Activation DM/BW-336, Altenberg, cw and ssb-mode

Dear friends,

for the activation of this rare ref (no further act. since 2010), I announced also ssb-mode. I apologize, but due to the poor HF-condx on 7 and 14 MHz, SSB-mode did´nt make sense with my 5 W-Equipment. Also the antenna couldn´t hung up optimal on this ref.
On both bands, some signals came up readable and went down abruptly, especially from G-Stations.
I´m sorry for that.

However, after exhausting biking and hiking to the Altenberg, i´m lucky for 67 QSO´s, including 8 S2S-QSO´s.
In late autumn 2014 I´ll activate this ref again, then especially focused for chasers, who prefer ssb-mode.

My first activation was in August 2013 and i´m still working brave with my 5W-Rig (which I use at home and also for portable-activations) for my 250-points-certificate as an activator.
I like portable amateur-radio from Mountains. It´s a great variety of our hobby and it combines hiking and biking in a excellent manner with technical challenges. The nature of “my” Swabian Alb in the South-/Western Part of Germany is a fantastic area for this!
Thank´s to all chaser´s, who are always trusted and reliable friends, regardless of which day or time of activation.

I´m glad to meet you again on the bands!
73, Gerhard

In reply to DL4TO:

Hello Gerhard,

Thanks for the information. You did very well with 67 QSO’s 8)

Propagation here in the SE UK has not been very good for awhile with signals up and down.

It is kind of you to consider SSB ops! Despite trying for some time to get a constant WPM on CW I have failed and last month decided to give up. Listen out for you next time.

Best wishes

In reply to G6TUH:

Despite trying for some time to
get a constant WPM on CW I have failed and last month decided to give


In reply to DL4TO:
Despite SSB with 5W is harder than CW I managed mountain goat only with the 5W SSB of my FT-817. Leaving a summit without the minumum 4 required QSOs was an exception. So I am sure you will manage the 250 points.
Even the poor conditions on June, 19th I managed to activate two summits on 20 and 40m. On the first 2 QSOs on 20m and 6 QSOs on 40m and on the second summit 3 QSOs on 20m and 15 QSOs on 40m.
Of course not comparable with your 67 QSOs but still some contacts were possible. On 40m a German station (not a regular SOTA-chaser) working with his 100W and a dipole was surprised by the signal I managed with my 5W and the quarterwave vertical.
I enjoy the excitement working QRP and see what’s possible with 5W SSB. The other advantage is I do not have to carry large transceivers and batteries.

73 de Michael, DB7MM

In reply to G6TUH:

Despite trying for some time to get a constant WPM on CW I have failed and last month decided to give up.

Is that give up for the first time Mike, the second, the third…? At least you don’t have to take a test now. I am sure if you tried calling an activator with some slow CW, preferably when the pile up had finished, then you’d be fine.

Gerhard’s comment about SSB has struck a chord with me. I realised that I haven’t used the mode for SOTA activations (apart from on 2m) since I was in CT last year. Definitely must give it a go on HF the next time out - hopefully I won’t forget!

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to G4OIG:
Hello Gerald,
I think about the 6th give up over the years ~ but now the last. Strangely I was motivated to start learning CW as a SWL a long time ago. I have got some chaser points in CW. Some activators like Klaus DF2GN are very good adjusting for slow people. I know it is the call of the activator about what band/mode to use but I think, especially when it is a never before activated summit that just to use one band/mode can exclude so many. Anyway time to finish mowing the grass before the dusk dew arrives. If I hear you on SSB I will give you a shout 8)

Best wishes

In reply to G6TUH:

If I hear you on SSB I will give you a shout 8)

That would be most welcome Mike, but you’ll probably work Paul rather than me as he’s the lower bands SSB man. I’ll be on 14MHz or a higher frequency. You’d probably copy me quite well on 10MHz CW though - I usually run 18 - 20 wpm, but very happy to slow to whatever speed I am called at. :slight_smile:

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to G6TUH:
HI Mike

Sorry to hear you have given up learning to use Morse for the 6th time. You have the guts to admit it has beaten you at this time and I hold my hat up to you for that.

With a G6 callsign (the former “Class B” licence) you never had to take the Morse test to get on HF. This was the driving force for people like me over 30 years ago. I didn’t bother taking out a VHF licence and learnt to use the code whilst studying for the RAE in 1981, therfore coming straight into the transmitting side of the hobby as a G4.

It now amazes me that there are numerous keen SOTA chasers and activators who actually sat the Morse test and passed to a reasonable standard, but they let the expertise they acquired go because they don’t enjoy using the mode. In later years these guys found SOTA and can now see on a computer screen 100s of QSOs every week literally slipping through their fingers and they are quite happy about it! So every credit to you for trying your best Mike, and speaking up about it - respect.

Tell me - how much have you done in this 6th practice round, in terms of time spent listening to practice software, datong or tapes etc? I would be interested to know because I know how long it took me to reach a competent 12 WPM to pass the test and then to move up from that to a higher level of around 18 wpm through “on job training” as a licenced ham doing contests and looking to work anything that caught my ear whilst tuning the bands. When you reach the 18 wpm level or evn before that it is time to start to use a paddle key in my opinion.

So, basically, how much time have you put in per day and for how long this time round? I would be interested to know. I’ll then cast judgement on if I think you have done enough in this 6th round or if I think you should continue throwing mud at the wall in the hope some more of it may stick.

The problem with slowing down sending when activating is down to two things in my case - time factors on the summit, which is the need to move on and the main problem - fiddling about in menus to change the speed when the speed function is buried in a menu. I don’t use an external keyer as it’s too much trouble, unlike what I use in the shack which has a rotary speed control… Sorry about that, but has been said before on here, you only need to recognise your callsign coming back, the callsign of the activator (after being prompted by a SOTAWatch spot) and the need to know when to transmit - i.e. when the activator is listening for callers which dictates when you need to send your callsign and try to be heard. That’s the most important bit!

Good luck, and I say - do not give up.

73 Phil G4OBK

In reply to G4OBK:

fiddling about in menus to change the speed

I bought a memory keyer with a speed pot on the front, so altering speed is child’s play. It’s about the size of a matchbox and weighs about 100g. It’s a pain to set up at first but once done is easy to use and the message is saved in Flash so it doesn’t need reprogramming when it’s been off for a while. It’s great to leave it calling CQ whilst you have a drink or whatever on the summit.

I run at about 18/19wpm. I can copy faster but above 22 I become really bad without lots of repeats. There again, I can’t ragchew at 18wpm, I can do SOTA QSOs at that speed. The hardest part is picking enough of a call out of all the chasers to work someone. With a big pileup it’s often guess work !

A thing which is missed is that is does get harder to learn or re-learn CW when you get older. It’s not that people get less intelligent, but it’s harder to make stuff stick, especially when you’re trying to do something a short space of time such as read CW as it comes at you.

Still like Phil, I think it’s brave of you to admit failure, lots of people wouldn’t.


In reply to MM0FMF:

I passed the RAE in 1962 (I was 21) and struggled with a friend to master the code. Learning the code was no problem, reaching a copy speed of 12 wpm was an insuperable barrier for both of us. Eventually the B licence appeared and I became G8ADD and let the code drop, my friend became G8AJE. In recent years I started again, my current situation is that I can copy in the low teens for a few minutes and then fatigue sets in and my copy speed plummets. I haven’t given up, but there is so much to do in AR and elsewhere that I only have one brief practice session most days.

Brian G8ADD

In reply to All:

There’s no real need to re-adjust keyers for QRS chasers. Most of us won’t attempt to chase if you are sending really fast - we need to get most of your call to be sure that we are chasing the right activator. If you reply to a QRS caller using Farnsworth (ie each letter at usual speed but with longer inter-letter gaps) it gives slower brains like mine time to react.

I’m proud to say that I have achieved a Sloth using cw on hf, at about 15wpm but have never attemped a cw activation - how anybody can pick a call out of the din of many simultaneous chasers I do not know - and I still have to write down all (I think, HI!) I hear.

It’s a pity you’ve decided to shut the door on cw, Mike, but I greatly admire you for admitting it.

Best regards, Dave, G6DTN

In reply to G6TUH:

Despite trying for some time to get a constant WPM on CW I have failed and last month decided to give up.

Hi Mike,
sorry to hear that you gave up learning CW, but in my eyes, everybody’s decision to learn or not to learn CW, or whether to operate in CW or in SSB has to be fully respected.

Nowadays in Germany you don’t need to pass a test in CW anymore to get a full HAM licence. (I can’t say, whether this is good or not). When I made my licence, not even three years ago, I thought I would never learn CW voluntarily. Then I started participating in the SOTA programme and soon my interest in CW has aroused. But it took me three attempts, even in this short timeframe of 3 three years, to finally get on the air with CW.
My first two attempts failed miserably after learning the first 5 or 8 morse code letters. And I came to the conclusion that I would never be able to learn CW. All the motivations, like “with CW SOTA activations will be far more easier etc.”, that prompted me the first two times to learn CW, didn’t pay off.

Fortunately, last year I stumbled across the beginning of Barry’s, M0IML, CW career. And following his rapid progress in CW on SOTAwatch was such a huge motivation for me to try learning CW again. So he is really my hero :wink:

Now I got at least my foot in the door and I still have to learn a lot, but it begins to be fun.

I guess, you just need to find a true motivation. That’s all :wink:

On the other side CW has also its dark side: At least when the conditions on the air are bad, like at the moment, it distracts me from operating in SSB :wink:

Hope to hear you soon either in CW or SSB

73 Stephan, DM1LE

In reply to DM1LE:
Stephan. I had no idea that I was an inspiration to anyone!

However. In the hope that it might encouarage others to give it a go, I’ll set the record straight:-

I decided back in December 2012 that I would seriously learn CW with a view to doing my first CW activation during February 2013 - just three months later. This I managed to do at 17wpm with a very unsteady hand indeed! Here, I must thank my friend and mentor Victor GI4ONL who was always available to prompt and prod.

I now send at 22wpm but can pick out my own call and reports at up to 30wpm or so if needs be. However, like some others I still cannot ragchew at those speeds.

A few stats from 2014:-

53% of my chases are now CW.
43% of my s2s are CW.
The above facts alone may encourage a few other to give CW a try - I hope so.

Mike - Don’t give up!



In reply to MW0IML:

I decided back in December 2012 that I would seriously learn CW with a view to doing my first
CW activation during February 2013 - just three months later. This I managed to do at 17wpm

That’s impressively rapid progress.

73, Rick M0LEP

In reply to M0LEP:

Not really Rick. Most people advance quickly to a sticking point which is a speed where you have to stop decoding the character in your head and know the character. Once you break past that speed advances quickly again.

Recognising callsigns, reports, stock phrases “TKS FER NEW SOTA ANDY” is easy. So I can do SOTA exchanges easily but as soon as some throws in something less typical I’m struggling at about 12wpm. SOTA, contests, quick “rubber stamp” DX chases are easy, relatively. I need to practice ragchewing, I don’t so I can’t do it well.

The other thing is you don’t have to be perfect. If you get a partial callsign you’ll have enough to work the chaser and get the full callsign later in the QSO.

You do get “machinegun morse” senders who never slow down. If someone keeps asking you for your call over and over then it should be obvious they are having problems, slowing down or changing the spacing would be what I would do. But there are those who having mastered 35wpm will demonstrate this to you. I reckon their belligerent fast speed when they know you are having problems is to make up for some sexual inadequacy they have!


In reply to MM0FMF:

Not really Rick.

Well, I was impressed. I started trying to learn Morse in April or May 2010, struggled through my first CW QSO in May 2012, chased my first CW SOTA activator in October 2012, and first used CW on an activation of my own in August 2013. CW QSOs, even rubber-stamp ones, are always still a struggle for me, well over four years down the trail, and I’m not yet anywhere close to 17wpm…

73, Rick M0LEP

In reply to MM0FMF:

Hi Andy & all,

Chasing SOTA has done wonders for my CW & I would heartily recommend it to anyone wishing to improve their speed, either sending or receiving. Typical SOTA QSO’s are usually very brief & as a chaser you will have plenty of time to listen & understand what is going on. If you recognise your own callsign coming back to you & can send / receive a signal report you are pretty much there.

Of course, if you have never used CW on the air before then those first contacts will be very nerve-wracking & you will make mistakes & get flustered. Don’t let that put you off, the more you use CW the easier it will become.

I remember the pain I went through to get up to 12WPM for the test so I do not mind slowing down for those just starting out with the mode. To continue at 30WPM+ when it is clear the other station is having difficulty reading you is bad operating. I find that sending at few WPM faster character speed than the slower op, but leaving longer gaps makes it much easier for the slower station as their brain has that little bit more “thinking time” before the next character is coming at them. This is what is referred to as “Farnsworth” method for those who didn’t know.

For a new operator every dot & dash counts & is a big step, but as time goes on you will start to relax. Let your speed increase at its own rate & don’t be tempted to try copying at 30WPM if you are just getting comfortable at say 15WPM. Move up in small steps & you won’t even notice you are improving. Then one day it dawns on you that the speed that seemed so far away not so long ago is now actually making sense to you.

You will hit barriers, more than once, but eventually with perseverance you will reach a speed you are happy with, whatever that may be. It may be your goal to be a world leader at 60WPM but let’s face it, you won’t have many people to work at that speed! I seem to recall that when I was learning CW 22WPM was quoted as being the average for Amateur Morse. That is not too far off to this day.

With regular SOTA chasing & regular participation in short CW contests I am now quite comfortable with SOTA / Contest type exchanges well above 30WPM, but as with other’s I could not rag-chew at that speed. However, by default, the ability to copy short exchanges at faster speeds means that rag-chewing at say 25-30WPM is now a much easier prospect. I am not really a rag-chewing type of operator on any mode, but to able to chat as easily on the key as I would on phone has always been a goal of mine & I am now starting to answer CQ’s at 25WPM+ knowing full well that the calling station wants to rag-chew :wink:

I am still learning & improving & my current target is to be able to rag-chew at 30WPM. I no longer hear dah di dah dit & convert it the the letter C before righting it down. My hand now writes the letter C automatically when I hear the sound, as if Morse was a language of it’s own, which of course it is :slight_smile:

It has only taken me 20 years Hi Hi!

If only I get my fingers to type like that!

I am now getting the pleasure from Morse that many experienced operators have told me about over the years, there is something magical about it :slight_smile:

Best of luck to all of you currently learning Morse & I hope to hear you on the air soon, at whatever speed you wish to use :slight_smile:

Thanks & best 73,

Mark G0VOF