Use of remote controlled transmitter to chase SOTA activators

I know an activator cannot use a repeater to make a SOTA contact, but what about someone using a remotely located TRX? I don’t think this will ever be an activator (but who knows in the future - summit located, solar powered SDRs!), rather a chaser. Over the last couple of months I have heard an US station chasing EU SOTA activators. The first time, I said CRIKEY he must have a good antenna, but when it occurred more times and at each time with no other NA stations calling and the propagation reports saying it was the wrong time of day in some cases, I start to believe that he is using a remote station. He mentoned on one call being in Birmingham, but his FCC registered address doesn’t put that call in Alabama at all, so maybe what he meant to say was that his station is in Birmingham, England? Apart from the fact that, if he’s using a remote station in the UK, without prefixing his call with M/xxxx he is breaking the law, is this method of chasing OK within the rules of SOTA? As there are worldwide networks of WEBSDR systems (some with TX if you pay), it would become relatively easy to rack up associations and indeed continents by using these remote stations.

73 Ed DD5LP.

I have heard this station many a time and wondered IF ??
On 20 and 15m mainly heard working Sota.



Even if he did prefix, I cannot think what regulation would permit him to do it. I believe CEPT rules only permit temporary use by visitors, not remote operation in a foreign country.

But this is getting dangerously close to making an accusation of illegal operation on very scant evidence, so let’s be careful here.

There’s the more general question, which is probably what you were intending to ask, of whether legal remote operation would be valid for SOTA. I think this has been discussed before and not fully settled. My personal view is that if you have a remote station which is your own property for your own exclusive use, it should be valid, but use of a public facility such as an internet receiver should not be. But there are grey areas in between which make the whole thing a bit of a nightmare.

Martyn M1MAJ

No, if he was operating a remote rig here I’m sure I would be aware of it!

The matter has been discussed before, if you click on the magnifying glass symbol in the top right hand corner and type in key words you can access the various discussions. IIRC the consensus was that a private remote station might be OK but a publicly accessible remote station should be regarded as a repeater and is forbidden in rule 3.8.4.

I am sure that the last word on the topic has not yet been spoken!


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There are more than two Birminghams, of course.

I don’t see why operating a station remotely should be a problem, it is still an exchange of information via amateur radio bands, the only difference is one of the operators is not near the antenna. IF the remote operated station identifies itself properly, it shouldn’t be a moral or legal issue; this means an US amateur operating an UK station must either use the UK station’s callsign or the UK prefix before the US call. Of course some people will cheat, there are always a few of those in any group, but a big cheat can be easily spotted and a small one doesn’t really matter.

And then you might have a US big gun (1.5KW + Yagi) that puts a decent signal in Europe but can’t hear a SOTA’s activator 5W + modest portable antenna, so they use a WebSDR to listen. Technically that doesn’t count as a QSO, but how can you tell for sure ?

Hi Martyn,

That’s a good point with the CEPT being only for physical visitors. The whole idea of using remote TRX may be a grey area. All I am seeking is guidance as to what the SOTA rules state, or whether the use of this technology is against the “Spirit of SOTA”. Which from the replies here, it appears has not been fully clarified, however the guidlines are if owned by the amateur probably OK but if rented (or free) through the Internet not.

I have deliberately not given any name or callsign - and I have used “if” in a few places. It is still possible (but IMHO unlikely) that this is someone with a fantastic station that defies propagation (can I have one too please?).

Andy, I realise you are using your abreviation for “Oh Really” but each time I see it, I can’t help thinking you’re wishing for a holiday in Paris (Orly airport).


The former is legal under the UK licence (if certain conditions are met).

The latter is almost certainly not. The US licence cannot of itself authorise operation outside the FCC’s jurisdiction. The CEPT regulations permit temporary reciprocal operation by visitors but do not permit remote operation.

The callsign issue is bogus and not relevant. There’s no issue from the UK licensing body’s view point of overseas amateurs using internet linked repeaters in the UK and using their “local” call. So you will hear US calls on UK internet linked systems.

The issue is this are remote stations OK? There’s little consensus on the issue between SOTA people or on the MT. The only case where just about everyone has no issue is when the remote station is private and owned by the operator.

Sorry, but I simply can’t imagine that anybody would consider it acceptable if a chaser hopped around the world via the internet, remoting into various stations on different continents, and claiming those QSO’s under a single chaser account. I’m all for remote ham radio, but this specific case demands that some controls be in place for conglomerating QSO’s that physically originate from locations separated by thousands of kms.

Barry N1EU

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I may be wrong here, but I have a vague memory that the USA hasn’t signed up to CEPT but operate a reciprocal arrangement with the UK. This may possibly affect what is permissible.

Re Birminghams: I think there are about twenty of them if we disregard the crater on the Moon, which I suspect is a mis-spelling of a Victorian astronomer called Bermingham! Still, I think that only two of them would be mentioned without further qualification.


I think the criterion should be whether the transmission that the activator receives is directly authorised by the licence that the chaser holds.

A repeater’s transmission isn’t as there’s a separate licence for the repeater - excluded.

Ditto all forms of public internet linking - the transmission is under somebody else’s licence.

A private remote station would be OK - the transmission is authorised by my own licence and I am personally responsible for the technical aspects of the station.

You would need a small exception to permit satellite contacts, but would this “own licence” criterion be a reasonable expression of what is “in the spirit” ?

(Remote receivers are a different matter. You could say that transmitter and receiver should be co-located).


The USA is listed in CEPT recommendation TR 61-01.

Yes, I checked that. The USA is listed as non-CEPT but is also listed as having implemented TR 61-01, I am uncertain as to what that means in terms of the legalities as I believe that we have a reciprocal agreement - whether that means that just the CEPT provisions are included or whether it is CEPT plus other provisions.

I think the only valid reason to have a remote station is to escape local problems such as noise or antenna restrictions, including lack of physical space for antennas, planning restrictions or restrictive covenants etc. I think this is reasonable but should not be extended to multiple stations on different sites. One private remote station within your home Association area and only operated by you is not unreasonable. Spreading them about the world to take advantage of differing propagation would not be “in the spirit”!


I have to agree with Martyn on this - repeaters have their own licence / responsible operator and hence the station coming in via IRLP, Echolink, or any of the digital network is content on the station run under the authority of the repeater manager.

Remote base stations (especially when located outside of ones own country - and hence not just to overcome interference or antenna restrictions), remain a grey area for me. If I were to operate a TX in the US from here in Germany, I don’t think I should just be using my German call. But this is probably not something that the SOTA group should or can rule on - that’s more a question for the IARU/ITU I would suggest.

73 Ed.

There was a discussion of remoting on the NA SOTA reflector recently. Here’s a few points that were made:

  1. The ARRL recently modified their DXCC rules to state "All stations must be contacted from the same DXCC entity. The location of any station shall be defined as the location of the transmitter. And “…all transmitters and receivers must be located within a 500m diameter circle, excluding antennas.” [Sect 1, Subsection 9]

  2. Since it would be very difficult to police stations remoting outside of their home DXCC entity, a new Rule 11 was added that called upon the operator “to play the game ethically” and that “it is never OK to remotely use a station outside of the home DXCC entity to add to the home-entity DXCC totals…” [Section 9, Subsection 11]

IMO, for SOTA purposes, we again have to rely upon the integrity of the SOTA Chaser to make QSOs within “the spirit of the SOTA rules.” Certainly the physical size of NA causes challenges to the same DXCC entity rule of the ARRL, e.g. west coast chasers can remote into a east coast transmitter and make Chaser QSOs that probably would never be possible from their west coast location. BTW, it is very easy to use

Complicating the issue, is there are many Chasers who can ONLY be active via remoting since they live in external antenna, deed-restricted housing. Remoting is becoming very commonplace and affordable.

Egregious, flagrant Chaser violations of the “spirit of SOTA” rule will become apparent and, hopefully, lead to self-policing.


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Just to add some fuel to the fire…

If I use my US extra call to operate a US remote station and contact a SOTA station, it would be perfectly “legal” in that the licence conditions are met. i.e. I can transmit from anywhere I like in the US under that call. The point is that I just have an incredibly long key/microphone cable (that might also have a wireless connection somewhere). I know some people will find that hard to accept but it is a fact… and it is NOT a repeater.

As to whether it is not “within the spirit of SOTA” would depend on how or where I logged that contact wouldn’t it? If they were all logged as my US call (remember I could use that anywhere in the US) and NOT under G0AZS. Is that a problem? I don’t think so…

As for CEPT operation, I agree that would need to be looked at closely. Similarly I find it odd to listen to people using their home call to transmit from remote stations in the US… that is just wrong and misleading for all concerned.

Also, using a remote receiver to overcome local reception difficulties would also be wrong in my view. i.e. remote TX/RX is one thing, remote RX and local TX is different and not “in the spirit…”

73 Marc G0AZS

Hi Marc,
My original question came about as I suspect that a NA station is using a remote TRX in the UK and transmitting using his US call. If he had been transmitting with a UK Advanced level call - I would not have seen anything strange.

73 Ed.

Of course you should always log contacts with the callsign that you actually used. However there is the secondary question of which database account you submit them under, which is a different concept.

The SOTA rules say that all points accrue to the individual regardless of which callsign was used. So I would say that it was perfectly OK to log your US and UK calls under the same account. It’s self-evidently OK if you actually travel to the US, and in my opinion it’s OK if your remote operation used a private link.

Alternatively you could pretend to be two different people and upload the contacts to different database accounts. I’m not convinced that that is totally “in the spirit” but we do know that there are many people who have more than one callsign who choose to keep them separate in the database. As far as I know the MT doesn’t mind people doing that so I think that’s OK too.