If the incidence of global spots on sotawatch.org is anything to go by, Summits On The Air appears to be a big success. The world-wide program and community galvanises people interested in low power (QRP) gear, portable operation, and outdoor operating, each with its own long traditions in amateur radio. What is it about this relatively new competition that has caught the enthusiasm of radio enthusiasts world-wide?
SOTA is a new concept that reprises familiar themes. Mountain-top amateur radio operating, most visibly in the USA, is certainly not new. In the States, where large amateur populations, great roads and prominent peaks often overlap, the mountaineering radio ham movement could be seen as a consistent meme in the dog eared pages of ARRL handbooks in the 1970s and 1980s. A flea-power culture emerged, featuring the apocryphal QRP classics such as the Rockmite, the Norcal kits, and a hundred different keyed oscillators crammed into Altoid tins. Homebrew QRP, with all of its quirks, fueled the mountain-top and hiking brigade, adding a kind of idiosyncratic craftsmanship to the mountain top stories.
VK3/VC-002 Mt Donna Buang, my first SOTA activation on Easter Monday (6th April) 2015.