The answers to the most frequently asked questions are below (click on a question to reveal the answer):

What is the best rig for a SOTA activation?

It depends on several factors. Weight is certainly one of them. If you have any portable radio, try it out. Many activations are done with a simple VHF/UHV HT.  Try to replace the rubber-ducky on your HT with a better option (a simple home-brew Yagi-Uda will do wonders). Other popular multiband/multimode radios are the Yaesu FT-817, Elecraft KX3. For more information, check out EA2BD/Ignacio’s portable rig comparison.



Can I use the SOTA logo on my QSL card?

SOTA_1000x1000SOTA and the SOTA Logo are trademarks of the Program.

Participants are free to use the SOTA logo for any NON COMMERCIAL 
purpose including its use on individual participant's qsl cards, 
on their personal websites, promotional literature and for local 
promotion of the SOTA program.
(source: http://reflector.sota.org.uk/t/use-of-sota-logo/5717)

You can download the logo from here.

Self-spotting via SMS (USA gateway)

You need to register your cell phone number with Andy/MMØFMF. Send him an e-mail (mm0fmf_sotaATintermoose.com) with the following information:

  • Your email address
  • Your call sign
  • Your cell phone number

After you are registered you can use the gateway as follows:

Now send an SMS to: 1-530-430-7682

Syntax:  ! association summit frequency mode comment

e.g. ! w0c fr-001 14.285 ssb calling CQ now

  • ! = use my sign-up call sign.  If you want to use a different call sign, enter it instead of “!”
  • w0c = the REGION (W0C = Colorado)
  • FR-001 =Region and Summit identifier (FR=Front Range / 001 = first defined peak in this region)
  • 14.285 ssb = frequency and mode
  • calling CQ now = comment

Make sure to test it before you are heading towards a summit – and use ‘TESTING’ as a comment ;)

What is the best antenna for a SOTA activation?

It depends. There is no best antenna. You have to figure out what works best for you
and your circumstances. Don’t invest a lot of money in a portable antenna if you just starting in SOTA. Take a quarter wave of wire and a tuner, hang it in a tree (or any other support) and give it a try.

Antenna SurveyA survey in early 2014 among SOTA activators showed the following results (see table on the left):

Question: What is your favorite portable antenna?

The rationale behind this was not to find what people thought was necessarily the best performing portable antenna but most likely to actually use.





Why is summit ‘xyz’ not on the list?

Prominence_correctedA summit has to meet a certain minimum qualification to qualify for SOTA. SOTA qualified summits follow a vertical separation concept (150 m or 492 ft. prominence for most Assoc.). The minimum prominence must therefor be >= 150 m (492 ft) from surrounding peaks. You can see an example on your left (click on it to magnify). If you think you found a summit which qualifies to be added to the WØC ARM, send an e-mail to the WØC Association Manager (click on CONTACTS above) with the following information:

1. Name of summit (If none available note approximate distance and direction from a named location).
2. The Latitude and Longitude of summit expressed in Degrees, Minutes and Seconds.
3. The altitude of the summit in meters (or feet) above sea level.

The Association Manager will check whether the summit meets the qualification criteria and, if it does, will issue a reference number for the summit. The decision of the Association Manager is final regarding the interpretation of the criteria and the inclusion or exclusion of a summit. Summits that are activated before a reference number is issued cannot be claimed for SOTA awards.

What is the ‘prominence’ thingy all about?

Guy/N7UN summarized it as follows:

From Wikipedia: Topographic Prominence

There is always a lot of confusion with the general public around a summit “being prominent vs having prominence“.

In the US, the FCC uses HAAT (Height Above Average Terrain) as a metric for determining how prominent a transmitting site antenna will be versus the surrounding (out to 16 km) landscape.

Whereas topographic prominence  characterizes the height of a mountain or hill’s summit by the vertical distance between it and the lowest contour line.

It is used in mountaineering and by cartographers. SOTA uses this metric as as an “objective measurement that is strongly correlated with the subjective significance of a summit.”

Fortunately, the data-sets used for the NA SOTA summit lists has it’s origins with the USGS and the NED National Elevation Dataset.

So the prominence is both a measured (was land survey but now mostly by satellites) and a calculated metric. So the USA (Alaska is currently being studied/calculated) benefits from this dataset metric. To determine this metric manually and from maps would be a daunting task which is the challenge for SOTA in Canada and Mexico.

What is the best backpack/hiking boot/rain jacket etc.?

This question is impossible to answer. Hiking equipment is highly personal. It depends on the area you are hiking in, the amount of equipment you have to carry, the kind of weather and terrain you might encounter etc. etc. etc.

Most Activators have a variety of hiking equipment and select the appropriate pieces for the planned hike. Start with what you already own and improve on what does not work well for you.

Can I use a repater to make contacts?

Yes and No: A contact through a terrestrial repeater does not count as a valid SOTA contact. However, contacts through a satellite repeater do count as a valid SOTA contact.

SOTA rules also allow to advertise your presence on a summit via a terrestrial repeater but you have to QSY to a simplex frequency in order have a valid QSO.

Where can I find the latest Association Reference Manual (ARM)

You can find the current version right here.


Don’t find what you are looking for? And you also checked the WØC Association Reference Manual  for an answer? Feel free to drop me a note and I will get back to you ASAP.

Comments are closed.