SOTA: first successes, failures, and lessons

I’ve tried five activations and succeeded at three (W4V/SH-030, W4V/BR-006, W4V/BR-015). I’m learning how to do this on my own, with some online help of course. Here are a few of my own reflections:

David (AA3II)


Hi David welcome to SOTA :slight_smile:

Activating is very much about refining and developing your own MO, I’m sure you’ll soon settle on something that suits you and work up to a 100% success rate! Or nearly so - there’ll always be the odd one that gets away…

Good luck and take care on the hills

73 de Paul G4MD

PS love your rig guess you’re ready for the next Vintge event. Watch the HT on that coil though if it starts raining :-s

Hi David,
We made 20m CW QSO on April 8th while you were activating W4V/BR-006. Thank you!

You wrote in your blog regarding your activation of W4V/LX-016 (Big House Mountain) that it was a failed activation because you didn’t manage to log 4 QSOs.
You need to know that not making those minimum 4 QSOs during that activation will NOT let you get the activator points of that summit, but in case you managed to make at least one single QSO, you can consider (so SOTA rules does) that summit activated by you. I hope that’s the case and you have already written your callsign as the first ever activator of that summit, which is something really nice despite not having qualified as to get your activator points.

As an activator, I’d give you an advice. If you want to increase your chances of activating successfully, don’t forget including in your backpack rig + antenna to be able to transmit on 20, 30, 40m band. In my opinion, any of these bands will give you many more chances to log 4 QSOs than any other bands.
Another advise. If you call CQ SOTA and you get no replies, don’t forget that you can also respond anybody CQing on the bands, have a QSO with them and those will count perfectly for the purpose of qualifying your activation. Again, having 20, 30, 40m bands with you increases the chances to find other hams CQing to whom you could respond and have a QSO with.
In addition to these 3 main bands, you can always carry and try whatever you might want to try, but 20, 30, 40m are, IMHO, the must ones.

Best 73 de Guru


Try the 20 meter/40 meter combination for bands to operate as a minimum. With that combo you work the DX on 20, and the locals on 40!

In 253 activations I have never been skunked, although I only made 9 contacts on one summit late in the day when the DX was almost gone on 20M.

Twenty meters is the “money” band on SOTA.



I fully agree with the 20/40 advice above … my first activation was only on 20m and I needed over 2 hours for only 10 QSO’s !
All went easier after I added 40m to my kit.
But my main lesson learned was : make sure you can selfspot !
Big pile-ups will be your reward …
I never had a failed activation, but once I had no cell coverage, and I had to check into a YL net to get my points :wink:
Good luck !

Very nice essay! I worked you on the first one W4V/SH-030 back in January but have not been able to hear you since. I am in Kansas, the home of lots of high hills that are not high enough to be SOTA summits so I primarily chase with occasional activations when we travel. In the mornings we need 40 meters to hear your location and 20 after that, depending on band conditions. Sometimes 30 meters is a good choice. Please use several different bands for the benefit of chasers. There will be times when weather and other things restrict you and we chasers understand that. I hope to work you again sometime. Keep trying!
Martha W0ERI

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