luck for the next one !


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Hi Alan,

First of all: congratulations to the successful activation! I enjoyed reading your report particularly because not everything was close to perfect and because you very openly admitted it. :blush:

As regards the equipment, I can only support the recommendations given, like replacing the rubber duck against a Slim Jim, Flowerpot or other antenna. The downside is, that you will require a (lightweight) glassfibre mast or a tree to pull the antenna up with a rope.

Another very simple - and underestimated - move that requires no mast or rope would be to “pimp your HT with a tiger tail antenna”.

I have done this myself and the effect is convincing

The little volume and weight added is definitely worth the effort.

Vy 73 de Peter, DO4TE


i forgot to spot, but did alert in advance! However we summited half hour after i the time i alerted for :frowning:

Never mind! I have an app now to make it easier in the future


Alan - 2E0JWA


Yes, i am looking at some options… SlimJims do seem popular! I have some glassfibre roach poles for support and i think its something definitely worth looking into. as well as a bandpass filter.

Thanks for the S2S pal :slight_smile:


Alan - 2E0JWA

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Far from perfect but it got the job done! just! haha

Ive seen them tiger tails before and haven’t been convinced… although it does make sense!


Alan - 2E0JWA

Ah, TH79E, one of the best dual band handhelds ever made. Excellent strong signal handling. You never ever see them for sale second hand unless they have faults.


Yes, correct it is one of the best. However, we have one challenge in my area [DM/HE-003 Grosser Feldberg] where even this one struggles. I have not tried a 2 m bandpass filter yet but at least I could recommend an ideal test field for SOTABeams. :wink:
73 Peter, DO4TE


I often do that, although I am getting better with my estimations, and I don’t see it as a problem. The chasers know that alert times can only ever be estimates. I usually do 40m cw, 20m cw and 2m fm over an hour or longer so chasers have to wait for me to appear on the appropriate band anyway.

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Those are cooler than our triangulation points (benchmarks) here in the US. They’re generally just a metal disc inlaid in the ground or a rock/stone.

WRT a higher gain antenna, be sure your front end isn’t getting overloaded/desenitized. If it is, and you use a 770 or similar antenna, it will just exasperate the problem. My FT818 with a jpole was overloaded by a TV transmitter nearby on 2m FM this weekend, but I expected it and used the FT270 with the stock antenna for FM. It worked like a boss. I tried the FT270 with the jpole and it was not near as sensitive.

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We have benchmarks (for marking height above sea level) as well as trig points (for marking a horizontal position). Most trig points also have benchmarks. As far as I know none of them threaten you with imprisonment if you disturb them! I wonder if that includes shouting into the microphone too loud.

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The actual reference point in the UK is well underground. In olden days, the top cap on the trig point was removed and a theodolite was mounted on the top in brass groves and lashed down using the lashing points. A long metal rod ran from the base of the theodolite down the hole the top cap had revealed and it was placed on a brass bolt at the based of the trig point. There are 4 sighting holes, one per face you looked through to check the rod was centered on the bolt. Then you could take measurements. The brass bolt visible in the sighting holes was 2ft 6in above the real benchmark bolt that is well buried (and safe) underground.

In that photo at the start, the trig is on a plinth. When it was built, the base of the trig was level with the ground. There has been mainly wind borne erosion of about 1m of top soil since it was built and the plinth has been built to protect the base of the trig.


A few more years till it ceases to be a SOTA summit then.

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Yea, I overestimated my abilities! :rofl: :rofl: never mind, i know for next time!

Yes, I think that is an issue TBH, there is a rather large transmitter station up there!

Good info, thanks for that :slight_smile:


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Congrats on your first activation!

I’m relatively new to SOTA myself too and like you, found 2m FM a bit of struggle on a few occasions down here in Somerset. So before Xmas, I decided to have a go at 20m SSB and, as others have said, alerting + spotting is essential. Since then, I haven’t looked back and would suggest you think of giving HF a go too on your next SOTA outing. Good luck!

73, Lea M0XPO