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SOTA and solar cycle 25

I am a fairly new ham, I got my tech license in 1997 and then upgraded to general and then extra in 2014. I did not operate on HF really until 2015 and I did not have much experience. This all happened while solar cycle 24 was winding down. I have never really known what happens at the peak of a solar cycle. I live in central CA and during the doldrums of the solar minimum I have managed to work and confirm 299 entities. I like working DX and hope one day to make DXCC Honor Roll.

As for SOTA, the first chase in my log was 8/29/2015 with K5RHD on W5N/SS-026 (I was NC6B at that time). I don’t remember doing this chase and I know I was not serious about SOTA at the time. I only have 3 chases for 2015 and only 1 for 2016 so I guess I did not take note of SOTA till 2017. On March 30, 2017 I worked the infamous WG0AT, He was on W0C/SP-092 The Pulveriezr. He gave me the summit reference and I looked Steve up on QRZ. I thought it was hilarious that he hiked with goats, but the seed was planted because looking at my results on the SOTA DB page, I really started racking up the chaser points from that point forward. I made Shack Sloth August 26, 2017 and now I am 10x SS on 9/22/2020.

As for activating, that started on 5/21/2017, It has been a slow process. I don’t get out as much as I would like but I have 233 points and would like to make Mountain Goat but we shall see. I guess I need to get serious about that.

So enough about me.

The reason I started this post. Yesterday I worked Javier, EA2GM/P, on EA1/AT-208, this was my first EU SOTA summit as a chaser. When I saw the spot, I thought yeah sure I will tune there and I will hear nothing as usual. When I got there and the beam made it slow turn, I started hearing something. I thought it was other stations working him. NO, IT WAS HIM! I reach for the paddles and sent my call, HE CAME BACK TO ME! I was in shock, he sent my report and he faded and I sent his report. I think I heard him send 73 but that was it. I sat in my chair thinking did that just happen? I had to know so I emailed him to confirm. Sure enough he confirmed I had worked him!!

Today I worked Simon, GM4JXP/P on GM/ES-050 on 20 m SSB. What is happening???

I guess I am really excited about this solar cycle 25!! If you have been around a while this may be old hat but I am really happy about this!!

What is your experience? I know SOTA has not been around that long but I would like to know.

73

Kent

N6WT

3 Likes

Magic and intense joy.

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Andy

So far so good!!

Kent

Hi, Kent. I think that your results reflect a current uptick in day to day solar activity. The thing to look out for is the Solar Flux Index, SFI, which you can get daily from the home page of QRZ.com or spaceweather.com. During the minimum last year the SFI went down to 68 or even lower to 66), a few days ago it went up to 77 and is now down to 74 or 73 as a couple of active areas have rotated out of sight. When the sunspot cycle starts to accelerate the SFI will climb quite quickly, as it approaches 100 the DX possibilities will open out considerably on the higher bands, 15/12/10 metres, and if it gets up to 120 then F-layer DX may be available on 6 metres. On the other hand, DX opportunities on 80 metres will not be as frequent. The lower bands need few sunspots, the higher bands need plenty. The downside of sunspot maximum is the occasional major storm from powerful geoeffective flares, which can virtually shut down the bands for a few days. I had the misfortune to activate during one of those, I barely scraped four contacts and it took four bands to do it!

The next twelve months will tell us whether we will have a strong or a weak maximum, even in a weak one there will be times of high solar activity, for my part I will start every day by looking at the SFI as keenly as I look at the local weather forecast - exciting times!

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Solar Cycle 25 is starting up but don’t expect too much too soon.

It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

By that I mean there will be periods that are bad between the improving propagation periods.

One positive point though, working on the HF bands during a solar minimum will have honed your listening skills and will have had you make the best of your antenna and rig(s). Things will get more and more exciting and enjoyable over the next few years.

For the new hams who join the hobby at a solar peak, their impressions on conditions will be different. They will become disappointed as we go down into the next dip.

I suspect with the current increasing ham radio population world-wide we may get problems with at least the HF bands being too full when the conditions are good!

73 Ed DD5LP.

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Ed,

Don’t worry, only the FT8 frequencies will be busy… :smile: Well, more than actually.

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Being called by a VE2 and VK5 at the same time when running 5W CW on 12m. At first I thought (due to my rubbish CW) it was 4? station in Israel, then I realised it was V? and send V? kn and getting 2 stations calling was difficult to separate. Finally I realised the very loud station was a a VE2 and after working him I called V? kn and the loud VK5 came back. Random QSOs on an activation, not an event with pre-arranged skeds or when lots of people were primed to be on the air.

Or (again on 12m but 10m is the same) calling CQ SOTA on SSB QRP and not being able to resolve the calls of all the W7 and W6 stations replying.

Then there’s the delight of 10/12 being busy even if not super DX and then 15m and 17m and 20m just being full to overflowing. And 40m goes nice and short skip and you can work all your UK chasers trivially.

But overall, the bands are just busy and that puts a smile on your face.

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Hi Kent !!

What a great QSO! Thanks for calling. This is the magic that radio gives us. 5w and a vertical antenna with two slightly elevated radials can do great things. Let’s hope that solar cycle 25 is conducive to our interests and makes it possible to make good DX in 10m !!

I hope to copy you soon !!

Best 73!!
Javier

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Hi Kent,
I heard you today on HB/TI-144 with a strong 5/8 while you talked with GM4JXP/P but dared to ask you for 5kHz up and did a S2S instead.
While I did several east-coast QSO when portable with 5W SSB during the minimum, even a S2S, but you were the first that I heard so strong from California.
Well done!

73 Stephan, HB9EAJ

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Stephan

Sorry I missed you! Next time for sure!

Kent

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Javier

You made my morning!

Thanks for the QSO!

73
Kent
N6WT