SOTA NEWS - SEPTEMBER 2014 - PART 1 of 2
EDITORIAL – by Roy G4SSH
Welcome to the September 2014 edition of SOTA News. My thanks go to the following contributors:- Barry GM4TOE, Skip K6GDW, Allen VK3HRA, Dennis ZS4BS, Mark G0VOF, Kevin G0NUP, Rob and Audrey G4RQJ, Phil G4OBK, John G4YSS, Ignacio EA2BD, Peter ON4UP, Geert PA7ZEE,
This edition of SOTA News is a trial with the new Reflector to observe the final presentation.
(Oops! first problem when attempted to publish. Thrown out with the admonishment
“Body is limited to 32,000 characters. You entered 41,791 characters”).
PSE QRX whilst I split into two parts.
SOTA AWARDS FOR JULY 2014 By Barry GM4TOE - SOTA Awards Manager
August has been another busy month. Many people out on the hills and claims coming in from all over the globe. Guy N7UN becomes the fifteenth Mountain Goat in North America, an achievement that has been well recognised by his peers; congratulations are also due to KC6SSE on achieving Shack Sloth. Scores for Chasers are inevitably higher than those for Activators so reaching 1500 activation points is notable – well done Denis WA2USA. The high scores for Chasers continue to mount – DL3JPN 50k, W0MNA 25k, G6TUH 20k in the Supersloth regions and VK1NAM and DL4TO on 5k with G4DDL on 2k5 filling in the space above Shack Sloth.
N7UN Guy Hamblen
KC6SSE Michael Dranginis
WA2USA Dennis G Martin 1500 points
ON6ZQ Christophe David 500 points
VK3ANL Nicholas Lock 250 points
YO2MSB Sorin Daniel Barbu 250 points
CT1BHG Joao Cardoso 250 points
KY7S Douglas Henderson 100 points
2E0WUF Arentas Butkus 100 points
NA6MG Daniel Ducey 250 summits
DL3JPN Steffen Ackermann 50000 points
W0MNA Gary Auchard 25000 points
G6TUH Michael Morrissey 20000 points
VK1NAM Andrew Moseley 5000 points
DL4TO Gerhard Sedlak 5000 points
G4DDL Mike Pemberton 2500 points
DL2YBG Klaus-Peter Dreessen 500 points
M0ONI Gary Swift 500 points
EI9GLB Jim Hall 500 points
M0ONI Gary Swift 250 points
KB1HNZ Timothy Watson 100 points
N4EX Rich Homolya 5000 summits
DL3JPN Steffen Ackermann 5000 summits
G4DDL Mike Pemberton 500 summits
DL2YBG Klaus-Peter Dreessen 100 summits
M0ONI Gary Swift 100 summits
Summit to Summit
NS7P Phillip Shepard Silver
DL4TO Gerhard Sedlak Bronze
OK1AU Stanislav Veit Bronze
KD5ZZK Andrew Norman Red
DL4TO Gerhard Sedlak Red
OK1AU Stanislav Veit 100 summits
G4DDL Mike Pemberton Gold
VK1NAM Andrew Moseley Silver
DL2YBG Klaus-Peter Dreessen Bronze
M0ONI Gary Swift Bronze
KD5ZZK Andrew Norman (VHF) Bronze
WA2USA Dennis G Martin Platinum
KD5ZZK Andrew Norman Gold
G4DDL Mike Pemberton Bronze
I have finally completed the design of the 12m Challenge certificate and it will be available via www.sota-shop.co.uk for those people mentioned last month who qualify. It will be produced on gloss paper stock for those who would like a printed copy and will also be available as a pdf via email for people wanting to print their own. I still have to re-jig the design to print on US Letter paper but hope to have the relevant details uploaded by the end of August (my walk guiding duties this weekend not withstanding)
I have not had a request for certificates for the SOTA 10th Anniversary for several months now so I plan to remove them from the site by the end of 2014.
The first potential claim for the new microwave award has been notified to me. I still have to finalise the design of this certificate and agree it with the UK Microwave Group but Andy has now provided the changes to the database so it is possible to see if you qualify for this award. The award is available for as little as a 50km contact and goes up in stages of 50km (not cumulative) with endorsements for the various microwave bands. We do have a number of microwave enthusiasts in SOTA so dig out your dishes (or yagis for the lower bands) and get going while the weather is still favourable (that includes you GM4TOE!).
Summer ended up here with some of the wettest weather I have seen since leaving the Far East but the forecast for the coming period looks more settled so hopefully tropo will return to Europe – maybe. Meanwhile get out and enjoy the hills before the autumn (fall to our ex-colonials) bites and the daylight hours shorten.
Be safe on the hills
SOTA Awards Manager
First “Completed ON Summits Award”
Congratulations to Filip ON4TA to achieve the first “Completed ON Summits Award”.
This award is an ON association sponsored award which started last year on June 15, 2013 with ON ARM version 5.1. To achieve this award, a SOTA participant must have successfully activated AND chased all valid ON summits at the time of claiming the award.
This electronic award is free of charge!
Hereby I invite you to follow Filip: chase all ON activations and come to Belgium to activate all ON summits in order to claim this unique award. Since Belgium is a small country with a limited amount of SOTA qualified summits (14 at this moment) and all these summits are relatively easy accessible, completing all the ON summits is achievable for every SOTA participant.
All info on the Completed ON Summits Award can be found in the ON ARM or via undersigned. See also Summits on the Air
73, Peter – ON4UP
ON association manager
“Phil G4OBK is likely to be in Portugal signing CT7/G4OBK/P from the CT/AL and CT/BT region between the 4th and 8th September when he is on holiday with his XYL in the Algarve.
He will be using an FT-817 QRP and will operate on the 30m, 20m and 17m bands in CW/SSB. Alerts will be put on SOTAWatch on the day and Phil will try to self spot using Rucksack Radio Tool when possible”.
John, G4YSS will be active as GS0OOO/p from the GM/NS region of Scotland from the 6th to 14th September.
Weather permitting, he will be activating some low value rare summits, including one or two Uniques that have never been activated.
INCREASED ELECTRONIC SECURITY AT AIRPORTS
I flew out of Manchester airport on the 18th of August. In addition to the removal of Jackets, Shoes, Belts, Tablets and Kindles for scanning, there were new notices informing travellers that with immediate effect all electronic equipment over 20cm (8 inches) in hand luggage, was now required to be declared and scanned separately.
One effect was that staff were instructing travellers to remove cameras over this size
from their hand luggage for individual scanning.
MY SUMMER CHASING AND ACTIVATING SOTA - by Ignacio EA2BD
Due to my work as a teacher I have long summer holidays. As usual I took my SOTA comm-pack for activating (FT-817 + batt + ant…) and this year I also carried my FT-857 for chasing when at a temporary residence, far from home.
During July and August I have activated 7 summits. Three of them were 10 pointers, for the delight of chasers.
Among all anecdotes that I had, let me pick two funny moments.
The first one was during the activation of EA1/LR-001, the highest peak in La Rioja area. I had planned a long stay on this summit to improve the chances for chasers and I carried with me a new antenna for testing; a linked vertical quarter wave, prepared for 7, 14, 18 and 21 MHz.
It all started with a nice trek. I set up and my first QSO via VHF were my dear friends EA2BSB and EA2LU, back in my home QTH, some 127 km away. I let them know that my telephone wasn’t working on the summit and they helped me by sending the first spots. Thank you so much! Ham radio hasn’t got any problem with coverage!
Then I started on 14 MHz SSB, as usual. The antenna worked flawlessly and everything was running properly when suddenly I heard a strange noise - it was a helicopter approaching the summit. I tried to carry on but it wasn’t possible to continue, so I was forced to stop and announce a QRX by the radio.
I recorded a video of the landing of the helicopter with my mobile phone and, believe me, this has been the strangest thing I ever experienced during an activation. I even thought if this could be the police trying to monitor what I was doing with such strange long antenna on top and I touched my pocked to verify I had my ham licence with me.
Then, after the helicopter landed, one pilot opened the window and waved his arm outside just to greet me, and soon after, the helicopter took off and flew away. It seems it was a training flight for a novice pilot from the army.
I took the microphone back and continued, explaining to the next chaser, Mike G6TUH, about the reason for stopping and he replied that he could even heard the noise of the helicopter through my last calls… Hi hi.
There was a further unexpected trouble in this activation. My antenna worked fine on 14 MHz SSB & CW and 21 MHz, but when I decided to switch to 7 MHz to try contacting some of my local friends the antenna didn’t tune and I felt frustrated. I desperately tried to solve it but was unsuccessful and after many trials I decided to create an antenna for 10 MHz instead. After spending one hour for the trial & error process, raising up and down the fishpole and playing around to find the resonant wire length, I finally could run 10 MHz to end my activation.
The second funny moment during my summer activation was on August the 18th when on the summit of EA2/NV-023. I was running 5w into a random wire and all went fine. After doing some QSO in CW I heard K2TQC calling me and he gave me his report. I started replying and sending his signal report when suddenly a big bee approached me and tried to hit my face! I tried to continue but the bee was really determined, staying so close to my face so that I had to jump and wave my hands to get free from him. I lost my headphones but I still had the iambic on my hand. I kept replying by sending the report to complete the QSO, but I did it blind, without hearing it, ha ha!! When I sat down afterwards and put my headset back on Bill wasn’t there anymore… I sent him an email later that afternoon to check that he got my report and luckily he confirmed my signals got through. Not sure if I sent some dits more than required, but it’s not that easy to work the iambic without a side tone…
To end my report, let me tell you that I have been chasing during July and August both with my FT817 running 5w and sometimes with my FT-857 at a maximum power of 20 watt. It has been a real pleasure to log a lot of SOTA using both QRP or low power with very simple wire antennas. In fact I logged much more activators than when at my QTH due to the low background noise in these alternative QTH.
Believe me it’s not really necessary to have high power to contact the summits. Most of the times the activator can hear low level signals very well due to the absence of the huge QRM that plagues our cities. I was more than satisfied many times this summer when the activator replied my call when running 5w and a silly wire hanging from a window or strung to a tree.
Thanks all chasers that worked me and thanks all activators that provided a summer plenty of good moments.
See you soon. VY 73
QRM? - from Geert PA7ZEE
This morning I tried to work in CW SOTA stations in the 20m band. It was impossible due to a very strong data signal.
My friend Dick PA2GRU is monitoring our bands for the IARU Region 1 monitoring system.
He confirms my suspicion that it has something to do with increased military activity of Russia.
He writes: “Yes this is a RTTY military signal on 14.064 UiPtr F1B (mode) 200 kHz shift. Almost certain from Russian origin.
They go on any place in our bands they like to transmit their digital modes. My complaints to our Government and Moscow have no result at all. “
73 de Geert PA7ZEE
8th August 2014
Dr OM Roy,
For your information translated:
“From German colleges came the information that the transmitter is located in Yekaterinburg in Russia.
Due to an article in the International Radio Regulations, a government can decide to choose a frequency where they like for military purposes. Therefore 14.250 to 14.350 kHz is allocated to Russia but they are often also on other frequencies.”
73 de Geert PA7ZEE
9th August 2014
(Thank you for the input Geert. For further information check out the
Interference thread on the Reflector - Ed.)
VK NEWS - from Allen VK3HRA
Conditions on 20m are currently supporting increased EU-VK activity via long path between 0500 and 0800 UTC including S2S contacts.
VK1NAM Andrew reports the 20m band was again open in VK1 for 90 minutes leading up to 07:42 UTC sunset in VK1. Propagation of signals was long path as reported by European chasers. Chaser signal reports to Canberra ranged from 5-6 to 5-9 while the reception of my signal in Europe was
5-5 to 5-7 peaking 5-9 during the 30 minutes before sunset.
VK5FO Bob reports that last few days of August that EU on 20M has been pretty good - from around 07:00 UTC until about 08:30UTC into VK5, worked a decent pile-up from vk5/se-005 on Sunday (24/08) afternoon local time (29 logged in 40 minutes), 7 countries and another 6 on 25/08 between 07:45 and 08:15 (not bad for a Monday morning in EU!)
We are also seeing VK hams exploiting SOTA and WWFF to support activations whilst abroad. Recently Tony VK3CAT, Andrew VK3ARR and Glenn VK3YY have activated summits whilst pretending to be on either work or family holidays. This is a much better export than the ‘Bali Bogans’.
Currently Paul VK5PAS is over in Europe activating SOTA summits within WWFF areas in Belgium and Germany. Paul has activated these summits with 2 of his Belgium mates, Marnix OP7M and Eddy ON6ZV. Germany:
Schwarzer Mann RP-003 & Eifel National Park DLFF-005 Belgium: Signal de Botrange, ON/ ON-001 & High Fens National Park ONFF-001 I worked on both 40 m and 20m and ended up with about 50 QSOs for each activation.
Keep your ears open for Paul using the special call of ON4IPA.
Simon VK1FAAS joined the VK1 Association to undertake his first solo activation of Mt Tennent a difficult 780 metre ascent over 6 km. Using a Yaesu 2m HT Simon achieved 5 contacts including a summit-to-summit contact with Ian VK1DI on Mt Wee Jasper. Congratulations to Simon for his first solo activation. Paul VK1ATP has achieved 100 sloth points, getting on 40m over the last two weekends has increased the opportunity to chase a variety on VK activators. VK1 activators are activating snow covered peaks, taking advantage of the seasonal winter bonus for summits at 1200 metres ASL and higher. In recent weeks VK1 chasers have been paying close attention to SOTA activations from Europe in the 05:00 to 07:30 UTC window. A number of VK1 chasers are logging rare European QRP SOTA activations where the country association counts towards the Mountain Hunter Bronze and Silver awards
We have proposed over 230 additional summits for inclusion in the VK2 summits list. We are not expecting this to be processed before the end of September, as the SOTA Management Team is very busy with new associations, including some from VK.
The additional summits are mostly in Mid North Coast, Central West and Riverina regions, with a small number of extras in Southwest and Southern Tablelands.
There have also been a handful of updates to summit names and some corrections of locations, thanks to some vigilant activators looking at the data and finding some anomalies, working with region managers to correct the errors. Fortunately our overall error rate is still very low, a sign of how good the original work was!
Apart from that, some first-time activations of VK2 summits are still occurring and there is plenty of scope for more activators who are interested in operating backpack portable in a hilltop setting, making contacts on various bands with an ever increasing and appreciative group of SOTA Chasers.
VK3 operators are exploiting the improved weather conditions now that winter is all but over. Whilst we still have to deal with snow on summits, cold wind and road closures there are many opportunities to gain extra points before the end of the bonus period.
Due to work arrangements, much activation activity is now during the week with enough chaser interest to ensure successful activations.
Slow new CW operators wanted:
Ron VK3AFW and Tony VK3CAT have been patiently running Thursday evening CW practice sessions. These CW training sessions are held on 3540Mhz ± usage 8:30 EAST. We have abandoned 40 m for the time being as propagation is poor for local contacts in the evenings. All welcome.
These sessions and directly lead to a increase in CW activations.
Personally my CW skills have grown from non-existence to mangling and have completed my first CW only activation. Just like a real ham!
For receiving practice at other times, try 145.650 FM for the ARV CW practice transmission or in the evenings 3.799 CW for VK2WI’s CW practice transmission.
5 VK5 hams (VK5FO Bob, VK5RR Ray, VK5AKH Andy, VK5STU Stuart and VK5NIG Nigel ) activated Mt Gawler VK5\SE-013. This summit is now the most activated summit in VK. Only another 90 to go to reach top 50.
The team’s objective was to reach 1000 recorded QSO’s from that summit.
Andy VK5AKH logged the first OSQ from Mt Gawler in Nov 2012. VK5STU Stuart had the honour of making the S2S contact with Tony VK3CAT/p from Mt Matlock that sealed the deal!
Thanks to all those that have called in and also those that have activated since November 2012 and made this a great summit to visit.
VK6 Going live September 1st
VK6 should be going live go on Sept 1st 2014. I would like to thank Ron VK3AFW especially for all his efforts in getting us this far, without his dedication and sorting out many issues along the way, we would not be at the stage we are. Also thanks to Adam VK2YK, Heath VK3TWO, Matt VK6QS, and Mike VK6WB for all their help. I won’t bore you with all the trials and tribulations along the way, but there were many. Ron will post the revised VK6ARM when its completed. Don’t expect too much activation to start with until we get some interest happening, very few easy summits close to the city. We are looking at 60-90 mins drive and maybe a 3-5kms hike for most. So watch this space for the latest news and info.
With the draft ARM & summit list submitted, we all await news from the SOTA MT. Understand that August may not be the best month to complete checks as many people go on holiday in August In Europe and the UK.
Tasmania is a popular site is for bushwalking so expect several to plan holidays to include SOTA activations.
WHAT OF THE (SOTA) FUTURE - 6 - Roy G4SSH
The Nepalese government have announced that a new hard-surface highway to Everest is to be built.
The 60-mile highway will link the village of Jiri to Lukla, which is 2,860m (9,383 feet) above sea level, where most climbers take their first steps towards Everest’s base camp.
Until the road is built the only way to get to Lukla is to trek for four days from Jiri or fly from Kathmandu, but bad weather often causes flights to be cancelled.
At least 35,000 tourists visit the area each year, most of them trekking along the lower slopes of the mountain.
Potential activators will find this to be a great advantage once Nepal joins SOTA.
CANADA / NORTH AMERICAN REPORT - from Skip K6GDW
Greetings from the North American SOTA Battalion. August was very SOTA-Active over here in the Western Hemisphere. I managed to get a little chasing in and was becoming convinced that there were a lot more chasers than was common. The statistics confirm that with close to twice as many Chaser QSO’s as July.
STATISTICS: [as of 30 Aug 1800 UTC]
NORTH AMERICA TOTALS:
Total Activations: 563 
Nr Unique Activators: 178 
Total Chaser QSOs: 6850 
Nr Unique Chasers: 251 
Unique Summits: 421 
2m: 382 (5%) 
6m: 7 (0%) 
10m: 3 (0%) 
12m: 11 (0%) 
15m: 174 (2%) 
17m: 240 (3%) 
20m: 4681 (68%) 
30m: 242 (3%) 
40m: 1093 (15%) 
60m: 8 (0%) 
80m: 0 (0%) 
160m: 1 (0%) 
CW: 4539 (66%) 
SSB: 1921 (28%) 
FM: 385 (5%) 
AM: 3 (0%) 
Data: 1 (0%) 
Other: 1 (0%) 
3 AM QSO’s? Wondering if they’re just a logging mistake? Speaking of logging, I have a little homebrew SOTA Logger [Windows] that will log both in real-time and off-line when you get home. It’s free, drop an email to email@example.com and I’ll send it to you.
AWARDS AND ACHIEVEMENTS:
Elliott, K6EL, noted, “Congrats to K7NIT and NS7P for becoming the eleventh and twelfth trophy level summit to summit operators in North America. Phil scored 185 points on Saturday … and Rachel scored 142 over the weekend after logging only 7 s2s QSO’s total during the months of June and July. Exactly half of her 142 points this weekend were on cw.”
And, Etienne, K7ATN, reminded me that Rachel, K7NIT, is the 12th in North America AND the first North American YL to pass the 1,000 S2S mark. It also looks like Rachel is the second YL worldwide to accomplish the feat as well!
Jack, W7CNL, and Guy, N7UN, made it past Double Super Shack Sloth with over 20K points each.
Frank, K0JQZ, and Lynn, KC0YQF, reported that Randy, ND0C, has made it to Super Shack Sloth with 10K chaser points in August as did Dow, W4DOW, who became the 19th Super Sloth in NA.
August has been a great month for Mountain Goats in North America. Guy, who signs both N7UN and NS0TA, and Etienne, K7ATN, made it over the
1,000 activation point bar. Guy, N7UN pointed out that Etienne achieved this with over 300 activations at an average of 3.21 points/summit.
Rich, NU6T, gave me a heads-up that the W6 Association now has 15 Shack Sloths with the addition of WB0USI (178/1143) [Activators Worked/Points], W6IYS (197/1097), KC6SSE (149/1077) and WA9STI (195/1004).
A couple of reports that might suggest new awards starting with one from Steve, WG0AT and Resident NA Goat Herder, for Andy, W0/DL6AP who activated 30 summits during a 5-week North American vacation. Steve has posted a short video of Andy at 5-weeks 41-Peaks for Summits on the Air - YouTube
And it seems that, possibly led by Curtis, KC5CW, we have a substantial group making extensive trips to other Associations activating summits, sometimes multiple ones in a day. This could suggest a gasoline consumption award?
Finally, Jonathan, AC4M, is at 993 activation points as I write this on
30 Aug, and is thus poised to become W4T’s first Mountain Goat.
NORTH AMERICAN NEWS:
The Annual NA SOTA Weekend is coming up on the weekend of 13 and 14 September. There will be a lot of activators, a lot of chasers, and a lot of S2S opportunities. If last year is any indicator, there will a showing from many new to SOTA as well.
Curtis, KC5CW, made another of his marathon road trips in August, activating 10 summits for 72 points. He was joined by Andrew, KD5ZZK, for at least some [maybe all?] of them.
For those new to SOTA, Elliott, K6EL, offers this: “For the folks who don’t do summit to summit, here’s the secret: the award is based mostly on OPP (other people’s points). Phil [NS7P] spent Saturday on one hill, gaining 4 activator points. However, he collected 237 S2S points from the peaks at the other end of his QSO’s in a single day. That’s nearly a quarter of the way to an S2S trophy in one day. Bring a folding chair plus a way to monitor SotaWatch and a way to change bands quickly (folding chair optional if you belong to the Buttock Callus Brotherhood).”
Way, way too many reports for the available space, but this from Fred,
KT5X: “Two All Time Firsts”
"First # 1 … First SOTA activation delayed by mushrooms. There
were a plethora of Boletus Edulis, also known as Porcini, which simply required the collection of two shopping bags full of these “mushrooms of kings.”
“First # 2 … First SOTA activation during which a hiker came over
the lip of the peak, took one look at us, and inquired, ‘Are you SOTA
operators?’ and went on to say, ‘I keep meeting up with SOTA operators
one my hikes to peaks!’.”
A big “Thank You” to all of my contributors! If you happen to be in Petaluma [N. Calif] on the evening of 10 Sep, stop by the Redwood Empire DX Association meeting, they’ve asked for my SOTA presentation.
Canada/US SOTA Reporter Dude
CONTINUED IN PART 2