Calling all QRS activators

Interested to hear CW novices’ SOTA CW activation stories. I’m quite slow still and although I’m sure chasers will QRS to get the QSO completed I still feel a little reluctant to go CW up the hill.

I can send up to about 15 wpm but like to work around 12 wpm so I can get a copy. I tend to get a bit befuddled when multiple stations return a call, I’m not sure what’s the best tactic for latching on to one callsign.

I have an 817 which I acquired a CW filter for recently but I’d like to take my SW+20 up the hill too.


I made my SOTA activator debut at a mere 10wpm - and had the most enjoyable experience.

I’ve been well and truly hooked ever since!

Just go and do an activation. Being the activator is like being the DX - you are in charge and you set the parameters. Just do it and you’ll soon work out what your own best tactics are.

Good luck,


In reply to M1EYP:
Ok, thanks Tom. I’ll have a read through that.

In reply to MM0GYX:


The best tactic is for reading an individual callsign is to just sit back and wait. Chasers will continue to call until you reply to one. Be patient.

If you still cannot identify one call then reply to part of a call that you have copied, such as “HB9? BK”

Remember that chasers will reply at the speed you are sending at, so never call at a speed faster than you can receive.

GL 73

In reply to MM0GYX:

Hi Ian

I was in the same boat last summer and decided to just give it a go! Such satisfaction at getting the first CW QSO in the bag - and it is usually Roy Hi Hi. I posted an alert and requested QRS only in the notes and most of the chasers obliged. The level of CW required is limited because the QSOs are so short. You will know when you have been spotted cos the pile up arrives. If you follow Roy’s advice you will not go far wrong. Once you have the call sign just send it back with a signal report and a ‘BK’. You’ll likely get a ‘TNX UR 599 73 TU’. Follow that with ‘73 TU’ and the next one will arrive. If you miss sometheing ask for it ‘AGN BK’ and if necessary ask for QRS - it’s your call.

Just give at go and enjoy!

The next thing is a CW S2S - wow!



In reply to M0TUB:
Smashing, thanks for the advice folks. I have had quite a few CW QSOs from the home QTH, it’s just a matter of going /P now. I suppose you don’t need to give the SOTA ref for every QSO, do you?

I’m thinking of getting out and making the most of the winter bonus points, so with Scottish WX I’d have to be reasonably slick.

Thanks again, watch this space.

In reply to MM0GYX:

Most CW activators send the SOTA Reference on the initial CQ then about once every half dozen calls, but play it by ear - if you have just a couple of chasers then sent it more often but if you have a pile-up then work more chasers between sending the Ref.


In reply to MM0GYX:

I’m a relatively recent adopter of Morse in the last 2 years after a previous 19 years of being licensed but not using it. I saw how much fun Tom M1EYP had once he started and Roy G4SSH gave me the best advice ever, “just go on and do your best, nobody cares if you need repeats or are very slow. The chasers want a QSO and the switched on chasers will adapt to you.”

You’ll get walls of chasers calling when you are spotted. Don’t be phased by this. Just work as best you can and enjoy and savour the satisfaction of having worked a few on a summit.

You don’t need to send the reference with every QSO. I tend to call CQ SOTA CQ SOTA CQ SOTA DE MM0FMF/P and then hide behind the sandbags as the pileup starts. I send the ref with the first few contacts along with my call. Then it’s just the chasers call, report and 73. Every 5 or so QSOs (when I remember) I send DE MM0FMF/P REF SS-123 ?. Most of the chasers will see the details on SOTAWATCH. Also I don’t send GM/SS-123 but just SS-123 as the association can be found from the context of your call.

Best of luck Ian and hopefully we can have a CW S2S soon.


I have similar experiences as the others, not being very QRQ is not a problem on a SOTA activation. Sometimes it can take a while for me to dig out a call from the pileup, if there are a lot of stations, but that doesn’t really bother me very much. The hungry chasers might see it differently, though. :wink: But as the others have said, it’s your show.

Jaakko, OH6FQI

In reply to OH6FQI:
I’m convinced, so much so I’m going up the Bin of Cullen now. Wish me luck.


In reply to MM0GYX:

Hi Ian,

My advice is to just go for it - like all the others have said. My first SOTA activation was at the end of summer 2011. I decided shortly before I activated G/NP-008, Great Whernside that I’d challenge myself to qualfiy the summit on CW.
I literally had a handful of CW QSO’s under belt. I took along my FT817 (without filters!).

On that day activating Great Whernside I got such a buzz! I worked about 20 stations, with all stations coming back to my QRS at easily copied speed. Yes, I made mistakes, but it didn’t matter one jot.

This year I have started activating with my QRPp rig (abt 100mW on 30m -see LA1KHA’s challenge thread) only once did a station respond to my QRS CW faster than I could recieve, and I replied with AGN QRS? The station kindly slowed right down and the QSO was completed without problem.

The SOTA chasers are fantastic ops, so if you need them to QRS, just ask.

Go for it, have lots of fun and don’t worry about mistakes!

73 and good luck!


BTW - SOTA CW is very addictive!

very glad reading about this topic, it gives me hope that i can do it as well!! i’m learning CW right now (3rd attempt) and i can receive 10 wpm almost without errors :slight_smile:

i use this fabulous website for learning:

my goal is to activate my first summit in CW in spring/summer 2012. but still a little practice is required …

73 de martin

In reply to MM0GYX/P:

Hi Ian

We have just worked so thanks for the SOTA point on CW!

Your CW was great - well done and thanks for the new one.



In reply to MM0GYX:


That was an excellent CW activation from ES-084 and it was a real pleasure to have a contact with you.

You handled the pile up well, sent good clear readable CW and made good use of the BK, which many first timers to CW find difficult to use.

Just one recommendation - when a chaser calls you in CW reply with just his call - it is not necessary to send double calls and this will shorten the over considerably.

Congratulations and very well done.


In reply to M0CGH:

One day I aspire to do a CW activation but right now I’m only up to 4 characters on the Koch method trainer by G4FON.

Is it possible to tell if the ft817 has a CW filter without opening the case?

In reply to MW6SPX:

Hi Stephen

Learning CW

Rule 1: Keep at it.
Rule 2: If you stop, apply Rule 1.

Have a look at ‘Just Learn Morse Code’ too.


Select the CW mode on any band and have a listen to some CW. Go into the Function mode and rotate the SEL knob (LHS) until you come across the NAR button. Select it using C button (bottom right) and see if there is any change. You will know instantly if the filter is fitted.

Some good advice on W4RT’s website. It guides you through the fitting process with pictures to help. It tells you how to get inside and where you will find the filter.

He also supplies CW filters at as good a price as I could find.


In reply to MW6SPX:

Is it possible to tell if the ft817 has a CW filter without opening
the case?

In addition to what Dave said there is a menu item which tells the rig if there is a filter fitted and if so which one it is. If there is no filter then it’s probably set to none, rather than ssb or cw.

Colin G8TMV

In reply to G8TMV:

My last 817 didn’t have a filter fitted but it was selected in the menu.


In reply to MM0FMF:

My last 817 didn’t have a filter fitted but it was selected in the

Obviously some sort of weird Scottish logic :wink:

Colin G8TMV

In reply to G4SSH:
Dave, Roy et al, thanks for the calls, and your flattering encouragement. It seemed pretty frantic where I was sat (in a survival bag just down from the trig point). There was a slight breeze up there which dropped the wind chill below zero so I didn’t manage the hour I had targetted. I’m sorry I couldn’t work more people but next time I will take your advice Roy and drop the double call, thanks for the tip.

Anyway, 11 QSOs in about 30 minutes is better than I’ve ever done using the same set up and LSB, so I’m convinced I should persevere.

I’ll log the QSOs later, got work soon.

73, Ian.