SOTA NEWS - DECEMBER 2014 - PART ONE OF TWO
EDITORIAL – by Roy G4SSH
Welcome to the December 2014 edition of SOTA News. My thanks go to the following contributors:- Jim G0CQK, Rob G0HRT, Barry GM4TOE, Skip K6GDW, Allen VK3HRA, Dennis ZS4BS, Mark G0VOF, Kevin G0NUP, Rob and Audrey G4RQJ, Sake PA0SKP.
The November 2014 issue of SOTA News was viewed 680 times.
FROM THE SOTA MANAGEMENT TEAM (1)
A new association from 1st December 2014.
Sitting well out into the Atlantic and close to the mid Atlantic ridge, the Azores association will go live on 1st December thanks to the work of Joao Lima CU3AA. 9 islands and 29 new summits for chasers and activators to collect.
Well, which continent will this be? Geologically speaking it should possibly belong to no continent but for historical reasons this will be part of Europe.
Who from outside CU is going to take the trip?
73 Jim G0CQK
FROM THE SOTA MANAGEMENT TEAM (2)
The new Association Manager for W70 Oregon is Etienne K7ATN.
Best wishes to you in the role.
Many thanks to Guy N7UN for all his contribution to the AM role in the past and his ongoing contribution towards forming new SOTA associations.
For SOTA MT
SOTA AWARDS NOVEMBER 2014 - by Barry GM4TOE SOTA Awards Manager
There is nothing unusual about a drop in demand for certificates and trophies in November and 2014 is no exception. Congratulations to Mountain Goat Wieslaw OK2VWB and Shack Sloths SV2OYE, KB6CIO,W6IYS and VK3XL. The scores at the Chaser higher levels still keep coming with W0MNA and G6ODU on 30k, HB9BIN at 25k and WA6RIC at 10k. HB9BIN has also been doing a tidy-up of his claims with a Gold Summit to Summit award and a Platinum Mountain Hunter award amongst them.
December brings the winter bonus season in the Northern hemisphere so the number of activations will undoubtedly increase (weather permitting of course) leading to a rise in claims for various awards.
OK2VWB Wieslaw Bajger
SV2OYE Dionisis Tzimikas
OK2VWB Wieslaw Bajger 1000 points
OK2VWB Wieslaw Bajger 100 summits
HB9TVK Peter Kohler 100 summits
W0MNA Gary Auchard 30000 points
G6ODU Robert Gum-Wah Leong 30000 points
HB9BIN Dr. Jurg Regli 25000 points
WA6RIC Rick Hallowell 10000 points
KB6CIO Robert Kliman 1000 points
W6IYS Bill Zaner 1000 points
VK3XL Mike Allan 1000 points
AE7AP Robert Kingery 250 points
M1TAP Alan Prince 100 points
VK2HFS Frank Scott 100 points
W0MNA Gary Auchard 2500 summits
G6ODU Robert Gum-Wah Leong 2500 summits
K4PIC Larry A. Phillips 1000 summits
VK1NAM Andrew Moseley 500 summits
Summit to Summit
HB9BIN Dr. Jurg Regli Gold
HB9TVK Peter Kohler Silver
HB9BIN Dr. Jurg Regli Platinum
K4PIC Larry A. Phillips Gold
DL2YBG Klaus-Peter Dreessen Gold
VK3PF Peter Freeman Gold
AE7AP Robert Kingery Bronze
HB9BIN Dr. Jurg Regli Gold
HB9BIN Dr. Jurg Regli
OK1DVM Miroslav Vohlidal 500 summits
HB9BIN Dr. Jurg Regli 250 summits
I am pleased to announce (at long last) that the SOTA Microwave Award certificates are now ready. The rules have been reviewed with the assistance of Elliot K6EL so, hopefully, will be understood by all. In principle the award is available for contacts on the microwave bands (23cm and up) and will be issued for contact distances of 50km and over in 50km steps and will be banded in levels so Red award covers distance of 50km to 200km, Bronze 250km to 400km and so on. Accreditation on the award is by band, mode and distance and Summit to Summit contacts will be highlighted on the certificate. Full Rules will be available on the shopping website and the database will track your achievements if your contact is entered as explained by Andy MM0FMF.
The Summit to Summit award was designed as a closed award with a limit of 5000 points as this was felt to cover the majority of eventualities with the normal levels of activation. How wrong could we be! Consequently, following a request from a prolific Activator the award will now be made open ended (although increasingly difficult to achieve) and we will introduce gemstone awards over and above the Platinum award. There was a suggestion to change the numbering system and the certificate design but that will not happen as it simply creates yet more work and makes earlier awards obsolete. The award will be available retrospectively so if you have exceeded 5000 points then the revised levels will be available from the date of exceeding the points.
This month has shown a massive increase in the purchase of SOTA branded merchandise – early Christmas shopping? Please be aware that the postal service is massively overloaded at this time of the year so it is wise to purchase both awards and merchandise early if you would like items before Christmas. I will do my best to ship things in a timely fashion but this is also a peak period for work and that, needless to say, takes priority.
Many of you will have noticed the discussion, and the opinion poll, on the reflector concerning SOTA branded hats. I am pleased to say that I have managed to find a supplier of hats embroidered with the SOTA logo and that these will be in stock in the next two or three weeks. There will be a limited range of hats in a selection of tasteful colours to suit all – baseball caps, Thinsulate ski caps (beanies) and even an outbacker style hat for those down-under (would also suit GM activators in summer as they are water resistant!). Prices will vary but I think we can be competitive and still make a contribution to the running costs of the awards scheme.
Be safe on the hills and do not be like the idiot that had to be rescued from the Cairngorms this week – he was dressed in running vest, shorts and running shoes with no map, compass, food or additional clothing and managed to get lost in the Lairig Ghru having started at at 1530 hours (it gets dark here at 1600 hours), he is also, supposedly, an outdoor activities instructor. Luckily for him the Mountain Rescue teams found him before he became another statistic. Definitely a candidate for the Darwin Award!
SOTA Awards Manager
NORTH AMERICAN NEWS by Skip K6DGW
Greetings to all Summiteers,
Almost done with 2014 and as usual, I’m having a hard time accounting for 11 months of life. While sunspot Cycle 24 was predicted to be a bit wimpy, and certainly delivered on that, it also seems to be “The Cycle That Won’t Die.” I’m writing this on Saturday, 29 Nov and the 10 cm Solar Flux Index is 180, which is making the CQ World Wide DX contest on CW a lot more fun. So, how was November 2014 for SOTA in the New World?
Much of North America saw record low temperatures during the month, something about a “polar vortex” coming unhinged from its normal QTH in the high arctic and sinking southward. As a result, the statistics show a modest drop in all categories, however it appears that NA SOTA activators are a hardy bunch and I’m surprised activity wasn’t even lower.
As usual, the numbers in are last month’s total. I added the new associations … KP4, VE9, and W8V.
NORTH AMERICA TOTALS
Total Activations: 331 
Nr Unique Activators: 110 
Total Chaser QSOs: 5061 
Nr Unique Chasers: 214 
Unique Summits: 263 
2m: 129 (2%) 
6m: 0 (0%) 
10m: 330 (6%) 
12m: 469 (9%) 
15m: 314 (6%) 
17m: 291 (5%) 
20m: 2748 (54%) 
30m: 125 (2%) 
40m: 653 (12%) 
60m: 0 (0%) 
80m: 0 (0%) 
160m: 0 (0%) 
CW: 3043 (60%) 
SSB: 1869 (36%) 
FM: 145 (2%) 
AM: 1 (0%) 
Data: 0 (0%) 
Other: 2 (0%) 
Again, I really doubt that pesky AM QSO.
We have two new NA Super Sloths to report: Gene, KC3RT, passed the 10K mark early in the month. Scotty believes Gene is not yet retired so he probably has accomplished this by just chasing on the weekends and maybe some when he gets home from work. Congratulations Gene!
Rick, WA6RIC, also made it past 10K chaser points in November. “My most memorable SOTA experience occurred on 15-Apr-14 when operating QRP on 12 meters. I made contact with 2E0YYY, Mike, on G/SP-017 (Bilinge Hill) and then a couple of minutes later making contact with M1EYP, Tom, on G/SP-015 (The Cloud). Both contacts were SSB and all of us running QRP. A distance of 5200 miles (8360 km) on 5 watts on phone!!! A few minutes before there was nothing then the propagation “gods” smiled. I made the contacts and then just as quickly they faded away. A magical moment indeed.”
And, Ed, N7EDK, of Willits CA became a Shack Sloth early in the month.
Ed is going to be on the road for several months now, perhaps we’ll start hearing him from the more pointy parts of North America.
South Korea: About the middle of November, Elliott, K6EL, noted: “For continent hunters, notice that an alert has been posted for Korea.
HL4ZFF and HL4ZFA are on their way now to HL/CN-007, planning SSB on several HF bands at 0400z. Although that time is not too wonderful for Europe or the US, it could be exciting for VK land. They have a TS-480 which we ran at 60 watts when I shared it with ZFF during a climb last year. ZFF is the association manager for Hawai’i. ZFA is from Vermont and is the association co-manager for Korea.”
Elliott also advises me that North American SOTA now has exactly two dozen super sloths, thanks to the November addition of WA6RIC. “Add that number to our 21 goats and 15 s2s trophies and you have a group of serious operators!” His email included a new Northern Sierra SOTA logo.
Alan, NM5S, posted a link depicting a new SOTA Activator Kit:
I’ll bet the batteries didn’t last long.
REPORT OF THE MONTH:
The honor this issue goes to Kevin, K4KPK, and is a good example of the hardiness of our activator corps: “I went out today to do a couple of ‘filler’ hills. I wasn’t really enthusiastic about it because the temperature was going to be in the 20’s for my morning activation. It had been 3 weeks since I’d been out, and I’m probably going to be busy with family commitments around Thanksgiving, so I thought I’d best get out of the house while I could.”
“The sky opened up and it rained contacts! On a good summit, I usually work 15-18 QSOs. Today was 32 QSOs on hill #1 and 36 on hill #2.
Outstanding and a good reminder that a day on summits beats a day in the flatlands anytime.”
“Filler Hills,” Kevin??
As of this writing, North America has 39 active Associations [we’re adopting KH6 as North America :-)]. It wasn’t too long ago when you could count the number of NA associations on your fingers, even if you were missing your thumbs. There are over 33,000 cataloged summits in NA so far. Not only does that mean there are a lot of “virgin peaks”
available, it also signifies a huge and detailed effort on the part of those who pioneered NA SOTA. It kind of blows my mind when I think about it, and we still have KL7, Northern Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean to go.
sotawatch.org is an amazing website! It brings together an astounding amount of information, both static and real-time, in a truly seamless, easy to use format. I really don’t know how the MT does it, but I do know that SOTA would probably never have happened without it.
The end of November is the Thanksgiving holiday in the US, so to all of you who made NA SOTA happen, a big Thank You!!
North American SOTA Reporter Dude
“NY6Q Blues” Roy G4SSH
The recent discussion on the reflector about the use of CW, and the annual Christmas Quiz by Tom M1EYP reminds me of a light-hearted CW musical challenge composed by Tom Aughenbaugh NY6Q, a school band leader in Southern California.
How many different CW characters can you identify in this music composition? (callsigns, Q- codes, procedural symbols etc). If that is too easy, then how about identifying the various instruments? You will need to play it more than once.
The answers are contained on the NY6Q QRZ.com page. Good Luck !
SOTA ON TOP BAND - Mark G0VOF
Hello everyone & welcome to this month’s edition of SOTA on Top Band. Only one activator ventured onto Top Band this month. This was on Monday 10th November when Mike 2E0YYY/P decided to try 160m at the end of his activation of G/SP-013 Gun. Mike had set up a kite antenna supporting 60 metres of wire tuned with an LDG auto-tuner with static protection (essential with a kite antenna) provided by a substantial bleed resistor.
Mike had enjoyed a successful activation, mainly on 28MHz with some 7MHz & 14MHz QSO’s. Top Band was not to be so productive & a self spot for 1945 KHz SSB failed to generate any QSO’s, however Brian G8ADD did hear Mike & was heard by him, although a QSO was not completed.
Mike has included an activation report with details of his kite antenna, including photographs, on the following thread.
Thanks for trying Top Band again Mike!
With the winter bonus period starting in the UK on 1st December, activity tends to pick up a little so with a bit of luck I will have more to report on next month.
At the time of writing, that was the only Top band activation during October that I am aware of, if I have missed any others please let me know.
On 10 November, Mike 2E0YYY/P Activated G/SP-013 Gun & made 0 QSO’s (0 CW / 0 SSB)
As always, If you do have any suggestions on things that you think should be included, or if you wish to contribute tips, ideas or anything else that you think may help others on the band please email them to me at email@example.com
Until next month,
THE VIEW FROM THE NORTH - 73 by Rob and Audrey G4RQJ
An early start to the report this time due to our annual trip to Wales so Saturday 25th Oct finds us on Mynydd y Cwm. The hill is its usual pleasant wooded self, a very nice place to spend a little time. Little has changed in the last year, although the woodland paths do seem a little more overgrown and less used. The totem pole that used to mark a junction has fallen and lies by the path. The best way to find the summit is to take the track between the two large trees just opposite where the old water tank used to stand and at each path junction take the right hand path, on descent keep left. The woods all around the summit clearing make the 2m beam headings rather odd but we found seven takers at a leisurely pace, then on to our base for the week in Llandudno.
Sunday and the Llandudno Rally, now a shadow of itself and held in Abergele but still a pleasant friendly rally. Lots of SOTA people including G6ODU, M1EYO and 2E0YYY. Bought some 3900mAhr cells to build a new external battery for the FT817, the old one is getting a little tired after about seven years of SOTA use virtually every weekend. Later the wind had become strong but we decided as usual to have a quick run up Great Orme. When we arrived at the car park the wind had become very strong indeed and the café staff closing for the day looked at us as if we were mad. We found shelter by the buildings and a quick activation followed but returning to the car was hard going with Audrey holding on to my rucksack straps to stay upright. Getting into the car, now side on to the wind, proved to be a real problem, With me pulling from the outside and Audrey pushing from the inside we managed to open the drivers door then struggled to keep it open while I boarded without loosing the odd leg. Never the less a very exhilarating activation.
Monday and the high winds continue, Foel Fenlli and Moel Famau little changed over the year but a digger on the summit of the latter would suggest that that may be about to change. Tuesday and a wet forecast was correct so we stayed off the hills but Wednesday was dry so off to the other local pair Moel y Gamelin and Cyrnn y Brain.
No obvious changes but hard to tell in mist that had us looking at the gps to make sure we were on the summit of the first one. Thursday and Penycloddiau which was a new one to us last year and does not seem to have changed at all. This is a lovely summit and would make a fine family walk. The threat of rain had us almost running down to escape it, wish we managed. Friday and our last day for activations so in spite of high winds we set about Tal y Fan. The climb from the high lane above Tal y Bont was sheltered but on the summit ridge it was very, very windy and impossible to put any antenna at all above the wall behind which we were forced to shelter. We ended up with the beam at three feet off the ground hand held. A station we worked in Prestatyn told us it was showing force ten there so it must have been pretty brisk with us and on the descent we were thankful to reach the lea of the ridge after quite a struggle. In the narrow lane back to civilisation we were flagged down by a farmer who asked us if we could wait for a few minutes as he had 200 sheep coming up, soon the car was in the midst of a white sea of sheep with the dogs working them. No problem, for us it’s a playground, for him it’s his workplace
We missed a couple of Sundays, one was due to recovery from our Welsh trip and the other was Armistice Day. During the following week we attended the funeral of Colin G4UXH, a sad occasion. Colin was well known in both SOTA and WOTA, both as an activator and chaser. He had completed all the Wainwrights as an activator and was a very regular chaser and we will truly miss his friendly voice, often the first caller to us on many summits. There were a good number of SOTA and WOTA participants present from all parts of the country and we are sure many more around the world who will miss him and join us in sending condolences to his family and particularly his partner Heather M6UXH. Heather assures us that she will continue to be out on the hills in the future. We have all lost a friend.
This brings us to Sunday 17th and we decided upon Loughrigg Fell, a one pointer and harder work than a lot of those worth two. There have been a few changes in the area known as White Moss where the walk starts. The car parks which used to be pay by the hour are now pay on exit with number plate cameras etc. The first park on the west side of the main road was in use for some sort of event so we were forced to the one on the east sides, parts of which resemble a moonscape. Kitted up we crossed the road, an adventure in itself and set off for the bridge. The paths have been widened to almost road standards which is more than can be said for many of the local roads, and the bridge has been rebuilt to allow total access complete with ramps. The path continues through the woods in the same fashion to where the narrow stile in the wall used to be.
There is now a five bar gate at this point with signs of another being bulldozed a few yards further down with a new track through the woods to join the existing one. There was also a planning notice back at the toilet block for a visitors centre so looks like the area is being developed, hope they remember the whole area was waist deep in water a few years back. Onwards and upwards across Loughrigg Terrace, a much photographed area and the steep climb up the staircase of a path which in parts is laid like a slate roof on which you would use a cat ladder. This path is bad in the wet and worse in ice having done it once. The climb is the equivalent of about ten multi storey flat blocks on top of one another which always brings Audrey’s mum to mind. She lived at the thirteenth floor level and often, in her 80’s had to climb the lot carrying her shopping when the lifts were out of order. As we neared the summit we were surprised to see an antenna which we investigated and found a 2E0 station calling CQ.
To our shame neither of us can remember the full call sign but he told us that he was struggling for a fourth contact and had been calling for some time, also this was his second attempt on this hill (his first) and he failed to work anyone on that occasion. He was running a h/held and a commercial J pole so this seemed odd. We said that we would set up on one of the neighbouring hillocks that make up the summit as we were doing HF but we would have a look on 2m and see if there was any trade about and send it in his direction and that he should come over if desperate and use our rig. On arrival on our hillock a quick listen with our h/held and quarter wave showed him still calling with no responses. In a long pause we heard two of our locals down in Barrow calling one another and qsy to a working channel so gave them a quick shout there with our h/held and telescopic whip and Dave M6DHV who can hear pin drop in Aberdeen on 2m fm confirmed that he had heard nothing on the calling channel for some time prior to calling. He offered to take a careful listen for the 2E0 but when we looked for him he was in the process of packing up and departing and no amount of calling and waving could get his attention but we suspect that for a second time he had failed to qualify the summit. This struck us as a great shame. Loughrigg Fell is not the one that springs to mind for a first activation in the area maybe he is locally based but clearly something is not quite right for him.
Best advice for 2fm is
Before you start,
Make sure all the kit actually works ok, leads and plugs etc
Make sure your battery is fully charged.
Put out an alert on SOTAWATCH.
On the summit
Try to pick a spot with a good takeoff toward the local centres of population.(a small portable beam works wonders)
Call CQ firmly with call sign, location and SOTA mentioned, repeat frequently. Don’t mutter “CQ G mumble stumble bumble CQ” then listed for a long period.
Run FULL power at least to start with. Turn your squelch OFF
The object is to attract attention, most of the stations you are looking for run with squelch enabled and if you don’t break it they won’t hear you!
If all else fails, look around for a QSO in progress and POLITELY explain your situation and ask for a QUICK report. 99.9% will happily oblige.
Last Resort; beg on the calling channel explaining the situation e.g.” needing just 1 more quick contact to qualify the summit”.
Enough of the lecture and not to suggest that our anonymous friend was in any way doing anything wrong But if he is reading this and is still struggling to get going and is reasonably local, drop us an Email and we may be able to organise a joint summit to get him started, preferably not this one!
During all this I made a bad mistake, the wx being good I neglected to put on enough extra kit to keep warm on the summit. The CW pileups were truly awful with quite a few seeming to be calling blind. Suddenly as the sun dropped the wind rose quite sharply from the east and I was shivering. Brain fade set in and I was copying very little sense, time to pack up and move, sorry for anyone who missed out, needs must.
Well that’s about it for this one. Although it seems very early, being still November it’s time for us to wish everyone a Very Happy Christmas, FroheWeihnachten, JoyeuxNoel
Take care out there as always.
Rob and Audrey
PS. Sorry our language skills do not go much further but we do mean EVERYONE
PPS. If we don’t meet up again before. A Good New Year to EVERYONE
*************** SOTA NEWS IS CONTINUED IN PART 2 ***************
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