SOTA NEWS JULY 2009
Welcome to the July edition of SOTA News. My thanks go to the following contributors:- Les G3VQO, Barry GM4TOE, Rob and Audrey G4RJQ and Phil G4OBK.
EDITORIAL – by Roy G4SSH
HF propagation during the month of June went through a period of change, with the higher bands opening but the lower bands suffering from deep and rapid fading, making SOTA contacts very difficult at times. However the number of activations continued to rise with many familiar friends back on the air.
Activity continued to be mainly concentrated at weekends, with well over 100 spots being generated on Saturdays and Sundays but just a handful of spots mid-week.
SOTA MANAGEMENT TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT
Yet another New World Association joins SOTA on 1st July, when USA(W6) becomes our newest member. Preparation has been taking place for many months by Association Manager Stuart KI6MWN, and has now come to fruition.
Users of Peaklist will realise that California has 4106 peaks listed to prominence 500ft or more (the imperial near equivalent to 150m), but Stuart has sensibly restricted the initial SOTA list to just 204 summits spread over five Regions to prevent participants feeling overwhelmed at the sheer scale of the programme. The summits chosen represent a fair cross-section of challenges, covering the Pacific coast, the high mountains and the desert interior.
The seasonal bonus takes a new twist in California, with two variations (well three, if you count the Pacific coast where the weather is so benign as to make a seasonal bonus inappropriate). The mountains continue with the traditional winter bonus for the highest peaks, but the desert introduces a new concept – the summer bonus. This is to recognise the physical difficulty of activity in the scorching heat of the hottest months, and applies to all summits in the Region regardless of height.
In addition to the usual warnings about navigation and unpredictable weather, the ARM makes specific mention of the risks from bears, rattlesnakes, scorpions and mountain lions. It seems that SOTA-California is not for the faint-hearted, at least away from the beaten track! No mention of ET though!
The sheer distance and associated time difference will probably make SOTA contacts between Europe and California rather uncommon, at least until the sunspots return in sufficient numbers. However, by the time that we reach the next solar maximum, we are confident that SOTA-W6 will be a well-established and vibrant Association.
For those visiting the West Coast, the possibility of introducing a SOTA element will be a pleasant option when you tire of Mickey Mouse, Hollywood and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Welcome to SOTA-W6.
SOTA AWARDS FOR JUNE 2009 By Barry GM4TOE - SOTA Awards Manager
Congratulations to all claimants and especially HA1DTQ on achieving Mountain Goat status and to GM Association Manager Andy MM0FMF on 100 Unique summits activated. Something else to note is the claims by mother and son Jennifer and Nathan Nuttal (M6MIJ and 2E0OCC) for their Chaser 100 certificates – is this another SOTA first?
There is an on-going discussion on the reflector about the possibility of introducing another trophy for higher levels of achievement by both activators and chasers. All participants’ input is welcome, either via the reflector or direct to me, so that the level of interest can be judged. I am willing to pursue the design of something suitable if there is the demand.
The number of trophies already awarded is as follows:
Mountain Goat: 29
Shack Sloth: 55
Shack Sloth Unique: 3 (awarded for chasing 1000 Unique Summits)
The number of participants able to claim trophies (26 June 2009) is:
Mountain Goat: 49
Shack Sloth: 270
Chaser Uniques: 55
So it is evident that the take-up rate for trophies is fairly low, although a much higher percentage of Mountain Goats than Shack Sloth’s do claim trophies. Does this reflect that it is much more difficult to gain 1000 activating points than 1000 chasing points?
Finally, there will be a slight delay in sending out some certificates already claimed. I have an order in with a printer to produce more blanks but I may not receive them before July, please be tolerant and if the delay is going to be longer than this I will contact claimants directly. Keep claiming your certificates and I will send them out as soon as possible.
HA1DTQ Gabor Donaczy Mountain Goat
G0IBE Richard Higgs 100 Points
MM0FMF Andrew Sinclair 100 Summits
G1OPV Philip Drew 100 Summits
HB9SVT Thomas Gehrig 250 points
SM7GUY Ingvar Lagerholm 100 points
M0GNA Alan Shaw 100 points
M6MIJ Jennifer Nuttall 100 points
G0IBE Richard Higgs 100 points
2E0OCC Nathan Nuttal 100 points
Barry Horning GM4TOE
To David M6WOW, who has now upgraded to 2E0DAI
To Mike G4BLH, on completion of chasing all G summits, on 29th June
a magnificent achievement which has taken tremendous effort and persistence.
To Andy MM0FMF, on completion of 100 Unique summits activated.
THANKS TO SOTA SLOVENIA
Many thanks to Rado S587R and his dedicated SOTA activators from Slovenia who celebrated the first anniversary of SOTA Slovenia with special callsigns S52SOTA, S53SOTA, S54SOTA, S57SOTA and S58SOTA during the 13th to 27th June.
I do not think there was a single day during this period when one of these special calls was not active on SSB or CW (often two or three at the same time). This was a magnificent effort by all concerned which was much appreciated by chasers.
EU EXPEDITION By Phil G4OBK
I managed 11 activations on the trip to Europe from G (2), ON(1), OE(5), HB9(1), DM(1) and F(1) making 639 SOTA contacts. On top of that there were 29 QSO’s from LX, HB0 and F that were not SOTA.
The total distance I drove was 2380 miles. The weather, other than on four days (three out of four when we were traveling!) was abysmal in Austria. It was misty and wet most of the time. In the VB region on one day the tops above 1800m after an overnight snowfall were well covered. Before that the wild flowers on Diedamskopf (OE/VB-473) on the one good day we had on our arrival when we activated, were beautiful. I’m not sure if those flowers will have survived the very late snow falling on them. We wanted to do some long walks – we managed only one walk of a respectable distance with SOTA when I activated Giblenkopf OE/VB-480. The other walks were short by necessity due to the weather. Judy was more disappointed than I as she did not get the satisfaction from the walking whereas I got some satisfaction by doing the activations. She did however read 6 books on the trip and on the one good day got some good pictures of the wild flowers over 2000m ASL.
I’ll write about the trip on the reflector in more detail as soon as I get chance - too much content for SOTA news!
On 16th July, with two non ham friends, I hope to complete the Yorkshire 3 Peaks of NP-004 Whernside, NP-005 Ingleborough and NP-010 Pen-y-Ghent in 12 hours. I will be carrying a handheld and I hope to carry out a smash and grab activation on all three summits using a handheld.
THE VIEW FROM THE NORTH 6 - By Rob and Audrey
Sunday 31st May. Wild Boar Fell
Straight in to Wild Boar Fell, one of our all time favourites. SD784997 on the B6259 through Mallerstang is a good start point with room for a couple of cars at the verge. Follow the bridle way to the farm; bypass this close to the south side aiming for the short tunnel under the railway. From here just keep following the path. The summit area is very large; just avoid falling off the eastern edge. Walk takes about 90min and would suit an active family in good WX. Take plenty of drinks if it’s warm.
Conditions on HF were very strange. On 5 MHz Andy FMF on CS-019 was the only consistent signal and in spite of a posting by John BVE no other stations were worked. We chatted with Andy for some time leaving breaks but the only other caller was Carolyn G6WRW who was 55 in bursts rather like sporadic E but she could not here us and Andy could not hear her. On 7.032 MHz the only audible signal was LA1ENO/P calling CQ at 319 but he could not copy us.
Having failed to qualify the hill on HF after an hour of effort, we switched to VHF which has a poor reputation from this hill, strange because it is not seriously overlooked. It produced 11 more contacts most to the north or summit to summit.
Back home we were worried about possible equipment problems. A check showed nothing but a chat with Ivan G3IZD at the club on Monday revealed he had suffered similarly on Muncaster Fell at the same time and was suspecting his set up! All this has inspired a set of traps for 14 MHz so winding has commenced ugh!
Sunday 7th May. Baystones.
A nice one this. Park in Troutbeck village, at the roadside as close as possible to the start of Nanny Lane which is the route up. Ignore the sign for Wansfell and continue up the increasingly muddy lane to reach a tall stile on the left just before the lane is barred by a gate. Over the stile and straight ahead up a grass bank. From the top the path is obvious. Do not turn right at the stile, it leads to confusion! Lost people kept arriving at the Baystones summit confused by a small book bought from the tourist hot spots, asking if this was Wansfell Pike. Directed them back along the ridge. HF poor yet again and vhf not a lot better. We are told that this summit is in SD40 for WAB which is quite sought after at the moment
Tuesday 9th May Kirby Moor
“Get Bill up a Hill” night for our club, Furness Amateur Society. Ten members including Bill climbed Kirby Moor. A nice evening leaving members wanting more.
Maybe Gummers How a little later in the year. Guess who failed to qualify this one with just one HF contact.
Thursday worked Phil and Roy on Dale Head 2m fm followed by an EA4 in a burst of sporadic E? Just using the vertical at this end. He called for some time after with no replies, must have been a private patch. No other SOTA stations heard though.
Sunday 14th May
No activity today, Audrey has had major flu like symptoms for the last couple of days so a weekend off is the prescription. We will make up for it in the Isle of Man in a couple of weeks all being well.
Talking to one of our club members who is in the tourist industry and the word is that business varies wildly from day to day. One day the steamers are full, next very empty, rather like LD activations. Guess holiday patterns are changing.
Sunday 21st May
No hill again, now I’ve got it! Long long time since we had two blank weekends.
It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good and the enforced layoff has given me time to fix our 4m handheld and make a 10 element yagi for 70cms so expect these bands as well as the usuals from the Isle of Man next week.
Sunday 28th May Kirby Moor
A summit often activated by locals but not often by visitors. Two obvious approaches.
From the A5092 and an easily missed parking space on the south side at SD268847 with plenty of space. Walk about 100yds west along the road then follow the marked path to the edge of the quarry (don’t fall in). Take the Land rover track to the left climbing quite steeply on to the summit plateau.
From SD260830 on a minor road a surfaced track leads to a utility building with a mast. There is room for a couple of cars at the top but it is a popular spot and the utility do not take kindly to their access being obstructed. The track is poor in parts and we don’t risk it with our car which has a very low nose. Just beyond the building there is a gate. Through this and turn right up the grass bank by the wall to the summit plateau. This is the route we used to “Get Bill up a Hill” The summit is seriously infected with wind turbines.
This was a test run after the enforced layoff and a chance to check equipment for our upcoming GD trip. HF was hard work for just four contacts but 2m was reasonable. During the layoff I drilled the 2m boom to take 70cms elements so a quick test proved that it works as does the repaired 4m hand held. Enjoyed 4m and the welcome back from the regulars. Just an ethical point. On a band as quiet as 4m is it ok to work on the calling channel in the hope of attracting more trade or should there be a QSY to a working channel every time? We used the calling channel with frequent offers of a QSY if requested but everyone seemed happy. What do others do?
Guess it will be View from the West for the next fortnight as we will make our usual trip to GD. Expect un-posted activations from all the Manx summits. Probably more than once. We like to take the fishing shelter and spend time on the tops. Also we will try some activations in the evenings, all weather dependant of course. All our usual bands plus 70cms and 70MHz, all spots appreciated. Anyone working us from all five will get a small certificate. Only issued one last year, G4USW but he says he does not take chasing seriously!
No great road disasters to report at the moment, any questions just ask
Take care and 73
Rob and Audrey
CW REPORT FOR JUNE 2009 - By Roy G4SSH
The warmer weather resulted in an increasing number of CW activations during the month of June, but conditions on the lower bands deteriorated badly. There were many days with a very high level of QRN and the QSB was very deep at times.
However, June was also the month when we welcomed back many familiar callsigns who had been missing on the CW bands for many months. It was a pleasure to hear them activating once more and I was particularly pleased to contact Fritz (senior) HB9RE and Fritz (junior) HB9CSA/DL4FDM.
A warm welcome is also extended to the following stations heard activating SOTA’s using CW for the first time during June :- Petr OK1FFU, Gyula HA6QR, Markus HB9BRJ, Jan OK1QM, Kamil OK2HBY, Franz OE2SNL, Gerald F6HBI and Otto HA5OT,
The summer weather persuaded many activators to mount their own expeditions and although many concentrated on SOTA’s in their own country, others organised cross-border expeditions. These included:- DL/OK2QA, DL/LX1NO, S5/OE8GBK, SV5/DJ5AA, OE/DL4CW, OE/S57XX, OE/DL8DXL, OE/G4OBK, HB9/G4OBK, F/G4OBK, F/HB9AFI, S5/DL8DXL, TK/ON6CW and DL/HB9BAB. These expeditions are always much appreciated by chasers.
The change to summer conditions persuaded many activators to try the higher bands and many activators are now routinely using two or three bands during a single activation, to the delight of chasers. The following stations were heard active above 7 MHz:-
18 MHz:- HA7UL, DK1BN, G3RDQ,
14 MHz GX0OOO, HA3HK, OK1FFU, S53X, Z35M, F5UKL and HA7UL.
10 MHz:- DL/OK2QA, DL/LX1NO, LA1ENA,LA1KHA, G4ELZ, GX0OOO, S53X, S57XX, DK1BN, F5IUZ, F5VGL, OE5EEP, HA5MA, HA5LV, G0PZO, OK1FFU, GW4OIG, DK1BN, F6ENO, OE/DL4CW, HA7UL, HE8AFI, S58MU, OE/DL4CW, Z35M, S52SOTA, S53SOTA, S54SOTA, S57SOTA, F5IUZ, DJ3AX, OE5EEP/5, DD1LD, DF9TS, DL4FDM, OE/G4OBK, HB9/G4OBK, DL/G4OBK, F/G4OBK, HE8AFI, LA1EBA, HE8AFI, GW4OIG and DL7VKD.
Thanks to the increasing number of activators using 30m I was pleased to pass a personal milestone during the month of 5000 CW chaser points, gained on 10 MHz only. This is my favourite band.
Norby LX1NO, continued with his attempt to operate from all 55 Luxembourg castles during the year and he was joined by Norbert LX1NJ. Norby is still continuing to activate SOTA’s so it pays to listen to see if Norby is calling for LCA or SOTA. He did a run of three SX SOTA’s during the month.
There was the usual confusion during the Field day weekend on the 6th-7th June when the bands were full of stations signing /P. SOTA activators were being called by contest stations expecting a serial number and some chasers were calling any /P station expecting a SOTA reference. It all added to the fun !
The tranquillity of 7032 KHz was shattered on the 9th June with the sudden and unexpected arrival of a beacon sending
VVV VVV BEACON DE DK32DEKT PSE QSL VVV
This was about strength 539 at my location on the East coast of the UK, but was causing serious problems to activators and chasers nearer to the location which was the “Bremen Radio Museum” near the centre of Bremen and the Main Railway Station.
Fortunately the administrator responded quickly to e-mails and telephone calls from radio amateurs, including QRP’ers and SOTA members, and it went off the air at 1530 on the 10th.
Another beacon signal then arrived on 7032 KHz on the morning of the 17th, sending just TEST over and over at about 15wpm. This was about 559 to me, but went off the air after about 1 hour.
It was enlightening but disappointing to observe the number of amateurs who kept asking the beacons to “PSE QRT” or “PSE QSY” and telling them they were “LIDS”, which only served to make the QRM many times worse. Perhaps they do not understand that beacons do not listen?
Whilst on the subject of Lids, it is disappointing to note the number of chasers who arrive on frequency then immediately tune up on top of an activator with no regard to the QSO taking place. This often happens a few seconds after a spot has been received and is inconsiderate and infuriating to other chasers. These Alligators then send “SOTA?” because they are too lazy to listen. Fortunately the majority of SOTA chasers are experienced and considerate to others.
CONTESTS DURING JULY 2009
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.
4th-5th 1500-1500 Original QRP contest CW.
4th – 5th 1100-1100 DL-DX RTTY contest
11th-–12th 1200-1200 IARU World Championship CW and SSB
19th only 0900-1200 RSGB QRP Field Day CW
19th only 1300-1600 RSGB QRP Field Day CW.
25th-26th 1200-1200 RSGB IOTA contest CW & SSB
SOTA News is published on the last day of the month and can only be as interesting as the items submitted. If you think your particular field of interest is not being covered then please submit an article by the 25th of the month. Have you a favourite SOTA? favourite mode? favourite rig, antenna, or favourite band? How did you find your first day / month / year as an activator or chaser? Your comments and experiences will be read by SOTA enthusiasts all across Europe and beyond, and your input will be most welcome.
SOTA News Editor