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Operating Procedure


I have recently returned to radio frequently have retired and returned to chasing summits, can I say I find the operating practices very disappointing it,s like listening to a competition operators talking over one another not listening to what the activator requests I even heard an activator asking a station using only the first 2 letters of his call sign to wait till he had finished his present qso the station proceeded to say 5/9 thanks for the contact the activator had not confirmed his full call sign no signal report either way.

This is just poor operating not only that it disappoints those of us patiently waiting for a break we do not all have large antennas and it must be frustrating low power low signal stations like summit to summit requests surely we can act like intelligent people rather than a pack of wolves as soon as someone is spotted. I have to say I now have to partake in the dog eat dog scenario or I just would not get any contacts on sota.

Surely we can stop this bad practice if activators adopted the practice of working callsigns numerically and refusing to answer the big guns with large antenna farms more stations would be worked quicker


Hi Brian,
On my last three activations - at the start of December, I missed out on several Summit-to-Summit opportunities as I was stomped on by different chasers - who by their strength would certainly have heard me if they listened.

When I chase if I hear someone trying to make an S2S contact and the activator comes back to me, I’ll work them quickly and highlight that he or she has another activator calling them for an S2S contact. Often this works, but at times I hear the S2S contact still being stomped on by chasers who think they are more important. - Let me tell you if you are reading this - you aren’t more important, we are all equal and normally an activator (even though he or she doesn’t need to) will wait and try to work all callers - so have PATIENCE! By repeatedly calling over the top of other chasers, you inevitably call over the top of the activator and make a 1 minute contact take 3 times as long.

One call, then WAIT! OK?

73 Ed.


i wholeheartedly agree with brian , i am in glasgow and there are two G stations that persistantly call the minute ive made my call meaning ive no chance to hear the activator?
this happen almost every day and is most annoying surely the could at least wait to see if i get a reply? nio chance …dog eat dog seems to be the way its going , great shame and very bad practice.

No, no, no NO, Brian!

I’ve had some of that. With an 8 in my call I wait patiently whilst the op goes through 0, 1, 2 and so on, but by the time he gets to the high numbers he has got fed up, only takes a few and moves on, and if I was missed I have to sit through it all again - if he goes again - and to cap it all they work the nuisances calling out of turn just to get rid of them! Alligators have always been with us, thankfully though prominent they are relatively few and a good operator pretends that they are not there and works them at the end of the pile-up - or in some cases works them and then somehow forgets to put them in the log. :wink:

When chasing DXpeditions a sensible small gun waits until near the end of the DXpeditions stay, when the big guns have all got their contacts and the pile-ups have become managable, but SOTA isn’t like that. We experienced chasers know that the activator is dealing with wind, cold, cloud, rain or snow, fatigue and general discomfort, and will be disinclined to linger or may even run out of battery power before the end of the pile-up, so it makes no sense to hang back and wait for the pile-up to diminish, and this does tend to generate a sense of urgency - in fact this is much of the charm of chasing SOTA, SOTA chasing is unlike any other branch of ham radio because you know that you are trying to take advantage of a fleeting opportunity that won’t come again. You may get points from working subsequent activations of a summit, but that activation of that summit was unique and when its gone, its gone!

Incidentally, how do you identify a big gun with a large antenna farm? That rock-crushing signal might be from a small gun with favourable propagation!


Hi Brian,

I am sorry have to disagree and feel you are almost condoning poor procedure I understand that you may feel I want the 1’s called first I apologise for that if that is the impression I gave I don’t really care what order the numbers come out in as long as it’s structured ie work 5 off each number and move on take a break call for s2s or qrp better contacts with more stations will be had. As for big guns and propagation I persistently hear the same stations who are the worst offenders these people know what they are doing they constantly harass till they get taken propagation is not a major factor to them.

I fully understand the activators predicament having completed over 150 Munro’s hear in Scotland and wishing I had been an amateur then.

I think it’s best we agree to disagree as everyone has there own opinion but apart from the radio it’s just bad manners if you sitting a pub and someone calls over you don’t expect the rest of the pub to start shouting over you so you can’t hear them.


No. If you are a small gun then you need to observe how the successful small stations operate and use the same techniques.


You and me both, Brian! In the past I climbed so very many mountains in the UK and Eire and in several EU countries, but sad to say those days are behind me. Tempus frangit!

No, I’m not condoning poor procedure, I think the first step in dealing with it is understanding why it takes place, this should at least reduce irritation!

I think the numbers solution is inefficient for the activator in that you may call for a number and get no response, if you do get a response then you continue until you get no response, so with numbers of people waiting to call you, you are wasting time with fruitless calls when time is limited - you and I as mountaineers know that it is often foolhardy to stay too long on a summit! Is it faster to let the pile-up rip? Well, at least you’re not wasting transmit power while waiting for at least a partial to emerge!

With regard to the worst offenders, you could do worse than report them to me, an email from me as an MT member has calmed down a number of disruptive operators in the past - after all we wield the ultimate Big Stick - we can block their accounts! You also have the option of looking up their email addresses on the Zed and telling them off yourself, which might give some satisfaction!

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Zed’s dead baby. Zed’s dead.


A gay biker is no help anyway, dead or alive!

Just to be clear, though, I meant the Callsign Lookup on qrz.com.

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Dare I say it? Okay, I will… and it may not make me very popular in certain quarters, but I feel I need to say this.

In my experience, both as an activator and a chaser, chasing has got all the more frenetic since SOTA summits were cross-referenced to the WWFF scheme. For activations in many areas, this has increased the number of chasers dramatically. Some activators have even taken advantage of this and posted the reference for the WWFF scheme in their alerts. Obviously there is nothing technically wrong with this as it potentially increases the number of available contacts, but I just wonder whether this is desirable if the activator does not intend to submit a log to the WWFF scheme.

I carry out activations in both schemes and so have experience of chaser activity in SOTA only, WWFF only and SOTA/WWFF combined situations. For some reason, WWFF does attract the kind of operating practices described. In my experience, barring the odd misdemeanour, this is not the case for a SOTA only activation. I am not laying blame at anyone’s door, but just stating what I have experienced.

As always, others may have a different experience and as to a solution, well I don’t think there is one. I would just appeal to SOTA chasers to maintain their generally high standards in the hope that they will influence others by their example.

73, Gerald


Looking at the facts and figures section of the database, we have 8,223 activators and 8,686 chasers, which suggests that a majority of chasers know the game from both sides and are more likely to behave well. As for the rest, well as Gerald says, we can only hope that they learn from the examples! I doubt that the worst offenders will read this, though!

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Hi Gerald,

An interesting aspect of the wwff program is that all points are earned only from the activator log, when (or if) it is submitted to the wwff.co database. And even then, only the contacts listed will get the credit for chasing/hunting that reference. So the alligators can push their way into a contact but if they are not in the activator’s log, they get no credit for the contact. Perhaps being told this is the penalty for poor operating practices will eventually modify their behaviour. I would not do this on the air though.

Operating practices have created more ill feelings between amateurs than most other issues. It seems to be a human condition.

73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH


I always hated this working method. I think it’s highly inefficient, unfair and extremely boring for both the activator and the poor chasers waiting for their turn.
I take part in SOTA as a chaser and an activator too, with about 40K chaser points and hundreds of activations, I know well the way both sides of the court go.
As activator, I enjoy a big pileup, the bigger, the better. I have sometimes had some bad mannered indisciplined chaser, but not many. The huge majority of my activations have mostly well behaved chasers. The very few exceptions are just that, very few exceptions and I won’t make a case out of them.
As a chaser, I know what are my chances depending on the band and the location of the station I want to chase, so I’ve learnt how to call and operate accordingly. I sometimes loose my chance to chase an activation, but I know this is something all chasers experience from time to time and we all have to live with it.
All this is fun, a lot of fun and I would hate seeing it ruined by a calling by numbers operating procedure.



Just a thought but it might be particularly difficult at the moment as many activators are “grounded” and are now chasing instead…

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I guess it’s possible the activator/chaser balance has shifted thanks to restrictions here and there, but I’d hope that folk who normally activate would be even more considerate when they’re chasing than the average chasers…

As a casual chaser who very occasionally gets out to activate, I know I’ll not manage to catch every activation I can hear, especially when the conditions are playing tricks, and most of the time I can only guess at the conditions the activator is having to cope with (be it midges, wind, rain, snow, or whatever), so a successful chase puts a smile on my face, and an unsuccessful one merits maybe a shrug, but (usually) nothing more.

I’ve never yet encountered a “working by numbers” pile-up where the process actually seemed to help. Sure, it thins the pile-up down a bit, but the process often generates “band police” comments that just add to the QRM and slow things down, and I’m certain some folk will hear a number a few away from theirs and simply spin the dial never to return…


Guru, you hit the nail on the head.
During my activations the last years I was called by alligators very rarely (big mouth - small ears and hard-nosed).
I like also to sit at the interesting end of the pile-up. I pick up one or two complete calls or parts and call thereafter. Mostly it works very well. So often I got two contacts each minute, contacts with “hello, thanks for calling me”, report, summit-ID, “hope to meet you again, 73” and so on and not only “59 73”.
Last year, when I was activating the spcial callsign DF70DARC from home for one day, calling for numbers was a must. I guess, more then 30 stations called me at the same moment exactly on the same frequency (thanks to modern technology :confused:).

LOL :rofl: Ray

This morning was on @SP9CM/P frequency, he was 59 here and you too !
You called 2 times him when he was calling please G0 only (he was @G0RQL Don) and you called 3 times again, big difference between G0 and GM7 no ?
Finally Valerii tired make you a response and you was happy, Ron too because he can work him without QRM just after you and me too :wink:

a French proverb says: “Before looking at the straw in the neighbor’s eye, it is better to look at the beam in his”
In all friendship of course !

I’m waiting for the possibility to put some MP3 on the reflector… LOL for me too !
73 Éric F5JKK


In general, I have tried to be better at keeping the control over the pile-up by strictly enforcing my own procedure, i.e., if I hear fragments of the callsigns from one of the long-term chasers, who supported me over the four years of doing SOTA, like @SP9AMH and @EA2DT (and many others - just naming two of many!), I keep asking for them like “SP9? KN” and stick to it, even at the expense of loosing several QSOs from louder stations.

In my early days, I was tempted to give in to their calls just to save the activation. Now I am trying to cultivate a more orderly pile-up.

But there is one exception: Quite some of my activations are in winter or on not-so-easy summits, and of course I want to bag the points from at least four QSOs. When it is really cold or you are under pressure from your climbing partners, I often have to complete the activation in less than 15 minutes. And then I sometimes give in to the quick wins of loud stations, even if they do not follow my requests.

Before this turns into the exchange of negative karma: I am also very thankful for many strong stations that follow my call for QRS, are there on the spot when I arrive on the summit, and allow quick QSOs thanks to their excellent CW operating skills, orders of magnitude beyond mine.

The only thing that really annoys me are strong stations calling over my ongoing QSOs with weak stations or when I am explicitly trying to get the long-term chasers from EA or Mariusz @SP9AMH with QRP in the log.

Let’s keep the fun in this and try to include operating practices into our new year’s resolutions!

73 de Martin, DK3IT

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Here on the outer rim of the Galaxy :slight_smile: I mean the outer edge of Europe signals from Activators in Europe are often marginal with deep qsb, this is particularly the case on 40m where it seems most European activators like to start up and spend a lot of time. So if I myself or as I’m sure is the case also with G stations call a bit out of turn it’s probably just down to the very very weak signals we have. I’ve seen some of the videos posted of how some Activators sound in Central Europe, believe me it is nothing like that out here. This brings me to a second point, lately I notice when I’m calling a weak activator some other guys try to be helpful by maybe sending FR KN or 6FR K. This totally ruins the qso for me , I want to be sure I hear my callsign or even better often my name from the Activator. When activating myself I usually run at about 25 wpm, at this rate the Chaser needs only send his call once and I should get it and everything flows, even tailending should be ok but what kills it for me HI is when in the run some Chaser sends his call at 12 wpm 2/3 times the music is gone. I’m sure even CW novices can learn to recognize their callsign at faster speeds and just tiurn up the keyer :slight_smile:
Anyway, till the end of yet another lockdown I will Chase as politely as I can

73 es HNY



Hi Friends,
Very good proposal for chasers having number 1 in callsign, isn’t it ? :smiley:
Other thing is that chasers will not respect it and will send their calls constantly.
Another thing there are still some chasers who is calling when could not copy anything - they listen silence and send their calls “just in case”.
Do I believe it will change ?
No, I do not believe …
Other thing is that activator is deciding how will activate, not any chaser :wink:
HNY to all of You :slight_smile:
73, Jarek