ChatGPT and SOTA

I asked ChatGPT how to get better at SOTA :smiley: Here’s the answer I got:

If you’re interested in getting better at Summits on the Air (SOTA), here are a few tips that might help:

  1. Practice operating your equipment: Familiarize yourself with your portable radio and antenna, and practice using them in different environments. This will help you become more comfortable with your equipment and improve your operating skills.
  2. Learn about propagation: Understanding how radio waves behave and how they are affected by different factors (such as the time of day, the solar cycle, and the ionosphere) can help you make more successful contacts.
  3. Get involved in the SOTA community: Join a local SOTA group or participate in online SOTA forums. You can learn from other experienced SOTA operators, get advice on equipment and operating techniques, and find partners for SOTA activations.
  4. Plan ahead: Careful planning can make a big difference in the success of a SOTA activation. Consider factors such as the time of day, the season, and the weather when choosing a summit to activate.
  5. Be prepared: Make sure you have all the necessary equipment and supplies, and be prepared for potential challenges such as bad weather or difficult terrain.
  6. Have fun: SOTA is meant to be an enjoyable activity, so don’t get too focused on chasing points or awards. Relax, take your time, and enjoy the experience of operating from a mountain summit or other high point.

It’s quite decent advice. What do you think?


Things got very dodgy when I asked what is better for SOTA - CW, SSB, or digital modes :sweat_smile:

All three modes – CW (continuous wave), SSB (single sideband), and digital modes – have their own advantages and can be effective for Summits on the Air (SOTA). Which mode is “better” will depend on your specific needs and preferences.
Here are a few things to consider when deciding which mode to use for SOTA:

  • Bandwidth: CW and digital modes are generally narrowerband and may be more suitable in crowded bands where bandwidth is limited. SSB signals are wider, but still narrower than full AM (amplitude modulated) signals.
  • Power efficiency: CW signals are typically more power-efficient than SSB signals, as they do not require the same amount of amplifier power to transmit. This can be beneficial when operating portable or with limited power resources. Digital modes may also be more power-efficient, as they can transmit more information using less power.
  • Ease of use: CW is often considered easier to learn and use than SSB, as it does not require the use of a microphone and requires only a simple key for transmission. Digital modes may require more specialized equipment and may be more difficult for some operators to use.
  • Audio quality: SSB signals typically have better audio quality than CW signals, as they can carry more of the original audio spectrum. This can be an advantage for voice communication, but may not be as important for digital modes or other forms of communication. Digital modes generally have very good audio quality, as they transmit information in a digital format.
    Ultimately, the choice of mode will depend on your personal preference and the specific needs of your communication. Some operators may prefer one mode over the other, while others may use multiple modes depending on the situation.
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ChatGPT is a product from a company that Musk, Thiel, MS, Infosys fund. We need say no more.


Romain, you’re lucky that you got an answer.
About 10 days ago, ChatGPT didn’t know what SOTA stands for and neither Summits on the Air :sweat_smile:
Seems like it learned something in the meantime.

73 Stephan


Sometimes it gets stuff spot on. I asked it about HF propogation and it was great advice.
I then asked it how to calculate long path propagation and - as others have found - it sounded very authorative in giving a rubbish answer.

It is fascinating, and will make teachers and lecturers jobs infinitely more difficult!

For those with a vintage computer bias it knows what VAX/VMS Macro 32 is and can write simple programs - the folk that have been (at least superficially) amazed the most are coders.


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Actually, I saved the HF propagation advice:

To find the path of an HF radio signal where the contact is the long path around the earth, you can use a technique called skywave propagation. Skywave propagation occurs when an HF radio signal is refracted or bent back to the earth’s surface by the ionosphere. This allows the signal to travel over long distances, such as the circumference of the earth, and still be received by an antenna on the ground.

To determine the path of an HF radio signal using skywave propagation, you can use the following steps:

  • Determine the frequency of the HF radio signal. This will determine the maximum distance that the signal can travel, as well as the altitude of the ionosphere layer that will be used for refraction.
  • Determine the transmitter and receiver locations. This will allow you to calculate the great circle path between the two points, which will give you an approximate idea of the path that the signal will follow.
  • Determine the time of day and solar conditions. The ionosphere is affected by solar activity, so the time of day and current solar conditions will affect the amount of refraction that the signal will experience.
  • Use propagation prediction software or online tools to calculate the path of the signal. These tools use complex algorithms and models to predict the path of the signal based on the input parameters, such as frequency, transmitter and receiver locations, and solar conditions.
  • Adjust the path as needed based on real-time conditions. The actual path of the signal can vary depending on factors such as atmospheric conditions and solar activity, so you may need to adjust the predicted path based on real-time data.
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Impressive and scary at the same time. Especially that “it” formed full sentences and not some keywords put pasted together.


But ask it “what is the best antenna for SOTA” or “what is the best transceiver for SOTA”, which have to be the most FAQ (and the least realistically answered).

Feed it transcripts of 40m nets and then it should be able to dispense medical advice for nearly anything.


it is probably listening already, via its own SDR…

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40m SSB nets - Hearts, Hips, Knees and Hangovers


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The best antenna for Summits on the Air (SOTA) will depend on a variety of factors, including your operating frequency, the type of radio you are using, the available space and support, and your budget.

Here are a few things to consider when selecting an antenna for SOTA:

  • Frequency range: Different antennas are designed to operate over specific frequency ranges. Make sure the antenna you choose is compatible with the frequencies you plan to operate on.
  • Size and weight: SOTA antennas need to be portable and lightweight, as you will need to carry them with you on your hikes or climbs. Consider the size and weight of the antenna, as well as how it will be supported (e.g., using a telescoping mast or guy wires).
  • Gain: Higher-gain antennas can be more efficient and have a longer range, but they may also be larger and more difficult to set up. Consider your operating needs and whether a higher-gain antenna is worth the additional weight and complexity.
  • Ease of use: Look for an antenna that is easy to set up and take down, as you will likely be doing this in challenging environments.

Some popular antenna options for SOTA include vertical monopoles, dipoles, and portable yagis. It is important to do your own research and consider the specific needs and constraints of your SOTA activations when selecting an antenna.


The best transceiver for Summits on the Air (SOTA) will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Here are a few things to consider when selecting a transceiver for SOTA:

  • Frequency range: Make sure the transceiver is capable of operating on the frequencies you plan to use.
  • Power output: Consider the power output of the transceiver, as well as any limitations on power that may be imposed by the SOTA program in your region.
  • Size and weight: SOTA transceivers need to be portable and lightweight, as you will need to carry them with you on your hikes or climbs. Consider the size and weight of the transceiver, as well as any additional batteries or power sources you may need.
  • Ease of use: Look for a transceiver that is easy to use and has clear, intuitive controls.
  • Features: Consider any additional features that may be important to you, such as digital mode capability, built-in GPS, or a built-in antenna tuner.

Some popular transceiver options for SOTA include the Yaesu FT-857D, the Icom IC-705, and the Elecraft KX2. It is important to do your own research and consider the specific needs and constraints of your SOTA activations when selecting a transceiver.


It’s hard to criticise a robot, but the rather sensible advice given is somewhat at odds with the usual responses we see to those questions. Where are the usual emotional responses like “Use a X antenna, I have often obtained s7 reports on mine so it must be the best”, or “my rig is a Yaecomwoodcraft FTSIC87KXMTR6and it receives and transmits better than any other rig on the planet, so get one of those”?

Conclusion: the robot is sensible but boring and unemotional. It throws the decision back to the questioner. Use it at your peril! :slight_smile:

As I see it the main improvement we get over ELIZA is that we now have a AI which replies with contextual nonsense, not just nonsense… I pretty much lost interest after I asked it a couple of mathematical questions and mainly got completely rubbish answers.

Anyhow, for now I’ll stop procrastinating and go back to practice my SSB skills!