Dealing with alligators

Today’s activation of GM/SS-015 Ben Chonzie was a special one, as it brought up “half goat” for me. We stayed a fair while and after a slow start on a not very cooperative 60m I eventually got a total of 30 contacts on 4 bands, 80/40/60/20m. Caroline meanwhile notched up another 18 on 2m and 6m.

But this isn’t an activation report; I would like some advice from more experienced HF activators on how to deal with alligators. On 20m and to a lesser extent 40m I do seem to suffer from being called repeatedly by stations (presumably responding to a spot) who plainly can’t hear me at all. Now I don’t have a problem with the odd speculative call in response to a spot - after all it’s quite possible that I’m taking a sandwich break. But I just don’t see the point of calling over and over again if the activator is not being heard well enough to get a report back.

I won’t name and shame today’s main offenders other than to say that the callsigns began with 9. One of them I eventually gave the benefit of the doubt and logged; the other didn’t go away until somebody QSPed my report; needless to say I don’t regard that as a good contact. I find it particularly annoying when these people give me a 59 report.

Of course if somebody wants to cheat by claiming a “blind” contact that’s not my problem. What is my problem is having my summit time wasted by repeatedly replying to callers who can’t hear me. What do others do about this? I don’t like ignoring repeat callers because conditions may well have improved.

Don’t get me wrong: if you are struggling to hear me, please do call. Give me an R2 or R3 report and I will know that I need to repeat the report several times. I am more than willing to persist in getting the report through. But if there is no copy at all, I see little point.

Any thoughts?

Hi Martyn,

Congratulations on the 500 points.

Yes, I too am not sure why a station will call that cannot hear you! It happens to me, albeit occasionally, and it does tend to be the same few stations.

I had one really bad one on Trostan GI/AH-001 last year, when several stations insisted on repeating their callsigns so many times, I had to wait for ages before being able to go back and call a station in. And even then, several stations who I hadn’t called would start repeating their callsign over again.

I had to abandon HF on that one with many stations left not worked, and complete the activation on 2m FM, but all things considered, I think incidences of this kind are thankfully rare.


In reply to M1EYP:
Martyn and Tom, dont forget who is the activator and who is the chaser, i have not been on hf for sometime now, but what gets me is when a chaser say’s your report is 5x9 whats the call again, sometimes you cant hear 100% because of qrm, steve

In reply to M1MAJ:

If they can’t hear you, you should be able to give them the slip by QSYing a bit (or even changing band). Those that can hear you will follow you and you will have a few minutes of peace. Another good tactic is to zero-beat the alligator (if you are using CW).

You might also try not self-spotting on 40m (if you do that). I have seldom found it necessary on 40cw and it gives a more graceful build-up of stations until you get spotted.

Running more power is also likely to be helpful!

I have had this problem too - it is quite common. Often the station involved can hear you, but only occasionally due to QSB. Thus they just keep calling hoping that they will catch you on a peak.



In reply to M1MAJ:

I don’t have any cool tactics up my sleeve for this problem but I have noticed an increasing number of annoying ‘button operators’ calling activators. This was brought home to me when I tried to work some contest stations on six metres. I answered the CQ call of one station (funnily enough his call started with a nine too) and a voice came back two octaves higher. At first I thought this was a different station but then when he started CQing again I realised he was using a voice keyer. That is what the worst alligators are using and they get into a nice rhythm of one, two, three, key, one, two, three, key, usually right over the activator/DX station they want to work. I should imagine the problem is even worse on CW as CW keyers are much more common place than the voice variety. You have to wonder at the stations that come back to you with “You are five and nine. Please repeat your callsign.” when you have been giving it ever few minutes for an hour.

Steve GW7AAV

In reply to M1MAJ:


I understand entirely what you mean. I listened for quite a while yesterday to Carolyn G6WRW and Helen M0YHB operating from GM/SI-215 on 20m. There was slow QSB and many people were obviously suffering from this as there were repeated calls over the top of Carolyn’s and Helen’s overs. Why can’t people wait until they can definitely hear the activator? The problem of over-calling affects the person that is being genuinely contacted as the activator will be running limited power with a limited antenna and is likely to be weak relative those chasing. This in turn creates a problem for the activator when they are asked to repeat information.

As a chaser my tactic is to listen and if there is QSB or conditions are marginal, I wait for a rise in signal strength. I only run 10 watts on HF and it is not always easy to get in through the pile up. I need to pick my moment - if I make it all well and good, if I don’t, then so what? Continuous calling would not provide me with a better chance of making the contact - it would just be downright rude, it would waste my breath and annoy everyone else. It is a pity others are unable to adopt a courteous approach - it doesn’t take much effort.

As an activator, I have found that there are two ways to respond to the situation that you describe - either I can respond to the alligator quickly and get them out of the way or I can let them stew and work everyone else first. Asking alligators to wait their turn certainly does not work - the very mention of their call sends them into action, presuming of course they can hear me in the first place. Ignoring them takes some doing as alligators are hard to put off, but if a few more of us would take this approach then maybe the species would become extinct.

To me it seems that there is no solution to the problem that exists. We just have to deal with it the best we can and when chasing think of others as well as ourselves.

73, Gerald

In reply to G4OIG:

Two posts deleted due to derogatory remark about an unidentified station who might have been recognisable.

Guys, this reflector is not to be used for “naming and shaming”, OK?


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G4OWG:
Thanks, Roger, I thought I had deleted that one, must have hit the wrong button…that will teach me not to work on the reflector and tune six at the same time! :frowning:


Brian G8ADD

Just one more comment - alligators do exist on CW, it is not purely a phone problem. If anyone has been put off using CW for SOTA, possibly because of they are concerned about their ability to handle a pile up or pick individual calls out, I can recommend trying 10.118MHz instead of 7.032MHz.

73, Gerald