Tag Archives: SOTA

The Big E exposition: Radio club seeks scheduled contacts with POTA and SOTA activators

Many thanks to Mark (K8LSB) who shares the following announcement:

Sharing POTA/SOTA with the Public

Greetings POTA/SOTA activators,

This year the Big E (exposition)—a “combined” state fair for the six New England states (CT MA, ME, NH, RI, VT)—will run for 17 days: from September 16 to October 2. In the past, 1.5 million people have attended the Big E, the fifth largest fair in the nation.

Hampden County Radio Association (HCRA) will be running a special events station (N1E) and have a booth at the event where we hope to acquaint the general public with the many facets of amateur radio. For example, we have made arrangements to have a live ARISS space station contact, emergency communications display, POTA/SOTA contacts (hopefully), etc. One of our key goals is to identify those who might be interested in getting their ham license and connecting them with license training classes held by radio clubs across New England.

I am seeking your help in two ways. First, I would like to schedule some contacts with people activating POTA/SOTA sites during the Big E period. To make this interesting for visitors, I’d like to limit this primarily to phone operation, and would love it the activators could talk for a minute or two about where they are and what they enjoy about POTA/SOTA operation; not just the typical “you’re 58 in Massachusetts.” Many of the folks who attend the Big E are people who enjoy outdoor activities like RVing, hiking, camping, biking, etc. and may be attracted to adding the adventure of portable ham radio operation to their recreational routine.

The second way you can help is, for those of you who live in New England, to consider helping staff our booth at the Modern Living building. We hope to have at least four active hams at the booth from 10 am through 10 pm. Our operating shifts are from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm and 3:30 to 10 pm. As you can imagine, we need a lot of hams to help out! We have contacted all the radio clubs in New England to solicit volunteers, but we could still use some more hams on specific days. This is a volunteer activity, but we have funds to offset the price of admission ($15) and parking ($10), and can provide free overnight accommodations with local ham families if this makes the logistics easier.

If you’d like to volunteer to be one of our “activator” contacts, please contact me via [email protected] 

If you’re interested in learning more about our Big E plans or would like to volunteer, go to:  https://nediv.arrl.org/project-big-e/  and scroll down to the “How Can I Help” and click the link for volunteering. It will show the specific dates and times that are open.

73, Marc K8LSB

A portable transceiver for QRP SSB SOTA?

This morning, I was browsing the drafts folder of QRPer.com–the place where I store ideas, images, notes, and future posts.

I discovered a draft post with the following inquiry from Motters (M7TRS) dating back several months. I suspect Motters may still be contemplating this decision so perhaps we can chime in with some suggestions and advice [apologies, OM, for the delay!].

Motters writes:

Advice required.

I want to get into QRP SOTA portable voice HF.

My dream station would the flagship IC-705 due to the vhf, uhf and HF plus the waterfall. I am on a shoe sting budget so have to choose wisely for my radio as this will probably be a one time hit for a long time.

The radios in the list are IC-705, FT-818ND, Xiegu G90 and the Xiegu X6100.

The antenna would probably be a linked dipole. Which radio would you choose?

Question open to anyone

Motters (M7TRS)

Great question, Motters. The radios you’ve chosen range anywhere from $450 – 1400US (of course you know the prices in GBP) so much, of course, depends on your budget.

Knowing SSB is your mode of choice, I would likely focus on radios that could deliver 10 watts or more of power output. You’re in the UK and plan to do SOTA ops there, so 5 watts will work perfectly fine, but I’ve always felt like 10 watts SSB is a proper QRP “full gallon.” Many QRP contests consider 10 watts proper QRP in SSB mode. The difference between 5 watts and 10 watts is about 3dB of gain.

The most expensive option–the Icom IC-705–would be a superb choice in so many respects. It would cover all HF/VHF/UHF frequencies, it has a rechargeable battery pack, it’s fairly lightweight, and has excellent features for an SSB operator. With an external battery attached, it’ll yield 10 watts. It also sports superb performance. Since you’ll be using a resonant antenna, you won’t notice the lack of an internal ATU.

You can’t go wrong with the IC-705, but I think you know that already since you describe it as your dream radio.

Here’s my Icom IC-705 review.

On the opposite end of the price spectrum is the Xiegu G90 and I believe that radio might serve you very well. It’s not as compact as the IC-705, has no internal battery, only covers HF, and has no SSB message memories. That said, it can output up to 20 watts and has a superb built-in ATU should you ever need one (my experience is that in SOTA, you will!). It’s a solid radio and well-loved by many in the world of field radio.

Here’s my 2020 review of the Xiegu G90.

I’ve used my Yaesu FT-817ND on numerous SOTA activations and I love it. It’s extremely durable, has great performance characteristics, and sports HF/VHF/UHF in all modes. I love the fact that it has two antenna ports! Continue reading A portable transceiver for QRP SSB SOTA?

IW0HK and IZ0FYL activate Gran Sasso (I/AB-301)

Many thanks to my buddy Andrea (IW0HK) who posted the following field report to the SOTA reflector and has kindly allowed me to re-post it here on QRPer.com:


IW0HK and IZ0FYL: A climbing route to Gran Sasso (2912 mt.) I/AB-301

by Andrea (IW0HK)

Today I am very happy to be able to share with you a splendid and incredible day in the mountains and radio: together with Luca Iz0Fyl we have decided to activate the western peak of Corno Grande I/AB-301 2912 mt. the highest peak of the Central Apennines, the most important mountain for us enthusiasts who live in central Italy. The choice was not to climb the classic “normal” route but think of a climbing route with passages of 1, 2 and 3 degrees called “direttissima” which allows you to reach the summit through a very steep channel.

Today was with variable weather, rain was expected but in the afternoon, so we left early from Rome and went to Abruzzo. In two hours by car we reached Campo Imperatore where the path towards the Gran Sasso begins. In about 2 hours and 20 minutes we reached the top, making several mountaineering passages but without encountering great difficulties. Continue reading IW0HK and IZ0FYL activate Gran Sasso (I/AB-301)

Fitting in some QRP SOTA & POTA on Mount Jefferson!

Looking back at last year (2021), if I had to pick out one of the easiest SOTA activations I made, Mount Jefferson would be near the top of the list. It’s a very accessible summit although not technically a “drive-up” summit because you will need to walk a short distance up a service road to the activation zone (AZ).

Mount Jefferson (W4C/EM-021) is located on and protected by the Mount Jefferson State Natural Area (K-3846), so when you activate Mount Jefferson for Summits On The Air, you can also claim the activation for Parks On The Air and World-Wide Flora and Fauna as long as you work at least 10 contacts.

What I love about POTA and SOTA “2-fer” sites like this is that you can set things up to be spotted in both systems (and often the WWFF system, too!) which increases your audience of hunters and chasers, thus increasing your odds of achieving a valid activation in all programs. It’s especially desirable if you’re a CW op and know you may potentially be in a spot with no mobile phone service for self-spotting; if, for some reason, RBN auto-spotting functionality is down with one program, the other serves as a backup.

Mount Jefferson is at least a two hour drive from my QTH, but it was easy pickings on April 29, 2022 because it happened to be within spitting distance of New River State Park where I was camping with my family.

Mount Jefferson (W4C/EM-021)

The drive to Mount Jefferson took all of 20 minutes which was a good thing because our family had other activities in store that day including some extended hikes!

Hazel (above) was so excited to to check out the sights and smells at this new-to-her park! Continue reading Fitting in some QRP SOTA & POTA on Mount Jefferson!

Paul’s SOTA excursions captured on live webcams

Many thanks to Paul (W0RW) who shares the following guest post:


Can you See Me Now? Portable Operation From a Web Cam.

by Paul (W0RW)

There are now thousands of web cams operating around the world and they make great portable operating locations.

By watching a webcam stream, the stations who works you can watch you live as you talk to and log them.

When I am activating a site with a live webcam, I post the web cam link on my QRZ.com page and then stations who contact me can then go to QRZ, click and watch. I usually have a big sign that shows up on the web cam with my call and my frequency. Even DX guys who can’t hear me can watch me operate.

Many web cams are now live streaming; they give you fast refresh rates and real time video. Other bandwidth limited cams refresh at slower rates and may give only 1 frame every minute.

I was at the ‘Teller 1 Web Cam’ on 8 June 2022 (see photos above) and made 10 Q’s on CW and 10’Q’s on SSB. It has an almost real time video but with a delay of about 10 seconds. It is at 10,000 feet.

The HD Pikes Peak Panoramic Cam that I frequently use (At 14,115 feet) has a revolving 1 minute refresh rate.

I am standing right above the ‘RW’ sign.

The remote Independence Pass, Colorado, Web Camera is a solar powered wireless camera with a 1 minute refresh rate. I am standing just to the left of the tree.

This camera is down now and won’t be back on line until July.

Paul w0rw
Colorado


That makes for a fun dimension in playing SOTA, Paul! Thank you for sharing. So far, I haven’t activated a summit with a webcam, but it looks like there are numerous ones in Colorado. I’ll have to keep this in mind before heading out there!

SOTA featured on BBC Countryfile

A number of readers and friends here and in the SOTA community are simply chuffed that Countryfile on the BBC recently featured a short segment about Flat Holm, its historical ties with Marconi, and modern portable amateur radio.

I tried my best to view this yesterday from the US, but shows like this on BBC One are geo-blocked via the BBC iPlayer…which is, evidently, clever enough to recognize VPNs.

However, I notice the segment has recently been posted on YouTube, so if like me you’re outside of the UK, I encourage you to watch it quickly before it gets pulled.

Enjoy!

Click here to view on YouTube.

The segment features our friend Fraser, MM0EFI (remember his brilliant field report chock-full of Land Rover nostalgia–?) and a number of other amateur radio operators.

Fraser posted his own video showing the other side of his contact with the Countryfile crew:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Fraser sat on top of that gusty summit for quite some time before the BBC crew were ready, but it looks like he had a lot of fun.

You did a brilliant job, Fraser! So glad the propagation worked in your favor.

What’s more, I love the fact that Countryfile crew looked at SOTA with both curiosity and excitement.

Bravo to all of the radio ops featured in this segment; you’re all proper ham radio ambassadors!

Leo’s first SOTA activation included impressive SSB QRP DX and a CW pile-up!

Many thanks to Leo (DL2COM) who writes:

Hey Thomas,

[…]I just wanted to give you a quick update on my 1st SOTA activation (May 18th). We spent a few days in the south of France with the extended family. From the garden of the house we rented we were constantly looking towards a beautiful mountain front and it turned out to be SOTA summit FR/CR-205 (726m, 2382ft). So I decided to try and activate it since we had enough people around who offered to watch out for our kids.

Next morning: 6am my dear XYL and I started our ascent.

What a wonderful scenery with morning mist covering most of the mountain landscape and the sun in perfect shape for an early hike.

At around 7:45am we arrived at the summit and I started throwing up my arborist weight into pretty much the only suitable tree available. Continue reading Leo’s first SOTA activation included impressive SSB QRP DX and a CW pile-up!

SOTA in the Clouds: Pairing the Elecraft KX2 and MPAS Lite for brilliant QRP fun on Craggy Dome!

Although I live in the mountains of North Carolina and am surrounded by SOTA summits, it’s much easier for me to activate a park rather than a summit.

Parks can be quite easy: find the park on a map, drive through their main entrance, find a good picnic table to set up, and next thing you know you’re on the air! Of course, wildlife management areas and game lands can be more tricky, but typically you can drive to the activation site.

Summits–speaking as someone who activates in North Carolina–take much more planning. If it’s a new-to-me summit, I typically need to:

  1. find the GPS coordinates of the true summit
  2. map out the drive to the trail head
  3. read through previous activation notes (if they exist) to find out
    • what type of antenna/gear I might pack
    • and any notes I might need to find the trail or bushwhack to the true summit (quite often published, well-worn trails don’t lead to the actual summit)
  4. look up the trail map and make sure I have a paper and/or electronic copy
  5. pack all needed gear for the hike, activation, and emergencies
  6. sort out the time it will take to travel to the site, hike the full trail to the summit, activate, and return home

If you ask most any SOTA activator, they’ll tell you that the planning is part of the fun.

It really is.

One summit I’ve had on my activation list for ages is Craggy Dome (W4C/CM-007). Out of the higher summits in this region, it’s one of the easier ones for me to reach from the QTH. In fact, as with Lane Pinnacle, I could simply hike from my house directly to the summit (although one way to Craggy might take the better part of a day). The trailhead is about a 50 minute drive, and the hike about 30 minutes.

SOTA notes and All Trails indicated that Craggy Dome’s trail isn’t always easy to follow and that it’s steep and slippery.

Craggy has been activated loads of times, though, so I wasn’t concerned at all.

Living here and knowing how much brush there was on the manway to the summit, I knew that Craggy would be a pretty easy summit if I could activate it after the parkway re-opened for the spring and before the mountain “greened-up”; about a five week window.

Meeting Bruce

My schedule opened up for an activation of Craggy Dome on the morning of April 21, 2022 and I was very much looking forward to it.

I wouldn’t be alone on this hike either. Bruce (KO4ZRN), a newly-minted ham, contacted me and asked if he could join me on a hike and simply be an observer during a SOTA activation.

Fortunately, timing worked for him to join me on this particular SOTA activation. Continue reading SOTA in the Clouds: Pairing the Elecraft KX2 and MPAS Lite for brilliant QRP fun on Craggy Dome!

Why I’m skipping Hamvention this year

I made a tough choice a few weeks ago.

Since last year, I’ve been planning to attend the 2022 Hamvention and the Four Days In May (FDIM) evenings.

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.

We hatched an alternate plan that ended up winning us over. Continue reading Why I’m skipping Hamvention this year

Which to choose? The Venus SW-3B or the Penntek TR-35?

Many thanks to Pat (N0HR) who shared following question in a comment:

Thomas

I simply love your videos – both your impressions of the gear and the activations themselves. Great stuff.

I’m curious – now that you’ve played with both the SW-3B and the Penntek TR-35, which is the favorite? Seems like they’re both roughly in the same price range.

Thanks for your fantastic channel and website

73,
Pat N0HR

Thank you for the kind words, Pat, and great question! Several people have asked me variations of this very question recently.

I like both radios, so I’ll frame this in a way that might help others make a purchase decision.

Spoiler alert: You really can’t go wrong with either radio and I feel it’s more a question of operator preferences. Continue reading Which to choose? The Venus SW-3B or the Penntek TR-35?