My first SOTA Activation - G/SE-013

I’ve been wanting to go portable for a while now and finally decided to go. I also wanted to do SOTA, and combined the two. Detling Hill, G/SE-013 is very close to me, around 4-5 miles away so that became my destination.

The drive there was good, no traffic which was even better as Detling Hill can get very busy at times. Parked up and got everything I needed out (I took way too much, so that’s a lesson for next time).

From the car park, it was around a 5 minute walk to the SOTA point. I arrived just after 9am local time and it was already quite warm. I found the trig point and the view was really good.

Next thing I had to do was set everything up. I had the Yaesu FT-891 and FC-50 ATU (more about that later) and my Yaesu FT3DE handheld beaconing on APRS which was reliably heard by my own digipeater MB7UQI. The antenna I set up was a simple wire going up a pole and sloping down with a 9:1 unun. Not sure how long the wire was, but it seemed to work fine for 60m, 40m, 20m and 15m. As I hinted at, there was more to mention with the tuner. Somehow the middle pin of the tuner cable had bent and wouldn’t work. I had to do the entire SOTA activation with no ATU, which was fine as luckily the SWR was reasonable. When set up, it looked something like this:

It’s a bit hard to see in the photo, but there’s the wire sloping from the pole and a 10m counterpoise wire on the grass.

I had my laptop with me for logging, using a program called “HAMRS”. No CAT control for the frequency but that wasn’t too much of an issue. Running around 10-15 watts out, calling CQ from the call M0LKW/P. Managed to get a total of 10 QSOs on HF, 9 on 40m, 1 on 20m. Stations were giving mixed reports, anywhere from 58 to 33. That could’ve been down to the low power, no ATU and also potentially poor band conditions.

I had many people ask me what I was doing, and everyone seemed interested. I switched over to 2m on a 3 element yagi but didn’t have much luck there. The handheld was going wild with APRS packets, thankfully I had it on APRS Mute.

My favourite contact of the day was a Scottish maritime mobile station. Don’t think I’ve ever worked a /MM station on SSB, so that was a first.

I had to end the trip earlier than I wanted as it was getting quite hot and I didn’t have enough water to last that long.

I’ve learned a few things from the trip. Firstly, I need to take much less with me. I brought a lot of unnecessary things which made it much more awkward. Secondly, I think going on a weekend rather than a weekday may get me more QSOs. Also, bring a lot more water. I had enough, but not enough to stay much longer. I now need to replace the ATU cable that broke for next time and that should let me get some more bands. I will keep the laptop for logging. It’s a little bit more weight but made for a much easier logging experience in my opinion.

Well, that was my time at G/SE-013, Detling Hill. Thanks for reading and 73s.


HF was generally rubbish at lunchtime today when I did a spot of chasing, so if it felt flat that’ll be why.

Congratulations and welcome to the community.

Regards, Mark.


Well done on your activation.
As mentioned above, conditions weren’t very good, I only had one inter G qso on 40m and that was to Cornwall (from Central Scotland GM/SS-282) and usually get a few more than that.

Enjoy the challenge!


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Thanks for the welcome @M0NOM and @MM0VPM. I’m certainly looking forward to carrying on the SOTA adventure.

I’d heard propagation wasn’t great the day before so I somewhat expected it to be poor today as well. It was very useful having S0 noise. At the home QTH, I’m used to S7 noise.

Welcome to the obsession! I almost always activate midweek and don’t usually struggle to get contacts on HF. I log on paper and then back home use Fast Log Entry to create an ADIF file to upload. I wouldn’t want to carry a laptop.

73 Richard


Luckily it’s a fairly light laptop. The main reason I have it is because I don’t really want to transfer paper logs to digital, as I send all logs to various platforms such as LoTW, QRZ, Cloudlog, Clublog etc. I can use one ADIF log file and send it to them automatically.

Paper and pen would work perfectly fine, just me being a little bit lazy

When you start walking more than 5 minutes then that “fairly light laptop” will appear as a real millstone :slight_smile:

Like all these things… the more you do the better you get and the more you will learn what is essential, what is nice to have and what is dead weight. The best way to learn is by doing. You’ve done the 1st activation, time to plan the next one and see how to improve your setup. Then just keep repeating.

Have fun.


I’m with Andy @MM0FMF on this one…for logging only it becomes a millstone and typically a pain to read on a bright day.

Check out FastLogEntry at :: Fast Log Entry (FLE)

I’ve copied 1,000s of hand written QSOs entries, at some level it’s a hassle but another it’s good to “re-live” who you connected with earlier.



This looks like quite a useful bit of software. I’ll give this a go on my next /P trip

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For bent pins, I carry a mini repair kit. Very small needle nose pliers, cutter/wire stripper, Swiss army knife and blue painter’s tape, in addition to a back-up for every cable, adapter, wire antenna, ear buds and keyer paddle. Even a few log pages, in the event I forget the log book. At one time or another, I’ve forgotten each of those, as well as a charged battery and a pole.

Elliott, K6EL


Well done, Chris,
And nice report.

All Best, Ken

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Many congratulations on your first activation, Chris, and thanks for the excellent report.

Hopefully the first of many!

73 and have fun!

Matthew M0JSB

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Good stuff, Chris, thanks for the great report-and welcome to activating. 73 John

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I find entering my log with FLE afterwards part of the fun. I check the S2S summit references on Sotawatch before uploading. FLE is so quick that entering even 50 QSOs is no problem.

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