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Wot, no spot?

Today revealed just how much added value there is in the SOTAwatch spotting facility.

After a successful run of 17 contacts on 2m SSB from Calf Top G/NP-022, I decided to move to 70cms SSB and after a few unanswered CQ calls, I thought it wise to self-spot. Unfortunately I had no mobile phone service on the summit, so I was not able to do this. I persevered with 10 minutes of calling on both SSB and CW without making any contacts, despite having alerted that I would be QRV on 432.222MHz.

After this I erected the 30m dipole and put a call out on 10.118MHz, again as alerted. I was immediately answered by OE7PHI quickly followed by SM1CXE with good signals all round. Unfortunately (and this is certainly not a criticism) neither of them spotted me. I had just one more contact on the band, that with Greg DL8NGC who is to my knowledge not a SOTA chaser. After 20 minutes calling CQ I gave up and went QRT, which was a pity as earlier this year I managed almost 30 contacts on the band during several activations.

This just shows how easy it is to miss an activation by watching the spots page with the rig turned off or the volume turned down. I could say Chasers beware, but in reality it should be Activators beware!

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to G4OIG:
Sorry about that, Gerald.
But I had very little time on the rig because helping my wife out in the garden. So I did suppose another chaser will spot you quickly.
As you could see, I often spotted activators in past and will certainly do so in future.
So, I hope you’ll have enough contacts in next operations.
cu, bye

73, John OE7PHI

In reply to OE7PHI:

Hi John,

It was not a problem for me that I did not get a spot on 10MHz as I had easily qualified the summit on 2m SSB. As I wrote in my first post, I was not criticising either you or Roland for not placing a spot. It was just a message to say that Activators should not rely upon being spotted in order to have a successful activation and Chasers should not rely upon spots to make contacts. If everyone sat watching their computer screens and did not listen on the radio, then there would not be many contacts made, Hi!

I am always conscious of the fact that the majority of my activations are on 2m and 70cms SSB which are of no interest to chasers around Europe. Essentially I am a VHF/UHF operator, but I do enjoy operating HF CW and like to offer 10MHz CW to chasers when there is time available. Living so far from the summits, I am usually working to a tight schedule to activate as many summits as possible, so I do not get onto 10MHz that often. It was just a shame that on this occasion I had the time available, but the contacts did not come.

Hope to work you and others the next time I am on the band.

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to G4OIG:
Very pleased to work you soon again on 10MHz, Gerald.
Good luck

73, John OE7PHI

In reply to G4OIG:

This is an object lesson in how useful the spotting system is to activators - and chasers of course - it makes it unlikely that an activation will not be qualified. Fortunately there is a healthy competition to get the first spot in, we don’t all sit watching the screen!

2 metres was a bit poor, I knew you were there, but you were never strong enough to call as I would not have known if you came back!

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to G4OIG:

Unfortunately I had no mobile phone service

It’s a drag that. No phone coverage, nobody actually listening where you’re calling.

“Who you gonna call?”…

Inmarsat or Iridium? Nope, £10/minute for satellite phone calls in Europe. Gah!

Orbcomm?

The problem is the people who sell access packages charge silly money for the satellite modems and service contracts. 8000 characters of data/month for $25US is typical and we wont go into how much a modem would be. But at least the fact it runs on near 148MHz means you can use your 2m antenna for the uplink! 8000 chars is the same as 50 text messages.

And there’s no PAYG. You have to commit to a fixed contract. Still the techno-geek in me would love to build an Orbcomm based system that allowed me to send spots. Of course if you paid for 8k of data you’d want to make sure you used it. At least the hardware is not big.

APRS?

Not enough fixed stations in Scotland and none where I play SOTA so 2m is no good. I did think of an APRS repeater in the car. 2m in 30m out but I don’t want to draw antenntion to the car by plastering in with antennas and then leaving it unattended. The answer may be 30m APRS from the summit. I can see APRS beacons from stations in Central/Southern Europe all day when I monitor 30m. I know I can build a 300bps APRS sender in an Altoids tin. Programme a selection of spot messages in it before you set off and then choose a message, connect it to the rig andd 30m antenna for 10mins before you start the activation proper. The only bit I don’t how is how to ensure the stations I hear on 30m will gateway my beacon to the net. Once it’s on the net I can suck that out at home and force the spot out down my existing SMS spot server. If I had any free time I’d love to build one and try it. Perhaps the APRSers know whether it’s feasible.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to G8ADD:

Hi Brian,

Calf Top is a lovel summit, but it sits behind others - Great Coum NP-011 is just across the valley, beyond that is Whernside NP-004 and if you slide your signal past those two, then Ingleborough NP-005 might just soak up some of your signal. As it was, I was extremely surprised to have 17 contacts on 2m SSB, a total which would be excellent at a weekend, let alone on a weekday. Sorry that you were one of those on the margins - there were others.

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to MM0FMF:

Hi Andy,

It is not economically viable to provide 100% mobile phone coverage in hilly areas and as you have illustrated, satellite phones are expensive. I guess no one kicks up a fuss about the lack of coverage as for 99% of the time it is perfectly adequate and the occasional lack of service is something we have come to expect. The irony in this case is that to the north across the valley from Calf Top are the Howgills with The Calf NP-013 and Yarlside NP-019 and I used my phone on both of those with end-stop signals last month, indeed to self-spot on Yarlside!

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to G4OIG:

I remember working Tom and Jimmy (The EYP team) from one of the Howgills when I pulled in for a pitstop at Tebay Services. They were an enormous signal on 2m on my handy. There’s a cell phone mast at Tebay and I wouldn’t be too surprised based on the 2m path that that was the one you could hear on your phone.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to MM0FMF:

Once [APRS]'s on the net I can suck that out at home

I really must work out how to do that… it should be quite straightforward, but Google hasn’t really helped me.

Anyone got an Idiots-101 guide to doing it?

Andrew
M6ADB

In reply to G4OIG:
Hi Gerald,
I could here you quite well in Cheltenham on 2M, and you were solid copy while you were working Don(RQL)and Graham(JZF). Averaged about S2, but up to S4 at times. Called you for about 20 mins(50W to 9ele) but no Joy. Must check my 2m system. When you went quiet on 2m, I monitored 432.222 for at least 30 mins, but
nil heard. Next time hopefully.

73,
Frank

In reply to M6ADB:

I think the info is somewhere on http://www.aprs-is.net.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to M6ADB:

If you want some APRS software I can recomend APRSISCE/32 by Lynn (KJ4ERJ) see here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/aprsisce and here: http://aprsis.ham-radio-op.net/index.php

There are lots of APRS hints & tips on those sites as well.

73,
Colin.

In reply to G3RMD:

Hi Frank,

I was told that you were calling, but couldn’t hear anything at all from you which was very strange. I had the beam down in your direction when calling on 70cms as well. Maybe it’s the location of the summit - it’s a strange one, but fortunately there are enough ways out between the hills to make a decent amount of contacts. I was pleased to be able to give a unique summit to several people - not bad when it had been activated 59 times before. Maybe that says something in itself.

Paul and I should be out in the LD’s next month, so hopefully we will have successful contacts then.

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to G4OIG:

Hi Gerald,

As you have no doubt noticed, some chasers are only around at weekends, so for that reason alone a midweek activation will always prove more challenging :wink:

It is always a pleasure to work you, on any band :slight_smile:

Best 73,

Mark G0VOF

In reply to MM0FMF:

The subject of APRS generated spots has been mentioned in at least two threads in the last couple of months:

http://www.sotawatch.org/reflector.php?topic=4718

http://www.sotawatch.org/reflector.php?topic=4737

(and it seems several others in the past that I only found a few minutes ago).

However with the low level of interest shown in these two threads I have not done any more work on my idea for a working implementation for several weeks.

It is relatively easy to get APRS broadcasts from the APRS-IS network, my perl code does this and will (if it was left runnning) post spots from approved callsigns on Sotwatch extracted from APRS Traffic (I have some further code to send formatted information in an APRS Broadcast).

Unless I’ve missed some posts only one person has made any comment on how he thinks the APRS SOTA information could be / needs to be formatted - my own use of on-air APRS is limited to what my TMD-700A does auto-matically when fed with Location information from my GPS Puck - So no progess has been made for several weeks.

Stewart G0LGS

In reply to M6ADB:

I really must work out how to do that… it should be quite
straightforward, but Google hasn’t really helped me.

Anyone got an Idiots-101 guide to doing it?

http://www.aprs-is.net/Connecting.aspx

Stewart G0LGS

In reply to G0VOF:

Hi Mark,

Yes, weekends are definitely more productive in terms of QSO numbers, that’s why 17 stations worked on SSB on a weekday was a really welcome surprise. After recent events, I just needed a day out to redress the balance and the day out with Mike certainly achieved what I had hoped.

Hopefully catch you on the next one - Sunday 10th / Monday 11th October… better get ready for logging that pile up on day 1!

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to G0LGS:

Ah, easy stuff. I have the full UK regional feed scrolling in a Putty window for 10secs worth of typing.

Thanks Stewart.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to G0LGS:

I really must work out how to do that… it should be quite
straightforward, but Google hasn’t really helped me.

Anyone got an Idiots-101 guide to doing it?

http://www.aprs-is.net/Connecting.aspx

Thanks… strange how I missed that page on aprs-is :o

Now running in Putty… filter/processing app under development

Andrew
M6ADB