[VHFcontesting] New rules?
bdh at teleport.com
Wed Nov 12 17:05:24 EST 2014
ARRL Seeks Input on Initial VHF+ Contest Rule Changes
Dear fellow Amateurs,
The Programs & Services Committee of the ARRL Board recognizes the need to
review and update various aspects of the League's contest program for our
VHF and higher bands. To this end, it recently formed an Ad Hoc
Subcommittee on VHF and Above Revitalization. You can help us by providing
additional insights and ideas for our consideration.
Contest participation benefits both individual Amateurs and the Amateur
Radio Service as a whole. Individual operators gain overall operating
experience, increase their knowledge of band characteristics; test the
results of changes in equipment, antennas and locations; and have incentive
to add bands and modes to their station complement, all in the context of
enjoyable yet challenging activities. The Amateur Radio Service increases
its pool of skilled operators and can show more intense usage of the
frequencies allocated to us, some of which may be under threat from
ever-expanding commercial and consumer services seeking to expand their
share of spectrum. Increased activity also signals higher potential demand
for new product to manufacturers of Amateur Radio equipment.
The ARRL VHF - UHF - Microwave contest program was created to help foster
the foregoing benefits and, accordingly, seeks to:
1) Increase the level and breadth of participation in ARRL VHF and up
2) Encourage the utilization of our less-used Amateur Radio bands.
While most issues will require additional time and input from the user
community, the members of the Subcommittee were in agreement on recommending
one set of changes that applies across all ARRL VHF+ contests, including
microwave and EME. We recommend:
1) Removal of the current prohibition on the use of Amateur and non-Amateur
forms of assistance for all operator categories, with such use having no
impact on entry category;
2) Removal of the current prohibition on self-spotting for all operator
3) Allowing single operators to transmit on more than one band at a time.
Unlike most HF contests, operating skill and knowledge of propagation may
not be enough to find stations to work. You can't just point your antenna
to Europe or Asia at the right time and find a ready supply of potential
contacts. The less predictable nature of VHF+ propagation and the
necessarily higher-gain, narrow-beamwidth antennas used make finding someone
to work largely a matter of chance. Indeed, most microwave contacts would
never occur at all without the use of real-time coordination. We have
stories of rovers who invest time and fuel to activate a remote location
only to have no one find them or work them. This discourages such remote
activations. A great number of non-contesters monitoring a repeater or APRS
network have no idea there is a distant or rare station out there to try to
The League's current prohibitive stance on assistance (other than for the 10
GHz & Up Contest) and self-spotting is the most often heard complaint about
our VHF contest program, and the members of the Subcommittee believe that
removing those prohibitions will foster greater participation and result in
more contacts and a more positive experience for participants without
impacting the existing challenge of actually completing contacts.
Similarly, the present restriction of single-operator stations to one
transmitted signal at a time precludes such activities as calling CQ on one
band while soliciting or completing contacts using digital modes on another.
Such restriction constrains the number of potential contacts among
participants while yielding no apparent benefit.
Specific Proposed Rule Changes
The General Rules for All ARRL Contests Above 50 MHz shall be amended as
Old 1.7. Retransmitting either or both stations, or use of repeater
frequencies, is not permitted.
New 1.7. Retransmitting either or both stations or use of repeater
frequencies for purposes of completing a contact is not permitted.
Old 1.7.1. This prohibits use of all repeater frequencies.
New: Delete 1.7.1. (Rule 1.7 covers this issue adequately.)
Old 1.7.2. Contest entrants may not transmit on repeaters or repeater
frequencies for the purpose of soliciting contacts.
New: Delete Rule 1.7.2
Add 1.16. All entrants, regardless of category, are permitted to use
spotting assistance or nets, including DX-alerting nets, internet chat
rooms, packet, reverse beacon networks and repeaters to identify stations
available for contacts and to announce (self-spot) their availability for
contacts. Announcements shall be limited to callsign, location, band or
frequency, mode and - if applicable - transmitting sequence. Such
assistance may not be used to facilitate the completion of any contact.
This means such assistance may not be used to convey receipt or non-receipt
of any required element of a contact or to request a repeat of any required
element of a contact.
Old 2.1. Single Operator: One person performs all transmitting, receiving,
spotting, and logging functions as well as equipment and antenna
adjustments. Only one transmitted signal is permitted at any given time.
Use of spotting assistance or nets (operating arrangements involving other
individuals, DX-alerting nets, internet chat rooms, packet, etc.) is not
New 2.1. Single Operator: One person performs all transmitting, receiving,
spotting, and logging functions as well as equipment and antenna
adjustments. Only one transmitted signal per band is permitted at any given
time. Non-contact-producing activities such as APRS beaconing and repeater
announcements are not considered transmitted signals for the purpose of
applying this rule.
Old 2.5.7. Rovers are permitted to use APRS. Rovers using APRS transmit only
their call sign and position. Any multi-op station may access rover APRS
data directly or via the Internet.
New 2.5.7. Rovers are permitted to use APRS to transmit their call sign and
position. Any station may access rover APRS data directly or via the
Old 2.8. Multioperator (includes Single Operator stations that use spotting
New 2.8. Multioperator:
Contest-specific rules for all VHF, UHF, microwave and EME contests shall be
amended to give effect to the above general rules.
What We Need From You
You can help us by considering the potential impact of each proposal and
sharing any specific observations about it. We're not tallying "votes";
rather, we want to be sure we have considered all foreseeable results of the
proposed changes. Collective input from user groups will be particularly
helpful and faster to compile than multiple copies of the same position from
individual group members.
Further, this is not about changing "who wins" but about whether the overall
objectives stated above will be better attained as a result of each proposed
change. Overlying any enacted changes is the recognized need to increase
outreach beyond the already-active VHF+ contesting community. Your
suggestions in this regard will also be welcomed.
Please submit your comments to <mailto:vhf-input at arrl.org>
vhf-input at arrl.org prior to December 15th, 2014. Only comments received
through this channel will be assured of reaching all the members of the
Thank you for helping us with this process.
Kermit Carlson W9XA, Chair
Ad Hoc Subcommittee on VHF and Above Revitalization
More information about the VHFcontesting