SOTA NEWS AUGUST 2011
EDITORIAL – by Roy G4SSH
Welcome to the August 2011 edition of SOTA News. My thanks go to the following contributors:- Barry GM4TOE, Fred K6DGW, Martin DF3MC, Ric M0LEP, Phil G4OBK, Mark G0VOF, Jason HL4FZ, Rob and Audrey G4RQJ.
The job of SOTA News editor is similar to many other jobs, where a typical month will consist of 28 days of routine monitoring (of the SOTA bands) occasional queries, and 2 days of frantic panic when the in-box fills with contributions from around the world, which includes input from regular contributors and newcomers who have waited until the deadline before submitting a first report.
In many respects the routine is becoming a reflection of SOTA Watch, especially at weekends, when the Alerts and Spots pages fill with HL activators in the early hours, sweep across the globe to take in mainland Europe in the early morning and the UK during the mid-day period; finally showing USA and Canadian activations towards later afternoon (UTC).
Having just received the regular news reports from Korea, the UK, Europe, Canada and the USA, I feel that SOTA is really becoming international.
SOTA AWARDS FOR JULY 2011 By Barry GM4TOE - SOTA Awards Manager
July has been a quiet month for awards but this has allowed me to get out activating at long last! Congratulations to Richard G1JTD on his Mountain Goat and Cosme EA4DTV on his Shack Sloth. Prolific Chaser, HB9BIN, has passed the 10000 point mark and GW4CQZ has achieved the Shack Sloth target of 1000 points. Special mention this month to Robert G6ODU who receives the first Mountain Hunter certificate for VHF and above, this is in addition to his Mountain Hunter Gold award for HF operation.
Congratulations to all claimants on their achievements, these high scores demand a definite level of commitment, as well as untold skill in winkling out weak signals from the Activators perched on a summit. To those who say that the Chaser has the easier side of the bargain, in terms of physical effort this may be true but, once on a summit, in my experience the Activator has a much better end of the deal with relatively strong signals and very much reduced QRM (mind you the weather is a great leveller in these circumstances!).
G1JTD Richard Mountain Goat
EA4DTV Cosme Nunez Shack Sloth
OE6BHE Heiko Barber 250 points
VA2SG Jean-Pierre Couture 100 points
HB9BIN Dr. Jurg Regli 10000 points
EA4DTV Cosme Nunez 1000 points
GW4CQZ Martyn Doig 1000 points
M0LEP Rick Hewett 500 points
M1CNL Peter Tew 250 points
CT1BQH Joao Morgado 100 points
2E0CVU Paul Swingewood 100 points
G0NUP Kevin Prince 2500 summits
MW6BDV Barry Vile - Mountain Hunter Gold
G6ODU Robert Gum-Wah Leong - Mountain Hunter (V) Bronze
SV2HTC Katsavelis Dimitrios - Mountain Hunter Bronze
Many of you will be aware that costs are spiraling and the SOTA awards programme is not immune to these effects. The additional cost of postage, material costs and other charges faced for producing the awards means that the MT has had to review the charges for issuing certificates and trophies. The intention is to keep the costs as low as possible, we are much cheaper than many awards, and yet still maintain standards.
There was discussion about just issuing awards electronically as a pdf file but this diminution in standards is just not acceptable. Being in the art business I have found that many people will buy an unframed print with the intention of getting it framed at a later date; in most cases this just lies in a drawer and never finds its way onto a wall. It is much the same with electronic transfer of certificates (and in my mind, QSL cards) and SOTA wish to remain outside this situation. The upshot of this is that we must increase the costs of awards and trophies but not with immediate effect.
Prices will increase in September to £3.50 for certificates in the UK and mainland Europe (£3.75 Paypal) and £4.50 for DX (£4.75 Paypal) while trophies will increase to £30 in the UK (£32 Paypal), £32 in Europe (£34 Paypal) and £33 for DX (£35 Paypal).
There has been a delay in putting a SOTA shop online but I am in discussion with Andy, MM0FMF our database manager, to find a suitable host with the necessary bells and whistles so that the system can function with the minimum of intervention from me. It is also proposed to hold stock of SOTA merchandise in some overseas locations so that the high cost of postage can be minimized.
Following a meeting of the Management Team we hope to bring news of some different awards later in the year, just watch this space for an announcement!
Enjoy activating and chasing, hopefully the improvement in the weather will bring fair weather activators (me!) out onto the hills to offer different summits for the Chaser to claim. Stay safe, and for my colleagues in GM, remember the midge repellant (or contact me for a very stylish midge head net!)
Barry Horning GM4TOE
Congratulations also to:-
Iain MM3WJZ on achieving his Shack Sloth over weekend of 23-24th July
Phil G4OBK for his magnificent achievement in becoming the first person to activate every one of the 214 WOTA summits. (See Phil’s report).
Jurg HB9BAB on activating Altberg HB/ZH-015 for the 3000th time on the 22nd July, with very little in the way of activator points for himself. (I must have a fair number of those QSO’s in my chaser log Jurg – Ed).
NEW SUMMITS AND AN OLD ANTENNA – by Martin DF3MC
On August 1st a new version of the Association Reference Manual (V 2.1)
of SOTA-DL will become valid. Several “new” summits have been identified
and were included.
I am happy that “Der Stein” (“The Stone”) has been classified as DL/EW-059.
This small summit near lake-Kochelsee in Bavaria is of considerable
radio-historic significance: It was one of the points where a large
mountain antenna for a very low frequency radio station was fixed in the
1920 years. The other point was on the summit of “Herzogstand”,
DL/EW-022, and the antenna wires spanned several kilometres from one
summit to the other.
There are some remains of this antenna still visible even today and
these remains have been declared a ‘cultural heritage’ in 2010.
To celebrate the new summit and to honour the early radio pioneers I am
planning an activation of DL/EW-059 as soon as possible. I will use our
special Club Callsign DFØH – for “Funkstation am Herzogstand”, meaning
”Herzogstand Radio Station”. I used this callsign in an activation of DL/EW-022 on July 24th. My antenna was very close to the anchors of the old mountain antenna – but it was several magnitudes smaller.
See wikipedia (Funkstation am Herzogstand) or QRZ.com (DFØH) for details.
(Having worked you as DF0H on the 24th I look forward to a QSO from the “other end” Martin – Ed) (Later - TNX for the QSO from EW-059 on the 1st Martin).
MIXING SOTA WITH WOTA - By Phil G4OBK
It’s taking me a long time to become a Mountain Goat – the 1000 points are a long time coming. I started out activating and chasing for SOTA in 2005 and I’ve still got to reach 600 activator points, although I should reach that figure this month.
In March 2009 Julian G4ILO came up Wainwright’s On The Air (WOTA) and launched it to the amateur population via a website called www.wota.org.uk. This seemed to me to be a localised alternative to SOTA with the end goal being activating or chasing all 214 Lakeland summits, which are described in detail in the late A Wainwright’s seven pictorial guides to the English Lake District.
These tops were chosen not as in SOTA by their prominence, but for their viewpoint from the summit. By the late summer of 2009 I was finding a new interest in planning a series of fell walks which took in the 214 summits. The added benefit of this being that I could pick up SOTA activator points along the way. On July 22nd I became the first activator to climb the 214th fell. This was Rossett Pike, in Langdale and is quite close to Scafell Pike. I had qualified all Wainwrights summit with a simple 2m FM Yaesu Handheld and a G3CWI Rucksack Special vertical antenna (no longer manufactured). I had a great time along the way, and in the process I picked up 242 activator points for SOTA from a total of 58 walks, which included the 192 mile long Wainwright Coast to Coast Walk.
So what to do next ?
I will probably go back to concentrating on SOTA. I want to finish off activating the G/LD SOTA summits which are not Wainwrights and I’ll probably do those of 2m FM. I’ve got the Lake District in my blood now, so I guess I may also go over some Wainwright summits via different routes and take my time doing it. Then there are also the 116 Wainwright Outlying Fells which I want to visit – from these the views of the higher peaks are outstanding. I also want to get back into doing more HF activations in the North and South Pennine areas for SOTA. Later this month I hope to tackle the Yorkshire 3 peaks in one day as a challenge and activate Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough within the 12 hours.
At the rate I am going on it could well be 2015 before I reach the 1000 point Mountain Goat Award, but I still feel as the years go by that this is an award worth striving for.
73 Phil G4OBK
SOTA ON TOP BAND - Mark G0VOF
Hello everyone & welcome to this month’s edition of SOTA on Top Band. 160m activity was a little thin on the ground this month, with one notable exception. While summer generally means favourable weather conditions, propagation conditions on the low bands are usually at their worst, at least in the daytime.
Not to be undaunted, leading Top Band activator John G4YSS decided to combine an overnight activation of G/NP-008 Great Whernside, with a little non-competitive contest activity giving points away for VHF National Field Day. Of course, John took his usual QRO HF/MF gear with him & had a very successful activation indeed. This took place on a night that I would be away from my shack, but thanks to John, & with co-ordination from Roy G4SSH, I was very pleased to be able to work John on both Saturday & Sunday.
The best conditions on 160m are usually in the late evening or early morning so an overnight activation would give as many chasers as possible the chance of working John & the band did not disappoint. Despite an antenna fault that meant his SWR was very high, John still put out a very good signal with 50 Watts from his Icom IC706. On Saturday evening conditions good, & stations from as far a field as the Netherlands, Switzerland & Belgium were worked, with Peter ON2WAB being logged on both CW & SSB. John had a total of 26 QSO’s on Saturday evening, 15 using CW & 11 using SSB, a very respectable tally!
As I mentioned earlier I had to be away from my shack overnight on a Raynet exercise so immediately after working John I jumped on my bike & set off for the rendezvous point. The weather overnight was superb & I was quite envious of John up on Great Whernside, despite my own quite attractive surroundings. After arriving home after dawn, I managed to squeeze in a couple of hours sleep & woke in time to hear John’s CQ call just after his alerted time, he had unbeknown to me started half an hour earlier, so already had Phil G4OBK & Roy G4SSH logged by the time I worked him at 0634z.
Conditions on Sunday morning were much more like daytime with only 6 QSO’s, all using CW, logged on 160m. A comparison between my resonant vertical & 80m horizontal loop seemed to indicate that propagation at that time was mostly via ground-wave, with signals on the vertical being a consistent S9, while signals on my horizontal loop where varying between S4 & S9. The night before signal levels were pretty much the same on both antennas, although noise levels were lower on the vertical.
One station I was pleased to see in John’s log for Sunday was Mike G4BLH, who has not been fully QRV on HF from home for some time. I asked Mike later what antenna he had used to work John & it turned out he had used the coax feeder to his 10m beam with the outer screen disconnected at his ATU. It may not work well, but it certainly worked well enough for a QSO, so it may be something other chasers could consider if they do not have an antenna for 160m. When I activated G/SP-012 Easington Fell in April, Roy G4SSH worked me using a short, non-resonant vertical & about 10 Watts, in the middle of the day. The lesson here, if there is one, is that if you can hear an activator on Top Band it is definitely worth giving them a call, as chances are they will hear you as noise levels are generally much lower on summits, even if you have not much more than a few Watts of RF & a bit of wet string.
John had a very successful activation with a total of 174 QSO’s logged over the two days, with 32 of them on Top Band, a superb result!
John’s excellent & very detailed activation report is available on the reflector here:
Last month I asked what antennas other amateurs use on the band & the most common types for activators seem to be the half wave 160m dipole, as used by David G3RDQ & myself, the Inverted L with counterpoise, as used by Phil G4OBK & the loaded dipole, as used by John G4YSS. Few chasers will be fortunate enough to have room for a full size dipole so there will inevitably be a very wide variety of antennas used from home locations. They include modified G5RV’s, which in the case of Brian G8ADD is re-wired as a doublet, the inverted L, as used by Frank G3RMD, who also has a separate receive only loop, which is much less noisy, & many other antennas that are purely designed to fit in with an individual amateurs situation. Space will probably be the limiting factor for most people, but with a good ground system, relatively short verticals can work quite well, as of course will an Inverted L which at a quarter wavelength on 160m only needs to be about 39m (132 feet) total length, although that is still more space than many of us have available.
I have found my very untidy 50ft resonant sloping vertical does work very well, in fact much better than I could have hoped. Physically, it was originally a quarter wavelength of wire for 80m with an adjustable helically wound section at the top of an 11m carbon fibre fishing pole mounted at 5m AGL at the back of my house purely for 80m experimentation. I found I could load this near the base & make it resonant on 160m, with the same adjustable helical section around the top 2m of the pole for tuning across the band.
I snapped one of the top sections of the pole during an activation, so now only 9m is carbon fibre, with the top 2m being fibreglass. This changed the characteristics of the antenna, however as I now use a different configuration to that which I used originally, it has not caused any problems so far.
Electrically, for 160m it is inductively loaded a few metres from the base, with variable helical winding at the top around the fibreglass sections of the pole, which at its apex is around 50ft AGL, slightly higher than the tip of my half wave vertical for 10m mounted on my chimney stack. I am certain there is some coupling into the carbon fibre pole as once the helical windings at the top begin to be wound around the carbon fibre section of the mast the tuning becomes much more sharp & predictable. Tuning of the helical section is achieved by simply rotating the entire pole at its base from within the house. I am quite pleased with the results I have had so far.
As I use a pre-existing ground point, this may not be a solution for others with limited space, but I hope at some point to experiment with some separate Earth rods to find what would be the minimum number of rods needed to give a useable RF ground for use with a Top Band vertical. First thoughts would suggest not many would be needed for it to work, but more would make it work better.
As with most of my ongoing projects, this may be some time off.
Despite a week off work, during which I had planned many things, mostly outdoor jobs around the house, the weather had other ideas. The week prior to my week off was glorious; the week after my break was glorious. The week I had off, it rained! Coupled with a broken (although temporarily repaired) clutch cable on my motorbike, I really didn’t fancy travelling very far & running the risk of being stranded in the middle of nowhere, so I stayed at home.
As we progress into autumn, conditions on the low bands should begin to pick up again, & with that the likelihood of more activators using the oldest amateur radio band, 160 Metres.
I certainly aim to get out more, if only to shed a few of the pounds I seem to have put on over the summer Hi!
At the time of writing, the only Top band activation during July that I am aware of was John G4YSS’s Overnight activation of Great Whernside, if I have missed any others please let me know:
On the 2nd & 3rd July, John G4YSS (operating as GX0OOO/P) activated G/NP-008 Great Whernside, & had 26 QSO’s on 160m on the 2nd July & 6 QSO’s on 160m on the 3rd July. (Single activation over two days with both days counted separately for chaser points)
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,
AN UNEXPECTED SUMMIT ACTIVATION - by Ric M0LEP
Firle Beacon G/SE-010 - Saturday July 2nd,
One of my local radio clubs had arranged, at fairly short notice, a picnic
at a location suitable for radio activity. The final location was chosen
at even shorter notice. The state of the tides having ruled out beaches,
the remaining short-listed choices were either Ditchling Beacon or Firle
Beacon. The latter was chosen, and the picnic’s organiser posted the
relevant SOTA link by way of directions.
As luck would have it, I wasn’t able to travel down as early as the rest of
the group, so said I’d join them when I could and set off as soon as the
morning’s duties had been attended to.
It was a pleasant sunny(-ish) Saturday, and traffic on the coast-bound roads
wasn’t the lightest I’ve seen it. The drive down took a couple of hours, and
I parked in the car park at the top of Bo Peep Lane. I didn’t recognise any of
the other cars there, but figured I’d head for the summit and find folks there.
I grabbed my picnic and my portable radio gear, and set off up the hill. When
I reached the trig point I couldn’t see any sign of the others from the club. I
sent a quick “Where are you?” text to the picnic’s organiser, and decided
I might as well set myself up to activate the summit.
The wind made things a little trickier than they might have been, but I
was able to get the rig up and working without trouble. As I’ve just got
myself a 60 metres NOV, and as my linked dipole has 60 metres as its
longest option, I gave 5.3985 MHz a listen. I was delighted to catch Jim
G0CQK/P on The Cheviot G/SB-001. A summit-to-summit was a good
way to start my first solo SOTA activation.
I listened for a short while, and then a beep from my mobile phone indicated
that my earlier text had been received. After a brief exchange of texts I switched
the rig to an appropriate VHF FM frequency, and had a chat with the rest of
the club picnic party. It turned out they’d gone to another car park which gave
them space to operate near their car, as they’d decided, after a short
spell sitting up on the hillside, that the wind was getting a bit too chilly.
We had a good conversation. When, the best part of half an hour
later, I got back to the business of SOTA activating, I decided to give 40
metres a try. I caught Peter G1FOA/P on Great Mell Fell G/LD-035. He
wanted to get over to Little Mell Fell and very kindly left me with his
frequency. With a little help from self-spots, and one small QSY when a
pair of Italian stations, who couldn’t hear me, started holding a
conversation on the frequency, I was able to get fifteen further contacts
in my log, including summit-to-summit contacts with Carolyn GW6WRW/P and
Helen MW0YHB/P on Manod Mawr GW/NW-035, before my rig’s batteries began to
show signs of exhaustion, and the wind began to get the better of me, too.
I set off home at about 4pm, and the drive home was somewhat less tedious
than the drive down. Many thanks to all the activators and chasers who
called and answered me. It was an interesting and enjoyable exercise,
though I did manage to get a little sunburned…
73, Rick M0LEP
SOTA REPORT FROM HL - By Jason HL4ZFA
Here’s some news from Korea about HL SOTA! It’s all a bit last minute, but then we’re still making the news as this is one of the main vacationing weekends of the year (including me) where we’ve got seven announced activations around the country going on, bringing us up to 14 out of 16 regions activated (we’re finally starting to get Jeju Island on the air).
Jeju Island is about a four hour ferry ride to the south of the peninsula and has long held the title of official Korean “honeymoon destination” for it’s “just different enough” atmosphere when compared to the rest of Korea: subtropical weather on a volcanic island, great food (lots of fresh fish, of course, and especially grilled wild boar) and seclusion. Its other claim to fame is Hallasan, HL/JJ-001, ROK’s highest SOTA summit clocking in at 1950m. That high summit is off limits (natural recuperation time) however the secondary summit at 1928m is open to traffic, and despite the 10km up/10km down trail and over 1200m in elevation gain, there definitely is traffic! The trail itself is not a challenging one, simply longer, paved with lava stones, boardwalks and stairs. Not knowing how easy it was, I packed only an HT and 3-ele yagi to schlepp, and managed to activate yesterday with only five contacts (up to a couple hundred kms away, including a S2S with 6K5ZLH Wan-seok on Gayasan HL/GB-001). We’ll see how today goes, with a better antenna, bigger battery and bigger rig on the much more quickly accessible JJ-002 before I hop on that ferry to head back north…
We’ve got 826 QSO’s with 531 stations logged, 71 unique summits activated, giving us 462 points earned, all this requiring at least 150 hours OP time on top of those summits.
There’s an ever increasing number of people (not quite a throng, yet!) getting interested in SOTA in Korea, especially since the new formation of the “HL SOTA Club” and more of its group activations now officially flying under the call 6KØFM. We had a successful presentation and workshop with the Scouts, but our planned activation to HL/SL-001 Dobongsan was cancelled due to really nasty weather (during the first 20 days of July, 16 of them were rainy…monsoon season to the max!), however I still managed to activate that day as it was nothing but sunshine south of Gyeonggi province. The club’s website is at: http://www.6k0fm.net
Coming up next month is the Daegu on the Air event, to get those summits activated and make some noise on the air in the Daegu/Gyeonbuk/Gyeongnam regions. August 15th is a national holiday and QSO contest, so there’s likely to be some activity there, as well. In the meantime, SOTA continues to get national publicity, with at least half a dozen full color pages in the July/August KARL Magazine outlining SOTA’s progress and sporting up-to-date photos of this year’s activators & activations. I just received the paper copy in my mailbox on Tuesday, and I’m already getting new emails of interested potential activators!
So, here’s to continuing with a successful second year of SOTA in HL!
73 de Jason HL4ZFA
HL Association Manager
CANADA-US SOTA NEWS - By Fred K6DGW
July 2011 was a very busy month for Canada/US SOTA expeditions [and still is
as I gather this together]. I have way more reports than Roy has room
for so I’ll post a summary here and the stories at
www.foothill.net/~andreaj/SOTA.htm as usual.
07/04 VE2UFT VE2/LR-009 Mont Olympia VA2SME/VE2UFT
07/09 VA2SG Note 1 Mont Dome VA2SG
07/21 WS0TA W0/SR-001 Mt Elbert KT5X
07/22 WS0TA W0/SR-007 Mt Yale KT5X
07/07 K0MOS W0/FR-102 Horsetooth Mtn K0MOS
07/16 K0MOS W0/FR-088 Sheep Mtn K0MOS
07/03 W1DMH W1/MV-006 Oak Hill W1DMH
07/03 W1DMH W1/AM-253 Ossipee Hill W1DMH
07/03 NE1SJ W1/CR-086 Steerage Rock KK1W/N1FJ
07/04 NS0TA W1/GM-007 Stratton Hill N7UN
07/05 NS0TA W1/GM-183 Pico Peak N7UN
07/13 KK1W W2/GA-003 Whiteface Mtn KK1W
07/24 KI6WJP W6/CC-001 Mt Eddy KI6WJP Note 2
- I can’t fine Mont Dome in the VE2 summits list
- There as I write this, but too close for a Q.
OTHER ACTIVATIONS: Mike, KD9KC and our W5 Region Manager, and his wife
Moni, N5NHC, made a trip back to Germany this last month. She is from
Germany, and Mike was stationed there in the US Army many years ago, and
there are many relatives. Mike as DL/KD9KC made seven activations with
his brother-in-law Helmut, DG7NFV, four in one day!
Gebaberg 2 Jul DM/TH-082
Hutsberg 2 Jul DM/TH-047
Kreuzberg 3 Jul DM/BM-241
Hohe Holle 9 Jul DM/HE-002
Wasserkuppe 9 Jul DM/HE-001
Heidelstein 9 Jul DM/BM-238
Inselsberg 9 Jul DM/TH-004
His report does not state directly, but one can infer that, while Mike
and Helmut were on the summit trails, Moni and her sister were involved
in some concentrated retail grazing downtown He tells me that the
bands sound a lot different in EU than they do in the W5, W6, and W7
Band conditions have been pretty punk in the western hemisphere this
summer. The solar flux seems pretty much stuck in the 80’s, and signals
seem to have a lot of QSB. Despite that, the activators are turning in
some impressive logs. Weather that humans live in over the North
American continent has been anything but normal. Most of the continent
has been roasting in record heat. Our here on the western frontier,
where we expect and enjoy temps above 40C, they’ve been around 30C
nearly all summer. It does make summit expeditions very comfortable though.
Fred, KT5X, who runs up 4,000+ meter mountains for fun, has been
training for the Pike’s Peak race by running … and activating … some
of the “Colorado 14’ers,” peaks in the Rocky Mountains all over 14,000
feet in elevation. I managed to work him on Mt Elbert and Mt Yale on
two successive days, and his ATS-3 and EFHW antenna are doing a
remarkable job for these conditions and very low power.
I would appreciate it if, when you email me activation reports, you
could put the activation date, call used, summit designator, and
operators in the subject line. This lets me sort the emails during the
month into an order that makes putting the report to Roy much easier.
That’s going to be it from the New World for July,
Canada/US SOTA Reporter Dude
THE VIEW FROM THE NORTH 31 - Rob and Audrey
It’s Isle of Man time and we’re there on a sunny Tuesday morning at 6am (if you’re planning a visit of over 5 days and taking the car then travel overnight both ways and do it midweek. This gains you two extra days, avoids the weekend surcharge and saves you about £100 over the standard fare!) . Settled into our usual accommodation, super as usual and decided on a quick visit to Mull Hill GD-005 after a leisurely start.
Tuesday 28th Jun Mull Hill.
This is a very easy 5min walk from Cregneish village. Just through the village there is a junction on the right with another minor road which leads back into Port Erin (narrow and steep) About 20 yards in to this road there is room for a couple of cars just opposite the two tracks that both lead to the flat summit area. Both tracks are driveable to the summit if you have high ground clearance, we haven’t! The hill is the site of a former ww2 radar site and has some interesting remains and bunkers. As these sorts of things are a big interest of ours we spent some time exploring and trying to make sense of what is left. As is often the case as less seems to be known about recent remains than Roman times, a future Tony Robinson will have a field day guessing. We have some info on the buildings if anyone is interested. Two pill boxes are intact and reasonably clean and can be used if the WX is poor, look out for the low concrete beam at the entrance. Today low HF was poor but 30m reasonable.
Wednesday 29th Jun Slieau Freoaghane
Sorry I copied and pasted this one. Walked up via the green road that leaves the B10 about half a mile west of the B22 junction, room for a couple of cars opposite the lane entrance. We took the half tent and spent the day on the top. Only 21 contacts however with HF very poor never the less a lovely day in the sun and Audrey’s health improves with every step.
Thursday 30th Jun Snaefell
Set off to climb Snaefell but needed to fuel the car (LPG) and discovered that the only LPG pump on the Island is at Union Mills at the back of the garage (the other two outlets have discontinued it), we can of course run on petrol but it’s twice the price! We climbed Snaefell from the Bungalow on the TT course The excellent motor bike museum is gone and the building unoccupied, it is a former cold war Rotor radar site but does not seem to have become operational as there is no sign of the obligatory antenna base and no locals seem to remember one. If it was on the summit it would have needed a lot of high power coax! There was a cool breeze over the top so we set up the tent in the shelter of the civil aviation building which has the added advantage of not being visited by the hoards arriving by tram. In a mammoth activation we were visited by some very nice American yachts people staying on the Island and very interested in amateur radio and our portable antennas. They stayed for some time after which we entertained a couple of chaps from the building who wondered quite what we were doing. Eventually as a cloud arrived on the hill we retreated to the summit café which has had major repair and restoration carried out over the closed season and now boasts some evening openings so beware of the odd tram if you’re up there at night. The restored building does look very smart.
We had a SOTA day off on Friday and explored the remains of the WW2 Chain Home station at Dalby, hard to believe there were four 350 ft masts and four 250 footers in this now peaceful setting. Several of the surface bunkers are still there given over to farm use and overgrown with gorse.
Saturday 2nd July South Barrule.
Look for the Round Table Junction on the A36. There is a forestry road here with room for about six cars. The climb is a steady plod; the summit was once an Iron Age fort and has been used for ages as a lookout. There are two levels on the climb, once fortified. The garrison was in place for many months at a time without womenfolk and the lower level was where the women left food etc and they were forbidden to go beyond this point for obvious reasons. The summit does have a shelter but it is not very effective and the best bet is the leeward side. 5MHz and 10MHz were not playing despite repeated calls but 7Mhz worked well and even had a couple of ssb contacts on it which is unusual for us. Quite a few on 2m and even a couple on 4m.
Sunday 3rd July, Bradda Hill.
Many people imagine that this is the tower on the headland overlooking Port Erin, wrong, the summit is at the north east end of that ridge almost double the height and overlooking Fleshwick Bay. There are only two viable routes, the cliff path from the tower (too much exposure for me, Rob) and the steep grass climb out of Fleshwick with some exposure that can be avoided, we use the latter. A superb sunny activation on the beautiful summit now well on the way to recovery from the huge disastrous fire that overwhelmed it a few years ago. No tent needed. Doug G1KLZ worked us on this one to be the first to receive the GD4RQJ/P 2011 certificate followed closely by Bob G6ODU. This was such a great day out that we decided to finish off with a quick activation of Mull Hill.
Yesterday’s trip up Bradda Hill, particularly the descent has unfortunately aggravated an old knee condition (Rob) and going down hill is very painful. This is likely to interfere with activities for the rest of the holiday, If its not one thing it’s another! Great to meet up with the IOM radio club lads at their station on the fair field at St Johns on Tynwald Day.
Thursday 7th July, Mull Hill.
Following a look at yet another Chain Home station with lots of intact bunkers, this one at Scarlett near Castletown we decided on a short walk up Mull Hill as a knee test which worked fairly well. Incidentally there is an interesting stone circle on Mull Hill just at western end of the WW2 site.
Sunday 10th July, South Barrule.
Decided to grasp the nettle so with the knee strapped straight we tackled this one again, A super activation in sunshine without the tent.
Monday 11th July, Slieau Freoaghane.
Met the local warden at the start of the green road, saw you last year on the summit in a little tent he said, very nice chap and interested in SOTA. No steep descent on this one but the green road is quite rocky. We were told that Slieau Freoaghane is Manx for Hill of the Heather and it must be a very pretty place in a month or so. Some of the heather used to replant Bradda Hill after the fire came from here.
We decided that Bradda Hill and Snaefell are not a practical proposition at the moment with their steep descents so sorry no second activation for those looking for our worked all summits certificate. We could have done Snaefell from the tram but it would be like cheating an old friend.
Tuesday 12th July, Mull Hill.
The boat doesn’t leave till evening so time for one last visit to Mull Hill, congratulations to the four who managed to win the Worked all summits award this year.
Certs are on the way to:-
Sorry for the reduced activity but we’re booked for next year.
Sunday 24th July, Binsey.
This is a pleasant stroll up a broad grassy path from NY235351 (room for about 6 cars) to a small rocky outcrop with two almost equal cairned tops; the first one reached also carries the trig. There are a couple of rocky shelters on the north eastern edge of the first top but plenty of room. We avoided the cairned area today as there was a steady trickle of tourists over the top. As we were just finishing on hf Allan M1EYO joined us, passing through on a round trip of the smaller northern tops. As he was only equipped for 2m and 70cms we took a break and a try on 4m while he completed his activation. We then had a short run on 2m but the takeoff from this one is not good to the south except to the extreme west of Lancashire and the north Wales coast.
On the way home down the Cumbria coast road we had the pleasure of driving behind a vehicle the size of a motor home with what appeared to be two girders on the roof, flashing orange hazard indicators and two continuously strobing white lights facing rearward. This went on for miles collecting a large convoy as there is no chance of overtaking and when it finally pulled off the notices on the side proudly proclaimed it was surveying the road surface. All this in the height of the tourist season, on the day when the Windermere Air show was on and notices suggested finding an alternative route (the coast road). Most locals could point out the potholes! Still we guess its double time on Sunday. SOTA activity in the Lakes seems down on previous years, maybe it will pick up now the school holidays are with us, guess petrol prices have a lot to do with it
Well, all for now
Take care out there and 73
Rob and Audrey,
CW REPORT FOR JULY 2011 - by Roy G4SSH
Most chasers and activators will not be sorry to see the passing of the mid-summer month of July 2011, with really poor propagation, especially on the HF bands, where a high background noise level, weak and fading signals and the crash of thunderstorms became a daily feature. 40m was particularly poor at my QTH with the number of activators worked roughly equalling the ones not even heard and it was a relief when activators moved up to 10 or 14 MHz.
Conditions were so abysmal at times that on 22nd even two of the normally strongest activators were struggling to be heard - Jurg HB9BIN was calling CQ on 7032 and desperately posting the comment “Need 3 more QSO’s PSE” because nobody could hear him, and Norby DL/LX1NO was also calling CQ SOTA on 7 MHz on one of his 9 summit marathons, and was mainly unreadable.
A few activators, such as Ivan EA2NN have started using 7032 and 14061 KHz for their activations. This pairing is a good choice, which gives coverage all across Europe and gives chasers with modest set-up a chance to hear QRP stations.
When chasers COULD hear them there were some excellent expeditions and welcome new SOTA areas active on CW during July. Hakan SM6EQO was very active on holiday in the northern most part of Dalarna county and Reinhard S5/DK1IO was active on 10118 KHz many times during the month. In addition to these there were activations from such unusual places as Romania, Portugal, Spain, Italy Luxemburg and Liechtenstein. Cross border expeditions increased with the start of the school holidays and the daily spots peaked at 132 towards the end of the month. On the 23rd Norby DL/LX1NO did a run of 9 activations in the Hesse region from 0749 to 1900 UTC, then activated an extra one early on the 24th. As I write this he has been on the air from Ireland as EI8KD on his way to an Islands-on-the-air contest location. Jose EA2NN delighted chasers on the 30th by activating from Spain, then jumping over the border fence and activating from France less than 20 minutes later.
Thanks to many CW activators over the past five years I reached a personal milestone during the month when I made SOTA Chaser CW QSO Number 10000. No awards for this - just personal satisfaction. In reality, I have probably made another 1000 contacts because I often work an activator on 2 or 3 different bands, especially if they are struggling to attract chasers, but I only ever enter one of these into the data-base.
I long ago set myself three targets as a SOTA chaser; these were:-
5,000 Unique summits,
- 10,000 SOTA QSO’s and
- 50,000 Chaser points
all on CW. I have now achieved the first two of these and hope to make the 50,000 points milestone in the next few weeks.
There was an impressive list of stations heard active above 40m this month:-
28 MHz: I/HG4UK,
24 MHz G3RDQ
21 MHz: M1EYP
18 MHz: DK1BN, EA2EA G3RDQ, I/HG4UK OE5EEP, NE1SJ, YR2YP
DK1BN, DL0PAX, DJ3CQ, DH7KU, DC8MH, DF3MC, DC7CCC,
EA2EA, EA2NN/4, EA2BD, EA2DPA, EA2NN/1,
F5UKL, F6ENO, F6AVE,
M1EYP, MM3BRR, GW0DSP,
N4RSX, NS0TA, NE1SJ, W2VV, WSOTA,
S56CW, S57X, S57XX,
VA2UFT, VE2SME, VA2SG, VA2OTA,
DL7VKD, DL1BN, DJ3CQ, DF3MC, DL/HB9AGO, DL4ZBY, DL2RVL, DL/PA0HRM, DL8MBS,
DJ3CQ, DL2RVL, DL4ABO, DC7CCC, DK7MG,
EA2EA, EA2NN/4, EA2NN/1,
F5UKL, F6HBI, F6ENO, F/OK1CZ, F5UBH, F5AKL,
G3RDQ, M1EYP, GW0DSP, G3RQJ, GW3TJE
HA2PP, HA6PJ, HA2PP, HG4UK,
HB0/PC5A, HB9BHW, HB9BIN, HB9CGA, HB9BAB
LA1ENA, LA1KHA, LA/SM0HPL, LA8BCA,
OK1IN, OK1DIG, OK1AXB, OK1DDQ, OK1EQ, OK2SAM, OK7CM, OK/OE5DIN, OK1HAG
S57X, S57XX, S51ZJ, S5/DK1IO,
SM/LA1ENA, SM3/HB9CMI, SM0HPL, SM6EQO
Also thanks to the stalwarts who enthusiastically continue to activate on 80 and 160m:-
3.5 MHz GX0OOO, SP/OK1TGI, OK1HAG, DK1BN.
1.8 MHz GX0OOO
A warm welcome is extended to the following newcomers, heard activating SOTA’s for the first time on CW during the last month:- Club ON4RSX, EA4DQX, Csaba DH7KU, Stan OK1AU, Juergen DJ3CQ, Emil DL8JJ, F5UBH, OE6GCm F5UBH, Ignacio EA2BD, Bela HA8BE, YR2YP, SQ6JNX, Martin Club DF0H, Andy DK7MG, Peter DL1AXB, Sil S50X, Moises EA4MZ,
The summer weather brought out activators on expeditions outside their own countries:-
F/OK1CZ, F/HB9CSA, F/MM0DHY, F/EA2EA,
DL/HB9AGO, DL/PA0HRM, DL/HA6QR, DL/HB9BAB,
IX1/HB9AFI, IK3/DK5WN, I/HG4UK, IK/OE7PHI,
STANDARDS AND COURTSEY – Roy G4SSH
I have always considered the task of a SOTA chaser to be twofold. First, in partnership with the activator, to make the QSO and so collect points for themselves and also to assist the activator to qualify the mountain. Secondly (and some might say more importantly) to spot the activity in order that the activator does not have to continue calling CQ with fading batteries and to alert fellow chasers to the activation. It appears that many chasers do not see this as part of their job. In fact I am disappointed at the small number of chasers (around 10% ?) who regularly spot activations. Callsigns of spotters sometimes appear to be inverse proportion to their position on the SOTA honour roll. However I do appreciate that some chasers are not in a position to generate spots for various reasons, such as firewalls or the computer in another room but these are probably in the minority.
My own position is quite clear. If I work an activator I will generate a spot as soon as possible. If I cannot work the station, or have only part of the information required then I will spot with the few details I have, adding comments for the benefit of other chasers who may be receiving the station at a greater readability than myself. As an aside there is a surprising bonus to becoming known as a regular spotter - I have received quite a few e-mails from activators who have said “If there are a few stations calling me and I hear yours then I reply to you first in the certain knowledge that I will immediately be spotted on SOTA Watch”.
On 18th July I copied a very weak activator calling CQ SOTA on 7032 KHz. I managed to make contact and exchanged signal reports but he faded out before I was certain of the complete reference, so I posted a spot on SOTA watch with the comment “Ref needs confirming”. The spot brought in about 20 chasers who all worked the station without the slightest interest in confirming the reference. It took 20 minutes and 24 chasers before the Reference was requested by a chaser - and confirmed as correct.
On 19th July I spotted S5/DK1IO at 1148 UTC on 10118 KHz during a thunderstorm. Due to the almost constant crashes and high background noise I was unsure of the figures in the Reference, so spotted as S5/JA-001 with a “Ref Doubtful” comment. Again I waited whilst another couple of dozen activators worked him yet nobody bothered to ask him for confirmation, or were interested in updating my spot. I finally read JA-035 from Reinhard myself at 1222 and updated the spot. I can only assume that these chasers claimed 10 points for JA-001 ???
7030 KHz - Roy G4SSH
I have mentioned this before, but I have been asked by chasers to repeat this advice for the benefit of recent newcomers to SOTA CW activating.
A few years ago, when SOTA activators first began using CW, they were mainly using low power and so tended to use the recognised CW QRP frequencies. 7030 KHz, was the most popular, giving coverage all across Europe. The activators were using QRP but the chasers in the pile up’s were certainly not and this caused great ill feeling towards SOTA from QRP enthusiasts. There were many confrontations on 7032 KHz with deliberate QRM being generated.
The problem was solved by SOTA activators moving a couple of KHz higher or lower from the recognised QRP spots, so SOTA settled around 7032, 3558, 14058 or 14062 KHz etc. which ensured that both organisations managed to exist without problems.
Unfortunately we are seeing recent newcomers to SOTA activating becoming regular users of 7030 KHz and the problem is compounded when they announce SOTA and WFF references which ensures they are spotted on SOTA Watch, the WFF web site and the DX cluster. This generates huge undisciplined pile-up’s of stations using high power and beam antenna’s and totally wipes out the QRP stations.
It would be appreciated and courteous if SOTA activators would avoid the recognised QRP spots.
CONTESTS DURING AUGUST 2011
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 1200-2359 EU HF Championship CW & SSB
13th -14th 0001-2359 Worked all EU CW DX Contest
21st 0800-1600 SARG RTTY Contest
27th- 28th 1200-1200 YO DX Contest
27th-28th 1200-1200 SCC 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, the USA, Canada and beyond, in a total of 24 different countries. Your input will be most welcome.
SOTA News Editor