How to indicate split mode?

I always wanted to become proficient in split-mode operation on the MTR-3B. Now, when the pile-up grew bigger today on DL/MF-058, I gave it a try and added “1 UP” to the end of my CQ.
I am also pretty sure I configured the MTR correctly (when the bar on the upper right side of the 7-segment starts to light, RIT is 1 KHz higher than the Tx frequency).

Unfortunately, nobody called me on my Rx frequency, and I had to go back to a=b mode after a while.

Anybody ideas on what went wrong? My guess is that either “1 UP” was mistaken for “QSY 1 UP”, i.e. a change in Tx = Rx frequency, or that chasers were not prepared to set-up split mode so quickly.

Should I have sent “SPLIT 1 UP”?

73 de Martin, DK3IT

All the DX I’ve heard working split just send “up” at the end of the CQ. People seem to know to just go up 1 kHz.

Hi Martin

As long as I remember the usual procedure is the one that you described, i e, “CQ… de … 1 up PSE K”.

The DX stations use to state only CQ…de…up K" because they don’t want to announce the RX frequency (pileup spreading).



I was chasing one day and heard someone complaining about a station operating split in the QRP section of 40m: 7.030. The argument runs, that it is unfair to grab additional bandwidth in the area reserved by convention for qrp by operating split, and stations wanting to work split should move lower down the band to leave the qrp section free for normal qsos. This sounds fairly logical to me, but I’m relatively new to SOTA.

That makes sense, but wouldn’t anyone operating split want to spread out the pileup?

I was once advised to run split but I really don’t see the need. SOTA pile ups aren’t like DXpedition pile ups where there’s hundreds of callers, calling for hours. There’s usually an initial pile of several stations as the spot hits SOTAwatch, then the pile thins out.

Like contests, people either love or hate SOTA, I tend to think that us SOTA ops are generally a nice bunch of folks, I don’t think we need to be upsetting the ‘band police’ by hogging frequency running split. I’m fascinated by DXpeditions, like the upcoming 3Y0Z, but I do also find it frustrating when it seems like the whole band is taken up with callers!

Running split on an MTR 2 or 3 is quite difficult, it’s not something I’d want to do during an activation. I have used split for chasing (DX not SOTA) on an MTR, it’s a bit of a pain, but it does work. The MTR5B is slightly easier to work with as the RIT (Split) amount is shown in figures on the LCD, not just low resolution (500Hz?) segments.

The usual way to indicate split is to send ‘UP’ at the very end of the CQ call. If you want to specify the split, use ‘UP1’, ‘UP2’ etc. It’s usually assumed to be a 1kHz split if no value is specificied, at least initially!

73, Colin


To become proficient in split-mode operation, I guess one should (if possible) do some dx chasing first, and there get the first hand feeling when is suitable to operate split, how dx station does split operation, how chasers operate split. Or at least listen dx station pileups.

Firs of all, there was a debate here and general conclusion that average SOTA chasers are not used to split operating. This is why the “up” requests might go unanswered. It is up to you to decide if split operating during SOTA activation is necessary at all.

Technically, to initiate split operation, you should indicate split operation at the end of each transmittion:

… cq sota de dk3it up 1
… 599 dk3it up 1
… dk3it up 1

… you send “up 1” instead of “BK”. You can send just “up” instead of “up 1”, if you want to spread the pileup further. Experienced dx chasers will try 1 khz up first, and later they will find themselves where the dx station is listening exactly.

I have been using MTR-3B on all my activations, and found out that split operation is not necessary. All I need is consistent cw operation, at approx 22 wpm. The rhythm of the qsos (including the listening times) must be steady. I end all my transmissions with BK. Since my signal is weak, I repeat twice the call of the station I am answering to, to reduce the possibility of misunderstanding. MTR has break-in operation, so while transmitting I can hear if someone else is still calling me - in this case I assume that the station I am answering to is under qrm so I repeat their call several times. I answer first to any station I am hearing clearly - whether it is a strong chaser or a weaker chaser who somehow slipped through. And no matter how the pile-up looks big, in fact it thins out very quickly.

In extreme qrm or big pileup, I pick up partial calls and ask something like “OBK? OBK? BK”. Chasers do listen, and mostly only the one I am calling answers. If there is no answer I ask again, if there is no answer again I maybe say NIL and call short cq again. I rarely use RIT because I find it difficult to use on MTR… One of the errors I am constantly making is forgetting to sign my call regularly. Thanks to QSK, I can hear the occasional “?” even if I started my transmission, so I end the transmission signing my call to help the chasers.

I hope this was helpful!

73 Fric YU1WC


Mni tnx, yes, very helpful!
Martin, DK3IT

Anybody ideas on what went wrong?

Many chasers are obviously just deaf!

That’s the impression I got last Sunday. I copied HB9DIZ/p 's ‘summit-2-summit’ but there were so many chasers ignoring my repetitive request for the s2s station and kept calling me over and over again, mostly repeating their call signs several times. :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

I think your cq call was well-understandable.


1 Like

Pom, you activate phone only as I see.

I guess the etiquette on phone is different. As a cw only qrp activator, I have nothing but praise for my chasers. A “/P? /P? BK” is all I need to open the path for another activator calling me. Last Sunday I was even alerted by a chaser asking me to listen for a /P station calling me, resulting in a S2S qso.

73 Fric YU1WC

I must also say that the CW chaser crowd is in general

  1. very supportive to me as a CW newcomer, mostly observing my need for QRS, and
  2. very well behaved in the pile-up - a “PA?” quickly mutes all other countries etc.

Only split did not work, but I have learned that

  1. it’s probably not necessary for a few dozen chasers,
  2. it’s probably not a good idea in the narrow QRP part of the bands,
  3. many chasers are not prepared to quickly switch to split mode operation, and
  4. finally, that it does not buy me a lot in terms of QSO throughput, because the bottleneck is catching a callsign from the calling crowd, not the QRM when I am sending. So without spreading out the frequency on which I am listening, there is little gain, and that is not very feasible with both MTRs, and intrusive to other users of the QRP portions.

So I will refrain from split mode on future activations and rather focus on improving my pile-up handling skills.

73 de Martin, DK3IT



you surely have heard about morse runner? (DX Atlas: Amateur Radio software)
The perfect tool to increase pile up handling capabilities in cw.

73, Roman - DL3TU


Hi Martin

You may also try Pileup runner DX Atlas: Amateur Radio software
which is closer to the reality of pileups than Morse runner.
73 and good luck !
Alain F6ENO

And SOTA is absolutely nothing like those kinds of events! The desperation some callers show in trying to get through just doesn’t make any sense; you’re talking about a 10 - 15 minute wait at most. Hence, the solution to that problem is definitely not to start operating split.

      de OE6FEG / M0FEU

Yes, but It’s more effective if you didn’t say the RX freq…

Please note. This procedure is for regular DX, not SOTA activations AFAIK.

73 de Pedro, CT1DBS

Absolutely! You are right. The QRO DX should use the lower part of the bands.

The WARC bands are the only one usable for SOTA operations in the days of big contests!

Anyway, the “split mode” is used often on DX but not on SOTA activations AFAIK.

73 de Pedro, CT1DBS/CU3HF