SOTA NEWS JULY 2008
EDITORIAL by Roy G4SSH
Many thanks for the magnificent response to my request for articles. I returned from a visit to Cornwall late on the 31st, to be greeted by a bulging “in tray” of e-mail articles for SOTA news which has taken me 24 hours to process. I have even had to leave some contributions until next month; the ultimate sign of a healthy newsletter.
My thanks to:- Roger MW0IDX, John G4YSS, Jaakko OH7BF, Roger F5LKW, Peter ON3WAB, Phil G4OBK, Tom M1EYP, Mike DL/GW0DSP, Norby LX1NO, Rob G4RJQ, Dan DH8DX, Nigel G6SFP, Chris SM5KRI and Andy MM0FMF.
The month of June saw good propagation on the higher bands with Roger GM7PKT running a European pile-up on 50 MHz SSB. Steve G1INK made a lot of chasers very happy by giving good SSB signals on DL/BW SOTA’s on 28 MHz all across Europe whilst on a weeks visit to take in the Friedrichshaven show and other activators moved up a band to give good European-wide SOTA signals on 30 20 and 10m
SOTA AWARDS ISSUED by Roger MW0IDX. SOTA Awards Manager
2500 points activator 06/03/08 John G4YSS
5000 chaser points 01/06/08 Peter G3TJE
1000 chaser points 02/06/08 Jeff G4ELZ
100 points activator 04/06/08 Wolfgang DL8NBO
500 points activator 05/05/08 Ian GW8OGI
100 points activator 25/04/08 Ian 2E0EDX
1000 points activator 25/01/07 Lutz DJ3AX
2500 chaser points 05/06/08 Graham G3OHC
500 chaser uniques 09/06/08 Graham G3OHC
500 chaser points 09/06/08 Daryl G0ANV
100 chaser points 01/06/08 Jure S57XX
100 chaser points 15/06/08 Dennis G6YBC
500 chaser points 25/06/08 Andy G8MIA
100 activator uniques 16/06/08 Martyn M1MAJ
1000 chaser points (all QRP) 15/06/08 Aage LA1ENA
1000 chaser points 07/06/08 Feri HA7UL
2,500 points chaser 21/06/08 Frank DL2EF
1000 points chaser 17/02/08 Thomas DO2TV
250 Activator 10/05/08 Dave G0AOD
100 Chaser 30/06/08 John G0TDM
1000 Chaser 10/02/08 Mario DH6AD
Congratulations to all of the above on the award of your Certificate/Trophy.
Dave G0ACD also reached 250 activator points on the 10th May
Dan DH8DX passed 2000 Chaser points on the 20th June.
Klaus DF2GN passed an important milestone on the 25th June when he completed his 14,000th QSO as an activator
Congratulations also to Steve GW7AAV, who joined the exalted ranks of Supersloth (10,000 points) on the 26th June.
Finally, a QSO with Klaus pushed Heinz DL7RAG, through the 10,000 points mark on the 29th June.
SOME SSB NEWS by Nigel G6SFP
I will be returning to the French Alps once again in July/August and will attempt to activate the following summits:
F/AB-427 Tête Noire 1746m
F/AB-257 Mont Joly 2525m
F/AB-297 Mont Vorassay 2299m
F/AB-258 Le Brévent 2525m
F/AB-362 Le Prarion 1969m
F/AB-485 Le Grand Piton 1379m
F/NO-027, F/NO-026, F/NO-042 & F/NO-043 if possible…
I will activate Le Prarion on a Tuesday fun evening.
PROPOSED ISLE OF MAN ACTIVATION By Rob G4RJQ
During the first two weeks of July we hope to activate all the Manx
summits (GD001-GD-005) at least once and probably more times depending
on the WX. Look for us anytime between 1000Z and 2100Z. Operation will
be on 5MHz FE,7.032 CW, 10.118 CW,144 SSB and 145 FM as usual with more
modes/bands possible as the fancy takes us. Will not have self spotting
so would appreciate spots.
Hope it keeps fine and we work lots of you
NEWS from Dan DH8DX:
SOTA DX in May/June:
10MHz: JA2AQJ, EA8WH, UK8FF, a few UA9’ers
7MHz No DX
On June the 20th I achieved the double-sloth (2k chaser pts) , DL5WW/p
gives me the last needed points from DM/NW-172
In June I tested a new antenna: G5RV 2x15,5m, 9m 300 Ohm feeder,1:1
air-balun, matched with MFJ-971. It’s working fine on 80,40,30,20
Higher bands not tested yet.
Slovenia became the newest SOTA association on the 15th June with at least 10 activators on the air using a variety of modes. Active on FM was Peter S52AA, Dejan S56WDN and Zvone S57OPZ. On SSB there was Dragan S55Z, Slavko S53XX and S57LSW, on PSK was Dragan S55Z and on CW there was Bostjan S52FT, Milos S53X, Slavko S53XX, Jurij S57X, Jure S57XX, S57LSW and Rado S58R
Most stations were audible in the UK and although some were very weak on 40m they used a variety of bands to ensure that they were heard as widely as possible. 20m and 30m were particularly successful. Many thanks to all S5 activators for a magnificent first day.
FIRST SOTA ACTIVATION FROM SWEDEN by Chris SM5KRI
Please read the story and photos on the following links:-
73 / Chris SM5KRI
FIRST REGION IN GERMANY TO BE COMPLETELY ACTIVATED BY ONE PERSON
Congratulations to Norby LX1NO who became the first person to activate all SOTA’s in the DM/SR Saarland Region of Germany on the 8th June 2008.
This was a magnificent achievement when you consider that there are 73 summits in this region and this was done by one single activator.
GT7OOO/p I.O.M ACTIVATION by Phil G4OBK
For the second year running Judy (XYL) and I attended the Isle of Man Walking Festival. It was my intention to activate as many of the five IOM Marilyn’s as I could, in the event I managed four.
Two excellent activations were completed on the same day on HF. This felt more like a “mini DXpedition”. The other two “smash and grab” brief 2m FM activations were whilst walking with a large group on the Festival Walks with the FT-817 at 2.5w and a rucksack special antenna. These activations using the GT7 prefix were only just validated with 5 QSOs from GD-002 Slieau Freoaghane and 4 QSOs from GD-004 Bradda Hill. To be sure of two good HF activations I decided to take a day off from the Walking Festival and just do SOTA.
As a member of SSEG this year I took up my option of using the rare callsign GT7OOO. This was believed to be the first use of a GT7 prefix on HF. I get most enjoyment from using Morse, so CW was my mode of choice, except for working a few of the usual suspects on 5 MHz SSB. I used the Yaesu FT-857 on HF, varying the power between 20 and 50w to prolong the period of activity. For the first time on a summit I programmed the beacon feature of the FT-857 as if it was a CW Keyer. The 3 memories allowed me to send CQ, TU and occasionally info regarding the QTH, callsign and QSL route. This meant a slicker QSO rate and time to write the log as the Keyer did its job after each QSO. More importantly it also meant less sending errors, which I find happen more frequently when activating rather than when sat in a comfy Ikea chair in the shack. The only drawback with the method is that the menu function has to remain set on KYR to enable the A/B/C Keyer memory switches, making those switches unusable for other jobs such as operating split etc. Overall it was a success.
When I returned to UK I realised that the debate about CW operating ethics was continuing on the SOTA reflector as my GT7OOO activation was taking place. I had found that the standard of operating by chasers was pretty good. I did not need to work split on this trip as callers were answering me promptly when I went back to them. If I had been using the FT-817 and QRP that would have been different. There were a couple of calling stations who I responded to with a report and who were obviously not hearing me well enough to get it. They would respond seconds later in the hope of confirming the QSO. This always stands out and my response is to ask them a simple question: “RST PSE AGN IMI?” If I don’t get a prompt response I repeat the same thing twice more. If the timing is still wrong and I feel they are bluffing the QSO I inform them “SRI NIL QSO TRY LATER”, but few do. This only happened 3-4 times throughout the two HF activations.
GD-003 South Barrule 483m GT7OOO/P 24th June 2008 QRV 0712z-0908z
An early drive out to Foxdale from our guest house in Douglas and I was greeted with a mist capped South Barrule. Rain was forecast for later in the day as I would find out on GD-001. Walking up the hill – a very easy ¾ mile climb from the crossroads at SC 246758, I met a chap coming down after his 422nd ascent of South Barrule. He said he loved it up there and did the walk up once a week on his way to work as a builder. I set up my linked dipole for 60/40/30m on the 7m pole and started on 80m with the coax feeder and one side of the 60m dipole fed against a 66’ wire on the ground. Roy, G4SSH who was assisting me by spotting, was worked first on 80m followed by EI2CL G4CPA G4ELZ MM3BBR (Congrats on your CW skills OM), EI7CC G4WSX G4OWG GM4FAM F6GEO. A move to 30m brought a list far too long to mention, except for John G4YSS (of GX0OOO fame). I left 30m still in fine shape after 61 QSOs went into the log in 40 minutes. It was obvious that the DX Cluster had got hold of the GT7 prefix and many callers were wanting that and not the summit. I feared my 7 Ah battery would not last much longer. A move to 40m CW gave me another 56 QSOs in 37 minutes. Battery voltage was falling so I had a quick foray onto 60m SSB as GD4OBK/P. Starting with GW4BVE/P at 0855z, and working 12 stations, finishing with GW3BV at 0908z. Thank you to Paul G4MD and Roy G4SSH for reminding me and making it clear on SOTAWATCH that I was on GD-003 and not GD-004 as I had been stating! Total of 139 QSOs with 22 DXCC Countries – best DX EA8WH.
GD-001 Snaefell 621m GT7OOO/P 24th June 2008 QRV 1140z-1345z
A drive to the mountain road took me to the bungalow and to save time I went up via the mountain railway. The top of Snaefell has the tram station, a good café and an antenna farm with the associated unmanned National Air Traffic Service building. As I was deciding where to pitch my antenna the heavens opened making the activation look unlikely without shelter. The only way was to use a doorway to the NATS building and fix the 10m pole to the security fence. I was too close to the building to run the dipole out at 180 degrees, but I got out reasonably well with the legs 90 degrees apart. I started on 40m with a fresh 13 Ah battery. G4CMQ was in first and then 36 QSOs complete before a move to 30m. Unlike on GD-003, 30m was very disappointing drying up after 8 QSOs. A move to 60m (also poor condx) brought Martin GD3YUM from downtown Douglas followed by G0TRB G4MD GW3BV G3OHC and G4HJW. Thanks to Martin for spotting my QSY to 80m. One side of my 60m dipole and counterpoise hooked G4SSH G3HKO G3WPF and EI2CL. I restarted on 40m with GM4FAM and many more. A S2S QSO with HB9IAB/P on HB/NE-003 was my reward, as I fought to break Eric’s pile up with a rather blustering effort (Activators making an S2S I feel should be permitted to do this in SOTA). Thank you to whoever helped me be heard by Eric (I think it may have been Peter G3TJE) by sending “AS AS for S2S QSO”. Eric and I made the QSO and I moved frequency to finish off on my activation on 40m with 91 QSOs from 19 DXCC countries in the log from GD-001. Best DX was unremarkable and was probably Milos S53X. I also worked PA/DL3JST/MM who was off Vlissingen.
Plans for GT7OOO/P are to return in 2009 for the Walking Festival and activate all five summits on HF. Rob G4RQJ and I both agree that the IoM is a great place to go for a SOTA holiday, and thanks to Rob for helping me find a better guest house this time! Thank you to Roy G4SSH for support and the other unknown spotters for making the HF activations a success. I thank Martin GD3YUM especially for spotting me on 2m from GD-004 and allowing me to eventually scrape that 4th qualifying QSO, before I had to leave and catch up the walking group miles ahead by that time. This was a fantastic 16 mile walk via Bradda Head which included 5000 feet of ascent between Port Erin down the Raad ny Foillan Coastal Path, to The Creek Inn at Peel where a pint awaited me before catching the bus back to Douglas.
SOTA NEWCOMER By Graham G3OHC
Thought I would send you a few notes from a “newbie” - I’ve really got involved in the SOTA programme since starting in February this year. There have never been so many QSO’s logged in such a short time before !
I really appreciate the friendliness and encouragement shown to be by the “regulars” in my chasing - I have been encouraged to start CW operating again after a gap of over 25 years - my proficiency is improving all the time. I find it so nice when my call is recognised in a pile-up and I get a response like " Hi Graham, nice to hear you " etc.
I have also made 4 activations now, albeit from “easy” ones, because since having a stroke in 2000 I do not have the stamina etc to climb like I used to, nevertheless I felt I had to put something back and give some points out to those that have given me so many chaser points.
I am amazed how quickly my points have come, I was delighted to make Shack-Sloth and I now up to 3486 chaser points and 684 uniques although I’ve only got 4 activator points at the moment ! - I intend increasing that score as and when I can.
I must compliment Roger MW0IDX on his speedy and efficient turnaround time for the certificates I have claimed always by return of post - unlike some awards that take months - latest being 2500 Chaser and 500 Uniques.
The SOTA programme I feel really helps promote activity on the bands and generates much friendliness - long may it continue.
FROM ROGER F5LKW
Now you can visit my Homepage via: Summit On The Air - SOTA - F5LKW
You also can take a sked.
NOTES FROM ANDY - MM0FMF
I’ve not had chance to organise the SB Mass activation yet. I’ve been rather busy at work which has been impinging heavily on my time in the evenings to plan this. It has not been forgotten and it will go ahead.
I’ll write a review of the Friedrichshafen rally from a SOTA point of view which will appear in the August edition of SOTA News. I’ll will try to get pictures of as many SOTA ops as possible during the 3 days of the rally.
I’m working on a portable PSK item for you. When that’s ready I’ll send it. We might be able to start a regular portable data item if there are enough chasers.
All the best,
SOTA REPORT FROM LAPLAND by Jaakko OH7BF/F5VGL
The first activation in Finnish Lapland was not so easy though I managed to make the needed 4 QSO’s from the OH/KI-013, OH/KI-017 and OH/KI-033. There are several reasons for this. Probably the most important was the bad propagation on the late afternoon to Central Europe and UK. North of the Arctic Circle the sun was rising already 4:00 local time in beginning of May and setting at 22:00. Cris GM4FAM is exception with his antennas and can work in almost impossible propagation conditions. Early morning 6:00 on Sunday on Levi 533 m OH/KI-033 was much better for the propagation (also Cris went from 559 to 599).
Second reason was my QRP equipment which I have optimized for climbing Alps with minimum weight. This was first time to use successfully my new ATS3B in activation. It could be also that I was operating CW, which is not any more compulsory for the new OH hams.
Weather was favourable with exceptionally high +15 C temperatures and sun or overcast.
The OH SOTA has created some interest among the Finnish radio amateurs and I have received a few emails asking more details on this activity. Finland does not have similar topography like Norway or Switzerland, but there are people interested in hiking in Lapland which I believe will create some activity sooner or later. Just as a curiosity there is a Finnish expedition now going on in Greenland. They already passed the summit at 3200 m ( Greenland 2008 ).
73, Jaakko OH7BF/F5VGL
NEW ASSOCIATIONS By Tom M1EYP
The number of live SOTA Associations now stands at 23. The
most recently joined association - S5 Slovenia - got off to
a magnificent start on its launch day 15th June 2008. No
less than 16 summit activations took place on that day,
making it easily the best ever association launch day.
S53X/P was the first to activate a Slovenian summit, making
many QSOs from S5/BR-023.
Just for fun, here is a “league table” of association launch
days, showing number of activations and first
- S5 - 16 - 15/06/08 - S53X/P - S5/BR-023
- OK - 12 - 01/05/07 - OK/DH7WW/P - OK/KA-001
- F - 6 - 01/04/07 - F/LX1NO/P - F/VO-052
- G - 4 - 02/03/02 - G3CWI/P - G/WB-005
=4) HA - 4 - 01/05/05 - HA1DTQ/P - HA/ND-010
- LA - 3 - 01/05/08 - LB1GB/P - LA/OS-003
=7) EI - 2 - 15/03/03 - EI7GY/P - EI/IE-003
=7) DL - 2 - 01/03/04 - DL3MAV/P - DL/AL-172
=7) ON - 2 - 01/07/07 - ON7ZM/P - ON/ON-003
=10)GW - 1 - 02/03/02 - MW0IDX/P - GW/NW-001
=10)ZS - 1 - 01/01/03 - ZS1AN/P - ZS/WC-043
=10)SV - 1 - 03/08/03 - SV1COX/P - SV/AT-011
=10)HB - 1 - 01/08/05 - HB9SGS/P - HB/ZH-010
Of the other ten SOTA associations, GD, GM, GI, DM, OE, W2,
SP, OH and SM did not have an activation on the launch day,
while HB0 (Liechtenstein) is yet to have its first
MY FAVOURITE SOTA BAND by John G4YSS
The story of 160m SOTA – Part 2:
2006: The 3rd spark and….fire! Looking back, it was 15th January 2006 when 160m was introduced to GX0OOO activations as a regular feature and the suddenness of its popularity came as a surprise. G4OBK, a keen top-bander had joined the ranks of SOTA chasers, expressing an interest via email as soon as it was alerted. ‘Listen out, I’ll be there,’ said Phil. I had 100W available but could I deliver in daylight? Well, the answer was a resounding ‘yes.’ G/LD-033, Lord’s Seat appeared in no less than six chaser logs on a QRG that just happened to be in my IC706’s memory from years before; namely 1.832 MHz. Phil G4OBK was a big signal on his Beverage but Pete EI7CC and Mike EI2CL worked me too. Just to prove it wasn’t a fluke Brian G3NIJ, Reg G3WPF and Roger MW0IDX followed up. Once and for all, my preconceptions about 160m SOTA being a night-time thing were expunged. It had taken far too long but at last, a small ‘160m flame’ had been kindled. That afternoon brought another two QSO’s from one of the Mell Fells and for me, 160m activating had moved to main stream.
The year 2006 added a dozen G/NP’s and some G/LD’s including High Street (LD8) Skiddaw (LD4) and Scafell Pike (LD1). There was a second 160m overnighter, this time on the Cheviot (G/SB-001). QSO numbers increased as more chasers made efforts to get onto the band but 160 could still disappoint with just 1 or 2 QSO’s and occasionally, complete failure. On the bright side, my ‘best score’ crept up to 10 QSO’s from G/NP-015, which was the third summit on a December day and done in the dark. Top band ‘loves’ darkness and it enabled my first continental QSO; F5RAB.
2007-2008: QSO rates per summit steadily increased over the year, peaking on 11th December with 15 from NP15, but better was soon to come. During another New-Year camp-over, this time on Whernside G/NP-004, on the night of 31 December 2007; no less than 35 QRP CW QSO’s showed that 160 could be the band of choice for overnight SOTA operations. One or two ‘new ones’ e.g. Coniston’s Old Man, G/LD-013, were added in 2008 but a greater challenge was Snowdon GW/NW-001, on 27 March. During a five hour stay and successes on other bands, I was elated to secure two (daylight) QSO’s on 1.832, using just 5W. Mike EI2CL in Dublin (150km) and Rob G4RQJ near Barrow (130km). Both stations came in strongly but both were via sea-paths of 150 and 130 km respectively.
GM/NS, 20-22 May-2008: A recent expedition to carry 160m north of the border was blessed with some success. Three northerly Scottish mountains were offered on the band. On a summer’s day, few stations were close enough to have any chance of being logged. Nevertheless, three GM ops did manage CW contacts with GS0OOO and I shall use these as an example of perhaps markedly better than average band conditions.
QSO’s were as follows:
Bill GM3KHH - QTH Buckie; 137 km (5W from Suilven NS60, rprtd 559).
Cris GM4FAM - QTH N. Kessock; 104 km (5W from Arkle NS42, rprtd 579)
Cris GM4FAM - QTH N.Kessock; 69 km (5W from An Teallach NS4, rprtd 559)
Andy GM0UDL -QTH Fortrose; 71 km (5W from An Teallach rprtd 599)
Phil G4OBK - QTH N.Yorkshire; 545 km. NS60 - no QSO - heard Phil’s sigs.
Observations: What I have ‘rediscovered’ about top band has been known for years of course but I will list a few observations, from a SOTA viewpoint.
Use 100W and CW if you can. 5W can’t be relied on to ‘cut it’ in the middle of the day unless you’re within about 100 miles or there’s a sea path or good line of sight. There are two reasons for this. D-layer absorption and suburban-chaser receiver noise levels are both high. An activator will normally enjoy very low QRN and will generally hear much further than he can transmit.
With typical AGL’s only 5% to 10% of the ideal, Top Band summit aerials are bound to be desperately inefficient. After adding loading, tuning or other tricks to limit their length to manageable proportions, disappointments are inevitable especially in daylight, though ASL makes up for some of this.
On winter days early and late, the band has shown itself to be effective from the standpoint of QSO’s in the log. More importantly, its use can actually put the activator at an advantage during overnight summit stays. Certainly in winter, one can maintain a reliable all-night ‘chaser-service,’ both close-in and after dark, out as far as the near-continent. 40m would fail in this and 80m might struggle, as skip distances increase.
The system I have adopted for 160 SOTA is fairly light, needs no ATU and seems to work as well as can be expected but though it would be far from easy, I would be interested to compare it with others. Despite increasing numbers of chasers trying out the band, don’t expect miracles. Many QTH’s cannot accommodate 80m aerials, let alone 160! Most don’t have a full size antenna, instead making do with what’s already ‘in the air’ and a tuner. For instance, Roy G4SSH has a Butternut ground-mounted vertical for 80 thru 6, which he tunes as best he can. Nevertheless, this setup has bagged him 23 Top Band summits to date, many in daylight. The moral; give it a go!
For best results, activate 160 in winter. If you’re just using 5W and its safe, arrive at the summit around dawn. Put 160m on first. Reverse the sequence at the end of the day. Around noon, ‘bludgeoning’ your way through with QRO can work on short paths for the odd summit but you can’t hope to carry huge batteries on long, multiple-summit ‘rounds.’
Possibly more than most other band options, 160m will ever be a compromise. Into the mix must go QRO versus QRP, battery versus pack-weight, will it be night or day, winter or summer, overnight or not, time or not for unanswered CQ’s, multiple or single activation and whether the antenna will fit the summit. If you know any chasers with Beverages, make friends (and skeds) with them! Most of all; have a go and have fun!
What’s next? There are plenty of challenges remaining. The larger, remoter mountains, especially those traditionally done in groups, are the hardest to crack. In England (G/LD) there are two strenuous; one-day ‘rounds’ one of three and one of four summits. Wales has some too. In northern Scotland, the few chasers are far more remote. That said 160m is no different to any other aspect of SOTA, in that it’s as easy or as hard as you wish to make it. Is it my favourite band? ‘Yes,’ undoubtedly!
Stations appearing, once or more in the G4YSS (G?0OOO) 160m log, July-04 to March-08: 2E1RAF - DJ2TI - DJ4EY - DJ5AV - DK5SF - DL2RNS - DL4CW - DL7RAG - DL7UKA - DL8YR - EI2CL - EI7CC - EU3AR - F5PLC - F5RAB - F6ACD - F6CEL - F8BBL - G0AOD - G0DEZ - G0GFR - G0HIO - G0NES - G0VFV - G3BBD - G3CWI - G3HKO - G3IPG - G3JMJ - G3JOX/P - G3KKP - G3NAY - G3NIJ - G3RDQ - G3RMD - G3ROO - G3SED - G3THE - G3TYB - G3VYF - G3WPF - G3YPZ - G3ZES - G4BLH - G4CMQ - G4CPA - G4EHT - G4ERZ - G4GJE - G4MCS - G4OBK - G4OWG - G4OWG/P - G4RQJ - G4SSH - G4WSX - G6PZ - G8HKF - GD3RFK - GM3KHH - GM3OXX - GM4FAM - GM4ZFZ/P - GW0DSP - HB9AGH - HB9BYZ - M0COP - MD0CCE - GM0UDL - MW0IDX - MX0BCQ/A - OK1AQT - OK1AUP - ON4ON & SM6CPY.
Stop Press: Since this article was written, three remote GM/NS Scottish Peaks, Suilven, Arkle & An Teallach, have been added to the Top Band list. Just to prove my assessments of 160’s summer/ daytime abilities wrong, two ‘unlikely’ QSO’s took place between an LD summit and Inverness way up in GM. The distance was in the region of 350km! The stations involved were Andy GM0UDL and Cris GM4FAM. This was not repeated on subsequent days! These two stations and Jim GM3KHH ‘helped me out’ for 160m QSO’s on the GM expedition, mentioned above.
BCNU on Top Band, 73 – John.
73, John G4YSS
(Activating on 1.832 CW with SSEG Club Station - GX0OOO/P).
(As we went to press John had activated on 1.8 MHz from more than 70 summits, gaining in excess of 500 points on this band – Ed).
SOTA SWL’ing by Peter ON3WAB
LISTEN - LISTEN - LISTEN
These words are often heard on all the bands. Well that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 27 years. I started SWL-ing in 1981, mainly Ham bands but also broadcast, press agencies and utility stations.
Now only the Ham HF bands remain. Apart from SSB I also listen in CW, RTTY and PSK. SSTV did not attract me so much, despite the gorgeous women that were “built” on my screen, line after line.
SWL-ing is taken seriously here. I only send a QSL if I am able to actually hear the station and 4 people worked. The QSL return ratio is 65% which is not bad, maybe because I add comments which are of interest to the station. This had resulted in 158 awards from all over the world.
The equipment I use is an Icom R-70, antennas are full size G5RV at 10m high, Hy Gain DX88 vertical at ground level with 25 radials buried in the ground.
Now how did I become a SOTA chaser? I am a keen WAB collector (10 WAB books at the moment) and I was missing out on all those exotic and rare squares in the mountains. In December 2006 I heard Steve G(W)1INK/P on GW/NW-051. He happened to mention the WAB square, and this rang a bell. I started looking on the SOTA website and a new world opened for me. Graham, G4JZF kindly sent me a complete list with the British SOTA references and their WAB square. Now I was all set to go and get that 4000th square.
There are of course more than just the British SOTA’s and suddenly I got hooked. I found the useful SWL list that Tom M1EYP had made and at present I have around 800 loggings for 650 unique summits heard and a total of 3250 points. The SOTA trophy I applied for is a beautiful award that has now a special place in my shack.
I am also a chaser with my licensed callsign ON3WAB, but the points gained go first to my SWL log. If I am able to work the activator on another band then I claim the points as a licensed chaser. Weird isn’t it? But every ham is a bit weird in their own way.
SOTA and 60 meter band
Thanks to SOTA I learned about the 60m band being used in the U.K. As we are not allowed to use this band, this is ideal for SWL use. I always try to give an accurate report on the SOTA spots to the station I hear and hope this is of use to him as he cannot work anybody across the pond.
The antenna I use is a 60m trap dipole. It was build by my good friend ON4CVL and details can be found on the following link:
It hangs about 10m high and is connected to my Icom R-70 so that I can monitor this band at all times.
I have logged SOTA from following countries:
234 from DL
180 from G
115 from GW
86 from GM
56 from OK
45 from F
42 from HB
17 from OE
9 from HA
3 from ON
3 from GD
2 from GI
2 from EI
2 from LA
2 from S5 = 15 DXCC countries.
Top activators are:
G1INK/P with 56 summits ( tnx Inky)
DF2GN/P with 54 summits ( and 496 points, tu Klaus !)
*/LX1NO/P with 31 summits
DH8DX/P with 28 summits
GM7PKT/P with 27 summits
G4RQJ/P with 22 summits.
This combined has resulted in several SOTA awards like the trophy 1000, 500 uniques and 25 Thuringer uniques.
All this would not be possible without the effort of all the activators who climb those mountains packed with tx and antenna THANK YOU !!
And when you hear “listen, please listen” bear in mind that SOTA has not yet been affected by any pile-up zoo. Things are very disciplined and I am sure it will stay that way for a long time to come.
For me personally? I’ll probably be listening till the very end.
73, de Peter, ONL5923
dah di di dah dit dit
SOTA CW REPORT JULY 2008
The upturn in propagation on the higher bands continued throughout the month of June, with SOTA contacts throughout Europe on 20 and 30m. Early in the month some activators, such as Alain F6ENO, Dan DH8DX and Klaus DF2GN took advantage of the situation to commence activations on 14058 KHz, then 10118 which allowed them to make contacts with ease and so thin out the chaser pile-up on 7032 KHz. The down side of the summer propagation is that the lower bands become very poor at times with heavy QRN and fade-outs on 7 MHz. The 80m band was not much better with very poor conditions on 3.5 MHz. John GX0OOO/p, Phil G4OBK/p and Tom M1EYP/p were barely audible on 3558 KHz running QRP from FT-817’s resulting in many requests for repeats of the report.
Expeditions were out in force as we approached mid-summer, including Frank OK/DL6UNF, Kurt F/HB9AFI, Mike DL/G4DDEL, Dago SV8/DJ5KZ, Dan LA/DH8DX, Norby DL/LX1NO, Thomas OE/DL1DVE, Jurg DL/HB9BAB, Fred OE/DL8DXL, Kurt F/HB9AFI, Fried S5/OE8GBK, Norby M/LX1NO and Phil GT7OOO, Fritz F/HB9RE and Fritz F/HB9CSA,
Stations heard active on 10 MHz during the month were:-
LA1ENA, LB1GB, SM5KRI, DF2FN, DJ5AA, DL2DVE, F5IUZ, F5TIL, F6ENO, F5UKL, G4OBK, G4RJQ, G0AZS, GX0OOO, GW0DSP, Fried S5/OE8GBK, S53X, DH8DX, S57X, S57XX, OE5EEP, OE/DL1DVE, DJ3AX, OE/DL4CW, M/LX1NO, OE2008GBK, SM6PXJ, GT7OOO, HB9AFH, S57X, DL7VKD, F/HB9RE…
A warm welcome is extended to the following stations, heard active using CW for the first time in June:- Krister SM5KRI, Christer SM6PXJ, OK1XGL, Christian F6FTB, club stations F8KGH and DL0QW, Wolf DL1AWC, Kjell LA1KHA, Rico DF2CK, plus all the S5 stations listed earlier in this news.
There was glorious confusion on 40m during the weekend of the NFD contest when the band was packed with hundreds of stations signing /P. Chasers were calling contest stations on 7032 KHz thinking they were SOTA and contest stations were calling SOTA activators asking for serial numbers. Norby suffered particularly from this problem due to his super efficient contest-style of working. Fortunately 10 MHz provided a safe haven for most activators.
Congratulations to Jeff G4ELZ, who is normally heard in amongst the chasers, but this time activating DC-005 on the 7th of the month. By my reckoning he was on this SOTA from 0800-1500 UTC making 110 QSO’s including 11 s2s contacts. Many thanks Jeff.
The recent addition of new SOTA associations has followed the usual trend whereby the majority of new activators prefer to use CW. This is causing 7032 KHz to become heavily overloaded, with two or 3 activations regularly running simultaneously around this spot. There are now 277 SOTA CW chasers on the data-base and it sounds like most of them are calling at the same time in the pile-ups, where is it becoming normal to wait for more than 30 minutes just to make contact with one CW SOTA station.
These huge SOTA CW pile-ups at weekends are attracting the idiots, with stations deliberately causing QRM, or giving false reports. One station in particular likes to send GHOST slowly over the top of an activator. Unfortunately the size of the pile-ups has brought out the worst behavior in some chasers as they become frantic to get through early and so avoid a long wait.
However, we are at last beginning to see a welcome move away from 7032 KHz, with Klaus DF2GN and Alain F6ENO leading the way by using Alerts and Spotlite to announce an activation commencing around 7014 KHz and so avoiding the mayhem. If more activators follow this trend then it will make life much easier for CW activators and chasers on 40m. Other activators are doing an entire activation around 10118 KHz only.
Some activators are remaining on a SOTA for many hours, using different bands. In this case it is essential to regularly send the SOTA reference otherwise chasers will make duplicate contacts. There have recently been many anonymous calls of “REF PSE” from chasers patiently waiting for confirmation.
During the last weekend of the month there were many activations of German SOTA’s by foreign visitors to Friedrichshafen. Foremost of these were Steve G1INK who concentrated on the SSB side whilst Mike GW0DSP did the CW mode using an FT-817 with 3ah/5ah SLABs, running 5 watts max into a 2 band linked dipole for 40/30m in inverted V configuration and at approx 5 metres up at the centre/feedpoint.
Mike’s QRP signals back to the UK were a struggle on 40m with the high noise level, but 30m saved the day, where I managed to copy him from 7 x BW summits using an indoor 6 foot vertical antenna in Cornwall. Unfortunately Mike had back problems which curtailed some of his plans, but he immediately produced an understudy in the shape of Klaus DF2GN, who accompanied Inky and ran the CW side of the activations on some of the summits. As I write this he has activated 11 Unique BW’s
Other stations heard activating CW SOTA’s on the way home from the show were Norby LX1NO, who diverted via 5 x BW summits on his way home to Luxemburg and Slavko S53XX.
LIST OF CONTESTS during July:-
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.
5th-6th 1500-1500 Original QRP contest CW.
5th – 6th 1100-1100 DL-DX RTTY contest
12th – 13th 1200-1200 IARU World Championship CW and SSB
20th only 0900-1200 RSGB QRP Field Day CW
1300-1600 RSGB QRP Field Day CW.
26th-27th 1200-1200 RSGB IOTA contest CW & SSB
CW CHASING TIPS FOR NEWCOMERS (Final part of 4)
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 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 a SOTA chaser blackspot 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 person with modest equipment and a G5RV, who is retired.
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. The expression “Jack of all trades and master of none” comes to mind so 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 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. A single SOTA activation worth 4 chaser points on 21 MHz CW would make you world leader on that band/mode !
Don’t get hung up 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, or mis-read the figure in your callsign, or you hit 2007 instead of 2008 when entering the days contacts at midnight (in which case the entry can be 1000 entries back in the table and you will probably never even spot it). Learn to live with it. Using CW there will be occasions when you are unsure of the contact; the only judge is you, and you set your own standards. 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 acknowledgement meant that the contact was not confirmed. You win some and you loose some.
Finally, as you gain experience, listen to CW exchanges and try to anticipate what will happen next. For example, if your are waiting in a queue to work an activator and another activator makes an s2s, then lock this frequency in your rig memory and immediately check one KHz above and below, to catch the other activator sending QRL? and so be first in the queue to work him.
When calling in a pile up without success, try moving your Tx 500 Hz higher. The activator will then hear your signal at a slightly higher pitch than the rest of the callers and 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.
Finally, 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 start of the series, which was that I am not telling you what to do but explaining actions that work for me. Following these guidelines has enabled me to amass a current SOTA CW chaser total in excess of 15,000 points, including more than 2000 uniques from 3000 QSO’s. It is your choice to decide which of these tips are useful in your particular working environment.
Enjoy your SOTA and above all, have fun.
WE GET LETTERS (or more accurately a post on the reflector after the last SOTA News).
The following was posted on the 5th June, which may not have been seen by some readers of the SOTA Newsletter. As it concerns the future of the newsletter and may well be the view held by other readers I have reproduced it here to gain a wider audience…
Post by M0SGB on 5th June 2008
What is happening to the SOTA NEWS???
I can’t help but notice every month since Summits Knowledgebase News started, Our own NEWS has gone down the pan, Don’t get me wrong i like looking at the reports for activation on CW. It’s OK for all the reports on CW, But whats happened to the VHF and HF-SSB reports. I’m sure some of the other operators have sent you small clips, about whats happened on other bands. Or is SOTA just going CW, We hear every week about the Fun Nights, (on Tuesday’s, which band VHF/UHF). But still no report in the SOTA NEWS, We have contests here and there and everywhere, We hear Tom and GW0DSP (mike) on the reflector about 70cms,50mhz and 145mhz, Contest, Why is this not published on the Contest Calender, We have some good Backpackers on here, When this Sunday 08/06/2008, but no write up for them, ( before every starts shouting it’s on the reflector we all know,) But lets put more input into the sota news, We (SOTA) has now grown very big in the last few years, what with all these other countries now active, I have read on the reflector about other countries joining sota, I’m sure they don’t all use CW, Come on Roy lets have more write ups from other modes and Countries, You say Digimode, We dont have a report on here about that mode, If my memory serves me right G4RQJ and G8ADD or a other station did an activation on Digimode, We never got to hear anything on the sota news, About what they did, Dont forget SOTA started Summits On The Air. It looks like the break away group is getting more News than Sota,
Just my thoughts about the news, I dont do a lot on SOTA these days as other hobbies have over taken my past time, Or i would love to send you a report on the VHF side of the spectrum of Radio Ham.
Great news by the way. Always love to read Jon G4YSS’s reports.
Yes …Roy does a very good job, On the Editor side of the Sota news, But if you look back on the sota news for the last 3 months its nothing but CW. Why is it when we look on (Summits Knowledgebase) web site we see/find more information on HF/VHF/UHF-FM/SSB, We also read reports about 5mhz, Contest news for everyone not just CW. but the news letter on Knowledgebase does cover every aspect of the group, HF, VHF, UHF, FM, SSB, Digimode, CW, Reports on other countries, but not on SOTA NEWS, on the 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th May We can find loads of information about SOTA FUN NIGHTS, SOTA Activating on 4m and 6m, Microwave News, 23cms, But where can we find this on SOTA NEWS. (no where)…
Reply by G4SSH
Let me make it quite clear that I publish every single contribution received. No, I do not normally receive small clips about SSB or Digi modes or VHF (the SSB one this month was the first ever received). I wish I did. At the end of the news I appeal every month for contributions; if the input I receive is mainly about CW then that is the mode with which members are most enthusiastic.
Let us look at the background to the present situation. For the past two years I provided a CW report to various SOTA News editors. This is my particular field of interest and expertise and the mode in which I have most experience. It worked particularly well with Mike as editor because he had a ready supply of experienced contributors who provided copy on different aspects of SOTA.
Mike then resigned as SOTA News editor and set up the Summits Knowledgebase and the regular contributors moved with him. As the only regular contributor to SOTA News left I was asked by the MT to take over as editor. I did not volunteer, but faced with a choice of keeping it going or letting it fall I agreed to take over the reins to see how it developed in the hope that I would receive support from members.
I am well aware that there are many SOTA activities that go unreported in SOTA News, such as the Tuesday Fun Evenings, Backpacking, 5 MHz Report, 50 MHz Report, and in particular the recent GW 24/24 SOTA summit event, which created great interest with members eager to know the outcome, but nobody sent a report to SOTA News. That is their decision of course, but if I do not receive a report I cannot print it.
You are well aware of the events that led up to the setting up of the Summits Knowledgebase site. Unfortunately there was a split in loyalty of the members at this point which resulted in many former experienced contributors refusing to submit articles to SOTA News. This is an unfortunate fact of life which makes my job difficult. I feel like a contestant in the Eurovision contest where some countries will never support me because of unrelated events that took place in the past.
I am sorry that you think that it has gone down the pan. I can assure you that it takes a considerable amount of time and effort to produce the SOTA Newsletter. If you do not like it then do not shoot the messenger. Perhaps the reason why there are no VHF items is that, like yourself, everybody would love to submit an article but they really do not have the time. I would love to sit back and just collate articles for the news as they arrive, without having to write filler articles myself, but that is wishful thinking.
The list of contests appear at the end of my monthly CW report. This is not intended to be a general contest calendar, (which can be found in any copy of Radcom or on the web) but a list of contests which are likely to cause severe QRM to HF SOTA activations so that activators can plan to use alternate bands on these days.
I will close by repeating the appeal that appears at the end of every edition:-
SOTA News 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 to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 and beyond, and your input will be most welcome.
Thank you to the regular contributors to SOTA news and for the messages of support after the June newsletter.