SOTA NEWS JANUARY 2008
Most readers will be aware that Mike GW0DSP will not be editing the Newsletter this month. However, many e-mails have been received requesting that the January edition of SOTA News be published, so I have stepped in at very short notice to act as “caretaker editor” for this one edition in order that news continuity will not be lost.
My thanks go to Mike for his last minute advice and assistance. I feel rather like the part-time freelance reporter caught sitting in the chief’s chair, so with an advance apology for any foul-ups I will take a deep breath and launch into this edition - Roy G4SSH.
Your usual SOTA News Team is Mike GW0DSP (Chief Editor) and Roy G4SSH, with special thanks this month to the following contributors:-
Roger MW0IDX, Steve 2E0KPO and Dave M0DFA,
EASY SOTA (Possible Disabled Accessible Summits)
We have decided to leave this item in the news permanently.
You are probably aware that Steve 2E0KPO has been putting together a list of SOTA summits which would possibly offer access to disabled people who are wheelchair bound. He has now completed the task and has compiled an extensive list of summits which either meet the criteria to suit wheel chair access, or very easy access on foot. Steve has included self explanatory notes for each summit, so as to give a very good description of what can be expected on arrival at the summit. Steve’s list has now been included on the Burton ARC website and can be viewed on the link below.
SOTA MILESTONES FOR THIS EDITION
CRAVEN RADIO AMATEUR GROUP, MX0BCQ.
1,000 points (Shack Sloth)
15,000 Points ( Supersloth and a half )
250 Unique summits chased
500 Unique summits chased
100 activator points
1,000 points (Mountain Goat)
100 Unique summits activated
Congratulations to the Craven Radio Amateur Group (The Craggies). Using their club call sign, MX0BCQ, they have achieved the 100 chaser points certificate. I think that I am right to say that this is the first time that a group or club has achieved a chaser award within SOTA. Well done lads.
Congratulations to Steve G1INK/P on his 500th SOTA activation when he activated Cyrniau Nod GW/NW-034 on Saturday 12/1/2008.
The SOTA news team would like to thank you on behalf of your chasers for all of your hard work Steve. Well done.
Congratulations to new Shacksloth Klaus DF2GN, who qualified in style with a S2S contact on 10/Jan/2008 at 09:28utc with Kurt HB9AFI/P on HB/VD-038 Aiguilles de Baulmes in 7MHz CW. Klaus joins the elite group of SOTA participants to qualify as both Mountain Goat and Shacksloth.
On 21/1/2008 Klaus completed his 10,000th sota QSO on Oberlen DM/BW-238. Well done on achieving these 2 impressive milestones Klaus.
Congratulations to Frank G3RMD on achieving your Mountain Goat status, yours is a hard earned and very popular MG Frank. The sota News team joins all of your friends who passed on their good wishes on the Reflector to say well done.
Congratulations to Richard G4ERP on becoming the first activator to qualify a SOTA activation on 10 GHz, from G/WB-009 using narrowband SSB. This also included the first ever s2s on 10 GHz, with Richard G3CWI/P on G/SP-013. Two records in one day on the 27th January 2008.
THOMAS WINS SOTA BEAMS CHALLENGE 2007
Congratulations to Thomas M3OOL who has been announced as the winner of the 2007 SOTA Beams Challenge. Thomas (14) did 46 SOTA expeditions beating Timothy 2E0KEA (12) and Jordan M3TMX into 2nd and 3rd places respectively.
You can find further details, and the rules for the 2008 SOTA Beams Challenge at http://www.sotabeams.co.uk
A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF A SOTA ADDICT
By Mike GW0DSP
Having been fed up with the hobby, like many others, I decided to take a break and indulge in my other hobbies, shooting, fishing, golf and building/flying model aircraft. As it turned out, my break lasted for approx 10 years, then out of the blue, the desire came back to operate Amateur Radio again. What a shock I had on my return to the hobby, there were strange new callsigns on air, M3s, 2E0s, what was that all about? Even stranger, a quick look on Ebay revealed that the once valued FT-290 was selling for as little as £50 and the new “shack in a box” radios, a totally alien concept to me, were circa £400, had the world gone mad? They were giving equipment away these days. I opted for the FT-817 as an all round option with portable/mobile/shack use available. One of my first contacts on this radio was with a group of local friends on 2m-fm. I bumped into Steve GW7AAV who told me that his new interest was in sota, I had never heard of sota before and I didn’t really take much notice to be honest.
A few weeks later, on 16/1/07 I heard someone calling CQ from High Street without reply and felt sorry for the chap, Ian G7KXV/P being dragged around the shops on his local High Street, or so I thought until Steve explained that I had just earned my first 8 sota chaser points and that High Street was in fact a qualifying sota summit in the Lake District. A week later I heard Ian again on 23/1/07 but this time giving his location as Whernside. I was beginning to find this sota thing fascinating, so I thought I would do a little bit of research. With Steve’s help I was guided to the sota website and promptly signed up to the award scheme and entered my first 2 contacts with Ian into the log. I was up and running and although I didn’t know it at that time, SOTA would change my life.
It took a few weeks for “the regulars” callsigns to be familiarised but one thing was obvious from day one, sota was like a family community of very friendly people. As the sota bug bit and I became more serious as a chaser and eventually, a part time activator, I added a FT-857 for QRO /P work and an Icom IC–7400 for the shack. I have done very well on my poor antennas at home, a tuned 60m dipole and a Half sized G5RV for 40m and above. My 2m chasing was done on a Diamond X300N dual band collinear for vhf/uhf but it was costing me valuable points on the bad paths to Snowdonia and the South, so I put my 9 element wide spaced quagi array back up which has made a big difference to my problem areas on 2m.
Although I had a slow start at the beginning, it wasn’t long before I was averaging 1,000 chaser points per month. I suppose, looking back it seems to have been easy, but it took a lot of dedication and hundreds of hours sitting in the shack, constantly tuning around and watching the spots page for the next points. I had set myself a few targets for my first year, the main targets being to score 5,000 chaser points and the second was to chase 500 unique summits. I would eventually more than double both of those targets.
Another part of the SOTA hobby I “volunteered” for, or should I say I was stupid enough to make enquiries about, was Editor of the SOTA News. I sort of found myself “elected” into the position in the sort of circumstances where the sergeant asks for a volunteer and everyone else bar me took one step backwards, hi. The News takes up a lot of hours, but I have now got into it and find it a satisfying but enjoyable challenge.
So, what did I achieve in my first calendar year……
12,221 chaser points
1,470 Unique summits chased
101 SOTA Activations
28 Activator points
14 Unique SOTA summits activated
3rd place in SOTA Personality of the year 2007
SOTA NEWS Chief Editor
Not a bad first year’s sota-ing by any standards, but the most important part of SOTA to me, is the many good friends made along the journey in this wonderful part of the Amateur Radio Hobby.
Thank you to all sota participants, Activators and Chasers alike, for your help along the way in achieving my targets, plus more.
73 Mike GW0DSP
(Personal experiences such as the above are always welcome. There must be many more similar stories out there - yours will be particularly welcomed by the News Team, especially if you are interested in some particular aspect of SOTA).
GM1INK on SSB and GM0DSP on CW were active from the WS region of Scotland during the last week of the month. Unfortunately, bad weather made activations very difficult at times, causing some to be curtailed. By the Wednesday both were struggling to make contacts in very adverse conditions. In view of the worsening weather forecast of severe blizzards and storm force winds in the area, it did not come as a great surprise when they wisely cancelled the expedition and returned home on the Thursday. Many thanks to Steve and Mike, your efforts under deteriorating conditions were greatly appreciated. To call off an expedition, especially when the distance travelled is so great, is always a difficult decision to make, but one which was fully understood and which came as a relief to many concerned chasers. I hope that you had a safe journey back home - editor.
SOTA CW REPORT by Roy G4SSH
I stirred up quite a hornet’s nest with my remark in the last newsletter that Klaus’s contact with K4DY was possibly the first EU-USA SOTA QSO - I was deluged with e-mails from activators correcting this. My mistake folks - this was to the best of my knowledge, but at least it showed that the CW report has many readers.
However, some good can come out of this because I was delighted and surprised to see evidence of the many different DX countries who are calling in to SOTA CW activators. Dan DH8DX provided me with the following list of recent DX contacts, which stretches from Japan in the East to North Carolina in the West:-
JA3LGD, RU9UG, UA9AB
JA0NPQ, JA7QFU, TA1AN, UA9AB, UA9FGJ, W2SF, W3RJ, N2LQ, K4DY, 7X0MT.
Dan was using an FT-857D with an output of 75-100w and is one of the strongest SOTA stations on the band at my QTH on the North Yorkshire coast.
SOTA activators are well aware of the advantages of Morse, especially if using QRP, and I am sure this demonstration of the world-wide nature of SOTA is of interest to other readers so starting next month I will publish a “CW DX OF THE MONTH” feature. Please send me an e-mail by the 25th of each month, listing DX stations who call in to your SOTA activations, and on which band.
The New Year got off to a flying start with John GX0OOO/p camping overnight on Whernside, NP-004, and giving many chasers their first six points of 2008 before the sound of Big Ben and the fireworks had died away. Using just 5w QRP to an inverted vee antenna he made 65 CW QSO’s on 3.5 and 1.8 MHz. John is the all-associations leading activator on top band with 50 summits already activated. Many chasers gained double points by contacting John before and after midnight.
Many congratulations on the happy event on the 19th John - there are not many Granddads-On-The-Air" in the activator roll of honour - unless readers know better? Perhaps a word to Roger about a SOTA-GOTA Award?.
Bad weather throughout the UK and Europe resulted in very little SOTA CW activity during the first week of January, with Dan DH8DX being the only regular station heard on HF during this period. Normal service was resumed shortly afterwards, with all the regular CW stations on the air by the middle of the month, including quite a few cross-border expeditions from Jurg HB9BAB into the DM/BW region, Alain F6ENO operating from Belgium and Norby LX1NO activating from three countries, DM/Saarland, ON/Belgium and the Nord Ouest region of France.
Lutz DJ3AX was very active towards the end of the month, accompanied, as usual, by Benny his faithful SOTA dog. His 40w from a new FT-857 was giving a great signal on 40m (Lutz, not Benny). Congratulations on reaching 2000 SOTA points Lutz, you should also have 200 uniques activated in the next few days.
Dan DH8DX twice exceeded the magic 100 CW QSO’s mark for a single activation, first from the summit of TH-379 on the 13th, then from TH-834 on the 20th January. Dan asks me to mention that spots from chasers on both SOTAwatch and the DX cluster are always very much appreciated. Spotting is a way in which chasers can really help, firstly by ensuring that other chasers are quickly onto a frequency, saving the activator from having to waste time and battery power calling CQ; secondly by tipping off a change of mode to assist other chasers who may not (for example) be able to read the CW exchanges or not have access to the band being used, and also by saving the activator the difficult job of attempting to generate a Spotlite on a tiny mobile phone whilst wearing thick gloves in winter weather.
Many activators QSY’d to 30m during the month in response to never-ending series of CW contest weekends, and it was a pleasure to hear Fritz DL4FDM and Norby LX1NO joining regulars Dan DH8DX, Jaakko F5VGL, Zoli HA5CQZ, and Klaus DF2GN on this excellent under-used band. On the 26th January, with the French REF CW contest swamping out 40m, and 30m in very poor condition Dan DH8DX found a clear spot on 7119 KHz to make CW contacts with chasers who would otherwise not have made it into his log. I have had requests to publish a list of scheduled HF contests for the coming month which are likely to cause problems to SOTA activations at weekends. This list will be found towards the end of this newsletter.
In order to thin out the huge CW pile-up’s on 40m, some activators are using 80m or 30m first and both Klaus and Fritz DL4FDM have recently been giving good signals around Europe and into the UK on 80m in the early mornings before 30m has come to life.
This report would not be complete without mentioning Klaus’s magnificent achievement in reaching 10,000 SOTA QSO’s since he became active less than 2 years ago. This was achieved during a CW contact with Phil, G4OBK on 30m on the 21st January. Many congratulations Klaus and I am sure that I speak on behalf of 10,000 happy chasers from many different countries.
As reported elsewhere, Mike GM0DSP was active on CW from WS-123, WS-339, and WS-303 during the last week of the month giving points to many EU chasers. Unfortunately propagation on 40m did not favour inter-UK contacts.
Early in the New Year I received a CD through the post from Alain F6ENO containing a most professional video of an activation from F/AM-340 (Les Tetes) which gives an excellent introduction to /P operation and SOTA CW in particular. Many thanks Alain; this has been used to explain “Operating Practices and Procedures” as part of my lecture to Foundation Class students, who were really enthralled with the presentation, especially when combined with a display of SOTA certificates and a crystal Shack Sloth Trophy.
A warm welcome is extended to newcomers Andre F5UKL, Wolf DK1HW and Miro OK1CYC, all heard active using CW for the first time in January.
(The News team would welcome reports from enthusiasts of other modes such as FM, SSB, RTTY, Microwaves, QRP, EME etc. The SOTA newsletter exists to showcase your particular interest and encourage other readers to try something new. Articles from newcomers would be particularly interesting - how did you get your first 100 points? Who was your first SOTA contact? What is your most points gained in a single day?).
INJURIES and ILLNESS
Here is a progress report from Dave, re his stent…….
I now have an appointment to go into Stoke tomorrow (Tuesday 8/1/08). I could be kept in for a couple of days.
I activated G/SE-010 Firle Beacon last Friday on HF – my first outing for the stepped dipole, but conditions were perhaps not the best. I walked up from the Bo-Peep car park with Janis. Boy was I slow, even up a very modest slope – a couple of snails shot past and stuck their tongues out at us!
Will let you know how things are when I get released.
I had 2 stents inserted on Tuesday. The Dr. had to go in from the groin - unable to access the artery in my wrist. This meant an overnight stay and Janis brought me home on Wednesday.
Still uncomfortable from the bruising in the groin area where a well-built (and very pleasant) nurse kept the catheter insertion point closed with her elbow until it stopped bleeding after the catheter was removed. I felt rather vulnerable - just as well she didn’t slip, HI.
Have to take it easy for a day or so, then gradually increase exercise, I suppose until it hurts. Janis will be watching me like a hawk!
I have ‘before’ and ‘after’ X-ray images which I hope to get someone to scan onto the computer so I can send to interested parties.
I’ll have to content myself with chasing for the time being, especially as I’m not allowed to drive for a couple of weeks.
FINAL UPDATE (27/1)
I’ve now had my exercise assessment and the hospital will be devising a set of exercises on the kit in their gym to get me fit again, without really pushing it. I’m back on the bicycle, I can go running (starting with alternate run and walk) - but no competitive stuff. The best thing is that I can gradually get back on the hills, but the first few activations will be with Janis in tow, so I’ll have to watch where I’m going - no scrambling, streams or boggy bits. Might get a few winter bonus points on HF yet.
73s, Dave, M0DFA/G6DTN
(Thanks for the “before” and “after” X-Ray photo’s Dave - they can now be seen via the following link to Flickr - editor)
CONTEST CALENDAR - FEBRUARY 2008
The following scheduled HF contests are expected to cause severe QRM to SOTA activity, especially on the 40m band. Intending activators should plan accordingly with alternate spots.
9th -10th 0001-2359 CQ World-Wide RTTY Contest.
9th-10th 1200-1200 Dutch PACC Contest. CW and SSB.
16th-17th 0001-2359 ARRL International DX contest. CW.
23rd-24th 1300-1300 French REF contest. SSB.
23rd-24th 1300-1300 Belgian UBA DX Contest. CW.
24th only 0900-1100 High Speed Club CW contest.
In the words of the immortal Bugs Bunny “That’s it folks” If you have managed to read this far then I thank you for your support and sincerely hope that normal service will be resumed next month.
73 Roy G4SSH