SOTA NEWS AUGUST 2012
PART 2 of 2
SOTA ON TOP BAND - from Mark G0VOF
Hello everyone and welcome to this month’s edition of SOTA on Top Band.
During July, HF conditions suffered on occasion, with the increased solar activity at times rendering the lower bands un-useable. 160m, although not as badly affected is still languishing in summer conditions in the northern hemisphere, which generally means very poor daytime propagation. There was however one activation during the month on the band, & quite a successful one at that.
The weekend of the 7th & 8th July saw VHF field day taking place, & as he has done for the past 10 years, John G4YSS decided to combine an activation of G/NP-008 Great Whernside, with some VHF contest activity. Besides giving away points in the contest, John as usual would be activating the summit using the Scarborough Special Events Group callsign GX0OOO/P on MF/HF with Top Band being one of the highlights. In 2011 John spent the night camping out on the summit to activate the hill on both Saturday & Sunday. This year there would only be a Sunday activation, which afforded John a night in his own bed, although a very early start to be QRV by 0700z.
As last year, I had been out all night on a Raynet exercise but after arriving home I still felt quite awake so decided to put up my 50ft loaded vertical in anticipation of John’s activation. I then tried to get some sleep with the radio left monitoring 1832KHz quietly nearby.
At around 0655z I was woken by John’s CQ call & quickly went over to my key to reply to him. After only 1.5 hours sleep I was not quite awake so my sending was a little sloppy, but we exchanged reports & after confirmation from John that he was on G/NP-008 Great Whernside I spotted him on SOTAwatch. Conditions were a little down on what I remember from the same activation last year, but John was a quite readable 559 with QSB here in Blackburn, with my signal being 579 with John.
I listened while John worked other chasers, & did occasionally hear Frank G3RMD in Cheltenham, which is not bad distance in daytime to my relatively noisy home location. I later heard Geoff G6MZX calling John using QRS CW & John trying to complete an exchange with Geoff by placing bigger gaps between individual letters. I left the shack briefly but upon my return noticed a spot from Roy G4SSH that John was trying 1843KHz SSB for Geoff. A quick re-tune & I could hear Geoff working John with no difficulty & once the QSO was complete I called John myself. Reports were 57 both ways but the wider SSB filter I used made the signal to noise ratio much less than it had been on CW. Well done Geoff for giving CW a try, the more you use it, the more confident you will get. In total John made 6 QSO’s with 5 different stations which for mid-summer with conditions as they are at present was quite good.
John, as usual has provided a very comprehensive report on this activation which can be found here:
Thank you John for the excellent report & the Top Band QSO’s.
At the time of writing, that was the only Top band activation during July that I am aware of, if I have missed any others please let me know.
On the 8th July, John G4YSS (using GX0OOO/P) activated G/NP-008 Great Whernside, & achieved 6 QSO’s on 160m, 4 using CW & 2 using 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next month,
THE VIEW FROM THE NORTH 43. - Rob and Audrey
This month has been largely occupied by the annual holiday expedition to the Isle of Man. Unfortunately the weather did not make for the usual multiple SOTA summit activations as the summits were plagued with thick low cloud, often down to sea level. This is often the case on the island but not day after day so this year provided the worst weather for us in the last thirty years of regular visits. Fortunately we have a full programme of alternative activities to amuse us and had a super time as usual.
Friday 29th June Mull Hill.
Even this little hill had hidden from us but today it appeared so off we went. The actual summit of this one still has the remains of the wartime radar station RAF Cregniush all round you as you activate including two complete and usable pill boxes, handy if the rain comes on. Today the weather was fine and we set up on the side banking of the bigger one.
Unfortunately the chasers were very thin on the ground, just three contacts on 2m in spite of a spot and eventually after almost an hour of CQ’s we were forced onto HF which seemed little better but we eventually qualified the hill with a couple of CW contacts, not an auspicious start!
Saturday 30th June South Barrule.
Where we stay on the Island is on the lower slopes of this one and today it actually appeared out of the cloud through the back window. We quickly set off for an early evening activation. This summit has fortifications of a different era, the remains of an Iron Age fort. The peak dominates the south of the island and would be relatively easy to defend and was the base for Manannin Mac Lir, the ancient sea god. When unwelcome visitors approach he will throw a cloak of mist over the sea rendering the Island invisible, however if he has visitors that he does not wish to leave he will cast his cloak to make departure impossible. Today, At least for the moment he was smiling on us as we had a fine two hour activation, VHF followed by HF with 20m being the best of the HF bunch. The cloud came down as we descended for the short drive back to base.
Sunday 1st July Slieau Freoaghane.
Sunday and a decent day for an activation of this phonetically challenging summit. We felt rather guilty at doing this one today as Gary GD8PPU had already posted to activate it later in the day but we really needed to get this done while the weather was friendly. The path up through the heather from the small brown marker on the green road has become seriously unused and is a bit of an effort to follow. It is also doing duty as a stream over the first 200 yards or so.
Just as we were completing on 2M FM we were joined by Gary and had a very pleasant first meeting and long chat with him. He will shortly be a full time resident of the Island so the hills will be a little less rare on the air. We decided to have a quick burst on 2m SSB and then leave the summit to him. As we descended he was clearly doing very well and we worked him with the Baufeng h/h when almost back at the car.
The next two days saw really thick low cloud and rain, fortunately there are many lower coastal paths and we had fun fighting our way through head high reeds on a two plank walkway across bog in pouring rain. This was on a coastal path. It’s just nice being there.
Wednesday 4th July Snaefell.
We were looking round Laxey down on the east coast when we noticed that Snaefell in the distance had popped out of the cloud. We always carry the kit in the car on holiday for just this situation so quickly drove up the back road via Creg ny baa to the Bungalow car park on the Mountain road. The Bungalow which used to house a superb motor cycle museum but not any more is a former RAF Rotor radar site. There is good parking at the tram station layby. The walk up is on a good obvious path until the last steep climb where it is less well defined. This section is often in cloud and today was no exception. We decided that 2m FM and a quick activation was the order of the day but as the trams had finished for the day we were able to stand on the concrete path and use the railing to support the antenna.
TYNWALD DAY and we were surprised that there was no radio club presence this year, met locals who said it was due to a lack of the usual marquee because of resurfacing the playground where it usually stands. Later in the day the cloud lifted and we decided for a quick trip up Mull Hill. We spent some time looking for the remains of the old RAF station on the way up and this time operated from the roof of the second surviving pillbox. The VHF take off particularly to the North West is so much better than the larger pillbox in spite of being just 50yds apart and at the same height.
Saturday 7th July, Bradda Hill
At last a perfect Manx summer day so off to Bradda Hill. Many folk think that the summit of this one is the Tower on Bradda Head, not so! The summit can be reached from here via the exposed coastal path (not me Rob) or from Fleshwick Bay again using the coastal path but this time away from the edge of the cliff but a very steep climb on a grass/mud path through waist high bracken. This was where last year, I (Rob) managed to give a knee some grief which lasted until after Christmas so we approached with some trepidation particularly in view of the recent rains. In the event the path was perfect, soft enough to take a boot without slipping and not so dry as to be lubricated with loose pebbles. The summit is a perfect little place, views all round and the heather, all new following the big fire of a few years ago is now back with no signs of the huge devastation. The dominant sound is of innumerable insects humming about their various tasks. Quite a few people want this summit to complete the GD group so we spent most of the day on various bands to give them a chance at it.
Sunday 8th July, Mull Hill.
This hill cleared of mist late in the afternoon so a quick multiband activation. Only 10MHz and 2m FM seemed to be working, in spite of spots. Locals passing seemed puzzled to hear CW echoing round this one time radar station. Lots of information/pictures of this site at
Note the1969 graffiti in the Guard Post.
Monday 9th July Snaefell.
Last chance to catch G10SOTA from Snowdon for a summit to summit so off to
Snaefell and a long 2m session waiting for Roger to pop up on the band. We received reports of him on various HF bands and eventually nothing. We decided that we had missed him and made our way to the cafÃ© to use the facilities and whilst standing outside on the viewing gallery up popped Roger on the 2m h/held so we were able to send tenth birthday wishes to sota on the highest point in Wales from the highest point in the Isle of Man.
Unfortunately that was the end of our SOTA trips for this year as yet again the weather closed in preventing further activations. We can only apologise for the few activations and the shortage of hf due entirely to the worst summer weather we have encountered in thirty years of regular visiting There were unsurprisingly only two winners of our little worked GD4RQJ/P WORKED ON ALL SUMMITS award this year and we felt really sorry for those who were trying, conditions were truly impossible, weather and HF conditions wise. Not long 'till next year though when it’s bound to be better.
Sunday 15th July Seat Sandal.
Back to normal now apart from the weather so off up Seat Sandal from Dunmail Raise. The path up Raise Beck has suffered quite a bit of water damage since our last visit which did not help those with a poor sense of balance, also the route over grass from the head of the beck has become badly worn and repaired by the addition of much loose stuff. This while making the mud more tolerable has not done a lot for traction and many people including us I’m afraid are seeking better grip on the grass to the sides resulting in a wider and wider scar. Like us Karen 2E0XYL had noticed a new path appearing, zig zagging through the bracken from the base of the Raise climb up the western nose of the hill. We have seen fell runners using it and wonder if anyone here has experience of its use?
Sunday 22nd July Fair Snape Fell.
Summer blazes on and given the 60mph gales forecast for Lake District tops we decided on Fair Snape Fell as a calmer alternative. We had two abortive attempts at this one under winter bonus last year and as a result missed it altogether so decided to do it in summer and repeat later in the year. This is a perfect little fell, initial steep climb on grass; contour Parlick to the east and a nice climb to the top. Today the wind on the summit was strong but we managed a three hour stay and our first transatlantic contact, Barry N1EU, with the dipole and its new set of traps. All fells should be like this one.
Seagull strike in the main long wire provided fun in lowering the pole to get at the broken anchor fitting and reduced chasing activities on hf, helped considerably by the neighbourhoods friendly(NOT) plasma TV!
Sunday 29th July, Dent.
The local forecast suggested that the only cloud free areas in the county would be round Barrow and Whitehaven which made Dent an obvious starter. Parked at Black How, room for a couple of cars by the gate, and soon on the top. Best to avoid the signed Permissive Path on the left of the logging road, The path, part of the Coast to Coast route leads up a very boggy and overgrown fire break and taxes the poor souls just setting out on their marathon walk. Better is to follow the logging road until a break on the left as the road veers right will take you cleanly to the top end of the fire break and from here it is a straight grass climb to the summit. At the moment the large summit cairn is sporting an England flag on a pole which is a fine sight for the C to C walkers after the steepish pull up the grass slope. The lower HF bands were working well but 20m was full of a contest with no place for a QRP station.
Two metres SSB went well but struggled with a usually strong Don RQL down in Devon. Eventually completed the exchange, watched by a interested local. As we finished he said ‘are you bouncing signals off something?’ pointing at the antenna. We looked up and sure enough the antenna was pointing north having slipped round its fixing in the wind. We had not looked up and had peaked up the signal off the back of the beam! Sorry Don. When we turned the visitor was striding off across the summit plateau. Nice to catch Jimmy 2E0EYP/P on Harter Fell and congratulate him and Tom on their English Summits completion, Tom was on HF so no contact as the HF system was already down and stowed. There were lots of interested visitors starting off on the C to C walk but we felt for a lady from the midlands bringing up the rear, who spoke to us as we descended. ‘Is the Lake District all like this’ she gasped apparently not having visited the area before. Not wishing to be negative we said ‘you will see it all when you get to the top of this slope’. Just hope all goes well for her.
Well that’s the finish of a busy month with some truly awful summer weather hopefully we may have an ‘Indian Summer’ but we’re not holding our breath!
Take care out there
Rob and Audrey
CW REPORT FOR JULY 2012 - by Roy G4SSH
Without a doubt, July 2012 was the worst month for SOTA chasing that I have encountered since I started in 2006. Reading through the various activation reports shows that activators and chasers alike struggled with conditions, often having problems even qualifying the summit, with severe QSB resulting in strong signals suddenly becoming unreadable. Up here in North Yorkshire the 40m band has been steady with S5 of static from 1000-1600 UTC daily, making most activators unreadable on this band. Even regulars such as Jurg HB9BAB and Jurg HB9BIN with 100w have been inaudible (although signal strength here improved with the return of the dipole instead of a buddi-pole or loop, Jurg). The only saving grace has been that the majority of activators moved up to 10 and 14 MHz and above, (quite a few are now using 10118 and 14062 KHz only) where conditions were much better, but there were many OK
s OEs and HB9`s below S5 that remained totally inaudible to me on 7 MHz,
I am grateful that there are another 2 local SOTA chasers to confirm the state of the 40m band, otherwise I would be checking my rig and antenna. However, conditions did start to improve during the past few days with background noise on 40m decreasing to around S4. Roll on Autumn !!
There were many regular SOTA activations during the month, in spite of poor propagation and some outstanding expeditions. Congratulations to Sake PA0SKP and Hans PA3FYG who made a 3 day expedition to the Ardennes to celebrate 5 years of SOTA Belgium at the beginning of the month. They managed to work all eight planned ON summits, plus one extra in France.
There were two magnificent expedition by Roger F5LKW who activated 7 summits in 3 days between the 23rd and 25th He then followed this by another tour of six summits on the 30-31st These high scoring summits involved Roger in sleep-overs out on the mountains.
A top highlight of the month were the many expeditions by Jurg HB9BIN and Kurt HB9AFI who made chasers very happy by activating from different countries. They were active 2 or 3 times per day, operating simultaneously on 7, 10 and 14 MHz, so ensuring that chasers had a good chance on one of the bands whatever the propagation. This popular dual or triple band operation from individual SOTAs was also seen from Pablo EA4TX and Moises EA4MZ on the 7th, Michal OK/OM4DA and Igor OK/OM3CUG also on the 7th.
There were also many examples of activators operating from one country then jumping over the border fence to activate the same summit from another country to the delight of chasers. Examples were OM3CUG from OM and OK, G4OBK from DL and OE, OE6RDD from OE and S5, and Hannes HB9AGO from HB and DL.
As usual in July, SOTA activations increased once the school holidays started. There were many cross-border and holiday expeditions and weekend CW activity began to exceed the 100 points-per-day level. It was a pleasure to hear increased activity from CT Portugal (with many uniques) and OM Slovakia towards the end of the month and Ignacio EA2BD appeared from Malta, Heinz OE5EEP from W7-land and Catalin YO9FWO from Corsica. There were even activations from GB10SOTA (Roger MW0IDX on Snowdon) and HB9SOTA in Switzerland.
Heard active above 40m were:-
28 MHz: F6HBI, OK1DIG, HB9BCB
24 MHz F6ARL, LA1ENA, HB9BCB
21 MHz: VK3WAM, EA4TX, OK/OM3CUG, OM3CUG, G4ASA,
KI6J, WO6M, OK1DIG, HB9BCB
18 MHz: M0TUB, EA2/F5UKL, S57X, N1EU, OE/G4OBK, DL/G4OBK, KI6J, W1PNS, OK1DIG, HB9BCB, OM7TC, DJ5AA, OH6FME, OH6FQI,
CT1BQH, CT1BWW, CT7/G4OIG,
DK4TN, DL/HB9BIN, DK7KU, DF0AAA, DL/Z35M, DL/G4OBK, DJ5AA, DL/HB9BRJ, DK1HW, MM0FMF
EA2/F5UKL, EA2BD, EA4/OM2TW, EA4MZ, EA1AER,
F6ARL, F6EWB, F5LKW, F5UOW,
G0PEB, GW3VQO, GB10SOTA, G4ASA, G4RQJ, G4RDQ, MO1EYP, MM0GYX,
HB9BIN, HB9HVK, HB9SOTA, HB9BCB, HB9BQU, HB9BRJ, HB9IAB
LA1ENA, LA8BCA, LA1EBA,
OE5EIN, OE3KAB, OE/G4OBK, OE2SNL, OE/DK7MG, OE6KYG,
OK1DVM, OK2BWB, OK/OM4AA, OK/OM3CUG, OK1DIG, OK1FFU,
OM/OK2SAM, OM3CUG, OM1LD,
KA7TN, KD9C, KD9KC, K7SO, KD7WPJ, K0JQZ, KI6J, KD7WP, KX7L, K6TW, KR7C, KR7W, KI6J, KH2TJ,
NM5S, NE1SJ, N1EU, N6ZA, NM5SW, ND0C, NG7A. NG7IL, NM5TW,
WW1X, WO6M, WS0TA, W7TAO, WO6M, W7/OE5EEP, W6/OE5EEP, WS0TA, W1PNS, WI2W, WF4I,
VA2OTA, VA2VL, VA2SG,
S53XX, S57XX, S57X, S53CU,
DL6DH, DK4TN, DJ5AA, DK1HW, DK1IO, DK7KU, DC8MH, DK7MG, DL4MHA, DF0AAA, DL/HB9CGA, DL/HB9DGV, DL/G4OBK, DK7ZH DL4MHA, DL/HB9AGO, DL/HB9BRJ,
F6HBI, F5UBH, F5LKW, TM7TDF, F5UKL.
MM0FMF, M0TUB, M1EYP, MW1EYP, G4RQJ, GD4RQJ, GW3VQO, GB10SOTA, G4ASA, G0HIO,
HA2PP, HA7UL, HA1AG, HA5LV, HA5MA,
HB9CGA, HB9BQU, HB9TVK, HB9DST, HB9AFI, HB9AGO, HB9BCB,
LA1ENA, LA1EBA, LA8BCA, LA/SM0HPL,
OE/DK7MG, OE8SPK, OE8GBK, OE3KAB, OE/G4OBK, DL/G4OBK, OE3CHC,
OK/OM6TC, OK1DVM, OK1DDQ, OK/OM4AA/P, OK1DIG, OK3EQ, OK/HA2VR
OM/OK2SAM, OM/OK2HIJ, OM/OK2VWB, OM/HA5QZ, OM6TC,
S53XX, S57X, S57XX,
Also thanks to the stalwarts who enthusiastically continue to activate on 80 and 160m:-
3.5 MHz HB9HVK, HB9DGV, G0PEB, DC8MH, N6ZA,
1.8 MHz GX0OOO,
Heard active on expeditions outside their own countries were:
DL/HB9AFI, DL/HB9BIN, DL/HA6QR, DL/HB9DGV, DL/Z354M, DL/HB9CZSF, DL/HB9CGA, DL/HB9DGV, DL/G4OBK, DL/PA0SKP, DL/HB9AGO, DL/HB9BRJ,
EA2/F5UKL, EA4/OM2TW, DL/HB9CMI,
IX1/I1ABT, IX1/HB9AFI, IX1/HB9BIN.
OE/DK7MG, OE/DF1AI, OE/G4OBK,
OK/OM6TC, OK/DL6UNF, OK/OM3CUG, OK/OM4DA, OK/HA2VR,
OM/OK2SAM, OM/OK2HIJ, OM/OK2VWB, OM/HA5CQZ,
(Note from editor:- The above listings are simply a representative sample of SOTA CW activity for the month, copied from my own SOTA CW QSOs and information on the Spots page of SOTA Watch. It is a one man job and I cannot note every single call, especially as I am often away from home in summer, operating as G4SSH/A. I receive a few e-mails from activators every month, after publication, asking why their calls were omitted from the list; this is not deliberate and your call will be added after publication should you wish).
I am a pretty tolerant person when it comes to CW pile-ups; where the number one secret for success is perfect timing. I will happily sit and listen to chasers calling over the top of the activator and wait until the final QRZ? then drop my call in just once and be on my way. However last month has seen the emergence of a small minority of SOTA chasers who are causing major disruption. The first group see a spot appear then immediately commence sending their call on the posted spot frequency without bothering to listen for the activator and I have had them stamp all over my contact at least half a dozen times during the month. On a couple of occasions I had to pointedly tell the activator ‘TNX QSO in spite of QRM from xxxxx’. Enthusiasm I can tolerate, deliberate bad manners I cannot.
The other small group of chasers are all from the same country and it is not so much a case of poor manners as poor training. This group send their call twice in the pile up, followed by the name of the activator. When they eventually make contact they again send their call twice and the name of the activator, give a report and 73 then repeat their call another twice. Gentlemen PLEASE, the name of the activator has no place in the initial call up; this causes unnecessary QRM and generates great frustration amongst the chasers. Sending your call 6 times for one contact is also inexcusable.
In complete contrast to the poor operating standards are the efforts of a few recent newcomers to SOTA CW, both activators and chasers who are always a pleasure to listen to. Slow speed is no handicap and the vast majority of activators and chasers will welcome them to SOTA and always reply at their speed.
One final SOTA chaser worth a mention because he always makes me smile is the person who sends his call at about 30wpm, at which speed he cannot control the dots, which fly out from his auto-key as if from a machine gun and corrupt his call. If he cannot send his own call correctly then what chance does the activator have?
Is there no end to the uses of old Morse code? I found this news flash on the Internet:
'An unmanned Japanese cargo rocket headed for the International Space Station this week carrying some unusual cargo. In addition to regular supplies, the vehicle contains some tiny, cube-shaped satellites that, when deployed, will send Morse code messages, visible in the night sky.
One of these mini satellites, known as cubesats, has the job of helping researchers test optical communication techniques in satellites. The cubesat will use LEDs to first twinkle like an artificial star and eventually blink in Morse code. It weighs just under three pounds and carries high output, 200 watt LEDs that will turn the cube into a flashing Morse code beacon.
Project leader Takushi Tanaka, an FIT professor of computer science and engineering explained that the Morse code flashes should be observable by the unaided eye or with small binoculars. It is expected the FITSAT-1 will be deployed from the ISS on September 6, by Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, using the Kibo module’s robotic arm’.
(and the night sky would make a wonderful backdrop for the flashing CW to send ‘Eat at MacDonalds’ - Ed)
CONTESTS DURING AUGUST 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.
4th 1200-2359 EU HF Championship CW & SSB
11th -12th 0001-2359 Worked all EU CW DX Contest
18th-19th 0001-1600 SARTG WW RTTY Contest
25th- 26th 1200-1200 YO DX Contest
SOTA News is normally published at 1200 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 28th 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 that you advise me if any information is not intended for publication.
SOTA News Editor
North American input to:-
Australian input to:-