Show us how you make your activation videos

We are seeing more and more very high quality SOTA activation videos.

Not only is the content often excellent, but the image stability and sound quality are often extremely good, even on windy days.

May I suggest people who have mastered this art share what portable equipment they use and what common mistakes to avoid?


Just recently @LB4FH uploaded a video to YouTube:

73 Martin


I don’t make activation videos myself so cannot give any technical advice on filming equipment. However, I do watch a lot of SOTA activation videos and have some suggestions on ‘production values’ from a viewer’s point of view.

I find many are too long and suffer from a lack of editing – the viewer probably doesn’t want to spend as much time watching every detail as you might think.

  • Decide what is the purpose of your video (What do you want the viewer to get out of it?) – hopefully more than just a video record of your day out.
  • Are you giving practical suggestions on parking and the route to the summit (e.g. difficulties encountered)? I like to see [briefly] what the terrain is like and particularly the summit area (in case I ever do it myself and need to decide what antenna is suitable). Otherwise, keep the ascent/descent section short
  • Are you showing how to set up a particular antenna, equipment (rig, portable chair, etc)? [I learnt a lot by watching kite-borne-antenna Do’s & Don’ts before I tried it]
  • Don’t show your entire activation (unless it’s short) – choose highlights (preferably where we can see/hear representative reports you gave/got)
  • I find music (particularly loud music) a distraction. We’re wanting to get information not watch a movie
  • Skip the long preamble introduction – get to the point and summarize what we’re about to see (in case this particular video is not what the viewer is looking for)

R1BIG … what do you think, Raisa?

Elliott, K6EL

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I like to see some views of the mountains, some of the setup, and a few QSOs. Of course, I can scrub through the stuff I don’t want to watch.


You are. Not everyone is.


That’s what is or was the rule I guess. And it has some truth. But young people watch videos of others play computer games for hours so there is an audience for that too.
But I try to find a good balance without rushing the viewer.

To have a video that I enjoy watching later too. That’s why I show the hike, some insterresting radio contacts and a short part from the way down plus a summary statement. And if someone likes it too that’s amazing.
For my non-radio friends the hike up is the reason they watch the video.

In video yes but I intentionally not make it a guide. Because people followed “so easy” looking routes and got in trouble. A problem many hiking/mountaineering YouTubers have/had.
I try to have interesting camera angles, walk-bys and panorama views to keep it interesting. And a little bit of live commenting. Dubbing later on is not as authentic in my point of view (gives it more a documentory vibe)

No. It’s not that difficult. Just like the world does not need another instruction video how to make an EFHW. But propable every day a new one is added :wink:

Yes but in an entertaining way.

That’s why I place chapter markers to that people can focus on their interrests.

But coming to the technical side. Very simple. I use a Osmo Action cam that is usually at the strap of my backbag. This cam as included image stabilization. This way I can film the way ahead while having hands available for hiking sticks or climing.
On glacier routes or via-ferrata when wearing a helmet I mount the camera on the helmet.

During the activation I just place the camera on the floor or on a rock nearby. If it is very windy I record audio in addition on my phone to avoid wind noises.
So I like to keep it simple. Drones, 360° cameras and so on are nice but I carry already enough stuff and I want to enjoy my hike too.

Forgetting to turn on the camera on the summit to records some QSO. If someone is already calling for a S2S the priorities are clear :laughing:


Thanks for posting that @OE5REO . There’ll be another one coming up some time soon where I show the basics of my editing process, although I’m not going into details, as there are way too many videos on how to produce videos in Davinci Resolve for me.

On the technical side, one very important advice I didn’t listen to quick enough was getting a decent microphone that doesn’t pick up a lot of environmental noise. Good and noise-free audio can be just as important as good video quality. Also, learn how your camera works, try to figure out the most suitable settings for for example image stabilization, as most cameras have more than one, which may have very different effects on the image.

On the more subjective side: make a video that you are happy with and that communicates what you want to communicate. Ask friends or other youtubers to review it for you. With good and balanced feedback you’ll improve a lot. Try to weed out the extremes of feedback, those who either loves everything you make, or those who are absolutely against it, perhaps because they don’t like that sort of video.

Another important factor is to find out why you make the videos. Decide if you want to make a highly technical video, something that shows more of the experience around the activation, or a mix. The different video types will have very different audiences, and will require very different approaches in film making.

For my end, I enjoy making videos and communicating about different aspects of the portable side of the hobby. I got my style of doing that which has evolved over time. I know who my target audience is, and I know who are absolutely not in that audience. That makes it very simple for me to simply not care that someone posts an overly negative comment on a video, while taking in good advice from those who actually come with constructive and relevant criticism. Others go into this to communicate specific technical aspects, or to try to make a brand or to make money on ads or sponsorships, get access to new radios earlier or any other number of equally valid reasons.

Also, as a viewer I think it’s important for you to try set yourself in the mindset of the person who makes the video, and to understand that that this video was perhaps not made exclusively for you and your wishes. If you have constructive feedback, give it, preferably in a positive way, as the hobby only gets damaged if you rant off a huge list of negative things and “do-not’s”. If you don’t like that video, the style of video or the content, simply stop watching the second you feel you’re wasting your time. You can also tell YouTube to not recommend that channel for you in the future.


I use a GoPro hero 9 with media mod and lens mod. The media mod gives a directional wind proof mic. and hot shoes for lights etc. The lens mod gives wide angle and superb image stabilisation- think Steady-Cam. I have a gopro session I use as a second camera sometimes. Video is good, sound not so good. Cold weather kills the batteries, so I often carry a power bank and USB lead for a quick recharge. I use a drone two or three times a year. I think it adds an extra element to a video.

Make videos on subjects that interest you. Period.

If you are after views, make an antenna video :grinning:.

Some of my best work (in my opinion) doesn’t have many views, however they are records of great days out and fantastic scenery.


I feel you Fraser.


I totally agree with that. Judging by feedback I got on the last Norwegian Ham meeting that sort of video also recruits a lot of people into the hobby, by showing something other than the pure technical side.

Also make sure to add a clickbaity thumbnail :wink: That being said, ensuring you have a good thumbnail is really important for visibility. You can use click-baits, but then you have to be absolutely sure that you actually deliver on that too. On my end I used to make thumbnails in Inkscape, but I’ve switched to using for that (the free tier), which has a lot of very easy to use templates.


Your expectations are very high and very specific and totally different from mine.


Well said Andy !


I have been making outdoor videos (mostly hiking) for about two years now with a lot of them recently including SOTA/POTA activations. For cameras you cannot beat a GoPro 10 or above, but if you attempt to capture the whole adventure, you need a way to conveniently hold your camera on your pack when not in use. For this I use a SpiderHolster, best $25 dollars I have ever spent. My secret weapon however is my brother-in-law who handles all the filming while I work on the activation. Hats off to everyone who flies solo and activates and films at the same time! Although our channel (Two Old Men in the Woods ) is growing slowly, our best performing videos have included some instruction, which plays well to my strengths since I teach Electronics/Robotics for a living. Once again my brother-in-law helps a great deal by asking questions many non-hams would probably think of, and he normally adds in a little humor too. Both of us are Certified Remote Pilots, so we have used some drone footage in other videos, but have yet to incorporate that into our POTA/SOTA productions; hopefully that is coming soon.

If you get a chance, I would REALLY appreciate some of you checking out our videos and giving me some feedback. One of our better performing ham-centric videos is called “Trailside Activation” and features a POTA activation on a remote ridge in a local park.


Thanks so much for these suggestions Andy. I have been working hard to improve our channel and the quality of the content. Lately I have been focusing a great deal on the editing and telling the story of the entire adventure, without getting long winded. I would love your feedback on one of my latest SOTA video - Activating Rocky Spur


My preference is for just one person to be talking or one person asking questions and the other answering but never to have more than one talking at the same time. Also I don’t want background music playing, I prefer to hear you, the wilderness and the radio. These are my preferences and if you don’t like them well I have others!

Glad to see you found your glasses. My current pair cost about as much as a good second hand rig so I don’t wear them on the trail. I leave them in a case in the car and for many things I can just cope without but the GPS and phone screens are getting very difficult without them. So I have some glasses about 8 years old with me in the bag. I need a stronger prescription for reading now but these old ones are OK for activation stuff. I have them on a neck strap so I can’t put them down and lose them either.


This is what I was trying to say - but you said it better.


So true. Or about a Baofeng hack.

I quickly learned that the videos I like making are mostly the ones that don’t have a wide appeal across hamdom – my homebrew projects, some SOTA outings, making up a board up on a rainy day and measuring it, etc.

Video making takes countless hours both on the day and post. If you try to do it regularly, Youtube drags you to a crossroad before long, where the way forward leads you to becoming a one-person media production company. All good if that’s where you want your radio hobby to take you.

You can always take the road less travelled.


It looks like a great channel Chris! I just started the Pinnacle Mountain video and intend to watch more of them. Many Thanks ! 73, Bob

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This is a great thread!

I started making videos in 2021 just using my cell phone at the time, I eventually bought a Go Pro hero 7 silver which I have used religiously up until the last 2 months I have upgraded to a Go Pro 11 black pro with the media mod.

As for filming I normally keep it to a intro when I first start hiking and introduce anyone with me then it is just video of the trail up and the scenery, then my activation. I will start doing the cw ticker eventually but that takes hours of work to do that I don’t have right now.

It’s very easy to record everything what get’s hard is editing and thumbnails and music etc… I used Corel video studio 2021 - 2023 till the camera upgrade now I use Adobe premiere pro it is a bit harder to get use to but once you do it is phenomenal.

Thumbnails I use, and music is provided by epidemic sound which is a monthly subscription based website.


  • Go Pro 11 black pro with media mod, 2 spare batteries
  • Go Pro 7 Silver
  • Amazon tripod 2 different sizes


  • (Free version or Pro is subscription based)
  • (Subscription)
  • Adobe Premiere Pro
  • Corel video studio (Doesn’t work with newer Go Pro’s)

Here is a link to my newest Video with the Go Pro 11 Black Pro edited with Adobe Premiere Pro.

73 De VE6JTW, Jesse