[VHFcontesting] FN55 result and comments

N1BUG paul at n1bug.com
Mon Sep 17 14:04:50 EDT 2018


I am not giving up! No way! In fact I am increasingly taking
financial risks to add bands. I'm not yet crazy enough to push it
this far if I had any thoughts of giving up.

However, some have given up.

My intent is not to whine. I am just trying to create awareness of
what VHF contesting is like up here. From the comments I get on and
off the air it has become increasingly evident that many don't have
a clue.

Of course it won't work if everyone calls CQ all the time. As a
sometimes HF contester I am well aware of that. However, it does
seem that people expect those of us way up here to do a mix of S&P
and running... without understanding that running is a road to
nowhere for us.

I did try the cheap panadaptor trick using one of the RTL-SDR
dongles. I had it tapped into the IF of my transceiver but it didn't
seem to work well. Perhaps I can put a splitter in the receive line
between transverter and transceiver and try it there. It would have
been easier where I had it since as I add bands not all my
transverter IFs will be the same. It is probably worth noting,
though, that the vast majority of stations I find are barely audible
at the noise floor - notably because I am off the back of their
antenna. I doubt I would see them on a panadaptor. These are
stations in the 200-400 mile range. The ones at 400-500 miles who I
manage to hear are often stronger. Why? I suspect because they are
far enough away to be on the other side of a major population center
that happens to lie along a line from them to me, and that provides
incentive for them to point this way.

I am aware that in contesting time is points. I can understand that
spending time calling in this direction is too costly even with one
or more multipliers on the line.

A few points that I hope people will take from this discussion are:

1. Most of us who get on from outlying grids (at least up this way)
are not VHF contesters per se. We know we can't be competitive.
Reasons we get on are:

a. To give out our grids!

b. To make interesting / fun contacts that are not available outside

c. Hoping for a major band opening to coincide with a contest

2. Running is not a viable means of getting QSOs for us.

3. This is not a new situation. Back in the mid 1980s I was told by
the most experienced local VHF weak signal operator up this way at
the time that it would be very difficult as we are going to be off
the back of most of the antennas most or all of the time. He was
very discouraged and at the point of giving up at the time.

4. Like it or hate it, the ARRL rule change and internet chat rooms
help keep those of us in outlying areas active. Being able to use
this resource to get QSOs that are otherwise not going to happen is
one of the major reasons I have come back to VHF contesting. See
1.b. above.

5. Many more QSOs could be had if people preparing to run bands
would either take a moment to look for other callers before moving
(best due to propagation variability) or come back to the original 2
meter frequency after running bands and *before* moving their
antenna back to some more productive direction.

In any case, I have made my points. Take them or leave them. I have
to get back to cutting 432 elements! Time's wastin'!

Paul N1BUG FN55mf

On 09/17/2018 10:08 AM, John Kludt wrote:
> Paul,
> Paul, I do my contesting from or EM84 or EM85  and the situation you
> describe is very similar to ours.  And I agree that somebody needs to do
> Search and Pounce.  Think about it, if everyone was in run mode calling CQ
> there would be no QSO's.  None!  We would all be in our own little worlds
> calling CQ with abandon but there would be no one to answer because
> everyone was calling CQ.  I actually got into this on 222 MHZ a couple of
> contests ago.  I was calling CQ and making no Q's but I did notice 2 or 3
> signals on the panadapter.  Having a Q rate that was approaching zero I
> decided to go take a look.  Huh, neither had been worked and both were
> blissfully calling away with CQ.  So I worked 'em.  The point is for
> Running (calling CQ) to work there have to be Search and Pounce players as
> well.
> My second point is a panadapter really helps.  If you don't have one, get
> one.  There are easy enough to make today with a cheap SDR running on the
> IF frequency.  Maybe not elegant but they work.
> My third point at the risk of being accused of "destroying amateur radio 15
> seconds at a time" is to try the digital modes, specifically FT8 and
> MSK144.  This last contest was pretty dead for us and those 2 modes on 6m
> and 2m made the difference between total boredom and a reasonable score.
> Not a great score but a reasonable score.  We also used SSB and we tried
> CW.   The CW was done by our best 35 wpm op and netted almost nothing for
> the effort.
> My last point is it seems to me this are really two very different
> contests.  One is for the high density population of the NE and the other
> is for the rest of us.  Just the way it is.  I have often wondered what the
> rankings would look like if the scores could somehow be adjusted for
> population density.  Point is our primary competitor is ourselves as
> population just isn't on our side. Each year we try to do a little better
> than we did the year before.  Not whining just observing the obvious.
> We would love to work you on the next contest and we will be looking your
> way.  Turn your beams just a little more toward the SE.  Don't give up, VHF
> contesting is still a great way to play radio
> John K4SQC
> On Mon, Sep 17, 2018 at 8:00 AM N1BUG <paul at n1bug.com> wrote:
>> Well the dust has settled and I am busy building antennas for 222
>> and 432...
>> The comments from VE9AA underscore the plight of those in grids that
>> are off the beaten path. We want to work you. You want to work us.
>> But no one has ever come up with a strategy that helps.
>> It's hard enough from here. One needs legal limit and a high antenna
>> to make it reasonably fun. I can only imagine what it's like one or
>> two grids further north / east with lower antennas and/or less
>> power! No wonder they give up!
>> The one comment I keep getting is "call CQ, we will find you". After
>> contests I get "I looked up your way, where were you?" I say again:
>> Calling CQ from here DOES NOT WORK. I have spent hours CQing on 2
>> meters in every contest except this last one. I've finally given it
>> up because in all that time I never got more than two or three QSOs
>> that way. Meanwhile I was missing QSOs that could have been had by
>> searching and pouncing. Calling CQ actually REDUCES my score. I
>> continue to get comments about having a good signal when I work
>> people, yet calling CQ remains unproductive. Why? I have no idea.
>> Since no one has any other suggestions I will stick with the best
>> strategy I have been able to come up with: 100% S&P and available on
>> ON4KST chat. I can typically get about 35 to 40 QSOs with a full
>> effort running 2 meters only this way. It remains to be seen whether
>> having more bands reduces the number on 2 meters.
>> I intend to have 222 and 432 long yagis on the tower by January.
>> Whether those bands will be operational is yet to be determined.
>> 73,
>> Paul N1BUG FN55mf
>> On 09/10/2018 06:02 PM, Mike Smith VE9AA wrote:
>>> I feel your pain (and then some) neighbour.
>>> It saddens me to say that I've finally (after decades) given up on VHF
>>> contests, unless
>>> 6m is wide open.
>>> My patience finally wore out and many in the Maritimes are now also SK
>> (or
>>> have moved away)
>>> leaving perhaps 1 in NS, 2 in Maine and if I am really lucky, 1 in NB.
>>> Keep the faith as long as you can Paul.
>>> Mike VE9AA FN66na
>>> Keswick Ridge, NB

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