Stateside Chasers

In reply to 2E0YYY:

Couldn’t get through the wall of Ukraine and Russian callers on 10m…

Aye, the big gun DXers can make it a bit tricky for those of us with more modest kit, especially when they’re looking past us at the DX beyond…

73, Rick M0LEP

In reply to 2E0YYY:

Always a pleasure to work you from the mobile Mike! 8 chases so far…you always seem to time with my morning drive in, typically louder on the non kite antenna. Really for east coast US hams with some ham radio time in the morning before work (6 to 8 AM local), its easy to work a bunch of EU SOTA activators as our rush hour times nicely with lots of activations if you can ham while you drive into work or take a quick break from breakfast for a quick contact. Unfortunately for us, many EU activators seem to pick their operation frequencies to work Asia and local EU as opposed to NA during our morning rush.

I have seen statistics that say that the vast majority of Americans commute to work in cars, so there ought to be a bunch of US mobiles to work if the band and band selection is right. I think fairly recent availability of SOTAgoat and the other fine telephone based SOTA chasing/spotting apps has really enhanced the ability of mobiles and portable stations to work EU summits.

That being said, my work location will soon be changing and I will be on non hf friendly public transportiation…condemned to watch the SOTA spots scroll down my screen and helpless to work them!

I was shocked at how many US activations there were on the last activity day for SOTA in North America. The US really does have a building SOTA fever and that covers activators and chasers.

When I started in SOTA in 2008 we had most of W2 in the system and nothing else. My friends didn’t know what SOTA was and thought it would never really catch on. I gave a SOTA presentation at a local club…no one had heard of SOTA.

From 2008 to now SOTA has featured at least once on the covers of almost every ham radio related magazine I know of in the US and has had countless articles published in the US. We have almost all of the US covered in summits today…its just amazing. I can’t wait to see where SOTA is in the US 5 years from now. I think more US chasers are on the way.

Tom, N2YTF
W1 Area Manager

In reply to N2YTF:

Hi Tom,

I was really surprised to hear your mobile signal on the 12m band, at your time Monday morning, a fine contact indeed!

As for the kite antenna, I may give it one more shot when there’s a bit more wind about. Maybe later this week when I’m doing a joint activation with Dave G4ASA. He can have a bit of fun throwing 100 Watts of CW up it …if he carries the batteries :wink:

73 Mike

In reply to 2E0YYY:

As well as the Poles?.. again.


I was atop The Cloud G/SP-015 nice and early ahead of the 70cm UKAC on the evening of Tuesday 8th October 2013. Cue setting up the 12m groundplane, which, as usual I had to explain to some passers-by, as well as how the ionosphere refracted signals to enable them to get around the Earth.

I had a very enjoyable blast on 12m. Operating for 54 minutes, I made 31 QSOs as follows:

CW: 19
SSB: 8
PSK31: 4

DXCCs worked as follows:

England: 10
Wales: 1
USA: 20

Conditions were very good indeed, as the crunching signal from Tom N2YTF/M indicated. I was almost tempted to ignore the contest and carry on playing on 24MHz, but common sense got the better of me and I swapped the SB6 antenna onto the pole at 7.45pm BST.

The 70cm contest didn’t measure up to the bonanzas experienced on 6m and 2m in the last two weeks. Activity was lower, no lift conditions were experienced, and QSB was a constant menace throughout the period.

I ended with 71 QSOs, all 70cm SSB, into 14 multiplier squares. No ‘DX’ from outside of the UK was worked. I did change the aerials over again after 10.30pm BST and have another go on 12m, but the band was completely dead. It was getting pretty cold, so I wasn’t too disappointed to be packing up and going home with another 102 contacts in the logbook.


Personally, I feel as if I’m chased by very few Europeans, even when I call on 20/17/15/12m. I get excited when I work one DX contact on an activation. It’s rare that I work a few! I operate only on SSB, usually running somewhere between 60 and 80 Watts. Even today, I was disappointed with my activation of W1/CB-002. Between 1100-1220Z (starting just after sunrise) I worked a grand total of 4 stations (40 was too long for the local(ish) guys, and I got a grand total of nothing on 20/17/15 which I figured would be open to EU and at a much better time for the chasers! I guess sunrise(ish) isn’t a good time for an activation unless trying for grayline on the low bands.

Back to European chasers, I hear DJ5AV most often, with an occasional station from somewhere else in EU mixed in there. I guess what I’m asking is when is the most convenient time for EU to chase NA?


Propagation seems most reliable from mid afternoon to evening - 1400 to 2200 UTC. 12m is working very well for EU - NA DX SOTA contacts at present.


In reply to MM0FMF:

If you can do 8wpm you can activate a SOTA summit with CW.

I have meant to have a go for ages, but never quite got round to it. Having had a crack at the CW Field Day earlier in the year, I am feeling braver. I would appreciate knowing is what sort of QSO is expected. Does one put out a special SOTA CQ call? How much of a chat is normal? Or will a simple call-sign confirmation and 5nn-style report do it? I try to follow some QSOs that may be SOTA (when I see a spot for a hill in reception range) but I’m not sure they’re the right ones, so I don’t call myself. I certainly haven’t heard an initial call. Go on, someone please tell me how it starts.


In reply to M0TTE:

HI Simon

Basic SOTA CW QSO format (KISS method)




TU 599 73 EE


(various callers - pick out the strongest who might be G3VXJ)

G3VXJ de M0TTE/P 599 BK

TU 559 559 73 EE QRS

TU EE (I can never remember Bob’s name (G3VXJ) not important as long as he works you!

(More callers) and so it goes on…sending QRS is something to be proud of not to be frightened of. The macho callers who think it’s big to send to someone doing 10-15 wpm and call at 25-30 wpm will either slow down or waste their time before failing to make a contact and usually leave the frequency when they get attracted by another spot on their screen…

If you are struggling to pull callsigns out chasers are likely to make longer calls, some sending their callsigns not once, twice but three or four times WITHOUT LISTENING IN BETWEEN. Pity they don’t use break in it would make it easier for everybody. It’s bad practice doing this, so some canny activators will send the chasers callsign who they want to work, 2 or 3 times and then the desired chaser has more chance to hear it over the other stations who are calling repeatedly. Some chasers can’t hear you well at all, one or two probably can’t hear you at all, but they will still call, I hear this on a daily basis as a chaser myself and have experienced it as an activator. If you think this is happening after giving them a report and you are faced with an unacceptable delay as they try to guess when you are standing by for them, callthem again and send RST IMI RST IMI BK and give them two or three tries, if they don’t respond I say don’t log them, as they are obviously trying to blag the QSO! If they fail to confirm the QSO they should know they have failed, but may hear you later because condx improve. If so give them another chance by all means, and often they make the QSO and it is all good.

As an activator you should send your call every 2-3 minutes depending on your working rate and I would say it is good practice to send your ref slightly less frequently but at least every 5 minutes if you are going to be QRV for some time. Also, most importantly when you go QRT or leave the band always leave by giving your callsign and ref.

I’m sure others will have more useful tips!

Good luck and maybe starting on 30m or 20m is the best bet, 12m may work for you at present due to the interest in the 12m challenge and band condx. but don’t pin your hopes just on any one band. As Andy MM0FMF says you only need 4 CW QSOs to qualify, and if the chasers operating is below the proper standard and it gets too much once you have the four contacts, then unplug the key and head for home!

Good luck, it’s worth giving it a go but do as much listening at home first as you can based on the spots observed on SOTAWatch

73 Phil

In reply to K1MAZ:

“I worked a grand total of 4 stations (40 was too long for the local(ish) guys, and I got a grand total of nothing on 20/17/15 which I figured would be open to EU and at a much better time for the chasers!”

Nick, Im no expert - far from it, but the fact that the k index was 5 yesterday (level 1 geomagnetic storm) may have been the reason why your HF results were so poor. I can generally work East Coast stations from around 1200 local (1100utc), there may well be earlier propogation but most stateside are still in bed. Its fun to watch the propogation spread West accross the states to W5 then W7 & finally W6. Never heard a KH6 from a summit, wonder if best time is our evening as the prop goes West, or our morning as the prop is from the other direction (JA etc).
K index down to 3 now so may do a hill on my way back from Sheffield later today.
73 Steve.

Late Edit…

No activation today, nearly got blown off the road in 60mph winds going over snake pass :frowning:

In reply to K1MAZ:

I got a grand total of nothing on 20/17/15 which I figured would be open to EU

I missed your spots on 20 and 17 but I had a listen for a while on 21.333 after you were spotted there, and heard nothing above the noise. I got the impression that HF generally was less than great yesterday; I only heard one SOTA activation well enough to note it in my scratch log, and I didn’t hear that one well enough to work…

In reply to G4OBK:

Basic SOTA CW QSO format (KISS method)

Thanks for that. Very helpful.

73, Rick M0LEP

In reply to K1MAZ:

I guess what I’m asking is when is the most convenient time for EU to chase NA?

Nick, fuhgeddaboudit! You are WAY too accommodating.

73, Barry N1EU

In reply to G4OBK:
So it really is quite close to a contest exchange. Thanks for that. I think I shall go for it on the next trip (8-11th Nov). It’ll be slow, but that’s better than nothing. And I have found the SOTA crowd very welcoming. Maybe that’s why I chatter away so much on SSB. :slight_smile:

And yes I found in the one CW competition I did that the faster stations seemed to take longer to work due to correcting mistakes, not with me but with other stations. I had to do a lot of listening to catch it all.


In reply to M0TTE:

Hi Simon,

Yes, the vast majority of SOTA CW exchanges are very brief so if you can handle callsigns & reports you will do fine. Work at whatever speed you are comfortable with, as those who call you too fast simply won’t get the contact.

Have a listen to any SOTA CW activators you can hear, & see how they work. Don’t worry about their speed, you will determine your own speed when you call as an activator.

Most activators that I hear tend to work between 20 & 25WPM but I have heard QRS well below 10WPM & some as fast as 38WPM. I will gladly chase an activator at any speed, although my sending becomes very inaccurate above 30WPM so I rarely exceed 28WPM no matter how fast the activator is sending.

For 99% of my CW chasing 23WPM is more than adequate but I will slow down to whatever speed the activator wants. On my rare activations, I have never exceeded 19WPM as my the home made keys I have used do not have fast enough action for me to work any faster than that, although being able to use them with gloves on is a useful feature around here Hi!

This video is the best one to show the key I used to use, this one used micro switches although the one I use now uses drawing pins & springy steel :wink:

If you haven’t already tried it, have a go at chasing from home, you really have nothing to lose & the more you do it, the better you will get. I had pretty much forgotten Morse when I came back to amateur radio in 2008 after a break of a few years. I had to start again, not quite from scratch, but from struggling with 12WPM at first I am now pretty confident calling anybody.

As others have said, give it a try, & you are correct the SOTA crowd are a very friendly bunch :slight_smile:

Thanks & best 73,

Mark G0VOF

In reply to G0VOF:

Just my 2 cents

I send slower then I can (say I send 17 or 18) to attract everyone, including ones that would be intimated.

Cheers and DX

In reply to M0TTE:

I am just starting out on CW. The couple of times I’ve called CQ from a summit, the chasers have been very welcoming, including slowing right down to my calling speed (some of them have responded to this thread :-). It is very much appreciated and makes it easier to decide to work CW the next time around.