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First SOTA attempt in Alberta, Canada


I’ve had my Amateur Radio License for a few months now and have finally purchased a portable HF radio due to my interest in SOTA.

I’ve been reading the forum here and I am excited to give my first try at an activation tomorrow. I’m not sure what to expect and I am going in with not too much experience but you have to start somewhere. I’ll have my KX2 and a SOTAbeam wire antenna with me.

The plan is to try Prairie Mountain - VE6/RA-014 for around 1900z on 20 and 40m if possible. 14.285 and 7.090

Really don’t know what propagation will be like so just putting it out there hoping for contacts.

I appreciate the knowledge on this board to provide the motivation for this attempt.


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Welcome on board Lewis, and I hope your first Activation provides you with some good ‘catches’ :wink:

Doubt if we will have trans Atlantic/Arctic propagation but you never know :confused:

GL es 73


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Hi Lewis,
Your timing sounds pretty good for me and I hope to be able to be in the shack and look for you with my yagi antenna on 20m.
You’ll work SSB which is not the optimum. CW would give us a better chance for a DX QSO, but I guess you are not a CWer yet.
Good luck on your first activation and think about starting up the passionning world of CW.
Best 73,


Welcome to SOTA.

You’ll find it very useful if you pack your bag with your gear and then go and set it up in your back yard or a local park. Then you’ll find all the things you’ve forgotten to bring and best of all you wont find that out at the top of a mountain!

Have fun and be safe.


Hi Lewis,
Welcome aboard!

You didn’t mention anything to support the SOTABeams wire antenna. Do you have a telescopic pole or are there some trees to raise the antenna up in on the summit you have chosen?

Don’t be disappointed if you get to the summit and it doesn’t work out. We’ve all had those days, where either we’ve forgotten something essential or the weather has turned bad or access is closed by some authority.

As has been suggested, it would be a very good idea to set up all your gear in your garden or a local park and make sure you have everything you need. A light rain jacket and water are essential parts of the kit. In fact food and safety items are more importnt than the radio items.

Above all, please take care and be safe!

73 Ed DD5LP.

Good morning,

Thank you for the encouragement. I’ve done a couple of dry runs to a local park so I do have some experience with setup but no contacts yet.

We are lucky in that the lower height hills and mountains will almost always have trees to assist with antenna placement. I’ve done this particular hike before and have noted a few in the summit area.

Definitely have to start learning CW to expand my reach. It’s that or starting packing an amp!

I’ll let you know how it goes


Hi Lewis,
Don’t panic with upgrades, either equipment or skills (like CW) - just enjoy first and you will see where you need to improve.

I have made S2S contacts from Germany to Australia with just 5w SSB and a dipole and not too long ago (18 months), so it’s really amazing what can be done when you get awy from the electrical noise in built up areas. As we go deeper into the solar cycle, extra power will probably help, but I’m sure you’ll make lots of good and enjoyable contacts with the 10w from the KX2 and your SOTABeams dipole.

73 Ed.

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Hello Lewis,
Welcome to SOTA in the Canadian Rockies. It’s a marvelous sport!
There is already a small group of us in Calgary/Canmore who are activating and chasing and I invite you to join us.
Several of us are members of CARA (Calgary Amateur Radio Assoc.) and we keep in touch by e-mail and by use of SOTAwatch for alerts.
As it happens, CARA has a coffee Klatch on Saturday mornings and I will be at Chinook Mall at 10:00am, Sept 3, in the food court to discuss how I might participate in the ARRL VHF contest on Sept 10, (and activate a SOTA peak, of course).
Please feel free to join us

CW weighs a lot less than an amp and battery. That said, there are times when I’d like a small amp to lift my 5W to about 30W to make SSB easier.

Whatever happens Lewis, make sure you enjoy yourself and secondly, try note down (mentally) on your return what went wrong and what worked well. Then next time try do less of the wrong stuff :smile:

If you continue this process then quite quickly you find the actual radio becomes easier and less stressful (will I make 4 QSOs, will I make ANY QSOs) and you really start to enjoy both the outdoors and radio at the same time.

Hi Lewis…have “FUN” and be safe! I’m at work or would try and chase you.


Hi Lewis, welcome to SOTA in VE-land!

I have found that the key to making reliable SSB QRP contacts lies within the alert/spot system on SOTAwatch.org. If you have cellular coverage then you can spot yourself and there are usually a few dedicated chasers who will point their high gain antennas in your direction. Learning CW for SOTA also has the added benefit of the RBNHole system that listens for CW signals and posts spots automatically.

Good luck with your first activation!

Back in town after my attempt. I had no luck on the HF bands but scanning the local repeaters with my HT on the way back at least gave me a VHF “contact”.

Receive was awful so I’m thinking that my signal had no chance. Still had a great time and it was a great day for a hike.

Ian: I will likely take you up on that offer. I’m close to Chinook and could make it on Saturday. Anywhere specific at the food court?


Hi Lewis, Check your messages on this site for info on the Saturday coffee klatch.

Hi Lewis,
Was receive awful because of a high noise level from something on the summit or no incoming signals? I believe you said you had tested the gear in a local park previously - is it possible a cable or plug connection has broken? Do you use an adapter or adapter cable to go from the BNC lead on the SOTABeams wire antenna to the socket on your radio? could it have a bad connection?

As someone mentioned earlier in this thread, spotting on SOTAWatch can create a lot of traffic from SOTA chasers who otherwise don’t come on. Spotting can be done via a webbrowser on a tablet or phone with Internet access, through one of several SmartPhone apps or via SMS. If you have a smartphone, the apps which normally can spot either by the 3G Internet connection or via SMS are probably the best option. Andriod phones have more free apps available for SOTA than iPhones however the “SOTA GOAT” application on the iPhone is very good. My favourites on Android phones are Rucksack Radio Tool and SOTA Spotter.

73 Ed.

Hi Lewis,

Contacts made through repeaters do not count. You can use repeaters to drum up business for simplex though. And someone beat me to the point about using alerts and spotting yourself. You will have better luck next time. I am fairly new to SOTA and enjoying it. Since I started SOTA, the only times I’ve I’ve been getting on the air has been on top of summits. de KG7FOP