[VHFcontesting] Trends in VHF/UHF Weak Signal Operations

GeorgeF av8tor at flash.net
Sun Feb 9 17:12:21 EST 2014

Actually I did JT65 and FSK441 on 2 meters and made a far number of 
Meteor Scatter Q's on 2m FSK and a few 2m JT65 EME Q's  Also I had high 
power on 2 meters, running nearly 350 watts from a Tokyo HyPower amp. 
When there is no one on the air all the power in the world won't help.

I made a lot of 144 CW and SSB Q's in the about 7 years I was on that 
mode. But over the last couple years the trend kept going down and down. 
  I had to ask myself, why do I have an Icom IC-910, nice antenna and 
Tokyo amp to make a couple q's a month? Just my 2 meter setup a long was 
about $3000, now without the IC-910 on the market or the Tokyo amp I 
would have to spend $5000 for a setup of the same or better quality. 
When there is no one on the air all the money in the world won't help.

Kinda funny (really not) story about 6 meters.  I did a lot of 
contesting and took 1st place for my ARRL section in several contests 
with a loop antenna running a kW (ACOM 1000 amp).  Then I thought I was 
in heaven when I got my first 6 meter 3 element yagi (thanks N9HF for 
helping build it).  Shortly after putting up the yagi I worked my first 
JA on 6 meter CW.  It was a good 6mtr DX week, worked several new 
countries, worked several new countries on HF that week too.  I have 205 
DXCC countries worked, not bad for only being active about 7 years. 
Well I had a bunch of QSL's ready to go out including the 6mtr JA. When 
sending DX QSL's I always included a few dollars in the envelopes to 
help with postage.  I had about 10 or say envelopes waiting to go out 
just sitting on my desk for a month.   Well I decided, what the heck am 
I doing, opened up the cards and put the cash back in my wallet. 
Needless to say, never sent the JA card but that was the same time I was 
starting to get fed up with lack of activity over the long haul, yeah 
the short haul is good but with over $10k invested in a ham shack you 
have to start to think, is it really worth it......

That's my story, you're welcome to yours,

On 2/9/2014 16:30, Rhinosix wrote:
> Before you give up on VHF/UHF have you ever given JT65a and b a try.
> VHF/UHF need not be all high power, towers and big boomer antennas.  I
> have VUCC on six meters.
> Most of it was done in recent years with JT65a running 30 watts to a
> Loop or OC dipole antennas up 30 ft.
> Google up the ping jockeys and see what digital has to offer.  We are
> on the steep down hill side of the solar cycle now.  So things are
> very quit now on six meters.
> But the 205 group has proved that tropo on VHF can be very active.
> Also TE here in latitude 41 degrees North can get you to 41 degress
> South a couple of times a year.
> So it is 50.276 JT65a  or JT9 at 50.278 for now .  But in non contest
> times we should try 50.176 and 50.178.  If any one has a active net on
> those freqs sound off or for ever hold you pease.  I suppose that is
> on way to get some activity on 6 meters.
> Yes, we should be able to have a VHF/UHF CW/SSB/digital 10 to 25 watt
> transceiver for 2, 1 1/4 meters and 70 cm using SDR tech with a 4
> meter receiver.  We can do cross band. Six meters is well covered by
> the HF/50 mhz rigs.  As are the FM VHF/UHF rigs.  I like the Idea of
> the 10 to 25 watt power level PAs too and the $300 to $400 point.
> Someone should wake up the ARRL HomeBrew project crew.
> Hang in there George the happy times will come back  to the magic band
> again.
> Jerry,  W2JCN
> -----Original Message-----
> From: GeorgeF <av8tor at flash.net>
> To: VHF Contesting Reflector <vhfcontesting at contesting.com>
> Sent: Sun, Feb 9, 2014 2:25 pm
> Subject: Re: [VHFcontesting] Trends in VHF/UHF Weak Signal Operations
> Why I have given up the hobby, maybe some people can learn from those
> who hung-it-up before there is no one left to turn off the lights......
> Many of you know or have worked me in the contests (KI4FIA EL99mc). I
> was very active on all bands from 160 meter to 1296 MHz. I loved CW, I
> loved contesting, I loved DXing and I loved CW & SSB on 2 meters and
> above.
> For the last few years of my VHF/UHF contesting I noticed a huge decline
> in activity.  During times of no contesting 144.200 was as silent as a
> radio working a dummy load!  I tried to get on email lists and promote
> VHF+ SSB/CW, my emails were meet with nothing but the same silence I
> heard on 144.200.
> I was, am, no longer, really doesn't matter a member of a famous VHF+
> club FLWSS.  When I would ask questions on their group it was rare I
> would get an answer.  I know it wasn't just me because I've seen other
> ask radio related questions and were meant with the same silence. The
> funny thing is that if someone was to send a test email they'll get
> several replies, if someone wants to talk about a new logo they'll get
> several replies, if someone cracks a stupid joke the flood gates open
> wide with tons of replies.  Seems like everyone wants to talk about
> non-radio related topics while the radio related questions are meant
> with less responce (if any at all). And I'll never forget the joker on
> that list who sent me an FU email when I happened to mention that 1 VHF
> contest I was going to work the contest on CW only just for the fun of
> it.  I said I would work split mode for those without a cw keyer. WOW
> did I get a response. 1 member sent me a FU letter about how dare you
> letter since I mentioned the word CW.  Oh, yeah he really did use the FU
> this and FU that in his email....
> Another thing that I really didn't care for in the VHF+ area of the
> hobby was you sit days and days listening to 144.200, you finally hear a
> faint signal, first in weeks, then before you get a chance to work him,
> he'll work someone else.  This isn't a bad thing, I don't mind waiting
> my turn.  BUT THEN they'll start running the bands (220,432,etc). Then
> you never hear them again.  That is really upsetting during a VHF+
> contest when there is very little activity. I know of several people in
> Florida who gave up the VHF+ part of the hobby because of the "run the
> band" practice.
> There isn't 1 think that caused me to quit, it was a combination of all
> of the above and a few more.
> I have sold all my equipment I used on the VHF+ bands before everybody
> quits the hobby and my equipment would become worthless. I even sold off
> most of my HF stuff.  Here is a picture of my shack before I started
> selling:
> http://milaircomms.com/shack.html  Today I am down to my CW Key, IC-756
> Pro III and all my scanners. Actually have a few more scanners now as
> I've returned to what got me into the radio hobby. That is monitoring
> Military Aircraft Communications.  A lot more activity on the MilAir UHF
> bands than the Ham Radio VHF+ bands!  My ham license is set to expire in
> about a month.  Seriously don't think I'll renew.
> Just thought I would share the reasons why I quit the hobby and maybe
> some one can learn from them....
> George - KI4FIA
> www.MilAirComms.com
> On 2/9/2014 12:35, Les Rayburn wrote:
>> K5QE selling off microwave gear and focusing on limited
> multi-operator
>> contesting? I can't help but wonder if this is another bellwether of
>> how weak signal operation on VHF/UHF bands are on the decline. My
>> personal experience is very limited, with less than six years on the
>> high bands. But I have studied the history of weak signal VHF/UHF
>> operation and believe there is genuine cause for concern.
>> In our local area, the morning nets that were common just a few years
>> ago have faded away. The calling frequencies can be monitored for
>> hours or even days without so much as a QSO. Contest activity,
>> especially during the Sprints and January ARRL Contest is in decline
>> too. Contacts above 432 MHz are difficult and 222 isn't much better.
>> It seems to be a chicken and the egg situation--where the lack of
>> activity makes it harder for stations to justify the expense and
>> effort in maintaining microwave bands. And since there are fewer
> large
>> stations operating microwave, it's harder for rovers to justify
>> investment in these bands as well. The transition to digital TV as
>> killed off most amateur television operation, and cell phones have
> cut
>> into the usage of repeaters. Many in my area are unoccupied entirely.
>> The explosion of "DC to Daylight" rigs have failed to dramatically
>> increase participation in weak signal operation. New classes and
>> categories have met with only limited success. Efforts of local
>> amateurs, such as the "205 Group" have had some success, but they are
>> difficult to sustain, especially when they are so heavily tied to the
>> efforts of one or two individuals.
>> Two areas that have shown growth are operation on the Magic Band. Six
>> Meter operation has grown considerably in the past few years,
>> especially with more EME activity on this band than ever before.
>> Another area that seems to have momentum is ARES and Emergency
>> Communications operation, including the growth of simplex nets.
>> But it's clear that something needs to be done to help protect our
>> frequency allocations, and expand the pool of weak signal operators.
> I
>> wonder if other VHF operators share my concerns, and have suggestions
>> on how to reverse the situation?
>> Some ideas that have potential:
>> 1.) A renewed effort by the ARRL to expand and promote the VHF-UHF
>> Century Club (VUCC) Award. Elevating the prestige of this award among
>> all amateurs, and enticing more HF operators to "move up" the bands
>> has the greatest potential to increase our ranks.
>> 2.) SDR Technology. A single SDR transceiver that could cover 50 MHz
>> to 1296 MHz could be a real game changer. Especially if "linked" to a
>> series of modular PA amps that could provide useable power levels of
>> 20 watts or more could rapidly increase operation on bands like 222
>> and 902 were transverters are currently required.
>> It would also greatly simplify station design and maintenance. It's
>> doubtful that so called "appliance operators" will ever be attracted
>> to the bands above 432, but we do need to simply entry into this part
>> of the hobby. I've discovered that transverters are very intimidating
>> to those who are new to this game.
>> 3.) The China Syndrome. If manufacturers such as Wouxun, Baofeng,
> etc.
>> could be contacted and encouraged to develop low cost rigs that
>> included weak signal modes like USB and CW, that could have a major
>> impact as well. I believe that many hams would love to try out 2
> Meter
>> SSB but don't want to spend $600 to do so. They also don't want to
> buy
>> an older single band rig that may not work well, or be impossible to
>> get repaired.
>> But I believe that they would spend $250-$300 for a dual band rig
> that
>> offered USB/FM/CW.
>> If they offered rigs for the more obscure bands like 222, 902, and
>> 1296, I think those would be very popular as well. Lots of market
>> factors at work here too...since most of Asia doesn't have access to
>> 222, but manufacturing costs have gotten low enough to make the
>> growing US market alone viable. Anyone have an inside contact at one
>> of these companies?
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