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

N2WM Walt n2wm at centurylink.net
Sun Feb 7 09:48:04 EST 2021

This is 100% on the mark.

I find FT-8 boring and I am an observer not an operator. Yes the Mode 
works for very weak signals but when stations are s-9 why use FT-8. Last 
contest to work my own Grid Square had to work a station 12 miles away 
on FT-8.

I have been in VHF Contests since 1970 and I read that LOG submissions 
are up but our Limited Multi Op hilltop station our QSO totals are down.

I do contest for the fun and challenge of working stations and trying to 
get one more Grid. With FT-8 no joy, no feeling of accomplishment, Just 
boring time spent watching a computer screen and knowing no operator 
skill involved.

 From FN21OC

73 Walt N2WM

Trustee of W2LV  VHF Group.

On 06-Feb-21 22:43, Jay RM wrote:
> .. George, you've pretty much read my mind and put my exact thoughts into
> words.
> -W9RM
> 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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