[VHFcontesting] Decline of VHF activity

Duane - N9DG n9dg at yahoo.com
Sun Feb 9 17:49:10 EST 2014

In line..
On Sun, 2/9/14, Peter Laws <plaws at plaws.net> wrote:

"My biggest thrill in radio came the other summer when I worked the  east coast and up into Ontario on 2 SSB.  I was especially excited  since I only have 100 W and an ancient Cushcraft 10 el beam on an equally ancient TV rotator.  I've looked forward to that one day per summer that we get conditions like that again."

This is the same hook that got me back in the early to mid 80's. I can think of nothing that can be done below 6M that is as exciting to me as some truly long haul terrestrial 2M or up Qs, even 6M gets "too HF like" for my tastes from time to time... Even before I got my Novice I had already set my sights on 50MHz and up as my operating focus. I also remember encountering folks back then who were new to me a year or so after I got started on 2M SSB/CW who were in reality grizzled veterans of 25 or more years of doing weak signal work already. I'm now one of them. And like them I just don't get on as much as I used to, or as much as I would like to for a variety of reasons, part of which is a certain amount of "been there, done that". That tendency is a completely natural flow of things. But what seems to be very different for the last 20 or so years is that there aren't nearly as many newbies any given week or month trying it out like there was circa
 1984 when I was the green newbie. There are certainly some, but not nearly as many as in years past. And this is the case despite all of the readily available economically priced gear that is already in the hands of people, and more licensees than ever before..

"Somehow, weak signal folks have to bottle that ... especially since I get the sense that few of the less-involved hams in my club don't really believe that's possible."

I'm not even sure it is a matter of them not believing that it is possible, I think a good many simply have no comprehension at all of what doing that kind of a signal path on a VHF or UHF band actually represents, or even care. I see evidence of that all the time whenever there is some local enhancement on 2M and up and you start hear repeaters from 100 or so miles away. The few on the FM repeaters who even notice or comment on those "openings" have no clue that those 100 ish mile paths are daily normal for us weak signal ops, and is in fact nothing to get truly excited about at all.

"And yes, time is a huge constraint.  More emphasis on "activity nights" (or nets) that folks could plan for would probably be a good idea."

Activity nights are fine and good, but the interest of many new ops, and many not so new ops who already own radios capable of this kind of activity just isn't there. The vast majority just don't have the curiosity or motivation to even try. That I think is the underlying problem, and I really wish I had an idea for how to change that. And I don't think simple promotion, or better operating aids, or rule adjustments will change it. They have all been tried already. 

This lack of curiosity to try things like VHF weak signal strikes me as a side effect of amateur radio having been promoted for a few decades now as being a utilitarian communications "ends" vs. being it a lifelong continuing journey focused on propagation challenges and technology..

" Peter Laws | N5UWY | plaws plaws net | Travel by Train!"

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