[VHFcontesting] Rules Discussion

Leandra MacLennan leandra at leandramac.com
Tue Mar 17 22:40:16 EDT 2020

As a rover who has competed in the VHF contests for the last two years I'd like to see what we can do to get more CW and SSB/FM contacts during the contest. I run as a limited rover, but even with just four bands, my car is loaded with antennas, coax, antenna supports and radios. I try to work at least 6 grids over the weekend. I don't have any space left for a computer, I do a paper log and enter it into the computer when I get home. In the September 2019 contest I drove 400 miles and spent 20 hours driving and operating, which included activating the rare grid FN51 on Cape Cod. It doesn't make sense to me to drive to a rare grid or drive up a mountain just to work FT8. I could sit in my car in my (suburban) driveway and work FT8 which, In my opinion, doesn't fit the spirit of the contest. As others have said, I want to see what I can work with gear that is powered by the batteries I can carry, fits in my car, is erected in a few minutes, or is mounted on my car. I want to hear the voice or CW from the other contestant. The secondary goal of this contest, especially for rovers, is to experiment with antennas & find geographic locations to discover the best compromise for gear that is small enough to fit in or on a car, quick to erect, yet can put out a big signal.

I think 3 modes per band per station is excessive, especially for the mixed CW/SSB contacts. How about just allowing two contacts per station per band if one is FT8 and another is any other mode. I'm in favor of scoring these equally - but see my recommendation below.

I have two recommendations, one would be easy and non-controversial, and the other radical and controversial.

My first suggestion is require FT8/4 contacts have a special mode prefix for the entry form. There would be no change in scoring. We could have CW, SSB, FM, FT8 and D (for all other digital modes) modes. In the final scores, show a breakdown in each line for FT8 contacts. This way we could see the number of FT8/4 contacts for each contestant so all of us can see what ratio of FT8 vs. other modes were used. The September 2019 results doesn't have a breakdown of modes. 

My second, controversial, proposal is to recommend a rule change to prohibit FT8/4 contacts by all rovers for the VHF contest. Fixed location stations would still be free to use FT8. Digital modes other than FT8 would still be allowed for rovers. I realize this is controversial, and perhaps we could start by trying this for one of the contests.

This would level the playing field for rovers since rovers are only competing with rovers, and remove the requirement to make FT8 contacts to be competitive.
Rovers would have their equipment on SSB/FM/CW 100% for the contest and not be tied up on FT8
This would eliminate the need to carry gear to handle the FT8/4 mode
This could encourage more SSB/FM/CW, because if you want to contact a rover you need to be on SSB, FM or CW
This gets the contest back to its roots, where rovers are doing real experiments over the weekend to find the best locations for long distance VHF, UHF and above.

For fixed location contestants in the hinterlands, this could result in the loss of FT8 contacts from rovers in possibly rare grids
For rovers dependent on FT8 to activate a poor geographic location in a new grid, this could prevent them from being able to activate the grid

   -Leandra, AF1R

-----Original Message-----
From: VHFcontesting <vhfcontesting-bounces+leandra=leandramac.com at contesting.com> On Behalf Of Crownhaven
Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2020 6:57 PM
To: vhfcontesting at contesting.com
Subject: [VHFcontesting] Rules Discussion

The most important factor in VHF contesting is location.  If you aren’t close enough to a significant amount of stations, the only thing you win is a good time.  Absent a rare band opening.  I’m in EM55, there are only so many stations I can work.  In the January test, without FT8 Qs on six and two, I wouldn’t have had a score to submit.  And yes, I prefer CW.  In any contest, if there is an opening on six, I hit it hard, phone or CW.  In the Jan test, there was an opening to the NE on six.  Qs were only possible on FT8 for most part.

I have a significant station on six - 2.3.

I’ve operated from EN82, FM18, EM98.  The last two yielded many Qs.  I’m dead in the water here using conventional modes, SSB/CW.

Location, location.

Steve, N4JQQ, EM55BD
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