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Sota news march 2011

SOTA NEWS MARCH 2011

EDITORIAL – by Roy G4SSH

Welcome to the March 2011 edition of SOTA News. My thanks go to the following contributors:- Andy MM0FMF, Barry GM4TOE, Fred K6DGW, Nick G4OOE, Kevin G0NUP, Rob and Audrey G4RQJ, Kjell LA1KHA, Tom M1EYP.

SOTA activity increased from the low winter levels seen during early February and by the end of the month SOTA Watch was listing around 100 spots per day at weekends. The S5 Winter activity long-weekend from the 3rd-8th February resulted in very many S5 calls active (TNX Rado). Propagation also began to change from winter to spring-like conditions resulting in many inter-UK contacts which had previously been inaudible on 40m, but resulting in heavy QSB on many activations.


SOTA MANAGEMENT TEAM

Readers may have seen the post on the reflector that Les, G3VQO regretfully tendered his resignation from the SOTA Management Team, for family reasons, on the 10th February. Les was a regular contributor to SOTA News, announcing changes to the rules and introducing new associations. He will be greatly missed.

The following was the reply from Andy MM0FMF, on behalf of the MT:-

Well where do I start? We were all very sad on the MT to hear that Les wanted to stand down and we understand why. Les’ shoes will prove very difficult to fill indeed.

It’s not an exaggeration to say SOTA would not be in the rude health it
finds itself today if it was not for Les’ contribution over the last 3+
years. When I joined the MT I was quite amazed at the volume of email
that the MT, or mainly Les was handling on a weekly basis. Les has been
liaising with association managers and interested parties nearly every
day of those 3+ years. Without that input SOTA would not have run as
smoothly as it has.

In addition, Les has been fundamental in setting up the following
associations: F, OK, ON, OH, SP, LA, HB0, SM, S5, OD, PA, TK, Z3, W1,
W6, VE2, VP8, W3, LX, OZ, 9H, YO, UT, W0, VE1, E7, VE7, HL, W5, EA1,
EA5, EA3, EA2, EA8, EA4, W7, W4. (If I’ve missed any I apologise!) That
has involved discussing with prospective AM’s how SOTA works, reading
and rewriting numerous drafts of the association manuals, checking
summits meet the necessary prominence limits and dealing with last
minute corrections before associations can launch.

Not content with all the new association work, Les has found time to
activate some 140 summits in G/SE, G/TW, G/SC, G/DC, G/CE, F/NO, ON/ON
and GW/SW.

From a personal point, before joining the MT I was (and still am) the
AM for Scotland. During that time I had many questions and suggestions
put to the MT. Without fail I always received a rapid, polite reply from Les, even when what I wanted wasn’t feasible. Since joining the MT, I’ve seen that
Les’ contributions to MT discussions are always very level headed even
when writing on subjects he obviously doesn’t support.

So thank you Les for all you have done for SOTA over the past years. We
all hope your family issues can be resolved with the minimum of stress
and that you are able to get out activating again in the near future.

Andy, MM0FMF
obo SOTA MT


ASSOCIATION NEWS

There have been updates to the EA2 and Z3 associations. In Macedonia, many new P150 summits have been identified and added to the ARM.

Two new associations launch on 15th March 2011, these being I - Italy and IS0 - Sardinia. Thanks to Carlo IW1ARE for his excellent work in preparing these associations.

More exciting news of new associations is expected throughout 2011, with work already at an advanced stage in more than one area.

Tom M1EYP


SOTA AWARDS FOR FEBRUARY 2011 By Barry GM4TOE - SOTA Awards Manager

Claims in February were very slow to start but later in the month there has been a rush of applications for “sheep skins”. Two new Shack Sloth trophies claimed by HB9BIN and EA1DFP (you will receive them soon, I am still waiting on delivery from the manufacturer) and in addition certificates are awarded to 2E0MTC and 2E0IOG who also achieved Shack Sloth status. One interesting statistic that surprised me (but really shouldn’t have) is that Colin G4SXR actually achieved Mountain Hunter Bronze before he qualified for the 100 point Chaser award; in theory you could claim this award with only 10 points in your Chaser account (2 summits in each of 5 different Associations). So if you would like a certificate on your wall have a look at your database log, you might qualify earlier than you realised.

Trophies

Shack Sloth
HB9BIN Juerg Regli Shack Sloth
EA1DFP Enrique Gonzalez Shack Sloth

Certificates claimed

Activator
SV2MIK Akis Kioseoglou 100 points
EC1CW Diego Varela 100 points
MW6BDV Barry Vile 100 points

Chaser
2E0MTC Catherine Mathewson 1000 points
2E0IOG Darren Mathewson 1000 points
EC2DM David Mekolalde 500 points
M6HBS Jonathan Hobbs 250 points
M3YYK Keith Yardley 250 points
M0MOL Gareth Mollard 250 points
M3YYK Keith Yardley 100 points
EB2GEV Jose Michelena 100 points
MW6BDV Barry Vile 100 points
EC2AG Antonio Garcia 100 points
G4SXR Colin Bracher 100 points

Chaser Unique
I3VAD Giancarlo Scarpa 250 summits

Mountain Hunter
G4SXR Colin Bracher - Mountain Hunter Bronze

I have been asked to look at some other statistics gleaned from the Awards records so here are some items of note:

AWARDS CLAIMED IN THE YEAR 2010:

Activator 100……….21
Activator 250……….15
Activator 500…………7
Mountain Goat………14
Activator 2500………1

Chaser 100……….25
Chaser 250……….16
Chaser 500……….11
Shack Sloth………24
Chaser 2500…….…3
Chaser 5000….……8
Chaser 10000………5
Chaser 15000….….1
Chaser 20000………1
Chaser 25000………2
Chaser 30000….….2
Chaser 35000….….1
Chaser 40000………1

Needless to say these figures are only a measure of the number of people claiming awards not the number of participants achieving these levels.

The year moves on apace and the end of the European winter bonus season is almost upon us just leaving a couple of weeks to achieve those activation bonuses; remember the mantra though – “The mountains will always be there, you have only one life. Enjoy the mountains but not at the expense of your life”

The improvement in propagation should soon see transatlantic summit to summit contacts, I found this week that 18MHz is in excellent condition and avoids contest stations during the weekend. I reduced one Cuban station to total disbelief when I thanked him for the 59 report while running just 3 watts – it stopped his run through a pile-up for a quick chat and just showed what the band is capable of.

Be safe on the hills

73
Barry Horning GM4TOE
Awards Manager


Our additional congratulations:-

  • to Daniel F5SQA who successfully chased his 2000 Unique summit on the 15th February

  • to Mike G4DDL who reached his Shack Sloth target on the 27th February.


DATABASE DISPLAY by Andy MM0FMF

The Activator Log display on the database has been updated. Not only
does it list all the summits activated for each activator but also shows
the activator’s Mountain Explorer status and the associations they have
activated. This is to aide activators interested in claiming this award.

Further details of the award can be found here along with details on how
to claim: http://www.sota.org.uk/Awards I’ll be adding something to
help chasers with the Mountain Hunter awards over the coming weeks.

Now that I can see I have qualified for the Bronze award I’ll have to
get mine ordered sharpish just in case there’s a rush of orders now it’s
easier to check!

Andy
MM0FMF


CW FROM CYPRUS by Roy G4SSH

I shall again be active from the Larnaca District of the Republic of Cyprus using the call 5B / G4SSH on Thursday 24th March (and possibly Friday 25th March) around 14055 KHz, 0900-1100 UTC

Although not on a SOTA, I shall be especially listening out for newcomers to CW and will be happy to reply at their speed and give them perhaps a first DX contact on CW.

In previous years I have generated quite a pile-up of callers and I am happy to call you if you want a contact, in which case please e-mail me before the 17th March, but the above times are the only ones when I shall be on the air, being convenient to my host 5B4AHA. Last year I was contacted by many chasers seeking a 5B call.

A special QSL card will be available via the Buro, or direct.

***** LATER - 17th MARCH ***** CANCELLED *****

I have just had an e-mail from my host, Steve in Cyprus, to say that he has to go into hospital for an operation on the 18th March and expects to be there for at least a week.

Under the circumstances I will not be able to use his shack this trip.

73
Roy


LA/TM-049 by Kjell LA1KHA

In February Holtankollen LA/TM-049 was activated 23 times and it is now on or close to be the number 3 most activated summit.

On 15 activations in February I used Rockmite and a PP3 9v battery. Even with battery down to 6.1volt it was enough to activate the summit with 4 or more QSO.

The status on the PP3 challenge is:

LA1KHA: Batt#3 240 QSO on 31 activations to 23 DXCC (DL,EA,EW,F,G,GI,GM,GW,HA,I,HB9,OE,OK,ON,OM,LA,LZ,PA,S5,SP,UA,UR,9A ) Depleted now.

LA1ENA: Batt#1 27 QSO on 3 activations to 8 DXCC (G,PA,UA2,GW,DL,HB9,ON,OK)

G3CWI: Batt#1 133 QSO on 13 activation to 16 DXCC (ON, S5, OK, G, DK, I, LA, F, OE, HB9, HA, SM, 9A, EV, EA, OZ)

70MHz band also used but only local QSO in southern part of Telemark.
Call/QSO on 70.450MHz FM

73 de LA1KHA Kjell Eriksen


MY FIRST G-SOTA ACTIVATION – by Nick G4OOE on 2nd Feb 2011

My XYL Eva and I set off in the car leaving home in Scarborough at approximate 0915 for Garrowby Hill or in SOTA terms Bishop Wilton Wold G/TW-004.

I had read Phil’s (G4OBK) very helpful notes from his web site, so I knew roughly what to expect. I checked with Roy G4SSH on 2 metres mobile on the outskirts of Scarborough and he gave me a very disappointing report, saying that I was in the back of the box! I explained to the XYL that I should be knocking his head off as he was less than two miles away and I could almost see his QTH! Anyway undeterred we headed out of Scarborough and up Staxton Hill to the Octon junction where G4BP’s D-Star repeater (GB7RW) is sited; through Sledmere, Fridaythorpe and then to the top of Garrowby Hill, arriving approximately one hour later. Of course in true fashion we drove past the flat “summit” and only when we started descending on the other side we realised we had to do a u-turn. Approaching from the direction of York there are two lay-bys ideal for parking. The large one on the right had water company vehicles and a JCB in it so we settled for the smaller one on the left. I could see the trig point through the fence of the water company’s covered reservoir so I knew we were in the right spot.

I walked the required distance with my gear erecting a 40m dipole as an inverted vee on a SOTA Beams pole, patched through my MFJ ATU and FT-817 with an external battery running at 5 watts. I keyed a couple of times but my SWR was infinite so I took down the antenna and erected a 30 metre dipole again as an inverted vee and repeated the procedure. I telephoned Roy, who spotted me and started sending CQ on 7033. Straight away I heard PA0HRM followed by G3RDQ, DL6KVA, G3WPF and DK5WL - fantastic, I had qualified! I then tried 3.5 MHz with no luck, then 10MHz brought in G0NUP,DF5WA, EA1DFP, G4SSH, SM7GUY, G4OBK, OK1CZ and OE7PHI, and on 14Mhz G4SSH, HA5TI and OE6WIG.

The XYL was busy in the car sewing on Christmas trees to a patchwork quilt that she had made. She was brilliant, visiting me with coffee. After about an hour of operating my fingers were getting really cold and the bands seemed to have dried up, I did try 7 and 10MHz again but this time there were no takers. After dismantling everything we headed back, stopping off at a bikers cafe in Fridaythorpe for bacon butties and coffee. A brilliant day out and I was more than pleased with my first G-SOTA activation.

For anyone considering activating this site, it is ideally situated for beginners like me and anyone that can only walk short distances as the A166 York to Driffield road goes right over the top. Although it is miles from any other SOTA peaks, it is very close to the historic city of York with its many attractions, the Minster, Jorvik Centre and National Railway Museum to name a few and it would make and ideal part of a weekend break.

By the way, Roy explained that for our first 2 metres mobile QSO he was on his coax with no antenna connected!

(My apologies Nick, I get confused when I have to search for Microphones – Ed)

Thanks very much to all who managed to work me.

73

Nick G4OOE


CANADA – U.S. SOTA NEWS By Fred K6DGW

Well, lots of North America is cold [excluding the Caribbean of course],
and SOTA activity in February was confined to the hardy, and one
non-hardy which would be me. We had 3 late-Jan/early-Feb activations
that I know of so this will be a somewhat short report from the New World.

On 23 Jan, I managed to get Banner Mt [W6/SN-048] on the air. This is
not a difficult job, Banner Mt is not far from the twin towns of Grass
Valley and Nevada City, and is about 40 mins or so from home here in
Auburn. You can drive to the summit, it’s capped with a fire lookout, a
very large communications and cell phone site, and at least one FM
broadcast station. As usual, to preserve the spirit and intent of SOTA,
I drove to a point where I was sort of sure I could make the hike and
carried my gear [K2 and accessories, Li-Ion battery, and Buddipole] to
the top. I managed the activation, weather turned fairly ugly, and I
cut things short from my planned effort. I was able to post spots to
SOTAWatch and QRPSpots.com from my phone however, one of my grandsons
tutored me on how to send text messages. My fear now is that he and his
two brothers will annoy the crap out of Grandpa texting him

W5/SC-006

On 05 Feb, Mike, KD9KC and W5 Association Manager, and his buddy Ron,
WT5RZ, activated Summit 9695 [W5/SC-006] in the Sacramento Mountains
near Cloudcroft, New Mexico. At 2,955 meters this was guaranteed to
yield an interesting story and it did, all of Mike’s summit stories end
up being interesting and sometimes exciting. See below for how we’re
going to handle that.

And, on 08 Feb, Chuck, K4QS, activated Clark Mt. [W4/SH-058] for our
first W4 Association summit activation. Cold seems to have been the
operative word for late January and February over much of the US and
Canada, he froze.

In VE3-land, work is underway to catalog the small number of summits in
Ontario and get an Association established. Ontario is mainly flat
plains similar to the central plains of the US, so qualifying summits
means checking several orometry sources to assure any found actually do
meet the p150m requirement.

It’s been wet, cold, and snowy over most of the W7 Association, and our
comrades there are hunkered down against the winter. Radio conditions
are improving however, we’ve seen SSN’s over 100 as well as an SFI up to
125, so the prospects for QRP from pointy parts of the Earth’s surface
are rising fast for this spring and summer. As spring approaches, I’ve
located a few comrades in the No. California Contest Club who would like
to help activate some of the Coast Range summits. One, Bob K6XX, lives
on a qualified candidate summit for the next W6 ARM, maybe next ARM update.

Full Canada-US Activation Stories: Many summits, particularly in the
western and south western US are real challenges, and their stories are
a lot of fun to read. Getting them all into this Internet newsletter is
difficult. Roy’s space does need to be controlled somewhat, and
excerpting the stories often destroys their character and excitement,
not to mention the absence of photos.

Consequently, we’ll now introduce the “Canada-US SOTA Web Page” where
the full accounts that I receive, including photos, will be posted. It
is currently on the free space our ISP gives us at
www.foothill.net/~andreaj/SOTA.htm The “SOTA” in upper-case matters.
If I run out of space on the server, I’ll figure something out, being
resourceful was a lesson I learned in the military.

Note to Canadians and Americans: I need news of all of your SOTA
efforts, activations, summit chasing, equipment ideas and results, you
name it. k6dgw@foothill.net with your stories and photos. Reading
about others’ adventures is part of the fun of SOTA.

73,

Fred K6DGW [aka Skip on the radio]
Canada-US SOTA Reporter Dude


THE ‘WRONG’ SORT OF WEEKEND. By Kevin G0NUP

Can I help it if my mother in law was born in February? NO.
Can I help it if the weather decided to have the strongest winds for many years? NO.
Can I help it if the rain 7 miles away from GW/NW-070 was horizontal and wet? NO.
Can I help it if visibility was only 20m on the top of GW/NW-070? NO.
Can I help it if I was daft enough to think I could activate in there condition? NO.

Saturday 5th February 2011, approx 0800. I decided to take the plunge to activate Great Orme whilst staying with my mother in law. The wind was about 5 mph with a few higher gusts. The rain was light and I knew I’d get wet through.

I breakfasted, dressed and left. All my equipment was ready. FT-817ND, Batteries, external slab fully charged, antenna checked and working. Nice new 3-in-1 coat (Snowdonia) checked out and fully functional. Trousers (the wrong pair). Shoes, warm and dry. I drove the 7 miles to the Great Orme car park in relatively easy weather conditions and even briefly saw the sun as I set off.

What a difference a few miles can make. GW/NW-070. for those who don’t know it, is a very large lump of rock on the North Wales coast, which sticks out into the sea. It is a lovely place when the sun is shining; it has its own ski lift style overhead transport and sports an old fashioned tram.

As I drove up the hill the car started to be buffeted violently by the wind and the rain
became heavier. I reached the car park, sat there for a few moments and made the decision “It’s going to be activated’! I kitted myself out and was as waterproof as I was going to be that day. I knew I was going to get wet, but to activate was worth it.

I climbed the final ascent to the trig point, where the wind had somewhat increased in
strength, and the gusts were somehow longer and carried more rain. My legs, (remember wrong trousers) were soaked. Water just ran off them. I had noticed my shoes were also starting to get wet, inside. NO matter - there’s going to be an activation!

I erected my Inverted-Vee for 7 & 10 MHz on my 5m pole, stretched out the first leg and tied it to a convenient viewing telescope, used for the immaculate views both to sea and the Welsh mountains. But not today with visibility down to 20m. Now for the second leg, I unrolled it from its carrier and walked out to the full extent, turned to see my pole was now horizontal and having a rest on the ground. This was rectified and then the other end of the antenna was sorted out.

The rain knew no bounds; I arranged my rig in my carrier/rucksack. Plugged in the antenna and tested the rig. It was working great. I found paper, pencils and arranged them in the bag so that I could write. In less than a second I had a soaked pad. I could hear contest traffic above and below my intended operating freq which I had locked in as 7032 KHz. I did my best to listen for about a minute and there was no audible (to me) signals on 7032. Plenty above and below. I sent a very tenuous QRL? with my 2.5 Watts and 3 bars on the SWR. Nothing. NO response.

I called my first CQ of the day and worked two F stations, closely followed by “NUP LID” repeated a few times. I thought “Well I checked, so it must be the idiot that sits on our frequency sometimes and does that to stations”
I persevered and worked two French stations without a problem. I had started to enjoy myself and not really noticed that the rain had increased. Back came the “NUP LID” caller. I listened for 20 seconds then called CQ again, with the NUP LID station back with a massive 599 signal. I was soaked and now losing heart, two stations started to ask “WHY NUP LID?” I was wondering the same. I was soaked and I was cold.

In total I worked 4 stations, got soaked to the bone, got frozen to the marrow, got insulted and more to the point, got slightly put off being an activator.

From my normal chaser position I can appreciate more what some of the activators have to put up with. But I think if I do it again, rain will stop play. What was the point of NUP LID without an explanation?

At the end of the day, I was a little QRP station, probably less than 2w, signal on what turned out to be accidentally calling on some DX station working split, probably using 400W plus.

I shall return!

Regards,
Kevin Prince G0NUP


HAPPINESS IS… by Roy G4SSH

The morning of Friday the 4th February had been above average from a SOTA chaser’s point of view. I had a total of just over 30 CW points already in the log, from as far afield as Germany, France, Slovenia and Switzerland.

It was a good day for staying indoors, because North Yorkshire was being battered by severe gale force winds well in excess of 70 MPH and my Butternut vertical antenna was swaying wildly through 90 degrees in the gusts. The makers of this antenna do not recommend the use of guy lines, but as I have a fairly busy minor road running alongside my garden hedge, where the antenna is sited, it is necessary to ensure that the 26’ metal pole does not fall across the road in event of failure. Even with four guys at one third height, the top was behaving more like a horizontal antenna at times.

I had just worked Andre F5UKL at 1135 when I got the first indication that something was amiss because the received signals began to cut out then return; a glance through the shack window confirmed my worst fears that this was in sync with the stronger gusts. A few minutes later the antenna went completely dead on all bands, so I grabbed a Parka and went outside to inspect the damage.

Fighting against the wind and now horizontal rain I consoled myself with the memory from my fault-finding days that the easiest faults to identify are the ones where the complete item is dead, so it was unlikely to be one of the coils or capacitors involved in the auto band switching high above the ground. My first observation was that two guy lines had parted in the severe storm, which was only a minor problem; however, the main fault was that the inner wire of the co-ax cable had parted where the matching stub joined the base of the antenna. This is a known weak point, being a rigid soldered wire. The movement of the antenna had caused this wire to snap.

There was nothing I could do until the weather abated, so I performed a quick emergency repair to the guy lines, returned to the shack and gloomily watched the spots page fill up with 8 and 10 pointers for the rest of the afternoon.

I then remembered that I had a spare MFJ Apartment antenna, which is a 6 foot indoor vertical which I had obtained a few years ago as spares for the one I use when working as G4SSH/A in Cornwall. Once erected and tuned this allowed me to at least work the stronger stations, such as Jurg HB9BIN and Norby LX1NO on one of his usual expedition to Germany.

Fortunately the wind had considerably abated on the Saturday morning and I was able to be back on the air by the time my good friend Rolf HB9DGV called CQ SOTA at 1021z, to be followed by a spate of S5 calls for the start of the SOTA Slovenia Winter Activity Days.

As my colleague Nick G4OOE also discovered this month, happiness is a spare antenna, be it activating or chasing.

73
Roy G4SSH


THE VIEW FROM THE NORTH 26 - by Rob and Audrey G4RQJ

A short offering this time as we’ve missed a couple of weekend activations due to Audrey still being plagued by the persistent cough she’s had since Christmas. Not had a full nights sleep in that time so we’ve had a couple of quiet weekends in the hope of helping her recovery.

Sunday 31st Jan Blake Fell.

This normally fairly rare fell has seen a bit of activity lately and rightly so as it’s a very pleasant little summit although quite remote from the motorway system. If you’re coming up the M6 from the south you will find it quicker to stay on the motorway to the Penrith/Keswick junction and head through to Cockermouth and then on to the start point rather than going through the centre of Lakeland with its attendant traffic problems. Note, the coast road is even worse but if you have time to spare then either it or the route through the lakes have superb views.

Today we’re made late by a surprise closure of the Cold Fell road, forcing us into a detour. The ground was frozen iron hard and there was deep rime on the summit in the biting strong wind. This forced us to the north side of the summit for shelter, restricting VHF coverage to the south yet again. 5MHz worked well but cw on 7 MHz and 10 MHz produced no returns and frankly it was too cold to keep calling. Nothing on 2m SSB either but nice to catch up with a few local chasers on 2FM. We usually work most of them on our annual GD trip but not often from home with the Lake District in the way.

In the quiet spell we’re left thinking about odd things like boots and how to lace them. As a Northern lad I was brought up to believe that soft southerners laced their boots crisscross fashion while we laced ours over and over. This was in case a ship a locomotive or indeed a coal mine fell on us. In this case the emergency services could remove our boots by simply slitting up all the laces with a knife. Over the years, like most people we’ve just learned to lace our boots crisscross fashion and tie them at the top. Recently both of us suffered blistered heels from new boots and a bit of research on the internet revealed that this could be fixed by altering the lacing pattern. In our case lacing up to the third set of hooks from the top (about where a normal shoe ties) tie here with simple knot which holds the lower section of the boot firmly in place, then carry on lacing to the top of the boot and tie normally. This solved our problems but conversation with a number of very experienced weekend walkers showed that none of them were aware of this sort of thing so we thought it may be worthwhile repeating it here. Just Google (others are available) lacing walking boots will produce several videos on the subject as well as some scary military lacing that makes me glad I was in the air force.

During the period of extended chaser activity it dawned on us that it would be very handy if VHF chasers announced the QSY frequency they were going to just before they actually go there. Often others are listening with squelch on (Satanic invention but sometimes useful) so hear the chaser but not the activator. By the time the rig is reached, the QSY has taken place and if the resulting contact is a quick one there is no clue as to where it happened or where to look for the activator. It is also useful to the activator as a confirmation that both stations are going to the same frequency which does not always happen hi hi.

See folks have been having warden troubles again in England, our experience has been broadly, further south, more problems. In LD and NP areas Wardens and gamekeepers have been interested and supportive, further south and the attitude seems to be “’cos I said so!” Fortunately our pole and beam can easily be hand held for VHF if necessary so no pegs which seem to cause special offense. Do other countries have wardens etc or is it a peculiar British thing? We’ve also found that the four element beam is not so useful in the more populated areas of the country where a simple antenna giving all round coverage can be more effective. Not so in the wilds where the more directivity and gain the better.

Sunday 20th Feb Arnside Knott.

Not (no pun intended) a lot to say about this little hill just to keep us in practice. We did VHF only this time to keep the activation time down as we don’t want Audrey sitting in the cold too long with the cough persisting. We managed an hour of activity and were quite overwhelmed with the welcome back greetings.

Nice to work John as GX0OOO on a couple of top band summit contacts and sorry for the problem on the first one. Very late into the shack and the old valve rigs really do like a bit of a warm up. Also a quick retune on to top band is anything but quick so ended up cold calling in the hope of catching you John, sorry

This month is the tenth anniversary of the foot and mouth disease that ravaged Cumbria and producing an access ban that saw desperate walkers fully equipped with ice axes traversing the still open beach paths of Walney Island. It was a terrible time for the county causing huge damage to farming and tourism. Millions of animals were culled and the remains burned and buried at the old wartime airfield at Great Orton in the north of the county. There is now a wildlife and nature reserve called Watchtree on the site. All this was before SOTA of course and now the extra electric fences that helped the replacement sheep heft to their new home fell are gone but it does show how bad things can be and that we should all be very careful lest the disease returns with its attendant pain and loss of access.

The family bought me a weather station for my recent birthday (by the way thanks to Jim GM0CQK for the E-card, wonder where you got the date?).It’s just as well the station hasn’t a setting for B—dy Awful because it would be stuck there most of the time at present, grey cloudy and wet. Still better must be just round the corner. Sorry for the lack of activity, take care out there.

73
Rob and Audrey.
G4RQJ.


SOTA G/TW-003 - by Nick G4OOE 16 Feb 2011

It was our wedding anniversary and my birthday this month, so Eva, the XYL decides to treat me to a SOTA activation day out - fantastic! The weather forecast was brilliant so we decided to go off to Gisborough Moor, G/TW-003. I had read a few articles about access from Tom M1EYP, Phil G4ASA and a recent one from Dave G4ASA, thanks to you all, it certainly helped us plan our trip. I also warned the XYL that although it was only a 1 pointer it would take more effort than our previous activation at Bishop Wilton Wold, G/TW-004.

I had spoken the night before with Roy G4SSH who again had kindly offered his spotting services. The plan was to speak to Roy on 2m FM before we left at around 0800. Well we were both up earlier than planned and we set off from Scarborough at around 0745. I had no luck on 2m mobile contacting Roy G4SSH or Kevin G0NUP on the Scarborough net even though I tried several times along the A171. Anyway not to worry, I thought I would make contact by mobile phone once we had arrived at Commondale. We arrived at around 0915 and although I could see a mobile phone mast with aerial, I couldn’t get a signal, I must be with the wrong company! We drove up and down the village a few times looking for a suitable parking space and settled for a spot just off the road near the footpath closest to the village.

After changing into our walking boots we set off but our map reading skills were a bit rusty and we missed the first footpath junction which would have taken us up the steeper route and we were on the much longer but quite pleasant route, avoiding the land rover track which is not a public right of way lower down. Having missed the bridge we jumped over the stream further along and later we met a man walking his Dalmatian and he confirmed that we were heading in the right direction. The track later wasn’t very well defined and I panicked because it seemed to be going down so we headed up on to the heather and walked by some grouse butts. We looked at the map and decided that although we were on high ground we weren’t yet on Gisborough Moor. Eva then spotted the land rover track and we headed for that, knowing that it was a public right of way at this height. We walked past the war memorial and met another man who regularly walks from Guisborough to Commondale, has a couple of pints in the pub and gets the train back! (The spellings are correct, Gisborough Moor and Guisborough town). We arrived on the moor at around 1100 and we had a phone call from Roy G4SSH to get an update.

By the summit there is a stone shelter but we opted for a position just opposite with a great view of the sea where we could see many tankers heading to and from Teesside. We put up the SOTA pole which stuck nicely into the boggy ground with 10 MHz dipole and a couple of guys for support. I had my FT-817 with external battery and MFJ ATU. I had a high SWR on 10 MHz which was puzzling but I was able to tune it out. The game keeper pulled up in his landrover and asked what we were doing. he looked intrigued and told us about another person doing the same from the shelter who had told him he was talking to stations in Europe, but he wasn’t sure if the operator was pulling his leg! We of course told him that he was probably telling the truth because I was certainly hoping for similar results once I got going.

A quick phone call to Roy and after a couple of CQs on 10118 KHz CW I managed to work DL1FU followed by DL2HWI, OE7PHI, DL3HXX, DJ5AV, LA8BCA, HA7UL, DL3EEE, SM6CMU, DK5WL and S58MU. I then tried 7, 18, 3.5 MHz and 145.400 MHz FM without any luck. Eva managed to sew on a couple of Christmas trees on one of her Christmas place mats as part of her applique patchwork.
After sandwiches and coffee we left the moor and headed back to the car at Commondale which took roughly an hour, having briefly stopping off to look at the war memorial. It is worth noting that there are clean public toilets in Commondale. We then headed for home stopping at a garden centre for coffee and cake on the outskirts of Whitby.

It was a great day out and I have a lot to do before we go out again. I think that I will need either a more sensitive ATU or a high powered rig! Thanks to Roy G4SSH and all the stations I worked.

73

Nick G4OOE


CW REPORT FOR FEBRUARY 2011 - by Roy G4SSH

SOTA CW activity showed a steady increase from a very low level at the start of February to peak over the last weekend when there was more than 100 chaser points available.

In addition to the regular HF activations from France, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Switzerland, we had many one-man expeditions to multi-SOTA’s, the S5 winter activity long weekend over the 3rd-8th February (when there were at least a dozen S5 calls active on CW) the many weekend cross-border expeditions from Norby LX1NO, the appearance of many new EA calls from Spain and a change in propagation which appeared to favour the lower bands bringing in SOTA stations well on 1.8, 3.5 and 7.0 MHz, but having a detrimental effect on 10 MHz where a move from 7 MHz saw a reduction in signal strengths or no copy on some DL, F and OK activators. Norby’s signal, in particular, usually increases by 2 or 3 S-points on a move from 7032 to 10118 KHz, but not this month.

Chasers were grateful to Novice licence holder Marek OK9HAG who cannot operate on 7 or 14 MHz, but still managed to activate SOTA’s using 3.5 and 21 MHz. An expedition from the 24th to the 27th February saw him active from the Plzenský region well after 2230 UTC on some evenings.

Digital transmissions were again creeping down to swamp 7032 KHz during the month. Unfortunately this prompts many chasers to attempt to move them by shouting “PSE QSY” which is pointless as the operator is not listening for CW signals and just adds to the overall level of QRM. This is about as useful as the chasers that send “SOTA?” at regular intervals on 7032 KHz as though they expect an activator to be waiting for this prompt before replying to them.

Heard active above 40m were:-

21 MHz: OK9HAG
18 MHz: G3RDQ,

14 MHz:
DL9MDI, DJ3AX, DL4CW,
EA5AER, EA2NN, EA2EA,
F6HBI, F5LKW,
G4OOE, GM0UDL, G3RDQ, G4OIG, GW4OKT, G4RQJ
HA7UL,
K4QS,
S53X,

10 MHz:
DL9MDI, DL2AJB, DL/LX1NO, DJ3AX, DL4CW, DF3MC, DL/PA7N, DR44WFF
EA2NNN, EA3EPR,
F6HBI, F6AVE, F6HBI, F5UKL, F5VGL, F6EAH, F/LX1NO,
G4OOE, G3RDQ, GM0DSP, GM0UDL, GW4OKT, G3CWI,
HA7UL,
HB9DGV, HB9AGO,
LA1KHA,
OE5EEP, OE6WIG, OE/DL4CW, OE/DF3MC
OK1EQ, OK1DSX, OK1DDQ,
ON/LX1NO,
S54Q, S57XX, S57X, S53X,
Z35M,

(Thanks to all activators who regularly use 10 MHz I managed to reach a personal target of 10,000 chaser points gained on 30m only – Ed)

Also thanks to the stalwarts who enthusiastically continue to activate on 80 and 160m:-

3.5 MHz: GX0OOO, OK9HAG, MW1EYP, M1EYP, MW0YDH,
1.8 MHz GX0OOO

A warm welcome is extended to the following newcomers, heard activating SOTA’s for the first time on CW during February:- Boris S54Q, Javi EA5AER, Tom DK5WF, Ivan EA2NN, Franck F8CRH, Arno OE9AMJ, HB9/G3TJE, Erwin PA7N,

Heard active on expeditions outside their own countries were: DL/LX1NO, F/LX1NO, OE/DF3MC, DL/HB9CMI, DL/PA7N, HB9/G3TJE.


CONTESTS DURING MARCH 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.

6th only 0800-1200 Ukraine RTTY Championship
12th only 1400-2000 AGCW QRP contest
13th only 0001-2300 SKCC Weekend sprint
13th only 0700-1100 UBA CW Spring contest
13-14th 1600-1600 EA PSK31 contest
19-21st 0200-0200 BARTG HF RTTY contest
19-20th 1200-1200 Russian CW and SSB contest
26th-27th 0001-2359 CQ World-wide WPX SSB contest (severe disruption)


SOTA News is normally published around noon 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 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, in a total of 24 different countries. Your input will be most welcome.

73
Roy G4SSH
SOTA News Editor
g4ssh@tiscali.co.uk

North American input to:-
Fred K6DGW [aka “Skip” on the radio]
Canada/US SOTA Reporter Dude
Auburn CA
k6dgw@foothill.net or k6dgw@arrl.net

In reply to G4SSH:

Excellent news again Roy - many thanks to all contributers.

Barry - > One interesting statistic that surprised me (but really shouldn’t have) is that Colin G4SXR actually achieved Mountain Hunter Bronze before he qualified for the 100 point Chaser award<

Congratulations to Colin on the joint MHB/100 points awards. I know Colin personally as a fellow Ham & Geocacher and it was Colin who encouraged me to take my Foundation Licence last year.

I also got my Mountain Hunter Bronze a month or so before my 100 points award back in Oct/Nov last year. I think anyone chasing multi-band on HF/VHF/UHF might well do it the same way. As you state, you could achieve the MHB with 10 points! It surprised me to do it that way at first, as on joining SOTA, I saw the 100 points award as the first milestone.

I think the Mountain Hunter Silver, with it’s requirement for 2 continents, is going to be a somewhat tougher cookie on 10 Watts though!

73
Jonathan
M6HBS

In reply to G4SSH:
Hello to the team
Thanks a lot for this interresting news, as usual.
Weather is very bad over south west France, since one month. It is difficult to go up under the rain or strong wind.I hope that spring will come soon with sun.
Best 73
Andre - f5ukl

Thanks for the news Roy.

Some stuff we should have told you - but didn’t, as it was all in the last few days and we are down on MT numbers at present - is as follows:

Association News:

There have been updates to the EA2 and Z3 associations. In Macedonia, many new P150 summits have been identified and added to the ARM.

Two new associations launch on 15th March 2011, these being I - Italy and IS0 - Sardinia. Thanks to Carlo IW1ARE for his excellent work in preparing these associations.

More exciting news of new associations is expected throughout 2011, with work already at an advanced stage in more than one area.

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:
Thank you for news of the interesting developments Tom.
I have copied these to the MT section at the top of the news so that they will not be missed.
73 Roy

In reply to G4SSH:

Thanks for the interresting news Roy.

I must also write: Thank you for sunday OK/OL-008 QSO.
Please, can you tell me what did you do that you called me immediately after my first CQ ?
It was totally unexpected. I wasn’t ready to write down to my log.
You must have bat ears, mustn’t you ? :slight_smile:

73! Igor OK1TGI

A short report from OK/OL-008 is on ok1tgi.blogspot.com

In reply to G4SSH:

Thanks for another really interesting news Roy and for all the effort put in to bring it together. Well done to all contributors putting pen to paper… or more accurately finger to keyboard.

To Kevin G0NUP - pssst, try 10.118MHz as an alternative to 7.032MHz. Propagation is usually as good and sometimes better on the higher frequency. The only thing is that you may need to self-spot as the frequency is not monitored as much as the 40m one.

73, Gerald G4OIG