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How Long Does It Take You to Set Up?

So how long does it take you all to set up?

I have two main systems that I use: the Get-On-The-Air-Quick kit and the Kick-Back-and-Relax kit. The former is when it is late in the day or the weather is threatening or I have other plans for the day and want to get on and off the summit quickly.

Then the other setup is for better performance and comfort when I want to hang out and enjoy as many contacts as I can make. I was wondering how long this more elaborate setup would take me given no more then the usual amount of Fudd’s Third Law of Entropy (The perversity of inanimate objects tends to a maximum)

So here is (hopefully) an entertaining little video I shot yesterday timing my setup on Mount Emma (W6/CT-029). It took me 31 minutes and 8 seconds, but the video is only a minute and a half or so:


73 Eric KG6MZS


Did my fifth activation yesterday and was curious about this too. 2 minutes to set up my antenna, 10 minutes for the rig, another 5 minutes or so till the first CQ.

From shutting down the radio to leaving the summit took me 15 minutes, so quite pleased with that.


That’s an efficient use of time. Good job Hans.

One of the best rock climbers I ever had the good fortune to climb with used to tell me “speed is safety.” That seemed like an odd thing to say to me at the time - somewhat counterintuitive, but it turns out getting off the rock in a hurry can be a lifesaver. Think lightning.


That’s impressive!! I am not sure I could set up that fast in my backyard.

Very nicely produced video as well and I am going to make permanent note of Fudd’s third law. :rofl:

Howard KE6MAK

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Thanks Howard. Fudd was famous, of course, for his first law (If you push something hard enough it will fall over) and so his third law is often overlooked. :wink:

73 Eric KG6MZS


Enjoyed the excellent video! What was the soundtrack?


Dave, AE9Q

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Thanks! That’s the late Chris Whitley’s Big Sky Country from the album Living With the Law.

73 Eric KG6MZS

Simplest to most complex:
For 2m FM with antenna on HT - 1 min
For flowerpot vertical - 5 mins incl guying a pole.
For 2m ssb/cw, 817 with 3 el Arrow yagi on tripod - 10 mins
For 1296 ssb/cw with transverter, amplifier and 817, yagi on tripod - 15 mins
For HF ssb/cw with KX3, zs6bkw doublet, guyed pole - 15 mins
Erect and stake sun/rain/wind shelter to put all that in - 5 mins
for multi band operation - all of the above.
I don’t usually use table or chair, I sit on the ground cross legged. Yoga practice. :slight_smile:
great video, drone works!
73 Andrew VK1DA/2DA


The average time for setting up HF CW/SSB on a summit is 15 minutes. The time varies with wx and the situation on the summit (solitary tree or fence pole → shorter, lots of people → longer, etc.)
Tear down is usually done faster, 10 minutes in average.

73, Roman


Set up time=
15 mins
[no. times to sota-pole falls down] x [the number of scrubs the antenna tangles itself round scrub, rocks, etc each time it does]

The latter is exponentially related to:
[the urgency of the situation] x [the severity of the weather conditions]

Other relevent factors are:

  • Numbness of fingers
  • Wind-speed
  • Eye-streaming-factor
  • Impending darkness
  • Number of people I’ve promised to be on air at set time

However, it is my belief that these are co-variate with the above


so true!


Of course, the setup time depends on the antenna and its mounting, and thus on the space. But I see the conditions already on the last meters to the summit. Then I know immediately where I sit and how the antenna is installed.
Of course, it is always a question of self-organization… If everything is well structured, has its usual place and the handles are rehearsed (with me after about 400 activities) the setup goes quickly.

My standard set up is a KX2 with morse key, headphones and external power supply; and the antenna is a vertical radiator on a telesop mast with a single radial.
If I just put the mast on a branch, the setup time including grabbing a notebook and pencil is about 5 minutes to the first cq call. Maybe another minute for self spotting.

Last week I was on summit HB/TI-102 and had my last cw QSO on 20m at 08:22 … the train leaves at 08:30 … I got to it just fine.

Pushing the mast together and loosening the attachment, winding up the wires and coax (and securing it with Velcro) unplugging the headphones, morse key and power supply, and pack propperly all the equipment … Seat pad, jacket,… in under 4 minutes. I was quick there. :sweat_smile:

When I drive over 100km to activate, I don’t just do only one summit, but several located in the neighborhood. There the time for the set up is important.

But of course I can also celebrate it… If I participate in an event (EU - NA - S2S - Party e.g.) I am longer at one place. Then I take the small PA with additional power supply, build a more elaborate antenna, have perhaps still a SWR meter … Then I don’t care about the setup time…the same if I also want to make 2m SSB

73 Armin


As my Dad used to say: “If a piece of string can get tangled, it will.”

Of course the corollary to that is that if you are trying to catch it on something it will invariably slip through like it was greased.

Here’s another one I discovered while sailing and is applicable to SOTA as well: The chances that a gust of wind will blow a loose and dangling line out of reach just as you first reach for it are ∞

73 Eric KG6MZS

It normally takes 5-10mins as I’ve done the setup around 700 times. That is after the gasping for breath stops as a result of doing some exercise.

I’ve done the inv-v dipole set up so many times I just “know” whether the pegs go etc. but for my 10m Delta Loop you need some extra guys to hold the base of the antenna level. I spent sometime getting all the guys exactly the right length and also made a measuring string. It’s 1mm woven nylon cord so weighs nothing. Attach it to the bottom of the mast and stretch it out, put peg at other end. Having it cut to exactly the right length makes the setup not require “thought input” from the idiot doing the setup. i.e. me :slight_smile:


That is impressive Andy! I guess there is hope for me yet. Only about 600 more times and I should have it down too. :wink:

73 Eric KG6MZS

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For HF multiband dipole with MTR, Pico paddle and headphones, I can usually be on air in under 15 minutes, probably nearer to 10.

73, Colin

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Nice video. What drone did you use?

About 10 mins for HF linked dipole, 2m slim G and FT-857. But I have 2 advantages… 1. My wife helps me. 2. I’ve had a lot of practice.

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Thanks Gerald. Just started flying my first: a DJI Mini 2. Originally I was thinking about using a drone to string antenna wire in the trees here at home, but I became enthralled with the photography.

Nice setup times, BTW. Now if I could just enlist KG6MZR…

73 Eric KG6MZS


My wife has timed me at 3 minutes, but more casually, about five minutes to calling CQ… fred kt5x / w5ya / ex-ws0ta


Thanks, but I’m still learning, so I should get down to 10 minutes in total in the future. Major time wasters are all the cables: power to the radio and phone, recorder, earplugs, Morse key. I velcro everything, which makes it neat, but also takes more time to organize.
This time I also wasted a lot of time getting my phone ready with the logger software and sending out spots: should do that at home instead of on the summit.
But my antenna is really my pride. Should make a video of how to set it up.