My suggestion is to use FT8 mode. I worked and heard German station yesterday and today during sunrise time in Northern California, using FT8.
FYI…I always start on 20 meters when I activate a summit. I then always go to 40 Meters.
I do this because it gives the operators in the adjacent states a “heads up” that I am on my summit, and they know I will be on 40 Meters soon looking for them. I can work most of the close in chasers and activators that way on 40 Meters. Establishing a known pattern can help chasers work you.
However… the order of bands to be operated is not dictated in my alerts, and I am not aware of anyone in W7A who does that.
No doubt that FT8 would make greater DX contacts possible, but we don’t see many activators working that mode in NA and I don’t work it. I’ve never tried it yet and I confess I don’t feel much attraction to do it.
CW has been and keeps being my preferred mode since I started using it back in 1985 and most of the NA activators I see spotted use it, we are in phase
That’s a good practice, Pete. I wish all activators in NA were doing the same. Should that be the case, I would have likely chased 4 or 5 more NA activators than the 3 I actually chased today.
We’ll keep trying…
It’s a curious thing, I do try to list my frequencies in the order I think I will activate them. It’s a minor thing, but it adds a bit of info to the alert, so I think it’s worth doing.
Guru’s analysis of likely activation order is an illustration of how something small like the list of frequencies can have meaning beyond being a simple list.
That said, it does happen that even after I self spot and start calling on my alerted frequency, I am drawn to other bands if there is an S2S possibility there. But after checking for and ideally, working the s2s I usually return to the original band where I self spotted earlier.
Although I operate on cw and ssb, I find it’s best to prioritise the cw frequencies in the alert, as that gives the option of RBN spots being matched to the alert by RBNHOLE and consequential spots being posted. (The frequency list field is often too short)
73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH
I usually list frequencies from 40 to 20, but tend to work the opposite, starting on 20 and working down. Yesterday started on 40, as 1600 is earlier than I usually get out and I thought there might be some activity there. This post has good points, and in future I’ll post alerts with planned order of band. The EU contacts are always a pleasant surprise and much appreciated.
I always try to post an alert as cell phone coverage is spotty in the hills in Arkansas. On my second activation yesterday I was surprised that I had no coverage on W5A/MA-001, despite it being in the middle of a state park. The alerts got me spotted, so all was good.
I’m a little pistol chaser with my 100w and my windom FD4 (also a multi dipole). I agree with Guru : first band is important if you want to contact Europe, only if you want !
Here one example :
Is too late for me to work George
Worked a lot of NA station before…
73 Éric F5JKK
I was successul on chasing this one today:
Then I fell asleep and got a little “siesta” during which I missed the activation by George KX0R,
but after waking up I saw a whatsapp message from Jorge EA2LU saying he chased him with pretty weak signals 329.
I got back to the shack after the “siesta” and was again successful on chasing Dennis again but in a new summit this time:
Just a few minutes later, this spot showed up on SOTA watch:
I went to the frequency and unfortunately couldn’t copy any dit from him…
Now I see George KX0R is making a new pass on 20m,
but I can’t copy him. It’s not that I have QRM problems. The noise floor I have is amazingly low now, but it’s dark here and propagation conditions are gone…
That’s all folks!
We’ll be back tomorrow.
Thank you for the information will put into application! 73 K
We are often stalking for you with our yagis while in touch with each other through a whatsapp group we share.
I knew that the EA chasers must somehow be organized as a gang! Whenever you work one there is a high chance that others follow in short time. Good work! keep it up!
Not really the EA chasers, just some EA with a long lasting friendship built along several years of shared passion on this ham radio hobby, antennas, DXing, CW, contesting on which we have participated both individually and as a team with lots of great success and now SOTA where we are more of us little by little joining on chasing and activating.
We don’t see us too often, as we live in different areas of EA (EA1, EA2, EA3 and EA4), but we are all in touch on a daily basis exchanging plans, experiences, helping each other on anything about the ham radio hobby and even our lifes in general too.
It’s just great and I consider them nearly as my second family!
This is a good reminder. One reason activators in the southern US may start with 40 meters is in the summer in W5T 40 meters is often very short and gets quite noisy as the day progresses. But if I am early enough I typically start with 20 in hopes of catching a EU contact. I know you guys are in contact because they often come in groups after an initial contact. They are as exciting for us as they probably are for you.
It is often difficult to get to a summit that early in winter though. I have activations planned the weekend after Thanksgiving and the first day required more than 4 hours of travel before hiking but Saturday I can probably get out early. Hope to make contact.
This is an interesting thread. I’m glad that you explained how chasing us works at your end in EA. I certainly like working DX when I do SOTA, and what you have explained is very helpful. I have wondered if you worked together with EA2LU and others, and I’m happy that you do that, and that you are all friends and helping each other. You share a unique experience, and it’s good that you worked to do this so well.
I DO list the bands in my alert in the order that I plan to activate them. I know that several other SOTA activators do this also. I don’t always follow my plan - if I am early and I hear many strong digital stations on 17M, I may start out on 17M to see who will work me. 17M is full of surprises! I worked EA2LU recently that way, but signals were very light compared to 20M.
The weather is now cold here in Colorado - I have snow on the ground at my house, and the mountains have much colder conditions and more snow now. If I start too early in the morning, everything is too cold. At my age I like to be in the sun and do my activations near local noon, or even later, if it’s cold and windy. Local noon here is at 1900Z. This is too late for you this time of year.
On the other side, there are a couple of ZL chasers who chase often on 20M and 17M CW. ZL1BYZ - John - is the one I work the most - he often calls me on 20M or even 17M. I need to be on my summit, mostly after 1900Z, to make contacts with ZL. Earlier this fall I was working you guys in EA and the ZL stations within minutes of each other!
By this time of year, I have already done activations of many of the SOTA summits within my driving and hiking range, or within my ability or desire to do with cold and windy conditions up high. Instead I activate many SOTA peaks I have already done earlier this year, and focus on making S2S contacts with other activators. This is not easy, and often I am frustrated by many of those activators, for many of the same reasons you list! They make it hard for us to contact them.
I suggest that activators not choose these frequencies for SOTA, if they want other SOTA ops to work them:
AVOID 14.060 - QRP calling frequency, often occupied by QRS ops, perhaps learning CW, as well as operators who cannot hear SOTA activators and call CQ right over the activations. When I chase S2S stations, I tune the SOTA frequencies listening for S2S ops, and 14.060 has more of the “wrong people” than anywhere else I listen. These ops mean no harm, but they are not aware that they are causing QRM, perhaps because of local noise, inefficient antennas, or poor receivers. Unfortunately some very good SOTA activators have got into the habit of calling CQ on 14.060, perhaps because they started there in their QRP days before SOTA. I NEVER choose 14.060 for my own activations!
AVOID 14.030 - 14.032 - 14.035 etc. These are great frequencies for working DX, but many DX chasers are there with QRO rigs. This is where the BIG GUYS of 20M hang out - these people do not care about SOTA activators - they want the DX. Of course the activator can go where he wants, but YOU are DX, and you are active on frequencies near 14.061-14.064, and that’s where the propagation to SOTA DX is now.
AVOID 10.110 This is a great frequency on 30M CW. Lately it has become the DX chasing sub-band, +/- 1 or 2 KHz. Many SOTA activators list this on their alerts, but is a bad choice. 30M is very long now, and there is much DX, so 10.110 is a problem for SOTA chasers. 10.111 to 10.119 is often nice.
AVOID from about 7.037 to 7.060 on 40M CW. Several activators are using convenient frequencies like 7.040, 7.045, 7.052, etc. Go ahead if you like, but if you want to be chased and make more contacts, please call between about 7.031 and 7.036, and/or between about 7.061 and 7.065.
AVOID 7.030 and 7.060 These have activity with new hams, general CQ’s, QRP ops, people with crystal-control, QRS ops learning CW, etc.
The lower end of 40M CW from about 7.020 to about 7.060 is a bad place when the CW OPS contests occur on Wednesdays at 1900Z (I think), and other days when there are contests on the lower end of 40M. Most of these excellent contesters don’t care about anything but contacts when they are on, often running fast and strong. The best place to be on 40M CW then is about 7.061-7.064. Many NA SOTA ops have settled on this upper zone for their 40M activations, while others like me are still using about 7.032-7.034 and moving to 7.061-7.064 when contests push us up the band. Go where you want, choose your own territory you like, but you won’t get in my S2S log as easily if that’s your choice.
When I chase S2S, I tune around looking for other activators. It is much more productive to look at a narrow range of frequencies than to hunt all over the 20M or other band. If the activator puts out an alert with what I consider “odd” frequencies, I may tune there, but often I miss his activation anyhow. I spend a lot of time running piles for my chasers, and I often get S2S contacts in the course of this - but I’m busy, so I miss short activations. Chasing S2S is very frustrating - that is much of the challenge. Many many activators are on the air, but I never hear them or never work them for many reasons. We share many of the same frustrations!
Not all activators are using smartphones and internet spots to chase S2S, spot, etc.
Trying to work S2S and cold weather have shifted my priorities a bit. We all see a slightly different part of SOTA, and that’s what is really great about it. You can go after activator points, chaser points, S2S, SOTA completes, VHF/UHF contacts, microwave SOTA, digital modes, or even ATV contacts.
I may do more activations starting on 14.063 instead of 7.033 - I see why you need me to be on 20M earlier. We have made MANY contacts! Of course, what I do that helps to work DX to EA may affect others who want to work me on 40M earlier in the day, when 40M is very long and quiet out here now.
Our priorities are all different. With solar minimum, the 40M band is now the best I have ever seen it for SOTA. The skip is very long, the absorption is much lower than when the solar flux is higher, and in winter we have almost no QRN from storms. The same is true of 60M. It is now possible, on 40M CW, from here in CO, to work SOTA all over most of the USA, during daylight hours. I’m making many S2S contacts with activators in CA-OR-WA or 40 and 30M, as well more and more long ones to VA-NC-TN-GA, even on 40M. This never happened a few years ago. 40M has very wide coverage now.
20M is a wonderful band for DX - when it is open to a particular area. For SOTA here, 20M is no longer the golden band it was a few years ago, the one band to choose if you had to choose just one. Instead, 20M is very long, not very good early or late in the short day, and it skips right over much of the USA from here in Colorado!
30M is really the band to choose, but not as many SOTA ops use it, for no good reasons.
I hope this helps explain why some of us start out on 40 or 60M and then go up higher in frequency. Eventually the days will get longer, our DX window will improve, the weather will warm up, and we will get out more.
Many activators are missing out on working SOTA DX, as well as S2S, because they don’t realize what is needed to make these exciting contacts, or perhaps they have other priorities. In my opinion, many activations are too short, with only one or two bands used, and no repeats of bands already worked. Sometimes it’s too cold to stay on the air for long, but more often a little more time spent on the air would be worthwhile.
Thank you very much for your very detailed explanation, which we welcome very much.
After my initial post on this thread and seeing that most of the activators kept doing about the same bands sequence, some of we, the EA group of friends we are, were commenting through whatsapp our chasing chances and our frustrations for those of them lost due to they showing up too late on 20m and I mentionned to the group that although you, NA activators, definitely like being chased by DX chasers from far away in Europe, it looks like you also have other priorities making you activate the way you do. You have now explained it very clearly. I knew you are lately focused on working S2S and that explains well why you want to spend some good time on 60, 40 and 30m. Also, the need to be activating at about noon or the begining of the afternoon is absolutely clear. I can imagine how tough it must be being in those high a.s.l. summits with sub zero temperatures, strong winds and lots of snow. Most of the activations in EU tend to be on air at around local noon, which is absolutely understandable. It’s a safety question.
However, I still would like to propose you and all the Mid West and East Coast activators to start by a very brief pass on the 20m band. Just 15 minutes should be enough for us to work you while there are still good enough propagation conditions and then you would go to the usual band sequence 60, 40, 30 and a second pass on 20m for you to work far away stations at your West like ZL, VK, JA, etc. This would only introduce a slight delay of 15 minutes to your timing for which you would probably get some DX contacts in your logs. For us it’s better 20m than 17m, even if 17m show good conditions, because we (EA2LU and EA2IF) have yagis on 20m and not so on 17m, where we just have dipoles, verticals and the like. Our friends EA4CWN and EA4ZK do have beams for 17m too but they experience different propagation conditions and many of the activators we copy on 20m in EA2 are not copied by them in EA4, about 400Km South of us.
Today we managed to chase David ND1J on his first SOTA activation at the good time, before our sunset:
Well, I hope you can find some time for a brief start on 20m CW in order to get some DX with the West of Europe.
Thank you very much and 73,
Has a new activator and cw operator, I will definitely take theses advices in consideration, in the eastern Canada it is definitely doable to gain the summit a bit earlier than I am used to.
It’s always fun to be chased by DX.
See you soon in December has I will restart my season.
73 de VA2EGD
Looking at the alerts from NA activators for today,
it looks like our prays for a start on 20m have been heard and I feel happy for that. However, for those activating on CW, bear in mind that we are in the weekend of the CQ WW DX CW contest, so I fear it will be extremely difficult for us to hear any weak signals in the middle of so much QRO contest traffic.
Thank you anyway for trying.
Chris was an easy one just after Jorge @EA2LU (he got a 57)
I know is on east side of NA.
73 Éric F5JKK
Glad to read that you managed to chase KG6CIH. Yes, Jorge told me through whatsapp that he had just chased him and in that very moment, the internet service in the QTH of my remote station went down and so it still remains…
I can feel Murphy’s presence here…
This activator could be chased by EA2LU and F5JKK. I would have probably chased him too shouldn’t the internet service at my remote station QTH have dropped down for a while.
Later we (EA2LU and myself) managed to hear some few words from this activator:
but never good enough for a QSO. It was a shame but California on SSB would have just been absolutely amazing. A shame dough…
A few minutes later, we (EA2LU and myself) managed to hear George KX0R among the contest traffic and we both completed QSO with him. It was dark already here but still good time to hear George. He was wise, as usual, and chose a good frequency.
A few minutes later, we (EA2LU and myself) also heard some few words from this activator:
Jorge EA2LU managed to make QSO with him but I never copied him solidly enough to give him a call and try a QSO. It was a bit too late…
Well, thanks for showing up on 20m and letting us chase you.
Very unexpectedly, I’ve just chased this at 20h21Z:
and right after that, with big efforts and needing to repeat and repeat and repeat seeeeeeeeveral times my callsing because it’s always very difficult for me to make people understand FOXTROT at the end of my callsing (they often understand OSCAR instead, so there must be something wrong in the way I pronounce FOXTROT) I also chased this at the very late time of 20h35Z:
Given all the problems that FOXTROT usually gives me, I often say FLORIDA instead of FOXTROT, but even FLORIDA was very hard for Mindy to understand today. But she finally got it correct and the QSO went to the log with 42 signal reports both ways.
It was a totally unexpected way to finish this chasing day. Well, may be it’s not yet finished…