Getting involved in SOTA

So a few years ago, I discovered SOTA. Summits on the Air. Idea is to get some activity back into Ham Radio, by doing a scoring system based on how hard it is to get to a particular summit. For example, say Canberra, you can drive to the top of Mt Ainslie. And that’s classified as a Summit. Same goes for Black Mountain. However they are only scored at 1 point each.

That said, Mt Ginini is also a Summit to which you can drive. However that is only for 4, MAYBE 5 months of the year. And it’s a fairly hellish trip even during summer. Mt Ginini is scored at 8 points!

Back when i first discovered it, i asked on the SOTA lists about getting SOTA happening in Australia, but it was pretty much a case of ‘well, if you want it, you organise it’. Dunno about you, but I have no interest in trying to start something of that sort! I see the sh!tfighting that goes on on the North-American SOTA lists, and I’m not real interested in that..

However last week, I saw that VK1 finally had SOTA summits going live, and, well, I know the Vk1 guys, and they’re alright! So I asked ‘what about Vk2?’. And apparently VK2 is on the way, but needs folks to map out summits.

So its time to get my arse into gear and help out 🙂

First thing, you need some maps!

So off you head to Geoscience Australia. On the Right hand side of their homepage, is a section titled ‘Products’. In that list, you want to click on ‘Data/Applications’. Once on the Data and Applications page, you want to click on ‘Free data downloads’.

You’ll want to select ‘Topography’ here, and then pop in the area you’re interested in. I’m thinking I’ll look at Sydney, as that’s close to home, and noone is looking after it as yet. So I’ll pop in ‘sydney’, and click ‘Show me the results’.

On the Product Selection screen, I’ll select ‘Sydney Special’, and click on Continue to File Selection.

I use GRASS as a GIS tool in Windows, and occasionally MapInfo (I have a copy of 6.5, which is pretty old, but it still does the job for what I do..), so I’ll select the MapInfo native format, and ESRI personal geodatabase to pull into GRASS. I’ll also use the Georeferenced PDF, so i can dump it into dropbox, and use it on my ipad later 🙂

You’ll want to select a Sector and Industry which make some sense to keep GA happy.

And then off to download!.

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