[CQ-Contest] possible changes for CQ VHF Contest

Jeff Clarke ku8e at ku8e.com
Tue Jul 23 15:44:15 EDT 2019

Hi Dennis,

I can't say that I really like FT8 that much. I just do it to increase 
my score and only went to that mode when I heard no other signals on 
either CW or SSB. I ended up with 101 CW QSO's, which I think is more 
than anyone else who posted their breakdown by mode. The one advantage I 
see with FT8/FT4 that it's possible to work closer in grids that you 
might not even hear on SSB or CW.  Plus it's a good propagation 
indicator. When signals were above 0 dB on FT8 I knew it was time to try 
CW or SSB again. I quit around midnight on Saturday night to sleep even 
though I was still coping FT8 signals.

My strategy was to be on SSB when signals were really loud, CW when they 
got weaker and FT8 when they were gone. I'm afraid the FT4/FT8 mode 
isn't going to go away in VHF contests so if you want to have a good 
score you have to bite the bullet and as my good friend and mentor K8MR 
said "go over to the dark side". I think the next thing the serious SO2R 
guys will do is to have one station on the traditional SSB/CW modes and 
another totally dedicated to FT8/FT4. They might be doing this already? 
A narrow band pass filter would be needed so you don't blow out the 
front end of your receivers.

73, Jeff

On 7/23/2019 12:24 PM, Dennis McAlpine wrote:
> GM John,
> I enjoyed the past weekend and the CQ VHF Contest quite a lot.  For once,
> there was propagation from SC to most areas East of the Mississippi both
> afternoons.  I, for once, actually thought I had done pretty well
> considering that I only run about 400 watts into an H-Doublebay antenna with
> the top at about 35' above ground.  I ended up `with 326 QSOs and 120 grid
> squares for a score of 39,120, all on 6M.  I have not used FT8/FT4 in
> contests since I think it is against the principle that these contests are a
> test of operator skill as much as equipment savy.  I was a bit surprised
> when I filled in the 3830 score submittal that it did not request a
> breakdown by mode into CW, SSB, digital but then there was no separate
> category within the contest either.  All was fine until I started seeing
> other scores coming in.
> It fast became obvious that unless one used the digital modes, they would be
> banished to the lower echelons of the standings and my score quickly slid
> down the rankings.    So, I started looking at the top scores for 6M.  I was
> amazed at how many digital QSOs these scores contained.  For example, K1TO
> had 150 FT8 QSOs out of 715 in total, which was 21%.  Similarly, N4BP had
> 194 digital out of 673 total (29%); W5PR had 157 out of 564 (28%); KU8E had
> 88/508 (17%); N4PN 212/312 for 68%; WQ5L 103/445 (23%); and W4PV 124/193
> (64%).
> Even more important was the much higher number of grid squares worked.  It
> would appear that digital added 20-80 grid squares to the total mult.  I
> can't break it sown further because the summaries do not ask for such a
> breakdown in the submittal.  Again, there are no numbers to back this up,
> but how many EU stations did you work on CW or SSB?  Probably not many (I
> had none and heard none) .  But, I bet the top digital scores were loaded
> with DX QSOs that other modes never heard or had a chance of hearing.  No
> wonder the mult totals were so high.  I never worked anyone west of the
> Mississippi so I was really sucking wind.
> In looking at the total scores, I saw one very startling fact.  Of the top
> three scorers, K1TO had 6 CW QSOs, N4BP had 1 and W5PR had 1.  To say they
> ignored the CW mode is an understatement.  It is evident from these numbers
> that CW is an endangered species when it comes to the CQ VHF Contest.  If I
> wanted to use digital modes, I would certainly ignore CW in the future if I
> wanted a higher score.
> I respectively request that you consider the following proposals.  First,
> require submittal forms to include a breakdown of CW, SSB, Digital (maybe
> broken down into FT-4 and FT-8) QSOs and mults.  I think these are easily
> found on logging programs like n1mm+.  This would probably require that
> mults be counted per mode and that QSOs could be made with the same person
> on different modes.  Then, valid comparisons could be made.  Second, allow
> mode entries.  A competitor could submit multiple logs, i.e. one for CW, one
> for SSB, one for digital and one for combined.  It would make the log
> checkers job easier.  Think of how tough it was to make QSOs when conditions
> were not as good as they were last weekend.  Allowing QSOs per mode would
> triple the number of possible QSOs and keep the contest from being a real
> drag.
> Let's adapt the rules to the situation before it becomes too late and CW
> sinks down into the mud, never to raise its head again.
> 73,
> Dennis, K2SX
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