ZL (and VK) chasers and activators

Hi SOTA team

Will anybody hear me?! :upside_down_face:

Background; I’ll be nipping home to New Zealand briefly in a weeks time (17-22 March 24) for family reasons. I’ll be on work travel first in SIngapore and Indonesia. As indonesia can sometimes be unpredictable if your baggage is selected for inspection and they find unexpected items (radios!) I will only be travelling with small QRP. I’d be annoyed if my QMX gets confiscated, but having IC-705 / KX2 etc taken is not worth thinking about.

My question is will I be spotted and chased mid-week operating QRP CW?

It’s likely be a Wednesday / Thursday when I activate, and I know a lot of people will be at work. I dont anticipate a huge pile-up, but I’m anxious I’ll get nobody responding to my CQ SOTA call…!! I’d operate on 40m / 30m / 20m. I think 20m may be best as that may be received in VK. I’d be in Wellington ZL1/WL region.

I have registered on the ‘ZL on the air’ and would alert there in addition to SOTAwatch. I assume the spotter system in region / RBN network will pick up my CQ call and spot me on the system as I think access to 4G/5G phone network to self spot would be unlikely.

Any advice from the ZL and VK chasers / activators would be appreciated.



Short answer is you’ll be fine but it may take a bit longer to qualify. Stick to 40 and 20m as the money bands, and alert so RBN picks you up. Prewarning the relevant areas can help, particularly if you are also taking a handheld, and Wellington has an active VHF population too.

Rimutaka is probably the best points-for-effort summit in that region, the rest are all largely one pointers but easy enough.


Hi Roy,
As Andrew mentioned yes you will be fine, I only use qrp cw and to date have always qualified a summit.
Key points, get Alerts up on Sota Watch, be a little patient when you get on air as can take 5 to 10 minutes from first Spot to getting a reply. Keep the speed down, most of the chasers are not regular CW Op’s so 20 plus will be harder for them.
I am no expert on the local RBN network, but I know I rarely get spotted by it, and rely on SMS spotting either through the local gateway or the UK one.

As mentioned, 40 and 20 are the key bands to get the regular VK and ZL chasers but subject to propagation etc 17 and 15m can provide some surprise DX.
I activated Thursday and Friday this week getting 8 and 6 contacts receptivity.

73, Warren


I know ZL3GA did a midweek activation last week and collected about 24 contacts (CW and SSB) so I think you will be OK. Best of luck. ZL2AJ (AM for ZL).

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Hi Roy,

Agree with the advice above, consistent with my experience. local knowledge is essential regarding local phone network access and signal strength. But for RBN ensure you call CQ using the Callsign format you used for your alert. The magic box of tricks that matches alerts with new spots from RBN matches the Callsign, prefix and suffix precisely and any mismatch produces no new SOTA spot. Even missing the /P, if you use it, will cause the chain of matches to reject or ignore your newly reported CQ from RBN.
73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2DA


As with all of the above I think you will be fine, not that I do CW. All of my activation’s so far, except for today, have been mid week and I have only ever failed in one activation and that was due to weather and equipment failure.

Go to Join – ZL-Sota and join the mailing list. Send the mailing list your intentions 24 hours before your activation and you may be surprised to find chasers waiting for you on the day at the advertised time and frequency.

All the best and cheers,


Hope your trip to New Zealand goes well for you, I would recommend 15m too as another option if your radio has it. Just lately the daytime conditions on 40m has been rather noisy and depressed even on CW worse on SSB. Here in VK5 any stations from the eastern states are often impossible to hear on 40m but generally ok on 20m. I did QSO with Warren the other day on 40m with noisy 339 exchange and just able to get the reports in the noise, when he came on 20m he was 559. I do QSO with lots of JA activators on 15m and 10m lately and I usually always hear ZL1TM Andrei working the same Ops. Main thing is Alert and we will know to watch for you as first thing every day I check SW3 Alerts to see who may be out on SOTA and try to fit a chase in if I can.
Ian vk5cz …


Hi Everyone,

Thanks for all of the info.

I’ll definately alert in advance, and use the ZL callsign. Adding the suffix /P seems less common ZL VK compared to UK EU, so i’ll probs not use the /P.

I’ll focus on 40m and 20m… I only have the low-band QMX so limited to 80m - 20m (i’ve not built the high band up yet, but it’s on the work bench).

@ZL3CC Phil, I’ve joined the mailing list. Thanks for the recommendation.

I hope to get back to ZL more often, so the plan is to get together a complete SOTA kit for the next trip that I’d leave in ZL. I’d then have VHF, and full HF voice and CW.

@VK3ARR Andrew, yes - Rimutaka is on the list as i’ll be based about 10min drive away just north of Upper Hutt.



Hi Roy, You should be fine. Wynne @ZL2ATH is a Wellington local, active on CW and may provide contacts (or even an S2S). As others have mentioned, flick out an email to the ZL email group a day or two before. Also, if a FB user, join ZL SOTA and other /P group and “alert” there as well.
I will be at work but there are a couple of ZL CW chasers who may chase on 40m. 20m should get you some VKs chasers but as Ian mentioned, having 15m and 10m would be a safer bet. I routinely work VK, USA, Japan and France on 15m/10m at the moment with 10W and EFHW. Signals much stronger on 15/10m compared to 20m.
There’s no need (or benefit) in using the /P suffix in this corner of the world, just stick with your callsign.
Watering holes are 7.032 14.062 21.062 28.062 146.5 FM
Have fun on your trip and good luck!
Geoff ZL3GA