Today's Pile-up on 40m. (Part 1)

I’ve heard some bad practices in 40m pile-ups but today was by far the worst, chasers not only calling over other chasers but also the operator, I almost always wait for a QRZ, but today I had great difficulty in making out whom the activator was replying to as chasers were still calling when he was in contact with someone. If this is now going to be standard practice then I’m not wasting any more time trying to compete. :frowning_face:


I never heard today on 40m, but yesterday on HF CW was the same. I am also thinking of stopping the chase because of this bad practice, why do they call the activator when he is transmitting. :frowning_with_open_mouth:


Welcome to the SOTA Reflector Steve @G4YTK - I’ve worked you on four occasions when I been activating over the last couple of years…

The most likely reason is because they cannot hear the activator or so many others who also can’t hear the activator call over him at the same time as the bloke that calls the activator when he is transmitting! Part of the reason it was so bad today was that Rod @M0JLA was being so widely heard throughout the UK and Northern Europe that there was between 10 and 20 operators trying to get a QSO, and as we know certain stations we know so well are too desperate to get a few chaser points and they lose control of their ears, mouth and fingers! When I eventually get back activating later this year I’ll make sure that the real persistent offenders are on to my blacklist, and I will not work them.

73 Phil G4OBK


Hi I agree totally with the point you are making and I was probably one of the culprits to a point as soon as I hear either qrz of a lull in the callers shouting in I will call in. I refered to the same which i would called poor operating practices last year and the consencise from the management team and other indaviduals that is the way they wanted it though i must say it certainly has got worse recently, being up here in Scotland certain european stations just seem to call untill they are heard but complain when it happens to them. Sometimes I wonder if they realise how propogation works we dont always hear both sides of a conversation and mistakes can be made hence waiting on the activator calling qrz. Personally I think it’s down to the activator to take control when he hears a wall of noise and nonsence by some order ( when I suggested numerically I got ambushed saying I only wanted that as my callsign started with a 1 ) even so summit to summit operators are just calling till they get a reply again good practice in my opinion would be for the activator to call for any s2s on the frequency. My main gripe now is people are starting to get bitchy on air with one another and that is not good its supposed to be a hobby and we should be helping one another Sota is becoming more and more popular and in my opinion the free for all is not really working and yes it can be extremely frustrating.

73’s Brian MM1HMZ


I take it you’re referring to some of the GW activations this morning ? actually thought it wasn’t to bad and certainly nothing worse than normal , yes there were one or two saying their qrz two or three times constantly which of course meant they were leaving no gap for any reply, also the usual tail end Charlie’s calling before the previous QSO has finished , this kind of thing can get worse if not nipped in the bud by the activator , a simple “ please wait until I’ve finished and call QRZ “ but must say I thought all the GW activators did a really good job managing the pile ups , compared with some of the rare DXCC piles up found on 20m this mornings chasing was fairly straight forward and normal , far as I could tell they stayed on air until the pile up was cleared

Craig 2E0VRX

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Sorry to have to say it Derek, but calling out when activating a summit from Central Europe (Germany), this kind of badly behaved pile-up has become normal (at least on SSB, I can’t speak for CW). Even when I go back and tell certain stations to wait while I work the chosen caller - they keep on calling - and this is not a language problem as several (but not all) of the “offenders” are out of the UK!

Of course, all chasers cannot hear each other and so calling over the top is going to happen, but calling over the top of the activator suggests that the chaser is not hearing the activator - which sort of defeats the aim of them calling in the first place!

73 Ed DD5LP (G8GLM).


Good Propagation certainly has its downside. Well done to Rod for sounding like he was smiling despite the fight in the background. Phil - I might have doubled with you as I heard G4? when Rod was obliterated with a chaser…. Anyway managed a QSO in the end ( just chasing with 10 watts) so thanks again. ( It wasn’t much better when I was on hills last week)
One final plea - although it will probably fall on deaf ears - as an activator please only give your callsign once each QRZ and I prefer the NATO phonetic if alphabet not the let’s pick up a dictionary version….aardvark, beermat, chimpanzee etc…:-). Paul


We’re never happy are we! I’m sure a few years ago we were all grumbling (including myself) that the propagation on 40m was rubbish! :grin:


Yes…… it’s sometimes frustrating even just listening to a station trying to control the ‘herd’. There was a (non-SOTA) Gambian Op on 10m yesterday, operating ‘Split’ that managed a pile up and I learnt a lot just listening to him. It got me thinking though…. does anyone ever use ‘Split’ when activating a summit or is that going a bit too far?

My biggest fear this morning was to be doubling with the activator because of being convinced he called me in but due to all the noise he was actually replying to a similar call sign. In future I will revert to my usual habit of waiting until near the end of the pile-up before calling in.


One way of dealing with the most unruly chasers is to work them, ask for repeats and give a 3/1 report when everyone else is getting 5/9, with any luck they will go away and waste time trying to find what is wrong with their station! :wink:


I don’t think it’s necessary. SOTA pile-ups are normally short lived and are over in a few minutes. At least that’s my experience as a CW activator.


Perhaps it’s an age thing or because I work mainly CW but with voice modes I find hearing non standard phonetics throws me and it takes a second longer to register the callsign. I think it would be better to use phonetic alternatives only to correct the other station when he/she misread it the first time.


If you do ask the chasers to call you, say 5 kHz above your frequency - I hope you make sure that frequency is free - I’ve been dumped on by non-listening DX Hunters more than once when I had been operating on a particular frequency for over 20 minutes.
Normally the DX station simply says call me 5 kHz up (or whatever) without first checking that the frequency is free. It’s like throwing your garbage on the street because you never looked to see if the rubbish bin was full beforehand!

I do NOT recommend SOTA activators working split!

73 Ed.


Only @MM0FMF when he’s working The People’s Front of Judea. Splitters!


I used split quite a lot at the last sunspot peak when you would have proper pileups. The first time I really recall using split was the 1st ever activation of a SOTA summit in CT3 (new association, new summit and Africa too). It was a little manic with plenty of callers and not only was I spotted on SOTAwatch but the cluster too. I switched to split and it sort-of worked. Not everyone understood what “UP 1 ?” meant.

So it can be useful. The skill is knowing when should you use it or not. I don’t think it’s something you need everyday.

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Going back to phonetics, so-called non standard phonetics have never bothered me, when I first started listening many hams were ex forces from WW2 and used whatever phonetics their outfits used, so for instance able baker charlie dog was just as commonplace as NATO. My attitude is NATO first and then whatever works.


I had the opposite problem today. A 15 m SSB pile up where everyone was weak (QSB)! Extremely difficult to pick out calls at times.

As for 40 m, I don’t think I’ve experienced it as bad as you describe and there have been occasions when I’ve had 40+ in the log on that band. Usually I announce, “lots of stations calling, please be patient and I will work you all”, when it’s chaos from the first CQ. At least that lets the Chasers know i won’t just qualify the summit and then scarper.


I was immediately reminded of a previous thread:

The Art of Calling at the Wrong Time


I can only refer to operating CW:-

I’m not excusing bad operators but it is entirely possible that some of operators may not always be able to hear each other when they are calling over each other. And if two or more press their key at the same time, they might be unable to hear that someone else is also calling at the same time.

I was out yesterday on G/TW 003 and had a small pile up and had 13 QSOs in 15 minutes and a total of 21 calls in total on 7mhz.

On 10mhz I had 45 QSOs in 45 minutes, 35 of which were in the 1st 30 minutes.

Big pile ups for me but then according to the alerts at the time I was on the air, there were only a couple of other CW activations taking place, so I assume I was the focus of their attentions.

I don’t know how other CW operators handle pile ups. I have only a couple of approaches:-

a) Wait until the clamour of chasers stops for a second and nearly always it goes silent then one operator will call again. I’ll work him/her. I adopted this approach when I first began SOTA and met my first pile up :cold_sweat:. I had not the faintest idea what to do. :dizzy_face: Whilst I was thinking how to handle it thats what happened.
b) Pick the loudest one as that is probably the callsign I can make out - and is causing the most interference.
c) Pick out the longest part of a callsign I can make out - eg “2eØm” and ask “2eØm ? KN”
d) Patiently call AS AS (wait in CW) until everyone stops and pick at random a prefix, such as DL, and send "DL ?? K. This at least reduces the multiple callers if there’s more than one DL as there often is. I’ll then work the remaining DLs.
e) pick out the bits of a callsign you can hear, such as “YTK ? KN” and that gets results, although I have sometimes got people calling over that too.
f) Concentrate on a callsign which has a different audio sound/tone, frequency or a distinctive fist such as a bug and concentrate on getting their whole callsign amongst the pile up.

I don’t really mind pile ups or bad operators too much. Its a hobby and we don’t do it for a living, knowing that all or most of the stations you work have all been training to operate in much the same (hopefully) disciplined way.