[VHFcontesting] ARRL VHF+ contest proposals: input invited

Steve Gilmore - W4SHG shg at staffnet.com
Fri Feb 27 11:54:25 EST 2004

In response to the proposed January VHF Sweepstakes and June/September VHF
QSO Party Rule Change recommendations

Good Day to all and hopefully those who are on this committee will take the
time to read this item and digest it from a Low Power Contesters and a VHF+
supporters point of view.

I read these goals specifically defining the object being to increase
competition, add more QSO's and encourage more people to join in.

Let me say for the record that change, no matter the reason, will cause
discontent. The question is to what level and will the additional newcomers
overcome the guys who leave because of the change.

1 ) Rover Rule Changes

Lets go down the list starting with Rover Rules. First off God Bless the
rovers as this years January Sweepstakes knocked out a bunch due to in
climate conditions. However, those hard true and blue rovers like W3IY and
ON3IY went out and sat on a bridge over water with the wind howling at 35+
knots, the temperature 25+ degrees and got their antennas up 6 thru 10G and
gave many operators many contacts. Rovers are important in producing
activity. These are the only stations you can work multiple times and this
is important because in generates activity, or noise on the bands. This
activity makes the bands sound more alive and will entice folks listening to
join in. More activity means a likelihood of more contacts. These Rovers go
through almost insane hoops to get bands in their rover mobiles. As some of
the postings to the VHF reflector indicate, the proposed rule changes for
QSO points will affect the rovers a great deal. If there is no incentive to
have 2.3, 3.4, 5.7 and 10G then they won't be out there in the rovers and
will likely cause the QSO totals throughout the contest to drop off by an
order of magnitude on those bands. I fail to see how that accomplishes any
of your defined goals.


Leave the Rovers alone except for those who participate in captive rovering
and grid circling, our Contest Managers need to start doing their jobs. The
practice of captive rover is really not something difficult to see in a log,
and grid circling is another very easily spotted item. If it is the position
that our contest managers don't wish to manage then lets suggest that Rovers
can only work fixed stations multiple times and that rovers may only work
other rovers one time throughout the contest. I guess that may fix the
circling but what about captive rovers? We must deal with that at the
Contest Manager level. Lets institute stronger verbiage concerning both of
these activities, which clearly violate the intent of VHF+ competition.

2) QSO Point Changes

I don't quite understand why there is a need to change the QSO point scoring
as it defines an incentive to get more bands and to work making QSO's on
those bands. It is clearly not as easy to build a 903 mhz system as it is a
1296 system nor is it as easy to get the 2.3G and up equipment working (and
stay working). It is very difficult to make QSO's on those bands none the
less it is important that we have activity above 432mhz. If we don't use
these bands they are likely to be given away to some commercial effort and I
will tell you that many commercial concerns would love to have some spectrum
in those bands. I don't need to mention the UPS issue on 220mhz of years
past. Lets create incentive to get on these bands and again, create
activity. Standardizing point scoring to two (2) points, 3 points and a
Rover contact only being one no matter where the rover is located is INSANE.
Why again penalize the rovers who travel to a distant grid that have no VHF
activity. Stupid Idea, sorry folks but this concept again penalizes the
rovers who work harder than anyone in these contests.


Leave the scoring alone, do not change or disincent hams from adding bands
and making contacts. This again does not encourage anyone, especially those
who have gone through the pain of building these microwave stations and
spending real money and time to make it work. There is no RG58 in this stuff
guys, and if you have 9913 well maybe you could hang clothes on it as it's
not suitable for the microwaves. I do however think that adding points for
distance is a good idea as this is an addition and an incentive to making
longer QSO's. Great Idea, but don't mess with the current scoring just add a
point to the existing numbers for grids not adjacent to the grid you are in.
Great now we incent the longer contacts and still keep serious contesters
interested in working all the bands and we don't penalize rovers for
driveing two days non-stop just to give out contacts. This encourages
without discouraging in any way. We must add, not take away here.

3) June VHF QSO Party 50-1296 only.

Here we go again, taking away from our current format. Why is this the theme
of this document? I fail to understand how taking away bands from a contest
will aid in generating activity. It will not. If it is the opinion of the
VHF community that there is too much band hopping then deal with that issue.
Don't kill the opportunity for the guys who spent the money to get these
bands operational. Let me ask a question, Why do contesters build microwave
systems? They are built specifically to contest and are typically not used
except during these times. If you stop even the incentive of these bands to
be used during the contest, they will cease to exist. 6 meters will take
care of itself, no one needs to incent operators to go there and look for E
Skip in June. In 2003 my multi-band score in the Roanoke Division LP was
annihilated by operators in Florida who beat me like a red headed stepchild
tripling my score and only operating on 6 meters. E skip was very, very good
for them in that contest. Did I cry and complain because it's not fair, No
god bless them for working that band so hard.  The result was they created
lots of activity and won a contest using only one band. They were written up
in QST and rightly so as getting that score on one or two bands is not a
walk in the park.


If it is new comers you want then add another contest to the calendar and
make it 6 thru 432. Add a few categories maybe a 6 hour max for guys who don
't want a two day grueling session listening to static and having no
contacts. Get with a radio manufacturer and incent them to build a quad band
rig that is usable. Where is the rig that has 222 all mode. I will tell you
Ebay and transverters. New comers will not use transverters its too
difficult. I guess that leaves FM on 222. Would a newer version of a Yaesu
736R sell today. I would buy two (2) of them. Also give certificates based
on scores for the different class licensees. Give separate awards to the
Techs, Generals and Extras. Everyone knows the experience level of a Tech is
normally not that of an Extra. Separate them showing the newcomer that they
have a chance at winning something. Add do not take away.

4) New categories in the Jan/Jun/Sept contests

It is a great idea, adding the new category of Limited Single Operator. What
a magnificent concept to add and give a special opportunity to those who may
feel they are not competitive. It also makes it very easy to go out,
purchase an off the shelf multi-band all mode rig and go to work.

5) UHF Contest Discontinuation

Ridiculious - How does the removal of a contest promote any of the defined
goals. It does not. If anything create a seperate category for 222 and 432
only. This would give operators who do not have the microwaves the ability
to complete in a limited category. Again I find the committee recommending
the removal of one of the few VHF+ contests ignorant and non-productive.


Adopt this idea immediately. - Good Job fellows.

5) Other recommended changes (Jan/Jun/Sept)

a)            Simplify the limit for low power operation to 150w for
50-144-222-432 MHz.

I do not think that this is a good idea as these brick amps are 160 to 180
watts on 6 and 2 meters. Leave the power alone on 6 and 2 and increase it to
150 on 222 and 432. If you want to create more activity let the Low Power
guys use 50 watts on 903 and UP. 10 watts is not enough on those bands for
the most part.

b)      Allow DX-to-DX contacts for QSO point and multiplier credit, but the
DX station  must make at least one QSO. with W/VE on each band for which
QSOs are submitted.

I fail to see the need to put this in the rules, what difference does it
make whether this other side of the QSO is DX or not. If they have a grid
square log it.

c)      Eliminate the rules that allow Multi-Operator stations to work their
own operators on 2.3G and up.

Super idea no need to generate QSO's that are not in the contest spirit. If
it is a guarantee that a club operator can work it's multi-operator
counterpart it's not a contest, it's a guaranteed QSO. Good Idea

d)      Offer plaques for the January and September contests, in addition to
June.  Work to find individual, club or corporate sponsors.  Otherwise offer
plaques to national and regional leaders at cost.

Guys offer as many awards as possible but do not offer awards and not send
them. It is clear to me there is a problem in the contesting branch of the
ARRL. I know for a fact that there are operators that have won their
respective divisions whether it be Low or High Power and not gotten their
certificates or awards. That is really sad and severely detracts from the
goals defined in this proposal.

e)      Make sure the rules indicate certificates are awarded for low power
entries in January, and for top DX entries.

Thank You but award the certificates guys in a timely fashion.

f)      Resume promoting suggested times and frequencies for "activity
hours" on each band.

Great Idea - Keep this going.

I applaud the efforts of all who have kindly donated their time in trying to
increase participation in VHF+ activity. I hope that my comments are well
received and at least discussed as I think there are some crucial points
concerning our Rovers that must be made. I myself have bands only to 2.3G
however I cannot agree to disincent those that have spent the time and money
to get these bands operational. Offer more award incentive to new guys
creating categories for them, not penalize the operators that are hard

I will tell you that a radio amateur operator in which I respect a great
deal (K4ME) licensed back many years ago told me. "I participated in these
contests because I could find my name the the QST magazine, now they only
put in the big players." I have not heard my friend on these bands since
this occurred. Maybe some of the write ups in QST could include something
about a guy that scored 500 points or from the youngest or oldest or most
improved. Something different other than the same old sub category of LP and
HP winners would be a fresh look. It is sad that in my short tenure of being
a HAM I have seen such change in the hobby. I suspect that if I sit still as
a Technician that at some point I will default to being and Extra without
ever taking another test. I suspect by June or July I will be a General and
who knows, when the code is eliminated completely I may default to Extra. I
think this is incredibly sad.

Please don't take away from what exists today. Don't penalize the rover in
any way other than clamping down on the guys who insist on manipulating the
rules. Make the penalties stiff eliminating cheaters for 2 years of
contesting much like the NCAA does to it's violating schools.

I will do everything I can to assist in getting activity on these bands as
our club has submitted a club score finally. I have gotten guys who have
traditionally been only HF operators to come out and play. All you need to
do is tell them that you operate on the bands where there is a challenge to
make a contact. It works every time.

Respectfully submitted by Steve Gilmore - W4SHG

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