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Reactivating U-VHF from the summits!

One does not have to be very bold to know how VHF activations number have been in decline for last two years. Many users due to past negative experiences with getting minimum of contacts to validate the summit, nowadays they prefer to be on the safe side activating the summit only on HF bands. Sometimes it is very difficult for us to understand how complicated it can become to make a contact or to get an answer on 2m band,even you are CQing close to a big city, it is hard to believe but true. I would like to highlight that this is one of the most effective way to promote participation in SOTA program, especially within each region. Therefore I encourage everyone to use this band from the highest peaks. Maybe this item already has been commented beforehand, but I also take this opportunity to suggest a new SOTA challenge to make contacts on 2m and 70cm, all with the intention of reactivating these bands.
What is your opinion about this topic?
73s de EB2GKK, Inaki

7 Likes

I agree a challenge on 2m/70cm (all modes) would be a good idea and give the HF bands a break.
Ed.

If you’ve not already seen VK1AD’s blogs on his VHF and UHF activations, they’re well worth a read: https://vk1nam.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/sota-2016-on-70cm-430-mhz/

I will be in Tenerife from the 6th September to 13th September and I am looking to try and get some 2m fm contacts on the summits over there. I would preferably like to qualify the summits over there on 2m fm, but this will be trickly mainly due to the fact that they do not have a calling channel frequency and that the 2m fm listeners over there monitor random frequencies on 2m fm and that the 2m fm band over there includes 144MHz as well as 145MHz. If anyone knows of the best calling frequency on 2m fm in EA8 at the moment, please let me know as it will be very helpful to me?

Jimmy M0HGY

Hi Jimmy,

Have sent you a PEM with a couple of contact details of active SOTA participants in EA8

Barry GM4TOE

It just needs a few people to activate VHF on a regular basis with publicity to hopefully stir up some activity. Maybe a group doing VHF activations the first weekend in each month could start a trend?

F/M0FMF

1 Like

Dear Iñaki and all,

This is my opinion and current position.

No doubt that activating and qualifying summits with a 2m HH is the most effective way in terms of lightweight and minimum time to set-up and pack up, thus allowing an activator to maximize the number of summits activated and activator points bagged in each outing.

But activating with a 2m HH doesn’t have the enjoyment of managing a pile-up on HF, both on CW and SSB, as well as having the great chance to regularly exchange greetings with many people across the continent and even the whole world.

Of course one can do both, activating 2m FM to QSO and exchange greetings with the local and regional colleagues, which is really nice, and do it also on HF to have the above mentionned enjoyment.

Problem in my case is that activating VHF and HF would require me longer time to remain in the summit unless the HF time was reduced to favour VHF activity and this is something difficult for me right now on the one hand, because I cannot extend my time in the summits, as I’m already pretty much always in a rush due to being a husband with 3 young kids to attend. On the other hand, because I enjoy so much HF activity that I would like to have them longer, rather than shorter.

Activating on 2m FM is an important battery consumer and this was a reason for me to stop doing it with my FT-817 in the begining, when I was using a 4.5Ah SLAB.

Activating with a 2m FM HH is, to me, far less fun than doing it with an HF rig with which we can use different bands and modes, allowing us to test propagation condition variations across the bands and time/seasons/solar cylce years, which is highly interesting at least to me.

Another important reason for me preferring HF activations rather than V/UHF ones is that the enjoyment and satisfaction that I get after logging 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 or even over 100 QSOs with colleagues all over the world can’t beat a VHF log with perhaps 4 or 5 QSOs logged after several minutes CQing, or even less than 4 QSOs, as it has come to me (and you too) sometimes and then returning home with our mountaneer half happy but a rather frustrated and disappointed ham radio and SOTA activator half for not having qualified the summit after the time and effort spent.

It’s pefectly possible to locally promote SOTA by being in touch with local and regional colleagues on the HF bands. I do it regularly.

However, it’s very nice being able to chase an activator with a 2m FM rig in the car in a weekday at lunch time, as it came to me (and you too) this Monday when we managed to chase Juan-Carlos EA2EEB from the road while he was activating the 10 pointer Bisaurin EA2/HU-057 (2670m)

and that was possible because Juan-Carlos EA2EEB activated on 2m FM. Thank you!

In the case of a V/UHF challenge, I thing it may well bring some increase of activity during the time of the challenge but evrything would return to the current situation once the challenge would be over. See what happened with the 12m band: plenty of activity during the challenge and very little to almost nothing right now.

The chances to make QSOs on HF are so much more compared to those on V/UHF that it’s just obvious why people prefer HF.

All this being said, I’ll keep chasing on 2m FM whenever possible but I don’t think I’ll activate on VHF as long as I can do it on HF and I have limited time to remain in the summit.

Best 73,

Guru

Hi Guru,
While I understand your preference for HF, I believe the suggestion was around the next challenge being on 2/70 (and not just FM handheld, rather SSB and CW as well). To my beleif, the idea of a challenge is to get the activators (and chasers) to operate on bands that would not normally be their prefered choice.
As always, one can chose to partake in a challenge or not.

The most important thing is that it remains fun.

73 Ed.

Hi Ed,
I don’t think Iñaki’s point is mainly focused on the next challenge.
Iñaki may wish to specify this furhter, but having already exchanged a few comments with Iñaki and other EA SOTA participants in our area through whatsapp about this matter, I believe Iñaki’s aiming to promote activations on 2m FM in order to promote SOTA and increase the use of that band/mode to increase the chances to qualify a Summit on 2m FM, which is the band/mode he uses to choose on many activations. This is what he wrote:

In addition to that he proposes that the next challenge might be on V/UHF as a way to fulfill the firstly explained purpose. This is what he wrote:

Best 73,

Guru

I’d be more inclined to blame the sun than the activators.

Abolutely nothing is heard right now on 15m band this side.

Absolutely nothing on 12m.

Not any individual radio amateurs transmitting on 10m CW and just 1 QSO on 10m SSB on 28.400 with Dutch speaking stations (ON or PA?).

But I have just checked 10m band beacons segment and I’m copying several beacons with really good signals, so I woudn’t blame the Sun…

It’s just us who spend much of our formerly time on the bands doing other stuff like internet forums, etc…

Cheers,

Guru

After copying a QRP 5w into a vertical antenna beacon from ON on 10m with S9, I started CQing on 28.020
Propagation conditions between ON and my location seemed very good. Also heard other beacons from the UK.
45 minutes CQing on the frequency and just one station from ON came back to me with S9 signals for an armchair QSO.
Nobody else.
The band is empty and lifeless like desert, but conditions are really good.
Where are everybody?
On the internet, watching TV or both, of course…
This is to prove that no matter the propagation conditions, the fact is that there are fewer and fewer active radioamateurs on the air everyday and we all gather just around the most popular bands.
Sometimes I’ve even been thinking that SOTA might be even contributing to kill, at a certain extent, the traditional way of playing radio, scanning the bands up and down searching for stations to contact or just CQing on a clear frequency to enjoy QSOs with other hams coming back to our calls. We, the SOTA chasers are now mainly QRV on the bands while monitoring SOTAWatch and only as long as there are activators on the air or about to pop up in a matter of minutes. For the rest of the time, we remain silent, busy with our computers on the internet or anything else.
Well, it’s something to reflect about and this is a Reflector, isn’t it? :wink:

Best 73,

Guru

1 Like

To date ~99% of my SOTA activator QSOs have been on 2m/70cm. In VE7, SOTA is quite new and many people don’t often check for alerts. Line of Sight from some of our taller summits is pretty good and I’ve managed to surprise more than a few operators 150km away with just a 1/4 wave whip and 1W of power. While I’m developing my CW skills to get better use of HF frequencies, I still rely heavily on local repeaters and CQ calls to collect enough contacts to claim points. It’s also been useful for troubleshooting problems I’ve been having on HF that have since been traced back to a quiet speaking voice and not enough AF gain.

Like Inaki says, VHF/UHF has been a good way to inform amateur operators about the program and spread a little awareness while activating. Reaching out to local clubs and making announcements on VHF nets have also shown to be effective in raising awareness and encouraging participation.

I cannot speak for anybody but myself, but I do have a life apart from radio, and in a noisy urban environment the evening is the noisiest time of day, so I switch off the rig and do something else - like watching a repeat of an episode of “Endeavour” with the XYL!

TBH, I’m a bit surprised you got a reply from ON! The Met Office site shows a band of thunderstorms extending over ON, PA, northern DL and OZ into SM, and it would be sensible for hams in those areas to have their rigs isolated and antennas disconnected!

For my part, I like Inaki’s suggestion, VHF could do with something to kick-start it, and if VHF dies back again after a challenge we will only have ourselves to blame!

Brian

Interesting but quite valid observations there Guru. It is truly amzing how the band conditions come to life just for the contests - and then totaly die off within minutes of the contest ending!

The reliance that a significant proportion of amateurs have on clusters (DX and SOTA) is disturbing. Even having a relatively rare prefix, I can be calling on 20m with a very slow rate of contacts being worked but as soon as a spot goes up on the cluster (I am usually monitoring the clusters when calling), the pileup starts. You can see and hear the effects of a spot as levels of activity rises with each spot and then slowly drops until another spot goes up on the cluster.

Personally I usually leave a radio on 40m at home on the usual centre frequency for SOTA activity even when there are no alerts up as quite a few activators do not put up alerts their activations - and their plans can change at short notice.

On the original topic for VHF / UHF activations, when activating I will usually have a handheld radio listening on the 2m FM calling frequency (here in VK it is 146.500) and will also usually put out a couple of calls there as well. In the VK1 area we tend to use the local repeaters for liaison and safety when activating, so using VHF/UHF simplex on the activation is a natural follow-on.

Matt
VK1MA

Electrical storms overhead last night - thankfully the neighbours are not shocked by seeing me rush outside to disconnect everything in an “au naturel” state!!

I just got my license in December, and fell right into sota. That being said I have only been able to activate vhf with the first 5w HT. My next $100 purchase was not and HF radio, but a 4 element yagi. I think sota is great for the new young hams coming in. And frankly I think if we can show them that it doesn’t take an elaborate system to get on the air they would be more likely to stay. Just my 2 cents.

P.s. I do still dream of an 857d

1 Like

An 857D has a lot going for it, but it is a heavy beast to carry so I have only used mine on lower hills with a short carry.

The problem with trying to draw people in with a challenge is that two metre FM is hardly a minority interest. Looking at the database we see that over 1200 people activated on 2 metres FM last year, the leading activator was SQ9MDF with 952 points from `106 summits, 174 activators made more than 100 ,points, 300 made 50+ points and 772 made 10+ points. It isn’t as if 2 metre FM was a minority interest that needs encouraging, it is in fact already the bread-and-butter band/mode for many activators. Two metres SSB might be a different matter but we just don’t need to encourage FM at this time.

There is evidence that in some regions two metre FM is in decline, the MT is watching that, and if the point is reached where a challenge might be needed to reinvigorate it then I am sure the MT will take action.

Brian

I managed to miss the majority of G4OIG’s saga on 2m SSB. Living in the SE I have little chance of working long distances on FM (and do not like the mode) I run 100w to a Yagi and I used to work SOTA stations in GW and the Pennines with ease on SSB. I almost never hear any SOTA SSB activity on VHF/UHF SSB which is a pity.

What is needed is for a small group to regularly arrange amongst themselves some 2m SSB S2S activity and show how much fun they have. Maybe concentrating on vertical polarised SSB so “white stick” chasers stand more of a chance?

Lamenting how things have declined will not promote more activity. Otherwise I would lament about my receding hairline and magically it would all grow back.