European and UK activators

Last night (Monday 23rd December, 2013) I was on the 7.130 DX Net on 40m, and the goat bleated on my iPhone on the SOTA Goat app, to advise there was a SOTA activator out and about.  So I checked the phone and saw that it was Jana, DG5WU operating portable on Wildalpjoch, DL/ MF-075.  It was just starting to get dark outside, so things looked promising with the grayline.  I tuned to 20m and I could just barely hear Jana, but certainly not strong enough to work.  And there was a constant pile up.

So feeling a little dejected, my goat bleated again a few minutes later, and I saw a spot for Patricio EA2EX who was portable on Ilso, EA2/ BI-050 in the Vizcaya region of northern Spain, not far from the French border.  I tuned a few kc away from Jana, and there was Patricio.  Not all that strong, but audible all the way down here in South Australia.  So I eagerly picked up the mic, and I tried calling Patricio, but couldn’t make the grade through the European pile up.

But I kept listening and remained patient, and to his credit, Patricio called for outside Europe, and I was able to make contact with him.  Not flattering signal reports either way, but a contact nether less.  We were able to hear each other.  All the way from a mountain top in Spain to the Adelaide Hills in South Australia.  And all on Patricio’s 5 watts.

Patricio was using a Yaesu FT-817, 5 watts, and a ground plane antenna.

Patricio is ranked 9th in the EA2 Association as a SOTA activator.

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I then saw another spot for Col, F/MM0YCJ, on 20m, on F/ AB-204.  Hoping that I might get lucky again, I tuned to his operating frequency.  But that wasn’t to be the case.  Sadly I could not hear Col at all.  I could clearly hear the Chasers, but not Col.

I have now worked a total of  22 DX Activators in 14 different European SOTA Associations on SSB (20m & 10m).  I have my Bronze Mountain Hunter certificate (currently 9 different Associations with QSO’s with at least 2 different summits).  I have 11 Associations where my count is 1 summit. So I need just 1 more contact to qualify for Silver Mountain Hunter.

I am yet to make contact with a US activator.  I must polish up on my CW skills and give Morse a go and I would probably have more success !

As I have found out myself, as a SOTA Activator, it is possible to make good DX contacts all the way to Europe, the UK, & the USA, on QRP power.  It all depends on the conditions, your antenna, the Chaser’s antenna, good listening skills, good operator practise, the time of the day, and of course GOOD LUCK !

In closing, I just wanted to say thank you to those European & UK SOTA activators that take the time to have a listen out for us all the way down here in Australia.  It seems that more & more interest is growing in getting Europe – Australia SOTA contacts, thanks to the recent efforts of Andrew VK1NAM, Ed VK2JI, & others. Ian VK5CZ (the VK5 SOTA Assoc Manager) made contact with a station in Poland on 10m just a few nights ago.

So thanks for listening for us Aussies.  There is a core group of us SOTA enthusiasts down here that would be more than happy to get you in the log.

New book added to my library

Recently I purchased the following book from the WIA Library…..

‘Low Power Communication.  The Art and Science of QRP”.

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I am only half way through reading it, but this book is highly recommended.  It contains some terrific information and tips on QRP operation, not just for portable enthusiasts, but for Foundation calls as well.

The book includes the following…..

  • Tips to Get You Started the Right Way
    An introduction to QRP operating, FAQs for newbies and tips that even experienced amateurs will appreciate.
  • Equipment and Station Accessories
    Off-the-shelf commercial gear, kit building and homebrew, including an all-new homebrew photo gallery.
  • Antennas for QRP – Updated and Expanded!
    Wire beams, loops, dipoles, portable antennas and a look at the author’s new stealth antenna design.
  • Operating Strategies
    Contesting, awards and advanced techniques for becoming a successful QRP operator.
  • Emergency Communication
    Training, planning and other factors for utilizing low-power gear during an emergency.
  • HF Propagation for the QPRer
    NEW! An authoritative look at likely propagation conditions for Solar Cycle 24.
  • Plus, QRP calling frequencies, manufacturers…and much more!

The other day I heard someone commenting on air as to how stupid it was that Foundation calls used just 10 watts.  All I can say to that is that SOTA, the KRMNPA, the VK5 Parks Award, etc, have all recently shown what can be done with a lot less than 10 watts.  For me its all about knowing the band conditions, timing your calls, and antenna…antenna….antenna.