[VHFcontesting] The impact of the digital modes on the January VHF Contest and some suggestions on dealing with those impacts

Jay RM w9rm at calmesapartners.com
Sat Feb 6 22:43:46 EST 2021

.. George, you've pretty much read my mind and put my exact thoughts into


Keith Morehouse
via MotoG

On Sat, Feb 6, 2021, 7:55 PM George Fremin <geoiii at kkn.net> wrote:

> Hello fellow VHF contesters.
> I have only been loosely following this thread recently.   I have not been
> reading many of the messages to this list for a few years now so I may not
> be fully up on what all the thoughts have been.  I think I have some idea
> of a few folks feelings on this list and I have been having similar
> conversations with a few other VHF and HF ops I know.
> The last year or two of VHF contests that I have operated have me
> questioning if I want to continue to put time and effort into doing
> contests on or for that matter even spending much time on these bands in
> general.  In addition to the VHF contesting I do, I do a lot of HF
> contests.  I choose not to do any digital contests.  I have never found
> them to be very interesting to me.  I enjoy the challenge of using my ears
> and brain to copy CW and voice signals.  I have spent a large portion of my
> life now learning how to do this pretty well.  Letting some machine do that
> for me takes removes the skill that I have worked so hard acquire.  As a
> result I do not find the digital modes to be that much fun.
> I am not sure what the answer is here - I think trying to do mixed modes
> will be a mess - although it would help my QSO totals.
> Back 10 years or more ago I posted a message to this list where I stated
> that I was not going to operate using digital modes - of course this was
> when it was just MSK or maybe some EME - and I held to that - and since
> very few of the folks and none of the casual folks were doing those modes
> it did not affect my scores too much.  We have seen the rise in EME but the
> MSK totals seem about the same but the big change has been FT8 - and that
> has become the mode that everyone seem to have living on these days.  And
> as others have noted that has really hurt contact rates and made it hard to
> move folks between bands.  So in the last few contests I have done more and
> more digital when I am at home.  I have been doing the Sep and Jan contests
> as a rover with my girlfriend using her call - and we have not do any
> digital from the car but we can tell that is hiring our score as more and
> more folks seem to be stuck on FT8.
> As I stated above this all has me wondering why I am on these bands -
> since most of the activity is on a mode I do not enjoy.
> One of my thoughts has been that I will go back to the way I used to do it
> before and only do SSB and CW going forward and let whatever I miss on the
> digital modes go by the wayside.  I have no interest in putting up a large
> EME array on any bands - since that would just mean more digital contacts -
> and for me that is no fun.  So I might do the contests in this way going
> forward - SSB/CW only and temper my expectiaons on my scores and likely
> never ‘winning’ these contests ever again.  One of my long term goals was
> to make over 2000 contacts on 6m in the June contest.  But it has become
> clear to me that this is likely not possible any longer due to the fact
> that so many casual folks stick to FT8 even when the band is wide open and
> the rate I just not there.  So be it.  I have to do what is fun for me.  Or
> maybe I just get rid of all the VHF stuff while the getting is good and
> move on.   I am still unsure.
> One thing I was wondering about for the the past few weeks was how is the
> playing out in Europe.  So today I wrote to a German ham that I know has
> done VHF contests and he replied.  I what he said interesting:
> The major VHF+ contests over here (1st weekend of March [2m+], June
> [23cm+], July [2m+], September [2m only], October [70cm+] and November
> [2m CW only]) are still unchanged, only allowing SSB and CW contacts,
> and I don't see that changing anytime soon. On 2m, the top stations
> will routinely work more than 1000 QSOs. I don't think the big guns are
> interested in using FT8, and they're the ones sitting in the contest
> committees of the various clubs, where rules could be changed.
> That said, activity on VHF *outside* contests is predominantly FT8 (or
> the various meteorscatter digital modes) nowadays, but in general I
> guess that FT8 has overall increased non-contest activity, so maybe
> that's not such a bad thing.
> Maybe trip to Europe for some VHF contests would be fun for me.
> I still do not know what do so here in the North America - maybe we could
> make one of the VHF contests SSB/CW only and see how that goes?
> That seems like it would be fun.  And it would be something different -
> and that is a good thing in my book - why do they all have to be the same?
> I am sure there are others that will disagree.
> 73,
> George Fremin III
> K5TR
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