You can’t “do SOTA” without using the web. There is one essential site, several which are almost indispensable, and some that are somewhat useful. You may find it helpful to open a web browser and visit the referenced sites as you read this article.
SOTAData - Essential
sotadata.org.uk - You can’t get by without SOTAData. This is where you record your QSOs. Some of the key activities on the main menu include:
- Logon/Logoff - You’ll need to visit the “Register” sub-menu to sign up for an account. There’s no cost to register and they don’t spam you. Registering is not a commitment to activate or chase!
- View Results - You can view metrics about SOTA such as the count of registered summits (73,548), rankings of activators and chasers, and there’s a special sub-menu for viewing your own results including your activations, unique summits, summit-to-summit (S2S) contacts, awards, etc. After each activation I check the “Activator Roll of Honor”… and confirm that I still haven’t earned enough points to move up in the national ranking. :-(
- Summits - If you’re an activator, you’ll research a summit here before you head out on an expedition. This is where you find the list of official summits, how many points each summit is worth, who has activated it. (Tip: If lots of people have activated it, it is an easy summit.) Once you locate a summit, the “Extra Info” link will take you to a page where prior activators write-up how to get to the summit and what to expect when you arrive. One of the first places to visit when planning an expedition.
- Submit Log - This is where you record your QSOs. There’s a sub-menu for entering QSOs one at a time. You’ll probably use this for your first few activations/chases. You’ll want to quickly move up to uploading CSV files. The CSV format is unique to SOTA, but several logging apps now support SOTA format.
SOTAWatch - Very Helpful
sotawatch.org is where activators post alerts to tell you when/where they plan to activate. Once a chaser hears an activator, he will typically spot the activation here too. Self-spotting is considered acceptable for SOTA.
If you have an iPhone, SOTA Goat uses SOTAWatch data to bleat a notice whenever a new spot is posted. There are also apps for Android, Windows, and OS X that perform similarly. The data from SOTAWatch is also posted to Twitter.
SOTA Goat and its ilk are particularly helpful if you’re interested in S2S contacts. If you’re on a hill with cell coverage, you can get notified when other activators are on the air, giving you the info you need to call them.
SOTAWatch Chaser/Logger - Interesting for Chasers spotfilter shows recent spots. What makes it interesting is that if you are a busy chaser, you can select spots and then download them into your log book.
SOTAMaps - Very Helpful
sotamaps.org shows the location of summits on a map. This helps you visualize just how far you’re going to have to drive. Here’s a helpful URL which plots 700+ summits within driving distance from Atlanta. The left panel is color coded to show you which summits have/haven’t been activated.
North American SOTA Mailing List - Helpful
groups.yahoo.com/groups/summits hosts the official mailing list for the North American SOTA community. (Yahoo login required.) This is where you can ask other activators and chasers for how-to information. There are some clever antena and balun designs posted here on occasion.
Like many Yahoo groups, a popular pastime is complaining about Yahoo. If you visit the site once, you can sign-up to have postings delivered to your email and you’ll never have to look at Yahoo again.
My SOTA Site - Somewhat Helpful
k4kpk.com/content/sota-menu may also be of interest. It has how-to information, an archive of newsletter articles, and a library of trip plans for southeastern summits.
See you on the summits! 73 DE K4KPK / Kevin
K4KPK, Kevin Kleinfelter is Georgia’s first SOTA Mountain Goat. He has completed more than 150 activations.
This story is Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Kleinfelter. A non-exclusive right to redistribute in electronic or printed form is granted to amateur radio clubs operating in the metro Atlanta area. All other rights reserved.