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Last day of the Challenge

No, Ian, our main Es season is in our summer, too. It sounds like our challenge was a bit too challenging for you!

Brian

How about a year with the phone-only ops using CW and the CW ops only using phone? Topsy-turvy land!

Brian

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I’ll do it if you do it!

Tempting!

Brian

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PSK :wink:

Dave
M6RUG

I’m with you Ian. Spreading the challenge over a full year will flatten out the benefits for different areas. Of course the MT might want a year off (which I fully understand and support).

I’m not a big fan of multipliers and would welcome a simple approach of “say” the total number of contacts on a particular band (Chasers) in a year and total number of summits activated on a particular band (Activators).in a year. Such an approach reflects how much activity a particular “SOTAer” has created and after all, I believe the idea is to increase activity on a particuar less-used band.

Please avoid bands that can’t be used in a particular country or by a particuar class of licence.

I guess there will be a high level of discussion and ideas (no doubt some a lot better than mine) before a decision is made. The fact that we are discussing this at the moment, I think, reflects on the success of the challenges so far, so my thanks to all those involved in setting up and running the challenges.

73 Ed.

I’ll explain some of the thinking we had Ed so you can see why we did it.

Some people don’t take part, some dabble, some do nothing but the challenge. If a large number only do the challenge it tends to spoil (for want of a better word) what is available to those less interested. Having challenge windows minimises the disruption to people not interested. With the current challenge there has been 6months of normal SOTA. When we did 12m there was a very obvious skewing of SOTA because of the challenge. So windows will probably remain unless we make it you need so many non-challenge QSOs along with challenge QSOs to qualify. That tends to make it all too much effort and isn’t workable I feel.

The purpose of multipliers is to level the field. We thought about some kind of QRO/QRP sectioning but then we knew there would be people who would, let’s be blunt here, cheat and say they were QRP when not. QRO normally gives an advantage. The unique QSO partner multiplier tends to reduce the advantage. The multiplier for new summits is to stop someone sitting on only 1 summit for the entire challenge. The pair encourage diverse activations yet still allow reward for nipping up a local summit for a quick activation. Likewise, encouraging multipliers for unique summits chased is designed to encourage chasers to chase everything all the time. If you are not listening/scanning you may miss that chance of a unique summit. No chasers make activating harder, so encouraging chasers is probably the most important part.

We’ve rejected challenge ideas where homebrewing is essential. I firmly believe real amateurs make their own gear, be that radios, antennas, software, interfaces etc. There are people who don’t know which end of the soldering iron gets hot but by having a homebrew challange then these people are excluded and we aim for inclusivity. For some people, old father time has marched on and their eyes/coordination is not what it was 30 years ago so they no longer homebrew because they can’t see the damn soldering iron although they know which end gets hot! For the same reason of inclusiveness, we don’t make challenges CW only. I’d mused about having a challenge a bit like Formula racing where everyone gets the same engine and gearbox and makes a car using that. We’d have an antenna design you had to make and use that would be require good operating skills say on 30m CW to get the best from it but that falls foul of homebrewing and CW. A good idea IMHO but it’s a non-starter.

There needs to be a gap between challenges. Partly to allow discussion of what would be fun next time but mainly to allow me to figure out how to score/display the challenge status!

At present I really don’t know what would be good next. But the #1 requirement is it has to be fun to take part.

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A thought for a future challenge which does not specify specific bands and therefore eliminates the skewing effect is to use DXCC entities as the multipliers. This has the advantage of encouraging ‘normal’ operations on SOTA rather than selected ‘obscure’ bands (not suggesting that 6 & 10m are obscure, but they are not ‘mainstream’). I appreciate that past challenges have used none mainstream bands in order to encourage activity on these bands. But as Andy highlighted, this has skewed operating habits. By using DXCC as the multipliers this encourages operators to ‘spread’ the word by working more countries and encourages everyone to use every band and exploit the propagation effects of the differing frequencies to maximise DXCC collecting.

Just a thought. Personally I don’t need a challenge other than getting out on the hills and having fun

73 Glyn

[quote=“MM0FMF, post:27, topic:12550”]The purpose of multipliers is to level the field.[/quote]Hmmm… I’m un-convinced. In both the challenges so far, the multipliers seem to me to have had a mountain-building effect. I looked at the way the scores were going in the opening stages of the latest challenge, and decided it was’t worth bothering about. Any points I might have accumulated since then have been entirely accidental.

[quote=“MM0FMF, post:27, topic:12550”]There needs to be a gap between challenges.[/quote]Definitely!

Now that the 6m and 10m challenge is drawing to a close I just wanted to say thank you to everyone on the MT for setting up and running the challenge, it’s been great fun.

all the best
Martin

Doesn’t this rather bias the results in favour of EU operators as the DXCC entities are rather closely packed in Europe by comparison with most parts of the world.

Brian

Well, I managed to get on for the last day of the challenge, Long Mountain Beacon ring GW/MW-026.

I probably wouldn’t have tried 10m without the challenge, and it has been interesting. 6m did not smile on me at all on the few occasions that I tried it!

Thank you to MT for putting it together, it was fun.

I don’t have any suggestions for the next challenge, though I agree that it should encourage something out of the ordinary if possible.

Whatever it is, I look forward to having a dabble!

73s and thanks for all the contact,

Adrian
G4AZS

Thanks Andy,
Man this is a complex subject! I understand now the reasoning for the way the 10m/6m challenge was designed.

I still don’t like multipliers personally, but I see why they were included. On the number of summits activated, I wasn’t suggesting that the same summit could count more than once, we need people to be encouraged to experience the activatation of different summits.

Hmm, this really is complex - I think a break before the next one is well earned by those behind the current challenge and to give some time to plan the next one.

I also agree that a challenge drastically skewing “normal” SOTA operation is not good, although from what I have seen in the last few months, those activating on 10m always also ended up activating on 20m or 40m or 2m as well - possibly this was more due to difficult conditions on 10m in the Northern Hemisphere however?

OK, I’ll shut up for a while now and concentrate on packing what I need for a couple of “normal” SOTA activations in the UK next Saturday!

73 Ed.

Not if you include states and provinces for US/CA/AU/NZ stations. Asia has a fairly high concentration as well.

The choices with challenges are - please some all the time, all some of the time or just don’t bother

Well that would help. The basic unit for SOTA is the Association, much of NA is one state/province per Association, the same goes for AU and in due course I imagine that Russia and SA will be the same.

One could come up with any number of challenge scenarios, the problem is finding one that will get people’s juices going!

Brian

No Brian not too challenging for me at all I tried 6 and 10m when I was out on summits and my log tells my results. But the best propagation was during our summer part of the challenge here and its 35 to 40 c and either too hot or I would not bother asking my Farmer land owners permission to access their land when most of the summits are in such conditions. I don’t have any summits I can drive to and park or safe area at the top to set up, we have a very hot dry climate in vk5 more so than even other states in Australia. I am not complaining I had fun chasing others from home when I get time, just giving feed back from my perspective.
Thanks for the challenge
Ian vk5cz …

That’s exactly how I feel.
My only! reason for the absence in the 6m/10m Challenge is because I did not want to repeat something very similar I did the year before in the 12m Challenge.

I’m sorry to say it but SOTA makes definitely much/enough fun for me even without “those” Challenges :wink:

Agree 100% I have a positive aversion to becoming involved and have thus assiduously avoided any operation which would expose me to involuntary inclusion in the challenges (for which no opt out has been available). Fortunately as none of them have involved my usual activity from a SOTA point of view this has not been difficult. So, selfish though it may be, my plea to the MT is please don’t come up with a challenge that will make me change my preferred SOTA MO (ie 80/60/40m ssb) to avoid it. Or give the option of an opt-out. Or even make it so bizarre and way-out that it piques my interest :wink:

73 de Paul G4MD

NOW you’re talking!

Brian

What a wonderfully enjoyable day out it was for the last day of the 10m/6m SOTA Challenge. I was gigging with this lot on the Friday night…

…so after getting in at 1am, I would manage only 4 hours sleep if I wanted my customary 5am get-up on a SOTA day. With ambitions to do the classic five 2-pointers across Shropshire (and just into Wales) - a popular winter bonus SOTA day - I decided to go for it.

Surprisingly, I sprang straight out of bed when my Pure One Flow internet radio (my Christmas present from my XYL Marianne) wakened me with the sound of the Caroline bell and some album rock music. I turned the radio off quickly so as not to disturb (or annoy) Marianne and went down to make the soup.

The soup of the day was Heinz Lentil “with fragrant Indian spices” soup which seemed interesting, and it was indeed very tasty. I was away before 0530 on Saturday 13th February 2016, with the GPS enabled on my phone and Google Maps shouting out the directions to me.

Titterstone Clee Hill G/WB-004

This was interesting in itself, as it surprised me by taking me on some routes I wouldn’t have thought of. Nonetheless, it has the current traffic situation to hand and seems reliable. Instead of driving to Congleton and onto the M6 at J17 Sandbach, I drove out to Chelford, then down past Jodrell Bank to J18 Holmes Chapel. I was then directed down to J13 of the M6 and down through Shifnal and Bridgnorth for Titterstone Clee Hill.

Then the Google Maps directions app started to surprise me. I was approaching the distinctive Titterstone Clee Hill, topped with its oversized golf ball, but didn’t appear to be heading towards the A4117, from which the access road begins. My confusion intensified when I arrived at a gate across a rapidly deteriorating road at the back of a farm. I could see that the pot-hole ridden and stony track ascended up to the familiar car park beneath the summit, which I could see a few hundred yards in front of me.

I made the decision to give it a go, drove though the gate and then very gingerly up the poorly maintained road. I was relieved to reach the usual access road and then the car park a few yards later.

Emerging from the car and I was greeted with a strong and icy blast of wind. It was very very cold! My second fleece and coat went on before changing into my walking boots! To save on weight, I decided to keep the flask of soup in the car and feed myself between activations, and in a little more comfort.

I walked up the ramp onto first section of this hill, which is shaped like a horseshoe due to quarrying. A few minutes of gentle grassy ascent took me up past the golf ball and buildings, and to the trig point and two stone shelters. Neither of these actually afforded any shelter due to the directions of the wind. According to Met Office online, it was 1 degree C (which it remained all day according to my 60kHz clock) but with a windchill effect of -7 degrees. My instinct is that this factor remained all day too!

I walked around the end of the hill beyond the trig point and found a nice hollow with complete shelter from the gales. It was before 0830 and so I was over one hour ahead of my alert schedule. I turned on my radio and was heartened to find lots of activity on both the CW and SSB portions of the 10m band.

Unfortunately, none of my CQ calls were answered on either mode, neither were any of my attempts to answer the CQ calls of others. For nearly twenty minutes anyway. Imagine my delight to hear “Golf Six Whisky Romeo Whisky” blasting out of my 817’s speaker! Carolyn was quickly followed by three further M stations, and then RV9DC, who finsihed by saying “See you on CW”. So before packing up, I called one more time on CW - and got RV9DC into my log for a second time, followed by a Ukrainian station.

G/WB-004 - 7 QSOs - 5 on 10m SSB, 2 on 10m CW.

Brown Clee Hill G/WB-002

My phone app wanted to take me back down the rough road from the Titterstone Clee car park, but I overruled it and drove down the main access road to the A4117. The Google Maps thingy soon went into redirection and worked out what was going on. After some deliberation, I has decided to use the Shropshire Way approach from Abdon, rather than going up from the picnic area or the transmitter access road.

I positioned my car close by the yellow grit box on the side of the track just before the gate, where the Shropshire Way ascends. Despite having ascended this way several times in the past, the route still managed to tease me with several false summits. Well, not that much, as I could see the hill towering over me over to my left!

Eventually I reached the left turning, which then required a slightly tricky walk over very damp and boggy ground to the main summit area. I took a few photos at the summit, then established where my best sheltered position was going to be. Fortunately, a large heathery bank dropped from the topograph to a lower path - and also backed right into the direction of the wind.

Despite the strong wind, I had no problems erecting the 10m-6m GP antenna all day - even on exposed tops. I found the 10m band in similar shape to how it was from Titterstone Clee Hill G/WB-004 earlier on this Saturday 13th February 2016. Only thing was that this time I needed the activity to be able to hear me, as I just couldn’t get a data connection on my phone.

Two Russian stations answered my CQ calls on 28.015MHz CW to secure the multiplier. I then answered a SSB CQ from A61SM in the United Arab Emirates and got into his log first time, quickly followed by TA1BX in Turkey. Back running on 10m CW, I worked another Russian and a Ukrainian.

For the first, but certainly not the last time of the day, I was approached by other walkers intrigued as to what I was doing.

G/WB-002 - 6 QSOs - 4 on 10m CW, 2 on 10m SSB.

Long Mynd - Pole Bank G/WB-005

As the map app directed me through the country lanes towards Church Stretton, I was thinking that I would ignore it at that point and head north up the A49. That way I could access the Long Mynd via Ratlinghope and avoid the Burway. However, as I got to Church Stretton, there was still no sign of the forecast snow, and I figured that driving up the Burway would be significantly less scary than driving down it!

In the event, the drive was uneventful and I was soon at my parking spot on the Portway on this beautiful and atmospheric area of upland. After another slurp of my lentil with fragrant Indian spices soup, I was on my way on the very short and easy stroll to Pole Bank.

This was my third activation of Saturday 13th February 2016, and I scanned the summit area for any sign of wardens and rangers, that have known to intervene with activations up here. No such worries. Other walkers were about, but that was all, and these walkers were again interested and good-humoured.

I hunkered down using the topograph as shelter before getting going on the radio. As I was about to spot myself, I noticed that Simon GW4TJC/P was QRV on 2m FM from Moel y Gamelin GW/NW-042. I was able to quickly QSY there with the 10/6 aerial known to work on 2, and grab the S2S. Simon advised that Jamie 2W0EYT/P was also QRV on 2m FM, but from the opposite side of the Ponderosa - on Cyrn-y-Brain GW/NW-043. So a second S2S was collected before I got underway on 28MHz.

Simon advised that he was going to put some wire up to make the S2S on 10m, but after prolonged calling without any takers I decided to pack-up and move onto the next summit. I tried to find Simon again on 2m to check if he could hear me on 10m, but couldn’t find him there either.

Four QSOs on 10m SSB and two on 10m CW were punctuated by another diversion to 2m FM, this time for a S2S with Denis MW0USV/P on Foel Fenlli GW/NW-051.

G/WB-005 - 9 QSOs - 4 on 10m SSB, 2 on 10m CW, 3 on 2m FM - 3 x S2S.

Stiperstones G/WB-003

As we moved into mid-afternoon on Saturday 13th February 2016, I began to feel rather hungry. Unusually, I hadn’t had breakfast before setting off, or during the initial southward drive. My only sustenance had been my periodic portions of soup. I made a mental note to keep an eye out for places I could buy some grub from. I wouldn’t find anything until the journey home.

As well as hungry, I was now also feeling tired. None of this suite of hills require much in the way of exertion, but the sleep deprivation was now beginning to bite back. At least Stipserstones is a gentle walk - gradient-wise at least.

I drove off the Long Mynd via Bridges, then up the hill to the Stiperstones NNR car park at The Knolls. The car park was quite busy with several cars, but curiously, I didn’t see anyone on the hill whatsoever Although the gradient is easy, some of the underfoot sections are not, with very jagged stones requiring careful placement of feet.

The icy wind was persisting, and so my chosen operating spot was just ahead of the end of the large rock outcrop at the summit, and around 8m almost directly beneath the triangulation point.

10m conditions appeared promising when a monster signal from Rich N4EX greeted my SSB CQ call, but it was all G and GW stations after that. Two of them were S2S - Adrian GW4AZS/P on Long Mountain - Beacon Ring GW/MW-026 on 10m SSB, and Simon GW4TJC/P, now on Cyrn-y-Brain GW/NW-043, on 10m CW.

G/WB-003 - 5 QSOs - 4 on 10m SSB, 1 on 10m CW - 2 x S2S.

Corndon Hill GW/MW-013

As the day progressed, and I was getting more and more tired, I was falling behind my alert times, despite being 60 minutes ahead of them at the start of the day. I drove off Stiperstones via Shelve and across the A488 towards Priest Walton. I parked by the reservoir at the start of the track for Corndon Hill. It was 1645 UTC, and so a G1INK or a M0HGY could still have probably made the 1700 alerted time - but not me!

I briefly consider driving up the track to a higher starting point and a slightly less steep approach, but soon gave up on that idea, not wanting to incur any sucker punch of a damaged tyre - or indeed an angry farmer! It was time to tackle the fifth and final summit of Saturday 13th February 2016.

I walked up the track to the style, and was pleased to see that I didn’t have to climb it, with a gate now installed beside it! I then conspired to transform the short steep ascent into a long steep slog as I dragged my aching frame upwards - with plenty of water and breath stops!

I reached the summit with dusk well underway, and I turned on my headtorch to assist with setting up. This summit is completely and utterly exposed to the elements with its almost hemispherical shape and the wooded area that reached up to the summit itself, now completely felled. The only shelter available was the lee side of the trig point itself - although this proved to be quite adequate.

I opened up on 10m CW and straight in was Adrain G4AZS, now back at home after his own SOTA outing. Thereafter, it was a constant stream of US stations, which was really good fun, and a rewarding end to a long day.

Despite usually avoiding it and going the other way, I decided to descend back down the direct steep hillside. I actually found it quite easy and entirely unproblematic. Perhaps the reason was that it was completely dark, and all I could see was the 10 yards or so directly in front of me as illuminated by my headtorch, and therefore there wasn’t anything to trigger my vertigo!

I reached the car bang on 7pm, absolutely shattered, very hungry, but really satisfied with an excellent day out. The phone app took me up the A488 towards Shrewsbury, and thence onto the A49 to Whitchurch, from where it was a familiar drive across Cheshire to Macclesfield. The hunger was serviced at a Co-op run petrol station in Minsterley, where all the stuff in the hot cabinet was being sold off at 39p per item (instead of £1.50). Not one to miss a bargain, I availed myself of a cheese and bacon turnover, a fish finger barm cake and the best sausage roll I have ever tasted - recommended! All washed down by the essential can of Red Bull of course!

I arrived home at 9pm and sat down to a roast dinner. The earlier snacks had not filled me, but merely stimulated my appetite, so this was polished off with relish also. I was buzzing, and to my surprise and pleasure, I didn’t even nearly fall asleep during Match of the Day.

Awesome day!

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