After hearing so many chasers calling at the wrong time, either when I’m activating or when I’m chasing from home, I’ve decided to prepare this very simple schematic for people to know when it’s time to stand by and LISTEN and when it’s time to CALL.
I’ve done a few activations where I think I am working one station but I also hear another station sending me a report so they obviously think they are in QSO with me when they aren’t. As always if people listened they would know what was going on.
This is, in my opinion, the most instructive part when learning the ham radio operating technique. An active listening, not simply having the receiver ON with the operator doing anything else, means that we pay attention to what is going on, to what the different QSO partners are saying, when, how and why they are saying it as well as to what they are doing wrong and why or what could be improved for a more efficient operation.
This active listening will teach us much more than many manuals, theorical trainings and the like.
Chasers should never start calling when the QSO is still in progress and the chaser sending his signal report is not the end of the QSO. The end of the QSO is determined by the activator’s final transmission and his signal to the pileup to start calling, whatever this is. An active listening will tell us what’s the operator signal to ask the pileup for more calls.
Dear chasers, please listen, listen.
During my activations - when the pile-up is dense - I skip the part marked red, which reduces the waiting time for everyone. It tends to go wrong when my pattern is inconsistent.
Generally I would say that SOTA-chasers are good OPs in comparison to what you can hear in pile-ups on the bands. But of course there is always room for improvement
This schematic and the situation of chasers calling at the wrong time fits both CW and SSB SOTA QSOs, but I think I find much more often chasers calling at the wrong time on SSB QSOs. I often find several chasers calling after the first and only chaser over:
And I find this particularly annoying and nonsense because they are calling on top of the activator while he is sending his recepction confirmation and farewell or any other comment/question he might have for the chaser.
On CW it usually is shorter and the 2 final overs you circled are not present in my “modus operandi”.
My CW QSOs usually involve just 3 overs and the chaser’s 3rd over with his final TU E E is rarely heard because the pileup has started to call me when I finished sending my QSL 73 TU to the chaser.
My CW QSO is like this:
CQ EA2IF EA2IF SOTA K
Single-chaser CALLSIGN GM/GA/GE TNX UR 599 599 Single-chaser CALLSIGN BK
Chaser Greetings and signal report BK
QSL 73 TU
Chaser sends TU E E (but it’s rarely heard because the whole pileup is already calling).
Some chasers need to learn to recognize how the activator is listening and responding. Does the activator respond to the first call he/she hears or to a later caller in the pile-up for example. This would help the chaser to know when to try calling. Also if the activator sends part of a call with a question mark, the chasers that have calls that are not in line with that partial call sign need to stand by and let the proper chaser respond.
Another thing that causes noise and confusion for the activator is when a chaser sends their call several times in a row. You should only send your call once. Also, some chasers tend to send a question mark when they cannot hear the activator. Most of the time this seems to be when the activator and a chaser are in contact with each other. This does nothing but cause the activator or chaser to need to repeat the info making the pile-up time longer.
I will take a 229 caller who is slightly off frequency rather than trying to pull a call out of the zero-beat mush of 599 calls. SPREAD OUT!
Also it can be really annoying when you have a pile up and a caller chooses to send “AG7GP AG7GP DE XX7XXX XX7XXX” at about 10- 12wpm. Argh! I love working all speeds but the unnecessary sending of repetitive calls, or activator call at all, takes some patience.
If everyone runs split, say we end up using 3-4 KHz (or 2-3 KHz…pick one) for each station calling CQ SOTA, we will run out of CW real estate quickly on busy days. I am not a fan of spreading out and having to turn the dial for each QSO when it is very cold, and my hands are frozen.
The secret of working a pileup is for the Activator to pull some part of a call, any part, out of the pile, and reply with “WA7??” or whatever you did copy….even one letter will work to a large degree to quickly reduce the pile to a manageable level…
Chasers without “WA7” in their call must stand by…period. The activator should “NEVER” respond to a station that does not have the “WA7” as part of their call in this scenario…PERIOD.
It turns out it is the ACTIVATOR who must control the chaos…so set your rules/pattern, and stick by them. If u give in and answer someone without the “WA7” (or whatever) you will be telling everyone that anything goes, and good luck with that.
And Yes, I don’t always follow my own rules 100%, and I almost always suffer for doing it.
(Sometimes I just have to break my own rules and call that FT5 or 3Y who is calling me out of sequence!!)
I just mean slightly off freq and not zero beating, not split. Calling partial calls back only works if all the chasers listen. Like yesterday when I kept calling back TI? TI? I was getting both Japan and US calls back as well as TI.