SOTA NEWS - DECEMBER 2009
EDITORIAL – by Roy G4SSH
Welcome to the December edition of SOTA News. My thanks go to the following contributors:- Barry GM4TOE, Rob and Audrey G4 RJQ, Tom M1EYP, Martin VE3SIE and Phil G4OBK.
SOTA activity remained at a very low level during November, especially on weekdays, when there were many days with just one or two activators spotted and these were deluged by dozens of chasers waiting in the wings when they heard CQ SOTA. Bad weather and snow across Europe also resulted in fewer points, as activators wisely decided to aim for lower summits. Winter bonus points for activators commenced on the 1st December and lasts until the 15th March.
Propagation has improved considerably on the lower bands as we approach mid-winter and chasers are having problems copying some QRP activators hidden amongst strong signals from U.S. and Canadian stations on 40m, and JA stations on 20 and 30m.
SOTA AWARDS FOR NOVEMBER 2009 By Barry GM4TOE - SOTA Awards Manager.
Foremost on the list of award applicants has to be Roy G4SSH who has amassed a score of 30000 points chasing summits and all on CW. No doubt he is now well on his way to the 50k score and maybe one day will even use a microphone to chase those of us who rarely, if ever, use CW. Well done Roy.
Congratulations are also due to DL4CW, Bernard, on achieving his Mountain Goat and Phil G1OPV and Alex UT4FJ on their Shack Sloth trophies. Phil was also our lone Activator claiming an award (other than the MG for DL4CW); he has successfully activated 100 summits in his quest for fame and fortune. I wonder if this is a reflection on not only the abysmal weather that has affected the number of activations but also the traditional slump in activations prior to the winter bonus?
The new award for Chasers was announced during the month. The limitations on formatting of reflector messages made the scoring tables unclear so the full version will be placed on the SOTA website shortly. The scheme deviates from collecting points to gain awards and concentrates on working associations and summits (with the added challenge of continents for the all band award). When will somebody achieve Worked All Associations? When the SOTA programme was first introduced nobody realised what massive scores would be achieved by some dedicated chasers (and activators) and the award scheme was geared to those expectations. I, for one, would not be willing to bet my shirt on this award not being claimed in the not too distant future. Needless to say, some associations will become “most wanted” and hopefully will encourage activators in those countries, or visiting activators, to put a summit on the air.
Congratulations to the following:
DL4CW Bernhard Wittek Mountain Goat
G1OPV Philip Drew Shack Sloth
UT4FJ Alex Naumov Shack Sloth
G1OPV Philip Drew 100 Summits
HA7UL Ferenc Horvath 1000 points
IK3GER Paolo Corsetti 500 points
G3NYY Walt Davidson 100 points
G4SSH Roy Clayton 30000 points
G1OPV Philip Drew 1000 points
G3NYY Walt Davidson 500 points
HB9BIN Jurg Regli 250 points
DL5JAG Ronny Busch 100 points
GM0OAA Mike Wigg 100 points
Christmas is coming – how about dropping a hint to your nearest and dearest that a SOTA shirt would be a suitable gift. There are still a few in-stock which could be with you before the 25th December. Alternatively, how about catching up on the awards you have yet to claim, not only a great gift but you can save money as well. Email me with your requirements and I will see if I can help (email@example.com).
Finally, can I remind you that the cost of awards will rise in January so if you would like to claim certificates or a trophy now is the time to do it to save a little money.
Barry Horning, GM4TOE
Additional congratulations go to Joska HA5CW who wrote:-
I started SOTA chasing on the 18th August and established my 500th SOTA chaser QSO (F5LKW/p, F/AQM-424) on the 11th November and my 2500th SOTA chaser point (HB9AFI/p, HB/BE-119) on the 12th November).
73: Joska, HA5CW
SOTA STATISTICS by Tom M1EYP
Number of activators active in each year:
Year … G … World
2002 … 24 … 34
2003 … 48 … 93
2004 … 100 … 215
2005 … 122 … 284
2006 … 147 … 350
2007 … 155 … 491
2008 … 170 … 622
2009 … 173 … 673 (so far)
All-time . 370 … 1240
Number of chasers active in each year:
Year … G … World
2002 … 30 … 46
2003 … 58 … 95
2004 … 127 … 224
2005 … 154 … 311
2006 … 189 … 398
2007 … 207 … 559
2008 … 232 … 703
2009 … 215 … 705 (so far)
All-time . 423 … 1170
LETTER FROM AUSTRALIA – by Phil G4OBK
Pleasantly hot here today - about 30c or so. Had a walk around one of the bays in Sydney this morning, before it got too hot. Last Sunday we had 42c and I’ve never felt so much heat in the wind anywhere I’ve ever been before. It cooled to 21c on Monday, a massive drop in temperature over a matter of hours.
With me getting keen on walking the Wainwrights on 2m (50 since last March) my SOTA activating has taken a back seat of late, but I hope to get out in January somewhere in the NP area and will try and make some top band QSO’s. I have obtained a pair of 5000 mAH LIPO batteries and a charger from Hong Kong via e-bay. I reckon one battery should be good for at least one 50w activation with the FT-857. I hope they are up to the job and aren’t over voltage to safely use without modification.
I can keep up to date with SOTA Watch and read SOTA news. I got a netbook for travelling and it’s brilliant. We are travelling up to the Hunter Valley and staying overnight in a rented “cottage” – a well equipped holiday home. The Aussie culture is OK but this is a city, albeit a nice one as city’s go, but I have to say I won’t mind getting back to quiet North Yorkshire, my favourite county! They have WIFI here in the house, so I can get online with this netbook anytime.
THE VIEW FROM THE NORTH 11 - by Rob and Audrey
This is not really our area for routes etc., so just a few notes on what went on.
Thursday 29th October Mynydd y Cwm
This is a nice little wooded top, ideal for a family stroll. The path up starts on the right almost at the tank/trailer mentioned in the notes; we were looking a little further back at first. The summit now sports a crude wooden cross close to the cairn. On descent, quite close to the summit there is a Y junction in the path, not obvious in the ascent, your path is to the left.
Friday 30th October, Holyhead Mountain.
The Holyhead Breakwater Country Park (see website) is a good start for this one, free parking, a small café and visitor centre with warden. This would occupy less active family members for a time in nice weather (ducks to feed etc). They would not enjoy today (family, not ducks), rain squalls and high winds. Audrey is blown over on the summit; she’s only little, no damage. HF is not possible in the gale and 2m was a real struggle for just six contacts in almost an hour. One local greets us jocularly with ”Who’s making all this noise on two? I don’t normally hear this much activity in a year”.
Friday 30th October Mynydd Bodafon
The highest point on Anglesey, a short walk up from a rough car park with plenty of room. Again there is an adjacent pond with ducks but virtually all family members should make it to this pleasant little top. A few more contacts on this one, 2m fm only.
The forecast for Sunday is dire so we decide to swap Saturday and Sunday over which proves to be a good idea.
Saturday 31st October Tal y Fan.
A quick activation before the rally. The gated road from Rowan was quite overgrown last year so we drove up via Tal y Bont which is not a lot better with grass through the tarmac for a good deal of the way, no fun with a low slung car. 2m fm good after no replies on 2m SSB. About 20 stations worked then off to the rally.
The rally is still a shadow of its former self but only support will help it grow in the new excellent location. Met a few SOTA faces and at closing time decided on a quick trip up Great Orme
Saturday 31st October Great Orme
Arrived at the pay and display car park, paid up and then found out that parking there was free from 1800hrs on the 31st Oct until April next year! Operated with the beam bungeed to the trig, a super activation as it went slowly dark and the moon rose over the sea. Walked down by torchlight to an empty car park just after 1800hrs.
The weather forecast was spot-on for Sunday and we woke to heavy rain and very high winds. Leisurely morning and back to the rally to find it sadly depleted with all the stalls in the centre of the main hall either gone (one day only) or packing up shop.
Had a bite with OXV and MJG in the café but managed to miss one or two other SOTA stalwarts, sorry. Drove up to the now free car park on the Orme and watched people trying to get out of their cars and being blown over when they did. No activation!
Monday 2nd November Moel Gyw
There are signs of big road works on the A494 all around the parking place at the restaurant/motel which is also being renovated, resulting in a lot of contractors vehicles etc being parked there. We asked permission to stay a couple of hours, no problem but it might be when things progress. A quick 2m only from this nice little hill in a strong wind from the southwest.
Monday 2nd November Foel Fenlli
The path from the car park via the wood to a gate has seen a huge improvement with sensibly placed stone steps removing the risk of severe slipping. At the earthworks, the old wooden steps have been replaced with a much better mix of stone and wood making the climb a delight. Much safer for children etc, well done to whoever did it. Again 2m only and off to the next one.
Monday 2nd November Moel Famau
The road past the car park seemed busier than usual (short cut round the road works?)
Sandwiches on the hoof to save time (not an easy trick if you use two walking poles) but the path is a paved motorway with a little steepness just at the end. A suitable family outing on a nice day. Yet again 2m only and off home to catch the radio club, FARS, meeting this evening Thanks to all and sorry for the lack of HF. Normal service will resume next week.
One way to reduce pileups on your activation is to run QRP and don’t self spot. This method will ensure that often you make no contacts on a band and so relish the pile up if you get one. Hi hi
At the recent Newark rally we bought three large very light “tent” pegs from one of the continental vendors. They are superb for holding the mast and we wish we had bought more. Heereseigentum ciemetal it says on them, Army Property?
Raising the ends of the inverted V certainly works well for us. We use a walking pole at each end, fully extended. Put an ordinary V type tent peg into the ground at the end of the antenna with the V pointing toward the main pole but sloping away from it. Push the walking pole into the ground on the inside of the peg V and tie wrap in place. This seems to hold in most conditions when you can get a peg into the ground. Find some re-useable tie wraps, preferably bright colours so they don’t get lost. Please don’t leave discarded tie wraps on the hill, they get us a bad name and are dangerous to livestock.
Sunday 8th November Gummers How
Armistice Day, so a late start to the little local hill. HF conditions excellent and a descent in the gathering gloom after working all those who want us. This really is the ideal hill for those wanting a Lake District walk on a bad day, on a good day families will love it.
Rochdale rally this week, only small but very friendly and more to see than Newark. We chatted with Brian G4ZRP, a very keen chaser and occasional activator. He is very often the first person to call us when we are on a hill and achieves this without the help of the internet and runs QRP to boot.
Sunday 15th November. Top O Selside.
Another local one pointer (none for us) as we’re still recovering from Rochdale yesterday, never seen a motorway so wet. The walk through Dodson Woods is always a pleasure whatever the weather. These are ancient western maritime woods, mostly oak trees and are deliberately left unmanaged as much as possible. Today they are dressed for autumn, all green moss, brown fallen oak leaves and rushing becks, very different from bluebell time. Superb for a family in boots if a bit slippery in places.
The summit is open fell, just in cloud and windy today forcing us onto the western side for some shelter. The HF CW activation is difficult due to DX stations operating with very wide splits. If it gets much wider it will be like “Calling CQ on 2metres and tuning the band from high to low” in the old AM days hi hi. No takers on 4m for the first time in a long time. I (Rob) slip elegantly to sit in a puddle on the descent of the grassy wet path. Fortunately we have track suits in the car to prevent an uncomfortable drive home.
Club AGM this week. Just a reminder that Furness Amateur Radio Society meet every Monday in the Farmers Arms in Newton in Furness (just outside Barrow) If we are not there (events etc) Tony the landlord can redirect you. The usual alternative venue is Gleaston Water Mill, an ancient mill which is a tourist attraction in its own right, cafe, shop, tours etc; you can even stay in the converted “piggery” holiday cottage. Mike G8ALE is the owner and the mill has a permanent station and the call GB3GW which licensed visitors can operate. Please do drop in and see us at the club if you’re up here, we are very SOTA friendly.
Nice to see Tony 2E0LAE considering SOTA themed holiday breaks, they certainly work for us. GD is a good one.
Sunday 22nd November. Arnside Knott
Bearing in mind the disaster unfolding in the west/central lakes we decide on this little one yet again. Very heavy rain on the top while we are operating so apologies for the less than perfect CW. Actually failed to get four contacts on 2m FM but 5 and 7 MHz made up for it. First in the book on 7 MHz was Roy G4SSH; don’t often work him due to skip and our separation. Nice to catch you Roy.
In the aftermath of the floods in the Lake District many tourist businesses fear that this will be another foot and mouth disaster with potential visitors staying away. In fact many firms are already back in action but of course at the moment visitor numbers are down. Please do not avoid the area, come and enjoy it but do be aware there are still traffic problems particularly in the Workington/Cockermouth area as quite a few bridges are still down which can mean detours and delays. Cumbria is a large county and many areas are relatively trouble free. Check with local radio websites (BBC Radio Cumbria) and remember it does rain a lot at the best of times, that’s what makes the place so green and the lakes so beautiful. Just come and enjoy it.
On a lighter note, we have received queries on the air about SOTA cake at the next Norbreck Rally, (no call signs but you know who you are Andy). Audrey informs me that the elves in the mine are all currently engaged on the Christmas product line but in the New Year they will be moved to Norbreck production as usual.
Early we know but, a very Happy Christmas and a Good New Year to everyone out there from both of us. Thanks for all the contacts and take care, catch you again soon.
Rob and Audrey
DEAR SANTA - By G4SSH
Christmas is fast approaching and I have been asked to follow up the article in last year’s Christmas edition of SOTA News, which suggested a unique gift suitable for the dedicated SOTA enthusiast who has everything.
After weeks of searching through the internet I reckon that the following would fit the bill….
To quote the promotional blurb “The makers of Monopoly are offering an official made-to-order board called “My Monopoly” which can be custom-made to your own exact specification, featuring places, spaces, and icons of your choice”.
So forget about Park Lane, Fenchurch Street and Marylebone Station. “My Monopoly” allows you to choose a board with locations familiar to you. You could have a board printed for any SOTA association that you wish and it allows you to personalise nearly every aspect of the classic board game.
Simply send in your requirements and in a couple of weeks you can have your very own one-of-a-kind, custom-made game. Packed in a presentation box “My Monopoly” is printed at the official Monopoly factory.
The final version is only limited by your own imagination. For example, in the G-version “GO” could be replaced by HOME; the first side (normally commencing with Old Kent Road) could have single point SOTA locations, commencing with (for example) SE-001 Cheriton Hill, at 188m, increasing in height as you move around the board, with Mayfair being replaced with LD-001, Scafell Pike at 978m.
A shake of the dice could result in the penalty “Go to SP-015, go directly to SP-015, do not visit the Harrington Arms in Gawsworth for pint of Robinsons Mr Scrooger Humbug ale, or the Danebridge Chippy in Congleton. A heavy blow indeed ! Overseas substitutes for Jail could be LA/TM-049 or HB/ZH-015. I am sure that you get the idea.
COMMUNITY CHEST and CHANCE cards could have some topical instructions such as:-
You set up a SOTA station to discover you have no battery lead – return to home.
Wrong Ref sent - loose 6 points
Bad Weather forces alternative SOTA- loose 6 points.
Contest QRM - loose 4 points.
First chaser informs you that on a deleted SOTA - return home
Low battery, did not charge
Member of public stops to chat to you about your fishing poles
Arrive at summit to find another activator already set up
Jump over border fence at SOTA - gain extra 10 points
Attacked by midges, ants ladybirds
Cannot raise 4 chasers. etc., etc.
I am sure that you can suggest many similar penalty or bonus points.
Finally, the regular tokens of Top hat, Ship and Boot could be replaced by Rope, Tent, Torch, GPS, Flask, Rig and Antenna – the choice is yours.
“My Monopoly” £79.95 from www.firebox.com or ring the “My Monopoly” help-line on 00 800 22 42 72 76. Good Luck !
P.S. Look our for “Wii SOTA”, perhaps coming soon.
NORTH AMERICAN SOTA ACTIVITY DAY:
This appeared to be a considerable success, with quite a few stations in mainland Europe and the UK managing to make contact with the North American and Canadian summits. Special congratulations are extended to Richard G0IBE and Andrew K1YMI who made the first Transatlantic S2S contact on the evening of the 14th November.
Phil, G4OBK had a QSO with KI6NN/P on W6/CD-013 Teutonia Peak which he believes was the first W6(activator)-EU(Chaser) QSO and indeed at this time it is probably the best DX QSO in SOTA. Having just arrived in the shack, he worked first one on 14.285 KHz SSB at 1606z - that was K1YMI/P on W2/GA-044. At 1634z he snagged VA2SG/P on VE2/SG-005 and at 1722z he had the QSO with John KI6NN/P - exciting stuff.
Many thanks to Martin VA3SIE, who has forwarded the following account of his day:-
ACTIVATION OF VE2/OU-001 on November 14th by Martin VA3SIE/VE2/P
The Hike Up & Setting Up
I arrived at the base of the mountain at 1420Z, donned my pack,
updated my APRS beacon text to say I was hiking up and proceeded to
set off down the trail… the wrong trail! Oops. So my first 15 minutes
at Mont Ste. Marie was spent hiking a 1km loop which I didn’t have to.
It was a good warm-up though!
Once I got my bearings and headed up the correct trail (more of a road
really), I put a call out on the VE2REH repeater, and Michael VA2NB
was there. Michael is a QRP polar bear (Number 19) He was preparing to
head out for Lac Phillipe to work polar bear and summit stations. I
chatted with Michael a bit as I was hiking up the trail. About
half-way up, I stopped to give my shoulders a rest and take a drink of
water. Two thirds of the way up and my leg muscles were thanking me
for the climb :-?
I reached the summit after 1-½ hours, having covered 5.6km and climbed
1,036ft (316m). There were two very large radio masts up there as well
as a fire tower. I looked around and found a couple of trees to
support my antenna masts. There were plenty of trees there though,
some of them big enough to support a 31’ vertical, so next time I may
not bother bringing fibreglass poles, I may just use the trees as
My pack was pretty heavy, I was carrying: A chair, a 31’ fibreglass
mast, a 20’ fibreglass fishing pole, 4 bungee cords, a tarp, a tent
fly, a fleece, a wool sweater, a tuque, a thermal blanket, a first aid
kit, a compass, 50’ of RG-58/U coax, 50’ of RG-174/U coax, 80ft of
#24AWG and 208ft of teflon-coated silver-plated wire, a clipboard,
some electrical tape, small tools, and string, 3 spare single-wire
antennas, a micropore towel and paper towels in a ziplock bag,
waterproof matches in a ziplock bag, two headlamps, spare batteries
for the HF radio, VHF H/T and GPS, main batteries for the HF radio, a
ziplock back full of samosas, 3 cliff bars, 3 canteens of water, a
themarest pad, bright orange marker tape, an Elecraft KX-1 in a padded
box, a dummy load, a spare VHF/UHF duckie, a spare straight key, a set
of paddles, a set of earphones, a rite-in-the-rain logbook, 2 pens and
I reset my beacon text and sent a message through a home brew
APRS-to-twitter gateway that I was at the summit then I started
setting up the antennas 1600Z. I put the 40m/80m vertical up first
followed by the 20m vertical. That went smoother than I expected since
the rain had not yet arrived (Tropical depression Ida was on the
way!). In the past I used to twist the pole a few times so that the
wire was wrapped around it, to keep it from flapping around in the
breeze, but with the new linear loading design for 80m, I couldn’t do
that, so instead I used 4 little Velcro straps every 2 pole segments,
to keep the wire nice and tight to the pole. That worked out quite
well. I also had to figure out how to keep the wire attached at the
top of the mast while raising it vertically since it’s through the
eye loop in this design and not attached to it.
Before I left the house, I attached a small piece of electrical tape
stuck to itself mid-way along the 62’ section of wire. I can roll it
up to squeeze it through the loop and then let it unroll so it won’t
pass back through the hole. Worked great! In order to pass the end of
the wire through, I had to remove the solder-less banana plug and
re-attach it. This could wear out the wire after a few uses so I need
to re-think this aspect of the design. I’m pretty happy though with
the result, the radio tuned on 80m just great and it’s a lot easier
than any other 80m antenna I’ve played with in the past. In theory it
should perform better than a design with inductive loading in the
centre, but I didn’t have time to confirm that. I was able to elevate
all four of the 20m radials at around 6ft and one of the 40m/80m
radials (the extra-long one) thanks to well placed trees and bushes.
As I was setting up, I was chatting to Michael on the repeater and
another station called me – it was WG0AT Steve, Rooster and Peanut.
Looking to set up a sked I think. But when I called Steve back,
nothing happened. Michael was also trying to call Steve, we enjoy
contacting Steve during Polar Bear Moonlight Madness events and
hearing about the latest escapades of Rooster & Peanut (Steve’s
I set up my chair, took my KX-1 out of its protective case (a
cottonelle container stuffed with latex foam), popped the paddles and
earbuds in, attached the batteries (8 energizer lithium primary
AA-sized batteries in a radio shack battery holder), strapped it to
the clipboard with rubber bands, attached my logbook, updated my APRS
beacon text, and tuned to 14.285MHz using the KX-1 cross-mode feature
as I remembered many stations saying they would be there.
Right away I noted two things. One was a loud buzzing/hash noise which
was present on all bands but which rose and fell in strength as I
tuned up the band. I guess that was coming from the communication
towers, more likely the power infrastructure which was feeding them
juice. I considered walking to the edge of the activation zone, but
doing that would place mountain between me and other stations and
probably wouldn’t help much because the SOTA organization has defined
the activation zone as a 20m elevation below the highest peak, and
that would have only gotten me about 100yds away from the towers
rather than 20yds, so I decided just to push through it. The other
thing I noticed was KI6NN summit station working a pile-up on SSB from
Teutonia Peak W6/CD-013. I sent my callsign in CW several times when
John called QRZ, but he didn’t hear me. I sent a disheartening twitter
update through APRS shortly thereafter.
The APRS tracking worked really well, several SOTA folks commented on
my position and status on the reflector which was really cool, I’ll be
following up that reflector thread once I get this blog entry done.
But I have a big ‘lessons learned’ here: If you’re going to beacon
your operating frequency, then you had better keep your beacon text up
to date… several times I went QSY’ing up or down the band and forgot
to update my beacon text.
Following the failed CW-to-USB S2S attempt I then updated my beacon
status to indicate that I was trying 14.060MHz. I did listen around
and I didn’t hear any stations on or around 14.060MHz, but I was
getting some strong QRM, ( have noticed that other SOTA activators &
chasers reported QRM too, maybe it wasn’t just the cell phone towers
but I suspect that they were contributing a lot to the interference.
So I sent a couple of QRL? and then went ahead with a CQ call. At this
point, two interesting things happened… One was that when your
callsign is VA3SIE/VE2/P that doesn’t leave much room in the memory
keyer for the rest of the CQ call. What I discovered (but not for a
while) was that I was not sending a ‘K’ signal at the end, it hadn’t
fit in the message and I didn’t notice it was missing. That must have
been confusing to anyone listening! The other interesting thing was
that a couple of times I thought I heard some CW but it was very very
fast speed, and I’m not sure what it was saying, but just in case it
was saying ‘QRL’ I decided to stop CQ’ing there. Recognizing that my
noise floor was high, I didn’t want to interfere with any QSO which
was already underway, it made me a bit hesitant to transmit.
Anyway no one came back to my 30 minutes or so of trying CQ on various
20m frequencies and I wasn’t hearing any other SOTA or polar bear
stations on 20m around 1700Z so I decided to flip over to 40m (the
noise was not as bad on 40) and get the requisite minimum four QSOs to
legitimize my activation attempt.
I was just watching J.P.’s excellent video and wow! 20m sounded a lot
different at the summit of Mont Apica VE2/SG-005 than it did at the
summit of VE2/OU-001!!… hmm, thanks cell phone towers :-o
(Congratulations J.P. on all those FB contacts !!!)
Around 1730Z, after my 20m activity, Michael VA2NB called me on the
repeater. Michael had arrived at Lac Phillipe so I suggested we try a
simplex 2m contact, which we did. We had to play around with the
antenna orientation a little to be fully quieting and I had to
overcome inter-modulation interference from the towers, but we did
complete the exchange of summit number and polar bear numbers, so
Michael was my 1st contact from the summit.
On 40m I focussed on the strongest stations I could find calling CQ
around 7030kHz to 7040kHz, I wanted to get my four contacts! At 1745Z
I found Bob, KB3TJS in Lanham and completed a QSO with him. I told him
all about SOTA and got an FB.
I then called KZ4G, the Wireless Outback DX Crew in Kentucky who were
calling CQ up on 7062kHz, around 1815Z and we exchanged information, I
sent them the summit number.
The next contact, I don’t know what happened though, K3IQ was nice and
strong at 1830Z from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and I copied the
exchange well, but when I came back and sent them all the SOTA summit
information etc, there was then just dead air after my ‘K’ signal. No
confirmation if they got all that, so I’m not counting that one.
Around 1845Z I received a call from VA3QV (he mentioned me in his blog
a few days beforehand – thanks Bob!), Bob was looking to setup a sked
for a VHF simplex contact, so I skooted over to a tall boulder stood
atop it and tried to catch Bob’s waves out of the ether I heard
him really weakly but he was using 50W (?) maybe more, so I knew he
couldn’t be hearing my 5W to my rubber ducky antenna. Thanks for
Our simplex attempt was however heard by Pete, VE3YYY (I’m glad we
chose to do so on the officially recognized 2m FM calling frequency)
and he fired up his radio and made contact with me. I passed the
summit number to Pete who was a good 5×9 and a rare grid-square to
boot – Glasgow Station, Ontario is in FN15.
So with that, four contacts are in the log and it’s a legitimate
activation , so I took a break and ate some samosas and drank some
Around 1900Z, with my four activations in the bag, I was able to relax
and send CQ for a while, so I sent out one CQ call on 40m and right
away I got a call back from Pierre, VE2PID. Excellent, I knew that
Pierre would appreciate the summit contact as he is an active member
of the VE2 SOTA organization and region manager for the Estrie region
in VE2 SOTA. In fact, the last entry in the VA3SIE log with Pierre was
also made on a mountaintop – I was hiking Mount Minsi in Pennsylvania
and I was resting at the summit when I made that contact too! Pierre I
hope your leg is feeling better!!
I made contact with Michael at Lac Phillipe again on the repeater and
he was warming himself up with a thermos of soup. It had started
raining at Lac Phillipe, so I knew Ida was on the way. Michael
mentioned that he had made contact with one of the two VE2 SOTA
summits – yipee! – it was Jean at the summit of Mont Habitat in the
Laurentides. He also reported having worked a couple of polar bears.
So armed with the ’spots’ Michael gave me during our QSO, off I went
in search of summits and bears on 40m. It was not to be though, I
didn’t hear the stations Michael reported, I did search around a bit
and stop and CQ on a couple of different frequencies.
Pierre mentioned he was hearing a lot of QRN, and I knew where it was
coming from! With the imminent arrival of Tropical depression Ida the
clouds were thickening and the skies were darkening.
I flipped over to 20m and listened around again and I heard the
Teutonia Peak W6/CD-013 in Southern California again this time in CW,
so with my heart rate increasing and sitting forward in my chair, it
was time to try for an S2S (Summit-to-Summit) contact. The first
couple of times I sent my callsign, Jim didn’t pick me up but then I
heard VE2? and we were off to the races.
Summit to Summit – Great!
With the interference from the cell phone towers and their associated
equipment and the QRN from Ida, it was tough going. Jim reduced his
speed which helped a lot and finally we were each able to piece
together a contact a few characters at a time. The good thing about
running 1.5W is the size and weight of the transceiver and batteries.
But it has its down side! After much back & forth, I had all the
information I needed and Jim didn’t ask for additional repeats, so my
first S2S QSO at 1923Z was in the bag too, what a hoot!!
I spent the next 30 minutes alternating between a few minutes of CQ
and searching for more stations on 40m, I was particularly trying to
find the other 2 VE2 summits but with no luck. I felt a few drops of
rain, and realized that Ida had finally arrived, and it was time to
leave I wanted to complete the hike out in daylight, so I ran over and
gave the 80m configuration of my antenna quick try, I was curious to
see if it would tune up – it did!
So with the arrival if inclement weather and with reduced visibility
and the onset of dusk, realizing it was going to take a while to get
packed up, I got started. Why is it that I keep losing the rubber ends
from my Jackite poles? I have lost four of these so far. They seem to
evaporate when used for outdoor amateur radio activities Oh, well…
It was a challenge to get everything back into the pack without
filling it with rain water!
In my haste I accidentally got my VHF H/T into a strange mode where it
was changing the volume simultaneously on both bands and I knocked it
off frequency, when I tried to tune it back to the repeater, it would
change the volume level not the channel, and my pack was sitting open
hungrily sucking down raindrops, so I ignored the radio and
concentrated on getting packed up, which ended up taking about 45
As I started on the hike back down the mountain at 2100Z, I figured
out that holding down the volume button allowed me to change the
channels and when I got it back to the repeater, Jim VE3XID was
closing the Colorado link. Jim had been monitoring APRS traffic and
also mentioned that there were some messages from WG0AT to me but I
hadn’t received any.
In fact now that I check aprs.fi there were several messages which
were sent to me, none of which I actually received :-? , including
from several from Maurice André at the VE3JW station located at the
Canada Science & Technology museum in Ottawa.
I wish I had received those, Maurice André was kind enough to spot
VE2JCW (I see now) on 40m shortly after my QSO with Pierre. In fact,
aprs.fi shows that particular message was digipeated by VE3REH-3 which
was on one of the cell phone towers nearby, so I must have messed up
some setting in the radio causing me to not receive messages. Oops
:oops: … many thanks to those stations who did try to send me
As I continued to hike down the mountain, Jim VE3XID kept me company,
we chatted about many subjects, and then Michael VA2NB called in, and
we kept in touch while we both hiked out. It was a great security to
be in touch with two others who knew exactly where I was and exactly
what I was doing! In fact we discussed the topic of planning for
the worst case scenario, it was an interesting discussion. I realize
that while having a compass along is a good idea, not having a paper
map in a waterproof map carrier would have made GPS-free navigation a
The hike out took 50 minutes and it was getting really dark as I
arrived at the car, so my timing was spot on (although it’s a wide
road so it would probably have been okay to hike in the dark).
I had a blast with this Summits on the air activation!
Wow! I had tons of fun, thanks to all.
I plan to activate this summit again on December 5th and this time,
73 Martin VA3SIE / VE2/P
CW REPORT FOR NOVEMBER 2009 by Roy G4SSH
The month of November was particularly difficult for CW chasers, with wide DX pile-ups frequently wiping out the 30 metre spot around 10118 KHz, and on occasions even 7032 KHz. There were also many CW contests taking out 40m at weekends, but fortunately there were many activators who were experienced enough to move away from the regular spots. Thanks to Heinz OE5EEP who used 10129 KHz, Moise F5IUZ who used 10126, Walt G3NYY on 7040 KHz and G3TJE Peter working on 7024 KHz.
Kjell, LA1KHZ, continued to contact many CW chasers by using his crystal controlled QRPp Tx on 10120 KHz, with just 100mW or lower. He was often struggling to sort out the SOTA chasers calling him from the dozens of DX chasers using just a single call. His request for SOTA stations to use double calls did help, but at times his wide band receiver must have been receiving half a DX chasers to one SOTA chaser.
There were many days with just one or two CW activations spotted and these were deluged by dozens of frantic chasers desperate for points. I was in contact with one QRP activator and I was struggling to read his details underneath another chaser who was repeatedly sending his call and ???. I finally became exasperated and asked the activator to PSE QRX whilst I called the station causing QRM and asked him to please QRX and listen, as I was in QSO, and the reply was “SRI OM BUT TOO WEAK HR”. So the explanation for causing QRM was that he could not actually hear the activator so was just sending his call !
Many chasers were delighted with activators who moved up to the higher bands and 14 MHz is becoming very popular, with some stations commencing their CQ SOTA calls on this band. Walter DK1BN and Andre F5UKL are leading the way with multiple band activations:- Heard active on the higher bands were:-
28 MHz DK1BN
21 MHz; F5UKL
18 MHz: F5UKL, VA2SG,
14 MHz:- F5UKL, HA7UL, M1EYP, VA2SG, VA2SIE, S53X, HA5MA, OE5EEP, HA2VR,
10 MHz:- DK1BN, OE5EEP, S57X, F5UKL, LA1KHA, S51ZJ, G3NYY, S53X, HA6QR, M1EYP, HA2VR, OK1CYC, DL5JAG, F5IUZ, OK1DDQ, Z35M, DL3VTA, S51ZJ, S51RU, HA5MA, HB9DGV, DL4CW, HA7UL, VA2SG, HA5CQZ, HG4UK, HB9BAB, OK1DDQ, HG4UK.
The lower bands also began to come into use as we approached mid winter, with Gyula HA6QR active on 1812 KHz and LA1ENA, HA6QR, HA6OY and DK1BN using 3.5 MHz.
The poor weather resulted in few cross-border expeditions, with just HA/OK2QA, OE/OK2QA, DL/HB9CMI and DL/HB9AGO heard during November.
A warm welcome to Ronny DL5JAG, Novak HA6PJ, Sven DF9MV, and Jean-Luc F8FCAwho were all heard activating SOTA stations on CW for the first time.
LIST OF CONTESTS DURING DECEMBER (Not a full list of contests)
There are not many contests scheduled for the month of December that will adversely affect SOTA activators (Mainly top band or 10m.) but watch out for:-
12-13th 1600-1600 International Navy contest CW
13th only 0001-2359 SKCC CW Sprint.
19th only 0001-2359 OK DX RTTY contest
20th only 0001-2359 Russian Digital contest
19th -20th 1400-1400 Croatian CW contest
27th only 0200-0959 RAEM CW contest
SOTA News is published at noon UTC on the last day of the 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, South Africa and beyond, and your input will be most welcome.
My very best wishes for Christmas go to all readers, chasers, activators and SWL’s.
SOTA News Editor