For his 2013 Presidential Address Andy Sinclair MM0FMF spoke on "SOTA - Summits on the Air - an Amateur Radio award scheme". It soon became apparent that he is a very enthusiastic participant in this relatively-new activity.
SOTA was the original idea of John G3WGV, who developed it with Richard G3CWI and launched it in 2002. Apart from the actual hill-climbing and operating, it is very much an Internet-administered activity:
http://www.sota.org.uk - the main site about the SOTA programme.
http://www.sotawatch.org - alerts, spots and a forum; register to participate.
http://www.sotadata.org.uk - log chasing and activating QSOs; register to enter QSOs and see more detail.
SOTA is organized by "Associations" in different areas and countries, each of which maintains a list of qualifying summits.
SOTA is very much a competitive activity, with sections for "Activators", "Chasers" and SWLs.
"Activators" have stringent rules to follow, including:
- Cannot use motorised transport to summit.
- Must operate from portable power source.
- Must carry all equipment to summit.
- Must make at least 4 QSOs.
- QSOs via terrestrial repeaters don't count!
There are various awards, Honour Rolls etc.
Scoring is based upon the elevation of the summit and its vertical separation or prominence from adjacent hills by at least 150m. Each summit is given a reference code e.g.: G/LD-003 where G is the ITU callsign prefix, LD (Lake District) is a 2-letter region code, and 002 is a unique reference for that peak.
Andy showed maps of qualifying summits in various parts of the UK, in this case southern Scotland.
This is an example of a SOTA scoring table, (GM by chance!) which is determined by the local topography.
BANDS & MODES
VHF+: a lot of 2m FM; SSB is also popular; CW is only used occasionally.
HF: a lot of CW is used with QRP equipment; UK activity is common on 5MHz (NVIS)
Andy showed all his SOTA equipment which is all packed into a single rucsack,
apart from a lightweight fibreglass fishing pole to support the aerials.
He has quite a number of very lightweight single-band wire aerials for HF.
Aerials for SOTA
All the equipment you need for SOTA - make sure it's lightweight!
Richard G3CWI, one of the founders of SOTA, on the summit of Snowdon.
LRS member John GM8OTI is also a keen SOTA operator, here on Allermuir Hill in the Pentlands
A determined-looking Andy on Hart Fell.
But you don't really start to enjoy SOTA until conditions are like this!