[VHFcontesting] VHF Contesting "Rookies"

Les Rayburn 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
AMSAT #38965
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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