How to participate
If you would like to take part in Wainwrights On The Air (WOTA), there are two ways in which you can participate.
- You can try to make contact with as many portable radio stations operating from the top of Wainwright fells as you can. This activity is known as chasing. As a chaser there are two categories in which you can compete. You can be a peak bagger, whose goal is to make contacts with as many of the 214 Wainwrights and 116 Outlying Fells as you can. You can also be a fell runner, and try to make contacts with as many different portable stations operating from Wainwright tops as possible.
- If you live within reach of the English Lake District, or are planning a holiday in the area, you can activate Wainwright fell tops by taking a portable radio to the summit and making contacts with chasers.
Whatever you do, you will first need to sign up with this site, using your callsign. This will allow you to log in so that you can add details of your contacts to the database. Membership of the site also gives you access to other useful resources, such as the forum.
You will also need to familiarise yourself with the rules.
To start chasing:
- Log in to the site.
- Look at the list of forthcoming activations. Here, activators will announce details of the fells they are planning to activate, together with the date and time of the planned activation and the frequencies and modes they will be using. You can also see spots, details of stations active on Wainwright fell-tops at the moment.
- Turn on your radio and make contact with the stations operating from the fell-tops.
- Log in again and add the details of the contacts you made to the database.
To start activating:
- Log in to the site.
- Announce the details of your activation: what fells you will be visiting, what time you expect to be there, and what frequencies and modes you will be using.
- Go out, have a nice walk and make contacts with chasers from the top of the fell.
- Return home, log in again and post the details of the contacts you made to the database. You might also like to post an activation report in the forum.
Equipment, frequencies and modes
One of the great things about WOTA is that you do not have to lug heavy rucksacks full of gear up to the fell-tops to participate. In fact, you can take part using nothing more than a 2m FM handie. However, if that's what you are using, it is worth investing in something better than the stock rubber-duck antenna. A telescopic quarter wave would be ideal.
2m is the most popular band for hill-top activations, because you can work quite long distances and the antennas can be small and light. With an FT-817 and a small portable beam SSB operation is possible, as well as longer distance contacts on FM (by turning the beam vertical.)
HF operation is needed if you want to work further afield, as well as to get a signal out of the more difficult locations. 40m is the most popular HF band for hilltop activating, and CW the most popular mode - it helps compensate for the low power QRP signal. An FT-817 and a small portable ATU like the Elecraft T1 should allow you to put out a good signal using a couple of lengths of wire, one for the antenna and one as a counterpoise. Elecraft's K1, K2 and KX1 make excellent portable HF transceivers.
The difficulty for HF operation on the popular Lakeland fells is how to erect an efficient antenna if you don't want to make a spectacle of yourself or annoy the large numbers of other walkers on the summit. A self supporting antenna such as a Wonder Wand may be one solution to this dilemma. Although it won't get you out as well as a dipole, it will not intrude as much on other people's enjoyment of the fells.