I was having a nice lunch discussion with my friend David KJ7QPD, and of course SOTA operating cropped up as a fun topic. While on summits both of us have worked the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia… but neither of us have worked any of you guys over in Great Britain (while on summits here in Arizona). We speculated that it’s probably one of two root causes: (1) Propagation on 20m going east across the gray line might be more challenging than west propagation, or (2) David and I get on the air just too late in the day to catch you on the air, as people might already be out lifting a pint or two. (Needless to say, we struggled to explain the lack of UK contacts!) Has anyone else noticed this, thoughts on causes, or is our experience just an aberration? de K7ZOO
Europe usually comes into Arizona in the morning hours generally speaking. Propagation to EU usually peaks well before 1900 UTC, but can show up later in the day depending on the sunspot cycle activity. Low sunspot years make it tough to work Europe, especially running QRP.
The month of the year is also a big factor, as November is typically the best month for Arizona to EU propagation. Europe is best worked in the fall months (November seems to be the peak month most years).
Having said all of that, you may work Europe most any day due to a number of factors. Europe on SSB is much tougher than on CW.
I worked a Sweden station from a summit on CW on May 23, 2021 at 1506 UTC. He was a home station, a SOTA chaser, and I suspect he has a well equipped station. He was not very strong, so listen for the weak ones being covered up by the USA Chasers. I have completed about 300 Arizona to Europe QSO’s from SOTA summits since 2013, so u can see that Europe is not real common, but it is doable.
So much that I often don’t even bother looking to activations spotted on 20m SSB. After having tried unsuccessfully so many times.
Try CW, try not QRQ, try at a good time and remain QRV long enough. Passes of 3-5 minutes are often too short for us to notice, get there and try to chase you. W1, W2, W4 have been heard really weak lately, so I don’t even bother checking W7, W6, W0 spots lately.
Around the equinnox seems to be easier.
SA4BLM is a regular EU chaser, almost always in my CW log. He never gets anything else that a 599
Transatlantic contacts seem to be more challenging as of late, I’ve only got a few in the log in the last couple of months - in fact skip distance at typical SOTA activation times here in the UK - 0900 UTC - 1300 UTC has been very short when I’ve been, with French and UK contacts on 20m.
I had done some later evening activations in the past and chased USA activators, but typically they are close to the East Coast. I was talking about SOTA activating, bands and rigs with S57S yesterday and he said that he is almost never is able to chase US activators using 5W, typically power needs to be 15W+ on the activators side to be heard.
Just my 2c. Mark. Lots of folk know much more than I do about this stuff!
My experience Chasing or Activating My morning time on 20m around UTC 0100 or earlier its hard to get good signals from anyone northern hemiphere but ZL’s are usually strong. 17m is a better morning band for me to JA/U.S. The weak JA /U.S. signals I do sort of hear on 20m as they work back and forth are always weak and mostly unworkable but they seem to swap decent signal reports back and fourth. The only two S2S to USA I have had in 9 years have been around or after 0230 UTC or my lunch time and both were on 17m cw.
The EU S2S I have had is 4 and they were on 20m CW but my late afternoon 0700 utc suggesting a long path contact down through Southeastern direction from here in VK.
Can’t wait for better band condx to see what the next cycle brings.
Ian vk5cz …
Three US East Coast activators chased today so far on 20m CW, but all of them with pretty marginal signals into my TH5-DX tribander yagi up 14m a.g.l.
Tough conditions for Trans-Atlantic SOTA QSOs.
I can understand QRPers not having too much luck with EU contacts
from the west coast area. I have got a few SOTAS from Europe from
here in CA, Most every one was VERY weak, and I was running a KW
and 3 element beam on my end. I think I’ve only got one or two
G stations in the last 2 years. I mean SOTA activators, not base stations.
Activating G/NP-013 in the Yorkshire Dales on 22 May I go many regular european chasers but also t:-
K4DY, whose chased me a few times on other summits, then VE3EXY & 4 minutes later YB1TIA, all on 14mhz CW and 5w.
Until I got home I assumed YB1TIA was somewhere in eastern Europe. Then when I discovered it was Indonesia, I wondered whether my logging was wrong. A quick e–mail and prompt reply confirmed my QSO and I was delighted to discover that the operator was called Tia and was female SOTA activator & chaser! For me it was an outstanding DX.
Yeah, to be fair I’m normally in the pub by the time you guys get out of bed.
Curt, you never know what you’ll get and that’s definitely part of what makes it fun!
You mentioned 20m propagation…sometimes it’s the other bands that are long. Just a few weeks ago (19 May, from W7A/CS-002) I worked F4WBN on 10 meters, and DJ5AV on 12 meters, both cw, around 1800 utc. I frequently get F4WBN on multiple upper bands. Great Britain, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, and Sweden pop up occasionally. 15 and 17 meters sometimes open to EU also. Occasionally I will also check the DX cluster and see who is out there.
But yes, the EU QSO’s are rare for us here in Arizona.
73 es GL,