SOTA NEWS APRIL 2012
EDITORIAL – by Roy G4SSH
Welcome to the April 2012 edition of SOTA News. My thanks go to the following contributors:- Barry GM4TOE, Roger MW0IDX, Jürg HB9BIN, Ignacio EA2BD, Peter ON4UP, Fred K6DGW, Martin DF3MC, Andy MM0FMF, Mark G0VOF, Steve WG0AT.
Winter Bonus is over for another year and the poor weather that prevailed over most of Europe during the first half of March did not deter the dash to collect extra points before the deadline on the 15th. However, instead of the expected lapse in activity after the bonus ended, the warn spring-like conditions during the last 10 days saw activations rise to a new level, especially during the last full weekend of the month when spots exceeded 100 on Saturday the 24th and for the first time in my memory, exceeded 200 spots on Sunday the 25th.
SOTA AWARDS FOR March 2012 - By Barry GM4TOE - SOTA Awards Manager
March has been a record month for awards; I have never been so busy since taking over the job of Awards Manager. Notable achievements are our three Mountain Goats G6WRW, OK1CZ and HB9BIN and nine Shack Sloth’s most remarkable of which is G3VXJ for 10k Unique summits chased! On the Chaser front congratulations are due to Phil G4OBK on reaching 40k points, Don G0RQL for 25000 points, Paolo IK3GER 15k points and Robert G6ODU and Petr OK1CZ on 10k – Super Sloth as it has become known!
Most certificates have been posted out and the remainder will follow in the next few days. My poor engraver has never been so busy and there is quite a backlog in finishing trophies – please be patient, she is away on holiday so it may be two weeks or more before some trophies are in the post.
G6WRW Carolyn Williamson - Mountain Goat
OK1CZ Petr Doudera - Mountain Goat
HB9BIN Jurg Regli - Mountain Goat
OK1CZ Petr Doudera - Shack Sloth
G0UBJ Ken Beach - Shack Sloth
M1CNL Peter Tew - Shack Sloth
M0LEP Rick Hewett - Shack Sloth
DL7URB Robert Bree - Shack Sloth
W4MPS Marc P. Sullivan - Shack Sloth
G3VXJ Bob Rylatt - Shack Sloth Unique 10k
OK1CZ Petr Doudera 1000 points
W1DMH Doug Houston 500 points
M0CGH Colin Evans 500 points
NU6T Rich Hill 250 points
EA2EA Jose Callejo 100 points
EA1IEH Eloy Perez Lopez 100 summits
G4OBK Philip Catterall 40000 points
G0RQL Don Roomes 25000 points
IK3GER Paolo Corsetti 15000 points
G6ODU Robert Gum-Wah Leong 10000 points
OK1CZ Petr Doudera 10000 points
OM7PY Erwin Benyus 2500 points
WA2USA Dennis G. Martin 2500 points
NS7P Phil Shepard 2500 points
EA2EA Jose Callejo 1000 points
VE1WT Phil Long 1000 points
G0UBJ Ken Beach 1000 points
G0UBJ Ken Beach 500 points
GM0OAA Mike Wigg 500 points
M6AUE Gary Carter 500 points
M0MDA Michael Dailey 500 points
2E0ZMO Andrew Maguire 250 points
G0UBJ Ken Beach 250 points
M6AUE Gary Carter 250 points
HB9BIN Jurg Regli 250 points
PA2WJZ W.J. Zonneveld Jnr 100 points
G7NIB Ian Clark 100 points
G1FOA Peter Franklin 100 points
MW0TMI Dean Willis 100 points
G0UBJ Ken Beach 100 points
G4FVK David Sewell 100 points
G6XBF Walter Lambert 100 points
N1JHJ Steve Jones 100 points
G0UUU Philip Earnshaw 100 points
G0RQL Don Roomes 2500 summits
OK1CZ Petr Doudera 2000 summits
HB9BIN Jurg Regli 2000 summits
G6ODU Robert Gum-Wah Leong 1000 summits
OM7PY Erwin Benyus 500 summits
G0UBJ Ken Beach 250 summits
M0LEP Rick Hewett 250 summits
G0UBJ Ken Beach 100 summits
EB2GEV Jose Miguel Orueta Michelena 100 summits
OK1CZ Petr Doudera -Mountain Explorer Bronze
OK1CZ Petr Doudera -Mountain Hunter Platinum
EA2EA Jose Callejo -Mountain Hunter Gold
VE1WT Phil Long -Mountain Hunter Gold
I3VAD Giancarlo Scarpa -Mountain Hunter Gold
PA2WJZ W.J. Zonneveld Jnr -Mountain Hunter Bronze
G0UBJ Ken Beach -Mountain Hunter Bronze
It appears that every month I have to report some disaster or problem that has impacted on not only my life but also the issuing of Awards – March is no different! I was working away at the end of February putting the finishing touches to the certificates celebrating 10 years of SOTA when my hard disk crashed taking all the work I was doing at the time but also corrupting my back-up drive as well (thank you Mr Norton!). We tried to recover the data on the drive but the platter had been damaged so I had lost all my records from December to February. Hopefully I have now regenerated all the data but if I have not responded to an Award claim that was sent at the end of February please let me know and I will sort matters out.
I have quite a backlog on trophies, the Mountain Goat ones were delivered to me this morning so should be on their way to you in the next few days. I have just handed the blanks to the engraver so they will take about two weeks to be returned to me. Each one has your callsign, the year of award and any additional information hand engraved onto the face; the engraving is then filled with paint and this all takes quite a lot of time.
Several people ask for specific annotations on both certificates and trophies; with the advent of the SOTA shop (www.sota-shop.co.uk) it is relatively easy for me to add possible options so if you would like specific additional items added please let me know and, provided it is within the scope of the programme, I will make it available.
Some claimants have mentioned that they feel that 1000 points is now too easy for Shack Sloth and it should be aimed higher, maybe even to 10k points. SOTA is designed to be inclusive to people of all abilities, as far as possible, which is why awards levels will be left at the present level (if it was 10k I wouldn’t have made Shack Sloth yet as I am far too busy with other facets of my life to dedicate a lot of time to chasing!). However, there is a valid point here and I would appreciate comment on whether we should formalize an Award level at “Super Sloth”. I am also open to suggestions as to the correct superlative to use with the word “Sloth”!
I am still receiving claims for Awards which are missing essential details – name, callsign and what is being claimed! The SOTA shopping site is designed to collect this essential information and helps make my job a little easier – BUT if you put in wrong details they will be transcribed directly to the certificate or trophy; I check your claim against the database using your callsign but make the assumption you are able to spell your name correctly and claim the correct Award! You will see from the list this month that claim levels are increasing and each time I have to follow up on missing information I have to spend yet more of my limited time chasing the individual. My policy now is that, for all incomplete claims, they get put to the “I will get around to that when I have time” pile and complete claims take priority; so if your claim is taking a very long time to appear ask yourself if you submitted correct and complete information – and don’t chase me at 10 days and 2 minutes after applying for an award otherwise you might become the proud recipient of one of my famous barbed and marginally polite emails!!!
Bad news time again! The UK Royal Mail has announced incredible increases in the cost of postage (30% and more) from the end of April. I still do not have the specific details, and how this will also affect overseas postage, but it will certainly mean an increase in the cost of Awards. To save yourself money claim before mid-April to ensure dispatch under the present postage cost structure, later than this and I cannot guarantee that I can process your claim and post it before prices go up. If you are claiming multiple Awards remember that we offer postage discount if you order via the SOTA shopping site.
The weather in this part of Europe has been absolutely glorious, not March weather at all, and lots of Activators have already been out onto 10 pointer summits which (in the Cairngorms at least) would normally be the province of only the very experienced mountaineer. I managed to chase (at long last) GM/ES-003 (having activated it some years ago) something I would not have expected in a normal March. Long may it continue.
Take care on the hills, it is not summer and conditions can change very rapidly at this time of year
Barry Horning GM4TOE
SOTA News also congratulates
- Andy MM0FMF on achieving Mountain Goat status.
- Jimmy M3EYP on gaining Mountain Goat on 10th March
- Jimmy on upgrading to Intermediate class callsign 2E0EYP
- Aled 2W0UPH on gaining his Shack Sloth
GB10SOTA by Roger MW0IDX
To celebrate 10 years of the Summits on the Air programme, I will be using a special event call sign GB10SOTA from the summit of Mount Snowdon GW/NW-001 on the 19th, 25th June, 2nd and 9th of July 2012 - weather, work and legs permitting!
I will take my K2 for HF and a VHF/UHF radio with me. If any activators wish to join me, you will be most welcome as I would like to cover as many bands/modes as possible. Please send me an email if you plan on joining me on one of the dates. Email details on QRZ.com.
Time has flown since my first SOTA activation from Snowdon on 2nd March 2002. The Summits on the Air programme has grown and matured into such a wonderful group of like minded friends.
Thank you to all involved with SOTA over the last 10 years and I look forward to working as many of you as possible as GB10SOTA.
Note from Editor –
Roger MW0IDX activated Snowdon GW/NW-001 on the very first day of SOTA, 2nd March 2002, and has remained active in the programme to this day, both as an activator and as Welsh (GW) association manager. He served considerably on the SOTA Management Team for a significant period, and the current SOTA MT is delighted that Roger will be promoting SOTA’s 10th Anniversary with this special call.
SOTA TALK AT DUNDEE AMATEUR RADIO CLUB by Andy MM0FMF
I’ll be presenting a talk on SOTA at the Dundee Amateur Radio Club on
April 17th at 7.00pm. Details of the club can be found at
I think we’ve almost gone a month without an update to the database.
Well 21days to be exact. A bit of stability is to welcomed after my
considerable success in breaking everything and then fixing it on Feb
29th. Still it’s a long time since I’ve had a leap year bug in any of my
code so I was due one! There are a few updates in the works that are
considered high priority. These are the addition of the SWL database
that currently Tom M1EYP has been maintaining. The plan is for SWLers to
be able to log SWL chases straight to the database in a similar way to
logging a normal chase. Also under design are some activity reports for
Association Managers. Here the idea is to show how many and which
summits have been activated in an association over the preceding month
etc. how active the association is etc. Finally, a major piece of work
will be the support of non-Roman alphabets in some way. I don’t have a
date for when these will be implemented but you can rest assured that
they are being dealt with.
Also, at some point this month past we had a splurge of registrations
and we past the 4500 user point.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY SOTA BELGIUM - ON SOTA Association 2007-2012
On the 1st of July 2007 the Belgian SOTA Association was born.
Five years later, you are invited to celebrate this anniversary by activating at least one of the 14 ON summits on Sunday the 1st July.
A unique SOTA activator certificate will be rewarded to all participating activators.
Will you be one of them? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oH9ibDYVU-k
73, Peter – ON4UP
ON SOTA Association Manager
CW ACTIVITY FROM THE CANARY ISLANDS BY Jürg HB9BIN
From 14.-21st April 2012 I will try to activate the Summits in the Lanzarote Island Region in CW.
In total there are 11 Summits (EA8/LA-001 - EA8/LA-011 but EA8/LA-009 is a volcano! No activation has taken place from this one!).
I will try to activate one summit in the morning and one in the afternoon! I will work EA8/HB9BIN/p on 7.032 and 14.062 (+/- QRM).
Tks es 73 de HB9BIN, Jürg
NEWS FROM SOTA DL - by Martin DF3MC
During February it was very cold in the German Alps. With temperatures as low as minus 20 deg. C and lots of snow with a high danger of avalanches only a few of the very low summits could be reached. In March the conditions improved considerably and enabled a greater number of activations. There is still some snow in the regions above 1400 m; nevertheless several 4- and 6-point summits were activated.
With the successful activation of Heidwand (DL/MF-118) on March 27 by DK7MG/p, now all of the 73 SOTA summits of the region DL/MF have been activated at least once.
The first German Alps CHALLENGER award (BRONZE) was issued to OM Bernd, DL2DXA from Dresden, Germany - as a chaser he had to collect 100 unique summits in the German Alps. There is also an EXPLORER award - to qualify as a chaser, 54 German Alp summits have to be in the log, and it is necessary to reach a certain number of summits in each of the nine regions. This seems to be an even more ambitious task. I am sure that there could be other chasers who could qualify for one of the German Alps awards. (for details see our website http://www.sota-dl-alpen.de/)
MY FIRST TRANSATLANTIC SOTA QSO - by Ignacio EA2BD
Some days ago, when it was almost mid-March, I decided that I should take the opportunity to get the last extra points before the expiration of the winter bonus period.
I again activated EA2/NV-092, the summit that served as my Sota baptism when I did my first activation last year. The day was windy, so I reinforced my fishing pole with a guy line to prevent any problems from occurring.
I started the activation on 14 MHz SSB, then moved to the CW section. After a while my battery was beginning to run flat, so I reduced the output to 2.5 watts. After many contacts I started feeling cold and my CW accuracy was suffering, so decided to call it a day. Fortunately I had almost exhausted the pile-up, so gave a last few CQ calls before packing up.
Suddenly I thought I heard an “N” call, in the middle of some European callers. Had I read this correctly? I stared at it on my pad and sent N N ? ?. There was a short, tense silence, and I was relieved that the Europeans stopped sending and left me a clear frequency, where, very faintly, I heard N4EX N4EX…….
Oh God! Come on, it’s Rich! My heart did a deep beat. I never expected to hear Rich calling me at this time of day and on this band! What a kind of ears does he have?
We completed the exchange without any problems and his signal remained weak but stable. I finished the activation and packed away my equipment in a very happy frame of mind.
Some days later I sent a message to Rich and he replied explaining he was using his Elecraft transceiver with just 5watts output. So I was even more delighted that we had achieved a QRP to QRP SOTA contact.
It is very satisfying and well worth trying low power output when you are rewarded with nice contacts like this, and Oh Rich! may God preserve such good ears that you have and your really supportive activity in the Sota scheme. I hope to CU AGN vy soon
73 to all and let all activators be aware of the opportunity of getting transatlantic QSO’s.
CW FROM CYPRUS Roy 5B/G4SSH
Due to a last minute request from my host 5B4AHA, I had to bring the scheduled activation for the 22nd forward to Tuesday 20th March, but the second schedule for Friday the 23rd went ahead, as forecast.
I managed to make a couple of hundred QSO’s, mainly across Europe, but with callers from the USA, Japan and Saudi Arabia in my log and it was fun to be at the sharp end of the pile-ups.
I was delighted to be called by many regular SOTA activators and chasers. At one time I was deluged by callers asking to confirm that my reference was SP-001? This puzzled me for a while until I discovered that some kind chaser has spotted me, with the comment “Not SOTA but you may like to work Roy in Cyprus” and this spot had to have a valid SOTA reference, so a fictitious one was used. I did explain to all callers that Cyprus did not yet have a SOTA Association; although there are many qualifying mountains on the island, especially Mount Olympus at 1952m, which was still covered in snow, although the temperature at sea level was 23C.
Callsigns in my log that were recognised as SOTA associated were HA7UG, HB9DAX, GM0OAA, DL4FDM, G4CPA, HB9CGA, DL1DVE, G3RMD, EA2BD, DL3HXX, DL1FU, OM7DX, OK1CZ, S51ZG, G0TDM, DL4ZBY, G0NUP, G4YSS, G4CMQ, S58MU, G4WSX, OK7MM and HB9AFI. It was a pleasure to work you all.
It was also a pleasure to meet up with regular SOTA activator Rolf, HB9DGV who had been operating from his hotel in Larnaca as 5B/HB9DGV, assisted by his colleague Frans HB9AII.
Quite a few callers had a problem with all the dots in my call and could not tell the difference between 5B/ and HB/ This appears to be a common mistake and I always get dozens of QSL’s addressed to HB/G4SSH. This is not a problem because I reply to all direct requests for a QSL with the correct call on my card and send the remainder via the bureau. If you are one of the many who have sent direct then my cards are being printed and will be posted in about three weeks.
The flight path from Heathrow to Larnaca passed over activators in G, F, ON. DL, OE, I, HA, HB and SV-land and I was sorely tempted to add to my chaser score with a quick 59 on my 2m FM handheld from 42,000 feet, but I had the suspicion that the flight crew may have asked a few awkward questions, not the least being asked to explain just who I was speaking to in the toilet !
CANADA/US SOTA REPORT - By Fred K6DGW
Well, this month, our northern neighbours, chased rather than activated,
but despite some fairly harsh winter conditions, March recorded 39
separate activations by a total of 16 different stations. In addition
to the “regulars,” a big welcome to the several first-timers! Our
chasers were out in force too, including a couple of brand new ones, and
some Association records.
ACTIVATION REPORTS [still catching up a little from Feb]:
02/01 W4/EP-001 WH6LE
02/15 W4/WP-011 WH6LE
02/18 W4/WP-010 WH6LE
02/22 W4/EM-026 WH6LE
03/01 W4/EM-032 WH6LE
03/03 W7/CE-219 K7ATN
03/04 W7/CM-005 K7ATN
03/04 W0/FR-037 K0MOS
03/04 W7/SR-152 W7IMC+Savanna [daughter]
03/04 W1/GM-013 W1DMH
03/05 W7/CM-101 K7ATN
03/06 W7/CM-094 K7ATN
03/09 W7/CM-094 K7ATN
03/09 W7/NU-065 KD7WPJ
03/10 W3/WE-004 W1DMH
03/10 W7/TT-035 W7XK
03/11 W3/PD-007 W1DMH
03/11 W3/PD-006 W1DMH
03/11 W4/SH-004 KB3VDR
03/13 W3/HB-012 W1DMH
03/13 W4/SH-001 W1DMH
03/13 W4/SH-007 W1DMH
03/14 W4/SH-002 W1DMH
03/14 W4/SH-005 W1DMH
03/14 W4/SH-030 W1DMH
03/15 W4/SH-009 KB3VDR
03/15 W4/SH-009 W1DMH
03/15 W4/SH-027 W1DMH
03/15 W0/FR-023 KD0PNK N6UHB WG0AT
03/16 W5/SE-048 KT5X [WS0TA]+wife
03/17 W4/HB-023 ND9Q [new call, was KB3VDR]
03/17 W7/LC-119 K7ATN
03/17 W3/WE-007 W1DMH
03/18 W4/CM-087 WH6LE W4TZM
03/21 W7/NU-071 KD7WPJ
03/24 W7/SR-147 W7IMC
03/24 W7/NU-067 KD7WPJ
03/24 W4/CM-020 WH6LE
03/25 W7/WV-098 K7ATN
03/25 W5/RO-022 W5JG
03/25? W7/NC-009 KK7DS K7TAY
03/27 W5/SE-040 KT5X
03/27 W3/WE-004 ND9Q
CHASER NEWS: Elliott, K6ILM, in the W6 Association achieved 250 chaser
points followed closely by Ric, NU6T. Congratulations to both of you!
Climbing a summit can and often is rewarding all by itself, but having
those chasers out there digging your low power signals out of the noise
just adds to the fun.
Rich, N4EX, reporting for “The Carolinas,” welcomes two new chasers –
K4CIA and KB4IRR. Welcome! Be careful, this moderately new sandbox in
the Amateur Radio playground can be addictive.
Phil, NS7P, while not conducting any activations for March, has reached
2,500 chaser points in the W7 Association which makes my not-quite-200
points look really puny. I really need to get on the air more.
ACTIVATION STORIES: Winter always adds new dimensions to any summit
activation and I tagged a couple for the news. Starting out, we have
Scott, W7IMC in the Southwestern Region of Idaho on his W7/SR-139
“Was going to attempt two peaks today and then decided to do them in
reverse order from my SOTA post. Longs Gulch road to saddle east of
W7/SR-147. 7 HF contacts and lots of QRM due to CQ contest weekend. 2
mile round trip hike and 900 vertical with lots of wind. Drove back thru
Prarie looking for route to next summit and attempted to turn around
truck in wide spot on road (pulling trailer) About 1/2 way thru the turn
I buried the Ford to the running boards and was hopelessly stuck.”
“Unloaded the Honda and drove to Prarie General Store where the store
owner jumped in his Ford and followed me back to my truck. Hooked
everything up with my 4” wide snatch strap to no avail. In the process
his dog jumped out of his truck and did a drive-by biting on my leg. He
drove off up the road looking for neighbor with tractor when a Chevy 3/4
ton came by. Hooked up and on the fourth snatch we were successful. Took
the store owners shovel back to him and never took my eyes off his dog."
“42 mile drive back to Boise with so much mud stuck in the wheels they
were unbalanced over 60 mph. $15 at the car wash fixed problem. So given
all events not sure which one was the most hilarious - dog bite, 1 ton
of mud on the truck, or a Chevy (gasp) pulling out my Ford. Did see 20
deer and over 50 Elk, but did not attempt W7/SR-139 after that. 73,
From Naomi/KD0PNK, Chuck/N6UHB, and Steve/wG0AT on W0/FR-023 [Colorado]:
“Absolutely a GREAT-FUN day on Almagre Mtn! Albeit the recent warm
weather fooled us into thinking snow conditions would not be an issue,
some of our crew decided to leave their snow shoes in the vehicle. I
decided to bring my little ones just in case. (But they were small ones
designed for jogging on a groomed track and not holding you up on deep
powder … admittedly they did helped a little …except when I busted
through the surface crust and had an even tougher time getting back on
“After we post-holed through often knee-deep and sometimes waist deep
powder for 2 long-wet hours it still didn’t deter us from enjoying a
incredible day on the mountain. Finally on the summit and warmed by the
high altitude sunshine we found shelter from the wind to setup our SOTA
station and begin enjoying the views and some great QSQs …then to
celebrated with Krispy Kreme DONUTS at 12k’ no less! WooHoo! A big
thanks to all you chasers who showed up to help us party on the
mountain! …Steve wGOAT (no P&R goats this trip they haven’t mastered
snowshoes just yet)”
[For the non-NA folks, Krispy Kreme donuts are a delicacy in some parts
of the continent that somehow manage to pack a full year’s worth of
sugar into a single donut :-)]
That’ll be it from the New World for this month. Solar conditions were
in a good uproar in the early part of March, but have really settled
down in the latter half.
Canada/US SOTA Reporter Dude
NEWS FROM WØ-SOTA ASSOCIATION – from Steve WG0AT, WØ-SOTA Association Manager
The WØ-SOTA Association has Named 3-Regional Managers Plus Launched a NEW Website (w0-sota.org)
We are pleased to announce the WØ-SOTA Association has 3-New Regional Managers to help promote and encourage WØ-SOTA activities:
- Matt Schnizer/KØMOS Northern CO Region
Activator/Chaser for W0-Association
- Jerry Taylor/KDØBIK Central CO Region
Activator/Chaser and promoter via PARP/podcasts
and host for w0-sota.org website
- Bob Cutter/KIØG Western CO Region
Chaser and active SOTA promoter in Western CO
- Steve Galchutt/wGØAT Southern CO Region plus ND/SD
WØ-SOTA Association Mgr
Our BIG News is the WØ-SOTA Association has launched a new website (w0-sota.org). This web portal is primarily targeted at new and/or potential SOTA participants in the WØ area who are seeking Summits on the Air information. It also provides distilled content from other sources for already active SOTA regulars with documents, tools, links plus the latest regional news.
The site’s content is divided up into a welcome Homepage, About SOTA, Get Involved, How to …, SOTA-Tools/Resources, W0-SOTA, Contact and What’s Happening. Plus a dynamic feed of regional SOTA news and SOTAwatch realtime Spots plus links to multimedia photos and videos.
We hope you find w0-sota.org helpful in planning, chasing/activating and reporting your SOTA adventures!
Cheers, Steve & WØ-SOTA Team
EA SOTA WITH COMPANION - by Ignacio EA2BD
Some months ago I received an email from another Spanish ham, Santi EA2BSB.
I didn’t know him but he sent me a message to introduce himself. He let me know that he was also living in my city of Pamplona and had discovered me through the chasers & activators scores in Sota Database.
We first met in our town to exchange our experience and to see what equipment we were each using for Sota activations. Then we discussed where we could do an activation together and we finally decided we would attempt Erga, EA2/NV-078 on the 3rd March.
It was a beautiful morning on the day, with the sun shining from a clear blue sky. After a short climb up a well worn path we reached the summit where were alone and soon erected the antennas. I carried my fishing pole while Santi had a very handy piece of equipment in the form of a trekking pole which was a hollow tube, inside which he puts one mobile whip. On the summit the tube was used to hold the antenna on top, plus some wires for a ground plane.
We agreed to split our activation; he would do SSB while I would operate on CW. This way we could offer the summit for more chasers at the same time, and thin-out the pile up’s that are sometimes stressful.
Although our calling frequencies were well separated, we both noticed some minor interaction between us but the incoming signals from the chasers were strong enough to work them all without problems.
You can see photos of us both on: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ea2bd/
I encourage amateurs from the same area to share the experience of finding some Sota-mate with which to activate together. Our experience was great; we could climb together, making the journey more interesting with our chat. At one time I was in the middle of my CW activation and concentrating hard to figure out the incoming calls when I discovered next to my key a sandwich, kindly provided by Santi !
I also felt more relaxed knowing that if something went wrong during the activation somebody would be with me to provide support.
Our different equipment, worked fine and we both worked many entities. Santi was excited when after checking the entity list he found that the CU colleague he worked was from the Azores! A non-frequent chaser…
All in all, it was a very pleasant experience. We are planning to meet again in the future to repeat the walk and provide more points for the eager chasers.
VY 73 de Ignacio
THE VIEW FROM THE NORTH - 39.
Sunday 4th March Kirby Moor.
Yet again a lousy forecast for the Lake District so yet another little one. We usually walk up the Slate Road which is marked on OS. Maps but the start point at SD259 839 can be surprisingly hard to find from the east. There is room for about four cars but it is a quite popular spot for dog walkers. It is possible to drive up the Slate Road, it’s not made of slate by the way, it used to provide access to the slate quarries that still cover the North West slopes. There is room for several cars by the utilities building but it can be very muddy, occupied and they don’t take kindly to the use of their gateway to which access is needed. Today there is a very cold wind over the level moorland top. This is a common feature and there is little shelter to be had.
We settled in the lee of the small summit mound which does give some cover from the north. HF conditions were very strange with huge QSB and complete drop outs at times and it took us forty minutes to work the first four on 5 MHz. As we came to 2m ssb the summit was swept by a huge hail storm with S9 static noise which continued even after the hail eventually abated a little. On the neighbouring Black Combe the fell race competitors returned black and blue due to the force of the hale. We looked at the FM reception which was much less troubled and decided to go there first and return to SSB later.
Things now went from bad to worse as the swr deteriorated yet again, the problem that has been dogging us for some time. A quick check with a dummy load proved the problem to be antenna related. Drastic measures were required so we hacked off the feeder at the antenna end and used the emergency feeder set which has croc clips that go directly onto the elements; problem solved but not for ssb today as the clips can’t hold the elements horizontally. Sorry.
See Nick was having problems with the cold and sensibly retreating. The cold is a creeping enemy that needs constant watching, not always easy for lone operators. It is easier to spot the problem in another person than oneself. CW can be very attention consuming and finishing can be like suddenly being dropped back into a cold hostile environment. On phone I generally find myself becoming sillier than usual, time to go.
Great to see three Mountain Goats in a day, makes us think of our first activation back on May 2nd 2002 from Gummers How, six contacts and one point and no camera. Beware it’s addictive.
Sunday 7th March Fountains Fell.
The forecast for the west was very poor with lots of low cloud so we headed east to find Fountains Fell covered in low cloud! As we were booting up I had a massive back spasm and could not straighten up. The usual cure is to lie flat on my back for a while but I fancied neither the muddy grass nor the middle of the narrow road but eventually Audrey was able to pummel things into position and away we went up the always pleasant but almost invisible Pennine Way path to the summit. Once there everything went well and the new 2m feeder and centre section resulted in a super swr with lots of contacts and good reports so guess that whatever has been causing the problems has at last been thrown out. We were delighted to see when we got home that M3EYP Jim had Goated and were sorry to have missed an S2S contact, possibly the youngest of MG’s to one of the oldest still active. Well done Jim.
Monday morning sitting at the computer writing this epistle and another huge back spasm reduced me to the floor. As I lay there I could hear CW from the shack in the next room, Nick G4OOE/P on Pen-Y-Ghent but couldn’t get there to work him. As long as it’s OK for next Sunday!
It wasn’t and not perfect for the next one either. We decided to do Hutton Roof Crag with a minimal pack and to reduce activation time. This meant 2m only so apologies to the regular HF and 4m chasers. In the event the WX was perfect and we managed to stay almost two hours. There were rumours of a big lift but it seemed to have died or was taking signals far away, several of the more distant regulars on ssb were poor signals and quite hard work.
We notice that CQ magazine for March has a mention of SOTA and a picture in their Reaching for Our Roots column, we warned you it’s addictive!!
Well that’s about all for now, sorry it’s so news-less but lack of activity does not help, only a couple of weeks now to the Blackpool rally which we really look forward to. A great chance to meet old friends, make new ones and this year to celebrate the tenth birthday of SOTA. Hope to see you there, till then,
Take care out there,
73 Rob and Audrey
SOTA ON TOP BAND - Mark G0VOF
Hello everyone & welcome to this month’s edition of SOTA on Top Band. March was a busy month with three activators venturing onto 160m from six separate summits.
First though a mention of four activations that took place after last months news had been published. These were as part of tour of four Northern Pennine summits by John G4YSS, using the SSEG callsign GX0OOO/P on 29th February. John’s first summit of the day was G/NP-006 Great Shunner Fell, & with an early start the band was in good shape with six chasers worked on CW. John then moved on to G/NP-015 Great Knoutberry Hill & by late morning conditions were as expected, quite poor, nonetheless 2 chasers managed to work John, once again using CW. Similar conditions were experienced on John’s third summit G/NP-010 Pen-y-ghent, although once again both Roy G4SSH & Phil G4OBK managed a two way exchange with John. By the time John was QRV from his fourth summit, G/NP-017 Fountains Fell, it was getting quite close to sunset & band conditions had improved considerably. No fewer than 23 QSO’s were achieved on Top Band with 12 using CW & 11 using SSB, which I am sure pleased a lot of non-CW chasers!
I have kept that report pretty brief, as John has provided a very comprehensive report himself that can be found here:
Thanks & very well done John!
Moving into March & the first activation logged on 160m was on 4th March when Wolf DK1HW/P, activated DM/NS-123 Reinekensiekskopf. A brief QSY from 80m CW enabled Michael DJ5AV to chase the summit of Top Band. Wolf was also active later in the month, more on that later.
On the 5th March, John G4YSS was out on the hills yet again, this time in the Lake District. Some navigational problems meant that John would not be QRV until late morning from G/LD-012 High Stile, when the band is far from ideal, however a very creditable 5 CW QSO’s were made, with both Mike EI2CL & Pete EI7CC both making it into John’s log.
This was followed by a late afternoon activation of G/LD-036 Mellbreak, & with conditions much improved 9 QSO’s were made, all using CW. These activations were carried out using John’s QRO pack, which despite its additional weight John still somehow manages to haul over some pretty hard summits!
Again, John has provided a very comprehensive report here:
Thanks again John!
On the 14th March Peter ON4UP activated two summits & tried 160m from both of them. He has very kindly sent in a report, including his encounter with the “Forest Warden”!
14 March 2012: ON/ON-006 - La Croix Scaille
This is a very easy summit. The most difficult part of the activation is to avoid cars because the summit is located in a car parking area.
On 160m I tested my new loading coils to make my 20-40-80m link dipole resonant on 160m. The coils are inserted at the link between the 40 & 80m sections. This coil is 5cm diameter, 0.65mm copper wire (what I had available) and 45 turns. That way the antenna becomes resonant at 1.855 MHz.
A sked with ON4LN for a test gave a great result: 55 to 57 in both ways. That’s looked promising for later in the day on ON/ON-004 where I planned to be QRV on the grey line. Eric ON4LN spotted me but nobody came back to my SSB call. It’s too early for top band SOTA.
14 March 2012: ON/ON-004 – Vivaldi at Bois de Hazeille
Part 1: Spring is in the air:
Everything was simply perfect: a blue sky, a big open place within the activation zone, a huge 20-40-80m link dipole supported by a 7m mast including the obligatory SOTA flag and a hell of an SSB SOTA pile-up on 40m. Life is wonderful, isn’t it? While trying to handle this pile-up, I am already thinking on how the 80m link dipole will perform on 160 with the new loading coils …
Note: A photo of one of the loading coils is here:
Part 2: Mr hunting warden http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:06_-Vivaldi_Summer_mvt_3_Presto-John_Harrison_violin.ogg
WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE ??? GET OUT OF HERE!!!
Some man, claiming he has the right to kick us out of this public forest, is yelling to Franz (ON9CBQ) and me. To avoid bigger problems, Franz and I decided to interrupt our activation, (sorry pileup), and to break down our stations. Mr. h. warden is using his mobile phone (are radio waves in a forest allowed?) to call an official guy. Apparently he isn’t official enough.
Part 3: The arrival of the official forest warden
By the time the most official guy arrived, Franz and I were packed. After some explanation of what we were doing and some promises that we would never do it again … we could continue our trip back to the car. The forest warden explained us that in Belgium you may access public forests as long if you stay on the roads and paths.
Part 4: The rescue of 160m
This activation felt incomplete. I was on a summit that was never activated on 160 … So Franz and searched for a new activation spot within the activation zone but next to a road or path this time ;-).
An acceptable spot was found, but there was not enough space to put up the big link dipole. The 6m vertical with loading coil at the base was installed instead. It’s certainly not the most efficient antenna system, but for SOTA it’s lightweight and very easy to setup.
The loading coil has a diameter of 5cm, copper wire of 0.65mm and 71 turns makes the 6m vertical resonant on 1.845. On previous activations I have noticed that the loading coil must be at least 10cm away from the fiber glass mast to avoid bad SWR.
But this antenna does work, and the following SSB contacts made prove this: ON4LN, HB9BIN, ON6DN, HB9BIN (much better report on the 2nd contact), DJ4AX, DG0OBU, DJ7BA, OE8XBH, DK1HW and G3RMD.
Used power was 100W from a 17Ah slab.
I have calculated my loading coils by means of a program written by G4FGQ (SK). K3HRN maintains the site http://www.zerobeat.net/G4FGQ/page3.html which is a collection of DOS programs running fine on Windows 7.
I hope to hear you on my next top band activation!
73, Peter – ON4UP
Thank you very much for your report Peter, it is a shame you did not get to try the link dipole on 160m, but your vertical again worked extremely well!
As mentioned earlier, Wolf DK1HW was active during the evening of 17th March from DM/NW-135 Köterberg. Wolf put out a very good signal on CW although only two stations were around to work him on 160m, Peter DF2AY, & Phil G4OBK. Unfortunately, I was sat in front of the Television the time & didn’t hear about Wolf’s activation until later.
Peter ON4UP was active again on 28th March when he activated ON/ON-001 Signal de Botrange & ON/ON-026 Le Mont d’Henri-Chapelle. Peter tried 160m during, or after his activations of these summits on other HF bands, but despite spots on SOTAwatch no Top Band QSO’s resulted. As these activations took place during daytime, that can be expected, but in any case well done for trying Peter!
At the time of writing, the following are all the Top band activations during March that I am aware of, if I have missed any others please let me know.
On the 4th March, Wolf DK1HW/P activated DM/NS-123 Reinekensiekskopf , & achieved 1 QSO on 160m, using CW.
On the 5th March, John G4YSS (using GX0OOO/P) activated G/LD-012 High Stile, & achieved 5 QSO’s on 160m using CW.
On the 5th March, John G4YSS (using GX0OOO/P) activated G/LD-036 Mellbreak, & achieved 9 QSO’s on 160m using CW.
On the 14th March, Peter ON4UP/P activated ON/ON-006 La Croix Scaille, & achieved 1 QSO on 160m, using SSB.
On the 14th March, Peter ON4UP/P activated ON/ON-004 Bois de Hazeille, & achieved 10 QSO’s on 160m, using SSB.
On the 17th March, Wolf DK1HW/P activated DM/NW-135 Köterberg, & achieved 2 QSO’s on 160m using CW.
Thanks to all who ventured onto Top Band this month!
As always, If you do have any suggestions on things that you think should be included, or if you wish to contribute tips, ideas or anything else that you think may help others on the band please email them to me at email@example.com
Until next month,
CW REPORT FOR MARCH 2012 - by Roy G4SSH
The early spring weather across Europe brought out the CW activators in considerable force during the month of March, with 100 chaser points starting to be available on some weekend days.
Improving propagation on the HF bands is allowing North American chasers to copy EU activators who are starting to call around 14.058 KHz or moving there after a spell on 7 MHz after about 1100 UTC. Conversely, EU chasers are starting to hear North American activators from around 1500 UTC.
The recently increased number of SOTA chasers, allied to the increase in activations during the month saw Gyula HA6QR, Novak HA6PJ and Ruda OK2QA using the “one up” method of split working, both on 10.118 and 7032 KHz.
Congratulation to Bob F5HTR who activated four Italian 8 point SOTA’s in one day on the 30th March.
The following list is not a complete list of activations as I was in Cyprus from 15th-25th March.
Heard active above 40m were:-
28 MHz: G3TJE, F5HTR, F5UKL
24 MHz F5UKL,
18 MHz S57X, MM0FMF, DL6AP
DL1DVE, DL4ABO, DL/OK1DIG,
EA3EA, EA1AER, EA1/HB9AFH
F5UKL, F/HB9BIN, F6HBI, F5HTR,
G4ASA, M1EYP, MM0FMF, GM0UDL, GW0PEB, MM0GYX
HB9BRJ, HB9IAB, HB9BAB, HB9CGA,
E5AKL, K7ATN, NE1SJ,
WS0TA, NM5TW, WG0AT, KD7WPJ,
DF3MC, DL8MH, DL1DVE, DK1HW, DL/OK1DIG, DK7MG, DL/HB9AGO, DD1LD, DL6AP, DL8DXL,
F5UBH, F5UKL, F5LKW, F6HBI, F5HTR, F6EAH
G4RQJ, GW6OVD, GI4ONL, M0CGH, GW0HIO, M1EYP, G3RDQ, G3VQO, GW0HIO
HA2VR, HA6OY, HA6PJ, HA6QR, HG4UK, HA5MA, HA5LV,
HB9DIG, HB9AFH, HB9BAB, HB9BIN,HB9CGA
OK1DIG, OK1EQ, OK1CZ,
Also thanks to the stalwarts who enthusiastically continue to activate on 80 and 160m:-
3.5 MHz GX0OOO, DK1HW, OM/OK1HAG, EA2EA,
1.8 MHz GX0OOO, DK1HW, ON4UP, ON9CBQ.
A warm welcome is extended to the following newcomers, heard activating SOTA’s for the first time on CW during the last month:- Military Club Station OI8AY, Ian DL6AP,
Heard active on expeditions outside their own countries were:
DL/HB9AGO, DL/OK1DIG, DL/OK1EQ, DL/HA2VR,
EA1/HB9AFH, EA2/F5UKL, EA5/LA1ENA,
IV3/S57X, I/F6HBI, I/F5LKW, I/F6HBI, I/F5HTR,
There was glorious confusion on the HF bands on the morning of the 28th March.
It all started so well, with chasers promised a feast of French activations on the Alerts page, with postings by Andre, F5UKL, Roger F5LKW, Gerald F6HBI, and Alain F8FEO.
Some of these were activating French SOTA’s some activating Italian SOTA’s, some activating Spanish SOTA’s / and some were jumping over border fences and working a selection, varying their callsigns, sent with I/, EA2/ etc.
These activations were promptly spotted by alert chasers; but the problems started when some of the activators then began to self spot; Not all chasers are aware that the self-spotting software is programmed with the activators callsign but NOT a different country prefix. We then had the situation where (for example) I/F8ZZZ was spotted by a chaser on 7.032 KHz, F8ZZZ then self-spotted himself 15 minutes later on 10118, without the I/ prefix then another chaser again spotted WITH the prefix.
This was the signal for the more recent chasers to start calling “Pirate” all over the activator, who wondered what on earth was happening.
No fault of the activators, of course, who gave dozens of points to eager chasers. The location was quite obvious if chasers checked out the SOTA reference, which would have been something like I/NV or I/LG, but many chasers do not bother with this, which can be obvious when an activator spots himself with the comment “QRV 15 MINS” which is often the signal for a chaser to start sending his call blind on the frequency listed!
Congratulations to Bob F5HTR who activated four Italian 8-point SOTA’s on the 30th March
CONTESTS DURING APRIL 2012
The following scheduled contests are expected to cause severe QRM to SOTA activity, especially on the 40m band. Activators should plan accordingly with alternate spots/bands. This is not a complete list of contests.
6th – 7th 1500-1500 SP CW/SSB DX Contest
2nd – 3rd 1600-1600 EA RTTY Contest
14th-15th 2100-2100 Yuri Gagarin International DX contest
21at-22nd 2100-2100 YU DX contest
10th only 0001-2359 SKCC CW Contest
28th -29th 1200-1200 SP RTTY Contest
SOTA News is normally published around noon UTC on the last day of each month and can only be as interesting as the items submitted. If you think your particular field of interest is not being covered then please submit an article by the 25th of the month. Have you a favourite SOTA? favourite mode? favourite rig, antenna, or favourite band? How did you find your first day / month / year as an activator or chaser? Your comments and experiences will be read by SOTA enthusiasts all across Europe and beyond, in a total of 24 different countries. Your input will be most welcome.
I receive many e-mails during the month containing details of activations, milestones reached and general SOTA news. Unless advised otherwise I will use this information in the next edition of SOTA News. It is important therefore that you advise me if any information is not intended for publication
SOTA News Editor