Sota by car? Seen it on facebook

Let’s be clear, Andy, I am arguing against your judgement that " this is OK, just." It may have been within the rules at one time - though I would say that there is no time when it would have been within the “spirit of SOTA” - but at this present time it is a definate no-no!


The bikes give them the equivalent of a table top. No shelter, and no place to sit, unlike what an auto could supply. No power from the bikes and no antenna support. Not terribly upsetting, but not strickly within the rules, either.

To answer the concern of G4OIG, there is a widely held belief that one must climb into the activation zone (final ascent). That is not the case. The rules used to use the term “final access”, which does not imply a climb, but even that term has been removed.

Elliott, K6EL

There will be a rule how far you have to move ?

I guess not. There has been an explanation of the rules saying that the activator must be completely independent from the vehicle. All is OK as long as the car is not touching any part of the equipment, and it is not being used for windbreak, shade…

Individual interpretation of this may vary.

For me, “being independent from the vehicle” goes like this: when I exit the car, I put on my backpack with all the gear, extra clothing, food, etc. I might be needing. I get ready to walk let’s say 2 km to the summit; it does not matter I am on the summit already and the operating position will be only 20 meters away from the car. I made myself independent from the car.

I have had a hard time to explain the rules to would-be SOTA activators in my Association. People love simple and firm easy to follow rules - expressions like “SOTA spirit” and “being independent from the vehicle” are hard to explain to newcomers (especially those non proficient in English or those coming from other programs like WWFF). The hardest part to explain was that unloading picnic tables and chairs and batteries and rigs to set an WWFF style operating position 20 meters from the car does not make them independent from the vehicle. The rationale behind this is: if you (or your team) are not capable of transporting your gear some distance away from your car, then you are not independent from the car, you are only unloading the trunk. Someone please correct me if I was too strict with this interpretation of SOTA rules.

73 Fric YU1WC


This is very difficult, Fric, there are no easy answers.

There are not all that many summits where it is possible to drive to a point within the AZ, for the majority of summits you have to load your station onto your back and hike into the activation zone, no difficult philosophical questions arise, it is you against the mountain. The popular romantic view is that you “conquer the mountain” but you come, you go, and the mountain remains. The thing that you conquer is you.

Where it is possible to drive into the activation zone then differences of interpretation arise. What I think it amounts to is that for most people you try to transfer to the drive-on summit the spirit that takes you to the top of the harder mountains. You act as if the car isn’t there. Some people will hike down out of the AZ and then hike back and set up as far away from the car as they can - the “purist approach”. Others carry their gear to a suitable point as far away from the car as possible and pretend that the car isn’t there for the purposes of SOTA. Yet others will find a suitably comfortable place and set up their station, not bothering about abstract philosophical considerations. The thing to bear in mind is that all of these alternatives are valid within the rules of SOTA, which option you follow is defined by your attitude, whether you are purist or pragmatist, you satisfy the rules and you satisfy yourself.

As I said, the summits where you can drive to a point within the AZ are relatively few, but they are a valuable resource for the aged or disabled ham who wants to take part in SOTA and perhaps re-live memories of days when he or she was younger and could hike effortlessly to summits that are now beyond their abilities. They also make a good entry point for hams who have no previous experience of climbing mountains, but who get exposed to the pleasure of being in a high and remote place and might get drawn into trying something a little harder. The policy of the MT is to leave things just a little vague, a little “fuzzy” and not make rules like “you must be more than X metres away from the car (or motor bike!)”


They were advised they had not complied with the rules and asked to withdraw the contacts from sotadata. Which they did.

And never activated another summit.

I don’t think republishing their mistake is helpful.

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Agreed. Sometimes the response to a rule infringement is savage and assumes that the infringee is a robust personality who will be reformed by a verbal blast.

In this instance the infringee took extreme umbrage and has withdrawn from SOTA leaving one solitary activation as a protest.

SOTA is no longer an idiosyncratic pommy thing, although many don’t yet accept that. It can’t be run like the local darts club.

Closing visor on flame proof suit right now!

Now re use of vehicle, my suggestion is that once set up the vehicle should be able to be driven off and the SOTA activation continue unaffected. There’s proof of independence!

Next I don’t think carrying a card table or kitchen sink to the activation site a short distance away should be anything to criticize. The Rules don’t prohibit it. We don’t have to be uncomfortable when activating.

What we carry can, sensibly, be varied according to how far we have to hike and climb. I like to carry the basics of first aid kit, water, map and compass even if setting up only 20 - 200 m from the car. I may also carry a light weight stool and table which I would not carry if I had to walk 5 km to the AZ. In the latter case I’d have emergency rations, and groundsheet and extra water. It’s horses for courses, abiding by the spirit and rules of SOTA and being responsible for your own safety and of others nearby.

Visor now firmly screwed shut.


Hello folks

Right old can of worms in it.

But end of day I would not op off me Bike FJ1200CV Yamaha if on a drive on sota. I would still respect the rule of operating within a vicinity of a motor vehicle and move well away from the motor vehicle. Yes it can be uncomfortable on site but that,s part of the Sota thing. On Kitt hill I cart a fold up table and deck chair BUT its well away from the car as can’t fit on the bike LOL.

So end of day lets when out there on a drive on Sota lets operate well away from the motorist-ed motor including extension leads from its battery. Hence why i try to make my portable kit, so its well truely portable including the power supply.


It’s why I take a pragmatic view over infractions where I look to see if there is any real benefit. If there’s no benefit, a friendly word about being more with the spirit next time, a request that maybe they may want to delete the log goes a long way to helping make a community and getting people aware of the rules and getting with the spirit.

In this case I see no advantage and it’s not like the case of someone who setup who operated from inside a car on a UK Winter’s day but had placed a battery outside and ran a cable in to power the radio. I can’t recall now if the antenna was on a magmount on the roof. Here there was distinct advantage to being in the vehicle. The excuse was “I didn’t know you couldn’t be inside, as long as I wasn’t powering the radio from the car then I thought it was OK”. Er… no!

I have had to delete plenty of activations when the activator has tried to gain advantage. One was at a radio astronomy site where cell phones are banned never mind HF/VHF radios. The op was asked if he had permission, said yes, promised to send a copy and never did. Permission is not granted ever. Result: deleted activation. Another op went to a national park where the you must stay on the tracks to save the rare environment. Permission is not granted to leave the tracks, the summit is 500m from the tracks. Again I asked for proof of permission and nothing came, activation was deleted. I’ve done plenty of these deletions over the years but we prefer to ask people to consider if it was valid and in the spirit and remove it if it wasn’t.

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That sounds like a sensible test to me!



I am of an opinion that SOTA has been greatly succesful so far because of two reasons:

  1. The IT backing is on very high level following current IT trends.

  2. It is both technical and personal challenge.

Point 2 can be expressed as operational efficiency challenge, based on limited resources you have on the hill top. You have to be as efficient as possible to make contacts. Once you put car into the equation as virtualy unlimited resource, efficiency does not matter, therefore there is no challenge.

For elderly and people with health or disability issues the challenge is obvious even when using a car.

On the other hand ad-hoc walking out of and back to AZ does not make sense either, if you are already on the top with your car.

So I say: Just don’t use equipment you wouldn’t bring on a hike. (car battery, kilowatt linear, party tent, three-element fulsize beam for 40m, Rembrandt painting,…)


What, no Rembrant painting? (disappointment!)

I’m with you there, Marek. Any paintings found on a hill I’m on will be very basic. Stick figures are my limit!

Is there any suggestion Rembrandt painted on hilltops?

73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH

Canvass mostly, I think :smile:


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Oh dear. I guess I was canvassing the possibility… :wink:

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Is this THE next challenge?

I have thought of another challenge that I might be able to score a few points in, unlike painting. See Awards section…
S2S Completes

Monty Python cycling race sketch comes to mind…

Thank you for the clarification Brian. I was genuinely worried if my reinterpretation of the rules is (unnecessarily) too strict.

Yes, it is true. Some of my picnic-table-unloading-from-trunk friends already activated some summits that are not accessible by car, and they loved it!

I miss Ernie he was a faithful chaser of mine,
Ian vk5cz