I have a 17 year gap in my SOTA activities. I found an old log book recently detailing some of these early attempts. 4th April 2002 LD-025 I managed a single QSO. I recall some form of alert system using WAP from a phone but this wasn’t enough to drum up 4 QSOs. Pre-SOTA days, I recall some miserable wet days on top of a hill with no QSOs.
Fast forward to Easter 2019 where I marked the end of my SOTA hiatus. I was in North Wales for the weekend, but hadn’t figured out the SMS spot system yet, so I was fearful of some of my past experiences. I called CQ SOTA and my first response was K4DY on 20m CW with 3 W.
I have since figured out how the various spot and alert systems work and with this bring a faithful bunch of CW chasers. I sat on G/LD-034 in a snow storm in January, again thinking back to previous experiences. But F5JKK was there in a flash.
Since then I am slowly starting to recognise the reliable bunch of chasers who you can be confident will be there once you reach the summit, in particular, EA2DT and G4OBK. All the chasers put up with my poor CW and strange messages (watch on zulu time, so GM/GA mixed up). They pull my homebrew 3 W transceiver signal out of the noise.
I get quite a kick from operating my homebrew radio on these summits. It is dual band high performance phasing DC rx with Class E PA, rx current is around 20 mA, OLED display, built in VSWR bridge. The PCB and LiFePO battery fit in a 1020 micro pelicase. I’m hoping to write something up for the GQRP SPRAT magazine detailing it. Below is a photo of a nearly finished version of it (pre-flux clean);
Yesterday, I activated Mickle Fell from the south route. This is quite a soul searching route through peat bogs, moderate sized streams and featureless ground for around 6 km. I left the car solo, in rain, wind and 20 m visibility, but I continued confident that at the summit I would be rewarded by the trusty band of chasers. I wasn’t wrong.
It is quite remarkable to reflect upon the contrast of SOTA in the early days to where it is now. Thanks to all the chasers, I look forward to working you from the next summit.