Just discovered SOTA this past weekend at NVCON - Northern Nevada Convention in Boomtown. One of the presentations was about Summits on the Air and I thought hmmm, we have a lot of mountains around here so why not?! Wow, was I surprised to find that it is a worldwide endeavor by a lot of great folks who just happen to the HAMS too!
Not sure how I am going to get started in this new facet of Amateur Radio but I see there are several mountain tops that are close to me so I’ll probably start with them and then branch out as I gain some experience. I have an ICOM ic7000 but not sure how good it will be for use on these hikes as it takes some significant battery power to operatie.
Anyway, just wanted to say HI and that I am doing a lot of reading on SOTA. A neophyte, I am!
73 - W3DRM - Don
Welcome to SOTA!
Be sure to check out the NA SOTA Yahoo Group I’m sure the guys will give you a warm welcome and answer any US specific questions you may have.
Welcome Don! Yes there are a LOT of SOTA destinations in Norhern Nevada. Check the SOTA Summits under W7N and look in WC (Washoe County) and TR (Tahoe Region) for close ones assuming you’re in the Reno area. The Tahoe area summits are my favorite obviously because of the views but there’s a real beauty to the high desert summits too. Research is the key to a successful activation - use google earth and google maps to plan your route. In some cases you can actually zoom in and “see” gates on roads that may or may not indicate possible private property. Check for posted articles listed on the individual summit page near the bottom. I always try and write up my access notes for summits to help the next activator find useful way points.
For summits that are short hikes equipment weight is not a big issue but if your plan calls for a round trip hike for multiple miles, lightweight equipment is essential !! Eric KU6J posted a LOT of access articles with maps and pictures which are great. You can see the typical SOTA activation set up in these pictures.
I hope you do get involved and enjoy the beautiful scenery in your area !!
73 Rick WB0USI
Welcome Don… SOTA is not a pass time… it’s an infectious disease with little or no cure…
One disease I have definitely been happy to catch!
Have fun out there - I would imagine the Nevada hills could be quite lonely and challenging. I’ve done a bit of hiking and climbing in the Sierra Nevada and Yosemite and it’s a bit different from Wales… )
Welcome Don! My $.02 of advice is to get a very lightweight qrp cw rig for your hikes.
73, Barry N1EU
I was at the same conference and attended the same session. It was very interesting I already have scored 8 pts as a chaser. I fear that this gig is going to be addictive.
73 de gene w6jmp
Nice job Gene ! You can google SOTA and see what folks put together for stations to activate hills - if you can you should try an activation and go for the whole SOTA experience. Even a 1 point hill draws a chaser crowd - you’ll feel like a rare DX station working a pile-up for a few minutes ! Hills in Northern Nevada have good RF visibility to Pacific Northwest, Southwest, and Midwest with QRP power and you can always count on hearing Phil NS7P, Tommy W7RV, and the midwest team Gary M0MNA and Martha W0ERI every time - almost a guaranteed 4 contacts to confim the activation !
You are definately SOTA-bit and there’s no cure - enjoy!!
73 Rick WB0USI
Tnx fer the info Rick. Activating does sound fun. Only thing that worries me is that I work cw exclusively and that may upset some chasers if they want ssb. I have the K line at home and will have a kx3 shortly also have several portable antennas-Buddipole etc. so pretty much ready to rock an roll (pun intended). Any advice that you care to pass my way is appreciated. When it comes to ham radio I’m pretty much a sponge.
73 de gene w6jmp
Just wander out and see what happens
Best wishes and good luck.
Gene - definitely do the CW thing. I use a KX-1 and a loop antenna for my activations so almost exclusively CW (I did one SSB activation from Big Hill testing my 10 meter station for the 10 meter challenge next fall) - you can see my typical set up on QRZ.com - A good number of chasers do CW and SSB so you’ll have no trouble making contacts. From your QTH a good one to start with would be W6/NS-290 Big Hill. You can drive right up to the summit but to satisfy the W6 SOTA activation requirement of hiking the last 80 feet elevation, park down below the helicopter port and hike up to the picnic table just past the lookout. Nice view and a convenient place to set up. Not quite the same as a genuine hike up to a summit via trail or “bush whacking” but a great summit to test your equipment and wet your feet activating!
good luck - 73 Rick WB0USI
From the W6 ARM:
" The General Rules do not specify the distance, either vertical or en route, that this final ascent must cover. In keeping with the spirit of adventure and the promotion of physical fitness embodied by the SOTA program, the W6 association recommends that the activator plan a minimum of 100 vertical feet be covered in the final approach to the operating position. This recommendation is not considered a rule in
fairness to those who are limited in mobility and face more considerable challenge than other activators."
So 100 feet (not 80 feet) is an Association recommendation, not a requirement, just for the record.
Hi Again Rick,
I didn’t realize, until I viewed your Qrz.com site, that we Live relatively close together. I live in El Dorado Hills and you in Roseville. There is a SOTA site that is very close to me. I see Pine Hill from my front room window and drive by it all the time. Maybe some day we could do a land line.
73 de gene w6jmp
Brian - of course you are correct - I keep mis-stating, remembering the activation must be within 80 vertical feet of the summit defined as the activation zone. Must be some obscure form of dyslexia
Don and Gene - another tip - familiarize yourself with the SOTA rules for each region you activate in. Each Region has an Association Reference Manual (ARM) - Final Ascent and Activation Zone specifics are defined. W6 and W7N are local for us - as Brian states the last 100 vertical feet must be on foot - the activation zone dips from the summut to 80 feet below. So if you can’t make it to the summit you must be on foot for at least 100 vertical feet before you set up within the activation zone.
Gene - land line sounds great - send me an email with your number (email listed QRZ)
73 Rick WB0USI
There is no “must”. The 100 foot thing is only a recommendation, not a rule, and you are free to ignore it.
I’m a black and white guy, avoid the grey areas - if it is written it will be done. Replace “must” with “recommend” - all good
Welcome to the addiction!. Gary and I will be watching and listening for you. A large percentage of us chase both phone and cw so you will have contacts. We live in a state with no SOTA summits so mainly chase, but when we get where there are summits we do a little activating. See you on the air.
Martha W0ERI and Gary W0MNA
Thanks for all of the replies!
Well, the more I delve into this new facet of the ham hobby, the more I am convinced that I will begin making SOTA a priority. I only have an ICOM ic7000 to work with on HF so, at the moment so that will be my main equipment.I now need to figure out how I can power it with batteries that don’t weigh too much. Perhaps, my operational period on each summit will have to be be quite short. I’ll probably start with a simple 20 or 40m dipole setup and go from there. Hope to get my first peak in June or July.
Helllo Don and Gene. Welcome aboard to the SOTA hangout. It was a pleasure meeting up with you guys at NVCON last weekend and glad to see my little quick presentation on getting started in SOTA has sparked some interest! You’ll find a great bunch of Ops here who are more than willing to point out some hints and tips. As mentioned above, you’re going to find this to be rather addictive
Doing a joint activation can be fun. An easy one in the Reno area would be Peavine Peak, or Rattle Snake
on the south end of town. Give me a shout if you’d like to do a quick trip up either in the near future…
73, Todd KH2TJ
Hi Todd, yes, great to meet you too. Your presentation has me motivated! However, I won’t have any time until late June or July to do anything with SOTA. I am looking for suitable batteries that will work with my ic7000. I was thinking about Genoa Peak near me as a first attempt at SOTA but we just had 6+ inches of snow on the peak so that is out for now.
Thanks for the note. Rick had asked me who gave the presentation and I couldn’t remember your call. Your presentation was great and your enthusiasm contagious.
In the meantime I have been researching some of the local summits and Rick is doing a good job of elmering. I’m working on putting a travel pack together and in between all that I’ve managed to put together about 40 chaser points.
So it’s all your fault-look what you started hi hi.
73 de gene w6jmp