New Rover Rules for VHF Contests

Without much notice or fanfare, the ARRL posted a new set of general rules for VHF contests. The changes seem to be centered on the rover category, which has been the subject of much controversy over the last decade or so. See So You Want to Be A Rover for more information on the rover category.

The new rules impose a limit of 100 contacts between any two rovers, apparently to prevent the “grid circling” strategy. A grid circling strategy is when two or more rovers meet at the intersection of four grids and drive around the grid corner working each other on many bands over a short distance. This allows them to rack up a high score in a short period of time while making only short distance contacts. See the N6NB Rover Page for more on these grid-circling efforts.

It appears that the existing Rover category, is subdivided into three entry categories:

  • Rover: existing rover category, with one or two operators
  • Limited Rover: A rover that uses four bands or less, with power restrictions
  • Unlimited Rover: A rover that has few restrictions, including use of more than two operators and no limit on contacts with other rovers.

I think the intent of these changes are good. It allows for the extreme grid-circling guys to knock themselves out driving in circles but keeps them in a separate category. The Limited Rover is likely to appeal to some little pistol guys that aren’t equipped for more than 3 or 4 bands.

Unfortunately, the rules do seem a bit hacked together and are not that easy to understand. I am still reviewing them to understand the fine points.

73, Bob K0NR

Mobile Phones Hit 50% of World Population

Holy Freaking Cow! Try to count all of those cellphones. From Reuters:

HELSINKI, Nov 29 (Reuters) – Worldwide mobile telephone subscriptions reached 3.3 billion — equivalent to half the global population — on Thursday, 26 years after the first cellular network was launched, research firm Informa said. Since the first Nordic Mobile Telephony (NMT) networks were switched on in 1981 in Saudi Arabia, Sweden and Norway, mobile phones have become the consumer electronics sector with the largest volume of sales in the world.
“The mobile industry has constantly outperformed even the most optimistic forecasts for subscriber growth,” Mark Newman, head of research at Informa said in a statement.

This does not necessarily mean that half of the people in the world have cellphones…some people own more than one. But still, who would have thunk it? No wonder 2 Meters is so quiet….everyone is busy yakking on the phone. In the race for number of wireless devices, the cellphone has beaten the 2M handheld. See my posting about my cool dualband rig.

Now, if we could just get people to use the vibrate mode on the phones, so I don’t have to listen to several billion obnoxious ring tones.

73, Bob K0NR

Ham Radio in the News

Jeff KE9V picked up on a news item about the ham radio response in the recent Oregon floods. (The ARRL has a more detailed report here.) There is a news report from KPTV that has this great quote in it:

“One of the problems in this is always communication,” Gov. Ted Kulongoski said after a visit Tuesday to Vernonia and a fly-over there and other affected areas. “I’m going to tell you who the heroes were from the very beginning of this…the ham radio operators. These people just came in and actually provided a tremendous communication link to us.”

KE9V has some great comments in his blog about this. Basically, Jeff says he is glad that ham radio can once again come to the rescue in the face of a communications breakdown. But then he questions how our tax dollars are being spent on the public safety communication systems that seem to fail just when they are needed. He has a point here.

In my state (Colorado), the public safety agencies have migrated to a statewide 800 MHz system (based on APCO Project 25). This has really helped with interoperability issues but the system is known to be inadequate for high levels of radio traffic. This is not rocket science…you can evaluate the number of radio sites, the capacity of each site and how many radio transceivers and transmissions that need to be supported. The answer is when a wide scale emergency occurs, the 800 MHz system is likely to be overloaded.

It is great that ham radio can fill in the gaps, but these systems should be designed to operate in adverse conditions.

73, Bob K0NR