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[3830] ARRL UHF N6NB Rover HP

To: 3830@contesting.com, woverbeck@fullerton.edu
Subject: [3830] ARRL UHF N6NB Rover HP
From: webform@b4h.net
Reply-to: woverbeck@fullerton.edu
Date: Wed, 6 Aug 2008 17:41:30 -0700
List-post: <3830@contesting.com">mailto:3830@contesting.com>
                    ARRL UHF Contest

Call: N6NB
Operator(s): N6NB
Station: N6NB

Class: Rover HP
Operating Time (hrs): 

 Band  QSOs  Mults
  222:   36    12
  432:   35    13
  903:   28    11
  1.2:   28    11
  2.3:   64    11
  3.4:   64    11
  5.7:   64    11
  10G:   64    11
Total:  383   101  Total Score = 365,721



This is a summary of an entry in the ARRL UHF 
contest, but it's also a discussion of why the 
UHF contest has become so dormant on the west 
coast, with a suggestion for a new scoring system 
that might boost activity.  The very popular 10 
GHz and Up Cumulative Contest, held two weeks after 
the UHF contest (and also on a September weekend), 
uses such a scoring system.

A group of us roved in California during the 2008 UHF 
contest. The contest attracted little notice--again.  
No rover submitted a log on the west coast last year.  
Only a handful of west coast fixed stations submitted 
logs in 2007.  The high scorer on the west coast last 
year was a single op with 12,500 points.  The #1 
single op nationally had 370,000 points (in Iowa).  

In Minneapolis-St. Paul and the upper midwest, 
the UHF contest is HUGE (as it is in the 
northeast).  The Northern Lights Radio Society 
has made it a club showplace called "Rovermania."

In California, it's the 10 GHz contest that's popular. 
The San Bernardino Microwave Society held a tune-up 
party and picnic in preparation for the 10 GHz 
contest--during the UHF contest.

We tried to drum up some activity, but we didn't have 
much luck making random contacts (i.e., Qs with people 
who found us without knowing where and when to look). 
We worked mainly people we knew.  K6VCR borrowed my 
van (with a station covering all bands through 10 GHz) 
and did a fixed portable operation at Torrey Pines in 
DM12.  We worked him many times as we roved.  We also 
set up five rover stations for all bands through 10 
GHZ and roved from Orange County (DM13) across L.A.,  
north to Mojave and then on to Madera, north of Fresno.
We activated 10 grid squares.  W6YLZ, who was already 
busy planning for another of his landmark 10 GHz 
DXpeditions deep into Mexico two weeks later, made 
time to rove with N6MU in the unlimited category.  
AF6O also operated unlimited and flew solo, but was 
only available Saturday.  I (N6NB) operated in the 
"classic" category, also solo.  KG6TOA operated alone 
in the limited (four-band) category.  In a truly 
heroic act the morning after a hospital visit, W6TE 
joined us as a classic rover Sunday in Madera, 
using an extra station and antenna system that I 
had hauled up there to mount in his truck.

W6YLZ, blessed with a driver, devoted full time 
to operating and called CQ constantly.  He would call 
on 432.1, then 446 FM, 223.5 FM, 1296.1 and 
1294.5 FM--then go through that cycle again.  He 
worked absolutely no one by calling CQ for two hours 
as he crossed L.A. and the Antelope Valley.  In fact, 
he didn't make his first contact by calling CQ until about 
9 p.m.  By the time the "contest" was over Sunday, he 
had made 14 random contacts with seven stations by 
calling CQ continuously for at least six hours.  It 
was that slow.

Meanwhile, "Rovermania V" was booming in the upper midwest.  
The UHF contest must have been as busy there as the 10 
GHz contest is in Southern California.

What makes the difference?  Clearly one factor is the 
influence of microwave-oriented clubs.  The XE 
DXpeditions, which allow even modest stations to work 
1000 km. on 10 GHZ, are also a major attraction of 
the 10 GHz and Up Contest.

Another big difference between the two contests, of 
course, is that working 1000 km. counts for something 
in the 10 GHz contest.  Scores are based on the 
distance worked, not on grid square multipliers.

In a recent column in QST, Gene Zimmerman said that 
switching to the scoring system used in the 10 GHz 
contest would improve the UHF contest.  I very 
much agree.  Then all scoring would be based on 
distance and grid squares would be irrelevant.  
Six-digit grid squares are exchanged on 10 GHz 
only to simplify distance calculations.  Although 
the top scorers on 10 GHz all "rove" because you 
can work the same people again each time you move 
at least 10 miles, grid circling is pointless.  
Actually, grid circling isn't even a good strategy 
for "classic" rovers in VHF contests under today's 
rules.  A better way to use your quota of 100 QSOs 
with another rover is to make every contact count 
as a new multiplier.  You can't do that by grid 

I wrote the original draft of the rules for the UHF 
contest as chairman of the ARRL Contest Advisory 
Committee in 1977 and had the highest single operator 
score and the most QSOs in the first UHF contest in 
1978--138 random contacts, made by camping out on a 
mountaintop with kilowatts.  That strategy would not 
work well in California today.  Activity patterns 
have changed in the last 30 years and the scoring 
system needs to change, too.  I believe a 
distance-based scoring system would make the UHF 
contest more appealing and interesting.

Wayne, N6NB

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