Other SOTA sites: SOTAwatch | SOTA Home | Database | Summits | Video | Photos | Shop | Mapping | FAQs | Facebook | Contact SOTA

SOTA using datamodes

In reply to MM0FMF:

Andy is it possible to tell the spot bot to ammend your prefix when spotting from outside your own country. ie, if I start the spot with ! DM, could it prefix my call with DL/XXXX. Apparently my spots from Germany were causing confusion. (probably me doing it wrong).

In reply to G1INK:

Just needs the CEPT TR61/01 rules writing. Not hard really. I haven’t done that yet!

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to MM0FMF:

Probably not that simple in reality!

How many visitors to the UK operate as G/ZZ9XX or GM/ZZ9XX, despite the correct form being M/ZZ9XX and MM/ZZ9XX? I sympathise with their logical thinking, but ultimately they are operating outside the terms of TR61/01.

That said, the situation in Italy is equally confusing. Some information suggests that the correct prefix is IK/ for all parts of Italy (including Sicily and Sardinia), whilst others just state I/. In reality most people use a form like I6, IX1, IM0 or ID9 as seems appropriate. Others just use IS and IT without the numerical part. Ultimately, nobody seems to care as long as everybody understands what is occurring, but I’d hate to have to translate that into computer code!

73 de Les, G3VQO

In reply to G3VQO:

but I’d hate to have to translate that into computer code!

Which is why I, so far, have left it to the user to prepend whichever prefix they think is correct!

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to G3VQO:

That said, the situation in Italy is equally confusing. Some
information suggests that the correct prefix is IK/ for all parts of
Italy (including Sicily and Sardinia), whilst others just state I/.

see http://www.erodocdb.dk/Docs/doc98/official/pdf/TR6101.PDF
Prefix to be used in Italy: I

73, Peter - ON4UP

There were some unfamiliar calls amongst the callers, and I
presume that they were primarily WFF chasers after my FFF-043
reference.

I submitted my log to the FFF manager, and it has been accepted. The activation “report” is at http://wff44.free.fr/2011/FFF043b.htm for those interested.

The sharp-eyed amongst you will be somewhat surprised to see photos of my 4x4 there. Don’t panic! The activations of both NO-026 and NO-027 were fully SOTA-compliant, but I didn’t take any photos on this visit. As the FFF team were keen to have some photographic “evidence”, I sent them some pictures from earlier visits to various locations within the Parc Régional des Caps Marais d’Opale.

Following the success of this trip, I will undoubtedly return to other FFF locations around the Calais/Boulogne area over the coming months in order to further boost my French DXCC scores. Although these locations will not have SOTA references, all callers will nevertheless be very welcome.

73/44 de Les, F/G3VQO/P

The weather was both mild and dry today, and it seemed an ideal opportunity for my first activation of 2012. Naturally, I chose my local summit - Leith Hill G/SE-002.

Having spent the winter improving my datamode set-up, it seemed like the obvious chance to try it out. Somewhere above I have commented on how power-hungry datamode operation is, so I have invested in a couple of new batteries to increase the time available on-summit. In theory then, both the transceiver and laptop should last considerably longer than the previous hour.

I also tidied up the macro selection, and it now better reflects the needs of a SOTA-style activation.

Having connected everything together, I was gratified to see that I was, indeed, producing a signal! I found a clear frequency just above 10140, and self-spotted whilst calling CQ. I was quickly found by Milan OM7OM, and we exchanged 599 reports. After another QSO with a French station, I could not attract any further takers, so I moved to 7033.5, again on PSK31. This time I managed ten QSOs, including a second with Milan OM7OM. I then decided to try 20m, and moved to just above 14070. It seemed only natural to have a third QSO with Milan! My only other QSO was into Russia, before it was time to dismantle the station, and set off down the hill.

Today’s success augurs well for future datamode activations. I may be out again as soon as next week as I have to drive to Eastbourne a couple of times, and that takes me right past three summits. I’ll hope to have a few more chasers in the log then.

73 de Les

In reply to G3VQO:
Hi Les,

I saw you come up on the SOTA spot and looked for you on 10m and 7m and on 20m but nothing at all could not see you on the waterfall at all, you will have to drop me a e-mail next time you go (info on QRZ.COM).

73 de Terry

In reply to G3VQO:

Having spent the winter improving my datamode set-up, it seemed like
the obvious chance to try it out. Somewhere above I have commented on
how power-hungry datamode operation is, so I have invested in a couple
of new batteries to increase the time available on-summit. In theory
then, both the transceiver and laptop should last considerably longer
than the previous hour.

As a matter of interest, how much does all the kit weigh, Les?

73 Mike
2E0YYY

In reply to G3VQO:
Les,
What a pity you didn’t Alert this unusual activation. All my PSK setups were out of action at the time I saw the spot and I think you had finally left 20m by the time I reinstalled fldigi on the recently wiped PC. A SOTA PSK would have been a first for my chaser log. I am planning an activation too, once I get a bit more familiar with PSK.

Glad you made some good contacts.

Any chance of an Alert next time?
73,
Rod

In reply to 2E0YYY:

My datamodes setup (netbook, audio cable, ptt interface) weighs just over 1kg. The problem is seeing the netbook screen in sunlight.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to MM0FMF:

My problem too, take a shade even on a dull day. The alternative will be night ops !

Andrew
G4VFL

In reply to G3VQO:
Tnx for my first bpsk31 summit Les. Good to work you on 40m no sig on 30m at all unfortunately. Hopes it’s the first of many. 73 de GW4ZPL John.

In reply to G3VQO:
Imgur
Imgur

I prefer old Windows mobile 5 phone and pocketdigi program, straight audio cables and ptt with vox.
At -5°C the smartphone and FT-817 with internal 2000mAh NiMH battery lasted at over 2 hours with backlights on and psk31.
Touchscreen with stylus and macros, sooo easy to use compared to netbook/keyboard.

I like to use 17m and 30m which are less crowded so my few watts are heard better.
At 10140usb and 18100usb I just call normal cq, no need to mix things up with cq sota.
You can say the sota reference when you say your qth.
PSK31 is so easy that not all speak english or know what SOTA is, so that’s why I like to keep it simple.
Use lower case letters which are easier to decoce, and sometimes using 1kHz lower freq and 1200-1800Hz helps so others hear your weak signal at 200-800Hz which is less crowded.

Sometimes I use same setup at home qth, easier to remember how things work.

Few videos, pictures etc. http://www.qrz.com/db/OH9FZU

Jani OH9FZU

Having alerted for the datamode operation on Monday, it was just left to make a last-minute decision on the actual summit. Despite a forecast of dry weather, the sky looked quite threatening, so it seemed logical to visit the summit requiring the least climb from the parking place. So, Firle Beacon, G/SE-010, it was!

I arrived to find the parking area virtually full, but managed to find a space. There was a brisk southerly wind dropping the temperature to 8C, and the clouds from the Channel were wreathing the hilltop in mist. Suitably attired, I set off to the actual summit, totally alone and wondering where the occupants of all those cars had gone.

Having set up, I had a brief panic when the receiver sounded “too quiet”, but I persevered with a self-spot and CQ on 7043.5 using PSK31. My fears were allayed when the first signal, from HB9MKV, came in loud and clear. Five further QSOs entered the log, including “regulars” Milan OM7OM, John GW4ZPL and Terry G0VWP, before the well ran dry.

I then moved to 10141 and repeated the process. Once more Milan and Terry were waiting, along with a further four chasers, all at good signal strengths.

My final foray was onto 14081, but this time using RTTY. This was another success, with the ubiquitous Milan OM7OM amongst the five callers in the log. By this time I was starting to feel the cold, so it was time to pack the station away and head back to the car which was, by this time, alone in the car park. Wherever all those other walkers had been, it was not near me as the summit had been spookily quiet.

So, lessons learned?

PSK31 is a slow mode, and callers even slightly off-frequency need a “tweak” to be readable. This can result a leap-frog chase as each participant adjusts the frequency slightly. I found that I nearly went beyond the bandwidth of my filter on a couple of occasions, and had to re-centre the signal between QSOs. May I also suggest that chasers think carefully about the macros they choose to send? When I am sitting on a cold summit, a detailed station description including inside-leg measurement is both superfluous and frustrating, as I only note the callsign and RSQ (plus summit reference if I ever manage an s2s). My thanks to those who just send the vital data.

In contrast, RTTY is much faster, and slight frequency offsets do not require re-setting. All five of my RTTY contacts were happy to just send me the 599 and 73, thus saving valuable battery power.
Overall, SOTA by datamode is very enjoyable. It is like the early days of CW, where it was always a gamble if the requisite four QSOs would be found before cold, or lack of volts, would force the activation to finish.

Next is a trip to a French summit, probably in the middle of next week, and with a greater emphasis on RTTY. Many thanks to all those chasers who found me; it would be pointless without you!

73 de Les

In reply to G3VQO:

Les, have you considered trying some of the faster PSK modes? PSK31 is fine and dandy but if you have a reasonable strength signal then PSK63 and PSK125 will work and be faster by x2 or x4. They’re less commonly found but if you advertise that you’ll be using PSK125 say then chasers have a chance to ensure their software can operate on this mode.

Just a thought.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to G3VQO:

Having set up, I had a brief panic when the receiver sounded “too quiet”, but
I persevered with a self-spot and CQ on 7043.5 using PSK31.

Hi Les,

Far be it from me to advocate operating contrary to the current Band Plan, but realistically 90% of the PSK activity on 40 metres continues to be around 7035 - 7036 kHz. Have a listen and you will find loads of PSK signals there. Above 7040 kHz is always devoid of digital signals, except for a couple of automated PACTOR mailboxes! If you had not self-spotted, I would be surprised if you had received any replies at all on 7043.5.

PSK31 is a slow mode, and callers even slightly off-frequency need a “tweak”
to be readable. This can result a leap-frog chase as each participant adjusts
the frequency slightly.

To avoid the “leap-frog chase”, you will almost certainly find that your PSK software has an option to “lock TX frequency”. DigiPan and MixW both have this option in one of the pull-down menus at the top of the screen. If you switch this option on before calling CQ, your transmitted signal will remain on a fixed frequency even if callers are slightly off freq.

Hope to catch you on a future digital activation. I have never yet worked a SOTA station on PSK!

73,
Walt (G3NYY)

In reply to MM0FMF:

I’m happy to try the faster PSK modes, but wonder if sufficient chasers are suitably equipped. A non-scientific survey from the home station suggests that it is very much a specific sub-set of PSK enthusiasts that use the faster options.

There is also the problem of spotting them on SOTAwatch. The only mode option is PSK, so it is difficult to announce a different option.

Perhaps PSK chasers could give some indication on this thread if they are capable of PSK63 and/or PSK125, and if they feel it would be beneficial for me to try.

73 de Les

In reply to G3VQO:

Almost all digital mode packages support PSK31 and PSK63. However, PSK125 is less well supported. It is immediately apparent from the waterfall display which speed is being used, because the width of the trace is wider for PSK63, and wider still for PSK125. PSK 63 is a reasonable compromise, and is becoming almost as popular as PSK31.

I am not keen on PSK125, because although much faster it makes profligate use of spectrum space, which rather negates the “narrow-band” objective of the PSK system.

73,
Walt (G3NYY)

In reply to G3VQO:

May I also suggest that chasers
think carefully about the macros they choose to send? When I am
sitting on a cold summit, a detailed station description including
inside-leg measurement is both superfluous and frustrating

We get the same problem in datamode contests, it seems that the old school <;)>
rtty ops know when a life history is ok but that the newer ops just follow a pre-set pattern of macro button pushing.

As others have said, try psk63, most datamode software can handle it.

Colin - G8TMV