I’m a freshly baked ham living in Ceredigion and I just got my Foundation Licence and callsign sorted today.
SOTA seems like a good way of exploring amateur radio, while enjoying the Welsh hills and mountains, so I’m keen to try it out.
I’ve got a small handheld VHF/UHF with added antennas to get me started, until I figure out what rig to get. I’ve also started learning Morse code, hoping to be able to use that in the future. It’s going to take a while though!
Welcome Sara. You will find lots of VHF activity to/from the GW summits. Looking forward to working you across the Bay from GW/NW.
Congratulations Sara I would recommend an FT817 second hand or even a new FT 818 as a SOTA rig, and a resonate dipole for the bands you can work. There are hundreds of them in use on SOTA and I have done several activation’s with mine. But if you like to spend a bit more a kx3 or kx2 would be the ultimate SOTA rig.
Good luck finding a rig that suits your purpose.
Ian vk5cz …
Welcome to the SOTA community Sara. I look forward to having a S2S with you before long as we live in the Welsh borders and are often up the local hills (when it is a bit cooler!!) Don’t worry about investing in bigger and heavier radios at the moment as your handy with a suitable antenna (or even a rubber duck but that is more of a challenge!) should be able to get you some contacts on 2m fm IF…
a) you put up an alert before going out so people know to listen out for you - and you start activating within a reasonable time of that alert before they give up and go and walk the dog or find some lunch
b) if possible, you put up a spot when you are actually ready on the summit - but this may be impossible as many small hills in mid Wales don’t have a signal
c) you choose a summit which gives chasers a good chance of hearing you. You need a summit with good take-off (no trees in the way on the top and, preferably, a steepish slope in the direction you want to be heard), a lack of masts which might stop your signal unless you have a filter (worry about this later!), a clear path to where some people might be listening as there are few inhabitants, let alone radio amateurs, in some parts of mid Wales
d) persistence - so you keep on calling - and some good luck!!
You can increase your chances of getting contacts by letting radio friends know that you are going out (there are facebook groups out there…) and ask them to listen out or even send a licensed family member out on to another SOTA summit and ensure you get at least one contact which will be a S2S (see my topic entitled ‘SOTA with a walk to the Sea’ which is currently on the reflector). You need 4 to qualify but getting the first one means you get a tick for the summit and increases the chances of someone else hearing you chatting (off the calling frequency!) and coming to find you. Choosing to go out when another activator has put up an alert for another hill within range also helps. I often have contacts with people using £25 or so Baufengs on 2m fm (and some also make it on 70cm) from home (especially the garden!) as well as on the beach or up a hill.
Except when in difficult areas (Outer Hebrides, more difficult parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland) I am using VHF/UHF on a Yaesu VX7R handy (max 5w) usually with a dual band dipole made from overflow water pipes or a 11" stick antenna - and an increasingly more reluctant pair of knees to get me up the hill and down again! I have talked to over 3000 different people and done 1000+ activations (with more to come in mid September in GM/SS-land I hope) so it is possible… and will be fun! Come and join us.
Hello Sara and welcome to SOTA. I would add much more but the other half has just beaten me to it. We try to do most of MW each year - not this one, however
With your power limit the aerial is the really vital bit to concentrate on whatever band you use.
Hope to speak soon.
Welcome to amateur radio, and to SOTA Sara. Pegwn Mawr GW/MW-006 is a short easy walk. Plynlimon GW/MW-001 is longer but mostly good underfoot and a very pleasant walk. I mention these two because they are both relatively close to you and easy to qualify with nothing more than a VHF handheld with its stock rubber duck helical antenna. There are several active hams in your area that tend to be monitoring the 2m calling channel though, so you should have enough summits near you to get off to a good start in SOTA with your current equipment. Good luck.
Hi Sara and welcome to SOTA!
Most of my SOTA points have been made by using nothing more than a 5W VHF handheld, a £6 RH770 clone from eBay, pen and paper (and mostly in Wales)… so you don’t need much to get going. There’s of course a ton of other stuff to explore and enjoy!
Hope to speak to you from a hilltop soon,
Congratulations and welcome to the fraternity. 73 dre Geoff vk3sq
Croeso i SOTA Sara.
Loads of nice Sota summits in Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and a few in Pembrokeshire to get you started. E-mail me if you want more information on routes etc. via my e-mail address on QRZ.com.
Hwyl am nawr
Wow, that was a lot of good advice in one post, thanks! It’s encouraging to know that other people has made it work well. I guessed that it would be a down to a combination of giving chasers a heads up and getting that antenna up as high as possible and then hoping for the best. And if I can get away with not having to lug a load of heavy, bulky items up a hill, that’s nice too
With the mobile cover in Wales and Welsh hills being what it is, I guess the SMS spotting is my best bet and even that’s probably not going to work everywhere.
Yes, that is probably true. Be sure to register your number with Andy:
Have a listen from time to time on 144.800 MHz just to judge if there is much activity on APRS in your area. If it’s bleeping away much of the time maybe it’s worth thinking about APRS. If it’s mostly silent, then maybe not.
Ie, dw i wedi gweld rhai yn yr ardal 'ma ar SOTA Maps.
I’m working up in Aberystwyth and I’ve noticed that there are several up around Nant-y-Moch as well.
Finding shiny stuff to spend money on does not seem to be a problem in this hobby! Always good to hear what other people are using thought, while I’m mulling it over.
Thanks! That’s good to hear. I’ve got an RHD771 and a 2 m slim jim kit on the way, so hopefully between the two I might get some luck. Haven’t soldered much since school thought, so that will be interesting… I bought two slim jim kits, just in case I’d mess up the first one!
Thanks! Pumlumon used to be a favourite when I lived in Aber, but I haven’t been in years, so maybe that would be a nice one to visit. At least I know where to park etc, so don’t need to worry about that too.
Welcome to SOTA, Sara, I think you will find it addictive, both activating & chasing! I live on the Wirral, so Wales is my current activating area. I’ve mostly used a fairly old 2m Kenwood 4 watt handie firing into a home made slim jim on a fishing pole, or a RH770 clone. In my photo I was using the handie & RH770 on Elidir Fawr (G/NW-005) last December in the snow. I’ve got a FT818 which I’ve used a couple of times eg last Thursday again on Elidir, but there is a bit of a weight penalty with this, so I may just use the handie for the really high peaks. Anyway, enjoy your SOTAing & hope to work you sometime! 73 John.
I can imagine that in winter, you’d want something lightweight that requires minimum faff-time to set it up. Between all the extra winter gear and the often harsh conditions on exposed summits, I mean.
The FT-817/818 option gives you VHF/UHF possibilities neither the KX2 nor your average handy will have.
Welcome to this wonderful hobby. It has many interesting facets to it. You will here a lot of jargon and by the looks of it great advice from forums such as this. No rush, take stock of what it is you want to do and spend, use SOTA and YouTube to do your research. Amateurs will fall over themselves to help and advise. Most of all enjoy the hobby. 73 Mike
Congrats on the licence, welcome to the hobby and to SOTA, VHF handheld is great for SOTA work and can work a good distance on just 5W.