I am looking to attempt my first SOTA activation while on a family camping trip in Eastern OR. The only equipment I will have is a AnyTone AT-D878UVII Plus and a VHF/UHF Slim Jim J-Pole For HT 2m 70cm.
I am looking at a few possible summits. See attached screen shot. Being completely new to SOTA I am fearful this is near impossible. My thoughts were to post an alert, attempt using APRS while hiking to the summit, and then trying to make contact. Should I try calling SOTA TG on DMR or attempt hitting the Baker City repeater to notify people I will be trying to make contact? Feeling like my radio working 70cm and 2m will not be enough for the remoteness of these summits. Any advise would be appreciated.
Hello, and excited to hear you are looking to activate your first SOTA!
One of the summits on the map appears to be Pedro Mtn W7O/NE-071, and most of the summit around this area have not been activated. This summit linked below is on private property, and I would research the other summits to see if there is a trail or others have reached the summit. SOTL.AS is a great resource for using when researching summits, and I included a video link below about activating your first summit. (-:
The good news about summits in this area is that you may have line-of-sight from some of these summits to the Boise area. When starting SOTA, I only had VHF/UHF to use and activated summits primarily around the Puget Sound. I got my HF license after a while primarily for summit in eastern Washington…and it would be similar in eastern Oregon.
If there is line-of-sight to Boise, that will help…and I would put Boise or other repeaters into your radio. You can then call on the repeaters, and ask is someone will help with a simplex contact. Posting an alert is also important, and will help any SOTA chasers/activators in the area know. Cell or APRS spotting on the summit would be important as well, although calling CQ on 146.52 and probably 146.58…and asking for simplex QSO on local repeaters would all help. I might be a challenge, but more achievable if you have line-of-sight to a more populated area.
Hope this helps, and reach out via email or here if any other questions. 73, James WA7JNJ
Thanks James for the tips. I was very excited to see the specific summit I have chosen has not been activated yet. I am very familiar with it and hoping to be the first one to get it (part of the reason I have been a little vague with the specifics). I will make sure to also add the Boise repeaters to my list.
Hi Greg, welcome to the fraternity. Remember, this activity will grow on you- have fun
My advice to first-time activators is to choose summits from which you will definitely be able to make contacts. There is a definite flattening of mood (and sadly, a loss of interest) when someone calls CQ SOTA for a few hours on a remote summit without making any contacts.
Remote summits and low power VHF HTs do not add up to a guarantee of success, unfortunately.
So I suggest improving your odds as much as possible, save the “first-ever” activations until you are more confident of making contacts with your chosen radio and antenna. It is nice to dream of making a big spash with your first activation, but be sure of your potential contacts first.
Good luck, whatever you decide to do.
73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2DA
It may be easier up north but i know it is tough making vhf contacts in s.e. OR. I’ve done several summits in remote SE OR, just got back from a 5 day trip of 6 activations. I’ve maybe made about 5 qsos in vhf in 3 years, one being my furthest HT S2S, but the others were likely to my own party that didn’t climb. I admit i don’t try super hard due to past experience. Slim jim will give an advantage for sure and i would make conversation on a repeater on your way up. It does look like you may have the advantage of Boise, a heavily populated area, within <100mi. Most towns in E.Or are just such low population its tough to count on enough ops listening, if any, in my experience. I wish you luck and go to enjoy the hike and view not just the activation.
One more tip. I notice that Pedro Mt on most maps is totally different than the SOTA summit HP. 2000’ elevation difference and far apart. Make sure you are researching the correct summit point. That has happened several times. One example, people go to activate Smith Rock near Bend using the ref for Smith Rock near Mt. Mcloughlin here in S.OR. Smith Rock at the State Park is not a SOTA.
Hello Greg -
At home you are maybe a half hour or less from several easy SOTA peaks in an urban area with an active and supportive group of chasers. With an alert and spot on sotawatch [146.58 recommended] you are nearly assured to get 4+ contacts and start making SOTA friends as well.
Away from urban centers in W7O, VHF contacts can be few to none, as mentioned by Amy. I’ve only twice in ten years had someone on a local repeater move to simplex for me.
Starting out on a summit with previous activations and trip reports can help. Registering on www.pnwsota.org will connect you with others in the region too.
If you are able to raise someone on a repeater, and you feel they won’t move to simplex, hit the reverse button so that you are talking on the output and listening on the input, effectively taking the repeater out of the picture.
Hi Greg, I’ll echo K7ATN’s suggestions. Take a look at W7O/NC-051, Bald Peak which is very near Tualatin. With 216 activations, it’s a sure bet and has been the “1st” for many Portland-area SOTA activators.
And do join PNWSOTA.org, a Pac NW collection of trip reports for many Pac NW sota summits.
See also PNW Sota facebook page. The Portland area SOTA-active hams are a very friendly group and eager to help and include you on nearby SOTA activations.