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Time for a Two Tier Scoring System?

To reflect the breathtaking simplicity of making contacts, especially DX, working the new FT-8 mode, surely, this should be reflected in the scoring too?

For years, we’ve had the “Morse is King” mantra by the CW ops and it now appears, even they have jumped ship!!! They certainly haven’t done this because FT-8 is harder than Morse.

A two level scoring system would prevent any devaluation and regognise the achievment of contacts made or that have already been made on say the tougher CW mode or much tougher SSB mode by Activators and Chasers.

Just a thought…

Mike 2E0YYY

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I think you have your tongue in your cheek, Mike!:grinning: A certain choleric Scot is probably tearing his hair and raiding the malt bottle(s) at the thought of rewriting the database software!:smiling_imp:

One could argue the opposite way, that since digital modes need more gear to be carried they should get more points…but in view of the amount of gear that you hump onto summits, I doubt that thought will influence you!

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Is it not the other way round - in terms of how “tough” a mode is?

Out of these three, I mastered using SSB first, and very easily. After a learning process of about a year, I got to grips with CW. I am still trying to puzzle out the FT8 business.

I’m interested to know how you have come to your own view as to the relative difficulties Mike, as to the best of my knowledge, you have never operated CW or FT8 for SOTA. So how do you know?

Regardless of that, the only requirement for a SOTA contact to be valid (in terms of bands and modes) is that it must be on a band and mode that your licence permits you to use. There is no distinction between the “worth” of a QSO according to the mode used.

It’s perfectly simply - if you want to boost your score and climb higher through the honour rolls, you need to activate a greater number of different summits, and some with higher points values wouldn’t go amiss either. I can highly recommend getting into NE Wales this winter, and picking up 5 points a time for the likes of GW/NW-042, GW/NW-043, GW/NW-044 and GW/NW-051. Others that are reasonably accessible and fairly easy walks are GW/NW-039 and GW/NW-040 - 7 points each from these in the bonus period.

And best of all? Use whatever band and mode you like - they’re all considered equal in SOTA!

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Maybe we should have an “Obelix” award for activators whose station weighs more than 50Kg? Jonathan, G2HFR should probably get certificate #001 for this:

73, Colin G8TMV

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What about an award for those activators that weigh >20 stone? I’m sick of hearing of all these activators that carry these huge wireless sets and huge antennas and huge masts up summits. All that lot together PLUS the activator still doesn’t weigh as much as me. I have to carry me up every summit. That physical feat deserves way more recognition.


If / when my hearing gets much worse the data modes could well be all I can manage. And that’s despite the difficulty. Breathtaking simplicity? Not in my experience!

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I have always said it is harder to make contacts with SSB than with CW. FT8 (and other digital modes) - once set-up - appear to have made this even simpler still!

I remember being told when I moved to Germany from Australia that contacts back to Australia from a German SOTA summit would simply be impossible with SSB - only CW would work, unless I was running QRO.

I remember the pleasure of proving these nay-sayers wrong when I made S2S contacts back into Australia on just 2.5 watts of SSB (it should have been 5w but I stuffed-up). Obviously band conditions and a great deal of luck were part of this success.

Getting back to Mike’s suggestion, I don’t think any redesign of the database is needed, Brian. The solution I have found is that on my certificates I have “Phone Only” printed on them to indicate these were harder to get than using CW (or now FT8).

Each to their own. CW is effective and only needs light equipment. SSB is harder and the equipment needed is heavier. FT8 is simpler than CW but equipment needed is heavier than either CW or SSB.

73 Ed.


I suppose you are right - most microphones are heavier than most keys, though I’m sure that there are exceptions to the rule!

This thread may be a symptom of the “Silly Season” that sets in each year as the winter bonus season approaches, compounded today by contestitis!

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Every November, without fail Brian! Mike is a bit premature.

Hi Colin,

Well, as for carrying heavy gear up hill, I do that for a reason…Because it works best for me. The Antron-99, poles, FT-857 and battery weigh a ton. However, working my way, I’ve logged almost 1000 VK/ZL SOTA contacts from various SOTA summits. If you offered me 1000 activator points for a Mountain Goat award or 1000 VK/ZL contacts, I’d take the VK/ZL contacts every time…because I know which one is harder. You can choose when you want to activate a summit, the propagation Gods don’t give Activators any say in the matter.

73 Mike

Each to his own, I guess. SOTA attracts me because I have always loved the mountains, but few hams would turn their noses up at the chance of logging some choice DX. Mike, I have to say that I enjoy reading your reports for the DX that you set out to capture even though your chosen summits are, TBH, pretty ho-hum. DX is after all a major part of the romance of ham radio!

It’s the nature of the DX game, Brian. It requires an early start. If I were to activate a 6 or 8 pointer to work DX, then it’s going to mean a much earlier start…Quite frankly, many Activators would baulk at the thought of a 0400 local time alarm call which is routine for me and of course, tougher summits would require a much earlier start…It’s a case of where do you draw the line.

Well starting up a summit using a headtorch well before dawn is fairly routine for alpine climbing and not uncommon in my day for Scottish winter climbing, so I would say that it all depends on your appetite for spicing up a high-scoring activation with DX! It is doable - and with modern LED headtorches giving hours of light it has never been more doable! In the old days I had to stop and put in a new 4.5 volt battery every hour or so, and the batteries were not cheap.


Sorry Tom, I’ll leave the report out next time round :wink:


Hi Mike,
One of my highlights in SOTA has been working S2S into Europe. I treasure the contacts we have had from peaks and at home. When the sunspots were last too numerous to count those 40 W signals were quite strong here. Working S2S is always good, DX S2S makes it all the sweeter.

Now back to the topic. Ed has pointed out that there is already a way of having your particular mode of operation appended to the Certificate you apply for. With the aid of a word processor program and a printer you can issue your own certificate - just watch out for copyright issues.

In the last year in VK working anyone who was not on the next mountain has been a bit of a challenge. FT8 offers a way of making more contacts, even if it needs a 20 stone Sherpa to carry the pack.


Just to be clear, the addition of special text to certificates is done as a favour by Barry GM4TOE when he issues the certificate. Thanks Barry.


We should try an open scoring system where activators and chasers award themselves however many points they deem appropriate given the band conditions, mode, length of approach, technical difficulty, quality of lunch, hazard exposure, weather, physical ability, and general mood. I might have easily climbed a summit a dozen times but if I’m feeling a bit delicate or my stress levels are high then the points value should go up as well, shouldn’t it? After all, who else but the individual is qualified to assess how much suffering, skill, and technical prowess it takes to overcome the challenges of the day?



I know your response is tongue-in-cheek John but you hit a major point (IMHO) about the SOTA scheme.

I see SOTA as a personal competition, apart from in the challenges, you are not competing against others, you are competing against your own targets and as such the points side of the thing is secondary.

73 Ed.


Yes Ed, SOTA certainly is a personal challenge and we usually come to that conclusion about this time of year more or less on an annual basis. I must admit to having a wry smile when I saw Mike’s post. :smile:

The SOTA scoring system is based on the KISS principle. Attempts to alter it will ultimately fail one way or another… or maybe not once Tom and Mike get the software updated to include a “boredom” factor to cover the multitude of activations from SP-004, SP-013 and SP-015. :wink: (definitely TIC)

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Hi Ron,

Well, here’s my take on the FT-8 mode…

Barry N1EU summed it up nicely when he said “it’s a game changer” and indeed it is. Due to FT-8, CW to all intents and purposes, appears to have become obsolete overnight. Operators are flocking to the mode because it’s far easier than Morse.

Sadly, the genie is out of the bottle and there’s no putting it back, therefore, in future, perhaps all SOTA certificates should be endorsed Class “A” for those who use other modes and Class “B” for those using FT-8? :wink:


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