What band?

The statistics show 7Mhz/40 meter band is the most popular.
Why do you think that is?
I can understand the higher HF bands not being popular as they are not open too often.
40 meters is a big antenna to put up.
20 meter antenna is a manageable size and the band is open regularly.

In reply to KB1NFC:

SOTA started in Europe and the vast majority of activators and chasers are still within reliable 40m range of each other. A 40m dipole is not very large on an open hilltop either. In fact using a 7m pole, a 40m dipole and 20m dipole are the same length - sounds mad but…

…if you are using the antenna to guy the pole you need about 12m length per leg. This can be 10m of wire + 2m cord (40m) or 5m wire and 7m cord (20m). Thus in reality in this configuration (which is common) there is very little difference in what you carry between 20m and 40m if you use a dipole.

40m CW is super reliable for activations over here!



In reply to KB1NFC:

If band conditions are not bad (lets say normal average) then I usually get more contacts on 40m. (all my activations are SSB)

I use a vertical for 40m, and I find that due to my location in OK I manage an average of 900km radius that covers nearly all Europe (G is workable, but normally weak, but really depends on the band conditions) , when I move up to 20m(the vertical becomes a quarter wave ground plane) the range goes beyond 900km I can now work G, EI (55-59), but then lose OK and most of the courtiers surrounding OK).

That’s the reason I always start my activations on 40m, with the exception on contest days where you can’t find any space due to the bands limited width so will just do activations on 20m and maybe 17m.

Darius OK7OK

In reply to KB1NFC:
There is always some chaser monitoring 7032 kHz and the instant pileup is guaranteed. Not so on any other band I have ever tried.
But - as the others mentioned, this applies to Europe. YMMV.
73, Ruda OK2QA

Things would be a bit different if SOTA were more popular with UA and UR hams - which would result in a big boost for 20m. I always try 20 and 17m but contacts are very, very rare :-((( A bit YO, LZ, UR, pity. My preferred band timewise is 30m but it has beaten 40m only once in qso number during an activation and reached par once. Even for Es on 12/10m the radius may be too big for the main activity centers - pity again as I would like to enjoy those sigs from a summit.
And only really open 10m would allow for more EU-W-contacts.
73, Chris
(antenna 2x8m doublet always finding a good place on pole or tree, be it stretched, invV or InvL)

In reply to KB1NFC:

You are in NA

Go 20 for now. 40 if you can.

In reply to KB1NFC:


My last activation from OH/JS-015 (Pisa 270 m) started from 20 m (52 QSOs). Then I moved to 30 m (1 QSO), 40 m (2 QSOs) and 17 m (1 QSO). Finland is kind of “DX” from central Europe and 20 m works well at that distance during day time. All the bands 40 m - 17 m were open, but the spotting and pile-up took place on 20 m only (no self spotting from me though I am sending position packets).

The HamQTH has a nice tool to see the predicted propagation frequencies. See for example

→ CONDX prediction

73, Jaakko OH7BF/F5VGL

In reply to KB1NFC:

Two ideas:

20 meters has been more successful for me, a relative newcomer to SOTA in the US. I’m liking 40 meters lately for a few other reasons, mostly that it’s hard to reach my local ham friends on 20 meters. Also, 20 has also been very noisy for me recently, for whatever reason.

Look into the Buddistik. It’s a vertical with an elevated counterpoise, and swappable coils for coverage across 60, 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12, and 10. I’ve even gotten mine to work on 6. It is quick to set up and lightweight / compact for backpacking. I built my own, and it was a fun project. It works great!

Then there’s the KISS solution: 40 meter dipole, tuner, and either the painter’s / fishing pole mentioned above, or a length of nylon string for throwing over a tree limb. (Lots of trees on summits here in PA…) I have a Wrist Rocket to help, but honestly, I’ve never needed it. Just tie a rock or a hefty stick to the nylon, and toss it good and hard.

Hoist the antenna way up and you are set for DX. Lower it and you can reach your local friends. Yes, I like 20 meters better, but raising / lowering the 40 meter dipole might give a little more flexibility. Plus you can always work other bands with the tuner.

If you alert to SOTAWatch and NASOTA, people will find you. Spotters and Activators are a great bunch of people!

Good luck and 73,


In reply to KB1NFC:

I think your location has a lot to do with the band you choose to activate on. As mentioned SOTA started in Europe, originally in the UK & in the early days 2m FM using a simple handheld was very popular. Certain parts of the UK have the advantage of being quite hilly, with lots of summits, but also within easy range of large population areas.

AS HF use became more popular, 40m bacme the band of choice as for those in mid EU latitudes it is the band that is generally open (as opposed to 20m further south). 40m also has the advantage of occasionally opening up for NVIS, whivch it does more often as we move towards Solar maximum. This allows QSO’s from any distance from where you are, to 1000 kM plus with no real difference in signals.

As TX power / duration is limited by what you can carry, CW with its obvious benefits for QRP use became very popular. This coupled with the civerage affored by 40m in Europe is one simple reason why 7032KHz is practically a SOTA calling frequency over here.

Another possible reason, is that in the early days, an activator may well prefer QSO’s with stations speaking their own language, as having to explain SOTA to a station who may not speak the same language as yourself could be seen as quite an additional challenge, especially if you are sat in bad weather on top of a remote mountain.

In Europe, there are many different national languages spoken, any of which you will hear within the normal range of 20m.

This is only a thought, as I have always found 99% of Amateur Radio operators to be at least able to communicate at a “tourist” standard in most major languages, with many pretty much fluent in the most commonly used ones.

Of Course, CW offers the advantage that skilled operators can communicate necessary details very quickly, even though they may not speak the same language. Therefore 40m CW is the logical choice for EU.

Some activators like more of a challenge than climbing a hill / mountain & setting up a station involves (they must be mad! Hi!), & may prefer to try their own choice of band or mode. I have to admit, I do fall into this category somewhat, as I do like to activate on 160m when possible, although my favoured HF band has so far been 60m, followed by 40m which is now offering similar NVIS properties, although it can get quite busy :wink:

As regards antenna size, a 40m dipole is really pretty small. I have never erected anything smaller than an 80m inverted V, & more recently have taken to erecting a 160m dipole. That seems pretty large, but just wait until we get access to the forthcoming 600m band, then half wave dipoles will big big! Hi!

Below is a video showing my 160m half wave dipole on G/SP-012 on 22nd April last year. A dipole for 600m would be almost 4 times time as long. Hi!

As an activator you should choose your band & mode based on your own preferences. For an activation where radio conditions are uncertain, stick to something you know will work. When conditions permit, then feel free to experiment.

The choice should be up to the activator alone.

Best 73,

Mark G0VOF

I wish more European activators would include a little 20M operating in addition to 40M. Starting around 0900Z, there are plenty of USA chasers watching those 40M daytime EU SOTA spots who would love a contact.

Barry N1EU

In reply to N1EU:

I have just finished my SW-20+. I hope to take it on my SOTA activations this Summer, will be looking for USA contacts - it’s my new mission!

Not sure when I’ll be able to get out on them thar hills though, child number two is due to arrive in June - I think summer might be busy! :slight_smile:


In reply to N1EU:

Operating on one of 20/17/15m is now an important part of my activating simply because there are always stateside chasers waiting for a QSO. Too good a chance to miss. :wink:

Coming back to the original question, you should be careful looking at those figures because they show 10 years logging starting from when there were just a few associations to now with 65 associations. If we were to reset the counts now they would be quite different. For a long time 30m had more QSOs than 20m. The sudden rise in 20m’s popularity is down to 2 things in my view. One is the sun is more active now and 20m QRP is viable when it could be real hard work 5 years ago. Then second is the rise in interest in SOTA in North America. With 20m being popular with US activators and with East Coast US chasers being relatively easy to from EU, the band has seen quite a rapid growth over the last 18months.

Then there is 7.032MHz CW over here. I’ll try and video what is like operating there for those who haven’t experienced it. It really is nothing more than finding somewhere +/- 1kHz and calling CQ SOTA CQ SOTA DE MM0FMF/P and repeating 3 times to get a pileup of chasers. If you haven’t got a pileup after 3 calls either fix your antenna or fix the ionosphere as one of them will be faulty! :slight_smile:


In reply to KB1NFC:
If I was you I’d have a look at the simple inverted vee dipole on a fishing pole arrangement. You can have links along its length for your favourite bands which are a snap to change on the fly. I homebrewed mine, and it’s working really well, no need for a tuner.
When erected my 10, 15, 17, 20, 30 & 40 meter antenna is, well, the same size. I shamelessly copied it from Barry GM4TOE who maybe did the same?

I’ll bet you can get a lot of contacts over there on 20m though and with the cycle where it is now, might be all you really need. Maybe a move up the bands when you feel the need.

Example: I worked Rich N4EX a while back with a small wonder labs sw+20 and the antenna mentioned above. Having said that, the same day I worked Ken in Edinburgh on 40m with a Rockmite.

There’s so much SOTA and so little time.

In reply to N1EU:
Ask and you shall rx Barry (-:

Tnx fer qso.


In reply to KB1NFC:

I use a vertical antenna for 40 and 20 m … 40m for EA …

20m for Europe and USA … this gives opportunities to everyone.


In reply to KB1NFC:

Inv Vee on a crappie pole: cheap cheap and effective

I made myself two HB yo yo vee. Two camping laudry reels filled with 33 feet wire. I shortened the lenght to the desired band with the reel. Easy, cheap, effective, light.

Fed with balanced line, works great.

In reply to VA2SG:

Hello all,

Perhaps the most effective, cheap and lightweight antenna you can make for SOTA or any type of portable HF operation.

Tried and tested and copied by many SOTA activators across the UK


Works a treat, no ATU needed and you can use the antenna as 2 guy wires!

73 all

Matt G8XYJ

In reply to KB1NFC:

From my own observations, and at this point of the sun spot cycle (and time of year), 40m has been the most consistent for short to medium range contacts; for G stations this means fairly reliable intra-G and near Europe.

20m has been good for contacts in the medium range; which for me covers eastern Europe and southern Spain and France.

17m has been very hit and miss as it suffers badly when ever there are solar flares, which also depresses most of the bands while they are occurring.

During activations (I have only done a few this year so far), the far east, (Japan, China, Taiwan) have made an occasional appearance in my logs during the mornings and USA and Canada in the late afternoons on both 20 and 17m when propagation is favourable.

60m has been suffering from daytime absorption making low power activations difficult for some activators, 80m has been even worse; but this always happens during the summer months

Not tried 15/12 or 10m this year as the bands are very unreliable at the moment and with my limited time on the summits not viable.

I only activate ssb and to lift my signals a little I use a small amplifier providing around 25 to 35W.

Antenna wise I only use verticals on 40m and up; either a full ¼ wave ground plane on 40m (9.5m-ish long) which I load to become ½ on 20m and 5/8 on 17m or ¼ wave ground planes on 20/17/15 or 10m (the latter I took to the USA last year).

The problem with any low strung horizontal antenna is that they produce a pattern with the majority of the signal radiated perpendicular to the ground; good for NVIS on 80/60/or 40m, not ideal for medium to long range contacts on 20m (and up) where low angle radiation is preferred which is best obtained from a vertical antenna.


In reply to G6WRW:

The problem with any low strung horizontal antenna is that they
produce a pattern with the majority of the signal radiated
perpendicular to the ground; good for NVIS on 80/60/or 40m, not ideal
for medium to long range contacts on 20m (and up) where low angle
radiation is preferred which is best obtained from a vertical antenna.

This is true for a horizontal antenna hung over flat ground. But often it is possible on a summit to hang the antenna adjacent to a downward slope, and this will significantly increase the lower angle radiation.

Greatly appreciate this thread and everyone’s contributions!

Barry N1EU

In reply to N1EU:

But then you potentially limit the direction you are able to work as the pattern could be biased away from the slope of the hill. Fine if it’s in the direction you want your signals to go but why mess with a dipole when a vertical is so much easier to set-up?

I have used a dipole on a peaky summit and didn’t really find that the slope made much difference to where the contacts came from.



On Y Lliwedd (G/NW-008) with Snowdon (G/NW-001) in the background

Next time I’ll activate it with verticals.


BTW the antenna is a full sized 40/60m fan dipole