27 April 2014

A good day for SOTA - YO/EC-057 activated

Finally some SOTA action ! After a few days of rain and cold weather, yesterday April 26th 2014 was perfect for outdoor activities - sunny, almost 20C and an overall tranquility that makes you want to get out of the house no matter what. So i decided to pick up my sister and two of her friends and put my new FT-897D trough its paces by activating a SOTA peak.

I've settled for the Gropsoarele Peak (loosely translated as "The Small Pits"), SOTA identifier YO/EC-057, a peak 1884m tall in the Ciucas mountains, about 120km north of capital city Bucharest. There is a rather bad road leading from the closest village Cheia to a cabin called Muntele Rosu ("The Red Mountain") at about 1400m altitude. Here's how the peak looks from this place, where we started the hike:

With over 10Kg in my backpack, even more extra on my belly and 3 girls stopping to take pictures, the hike took about 3 hours.

 As we got higher and higher, the view became more and more beautiful.

In distance, the Bucegi mountains, covered in snow: there are a few 10 point peaks over there, some not yet activated. Yet !

In the coniferous tree forest the air is intoxicatingly fresh, i wish I could bring some back to Bucharest.

As soon as I we get over the tree line, we can also catch a glimpse of the Ciucas peak, the tallest in these mountains, 1954m. Not yet activated either !

Soon we get to the snow we knew was up here and some parts are even a bit tricky to pass. This is over 1750m altitude.

When we finally got to the top, there was no snow and it was pretty warm; rested a bit, got a quick snack and put up the antenna. Got on the air at about 12:00 UTC and managed to work 76 stations in about 90 minutes, 5 of them on VHF with the handheld.

The village of Cheia visible below.

Radio setup:

YO9IRF/P working HF on mountain top:

All in all, a great experience, can't wait to do it all over as soon as there's a weekend with nice weather.

Equipment used:
- Yaesu FT-897 set at 25W
- LDG Z-100Plus
- 12V/7Ah SLA battery
- 6.7m fishpole vertical, 9:1 UnUn
- Baofeng UV-5R

What i've learned this time:
- the FT-897 is too heavy for SOTA (almost 4Kg!)
- 12V/7Ah is enough for 2+ hours of intense work at 25W output (battery still at 11.4V on RX at the end)

My location was also in a Flora & Fauna protected area, code YOFF-231; while I knew this from the start, my primary goal was to activate the SOTA peak wich was never activated before. So, all the contacts with YO9IRF/P on April 26th 2014 will count for both YO/EC-057 and YOFF-231. The log is/will be uploaded to EQSL, QRZ.com, Sotawatch and WFF.

Thanks to YO3IRW, YO3JW and whoever else spotted me on the cluster, it was a real pileup sometimes !

Edit: the log is also on Enzolog, you can look yourself up here. Thanks to YO3JW who does a very good job promoting the Flora & Fauna activities, there's also a nice QSL you can download:


  1. Altough the FT 897 is advertised as a dedicated radio for portable setup, I strongly suggest the IC 703 for SOTA and YOFF.

  2. Hey, thx for the comment Adi. I could go about this subject a great deal, at the moment for SOTA I think the best mix of weight, current draw, power and price is the FT-857; I don't care that much for user interface and reciever performance when I have to carry it in my backpack up the hill and I have a limited time up there. FT-817 too little power (it's great for CW though), IC-703 is a bit rare and twice as heavy as the 817, IC-706 can't work properly below 12V, IC-7000 also has issues below 12V, eats alot of battery on RX, is too heavy and is still a bit pricey, KX-3 needs a bit more power and it's still expensive. The 703's tuner is a plus but an external LDG is cheap and has a wider tuning range (although it takes extra space in the bag). I might change my mind though, things are not set in stone.

  3. Very well done Răzvan, nice activation and activation report, I'm really glad that SOTA action in this region is picking up.
    I also think that FT-897 is definitely not worth for SOTA, actually I don't see any good advantage over FT-857 while the extra weight can easily become a nightmare on long hikes. In this sense the FT-817 should not be overlooked as well, as it might be limited in power, but if you think about it using the FT-857 at 25W gives you a 1 S-point advantage over the FT-817, on the other hand you save even more weight and it is much more suited for LiIon batteries (the FT-817 can work down to 8V) resulting in even more weight reduction. Anyway there is too much debate on gear already on SOTA forums, I'm certain that you will come up with a setup that suits you perfectly and then perhaps we can catch on a s2s soon.

  4. Bravo Razvan!

    Am citit articolul cu placere. Genul care imi place: oameni ca noi, cu mijloace simple fac lucruri interesante! As dori ceva detalii suplimentare despre antena: lungime, suportul si daca ai pus si un RF ground. Am devenit de 3 saptamini proprietarulu unui KX3 si voi extinde obisnuitele mele operatiuni WFF si la SOTA. Transceiverul scoate maxim 12 watts RF ( sub 24 MHz ) fiind cu 3 dB sub RIG-ul tau. Mizez mult si pe CW ( regina bataliilor ) si BPSK. Din pacate toate se vor intimpla in a doua parte a verii. Pina atunci alte trei proiecte de terminat....

    73/44 Sorin

  5. @ Csaba: I love the 817, I am still considering it. But i'm also thinking that at these power levels and using mediocre lightweight antennas you're not really putting out alot of signal, so 1S point might just bring you out from the noise at the other end. Plus, the option to crank up the power to 100W for another S point if you really need it is comforting.

    @ Sorin: Multumesc domnule, am folosit o undita de 7m, elementul vertical al antenei e o sarma de putin peste 6.6m iar cele doua radiale au 5 respectiv 7m (plus coaxialul de vreo 6m, care functioneaza si el ca RF ground). Unun 9:1 pe un FT82-43 (da, tine si la 100W, mai importanta e sarma si izolatia ei), i-am facut si priza pentru 4:1 in caz ca nu gaseste tunerul acordul optim sau folosesc fire de alte lungimi. Bafta multa cu KX3, e o scula misto.