Definition of a valid SOTA QSO

You might add something like:-
Any simplex QSO permitted by the licence conditions of both operators is valid.

“It’s not 73s but just 73.” I seem to find myself in a minority by taking this view.


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That is called out in “Ethics and Operating Procedures for the Radio Amateur” by ON4UN and ON4WW, in a list of CQ abbreviations.

73: best regards; 73 is also commonly used in phone, never say or write 73s, best 73, or best 73s, all of those are corruptions. Say “seventy three”, not “seventy threes”.



I only meant because both sides say 73 it makes two and therefore its plural. :slight_smile: It’s the same as if two people each give the other a present. You would say there had been an exchange of presents - not an exchange of present.

I never say “73s” on the air but reading subsequent comments it sounds as if people do.

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A QSO is a QSO - it does not matter who starts it.


The issue about whether or not you need to initiate the CQ for a QSO to be valid - is swiftly resolved when you begin to consider summit-to-summit QSOs. Wouldn’t it be awful if only one of the stations in a S2S QSO could claim that QSO?

Given that this is the first time this question has ever been asked in nearly 20 years of SOTA suggests to me that it would not be a good use of time to attempt to clarify the rules on this matter.


I think I’m beginning to understand what some of the issues might be here… :smiley:

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Indeed! This thread reminded me that I qualified G/SE-013 and G/SE-015 on 70cm SSB purely by working contest stations in VHF Field Day. 10 on each summit :grinning:

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Regarding the online description of the rules, it’s often the case for the expert (in any field) [especially the ones who wrote the rule book] to think that the interpretation is clear and complete. And indeed it may be. But it’s obvious to experienced people because we view the description through the lens of our existing knowledge and experience. The rule book writers can also be defensive about any implied criticism associated with someone asking for clarification. As a former R&D engineer who’s written hundreds of technical specs, I’ve been in this position many times.

We experienced SOTA folk need to try to see through the eyes of a novice trying to put the jigsaw puzzle of do’s and don’t together. Have a bit of humility when reviewing our work.

I’m not studied the rules recently but it seems to me phases like “Either party can initiate the contact” and “The other station need not be in the SOTA programme” - if not already clearly stated in the rules - wouldn’t go amiss.


The only comment I have seen so far that could help would be to change “comprise” to “include” to help people with a weaker understanding of English.

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thinking out loud, or on the keyboard anyway…

… four QSOs with different stations, whether initiated by the activator’s CQ or not…

… QSOs with at least four different stations, made using any accepted means including the activator calling CQ, answering another CQ or calling a station after they conclude a contact…

there is no requirement for either party to call CQ… the method of initiation of the contacts is not important. (covers all means of arranging contacts including “see you up 5” and “let’s go simplex” to “hi Joe, if you are not busy, can you come up on X mhz to give me a contact, thanks” on the phone, or equivalent hieroglyphics on an SMS)

Worth clarifying for less experienced operators, doesn’t hurt the others to read it there…

73 Andrew VK1DA/vk2uh

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Speaking as a relative newcomer, I think the situation Robert mentioned in his initial question is one where despite it being clear in the rules that any simplex QSO is valid for a Sota activation, there can be a nagging doubt in the back of the mind that it’s slightly cheating to get your contacts by answering other non-Sota CQs. It quite clearly isn’t, but it’s good to have some reassurance that it’s ok. Please do remember that things which may seem obvious to experienced activators may not be to new ones!


Only if you don’t understand what constitutes a valid QSO in amateur radio.

This is something that should be a fundamental concept taught in the FL in the UK. It would seem from the fact 3 recent UK licensees are having problems understanding what a valid QSO is suggests that this subject is not being taught correctly if at all. What is more perplexing is that the order of who calls who has never been questioned as to whether it affects the validity of a QSO in my 31 years of being a radio amateur.

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Thanks Andy and others for sharing this point, of all the things that infuriate me on phone contacts this is at the top of the list. It amazes me how so many people do not understand the origin of the jargon we use in amateur radio and therefore use the wrong terminology !

73 Victor GI4ONL

I’m not sure this is the problem here!

Perhaps more of a case of letter of the law vs spirit of the law? I completely agree that it is clear in the rules that any valid amateur QSO is fine, for Sota, but as with lots of things when you’re new and in the heat of the moment, things don’t always seem so clear cut. Sometimes newcomers just need a few words of reassurance that they’re complying with both the rules and sprit of the scheme.

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S2S contacts are explicitly mentioned in the rules since V1.5 (although version control incorrectly references clause 6, whilst it’s actually clause 7 in the text), clarifying that you can obtain chaser points as an activator. But it only references others on a summit.

YouTube wasn’t around 20 years ago and blog posts were in its infancy.
Had I not watched the numerous SOTA activation videos I may never have asked the question.
All the activation videos I have seen start where the activator calls CQ (Phone as well as CW), and moves to the next band and does the same.
I have yet to see a video where the activator scans the band and answers CQ calls from random individuals.
This is what caused my question; but I am pleased it has been answered and clarified.

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On the principle of ‘Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence’, even if this specific question has appeared rarely on this reflector, that doesn’t mean that many newcomers - even after reading the rules - don’t have doubts of what’s acceptable.

Let’s remain welcoming to inquiries from the less experienced. Some replies look a bit smug to me. However, this reflector community is way better than some blogs I land on doing a Google search where the in-crowd regulars dismiss curious newcomers, e.g. [I exaggerate only slightly]

Newcomer: {Asks a perfectly reasonable basic physics question}
Expert1: You should have read Feynman’s Lectures Vol. I before asking that dumb question.
Expert 2: {Gives an explanation involving post-graduate maths}


Thanks to all of you who took the time to answer my clarification question as to whether the SOTA activator has to call CQ - as is done on all the YT SOTA activation videos I have seen and blog posts I have read.

I want to make sure that I operate in accordance with the SOTA rules but also within the spirit of the rules.
This has now been clarified.

As a result I will no longer dread having to compete for bandwidth during contests, but instead will embrace them and use them as a potential source of additional valid QSOs, possibly not even having to spot myself on SOTAWatch and call CQ. :wink:

Thanks all.



On the Zed (Ok,!) if you ask a perfectly reasonable basic physics question you are more likely to ignite rants about ignorant no-code licensees than get an abstruse answer! Don’t get me wrong, the Zed can be a fun place, but it has small a population of hermit crabs with poison fangs, ready to erupt with resentment that ham radio has changed in the decades since they were first licensed. By comparison our Reflector is an oasis of sweetness and light, and it takes very little effort to keep it that way!

I must admit that the query that started this thread is one that I have not heard before, but it has been answered properly and respectfully, and that is good. I’m not sure that we need to amend or extend the rules to cover this point. Over the years I have fielded many complaints that the rules are too long and complex, making them difficult to understand, but they are resistant to simplification! In the early days I decided to print off a copy and keep it in a drawer at my operating position. I recommend this to all of you!


Brian, I appreciate the idea but even the nicest printed copy of the rules in a desk drawer is hard to access on a summit. Reading it on line once a year would be more effective maybe. Of course real amateurs don’t RTFM.

Trolls are a more common creature on electronic media than Hermit Crabs. I think there are at least two Billy Goat Gruffs in the MT who can deal with them if they show up here.

I’m getting old otherwise I might have rushed out from under my bridge and sunk my teeth into this issue. I’m feeling tired after my battles over real amateurs being able to use a soldering iron and wire up a stereo plug or a DC power cable. Either I lost or it was a draw by exhaustion.

Good night.



Thanks, I didn’t know that.

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