[VHFcontesting] QST article on 2015 September VHF Contest Results on ARRL web site
jamesduffey at comcast.net
Thu Mar 10 15:14:15 EST 2016
The QST article detailing the ARRL September VHF contest results is available on the ARRL web site.
There is a short discussion of the use of assistance in the September contest, which jives well with my experiences in June and September. The short summary is that most participants are finding assistance very useful, but most are also trying to figure what works and is worth putting time into and what doesn’t work and is a time sink. While the article doesn’t explicitly state it, this allocation of resources is particularly important for the rover, whose stay in any grid is limited and time available for nonoperating activities is limited. My experience in June as a single op Rover was that there was a lot to do to verify that I had cell coverage, send texts to let people know where I was, check the DX Maps for Es, update the RoverStatus info, and checking the cluster. IN September and January, where I roved with W7QQ in his rover, with two ops one could dedicate much of his time to assistance and that made operating a lot easier.
One of the things in the article that caught my interest is the chart that shows logs submitted by category over the past 5 years. The VHF bread and butter Single Operator Low Power (SOLP)category entrants have decreased over the past 5 years by about 15%, but the Single Operator High Power(SOHP) category entrants have increased by about 50%, and the Single Op Three Band Low Power Category (SO3B), now only 3 years old, entrants have increased 50%. So the combined increase in both the SOHP and the SO3B seems to more than make up for the loss in the SOLP ops. While I am glad to see the increase in the SOHP category, as they generally have loud signals and good ears and are easy to work, thereby effectively increasing the available stations to work, and increasing activity in general and are particularly helpful for us rovers. I have mixed feelings concerning the increase in activity in the SO3B category as that categoryprecludes (discourages?) 222MHz activity. On the up side, it has the potential to attract lots of newcomers with limited hardware capability, particularly from those who would not otherwise enter VHF contests. The big concern I have is that SOLP ops are moving to SO3B to find a category they can be competitive in without having to add more hardware for 222MHz. Isuppose the figure for that can be extracted from the Results Database on the ARRL site. Getting people active on 222MHz is difficult without lots of activity on the band, and the SO3B category seems to fly in the face of that. I guess that concern is more than offset by the number of QSOes the SO3B contesters make available on other bands, but in the long run, I don’t think it good for VHF and UHF contesting.
The number of Multiband (M) stations appears to be down, but that does not seem to be a trend yet. If that continues, it will be a bad trend. The data from the other categories seem to be too small to draw any firm conclusions, but it seems that the Rover categories are holding their own.
Also of interest is the photo of the latest incarnation of the N6NB Rover Shack-in-a-Box. There is more detail in the figure caption in the Soapbox comments on the ARRL site. It is a compact low power 10 band station that can fit on the passenger seat of a car, including the antennas. Very slick and worth copying to get novice rovers started in areas where activity warrants it.
The FM only category does not seem to have gotten much traction since introduction, which is surprising as it is a powerful tool that clubs can use to increase activity by members who do not have extensive weak signal VHF activity. It could give a boost to their club entry scores. Perhaps more emphasis on this from the clubs would help. - Duffey KK6MC
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