And thank you for my new word of the day!
Very happy to oblige.
I don’t think there is a single ham out there that hasn’t taken advantage of some sort of non-ham-radio technology in some way. We charge our batteries using commercial A/C, or perhaps a commercially-constructed solar charger; we use radios that contain components built by manufacturers. As far as I know, none of us are hiking up the hill and finding a natural crystal to grind down to our desired frequency - at some level, even homebrewers are likely using some outside tech.
I don’t mean this as a harsh statement, only as a way to emphasize that each of us chooses different levels of what we would like to use to enjoy this wonderful hobby. In other words, I don’t think there is any clear definition of what does and does not fall within the scope of the “ham spirit”. It’s a dynamic and sometimes personal concept.
If an Activator’s objective is to qualify a summit without using spotting, that may provide a fun challenge but it shouldn’t be done out of guilt. And since SOTA is inherently non-competitive, there’s no need to feel that others who do self-spot are not being “fair”.
My own preference is to self-spot, when possible. In addition to some of the reasons already discussed by others (helping Chasers, etc), I self-spot in part to make many more contacts (I find pileups to be quite fun). I also like to operate on as many HF bands as possible, often all bands 60 through 10m, and by self-spotting it allows me to increase the probability of making contacts on all of them, and thereby evaluating varying propagation characteristics across the bands. Since many hams are ignoring the higher bands under the current phase of the solar cycle, it’s likely that without spotting, there wouldn’t be many hams listening up there. My guess is that those hams who choose not to self-spot will find themselves congregating on just a few bands, i.e. 20, 30, and 40m for most of the qso’s. Exploring the oddities of the upper bands can be a lot of fun!
There are plenty of other reasons to explain one’s choice to self-spot or not spot. But I don’t see any reason to label it as Fair or not. The whole concept of spotting, or announcing one’s intention to be active on a particular frequency, has roots that go wayyyyy back, probably to the very beginning of amateur radio. And, I’m pretty sure that when Marconi made that famous transatlantic radio contact, many of the details had been pre-arranged
I agree with your conclusions, Keith.
It seems to me the title of this thread is somewhat of a conundrum. If you are spotted at all, that implies someone is logging you on an internet site. Once that’s done, people can find you via that spot. If that is accepted as a way of pointing to a portable, possibly QRP operators, then self spotting is no different in terms of fairness to others.
Perhaps the concept of “fairness” belongs to contesting where the opportunities for making contacts must be equal for all participants.
73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH
I personally find self spotting a pre-requisite. The weather is typically not great and I would like to complete an activation as quickly as possible. The KX2 has a voice keyer which I use on repeat after first setting up, nobody has yet come back to me before putting a spot in to the system.
I don’t really see the difference between sending an alert via Sotawatch, which in is to notify all the chasers of my intentions and/or arriving on the summit and spotting myself which also announces my presence to the chasers. (although I’ve only ever done this the once)
For both the chaser and activator the only difference is that posting an alert means the activation will take place at a specified time and they should listen. A self spot simply says I’m here and if you can please listen and answer.
For both chaser & activator there is no difference in the skills required whether you post an alert or spot to make the number of QSOs required to get your points - unless of course chasers were meant to be sitting at their receivers all day.
The founders of SOTA (WGV & CWI) never wanted to make it challenging for activators to get their qualification. 4 simplex contacts was seen as sufficiently non-trivial, and unlike most of the rest of AR, self-spotting was always considered to be acceptable. Compelling activators to spend an extended time on a summit was not something they wanted to encourage.
I think the benefits of spotting are well recognised. The issue raised in this thread is whether it is “fair” to self-spot as distinct from waiting for others to spot you.
This is an issue on the DX cluster where operators are specifically requested not to self spot. Presumably this is to prevent every dxer from self spotting in the (vain) hope that rare dx will go and find them. If thousands of home operators hoping to get lucky all spot themselves, the “real” dx will be buried in the “noise” on dx cluster screens.
But as stated elsewhere and recently by Tom @M1EYP on this thread, the purpose of SOTA spots is to assist both activator and chaser to make those contacts while they are possible. Activators have boundaries fo their operation, weather, battery and daylight are all significant physical factors limiting their activation time. So it is in the interest of SOTA really, for all activators to be spotted, any way they can be. And that is, I think, the reason why self spotting by any means is always a good thing.
Carine und ich nutzen wo immer möglich APRS2SOTA. Ein Grund dafür ist für uns persönlich, dass wir damit unabhängig von einem Mobilfunknetz arbeiten können - einerseits, weil wir so echte Amateurfunk-Kommunikation nutzen, andererseits haben wir gerade bei unseren unzähligen Aktivierungen in den Schweizer Alpen festgestellt, dass APRS fast überall verfügbar ist, während nicht immer ein Mobilfunknetz zur Verfügung steht. Carine und ich haben in den vergangenen zweieinhalb Jahren ca. 250 Summits aktiviert, und wir mussten dabei ein einziges Mal das Spotting übers Smartphone nutzen, nämlich auf den Gipfeln unmittelbar rund um den grossen St.Bernhardpass - da gibt’s auch ein Video davon
Wir nutzen für APRS2SOTA-Spotting immer das FT-2DE von YAESU; das Verfassen des Textes geht über den Touch-Screen sehr einfach - kleiner Tipp: wir führen immer eine SRH-771 Aufsteckantenne mit auf unseren Touren; sie ist besonders auf 2m deutlich effizienter als die kleine Originalantenne, was besonders da ein Vorteil ist, wo der eigene Summit sich inmitten deutlich grösserer Gipfel befindet; wir haben schon öfters festgestellt, dass APRS2SOTA mit der Originalantenne nicht klappt - mit der SRH-771 funktionierts dann aber problemlos.
Also unsere Empfehlung aus eigener Erfahrung: Ohne Spotten kann eine SOTA-Aktivierung durchaus im Frust enden oder jedenfalls sehr viel Geduld erfordern
vy 73 de René, HB9NBG + 73/88 de René, HB9NBG