SOTA etiquette?

Today I attempted a VHF activation of a remote Rocky Mountain spot. Knowing I would have a tough time making contacts I decided to write the local repeater club president an email about 8hrs prior to my activation asking if he could alert his members to my presence (if this was not an inconvenience) on 146.52 at the time I was calling. After hiking up a beautiful golden aspen covered mountain I setup my gear and called with no luck for 20 minutes. I then switched over to the local repeater in order to ask for simplex contacts. I was immediately met with “KE8OKM that stuff won’t fly here. You need to give us several days to set this up!” I was like ”sorry I have done this before and was not aware of your protocol. I apologize if I stepped on any toes”

Did I do something out of line in asking the president to alert members?

1 Like

No. An Australian perspective on this is that he “is a lazy, self entitled, b… with a bee in his bonnet”. What you asked was perfectly reasonable. (& it is OK to solicit for contacts on a repeater). Just my 2 cent’s worth.

Regards, Phil


Short answer - you did nothing wrong. In fact you did it right. The problem here is with the “club” guy and the way he handled it. Whoever that was needs to go find another hobby. He should be supporting yours and others efforts, not knocking them down, particularly if he’s the one leading a club locally. The way I see it you had no need to apologize as you had good intentions and approached it all correctly. Hope you were able to bag the summit. Best of luck…



I’ve considered doing this ad-hoc in the UK when low on contacts for an activation, but couldn’t quite land on a phrasing that didn’t sound like I was putting out a cheeky broadcast.

“This is [callsign] calling through [repeater callsign], currently performing SOTA activations on [freq] simplex”?

Certainly “listening through” makes me wince, because you’re not doing that.

1 Like

In my humble opinion, this is:

1- far too short notice. This is a hobby and I think no one should expect a colleague checking his emails every few minutes or even hours. I don’t. Sometimes I don’t even check my personal or ham radio related e-mails everyday. Work emails are a totally different thing, but hobby related emails are not something one should be forced to be checking very often.

2- the president of that local repeater club is not there for such service. Gathering fellow hams in a repeater to be QRV and chase me on a simplex frequency when I’m activating SOTA is something I will have to procure myself and I’d never pretend somebody else having to do that for me.

If I had failed at gathering potential chasers to be QRV and chase me on 2m FM during my planned activation, I would take HF gear or postpone my activation until I had secured the minimum number of chasers to be QRV for me.




I’m with Guru. If I was the repeater guy and I got such an email then I’d file it with all the emails from other oddballs in the waste bin. I’d not go spamming all the other repeater users who would no doubt be delighted to receive such an email.

But… I would not give you a hard time on the repeater should I hear you calling. I’d be happy to try and work you simplex. There’s no point being unhelpful on the air.

What you should do is call on the repeater and start up some QSOs with a few people if possible. Once engaged in mindless ham-banter bring the subject around to why you are up a mountain and ask if anyone can hear you on the input and try for a simplex QSO. Then, and this bit is important, go back to the repeater and discuss the range etc. for these simplex QSOs on the repeater. That is so all the lurkers and licensed listeners can hear and maybe, just maybe dragged out from where they are lurking to take part as well.


I used to do this in the old days, when GB3MN and GB3VT were active analogue repeaters - as opposed to digital and dead as they are now! Never encountered anything but willingness to help out.

These days I’m more likely to gatecrash an ongoing 2m FM simplex conversation, and again everyone always seems more than happy to help - and in fact genuinely interested the some fool is up a hill with a radio!

I emailed some Fusion groups ahead of the March DV Challenge flavour. The communications were not filed in the recycling bin but were well received, resulting in good on air interest and activity.

Maybe he got out of bed the wrong side, or maybe we’re just a friendlier bunch here in NW England.

1 Like

A few people do ignore you I think? I seem to recall that many US repeaters are closed and non members don’t have any right to use them?

My thoughts on this technique to round up QSOs was. He could help or just write back sorry no time today. I have heard stories of new hams being clumsy on the radio and then berated by the “veterans” never to conduct ham again. I have over 50 activations this summer and all have been nothing but friendly and encouraging! I’ll just chalk this up to experience on the road of life.


You are correct about private/non-private. I am not sure if these are private or not but I did receive a email from I think his secretary saying to give it a try on their repeater. That’s why when I called on the repeater I was disheartened at the berating I received. I wish it would have just been handled via email. The club website says any questions please send to the email that I sent it to. In the end I did have a nice QSO on the repeater with a local guy who had a lot of interest in SOTA so all was not for naught!

Guru, in hind site I see your point also. I just think a quick “sorry no time today” would have been appropriate and to the point.


I tend to agree and even if someone emailing me about something is taking the mick I’ll at least tell them in the politest way possible just so they aren’t waiting on a response and wondering what’s happening.

But personalities and priorities differ and sometimes you just have to accept that in life and move on.

Indeed. I take that as a backhanded compliment. All three of them will have to ignore me a lot harder if they are going top drop out of the “My Top 25 Chasers” list on the My Statistics page on the SOTA Database!


Did you do it right ? I would say NO…
Hoping a chain reaction with an email sent 8h ahead is way to short…

Send a SOTA alert or take skeds but don’t rely on others to do the (your) job !

Don’t give up, the next trip will be the good one…
BTW, HF bands are much more prolific than VHF… You know what to do now.

73 Patrick.

8h in advance is a nice try, but I would not expect much success. But that’s just one side of the coin.
Several days to set up? What happens in case of an emergency with these chaps?
In OE I always get lots of support. Read my EU sota day report.
But… I sent e-mail to 250 ops to get 1 QSO.
Just sending 5 e-mails (phone calling?) directly to high potential chasers in this area will rather help.
I did many 2m FM only activations, often called by repeater, and sometimes an OT was not able to set his rig to a simplex frequency. I just did a REV on my rig (did not even tell about) and therefore no repeater was used for the QSO as I guess it’s valid for sota?
2m (my favorite band) is challenging sometimes, that’s why I got a KX1…
73 Martin

I have done it once I was in USA and did not have luck to have QSO’s. The guys were helpful and a handful of friends appeared to make my activation more meaningful (i.e. with someone on the other end for a QSO… :wink: ).

I did not write an email, though, but indeed asked live on the repeater. I am not sure what they needed those several days in advance for. Maybe something to clarify now with them? Maybe he thought you had expected him to write emails to his circle and get replies rather than a quick call on their repeater?

My first instinct is this is a misunderstanding rather than bad will of anyone, but I might be wrong. Either way, I would ask him again now to clarify his standpoint. Maybe this will clear everything out.


Yeah, I sent an email to club president and his secretary. Thanking them for their time and explaining my intentions. Haven’t heard anything back. Today I am in Napa Valley CA and will hike a peak with no fore planning. It is 30 miles from the Bay Area (3 million people) with direct line of sight I expect a quick activation. (Crossing fingers)

1 Like

I am learning Morse and have a MTR3b ready to go. Once I am proficient in MC I will do my activations with that method as backup on the remote VHF dead spots.


Hi Erik -

While others may disagree, I think you did the right thing! In fact, I believe you went above and beyond the average guy (like me) by asking permission first. I’ve been in amateur radio for 39 years, and by far most repeaters in the US are open - with friendly users - so asking permission was actually quite nice of you. Being a Colorado ham myself, many of our repeaters have quite a long reach - I would have considered just getting on a local repeater and announcing that you are on such and such mountain looking for some local simplex qsos. I would not tie up a repeater, or necessarily break into a conversation, but making a simple, short announcement would probably yield some (if not many) qsos. Why in the world that guy would say “that stuff won’t fly here” is beyond me. What is there to “set up”? If you hang out on repeaters enough you’ll eventually find some self appointed ‘repeater cops’ who are more than happy to recite you ‘their’ version of the rules. Do not be dismayed by one ham’s grumpy response. Here along the front range of Colorado, you have many hams quite willing to work you on simplex. I’ve worked you several times, and look forward to the next VHF/UHF SOTA contact!

Vy 73, Dave

Thanks Dave! It’s all a learning experience and water under the bridge. I had a blast today activating a Peak in the SF Bay Area, more chasers than I could handle in my allotted time! I’ll be calling from the Front Range next week. Hope to have another QSO with N0DET!