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To spot or not to spot?

I have (not for the first time) today been specifically asked NOT to spot a particular station on a summit because they feel that if a spot is placed on the SOTAwatch they need to stay and work as many callers as possible.

Also having already spotted someone I have been requested to remove a spot and whilst I have done so, it does seem waste doing so at that point as the spot may well have already been seen and then SOTAwatchers are left wondering ‘I am sure there was a sport for XXXXX’ a few moments ago.

Now my thoughts of this basically revolve around:

Whilst the activator should be in control, a spot saying ‘quick activation’ or similar might just get them the four contacts required quicker than not spotting at all - thus saving them time spent on the summit (or wasted effort in getting there at all).

Certainly as an activator I would only stay and work callers if I felt comfortable in doing so.

As a chaser: yes I am disappointed if I do not get to work an activator because they have to leave before I get chance, especially if it is a summit that I have not worked before, however in most cases there will always be another chance to work the summit at some future time.


As an activator would you rather have a spot placed on the site and have to leave potential chasers without a contact or would you rather not have a spot - even if that means you need to stay a little longer to qualify the summit or not be able to qualify at all ?

Stewart G0LGS

I would always rather be spotted. I usually try to work everyone who calls. But on rare occasions, if I feel I need to go QRT because of wx, preferring to descend in daylight, or just because I am getting fed up, then I will do so without feeling guilty!

I don’t see this as an issue. Chasers may spot activators who have been heard transmitting from SOTA summits, whenever they like. If the activator decides to go QRT, that is up to him/her, and should be respected by all - only the activator is on the summit and knows all the conditions that contribute to the decision.

Any activator who stays longer than they feel sensible because more chasers are calling, is a fool.


In reply to G0LGS:

As an activator would you rather have a spot placed on the site and
have to leave potential chasers without a contact or would you rather
not have a spot - even if that means you need to stay a little longer
to qualify the summit or not be able to qualify at all ?

I think having no spot does not change the situation at all. In both cases the potential chasers are left without QSO. But without spot a potential chaser does not realize it as easy as with spot. Is this really an advantage? Do we need to hide our SOTA activations from chasers?
I think there is a more fundamental solution for this problem: If you do not like to work chasers do not call CQ SOTA.
I did several activations during contests without calling CQ once. In fact there was no chance to hold a frequency as QRP-station. So I answered the CQ-calls of contest stations and did contest QSOs without giving the SOTA reference. The contest station was happy about another point/QSO and I was happy about a SOTA activation. I do not feel guilty about this activations.

I fully agree with Tom, M1EYP, so please spot me anytime you hear me.

73 de Michael, DB7MM

In reply to M1EYP:
You’re right Tom,
Spot help the chasers, right if you just want to qualify a summit just answer to station calling…
During the last trip in Jura and HB9, the weather was very poor and I should QRT because the rain wind (and one time the night !)are coming and I’m very sorry for the station who are still calling but it’s the security which is the first thing to have!!! Even if I would prefer to have to answer to ALL stations calling… We should do with that !!!I try in this case to do the QSO as quickly as possible !!!
You can spot me all the time, My pleasure is when I’ve contacting more of you!

In reply to F5UBH

I would also prefer to be spotted.

However, ALL Chasers need to keep in mind, that at this time of year Activators are at a far greater risk of wind chill etc from adverse weather conditions whilst on summits.

Whilst it may be warm, and even possibly sunny, at low level, on summits the temperature difference can be very significant,as can the weather,with very rapid changes occuring in the space of a few minutes.

Whilst we all appreciate as chasers the efforts of Activators and enjoy QSO’s and chasing those out on summits, chasers need to respect the above.

Most activators will try to work everyone in turn,however, the weather and conditions may dictate otherwise at this time of year, forcing them to either ask for QSO contacts to be kept brief or even have to go QRT very quickly in the interests of personal safety.

Remember, safety must come first!

I for one will certainly not hesitate to curtail an activation if conditions / time / daylight etc dictate the need to do so.

Summits will always be there for chasers another day.

Stay Safe



In reply to G0LGS:

They’re good points Stewart. For me, having to leave before the frequency is free of chasers hurts me. But I’d rather be spotted and work 10 chasers and then go QRT even as people are calling me than not be spotted and work just 4. I don’t like it at all but I feel it’s better this way. There’s no right answer, only what you feel comfortable with.


In reply to G0LGS:
hello chasers and activators,
I think activators should not stop activity if not for security reasons:
Good ops do short calls in the right moment on the right (not exact!)
frequency ONLY.
If they loose the chance for a QSO by patiently waiting they might start
doing long calls, start calling before the activator finishes his
transmission, or use more power.
None of these results is wanted.

Did you notice that some bad ops from SE Europe disappeared during the
last few years ?
But still there are some a few from other countries by now.
Hopefully they will learn or disappear some time …

cu on the SOTA
Mike, dj5av

In reply to DJ5AV:

To all: I was today activating HB/FR-033. I also prefer to be spotted, especially that I am working QRP (as most activators). If attention is not given to us we may be lost in QRM…

For sure considering all efforts we make as an activator to prepare and runa an activation, it is no fun for activators to go QRT! But unfortunately, external conditions (WX, batteries, etc…) can make a quick stop to or activity.

Saying this I am sorry if I could not get all the stations during the pile-up today. I ran twice out of batteries and had to replace my battery pack… next time I should get an external larger batterie for more confort.

Also my announced activity on the 40m band was almost not possible due to too many stations/QRM on this band. I rather sticked to the 20m band, looking for a free frequency…
In those (changing) conditions, being spotted is a big help to inform chasers about a change in the frequency.


In reply to all:

…just cutting a video of my S5-SOTA-Tour in September…
(with 277 QSOs on 5 Summits together with Max, OE3MHU)

As I am mainly active in the middle of europe and although QRP I normally can work a pile-up on 40m at every activation (last time 43 Chasers in 30 mins), but I also want to give far away stations the chance to work me on 30m or 20m - and I also want to work them - hi.
So sometimes I have to stop at 40m telling all, that I’ll QSY to another band.
Also it’s fine to have a short break between the band change.

In any case I appreciate spots very much!

cu at the next summit, 73 de Chris, OE3CHC

In reply to OE3CHC:

QRP signals from activators in OE-land are normally unreadable on 40m at my QTH Chris, so your use of 30 and 20m is very much appreciated.

Hope to hear you again soon.


In reply to G0LGS:

Hi Stewart,

Without spots, HF activations would be virtually impossible. Simply calling CQ SOTA on HF will sometimes work and on other occasions it certainly won’t.

Sometimes a SOTA chaser will pick up the CQ SOTA signal on HF, sometimes they don’t. HF can be a pretty lonely place, especially above 20m, if band conditions are garbage and there’s no signal on your phone.

When there’s been no signal on my mobile, I’ve been forced on a number of occasions to QSY to 2m and call for a SOTA chaser and ask if s/he would put a spot on HF for me and then pray someone hasn’t nicked the frequency when I get back.

Chasers are brilliant and its been my experience that they will bend over backwards to help an activator.

73 Mike

In reply to 2E0YYY:

There are certain frequencies that seem to be preferred, so what I do when in the hunting mode is to turn down the squelch and use the dual watch feature on either my FT817 or 857 and monitor 7.118 and 14.285 in alternate 5 second bursts and use the other rig in dual watch on 144.300 and 145.500, with my lovely old TS-520S for free hunting. It drives you crackers after a while, which probably explains a lot! :wink:


Brian G8ADD

I prefer to be spotted. So any time you hear my signals feel free to spot me. :slight_smile: On the top of the mountain I am always trying to work as many chasers on as many bands as possible to give a chance for the QSO “to all” who wants to work me. But I always remember the “gold rule” of the mountaneering - safety first!

73, Milos S57D

In reply to 2E0YYY:

Without spots, HF activations would be virtually impossible.


I think that you have missed out “SSB” from this sentence. The use of more effective modes makes HF activations quite possible without spots.


Richard G3CWI

In reply to G3CWI:

I think that you have missed out “SSB” from this sentence. The use of
more effective modes makes HF activations quite possible without

But “its good to talk”!

To be spotted you have to be worked first, unless you self-spot, which most do not do. If one chaser can work you without a spot, others can. As I see it, the crucial element is to be where you may be expected to be. On some bands there are frequencies that seem to be preferred, both for CW and phone, and I really think that this needs to be extended to more bands. Not “SOTA frequencies” as you cannot guarantee that these frequencies will be clear, but still SOTA preferred frequencies, places that a keen chaser will tune around. This seems to be the practice on 20 and 40, we need to extend this to the higher bands whilst we have a few sunspots to play with!


Brian G8ADD

As a chaser ~~~ spots and preferred frequencies are very useful.

Two examples.

At the weekend there was a spot for a station. I went to the frequency but there was a station transmitting 10kc down with a very wide signal indeed with an amplifier in some distress so I just waited until the QRM left and worked the SOTA station. Without the spot I would never have known he was around beneath the QRM.

There was no spot for I3/IT9PWM/P (I/VE-301)yesterday afternoon but I had the radio on in the background, whilst pottering about, on a preferred frequency 14.285 listening to noise and then Sandro appeared with a weak signal 52-44. I don’t think I would have found him by tuning around the bands. He later emailed me to say he was running 5w to a vertical.

So swings and roundabouts I suppose.

Mike G6TUH

To be spotted you have to be worked first, unless you self-spot…

Not if you call CQ SOTA on CW you don’t!


In reply to M1EYP:

But it is still “good to talk”!

To be fair, I had forgotten about the silly robot network that services the brass pounders! It strikes me as ironic that the devotees of a mode that make so much of its simplicity and efficiency should be serviced by a hi-tech robot that eliminates the thrill of the hunt, but so be it!

So let me reword it. If you are prepared to embrace the extra challenge of a less efficient but more human mode, SSB, and eschew hi-tech props for the pleasure of doing it yourself, then to be spotted you have to be worked first, unless you self spot. :wink:


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:

It strikes me as ironic that the devotees of a mode that make so much of its >simplicity

No, that’s what makes it sooooooooo cool! The overt over use of huge amounts of technology to enhance the most basic of radio communication methods. There are so many CPU cycles devoted to getting a spot out you have to stop and admire the madness of it. Especially as the CW bit would work without it. It is a fine example of lily-gilding.

If you think RBNgate is high-tech you should see my new spotting toy which should be “on-air” for Christmas. It’s sat on my desk at work so I can admire its shiny-ness. Details to come. :wink:


In reply to MM0FMF:

You perceive me quaking in anticipation…

If you gild a lily you trap its fragrance under the coating!


Brian G8ADD