“Flavours” Challenge- discussion 2

I have enjoyed he 2020 Flavours Challenge because it has encouraged me to try additional modes and bands that I do not ordinarily use for activations. In 2016 I began my SOTA adventure as a 2M FM activator with a 1W HT; then graduated to add HF SSB. As I continued I began to rebuild limited CW skills with most of my activations on 40, 30, and 20. My CW skills remain limited and I greatly appreciate the patient Chasers and patient S2S activators! the 2020 Flavours Challenge has “challenged” me to learn how to operate digital from summits, to learn how to program my D-Star capable HT (and how to encourage new chasers to try D-Star Simplex). I’ve practiced putting up different antennas and been more attentive to propagation reports for the Challenge modes and bands. My only disappointment has been my inability to operate from summits as frequently as I would like due to our near constant fires with some favorite summits ablaze and favorite parks and forests closed by state, local and national government offices. Recently the high AQI (Air Quality Index) numbers have discourage me from leaving my air conditioned/air purified home. I would like SOTA for the opportunities to visit beautiful surroundings and high places; but the added adventure of learning and exploring the many modes and bands has been a joy. Now while I am confined by Covid and Fires I continue my SOTA joy by planning and preparing for the next opportunity!

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I have only taken part in a couple of the challenges this year, and it HAS got me trying something new in radio. I’m not convinced 7 days in the month is a long enough period as working full time* only leaves weekend and evenings potentially free. As I don’t have gear for most of the 2020 challenges I elected not to invest time and money into constructing something I may only use once for the challenge. I agree that with having the variety of challenges, there should be something there that most people could try.

*Not everyone’s working full time is the same.

** car is packed and if the rain stops before I finish work I will be out tonight with D-Star and C4FM

Of course not, but 12 x 7 day sessions aims to provide as equal opportunity as possible. I had to miss two entire Flavours due to Covid, while lockdowns in other SOTA associations weren’t as restrictive, but these things can’t be helped or anticipated.

Hope to catch you S2S later!

I’m compiling some “excess activation” statistics to examine the impact of the Flavours on those specific bands and modes, and overall. Previous years’ data will inform a trend, and from that we can determine expected numbers of activators / activations / QSOs, and compare with actual.

The final results obviously cannot be ready until the second week of December, but it is already looking like the Flavours Challenge has had a much bigger impact that many might imagine.

First of all, thank you to the MT for thinking up the challenge, and providing the database mechanism.

My personal challenge was to participate in each flavour as activator and chaser (though as Andy says, some of my chases were S2S). Those green ticks - very seductive!
This meant trying data and digital voice for the first time. Having a short window of opportunity prompted me to gather the equipment and get going - I probably wouldn’t have got around to it without that. I’m not yet a convert in either case, but the experience was / is certainly interesting and worthwhile.
17m was also a first for me, and the 10m / 12m flavour coincided nicely with good condx.
I had a blast on 80m when somebody spotted me on the DX cluster. I worked several bemused stations who had never heard of SOTA, and were amazed to find that I was outdoors and running just 5 Watts to a low slung dipole.

Encouraging activity on the same under-used bands or modes at the same time is a good idea.

The more it looks like a contest, the less attractive it will be to many SOTAists, I think, so I’d agree with Joe’s comment about taking only the best scoring activation, or even doing away with points altogether. (Keep the green ticks :+1:)
I’ve nothing against contests, they can be fun and very compelling, but there are plenty out there.
I enjoy SOTA as a joint enterprise where we help and encourage each other. It isn’t and never will be a level playing field, and there aren’t any winners or losers.

So, what next - satellites? Probably an option in most parts of the world.

Cross band contacts? This could provide some experience on eg 60m for those who are not allowed to transmit, and an interesting challenge generally.

Local energy source only eg wind / solar / pedals, with no batteries?


Mostly, I havn’t actively avoided the challenge; if I’ve had time for chasing and seen a spot for an activator to chase on a band and mode I want to try at the time, then I’ve given it a go, but I havn’t gone out of my way to participate…

I personally dislike the competitive nature of the challenges, and that’s why my participation has been pretty much accidental.

I can’t see that the challenges are any more competitive than the rest of SOTA.

Go for a whole month without doing a SOTA activation: that would be a real challenge.

I thought that was called lockdown!


In Richard’s case it was called “running your own business”.
It has not escaped my attention that, since “retirement”, he seems to be out and about near enough every day :laughing:

It’s doable if you work SOTA into your daily routines with work and family. I’ve been in full-time employed and self-employed work throughout my 18 years doing SOTA, including many long working days, and spells of up to 20 working days without a day off. But I’ve still racked up around 3500 activations and over 450 activator uniques in that time. Just a matter of not wasting a single minute of every day.

I would like to add my support to this comment about helping and supporting each other. I participate in the Challenges and had a great time. I also participate in short events like the W7A S2S Madness when we had 6 people on different peaks in Alberta for a making both local and long-distance S2S contacts. Several times we have had groups of activators out at dawn trying to make Trans-Atlantic S2S contacts.
So please don’t spend too much time worrying about the scoring details. I’m more interested in small groups of people working on the challenge itself.
Ideas on future Challenges? I like the idea of satellites. I haven’t yet sent an image by SSTV but I am told anyone with a smart phone can do it. What about JS8Call contacts? I looked briefly at this mode when trying to send APRS messages over HF for spotting beyond digipeter/phone range.

Thanks again for organizing the Challenges,


I’m not a great one for contests myself, but we do get occasional requests for a contest. So far we have refused it for safety reasons, on the basis that it might tempt people into activating in unsuitable weather or stay on the summit longer than is wise. I can think of several ways around this but I suspect that most sotari would not like the idea of a contest.


Really enjoyed the last seven days in the DV favour. Lots of chasers worked on C4FM, several S2S and quite a few people “met” on air for the first time too.

Going back to an earlier question - possibly from Andy @mm0fmf - about the relative merits of C4FM as a SOTA mode, in comparison to analogue FM. Well, probably nothing surprising or new here, but there were definitely cases of where a mediocre 55 with background noise FM signal, became a 59 fully quietening signal when the mode was changed to C4FM. Likewise, there were instances of a mediocre FM signal turning into a “nothing heard” when C4FM was then attempted. Pleasingly, the significant majority of occasions matched the former rather than the latter.

I think Keith @G0OXV_2 and Phil @G4OBK may be able to provide some further interesting observations from the perspective of chasers using the C4FM digital voice mode.

Last night I sat out in the cold and rain on The Cloud G/SP-015 for an hour or so for the last night of the DV flavour. I think I made 7 C4FM QSOs, and a similar number on analogue FM. Of those 7 DV contacts, 5 (or possibly 6) were with stations I had already worked in the 2020 Challenge, so won’t progress my score, though it was still a pleasure to chat - especially to old SOTA friend Keith G0OXV who I have really enjoyed catching up with over the past few days. One or two brand new calls on C4FM - so very pleased with those.

Now looking forward to the LF flavour at the start of November. I’ll probably do a few 80m activations ahead of then to get some practice in - and as a part of my Bandhopper 4 linked dipole needs a minor repair. This is what I was talking about up the thread - that the Challenge, for me at least, has influenced choice of activating bands and modes outside of the Flavour dates too.

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The Flavours Challenge has encouraged me to update the firmware in my FT70Ds. Both now on v1.11. They were easy to do unlike the FT2DR which was dreadful and left a nasty taste in my mouth.

You’re not supposed to lick the touchscreen.


That’s another approach to the DV flavour challenge…

Thanks for the nudge, though, it hadn’t occured to me to check for a firmware update to the FT70D.

I’ve nothing against contests so long as I’m not expected to participate.

After the previous two challenges certificates were available to a select few top-scorers. For the 12 Metre Challenge, there was this (quoted from the SOTA News for August 2014):

…and for the 6 metres challenge there was this (from the challenge announcement):

…both of which imply that there are winners, and certainly made those two challenges seem like competitions to me. I may be jumping to conclusions, but I just assumed the same would apply to this one.

Its like a major marathon, there will be placings, but most people will take part for the sake of the challenge - though I doubt that there will be many fancy dress activations. :grinning: If you want a competition, compete. If you want a challenge, participate. Live and let live.

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Well the Flavours are having a good influence on me at least. I went out for an activation this morning, and already my mind was focused on next months LF flavour.

Yesterday when I got in from work, I fired up the soldering iron and repaired the broken bit of my linked dipole. Happy to report that this highly complicated and technical repair proved successful, and allowed me to have an enjoyable activation on 80m.

80m FT8: 10
80m CW: 8

I was then going to do SSB but the XYL phoned me with some “advice” that it would be sensible for me to return immediately home with the contents of a shopping list.

Sorry to any phone ops - the microphone was plugged in and everything, honest…

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