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

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.



The delay on some SDR receivers that some Chasers use doesn’t help an Activator working a pile up.

73 Chris M0RSF


I wrote a long response which vanished - so :unamused:

A similar event happened to me a few days ago Rod. :smile:

To try and avoid that situation when there is a few callers I’ll reply by sending their callsigns twice before giving their report.

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I did that on Sunday on g/tw-003 but it was accidental- I had my earphones on over the ear flaps of my hat for the first 10 callers before I noticed.:smile::smile:


The pile up for me on 20m CW on Friday was pretty unruly at times, I probably chose the wrong band as I wanted a quick activation really.

There were a couple of callers who insisted on calling over and over again at a higher speed than I was operating. At one point Mariusz @SP9AMH got frustrated and wrote a spot, so I know it wasnt just me who thought the operating was a bit sub standard at times!

Generally the operating is good but I think some chasers would do well to listen to the activator’s operating style. I generally end a QSO by sending ‘73 TU de M1BUU/P’, so many times I hear the callers start calling after ‘TU’ (some of my rigs are QSK).

Roy G4SSH was right, to be the best chaser, you need to research your activator - see what habits they have - what frequencies do they opearate on, how do they end a QSO? I think it’s fair to say that we are all mostly creatures of habit.

If it does get too much and it’s not enjoyable any more, there’s always the ‘off switch’. If you need more QSOs for the points, call other activators for S2S or general band users, or start again on a different frequency. SOTA activations should be fun for the activator too…

73, Colin


I was chasing some HB9 activators this morning (there was one on the top of every summit I think) and several times heard people calling over the top of the activator. This was on 15m and 20m and I wonder if the chasers see the spot and not hearing anything, because they are inside the skip distance, just call anyway?

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Cross reference? This is the reason I don’t activate summits on 40 m anymore that are also within a WWFF reference. :wink:



From the distant past when I was stood infant of an unruly rabble - probably trying to impart some enthusiasm about the electromagnetic spectrum there were several techniques. One colleague removed his shoe and used it to hit the table - they were so confused it created silence, I’m not sure that throwing ones boots around on the summit is likely to be very effective. Another technique was to get very loud, but again on a summit this may well cause some difficulties, 400w up a 12m mast would do the trick (if you could get past the emf calculations) but to be honest I seem to have a heavy enough rucksack already without dragging a cart with the equipment in up the hill. Plan three was to get very quiet so they really had to listen really hard and take their turns… this might work and I might try starting with just 1 watt and then increasing the power if I was not getting the contacts. 40 is in such a good shape for relatively short hop coms 1 watt may well work very well…


Sorry I did not get you yesterday Derek. I was particularly listening for 2x0 calls which was why I was on 40m.

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Not sure why everyone feels the need to be the first Q. I usually wait until the pileup settles down.

Kent K9EZ


I bought a new toy (SW-3b) and went to FL/VO-167 (nothing really special) to test it.

Already on 20m on late Tuesday morning a pile up came towards me, which I would never have suspected…

Maybe it’s because there are not many summits activated at the moment… I can’t say. But what I notice and what annoys me: when I ask for /p?.. then I don’t want to hear anything else than the /p - station… and none with a P in the callsign… or similar.

The bad thing is: as soon as someone has started to transmit his callsign, although it does not correspond to what I asked for,… others come right after and send their callsign too… and the /p station has no chance again.

You can count on it, people! I will call for the /p stations I want, listen to them and accept nothing else… even if it takes minutes!! You will not be on sooner! … and /p stations … please stay tuned!

73 Armin


A perennial cropped up today while waiting with the rest to work Neil, GW0WPO/P. I was listening to a certain station, I won’t mention the prefix, passing all his irrelevant details and pleasantries. finishing with the classic line, “What’s your callsign”?