My First Activation - 21 DEC 20 - AA4BI

Only 993 points to go for MG!

Today was my first activation. It was my third attempt, first time successful. Two other summits proved inaccessible. Today, the stars aligned (I chose a nearby summit and the wx was nice). I had a 1.2 mile/2 km hike to the Rocky Spur summit in North Carolina, USA. Elevation 3090 feet/942m, not exactly nose bleed country, but it’s on the list! Sunny wx and moderate temps made for a pleasant hike to summit. Set-up took about fifteen minutes, thanks to my inexperience erecting a dipole on a mast in a thorny area. Once set up, I tuned around 40m and found some band noise, but a few good signals. I found an empty freq, posted a spot, and sent out a CQ having no idea if any success would be had.

Instant pile up!

It was the first time I have been the center of ham attention and it took a while to work through, but after three or four contacts I settled into a routine. My first SOTA activator contact was Robert, AC1Z. Thanks Robert! Also, thanks to all the chasers who put up with my fumbling CW. Through the patience of all of you, I was able to complete my first activation.

Today’s equipment: Sotabeams Band Hopper III (20/30/40m) dipole, Shakespeare 20’ fishing pole mast, ATS-3B qrp xcvr, American Morse Equipment Ultra Porta Paddle. I didn’t have any equipment problems, but I did have a few operator issues. The first was the challenge, as mentioned above, of deploying the dipole antenna in thorny brush. The Band Hopper goes up easily on the grass of my yard, but the tangles of this area slowed me down a bit. The second issue I had was with the paddle - I had it set for the lightest resistance, so any time the paddle slid off my clipboard/desk and bumped into something it sent a string of dits (accompanied by a string of oaths) until I grabbed it. Again, the issues were mine, not the equipment’s. I will correct these for the next go.

All in all, a good day. I’ll count it as a win.

Thanks again chasers!

72/73 de Tim AA4BI


Awesome Tim! Congrats man. Like you said, each outing I figure some better/faster/easier way to set up. But the sense of satisfaction getting those DX contacts is validating. I’m still learning CW, so you’re way ahead of me. Welcome to the club. Merry Christmas, have fun planning your next summit.

Putting up the dipole on summits can be tricky with all the sticks and stuff on the ground. I always only unroll enough dipole each side to equal about the height of my telescopic pole and have the coax between my feet unrolled about the same amount. Once you have the pole extended then take out each leg and secure it inverted v style . The other thing to watch for with the coax between you feet make sure you are not standing on it as you push the pole up. Great choice of antenna though the link dipole gives you the best chance at a good radiated signal on summits. My pole is 7m tall and it has been good enough to work for me on 300 plus activations over a 7 year period. I would suggest and make you aware that for you to gain the other 993 points it will take you a reasonable amount of time and travel to get there too. So well done for making that start and I hope you can eventually reach your goals.
I have some stories on my Blog about my experiences to become an Old Mountain Goat.

Ian vk5cz …


Hello Tim

Welcome to the world of SOTA. Be careful - it has addictive potential.

Here in this forum you will find many very practical tips on technology, operating technique and their application.

I look forward to a S2S dx with you! :beers:

73 Armin

Actually the planets Earth, Jupiter and Saturn got aligned :wink:

Congratulations on your 1st successful activation.
I’ll be looking forward to chasing you on 20m from accross the pond.