[VHFcontesting] Fwd: VHF Contests Rules Discussion and Proposal

Gregory Winters greg_winters at hotmail.com
Tue Mar 17 02:13:22 EDT 2020

I second W7XU. The hinterlands already have a huge disadvantage. Changing the rules is tempting but there are unintended consequences.

Having to run now up to 3 different modes to triple-dip scores is not in the benefit of competition except with big guns who have the resources to have a dedicated digital operator on every band, and 'band captains', and all that. It its already challenging as a single operator to cover 2m FM and 2m SSB in an area where many grids have nothing but national forests and next to no operators. Having regions and divisions equalizes that... somewhat. We don't get much CW activity so we can choose to chase 2 per contesy or focus where the activity is. But thats our choice.

Perhaps on a region or division level I would support some minor changes, with some provision between different divisions where rules may be different. But on the whole I would like to alleviate the burden on single operators who don't know if they should run AM, FM, SSB, CW, FSK, MSK, FT8, PSK... you get the idea. Its actually one reason I either run single operator FM-only or just multioperator. Its too daunting to run almost a multiop setup as a single operator, due to trying to catch as many ops as possible when they could be in numerous modes and watering holes. I don't have an array of cavity duplexers. And then toss in begging a random QSO to run for a second (and third!) mode? No, I do not support that at all.

I would like to see some changes.

1) Change the VHF contest sections where it might make sense.

For example, WWA incorporates Seattle. But I am just outside Portland, and Oregon is its own section. EWA section has next to no participants. Geography and the normal population distribution means that being this far the Seattle metro area (which part is on a grid CORNER), is not comparable to here where a grid corner falls in a national forest, wilderness area, etc. If I want to be competitive as single-op, I am at a huge disadvantage not being in the Puget Sound area, with a way larger population ans a grid corner right there. Same as a group in Medford being in the OR section with geography not being favorable, and the vast majority of the ham population being in the greater Portland area, over 200 miles away.

2) One contact per band. Keep it. Deal with it.

Digital may pull through some weak grids but it doesn't have the rate and I don't see rovers by and large jumping in. Either incentivize CW and phone, or just leave it all alone. Don't make contesting no fun by needing '2m digital band captains'. What would follow would be complaints about 'we should only allow FT4' or 'FT8 is too slow' or this or that.'  Don't ban digital, since meteorscatter is about the only way to work some grids here, and EME for others. EME will be tough enough without digital.

3) No EME at all.

EME favors big budgets and pulls in huge grids as multipliers. Its * AMATEUR * not PRO radio. We already have EME contests. Add the low bands (down to 10m) to them. Keep MSK (analog and digital) in VHF contests, but consider taking away EME from the thrice-yearly VHF contests.

4) Make logs due much earlier. Maybe within 24hrs of contest end.

I keep a paper log and plug it in right away. I type fast. But the thrill of a contest wears off when 3-4 months goes by without official results. It needs to be faster than that!

Days don't need to go by for results. That time is not for looking up missing grids, listening to recordings (except where they may be allowed... and if so, thats a BAD rule), etc. We need results a lot sooner.

5) Expand disqualifications

More than once I've encountered a station who let digital run in a SSB segment repeatedly, or let digital run unattended in a SSB portion. For HOURS. That jammed us because we were only a couple of miles away. In my view this station should have been disqualified. We called, emailed, whatnot and it just ran. No apologies and no consequences either.

We had one guy constantly giving out a bogus grid here, until I argued him down that his grid was 'geographic center of US, Kansas' and not the one here. He had a program generate it, and gave no coordinates but a US country code (took 20 minutes to convince him). He then started giving out the correct one. But anyone prior to that got the wrong grid. So they would submit either the wrong grid (the one he gave) for credit, and hope he did, amd I could hope my QSO was with the correct grid. See what I mean? That stations' QSOs should have been disqualified so no one would have a discrepancy. I don't need more 'not in log' dings.

I'd love to report a LID and actually have it mean something.

6) Make FM only eligible on ALL bands

I would love to give out 900 and 1296 FM points in the FM-only category. Its the lowest 4 bands though. So I have to do a checklog for them? And FM as a whole doesn't get much 'DX', but it generates a lot of activity. Getting out the gunnplexers out would be great, though I realize the upper limit of a VHF contest on FM should be maybe 2 or 5GHz, since there are microwave contests. Who knows what is going on long-term with 3 and 5GHz.

7) Make FM QSOs 2 points in addition to band multipliers

If the purpose of contesting is at leaat partially to encourage activity, then encourage it where most people can play. We need more 6m FM usage. We need 900 FM usage. And yes, we need people to get off repeaters for a change and use their (gulp!) Chinese handhelds!

My first QSOs were all FM because back in 1993 thats all a Tech Plus could do. But I could barely get out of 1 grid back then, and I'm not DX for anybody. Should the big guns skip me? I didn't participate back then. Buy as geography males it hard to get multipliers here, I chase FMers hard. Its adds up!

Should we teach out to the newbies with Chinese radios? Absolutely. They are the future of OUR hobby, like it or not. Contesting should not be an elitist pursuit.

8) Consider rookie and YL incentives

Maybe allow rookies and rookie YLs to be an additional multiplier. Maybe not their own category outright (when my 7 year old daughter gets her ticket she will be on MY team or me on HERS).

9) Add multioperator rovers as a category

It would be fun to have an unlimited multiop rover category. Run a comm van 24/7.

10) Incentivize rare grids!!

Look at low grid count grids and publish them for 3 or 4x multipliers if you work them. Get rovers ro actually go out in sparse areas that never see rovers. Let a single op LP be the DX!

10 Add a QRP category. Or further divide catgeories by EIRP.

Nuff said.

11) Maybe allow SWLs or something really crazy like Echolink

Just an idea. Don't kill the messenger.

12) Allow one signal per band per mode, not just one per band

Its difficult to coordinate multiop when I am hearing a flurry of 446 FM ones while we are also monitoring 432. Let me go after both... somehow.

13) Schedule some actual time off periods

I would like to get some sleep! Its tough with so many time zones. I habe no solutions here. But some contests start at a local time. So let the rovers sleep.


In short, some changes would be nice. I'm relatively new to the operator chair of it all after years of obaerving. Don't kill the messenger.

One signal per band.

Greg, K3RW
From: VHFcontesting <vhfcontesting-bounces+greg_winters=hotmail.com at contesting.com> on behalf of w7xu at w7xu.com <w7xu at w7xu.com>
Sent: Monday, March 16, 2020 7:59:55 PM
To: vhfcontesting at contesting.com <vhfcontesting at contesting.com>
Subject: Re: [VHFcontesting] Fwd: VHF Contests Rules Discussion and Proposal

Just a few thoughts from the middle of the country --

The more populated areas of the country already have a huge advantage
when it comes to making QSOs compared to those of us who have fewer than
a dozen stations within 200 miles. While I support the idea of getting
folks back on cw and phone, making analog QSOs count twice (or 4 times!)
as much as a digital QSO really puts those of us in the hinterlands at a

Likewise, getting points for separate QSOs using CW, SSB and digital
also gives a big advantage to the population centers. Combining CW with
SSB vs digital, as K8MR suggested (but for a different reason), would
lessen that discrepancy somewhat as well as take care of the mixed mode
QSO question. Maybe with just 2 categories and a distance factor, it
would be more palatable for those of us away from the east coast or
other populated areas. (Or maybe too much of a change for others).

I don't like the idea of a station only being able to make a CW QSO in a
CW sub-band. There are a lot of places in the country where it was tough
to find anyone straying from 144.200 even in "the good old days." I
think it would take a lot of arm twisting to get stations to move to
144.050 in my area.

The bottom line is that I'm in favor of recovering the lost cw and phone
activity, but let's not overlook the unintended consequences.

73, Arliss  W7XU
     Currently marooned near Tierra del Fuego (and you thought you were
     in the sticks), but normally in EN13

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