ETH017 – Summits On The Air (SOTA)


Hello everybody and welcome back to the Everything Ham Radio Podcast! In this episode we are going to be continuing our series on HF by talking about Summits On The Air(SOTA).

What is Summits On The Air(SOTA)?SOTA Logo

SOTA is an awards program for amateur radio that was started in Great Britain back in 2002 and has since gone world-wide. It is a program that is designed to encourage amateur radio operators to operate from a temporary location on top of a mountain.The operation must be done from a location that can not be reached in a motorized vehicle and can not be powered by commercial power.

There are three types of people who are eligible for this award.

  • Activators – Activators are those that will go to the summit and set up a temporary station and make contacts
  • Chasers – Chasers are those that are at home or vehicle or others that make contact with those operators that have “activated” a summit.
  • Short Wave Listeners – Are non-amateur radio operators that are able to hear a QSO exchange between two amateur radio operators. If they can copy the exchange, the can submit a log of the QSO and get points for hearing it in the SWL category of SOTA.

Click here to check out the General Rules for SOTA

Summit Values

Different summits have different point values depending a number of thing but mainly it is their height. The higher the summit the more points you can get. There are exceptions to this rule though. If you have two summits that are both at say 10k above sea level and one of them has a park or something at the top where you can drive 90% or the way up the mountain, its point value will be less than one where you actually have to work to get there on foot.

Another thing that will set the point value of a summit is the time of year. If you activate the same summit in summer and winter, you could get more points in the winter time because of the difficulty to climb it if there is typically snow on it.


As an activator, when you reach 1000 points you will receive the “Mountain Goat” award. As a chaser, when you reach 1000 points you will receive the “Shack Sloth” Award. There isn’t an award for the Short-wave Listener category, however, there is Honor Roll lists for each category.


  • Radio – First and foremost, you must have a radio. Duh! The question is, what kind of radio or which radio should you use? Here is a couple of options that I have found that other people have recommended, or that they use themselves. Please note, that I have never done this myself, nor have I used any of these radios.
  • Power – What good is a radio, if you don’t have any power right? So the second thing on your priority list is some kind of battery pack. Most radios that you will probably be using is going to require 12v DC. The thing that you really need to look at when selecting a battery is the amp hours. The more Amp Hours the battery has, the longer it will hold a change. That being said, you have to balance the amp hour rating with the weight of the battery, because you will be carrying this battery in a backpack, along with all your other gear, you need it to be as light as possible.
  • Antenna – The third in the must have trifecta is the antenna. You really need to balance the size or the antenna against the weight of it again because you will be carrying it in or on your backpack. I recommend the PackTenna Mini for this exact reason. It is very small and weighs next to nothing but still gets great performance on the air. PackTenna even has package deals

What Else Should I Bring?

Now that we have the three top things out-of-the-way, what else is good to bring.

  • Something to Log with – Pen, pencil, paper, computer, iPhone, iPad, tablet, etc
  • Navigation – Paper map, GPS, Phone
  • First Aid Kit – In case you or someone else gets hurt.
  • Flash light
  • Sunscreen
  • Extra food and water
  • Emergency Shelter and signal device(mirror, radio, etc)
  • If you plan on operating for an extended period of time, you might need a solar panel or something that is a natural source of energy to charge your battery.

Here is a couple of links to some people who I found while researching for this article that have a pretty comprehensive list of things that they have in their SOTA packs.

Further Reading:


More Than Safe Blog

My wife has started her very own blog describing our journey through the foster care system and things that happen to us and how we dealt with the situation. Some things may just be foster care related but some of the stuff can be used as just general parenting. If you are a parent or are interested in learning a little bit about the foster care system, please check out her blog at If you like what you see, subscribe to her email list to get notifications on when she puts up something new.

Packtenna Giveawaypacktenna - SOTA

A couple of weeks ago, I reached out to George with Packtenna to talk to him about this episode. I was trying to see about getting a coupon code, or an affiliate link with them. He instead has agreed to donate one of their new PackTenna Mini’s(an $89 value) to one lucky listener of this podcast.

So here is how it is going to work. Over this episode and next week’s episode I will give you a phrase that you will need to put in the subject line of an email. I am not going to put that phrase on the show notes, you will have to listen to the episode to get that. Send an email to with that phrase in the subject line and your name and call sign in the body of the message. As I receive those emails, I will put them on a number list in the order that I got them. On April 15, 2016, I will use a random number generator to randomly select a number. The person with the corresponding number will be the winner. Since this drawing is going over two weeks, you will have two chances to win this drawing.

Supporting Everything Ham Radio

I first off want to thank Cody Williamson, KG5CEW for another $10 donation that he sent me this past week. It is greatly appreciated! Secondly, I wanted to let yall know of something else that I was made aware of from one of yall. I received an email from one of my listeners who suggested I sign up for a service call Patreon. This service allows creators, like me, to set up an account with them and allows the people who enjoy the content to help support them, either on a monthly basis or per episode basis.

I have set up the account and have it live now. You can find it at I have set up subscription levels at $1, $5, $10 and $25 a month. This is a totally voluntary basis and all my content that is free will remain free. Each level has its own rewards that you will receive as well, and I will be adding rewards in the near future.


Amateur Radio Club Spotlight


Cedar Valley Amateur Radio Club




Second Thursday of the month at 7:30 pm, Kenwood Park United Methodist Church, 175 34th St NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402


  • New Ham Net – Every Sunday at 6pm on 146.745
  • ARES Net – Every Sunday at 7pm on 146.745


  • 146.745MHz –
  • 145.150MHz – 192.8 PL
  • 147.090MHz + 192.8 PL Echolink W0WSV-R
  • 224.940MHz – 192.8 PL
  • 443.600MHz + 192.8 PL


  • Marathons (full and half, and sometimes simultaneously)
  • Smaller runs or fundraising walks
  • Emergency Management Agency drills (primarily pertaining to our local nuclear power plant)
  • Triathlons (typically two per  year)
  • Holiday events with city officials
  • Field Day – CVARC had the largest Field Day Station Rating in 2015 – 19 transmitters plus a GOTA station.
  • Hamfest – Aug 7, 2016 8a-1p
  • Junk in the Truck Mini-fest – May 14, 2016, 8:00 am – 1:00pm – 855 35th St NE, Cedar Rapids (Rockwell Collins Main Plant)
  • And others

Thanks for stopping by today. If you have not done so already, please subscribe to my site so that you will receive emails when I publish a new post or podcast episode. It’s super easy! Just fill out the form below:

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Until next time…

73 de Curtis, K5CLM


Everything Hamradio Podcast - Small - SOTA

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