[VHFcontesting] How to Make FM Contesting Succeed

Les Rayburn les at highnoonfilm.com
Tue Dec 18 12:17:21 EST 2012

As the previous Section Emergency Coordinator for Alabama, I understood 
that FM Simplex capability translated
into a greater level of capability during an emergency. Amateurs who 
improved their stations on simplex, also benefited by being able to 
reach more distant repeaters which is a huge advantage during severe 

Some "lessons learned" from cross-promoting FM activity during VHF 
Contests were:

1.) Tailor your message to your audience. I didn't try to pitch it as a 
"contest" as much as an exercise--when talking to ARES, Skywarn, and 
CERT groups. We encouraged them to test their ability to communicate 
without the aid of a repeater, as they might have to do in an emergency.

We also encouraged field day type operations from high locations.

2.) Concentrating activity in a three to five hour period is going to be 
more successful than just putting out the dates/ times for a two-day 
long contest.

Nothing worse than "dead air" to a non-contester.

3.) It's vital that weak signal operators monitor the FM Frequencies, 
and participate in those concentrated activity periods. I tried to 
utilize the afternoon hours on Saturday, when conditions are 
poorest---so that operators didn't miss out on a lot of contacts on SSB 
and CW.

But that doesn't work well in June when six meters is liable to be open.

The point is that weak signal operators often turn their nose up at 
FM---and this hurts the efforts. If you give a new operator a taste of 
DX, they may become hooked for life. Best way to accomplish this is to 
get those "monster signals" active on FM. If your local big-gun doesn't 
support FM contesting, then try to change their mind on the topic.

You should hear some of the reactions you get from newcomers when they 
discover they can communicate 75-100 miles or more on their FM rig 
without a repeater. Easily possible with a high performance weak signal 

4.) Talk up the event on your local FM nets, club meetings, etc. Tailor 
the message to the crowd. A DX club isn't going to respond to the same 
"pitch" as your local ARES team.

5.) Poll your club and see who has 222 FM capability. I always make it 
a  point to schedule contacts with those operators on 223.5.

6.) In the last few days before the contest, make a lot of calls on 
146.52 and talk to operators there about the contest. They understand 
the concept of simplex, and use it often. They're your best candidates 
for participation in the contest.

Nothing in the rules forbids promoting the contest on 146.52 prior to 
the event!

7.) Don't get discouraged by the naysayers. The FM Only category is a 
great idea, but it needs the active support of the weak signal community 
to work!


*Les Rayburn, N1LF*
121 Mayfair Park Maylene, AL 35114
6M VUCC #1712
Grid Pirates #222
Life Member Central States VHF

WPC4LF Popular Communications Monitor ID

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