Posted by: GW7AAV | November 15, 2009

SOTA passion and pile ups

SOTAThose who read this weblog regularly will know Summits on the Air is my main passion and while I occasionally get the chance to wander in the hills with my radios, I spend far more time running in and out of the shack at home working other activators. Today I was up earlier than I expected after working a twelve-hour night shift and no doubt I will be flagging about 3am as a result. I was up just in time to work Andy MA0FMF/P (5mHz) on a previously un-activated South Scotland summit Meall na Fearna GM/SS-035, which made it all worthwhile. Still on 5mHz I worked Walt G3NYY/P up on Hegdon Hill G/WB-023 in the Welsh Boarders and on 80 metres I got Geoff 2E0BTR/P on Bryn y Fan GW/MW-018 in Mid-Wales and Steve G1INK/P on Hoove G/NP-024 in North Pennines. That was a total of eight chaser points, which for me on a weekend is a poor show, but that was due to my working/sleeping pattern because looking at the spots page there had been 46 spots today and 90 for the weekend. Bearing in mind we are in what might be considered the SOTA doldrums, a period between the good weather and the winter bonus that does not seem too shabby.


On Saturday there were stations on from Canadian and US summits and although I never heard anything of them they created quite a stir. My buddy Mike GW0DSP managed to work one of the Canadian stations on 20m CW and was as pleased as punch to get his first VA SOTA. Richard G0IBE/P on Bredon Hill G/CE-003 managed an SSB summit-to-summit contact with K1YMI/P on Crane Mountain W2/GA-044 not bad with both stations running 5w with Richard giving 4/1 and receiving a 5/3 report in return. Lets hope the activity stirs up more interest in the Americas. 

There is a worry that SOTA is becoming a victim of its own success with complaints on the reflector of the animalistic scrambles reminiscent of rare DX expeditions on the CW portion of 40 metres. Yesterday I waited patiently for the pile up to disperse in order to work an Austrian activator on 40 metres SSB, it took 45 minutes before I even bothered calling. If this had been a busy SOTA weekend I might have given up in order to work another station. As an activator I would relish the attention and I love the chance to fill the logbook but for the chaser the nice gentlemanly round of familiar call signs waiting for their turn is turning in to a bit of a melee. What somewhat worries me is that propagation is still poor, so what happens when it eventually comes good? I suspect then SOTA will hit new heights and the pile-ups will see stations closing down with callers still waiting, after all is considered you can only spend so long on a cold windy mountain.

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