SOTA NEWS FEBRUARY 2011
EDITORIAL – by Roy G4SSH
Welcome to the February 2011 edition of SOTA News. My thanks go to the following contributors:- Les G3VQO, Barry GM4TOE, Fred K6DGW, Martin DF3MC, Jaakko OH7BF, Rob and Audrey G4RQJ.
SOTA activity on VHF and SSB began to increase in January as winter began to relax a little, but CW activity continued to remain at a very low level.
FROM THE SOTA MANAGEMENT TEAM
From 1st February, SOTA expands into yet another new part of the U.S.A. This time it’s the W4 call area, and once again we’re taking the one Association per state model. Well, that’s not 100% true, as our first W4 Association, W4 (The Carolinas), covers two states – North Carolina and South Carolina. There are six Regions altogether, with five in North Carolina and just the one in South Carolina, which is generally more low-lying. The Association Manager Rich N4EX has listed 524 summits altogether, and has opted for no seasonal bonus for this Atlantic coast Association.
Simultaneously, another Association in the same call area begins life. This time it covers the state of Virginia, home to those famous Blue Ridge Mountains. Sure enough, there is a Region called Blue Ridge, along with another eight Regions. Altogether, Association Manager Chuck K4QS has listed 542 summits within the state, so we hope to hear activators “on the trail of the lonesome pine” before too long.
There has been a revision to the VE2 listing, with additional summits now available in the OU Region.
Meanwhile, a lot of hard work has been taking place behind the scenes in Austria. Being one of the earliest SOTA Associations outside the UK back in January 2004, Austria did not have a ready-made third-party list of eligible summits available, and relied on hard work by its originators to create an acceptable list. Late in 2010, Association Manager Chris OE1CWA was alerted to the fact that there were a number of anomalies in the summit list, with some summits showing positions outside the country, and others duplicated with differing names. With the support of the MT, and his enthusiastic team of Regional Managers, Chris made the decision to radically overhaul the entire summit list. Using the latest technology, which was not available seven years earlier, all summits were checked for accuracy and adherence to a prominence value of 150m. Now that work is complete, and the revised list is available. There are numerous deletions, but also a few new summits have been identified. In order to allow activators to “say goodbye” to their favourite summits, the new list will not come into effect until 1st April 2011. I’m sure that everybody will wish to congratulate Chris and his team for their comprehensive revamp of the Austrian summit list. Welcome to “The Premiership” of fully-P150 (or P500ft) Associations!
obo SOTA MT
SOTA AWARDS FOR JANUARY 2011 by Barry GM4TOE - SOTA Awards Manager.
Happy New Year to everybody associated with SOTA; hopefully this will be a prosperous and safe year for everybody.
Following my comments last month about the lack of claims for awards it seems that as soon as the monthly report appeared everybody decided to make a claim.
Congratulations are in order for all award winners, but especially our new Mountain Goats MM1BJP and MM3WJZ (especially pleasing for me as they are both Scottish stations!) and Shack Sloth’s OE5REO and I3VAD. Graham G3OHC goes from strength to strength, despite his move to my old stamping grounds in Surrey, achieving 20K Chaser points this month. Maybe we will hear Graham from the lofty heights of Leith Hill!
MM1BJP Allan McDermid Mountain Goat
MM3WJZ Iain Cogle Mountain Goat
OE5REO Martin Reiter Shack Sloth
I3VAD Giancarlo Scarpa Shack Sloth
2E0XYL Karen Richardson 250 points
2E0TDX Neil Richardson 250 points
2M0NCM Neil Cunningham 250 points
SV2KBB Archelaos Iakovidis 250 points
OK1XVZ Vladmir Zednik 250 points
W1DMH Douglas Houston 100 points
G3OHC Graham Badger 20000 points
I3VAD Giancarlo Scarpa 1000 points
M0OYG Brian Nuttal 500 points
2M0NCM Neil Cunningham 250 points
M3XIE David Robinson 250 points
EA1DFP Enrique Gonzalez 100 points
EA2CTB Ignacio Jimenez 100 points
2M0NCM Neil Cunningham 100 points
G4GRG Grajon Radio Group 500 summits
I3VAD Giancarlo Scarpa - Mountain Hunter Bronze
Can I make a plea to all claimants – unlike a lot of Highlanders I do not have the benefit of the Second Sight and it would be really helpful if you not only let me know which award you are claiming but also remember to include your callsign! If paying by Paypal there is a facility on the payment page to send an “Instruction to Merchant” which you can use to supply the detail of your claimed award and your callsign. The other option is to send me an email via the awards email address sotaawards “at” sota.org.uk or sota-awards “at” btconnect.com (replace the “at” with @).
Now news of the long awaited window stickers; I have, in-stock, vinyl self adhesive window stickers with the SOTA logo printed on them in full colour. These stickers are designed to fit inside a window with the logo showing outwards (to fit into your car or shack window). Cost will be 75p each plus postage and there will be an announcement on the reflector indicating this cost and the postage costs Worldwide once I have calculated how many stickers can be sent in one minimum postage envelope.
Can I thank the following who have kindly made donations to help with SOTA expenses: 2E0XYL, 2M0NCM and G3OHC. This is very much appreciated
Can I remind everyone that I still have a stock of Flags, T shirts, Polo Shirts and Sweatshirts and an email to me will get details of availability and cost.
The weather is gradually improving (although, once again, it is snowing as I write this) so it is time to get out on those hills and activate – safely!
Barry Horning GM4TOE
Our congratulations also:-
to Stewart G0LGS on passing his 4000 chaser points on 2nd January.
to Pavel, OK1MCS, on gaining1000 activator points. Pavel managed to pass this milestone on December 29 and so completed the activation of all OK/PL summits.
to Geoff 2E0BTR who qualified as a Mountain Goat on 15th January on Titterstone Clee Hill WB-004, despite the cold and windy conditions.
to Mike 2E0YYY, who activated from the summit of Shining Tor G/SP on the 22nd January, making 150 contacts using just 7w to a dipole on 2m only. To put this into context, I was one of the ops at special event station GB4RNLI on 7 MHz SSB on the same day and the same times, using 100w to a dipole and we only managed 100 contacts. This was a really remarkable achievement by Mike.
to Byong-Cheon DS4QBE, on achieving 100 South Korean chasers points, which must be quite difficult to come by.
to veteran activator Norby LX1NO who has now made more than 10,000 /P contacts operating /P from DL. A quite remarkable achievement, with many hundreds of grateful chasers.
to Rob and Audrey G4RJQ, for passing the 2000 activator points milestone whilst on Lords seat on the 16th January.
to Doug KB1TBW who has gained more then 100 activator points, all of which were within the W1 area. Doug is only the second US ham to reach such a milestone.
Note from Editor – The input for this section is obtained from personal e-mails sent to me, comments on the reflector and on-air QSO’s. It serves to highlight personal milestones that have been achieved, that perhaps do not qualify for an official SOTA award from Barry. If you are proud of some achievement or some personal goal reached and would like it to be recorded, then please send me the details.
Our commiserations go to Karen 2E0XYL who had the misfortune to break her ankle after activating Allt y Main, GW/NW-059 during the month. We wish her a speedy recovery and hope that the 6-8 weeks whilst the ankle is in plaster does not pass too slowly.
SOTA LOGS FOR LINUX USERS - Jaakko OH7BF/F5VGL
I prepared some documentation for the Linux users how to handle SOTA logs
with the adifmerg program that I have written. This is in Ham Wiki
73, Jaakko OH7BF/F5VGL oh7bf at sral dot fi
NORTH AMERICAN SOTA NEWS By Fred K6DGW
Here’s the report for January from the New World.
It’s been pretty quiet in the SOTA department, winter is upon us, not
many [except Andrew] are up to snowshoes, but we have had some activity,
and a new Association to report.
W4 Association: Rich, N4EX, reports:
“The ARM for W4-The Carolinas was adopted with a Date of Issue of 30
Dec 2010 and Participation Start Date of 1 Feb 2011. There are a total
of 524 qualifying summits consisting of 492 in North Carolina and 32 in
South Carolina. Most noteworthy among the North Carolina summits is
Mount Mitchell, which at 6684 ft., is the highest summit within the
eight state W4 Association and also the highest point east of the
And, be alert! Chuck, K4QS tells me:
“I have a new ATS-4 built and trail ready, Buddipole and all 542
Virginia summits loaded in the GPS. Weather, work and family schedule
permitting I’ll try my first activation as soon as I can after the
This is really cool news! We’re closing in on complete Canada/US
participation. We’re looking now for some input from the Provinces to
the north of me.
W7 Association: Guy, N7UN, reports:
“Winter has us its bone-chilling grip. No real news for the W7
Associations of OR, ID, MT, NV, or WY. There’s some planned activity
for Winter Field Day Jan 29th which might include a SOTA activation in
Idaho. I’ll report on that next month if it occurs.”
It’s late on 26 Jan here at “press time” on the western frontier,
nothing yet on the alerts page, so we’ll have to turn this into history
and see how they did.
W2 Association: Andrew, K2FR, hopefully in arctic gear, tells us:
"Activation a success… Barely… Cold long snowshoe… Brrr!
Made it to the top, had some food and made a few contacts on 2m FM.
Didn’t have any HF gear today and with good reason it was 15 degrees for
most of the day and I didn’t spend very long at the summit.
Terrible editing, I know… It was cold and I didn’t get lots of pictures/footage."
W6 Association: I managed to get Banner Mt, W6SN-048, on the air Sat 22
Jan. Weather was nothing like Andrew describes, we’re in our usual
“January Warm Up” and I was in cargo shorts, and a sweatshirt some of
the time. My expedition was semi-pre-empted by some other things, but I
did get on the air and made contacts.
That’s what I have. Things are likely to pick up fast as Spring comes.
Thanks to all who supply me with fodder for this column, lots of summits
yet to activate!
73, and stay warm,
Fred K6DGW [aka “Skip” on the radio]
Canada/US SOTA Reporter Dude
SOLAR ECLIPSE by Martin DF3MC
On the morning of January 4th, I was on Hoher Peißenberg (DL/AM-001) to observe the eclipse and for some SOTA activity. There were about 50 observers – some with rather big fotocameras and telescopes, and the temperature was about -10 deg C.
There was low fog under the summit, and it was a fantastic view to the Alps rising out of the fog. The partly occulted sun was visible behind some thin high clouds. Altogether it was quite a spectacular view.
During the maximum occultation I was able to make about 10 QSO’s with stations from all over Europe on 40m. I thought that the signals might be a bit weaker than usual, but signal reports for me were normal. There was a lot of activity on 30m – only two QSO’s for me.
After the eclipse, I made another 50 QSO’s – this is one of the highest number of contacts for any of my activations.
In summary, I could not observe any abnormalities in propagation during or after the eclipse. There are lots of scientific reports about the effects of a solar eclipse on the ionosphere - I think that nearly every eclipse since 1927 has been the target of one or more scientific investigation.
A nice overview of the effects of the Jan.4th eclipse can be found on the pages of Space Weather Application Center - Ionosphere. (news/solar eclipse)
TNX and VY 73
Note from Ed - I worked Martin on 40m CW at 0808 UTC, some 7 minutes before the maximum at 0815, when 86% of the sun was obscured by the moon and can confirm that signal strengths were normal – Roy
WHAT’S IN A CALLSIGN? Roy G4SSH
There has recently been some speculation on the Reflector as to how I became the owner of callsign G4SSH. Was it a random allocation, or is there a story behind the occurrence? Well…. there IS a story……
Back in 1981, I returned from an overseas tour of duty in Cyprus to discover that Citizen Band Radio was about to become legal in the UK. This was well before the days of Mobile phones and to be able to communicate whilst mobile was unique and quite revolutionary. In those days it could also be a lifesaver in event of an accident or breakdown.
I obtained CB licence 00544466 at the local Post Office as they opened at 0900 on the first day of issue on 1st November 1981 and was later allocated callsign 2X0OO. At the time I was involved in driving hundreds of motorway miles from my place of work as Government Communications instructor at Bletchley Park to my home in Scarborough and knowledge of road conditions ahead and details of any diverts, courtesy of other cars and truckers, was invaluable. An early form of Sat-Nav!
This stirred my interest in Amateur radio, but at the time CB was capable of doing what amateur radio could not, which was allow me to communicate with colleagues and family members. However, I could visualise a use for Amateur Radio when I retired in about 15 years time, so I obtained some self-study books and passed the requirements for a full licence. The cost of setting up an amateur radio station looked quite prohibitive at the time, so I filed the pass certificate without applying for a callsign.
Fast forward to 1982 when a work colleague who was a licenced amateur mentioned that the licensing authority were issuing callsigns in the G4R… series and perhaps I might like to obtain personal call G4ROY? In those days callsigns were issued in strict alphabetical order, but you could “reserve” one of your choice and wait until it became available.
I phoned the authority and was disappointed when the YL informed me that I was too late because they had now started on the G4S… series and would I like to select one of those? I jokingly said “Sure - how about G4SOS, because in my previous job as Radio Officer in the Merchant Navy I sent SOS three times!” and was astounded when she replied “Of course sir, I will reserve G4SOS for you”. I replaced the phone and said to my XYL - “wait for it - I give it 15 minutes before I receive a call back”.
I should have taken a bet because the licensing authority rang back in 10 minutes “I am ever so sorry sir” said the same YL, “but the supervisor says you can’t have that call, but I do not understand why”. I told her not to worry and decided I might as well pick a call that would roll off the key, so requested G4SSS. “Sorry Sir, the Exmoor Radio Club have that one reserved”. We were both getting fed up by now so I said “OK give me the nearest to that one - how about G4SSH?” Two weeks later the call was mine and I have never regretted it.
As an aside, years later I obtained G7ROY when you were allowed to hold an additional “B” class call. You will, very occasionally, hear this call on the SOTA nets when I am not satisfied that a G4SSH contact was a valid QSO and I do not want to confuse the activator by making a possible dupe contact.
Speaking of duff callsigns, when I was in the Merchant Navy one of the first things I did on joining a new ship was to visit the Radio shack and look for the callsign on the bulkhead. In those days HF coast stations sent a list of ships in alphabetical order of callsign then broadcast all the messages. If you had a callsign early in the G series then you could receive your traffic in a few minutes and get on with your other tasks, but if your call was late in the M series than you could be still waiting two hours later, after your shift had ended.
The worst ship’s callsign I ever had was “MQRZ”, the ss “Blairspay” - a general cargo ship sailing across the North Atlantic in winter. She was one of the world’s shopping baskets, and I joined her on a voyage to load wood pulp in the Gulf of St Lawrence, destined for the Imperial Paper Mills at Gravesend on the Thames. Not only was the callsign a disaster by being one of the last to receive broadcast traffic from the UK’s Portishead Radio but, as every ex-Marconi man knows, your ship callsign became so familiar that after a while you could be reading a book on the quieter parts of a night shift whilst your brain was monitoring the calling frequency and you would jump when your callsign was sent. Unfortunately every time somebody sent “QRZ?” (who is calling me?) I would jump, not knowing if someone was calling me.
“QRZ? de MQRZ” always brought forth many anonymous “HI”s.
THE VIEW FROM THE NORTH 25.
Sunday Jan 2nd The Mells.
The New Year set off with the same icy roads that put paid to our holiday activations, but by Sunday things had melted enough to let us do our favourite winter bonus pair, Great and Little Mell Fells. This pair lies between Penrith and Keswick and are close to Ullswater. If you’re approaching from the south via the M6 it’s probably best to stay on the motorway to the Penrith junction. If you decide to approach through the Lake District (the scenic route) be aware there are several ways of losing time.
Today we came up behind a large motor home negotiating Kirkstone Pass at a steady15mph. This continued through Patterdale, Glen Ridding and up the shore of Ullswater putting us a long way behind schedule. The minor road about a couple of miles beyond the A5091 junction will take you eventually to NY424236 a point on the col between Little Mell and its lower neighbour to the south. There is space here for about four cars opposite a water board installation. From here 20mins of steep grass slope will have you on the summit. Today we were behind time so decided on VHF only from this one to give us time for a full operation on the second summit. During the activity Paul(M6PEW) advised us that Colin (G4UXH) was on his way from Great Mell to activate little Mell so we looked out for him and had a “Doctor Livingstone I presume” moment on the steep grass slope, eventually demonstrating our Propagator home brew antenna that all emerges from a walking staff. Details are on the way Colin, just having to update things a little.
Great Mell is most easily done from NY407247. The road from Little Mell will take you directly there. Walk up the lane to the second stile and follow the obvious path, in general try to skirt the woods rather than getting involved in them! We ran a full activation from this one and were pretty cold at the end and happy to set off down. Surprisingly we did not come across any activity day summit stations, too far north and screened we guess.
Things seem very quiet SOTA wise from the home QTH and many of the continental activations have been lost beneath the nowadays ever present S7 noise levels.
Sunday 9th Jan. Hutton Roof Crag.
Yet another difficult weather forecast with high winds and serious ice on the roads so just a little leg stretcher. Nice walk through the winter woods, last time we did this one we filled all the water bottles and sandwich box with blackberries and a few raspberries (we’re still eating the jam). Not today though, all bare trees and frozen ground. Once out of the woods the strong icy cold wind caught us with the odd sleet shower. Once on the summit we hid behind one of the small limestone outcrops and managed a three hour activation. This top can be a pig to set up a wire antenna if you are forced into the limited cover; the ground is broken with grass covered limestone pavement, perfect ankle traps some of which are really deep. In addition there are thorn bushes and the remains of bracken which always catch a wire no matter how hard you try to avoid them. This is why the approach from the free car park in the Plain Quarry to the south is the most pleasant and trouble free. Our compass is still deep in one of the fissures in the limestone pavement following an approach from the north through the summer undergrowth; nearer to the M6 junction and best avoided.
Sunday 16th Jan. Lords Seat.
This weekend it’s torrential rain for a change, five inches fell over night on the tops and most of it is busy finding its way into the lakes in addition to what is still falling.
In countless places up the side of Windermere, over Dunmail Raise and along Thirlmere the water is over two feet deep on the road. Just to add a little fun the pot holes left by the snow and ice are nine or ten inches deep and often hidden by larger puddles resulting in some tooth jarring unexpected impacts. These are almost as bad as the fee to park at the Whinlatter Forest Centre, £5 for four hours. There is an extensive mountain bike trail and a shop etc and forest fun for all in the summer. The climb is on forest tracks for the vast majority of the time coming out onto open fell for the last 20mins or so. Today the wind on the totally bare summit is so strong that standing is difficult and sitting not an option so we drop down into a little cover on the North West slope still in the activation area but with poor take off to the south.
We decide that in the conditions and in view of the possible road problems on the return run we will have to go for a quick activation so reluctantly have to drop the HF CW element of the trip so many apologies if you were waiting for us. We do always announce this at the end of the 5MHz activation but on this occasion wires seem to have become a little crossed. The 5MHz activity is fine and contact number four with Roger (MW0IDX) qualifies the hill for us and takes us over 2000 activator points.
Unfortunately signal strengths are poor and we are not able to thank Roger properly so thanks now Roger and indeed all the rest of you that make SOTA such a pleasure for us.
On 2M the poor path to the south meant all contacts were to the north east and west with the notable exception of Paul M6PEW down in Silverdale. 4m produces no contacts although we do here a /P station near Mow cop but he can’t hear us. We contour the summit and drop down through the grass to the stile rather than brave the gale on the bare top again.
Today Wednesday news on local radio tells us that the body of a woman has just been found in Whinlatter forest. She had been missing since just before Christmas.
Her car was found in the visitor centre car park but extensive searches including helicopters with thermal imaging failed to find anything which shows how deep and extensive the forest is. Best stick to the marked tracks.
Sunday 23rd Jan Whitfell
This fell is a nice short drive for us but not too handy for most people, involving a trip into the road system of south west Cumbria. Take the A590 from M6 junction 36 Turn onto the A5092 to the A595 and on to Duddon Bridge (traffic lights). The Corney Fell road is on the right just after the lights. It is single track with passing places, quite busy and often weather affected. The walk starts from the highest point on the road where there is room for about six cars. Warning it’s a lot further from the M6 than it may look! The walk is about one hour thirty minutes.
The first section heads up to the col between Paddy End Crag and Buckbarrow. The more direct path across the grass slope has become obscured through lack of use so basically follow the track near the wall. Stick to the Paddy End side initially but as you have passed through the col follow the path to the Buckbarrow side and then down. The next section can be very boggy and is best done during prolonged drought or hard frost. Eventually when through the bog, at a rocky outcrop the path forks. Take the fork to your right to contour Burnmoor, even Wainwright says it’s not worth the effort to climb, we’ve done it once. The contouring path will lead you eventually to the final short climb to the summit of Whitfell. The summit shelter is not the best in the world and the rocks around it can be very slippery so we decided to operate on the south facing grass slope just low enough to reduce the effects of the cold north easterly wind.
Conditions on 5MHz were very up and down even between overs, 7MHz produced no contacts, we could hear Juerg HB9BIN/P sometimes at 59+ but could not break the pile up for a summit to summit. In CW a recognised call would come in handy at times like this, suggested QSS some time ago but no takers.10MHz seemed dead with no response to a string of calls. As we finished an Italian station called CQ on the frequency so guess that our QRP was not working. 2M ssb produced about 30 contacts but as many were regulars the fm contingent was somewhat depleted. 4M produced just three contacts. Very nice to have a summit to summit contact with M1EYO, an early stalwart of SOTA but not active for about four years. Nice to hear you back Alan. On a more unfortunate note, Bob G6ODU told us of 2EXYL Karen’s fall. She had not mentioned it when we worked her on SSB earlier but came back subsequently on FM and put us in the picture. Get well soon Karen we need you out there.
As far as poles go, I (Rob) use two most of the time, the main one more in the style of a staff (we’ve had shepherds admire it) is the home built Propagator. This is in fact the main antenna system including 2M 4ele beam all telescoped into a 25mm diameter 1.3 Metre long staff. The mast that telescopes from it is about 3.5M tall with a 4ele yagi for 2m all of which lives inside the staff while walking. The whole show takes about 5minutes to put together and can be used unguyed (hand held) if necessary. Details are in a ZIP file so if anyone wants a copy just drop us an Email. The other pole is a normal walking pole and together with Audrey’s pole supports the ends of the HF dipole. We (well I, Rob) are getting to an age where a silly slip could spell the end of activation so slow and steady and two poles is the order of the day.
Nice to see comments that the local chasers are always there in case of emergency. We have about six new calls to add to that in the Barrow area. Being retired the radio is usually on in the shack monitoring 145.500 during the day. There may be a slight delay in getting to it as the shack is normally full of a restoration project, currently an R1155 from ww2 that is fighting back but then it’s the same age as one of us hihi.
Take care out there,
Rob and Audrey
CW REPORT FOR JANUARY 2011 by Roy G4SSH
SOTA CW activity remained very low during January, with the exception of a slight increase at weekends. As a typical example, on Saturday 15th January there were 20 alerts for FM activations, 13 for SSB and just 4 for CW. Fortunately there are quite a few CW activators who do not alert, but this leads to a lack of CW chasers, who do not monitor the bands when there appears to be so little activity forecast. However it is always a relief to me as a chaser to see alerts posted by regular activators from France, Slovenia and Macedonia. QRPp milliwatt enthusiasts Kjell LA1KHA, Aage LA1ENA and Richard G3CWI continued to delight many chasers on spot frequencies in the 10 MHz band whilst wringing the last ounce of power from a PP-3 battery. Sadly these transmissions are rarely heard at my QTH.
The first SOTA activation in 2011 was from DM/SX-058 by Mike DL3VTA on 7 MHz and Thomas DL1DVE on 3.5 MHz who were both active together on CW just after midnight UTC on 1st January.
Jaakko OH7BF was active on the 1st January from OH/KI-032 and on the 2nd from OH/KI-017, with good signals on 18 MHz at my QTH. As a chaser it is sometimes easy to forget that the working conditions of activators may be vastly different to your own. This was quite evident when I worked Jaakko on Kesänki 535 m, at 1052 on 18086 KHz and 30 minutes later he said “SRI MUST QRT HR SUNSET” at 1130 UTC. In a later report he explained that when he arrived at the summit it was the local sunrise time and after the setup and first QSO’s it was already sun set time.
Thanks for the activations from Finland Jaakko, which are greatly appreciated by chasers.
Heard active above 40m were:-
28 MHz: F5UKL
24 MHz F5UKL
21 MHz: F5UKL, HG4UK,
18 MHz: OH7BF
14 MHz: EA2EA, F5UKL F6HBI, GM0UDL, MW0IDX, OE6JTD, OH7BF, Z35M, S53X, S53XX, EA1AQ,
DF3MC, DL/LX1NO, DL4CW, DL3VTA,
F5UKL, F6HBI, F6AVE,
G3CWI, M1EYP, G4ASA, G4RQJ, GM0UDL, GW0DSP, MW0IDX, MW0IDX,
HB9BAB, HB9AFI, HB9AGO, HB9BIN,
HA7UL, HG4UK, HA2VR,
OE5DIN, OE5EEP, OE8SPW, OE5EEP, OK1KT, OK/DL3VTA,
OK1DDQ, OK1DPX, OK2BDF, OK1EQ,
S53X, S53XX, S57X, S59Z,
Also thanks to the stalwarts who enthusiastically continue to activate on 80 and 160m:-
3.5 MHz DL1DVE, OK1TGI, OK9HAG, M1EYP, HA6QR, HA6OY,
1.8 MHz HA6OY,
A warm welcome is extended to the following newcomers, heard activating SOTA’s for the first time on CW during July:- EA2RKG, David M0YDH, Igor OK1TGI, Sandy GW0VQW, Jose EA2EA, Josef OE6JTD, Jose EA1AQ,
Heard active on expeditions outside their own countries were: ON/PA0HRM. OE/DK4OHA, OE/DF3MC, ON/DL8YR, DL/LX1NO and DL/HB9AGO.
CW CHASING TIPS FOR NEWCOMERS (Part 3)
(This is the final part of an article intended for the apprehensive newcomer to SOTA chasing on CW, who would like some basic ground rules. I am not telling new chasers what to do, but I will explain the methods that work for me and leave it up to you to decide if these will work for you).
CHASER SOTA DATABASE
Your own score on the SOTA database is the only total that matters. It is a record of your personal achievement made using your skill and experience, from your QTH, using your equipment and power, to your antenna. Be proud of your score and set your own targets.
It cannot, under any circumstances, be directly compared with the score made by any other chaser.
SOTA is not, and cannot be a level playing field. Another chaser living in the same town will not have the same set of working conditions as you; will not have the noise from a nearby power line when it is raining; will not have problems from the neighbours thermostat in winter; will not be shielded from Northern summits by a nearby hill; will not have ignition noise from a nearby main road etc. So focus on your score only, this is the only total of any consequence. Be thankful that you do not live in the SOTA chaser black spot such as Reims or Dublin, where chasers really work under a tremendous handicap with a high local background noise.
Of course it is natural to look at the scores of the table leaders and sigh, but SOTA, like any other hobby, is always going to have people who are not only totally dedicated but who have unlimited time and unlimited resources to collect SOTA points. It does not matter how big your super station and beam antennas are, if you are at work during the day then you will not collect as many points as the retired chaser with modest equipment and a G5RV.
SOTA is like stamp collecting. When you first start you want to collect everything and it is natural to attempt to contact every activation to gain as many points as possible to achieve that first award. You can be switching from HF SSB to 2m FM, to CW, to VHF SSB and this is fine if you have the equipment and time to spare, but you can still be disappointed at your progress as compared with other chasers in which case you might find it advantageous to concentrate on one mode only. Your location, antenna, equipment and experience will often dictate which mode is most suitable for you to go SOTA chasing. Chasers who live within line-of-sight of a mountain range are particularly fortunate and may achieve considerable success with VHF contacts; chasers with restricted room for antennas will have much more success with CW than SSB. With a single vertical antenna in a small garden I very rarely hear stations that move to SSB after a CW operation.
However, if you really do aspire to see your callsign amongst the leaders then specialise. Choose one mode, or one band, or both and concentrate your efforts on this specific goal. Check out the filters on the SOTA data-base and you will find a band/mode combination where you can be up amongst the leaders. At the moment a single SOTA chaser point on 21, 24 or 28 MHz would make you world leader for 2011 on those bands.
Andy MM0FMF, the new Data-base manager, has promised to restore the confirmation marker * before long. However, it is important not to get excited about asterisks. It is reassuring to have the contact confirmed but the only person who needs to be convinced that you made the shaky QSO is YOU. Accept that you will have some entries without the asterisk in your personal record. There can be dozens of reasons for this, including a mis-typed entry by you, or even the activator themselves; perhaps they were using a club call and entered the activation under their personal callsign, perhaps two activators swapped around on the key or Microphone and you entered the wrong callsign in use at the time of your QSO, perhaps the activator sent the wrong SOTA reference, then corrected it as a post on the reflector but you did not see this, perhaps you accidentally hit 2010 instead of 2011 when entering the days contacts by hand at midnight (in which case the entry can be 1000 entries back in the table and you will probably never even spot it). Some activators never put an entry into the Data base, whilst others perform an input once per month and some perform this task only every six months. Learn to live with it.
However, especially when using CW there will be occasions when you are unsure of the contact and you will be able to use the confirmation asterisk as a final decision. I recently worked a weak and fading SOTA station on 80m; he sent my callsign, report and reference, I sent my report in reply then he vanished in QSB. As far as I was concerned the omission of the final “dit-dit” as a cheerful final acknowledgement of my report meant that the contact was possibly not confirmed, so the addition or absence of the * will confirm whether I did make it into his log.
Check out the all-associations all-time 10 MHz SSB table where you would expect to find zero entries. However, you will find 37 chasers claiming in excess of 300 points, and this is before you check out the 10 MHz FM table – it must be a popular band! 14 MHz FM shows a similar Roll of Honour. Of course these are not deliberate false entries but mis-types at the chaser-entering stage and none of these entries will attract a star ! Perhaps it will encourage chasers to check these tables to see if they appear here.
When calling in a pile up without success, try moving your Tx 300 Hz higher. The activator will then hear your signal at a slightly higher pitch than the rest of the callers and often reply to you.
When an activator replies to you and sends your callsign correctly do not waste time by repeating your call again at the end of your over. This is totally unnecessary.
If you are waiting in a queue to work an activator and they send “QRX OP CHANGE” or “QRX RAIN” you should immediately open your bandwidth because the new op may use his own rig slightly off freq or the returning op may move to clear a signal that has arrived close by. If you wait with a narrow filter in circuit you could wonder why it has all gone quiet.
I hope that newcomers to CW have found these guidelines useful. I will repeat the advice given at the beginning, which was that I am not telling you what to do but explaining actions that work for me. It is your choice to decide which of these tips are useful in your particular working environment.
Enjoy your SOTA chasing, but above all, have fun.
CONTESTS DURING FEBRUARY 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.
5th-6th 1200-1200 Black Sea DX Contest
12-13th 0001-2359 CQ WW RTTY WPX contest
12-13th 1200-1200 Dutch PACC Contest CW & SSB
18-19th 2100-2100 Russian PSK Contest
19-20th 0001-2359 ARRL International CW DX contest
26th-27th 1300-1300 UBA CW DX Contest
SOTA News is normally published at 1200 UTC on the last day of each month and can only be as interesting as the items submitted. If you think your particular field of interest is not being covered then please submit an article by the 28th of the month. Have you a favourite SOTA? favourite mode? favourite rig, antenna, or favourite band? How did you find your first day / month / year as an activator or chaser? Your comments and experiences will be read by SOTA enthusiasts all across Europe and beyond, in a total of 24 different countries. Your input will be most welcome
Additional contributors are always welcome, especially VHF and SSB enthusiasts. So if you would like to submit comments on SOTA activity in your own area, county or country please e-mail it to the address below.
Finally, I would like to thank readers for their comments of appreciation following the December SOTA News. It takes time to write and compile the monthly news and it is a pleasure and an encouragement to receive positive feedback. On behalf of myself as editor and all the regular contributors, thank you - these are greatly appreciated.
SOTA News Editor
North American input to:-