Spy radio? Using SOTA gear for holiday chase

Every summer I spend some weeks far from home staying in my parents-in-law’s village.
This is a very little and quiet village, with about a dozen inhabitants, in the middle of large crop fields.

There, I miss the HF beam of my QTH but in the other hand this lesson in humility creates a good opportunity to rack my brain in order to find alternatives to keep on chasing SOTA friends.

The house is a two store with thick walls and an unused, not spacy attic plaged with long legged spiders. I have tried almost all feasible configurations there: random wires hanging under the wooden rafter, short doublet dipoles, and zigzagging end fed wires.

Success with such indoor antennas under the ceramic tiles is somewhat compromised…

Operating from this attic is a kind of vintage fascinating and makes me look like a vintage spy radio op!

Performance has always been compromised with such constraints but it’s great when you make the way through the SOTA activator using this limited system, running my SOTA gear, briefly over 5 watts. Well, it’s not a S2S, but you feel like it!

This year I decided to try the antenna outside, at the back yard, being at risk of provoking a reaction in the always peaceful neighborhood.

I put a 20m long wire inverted vee on a 5m pole and used it as an 7 + 14 MHz EFHW, fed at the window in my bedroom. The antenna was confined and surrounded by houses but it worked fine for what it was and kept me busy, chasing in mornings.

If you are one of the activators who have felt my signal was lower than usual this summer, thanks a lot, you are blessed with your good ears!!

Now that summer is over and I’m back at the comfort of my well equipped shack, I’m a bit nostalgic and miss my simple summer alternative shack.
Simplicity can be very rewarding!

73 de Ignacio


That is excellent. The spirit of SOTA and radio. Making things happen in challenging circumstances.
I’m curious if your station elicited any response from the neighbors – pehaps another spy who maintains a cloaked array!
For an isolated community such as this I’d be surprised there wasn’t a full-time operator for emergency circumstances.
Victor KI7MMZ


Hello Ignacio

Since I also do a lot of qrp during the weekdays in Lörrach with my IC-703, I can understand this well. (At the weekend in Freiburg I got my TS-890)
As an activator I have an open ear for /qrp stations (e.g. ON4BCA, SP9AMH,…).

There is always a certain charm to qrp. For me, it’s always kind of getting back to the roots. To go to the limits of the physical possibilities. (You feel a bit like Marconi).

When you have achieved the qso because of good operating technique and / or patience, it is always very satisfying. Especially in competition with the other chasers, who usually have more power.

Many greetings - Armin

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In the pictures you posted, we can’t see a trace of any spider, not even their webs. It seems you ordered or you carried out a deep cleanning operation before getting there yourself to setup your station.
It was a pleasure hearing your QRP signal on the air from that location during your vacations time there and it reminded me when I was chasing with my FT-817ND and a wire antenna from our holiday place in the coast of Galicia some years ago. It often required waiting until the end of the pileup, but most of the activations heard were finally chased.
Thanks for sharing this.


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Brilliant use of a drift free spy radio operating at 12v and not 300 volts

I love it

Spy Sites on the Air SSOR

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Hi Victor, most residents there are retired old farmers and so far no one told me he was a former radio operator… They took my antenna and hobby with little interest. Perhaps I will put my radio on the street some day so that they can hear what’s going on.

Hi Armin! Changing routines and using compact gear is great!
Sometimes I need to wait and call when the pile up dissolves a bit, but once the qso in progress it is very exciting to achieve a contact this way.
73 Ignacio

Recruit, recruit, recruit!!!

dear Guru, believe me they are always ready to take profit from my wire to hang and swing as in a kids park. I can sometimes feel their breath on my neck… It’s ugly to remove the wire at the end of my holidays and clean spider nets from it. Disgusting!

It was also a pleasure to hear you chasing frequently this summer!

John, I love it, hi hi!

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