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Using 2M FM for Activations


These are the three thoughts that occur whenever a fell runner passes me on an ascent:

  1. ¡ ¡ «« ¿¿?? » » !!
  2. Must be mad.
  3. Must be mad to run up here without a pack full of stuff to survive in case of injury / sudden change in WX

Carrying a VX7 seems eminently sensible! :slightly_smiling_face:

I wonder if the ultra-light carbon fibre fishing rods from Chinese Ebay sellers are worth considering, as antenna support or even radiator? They can be really small and light. :fishing_pole_and_fish:


The northern sporadic E season starts soon. When 50.1 - 50.5 is a mass of strong SSB signals (it will be QRM city, you won’t resolve them but you can’t miss them!) it is worth checking out the FM simplex channels between 51.41 and 51.59 but you will often find very strong DX FM signals also above 50.40. Hit on one of the powerful multi-hop Es openings in May/June and you could bag several countries in as many minutes with just a few watts to a dipole! Even transatlantic is possible although that path often only opens in the late evening. Of course, SSB is the way to go - in my first sporadic E season, using my FT817 and a wire antenna, I worked 34 DXCC entities - but failed with a lot more!:unamused:


I was thinking that this is drifting off topic - but there is a link, I think!

6m is a potential “crossover” band, in that many modern HF radios include 6m, and Handies are also freely available with 6m FM.

So, this is where staunch HF operators can work the staunch VHF operators without too much compromise :smile:


Also when the Es gets really intense on six, with short skip showing up, first 4 metres and then 2 metres suddenly opens up with astoundingly strong signals from Mediterranean countries. I think a big Es opening on 2 metres is one of the most thrilling propagation events on VHF, approached only by a major auroral opening!


I have a delta loop for 6m, which is a pain to erect in a windy day and a home made dipole that covers 6m and 4m and breaks down into its own mini boom and is only about 200mm long when packed. Works well but as you say you need someone to talk to.
Only 6 QSO’s on 6m and one was to Italy but I think that was with the delta loop and 5 watts from the FT817.


Indeed. I got my start in SOTA using 2m, and I still use it in addition to (or sometimes as a backup to) HF. One of my most memorable early activations was Mount Whitney (W6/SN-001). That’s a 22-mile (35.5km) round trip with 6000+ feet (1829m) of elevation gain. I made contacts over 90 miles (145km) using a 2-meter HT. I did this as a single-day, trail-running effort, so there was no way I was going to bring an HF rig with me at the time (I didn’t yet know morse).

Whenever I do 2 meters (or any band, for that matter), I self-spot if I am able.

If you don’t want to see spots for 2 meters, I recommend using filtering. One really great app for receiving SOTA notifications is HamAlert. What a great app! You can configure it pretty much any way you like, including filtering by band/mode, and you can choose where the notifications go (phone app, sms, email, etc). It’s also quite good for other alerts (DX, etc.).



Different strokes for different folks.
My first Chase was an operator on a peak 90 miles away. It wasn’t even Summit-to-summit. Get that?
I enjoy the chase and learning the limits of my radio. It makes me a better operator. Helping each other out, be it chasing mountain goats or Wilderness protocol, it’s all a part of Radio.
What’s really SILLY is finding a radio length that is too long.
Qualified operators on all bands, you just have to find them.


When I made my initial post, I failed to consider the international audience of this reflector. I certainly am not against 2M FM activations per se but I see its serious limitations in an area the size of the United States. By comparison, the UK is about the size of the US state of New Jersey. In an area that size I can see that 2M FM would work and does work exceedingly well for activations. If most of the US stations focused on 2M FM activations, I doubt that I would have a dozen chaser points. With today’s poor propagation, sometimes even 20M HF isn’t long enough for me here in North Carolina (east coast) to contact stations on the US west coast. I am at least a 3 hour drive from most of the summits here in the W4C association so 2M FM doesn’t work for me and for many other local chasers. On the flip side, stations on W4C, W4V, W4T and even W4G summits are too long a skip on 20M and frequently even on 40M HF. So we encourage activators in out area to try operating on 80 or 60M. I’ve received many good suggestions in your responses including filtering out 2M alerts. It still bothers me that such a relatively small percentage of UK activators get on the upper hf bands (20M and above) which would give me a shot at them. However, I can now see that if they chose to use hf, then they would have to use 80M or 60M to contact their fellow countrymen. Many years ago (I’m an old guy), I used a 2M FM handitalkie on various mountaintops to work through repeaters - simplex wasn’t viable and the concept of SOTA didn’t exist so I can appreciate where you’re coming from. I eagerly await the return of good hf propagation when SOTA will take a much more international flavor. Some final comments - CW is my personal preference for activations but I carry a microphone and will use it if requested or time allows. As someone pointed out, around 50% of US amateurs have Technician licenses and have never learned CW. It was required for a license when I entered the hobby but it is no longer required for any US amateur license. I would guess that at least half of the stations I chase are on SSB. I am starting to play with the digital modes such as FT8 and maybe one day will try them from a summit. I still haven’t operated on 6M but hope to very soon. For those whom I offended, I am sorry. If you are ever in North Carolina, I would love to have you join me on a summit and you can bring along your 2M HT if you choose. 73 de Derek, WF4I


Uk 93000 square miles
NJ 9000 square miles.

Vhf is very often quiet up here in northern GM :pensive:


Why would you be irritated at what someone else does that does not affect you. Do you want to exclude those who can’t afford the equipment that you can or those who don’t hold the license class you do. SOTA is for everyone even those who hold Technician Licenses. The various bands have a purpose. Often I can not hear activators on HF but can work them on 2 meters. I have worked many activators 100 miles away and more on 2 meter FM. If you are in the skip zone 2 meters is the band of choice and the only choice for the Tech and those who can’t afford another portable rig. Lets not exclude some because we are irritated to see a spot we don’t like. That is not in the spirit of Amateur Radio.



I might take you up on that someday. :slight_smile:

I’ve been thinking of putting together an 80m end-fed antenna SOTA summits where I think I could make it work (and where I have the time). Like you point out, even 40m is sometimes too long. In my case, my “fellow countrymen” I’d like to reach are people back in the SF Bay Area, when I’m not line-of-sight. Fourty meters often works for other areas of California, since it’s so huge (bigger than UK!).

Hope to get you into my log one of these days!




well put. You have acknowledged the positions taken by others and extended the hand of friendship to all. Very well done.

Wish I could take up your offer, unlikely but I hope many do.

Andrew VK1DA/vk2uh


Hi Derek, I regularly use 20m and love getting DX contacts from outside Europe. You’ll always be welcome to call me if you can hear me.
In fact I welcome all contacts so will generally also be on 40 & 2m too.


From my personal experience, my first dozen or so summits were VHF/UHF only because I did not own a HF radio yet. I found out a few things along the way doing this: you need to be close to a population center to get enough contacts on simplex, your summit also needs to be high enough if you are to cover any distance over 30 miles with an HT, local SOTA chasers will appreciate that you have 2m since they won’t be able to hear you on the HF bands. I also maxed out my potential on VHF before going to HF with a 50 Watt VHF radio with a Yagi mounted on a 25 foot pole.
Most of my activations are local so I hope to catch someone using 2m so I can get that SOTA complete. And it is a blast to operate VHF from any mountain/ hill top.
I think it is fine for a beginner to use what they have and keep it simple. They can build on that as they get more experience activating. I continue to challenge myself with what I can do from a summit, recently adding 75m. My typical log is now around 40 contacts on 5 bands with 2 different modes and am looking to add 160m and digital this year.
BTW, 6m FM is a blast, like 2m FM on steroids!



I activate SOTA only with VHF and higher for two reasons: 1) because it is a challenge and 2) because Height Above Average Terrain has a more pronounced effect above 50 MHz.
I’d really like to be working more stations on 2m cw/ssb but the reality is I have to use 2m fm a lot due to the popularity of the mode.

Pro Tip: Don’t criticize other activators’ choice of band/mode. No good will come from it.


I am trying to teach ‘Grandma to suck eggs’ as it would appear to the FM rubber duck brigade know nothing about horizontal polarisation! Now take note Grandma.
The little sticky up thing on you hand held radio also quite amazingly works very when the whole radio is laid on its side! ergo, horizontal polarisation! aligned at 180 degrees to the station you wish to contact further away than the ones in the valley bottom, quite surprising results can be obtained.
Why not give it a try on your next outing and if I am around I am willing to demonstrate, within a reasonable distance that is, not half way around the globe!
Yours Horizontally
Don [G0NES]


Roger that.
I’m a chaser on 2M.75 uniques summits from my front door and more to come.
I don’t know what anyone would use HF…but then I don’t have the equipment to enjoy that side of the hobby.
Funny story about that: some Goats recent made a summit with out carrying a 2M. Doesn’t bother me at all. I figure Winter Rules are in effect, which means don’t put your self in danger trying to carry summer weight No good comes from slipping and damaging half your equipment.
Each operator carries what suit their interest and everyone lights up the coax!
Safe travels.


A 2M HT and MFJ 5/8th wave whip saved an activation for me last week when I packed a dead battery for my KX2. The greatest distance QSO was only about 45miles… but it was much more exciting wondering if I would make 4 QSO’s on FM simplex than with the HF rig.
IMO It very much depends where you are in the US as to the effectiveness of 2m activation. I operated a couple of peaks in CO and on one occasion made a 140+ mile qso which is a record for me!
If I could be assured of an audience I would lug the FT857 into the woods for 2m SBB / CW contacts too.
In many states I would expect that with a 4ele Arrow antenna and an MFJ 5/8th whip, it would be possible to to make your four and then go play HF.

Richard // N2GBR

Does WSPR count for SOTA activation?

My case may be an extreme one:

Licensed in 1979 (CEPT 1) I did not do a single HF QSO till now. I am not interested in HF but love V/UHF FM and ARoIP contacts. I prefer local chatting on simplex channels AND via terrestrial repeaters (latter not valid for SOTA). That is why most of my activations do not qualify for SOTA (4 QSOs without the help of terrestrial repeaters).

Who cares? Not me! As I expressed some weeks ago SOTA is a challenge for me - not a competition!


I kinda like to think of SOTA as inclusive, and not exclusive. When I pack in for an activation I try to factor in a 2 meter round as I want to make sure those that don’t have HF privileges (or a radio) are included in the event. Our biggest source of new participants come from the Technician Class license, this I try to do my part to include them. Likewise, if I see a 2-meter activation outside of my range it’s not a big deal. But if I think they might be in range I run out to the car (antenna redistricted community) and give em a try.

The thought of putting up an 80 meter antenna on a Southern California peak boggles the mind. The part that didn’t get trampled under foot would be tangled in a kite string while the Ranger is yelling in my ear…

SOTA is too much fun to worry about small details… 73

KG6LI - Mark