[VHFcontesting] VHF Contesting "Rookies"
les at highnoonfilm.com
Wed Jan 21 12:56:46 EST 2015
First of all, I'd like to say "WELCOME" to both Billy and Tor. You're
both within range of my modest station in EM63, and I hope to work you
in the January contest this week. I had been active on HF for decades
before coming to VHF...and I can honestly say that it's been more fun
that anything I've ever done in amateur radio. I hope that your
experience will be the same.
Despite the best efforts of a lot of people, VHF operation and
contesting haven't really benefited from the popularity of "DC to
Daylight" rigs like you might expect. The only real growth in our ranks
has come via the migration from HF to 6 Meters as more operators are
discovering the fun to be had on the Magic Band.
But this creates a paradox of sorts. When 6 Meters is open during a
contest, operation on that band will dominate, to the near total
exclusion of higher bands. This makes sense. Grids and multipliers come
fast and easy on 6 Meters during an opening..and the band can behave
more like 10 Meters. But for those operators who have considerable
investment of time, money, and effort into the higher bands, it can
create a lonely world. During the Summer contests, I've literally gone
hours at a time without making a single contact on 2 Meters or higher as
operators scramble to work stations on 6 Meters.
The January contest is usually a completely different animal. 6 Meter
openings do a occur, but they're usually weaker and short in duration.
Here in the Southeast, even well equipped stations can end up listening
to white noise for hours at a time, without a single QSO to be had on
any band. You quickly work all the locals, on as many bands as you
can...and then you CQ and listen to other locals CQ without responses.
During an NFL playoff weekend (not this year, thank God!) many casual
operators just give up and switch on the TV. That can make it even
Now, if you're operating at 2 Meters or even higher, you have to add in
another factor. Narrow bandwidth antennas. You can be within range of
another station, who is only on for a brief time, and like two ships
that passed in the night, easily miss each other because your beams were
never in the same direction at the same time. This is why many of us
support the idea of Internet spotting. Yes, manufactured QSO's could
result, but in the end it's all about your personal sense of honor.
Manufactured QSO's have been a minor problem for contesting since long
before the invention of the Internet, and it can plague any frequency
While I share and understand that concern, I see no reason to throw the
baby out with the bath water. Anything that generates more QSO's during
a contest also generates more fun.
Especially for those of us who live outside metropolitan areas, or have
modest stations, VHF contesting is completely different than HF
contests. Yet, most of our rules are heavily influenced by rules
developed on HF frequencies. My advice would be to get a few contests
under your belt, especially during the fall and winter and see if that
changes your mind.
I would be in favor of a 6 Meter only category. Like you, I believe that
anything that encourages HF operators to try VHF is a positive step.
Those who enjoy it will hopefully be encouraged to try the higher bands.
But even if they only remain on 6 Meters, that's fine too.
Looking forward to working EM65 and EM53 this weekend. Listen for the
weak one in EM63...that will be me!
Les Rayburn, N1LF
121 Mayfair Park
Maylene, AL 35114
6M VUCC #1712
Grid Bandits #222
Southeastern VHF Society
Central States VHF Society Life Member
Six Club #2484
Active on 6 Meters thru 1296, 10GHz & Light
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