PNWVHFS Microwave Challenge

The popular Summits on the Air (SOTA) (off-site) program provides PNWVHFS members new opportunities to use VHF through microwave equipment from home and from uncommon portable settings. Likewise, microwave experimentation adds interesting and challenging dimensions to SOTA activities.

Therefore, the PNWVHFS is offering a Microwave Challenge for complete two-way exchanges with Activators (off-site) on designated SOTA summits in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and British Columbia and for Chasers (off-site) communicating with those activators. This Challenge also includes and encourages summit-to-summit contacts. "Microwave" for the PNWVHFS Microwave Challenge includes all amateur frequencies above 902MHz.

Questions about the Microwave Challenge can be directed to Etienne K7ATN (email) or Darryl WW7D (email).


There are separate awards for Activators and Chasers in the following categories for each of the four political entities of the Northwest:

  • Greatest accumulated QSO distance
  • Greatest number of unique summits activated or chased

How to Apply

All QSO information must be entered into the SOTA website according to the rules and stipulations of SOTA and their Microwave Challenge. (An introduction to using the SOTA website is shown below.) Operation during VHF/UHF and microwave contests is strongly encouraged.

PNWVHFS Microwave Challenge awards may be applied to SOTA microwave contacts from October 2015 to September 2016. The intent of the PNWVHFS Microwave Challenge is to encourage year-round activity on the amateur bands of 902 MHz and above and to promote portable operations aligned with Summits on the Air.

We intend to post interim results to the reflector - maybe quarterly - to show how folks are doing, raise awareness and encourage activity.

PNWVHFS Microwave Challenge Rules

Chasing for the PNWVHFS Microwave Challenge requires a microwave contact with a SOTA activator in Oregon, Washington, Idaho or British Columbia. Activations for the PNWVHFS Microwave Challenge need to follow SOTA rules and meet these requirements:

  • Activations will be only from SOTA-designated summits according to SOTA Association and SOTA General Rules. Typically, peaks with 500 feet of prominence (independence) are SOTA designated.
  • Activations must occur within 80 vertical feet of the summit and the final ascent must be under human power.
  • No part of the equipment may be touching a vehicle or in the vicinity of a vehicle, and all radio equipment must be battery or solar powered.
  • Any coordination means is allowed (radio, cellphone, advance alerts, spotting networks, email, etc.)
  • All contacts must include at a minimum a two-way exchange of call sign and six-digit Maidenhead Grid location.
  • Activation, Chaser and Summit-to-Summit contacts will be confirmed only from database entries at (off-site)
  • Contact distance must be greater than 1 km, and between different 6-character Maidenhead grids (off-site).
  • Each QSO on a different band will contribute to accumulated distance score.
  • Only terrestrial-based simplex contacts will count.
  • Contacts can use any mode.
  • Contacts must include at least a complete, two-way exchange of call signs and the 6-character Maidenhead grids.
  • Membership in PNWVHFS is required to receive awards.

Please be aware of the RF hazards of microwaves (off-site) and be responsible for minimizing risk to yourself and others.

SOTA Manuals and General Rules

Read the following for complete details about SOTA:

Summits On The Air

Opening a SOTA Account

All contacts for the PNWVHFS Microwave Challenge must be logged on (off-site)

Start by registering your account on (off-site) under “Logon/Logoff.”

Screen to Register as a SOTA Particpant

Most people use their callsign for User Name. This is not visible to others.

Select your home Association as W7O (Oregon), W7I (Idaho), W7W (Washington), or VE7 (British Columbia) according to where you live. You can activate summits anywhere in the world; this selection helps list your results in your home area.

Only contact with summits in these four SOTA Associations will count toward the PNWVHFS Microwave Challenge.

Entering SOTA Contacts

Submit your contacts under the dropdown Submit Log (off-site) Choose 'Submit Activator Entry' or 'Submit Chaser Entry' according to your situation. Note that Summit-to-Summit contacts are entered under each Activator and Chaser.

Screen shot of SOTA Submit Activation Log

Note that date format is European: dd/mm/yy and times are in UTC.

In the ‘notes’ field for entering contacts, you will need to enter the location of your station (if entering a chaser contact) or the location of the station worked (if entering an activator contact).

The 'location' in the notes field uses QRA to indicate grid, format is %QRA%SIXDIGITGRID% Use all caps for the locator and no spaces.
For example: %QRA%CN85AW%

You can also enter lat/lon coordinates: %QTH%lat,lon%. No spaces should be used.
For example, %QTH%45.3422,-122.9838%.

When logged in, you can see your microwave activity by: View Results > My Results > My Microwave … Activator or Chaser Log.

You can see interesting statistics by using 'View Results' without logging in.