“Flavours” Challenge- discussion 2

Maybe I can give some input about this topic from my personal experience.

Back in March I did several activations in one day and made a S2S with Jürg HB9BIN on the first summit. He informed me about the Challenge and asked me to continue the 2m FM QSO in C4FM, which I happily did, because I never used C4FM before.
Later on, also on other summits, I instructed other chasers and activators to switch to C4FM, some of them also never used it before.

So to me it seems that not everybody is aware that the challenges exist, which after I found out, I find it an interesting and easy way in trying new bands and modes, especially for greenhorns like me.

The question is how to spread the idea of the challenges in general and show it more prominently. Maybe keep it pinned on the Reflector for some time, e.g. during the first seven days of each month?

73 Stephan

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Andy asked “The question is how do you get that feedback/input from people who are not engaged?”

By indirect means, since Richard’s point is valid. For instance the DB shows a modest increase in numbers of 80m activators this year over last year, although (a) the 80/160m challenge has another three days to run, and (b) one week of it was effectively lost to the first peak of the pandemic. The tentative conclusion is that it has triggered a modest increase in interest in 80m. Similarly there has been quite a significant increase in the numbers of activators on 17m this year over last year, though how much of that is due to the challenge drawing attention to it, and how much due to the slow end of sunspot minimum, is open to discussion. The same goes for data, a significant increase, though oddly a decrease for DV. Finally, about a 10% increase in activators on 70cm. Is that significant? Search me!

In the end, all the MT can do is dream up do-able challenges and offer them to the participants. The only feedback that we can rely on is recorded in the database.

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I think that is one of the real problems.

I also think that this is one part of the story.

Having this info shared in blogs and news magazines for amateur radio could help to raise interest also for non-SOTA operators.
For example in Austria it would be easy to get an article in our monthly print magazine - let’s say for the Dezember edition. And a monthly (or once per quarter) update on the homepage. There is also a monthly radio broadcast to share news.
I guess similar activities exist in other countries too.

So the question is:
Is there already a challenge plan for 2021 ?
December edition of the print magazine would require input till 11th of November

73 Joe

There has been lots of discussion but no consensus.

This is interesting. The (then) forthcoming SOTA Flavours Challenge was promoted across all the usual channels and amateur radio magazines in October 2019.


In the UK, this appeared in print in Radcom and PW, and the information was distributed via our network of regional publicity volunteers / language specialists in the US, VK, JA, EA (+SA), CT, DL, F etc.

There was good publicity for the European SOTA day in September, well enough in advance for folk to make plans, and that worked out pretty well. For this year’s challenge there was the announcement back at the beginning of the year, but since then there hasn’t been anything like as much publicity. The way this one has been arranged (one week a month, and something different each month) I’d guess maybe it needed each month’s flavour to be publicised as a distinct event.

I guess the “first seven days” bit might also have fallen into a gap. A one-day event gives everyone a day to focus on. Seven days is a bit long for the same sort of focus, and too short for someone who wants to get their teeth into something new. I know the idea was to entice people to try something unusual, but it’s unlikely folk will spend much to equip themselves for a particular flavour when there’s only seven days of possibly elevated activity on offer, so even if they know it’s happening they’re only likely to take part if they already have the kit (as Stephan noted for C4FM above).

I knew about the challenge, but it was a non-starter for me. I rarely get an open day for activating, so the seven day windows meant there was almost no chance for the challenge to line up with a time when my schedule was free. Also, one-third of the challenge periods would require buying new equipment in order to activate (datamodes and DV). I’m not going to spend a few hundred dollars to participate in one activation.

The challenge appears to be aimed at very active activators and chasers who maybe are getting a bit bored and need a change. That’s a fine goal, but it doesn’t work for me. Maybe the idea was to throw out a bunch of stuff to get new participants interested. I’m not sure that changing the flavor every month is the right way to do that, though. New participant is interested in A, but then we change the Flavour to B and then to C.

For chasing, 80 and 160 are extremely noisy here in Silicon Valley. I have a fairly lame antenna for 80 and nothing for 160. To be honest, the antenna isn’t great on any band and the noise is very high on all bands. Don’t have a rig for digital voice. FreeDV on HF might have worked, but I don’t remember a lot of activations with FreeDV.

Finally, the whole thing was really complicated with the focus scattered all over the place. If it was a year of digital voice, maybe I would get a DMR HT and/or get FreeDV working. For two weekend out of the year? Nope.


I started with good intentions, but then things slipped - Covid at least being partly responsible as well as aquiring some new equipment - the Raspberry Pi solution for digital works in the shack but it didn’t get on the hill this year, I keep looking for a cheap way of getting C4FM, and a 70cm antenna either needs making or buying… next year I might get beyond the January challenge!

Well, I think the complexity of many different flavours in many months over several days a month, makes it less interesting for many of us. I think very few of us are able to spend so much time either activating or chasing. Also, being able to take part on all of the different flavours, requires investments, a lot of preparation and that means money, time and work.
When you see you can or want to take part in a few of the flavours only, I think it’s easy to loose some interest in the whole challenge.
Personally, I don’t have any interest in digital modes and I’m not feeling any interest in taking the “upheaval” of activating on the low bands for just the very small number of QSOs and lots of noise I would get from this location. Chasing in the low bands is usually an utopy most of the times.
I have been a contester before SOTA and the way I most enjoy SOTA is dealing with a good CW pileup and logging many QSOs. That’s why I usually activate on 20, 30, 40m CW.
I understand some hams enjoy exploring several different bands/modes and things, but I don’t think this is applicable to the vast majority of the SOTA community.
I have taken part in the challenge as a chaser and also activating but I admit it’s been purely for a wish to take part in it, not that it represented a challenge to me in any sense.
My 2 cents…


I haven’t bothered with the challenge for a few reasons.

Firstly it seemed to me to be aimed at people who were already Mountain Goats and/or activate a lot and who needed something new to do.

I can only activate weekends which limits me to two days flavour wise and it seems a lot of work to set up for some flavours (digital for example), when I may not even get out due to the weather or if I end up having have other commitments (not uncommon). Also I have no real interest in digital modes or digital voice.

When it comes down to it, I simply enjoy climbing hills and qualifying a summit (mainly CW). Activating is hard enough down here without handicapping ones self with specific modes and bands and having to carry extra equipment to do so. With the new solar cycle starting to take off I am getting my thrills from the number of times I have worked stations in JA and the US recently (including some JA S2S). I’d rather keep focusing on that as that is more fun to me.

Even if I was interested I could never compete as the rules penalise regions like mine where there is a small number of chasers. I generally work the same dozen or so chasers on most activations. Even if I could convince them to try a flavour, I can only get a multiplier for working them once, so why bother?

For what it is worth I am rather surprised the challenge wasn’t pinned to the top of the reflector and each month’s flavour not advertised in the various online ham news publications to keep it front of mind. If I did want to do a flavour then currently I am forced to search the reflector to find the rules and which flavour we are up to.

Mark ZL3AB


My activation of Long Mynd G/WB-005 on 160m last night (4/11/20) was more successful than I expected - and I may not have got around to trying it but for the challenge.

A 1.8MHz dipole is big, and quite a lot of tension is required to keep the wire from sagging. I was a bit over enthusiastic during setup, and split a section of my telescopic pole. Happily it was the bottom section, so the rest of the pole was useable. This put the centre of the dipole at about 6m.

I initially rigged the antenna along a wire fence, as I have often done before, but the sag in such a long antenna brought it too close to the fence, and I couldn’t get a match with the Elecraft T1 tuner. So, I moved the ends 3m or so away from the fence, using my walking poles to keep the ends clear of the ground. The match was still less than ideal, but not bad enough to upset the FT817.

I fired up on CW and the first three stations were soon in the log. As I changed to SSB, I noticed that I was still running the 2.5W used for antenna tuning, and from then on I used 5W.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I hoped for at least one contact. Four to qualify the summit would have been even better, but to get get ten callsigns in the log was very pleasing!

From this statistically insignificant sample of 1 activation, there does seem to be a sweet spot around sunset. Playing with the antenna from 15:50, activity seemed to be growing. In the minutes after sunset, I was bounced of my chosen frequency by a strong station, and took a little while to find a clear one. (The station did repeatedly ask if the frequency was in use before CQing, but he clearly couldn’t hear my puny signal). Then, by the time I pulled the plug at around 17:45, activity seemed to have dropped off. (Was that condx, or just meal time…?)

Thats a lot of wire to coil up!

I can see there is a case for using a shorter, loaded, antenna and a bit more power to compensate - but I might try this again. Must get some kite winders…

Many thanks to all who chased me, and all who listened out just in case.



Thanks for the report Adrian on your very successful top band activation for the Flavours Challenge. I listened on and off throughout on 160m and was there at the end when you announced QRT in CW. Luc ON7DQ was late on parade by a minute or so by which time you went QRT. I called Luc back to say you had just gone QRT. He was logged by me at 17:45z and was 569 then. Not as strong as you were at the end of your session.

73 Phil

PS You were my 43rd Flavours Activator (I had “Flavoured” you before) but Long Mynd was a new one and my 118th Flavours summit.


I was punching the air after working you, Adrian! It was a struggle, you were weak and the S meter was telling me that the band was much noisier than usual, it was only after filling in the log that I discovered that the RF gain was turned well down and you were probably a much better signal than I had thought, another case of brain fade!

For me 160m is the most challenging of SOTA challenges. It hinges on the antenna and the time of day. An effective antenna for Top Band QRP is not easy to arrange, it demands space and/or craftiness, and the band pretty well demands that you operate in the dark, a time of day that many hill walkers are uncomfortable with.

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Nice one Adrian. I tried a couple of times to do topband in the January LF flavour. Neither was particularly successful but I did make one QSO in one activation and two in the other! For one attempt I attached lengths of wire to the ends of my Bandhopper 4 to (nearly) double up the dipole. For the other, I used an end-fed longwire and ATU.

I’ll be out later for a bit of 80m operating. It seems Amazon will not deliver my new tablet today so legacy modes again.

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The joys of modern technology! My keyboard stopped working today, so I’m using a spare that is a bit unreliable while my daughter is getting a replacement for me while she is out buying fireworks. Don’t leave your mike at home, Tom, I am tuned up and ready to go on 80m having just failed to hear DM3FAM/P!

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Just was about to set off - and found that Amazon have been!

So we’re now delayed as I am unexpectedly preoccupied!

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Doh! Sorry to miss Luc, but thank you for letting him know I’d gone, Phil.
Pleased to give you the Long Mynd - I tend to think of it as a much activated summit that is not in demand, but of course the flavours challenge alters that…

Pleased to be at the other end, Brian - a completed QSO that was by no means a certainty can have that effect, its largely what keeps me engaged with operating a radio!

Yes, in the context of SOTA it may not be the most obvious choice. But I’ve thought since - how else would I get to play with a full size dipole on top band? Not remotely possible at my home, and it’s far too big to put up in a park / playing field or most other places with public access. Sitting at the middle of it, the ends look very distant, and even if you spotted someone running towards it, it would be difficult to warn them. Surrounded by a big expanse of knee deep heather, on the other hand, makes it very unlikely that anyone would stray into it.
(Incidentally, I was operating from the part of the AZ on PROW land outside the National Trust boundary)

All good intentions an’ all that! I’m settling in for the evening, and it looks cold, damp and dark outside. I don’t think I can be mithered going out now. I will in the morning though I promise Brian @G8ADD!

I can’t speak for the majority, but for my part I would say that the restrictions imposed by COVID this year have probably distorted any SOTA activity. It will be interesting to compare the 2020 activity level with other years. Apart from that I haven’t got around to sorting out data modes at home yet (never mind on a hill). My next (personal) challenge on a hill is probably going to be satellites.