Had a great activation last weekend.
Hope you like the video?
73 de LA3NGA Henning
Excellent video Henning. Really enjoyed watching that. It was nice to hear my call being received in LA from my final GW summit.
It was a great day for S2S. I got 16 S2S from my activation of GW/MW-038, and you were the final one of those before I went QRT.
Thanks again for a very enjoyable video.
I especially enjoyed your video, your way of speaking and your underlying humor!
Thanks for the contact and congratulations for this nice job .
- If you want to know more about the specific activation of Tom have a look here :
GW SOTA Completion
I hope to see you again soon
I was delighted to hear my CW signal recorded and to be successful
chasing you from my home in Massachusetts.
73, Al, N1AW
thanks for nice comment and QSO!
Hope to work you again! Thanks for QSO
Great video Henning. Looks like you had better weather than me! Thanks for answering my CQ on 40m ssb and for the S2S.
You have made a great video!
And had great success… and if the weather had been better here, you would have even more s2s.
Hope to contact you next time on S2S
Thank you for S2S
Next time Armin, next time…
I hope to work you S2S soon, maybe this coming weekend
Great video. really enjoyed that. Takk!
Thanks for your excellent video. You captured the spirit of S2S chasing! This may be the best part of participating in SOTA, at least for some of us. Hopefully some of my comments here are relevant for some operators who might see this. I share your considerable delight - so I wrote a book here.
Sometimes activating a simple local summit for zero activator points, but with many S2S contacts, can be more fun than driving a long distance to activate another summit for many activator points. I often activate various local summits several times each year in order to get more S2S contacts. Overall, it’s good to do both kinds of activations.
Many S2S contacts require a high level of skill, along with almost infinite patience, to complete and log. Some are really too weak to get, until there is a moment when the signals come up. Others are difficult because the other activator is inexperienced, and he doesn’t realize that an S2S station is calling him! I really like the S2S contacts with experienced activators who recognize me and then work to complete the contact, even with incredibly weak signals barely diffracting across the local Colorado mountains!
S2S is getting more popular, and it is much more common than a few years ago. For a long time I logged S2S contacts as they came to me, but now I spend more time actually hunting for other activators on several bands. On a busy day it is possible to get many S2S contacts.
I think the most difficult part of S2S chasing is the conflict between contacting the regular chasers and hunting for S2S activators. Since many S2S contacts come along with the chasers, it’s important to do the main runs with chasers on several bands, while trying to hunt for the S2S activators at other times.
Jumping from band to band quickly is one of the keys to many S2S contacts. Many activators run short sessions, and often they are only audible on one band. There are many ways to do quick band changes:
- Use a multi-band antenna system, possibly with traps
- Use an auto-tuner and a low-loss feedline to a balanced antenna (NOT small coax to a doublet)
- Use an end-fed system with no feedline and an auto-tuner and/or transformer - maybe with traps
- Use an end-fed system with no feedline and a quick manual tuner designed to match a wide range of complex impedances
I use the last choice - #4. I can jump from band to band in a few seconds. The radio usually sees 50 ohms, and the mains bands 60-40-30-20-17M are available without getting up from where I sit. I know where the settings usually need to be. My 20M inverted-L wire and my tuner allow quick listening/hunting, even without adjusting the tuner for a null. The tuner settings for 30M and 20M are almost the same - this is a nice accident - so I jump between those bands as fast as my KX2 can switch. I jump between bands numerous times on a busy S2S day.
My KX2 is an S2S machine. Since it remembers all the settings for each band, there is no added delay to make adjustments when jumping between bands.
The other key concept for S2S is to maximize time on the air. This generally means:
- Prepare the night before - alerts, food, pack, car, etc.
- Get up early
- Visit summits close to home
- Choose RF-quiet summits without many people and dogs
- Avoid long, difficult hikes
- Carry light weight, essential gear, and go fast
- Set up gear quickly on the summit
- Antenna must be simple - one wire, no feedline, no counterpoise
- Avoid distractions - cameras, phones, keyboards, devices, multiple radios
- Prioritize the setup spot for comfort - avoid wind, find sun if it’s cold, avoid sun if it’s hot
- The location and performance of the antenna are secondary to getting on the air fast and staying on for a long time.
- Have enough battery power for the time you need
- Stay on as long as safe and practical
- It helps to be retired, so you can go more often
- Use alerts and the RBN Hole to get spotted fast on each band
Here in Colorado, we are west of many of the SOTA activators in the eastern USA. This means I miss many of them, unless I get on my summit very early.
One lesson: If you are serious about S2S contacts, you know that it’s possible to make dozens of S2S contacts on many days. While weekends often have the most SOTA activations, there are many retired, highly skilled SOTA operators who choose weekdays for their best activations. Local weather often controls how many stations are on in various areas. In general you may miss more S2S activators than you log - but only some of them are actually workable.
You would not believe how many times I have looked at the spots after an activation, and realized that a skilled, workable activator was on the same band as I was, only 1 or 2 KHz up or down the band, and we never made an S2S, because neither of us tuned around and listened - we were busy at the same times.
You can avoid some of these situations, if you use a smart phone with internet coverage, and you watch the spots often. While I don’t usually have internet information, sometimes I operate with another activator who can see the spots, and we talk and share info.
In general using internet spots can increase your S2S contacts, but using a phone with spotty coverage is certainly a serious distraction from listening and hunting. Watching and using spots can waste a lot of precious time, as you try to find spotted operators who are not actually audible or workable for you. This is particularly true for SSB activators - many are just not workable, for many reasons.
It may take 10 to 30 minutes to contact a QRS CW operator who is slowly working through a pile of aggressive chasers, and he has little experience with S2S, and he’s already stressed by the fast, rude, QRO people competing to log him! It takes considerable patience to log these operators, but I always think about how much more stressed they are than I am!
You will miss more S2S than you actually log. Please do not judge your results by this. The main thing is to listen carefully and work the stations you can hear. What your video shows is how many strong S2S chasers you have!
Not all activators are created equal for S2S purposes:
- Some never post alerts
- Others operate on weird frequencies away from the rest of us
- Some use SSB, FT8, or VHF/UHF FM
- Some use tiny loop antennas, whips, or other poor antennas
- Some are rarely audible, consistently, compared to others!
- Some don’t listen well or have hearing problems
- Many are on noisy summits and can’t hear weak signals
- Some don’t operate on several bands - like 30M - a wonderful S2S band in the USA - so they are not workable here
- Some concentrate on lower frequencies, either because they like their local buddies, or because they avoid the inherent challenges of activating 20M - DX, lots of chasers, big piles, etc.
- Some do such quick activations that they are gone in a few minutes - why ???
- Some actually don’t like S2S contacts, especially when signals are weak
- Some are doing multiple summits, so they don’t have much time
- Some have weather problems
- Some actually want shorter logs - perhaps they don’t use a CSV log editor program
I don’t know how it is in EU, but here in NA many of the chasers will stop calling and wait if they hear someone call “S2S”. There are even some chasers who will send “S2S” louder, if they hear the activator send that! I think it is a good idea to try to work ALL of your chasers, so they know they will still make their contact, if they have to wait for an S2S. Most of my regular chasers know I work S2S during the piles, and most of them have been very helpful and patient!
Last but not least, some of the most evil people in SOTA - who don’t even realize it - are the few who tune on top of S2S contacts. They always do this right when the other guy sends me his summit ref!
Henning, as your video shows with the cold rain at the end, we take the good with the bad for S2S!
Hope I can hear you and maybe do S2S some day! It is possible!
Nice post George,
That list will no doubt be helpful to a lot of S2S ops in the making.
As mentioned before, anyone who deliberately tunes over an activator should be executed. (after a fair trial, of course)
A few things to add, Geo. I solved the conflict between working chasers and collecting s2s by spending all my time doing search and pounce on other activators. That means no alert posted for me.
You mentioned speeding the search, and I do that be avoiding summits with no cell service. That allows me to use SotaGoat in order to be very early in line to snag a slow operator before the masses appear. Part of that is monitoring frequencies listed in alerts before the target shows up, even responding Sota? when he/she sends QRL? Another SotaGoat feature tells you when you have reached the AZ. On all three of my most recent summits, I found a convenient bench just as I reached the bottom of the AZ, saving time to go after the east coast and hear even more of F4WBN.
My quick band change comes from a 44 foot inverted L and an LDG Z-817H, the now discontinued 75 watt autotuner, good for a two-second change over.
One thing about the explosion of newbies in the US… twice a month, I chase one who doesn’t know what s2s means. Awkward silence, and then the guy goes back to calling CQ. Just one more reason to have someone experienced go with you the first time.
Tuning on top of an s2s, or any QSO, can get an operator in trouble with the MT. Just four weeks ago, we warned a station in the Dakotas about his habit of deliberately slowing his CW speed and sending his call twice on top of a conversation, even if he can’t hear the activator. If that fails, the second step is a temporary suspension. Step three is permanent removal of his/her entries in the database. The guy to contact at the MT with those types of complaints is G8ADD.
Globally, there are five Europeans ahead of me on the s2s QSO totals list, as well as you, with your total double mine. Most of the Europeans are Swiss.