My main motivation for SOTA is to hike, enjoy the nature, see new places and play with technology.
Since I’m 99% QRV only when doing SOTA, I sometimes like to make DX contacts, especially when the higher bands are wide open.
Unfortunately, most of the times when I spot on a higher band, very seldom I work a DX chaser or make a DX S2S. Sometimes I wonder if my setup is playing well, even after I worked a bunch of European chasers and activators. So when the WX is fine and there are no new S2S spots appearing, I sometimes tune around on the higher bands, looking for DX stations calling CQ. If the signal of the caller is good and there is no pileup going on, I give it a try. To my surprise, in about 70% of the cases, I get a reply after the first call to the CQ caller, and I just use 10W SSB into my home brew EFHW antenna. Like that I worked countries for the first time.
This weekend, during the CQ World Wide DX Contest, the bands were extremely busy, but even on 17m or 12m, where several DX stations were very loud, after spotting, no SOTA DX happened .
Last Sunday, the 30th of October, when I activated HB/BE-108, I made an experiment during the contest and worked 6 DX stations within 10 minutes, just by tuning around on 10m. My magic reply was “59-14” .
My observations using SSB:
- When the conditions are good, it’s pretty easy to make DX contacts by simply answering CQ calls, but much more difficult by spotting only.
- Even when chasers spot me on a DX cluster, not more DX contacts seems to happen (probably because HB9 is not an exotic call?).
- Contests are not my cup of tea, but they are very handy when I’d like to work a bunch of DX stations with little effort. Moreover, I can give them some points.
Of course, special SOTA events like the upcoming Trans-Atlantic QSO party or the VK/ZL-EU event last Spring pose a high probability of doing S2S DX, which is the icing on the cake.
What is your experience with SSB SOTA DX during “normal” activations?
Apart of changing the mode to CW or FT8, what could be improved to increase the chances of DX contacts, both on the activator and the chaser side?
Thanks for your ideas!