My first CW activation G/SE-005

I had initially set my start time for 11:00, but with delays on the trains, I pushed it back to 11:30. I arrived at Oxted station about 15 minutes late. I quickly set off on my Brompton cycle for Botley Hill. My chosen route took me up a track, through woodland, so I was soon off the bike and pushing. I arrived in the activation zone and set about finding a suitable spot to put up the 40m dipole. I had forgotten how long it is! After the fourth attempt I finally got the pegs in the right place and the pole went up and stayed up, though the wind was gusting alarmingly.

I connected up to the 817 and powered up, but got no signal indications at all. I double checked the aerial connection and tuned about and found an S9 CW signal. I was so used to the S8 of ADSL noise at home. I had forgotten what HF used to sound like!

A quick sending practice session, with no TX, to get warmed up before I send my first CQ SOTA out. I use a Bulldog key, held by magnetic base onto the 817 case. I make it through my first CQ call and get responses, but my mind blanks! I force myself to relax and concentrate and luckily a call is sent again and I understand it. I realise now I need more practice. I switch in the narrow filter and it helps, more calls are appearing on the pad in front of me. Now two walkers have stopped for a chat! Back to it and the wind is increasing, even with noise cancelling headphones I am having difficulty. The aerial is staying up though.

Thanks to all who worked me today. Sorry if I missed anyone, with practice I should get more efficient at this activation thing.

I did try 10m and 6m, but had aerial matching problems. I see that I did get spotted on 28.6MHz by a skimmer, but I didn’t work anybody. I forgot this was the QRP frequency and I should have been a few KHz away from this.

Anyway, I had great fun and learned lots of lessons for the next time. I’ll keep up the morse practice and try and get out on a hill again soon.



Hi Ian,

Congratulations. Most of us have brain fades on CW receive when the pressure is on and sometimes when it isn’t. So long as you exchange reports and both ends get the call signs right its a QSO. The bits about the weather and the view of the sheep on the Downs can be let go through to the keeper. It’s nice to be able to send and receive Tu 73 at the end of course.

The more you do this the better you will get.


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HI Ian

It sounds like we have another SOTA CW operator in the making here!

Well done and thank you for the QSO yesterday. There are several SOTA ops who have come to learn CW purely due to its effectiveness and popularity in SOTA. Indeed there are also some who have come into amateur radio per se only because of SOTA. If our branch of our hobby didn’t exist they wouldn’t have put the work in to get the licence.

73 and thanks for the report

Phil G4OBK

Hi Ian,
Was this your first CW activation or your first SOTA activation overall? In either case well done. As the others have said, activations get easier, the more you do of them. I prefer to stick with the harder option of getting SSB contacts rather than CW (to be honest I’m going to need a LONG time to learn dots and dashes but there is a lot to be said for the effectiveness of this “first digital mode” and I have a great respect for those who have mastered it).


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Hi Ian,
Given the weather, riding bicycles, technical problems ( which beset us all) congratulations on persevering.

Have used a bicycle on one of my activations so far.

I use cw on nearly all my activations as saves on battery power and once a bit of skill is developed, faster.

Perhaps one day I will catch up with you on the H.F bands and good luck with your next summit/s.

Cheers, Nick

Hi Ian

FB on your activation yesterday, the first of many I hope.

Thanks for the qso / complete.

Nick G4OOE

Congratulations Ian. Always glad to see another SOTA cyclist activating; and CW is a bonus too!

73 Richard G3CWI

[quote=“G1RVK, post:1, topic:12003”]my mind blanks![/quote]Know that one; happens at some point every time, especially when someone comes back with just a bit more information (or just a bit faster) than I’m expecting…

Must say, Botley Hill isn’t one I’d fancy cycling up from Oxted, at least partly because of the maniac motorists. Bet the ride back down was a lot less effort (except, perhaps, on the brakes). Woldingham might have been a better station (trains permitting)?

73, Rick M0LEP