Welcome to the May edition of SOTA News. I have had quite a few contributions this month and hope it continues. It is a very difficult task to put this together without the contributions from SOTA participants. Sorry it’s a bit late but I very selfishly took a holiday.
As mentioned above this has been bumper month for contributions. My thanks go to John GW4BVE, Myke G6DDQ, Tom M1EYP, Richard G3CWI, Roy G4SSH, Mike GW0DSP, Ian G7EGQ, Andrea IW0HK, Matthias DL1JMS and Peter G0FIM. I think I got everyone in there but apologies if anyone did get missed.
Most people have managed to find my email address but if you haven’t found it a quick check on QRZ.com will do the trick.
So far there have been no reports of activators dying of exhaustion but some walkers in Scotland have been rescued after suffering sever dehydration. I have just returned from a week in Inveraray (embarrassingly I didn’t activate anything) and there were several cases of serious sunburn around.
After an exceptionally dry week the mountain rescue team were out on force on the Sunday after torrential rain caused a land slip.
The advice as always is to take care and plan for all eventualities
Outings and Events
North Wales Weekend 14/15 July
Some SOTA participants will be Gathering at Rowen YHA in North Wales. This is a great area for activations and has a variety of hills on Offer. No doubt many will be climbing GW/NW-040, Tal y Fan, which can be reached on foot from the hostel. For the more adventurous and hardy types GW/NW-002, Carnedd Llewelyn is just a few miles away. The hostel is self catering and can sleep 24. It does book quite quickly so if you want to come along please book yourself in. Details on the Hostel can be found at Rowen YHA or phone them on 0870 770 6012. I hope to meet up with a few of you there.
Summits on the Air again ran a popular and successful stand at this year’s Norbreck radio rally in Blackpool. The stand was prepared by Rob G4RQJ, Audrey, Tom M1EYP and Jimmy M3EYP, and featured photos, quizzes, PowerPoint presentations, trophies, certificates and an example of a typical portable station. It was good to see many SOTA faces, new and old, and thanks to the several others who took turns to man the stand. RSGB President Angus Annan MM1CCR judged this as the winner of the Best Club Stand in the exhibition, and a silver trophy was presented to Audrey and Jimmy in the main hall. Photographs of the trophy and the stand may be seen on the flickr group.
"La radio in montagna (The radio in mountain) 30th June - 1st July"
Although not yet joined up to SOTA there is significant interest in Italy. Andrea Borgnino, IW0HK, has sent this item in about an event at the end of June.
He says "We are calling in Italian this event “La radio in montagna” as “The radio in mountain”
The place of the meeting will be the ex-Nato base of Monte Giogo, an incredible place at the top of Monte Giogo Mountain (1518 meter high) in the middle of Alpi Apuane and Appenino Tosco Emiliano. This base was closed in 1994 and now is a property of the Italian State and now it’s finally been given to the Italian Radio Amateur Association, ARI, for ham use.
The meeting will start Saturday 30 June with a technical conference about SOTA hardware (antennas & radio) and SOTA operational modes. After this a big lunch and in the afternoon again a meeting about the various SOTA activations from Italy and (I hope from Europe. On Sunday 1 July we plan a variety of SOTA activity on the mountain near the Base. At the base it’s possible to camp and activate a radio station in any mode or band.
I know that our “Italian SOTA” activity is, for now, still outside the official SOTA group but maybe this event is the right place to start a nice collaboration with other European SOTA Groups.
We are a nice group of Italian hams, see the website www.radioavventura.it run by IK2NBU Arnaldo
Give me any ideas or your thinking about this event, best wishes and 73 Andrea IW0HK.
See my SOTA activity in Italy: http://www.mediasuk.org/iw0hk/sota.htm
SOTA fascination mountain-radio
This was received from Matthias DL1JMS and refers to an event at the Friedrichshafen Rally
Saturday 23/06/07 about 15:00Uhr with Matthias, DL1JMS and Uli, DL2LTO with info about SOTA, SOTA video and SOTA technology.
Location: Administrative building on the fairground, 5th Floor/Room A
Also at Friedrichshafen. The team that provided nearly 150 chaser points to UK chasers over a few days before and after last years show will not be operational this year, however Steve G1INK will be driving down and activating F and DM summits before and after his visit to the show. Mike G4BLH, John GW4BVE and Andy GM4FAM are other UK SOTA operators known to be visiting the show again in 2007.
Just the one gremlin reported from last month. The correction comes from Ian, G7EGQ. He says the XYL’s correct callsign is 2E0MND and not 2E0NMD as stated when she qualified as a shack sloth.
Peter, G3TJE activated GW/MW-037 (Brandy Hill) on 11/05/07 for his 100th Unique. On 21/05/07 Frank, G3RMD activated his 100th unique summit, “Garth Hill” GW/SW-034 a marvellous achievement by both. There are now 30 Activators that have 100 or more uniques with another 8 waiting in the wings at 90+.
Robin GM7PKT activated 7 hills during May and is now just 1 away from his 300th unique. He is also only 21 activations away from his 500th. I wonder how many feet of ascent he has done?
John GW4BVE visited SW Ireland in May. His XYL thought they were going on a “normal” holiday with sightseeing, tea and scones in the afternoon and romantic evening meals. John it seems had other ideas and managed to squeeze in six previously unactivated summits. Finding unactivated summits wasn’t difficult as very few have been activated.
John was in EI/IS and the only summits previously activated there were 5 done by Richard G3CWI last year. One of John’s highlights was giving active chaser, Pete EI7CC his first EI summit - amazing. All John’s contacts were on 3.5MHz and 7MHz and he did not hear one signal on 2m. Handheld hit and run operations are not an option here. Four stations managed to work him on all six summits. Alistair GW0VMZ, Mike GW0DSP, Chris GM4FAM and Don G0NES. Graham G4JZF and Brian G8ADD missed just one summit each.
John has written up his routes on SOTAwatch and plans to go back to activate some of the “big ones” that he could only look at from the road.
This brings the total number of activations in EI to 50. Only 32 unique summits have been activated in IE, more than half of these have been carried out by non Irish Amateurs. If you are looking for a challenge why not head for the west coast of Ireland and be the first person to activate a hill in that region.
Still on the EI theme. Watch out for Frank EI/G3RMD/P activating from EI/IS in the summer. Frank is a prolific activator and activated his 100th unique summit in May. It will be interesting to see which activity occupies most of Frank’s time in EI. Will it be SOTA or golf?
Still focussing on remote SOTA places, this time in GM/SI. Paul G4MD had a very successful expedition to the Shetlands giving many chasers their first GM/SI summits. Paul activated eight summits on the trip, seven of them in Shetland and one in GM/ES. All of them were previously unactivated, which is a tribute to Paul’s planning and tenacity. One of the summits remains activated but unqualified which was probably due to the poor HF conditions at the time of the trip.
Some surprise was evident when G6 DDQ (GM6DDQ) was heard on 5 MHz and 7 MHz. This die-hard QRP and microwave lunatic did experiment and thoroughly enjoyed the experience but will be back on 1297 MHz on Buckden Pike shortly. He has not forsaken the HF bands but will need his pack horse people to be a bit fitter next time, they nearly died after 2 days on the hill.
Myke’s Cairngorm trip proved very rewarding and the weather was very kind. The following hills were activated: Ben Macdui (ES-001) / Braeriach (ES-002) / Beinn a Mheadhoin (ES-005) / Lochnagar (ES-008) / Sgor Goaith (ES-009) / Bynack More (ES-011) / The Bochell (ES-066) / Ord Ban (ES-074. The latter two being virgin activations. Please note that Reindeer seem to be able to smell chocolate or butties at several miles and you will share your scran with them. After all the hills are theirs and we are just guests in their back garden.
Myke would like to express his gratitude to all the Chasers for their comradeship, assistance and friendliness it was much appreciated. Special mention must go to G4 BLH - Mike for posting intended activations even though the Fri one was changed for safety. “I extend my heartfelt thanks. - G6DDQ
Tom M1EYP has been renewing his summer obsession with his local summit, The Cloud G/SP-015. Although Shining Tor G/SP-004 is actually a fraction of a kilometre nearer to his home QTH as the crow flies, The Cloud offers convenient nearby parking and a straightforward ten minute climb to access the summit. He has now activated this hill 24 times this year and 44 times in total
In May, Tom actually completed 14 days of consecutive daily activations on SP-015! The recent edition of the Marilyns Hall of Fame Newsletter (MARHOFN) indicated that an “official” name change to the more usually locally-known “Bosley Cloud” is being considered. A jazz-themed video of the complete ascent route of this fine hill can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BggAT_pxFtI
Tom also made his first foray into CW SOTA activation by joining the pile up on 7.032. On 15/5/07, Tom also achieved his first 40 Metre CW summit to summit with Mike GW0DSP/P on Hope Mountain GW/NW-062, this was also Mike’s first CW summit to summit
Jimmy M3EYP is homing in on another milestone, this time to be the first youngster to record activations on 100 unique summits. It is anticipated he will achieve his goal with a planned G/CE region completion in July.
More and more activators seem content to undertake “pointless” activations , i.e. where the points for a hill have already been claimed in a calendar year, but the urge to go out and activate the local hill remains strong! Usual suspects are Mike GW0DSP (Hope Mountain GW/NW-062), Richard G3CWI (Gun G/SP-013), Ian G7ADF (Winter Hill G/SP-010) and Tom M1EYP (The Cloud G/SP-015). As we move through the summer, these and several other activators are discussing and planning some SOTA activity evenings from their local hills. (Editors note the first of these has already taken place and I am looking for reports for next month’s issue)
On 18/5/07 Mike GW0DSP qualified for Shacksloth X 4. This is quite a remarkable achievement as he only started chasing at the beginning of the year.
Equally remarkable was the effort by Phil, G4OBK. His QSO with Andy, MM0FMF/P on GM/SS-028, Merrick resulted in reaching his 1000th unique hill chased. At his present rate I suspect the 2000th is just around the corner.
There are several more stations coming up to meet this mark. There are currently 123 Shack Sloths, 4 of whom are super sloths with over 10,000 points. There are 533 unique callsigns in the chaser database and they have amassed almost 440,000 points. It just goes to show that SOTA is not all about activators.
Chasing can be just as difficult as activating at times. Mick 2E0HJD finally chased Raw Head G/SP-016, his last SP summit on 31st May he bagged it through a QSO with G0DSP/P on. He said “I have been looking for that summit for the last three years”. It seems that even the most innocuous summits are on the wanted list of some chasers.
5MHz and HF Propagation
Propagation. Really only one word to describe it - yuk (technical term). The SOTANews team knows of only one UK HF activation that failed, although generally signals have been weak and suffering from QSB. 3.5MHz is now definitely into the summer daytime doldrums. There is intra-UK propagation during the middle of the day on this band, but signals are attenuated by D layer absorption so QRP activators have a hard time. Of course chasers with high noise levels suffer the most at this time, however it is still a good frequency for early morning and evening activations. The mean F2 ordinary mode critical frequency at 1200 utc over the 22 days when data was available from the Chilton ionosonde was 4.5MHz. On 15 of those 22 days the FoF2 did not reach the lowest 5MHz channel and on 3 days the ionosonde could not see the F layer due to sporadic E. However on those days the sporadic E provided inter G propagation on 5MHz and on the longer 7MHz UK paths. The sun has been more active particularly at the end of the month, which has generally improved HF conditions above 10MHz but on the downside the flares have caused HF fadeouts for short periods.
The SOTA Flickr Group continues to grow. There are now more than 1750 photos on-line, which should keep new visitors entertained for a while.
In the last few days there has been a flurry of photos of dogs on the hills. W1LF of course has been seen on Flickr before but there are recent photos of George by Steve M0SGB and of Clive’s M1YAM canine companion…
SOTAwatch Beta is still rolling along and is fast becoming the only place to discuss SOTA activity. It seems to be very stable and I don’t think it can be long until it comes out of Beta and into production. You can join in the discussions at: http://www.sotawatch.org/beta
Non UK Associations
No Apologies for simply reprinting the paragraph below from last month. I was really grateful for the news items from Andrea, IW0HK and Matthias, DL1JMS but there has been little else from overseas. SOTA is becoming more and more internationally know so please action the paragraph below.
I am still looking for news reports from overseas and would be grateful for anything at all related to SOTA outside the UK. With the increase in HF activity there are many more cross association contacts so please encourage other activators and chasers to send in some news items.
France has exploded onto the SOTA scene with a highly successful launch in April. Activity is high from French amateurs and those in neighbouring countries such as Switzerland and Luxembourg. The Channel Tunnel and the proximity of some straightforward hills to local roads in Northern France means that some activations from English amateurs are feasible. Congratulations to Lionel F5NEP, Alain F6ENO, Les G3VQO and all the team for their success.
The Czech association had over 30 activations in their first month of activity. This is excellent news as there were only 4 weekends in the month.
The USA W2 Association has had a disappointing start with the sole activation being W2/GA-082 Kane Mtn by Andrew KC2EUS. We should think ourselves lucky in G Land as the climb to the top of this 2,200 ft hill netted Andrew a massive 1 point.
SOTA CW REPORT (from Roy G4SSH)
The month of May saw many newcomers to CW using this mode for the first time, both as SOTA chasers and activators. Many chasers were heard exchanging reports around 10 wpm. Whilst 40m has been noisy with much QSB and QRN, the 30m band in particular has been giving excellent propagation around Europe in the past few weeks and Klaus DF2GN has been heard working many QRS stations on 10.118 MHz after contacts with his regular chasers.
Other QRS stations tried their hand at activating during the month. On the 13th May there were two QRS stations active at the same time, with Tom M1EYP on 7.032 and Juergen DF2AP on 10.116 MHz, with enthusiastic chasers from the UK and across Europe replying to both stations at their comfortable working speed.
The recent arrival of France and the Czech Republic into the SOTA organisation has seen many new SOTA’s being activated, mainly on CW. These are particularly valuable to collectors of “Unique’s” and this is reflected in the data-base where chasers who additionally use CW have an average of around 60-80% unique SOTA’s when compared to non-CW users with an average of around 20-40%. As a result, some keen unique chasers have been heard making their first CW QSO’s with European stations.
The longer days have also seen the introduction of early morning and evening activations on CW, with many stations using 80m at these times, giving good contacts around the UK and into Europe.
Well done to Jordan M3TMX for his fundraising ascent and activation of Black Combe G/LD-030, in aid of the Dalton Town Band’s trip to Belgium. Jordan is highly active in the SOTA programme and looks a good bet to win this year’s SOTA Challenge. This challenge, won by Jimmy M3EYP, Sam 2E0UPT, Bobbie M3TNC and Josh MW3EPA in previous years, is organised by SOTA Beams, and is open to all licensed amateurs aged 18 or under. See the website at http://www.sotabeams.co.uk for further details.
A bit of a Downer.
Thanks to Peter G0FIM for these short tales of woe.
A few days ago, while staying at the Cairngorm Club hut (near the SYH at Inverey), I cycled in to Derry Lodge and then walked over the Lairig an Laoigh to the Fords of Avon Refuge and then did a little Corbett to the N East by the name of Creag Mhor. At a mere 895m ASL, it is ‘only’ a 4 pointer. I did remember to take a radio with me and even better I remembered to switch it on. I needn’t have bothered - I got no responses. The classic non qualifying activation.
Mind you last year, when doing a traverse of the Ben Lawers group - there are five munros of which 3 are SOTA summits - I forgot to switch the radio on on the first one.
Hill of the Month
Thanks to Myke G6DDQ for this entry. It was the only one received but I think this could prove to be a popular subject so please send in your entries
May I submit that the favourite hill for May is Ord Ban (GM/ES-074). A fine hill nestling just on the edge of the Cairngorm Hills. What makes it so fine, simple because the setting is just so idyllic. I started from the car-park at Loch an Eilein. This is a beautiful little Loch with great paths, views and wildlife, tree-creepers, woodpeckers, deer, alligators (well no not really) all around its shores and it did round off the day. Ord Ban is not a difficult climb although the path to start the climb can be a little tricky to find (the car-park attendant will point out its origin if you ask him). Once on the summit the views of some of the inferior Cairngorm Hills are breathtaking to say the least. Yes they are a little bit bigger but fail to dwarf this little hill in its technicolour majick. Highly recommended.
By the way when there is no snow on the hills the skiing fraternity take to putting wheels on the skis and playing at Divine Wind pilots on the tarmac road from Cairngorm Mountain down to Aviemore.
A rare Achievement
Many of you will have worked Pete M0COP. He used to be the third member of the Birmingham Mafia and a very active SOTA chaser. He recently moved to Little Stretton in Shropshire and since then his SOTA activities have been curtailed a little while he works on his new property.
SOTANews has discovered that Pete is a bit of a dark horse. Pete has climbed every 2000ft and above summit in the England & Wales (George Bridges list) except one, Pillar Rock, which involves a rock climb.
There are 408 of these summits so that is a really significant achievement. If you know of any similar snippets that would be of interest to SOTANews readers please send them to SOTANews before the end of June.
Richard G3CWI Writes:
Observant readers of Radcom may have noticed that I have started writing a column titled “Portable”. The idea is that this will appear every other month until the readers/editor get fed up with it. I already have a large number of topics in mind to cover but ideas will always be welcome from the SOTA fraternity - after all we do more portable operating than anyone else! Ideas to email@example.com
That’s it for this month. Remember if you have any news or ideas for things you would like reported on, drop an email to M0ZZO. My email is easy to find on QRZ.com and I will do my best to include any items sent. Please get some articles to me as soon as possible so that I can have the next bulletin ready for publication at the end of the month. Having been late with this one, the next one will come around very fast indeed.
73 es gd dx