SOTA NEWS - April 2014
We’ve had some changes from the MT, be sure and read the Management Team News which follows directly. For NASOTA, the W0 Association has been broken into smaller Associations similar to other western and southwestern Associations with lots of summits. They are, Colorado [W0C], Dakotas [W0D], and Nebraska [W0N]. They join Minnesota [K0M] and Missouri [W0M] which have been around for a bit. Probably would be a good idea to visit your profile and update your home association listing … it has an effect on the NA statistics I produce each month.
The modification to allow a P100 sub-region within an otherwise P150 Association is the result of a proposal [and a lot of work] by Mike, KD5KC, who noted that there are highly populated areas in eastern W5T that are a day’s drive from practically any summits at all [yes Virginia, Texas is big, and flat in the east :-)]. As SOTA continues to grow planet-wide, this situation is likely to crop up again … Brazil? Yet another example of the tasks facing the MT.
There are a couple of associations which are geographically large, where all the summits are concentrated in a relatively small area, and there will be other such associations in future. After much debate the MT came to the conclusion that this situation left some large areas with potential SOTA activators having very few summits in their proximity. SOTA tries to be as inclusive as possible so the solution that we arrived at allows for such an association that would normally qualify as a P150 association to have a P100 sub area within it. Clearly we do not want this idea to detract from the general SOTA spirit and principles so we have set some parameters. They are:
Minimum percentage of association area 40%
Minimum total area for P100 area, 200,000 sq km
Proposed sub area P150 summit density greater than 2000/sq km *
Resultant P150 and P100 areas must be contiguous and only one of each per association
Summits are allocated points within the existing association banding
Currently two association meet these criteria namely France (F) and Texas (W5T) so from 1 April (and this is not an April fool) both will have some additional summits in their flat lands.
If your database account had the home association as W0 then you should now find your home association is W0C. Anyone who lives in the Dakotas and wishes to change their home association to W0D can do so, likewise for Nebraska. Login and select the Edit Details link that appears on the info box. Change the association and save the changes. You will be logged out and when you log in again, you will have a new home association.
Welcome to the March awards report and the start of Spring; with luck the weather will improve and even more enthusiasts around the World will be out and about activating hills. Meanwhile our colleagues in the Southern hemisphere can look forward to winter! Three Mountain Goat claims this month, HB9AFH and OK2IHH representing the old world and WA7JTM the new. Pete has managed to make Mountain Goat by activating only unique summits, something he is really proud of.
Chaser scores continue to hit dizzy heights with Rich N4EX now achieving 40k points and 4500 unique summits, PA0WLB on 25k and SP8RHP on 15k. Three Platinum Mountain Hunter awards also this month with Mike 2E0YYY claiming his for 100% Summit to Summit.
WA7JTM Pete Scola
HB9AFH Hugo Huber
KA5PVB Charles Dobbins
SV2OXW Makis Boulousis
W5QC William S. Stevenson
OK2IHH Milan Navratil 1000 points
WA7JTM Pete Scola 1000 points
OK1DIG Daniel Glanc 500 points
HB9TVK Peter Kohler 250 points
G4TJC Simon Melhuish 100 points
F6IPR Frederic Zara 100 points
WA7JTM Pete Scola 100 summits
N4EX Rich Homolya 40000 points
PA0WLB William Dekker 25000 points
SP8RHP Robert Karas 15000 points
VK3FPSR Peter Rentsch 5000 points
OM7AD Lubomir Simko 1000 points
SV2OXW Makis Boulousis 1000 points
VK2IO Gerard Hill 1000 points
EB2GEV Jose Miguel Orueta Michelena 1000 points
K9IA Charles L. Theisen 500 points
DD0VE Ralf Mantyk 500 points
YO2MSB Sorin Daniel Barbu 250 points
2E0EEY Chris Hall 250 points
KC9TTR Kenneth Holland 100 points
N4EX Rich Homolya 4500 summits
PA0WLB William Dekker 3000 summits
N6KZ Jim Zimmerman 500 summits
EB2GEV Jose Miguel Orueta Michelena 100 summits
ON5SWA Francois Gorremans Platinum
SV2OXW Makis Boulousis Platinum
2E0YYY Michael Hunter Platinum
VK5PAS Paul Simmonds Gold
DD0VE Ralf Mantyk Bronze
OK1DVM Miroslav Vohlidal Gold
WA7JTM Pete Scola Silver
Not a lot to report this month. My stock control has improved but I still ran out of Shack Sloth trophy blanks and now need to order Mountain Goat blanks this week before that stock is depleted.
This is the time of year when people start planning their summer vacations and obviously, we get a lot of visitors to the UK and, in particular, Scotland. If you are planning to visit and take the opportunity to activate then there are a number of keen activators up here who would be happy to offer route suggestions and might even be persuaded to join you on an activation. A note on the reflector, or a direct email to the better known activators, should obtain any information you need. This country may not be as large as some but many parts of Scotland (in particular) are very remote, with poor transport infrastructure, so your planned first activation may be more challenging than you realise.
There are predictions that this year will be a bumper season for the Black Midge (a man-eater more voracious than a grizzly bear, just smaller) - these beasts are known to bathe in Deet so you may want to use the secret weapon known to many farmers and other outdoors workers: Avon “Skin-so-Soft”; not only will it protect you but you will also end up with a more beautiful complexion! Believe me, trying to activate while being eaten alive by these tiny beasts is one of the worst experiences in life; if you don’t like repellants at least buy a midge head veil, you will not regret the purchase. I might even make them available via the web shop!
Meanwhile, stay safe on the hills while activating
Juerg reports that he’ll be on Madeira (CT3/HB9BIN?) from 22 April to 29 April and will activate as many summits as he can. Look for him from 30 meters to 12 meters, running either 10 watts to an Alex-Loop or 100 watts and a Buddipole.
SOTA will once again have a stand at the Norbreck Rally in Blackpool. The stand will be manned by the usual SOTA team and it will be an opportunity to chat to members of the SOTA Management Team as well as other chasers and activators. As usual, the SOTA stand is sponsored by SOTABEAMS, who will also be at the rally. The date for your diary is Sunday 6th April.
This month kicked off in the same vein as the last one and gale force winds and driving rain kept us off the hills until Sunday 9th when the weather was good enough to attack Great Mell and Little Mell Fells. We climbed Little Mell first. The route is quite straightforward and well documented. The first hundred yards has reverted to its impression of WW1 and the best route through the mud is close to the fence at the side of the waterworks installation. Once past this the steep ramp leads up the fell side to a contouring path and a couple of dozen yards along this a steep path on grass takes you to the summit, all told about a 25 minute climb. VHF is not great from this top but there are friendly locals who will help out and often mobiles on the M6.
Great Mell is a different proposition and the route again well documented. Just make sure to take the second gate off the initial cart track, take the first and you will waste a lot of time in the woods. The track by the fence has been blocked by a fallen tree just before the right turn up the steep grass path. A new path is developing angling up from just before the roots of the fallen tree to meet the old route about a hundred yards up the slope. This path may become more difficult as the bracken grows but John G4YSS reports a hole cut in the tree which allows access to the original route.
The walk up today in a strong wind seemed to be very hard work and it was rather reassuring to see John make the same observation. Our theory is that over the past few years new paths have grown up on the higher sections. These are more direct than the older routes but much steeper and have been pioneered by increasing numbers of fell runners who are not encumbered by radios, batteries and kit to support a longish stay on the top. The older routes that are slowly disappearing were pioneered by workers or fell walkers and are much more contoured and less energy sapping. That’s my (Rob’s) excuse anyway. Great Mell is probably a little more difficult on VHF than its smaller relative and our four element beam hand held on the 10 foot mast is very handy.
The imminent end of the winter bonus period and a day when the weather is reasonable are sufficient to inspire a Tuesday activation of Whitfell, one of our more local two pointers. This is a nice long walk from the summit of the Corney Fell road where there is room for about six cars. The road is single track and winding with passing places and fairly aggressive local traffic, best pull over and let them go.
Walk up to the grass, following the wall on your left, pass between the two small peaks and aim for a small rocky outcrop down hill at the foot of Burnmoor. The outcrop stands at the point where the path that contours Burnmoor leaves the path that passes over the summit which is boring and not worth the effort, best contour and climb Whitfell ahead. There is a shelter but in spite of an imposing appearance it is almost useless. It was a clear day with views to Ingleborough and the Isle of Man. We tried the new hf link dipole which worked well on 12 and 10 metres and the new combined centre piece and feeder which can be used on both hf and as part of the 2m beam thus reducing the bits to be carried.
Last day of winter bonus and a poor forecast for the Lakes so off to the south Pennines and Pendle. Maybe it’s the local witches but the lanes round Barley, the start point are confusing and difficult even to our SATNAV so we were a little late starting out. The direct climb we use is on a stone staircase of rough steps which always reminds me (Rob) of my mother in law who in later life lived on the thirteenth floor of a block of flats. When the lift was broken which was quite frequently she would climb the stairs with her shopping. This was about one third of the Pendle staircase so I figure that if she could manage that at in her eighties then I should be able to top Pendle in no time. As usual arriving on the plateau we were greeted by howling wind, mist and rain, described by the weather forecasters as a breeze, we prefer the poets’ version! We found some shelter by the wall where as verified by Tom EYO it is just within the activation area. Two hours was enough today.
Sunday 23rd and a trip up Holme Fell, a fairly local one pointer. The forecast is for a cold north west wind so Holme Fell really is the ideal choice as it is shielded to the north west by the much larger Coniston range. Best tip for parking is that there is space on the road beside Yew Tree Tarn for about half a dozen cars. Parking is free and unlimited but it is a popular spot for very short stay viewers so you could be lucky, otherwise it’s the Pay car park about half a mile closer to Coniston and expensive. The climb is straightforward although the path does spend some time as a part-time stream and the upper grassy areas of the hill have been churned to a mass of mud by the now resident Belted Galloways. Beatrix Potter used to own Yew Tree Farm and left it to the National Trust to be run as a farm for a local family and her beloved Herdwick sheep so now it’s a tearoom with a herd of cows. Lovely sun on the top and a nice activation and a little bit of a sun tan.
Next weekend will be too close to the publishing deadline so next month for that. Sunday April 6th is the Blackpool Rally and there will be a SOTA stall as usual. Please do drop by and have a chat and a cake, Audrey will be off down the cake mine shortly meanwhile take care out there
Quite month with milder weather but the DX chase is still on and a increasing move towards CW.
Lots of great activations with CW contacts everywhere you look. Weekly CW coaching sessions hosted by Ron VK3AFW and Tony VK3CAT is encouraging some old dogs to review their skills and bringing new activators and chasers alike up to speed with CW. Whilst we have several operators
using voice and CW, this activity will lead to more CW only activations expanding the small but keen group (Warren VK3BYD and Wayne VK3WAM) currently active exploiting minimal equipment. Personally, I recently had my first S2S CW contact. Granted a mixed voice and CW venture but still quite exciting. Exploiting CW will also open the DX opportunities for QRP operators.
Andrew’s continued to dominate the chase for DX. Not just into Europe but also made into America. This has continued with VK1NAMâ€™s activations positioned to maximise contacts with successful SOTA S2S contacts as well as VK3ARR going as far as to chase take his radio on a family trip to G chasing VK contacts. Hate to think our overseas friends start to think everyone in VK is named Andrew but that is the way it is currently looking.
Whilst the heat has all but subsided, rain and thunder storms cut some activations short causing some to chase coffee whilst others stayed in tents until the weather improved. More holidays coming with Easter and Anzac day holidays creating a period perfect for extended activations so
keep a ear out.
New Shack Sloths this month challenge the norm of taking 6 to 9 months with VK2YK and VK3FQSO in what may be a new VK record from a start of January 1 this year - just shows the level of SOTA activity in VK and proving all licence classes are equal in this activity.
VK8 become a part of SOTA on the 1st March. This association was off to a solid start with Greg VK8GM completing two activations allowing us and DX stations to get VK8 summits into the log.
Hello everyone & welcome to this monthâ€™s edition of SOTA on Top Band.
Firstly, an update on the final activation in February that took place after I had submitted my first, very Spartan issue of the top band news. I was very pleased upon arriving home from work on Friday 28th February to see Klaus DF2GN/P spotted on 160m SSB from DM/BW-228 Hummelsberg. I quickly powered up the my radio & listened for him & could hear occasional words, but with difficulty through my local QRM. A short time later Klaus called again using CW further down the band where I could run 100 Watts & I was very pleased to work him 559 both ways. I was using my 80m horizontal loop at only 6m above ground level so I am certain Klausâ€™s antenna was doing most of the work. In total, he made 6 QSOâ€™s on 160m, (4 CW / 2 SSB). Klaus really does enjoy his antenna experimentation & there is more from him later in this issue on that subject.
Into March & things got off to a great start on the first of the month with an evening activation of OK/ST-035 PecnÃ½ by Miro OK1DVM/P. Miro had a good time on the summit & made 5 CW QSOâ€™s on 160m. He returned the following evening this time making 6 CW QSOâ€™s with good reports on his signal from around Europe.
On Wednesday 5th March the world’s leading Top Band activator, John G4YSS, embarked on a multi summit trip around the Northern Pennines using the Scarborough Special Events Group call GX0OOO/P. These summits were partly intended to take advantage of the remaining few days of winter bonus points in the UK & the first four of the five summits activated were on 145MHz FM only. A late addition to the schedule after a very long day was the rarely activated G/NP-024 Hoove. This is a pretty uninspiring summit by all accounts due to difficult conditions under foot, however being on Johnâ€™s route home he decided to pay it a visit, after having activated it several times previously. For this summit he used HF rather than VHF & after a run on 40m CW John set up for 160m.
Meanwhile, I had been very fortunate in being able to chase John on three of the four VHF summits, one from home & the others from my motorcycle near my workplace in Blackburn. I knew that John was considering Hoove but this wasnâ€™t definite & I did not know whether this would be another VHF only activation or if HF/MF would be utilised.
I wasn’t sure if John would attempt G/NP-024 Hoove, but I left work just before 5PM intending to ride up to Belthorn, a high point near my workplace, in case John used 145MHz FM again. Unfortunately, or should that be fortunately, the road around where I work becomes gridlocked at 5PM so I abandoned that plan & decided to head home hoping that John may try HF/MF from the last summit. Hoove would have been very tricky on 2m FM even from my high point anyway.
I arrived home & quickly headed for the shack & on powering up the PC saw that John was QRV on 1832 CW but had I missed him? I quickly switched on the radio & heard him finishing with Phil G4OBK so tuned my 80m loop & called him once he was free. John was an easy 579 to me on CW but just lost in the noise on SSB. I’m sure I heard Rob G4RQJ calling John on CW but don’t know whether Rob managed to work him. It turned out that I was second in the log on 160m so I had arrived home just at the right time. If I had done as I originally planned I would have missed him.
Back to Johnâ€™s activation & a successful run of 5 CW QSOâ€™s was followed by a more successful run of 6 SSB QSOâ€™s including OH9XX in Finland who had earlier worked John on CW. As usual John has provided a very useful & detailed activation report on this multi-summit day here:
On Monday 10th March, Miro OK1DVM/P was active on the band again from OK/ST-095 Å karechov. This early evening activation netted Miro 4 CW QSOâ€™s, 2xG 1xOH 1xPA. The following day, Tuesday 11th March, Miro was active on the band again from OK/ST-086 Krechor. This was another early evening activation with again a total of 4 CW QSOâ€™s 2xG, 1xOH & 1x8S.
On Wednesday 12th March, Miro was out on 160m again, this time on OK/JC-084 Karlovka. Again making 4 QSOâ€™s, one each from PA, OH, DL & G. For the fourth evening in a row, on Thursday 13th March, Miro OK1DVM/P returned to OK/ST-095 Å karechov, this time making 3 CQ QSOâ€™s one each from PA, G & EA.
On Tuesday 25th March, Klaus DF2GN returned to his favourite haunt DM/BW-228 Hummelsberg for some more antenna experimentation & included a spell on 160m. Klaus has very kindly sent me the following:
â€œOn the 25th March I had another try on the 160m band, this time my antenna was a 30m vertical wire in a Beech tree with 8 radials from 10 to 40m long. The feeder line was 10m of 300 ohm twin wire & this time I did not use a balanced tuner. Power output from the radio was 50 Watts on CW and only 10 Watts on ssb due to RFI problems with the rig."
“Sometimes itâ€™s hard to get a good ground system on top band, I donâ€™t know why Maybe itâ€™s hard to work DX on that band, due to the bad ground on summits when using vertical antennas. With horizontal antennas I have not had much success due to their very low height over the ground. I usually use Inverted-L antennas with different lengths and feed lines. Most of the time the length of the feeding line was used in order to match the antenna to around 50 Ohms at the radio. That is not easy sometimes & and 160m is not very successful on the activation, but a dipole is much better, but as always, too low over the ground :-(”
“It is difficult to give info or tips to others on how to work on top band, firstly due to my limited english, and second - all my antennas work only with high trees. I am lucky that here in DM/BW on most summits there are very high trees. On the one hand very good, on the other, mostly a bit of attenuation on higher bands with the large forest around the antenna.”
“On 25th March from DM/BW-228 Hummelsberg I worked 17 chasers in Europe: 13 using CW, & 4 using SSB. My 30m vertical seems to work well because I worked SV2FLQ and OH9XX on CW with 50 Watts and SV2CNE and SV2OXS with 10 Watts on SSB. Also thanks to the chasers around in DL,G,SP,OK…etc.”
“I will be doing less 160m on my activations during the summer months due to poor propagation & the good fun to be had at the moment on the higher bands with good solar activity. But, knowing me I could change my mind tomorrow & try another antenna on 160m so I am sure you will hear me from time to time on Top Band. All in all, the antenna also is good fun on 80m & 40m mostly with good signals all over Europe. With my 30m Inverted-L antenna I made my first VK contact on 40m with VK5CZ. great fun but I know the same on 80m or 160m will be very difficult to achieve, due to the bad ground system on summits So, thanks for your work again at the 160m band news, and hope cu agn!”
"vy 73 Klaus DF2GNâ€
Thank you very much indeed for the report & information Klaus, it is fascinating to read about the different antennas you put together, & their sheer size! For the benefit of readers, Klaus is planning another Top Band activation in a few weeks time using a full size dipole for 160/80/40m with the feed point at no less than 30m (98ft) above ground!!
I doubt that many of the best-equipped 160m stations have better than that & I certainly hope I am near a radio when Klaus is QRV. Keep an eye on the alerts! So a much busier month with plenty to interest Top Band aficionados! Thanks & very well done to Klaus, Miro & John.
At the time of writing, those were the only Top band activations during March that I am aware of, if I have missed any others please let me know.
On 28 February, Klaus DF2GN/P Activated DM/BW-228 Hummelsberg & made 6 QSO’s (4 CW / 2 SSB)
On 1 March, Miro OK1DVM/P Activated OK/ST-035 PecnÃ½ & made 5 QSO’s (5 CW / 0 SSB)
On 2 March, Miro OK1DVM/P Activated OK/ST-035 PecnÃ½ & made 6 QSO’s (6 CW / 0 SSB)
On 5 March, John (G4YSS) GX0OOO/P Activated G/NP-024 Hoove & made 11 QSO’s (5 CW / 6 SSB)
On 10 March, Miro OK1DVM/P Activated OK/ST-095 Å karechov & made 4 QSO’s (4 CW / 0 SSB)
On 11 March, Miro OK1DVM/P Activated OK/ST-086 Krechor & made 4 QSO’s (4 CW / 0 SSB)
On 12 March, Miro OK1DVM/P Activated OK/JC-084 Karlovka & made 4 QSO’s (4 CW / 0 SSB)
On 13 March, Miro OK1DVM/P Activated OK/ST-095 Å karechov & made 3 QSO’s (3 CW / 0 SSB)
On 25 March, Klaus DF2GN Activated DM/BW-228 Hummelsberg & made 17 QSO’s (13 CW / 4 SSB)
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
Well, despite some fairly rotten weather across much of the midwest, and heavy rainfall in the Pacific Northwest, once again we find that SOTA-folk are a hardy bunch. Activity was up in every category we’ve been tracking, and a steady stream of new calls are showing up.
Total Activations: 328 
Nr Unique Activators: 103 
Total Chaser QSOs: 8545 
Nr Unique Chasers: 206 
Total Summits Activated: 326 
Unique Summits: 261 
2m: 98 (1%) 
6m: 7 (0%) 
10m: 206 (2%) 
12m: 3333 (39%) 
15m: 380 (4%) 
17m: 356 (4%) 
20m: 3057 (35%) 
30m: 370 (4%) 
40m: 729 (8%) 
60m: 1 (0%) 
80m: 0 (0%) 
160m: 0 (0%) 
CW: 5435 (63%) 
SSB: 3002 (35%) 
FM: 103 (1%) 
AM: 0 (0%) 
Data: 1 (0%) 
Other: 2 (0%) 
As usual, the “Unk:” entries seem to be caused by summit names with embedded commas. If I can find time, I’ll see what I can do to filter them out.
Barry, GM4TOE, the SOTA Awards Manager has covered the awards and achievements. We’ll soon be seeing some new P100 summits showing up in Texas. A big thanks to Mike, KD5KC, for spearheading that effort. The new summits will put SOTA much more within the reach of the heavily populated eastern parts of Texas.
Northern California lost an avid Summiteer in March. Matt, KF7PXT, has been reassigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma WA. He and Etienne, K7ATN, have already teamed up on a W7W activation or two. Matt, Delma, and their 5 kids stopped by our place for a weekend at the end of February. It’s always great to be able to tag a face onto all those QSO’s.
EPILOG: This issue got a little longer than planned, but there is so much going on in SOTA these days. You’re all stuck with me for the May issue, and then Roy will return the SOTA News back to normal. My thanks to the contributors to this issue: The Management Team; Jim, G0CQK; Andy, MM0FMF; Barry, GM4TOE; Juerg, HB9BIN; SOTABeams; Rob, G4RQJ, and Audrey; Allen, VK3HRA; Mark, G0VOF; and all the NA Summiteers and your blogs.
73 and stay safe,
Interim SOTA News Editor
983 Chaser Points!