Brian ZS6BV activated ZS/LP-083 just before Christmas. He’s one of the regular SOTA activators in ZS. What made this particular activation rather special is that he made contact with Eddie ZS6BNE using CW. It happened to be Brian’s second on air CW QSO and Eddie’s first CW QSO with a SOTA station during the past twelve months!
Two other activators for December just before the New Year were Graham ZR6GHK and Karin ZR6KAR who activated ZS/MP-061. Graham is also able to do CW and is looking forward to SOTA contacts using this mode.
I did some retail price enquiries on the really bare minimum amateur radio rigs, in particular the latest version of the very popular FT817ND, the FT-818ND. The VAT inclusive price – a cool sixteen and a half grand! Imagine the really cool top of the range smartphone you can get for this kind of money. I recall the comments from my grandson written in my last report on ham radio vs WhatsApp. Like the Americans would say, it’s a no brainer. An old die hard ham radio man like myself would be enticed to go that route too!
So, how could ham radio become affordable to younger hams and give equal satisfaction to that of the latest technologies at their fingertips. The answer I still believe is in simple home brewing and of course CW! This argument does not apply to those who wish to build a high power station with the best equipment available, the highest tower and the best beams not to mention a high end computing platform in order to work the world using FT8. Okay, said tongue in cheek with a little sarcasm for taste. Each one to his own but you can’t cart all that “stuff” up a steep hill braving the elements or walk a kilometer, ride a bicycle or paddle a canoe carrying everything including your linear!
The fun in POTA / SOTA and RaDAR is the minimalistic theme and already Jannie ZS3CM is being bitten by the bug. Johnathan ZS1ARB often climbs mountains at every opportunity, not necessarily SOTA. He was so surprised that he was heard so well the other day only pushing five Watts! Michael ZS6MSW, a CW enthusiast usually runs 100W in fear of not being heard. It’s only two S points difference between 100W and 5W. I’m sure we’ll be hearing Michael at QRP levels more often! I truly believe QRP radio’s have better receivers or the operator’s ears are more finely tuned expecting a weaker signal and listening more carefully than the QRO operator expecting a full quieting signal at S9 PLUS levels. I’m being purposefully “sarcastic” again – do I have your attention now?
That WhatsApp thingy – you need to be part of the SOTA / POTA and “CW a lifestyle” groups. There is an international RaDAR WhatsApp group too but mostly only active before the three annual RaDAR Challenges.
There is also a WhatsApp Hamsat group. I left the group because I no longer had the time to follow all the activity and unable to be too active on the sats, limited to the FM satellites where the most activity takes place anyway. I’ll be back again in a few weeks / months time. I’m still working on my morale!
Talking about morale. I get pretty happy knowing some guys are going out to do some SOTA activations and I start to prepare to support them. The rules have changed, a SOTA chaser only gets a point for the first QSO on a summit for the day. It’s about supporting multiple ACTIVATORS. They need four QSO’s EACH to get credit for their hard work. Propagation is sometimes our friend. Forty meters has been rather skippy the past few months, sometimes to our advantage for longer distance contacts throughout South Africa.