Please state direction of radiation if you have time

You had it easy… When I were a lad etc etc

and you tell the kids today and they wont believe you (sic Monty Python)

Hmm! So next time I fancy a ridge walk that includes a few SOTA summits and I decide to take my radio in case I decide to do a quick activation that will only last as long as a snack break - then I better not because I won’t be a “proper activator”.

I would be happy as well as the non-SOTA folk that might be with me to have the snack break and carry on with the walk - it is the chaser that loses out on the points, not me, I’m not in a competition, I enjoy the walk and the views - the radio is a bonus.

Ed, I agree with the rest with what they say it is hard to give beam direction as it changes so often, a weak signal will draw the beam direction towards them for a time before it is rotated round to a new bearing for other to have a chance.

Ed. I think most are beaming your way at the moment!
There are rotator controllers out there that you can click on the station, they know where they are and the rotator turns to them.


Gday Ed,

I would not give up on a dx contact purely because s/he is not beaming my way. A few thoughts on this…

Firstly, very few activators will have a narrow enough beam width on 6m for it to matter where they are pointing a beam likely to be on a summit. A 2 or 3 el beam gives a nudge of gain and a skerrick of directivity but does not make their 6m signal like a laser beam. Stuff spews out in all directions whether you want it to or not. (technical explanation)

Second as plenty of others have said, beam headings are variable and I would add they are approximate and subject to wind.

I think the greatest impediment to working dx on 6m is antenna gain for tropo dx and the E layer in the ionosphere for Es dx.

Your example of a GM station beaming south that you would not hear, let’s see how much directivity would be needed to make that station inaudible if you had propagation. In Es conditions their signal would be s9 or more, so how far off the boresight would they need to beam, to reduce their signal to the inaudible level. 9 s units is worth 54 db in theory, or 15-20 db on an ft101 and somewhere in between on other radios. Where in the radiation pattern of a 3 element beam mounted a few metres off the ground is there a null that is 28 to 54 db deep? nowhere really. Obviously your mileage may vary but if you are within 45 degrees of the direction the guy is beaming, you will hear him if you have propagation.

I speak only from 40 years experience of VHF portable operation in VK. But frankly I think the problem you describe is nonexistent. Don’t worry about it, just listen on the spotted frequency and do what you think appropriate.

Andrew vk1da

1 Like

Man o man, I never expected this amount of comment from a simple request.
It’s been a good discussion however and at the end of the day, being an activator as well as chaser myself, I know activators try to do their best to make it possible for the maximum number of chasers to contact them, within propagation, time and equipment limitations.

Six metres and up are fickle bands and a good deal of luck is required to make a contact at all sometimes, so it’s great that activators are trying 6m rather than (or as well as) the more usual HF bands. It’ll be interesting to see the average distances achieved when part one of the challenge is over in a few months.

Ha ha don’t worry about it Ed. In any case, you’re off the hook it seems now, because Steve G1INK has taken over in the “contentious remarks” department!

A proper activator = an activator = someone who makes an amateur radio contact from a SOTA summit in accordance with the SOTA rules. That is the only type of activator; there are no others :wink:


You want to live further east Brian. I rarely manage to get anyone on 2m to beam this way despite throwing half a kilowatt ERP at them, so much so that I’ve almost given up chasing on 2m. I lament the passing of the days when VHF stalwarts like Richard G4ERP, Frank G3RMD, John GW4BVE, Pete M0COP amongst others were regularly out on the hills. I often used to slip out of the office for an “early lunch” to work them from a local higher spot (we don’t have high spots around here).

I agree with the general consensus. It may be useful for an activator to indicate the beam direction when making a CQ call, but actually putting the information in a spot is not worthwhile.

Answer - someone who has never knowingly under-activated a summit… :wink:

I can really sympathise with that, Gerald! The ratio of my VHF operating to HF has shrunk catastrophically over the years, from 100% during the time of the “B” licence to the point where I have just made three chases on two metres so far this year. There are various reasons: local activity on two has virtually gone - even the repeaters are dead - and I have at best ten summits within FM range of my QTH, which makes a big difference with so little SSB activity, where I could reach well into Scotland even in flat conditions. Local noise plays a part, with birdies on about a third of the FM channels and a strong one on the SSB calling frequency, and beaming either way along the houses of my street can give several S points of white noise. As you say, the stalwarts are less active, too, and I miss them and the good old days of the “Birmingham Mafia”! It has to be said that after forty years confined to V/UHF with the “B” licence I am relishing the less familiar challenges of HF, too!

Of course, further east gives more potential for working the continent…


Well done Ed,
You got the kitchen warmed up.

I think the rule about the activator doing what he needs/wants to do still applies. Clearly YL ops make the best activators due to the multitasking required. OM ops need a pack carrying goat and two pre-teenage helpers to cope properly.

When I’m on a hill on VHF these days I put out an alert and if possible spot on site. I will have looked at the likely modes of DX openings and on setting up will check out the beacons and calling frequencies. Calling will then be done with the beam in the “best” direction with an on-air announcement as to beam heading. Getting 4 contacts on the chosen band is a priority. After that racking up the numbers and getting some DX take over.

The default beam position is towards the nearest known big centre of VHF population. Around here that means Melbourne, then Easterly for Gippsland and ZL, North for VK4 and JA, and West for Mt Gambier, Adelaide and SE WA. I expect all other experienced VHF operators would do something similar.

The experienced chasers also check out the likely propagation and if an opening is possible they sit on the alerted/spotted frequencies and listen. After working you they will spot you in the expectation you will continue to beam in that direction for a while and others will respond.

6 m is a frustrating band. It is amazing sometimes but mostly it’s just ground wave and tales of openings I missed by just that much (as agent Smart was wont to say).

Good luck Ed, you’ve sensitized the 6 m and up activators. I hope you work a few.