There is a discussion thread at VK SOTA Yahoo looking at the noticeable reduction in VK SOTA activity. The general consensus is the VK program has reached a mature state, however there is some thought the recent reduction in activity may be aligned to the Solar Minimum. I thought I would take a closer look at my contributions to VK SOTA, has my SOTA activity declined too?
The charts below show my combined VK1NAM and VK1AD (callsigns) Summits On the Air (SOTA) activation stats by month and year since the start of SOTA in VK1 on 1 February 2013. Below are some of the highlights of this wonderful hobby, combining amateur radio with bushwalking and navigation skills.
- 2013 was the VK1 SOTA inaugural year, my callsign was VK1NAM. Most activations were undertaken on 40m SSB and 2m FM. Early in the year Andrew VK1DA introduced me to 2m aircraft enhancement, I was immediately hooked on 2m SSB. 🙂 By June 2013 a small number of activators were experimenting with SOTA ops on 20m 14.310 MHz.
- Later in 2013 I surveyed 5 new VK1 SOTA peaks bringing the total qualifying (P150) peaks to 48. In 2013 I retired my two 7.2 Ah Gell Cell batteries (5 kg) for two 5Ah 4S 16 volt LiPo weighing in for a total of 1 kg.
- 2014 was the year for consolidation of homebrew antennas (HF, VHF and UHF) refinement of my SOTA kit and moving from LiPo to LiFePO4 batteries. In January 2014 Al VK1RX and I completed a joint activation of Canberra’s highest mountain, Bimberi Peak VK1/AC-001.
- 2015 was my busiest year for local and Europe Dx SOTA activity. Later in 2015 I gained my advanced licence qualification.
- During 2016, coinciding with a decline in sunspot activity, I set myself a personal challenge to qualify all summits on the 70cm band, 24 qualified out of 30 activated on 70cm is a great result! 🙂 Throughout 2016 and 2017 I have where possible, operated on the WARC bands 10.130 and 18.145 MHz. I deliberately chose 18 MHz SSB as a way to promote VK SOTA chasing in Japan and New Zealand. In May 2016 with the help of Mike 2E0YYY I activated Shining Tor G/SP-004 in the UK, while in June 2016 with the help of Heinz OE5EEP and Herbert OE9HRV I activated peaks in Austria, Germany, Lichtenstein and Switzerland.
- Later in 2016 I surveyed four new VK2 summits, yet to be gazetted.
- For 2017 I set myself a personal challenge to qualify all summits at QRP power levels. So far so good!
- For VK1 and nearby VK2 the months of June, July, August, September and October favour the addition of 3 winter bonus points for summits >= 1200 metres ASL. The winter snowline around VK1 and nearby VK2 summits is approximately 1500 metres ASL. The coldest months are June, July and August with overnight temperatures dropping to minus 7 degrees C 🙂
- October through to March (VK daylight savings) offers opportunities to work SOTA activators and chasers in Europe, Japan and New Zealand on 20m SSB. The ideal VK east coast Dx window is the last 90 minutes of daylight leading in to VK sunset.
- December and January favour 6m and 10m operations. Enhanced propagation occurs on 2m, 70cm and 23cm bands.
- My favourite mode of operation is Aircraft Enhancement on 2m and 70cm. In June this year (2017) I acquired 23cm 1296 MHz capability. I am keen to experiment with 23cm aircraft enhancement and long distant 23cm Summit to Summit (S2S) ops.
- Fun Fact 1. I still have 11 VK1 summits on my list for first-time activations.
- My list of completed SOTA activations in VK1, VK2, VK3 and Europe can be found at this link.
- Throughout my SOTA journey I have enjoyed the friendship and company of like minded radio amateurs here in Australia and overseas. I have made some great enduring friendships here in Australia and overseas. 🙂
- I have mentored three new starters to the VK1 SOTA program.
- I am aware this blog has triggered local (VK) and overseas interest in SOTA.
- Fun Fact 2. If your name is Andrew you are likely to be a SOTA activator. In VK1 we have Andrew VK1DA, Andrew VK1MBE, Andrew VK2MWP and myself Andrew VK1AD. The Andrews don’t end in VK1 they are everywhere! In VK3 we have Andrew VK3ARR, Andrew VK3JBL and Andrew VK3BQ. Looking across the ditch, New Zealand is represented by Andrew ZL3CC 😉
- For scheduled SOTA events check out my VK SOTA calendar.
VK1AD activation stats
My 2017 activity is well down on 2016. While my numbers are down, it should be noted I don’t subscribe to the 40m (7MHz) model ergo the Solar Minimum has little impact. I prefer to operate across a range of frequency bands with a preference for 50 MHz and above. 😉
Total activation stats by year (VK1AD plus VK1NAM)
Get out of the radio shack and enjoy life. 😉