[Mw] Re: [VHFcontesting] ARRL Membership Services Committee VHF/UHF survey

DAVID C. OLEAN k1whs at worldpath.net
Thu Oct 10 12:23:17 EDT 2002


Hello all,
I recently received the ARRL contest survey and have been thinking about
VHF
contesting rules in general ever since. There has also been a hotly
debated thread
on the VHF Contesting reflector of late as well. It encompassed possible
changes to the rules for the contest. There have been some great
responses so far. 

    I think everyone will agree that life is getting awfully complicated
and
that our time is a most precious commodity. I have very little time to
devote to
ham radio when compared to my time spent a decade or more ago.  This
impacts on
our hobby and is a major cause of dwindling activity on each and every
VHF/UHF
band. Participation in contests is down for this reason as well as many
others.
Many operators can only spare an hour or two here or there, and do not
send in a
log because they lost the envelope that they logged all their fine QSOs
on!! I
know, I have done it myself!
    The lack of connection between new VHF operators and an increase in
VHF
contest participation, in my opinion, cannot simply be remedied by a
change in
ARRL contest rules. The problem lies in the perception of these new
operators of
what the bands actually are. Here is where we,and the League will have
to do a great
deal of work if we want to improve participation. My opinion of ARRL is
that
it is primarily concerned with 20 meters.  This would be natural, as
most USA
hams have 20 meters and talk nationwide on that band as a matter of
course. Its
a big country! In Europe, with smaller borders, VHF is  much more
important and
the national societies are more tuned in to VHF as a way of life. You
can work
most of Western Europe any evening on 144 MHz from any central point. 
VHF in
the USA has been seen as a local or "line of sight" band only. You get
your ham
ticket, buy an HF rig, throw up a wire antenna and then buy a
handi-talki.  QST
must start removing that perception within the pages of QST. The HF bias
of the
magazine and the governing body, must be altered to include and even
push VHF as
never before.  Of course, the risk is that HF only readers will complain
or go
away.  We as VHFers also need to find these "un enlightened" amateurs
and show them how much fun the VHF bands can be. The League cannot do it
alone either!
    I am getting sick and tired of being asked by non VHF hams about
"How far can
you get on VHF" and then being amazed when they hear me say "about 500
miles
unless conditions are good". I am always dumbstruck when a ham comes by
my booth
at Dayton, sees a microwave loop yagi and asks "Is that for ten meters
or two
meters?"  Contrast this with almost any European ham, who will look at
the same
yagi and announce " The gain of this antenna is 19 dBi, Correct?"  We
have all
made this bed and we are lying in it. (To paraphrase Bob & Ray)  VHF in
most hams
eyes is a vast area populated only by squelch tails and kerchunks, and
limited
to local FM contacts.  We have created this.
    There have been many magazines and newsletters created to improve
this
situation. Most preached to the choir. Those that tried to reach new
audiences
have met with less than financial reward. It is not easy, but the League
is in a
good position to alter the landscape over time. The answer lies in
increased VHF
coverage. The answer lies in devoting resources in their publications
available
to all their members to increase weak signal VHF activity.
    I see a lack of construction articles on just about anything these
days.
I can understand that. So why not devote pages to the human interest
side of
VHF. Operating stories. Tales of rare grid expeditions. How about
moonbounce
DXpedition articles. How about detailed coverage of VHF conferences?
There have been so many of these events that have never made it into the
VHF column let alone the color glossy pages in the front of the
magazine. Possibly, if hams read about such exploits, they will change
their attitude about VHF and decide that maybe they should enter a VHF
contest,
improve their station, and heaven help us...build something.  There sure
is no
dearth of articles about HF dxpeditions.
    Rules changes for VHF contests will not alter much, in my opinion. I
do not see it as a way to attract many more participants.  The general
trend
nowadays is to add more categories so that more people can win
something. An
extension of this practice will have a detrimental effect. Competition
will be
reduced, and people will lose interest if there is no incentive to
improve one's
station.  A case in point: I have worked almost no one during a contest
above 432 MHz on a random QSO ever since the limited multi operator
classification
went into effect.  QSO totals dropped drastically on those bands and
have only
recently come back to pre "limited multi" levels.  In the last contest,
there were
NO random QSOs from here above 432.  This is sad and a direct result of
rule changes!
We should be vigilant in evaluating any changes before enacting them.
They may have an opposite effect.
	Rule changes can be good. I think the proliferation of rover-mobiles
has made for some great rule changes and a new category. Other changes
that reward limited station capability can have a negative effect on
participation. We have to think wisely! Maybe we need regional contests,
not national ones? 
	I am filling out the form and sending it in. I guess we all know
something needs to be done. That is very good. Field Day comments are
great. Field Day tests emergency preparedness, right? VHF/UHF is where
most of the emergency traffic should be.

73
Dave Olean K1WHS



> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Bill Lentz" <aa2uk at bellatlantic.net>
> To: <W3HMS at aol.com>; <w4rx at starpower.net>; <dhenderson at arrl.org>
> Cc: <vhfcontesting at contesting.com>; <microwave at wa1mba.org>; <W3HMS at aol.com>
> Sent: Tuesday, October 08, 2002 11:01 PM
> Subject: Re: [Mw] Re: [VHFcontesting] ARRL Membership Services Committee
> VHF/UHF Award...
>
> > I can still remember my first VHF contest back in 1995. I had just been
> > invited into the Packrats. I remember having a 2 meter beam on the roof of
> > my single story house and listening to the likes of
> K2GAL,K2SMN,W1RJA,W1HAD
> > and K2TXB  working stations 400 miles plus and not hearing anything other
> > than noise when they turned the qso back to the distant stations. Shortly
> > before the contest I erected my first tower a 90 foot self supporting
> > monster. I was on 5 bands and I couldn't wait for the results to be
> > published in QST. It seemed like it took forever to see the results. I
> > placed third in my division and my desire to see my call move up through
> the
> > ranks to the top three in the US was fueled by wanting to see my call in
> > QST. From my perspective seeing your call in print is far more rewarding
> > than some web page, no matter how good the web page design and layout are.
> > It is my personal opinion that there are other future VHF contest
> operators
> > out there that will never experience what I felt seeing the listings,
> > analyzing other stations scores and then watching myself improve and
> knowing
> > your peers are taking notice. The web just doesn't have the same feel to
> me
> > as seeing your call in print in QST. However this will not deter me from
> > continuing to strive to improve my station and operating techniques. You
> see
> > I have all ready been motivated but what about the other new up and coming
> > VHF contest operators that are out there?
> > 73 and Take Care. Bill AA2UK
> >
> >
> >
>
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