Attempted my first activation yesterday

I got my licence in the late 90s but really didn’t do anything with it but amateur radio has always been in the back of my mind. The last couple of months I went down the rabbit hole of amateur radio and discovered SOTA and POTA and thought “I need to do this”.

I bought an FT-891, borrowed some gear from my dad and I was on the air.

Yesterday I had the afternoon off and it was a great day so I thought why not try and do a SOTA activation.

Mount Tzouhalem (VE7/CV-029) is essentially in my backyard and I hadn’t been to the summit in a while so that is where I headed.

I was only able to make two contacts but I still had a great time. It was a clear day, sun was setting and shining bright.

For the next time I will be sure to spot myself as I hope that will help me get more contacts.

But I think I’m hooked. I will head up the mountain again in the near future and try to activate again.

Looking forward to any tips for a SOTA newbie (and essentially ham radio newbie) like myself. All the best!


Hi Bill,
I live in Crofton and activated the “Zoo” a few times.
I’ll send an e-mail to your QRZ.COM address.
Gabor, VE7JH


Hello Bill,
I think the simplest advice to someone starting out is to do an activation with another activator. It’s fun, and I always learn something, be it about equipment or operating procedures.
I agree with your comment about self-spotting, in Alberta the band becomes alive when the spot is posted.
If you do make a trip across the mountains, we would be happy to join you for some activations. Hope to see you one day.


Hey Bill,
I’m new to the SOTA arena as well. Activated my first summit last week FV-612. It took me two days to get the points for the summit. Spotting is a must. Check out the VE7 SOTA Face book page. There are quite a few VE7 SOTA ops on it, maybe you can find another to activate with. I’ll be trying to to hit a summit every weekend in the next few months as part of my rehab after surgery, should be fun.
Keep at it, maybe we will hear eachother on the air and get a S2S lol.

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Hello Bill,

Thanks for your post and the lovely photos. Welcome to SOTA! Be warned - it’s extremely addictive! There’s no doubt that spotting will help generate more contacts. Good luck with the next activation, and hope to get a S2S in the log one day.

73 - Matthew M0JSB


Hi Bill,

I’m relatively new to SOTA too and I’m sure lots of Ops will also tell you how addictive it can become!

I agree spotting yourself is essential and it has made a huge difference on my more recent activations. You don’t mention what bands & power levels you run. If you are on low power on 20m, you might want to consider starting off at the QRP Centre of Activity (n.b. here in the UK it’s at 14.285) which hopefully means you won’t be struggling against high pwr Ops on adjacent freqs.

Good luck & hope to work you s2s!

73, Lea


Congrats, you are right on track
1st have a good time
2nd necessary contacts
Nice backyard - I’m jealous
I also had mni 2 or even nil QSO activations. Just referring to #1
73 Martin


I was on 20 meters running 100 watts on my FT-891. Thanks for the tip about QRP I might try that next time!


Hej Bill,

if you spot, it’s all the same on which frequency you call. They will come.
I think chasers love the 100 W for an armchair copy of a SOTA signal. :+1:



Hi Bill,

welcome in the SOTA world. I think you will stay there for many, many years.

73, Ludwig

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Welcome to SOTA!

I can only confirm Poms suggestion - if you do SSB please spot using sotawatch. There are a couple of more possibilities: DXcluster, APRS2SOTA gateway,…

If you use CW you can set alerts in sotawatch. This is very effective. As soon as RBN detects you (CW), the system wil automatically post you with the frequency you have been detected. If you add “S-1 S+2” in the comments field, the system will look for you one hour before the time listed until 2h past.
In this case no need to spot - the system does it for you.

… and suddenly you will have a pileup instead of struggling to get the 4 QSOs.
We all went through this at the start :slight_smile:

Enjoy SOTA!
It definetly is addicting :slight_smile: and rewarding…

73 Ingo


Thanks all for the advice and kind words. Feels like a great community. I will definitely spot next time :joy: It was a kind of spur of the moment thing when I went up so figured I’d just try my luck. Was still a good time.


Wow it looks beautiful, I activated my first summit in Minnesota yesterday too, my view was a bit colder and filled with snow but super fun!
Look forward to working you summit to summit this year.
Russ de W0LMS


I operate with 6 watts, Yausu FT-818, your rig in awesome, dial her down to 5 and you will be amazed who hears you.


Welcome to SOTA Bill. You’re among friends.

As was mentioned above, spotting is key. I think VE7 land favors APRS spotting.

Enjoy, talk to you on the air.