Activating frequencies - Advice

Hi All,

The first week in May I am planning a few days in the Scottish highlands and, if the weather is kind, hope to activate 4 mountains.

As I only have 1 SOTA point to date I am looking for some advice on frequencies to activate on.

Has anyone got any recommended frequencies to use or is it just a matter of self-spotting the day before? Modes will be SSB and possibly FM. I will have my paddle key with me but probably not use it as my CW is rubbish.

I am not sure what antennas to take so I am going to take a selection to my local hill next week and experiment. I have a:
6m wire delta loop,
2m UDA 4 ele yagi
and a M0CVO Magnatena
All will be mounted on a 10m fiberglass SOTABEAMS mast

I hope to have time to get out some calls on 40, 6 and 2 m as a minimum.


It’s a big place up here, which summits do you intend to activate?

Hope to do one or more of:
Stack Gorm GM/CS-118
Tom Bailgeann GM/CS-113
Creag nan Clag GM/CS-119
Carn na h-Easgainn GM/CS-096
Geal-charn Mor GM/CS-070

You “Alert” the day before and “spot” when you are actually (about to) transmit).

On 40m CW on or near 7.032 seems to be the usual sota qrg. On 40m SSB it’s anywhere you can find a hole, but 7.118 is common.

Good luck, Colin G8TMV

Thanks for the correction on terminology :slight_smile:
I will start a list of frequencies with these frequencies.

Hi Ray,
Spot the frequency you are caling CQ on, in the spot you send out when you are operating (either via a formatted SMS or via an app on your smart phone).

Frequencies - no one “owns” a frequency, especially not a QRP portable station, but if free try the following:

2M FM - 145.5 (then move off when/if you get a call)
2M SSB - 144.3 (and again move)
6M SSB - 50.200 (and again move)
40m SSB - 7.090 or 7.118

By the way, I think the end fed long wire you have from M0CVO is called a “Magitenna” not a “Magnatena”.

P.S. 20m (14.285) is often worth a try as well.

73 Ed.

If you are venturing up to Scotland would suggest kindly asking a few known chasers to listen out for you on certain frequencies at expected times. You can not rely on self spotting in some remote areas.

60m works well with the current HF propagation. I use 5.355 MHz. Its only wide enough for one station and you can shoe horn yourself in there nicely and not get disturbed by QRM.


I think that should be 144.300, the UK 2m calling frequency.


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A reasonably fit person should be able to bag those in one day with a good early start. Don’t be deceived by the track on Tom Bailgeann. The longish section running NE-SW is a veritable bog over soft peat. Gloop… Gloop. Not hard but a surprise considering there’s a lot of tower at the top!

There’s a motorway of a path to the top of Carn na h-Easgainn. The map shows tracks and paths for Geal-charn Mor.

10m pole… heavy. I can’t comment on 6m but I wouldn’t expect much if there’s no SpE about, May perhaps. 2m you stand a chance with a beam. 40m from there should let you work at lot of the UK even when the band runs long. 7.032+/- for CW but try to avoid 7.030 exactly. 7.118, 7.125 for SSB or wherever you find a hole.

10.118+/- for 30m. 14.062 +/- for 20m. 14.285/14.345 SSB or where you find a hole.

If you post an alert at least 2hr before you go on air, and you use CW and RBNHOLE is working and you call CQ nice and steady and cleany then you will get spotted on the exact QRG for free.

If you’ve not been out with your SOTA toays for a while, pack your bag and go to your local park and setup your station. Then note what you forgot etc. That way you wont climb a big mountain and wonder where the cable for the battery is hiding!

Have fun.

Thanks Brian, yes Region 1 is 144.3 - its regions 2 & 3 that are 144.2 I think.

I’ve corrected the earlier post.


In USA/Canada, we most often use the frequencies listed in the files section of the NaSota Yahoo Group (FAQ). Notice whether the QRP frequencies are there. Here is what it says:

The following frequencies are commonly used by activators, and experienced chasers sometimes lurk in these neighborhoods when alerts are not specific:

7.032, 7.185, 10.110-115, 14.342-347, 18.095, 18.155, 21.350, 24.905, 24.955, 28.420, 146.52, 446.00, and 61 to 63 Khz up from the bottom of 20, 15, and 10 meters CW.

Note that 146.52 and 446.00 are national calling frequencies. Take frequent breaks to ask if others need those frequencies, or move chasers up, for example, to 146.55-58. You get better results if you stay in the general class bands, or tech class on 10 meters, even if you are an extra special exalted class licensee.

The General Rules used to suggest using QRP frequencies, but they now say the opposite. Why? Because those spots on the dial are for QRP stations to talk to each other. When our powerful Sota chasers show up on those spots, they block the QRP exchanges. Avoid 14.285,14.060, 7.030, and the other QRP places.

Also avoid being within 3 KHz of 14.336, the county hunters net. County activators frequently show up without a net control and take over.

Elliott, K6EL

Nice hills Ray, but don’t expect much (if any) action on 2m SSB - probably Chris GM3WOJ will be the only one around and monitoring 144.300. You should make a few contacts on 2m FM as there are a group of chaps out to the north of Inverness. 145.575 is the local chat frequency.

As Andy says, the track up Tom Bailgeann is part bog, Creag nan Clag is a fight through the bracken and Stack Gorm has an established track - an easy one to finish up on.

73, Gerald G4OIG


Seemed to be popular


Wow loads of advice - great stuff.

I will take a list of the frequencies with me so I am not faffing about. Will also monitor Ham Utilities to see what bands are predicted to be open on the day.

I chose the summits as my son is acting as sherpa and he has little experience in the mountains. Maybe future expeds will be a little more adventurous.

Will be taking the advice to try out the kit on my local hill next week.

Hi Ray,

By far the best frequency to use is one that is clear of QRM and that you have spotted yourself on, using SOTAWATCH. I know that sounds cute, but in practice that’s all you can do. It is a dynamic thing after all. The ionosphere is not an Ethernet connection to other radios, so you do need to be observant, alert and make band, mode and frequency decisions on the day.

That frequency cannot really be planned 100% reliably in advance of the minute you are on the air on summit. But when you tune around the band, take a listen to what stations are on the air and where they are located, you will get an idea of what to expect when you make your CQ call. So if you listen around on 20m and hear only some weak beacons on 14.100 and a few locals elsewhere, you know that unless the entire world is waiting with bated breath for your CQ (unlikely) conditions are not great. So you may decide that 10 MHz might be a better option, as you know that the best band is the one that’s just below the MUF. So you look there, and that may be where you make your contacts, or it may be 7 MHz that day.

The biggest and best tool the SOTA operator has is the SOTAWATCH website. Aided by phone apps, SMS spotting tools and the RBN for CW signals, the SOTA operator is blessed with an advantage that others can only envy. Be clever in how you use it and you will benefit greatly.

A heap of callers is a great reward for the planning and the technical decisions you make when setting up your station. I wish you many pileups and a full logbook.

Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH

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