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The asking chasers: ? and SOTA?

It’s unfortunately very common nowadays hearing chasers asking on a spotted CW frequency with a ? or a SOTA? when they arrive and hear nothing.

Dear impatient chasers:
The reasons why you don’t hear anything when you have just arrived to the frequency can be various:
1- The activator hasn’t yet started to call CQ and there are several other chasers waiting to hear the activator CQ.
2- The activator is already making QSO with a chaser you can’t copy because there’s no propagation, you have QRM or is in skip with you and he is currently sending his message to the activator.
3- The activator is transmitting (CQing or making QSO with other chaser) but you can’t copy him/her because there’s no propagation, you have QRM or is in skip with you.

In either of these 3 cases, your asking with ? or SOTA? is just QRM which you could easily avoid just be listening for a few seconds on the spotted frequency, no more than that. Your asking is:
A- QRM to the activator in the case he was making a QSO and listening the chaser’s message.
B- QRM to the chaser making QSO with the activator.
B- QRM to the other chasers on frequency in the case they are listening to what the activator is saying, either during a QSO or while CQing and sending his callsign together with his SOTA reference.

Please, be patient and listen for a few seconds trying to understand what’s going on on the spotted frequency before you send your annoying ? or SOTA? causing QRM and problems to all the others on the frequency.

Thank you.

73,

Guru

35 Likes

I have wanted to write the same so many times and there was still not enough time.
Many thanks Guru - this is very useful remark.
I just have small suggestion to change “Please, be patient and listen for a few seconds …” with “Please, be patient and listen for a few minutes …” :wink:

73, Jarek

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Some are simply chasing the SPOT. :grin:

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Good point Guru,
Whilst chasing of late I haven’t heard the familiar voice in SSB which I think emenates from Spain, saying: “Any SOTA?” so I think he has stopped doing it…

73 Phil

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While not exactly the same thing I have noticed that a number of SOTA stations, especially on SSB here in the USA, will simply be sitting on a given frequency and not calling CQ for some reason (even if they have self spotted themselves recently).

One call on their freq, after listening on that freq for a minute or two, very often results in a QSO…maybe they gave up, got tired of calling, or are just saving their battery? Sometimes u just gotta make some noise I think…

Pete
WA7JTM

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I’ve noticed the same thing, Pete. I see the spot, go to the frequency
expecting to hear the activator CQing, and there’s silence. So I just
wait a bit then say, “(Callsign)_ are you still there?” And many times they
come right back! But a lot of them don’t do much CQing on SSB.
I also noticed that these are mostly newer hams. Maybe they haven’t
been doing a lot of operating yet. They’ll get the hang of it.
73
John K6YK

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Hi Guru, I would like to add a fourth case to your list: The activator has been distracted by something happening at the summit and can’t start sending and receiving (listening), or has had to stop.

I know you, me and other activators have already given many examples on other SOTA threads so I’ll give just a few here: the wind has suddenly blown your [hat, logbook, etc] across the hillside or knocked over your antenna pole, or a curious walker has asked you what you are doing.

When using voice mode, I can often deal with the problem whilst still operating (e.g. walk over to rescue my logbook with my 2m FM HT in hand or explain to the chaser why I need to stand by for a bit). But CW mode needs my total concentration and a distraction usually means I’ll ‘disappear’ for a while.

Military jet planes like to do low-level practice flights along the G/LD valleys (or dales as they’re called around here) between the mountains. Three times this year during an activation 2 or 3 of them flew near me one after the other making reception and even my own CW sidetone inaudible for about 40 secs.

So, impatient chasers (who are usually not themselves activators) should be reminded that operating from a summit can be much more challenging than back in the shack [and actually, that’s what gives most activators a kick out of doing it].

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Don’t you love it when you re Spot for another band jump up to change the link dipole, sit down again and someone calls you as you have not changed the frequency in the radio yet. I have no issues with my chasers they are very well drilled in the process, some have been on my journey with me for 9 years.
vk5cz …

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Hi Pete,
I have also seen this here in Europe. Sometimes I’ve seen a spot, I’ve gone to the frequency and waited there while doing something on my PC and after some good 10 minutes, I’ve not heard anybody, neither the activator CQing, nor any chasers making contact with him. It felt like it was a fake spot or the activator had some issue and couldn’t finally get on air on the spotted frequency. It’s definitely something weird to me.

I have also experienced this a couple of times. The activators, perhaps, selfspotted and decided to do something else while waiting for the first chaser to arrive and call. Sometimes I’ve thought this behaviour is typical of VHF operators. You can sit on a 2m frequency, selfspot as QRV and remain there with your squelch on waiting for somebody to come and call you. But this is not good practice on HF, where you can quickly loose your frequency if you don’t use it. Even if you are using it on QRP it’s very easy to loose it by some crocodile… In my book, selfspotting on HF means you start calling CQ and you keep doing it as often as possible to let all other hams around, all of them potential chasers, hear you and respond to you.
73,

Guru

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Dear Jarek,
You can say that using whatever units you want. In my experience, less than 1 minute = 60 seconds listening on the spotted frequency is usually enough to get a perfect understanding of what’s going on.
73,

Guru

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Thanks Guru for writing this up. Very common problem :slight_smile:
@G8CPZ: … and indeed the 4th case happens often.
People come around. Start asking questions.
I think it is important to explain what we are doing… usually ending in an interesting discussion.

When something like this happens I sent “QRX”. Some chasers wait, others move away. I think it is important to always come back and serve the waiting chasers.

73s
Ingo

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The cynic in me wonders how many hams nowadays know what QRX means?

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Everything said for those sending ? or SOTA? equally applies to those sending their callsign before having listened for a while in order to understand what’s going on.
I have several times suffered QRM from those chasers (I could perfectly name them) while I’m receiving the message from my first chaser on that frequency, who, sometimes is a S2S.
Also when I’m chasing and I’m trying to hear the activator’s CQ including his SOTA reference, these impatient chasers send their callsign on top of the activator signal, like an elephant in a china store.
So, my plea goes also to those chasers sending their callsign right away, as soon as they arrive to the spotted frequency and before they know what’s going on.
Please, listen before transmitting!

73,

Guru

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What QRX means and what the prosign AS means = WAIT, like in the italian word ASpeta.
Also what LSN means = LISTEN.

73,

Guru

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As I do most of my chasing on a casual basis, I often listen on a spotted freqency and hear calls made in the manner that you have described Guru. Hearing nothing from the activator (which is usual at my noisy home QTH), I move on to look for another activator that has been spotted and very soon “?” is heard. I have noticed that this is worse when there are a lot of activators on and many spots are coming up at the same time. It is as though there is a chasing frenzie and a contact must be made at all costs. It seems that these chasers do not have minutes to spare to listen for the activator, just seconds and then they move on. Has SOTA become a competition?

I am sure these people are the same ones that on the road pull out to overtake before looking in their mirrors and indicating. A complete lack of consideration for others. Unfortunate it is a state of mind that is hard to change. :frowning_face:

73, Gerald

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For some it’s a really big problem…

…until they have fought their way through all the possible webSDR… …and then they heard nothing again… …and then they just call… …no matter what is going on… …possibly even at the same time as the activator… …because there is a time delay with the webSDR…

… and if nothing helps, they make a phantom qso and enter it as a success…

Perhaps a fictitious scenario… ?

73 Armin

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I know what QRX means. My point was, I think a lot of hams don’t know many Q codes beyond the ones you hear every day (like QTH, QSY, QRM, etc) and therefore sending infrequently-used ones like QRX may not have the desired effect. Sad, but there we are.

Professional radio operators would have needed to memorise all the Q codes to do their job but we are amateurs doing a hobby and need to set our expectations accordingly.

For example, if I said QRB? or QTR? would you know what to do? I would not. I had to check their meanings.

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Hi,

You forgot an important group causing QRM: those who are tuning exact on the frequency of the activator, especially those manually tuning.
73, Patrick ON4BCA

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Yeah, I’ve never understood why it’s so common when it’s little effort to QSY a few kHz to tune up.

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They’d be wasting time QSYing a little Andy that they could better spend on panic buying fuel/bread/toilet paper/turkeys etc. etc.

:slight_smile:

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