Some help and guidance please!

Hi everyone, first post here although I have been following the reflector for a while!
I intend to “activate” Pen Y Fan (GW/SW-001) late next week and maybe a few others while I am there! Now apart from the normal things like not getting lost, not breaking my leg etc, as this will be my first time, could anyone on here give me some pointers (?)
I will be using 2m FM, is there a usual frequency that is used, is there a “special” CQ call, how will anyone know I am up there etc, etc!
Probably very basic questions but I have to start somewhere!
Rather than take up the reflector with this, please feel free to mail me directly at
Many thanks in advance!

Hi David.

I doubt you will get lost on Pen y Fan! Good luck on not breaking your leg.

The usual routine is to call CQ on S20 (145.500MHz), and then QSY to another frequency once contact is established. Once on the new frequency, you will probably find that you don’t need to move back to S20 to make more calls, for stations will be stacking up to work you where you are.

There isn’t a special CQ call, just call normally, but mentioning ‘SOTA’ in call will practically guarantee an immediate response, as that summit has good take off towards several population centres.



In reply to M0ZLB:

Hi David

Welcome to the world of activating. I’m not the best person to offer you advice but you are to be commended for asking the questions that you have asked.
Pen y Fan at 8 points is a very serious mountain and I would have done something smaller as a first activation.
If you go ahead and do it, please be careful and stay safe. I’m sure better qualified people than me will soon offer you the advice you require.

Good luck and 73


PS There is no such thing as a safe summit, all summits are as safe as your preperations David.

Pen y Fan is actually a simple, safe and straight-forward route, and should pose no problems in ‘normal’ weather, with correct boots and clothing, and with sufficient daylight time afforded.

As 8-pointers go, it is very “tame” indeed. There is lots more info on it by clicking on the “Summits” link on this website.


In reply to M0ZLB:

Hi David,

I think Tom and Mike have pointed the main issues. Don’t underestimate the fact that the summits can be chilly at this time of year and you will be sitting still for a while. Take suitable precautions and keep warm.

I see that you are in Essex, so I understand the desire to go for some points from the off. At least Pen y Fan is a popular summit with a well established graded route and you should have the general public in attendance.



I want to thank everyone for such rapid responses and especially Mike (GW0DSP) who took the trouble to e-mail me some pointers “off list”! I certainly do not intend to take any risks - the fact that I am staying with friends just a few miles south of the Brecon’s, and can stay there for as long as I wish, means that I can pretty much pick and chose my days to go - once I have decided on a day, I will take Mikes advice and let everyone know via the alerts page,
73 David

In reply to 2E0HJD:

I think we have been the target of a joke, hi. Have a look on the link below, would you think that this person wouldn’t know a thing or two, especially what s20 is and how to call CQ.
Well done, very good indeed, you fooled me!!

I sent a message to James (M0ZZO) last evening along the same lines as my original posting here and I expect he will reply in due course!

The more I think about “S20”, the less I can work out how/why it has any connection with the FM national calling frequency - hardly any clue in the title is there (?) - so no, no joke! And my question about calling CQ was not about how to call CQ but rather what was the appropriate and accepted way of doing so when you are working SOTA!

I have never operated on a mountain before and I am pretty certain that my website does not even mention SOTA apart from the last blog entry which does say that I am about to embark on this aspect of the hobby!

But thanks for the website plug Mike, that should up my hit statistics and if anyone feels like clicking on a advert, that would be even better! :slight_smile:

In reply to M0ZLB:

Hi again David,

The term S20 is a historic reference standing for Simplex 20 where the national FM chanellisation was set up as S0 on 145.000 and then the number increased by 1 for every 25kHz channel, so for example 145.400 is often termed S16. Then repeaters arrived and the bottom channels became R0 - R7 with output frequencies 600kHz higher. Now with 12.5kHz channelisation the reference system has become somewhat irrelevant - S22 and a half doesn’t quite have that ring to it!

Some ops actually call CQ SOTA, though a general call mentioning the summit reference seems a better and less intrusive option. Many people prefer to QSY to 145.450 or 145.400 when activating on 2m FM, though it is obviously down to channel occupancy at the time.

It looks like you are proposing just operating 2m FM, so will you be taking a mast and decent antenna with you (that is something more than a rubber duck)? It would be good to know what sort of equipment you propose using as having a little more ERP available will undoubtedly encourage more chasers to look for you, especially those farther afield.

With regards to the summit, it does have to be remembered that this may be a “soft” summit in terms of access, but it is still over 2,500 feet up and conditions up there will not be anything like it is in the valleys, so please do take care.

I wish you every success with your activation. Once bitten, I’m sure that you’ll be up for more.

73, Gerald

Hi Gerald,

The radio I am taking is a 5w h/t and a SOTA beam that I ordered from Richard this morning and it should be with me tomorrow - guess I had better spend the afternoon in the garden practicing putting it up!

Many thanks for the explanation of S20, I guess its very much a historical term (?)

73 David

In reply to M0ZLB:

Sounds okay to me. Practice makes perfect. It took a bit of getting used to assembling the SOTA Beam when I first used the SB5, but I’m used to it now and even though it was put up and down 5 times last Saturday, I didn’t lose anything.

If your activation is on a weekday, then I can sometimes shuffle my schedule around to accommodate a bit of summit chasing while out of the office. Hopefully manage to catch you on the summit.

73, Gerald

In reply to M0ZLB:

Hill walking isn’t difficult, you just put one foot in front of the other! But you should be risk aware so you are prepared. The weather can be so different on the tops compared to back at the car.

Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you’ll be back. Give them a ring when you get down so they know you are safe.

The radio bit is easy, concentrate on the walking safety. Boots, waterproofs, warm layers, HAT, GLOVES, water, food, map, compass. Dont rely solely on a GPS even if it does mapping.

Dont forget something to write your log down on and TWO pencils. Pencils can be sharpened easily and take two in case you drop one in the heather, as it will be lost forever!

Some time spent now ensuring your connectors are correctly attached to any feeders you will use and that it all works back at home will be paid off on the summits. Check the gear when you get back for damage/wear and fix it straight away so it’s ready next time.

Finally make a checklist of all the radio gear and walking gear and use it when packing the car and when leaving the car.


In reply to M0ZLB:

The radio I am taking is a 5w h/t and a SOTA beam

David dont forget the sma-bnc convertor to attach the beam to the handie. Personal experience!!!

73 Glyn…GM4CFS

In reply to M0ZLB:

My pleasure to give your website a plug David, Apologies, I took it for granted that as a M0 and licensed since 2002 both here and in the States and a multi award winner, that you would have known what s20 was.

Indeed, enjoy your activation, but please make good plans so as to ensure your safety. Good luck and have fun.


In reply to GW0DSP:
I always tended to use frequency rather than channel number in the days of S20 etc. In order to make quick conversion :-

If someone says, for instance, go to SX - divide the X by 4 and the answer goes after the 145. for frequency.

eg S16 16/4=4 thus 145.4(00)
S21 21/4=5.25 145.525

Conversely if you prefer channels and someone gives you frequency.

Knock off the 145 multiply by 4 and put decimal point after second digit.

eg 145.500 -> .500 * 4 = 2.00 move decimal so its S20

Probably irrelevant now as only old codgers like me remember the S (2m) and SU (70cms) channels :slight_smile:

Roger G4OWG

ps best to forget the new system the simplex channels were doubled and called V
this only occured between S8 (V16) and S23 (V46) the repeater outputs and inputs are RV47 up to RV62