I am always very impressed by the reports of DX QSOs in SOTA logs, namely SSB contacts (e.g. Ed’s @DD5LP successes into Australia).
After a year of activating, with 18 activations and a few failed attempts, I only had one DX QSO into North America. The main reason is that I often ran out of time before I could switch to 20m. But I think I could do better in general.
Could others please share their advice and experiences?
I do CW-only activations with 5 watts from my Mountain Topper 5B. My main antenna is an end-fed hybrid with traps for 40-30-20m and links for 17 and 15m, typically mounted as an inverted L on a 6m pole.
I would be particularly interested in the following aspects:
1. Timing: I learned that NA contacts often fail if we cannot stay long enough on a summit for the US to wake up. Ed’s successes into Australia seem to have happened all in the early morning, which is difficult for most summits in the alps without an overnight stay in the wilderness.
2. Antenna Orientation: Sometimes, the summit dictates the direction of the long leg of my inverted L, but often, I would have a choice.
3. Band and Frequency: Are there rules of thumb? When is 20m superior to 17m? When does it make sense to try 15m? Are there particular challenges for QRP operation, e.g. tradeoffs between ionization and attenuation? So far I thought that the highest band that is open would likely give me the most distant contacts.
Any help and advice will be very much appreciated!
73 de Martin, DK3IT