I’ve always assumed alerts to be quite flexible. Even RBNHole looks at an alert as a window of -1 / + 3 hours from when you intended. Stuff happens. Chasers are understanding.
Yes, I can identify with that.
One of the great joys of walking in open spaces is the escape from life’s pressures. There are times when the last thing I want to do is tie myself into a schedule and feel that I might be inconveniencing others if I fail to meet it.
I do often put “time approx” in the alert, but then I wonder how useful that is…
So, yes, alerts are good, but please don’t be too harsh on those that don’t put them up. We are all different, and all have our reasons.
There are two sides to every argument. As a chaser, I stopped paying any attention to alerts several years ago. This is because I was fed up with waiting for activators to show up at the forecast time, according to their alert, only to discover that they had been delayed, or had cancelled the activation altogether. This happened on countless occasions.
I now use only the spots on the Sotawatch web site. That way, at least I know the spotted station is actually active!
Just to add my two bobs worth. I tend to ALERT as this is part of my safety net. Given that I usually activate in remote areas, I have some comfort that if I don’t put a spot up I usually get a telephone call asking if I’m ok. Also, the wife has SOTA watch on her telephone and she knows if I’m on track with activations.
I agree with Ian as it is helpful to know if anyway plans to activate.
In recent times the number of chasers in Australia has been a little thin, giving the chasers advance notice helps guarantee a successful activation.
Maybe I am too conscientious with My Activating and work hard to keep my Alert deadlines out of respect for my band of faithful chasers who watch out for me so I make a score. Touch wood I have not had to use some of the excuses or reasons posted here by some Activators.
Ian vk5cz …
I try and alert but am usually over optimistic about my fitness. It has worked well when putting a call out and getting an instant response.
I find it a bit catch 22 at the summit. Do you find a frequency ask if it is in use, move to the area of cellphone coverage walk back to the rig and hope the frequency is still clear or try and simultaneously operate and spot? How do others cope?
Ian, given the majority of the replies here have pointed out that people DO try to alert before activating, and when they do, they DO try to hit the alerted time, I think your use of the words “excuses” is perhaps a little condescending. The fact is an alert sets an expectation that people try to hit. But the reality is no one will ever go 100% accuracy. The track might be harder than you realise, you might slip and fall, slowing you down, or you might start later than anticipated and not have phone coverage to adjust the alert. I’ve posted alerts and ended up with screaming kids in the car and a wife shouting at me to drive home (cancelled alerts after the fact or at the next stop). I’ve done activations (like the other day) where by chance I had a radio in the car from the previous weekend’s (alerted) activations and I drove past a summit with a happy wife who suggested I SOTA while she wait.
Any activator that metaphorically or literally kills themselves trying to hit an alert time that’s turned out to be unrealistic is reading too much into what an alert means. It is an intention, not a promise. Missing an alert time because you stopped to take in the view is not an excuse, it’s a sign of recognising SOTA is for nature lovers with a radio problem.
Each activator to their own. In VK, if you don’t post an alert, you run the risk of not qualifying - which is a risk you shouldn’t run. In EU, as Walt pointed out, there’s enough folks around that a spot is sufficient. The activator gets to choose what approach they take, and, as this thread shows, the vast majority try to help - even if they dislike the pressure the alerts provide.
Many Operators don’t spot. Some prefer Sloths not spot. It’s not for me to divulge an operator is on a summit and not at the QTH. I recognize all operators are decent law-abiding folk, but I’m sure some less than savory folks read the alerts to plan nefarious activities.
Hi Brian. SOTA facilities cannot be treated as safety-critical systems. We’d hate for that concerned call not to be made if somehow or other you got spotted in error, whilst in fact you were in trouble! If your activities require something extra for safety please make appropriate arrangements.
Think of the excitement a chaser must feel when being the first to stumble upon a previously unalerted and unspotted activation!
Hence the Sota watch on me mobile phone and it pings me to what i set it too such as certain bands and SSB only
May I strike from the record in this context of my previous post, “excuses” sorry if I offended any one. This is my last comment on the subject, I think I said what had to be said on this issue.
Ian vk5cz …
I fully agree, Ian. You know that we also don’t have that many activations here in JA. Now and then someone will get going well before my normal wake-up time. If he had not alerted, it’s my loss as a chaser, but likely also he’d be talking mainly to himself in the dark. Thankfully, nearly everyone over here has fallen in line and my only gripe now is a time lag between a spot and when it shows up on my phone’s SotaWatch. Steve
In the perfect world, for many reasons, an activator will alert a day ahead or whatever. But for many reasons such as not knowing what their plans are specifically, having to go with a group, exploratory hikes. just stumbling upon a sota summit, etc etc. an alert does not occur. Its to the activators benefit to spot and alert. The other day I was able to alert, but not spot. I was not able to work all the bands on the summit that I really hoped I would be able to.
Agreed, I initially calculated my timings for activation and found there were too many hiccups to achieve anything near the schedule. Now I am travelling 2 hours plus to each activation and using genetic timings on the alerts. Strangely I was late when trying to provide an accurate schedule and now I am usually early for the first summit. QRV on the later summits depends on how many chasers I encounter on the previous hills.
Always alert then chasers know I’m likely to be out there and self spot if not spotted and have network coverage. I suspect without this I would struggle to get the chasers within an acceptable time frame for multiple summits in a day
Good on you Neil at least if there is an Alert put up those interested in chasing know to look out for you at sometime during the day.
Ian vk5cz …
As alerts can only be regarded as estimates, with many unknowns and external factors influencing the final on-air time, I no longer bother to include comments about accuracy, approximations, depending on weather, travel delays and other such caveats. Experienced chasers know these factors are there. Alerts are plans, not contracts.