Do you operate CW only, even S2S?

Hi all,
Except for the Summit-to-Summit Madness Event here in AZ (once a year), I operate 100% CW on activations. Chasing, from home QTH, use both phone and CW.

Best, Ken


100% CW. I leave the mic at home. I get plenty of contacts via CW and it is just easier to get them. Even at home I dont look at the SSB activations. Even if you go slow, CW is just so much more enjoyable.


Kent K9EZ


Just did 2 summits yesterday and it as -2C. 100% CW and I would be MORE than happy to get your call even at 5 WPM and I can confidently say all other CW ops would do the same.

I understand the fear of “messing up” but try to put that aside because the CW ops are basically cheering you on as they would like you be successful. :smiley:

Kent K9EZ


Especially if you’re freezing your butt off at the summit with three contacts hoping for at least one more to qualify the activation before your keying fingers stop working.


I only do CW, for several reasons already stated (small, CW-only rigs, RBN, DX with 5 W,…).

But the main reason is the singular beauty of it; waiting for a fellow mind to pop up out of a peaceful sea of white noise while being on the summit of a remote mountain, in solitude or with a trusted companion; and then suddely recognizing old friends just from their speed, individual fist, the melody of their callsign - this all blends into a unique experience.

73 de Martin, DK3IT


[quote=“MM7MWL, post:19, topic:30769, full:true”]

Excellent advice Dave. Many thanks for the tips which make good sense (more than my practice sending does sometimes… :rofl:)

[quote=“G4TGJ, post:18, topic:30769”]
I’d be happy to be called by you.

Alternatively you record something and play it back to yourself and see if you can read it… NB

To stop you remembering what you sent, you could just send/receive-

a) Random groups of letters and/or numbers - available on-line I’m sure.
b) Foreign language texts you know.
c) English texts you are unlikely to remember and wait a day or so before you play them back.

Goog luck.


On HF I run 50W of CW from the best aerial I can muster, an inverted vee dipole. I get great satisfaction from buiding up a real 339 QSO that may take 3 minutes to assemble a callsign and report to my satisfaction as the qsb waxes and wanes. Real Radio.



I’ve enjoyed reading these comments. I don’t have any voice radios, but I’ll respond to any call I can copy regardless of the speed. I found the Morse Runner contest simulator to be my best training aid. I credit it for preparing me for my first activation and encourage others to do the same


Go for it! There is no substitute for learning as doing. I did my first QSOs via CW after about a year of listening to YouTube CW on Air CW and “Morse machine” app.

I did my first sending to check my signal and readability on the Reverse beacon network and low and behold my signal showed up!!!

I would suggest conducting a POTA (nice controlled environment sitting at a park table) as your first CW experience.

I put in the notes section of the POTA spot “Very first activation and first time sending CW” I muddled my way through a QSO and yes it was ugly!!! Thanks to all the VERY patient chasers!

I kept at it and after a dozen or so activations I got better. I’m still working on it even after 2500 QSOs I finally have got to the point I don’t have to send “?” To F4WBN (TU Christian!) KX0R is still KF0R the first call for some reason!!!

I worked CW POTA enough to make my first CW AND HF QSO on my SOTA MG summit (All VHF) up till that day. Anyway i enjoy working with new CW operators, it is a real joy!

Summit near Las Vegas a couple weeks ago! Watching for Mountain Lion reported in area while sending CQ!




I was an SSB only OP when starting SOTA, also with a G90. But, like you, I noticed the majority of activators are running CW. So….
I still take a mic up and work both SSB and CW as I enjoy talking to people. And, I can log 3-4 SSB contacts per minute as opposed to the slower CW QSO.
lf I see an SSB spot, I will roll there and try to make the S2S. I have been surprised on SSB with a call from K6EL on occasion.
As your voice signal is not as effective as CW, antenna type and orientation is key, along with band selection. A bad day on 20m could be a great day on 15m. Use a multi-band antenna that doesn’t require you leaving your comfortable seat to change bands. Then jump around to see where the fish are biting.
GL and CU up there.

Jim - N0IPA

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“Comfortable seat” ??? Those don’t come often on British hills :grinning:

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RR. That’s why when you can get comfortable, you don’t want to move for anything other than QRT. :laughing:


Hi A.J.! I always try to make at least 4 VHF FM (2m) contacts before I even set up HF. I started SOTA that way, because I often activated with my brother, who was a newly-minted technician. After my brother passed the General exam, we continued our pattern until he made it to Mountain Goat, so he made it to MG using VHF, along with one or two UHF FM contacts.

I’ve been fortunate that sometimes those 2m contacts are S2S. That is a given during the SOTA campout weekends that WW4D and WG4I have put together for those of us in W4 land. My brother made it Shack Sloth the day after he made MG. Most of his Shack Sloth contacts were 2m S2S, during SOTA campouts.

To save weight in my backpack, I transitioned to a Mountain Topper MTR4B V2 a couple of years ago. But, I did make it to about 1,500 points with my FT-891. I was using the FT-891 when I began transitioning to CW. Then I saved 5+ pounds by switching to the 7 ounce Mountain Topper.

I find the majority of activators use CW and the prolific chasers operate CW as well.

73, de N4HNH


I only activate in CW and will only try to work a S2S when in CW. I can’t compete with the big home-stations when portable in SSB, slightly better in CW. Time on the summit is limited, so not going to call for ages if no one does a good word for me, or the op calls for “any S2S?” occasionally.

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At times, while on a peak with CW gear, a posting will show up indicating a SSB op likely within the circle of propagation to my antenna. I will tune up band and if I hear them I will call them with CW. It is a kick to do a cross mode connection. Often the response will be, “some one is in there with cw, my cw is poor”. Sending very slow I usually manage to get a completed contact. I do this with non SOTA stations as well if I am struggling to get to 4 contacts. The reaction is typically quite positive from the SSB operator.


I’ve been at this game for a while, and I tend to favor logging S2S stations these days. I use CW for probably 90% of my SOTA contacts. A couple of observations stand out:

  1. If I can hear an SSB activator clearly, in many cases I can contact that station with my KX2 and 10W out on SSB.

  2. SSB stations are mostly fun to contact, and sometimes we trade interesting info. I really enjoy contacting other mostly-CW ops when I find them on phone!

  3. CW stations are much easier to copy and get in the log through QRM, or with really weak signals.

  4. There seem to be more CW activators than SSB stations here in the USA, on any day, but on a busy day, many SSB ops can be worked anyhow,

  5. A lot of SSB ops do peaks with high points, so they are worth chasing for S2S points.

  6. SSB ops are much easier to find from phone spots than from hunting across the SSB bands. There are many, many POTA stations on both CW and SSB, but on SSB, on a weekend, there may be dozens of POTA stations on the 20M band at one time. Finding a SOTA activator by tuning takes a lot of patience - but sometimes I find SSB and CW ops that aren’t spotted!

  7. I just recently started using phone spots, and the difference for SSB is huge. I would never find the SSB people on 15M or 10M SSB without spots.

  8. On CW, most of the regular activators show up at the usual frequencies, and they’re easy to find, never mind the phone.

  9. There are still a few good CW ops who, for whatever reason, choose to operate in weird places on the bands, away from the rest of us, but they are much easier to find on CW than on SSB. Phone spots help me find these people, who often do short activations, in addition to hiding among the QRO ops and the conversational CW people.

  10. Both CW and SSB ops are much easier to find by tuning when they list useful frequency info on their alert. Knowing which bands and in what order they MAY operate is very helpful. Comments like “20-40 SSB” or “20-40 CW/SSB” are of little value.

  11. Some activators don’t post alerts often or at all, and others just assume everyone else is watching the spots on a phone, so they don’t need to provide info.

  12. I make 10 times as many S2S contacts with certain activators compared to certain others, and most of the difference is related to these factors:

    A) How many bands do they activate on their summits?
    B) Do they operate CW on bands that will reach Colorado?
    C) How often do they do SOTA?
    D) Do they post alerts with useful info?
    E) Do they operate more on quiet summits, or noisy sites?
    F) Are they willing to work through noise and QRM to log a weak signal?
    G) Do they use an efficient antenna so I can find and copy them?
    H) Do they stay on their summit for a long time?
    I) Do they hunt for S2S?

The question of whether these ops use CW or Phone is really not as important as these other factors I just listed. Either mode can be effective if used by a skilled operator.

Don’t worry about speed. Most of us will bend pretty far to make a SOTA contact, especially S2S. If we go to fast, send QRS QRS.




Now that the highest HF bands are available, fewer activators are including 40 metres, leaving people like me out, especially W7O, W7N & W6.

Elliott, K6EL
s2s hunter

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don’t have SSB capability on a peak and don’t use it at home, so rarely is there cell phone coverage on my peaks that I don’t carry a phone. S-2-S’s find me, or I tune to find them. Have fun out there! 73, fred kt5x / w5ya

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I try to work anyone I can hear that is spotted (from a summit or at home), but sometimes I have a CW-only rig on a summit.


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