Underchased Higher HF Bands

I often listen for posted activations on the higher bands, but rarely hear anything except perhaps the occasional chaser calling them. Don’t assume that if you can’t hear any chasers, there is nobody trying. Chasing would not be nearly as much fun if results were guaranteed!

I will admit that my antenna system is not optimal for the higher bands, a 40m long doublet satisfies my interest in the lower bands, 160 - 40m, but has plenty of nulls on the higher bands!

I have to weigh in and disagree with your comment on DX stations. I’m very interested in DX stations. The luckiest I got was two NA chasers at the end of Mar up on 17m. I was over the moon, not only because I was struggling to get four QSO’s but they were the furthest I ever got using a Bandspringer and my TX-500. They made up for me not getting the bonus points (huge error on my part believing the winter season ended 31 Mar, doh!) I had been banking on. I would love to get further and would seek every opportunity to do so.


I usually start on 20m, because that is the band my usual antenna (vertical) is cut for. However, I always give 15m a shot because it is my favorite band. I do work some DX – worked my first JA recently, and get a few Europeans and the ever intrepid (and loud) F4WBN.

I try to work as my contacts as I can, and once I’m spotted I try to stay on frequency for around 10 minutes even if no one is answering. Lately I’ve been adding 10m to my activations.

For now, however, I’m not activating until Fall when the ticks go away. . .

73, Jim KK0U


Hi Tobia!
Be patient! But don’t stop trying. In the high bands such as 28 and 24MHz there are very short openings that if you are lucky to find them you can get more than one surprise. Try activations at different times. If you have possibilities to point your antenna to different points, do it.
Look at this capture, on March 4 in my alert I put that I was going to activate from 7 to 28MHz and from USA they chased me on all bands except 7 and 14MHz (the signals on 24 and 28 were incredibly strong!)
In recent times I would advise you to go out more on 21 and 18MHz.
Good luck in your activations!
73 de JP3PPL


Hi Hans!
It’s like it had to be said and it was said.
In my experience I can tell you ¨Yes¨ and ¨No¨
I can understand that for many activators in NA and EU, local contacts or close entities could be enough, but not for NA and EU chasers. In my activations at sunset during 2021 I have had pile-ups from Europe and several times many activators from Europe have told me that they tried to do an S2S with me but it was impossible for them precisely because of the noise around them.
This year the conditions between EU and AS were not the best, but I assure you that there are many Europeans (chasers and activators) who point to these latitudes with the intention of having a QSO.
And if you take a look at the logs of the JA activators that we operate in HF, you can confirm that not only we have been chased by EU chasers but that there are many S2S between JA and USA.
Good luck in your new activations and be patient that time will give you revenge.
73 de JP3PPL


Hello all,

Of course I was using some hyperbole and generalizations, just to be a little teasing, but comparing it to rowlocks (@mm0fmf) … Apologies if I ruffled some feathers.

I know there are lots of reasons for each and every activator to stick to one band, be it the weather, the radio or the antenna (or snakes, like my last activation). So when I look at SOTAwatch I take that into account. But on the other hand, I also don’t see much intention to work the higher bands. If I take a look at this weeks alerts on SOTAwatch I see mostly 40 and 20m, some 17m, but only a few 15m/10m alerts and then mostly from NA and JA. And when I look at logs from the more active activators from G and GM I don’t see much if any activity higher than 20m. W6 for example is a bit better with some 15m activity. To be clear, I’m not blaming anyone here, nor pointing fingers, simply making an observation.

As a DX chaser I rely on these higher bands, so if nobody activates them I can’t chase anything. If you are interested in DX then you have to activate 17m and up. The bands are open, 10m is doing great lately, so let’s get going on that band.

I really like the suggestion to start your activation on the higher bands and then slowly working down. I will certainly do that next time, starting with 10m. Although…the Es season is upon us here in the northern hemisphere, so maybe start with 6m instead. Hmmmm…


Amen. I had a summit to summit yesterday with EA3AVV from the US west coast, a distance of nearly 10,000 km, on 17m CW. I was running 10 watts. I was also chased by PA1CC.



At least as far as 10m, Bill, WJ5O, has a regularly updated 10m beacon list at:


The list covers 10m beacons in NA, SA, Europe, Australia, and some others, including the NCDXF coordinated 10m beacons on 28.200. He lists beacon call, freq, location, power, etc. for each 10m beacon.

I run a 5W 10m beacon to a plain attic dipole, and in the last few days it’s been reported on DX Summit by F8IJV and F4CXO ( thanks guys!). Looks like 10m has cranked up quite a bit, as my beacon setup isn’t exactly elaborate or a flamethrower.

Just another way to tell if 10m is open, and to where. And hopefully somebody will be on the air in that area. And if 10m is open, hopefully 12, 15, 17 etc. will be open.

I also run a 6m beacon on 50.073 at 5W to an attic dipole, but don’t think it’ll get across the pond. If 6m opens that good I’ll most likely be at work.

Mike, N4VBV

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Congrats on the S2S!! Yes, Ton PA1CC has a great station, hasn’t he?

Hope to have an S2S with you one day as well.

I’d love to know how you all do it - those that are reporting regular QSOs above 20m.

If I have the radio on and can see spots I check out all SOTA, POTA and WWFF DX SSB spots on 20,15,17 and 12 (neither my HS not my portable antennea tune on 10m).

My SOTA chaser log from 2021-2 tells the story:

160m 80m 40m 30m 20m 17m 15m 12m
0 9 82 0 76 4 1 0
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So where are all these >20m spots to chase anyway? On SSB at least?

Hi there
For what it’s worth for anybody, here is my basic SOTA activator’s philosophy: I start with 20m, then I’ll switch to 40m. By this time I usually have many more than 4 QSOs. After that comes the most interesting part when I try 17m (if I have the appropriate antenna with me) and 10m or/and 15m. On 17m I have already managed some DX, even S2S, across the Atlantic. These were absolute highlights for me. On 10m so far my QSOs were mostly within Europe or HB. But I definitely look forward to even better band conditions and to my first real DX QSO on 10m or 15m.
So I do care about DX, and each DX QSO from a summit is a real highlight for me, particularly as I only do SSB on HF.
73, Fritz


Hi Hans,
My interpretation of the current situation is that while the majority of SOTA activators are in Europe and the US and for the last 3 years plus, the only bands that have been open other than for local contacts have been 40, 30 (CW/Dig only in ITU R1) and 20m, it is taking time for activators to realise that the higher bands are starting to open up again.

That is why this thread on the Reflector is so valuable. It gets people thinking about using 17, 15, 12 and 10m. Those who were activating back before 2015 will be getting the old antennas and possibly rigs out for these bands while others will be experimenting with new antennas for the higher bands.

It’ll still be a while until the upper bands are reliably open at certain times of day, so at the moment, it’s the more adventurous who are starting to try the higher bands. Interestingly, at times, propagation on 17m can actually be better than on 20m AND it has the advantage of less QRM from the QRO and contest stations. OK, there are also some QRO stations on 17m but a lot less than on 20m.

The advantage of the higher bands for an activator is that the antenna size is reduced as you go up in frequency and indeed rather than a simple resonant dipole, vertical or sloper, antennas with some gain become more practical. The Moxon on 10 metres or phased verticals can give some gain at the activator’s end rather than relying on the gain from the chasers beam antenna.

It’ll be interesting to see what comes along. Gain is one thing but sometimes directivity is not your friend when looking for contacts from a summit so I can see a lot of stations adding new links into their linked dipoles (as I have) to be able to operate on the higher bands as they start to open more regularly.

Perhaps until conditions do improve, we might have a “high-bands activation week” where operation on 17,15,12 or 10m is promoted within our community. A real opportunity for all to test both old and new antennas and radios out on these higher HF bands - what do y’all think?

73 Ed.


There’s a lot to be said for reviving the old 12m challenge. The argument against was that it unbalanced the pattern of activity, but right now it is unbalanced anyway.

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12 challenge, I am in.


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Make it a “Ten to Fifteen” or a “Six to Twelve” multi-band one, and you’d be excluding fewer people. (But there’s already a challenge running at present.)

Yeah, it did, rather. Looking back at my chaser band use…


I’ve just alerted for GW/NW-073 on 15m SSB and FT8 (would prefer ssb contacts!). Im not sure if the band will be open to anywhere but chase me if you can.
I’m not sure if there’s phone or aprs coverage, but I’ll self spot if i can.

This assunes I don’t get followed to the summit by a spaniel who just wants to play.

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I am getting back out to West Texas in August after a hiatus due to house building and property improvements. Running VOACAP shows 15 meter and 12 meter propagation excellent into EU and later across the US. Asia looks very difficult. 10 even looks pretty decent. For those higher bands I have to pack a heavy radio and battery but I would like to branch out from 40-30-20. 15 meters was good for me last year but the year before not except for field day.

Is there a frequency range operators are congregating at for SOTA for 15, 12, 10 cw and ssb? I am building a new linked vertical 10-20 and look forward to trying new bands (but not packing the weight).


Most CW SOTA takes place close to (but preferably not on) the QRP COA for that band. I very rarely do SSB so I can’t answer for that.

SSB is whereever you can find a free frequency and be prepared to move when a QRO station starts calling CQ without checking that the frequency was clear or ignoring you when you say it is in use. There are QRP frequencies for SSB as well, but they are rarely available for use. Often QRO station nets seem to sit on them.

73 Ed.