What a shambles CW SOTA is becoming

In reply to ON3WAB:
Up to now, I sent report, name, mountain number and setup. You’re right Peter, and I’ll keep doing this.

In reply to ON3WAB & DF9TS:

And if 599 chasers don’t have the time or patience then they should go
somewhere else.

Yes Peter and Gerd, but we must not forget that without chasers, we’ll be very alone on our summits…

73 Alain

In reply to VA2SG:

Hello everybody,
I am not so often on the SOTA as an activator, but did it several times. I must admitt I like to cope with the pile-up, when do we have a chance for it?
But, of course, I agree, it is always pleasure to hear more then just a report, it is no problem to give the name at least. From my experience, when I am on as activator, the pile-up takes about 30 minutes, during that time I usually manage to give points to about 30 to 40 stations. I am trying to work everybody to let them enjoy the new sumitt. And I try to give the real reports, so if you get 599, then it is really so. As I use FT817 without a CW filter, I can hear also few kHz around, it may be both, useful and also disadvantage. But it is a part of the hobby when not all is so easy.
Best regards and take care. 73, Pavel, OK2BMA

You are right Alain, but I think chasers should also think about all the effort that activators make to please the chasers. There’s not only the QSO but the preparation, driving to and from the mountain, the climbing, setting up the station in god knows what weather. It is not always as straight forward as it sounds.


In reply to ON3WAB
Yes Peter, and with a little effort from everybody (not only chasers and activators…) SOTA could be a wonderful world…

73 Alain

Dear All

Thank you to the many of you who are interested in this thread, and who have contributed with many positive ideas to improve the situation which we have created.

I have summarised the ideas for CHASERS below and I will study the messages later and summarise the many helpful ideas that have come in for the activators. Most of these ideas will help whether using CW, SSB or DATA:


Don’t call the activator unless you have to ability to hear him well enough and have the reception quality to hear your callsign and report being sent back to you.

Give your callsign once or twice at most when calling activators then listen.

Use the narrowest bandwidth to listen if there are many stations calling. Yes, good CW filters are expensive (unless you use DSP) but they are worth every penny for this type of work.

Await the response from the activator, if he hasn’t picked out a call or partial call he will call QRZ again, if so call again, again don’t give your call more than twice. (As a SOTA activator I like stations sending callsigns twice on CW myself. I usually get the call first time, the second time is the “writing in the log time” and also insurance in case only a partial call is heard on the first sending of the call. Sending twice also helps the lesser experienced operators, but give them the chance to respond by listening don’t descend to calling over and over again so no one else can hear what is coming from the activators end.

If the activator goes back to a partial call such as HB9 ? Then standby and let the HB9 station call again.

If the activator ask for SPECIFIC call area such as DL - QRZ? Honour his request by standing by.

If you are not sure what is happening wait until you understand what is going on before you call again.

In CW if you can’t break the pile up try calling the activator slightly LF or HF of his frequency, he may hear you.

Monitor the chaser the activator is working and if slightly HF or LF place your other VFO there or use the RIT/CLAR control and call on that frequency next time.

Decide for yourself when the best time is to spot. If the activator is not so experienced and he is busy without a spot then wait until the frequency becomes less busy before you spot.

ALWAYS give way if you hear a /P stations calling the activator to allow a swift S2S QSO to take place.

If the pile up is immense leave it for a while and return later when things may be a little easier, the vast majority of activators will stay on the frequency for 20-30 minutes or even more if busy. Very few activators leave the pile up high and dry unless there is bad weather or a technical failure.

If in CW send at a similar speed to the activator, don’t be a “macho man” by winding the Keyer speed up.

Don’t rely on SOTAWatch to confirm the callsign of the activator and his reference – LISTEN yourself.

Keep your over to a minimum unless the activator wishes to chat. Then you increase the chances of everyone calling making a QSO.

Let’s enjoy it - things haven’t seemed as bad to me over the last day, so let’s be positive and look forward to more SOTA challenges and enjoyment!

Lobby your National Society who were party to the Cavtat IARU meeting when agreement was reached over the new bandplans and the expansion of the 40m band. Get the powers that be to publicise the changes in the bandplan for 40 Metres, especially in the area from 7030KHz-7050KHz so that people wake up to this.

Phil G4OBK

In reply to G4OBK:

Good work Phil - These guidelines should be posted prominently in a dedicated part of the SOTA website. I understand there is more publicity about SOTA coming in the next PW, so there will be some new ops needing to learn the ropes.

I have posted before about the datamode ops not moving up into the expanded band. At my QTH 40M is often obliterated by these signals down to 7030kHz. I will be asking the G-QRP and FISTS clubs of which I am a member to lobby the RSGB (or should that be (Ofcom) to get the new bandplan more widely publicised.


Dear All

Thank you to the many of you who are interested in this thread, and who have contributed with many positive ideas to improve the situation which we have created.

I have summarised the ideas for ACTIVATORS below. Most of these ideas will help whether using CW, SSB or DATA:


Consider using bands other than 40m to start with, especially in CW, unless you want to handle what could be an unruly pile up (Admittedly some of us relish this opportunity). 30m is a good band to start up on as suggested by Gerald G4OIG.

Considering using other frequencies on 40m other than 7032 KHz and spread the SOTA activity out bearing in mind that the Telegraphy section of the band now extends up to 7040 KHz where the DATA section should start. Again, lobby your National Society who were party to the Cavtat IARU meeting when agreement was reached over the new bandplans and the expansion of the 40m band. Get the powers that be to publicise the changes in the bandplan for 40 Metres, especially in the area from 7030KHz-7050KHz so that people wake up to this.

Give your callsign and SOTA Reference regularly in full, at least every five contacts. This prevents chasers sending CALL? REF? etc Once you adopt a rhythm then stay with it.

If you haven’t got a narrow CW filter either buy one and fit it or at least try using a rig with one installed that is owned by someone else to see if it suits you and is worth the extra expense.

If the pile up is large and you cannot read any callsigns reduce the racket by calling by country or by numbers. There are always DL HB9 F and G stations in any SOTA HF pile up so even if you cannot hear anything just call for a prefix and you will have success. Ignore the others who may call out of turn.

Listen slightly HF or LF of your frequency, you may or may not announce this, it is up to you. The savvy chasers who listen will soon realise what you are doing and will be rewarded with a QSO with you. The ones who do not know what they are doing will miss out.

Only self spot or use the Dial a Spot service (via a friend from your mobile) on 40m if you relish the pile up or are struggling to establish contacts or to maybe alert a delay in your expected time or a major frequency change. The same goes for alerts – if you don’t want the pile up then don’t alert your activity. The choice is yours.

Dictate the pace of your activity, it is you that decides whether to have a rag chew, or to make as many contacts as you can in the limited time you have on the summit. The activator IS KING. He is the one who has done all the work and this should be respected.

If you favour S2S QSOs tell the chasers to standby while you listen for /P stations.

Don’t log the people who call you and who obviously cannot hear your signal. Several operators I know from experience do this by looking for the spots and calling blind. The timing of their response is way out and so it is easy to see when they are faking the contact. Give them several chances but don’t log them just to get rid of them if they are obviously faking it.

If you hear a partial call such as HB9 then go back to HB9 - stay in control and ignore anyone else who tries to jump in until your HB9 is logged and the QSO is complete. If you deviate from this pattern the alligators move in when they think they can get away with it and anarchy takes over.

It can be harsh placing unruly callers on a blacklist and not working them or making them wait until the end. If you are confident in coping with the disruption they can cause this is worthy of consideration. It may make them learn a lesson that their tactics do not work!

If it all gets too much on CW or SSB don’t QRT but change bands or modes and start working the chasers again!

Let’s be positive - SOTA is great and the management team, country managers, activators and least not chasers have done a great job in conceiving it.

Phil G4OBK

1 Like

In reply to GI4FLG:

Cheers Ken, well done on the lobbying. I’m writing to Don G3XTT who writes the Radcom HF News. We have to start somewhere. One gets the feeling some folk are burying their heads on the sand about the new bandplan!


In reply to G4OBK:

With regard to the 40 metre bandplan, it would be wise to remember that we are still in the transitional phase, and there are still countries that have not given their amateurs access to 7.1 to 7.2 MHz, so it would be unrealistic to expect those amateurs affected by this to move away from the old bandplan. It isn’t a matter of burying heads in sand, it is a matter of how much right you have to demand sacrifices of the underprivilidged. It would be sensible to be patient until everybody has the same privilidges, after which the new bandplan will naturally take over.


Brian G8ADD

Hi Brian

There is no reference in the 2010 RSGB Operating Manual about any transitional phase. Maybe I missed something… I wonder where that information comes from. I do know that the French authority were slow in allowing operation from 7100-7200 KHz.

The fight to agree an extension for Telegraphy up to 7040 KHz was hard and was won, despite certain interests who were against it partly because they felt newcomers who have no incentive or interest to learn the art of morse, were losing out. In my opinion it is these people who want to forget that the new bandplan exists. it is they who are burying their heads in the sand. The CW enthusiasts got an extra 10 KHz allocation out of 100 KHz which is not a lot to ask, but it’s hard to change peoples habits.

73 de Phil
(also a regular operator of DATA modes with 231 DXCC Countries confirmed)

In reply to GI4FLG:

(or should that be (Ofcom)

With respect, it’s nothing to do with OFCOM. Bandplans are an invention of the IARU regional members and so it’s to those groups you should write.

There’s a lot of inertia in getting people to adopt new bandplans, they’ve been trying to get the 1976 era 2m bandplans adopted up Edinburgh for 33 years with little success :slight_smile:


In reply to G4OBK:
Phil, try and be considerate to the French operators who have been and as far as I know still are limited to the bottom 100 KHz of 40 until their beaurocrats wake up, suddenly their wider band modes are confined to a much smaller space, but here aren’t fewer of them competing for that space. No, you won’t find any reference to transition in the 2010 Operating Manual, but until we all have the same songbook in front of us it will be a de facto transitional phase. It is naturally transitional because some have extended priviledges on 40 in which the new band plan makes sense, and some lack these priviledges and the new band plan is a senseless hardship to them. Give it time and a bit of movement from the beaurocrats and it will sort itself out.


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:
Hello again Brian

It will be interesting to see what the French SOTA Op’s say about the situation, maybe they will bring us up to date. No futher comment from me, but I’ll decide where to operate on 40m CW next time I go out based on the band occupancy/behaviour of the callers at the time. Some of the ideas suggested by Bob F5HTR (who suffered the most harassment recently)in his post are worth trying out I reckon.

73 Phil

In reply to G4OBK:

An excellent set of guidelines Phil, which in my opinion are mostly good radio operating practice anyway. As a very rare CW chaser, & even rarer CW activator (I’m not that confident yet, but it will come), the majority of CW chasing I have done has been on less common SOTA bands such as 160m & 6m, with the odd 80m contact.

I have used 7.032MHz once or twice under favourable conditions to work activators I know will slow down if necessary, & I still get a buzz after a CW QSO as for me they are still very rare. 7.032MHz can become very hectic at times to say the least, & if very skilled CW operators are having problems, then it’s hardly any wonder that lesser skilled CW operators such as myself, tend to avoid 7.032MHz unless absolutely necessary.

I have a good 500Hz Collins filter in my FT897 & a 250Hz filter in my IC725 & of course the FT897 has DSP as well. They do work extremely well, but when many stations call on exactly the same frequency, things can quite easily become totally unreadable, even for skilled CW operators, so sending slightly above or below the activators QRG is a very good idea at busy times.

That, I suppose is another advantage,(or disadvantage)of CW, in that a passband of 500Hz is still sufficient to allow several CW stations through on slightly different frequencies, thereby increasing the chances of all stations being readable. Of course you still need the thing between your ears to select the station you wish to work from the several different pitched stations available.

You are correct in stating that the Activator is King, (Or Queen, so as to not forget our very prolific YL activators :wink: & however they wish to conduct their activation should be entirely up to them. They may well have invested lots of time & effort to reach a particular summit, not to mention the expense sometimes incurred. The summit itself may be very rugged or unfriendly to an experienced climber, let alone someone attempting to establish an amateur radio station. That is without mention of weather conditions, which can vary from the superb sunny weather I enjoyed on Hailstorm Hill a couple of months ago, to the horrendous conditions that some activators have experienced.

I will not call an activator unless I can hear them well enough to exchange all the relevant details over the air, regardless of whether or not I saw the activator spotted on SOTAwatch. If I can’t hear them, I can’t work them, & apart from wishing for a bigger antenna or 300ft tower that’s basically all I can do. I certainly would not call a station I could not hear.

On the whole, an excellent set of guidelines, which not only SOTA activators & chasers should adopt, but that all radio amateurs should bear in mind before transmitting.

As a footnote, I was going to post several more paragraphs, but I was starting to waffle & deviate from the main topic of this thread, so I will post my additional comments on a more appropriate topic, or possibly on a future date.

Thanks & 73,

Mark G0VOF

In reply to G4OBK:

Hi Phil,

It will be interesting to see what the French SOTA Op’s say about the
situation, maybe they will bring us up to date.

We have no news about our 7200 KHz extension… so I’m not sure that data and SSB stations will leave 7035 to 7040 for CW.

73 Alain

In reply to G8ADD:


in the old/new bandplan CW is allowed throughout the band (not just in the exclusive CW segment). No transitional plan (if any exists) would thus need to hold a move slightly up from 7,032 - and distress the French SOTA ops more than they are already - see Alain’s post. We are talking about 3 KHz!

How about a preferred SOTA frequency of 7,035?

Most chasers tend to listen down the band rather than up. Difficult to be noticed without spotting on 7,034 even on busy weekends - my experience. 7,030 works - but disturbs QRP ops.



In reply to DF9TS:

I’m not a CW op, Gerd, but I suspect that if you move to 7.035 at present it will bring you close to those SSTV people that haven’t yet moved, and the transmission characteristics of, say, Hampal would be difficult to cope with. This is why I talk about a “transitional phase”, there are people who have no access yet to the extended band, and there are plenty of people still with rigs that will not allow them to transmit above 7.100 - I certainly know some! I bet there are also plenty of people that have no contact with radio clubs or the IARU who don’t even know that there is a new band plan!

It’s like when the RSGB decreed the end of the geographical bandplan and introduced FM channelisation on 2 metres, there were many AM ops who had no idea what was happening when the change came and had equipment that was not appropriate to the new plan, and this led to many months of conflict.


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G4OBK:
And not just CW, judging by the pileup on GA8OTI/P earlier today.
Guess the GA prefix might have had something to do with it!

73 Graham G4FUJ

In reply to G4FUJ:

Yes indeed, that must be the biggest pileup for any SOTA activation I have heard, & yes it was shambolic at times.

John was 59+20db with me in Blackburn at times, but I didn’t manage to work him!

I’m too polite to call over & over again so after a few well timed calls I left it to those with bigger signals.

Very nice to hear many UK stations being worked too, 40m has been very good for inter-UK working today.


Mark G0VOF