SOTA NEWS AUGUST 2008
EDITORIAL by Roy G4SSH
Welcome to the August edition of SOTA News, which has quite an international flavour this month with contributions from activators and chasers in no less than 7 different countries. My thanks to Roger MWOIDX, Matthias DL1JMS, Andy MM0FMF, Dave M0DFA, Norby LX1NO, Klaus DF2GN, Roger F5LKW, Tom M1EYP, Zoli HA5CQZ and Rob G4RQJ.
SOTA AWARDS ISSUED By Roger MW0IDX, SOTA Awards Manager.
500 activator 05/07/08 Mario HB9HAT
250 chaser 06/07/08 Roy G0SLR
1000 Shack Sloth 04/03/07 Quentin GW3BV
250 chaser unique 11/09/07 Quentin GW3BV
100 chaser unique 06/07/08 Andy G8MIA
100 chaser 12/07/08 John M0EAV
2500 chaser 12/07/08 Nick G0HIK
250 chaser 14/07/08 John G0TDM
500 activator 13/07/08 Steve 2E0KPO
1000 chaser 15/07/08 Marc G0AZS
1000 activator 24-09-07 Myke G6DDQ
500 chaser 19/07/08 Eduard HB3YNE
100 activator 27/07/08 Chris M0TES
1000 chaser 17/02/08 Thomas DO2TV
500 chaser John G0TDM 29/07/08
1000 Chaser Danny ON4ON, op at OQ1C
Many congratulations to all of the above on the award of your certificate / Trophy
Congratulations also to Ambrosi HB9AGH and Phil G4OBK on passing the 2000 Unique summits chaser milestone.
Most readers will be aware that Roger is shortly stepping down from the post of SOTA awards manager and treasurer. I am sure that I speak for many activators, chasers and SWL’s when I thank Roger for the magnificent service he has provided for many years, especially in the prompt way in which awards have been processed.
Many thanks Roger and perhaps we shall hear MW0IDX becoming a regular in the chaser pile-up’s in the future.
A very warm welcome is extended to his successor Barry GM4TOE.
5TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS By Matthias DL1JMS
SOTA the Association German Low Mountain Range ‘Deutsche Mittelgebirge’ started at 01. August 2003. Five years SOTA in Germany! We want to celebrate the day with these SOTA weekend activities. We invite all radio amateurs of active SOTA associations to take part. The activity days are more a party then a contest. We wish all participants a lot of fun.
Organizer: Association, 'SOTA DM – Germany [Low Mountains]
Date: 2nd and 3rd August 2008
Time: Start 2nd August 06.00 UTC
End: 3rd August 20:00 UTC
Best 73 Matthias DL1JMS
New Activators in Scotland.
A hearty welcome to two new activators in Scotland. Alan 2M0TXY and
Seamus 2M0OVV have been active on a couple of hills in the last month
where they have accompanied experienced SOTA activator Allan MM1BJP on
Ben Lomond GM/SS-011 and Beinn an Lochain GM/SS-018. Both have been
operating on 2m FM. I haven’t had a contact with either Alan or Seamus
yet but look forward to the chance of working them S2S soon.
GM association manager.
SOTA SSB REPORT by Nigel G6SFP
I have made the car journey through France from Boulogne to the French Alps many times, and given the choice I would always prefer to drive than fly, its so much more civilised. What I never expected was just how much fun the journey could be when SOTA was added into the equation. To make navigation easy all of the summits where programmed into a Tom-Tom GPS and this routed us to each summit perfectly…
The first activation on the 19th July was F/NO-026 Mont Le Communale near Boulogne with just 6 ssb contacts on 20m The activation area was easy to find and with lots of places to setup the antenna…
The second activation Mont Sinai F/NO-042 was a 2 hour drive near to Reim. This summit was a short walk from a car park in the woods. There we found what appeared to be old concrete gun placements with a view over the surrounding area. It was difficult finding enough space to setup the antenna in the heavy woods. 5 ssb contacts were made on 20m and 21 ssb contacts on 40m. The summit itself was not very inspiring, but the surrounding area was beautiful. On the route up to Mont Sinai we passed a Champagne Vineyard, which conducts tours and we ear marked this for the next trip. The route down from Mont Sinai towards our next destination Troyes, took us through endless fields and beautiful villages. This is what really made the trip enjoyable, getting off the motorway and into the countryside. My wife spent the entire journey deciding which house she was going to buy, quickly superseded by the next stunning discovery.
After another couple of hours we reached Troyes and spent the rest of the day in the Parc Naturel Régional de la Forêt d’Orient. This is well worth a visit and my daughter had great fun playing on the beach and swimming in the lake.
The next day we followed a similar pattern and stopped at F/NO-016 Bois du Mont where I made 18 contacts on 20m ssb and F/NO-002 Le Haut du Sec with 15 contacts on 20m ssb…Once again the gps routed us through tiny villages and beautiful countryside. We were continually struck by the lack of traffic. F/NO-001 is also very close to F/NO-002, but by this time we really wanted to get home to our final destination in Les Houches, Haut Savoie.
GLASGWM (GW/NW-015) Report (SSB alive and well!) by Dave M0DFA
The first fine day for well over a week, so its off to Glasgwm. I approached from Cwm Cywarch (see route description under the summit heading) and took about 1hr 40mins for the ascent. I was able to self-spot (T-Mobile) from the summit, although it was a little temperamental. Vodafone also showed a good signal, but I didn’t attempt to use it.
80m SSBB brought G0RQL, G0NES (deep QSB reported) G4JZF, GW4BVE (and even after all these years I am still relieved to get the first 4 QSO’s in the log) and GW0DSP. A change to 40M SSB brought one new QSO (DF5WA) and repeats from GW4BVE and G0RQL. More changes to the aerial for 20M SSB and after a slow start, a mini pile-up ensued with QSO’s with SM6CMU, DJ5AV (thanks for assistance with a couple of QSO’s and for pointing out to another station that the frequency was in use) DL3JPN, DL7RAG, DL9KI, GW4BVE (a full house) S51ZG, HB9AGH, OK1AOV and S53X. I believe this is the first report of 20M QSO’s from this summit. Not a bad haul for 5 watts from my FT817 and a stepped dipole aerial.
To return, I descended the line of the fence on the north side of the summit. It’s much less unpleasant to ascend this route than descend it, and I won’t be doing it again. The reason was to look at the route down from the (very boggy) coll at SH842200 to Cwm Cywarch as part of a route off Aran Fawddwy, having ascended via Hengwm and Drysgol. Its not desperately steep, but it is rocky in places and a bit wet in others.
I followed this up with a short drive to SH905213 which could be the start of a route onto NW-031 via the path along the valley and up the line of the fence from SH885230.
Many thanks to all who called in, and apologies to DK4MO who disappeared before I could complete the QSO.
ANALYSE THE PILE-UP by Rob G4RJQ
Noticed recently that one or two prospective CW operators have been
put off by tales of bad behaviour on the mode, don’t be! It’s all part
of natural life. If there was no pile up there would be no skill or
entertainment in cracking it.
Imagine it as a supermarket. You arrive at the checkouts to find a
ten deep queue at each till. Some people will jump and shout until
they are served, everyone will hate them! Some will stand patiently in
line and will be served in due time, a little boring but sometimes
necessary. Others will keep their eyes (ears) open for an opportunity,
a new till opening, a queue finishing quickly, something to get them
through with the minimum fuss. The rest will be envious and wish they
had thought of it. That basically is a CW pileup. There’s nothing
better than putting in your call at just the right moment and knowing
he’ll come back to you rather than all the rest.
On the hill you run the till! Deal with it as you would deal with
the customers above, some may not be happy, make sure you are, that’s
what it’s all about. Please don’t give up though, imagine what the
queues would be like then!
With apologies to those who suffer my mistakes as a CW chaser and
PS. I always carry and use a 4ele beam for 2m and ALWAYS try SSB and FM
on that band. HF sideband other than 5Mhz I may try again in the
future when conditions start to favour 3w of SSB with no spotlite
IOTA CONTEST, THE SOTA WAY, by Norby LX1NO.
Although I checked the WX forecast daily during the week before the IOTA contest took place, it looked more like a no-go. In the meantime, I continued my preparations.
Friday showed up and I had a day with plenty of meetings and not much time to check the forecast. Nevertheless, at about 1730, I decided to give it a try. The overall plan was to verify which distance I could cover on one full tank and the IOTA contest would be 12 hour activity with some SOTA refs on the way back home. I left home at 0330 and arrived at the planned destination on Texel, EU-38, at 1000.
The antenna was a parallel feed line into 2x 10,5m, typically used for SOTA. The battery, a 100Ah model, still portable, but not easy to handle for SOTA The radio, an IC-7000, was a lot superior to my SOTA-857 but in my opinion too expensive to use for outdoor activities.
The contest activity, as such, was not different from other contests except that I had to do logging on paper. Luckily, I had some practice due to some SOTA activities.
Unfortunately, abut 6,5h into the contest, the WX got pretty bad with quite some impressive lightening. This resulted in some undesired discharges within the equipment. I decided to give in, disconnected the antenna and decided to take a nap. The flashes continued during the whole night until 0530 on Sunday morning. I continued until 0700 since I wanted to take the 8 o’clock ferry. The 100Ah battery was still going strong and I am pretty sure that it would have lasted the full 12h of activity.
At 1200, I arrived on NS-041 and set-up the same antenna again but with a smaller battery and the usual 857. It was tremendously hot and sticky with the temperature about 30°C. When I started to pack up, Mario DL4MFM showed up and together, we drove to NS-108. That’s a nice place but unfortunately, there was barely any wind again
Finally, we packed things up and took refreshments. Mario and I shook hands and I headed back home. There was plenty of rain again and lots of flashes. Nevertheless, I made it home on one tank having covered some 1300km, with some 170km left
It was good to have been able to include had SOTA into an overall preparation for some portable contest activity.
Thanks to those SOTA people who called me during the contest.
73 Norby LX1NO
Dear SOTA Friends.
You can visit the F/CR-272 webpage: http://cwthf.free.fr/cr272.html
You’ll watch film about our QSO, pictures and video.
Have a nice visit.
73 QRO - Roger - F5LKW - SOTA homepage: http://cwthf.free.fr
HILL OF THE MONTH By Tom M1EYP…
This is a peculiar little hill! Standing at just 262m ASL,
it is dwarfed by its near neighbours in Snowdonia, as well
as being blocked from the VHF-rich North-West of England.
It achieves Marilyn status courtesy of the sea (Tremdog Bay)
on one side, and a railway line running under 25m ASL on the
other. Thus, this small hill still demands at least 800
feet of ascent from any route.
The most common approach is from the lay-by at SH561389, on
the western edge of the town of Porthmadog. A pleasant
woodland amble soon turns to a steep pull up to the eastern
end of the summit ridge. From here, you can follow a faint
track on spongy ground in deep vegetation around the
northern lip of the hill, or progress more directly over the
higher rockier ground, requiring a little very mild
scrambling and some downs as well as ups due to the
undulating nature of the path.
Other public footpaths lead towards the hill from the minor
roads to the south of the summit, and appear more graded to
begin with, but there are reports that the final approach to
the summit from this side is not particularly pleasant or
The views from the top on a clear day in good weather are
stunning. To the East are the mountains of Snowdonia, with
Snowdon itself characterised by the appearance of a bright
star on its summit, caused by the sun reflecting off the
glass panes on the new summit cafe. To the North is the
Island of Anglesey, while to the West is the Irish Sea at
Tremodag Bay and the Lleyn Peninsular, with its own SOTA
summits stretching out from Yr Eifl to Mynydd Enlli on
Bardsey Island. Several large rock outcrops on the summit
may offer a higher “summit” point than the base of the OS
Two hours should be sufficient to complete a round trip
including SOTA activation on this hill, but it is a nice
spot worthy of more time if desired. As mentioned, it would
be difficult to reach the usual population centres on 2m
(especially FM) from this summit, so an HF activation may
suit. However, there are a few active amateurs in the
Porthmadog area, so you may be lucky (as I was) and catch
them in the middle of their evening chat net.
The ideal summit to kick-off a weekend in Snowdonia if
arriving afternoon/early evening. The Snowdon Ranger Youth
Hostel is only a short drive away afterwards, and there are
numerous camping and B&B options in the vicinity.
Photographs of the summit are available here:
73 Tom M1EYP
Friedrichshafen by Andy MM0FMF
I’ve been going to this rally for the past 17 years. I’ve done it by
car, by motor-home and by air. You can fly direct to Friedrichshafen
from Stansted with Ryanair. However, getting to Stansted is a pain for
me so like last year I caught a cheap flight to Munich from Edinburgh
and then picked up a hire car and drove the 140miles.
Friedrichshafen is situated on The Bodensee, a huge fresh water lake fed
by Alpine melt water. The lakeside area of the town features numerous
bars and restaurants serving excellent food and beer at reasonable
prices. There are plenty of hotels both in Friedrichshafen and the many
picturesque towns around the lake. However, the radio rally is popular
so it pays to book early if you don’t want to end up too far from town.
The rally is held in a new exhibition centre which opened around 2003.
Situated at the airport, the exhibition centre is huge, similar in size
to the NEC at Birmingham. There’s large car parks and like the previous
exhibition centre, it’s possible to camp at the site. Although in my
case, advancing years means I’m happy to pay for a hotel room now.
There’s a free air-conditioned bus from just outside the hotel to the
exhibition centre. That’s needed as it was hot and sunny, exceeding 30C
on my last day. That’s a novelty for someone who lives at 56N of the
The rally takes place over three days and it really isn’t possible to do
it justice in only one day. The fleamarket fills two and half huge halls
and there always is a vast range of wares on display. Of course one
man’s junk is another man’s desire but there really is everything from
modern computer goods to 1920’s vintage radio. I’ve always been more
interested in VHF and microwaves than HF and there’s plenty of VHF and
upwards gear to sift through. It’s not like Weinheim (a major VHF/UHF
event) but there’s always something. This year out of the fleamarket I
got six brand new LiPo 2200mAhr cells for about £4, a USB soundcard, yet
another Bluetooth dongle, assorted components for the LiPo charger and a
nice loading capacitor for a single valve glowbug transmitter I’m
The main hall has stands by the big three (Kenwood, Icom and Yaesu) plus
lots of other new equipment dealers, radio emporia and booksellers. Also
the many national radio societies have their stands in this hall. The
RSGB did brisk trade with their books. You can take your QSL cards to
the ARRL stand for DXCC checking while you wait. Of course DARC (the
German RSGB) have a huge presence, with numerous stands feature youth
projects, satellites, DTV, DXing and just plain old rag chewing.
There’s quite a few places to eat on site but the majority choose to eat
outside. With the sun cracking down, you need to sit under the sunshades
but a good range of simple yet wholesome fare is on offer consisting of
pork, pork, pork, pork, ham, pork, chicken, bread and potatoes. All
washed down with some cracking ice-cold German beer!
I wanted to meet a fair few SOTA people who would be there but sadly I
met nobody I knew. As usual I met many of my European colleagues but no
SOTA people. I didn’t see a single SOTA logo the entire time I was there
and foolishly forgot to study the Flickr group before hand so I didn’t
know who to look for. I was hoping to meet up with Mike GW0DSP, INKy and
Mick 'HJD but it wasn’t to be with Mike’s back problems affecting their
I stayed for an extra day this year with my friends and we took a trip
to Bregenz, Austria on the lake cruisers. A lovely 2hr trip and then up
to the top of Pfaender OE/VB-512 on the cable car. It’s a few minutes to
stroll to the summit where I tried a simple handheld operation. Despite
calling on 2m for 15mins, nobody wanted to play and I resorted to a
contrived qualifying of the summit by sending my travelling companions
down to the restaurant and working them some 50m or so below.
All in all another truly enjoyable annual trip. I was looking forward to
being the first activator of Pfaender but I should have realised that
such an easy summit would get worked before me by one of the other 17095
hams who came to the rally! Drat.
This is a view NE from the Pfaender summit looking at OE/VB summits.
About 10secs after launching from the rally. This carried TV and data
transpoders. Pictures from the balloon were shown at the DARC stand
along with the height and track overlaid onto Google Earth.
This shows hall B2. The fleamarket fills halls B1, B2 and half of B3. A
huge range of goodies on offer.
The Yaesu stand in the new radio hall. Lots of interest in the FT9000’s
on display. Best of all my Yaesu VX-1 belt clip snapped actually by this
stand. A quick question to the staff and they sent me a new one free of
charge. Excellent service on an 11 year old radio!
The Palm Radio guy’s have this portable FT-817 setup. I guess they don’t
carry it up too many summits as it wasn’t light. Palm Paddle and
Vibroplex bug keys on show too.
What nearly was and could have been. The high priced, high spec
Hilberling PT8000. The style police banned it due to its upfront styling.
The new Yaesu do everything handheld. 50MHz/144MHz/220MHz/430MHZ
upto 5W, builtin APRS 1200/9600bps TNC, GPS mic, waterproof. No price!
CQ WW VHF 2008 in HA by Zoli HA5CQZ
The story has began 3 years ago. On a ham rally Feri HA5AND has brought
the CQ WW VHF contest (http://www.cqww-vhf.com/) to the attention
of the SOTA-HA community. This contest is held each year on 3rd full
weekend in July. There are enough VHF contests around, the reason for
this one being so special is that it features a Hilltopper category.
Contesting from a hilltop: well, it is almost SOTA. Almost, since the rules
for this category are not that restrictive: get up on any hill and operate.
The ascent doesn’t have to be man-powered and mains power can also be used.
There is one point however, where the contest’s rules are more strict:
the output power is limited to 10W. Additionally the operating time for Hilltoppers
shall not exceed 6 hours. Although this contest is mostly US-based
browsing the scores of past years one can spot some familiar callsigns
like SM1TDE, G3CWI or OE1CWA.
Thus a nice SOTA trip to a high mountain summit can be effectively combined
with doing some contesting. In order to provide some driving force
the highest scoring HA station is awarded by a 5W solar panel. Unfortunately
in HA 6 meters is not allowed to operate from portable, so we are restricted
to use the 2 m band. The activity concentrates on Sunday morning when
there are also OK, OM and 9A activities going on, generating nice traffic
on the otherwise dead SSB segment.
In 2006 we had 5 Hilltopper stations, among them the most prolific HA activator
Gabor HA1DTQ operating the special callsign HG2006GYR. He set a world record
for the category. The same level of activity remained in 2007, albeit with
lower scores. This year, however, the were over 10 Hilltoppers all around
the country. Most of them were operating according to SOTA rules. I guess there
was not such a single day with so many HA activators on the air. Wed had
a very good time by combining the best of SOTA activity and contesting.
SOTA CW REPORT - August 2008 by Roy G4SSH
There has been a lot of discussion on the reflector this month with regard to the legality of using the internet to log onto a remote receiver in Holland in order to improve reception of SOTA activations. The advantage to chasers is obvious because most home base stations use 100 watts, which generally gives a good signal all around Europe, whereas activators typically us 5w QRP or less. This means that the biggest difficulty facing a chaser is hearing the activator, so using a remote receiver would appear to be the ideal solution to the problem, especially for chasers who live in a noisy location.
However this is not for me. I may have been using CW for more than 50 years but I still feel a glow of pride and satisfaction when completing a CW QSO. The thrill comes from using my skill, self training and experience to make the contact and the more difficult the exercise the greater the satisfaction. Struggling with a weak and fading CW QRP signal can be difficult at times, and some will get away, but the exhilaration felt when success is achieved cannot be gained by use of an internet connection.
The trend to move away from 7032 KHz continued throughout the month of July,
with more activators commenting on 20m, then dropping to 30m and then 40m., Heard active on 20m were DF2GN, DH8DX, F5UKL, LA1KHA, F6ENO, F5UKL, DL/.LX1NO, TK/F8BBL, OK1CYC, LA1KHA, HA5UL, DL4FO, LB1GB, S51ZG, and DL1DVE.
A warm welcome is extended to the following stations heard active using CW for the first time during July:- Hakan SM6EQO, Hans SM3TLG, DM4A (DL4MFM), Janez S51ZG, Club stn SK6OEK, Jiri OK1AOV, Mats SM7BUA, Jozsef HA6OY and Feri HA7UL. The rise in popularity of SOTA is prompting renewed interest in CW as new chasers realise the advantages of the mode, which encourages other activators to try CW for themselves.
Newcomers who are concerned about encountering a pile-up on their first CW activation should start on a band where there are not many chasers. Activators are using CW on different bands now, so you have a good chance of making CW contacts on 2m and even 70cm, where a group of enthusiasts such as G3OHC, G4OWG, GW4OIG, G4BLH, and G4OBK are actively encouraging the use of CW on this band. Tom M1EYP is trying out CW on 50 MHz and on HF the best place to start with CW would be around 10118 KHz
If I were to nominate a favourite band of the month it would, without doubt, be 30m, which is a haven of peace compared to 40m, which is suffering from high noise and rapid fading at this time of low sunspot activity. In addition to a low background noise there are no contests on 30m, few data transmissions and lots of open space.
As a chaser I have been monitoring these two bands for the past 3 years and my own observations typically show an increase of two to three S-points when an activator moves from 7032 to 10118 KHz, which often means the difference between making the QSO and failure. For any activator using QRP the use of this band is essential. In terms of miles-per-watt it stands head and shoulders above 40m, a fact which is well known by experienced activators and recently the newcomers from S5. From the chasers perspective it has been responsible for me gaining almost 4000 points on this band alone.
Looking back 12 months the numbers of activators using 30m could be counted on the fingers of one hand, whereas heard active on 30m during the month of July were:- : GD4RJQ, HA5CQZ, S57XX, S57X, SM6EQO, F5UKL, DH8DX, DF2GN, OE8GBK, S53X, S51ZG, GW0DSP, SM6PXJ, SM6EQO, DJ3AX, LX1NO, GD4RQJ, G4OBK, DL4CW, G0AZS, LA1KHA, HB9AFH, S50NV, LB1GB, G4RJQ, SM3TLG.
There were cross border expeditions during July by: Lutz, OE/DJ3AX, Norby DL/LX1NO, F/LX1NO, Fried, S5/OE8GBK and Gerard F/PA1AT.
From Klaus DF2GN
After getting my June bill for my mobile phone, I will reduce the use of Spotlite in future. This means only one spot at the beginning of an activation, or starting on 7032 KHz.
If I send one spot at the beginning I will put in all QRG’s in order.
I will QSY as listed, then .if I have not more than 50 or 60 QSO’s in the log I will repeat all the QRG’s again in the same order.
If no Spotlite, I will do every time this order =
Hope to cu soon
VY 73 Klaus
(On the 20th July Klaus was experimenting with his usual efficient antennas and 120 watts output, which almost blew my speakers across the shack – what a signal !!)
I am puzzled by the antics of some chasers who arrive on a frequency which has just been spotted and immediately start sending “SOTA?” to the fury of other chasers who are struggling to read a weak activator. These stations obviously do not know the first rule of amateur radio which is “If you cannot hear a station you cannot work them”.
The selfish behaviour of some well-known chasers are becoming increasingly annoying to the vast majority of chasers who will patiently wait until the activator ends before sending their call. Having had a reply from an activator stamped all over by one of these stations sending his call without be able to read the exchange I am now starting to say “Sri but QRM5 from…” and naming the offender. Enough is enough.
LIST OF CONTESTS during August:-
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.
2nd 1200-2359 EU HF Championship CW & SSB
9th-10th 0001-2359 Worked all EU CW DX Contest
16th-17th 0800-0800 RDA Contest CW & SSB
16th-17th 0001-2359 International Lighthouse Weekend CW SSB
17th 0800-1600 SARG WW RTTY Contest
SOTA News 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 to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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, and your input will be most welcome.
SOTA News Editor