I wish the SOTA CW and SSB frequencies were closer

At the moment, the usual frequencies for operating SOTA on the 15, 20 and 40m bands are aproximately these:
15/20m: around 21/14.062 ± 5 KHz for CW and 21/14.300 for SSB ± about 40 KHz
40m: around 7.032 ±5 KHz for CW and 7.150 ±25 KHz

I mainly activate on:

  • 30m, which is CW only, so no problem, and
  • 20m, which is CW and SSB, and I find a bit tedious QSYing from 14.062 to 14.300 with either of the small knobs in my FT-817.

Sometimes I’ve thought of changing the SSB frequency to some around 14.110, which would be closer to the CW segment. The QSY between CW and SSB would be faster/easier between 14.062 and 14.110

This would also apply for 21 MHz.

On 40m we could possibly use 7.045 for SSB, which is pretty close to CW’s 7.032.

On 10m it’s not posible, I’m afraid, as the band is much wider and I recall the frequencies near the CW segment are for beacons.

Are there any license related reasons for using current so distant frequencies for CW and SSB on 15, 20 and 40m?

Are there any good reasons for not trying what I’m suggesting about operating on closer frequencies for CW and SSB?

Having closer frequencies for CW and SSB would also give us the chance to have best adjusted antennas for a frequency in between 062 and 110, which would give us a better SWR on both modes.

Any thoughts?

Best 73 de Guru

The ft817 has 2 VFO’s, why not use one for cw and one for phone?

Hi Steve,
That’s definitely a possibility, but it’s something I don’t do because I hate having to search in the menus of the FT-817 during my usually rushy activations.
I always operate stuck in the menu where the left button under screen allows me to select output power and SWR is shown on TX. I do this because I always select 500mW for setting up the ATU and then switch to 5w for normal operation. Also because I want to permanently monitor the SWR in case something goes wrong with the antenna, so I can stop TX immediately.
Also, the use of 2 VFOs would give us the advantage of adjusting an antenna for a frequency in between 062 and 110.
Best 73 de Guru

The FT817 also has some memories…

I just switch to AM when tuning, the carrier power is less than 2W, more than safe considering the final transistors in the FT-817 are rated 14W at 20:1 VSWR in the datasheet.

The SSB frequencies are usually close to the internationally agreed QRP frequencies (14.285, 21.285, 28.360 etc) you can find in the IARU bandplan. For various reasons on 40m 7.118 seems to be the preferred SSB activation frequency although 7090 is the official SSB QRP calling freq … in eastern Europe the reason is that below ~7.100 it’s crowded with strong russian stations.

Most important thing to remember (especially if you are doing a tough activation) is that the activator is in charge. You decide what frequency to use depending on your conditions in the field. The chasers back home have much more resources at thier disposal to try and adapt to what you can offer. The only disadvantage is that if you can’t spot yourself it will be less likely to be found by the chasers if you use a part of the band that is not common for SOTA.

Program the memories with 30 CW, 20 CW & 20 SSB. Select memory with select knob then fine tune with tuning knob. To change band hit memory button, reselect with select knob. Takes seconds and can be done with thick gloves.

Also set your preferred frequency for one mode/band to the “home” button. You can then change from SSB to CW just by pressing “home”. Having said that I would still prefer to go with Rick, set all your preferred band/frequency/mode settings in the memories.


14.110MHz is unusable on ssb for USA, so I don’t like that suggestion at all.

73, Barry N1EU

Press F momentarily. Turn the select knob until you see A/B. Leave it on this for activating.

Now this will store two frequencies/modes for each band - one in A, one in B. So put a centre CW QRG in A and a centre SSB QRG in B. Then you have everything available just by pressing the A/B button and the band change button - no need even to use the memories - although of course it could be argued that these ARE memories too!

OK, Barry. I didn’t know it but I was kind of guessing that my proposal wouldn’t be compatible with some licenses around the world

Thanks everybody for your comments and ideas, but I have finally bought Rick’s and Andy’s.
I had never used programmable memories in my FT-817, so I have just taken the instructions manual and leart how to store into memory channels.
I’ve just got memorized all these:
7.032 CW; 10.118 CW; 14.062 CW; 14.305 USB; 18.075 CW; 21.062 CW; 21.305 USB; 24.905 CW; 28.062 CW and 28.450 USB
In principle, I like this method better because it spares me struggling with pushing F + tunning knob in order to find the right menu for the A/B VFOs, as I want to keep stuck to the menu where the output power selection is in order to keep switching to 500mW for setting up the ATU.
I’ve been playing a while with this at the shack and it looks like it will work fine when I’ll be out in the summits. I’ll let you know.
Thanks again and best 73,


All these suggestions just show what a marvellously flexible radio the 817 is. Kudos to its designer!


Nobody prevents you from calling on other frequencies than the customary SOTA “hotspots”, as long as they are free. Just make sure you keep the agreements regarding operating modes. You might not get as many replies to your calls at first, but this need not be a bad thing, considering how crowded the shortwave bands can sound around popular frequencies …

vy 73, Jan-Martin

It highlights the ergonomic superiority of the KX3 :joy:


But isn’t it a shame it is so tinny! :wink:

Hi Guru

You were very patient to be doing so much tuning without using memories.

My suggestion is to store a CW and ssb frequency preset for every band. For VHF an fm memory as well. And beacon frequencies on 10m and 50/144. It is so easy to move between bands and Modes, check beacons and so forth. All using the fast tune knob.

While it takes a little work to do manually, it is easier using any of the memory manager software packages available for the 817.

You can even include an fm broadcast channel, shortwave broadcasters, wwv etc.


Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH

You are right, Andrew.
I’ve been too patient QSYing from 14.062 up to 14.300 and higher just by turning the tuning knobs.
At the shack I’ve had a Kenwood TS-940S over several years and I’ve got so used to QSY by using the specific band change keys and also to specific frequencies by the direct ENT key and then typing them directly on the number keys it has for that, that I’ve completely forgotten about using memories. I never use them.
Due to this MO, I never thought about the memories when I got my FT-817 back in 2008 and being this a second rig that I only used when on holidays or in SOTA activations now, I never spent much time investigating all the features and all I’ve done with it is operate it on RX-TX.

With the good advise I’ve got from Rich and Andy in this thread, I may start a new modus operandi now. I’ll see how it goes next time I’ll be out there activating.

73 de Guru