[VHFcontesting] June VHF plans

James Duffey JamesDuffey at comcast.net
Thu Mar 19 19:04:54 PDT 2009

Hey Steve it is good to see that you are planning for June's rove. I  
need to start doing that.

I learned the hard way that it is not wise to rely on sporadic-E in  
the June contest. In my first rove, I figured that I would go far  
afield and let sporadic E fill in what I couldn't work with the close  
in stuff. Well that was a bust, there was no sporadic E and as I was  
pretty far from civilization, so there wasn't much else to work.

I also learned in the June 2008 contest, not to stay on 6 meters to  
the detriment of the higher bands. In DM86, I was running stations on  
6M constantly for 2 hours. After an hour of this, I took an excursion  
to 2M looking for W3DHJ/r. I found not only him and a few other Co  
stations, but two stations on 2M sporadic E in the southeast! That was  
the end of the opening and if I had been on a bit earlier, I could  
probably have made a few more 2M sporadic E QSOs. While not worth as  
much scorewise, 2M sporadic E is a lot more exciting. I will remember  
those contacts after the thrill of running on 6M is gone.

So the lesson I learned here is to check 2M periodically even when 6M  
is wide open. Hard to do, but worth it. I say an excursion up to 2M  
every half hour at a minimum, perhaps more often is warranted. If  
there is no activity, then go back to 6M.

After I had moved on to DM76, I learned from my experience earlier and  
checked two more often and worked another sporadic E contact. Lots of  

One thing to keep aware of is the distance that is being worked on 6M.  
If you hear QSOs on sporadic E that are less than 400 to 500 miles in  
length, that is a good indication to start looking at 2M for sporadic E.

The most important thing I learned is to work 6M in motion. I think  
you rove with a driver, as I do, and working 6M in motion with a halo  
10 ft or more up and 100 Watts is pretty effective. I did not have the  
capability to operate in motion in the June contest and it almost made  
me cry to pull up stakes in the middle of a great 6M opening. I  
operate in motion now.

For me, the strategy is the same in the June contest with expected E  
skip as it is in other contests. I start at a grid corner close to  
high activity area. This is the Moriarty convergence, about 50 miles  
from Albuquerque. I can put 4 grids on 4 bands on the air in a couple  
of hours and get lots of people interested and stay interested. If  
there is some sporadic E, that is fine, I can work that instead of the  
locals and at least one of those grids is rare enough to be in demand.  
Then I can travel to the more far flung grids. It is nice to end up in  
another high activity area in the evening, but that is not always  

I operate from the motel parking lot when we stop for the evening.  
That has been productive and it gives my driver some rest while I can  
still operate. I try to find motels with large parking lots with clear  
lines of sight and no power lines.

If you don't use CW when you rove, or don't know it, use it or learn  
it. It will add 10 dB to your signal.I am not kidding. And that 10 dB  
can be 100 miles or so extension to your range. Or 10 dB weaker  
signals. You will be able to make contacts easily on CW that you can't  
on SSB. Whenever I have trouble raising someone on phone, I switch to  
Cw and we usually have no problems with the QSO. I know learning CW  
can be a tedious process, but even a basic capability will pay off.  
There are several computer programs that will help you learn CW. They  
are not painless, but they are a lot easier than the rote memorization  
that lots of us used.

One thing that helped me a lot was to record the July CQ VHF Contest.  
While it was painful to listen to at times, I learned a lot about my  
bad habits from it. And about the good habits of great ops. So buy a  
digital voice recorder and record the contest. They are pretty cheap  
these days. Listen to it afterwards to see what you can do better.

A headset helps, particularly when moving. It will keep out the  
background noise and help you work the weak ones. It will leave  your  
hands free to do other chores, like logging and switching bands. If  
you want the other occupants of the car to hear what is going on, get  
a Y adapter and an external speaker.

I don't think I told you anything you didn't already know though. I  
keep looking for new routes and sites to operate from as well. I hate  
to do the same thing over and over again.

Oh yeah. Listen for the weak ones. Call them on CW if they don't  
answer. - Duffey
James Duffey
Cedar Crest NM

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