This may seem like I’m being deliberately provocative, but I would genuinely like to know the answer to this question.
About a year or eighteen months ago, the SOTA reflector seemed to be full of UK SSB chasers bemoaning the fact that they felt disenfranchised by the apparent increase of CW and/or 5 MHz for SOTA activations, at the expense of SSB on bands available to all. After some fairly heated exchanges of views the subject seemed to quieten down somewhat. Since then, SOTA has grown rapidly, with more chasers, more activators and new Associations. I can vouch for the fact that HF CW will now generate massive pile-ups for any activation, so it seems reasonable to assume that HF SSB use has grown in parallel.
For the first day of SOTA-France on 1st April, I devised a method of activating which allows higher power and a more efficient antenna on the 80m band. It does not suit all summits, just the less-populated hills where I can drive very close to the activation site. Having found great success from France, albeit with a mainly CW operation, I decided to give it a try around the South-East.
A couple of weekends ago I went to the Isle of Wight to test the theory. Despite getting dozens of CW chasers in the log, I managed only five on 80m SSB from the first summit, and eight from the second. Most surprisingly, these were almost exclusively stations that I would normally expect to work on 5MHz.
Today I took the opportunity to re-activate Cheriton Hill in the far reaches of East Kent. Conditions were pretty good, in spite of a nearby thunderstorm, but I only managed one QSO on 80m SSB, and that was with a station I’d just worked on CW confirming that my SSB signal was reaching North Yorkshire at reasonable strength.
So, my question is, or rather my questions are …
1)What has happened to all of those worried SSBers who felt they were missing out?
2)What else do chasers want activators to do, if high power, pre-announced, weekend activations of relatively-rare summits,on a band that has propagation around the UK, fail to attract any real interest?
3)Is it worth my effort in continuing to provide such opportunities when 20m CW would probably be far more productive and enjoyable?
I’m not looking for an argument, or abuse, just a sensible explanation, if one exists, for this apparent anomaly.
73 de Les, G3VQO