SOTA NEWS – MAY 2009
Welcome to the May edition of SOTA News. My thanks go to the following contributors:- Les, G3VQO, Barry GM4TOE, John G4YSS, Kevin G0NUP, David G6LKB, Chris F8DZY, Iain M3WZJ, Phil G4OBK, Rick M0RCP, Rob and Audrey G4RJQ.
EDITORIAL – by Roy G4SSH
The month of April saw SOTA activity return to almost normal. The long Easter break and the improving weather conditions across Europe saw SOTA spots start to exceed the 100-a-day mark at weekends for the first time this year.
Activity is still well below average during weekdays but this is expected to increase as we move into summer conditions and lighter evenings, by the end of May.
In spite of the gloomy forecast with regard to the extended low of the sunspot cycle it was a pleasure to hear two DX activations on the air, Tom N2YTF and Dave W2VV on South Beacon, NY (W2/EH-003) were again copied by grateful chasers in Europe on the evening of the 25th April, when they were audible on SSB for over 90 minutes. The other long distance SOTA activation was by Panos, SV1COX on the 17th April, also on the 20m band. We may even have a Brazilian SOTA Association soon, thanks to the enthusiasm of Paulo PU2PX.
MACEDONIA (Z3) JOINS SOTA
The MT is pleased to welcome another new Association as a member of the SOTA family from the 1st of May 2009. The official title of the newcomer is the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, often abbreviated to FYROM, but we are going to use the rather easier-to-remember name of Macedonia.
This land-locked Balkan country shares borders with Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria and Greece. The terrain is mainly mountainous, with the two SOTA Regions defined as being east and west of the central valley of the River Vardar that neatly dissects the country. Macedonia is a seismically active area, and has often been the scene of destructive earthquakes.
Whilst the climate in the central valley can be described as Mediterranean, with summer temperatures often exceeding 40C, the mountains are less hospitable with long snowy winters and short cold summers. It appears that the winter bonus will be well-deserved!
It is unrealistic to expect SOTA-Macedonia to be an especially active Association as, of the 260 licensed amateurs in the country, less than fifty are active on HF. Macedonia has, however, adopted the CEPT licensing system for visitors.
For such a mountainous country, a total of around sixty summits may seem rather low, but Association Manager Vlado Z35M has worked hard to compile this list from a variety of disparate sources. It is easy to forget that the availability and accuracy of maps and associated survey data, that we take for granted, is not universal elsewhere. Undoubtedly more summits will be added in due course.
obo SOTA Management Team
NEW WELSH SOTA SUMMIT - MYNYDD Y CWM
I am pleased to announce that Wales will have a new SOTA summit starting
from the 2nd May 2009.
Mynydd y Cwm GW/NW-076 Grid Ref. SJ073767
is situated close to Rhuallt Hill just off the A55.
The RHB survey team revisited the summit earlier
this year and concluded that this summit justifies
being elevated to Marilyn status.
This will be confirmed in the next Marhofn newsletter.
The database has been updated with this new summit
and it qualifies just in time for the International SOTA day
Welsh SOTA Manager
SOTA AWARDS FOR APRIL 2009 By Barry GM4TOE - SOTA Awards Manager
April has seen an upsurge in claims for awards, although the records below are inflated by something I held over from last month.
Observant readers of this section of the SOTA news will note that there are a large number of certificates issued to Geoff Passey, 2E0BTR; this is not because Geoff was playing catch-up, but his XYL decided that giving him these certificates would be a good birthday present. In order not to spoil the surprise I agreed with her to hold publishing the awards until this month. I just hope this was a pleasant surprise Geoff. It might be an idea for others seeking that different, and relatively inexpensive, gift for an active chaser or activator.
Special note should be made of the achievement of Graham G3OHC who has managed to reach the goal of 10000 Chaser points. Our congratulations to him at what is no inconsiderable achievement.
International SOTA weekend follows the publication of this News so I hope for great things in the claims department – who is close to Mountain Goat and planning to shoot through the 1000 activator points this weekend; and what about the stratospheric heights achieved by some Chasers – any gambling on what their points score will be by 4th May?
DL3BRA Horst Knopf Shack Sloth
M3ZCB Caroline Blackmun Shack Sloth
2E0BTR Geoff Passey 250 points
2E0BTR Geoff Passey 100 points
SV1COX Panos Bogris 100 points
2E0BTR Geoff Passey 100 Summits
G4GRG Grajon Radio Group 100 Summits
DL3BRA Horst Knopf 100 Summits
IK3GER Paulo Corsetti 100 Summits
G3OHC Graham Badger 10000 points
G4GRG Grajon Radio Group 500 points
2E0BTR Geoff Passey 500 points
2E0BTR Geoff Passey 250 points
G1TPO Rob Steel 250 points
M3VYD Kevin Lowcock 250 points
M3LIU Iain Cartmell 250 points
2E0BTR Geoff Passey 100 points
2E0ZCL Barry Leeson 100 points
G7OEM Tony Hulme 100 points
Many Congratulations to Tony M6ADL who has upgraded to 2E0LAE
Congratulations are also due to new Shack Sloth Doug G1KLZ
INTERNATIONAL SOTA WEEKEND 2nd – 3rd MAY 2009
With in excess of 90 posting on the Alerts page and promises of activations from all across Europe, the USA and South Africa, this first SOTA weekend gives every indication of being a tremendous success. We hope that as many activators and chasers as possible can spend some time on the air, whatever your favourite mode, be this 2m FM. SSB, CW or Digi. Hopefully the airwaves will be packed with stations taking advantage of this unique opportunity for s2s contacts.
The amount of scheduled activity should raise the profile of SOTA worldwide and perhaps even encourage other areas to join the SOTA programme.
ISLE OF MAN - GT7OOO/p By Phil G4OBK
My plan is to activate all 5 summits GD-001 to GD-005 on HF between 16th-22nd June.
Favoured bands are 80/60/40/30m mostly CW. I will always start on 3532 KHz. I should show up on one or two of the hills on Saturday 16th and/or Sunday 17th. I will check the IOM WX forecast closely – this is a very good forecast service, and unless it is bad WX there expect me to be active on one or both of those days.
After that it could be any of the days between Mon 18th and Friday 22nd. This depends on the walking festival activities and the weather, but I am confident that I can manage to activate all 5 during the week.
I will liaise through Roy G4SSH who will alert/spot my activities in advance.
I hope to be QRO on them all and if WX is good and I have time I will have a bash on 40m and 80m SSB.
73 Phil GT7OOO/p (G4OBK)
CLIFFORD CLIMB REPORT By David G6LKB
On 6th April 2009 my grandson Clifford, age 9, did a sponsored climb of Coniston Old Man to help his Dad, Andrew M0LKB, who suffers from MS. Clifford often goes on the fells with me and is really keen on amateur radio. He enjoys passing greetings messages from the hills when I do SOTA. He realises that his Dad is poorly now and wanted to do something to help. He thought of this himself.
The date of this climb was a bit vague from the beginning but we knew it would be sometime during the Easter holiday from school. We alerted for Wednesday 8th April but then the weather report increasingly forecast wet / windy for that day.
Monday morning and the weather was excellent in Ulverston so we decided to go for it now.
The Old Man is only half an hour drive away from here so that was not a problem.
The whole family wanted to go to support Clifford, including the dog. It was a tight squeeze in the car for the short journey to the hill. After donning boots etc. it was agreed that we would not go up the rough way via the quarry but instead go up the ‘South face’ a far more pleasing route with better views.
Andrew M0LKB, Clifford’s Dad, was feeling a bit better today and ascended with the rest of us. The party consisted of Sheri-Lynn (Mum) , Aimee-Lynn (sister 8) , G6LKB (Granddad) , Jess (Border Collie) and of course Clifford leading the way, with all of us in orange MS t-shirts.
The walk up was uneventful and quite slow with the mixed group and the wind on top was very cold. A few hurried photographs and a few radio contacts on the top and we beat a hasty retreat down to calmer weather.
We think that Clifford climbed it 1 ½ times. The dog about 6 times and the rest of us only once. Marjorie, M3ULV, was home base control keeping in touch whilst preparing a hot meal for our return.
Clifford thanks everyone that sponsored him and reminds us that he still has to climb Scafell Pike to complete his task. He also still welcome sponsors for ‘the BIG one’ which he hopes to complete at the end May / beginning June.
Clifford wrote -
“My Daddy (M0LKB) was diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) in 2006 and has been unable to fully participate in activating for SOTA ever since. If anyone could help by sponsoring me that would be kind.”
To see a list of sponsors and the option to sponsor Clifford CTRL + click this link:-
Prior to the above link Clifford had been sponsored approx £250 mostly from amateur radio people. Thanks guys…
The following article from John just missed the earlier deadline for last month’s SOTA news:-
100 SUMMITS ON TOP BAND - By John G4YSS.
Following the activation on 160m, of six LD SOTA’s on 15-March-09, it appears that a personal milestone (G4YSS) of 100 Top Band activations has been reached. The word ‘appears’ is appropriate because this information comes from the SOTA Database filter and is not quite what it seems. What can be said of this statistic is that 100 SOTA activations have now been ‘offered’ on the band with at least one 160m QSO completed for each. There have been 51 different summits activated; the other 49 were repeats. Some 16 of the 51 summits would have failed to qualify under the 4-QSO rule had there not been QSO’s on other bands.
G4YSS 160m Activations:
Here are some other statistics which apply just to G4YSS 160m activations:
CW QSO’s: 552.
SSB QSO’s: 12. (There is much scope for the future development of 160m SSB, especially after dark).
Points: 536. Bonus: 234. Total: 770.
Rigs: IC706-2G & FT817ND.
Average power per QSO: 57W.
Antenna: Loaded 3.5 MHz band inv-vee link-dipole.
Loading: Two H/B ‘hypo-syringe based’ slug-adjustable coils inserted at 7MHz link points.
5m H/B carbon mast with 1m end supports.
Just two of these as follows:
(GM4ZFZ on GM/WS-001 from G/NP-017 on 31-July 2004).
(G4OBK on G/TW-004 from G/NP-005 on 20-Feb-2009).
Thanks to lighter batteries providing the QRO Amps (essential in daylight) a few of the larger remoter (LD) mountains such as the Gable Group have been activated since 18th November 2008. In fact all SSEG activations have featured Top Band since that date.
Most popular 160m SOTA’s showing total QSO’s for each summit, to 31-03-09.
G/NP-031 - Birks Fell - 39
G/NP-017 - Fountains Fell - 38
G/NP-015 - Great Knoutberry Hill - 37
G/NP-004 - Whernside - 35
G/NP-009 - Buckden Pike - 28
G/NP-001 - Cross Fell - 23
G/NP-016 - Dodd Fell Hill - 23
G/NP-030 - Lovely Seat - 21
G/LD-009 - Grasmoor - 20
G/LD-037 - Little Mell Fell - 20
G/LD-001 - Scafell Pike - 19
G/NP-003 - Burnhope Seat - 18
G/NP-006 - Great Shunner Fell - 18
(Information from SOTA Database)
160m in General:
Although it’s not the easiest of bands for SOTA’ing, the growth of interest in 1.8 MHz SOTA has continued steadily over the past year. There are now nine call-signs appearing in the worldwide activator list: GM4ZFZ, DH3IAJ, M0GIA, G4OBK, G0AZS, 2E0RXX, DO7AG and M1EYP.
From 55 chasers led by G4OBK with 314 points, twelve 160m ops show double figures in the ‘summits chased’ column. Perhaps more surprisingly the ranks of successful 160m chasers contain six German callsigns, five French, two Eire, two Belgium, two Swiss, one Luxembourg, one Czech Republic, one Dutch and one Swedish. In fact there are more than these in my log, some stations being non-SOTA chasers.
As can be expected in the trough of a sunspot cycle, ionospheric conditions favouring 160 have been working overtime throughout the past winter. Even so and despite much use of QRO, QSO’s are as difficult as ever during the middle section of the day and at these times CW is essential. However, the task does at least appear to be getting easier now that there are more interested chasers.
If possible it’s better to get on the air before dawn and to hang around until after dusk. When overnighting on a summit, 1.8 is the band of choice which can far outweigh 3.5 for shorter skip / quieter QSO’s after midnight. Even 5W has a better than evens chance of delivering QSO’s around your own country as well as further afield during darkness.
The old problem of noise or QRN continues to spoil operation on the lower bands for many city dwellers. In sharp contrast, from a summit the ‘S’ Meter needle reclines gently on the stop; making it possible to hear the most miniscule signal most of the time. More often than not, the activator’s biggest problem lies with ‘punching through’ chaser QRN. Band noise rises after dark of course but it is still very low for the activator. The state of affairs at the summit end of the QSO can be thoroughly recommended!
From the activation viewpoint, apart from a couple of 5W QSO’s from Snowdon, Welsh peaks have yet to succumb to the 160m treatment. In Northern Scotland, because chasers are far more remote, just a handful of targets have ‘fallen’ there. This leads to the observation that there is still huge scope for Top Band conquests both in the UK and even more so overseas.
Next time you see a Top Band activation alert, why not think about making contact. Don’t be put off by the lack of a dedicated antenna or rusty CW skills. There are as many ops chasing Top Band SOTA without a ‘proper’ 160m antenna as there are with. You could tune-up your largest antenna against ground.
Whether you favour chasing or activating, why not give a 160m SOTA a try?
Come and join us on the ‘Ten wobbles per mile’ band.
73, John G4YSS
(Activating 160 with SSEG Club Station - GX0OOO/P).
NEWS FROM CHRIS F8DZY
Well, this is my modest contribution to the May SOTA News.
After almost one year without any SOTA activity, I went back to SOTA on April 6th in a new French region “MC”.
My QRX is due to the sale of my QTH and a move to new department 47, Lot-et-Garonne near Agen city (200kms North East from ex-QTH and 300 kms from PO summits), to the fact SOTA summits are VERY far from me now, to the fact we are starting building next QRA and to the fact I am waiting for a little son (due middle May) after first daughter 3 years ago ! HI
Well, this is to say I activated as first ones SOTA F/MC-084 “Montagne Noire” 1031m ASL where 31 QSO’s were done on 40M CW, and SOTA F/MC-221 “Therme Noir” 1031m. ASL too where 23 QSO’s were also on 40M CW. These 2 summits were inside deep forests and I was really surprised by the great reports I received !
I was very happy to hear usual Chasers and new ones !!
The video is soon ready but I still wait for a real internet connection in order to upload it on YouTube/Dailymotion/F8DZY’s blog… (I am actually working internet from my
An article with photos was wrote on my blog : http://f8dzy.over-blog.com/article-29977121.html
See you soon:
Vy 73 de Chris F8DZY.
P.S. Hello Roy, at last here’s the link of the video !
Just got internet at home 2 days ago…
GOATS R US - by Kevin G0NUP
I’m bored. I’m totally fed up with all the DX’ers with their fancy big transceivers, linears and high power. Sweeping around the world with their large rotatable beams and assassinating my 15 watts to the state where I am just wasting electricity and not doing my bit towards saving the planet. For anyone with low power, DX is not just a challenge, it’s an almost impossible task if the big boys are awake
What sort of challenge is there left for a low power operator to get his/her teeth into? At various meetings I had heard mentioned the existence of some strange but extremely fit chaps who spend their time climbing mountains and taking their rigs with them. Hmm… that has to be something of a challenge. I followed it up with the treasurer of the Scarborough Special Events Group, John, G4YSS and Roy G4SSH - I’m sure you’ve heard of them. John is the one sat there in any weather, howling gale, snow up to his neck, soaked to the skin and freezing to the bone. Yes - that’s the chap. I now know he’s known as an ‘activator’, takes himself up a mountain and operates amateur radio from that spot. But worse than that, he enjoys being cold, damp and windswept!
How can this be interesting? Well I’ve now found out he’s not alone, there are hundreds of them trudging around various mountains all over Europe doing just the same. Now it’s getting interesting. I recon there must be more than a few hilltops which people can climb when the mood takes them and the weather permits.
So I thought I’d give a few hours to have a listen. I had expected the big guys to be there stomping all over me, but no, I was pleasantly surprised and managed to work a few of these gallant chaps on my very first listen. That was about 10 days ago. I’ve been bitten by the bug. I’m now registered on the database and officially known as a ‘Chaser’. I’m certainly not built to be an activator, but I am now gaining some enjoyment out of watching and chasing the fit ones up the hills. I’m sure someone will be telling me off, that they are not on hills but summits or mountains. ‘Hills’, does make them sound small and insignificant. Having studied the database I notice some of them are quite high and probably need oxygen tanks to reach the top . But enough of that, I’d need oxygen to reach 200m ;-).
I’m steadily working my way up the charts, not that I stand a chance of ever getting to the top of the summits or the charts ;-). Over 150 points in the first few weeks and looking forward to the ‘goats of summer’ getting their weather gear on.
I think I’m in the list of chasers for a while. I just hope that we all don’t get pushed around by the large megawatt stations with multi element beams.
My own station, Kenwood TS870 is set to around 10-20 watts and after doing some sums I find that my actual output is generally 7-15W into either an HF9V (Butternut) or while the neighbours are away, an inverted-V. I hope to take delivery, of a new DMV Pro very soon, which should fit nicely into the small garden I have.
Oh yes, on a more serious note, I will be active from North Wales (Colwyn Bay area), sometime this year as an activator on any hill that I don’t have to climb too high and not too far from the car park ;-). Any suggestions as to a close and easy ‘hill’ for me to struggle up would be welcome to email@example.com
Dates are not yet known. May or June is likely.
THE VIEW FROM THE NORTH 4 By Rob and Audrey
Roy’s mention of Cyprus (last month) reminds me of when we lived there in the early 60’s. For a time I was NCO i/c of the Radio Relay station on the very summit of Mt Olympus. The view from the tower was really something. Unfortunately I was not licensed in those days. There are some great summits on the island, time for a SOTA association.
29th March. Lovely Seat.
A long drive from Walney but we chose it because of the forecast of high winds and wind chill. This hill is a one pointer dressed up for four points if you climb it from the cattle grid at the northern end of Butter Tubs Pass with room for five cars. The first100yds is boggy and best crossed well to the south of the fence wire which then leads straight to the summit. The lovely seat is lovely in name and appearance only; the stone top section is in danger of falling on your head and has the sheltering effect of a fishing net! Better to sit on the floor sheltered by the base. All bands played nicely but again no response on 2cw. We always try to follow the same order 5MHz
7cw 10cw 2ssb (2cw possibly) then 2fm.The bitter wind drove us off after two and a half hours but a beautiful blue day. Back at home the cold mist had been down most of the day.
A strange week, no need to keep checking the advanced forecast or prepare the kit for the weekend, it’s the Norbreck Rally
5th April Norbreck Rally
An early start, leaving home we can see Blackpool on the horizon, 45minutes and 37 miles later we are further from it than when we started out but at least heading in the general direction… No great problems with the Marathon traffic and we soon meet Tom and Jimmy and get the stall set up. What a response! We have people waiting to say hello up to four deep for much of the time. Desperately try to keep all the names, faces and call signs in my head but it’s almost impossible. Need everyone to be photographed with an ID board in front of them but guess that would not be too popular! The SOTA cake goes well as usual, Towards the end of the day a chap arrives,” Great, I’ve found you at last, can I have two pieces please.” How much is that “he asks,” ” free” says Audrey.” Can’t have that” he says “I’ve nothing to do with SOTA, here’s a pound”. “No” says herself, “it’s free” Put it in a charity box” he says and off he goes. She put it in Tom’s school fund. Since, she’s had requests for mail order but don’t think it will travel well! A great day and a real pleasure to meet everyone. Five o’clock by the time we leave. It’s been a lovely sunny warm day, perfect for a summit! Oh dear.
A very quiet week on HF with conditions very poor into the continent and not a lot on VHF. Got me to thinking about power and how much to use from a summit. We always use full power from both the 817 and the h/held, the theory being that a few solid contacts are better than calling CQ for hours with the power down for no answers. Also, keeping the power up while in QSO attracts other stations to the frequency, a bit like ground bait. Only back it down towards the end of an activation if things are desperate. What do others think?
12th April Wards Stone
We took the long way in from Jubilee Tower at SD542572. This is not easy to reach from the M6, probably easiest to go into Lancaster and take the road via Quernmore to the Trough of Bowland. The tower is unmissable (I hope!) and has nice views over the bay and a reasonable, free car park often used by local /M operators. From here it’s up the fence to Shooters Pile, over the stile and follow the track past the lone little pine tree in the huge moorland space (sometimes decorated at Xmas), across a semi surfaced track and on through the peat hags to the summit. This is a route best done in mid summer or mid winter when the mud is either dried out or solid. Toddlers would struggle on this one and probably need a lot of carrying. There are plenty of rocks to hide behind at the western trig. This hill is unusual in having two trig columns both in the activation area. HF was in very poor condition with none on 5Mhz, two on 7 and none on 10Mhz but 2m made up for it although none on cw. A great day out though in beautiful weather.
A total crash of the main computer left us internet-less for most of the week and the arrival of a new garage did not help anything but eventually with a lot of help from G3VUS we were back in business and even recovered the parts of this tale that were already written. Thanks again Dave.
19th April. Great Coum
We do this one from Leck House, a long walk but no steep climb involved. Leave the A65 ad Cowan Bridge following the minor road to the north. Follow this narrow road through one gate to arrive at a small parking area just before Leck House (a modern mechanical farm) room for about six cars. Two choices now. Either up the steep slope to the very prominent Three Men of Gragareth, then on to a trig and on further to a wall that leads all the way to Great Coum or our normal route, through the gate to the right of the track to the farm and follow the track that rises steadily beside the fence. Eventually, at a gate the track becomes more rugged still beside the fence passing a small building on the left. At the end of the fence the quad tracks lead somewhat indistinctly through the peat hags to the wall just before Green Hill.
As we sat down to operate we were set on by small flying things (same last year here) and were forced into our mosquito hoods. In addition they attacked via the trouser legs and I was forced to close mine off with the bungee rubbers. The result was a mixture of urban terrorist meets Worzel Gummage and what Richard G1JTD and his xyl thought when they arrived at the summit just as we were finishing I shudder to think. We only met four people all day and they were two of them. The breeze had got up by then and dispersed the midges so we left Richard to it, hoping that we had not worked out all the chasers.
Very little chasing possible due to Computer/garage QRM but conditions did not seem good on HF. Joined the evening CW session one night and will try to do more once things settle down.
26th April Hard Knott Fell
This one is best attacked from the top of Hard Knott Pass. Since one of the newspapers suggested this as a nice afternoon drive it seems to be full of terrified motorists. There is space at the top for about six cars. We try to get into the small space (two cars) on the right just before the cattle grid at the top (approaching from the east). From here it is usually straight up the electric fence but we noticed a ramp about 50yds to the east so thought we’d give it a try. It proved a nice curving climb coming back to the fence just after the steep rocky bit at an old wall. At the stile over the fence we decided to continue the spirit of adventure and instead of crossing turned right across the stream and followed a path that contoured to the east and brought us eventually to the final little climb to the summit. This would make a nice family walk BUT there are two quite large areas of very wet boggy ground to be crossed so pick a day when there has been a dry spell or when things are frozen solid (the pass can be a problem then) Allow about 45 minutes for the walk. The bands were quite hard work but all of the usuals except 2m CW yielded contacts eventually.
Locally the Windermere vehicle ferry is out of commission for about a month so you have a 15 mile detour if you planned to use it. As this is the tourist season this is called planning. There is a foot passenger service. Note this is not the steamer service up and down the lake but the ferry across it.
Work is reported as ongoing on the footpath over Striding Edge but can’t vouch for this personally!
Any queries just ask. Hope to here you in the area soon.
73 Rob and Audrey
YOU CAN’T PLEASE THEM ALL… Roy G4SSH
I think that most SOTA participants will agree that Activating and Chasing is a two-way affair. One cannot exist without the other. Again, most reasonable people will acknowledge that the activator is always King; they alone know the weather conditions, their schedule for the day, the state of their health and the state of their equipment and battery supply.
It therefore follows that the activator dictates the bands they wish to use, the time spent calling and when to QSY or QRT. There will be times when it is possible to announce QSY or QRT, but equally there will be times when they cannot do this, for a variety of reasons. A flat battery, an emergency, a sudden deterioration of the weather conditions or propagation are just a few instances. Any chaser who cannot accept this is in the wrong hobby.
I was therefore quite astounded when I had a chat with well-respected activator Geoff G6MZX, at the Blackpool Rally last month, when he told me that he had received an anonymous offensive e-mail after an activation of G/NP-004. His first reaction was to give up activating in disgust, but fortunately his friends and colleagues gave him great support and he is continuing to activate.
Geoff gave me permission to publish the message, which is reproduced below, spelling and grammar unchanged. I have only changed Geoff’s e-mail address. (Editor)
would you wait long enough for people to tune up before you vanish , 4 minutes on 60 mtrs and not much longer on other bands.
you are either a 4 hit wonder or like others say very selfish and dont care about people who want to chase you .
so from a sota watch group . please wait long enough for the chasers and dont leave them calling and go elsewhere .
not in the spirt .
Geoff, your activations are much appreciated. For every one of the above sad chasers there are very many responsible, dedicated and adult chasers who will give you their full support. - Ed
THE CAIRNSMORE OF CARSPHIARN, GM/SS-038 by Iain M3WZJ
At 797m the Cairnsmore of Carsphiarn lies in the middle of Scotland’s Southern Uplands. This is an area that is often overlooked due to its proximity to the Highlands. I’m sure if someone picked this hill up and placed it in the North Pennines it would have ten times the activations but its relative obscurity is what makes this hill all the more attractive.
The obvious point to approach this hill from is the small village of Carsphairn where there is a small car park as well as a small shop for any last minute supplies. I’m sure there are many variations of approaches and descents due to the trackless nature of much of the hill and this approach could easily be reversed.
Heading south out of Carsphairn, take the left onto the minor road and then left again onto the farm track. Just before the farm take the track leading left towards the hills. This track aids the initial approach to the hill. Follow the track almost to the river before turning right to make your over Quantans Hill. From here if you’re lucky you’ll find a faint quad track to follow otherwise it’s a case of making your way across the grassy ground. This stretch can get quite boggy, waterproof boots are a definite asset. If you head too far to the right (as I did) you’ll miss the gate in the fence between Quantans Hill and Knockwhirn.
You don’t need to climb to the top of Knockwhirn – unless you really want to. A sheep track develops to contour around the side to the bealach between Knockwhirn and Beninner. A faint path initially climbs Beninner before following a fence to the bealach between Beninner and the Cairnsmore of Carsphairn. Climb to the summit of the Cairnsmore, the ground gets strewn with stones as you climb.
The summit is a vast broad plateau, plenty of room for any antenna you’ve carried this far. There is a trig point, surrounded by a small shelter and with a drystone wall leading off to the west. Being one of the highest bits of ground in the area there are sweeping views of the surrounding area, particularly to the west and the Galloway Hills and good VHF take off in most directions. Best of all you’re likely to have the summit to yourself, in fact I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t see anyone else after leaving Carsphairn. Because the summit is so broad and featureless, if it is misty then initial identification of a descent route could be tricky, in this case the ability to use one of those compass devices comes in handy.
As an alternative to descending back the way you have come, you could descend over Black Shoulder and Dunool Hill. There is a wall which rather bizarrely starts near the top of Black Shoulder, once you’ve found this descent is easy, just follow the wall. Near the summit of Dunool Hill the wall turns left but for the quickest descent just keep straight ahead and follow the steep slopes down to a farm track and then follow this back to the A713 just north of Carsphairn. This farm track crosses a burn where once upon a time there was a small bridge, long since washed away so once again the waterproof boots come in handy.
It might not be the easiest hill to get to but if you like your hills to yourself with wide ranging views, then this one is well worth the effort. I sometimes wonder about writing about hills, I’d like to encourage more folks to visit these hills but at the same time part of their attraction is the lack of people on them – so don’t all rush at once!
SOTA CW REPORT FOR APRIL 2009 by Roy G4SSH
After a three month quiet period, HF CW SOTA activity bounced back with a vengeance during the month of April. Commencing during the Easter break, the number of CW chaser points on offer increased from 70 to more than 100 per day at weekends. On the morning of the 25th there were times when there were four CW activations running simultaneously around 7032 KHz and other CW activators had to QSY down to 7028 or use 10118 KHz.
SOTA continues to attract new CW activators every month and a warm welcome is extended to Tom OK1IC, Hans LA1EBA, DC7CCC (Club station?), Jean-Paul F6EWB, Mirek OK2PPP and Zsolt HG4UK all heard active for the first time during the month of April. For every batch of new activators there are also new chasers who join, and it is refreshing to hear new callers from LY, UB5, 9A and Italy.
The good weather also attracted many cross-border expeditions during the month. Heard active outside their own countries were DL/OK2QA, PA/DL8YR, OE/DF9TS, MW/HB9CZF, OK/DL8DXL, DL/HB9AGO, F/HB9AFI, OK/DJ5AA, DL/HB9BGG, and OE/DL4CW.
It is always a pleasure to hear multi band activations, which ensures the maximum amount of contacts, especially when 40m is in poor shape or filled with contest stations… Heard active around 14058 KHz were M1EYP, F5UKL, HA7UL, F5VGL, OK6DJ, OE5EEP, SV1COX, HA2VR, S53X and LA1ENA.
The ever popular 10 MHz band was used by F5IUZ, F5UKL, F5VGL, DL/OK2QA, LA1ENA, DK1BNB, HA5LV, HA5MA, S53X, S57XX, OK1DX, OE5EEP, DL/HB9CMI, F6DYA, MW/HB9CZF, OE5EEP, OK1DDQ, OK6DJ, HA2VR and LA1KHA.
The much under-used CW part of the 80 metre band was also in use by M1EYP, M0CRP, GC0OOO and DK1BN,
John G4YSS was again active using the Scarborough Special Events Group club call GC0OOO/p from Snowdon (NW-001) and Y Lliwedd (NW-008) on the 18th April. John again operated 1.8 MHz CW from both locations. The erection of .an antenna for this band on Snowdon being a considerable feat due to the limited area of the summit, and the activation has to be timed to avoid tourists.
Most CW ops will be aware that SOTA activations have brought a new found enthusiasm for the use of Morse, due to its enhanced readability when using lightweight low power equipment. It has also been mentioned that it also attracts members of the general public, especially ex-service members who are often delighted to hear the mode still in use. This was brought home to me recently when operating a special event station which was being covered by BBC TV. I was using SSB at the time and the first question asked by the camera crew was “When are you going to use Morse code?” The producer remarked that everybody and his grandmother could use voice to communicate, but the use of CW was a special skill.
Unfortunately we still have a few Alligator chasers who sit on 7032 KHz and call “SOTA?” at regular intervals on a quiet band, as though they expect a reply from an activator on top of a mountain who has remained silent up to then. The policemen are also still there, jumping on any non-SOTA station who dares to call CQ on the spot and telling them to “PSE QSY HR SOTA” which only serves to annoy the caller and bring SOTA into disrepute. I have just spent 10 minutes attempting to work Bob F5HTR QRP,who was just audible to me, but he was totally QRM’d by some idiot sending jug handles (“?”) at regular intervals. Never mind, you cannot work them all…
Have a happy May Day holiday
THE SOTA MORSE NET – By Rick M0RCP
The newly started SOTA Morse net (or SMN for short) which meets most weekday evenings on the 80m band is proving to be a great success.
Upwards of two dozen stations have already called in, providing those involved with the opportunities to practice their Morse on air in a friendly and supportive environment.
Despite the absence of a requirement to pass a Morse test, a considerable number of amateurs remain interested in learning the code and the net aims at giving those who have learnt their Morse using computer programs (such as G4FONs excellent trainer) the chance to try out their skills for real.
The SOTA Morse net (SMN) meets Monday to Thursday on or around 3556 KHz between 9 and 10pm UK local time (2000-2100 UTC.) The emphasis is very much on QRS Morse, generally hand sent, at between 10 and 15 wpm.
Many of the operators involved are still getting to grips with the practicalities of sending, the procedures involved in conducting a QSO and the myriad of abbreviations employed, so there is no need to be shy! Seasoned operators are also very much encouraged to call in, though please try to remember to keep your effective speed down and keep overs reasonably short.
Despite its name the operation of the ‘net’ is at present conducted in an informal manner, typically the first station on the band will grab a frequency and put out the call “CQ SMN CQ SMN” and await responses. Current FISTS group activities on 3558 and regular GQRP activities on and around 3560 mean that those getting involved rarely have to wait long for a QSO. Indeed it has on occasion recently been difficult to find an empty frequency in that part of the band.
While conditions on 80m where initially poor, over the last week they have improved considerably and it has been possible to work both UK and continental stations using moderate powers with good signal reports being exchanged.
Callsigns heard on the net so far include: MM0DWF, G6DTN, M3TZN, G0AZS, G4OIG, G0VOF, G3RDQ, DL6TU, G4RQJ, GW0MYY, G3CWI, GI4FLG, LAS5AA, M3NFU. I particularly look forward to hearing more continental stations on the net. And remember of course that there is no language barrier on CW!
So, whether, you’re looking to make that first CW QSO, to brush up your old Morse test skills in preparation for activating from a summit or simply to get some more A1A contacts in the log don’t forget to listen out for the SOTA Morse net Monday to Thursday 9-10.
73 ES HPE QSO U SN
Comment by G4SSH
I am delighted to see the introduction of a SOTA Morse net, which covers the difficult period between learning the code and having the confidence to use it on air. Being able to practise with others who are at the same stage as yourself is a valuable stepping stone towards becoming a proficient CW operator. I look forward to the time when participants in the SOTA Morse net start to use the mode on a regular basis. I can assure them that they will be made most welcome.
Much has been written about the advantages of using CW as a SOTA activator, but few people realise the advantages to be gained from use of the mode as a chaser. One obvious advantage is the fact that the vast majority of European stations use CW only on HF, so your score as a CW chaser will be greatly enhanced.
However, there is another big advantage in the fact that the use of CW will often compensate for the use of an inefficient antenna. Not everyone can erect a large antenna at their home QTH and many chasers, such as myself, have such a small garden (or live in an area where large antennas are not permitted) that the vertical antenna is the only option.
Much has been written about the poor performance of vertical antennas and I would agree that they should be avoided if at all possible, but when circumstances dictate this to be the only choice, the use of CW will often cancel out the disadvantages.
To quote from the RSGB Amateur Radio Operating Manual “So superior is CW to SSB mode on the HF bands that it has been estimated that the difference is roughly equivalent to at least a 20db power gain”.
This means, in effect, that whereas a SSB signal will become unintelligible around the 3x3 mark, a CW signal is quite readable at 339 and below. Many of the QRP SOTA CW activators I copy do not move the S-meter off the zero stop on my rig.
I visit my daughter in Cornwall, operating as a chaser G4SSH/A, at frequent intervals. As no external antennas are allowed I use an indoor vertical antenna about six feet high, stood on the floor close to a window, and an FT-897. This is perfectly adequate to chase SOTA’s across Europe using CW. I have also worked DX stations, such as V51, 7Z, ET, R1 (Antarctica) A61, PZ, LU YI and JA from this QTH. The use of Morse gives me a competitive station from what looks like a hopeless situation.
So, if you have ever thought about trying CW, but have hesitated to get started, then I would recommend joining, or even just listening, to the SOTA CW net.
CONTESTS DURING MAY 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.
2nd – 3rd 0001-2359 MARAC CW QSO Party
2nd – 3rd 2000-2000 ARI International DX Contest CW/SSB/RTTY
9th -10th 1000-1200 EUCW CW QSO Party
9th -10th 1200-1200 CQ-M International DX contest CW and SSB
16th -17th 1200-1200 EU PSK DX Contest
30th-31st 0001-2359 CQ World-Wide CW WPX contest (Major disruption)
SOTA News is normally published around noon BST 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
ADDITION 10th MAY
Readers of SOTA News may remember that I announced in the April edition that Tiscali, my ISP was on the point of going into administration.
The outcome was resolved today with the announcement that TalkTalk (CarPhone Warehouse) has bought Tiscali. (Subject to EU approval)http://www.talktalk.co.uk/tiscali
The good news is that all Tiscali customers will retain their existing user names. Input to SOTA News will therefore remain at firstname.lastname@example.org.