Why are so few using /P or "portable"?

I’m an old ham but new to SOTA, so be gentle with me …

How come so few SOTA activators are using the portable designator on air?

In accordance with the SOTA rules, I presume activators are all using portable gear running on batteries, so I’d have thought virtually everyone would be /P. Even if it is not required by some licenses, I doubt it is prohibited either. /P typically suggests interesting temporary installations and low power transmitters, an attractive combination for DXers as well as SOTA chasers using DXcluster spots … meaning more QSOs. Is there a downside?

Gary ZL2iFB

Probably just personal preference?


It’s a little bit longer to send in CW???

It is good practice though, and should be adopted IMHO, although strictly in the eyes of the law, I don’t know if it is required!

David, VK2NU

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Each jurisdiction is different.

In any case, it doesn’t matter what I use on air, I’ll be logged by chasers as a mix of VK3ARR or VK3ARR/P. If they can’t seem to care, there’s no incentive for me to either.


A minority of SOTA activators sign /P. Most of the leading activators in the USA don’t send /P. When you are activating and call CQ SOTA, it’s obvious that you are portable - that is part of the SOTA rules.

In general, it’s good to save time during activations. This is true both for CW and phone. The piles are large, and it takes a while to make contacts with all the chasers. Signing /P adds characters, and with the QSB and weak signals, more characters mean more errors - and more chasers asking for repeats, etc.

There are times on summits when threatening weather, cold wind, or other adverse factors demand speed and efficiency.

Most of the regular chasers learn the habits of the regular activators, so signing /P seems like extra stuff. Many of us also eliminate:

  1. Extra punctuation, such as in the SOTA Ref: W0C/FR-063 becomes W0C FR 063, etc.
  2. Commas, periods, etc.
  3. “UR RST IS”
  4. “QTH IS”
  5. “RIG HR IS”
  6. Extra sending of calls and other useless info

The better chasers also keep things short and efficient, with the result that the piles run more efficiently, and more chasers get more points!

Many activators exchange a few informative words about what they have experienced, especially with other activators, so this adds a personal touch. Sometimes we tell the chasers why we’re having difficulty, or request a spot, etc.

I have no problem with other activators who sign /P. It’s personal preference. Some activators regularly operate from home, mobile, or portable, and the /M or /P makes it clear what their situation is.




I try to keep it simple for my cw chasers as some of them only know enough cw to do a qso swap. Imagine the extra pressure put on them to try to send the oblique stroke then a P, I have experienced this hurdle of course over my time activating summits. All good fun of course and part of it, we had this discussion several years ago the same question was asked. Alert before I go out Spot when I get on the summit if possible call cq SOTA from the summit its pretty obvious I am portable. That’s my view on this topic don’t know if I have read it anywhere as a rule of SOTA. I may be corrected the /P rule only applies if you are away from your registered station address with ACMA in VK for more than 1 month you might need to notify them and sign /P.
Have’nt read the LCD since studying in 1980 so probably bit behind the times.
Did read some of the rules of SOTA a while ago.
ian vk5cz …

Ok, sometimes it’s laborious: e.g. " hb9/dl6gca/p "
But it’s probably a regional specialty. In Europe, I suppose that was different.
Especially in cw: … a call with " /p " signals a s2s qso!

73 Armin

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OK … but it seems to me to be more of a group thing among SOTA ops.

Yes, it’s 2 extra characters or 3 extra syllables … but I still think there are advantages, particularly the increased chance of catching the ears & eyes then working hams who are not already into SOTA.

Logging accuracy is a separate issue. At the moment, I’m more interested in why so few send /P at all.

Hi George. It’s obvious for other SOTA ops but not necessarily for general DXers.

I agree about keeping things tight by not sending superfluous info: I’m just not convinced (yet!) that /P is superfluous.

OK, so some CW ops can’t cope with /P, I get it - although if more people sent it, they’d soon catch on!

On SSB, who wouldn’t understand “portable” or “stroke portable” or “stroke pee” (or even “stroke peak”!)?

I just checked the NZ license conditions: I can’t find any specific reference to portable or mobile operating but maybe I’m just not looking hard enough! In the UK, there used to be explicit rules about /P and /M, plus /A (alternative address) which I think were all intended so that if an operator was causing problems (e.g. interfering with emergency services radios), they could be contacted by the authorities and told to QRT. Perhaps that’s no longer as necessary, although I wouldn’t be surprised to learn of mutual interference on peaks with fixed radio masts.

Yes Armin, it’s reasonable for people to assume that anyone using a compound/CEPT call is travelling, so maybe then /P isn’t needed. As to S2S, that’s fairly obvious if both parties are signing /P, but then if they revert to no /P, what are we supposed to log: with or without /P? It’s inconsistent.

This is the first time ZL2IFB has posted — let’s welcome them to our community!
Come on folks lets all agree to disagree and do what come natural be it / P or not / P.
Getting access to and hiking to summits is much harder than this.
Nice to meet you Gary be listening for you /P

I remember when i got my ticket license in 1986.
Rules said
“when you used your station at home, you have to cq with F5LKW.
When you aren’t at home you have to send F5LKW/P, F5LKW/M, F5LKW/MM”
73 Roger

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For me I would say log my call sign as given. I’m in the "its obvious so I rarely say I am portable " camp.
Thanks for the chases last week, was good to get some ZL’s in the log!

DAH-DIDI-DAH-DIT DI-DAH-DAH-DIT really stands out well using CW QRP in marginal conditions, which is why I will continue to send it when activating summits.

I will be sending this adjunct to my callsign at least a thousand times over the next 8 days in the Czech Republic & Austria!

73 Phil


Thanks for the welcome vk5cz. I’m not bothered in the slightest about people disagreeing with me here on the forum - it’s interesting to hear different opinions and learn more about SOTA.

You’re welcome Compton. Thanks for being there!

I always try to log whatever callsign the other guy sends, in full … but if he’s sending inconsistently both with and without a suffix, I’m stuck as to which to log, especially if he hasn’t given his call during our QSO (as happens often in pileups).

Regional variations. Virtually all activators here in Europe sign /P, even though it is largely no more mandatory than it is in the US or Southern Hemisphere.

I guess people, naturally, tend to do what is “normal” for their location.