ZS-SOTA Day Monday 25th September 2023

What is activity like in South Africa? I don’t seem to see many spots on SotaWatch for ZS stations. Am I looking at the wrong times? VOCAP predictions indicate a EU - ZS contact should be relatively “easy”.

I need another continent to progress to the next level of Mountain Hunter award and so far I have been unable to grab any NA activations.

I do not operate CW, which I realise is a disadvantage in SOTA when looking for distant contacts.

73 Ed DD5LP.

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Did you miss all the CT3 activations over the last week or so?

Hello Ed,

I have only managed to work two ZS SOTA summits.

10M ZS/VA2IEI/P ZS SSB 13-Mar-2014 11:38 SOTA ZS/WC-043
10M ZS/VA2IEI/P ZS SSB 27-Mar-2014 12:51 SOTA ZS/EC-012

I think other ZS activations have been very local events in terms of contacts and quite brief. I do not recall seeing any spots when these activations were on but I was hunting anyway without waiting for spots. The two chases above only happened for me because Denis could be relied upon and he made good use of APRS. I don’t think being a SSB chaser is a huge disadvantage ~ it only becomes so when the activator never visits SSB.

Good luck

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Hi Ed,

Here in G, working ZS is never easy from a SOTA summit. I’ve done countless HF activations and only ever logged one and that was two or three years ago. During the last lot of ZS SOTA activations, I was activating G/SP-013 Gun and only heard the odd word, certainly no chance of an s2s.

Steve G1INK, seems to find them from time to time. Not too sure what his secret is though :wink:

73 Mike

There are only 36 unique chasers who have logged a chase of a ZS summit. Of those 36, only 12 are located outside of ZS.

For contrast, here are some numbers for what should also be rare summits.

VP8 Falklands: 18 unique chasers have logged this.
OD Lebanon: 57 unique chasers have logged this.
CT3 Madeira: 299 unique chasers have logged this.

VP8 activation took place when SOTA was much less popular and we were well down on solar activity.

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SOTA activity in SA is low. SOTA slowly becomes more popular. I operated from three summits in SA and found it very difficult to make the four required contacts. All except one were on 40 meters SSB. Best chance for contacts with Europe are 10 and 12 meters. The South Africans have some portable activity weekends, but I am afraid that the bands used are 40 and 80.

73, Hans PB2T

Keep an eye open for sota tourists holidaying in EA8. I know it’s not ZS but it counts as Africa and easy to work on bands such as 20m. I agree, best shot for Eu - ZS is probably 10m.

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Thanks all. My comment re ease of working was related to VOCAP propagation predictions. Of course if there’s no one there (apart from it seems holiday makers from other SOTA associations), the chance of a contact will, as you all say, be very rare.

OK, then my “backup continent” NA - any tips on the best bands and times to nab a summit or two from the US or Canada? Every time I’ve listened in response to a spot, I have not been able to hear the activator.

73 Ed.

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Hi Steve,

Heard, a couple of ZS rag-chewing on 17m this afternoon, while I was activating Gun G/SP-013.

Listened for a while, then gave up and and moved on. Speaking from personal experience, it’s easier to work ZL than ZS.

73 Mike

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I assuming you can’t hear the SSB activations from USA as they are a little QRP for your RX setup with a domestic noise level.

The cheapest way to bag USA is to learn CW and open up more activations for you to chase. You only need to get to about 8wpm to be viable, which should take under a month, listen for US activation, wait till the pileup abates, call in at 8wpm, hear activator lower his speed, exchange call and report, job done. There are more West Coast than East Coast activations so again it may be a while before you can really hear anything.

If you are desperate, get a cheap flight to the USA and chase from nearer the summits you want.

I’d have thought that with Autumn fast approaching, 10/12m SSB would work to ZS area most late afternoons. The problem being lack of activations. Although there has been a pleasing increase in people signing up from ZS recently.

Or wait till someone pops out to EA8 or CT3. They seemed to get SOTA activations several times a year.

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Hi Andy,

The Southerly path from EU to Africa was open quite nicely last Saturday afternoon with Benin & Botswana both easily workable on 28MHz CW with my modest station & high noise level. Signals should get better so SSB will be easier. All you need then of course are ZS activators :wink:

73, Mark G0VOF

Yeah, EA8 and CT3 are options most definitely worth watching for if you’re after Africa. (I gather there are quite a few activators in Australia who’re keen for contacs, too, if you havn’t caught them yet… ;))

The noise floor at my QTH tends to be bad at the times North American SOTA activators are most likely to be active. I’ve listened out for many of them, but generally they’re very difficult to hear (at best), especially the ones further West. If I do manage to hear them and they’re using CW, then far more often than not it’s Way Too Fast for me. So far I’ve caught only 3, all in W4*, all on 12 metres, and two were SSB…

73, Rick M0LEP

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Yes Andy, it has been good to hear and work CT9/HB9BQU Hans in Madeira on some unique summits this week. He moved to the mainland and appeared from CT7/HB9BQU on CT/ES-002 yesterday, near Lisbon. A nice surprise - I wonder where he will show up from next?

Porto Santo CT3/PI-001 to CT3/PI-005 would be a popular holiday destination for SOTA Activators. All uniques - rare and the summits look quite accessible. You can fly there direct from UK (Gatwick unfortunately it seems).

73 Phil G4OBK

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Hi Andy,
Learning CW is on the “Bucket List”, however so far all of my SOTA points have come from the (harder) phone mode (mostly SSB), so it’d be good to get to some of the award levels without having to revert to CW if I can. Mind you if only 8 wpm is required, then I think my smart phone can send and receive at that speed - after all CW was the first digital mode HI.

EA8 - Canary Islands is Africa? Ok, that’s a possibility as I’ve had a chaser from EA8 call me on a couple of my activations, so I just need to keep an eye out for activations from EA8. Thanks all.

When I see CT, I think Portugal - hence Europe. I’ll look out for CT3, 7 & 9 in future.

Rick - I used to be based in Australlia (VK2JI), so that continent was my first one for chasing and second after Europe for activating.


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I hope to activate again, hopefully several times, EA8/GC-001 (10 points) between 30/11 and 7/12/2014.

I won’t promise anything, but I can take a list and warn the interested stations before activating. I’ll have about 5 watts, an Alexloop (any HF band from 7 MHz) and possibly a linked dipole and an Half Wave End Fed on 7/14/28 MHz). CW preferred, but I can take a microphone in my luggage if needed :wink:

Let me know.


I am also planning to visit EA8 some time in late October or November. (CW only though).

Ed, 30min daily for 6months will get you “CW powers”!!!

Need to check the aerolines/travel guidelines … Carry the stuff on hand luggage? And restrictions on batteries? LIPO, LIFE,…? I know it is a topic that has been mentioned before.

73 Angel

Angel, if you have a QRP kit rig like the Steve Webber designs or an HB1B, then you may find it simpler to make up a battery box for AA cells and when you get to EA8 just buy 12/24 AA Duracell batteries. You don’t have to worry getting them through airport security that way. Not very green for the environment using disposable batteries and not cheap but if it’s only for a few days then it doesn’t matter.

On Batteries - my experience has been - contact the airline before you fly, then tell the airline at check-in that the bateries are in your hand baggage - show them - with connectors securely taped up and all is fine. DO NOT put LIPO or LIFEPO batteries in hold luggage! Some planes holds are not pressurised.

The latest security alert for fights to the US (which may be adopted by other countries / airlines) is that all electrical items must be able to be powered on and work at security check-points, hence if you go the AA battery box route, you will need to have the AA cells with you when you go through security.

73 Ed.

P.S. Christophe, if you intend activating on SSB, please put me on your “inform list” - EdDD5LP at gmail.com - thanks.

If the items are in your checked luggage you don’t need to demo them working.
If you don’t need to demo them working you don’t need batteries.
If you don’t have to take it through security it isn’t going to be possibly rejected.

Yes, it’s possible to wrap and package various batteries so you can take them on board. But you have no control that the guy doing the security theatre isn’t having a bad day and is going to take it out on anyone doing anything slightly different. Fly enough and you will know that screening guys do whatever they want. You can make a fuss and state your rights and produce all kinds of printouts you got from the internet saying what can and can’t be done. You still do what they say no matter how right you are.

Yes, I’ve been there and taken stuff though security and there is always the nagging doubt that this time there will be an issue. So the only way to guarantee a win is not to play and lose.

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Just to be clear LIPO and LIFEPO batteries are not allowed in checked baggage as in un-pressurised holds they can explode.