“How can I accumulate a bunch of summit-to-summit points all at once, for Summits on the Air?” This was a question Pete Scola WA7JTM had been pondering for years. He initially thought it might be fun to choose several 10-point summits that were near each other, have a person operate on each summit, and then rotate to a new summit every so often. Eventually, this idea gave way to the Arizona 10-Point Madness Summit to Summit event. With an invitation from Pete, all willing SOTA participants gathered on a 10-point summit on September 19th, 2018, and 10-Point Madness was born!
The Arizona 10-Point Madness Summit to Summit event is a casual on-air gathering, where Summits on the Air participants set up their ham radio station on the top of summit . . . at approximately the same time. Operators are on simultaneously so that there is an overwhelming availability of summit-to-summit contacts to be made. This event occurs every year on the first Saturday of October.
There was a focus on 2-meter contacts the first year we did this. We learned quickly during the 2018 inaugural event that it was true madness for 31 ham radio stations to contact 26 nearby summits all at the same time, especially on 2 meters. We tried alternate 2-meter frequencies and even considered a net control operator. However, in the end, we learned to just wait patiently for our turn to call for contacts on 2-meters, or if it was extra busy, we just moved off to HF for a while and returned later. As a courtesy, we now monitor 2 meters and return to it throughout the event to give the operators a chance to come and go.
That first year was amazing.
We collectively made 1104 contacts, 354 of which were VHF. And yes, we scored a lot of summit-to-summit points. We averaged 140 points each, with a grand total of 4324 s2s points for all the Arizona stations. We announced the event to several online platforms and invited others to participate, and had a few people join us from outside of Arizona. All of them had fun and saw good results as well.
Our 6th annual event concluded a few weeks ago. Participation has been steady in Arizona but we have seen an increase outside of Arizona. We had about the same number of Arizona participants as years past, but total contacts increased to 1403. The average s2s points per participant increased to 169, with a grand total of 4906 s2s points. I was amazed that Keith KR7RK earned 400 s2s points this year for this event – a new record, I think. These are only numbers for Arizona participants.
I read on social media that Josh WU7H, who was participating from Washington state, had 55 total s2s contacts and only a fourth of them were from Arizona. We received some statistics from stations in Georgia, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Texas, Nevada, Washington, Oregon and more. It is a lot of effort to compile the statistics but it would be interesting to include people outside of Arizona in the future.
Here are a few things that have stood out to me over the past 5 years for this event:
In 2019, Josh WU7H and DJ WW7D participated from Washington. They won the award for most challenging activation in my opinion, operating from a snow packed summit in below freezing temperatures. But that didn’t deter them! They continue to come back year after year. They are tough!
In 2022 my friend Adam K6ARK was participating on a summit in California. I was able to make a 2-meter CW and SSB contact with him from my summit, 327 miles away.
Several others in Arizona also made contact with him. While not record breaking, this is long haul for 2-meters. And this year, I was able to make 19 DX contacts with one summit-to-summit into Germany. It seems like there are a lot of DX contacts to be made every year, but this was a record for me.
Finally, this year Pete WA7JTM made a contact on every single band from 1296 MHz down to 1.8 MHz. That’s 16 different bands. How amazing is that?
The point is, you can make this event into whatever you want. Experiment and try new things because there are people listening. And of course, you do get a ton of summit-to-summit points.
Dave AE9Q sent an email out to the Arizona participants and inquired about the radios, antennas, and power sources used for the event and as you can probably guess, the list was very diverse. I’m not exaggerating. Just about every QRP HF radio, VHF/UHF handheld, Antenna, and power source you can think of was used – Log periodicals, mono-band double-bazookas, double zepps, whips, Yagi’s, end-feds, QRP and QRO HF radios of all types, HT’s with microwave capabilities, mobile vhf radios, amplifiers, lipo and lifepo batteries. The list is long.
We recognize that other SOTA associations do similar events, like the Colorado 14er event and the Pacific Northwest Not Quite Fourteener event, to name a couple. These are all great opportunities to get on the air and have fun with QRP radio in the field.
I’m sure you have heard about how amazing the SOTA community is. If you get out on the summits or frequently chase, your call sign becomes familiar to others. So much so that you feel a personal connection and sense of comradery every time you make contact with them. During these events you see many of your good on-air radio friends. It’s like a reunion.
The Arizona SOTA association thanks the many chasers and participants outside of Arizona who make this event more and more exciting every year. We hope to see even more participate next year. Just pick a summit, put your alert on the sotawatch.sota.org.uk web page, get on top of the summit and have a blast!
Since I was first licensed in 1997, Field Day has been the on-the-air event I’ve always looked forward to more than any other.
I love the combination of playing radio outdoors, experimenting with antennas, hanging with fellow hams, and inviting the public to experience the world of amateur radio.
I’ve participated in quite a wide variety of Field Day events over the years. A few times, I’ve spent the entire event with one club playing radio for the full 24 hour period of time and only getting a couple hours of sleep. It’s exhausting, but loads of fun!
That’s the great thing about amateur radio: no matter where you go in the world, you have a built-in local community of friends.
Many years, I’ve also combined Field Day and POTA (also NPOTA in 2016) with my good friend Vlado (N3CZ). We typically find a nice park to play radio, make some food (Vlado is the grill-master extraordinaire), and hang out for a few hours, many times with our families and other ham friends. Our goal is mostly to have fun, make contacts, and be ready to answer questions when a crowd gathers.
Field Day 2023
On Saturday morning (June 24, 2023), Vlado and I met up around 12:30 at Vlado’s QTH and I placed my gear in his car.
The plan was to hit a park and do a POTA activation–albeit just running Field Day with my callsign–then go to the Blue Ridge Amateur Radio Club‘s Field Day site for dinner and operating with their club call (W4YK).
Holmes Educational State Forest (K-4856)
We made our way to Holmes Educational State Forest (K-4856). It was a logical choice since it wasn’t too far from the BRARC Field Day site.
I had hoped the covered picnic shelter at Holmes would be unoccupied, but it was very much the opposite. I think there must have been three birthday parties in that thing!
Knowing rain showers are all around, I packed my ENO hammock rainfly and, in fact, we chose our picnic site based on tree spacing to hang the rainfly over the picnic table.
We put up the rain fly first and it’s a good thing we did because showers moved in immediately. Fortunately, the fly worked a charm and we both–and more importantly, our radios–stayed bone dry.
Since this was primarily a Field Day effort, I didn’t schedule the activation or do any spotting. No one who worked us knew that it was also a park activation.
We ran as a 1B Battery station, thus our maximum output power was five watts. (Of course we were only going to do this QRP!)
Vlado and I both operated, but he made the bulk of the contacts. While one of us worked stations, the other logged.
In the end, we logged 45 contacts–all but one were CW.
Vlado really enjoyed using his IC-703 Plus. He built a small go kit around it some time ago, but this was actually the first opportunity he’d had to use it in the field.
I also packed the IC-705 and made quite a few contacts with it including our one SSB contact!
Around 4:30 PM local, we packed up and headed to the Blue Ridge ARC FD site at one of the members’ QTH.
I made a short video at Holmes Educational State Forest–not a typical activation video, just a quick visit with us:
We arrived at the BRARC site around 5:00 PM. Typically, the Blue Ridge Club sets up in very public ares–primarily the middle of some of the larger area parks.
This time, however, there was a permitting conflict that forced the club to find another space. Fortunately, two of the club members offered up their home which wasn’t in a public spot, obviously, but in every other respect was ideal.
We arrived and met with several friends I hadn’t seen in ages.
Vlado immediately hopped on KC5F’s Icom IC-7610 (the dedicated CW station) and gave Steve a break at the key.
I then took over after Vlado’s run and added a few more contacts to the W4YK logs.
I then moved to the SSB station and added about ten contacts to their logs. That particular station was the club’s Icom IC-718 and if I’m being honest, it’s not the best HF radio for crowded band conditions. It’s an overall good radio, but when the RF is dense (as it is on Field Day) its front end sort of falls apart. The difference between the IC-718 and IC-7610 was striking. The ‘7610 is a contest grade radio and it handles FD conditions with grace.
The barbecue at the BRARC Field Day was amazing. We appreciate good BBQ here in North Carolina. Don’t get me started about that potato salad–it was spectacular!
We left he BRARC meeting around 8:30 PM and on the way home decided to pop by the WCARS Field Day site at a Fire Fighters’ Union Camp Ground. This wasn’t a terribly public place for Field Day, but the grounds were ideal for setting up stations. A number of WCARS members belong to the Fire Fighters’ Union.
We spoke with a few WCARS members/friends we hadn’t seen in some time, then headed home.
In the end, I felt like we’d done a little Field Day tour that Saturday!
It was great hopping on the air, but even better seeing so many friends we hadn’t seen in such a long time.
How was your Field Day?
I’d love to hear what you did for Field Day! Please share your experience with us in the comments section!
Also, keep in mind that Saturday July 1, 2023 (tomorrow!) is the RAC Canada Day Contest! You can find out more about this event on the RAC website.
Thank you for joining Vlado and me for a few minutes on Field Day!
Also,I’d also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support.
I have attended every QSO Today Visual Ham Expo since Eric (4Z1UG) created this brilliant virtual event. The online platform is quite easy to use and there are loads of fascinating topics from a wide variety of presenters.
I applaud Eric for championing radio topics that are open and accessible to Technician (and equivalent) class operators.
Twice before, I haven’t been able to attend the Expo sessions live (due to my schedule) but I register anyway! Why? Eric archives and provides all of the presentations in video format on-demand for Expo attendees after the event has ended. I simply log in and work my way through presentations over the course of a month, one morning coffee after another! The gift that keeps on giving!
These presentations are a shorter format and (I find) focus less on general topics covered elsewhere; they’re truly unique to the Expo.
This is one of the main reasons I register for the QSO Today Virtual Expo: I want to support a platform that produces brilliant ideas, innovations, and encourages a wide radio of radio activities!
As I noted last week, I participated in the W4G SOTA campout at Lake Winfield-Scott Campground in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in north Georgia.
In short? It was amazing!
I thought I’d share a few photos and memories…
Campsite and friends
These SOTA campouts typically involve an announcement via the W4 SOTA group then we all make individual reservations at the chosen campground. Since we’re not reserving the whole campground as a block, we tend to share our individual camping sites with others who might not have been able to reserve a spot.
At Lake Windfield Scott campground, the SOTA group did reserve one large group campsite, but only a couple months ago it was canceled by the park service due to a trail maintenance group that needed it.
Typically, I camp with my friend Monty, but he had other family plans that weekend.
As you can see in the photo above, both of our tents fit on the tent pad with absolutely no extra room to spare. 🙂
It was such a pleasure getting to know Joshua. What a kindred spirit and super nice fellow.
We ended up doing all of our SOTA activations together as you will see in upcoming activation videos and field reports.
Joshua is as pack and organization obsessed as I am. A proper pack nerd! I really enjoyed checking out his bags, cases and all of the brilliant accessories that are a part of his field kits.
He brought both an IC-705 and TX-500 along for the ride. He logs in the field using the HAMRS app (same one I do) but on an iPad Mini (see photo above) and I must admit that the size of the iPad mini is nearly ideal–much better than a phone for logging.
He also used the SDR-Control app to connect wirelessly with his IC-705 and operate digital modes.
We activated a total of three summits during the weekend (Big Cedar,Black Mountain, and Yonah Mountain). It would have been easy to activate six or more if that was the goal–the area is chock full of accessible summits.
Many thanks to Mike (VE3MKX) who has shared a large gallery of photos from the 2022 Milton, Ontario Hamfest.
“The Burlington Amateur Radio Club organizes the event and confirms that they had 108 vendor spaces sold and over 475 general admin passed through the gates. A great day of meeting friends, lots of deals and smiling faces!”
I’ve created a gallery of 132 images that can be viewed on our sister site, the SWLing Post.
Many thanks to Kevin (VA3RCA) and Mike (VE3MKX) for taking and sharing these excellent photos!
Since I began my ham radio journey in 1997, I’ve always looked forward to one event more than any other: ARRL Field Day.
No doubt, this is due to the fact that one of my earliest experiences after being licensed was participating in Field Day with my (then) local club ACARA in Athens, Ohio. We were operating 1A battery which meant “One transmitter, club or non-club group, power output of five watts maximum.”
In short? It was a blast and a proper introduction to the power of QRP.
I was already looking forward to the next field day as we were packing up our site that year. It was insane fun.
2022 Field Day
I had hoped to spend Field Day 2022 with the amazing crew at C.R.A.Q (Club Radio Amateur de Québec), but it just didn’t work out due to our family schedule which included some beautiful hikes. I’ve spent Field Day with C.R.A.Q. twice before and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I did, however, make a couple dozen random Field Day contacts in CW on 20 meters from our condo.
I’m grateful to Vince (VE6LK) who held a Field Day Zoom conference call all weekend hosted by his local club, the Foothills Amateur Radio Society. It was a drop-in, drop-out 24 hour session and was a brilliant substitute for all of the amazing side conversations one would typically have during an in-person club Field Day event. It was great meeting members of FARS, friends like George (KJ6VU), and so many others who popped by for a visit.
Field Day Everyday!
I’ll admit that I get a bit of that Field Day feeling each time I do a park or summit activation.
There’s none of the in-person camaraderie because my activations are typically solo, but on the air I’m connecting with my POTA family and friends. It often feels like a little on-air reunion where we all check in.
Of course, it certainly scratches that Field Day itch of setting up my radio gear in the great outdoors, operating from battery power, experimenting with antennas, and sometimes even managing small pile-ups.
Hamvention weekend is one of the big highlights of my year and–until the pandemic–I hadn’t missed a single on in more than a decade.
I was really looking forward to this year if for no other reason than to connect with friends I only see at Hamvention.
My buddy Eric (WD8RIF), his son Miles (KD8KNC), and sometimes our good friend Mike (K8RAT) attend Hamvention together. We split accommodation, car pool, and fit in park activations before, during, and after. We also fit in an annual pilgrimage to the USAF museum. It’s incredibly fun.
As fun as Hamvention is–which is insanely fun–I realized that it was going to be a pricey 3-4 night excursion when I already have some pretty epic, much-anticipated travels planned this summer with my family.
Since I had literally no items on my Hamvention shopping list (Eric didn’t either) and since I wanted to funnel all of my travel monies into the amazingness that awaits us this summer, I had a hard time justifying the costs of the trip.
So I reached out to Eric who, turns out, was feeling much the same way.
I was asked by the organizers of the “Ham Meets Military” event to spread the following announcement. This sounds like a very interesting on-air event, especially accessible for readers in Europe:
On Friday the first of April 2022 (this is no joke) the Royal Dutch Army will organise ”HAM meets military”. Eight special stations consisting of 2 military operators and 1 amateur with callsigns PA01MIL up to and including PA08MIL will be on air on HF from 0700Z (GMT) until 1900Z (GMT).
The main goal is to introduce young military operators to the world of amateur radio. Of course there is a little challenge involved, because soldiers love to be pushed to the limit. Which callsign makes the most contacts? The amateur is there to help and improve their antennas but all contact have to made with military equipment only! They will operate with manpack radios or with a vehicle setup in a Mercedes 290GD.
We would like to hear as many amateurs as possible to train these operators. Please use the NATO-phonetic alphabet and have some patience. The best operators could be active in the future on PZ5JT.
As mentioned in my last field report, on January 26, 2022, I decided to fit in multiple park activations in one day as a RaDAR (Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio) run. My hope was to activate four or five sites between 14:00 – 21:30 UTC.
The first activation at Lake James State Park went so well, it started me out a little ahead of schedule.
After packing up my gear at Lake James, I began a 40 minute drive to the second site–Dogback Mountain–where I hoped to do a POTA two-fer along with a Summits On The Air activation.
The drive was beautiful. Only twenty minutes into the trip, I came to the forest service road that lead to Dogback Mountain. For a six mile drive, Google Maps was telling me it would take about 20 minutes, so I knew the dirt road would require slow driving.
The road was actually in pretty good shape, but there are rocky and rough spots that pretty much require good vehicle ground clearance. My Subaru had no issues at all–in fact, I love driving on back roads like this!
Three or four miles into the forest service road I reached an impasse.
While there hadn’t been snow in the area for at least a week, the north slope portions of the road were quite icy. The thaw and night time freezing pretty much meant that there was no snow to navigate–only ice, and I’m not a big fan of ice.
I already passed through two sections of ice where I could still manage a little traction on the side of the road (at least half the car had traction). At one point, though, I saw a large section of icy road ahead, so I parked the car to investigate what it looked like over the crest of the hill.
It was so icy, I struggled to find a spot to walk on to peek over the hill and almost slipped once. That hill was pretty steep and I could see no spots for the car to get traction. Remembering what my wife said that morning (“Don’t do anything crazy, okay?“) and knowing that the worst thing for my RaDAR run would be getting stuck in a spot recovery vehicles might struggle with, I chose the option of forgoing the summit activation.
Frankly, if the summit activation was the only thing on the schedule that day, I would have likely parked, then hiked 3 miles to the summit along the forest service road. But my RaDAR run left no time for this.
Fortunately, where I parked was firmly in the two-fer zone of Pisgah National Forest and Pisgah Game Land!
Pisgah National Forest (K-4510) and Pisgah Game Land (K-6937)