[VHFcontesting] Roving Thoughts (was: Re: grid circling bashing, end it)

Nate Duehr nate at natetech.com
Fri Dec 5 13:50:24 EST 2008

[Alternate Title:  Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handey - about Rovers.]

There's less than 100 people in the ENTIRE country who typically 
participate as an average number of Rovers in June.  That's less than a 
2 person per STATE average.

Rovers are an insanely small minority of hams, and even a very small 
group of the contest operators in the contest itself -- but probably 
account for the vast majority of the winning fixed station's scores, 
since the contest rewards working the most grid squares.

(It would be interesting to take away all the Rover contacts and see how 
it affects the scores, just as a math/statistics exercise.)

Only Rovers can "fill in the holes", for the fixed stations!

What we really need to figure out to make things super-fun for all of 
us, would be how encourage the thousands of hams with 2m and 70cm mobile 
SSB rigs to fire them up on contest day?

There are thousands of FT-857's, FT-100's, etc etc ... out there.  And, 
less than a hundred participants?  That would indicate to me that 
there's something inherently "non-fun" about the contest as it stands 
today, or a larger percentage of those thousands would be "playing" too.

The only way to do that is to figure out what would make the contest fun 
for THEM.

So, I refuse to get worked up anymore about the Rover debates.  Because 
it's not the "real problem" that needs the most attention.  Never was.

Complaining about the very rare (shall we call ourselves an "endangered 
species"?), Rovers is just counter-productive.

Want more Rovers that don't drive in circles, or don't talk only to one 
fixed station, or who even like working fixed stations in the first place???

Then figure out how to RECRUIT some.

That's what the guys did at W0KVA... the got me involved, got me hooked 
over YEARS of time, and then one year I made that fateful mistake of 
saying... "I think I might like to go out as a Rover this year."

I had "help" putting more antennas on my Jeep than I'd ever seen on a 
vehicle outside of those "crazy" photos of other Rovers at hamfests 
throughout the country.  And I've had help ever since.  I'm becoming 
more "self-sufficient" as a Rover, and encouraging the group to find a 
new Rover-wanna-be to encourage.

Oh, by the way... Homegrown Rovers might tend to act a little "captive". 
  So what?  When three other people helped you put together your antenna 
mast, make cables, and generally got you rolling your first year -- 
you're going to make sure you call them on the air!  Otherwise, you're 
an ass.  Plain and simple.

So... want to "fix" whatever ails the Rovers?  Find people who want to 
do it, nurture them over long periods of time, and go put 10 Rovers on 
the air in your area.

My mind thinks:  Do we really need three categories for 100 people? 
Really?  Or are we missing the real "problem" entirely... that Roving is 
only FUN to a tiny minority of hams.

So Nate, you might ask:  Why do you find Roving FUN?

"Working my friends."  Would be my answer.

LOOK carefully at that statement.  Isn't that the exact reason we have 
BOTH "captive" Rovers and also "Circle Jerkers"?

Contesting isn't just competition -- within the people competing there 
are also groups of FRIENDS.  That's the part that the rules-crazed 
people who want everything "Fair" want to fix.

Guess what?  I'll always have friends.  And I'll always work them. 
Contest, or no contest.

I think the key question to figure out -- for the future of roving:

How do we make Roving FUN enough to naturally pull in double the 
operators than we get logs from today?

Call it the "200 Rover Project", if that helps get it some traction.

And the answer is:  By having ham radio FRIENDS who enjoy VHF+ operating.

The contest is just an excuse to go do it.

Getting rid of the never-ending stupid debates about Rovers and finding 
some people interested in Roving instead... is a much more FUN use of my 
time.   The debates are most definitely NOT fun, and a turn-off for most 

I hate explaining to new rovers why these same stupid threads come up on 
the popular mailing lists EVERY year.  And they hate asking too, I'm 
sure.  NOT FUN.

I tell them to ignore the stupidity on the mailing lists and talk about 
what we're going to go try NEXT YEAR.

Nate WY0X

Op at W0KVA prior to '06
/R in '06, '07
Op at W0KVA in '08
What will '09 bring?  Is it worth it to me?

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