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Activators: Please post Alerts!

I’m not sure whether it is always a good idea to post an alert. True, it is a little disheartening if you notice as a chaser that you have missed an activity. It is also true that (in particular on VHF, or when propagation is lacking) sometimes an alert generates more activity. But that’s primarily because very few people seem to bother listening on the VHF calling frequencies these days, and thus not a SOTA-specific problem.

On the other hand, if I feel like chasing summits, I rarely bother looking for alerts on the computer screen, but prefer to tune across the band and listen whether anybody is bold enough to call CQ from an interesting place :wink: The few times I have more or less spontaneously activated a summit, an alert might have helped to gather a few more QSOs, but I could never be sure when I would arrive on the summit, and whether it would have been possible to “get out” at all (the German low mountains often have heavily wooded summits, which can make VHF operation difficult). So, it may be better not to put up an alert (even if it is only a statement of something planned) to avoid frustration on the chaser side.

Furthermore, alerts often haven the side effect that they attract a lot of callers, similar to DX cluster spots, with ensuing QRM and general confusion, and to me, alerts (be they on SOTA watch or a DX cluster) also smell a little of “spoonfeeding” or “third-party assistance” … As I wrote above, they make the most sense on VHF, but only because of the low activity.

73, Jan-Martin

I wish at least one of the Android apps had that feature! SOTAGOAT is still only an iPhoneOS app unfortunately.


With the caveat that people like me who routinely read the Email feed rather than using the web site directly will only see the original text.

My personal opinion is that the editing facility should be used sparingly, and only for minor corrections such as typos. Substantive changes to a posting can make nonsense of a thread, e.g. where somebody comments on something that you later go back and change.

Martyn M1MAJ

There are some features that make editing work well compared to some other forum software. You get a 5min windows after posting where you can go back and fix typos etc. and those changes are not recorded. i.e. you don’t get to see that the post has been edited. After that window expires, changes are recorded so that you can see the post has been edited. Depending on your access rights you can diff the changes made and, at least admins, can revert changes. After 60 days you can no longer edit a message or delete it. People like me with admin status can always restore deleted posts in order to keep the flow of ideas and exchanges correct.

So in general, it’s pretty hard for someone to go back and do a “Winston Smith” and change the past if it’s a long time back. But recent history can be changed and I can change it back and lock the thread.

It’s always a fine line between casting everything said in concrete and never being able to change things and having some degree of editing and amending. I didn’t like the way things get fixed on this software at first but have come to like it as it seems about right.

Hi Peter
As a CW operator I’m a supporter of alerting. That allows me to be pickup by RBNGate/RBNHole which is an awesome tool.

But the activator is the master. The move to make an alert or not is his choice.

As a chaser you could use ON6ZQ, David Christophe, website where you will be alerted of the spot in real time.
It worth to visit his website and use his spot’s filter at http://www.on6zq.be/p/swf/#/spotfilter
in my opinion this is the chaser’s master tool (other than radio equipment)… :slight_smile:

73 de Pedro, CT1DBS/CU3HF


I totally agree about their value but it takes guts to post an alert. Particularly if I am trying something a bit more ambitious, I cannot always bring myself to do it. Like any forward planning, it can be the kiss of death. Activators come under many pressures, especially in extreme conditions and alerts just add to that. I’m sure that most activators don’t feel like this but it’s only they who will understand where I’m coming from. An alert could be construed as a promise, whereas it’s really only a heads-up to a possible. Psychology, I know but that’s how it is for me and there are always two sides to the story.

Apologies - John G4YSS


Hi Peter,
Well as a chaser ~~ alerts are useful but not to be relied on as I have found. To post an alert at 12Z and arrive at 18Z is not helpful. Why not ask a friend to reframe the alert?
A lot of activators alert varying modes/f but never turn up. I understand because of various reasons but it would be really helpful if they said they would not venturing onto a band/mode.
How I work it out here in the South East of UK. I look at the alerts, look at the propagation, check on various bands what I can hear/work ( full of suprises :wink: ) and if not looking good launch RRT and go and do some useful things - right now in the garden.
Best wishes


Yes, I identify with that! I don’t undertake challenges on the same scale as you, John, but placing an alert does add pressure.
Also, I do worry how useful it is if it isn’t accurate, as Mike mentions above - I am guilty of alerting “maybe other bands and modes” in good faith, but probably not very useful. Who is going to put themselves out to listen on that basis?
Truth is, climbing hills is largely about escaping the pressures of life and clearing my tiny brain. Tying myself up with what feels like a contractual timescale / band choice in an alert can really undermine that.

On the other hand, I take the points about how useful they can be, so often I will alert, and sometimes I won’t.


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No. No. No. NO!

It’s an indication of desire… what you would like to do and expect to do if everything goes as you expect. Things don’t always go to plan and you won’t do what you said. The world will not stop turning if you miss or are late. People will not set their lawyers on you demanding compensation for missed alerts.

Post an alert of your intentions and let the chasers decide whether your alerts are reliable or reasonable or fiction. I’d rather see alerts that get cancelled that not know someone may be out somewhere until it’s too later to grab a QSO.


Huge fan of alert to help plan S2S. Disagree alert = promise.

Most alerts I see have “wx dep” or “+/- 90min” or as my current one indicates I am looking to only move to a higher band if there are some ZL chasers looking. I have even organised S2S via spots where we both have 3G almost as a chat feature - I know it should be used sparingly but it worked.

There are alerts up to a few years in the future - yes likely a typo but I would rather know some one is keen to head out than hope some one is listening. Sure hunt and pounce can be fun but as I have a noise floor that prohibit any contact, summits are one of my only options.

As for 2m fm I can say it is incredibly reassuring that in VK1 and sourounds, if some one has alerted for an activation say on the weekend. An ear is kept on the repeater and simplex freq as a sort of safety overwatch. A real community.

I caveat all of the above with the following: licensed 2 months, knocked over 8 summits.



Think alerts are always a good thing to do, if nothing else gives people a chance to organise their time and activities so as to there listening.

For S2S again gives an activator a chance to be about when another activation takes place.

With propagation being like it is at times alerts can greatly assist with getting at least a basic four chasers to validate the summit.

It surely is not to much effort to put an alert up.

Cheers, Nick

A case in point this morning:-
Andy, G6PJZ, has alerted for G/SB-006 at noon today. This is one of my few un-chased G or GW summits (and the last SB). Noon is a time I would likely have been in town or busy in the garden out of WiFi range. I hold little hope of being able to hear him but I shall arrange my activity so that I can try.

MORE ALERTS, please.

As far as I’m concerned, even if an alert is posted just a couple of hours (or less) ahead of time, it can be useful. I will often take a peak at my SOTA Goat app at random times; if I see that an activation is likely soon, it may motivate me to take the walk out to my shack. I also agree with the statements about being able to set up possible S2S’s when I’m out in the field.

A number of my favorite nearby activator “friends” here in Northern California (W6-Land) never seem to post alerts in advance and I’m often disappointed to see that I missed an opportunity to chase them. I won’t post their callsigns here, but I hope they realize who they are… :wink:

I think of SOTA as a team sport, so it’s very helpful to understand what the other part of the team needs. (I have too much noise at home to be a chaser.). Hearing what the chasers think about alerts is great - Peter thanks so much for asking the question.

I must admit, an alert does feel like a promise to me (but, it’s really really good news if it’s not a promise)- and I fear chasers remember who makes accurate alerts and who doesn’t – therefore sometimes I feel I shouldn’t make an alert unless I know it’s fairly accurate or I will get a bad reputation.

Also, I’m not complaining but, I must respectfully disagree with those that say putting up an alert is no trouble. I have put in a fair amount of effort/time trying to establish time estimates for alerts. Any summit I do will involve a long drive (2-3hrs one way), and possibly a hike, and maybe even meeting someone for breakfast before hand. I need to take the time to estimate the drive, figure out what the traffic might be, determine the length of a hike and what the terrain might be so I can estimate how long it might take me - not to mention estimating how long we might have breakfast. Yes, I have a spreadsheet that lays that out now, but I still need to estimate individual times for individual summits. It would be much easier to jump in the car & hike to the summit without worrying about what time it will be.

And, I find myself rushing because I put up an alert for a certain time -it feels like I have an appointment with the chasers I need to make. I love the chasers and I don’t want to disappoint them. But, rushing does kind of suck the fun out of it.

All that said, updating alerts if possible seems a great option. I have done this once, and wasn’t sure if it just confuses things - from what I read here sounds like a good idea. I will try to update alerts in the future.


I have sometimes updated ETA of my alert while hiking up, but this is not always possible due to lack of phone coverage in remote areas.
I’ve also felt some sort of stress about trying to be on air at the alerted time, but I know we shouldn’t feel like that. An alert is not a contract nor a promisse.
Being activator and chaser is the perfect way to understand both sides if the playing field.
As a chaser, I sometimes do stalk waiting for alerted activations. Several times I was on the alerted frequency waiting for George (KX0R) to show up and it was a joy for me to be the first chaser in his log.
But I also can perfectly understand when someone shows up 2 or 3 hours later than alerted or even if he/she doesn’t finally show up, as all these things have happened to me as an activator.
My lunch break time is over… :frowning:
back to the grind now…


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Well stated George. I also look to the posted alerts to see if I can squeeze my activation into a window where an S2S is more likely to occur. I agree that the S2S is a “favorite” thing about SOTA for me as well. The alerts are also a great way of getting a sense for how crowded a particular band may be around an activation time frame. If too crowded I may shift my operating to a different band in order to allow chasers to work multiple activations without QRMing an activation. I have used alerts to update when there is a significant change in my activation. I try to hit the summit on or about the time frame ive posted (its an old military habit for me to be on the objective at h hour). However, there have been times when I had no cell phone coverage to update an activation that was way behind schedule due to weather or summit difficulty or poor planning on my part. The point about being consistent as an activator is well taken though.
Mike NS1TA (ex-W6AH)

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As an activator, mostly on 2 meters, I attempt to post an activation all the time. I am also starting to get involved with HF.

My greatest fear with posting an activation is when I am not able to meet the objective in the time indicated. Case in point was last Friday when we thought would be a 2 hour trek wound up being 4-1/2 hours. SOTA veterans can often deal with that. But, people new to SOTA, or are not really into SOTA, but just trying to help you out may not always understand (at least initially) until you explain it to them, but sometimes that is not always an easy thing to do.

I am now starting to “spot”, even if just 2 meters. The more information I can put out there, I believe the better, but it is not always possible to accomplish things when you think you might be able to.

One possible safety benefit of an alert for the activator is that it is a piece of information that might be helpful in locating him/her. It’s no substitute for informing a friend or family member of your plans, but it is a record of your intention for a specific time and place. I’ve thought of this in the past when activating unnamed summits that are not so near a trail or road.