Try to take Sota Activatons in CW in the future

HI Sota Family,

after i learned CW in the last 1,5 Years i plane to start Sota Acitvations in CW. I can hear CW good, but give with the paddle needs more practice for me. So it is actuall dificult for me.

Sometimes it happens that i give the wrong letter. In additon it will ne practice time for me to doo CW not at home. On the Summit i have to organize my skills hear /write on the Paper/ and give CW.

I will use my FT-817. Yesterday i build a new wire (about 13,5 m Long ) for my Endfeed 49:1 Unun it is resonant for 30 m and 15m . I think i will start with the 2 Bands.

Can you give me somme suggestions for my first CW Steps on the Summits ?

I hope i give not to often wrong Letters :slight_smile:

73 Michael


Hello Michael,

Glad to hear that you are building up to your first activation using CW. I remember what a big deal it was for me to try this for the first time, so I can imagine how you must be feeling.

The great news is that the majority of SOTA chasers are very happy to assist activators who might be be new to this mode (or in my case not so new, but having an off-day with my sending :grin:), and will be happy to slow down to match your speed and / or space out their sending to make sure you complete the QSO.

One piece of advice I would give is to consider sending at a slower speed then whatever you think your maximum is when you’re sitting at home in your shack. My experience is that the speeds always feel faster when you’re out on a summit - particularly if you have a bit of a pile-up. There are no extra points for speed!

Best of luck and look forward to working you on the key one day!

73, Matthew M0JSB


Hope to contact you soon, Michael. Good luck!

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Hi Michael,

I appreciate it that you work on CW!

Never forget the activator is “king”, you decide speed and QSO style.

I am an “paper logging generation ham”. My father wanted me to learn CW on the other hand than my writing hand and I am still thankful for his advice.
I write on the left and use the Morse-key on the right hand, so I dont lose time while logging.

Good luck and cu from the summits
Vy73 de Fritz DL4FDM, HB9CSA


Hi Michael

Welcome to the wonderful world of SOTA CW!

The best practice is to just do it. Don’t worry about making mistakes. I make sending mistakes all the time and I also notice that every other activator and chaser does too. Just keep calm and send again.

The biggest problem you will probably have is dealing with the pile up. You may struggle to pick out a callsign. If you hear just a couple of letters just send them with a ?. Or just wait for someone to send their call again.

73 Richard


Hi Michael,
don’t hesitate too much, just do it!

I started some weeks ago, did meanwhile four CW activations. It’s a learning curve. Most chasers are really supportive and slow down speed. I still struggle with S2S, needing and getting a lot of patience from the activators. Thx for that!

Two tips from my side:

  1. Timing: maybe you start your first activation on a not so attractive summit (2, 4 points). And not in the prime time. Do it during the week. Doing so lowers the pile up hectic a bit, making it easier to catch the callsign.
  2. Recording: I am currently recording my activations. This gives me a kind of safety belt as, if needed, I can listen into the recording in case of doubts on callsigns. Just use a small sound recorder or even your mobile for that. Quality of recording does not matter, it is just a kind of insurance

73 de Klaus


Wish you luck Michael. Like the others have said no matter how experienced they are they still make mistakes, but you get used to who they are so it’s not a problem ,for instance Bruno and Juerg always seem to say 73 Suee so I know its them but they’re always load and clear to me anyways as I’m sure you will be.
Best 73 Michael

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I sometimes struggle to copy down S2S references. I don’t worry too much because I can usually cross check against Sotawatch either on the summit if I have phone signal or back home when I write up my log.


FB Michael. I am in the same position (CW novice, just one CW chase so far and no CW activations although planning one soon) so I will be sure to work you if I hear you at our steady speed. CW is great, esp for SOTA, and the advice here for us from those who use it regularly is invaluable and worth following. 73 es gl. Mike


I am still a beginner and remember when I first called CQ from a summit I was shocked by the number of chasers who responded. The pile up was terrifying!

I am more used to it now and wait until things settle down and I can identify at least part of a callsign.

My suggestion, if you can do it, might be to try first a less common band such as 17m. I don’t think you will get so many chasers on higher bands like this. Then switch to 30m, which is almost always a good SOTA band.

This video might give an impression of what to expect. Don’t be put off!


Keep it simple. No need for long QSO’s. Transmit at the speed (with spacing) that you want to receive at. If someone replies too quickly, ignore them and work those that you can. Be prepared to have a pileup and work your way through it. Don’t worry if you only get a partial callsign, reply with the partial and fill in the remaining characters as you get subsequent replies.

Everyone is nervous and terrible starting off. Everyone has made every mistake, sent bad / incorrect code, sent wrong callsigns, sent wrong summit references, transmitting when they should be listening etc etc. Don’t worry about it. We’ve all been there. Just start transmitting and have fun.


Hi Michael,
Welcome to SOTA-CW! Looking forward to work you soon!

I would add another recommendation:
Use a not so crowded band to start, i.e. avoid 40m where you get big pile-ups. Use a higher band like 17m or 15m for starts.

73 Heinz


Agreed! I was going to suggest 17m too. Avoid 20m in my opinion also.

73, Colin


I recommend chasing on CW first, where you are in familiar surroundings and not so much is at stake. Do a bit of that before considering an activation. In an activation you might feel a hundred ears listening to you. Until you are happy with that, it makes it more difficult.

Pressure increases the difficulty greatly. When we had morse exams, people who were fine with their classes or home use would find the exam nerves would effectively reduce their competency.

I wish you every success.

73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2DA


Hope to hear you soon! And member…

“No one ever regretted learning CW!”

Kent K9EZ


Assuming you have not already done so, I’d agree with Andrew.

a) Spend time listening to activations & chasers. That way you’ll know what the format/procedure is.
b) Then spend time chasing summits.
c) When you feel confident about what to expect then go and activate.

When you do activate it is going to be MUCH colder than you expect. Take plenty of clothes and/or a shelter especially in the colder months. Expect to get cold and uncomfortable!.


Hi Sota Guys,

many thanks for your Infos and suggestions.

Now i have follow adding questions:

Ist it ok that i use DC8YZ as Callsign? it is easier then DC8YZ/P

When a Station want a Summit to Summit QSO with me, ist it the same like ins SSB that the Station will send S2S in CW?

73 Michael

it is usual to add the /p when operating SOTA, although depending on your location it may not be required. A lot of US ops don’t, but EU ops usually do. If you are chasing someone and have /p at the end, it’s likely you are seeking S2S and may get through the pileup a bit easier. For S2S, the other station may just send “REF XX/YY 123” indicating a SOTA ref. You send your ref and then maybe S2S CFM TU. Some stations send S2S rather than their callsign. You reply S2S and then they send the call

best of luck with it.

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Hi Michael,
according to Amateurfunkverordnung - AFuV (15.02.2005), §11 it is no longer mandatory to use additions like /p or /m.
(3) Dem Rufzeichen können international gebräuchliche Zusätze beigefügt werden. Diese dürfen das zugeteilte Rufzeichen nicht verfälschen.

Nevertheless, as EI9KY has written, many SOTA activators in EU do use /p.
I think with a little practise, it is not a big issue to sign /p. Alternatively, you could use a memory keyer which does the work for you :wink:

73, gl with your activation!


When doing SOTA in Europe, the call DC8YZ/P screams to all that “DC8YZ IS ON A SUMMIT” and so is worth kW to your apparent signal strength.

Anyway if you can send YZ (dah-di-dah-dah dah-dah-di-dit) you can send /P (dah-di-di-dah-dit di-dah-dah-dit) just as easily.