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Tips for SOTA DX: 14.032 NOT good QRG and QRS better than QRQ

@K2KJD, Operator D, has been lately operating on 14.032 durig his SOTA activations.
I managed to chase him once on September 22, but some other times he was activating on that same frequency, I couldn’t chase him because of much traffic from my side of the Pond. I remember TZ5TT CQing on that same frequency and several stations from Europe calling him, so it was impossible to copy a weak signal from a SOTA activator in Northamerica.
Another activator used that same frequency yesterday. See @K7PX spot:
imagen
And, again, I couldn’t chase him because TZ5TT was again CQing on that same frequency and other Europeans called him creating too much QRM for me to copy the weak signal from K7PX.
Perhaps you don’t notice this traffic at the East side of the Atlantic Ocean, but I do and I’d like to be able to chase you whenever your weak signals can be copied here.
I see the following alert for this afternoon where @K2KJD seems to have the intention of using 14.032 again.
imagen
Of course, you guys can keep using such frequency if you fancy to, but in case you’d like to be chased by some DX chasers at the other side of the Pond, let me recommend you all using the frequencies around the CW QRP frequency, as most of us usually do.
14.058; 14.059; 14.061; 14.062; 14.063; 14.064; 14.065 are all fine, but 14.032 is not IMO the best choice for SOTA DX QSOs.
Thanks for your comprehension.
73,

Guru

2 Likes

Hi Guru,

Thanks for the heads up.
.

73,
Steve
K7PX

2 Likes

Thanks Guru -

I totally agree with you!

I’ve missed some good S2S contacts recently because of activators choosing to go down to 14.032 or nearby. That part of 20M is really prime DX’ing territory here in NA. It’s also used for various contests, so it gets busy.

Another frequency to avoid is 14.060 - this is considered a QRP calling frequency, and it has become a place for people to call CQ, whether QRP or not. I’ve heard QRO stations calling CQ there, often over weak signals. Some SOTA stations keep using 14.060, but this a mistake - people will call CQ - often they cannot hear, or do not listen. Many of them are QRS and probably new to CW. They call and call with few answers…

There is a similar situation here in NA at 7.030 - many people seem to like this frequency - so it is not good for starting a SOTA activation. The zone from 7.031-7.039 is popular, and many of us use it for SOTA. When that area gets busy, or not, 7.061- 7.065 is a better choice. 7.060 also is popular with new operators and others, so it should be avoided.

My opinions - your results may vary in EU, etc.

73

George
KX0R

I have just modified the title of this thread because, in addition to my advise about the QRG 14.032 being not good for us in EU to hear the weak signals from NA activators, I want to include also a comment about QRS vs QRQ that I had wanted to raise here for long and had never found a chance for it.
Several times the signals from NA activators are extremely weak and often, if not always, with QSB. When CW is transmitted slowly (QRS) it is much easier to copy and understand those extremely weak signals than that transmitted fastly (QRQ).
20 WPM is slow enough to have a fair good copy of extremely weak signals.
25 WPM is too fast and the morse code is often lost between the QRM of the band some possible static crashes (QRN) and the ever present QSB.
My recomendation for those activators willing to be chased by DX stations is to go QRS and you will probably get more DX chasers than going QRQ.
As an example: my top chased activator George KX0R. He usually transmits at 20 WPM and that, together with his excellent operator skills, his 10 watts and his highly efficient SOTA station, makes the QSO possible many more times than with other activators going 25 WPM or higher.
When I’m chasing NA activators, I always call QRS because I know my signals will get better to you, activators. The results are there for anyone to see them in the database.
Also, when I’m activating and want to be chased by some DX, I try to go from my usual 22-23 WPM down to 20-21 WPM and even 18 WPM sometimes.
73,

Guru

1 Like

Same here in EU.

Same here.

I agree. I don’t think Europeans use much this frequency for SOTA. I remember having chased some Northamericans on 14.060.

I don’t think many EU activators use 7.030. Probably some but the majority go around. Mainly 7.032 but also 7.029; 7.031; 7.033 and up to 7.035. We rarely find activators using frequencies higher than 7.035 or 7.036 and never 7.060, 7.061-7.065 as that’s SSB territory.
73,

Guru

Hi Guru

Thanks for “playing digits” here, hi.

Doing likewise here on SSB. I prefer the uneven frequencies between xx0 and xx5, since the QRO elephants often choose xx0 and xx5. So my frequencies mostly end in xx3 or xx8 and +/– according to the final audio check.

There is always an exception: I can remember this summit recently with quiet bands where I used 7,100 kHz and 14,300 kHz with no QRM at all.

Vy 73 de Markus, HB9DIZ

Hi Markus,
I don’t catch what you mean by that, sorry…
I will need clarification, I’m afraid.
Regarding what you described about frequencies on SSB, I don’t see much difference between working on a frequency ending in 0 or 5 and other ending in 2-3 or 7-8, as I think it’s almost impossible to escape from the splatters of the big guns on the 40m band SSB. That’s why I’m rarely found activating on that band and mode. However, things are better now since we have from 7.000 to 7.200 compared to 7.000 to 7.100 we had before.

73,

Guru (awaiting clue or explanation to understand the “playing digits” expression)

One more tip today…
I have just seen this spot from @K4AAE:
imagen
I went to that unusual frequency for a SOTA activation and I couldn’t copy other thing than an SSTV signal because that is a frequency for SSTV traffic.
Taken from this web site: http://www.wells10000.plus.com/m5aml/sstv.htm
“Common SSTV frequencies in Europe are 3.730MHz, 7.165, 14.224 to 14.239MHz, 21.334 to 21.346MHz, 28.680MHz +/-. SSTV has also been heard at the top end of 20m and 17m.”
(The highlight in bold of the 20m band frequencies is mine)
So, 14.230 is not a good frequency for a SOTA activation.
73,

Guru

Guru,

Thanks for the helpful tips! Also, great to work you on 4 summits over the last couple of days on my SOTA trip to New England. Nice to work EU stations from the east coast. Fairly rare during this portion of the spot cycle from the home QTH in Idaho. You signal was strong here and thanks for the FB SOTA QSO! Jim/K7MK

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Thanks Jim for your activations and QSOs. It was great pleasure for me to chase you with pretty good signals.
I’m amazed with the conditons improvement we are seeing over the last few weeks. After the Summer months sometimes not even copying activators from the W1 and W2 areas, we are currently copying and chasing even W4, W5, W8, W0 and as far as W7. I hope this is the beginning of a really good new solar cycle.
73 and HPE CU AGN SN

Guru

Sadly, NOAA/NASA predict that the bottom of the curve between cycles 24 and 25 could be as late as September 2020
https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/news/solar-cycle-25-preliminary-forecast

But your experience and mine (I worked a W1 in Massachusetts on 20m CW this week from home and he gave my 12W a 579 report) show propagation can still be good enough to have transatlantic QSOs on low power.

They also said it could be as early as July 2019, so we may be about to start on the way back up! (although the forecast did say the cycle was expected to be a slow starter).

Hi Paul, you’re right of course. And in any case, it’s not a smooth curve - there’s a lot of solar ups and downs to it, so we should monitor the propagation for those transatlantic openings.

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You are right on the various ups and downs. That’s one of the most attractive features of this hobby and we’ll keep monitoring the band for those always exciting SOTA DX QSOs.

There’s also the possibility that the predictions about a bottom of the curve by September 2020 are inaccurate… I hope so :slight_smile:

For the moment, we are enjoying what we are having right now and that’s what it counts most. Whatever is to come, we’ll deal with it and we’ll keep having fun, won’t we?

73,

Guru

1 Like

Well, as Paul pointed out NOAA gave a wide window from July '19 to September '20 for the start of Cycle 25, so it could have started already. It’s just that the (upward) change in the averaged number of sunspots is so gradual we won’t see a consistent improvement for maybe a year or so.

Meanwhile, as you say, we can exploit the short-term fluctuation on the ‘good days’.

73 Andy

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I personally, have the feel this what we are seeing these days. I hope that feel is right!

I’m on it right now. @K2JB and @NY4G have been chased so far on 20m CW.
I could have also chased @N8HN but his pass over 20m CW was too short and I missed him while preparing and having a cup of coffee with a couple of biscuits. Shame…

73,

Guru

1 Like

Hi Guru

I have observed that many stations prefer so called “round frequencies” like ending on …0 or …5 kHz when they choose an operating frequency. So I am mostly in between. A QRO station can splatter even there, yes, but often less than when I’m sitting myself only e.g. 1 kHz away from them on …9 or …1 kHz.

Vy 73 de Markus, HB9DIZ