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Re: [VHFcontesting] The impact of the digital modes on the January VHF C

To: vhfcontesting@contesting.com
Subject: Re: [VHFcontesting] The impact of the digital modes on the January VHF Contest and some suggestions on dealing with those impacts
From: Steve Kavanagh via VHFcontesting <vhfcontesting@contesting.com>
Reply-to: Steve Kavanagh <sjkavanagh1@yahoo.ca>
Date: Sun, 31 Jan 2021 15:30:02 +0000 (UTC)
List-post: <mailto:vhfcontesting@contesting.com>
I applaud James for trying to make something constructive of this discussion!  
Grumbling about how much better things were in the old days alone does no good 
other than to demonstrate how far over the hill one is!

I, for one, was glad of the FT8 activity this January.  Being unable to go 
anywhere due to COVID lockdown, I operated from a my rather limited home 
station in a poor location.  VE3MIS still managed to break the Canadian LM 
record, for the second January in a row, without me, with mostly remote 
operation!  But I worked a lot of grids from home which were beyond my normal 
January SSB/CW range, under pretty poor conditions, for the most part.

That said, when things are open, or for local contacts, SSB and CW are much 
better than FT4, which is better than FT8, and some measures are called for to 
increase activity on the "old" modes, to (a) increase QSO rate, make things 
easier for rovers where the extra complication of a computer hooked to various 
rigs can be too complicated and power consuming (b) make things more accessible 
for newcomers and casual operators who may not have digital capability and (c) 
retain some of the experienced contesters who, for whatever reason, have no 
interest in digital modes.  I have also been wondering about activity times for 
SSB/CW and would be willing to try out James' suggestion on these.  It just 
needs to be heavily publicized.  Interestingly, this year, mostly through the 
efforts of a couple of local municipal radio clubs and one or two particularly 
keen operators, there was a huge increase in FM activity in this area, which 
can also increase newbie participation.  Some of that was set u
 p on an activity time basis.  Within our club we set a few suggested times for 
SSB activity, too, which had some limited success, being purely local.

For rovers, activity times are less than optimum, since the operating schedule 
at each grid is severely constrained by many factors, but it might be better 
than the status quo.

Steve VE3SMA
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