My first activation tomorrow

Hi, I’m Richard G4TGJ.

I’ve been licensed since 1982, originally as G6RZL, and then did the morse test the following year. I was a teenager and was active for a few years on 2m FM and HF, mostly CW. Then after university I lost interest and wasn’t on the air for almost 30 years. Earlier this year the RSGB sent me a copy of RadCom in the hope I would rejoin the society. This included a review of the SOTA Explained book and, since hill walking has been a major post-radio activity, the whole thing reignited my interest in ham radio. So I’ve rejoined the RSGB, bought a cheap Baofeng 2m/70cm handy and an FT817.

Tomorrow I’ll be heading onto Rombalds Moor to activate G/NP-028. Since it’s better known as Ilkley Moor, I’d better find my hat…



Welcome back and hope you enjoy your first SOTA experience. Don’t forget to put an Alert on Sotawatch, as it can make all the difference.


Alert is already in! Need to work out how to self spot next - there should be good 4G coverage on the moor.

There are various ways of doing it.

You can put a spot directly into the sotawatch website.

For these next two, you will need to register your phone. Details are contained within the info.

You can use a formatted text message - see the link below:-

The other way is to use an App on your phone, like Rucksack Radio Tool:-

I’ve found an app in the play store which looks good. Failing that the website should work.

I have only managed a few activations ( family life ), but the hints on the thread I started might be useful!

Since I enabled the SMS gateway I have self spotted and qualified everything I attempted ( apart from the time the mast snapped in the wind…)

Good Luck

Paul ( Who has also re-discovered radio after nearly a 30yr break! )
((And the morse is still rusty but getting slightly better…))

73 Paul

Hi Richard,

Welcome back!

I hope your first activation goes well - I’m sure it will be fun and a good learning exercise anyway.

I’ve seen your alert, and will listen on 40m. Too far away for VHF this time.

(Who also went through an extended period of low activity before discovering SOTA a few years ago)

Good luck Richard. Like you I had a break of nearly 30 years and then discovered SOTA. It’s now my main radio activity. I’m sure you’ll be successful tomorrow, but don’t be put off by the odd “failed” activation. I’m sure most of us have them. If it’s too easy it’s not worth it!

I listened on 40m when I saw your spot, but nothing heard - the band seemed quiet, the only stations I could hear were French, so long propagation, I think.

GL es73

Same here Adrian…pouring with rain here…hope the wx is better for Richard.

Richard…I hope you qualified ok…suggest you look at adding 60m to your antenna system. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed your first activation.

73 Allan GW4VPX

Hi Richard

I’m another who has come back to amateur radio after a break of about 30 years - there seems to be a pattern here?

I did listen for you on 2m and 40m but nothing, which surprising as my QTH is about 10 miles to the north west of Ilkley Moor (I don’t know where the name Rombalds Moor comes from - it’s definitely Ilkla Moor baht 'at !). However there are some other hills in the way, so it depends on the precise point from which you choose to activate. WX is quite good here - but possibly a bit windy.

Hopefully next time …

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[quote=“G4AZS, post:9, topic:15650”]long propagation, I think[/quote]Yeah, HF has been pretty rubbish from here this morning. On 40 I’ve been hearing nothing much closer than Italy (and they’ve probably been QRO++), and 20 has only peeking out now and again. Earlier today on 20, EA2IF/P (on EA1/CR-018 which is a bit over 1000km from here) briefly came up to about 319 before sinking back into the slight hiss of a band that’s propagating nothing…

So I managed to activate it with a single QSO on 2m FM. It was with a guy who I have chatted to a couple of times recently via the Shipley repeater during my lunchbreak at work. Does anyone use 2m/70cm FM these days? When I was first licensed I had loads of QSOs on 2m (although that was down south).

The weather was not as good as expected. The forecast had been for a fine window between 9am and 1pm but it’s been raining all morning combined with wind. It wasn’t very heavy rain, just enough to worry me about getting my kit wet. I did call out on 7.118 a few times and I did hear some very faint voices just after I self-spotted but that was probably coincidence. I didn’t even try 20m as I wasn’t convinced my antenna was working. It’s a magnetic loop and, as you tune it, the noise on receive should very obviously peak but it wasn’t nor could I hear any other signals. I’m not convinced it’s a very effective antenna at all.

Hi Richard

Sorry to hear that you only managed 1 contact. It would be interesting to hear what antenna and radio you were using for 2m.

As you can see from the postings above there were quite a few of us listening for you and no doubt many more of the dedicated chaser that are out there in the UK.

I would suggest you look at building yourself a 60/40/20m band linked dipole (no atu) for use with a 7m fishing pole…cheap and simple to build and light to carry. It is possible to get 15m from the 40m section as well (harmonically related to 40m). Many of us have been experimenting with either loading coils or wire extensions to get 80m as this band is now being used for both SOTA and WAB. I think 60m could have been a good option today (usually my first port of call from a summit) as I could hear quite a few UK stations whilst waiting for you. Anyway, some food for thought for you…no doubt others will chip in with their comments.

73 and I hope to catch you on your next summit…maybe s2s?

Allan GW4VPX

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The 2m radio is just a Baofeng handheld with its standard aerial.
For HF I’d heard so many good things about the magnetic loop it seemed ideal as it is so easy to carry. Now I know why SOTA activators use dipoles and fishing poles! My first priority is to get a good antenna up at home - currently it’s slung from a first floor window to a tree so not far above ground. I plan to get it over the roof. I’ve been buying the bits from sotabeams so I shall have to add some of the portable bits next time I order.
Over the next weekend I hope to activate Scafell Pike and Snowdon but both will just be with the FM handheld. They are family holidays and I can’t expect the wife and kids to wait very long for me.

Thanks to everyone who has given me encouragement and listened out for me. It’s great to find such a great community.


That explains things then.

As Nietzsche said “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” You have an activation under your belt and it was probably very revealing about what it’s like activating. You probably have loads of ideas from this to incorporate into your next activations. That’s a huge part of the fun, learning what not to do next time, figuring out how to make things easier to set up, how to do it when it’s wet & windy and you have gloves on, how to ensure you don’t forget things etc.

On top of that as you’ve been off the air for a while there’s learning the revised landscape of which bands are busy etc. Also we’re on the way to the bottom of the solar cycle, so HF bands can be fairly bad most of the time. There is a huge amount of info on here where people describe the gear they use and the issues they have overcome. The problem is filtering it due to the sheer volume of info.

So now it’s time to plan activation no. 2. You can go back to this hill and try again as you have not earned the points yet, Or you can try another hill. I wouldn’t give up on the loop yet, there’s plenty of people using them, but probably it will be better on the higher bands.

Finally, welcome aboard. You are about to discover that the damage is done and you will find what a terrible addiction this nonsense of taking radios up hills is! It really is terribly addictive and once you start having wee pileups calling you then that addiction gets worse. Just ask the long time addicts :grin:


That isn’t going to work well unless you are close to urban areas where there is a lot of VHF/UHF activity. Magnetic loops don’t seem to like SOTA.

For VHF either get a small dipole or 2-ele beam or build yourself a slim-jim from 450 ohm ladder line (which will then roll up in your rucksack. For HF a link dipole is probably easiest to build/erect.

73, Colin


Practically anything you consider will be superior to the standard antenna. If you have time / parts to knock something up before your next activation do think about a roll-up Slim JIM / basic dipole, like Allan says, to go on a pole, or even just a full quarter-wave whip to go on the top of the hand-held. This will make a huge difference. On the other hand it will also boost the pager signals that will blast through your Baofeng in some circumstances.

If you can’t conveniently get a fishing pole, &c, consider some PVC tubing (e.g. overflow pipe). Make a dipole on that and have it sticking out of your rucksack.

When I did that summit last August I had 18 QSOs on 2m/70cm. It was a weekend, but all the same I think the chasers should be there for you if you can improve the antenna a bit.


All good advice, thanks. I’m not convinced a better aerial for the Baofeng is a good idea (due to its wide open front end) but I can do 2m FM with the FT817. I made a Slim Jim for 2m 35 years ago so I should manage another one.