G’day from Australia Far North Qld (VK4)

G’day Everyone,
It’s great to be back into amateur radio again. I walked away from it over 20 years ago as computers/ satellites and all that junk become the rage. For me I like it simple. Small rigs/ QRP/ portable antennas and the like.

Anyway, on and off over the past few years I got the itch to get back into it, but nothing seemed to have changed. From what I saw, it looked like it was dying. Hmmm. From time to time I saw this thing on the web in conversations etc called SOTA, but never looked into it as I thought it something to do with satellites and the like. Just not my cup of tea I’m afraid

Anyway, over the past 8 weeks I got the itch again and found the SKCC group (Straight Key Century Club) where its all about CW and using the old straight keys (no paddles there I’m afraid… LOL). So I got all fired up and joined.

Then yesterday I was webstalking and found some mention of this SOTA fella and his goats climbing hills and yakking on his radio. At first I thought they were talking about Steve and his goats (the inventor of the firebox stove. (see his you tube channel …firebox stoves). Hmm… not him. Crikey, what’s this new trend with goats. Am I missing something!

Then it finally clicked… Summits On The Air.

Small portable rigs, QRP, wire antennas and the like. (No satellites here !!! LOL). Trekking through the bush to some high peak in the middle of nowhere and crankin’ up. Sound awesome

Well I was hooked.

I quickly signed up to the main part but had trouble signing up with Reflector. (It wouldn’t send me an email to get me in. Anyway, after a few emails, Josh (WU7H) got it sorted out, (“Thanks mate. Much appreciated!!”) and… here I am.

First thing… I had to order a small rig. (I’m not luggin’ a Kenwood TS-140 through the bush, I can tell ya), so just waiting for my QCX mini to arrive (14 mhz…I’ll get the 7 meg next), squid pole and all the rest of the stuff one makes. Then its on and crikey…am I looking forward to it

Anyway… I do have some questions though, but I’ll leave that for next time.


Just some of the mountains offshore from us and we have a huge range behind us. In our small area we have 42 mountains surrounding us worth 10 points and 48 mountains worth 8 points. Problem is… its serious deep jungle to get to them (LOL)
In sota maps,
VK4 Australia Queensland


Welcome to the obsession!

Actually there have been a few SOTA activations by satellite. Contacts via terrestrial repeaters don’t count for points but those via satellite do.

73 Richard


Hi Mark

Yeah, Steve WG0AT and his goats got me into SOTA way back, watching his videos made it something I wanted to do. We got SOTA up and running in VK6 in Sept 2014. I’ve had heaps of fun ever since and met some great people along the way both here and in Europe at Ham Radio Show in Friedrichshafen. A must do event if you ever get the chance to go, its at the end of June most years.

Good to have you onboard and look forward to working you. CW is great for SOTA and you will have a good group of VK and ZL Chasers. Just make sure you post Alerts for your activations.

Look forward to working you soon.

John VK6NU

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Thanks John for your reply.
In regards to “alerts” and “spots”, these were going to be my next topic.
As for CW, I got bored with SSB. (another reason why I left years ago.) Back then I was into QRP, but even the clubs seemed to be dying. I’m noticing now however that there seems to be a resurgence in CW. (and the world turns again. Crikey… those flares and big high shoes from the 70’s better not make a come back - LOL)

Start here: https://www.sota.org.uk/ with the “New to SOTA” section. Then read this bit Summits on the Air and also look at all the subjects in the left hand panel. There’s a lot so read a bit and come back and continue.

Also you can review all the posts made on here going back to 2007 or so by click the magnifying glass top right of this page and entering words, phrases etc. into the search box and seeing what’s been discussed before. That’s not to say we wont be interested in hearing your questions even if they have been discussed in the past it’s just that using the search lets you catch up faster on common questions etc.

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Yes, I found a lot of comments etc about how Alerts work and what to do. Its the spotting I find a problem with.

You see, up here in Northern Australia, phone reception isn’t a given. Crikey, you can drive 5 kms away from the highway and your now in a dead zone. This happens all over. So here, the only thing a phone is good for, is taking pictures. I watch vids on you tube where members are climbing mountains overseas in the middle of nowhere and when they’re ready to fire up, out comes the phone and they start tapping away. Well… that’s not going to happen here. Not in Far Northern Australia anyway. So in this regard, what does one do.? How does one activate the “spot”. The only way I can see is to start tapping your CW key and hope for the best?

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RBNHole is your friend if you’re a CW man. Someone will be along to explain it better than I can, in a minute.

73, Fraser MM0EFI


Thanks Fraser,
I remember reading about that somewhere (I think it was on the RBN website itself.) Something about tapping out CQ a few times with your callsign , making sure your tapping is consistence in its spacing so that the computer will pick it up. Am I right here?
Why RBN hole? Whats the “hole” part signify?

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If you have alerted then when the Reverse Beacon Network picks up your CQ, SOTAwatch will automatically create a spot for you. So as long as your CW is picked up by at least one station in the RBN then you don’t have to worry about spotting and you get a nice little pile up! At least it works that well here in Europe.

Originally there was something called RBNGate which picked up the spots from RBN, matched them to an alert and generated SOTA spots. But the code for it got lost (I think the author went SK). Someone hacked together a replacement and so it was called RBNHole (i.e. a not very good gate). Of course it works extremely well.


Thanks for the reply Richard. Makes sense.
Much appreciated

RBNhole needs to be set up by the alert you post. From memory (unreliable!) it monitors from -1 hour to +3 hours from the time you alert for. But there are ways to extend this which a search on here should throw up.

I used it a week or so ago and it worked brilliantly except on 60m due to the lack of 60m monitors.

The QCX mini is a great radio but it doesn’t seem to like the higher bands. I’ve a 17m version and it is a bit deaf. It is possible to improve this and I’ve bought the bits (new toroid) but haven’t got round to it as I generally use my Icom IC-705 which does everything except make me a cup of tea. :slight_smile: With the current solar cycle still increasing the higher bands, 15m and above, are begining to work well and from where you are QSOs into JA and across the Pacific to the Americas should become possible although of course 20m will work very well and sounds a good choice.

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Yes, post alerts; chasers will be ready to pounce when your CQ SOTA comes up.
Much can be learned about current culture and style by listening to how the present “varsity” activators handle their activations. Things, e.g. cell service availability for self spotting are MUCH better than they were years ago. If no cell service in a particular place, then the RBN will pick you up because you’re CW. Be prepared to have some real fun.

Best, Ken

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Welcome Mark

OZSOTA@groups.io | Home is an email group where nearly all the VK SOTA operators hang out. Well worth joining.

A few SOTA operators also combined WWFF with their activations when a peak is in a qualifying park. https://www.wwffaustralia.com/

https://parksnpeaks.org/ is a great resource about almost everything portable in Australia.



Welcome back, Mark! 20 mtrs was a good choice. We’ve had a couple of SOTA & parks activators from FNQ get all gung ho, then vanish after a first activation because 40 mtrs, the expressway for portable ops in southern VK, just does not work for FNQ & VK8. But you probably knew that, just from daily listening :slight_smile:

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Welcome to the party Mark. :wave:

G’day John,
I managed to drag out my old Kenwood TS-140 and have a listen and came up with the same opinion. Technically., I can’t get on the air yet. My licence expired 20 years ago, so back in early December I re-applied to get my license back. When you send in your application, intially you have to “buy” your callsign ($35) where I found my old callsign was still available. So i jumped on that. Once that was approved (I rang and got the unofficial “yes its yours” ) , then my application is sent to ACMA of which they send me out the bill of $80. Once paid, my callsign is activated. However, with xmas/ new year and everything in between, I’m still waiting. (I’m going to call them tomorrow to see where its at). So in the meantime, I’m getting everything ready, joining various groups that I’m interested in and getting myself up to speed (20 years is a long time out of the game and lot has changed)

Thanks again mate

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G’day Peter,
Thanks for the links. I’ll get onto it today.
As for the “park” side of things, from what I’ve seen, none of the parks up are are registered. They all seem to be down south.
Anyway… I join the Ozsota group today

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Thanks Josh !

Thanks Ken.
Looks like that will have to be my only option up here.
Oh well… it just adds to the challenge… LOL

I think you will find that ACMA email you something or other once you are in their system. DO NOT wait for paper copy - get on the blower the same day and pay the nice man via credit card, then you are good to go - no need to wait for a dead tree to arrive in the mail. The governing rule seems to be "If you’ve paid (both parties), and you can prove it if necessary, you are good to go. Look forward to working you!

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