Hi My name is Kent and I am new to the idea of SOTA.
I have been licensed since 1998 but was a tech till 2014. I then upgraded to general and then extra in about a months time. I am recently retired so I have a lot of time on my hands. I want to keep in shape but sitting in front of my rig in the shack is not the way to do it. So here is SOTA. I have been a chaser for about a month or so and really like it, but I want to get out for a walk.
I guess my first question is which radio? I see a lot of people with the Elecraft KX3 or KX2. And then power and then antenna??? and…???
Hey welcome Kent to SOTA! You might also post your message to the NA SOTA Yahoo reflector at Yahoo | Mail, Weather, Search, Politics, News, Finance, Sports & Videos
I also sent to Paul/W6PNG your intro. Paul is the Assoc Manager for W6 and also a Rubicon Hardrock owner! There’s a few Jeep folks in So Cal who are quite active as Activators!
Look forward to hearing you from a SOTA summit!
Thanks I will join the Yahoo group.
Hi Kent, welcome aboard!
I’m sure you will get suggestions for equipment and antennas (FT817 is my main choice, often used with an Elecraft AATU and an inverted V doublet, LiFePo4 battery), but you will find a lot of comments and suggestions in posts on this reflector which might also be useful - it is worth a search.
I’m sure you will enjoy SOTA,
Welcome to SOTA Kent, once the SOTA bug bites the only known cure is to activate more summits, very addictive
Enjoy your time on the summits and good luck working DX SOTA peaks.
I have two SOTA rigs a Yaesu FT-857D and a FT-817ND. My choice of rig comes down to how many km/miles will I walk to the summit and how difficult is the terrain?
73 Andrew VK1AD
SOTA blog https://vk1nam.wordpress.com/
Im heading to the Visailia DX Convention next weekend so I will be looking at and touching radios from Yaesu and Elecraft. Im hoping there will be some show specials to help me make up my mind.
73 Kent NC6B
Plenty of opinion out there, so you’ll get a bunch.
My most often setup is a horizontal end-fed half wave supported with available trees or chest-high or better brush.
Rig is most often KX3 and 6AH LiFeP batt, with eye on KX2 for smaller size and weight.
Listening for you on the bands!
All best, Ken, K6HPX
Welcome and I checked out your QRZ page. Nice antenna at your home QTH and the rock crawling snap brings home what a Prius can’t do.
You’ll get tons of advice on gear here and on the NA SOTA site plus poking around the web.
Gear aside, Kevin’s site at
…has a ton of info to orient you around effective SOTA.
Rigs…probably three major camps; Elecraft, Yaesu and MTR. Each has pros and cons.
Antennas…camps are probably End Fed, Dipole and everyone else (such as Buddipole)
A lot depends on what you want to achieve and your preferred operating mode (voice, CW etc).
Clearly weight is an issue if you want to roam the western states and scale remote wilderness peaks far from civilization where survival is paramount, your water and survival gear weigh tons and the difference between a 2lb rig and a 4lb rig is possibly a moot point.
I’m a voice guy and have been happy using the Elecraft KX2 and KX3 in a 100+ SOTA activations in last 18 months. 10w/15w and an End Fed have worked but with the down cycle it might get more challenging which is why I just acquired a Yaesu 857 100w rig before the production line goes quiet.
Paul W6 Association Manager.
Hi Kent welcome to “the addiction”.
Another part of Amateur radio that you might like to look at doing alongside SOTA is the Worldwide Flora and Fauna award scheme - called WWFF internationally, KFF in the USA. The advantage being whatever equipment you chose for SOTA will also be fine for WWFF.
In answer to your “what equipment” question - the answer is to use whatever you have to start with. Even a 2m HT can be used to activate a summit. There’s more fun doing a HF activation though, so a small rig such as you are looking at from Elecraft, the KX2 or KX3 are fine rigs. From Yaesu the FT-817ND is used by a lot of activators. If you like operating just CW, there are many ultra-light QRP rigs and weight is important. Remember what ever you pack you have to carry (unless you have a goat (2 or 4 legged)) to the summit and back.
As for an antenna, you will most likely end up with two options if you really get into SOTA. Some summits have limited space and lots of visitors, for these a vertical is often a good choice but if you have space a resonant horizontal dipole can often work better in catching more contacts. The Inverted-V dipole - either multiband by using an off centre fed design with a balun, or a linked dipole that you can either buy, build from a kit (SOTABeams) or build yourself - design tool here - http://www.sotamaps.org/extras.php (click on linked dipole designer tab) are very common.
Single band antennas such as end-fed halfwaves also work well, but often need a tuner.
In all cases support is normally required (you can’t always count on a convenient tree being available) and a fishing/roach/Squid pole is the usual choice. As you will normally be working NVIS a 5 or 6 metre long one is adequate and ideally should pack down to a small size - my favourite is this one from lambdahalbe in Germany - 5m GFK-Mast (the 6m version is currently out of stock unfortunately) - use Google translate to translate the text. Yes he does ship out of Germany at reasonable rates. You should be able to find similar ones from a US supplier.
My experience with the longer 10m version of this telescopic pole from other suppliers has not been good, it has collapsed on me several times and damages easier due to thinner fibreglass tubes being used. When on a summit, the difference between a 5m and a 10m pole in getting out is minor as you will be radiating mostly straight up (NVIS), so for half the price (or less) and more importantly half the weight I recommend a 5 or 6m pole rather than a 10m one.
Most importantly - have fun!
I followed a very similar path as you, licensed as a tech in 09, waited till 15 to get into HF.
I have a KX3, and it is a great radio. If I wasn’t also into contesting I probably would have gone with the KX2 however. Lighter, smaller, simpler. The antenna tuner option is highly recommended, Elecraft makes a great built in unit.
For antennas, The LNR Precision “Trail Friendly” End Fed are very popular and for good reason. They only require one support and radiate well: Trail Friendly – LNR Precision Inc
I have the Pacific Antenna Dual Band Dipole that you build from a kit: Dual Band Trap Dipole Antennas - Pacific Antenna
20 and 40m are workhorse SOTA bands, and that dipole even at very low heights works fine for me.
Link Dipoles are also popular with folks. I’m not a big fan of something I have to take down to close links, but YMMV.
Tell us what you end up getting and when you are going to try your first summit. I’m sure there are plenty of SOTA folks in CA who would consider being your SOTA elmer too.
Look me up. I too will be at the convention and I activate and chase. I can probably answer many questions for you…
We can meet at the Elecraft booth on Friday if you want.