[VHFcontesting] Digital modes in the VHF contests....

Marshall-K5QE k5qe at k5qe.com
Thu Jan 25 18:37:18 EST 2018

Hello to all my fellow contesters....I am just about caught up after the 
Jan contest...still looking for all that lost sleep.

I have read all of the "gloom and doom" posts about FT8.  What we 
contesters do is to chose the best mode or band or whatever to try to 
make the most contacts and multipliers that we can. It is important that 
we NOT try to change the contests or the scoring methods just because 
some new mode comes along.  That is the road to insanity.

Here at K5QE, we found FT8 to be almost useless.  I think we only make 
about 3-4 contacts on FT8....and that took a long time, because we kept 
running into "HF newbies" that were not using the contest mode.  ASIDE:  
Somehow, we need to get these HF types to learn that we need grids not 
+07 for a signal report.  END ASIDE  We did very well using MSK144 on 
both 6M and 2M.   We did even better using JT65b on 2M EME.  We worked a 
total of 100 grids on 2M.  This is about our normal, so we don't 
consider that remarkable at all.

I am beginning to think that this is all about what part of the country 
you live in.  Back in the NE, where there are loads of stations too 
work, FT8 may really work well.  But out here in the sticks, where the 
closest major city is like 250 miles, FT8 did not do well.  This may (or 
may not be a reflection of the density of stations).  Clearly, the 
propagation has a BIG effect here too.  We worked meteor scatter (MS) 
hour after hour on 6M to very good effect.  When the moon was not up, we 
were banging away on 2M as well.  The ops reported that both bands were 
quite productive on MSK.  Using PingJockey was also a major part of 
success on MS.  For MS, the ability to quickly set up a run with another 
station, execute that sched, and get back to other stations is crucial.

I found out that calling CQ K5QE 265 was essentially useless.  I don't 
think that we worked anyone that way.  The rookies all run everything on 
50.260 and don't move much if at all.  We worked many stations on 50.265 
by arranging scheds with them on PingJockey.  That helped to keep 50.260 
a bit clearer, from us "big gun" stations.  Most everyone knows by now, 
that 50.265 is our run frequency, as we have been using it for years.  I 
hope we can do a bit of education so that the rookies will know that 
they can use other frequencies to make contacts.....like 50.265 .... HI.

I am sure that I have not addressed all the issues, but hopefully, I hit 
some of the "hot spots".

73 Marshall K5QE

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