SOTA DX

The Summits on the Air (SOTA) program for amateur radio operators is increasing in popularity with the expansion of the program to all VK associations VK1, VK2, VK3, VK4, VK5, VK6, VK7, VK8 and VK9.   As the take up improves and newcomers chase and activate local VK summits, a number of ‘old-hands’ are starting to draw their attention to chasing SOTA DX using CW and SSB modes.

VK1 to Europe (scroll down for USA on 20, 17, 15, 12 & 10m)

A small group of VK1 activators started experiments in November 2013 by activating local summits with the aim to propagate signals long path to European countries, offering SOTA DX chasers the opportunity to log VK1 summits.  A spin-off of this activity is EU and UK activators are reciprocating by activating summits in the same UTC time window to Australia.  The propagation of signals on 20m (14.300 to 14.350 MHz SSB) between mountain peaks in Europe and Australia is producing good results in VK1, my home SOTA association.

What is the ideal timing for DX to Europe?  Experiments conducted from the east coast of Australia show the ideal window can range between one hour and 90 minutes leading up to sunset.  Experiments conducted in December produced EU contacts as late as 09:15 UTC or 20:15 local AEDT.  With the change of seasons moving from summer to autumn the window will change as the daylight hours shorten.  In the table below you can see the DX opening start time peaks in January. EU short path signals at this time of the day are uncommon.

My recommendation to anyone who wants to try SOTA DX, is to start at least 60 minutes before sunset.  If you don’t know the forecast sunset time for the summit, go to the SOTAWatch summit details page and check the sunset time details.  In the example below for Mt Taylor on 31 October 2014 the sun will set at 08:33, as viewed from Mt Taylor.

31 Oct 14 - Mt Taylor Sunset 08:33 UTC (local time 19:33)

31 Oct 14 – Mt Taylor Sunset 08:33 UTC (local time 19:33)

Informing others

How do you communicate your intent?  In addition to posting the summit alert at least 48 hours in advance, I strongly recommend you post a note on the SOTAWatch reflector.  The reflector is an invaluable tool that allows chasers and potential activators a means to communicate in real-time. If you are after a S2S contact then say so, don’t leave it for someone to guess.

On the day.  Check you gear, antennas, coax, battery charge state, power leads, headlamp etc.  What antenna support do you need to take?  Have you considered the summit environment, are there little Aussie critters that bite, do you need to take insect repellant?   If you rely on a mobile phone to check for SOTA spots, as most of us do, is the battery fully charged?  If you’re a checklist person, then make a checklist.

Good luck..

Results of my experimentation with SOTA DX and long path propagation.

SOTA DX to Europe and UK on 20m between 14.300 to 14.350 MHz SSB

Date VK Summit UTC Operating Period Duration (min) No of DX Chasers DX S2S contacts Unique Countries Radio & Power Comments
15-Nov-13 Friday Mt Ainslie VK1/AC-040 07:20 to 07:45 25 2 Nil 2 FT-857D 35 watts First attempt at SOTA DX
23-Nov-13 Saturday Mt Taylor VK1/AC-037 07:45 to 09:00 75 9 3 5 FT-857D 40 watts 3 days notice on SOTAWatch reflector
29-Nov-13 Friday Mt Taylor VK1/AC-037 07:15 to 07:40 25 4 1 2 FT-857D 40 watts storms reduced the activation period
3-Dec-13 Tuesday Mt Majura VK1/AC-034 08:15 to 09:20 65 22 Nil 11 FT-857D 40 watts  Chaser numbers growing
7-Dec-13 Saturday One Tree Hill VK1/AC-035 07:20 to 09:35 75 23 2 11 FT-857D 40 watts
14-Dec-13 Saturday Mt Ainslie VK1/AC-040 08:15 to 09:15 60 24 Nil 9 FT-857D 40 watts Peak before Christmas
12-Jan-14 Sunday Bimberi Peak VK1/AC-001 09:00 to 09:53 53 9 1 6 FT-817ND 5 watts QRP from the highest peak in VK1
18-Feb-14 Tuesday Mt McDonald VK1/AC-048 07:35 to 08:35 60 21 1 10 FT-857D 40 watts Return to SOTA DX
25-Feb-14 Tuesday Mt Majura VK1/AC-034 07:10 to 08:25 75 31 2 11 FT-857D 40 watts VK SOTA DX ‘news’ is spreading
4-Mar-14 Tuesday One Tree Hill VK1/AC-035 07:20 to 08:35 75 34 1 15 FT-857D 40 watts New countries
7-Mar-14 Friday Isaacs Ridge VK1/AC-041 07:20 to 07:40 20 4 Nil 3 FT-817ND 5 watts short QRP activation
8-Mar-14 Saturday Mt Coree VK1/AC-23 07:10 to 07:25 15 12 1 7 FT-857D 40 watts storms reduced the activation period
9-Mar-14 Sunday Bowning Hill VK2/ST-042 07:20 to 08:00 40 13 Nil 8 ICOM IC 703 10 watts & FT-857D 40 watts Joint activation with VK1DA started at 07:00 UTC
19-Mar-14 Wednesday Mt Taylor VK1/AC-037 06:54 to 08:12 75 20 3 8 FT-857D 40 watts Sunset 08:20 UTC
01-Apr-14 Tuesday Tuggeranong Hill VK1/AC-038 06:50 to 07:50 60 23 with 2 IOTA Nil 9 FT-857D 40 watts Sunset 08:00 UTC  2 IOTA contacts
12-Apr-14 Saturday Livingstone Hill VK2/SM-093 05:30 to 07:05 95 31 1 15 FT-857D 40 watts Sunset 07:55 UTC
15 Aug 14 Friday Mt Ainslie VK1/AC-040 06:25 to 07:15 50 20 with 1 IOTA 1  9 FT-857D 35 watts Sunset 07:35 UTC  1 IOTA contact
22 Aug 14 Friday Mt Ainslie VK1/AC-040 06:30 to 07:31 61 49 1 17 FT-857D 38 watts Sunset 07:40 UTC  1 S2S contact
29 Aug 14 Friday Mt Ainslie VK1/AC-040 06:30 to 07:52 82 56 with 1 IOTA 3 18 FT-857D 50 watts Sunset 07:42 UTC  3 S2S contacts and 1 IOTA
31 Aug 14 Sunday Spring Hill VK2/ST-036 06:00 to 07:30 90 65 1 20 FT-857D 35 watts Sunset 07:42 UTC  3 S2S contacts. 3 USA and 1 Mexico
6 Sep 14  Saturday Mt McDonald VK1/AC-048 05:50 to 07:10 start too early 80 16 4 10 FT-857D 35 watts Sunset 07:44 UTC  4 S2S contacts. 1st S2S with France
12 Sep 14  Friday Tuggeranong Hill VK1/AC-038 06:00 to 06:55 55 11 2 8 FT-857D 40 watts Sunset 07:51 UTC  2 UK S2S contacts.  CME flare impacting conditions
17 Sep 14 Wednesday
Mt Stromlo VK1/AC-043 06:20 to 07:35 75 16 4 9 FT-857D 40 watts Sunset 07:55 UTC. 4 S2S
21 Sep 14 Sunday
Mt Taylor VK1/AC-037 06:30 to 07:50 80 31 3 12 FT-857D 35 watts Sunset 08:00 UTC. 2nd S2S with France.
28 Sep 14 Sunday
Mt Ginini VK1/AC-008 06:25 to 07:20 55 20 4 12 FT-857D 38 watts Sunset 08:05 UTC. 4 S2S, first for Liechtenstein and Spain.
03 Oct 14 Friday Mt Ainslie VK1/AC-040 06:35 to 07:35 60 16 6 7 FT-857D 35 watts Sunset 08:10 UTC. Record number of SOTA DX S2S contacts 6.
29 Oct 14 Wednesday
Mt Majura VK1/AC-034 06:50 to 07:50 60 28 2 15 FT-857D 38 watts Sunset 08:30 UTC.  2 UK S2S
31 Oct 14 Friday
Mt Taylor VK1/AC-037 07:10 to 07:55 45  13  2  11 FT-857D 38 watts Sunset 08:35 UTC. 2 UK S2S
04 Feb 15 Wednesday
Mt Majura VK1/AC-034 07:30 to 09:00  90  3  0  2 FT-857D 38 watts Sunset 09:10 UTC
13 Mar 15 Friday
Isaacs Ridge VK1/AC-041 07:00 to 08:10  70  35  3  14 FT-857D 40 watts Sunset 08:30 UTC
21 Aug 15 Friday
Mt Ainslie VK1/AC-040 06:50 to 07:20 40 13 Nil 8 FT-857D 30 watts Sunset 08:30 UTC
07 Oct 16 Friday
Mt Ainslie VK1/AC-040 06:10 to 07:50 100 18 2 12 FT-857D 40 watts Sunset 08:10 UTC. 2 UK S2S
09 Oct 16 Sunday
Mt Majura VK1/AC-034 06:30 to 07:50 80 19 Nil 10 FT-857D 40 watts Sunset 08:10 UTC
22 Oct 16 Saturday
Mt Taylor VK1/AC-037 06:00 to 08:10 140 12 6 7 FT-857D 40 watts Sunset 08:30 UTC. 1st Greek and Japan S2S QSOs
28 Oct 16 Friday
Mt Stromlo VK1/AC-043 07:00 to 08:25 85 14 1 (JA) 8 FT-857D 40 watts Sunset 08:30 UTC. 2nd Japan S2S QSO
5 Nov 16 Saturday
Goorooyarroo VK1/AC-036 23:00 to 03:10 4 hrs 4 1 (JA6) 2 FT-857D 40 watts Seeking SOTA S2S with Japan
9 Nov 16 Wednesday
Isaacs Ridge VK1/AC-041 06:50 to 07:30 40 14 Nil 8 FT-857D 40 watts Sunset 08:40 UTC. Thunderstrom at 07:40 UTC. 1st SP2 (Polish) station worked
11 Nov 16 Friday
Isaacs Ridge VK1/AC-041 06:45 to 08:40 115 10 1 7 FT-857D 40 watts Sunset 08:40 UTC.  S2S with Mike 2E0YYY

VK1 SOTA to Europe and Russia Short Path on 28 MHz

Date VK Summit UTC Operating Period
Duration (min) No of DX Chasers DX S2S contacts Unique Countries Radio & Power Comments
5 Feb 16 Friday Mt Ainslie VK1/AC-040 07:30 to 09:10 100 16 Nil 7 FT-857D 30 watts First attempt at EU short path on 28.485 MHz

VK SOTA to North America on 14, 18, 21, 24 and 28 MHz

Date VK Summit UTC Operating Period
Duration (min) No of DX Chasers DX S2S contacts Unique Countries Radio & Power Comments
14-Mar-14 Friday Mogood VK2/SC-049 22:00 to 22:40 40 6 Nil 1 USA FT-857D 40 watts First attempt on 10m for USA
21 Mar 14 Friday Gibraltar Hill VK2/ST-016 21:20 to 21:55 35 10 Nil 1 USA FT-857D 40 watts Second attempt on 10m for USA
22 Apr 14 Tuesday Yankee Ned Hill VK2/SW-026 23:50 to 00:10 20 6 Nil 1 USA FT-817ND 5 watts 28.510 MHz
30 Jan 15 Saturday Mt Taylor VK1/AC-037 21:10 to 21:40 30 2 Nil 1 USA FT-857D 40 watts 28.485 MHz
27 Nov 16 Sunday Mt Taylor VK1/AC-037 19:15 to 21:00 105 5 1 W6PNG 1 USA FT-857D 50 watts 21, 24 and 18 MHz

Updated 27 November 2016 –  26 November 2016  First VK Summit to Summit with North America, a S2S QSO with Paul W6PNG on W6/SC-369

2 thoughts on “SOTA DX

  1. Pingback: SOTA – Facebook – Mt Taylor Canberra – New York | Get out of the Radio Shack and Live Life

  2. Pingback: SOTA DX from VK1 Australia’s Capital Territory – Friday 29 Aug 14 | Get out of the Radio Shack and Live Life

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