Dorking With VHF Contest Rules

300px-International_amateur_radio_symbol.svgOne continuing discussion in the VHF community is how to promote more activity, especially during the major VHF contests. One central theme that always emerges is how to modify the VHF contest rules to make them better, to make them fairer and to encourage new contesters. (Let me say up front that there is room for improvement in the contest rules but I don’t think rule changes alone will change contest participation significantly.)

In 2013, the ARRL contests added the Three-Band Single Operator and Single Operator FM Only entry categories. In January 2015, the ARRL added three more categories: Single Operator Unlimited High Power, Single Operator Unlimited Low Power, and Single Operator Unlimited Portable. These “unlimited” categories allow “passive use of spotting assistance” which roughly means these operators can monitor the various DX spotting networks but not spot themselves. The CQ Worldwide VHF Contest already allows passive assistance for all participants and self-spotting for digital EME and meteor scatter contacts. See the CQ WW VHF rules.

In January, the ARRL announced additional changes:

The Board … adopted amendments to the General Rules for ARRL Contests Above 50 MHz to encourage greater participation and band utilization. The changes become effective with the 2015 June ARRL VHF Contest. The revisions stemmed from recommendations offered by the Board’s Programs and Services Committee’s ad-hoc VHF and Above Revitalization subcommittee, composed of active VHF/UHF contesters, and they received strong support from the VHF/UHF community.

The subcommittee was charged with developing recommendations to increase the level and breadth of ARRL VHF and above contest participation and encourage operation on lesser-used bands. As a start to the process, the Board approved three changes that will permit assistance for all operator categories, with no effect on entry category; permit self-spotting for all operator categories, and allow single operators to transmit on more than one band at a time.

The changes will permit assistance in arranging contacts, but not in conducting contacts. They will, for example, allow a station to announce its location in a chat room, on a repeater, or even via e-mail.

The self-spotting/assistance issue is a hotly debated issue among VHFers, with two main schools of thought:

1) Contacts should be made completely independent of non-amateur assistance. Sometimes passive spotting assistance is allowed, but some folks want to eliminate that practice as well.

2) Contacts can be made with non-amateur assistance (spotting networks, chat rooms, etc.) as long as a complete radio contact occurs over the ham bands. This follows the common practice of internet spotting for EME and meteor scatter. Also, some rover stations have requested the ability to spot themselves when they enter a new grid.

There are a number of shades of gray positions between these two points of view (see the CQ WW VHF rules, for example), but I won’t try to explain them here. In general, I support the move to loosening up the restrictions on assistance (#2). Without good 6m propagation, VHF contests tend to be “QSO poor” and expanded use of spotting will allow for additional contacts. The potential risk is that we’ll get sloppy with what constitutes a legitimate contact. Once I know the exact frequency and call sign of the other station, it will be easier to “hear” the other station even when the path is not there. Of course, we already have this situation when we complete a QSO on one band and QSY to another band to work the same station. We know the frequency and call sign (and the grid)…did we really hear the other guy or just think we did? In the end, it all comes down to the integrity of the radio hams involved in the contact.

Those are my thoughts. What do you think?

73, Bob K0NR

Mt Herman: SOTA plus VHF Contest

The North America SOTA Weekend coincided with the ARRL September VHF Contest, which I interpreted as a great opportunity to do a combination SOTA activation and QRP VHF operation. A few other folks thought that was a good idea so we all got on the air from SOTA peaks on the Sunday of the weekend. I decided to operate from Mount Herman (W0C/FR-063) in grid DM79. I hiked up the same mountain for last year’s September contest and got soaked by the rain. Fortunately, the weather was excellent this year, making it a great day.

View from the south side of Mt Herman

View from the south side of Mt Herman

For radio equipment, I took a couple of HTs for 2m and 70 cm FM and the FT-817 for CW/SSB on 6m, 2m and 70 cm. Most of the SOTA action would be on 2m FM but SSB is critical for working the VHF contest. I did put out the word to the usual VHF contesters that there would be FM activity and did work a few of them via 2m FM. The 2m FM calling frequency, 146.52 MHz, is commonly used for SOTA but is not allowed for contest use. (Another example of how this rule is just a barrier to contest activity.) We used 146.55 MHz for the contest contacts. FT-817 I had coordinated with Brad WA6MM who was going to be on Grays Peak (W0C/FR-002), one of the Colorado 14ers. When he made the summit, I had my 2m yagi antenna pointed in his direction and easily worked him on 2m FM at a distance of 65 miles.  Brad was using an HT with a 1/2-wave vertical antenna. Also, I worked Stu W0STU and Dan N0OLD on Bald Mountain (W0C/FR-093) , which sits on the east side of I-25 right at Monument Hill. Contest activity was light, as usual for the September contest in Colorado. We did have two rover stations that activated a few of the unpopulated grids in eastern Colorado: George AB0YM and Jonesy W3DHJ.

Band       QSOs X pt =  QSO pts.  X   Grids   =     Points
 50         8      1      8             5             40
 144        23     1      23            5             115
 432        14     2      28            3             84
 TOTALS     45            59            13            767

My contest score was not bad for a few hours of operating QRP portable. It turns out that I had set the Colorado section record for “single-op portable” back in 1990 with just 624 points (using my old callsign KB0CY). Oddly enough, 24 years later it appears that I set a new record. (This speaks more to the lack of QRP activity during the September contest and less about my incredible operating ability.)

All in all, it was a great day in the mountains to take a hike and play with radios. I will probably do the SOTA + VHF Contest activation again.

73, Bob K0NR

K0NR June VHF Contest 2013

My award certificate for the 2013 ARRL June VHF Contest arrived in the mail this past week. The new VHF contest certificates look great, don’t you think? Nice job, ARRL!  Similar to other years, I operated from the family cabin at 9600 feet elevation in DM78 near Trout Creek Pass with temporary antennas (see my previous blog posting.) I knew that I scored OK in the contest but I’ve had higher scores in the past. The June VHF results article is a good summary of the national activity.

2013 June VHF0002


This was the first year for the Single Operator Three Band category, defined as operating on 50 MHz (100W limit), 144 MHz (100W limit) and 432 MHz (50W limit). I found this category to be very attractive because my interests are focused on VHF and not the higher bands. Often, I’ll just run 6m and 2m during VHF contests but with the three-band category it was not a big stretch to add in 70cm. The scoring system for the normal single operator categories provides a large incentive to operate on 1.2 GHz and higher, which makes it more difficult for a “VHF only” station to win in those categories. Some guys like the challenge of operating more bands and pushing the limits of going higher in frequency. I totally get that, so more power to them…it is just not that interesting to me.

It was not a big surprise that I took first place in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Division because there were only a handful of entries in my category. I was pleased to place third in the overall contest. I expect that competition in this category will get more intense as other single-op stations realize they can win in this category.  But limited to three bands and 100W, this competition will be more about propagation and operator skill, and less about deploying lots of gear.

The 2014 June VHF Contest is just around the corner (June 14-15), so time to get the station ready!

73, Bob K0NR

Contest Results Are In

300px-International_amateur_radio_symbol.svgIn the past two weeks, the results of several ham radio contests from last summer were posted. The typical contest takes months for the official results to be finalized and I have usually forgotten about the contest by then. The more serious contesters share their results via the 3830 web site so they can get an early read on how they did relative to their peers. But you need to be patient for the official results.

In the ARRL June VHF Contest, I placed in the top ten for the new Single Operator 3 Band category. This category is restricted to 50, 144 and 432 MHz, which is a good match to my radio interests. We had good 50 MHz conditions in Colorado (relative to other parts of the country), so CO stations seemed to score well.

Speaking of Colorado, in the Colorado QSO Party I finished first in the Phone – Low Power – Single-Op category. I was actually not that pleased with my score this year (45,500), which was considerably less than my score from last year (76,464). Oh well, I will invoke the Universal Purpose of Amateur Radio and say I had a great time in the contest, regardless of the score. Thanks to the Pikes Peak Radio Amateur Association for sponsoring this event.

The ARRL Field Day results are also posted. Joyce K0JJW and I did a one transmitter (1B) operation from the cabin using the club call KVØCO, resulting in a modest score (454). We mostly made phone contacts on 20m, 15m and 6m. We had some nice sporadic-e on 50 MHz, which is always a treat. Remember, the key to a fun Field Day is: Season To Taste.

73, Bob K0NR

A Soggy Mount Herman SOTA Activation (W0C/FR-063)

Although I’ve operated a number of VHF contests from the summit of Mount Herman, I had not yet activated it as a Summits On The Air (SOTA) peak. Mount Herman is a 9063 foot mountain just to the west of Monument, Colorado, pretty much in “my back yard.” Steve WG0AT did the first SOTA activation of Mount Herman, back in May 2010, chronicled here in one of his famous videos.  There is a sometimes rough Forest Service Road 320 that leads to the trailhead, then it’s a little more than a one mile hike to the top with 1000 feet of elevation gain. I call it a tourist hike, since it has just enough challenge to make it feel like a climb and there’s a great view at the top. At least on most days.

Mt Herman map

I was not expecting much of a view today since low rain clouds were dominating the sky. I was just hoping I would not get completely drenched by rain. The weather was definitely marginal but from my house I saw the clouds lift a bit, so I thought it was worth a try. The ARRL September VHF Contest is also this weekend, so it was a great combo opportunity: SOTA + VHF Contest.

K0NR HT in the rain

I hopped in the Jeep and quickly made the drive to the trailhead. Then I scooted on up the trail, making it to the summit in about 30 minutes. Just as I reached the summit, the rain really kicked in. I set my gear down under a tree, got out my HT, attached the 1/2-wave antenna and started calling on 147.42 MHz. I wanted to bag my four SOTA qualifying contacts in case the weather turned worse. I quickly worked Frank K0JQZ and Steve WG0AT. Then George AB0YM, operating as a rover in the VHF contest called me from grid DM78, so I worked him as well.

I had my trusty Arrow Yagi antenna with me but I didn’t want to bother with assembling it in the rain. I got out the FT-817, put a vertical antenna on it and called on 144.200 USB. I found stations working the VHF contest and completed QSOs with them: WB0RRU and K3ILC.

The rain intensified so I abandoned the summit and headed back down. All in all, it was not a great hike but I was successful in activating Mount Herman.

73, Bob K0NR

This Spewed Out of the Internet #25

0511-0701-3118-0930Here’s another update of interesting important stuff spewing forth from the internet.

I put my two presentations from HamCon Colorado out on the web:  Practical Amateur Radio Measurements and Mountaintop VHF in the Colorado High Country . Also, check out Kelly N0VD’s blog posting on the event.

Having trouble finding a repeater to use on VHF? Check out my Shack Talk article on

KB5WIA provides some good tips on EME operating.

Hans PD0AC addresses the question: What’s the Best Chinese Dual-band HT? For best price/performance, he selected Baofeng UV-B5/UV-B6 (and I agree).

The Noise Blankers continue to publish their Ham Hijinks. Remember: Do Not Take These Guys Seriously. Seriously. Do not do this. Seriously.

There’s lots of great ham radio events coming up this summer. This weekend is the CQ Worldwide VHF Contest, the only “true VHF contest” out there since only the 50 MHz and 144 MHz bands are used. Then there’s the Colorado 14er Event, which includes Summits On The Air (SOTA) activations, on August 4th. (Don’t forget to check out the great new Colorado 14er Shirts!)  The Colorado QSO Party is another great operating event, on August 31st.

Remember: There is no such thing as ground.

Think about it: an infinitely large electrical node with zero impedance able to sink an infinite current. Not likely.

73, Bob K0NR

Get Ready For Field Day

2013FieldDayLogoWebAttention all radio amateurs, this weekend is ARRL Field Day! Don’t forget to get on the air.

Field Day is a flexible event, so it can be anything you want it to be: camping weekend, stay at home, participate with your club, go mobile, whatever you desire. Remember to season to taste.

One more thing: Field Day is not a contest. But you can still keep score.

Oh, remember that the national simplex FM calling frequency of 146.52 MHz should not be used for making Field Day contacts. Like all contests…wait Field Day is not a contest. Whatever.

– 73, Bob K0NR


The New VHF Contest Categories

arrlnewlogo-transThe results are in from the 2013 ARRL January VHF Contest, which includes the new Single Operator 3 Band and Single Operator FM Only entry categories.

There were 77 entries in the SO3B category, with Rich KV2R having the high score: 6368 pts. Breaking his contacts out by band reveals 50MHz:92 QSOs/18 Grids; 144MHz:83 QSOs/12 Grids; 432MHz:12 QSOs/2 Grids. I operated in the same category but with a lower score: 1311, broken out by band this way: 50MHz:27/12; 144MHz:24/8; 432MHz:3/3. As I recall, 50 MHz propagation was not really that great, which is going to be the major swing factor for scores in the SO3B category. Scanning through the top SO3B entries reveals a relatively consistent pattern of 50 MHz having the highest number of QSOs, with 144 MHz in the same ballpark and 432 MHz significantly lower in count.

There were only 23 entries in the SOFM category, which is probably not a big surprise. While there are pockets of FM activity during VHF contests, historically the fun mode has not been used that much for contesting. The whole idea behind SOFM is to open up contesting to the FM operator. It remains to be seen how effective this will be but if it does catch on, it will take some time to build momentum. Ev W2EV had the high score of 1080 in the FM category, broken out by band here: 50MHz:19 QSOs/4 Grids; 144MHz:27 QSOs/4 Grids; 222MHz:5 QSOs/4 Grids; 432MHz:8 QSOs/3 Grids.  W2EV’s score shows just a few grids per band, indicating shorter distance contacts overall. With only 4 grids on 50 MHz, he probably did not benefit from sporadic-e propagation on that band. The second place entry was from Erich KC9CUK who only worked the 2 Meter band, producing a score of 441 with 63 QSOs and 7 grids. The remaining entries had less than 30 QSOs. Almost everyone had contacts on 144 MHz but the usage of the other bands varied significantly.

I have always been most interested in operating 50 MHz and 144 MHz, sometimes adding in 222 MHz and 432 MHz, so I find SO3B a nice addition to the contest. In this category,  I get to operate my favorite bands but my score does not get compared with the guys that have built stations that do 50 MHz through light. I suspect there are plenty of other VHF contesters in this same boat.

I find the FM category very interesting, as I have always tried to encourage FM operating during the contests. Clearly, FM is less effective than SSB and CW, particularly when the signals are weak. I don’t know whether this category will attract new operators or not to VHF contests. FM operation needs to hit critical mass because activity generates activity. That is, if you are the only FM contester in your area, its going to be frustrating. Of course, it will help if the established SSB stations make it a point to also work FM.

Oh, one more thing… we still need to get rid of the rule that says no contacts on 146.52 MHz. This rule is counterproductive. Every time I talk with an FM op about “getting on during the contest” they say “OK, so I should just call on five two, right?” I have to explain that calling on the calling frequency is not allowed during the contest (uh, that’s only for FM, you see) and their minds start to wander to topics that make more logical sense.

73, Bob K0NR

K0NR June VHF Contest

June VHF radio gear

My June VHF Contest operation was at the cabin DM78av, operating in the new 3-band single-op category this year. Usually, I have been a two-band guy just focusing on 2M and 6M. I drug along my 432 MHz antenna and drove it with 50W from my FT-847, picking up a few more QSOs that way.

My score is down from the previous two years, which I think relates to the 50 MHz propagation. I subscribe to the theory that any June contest that has any sporadic-e is a success, so I am not going to complain. However, it did seem like I spend more time digging weak signals out of the noise on 6 Meters this year. It was often just barely open and the QSO rate was slow.

Best DX was XE2WK in EL03 on 50 MHz.

73, Bob K0NR

2013 ARRL June QSO Party K0NR DM78
Band QSOs X pt = QSO pts. X Grids = Points
 50 320 1 320 112 35840
 144 34 1 34 11 374
 432 13 2 26 6 156
 TOTALS 367 380 129 49020
Claimed score = 49020

HF Slacker Works the CQ WPX Contest

cq_logoThis past weekend, I had to great time working the CQ WPX (SSB) Contest. I am pretty much an HF Slacker but I do like getting on the air once in a while for these contests. The attraction seems to be the opportunity to make lots of contacts in a short time and picking up a few new countries. The format for this contest is really fun…multipliers are based on the callsign prefix, so “everyone is DX”…sort of. CQ has an awards program (CQ WPX Award) that is also based on prefixes worked, so the contest is a good way to pursue that award. The ARRL recently added CQ WPX Award support to Logbook of the World, which will help with confirming contacts. Us HF Slackers don’t like messing around with actually sending QSL cards when transferring a few bytes electronically is sufficient.

I operated from our mountain cabin, with just 100W to a trap dipole up in the trees. Not a Big Gun station, especially not in this contest. There were quite a few stations on the Caribbean, many of them contest DXpeditions. Conditions were pretty good on 20M and 15M, with 10M also quite usable during portions of the day.

        Band    QSOs     Pts  WPX
           7      39      69   30 
          14      71     142   59
          21      81     163   54
          28       9      24    6
       Total     200     398  149
       Score : 59,302

The last time I submitted a log for CQ WPX was in 2011 with roughly the same station. That year, I made 98 QSOs for a score of 18,920. So this year’s score is an improvement over that effort.

But the most important thing is to have fun messing around with radios.

73, Bob K0NR

Need A Logging Program for VHF Contests?


vhf logAs I prepare for the ARRL January VHF Contest, I loaded the latest version of VHF LOG, a software program by Dave W3KM. I have used this free program for many years and it just rolled over to version 4.0 to support Windows 8.

VHF LOG is easy to use while covering the basic contest logging requirements for the usual VHF contests (ARRL January/June/September, CQ Worldwide VHF, etc.). It includes a “Post Contest” mode, which is handy for entering a paper log into your computer for electronic submission.

VHF LOG runs on Windows operating systems, 98SE thru Win8. Check it out.

73, Bob K0NR

Ham Radio Action Next Weekend – Sept 8/9

There are three excellent ham radio activities going on this coming weekend. Check these out and see if there is an activity that catches your interest. This is written for people in Colorado but items #1 and #3 are North American wide.

  1. ARRL September VHF QSO Party – noon MDT on Saturday until 9 PM MDT on Sunday
  2. Colorado FM Sprint – a mini version of the September VHF QSO Party,
    using FM only on these bands: 146 MHz, 222 MHz and 440 MHz
    Saturday from noon to 7 PM MDT
    Suggested frequencies: 146.58, 146.55, 223.5, 446.000, 446.100 MHz FM simplex
  3. North American Summits On The Air (SOTA) Weekend
    SOTA activations all over North America
    Go here to see announced summit activations:
    VHF contacts are usually on 146.52 MHz
    (Note: this frequency is NOT allowed for contacts in the
    Sept VHF QSO Party and Colorado FM Sprint)
    HF contacts are on frequencies listed on

Wow, lots of stuff to choose from!

At the very least, I’d suggest getting on the air Saturday afternoon to see if you can work some of the VHF contest stations. They are likely to be some mountaintop SOTA stations active at that time, too. Some of these folks may try to work the VHF contests AND do the SOTA thing on the same expedition.

73, Bob K0NR

K0NR Colorado QSO Party Results

It was a fun day working the Colorado QSO Party from the cabin near Trout Creek Pass. State QSO parties are contests designed to focus attention on a particular state, with an emphasis on activation of counties. This brings out the County Hunters and other folks interested in working that particular state.
The contest format is quite flexible, including CW, Digital and Phone on most bands from HF through UHF. There were many mobile stations out activating counties…which is important in Colorado since some counties are sparsely populated and there may be (literally) no active ham radio operators living there.

I decided to operate from our cabin near Trout Creek Pass in Park County, which is considered “rare” by most folks. My station was a Yaesu FT-950 running 100W to a trap dipole up in the trees. I mostly operated phone since I don’t consider my CW skills up to that challenge of a contest. I did make a few CW contacts at the request of a few folks than wanted Park County on CW.

Thanks to all of the mobile stations out there, both in Colorado and out of state. I was surprised how many people were mobile or operating portable (often camping out for the holiday weekend). I normally monitor 146.52 MHz while up at the cabin for anyone out hiking or mobile. I heard Eric W0ECE doing a SOTA activation on Mt Evans and worked him for QSO Party points and SOTA points.

The score below includes the CW contacts so the score will drop a bit when I submit in the phone only category (77526, I think).

I was disappointed with the Qs on 15 Meters but I looked in my log from last year and it was also light on 15 Meter contacts. Twenty meters is always a bit crowded and I really like when 15M and 10M open up. I almost doubled my score from last year, so I was happy with the result.

        Band  Mode  QSOs    Pts   Sec   Mul
            7  CW       3      12    2    0
            7  LSB     93     186   23    1
           14  CW       1      4     1    0
           14  USB    400     802   41    0
           21  USB     23      64    5    0
           28  USB      1      2     0    0
          144  FM       4      8     3    0
        Total  Both   525    1078   75    1
           Score : 81,928

Thanks to the Pikes Peak Radio Amateur Association for sponsoring this event.

73, Bob K0NR

Colorado QSO Party Coming This Saturday

The Colorado QSO Party will be held this Saturday September 1, from 6 AM to 10 PM Mountain Time. This is a fun radio contest where amateurs outside of Colorado try to work as many Colorado stations as possible.

It looks like we will have quite a few counties on the air for this event, so it will be a good opportunity to work any Colorado counties that you might be missing. Complete rules are available here.

Thanks to the Pikes Peak Radio Amateur Association for sponsoring this event.

73, Bob K0NR

A Great Weekend on VHF

CQ VHFOne of the things that makes a VHF contest so much fun is that you never know how its going to play out. One of the major factors is sporadic-e propagation which is, well, sporadic. Sometimes we get rewarded with decent propagation and sometimes we get completely skunked.

In the morning, before the 2012 CQ World Wide VHF Contest started, the 6 Meter band was open from Colorado to the east. The band continued to be open to various locations for most of Saturday, even late into the evening. I made my last contact on 6 Meters to the Pacific Northwest after 10:30 PM local time.

On Sunday morning, 6 Meters gave us some more fun but it was not nearly as good as Saturday. Instead of strong signals and consistent runs, the signals were variable and QSOs were often a challenge. Sometimes it was like pulling teeth. This contest only uses two bands: 6 Meters (50 MHz) and 2 Meters (144 MHz).  As 6 Meters pooped out, the action moved to 2 Meters. Fortunately, we had a number of rovers out that helped activate some of the rarer grids. Thanks W3DHJ, AB0YM, KR5J and W0BL.

This is probably my best score ever in the CQ WW VHF Contest, due to the excellent propagation on Saturday and some station improvements I’ve made over the past couple of years.

     Band       QSOs X pt =  QSO pts.  X   Grids   =     Points
     50         337    1      337           130           43810
     144        34     2      68            13            884
     TOTALS     371           405           143           57915

                            Claimed score =  57915

All in all, a great weekend on the VHF bands.

73, Bob K0NR

2012 Field Day: K0NR Results

For 2012 ARRL Field Day, we operated from the cabin in portable style. Temporary wire antennas were tossed into the trees and  the trusty Honda EU1000 generator provided emergency power. The Spousal Unit, Joyce KØJJW got on the air and made some contacts, making this a multi-op effort.

We used a similar approach as last year, see my post, ARRL Field Day: Season to Taste. The main difference is that the sporadic-e on 50 MHz wasn’t as good this year, but we had a fun time working the event.

  Band  Mode  QSOs    
     7  SSB     15    
    14  USB     78  
    21  USB     73  
    50  USB     33  
   144  USB      3  
   420  FM       1  
 Total  Both   203  
        Score: 406

As usual for Field Day, most of the time the 20 Meter phone band was crammed with stations calling CQ Field Day. There were many times that I responded to one call and had another radio operator think I was working them. It occurs to me that we have this emphasis on exposing new people to ham radio during Field Day via the GOTA stations and public demonstrations. However, this is kind of like showing someone the joy of driving a car by having them experience a giant traffic jam.  Is this really the best way to introduce people to ham radio?

Field Day: Make it your own!

73, Bob K0NR

Gear Up for the June VHF Contest!

This weekend is the ARRL June QSO Party (also known as The June VHF Contest). It is a great opportunity to get on the air and try out the VHF bands. In particular, 6 Meters usually has some fun sporadic-e propagation during the contest. It is a blast when that band comes alive with signals from across North America.

For complete info see:

I am going to operate from our cabin near Trout Creek Pass (DM78), focusing on 6 Meters and 2 Meters.

Check out this article that I wrote on how to work a VHF contest:

Most of the activity will be on SSB, calling frequencies are:  50.125 MHz, 144.200 MHz, 432.100 MHz, all USB
On FM, try these frequencies:  146.55 MHz, 223.5 MHz, 446.0 MHz

Get up off the couch and have some radio fun this weekend!

73, Bob K0NR

New Categories for ARRL VHF Contests

The April 25th issue of Contest Update from the ARRL had this item:

The ARRL Programs and Services Committee has approved a rule change for ARRL VHF+ contests effective beginning in 2013 (not this year) to create a Single-Op FM-only category (100 W max, 50/144/222/440 MHz) and a three-band Single-Op category (100 W PEP on 50 and 144 MHz, 50 W PEP on 432 MHz). These changes will apply to the January, June, and September contests – again, beginning with the 2013 January VHF Sweepstakes.

I am always looking for ways to get more people involved in VHF contests and these two new categories may help. The basic idea is to create categories for simpler stations to participate in the contests without having to be in the same category as The Big Guns.

73, Bob K0NR

ARRL 10 Meter Contest

Usually I don’t focus on the ARRL 10 Meter contest, especially when the solar activity has been so low. However, band conditions have really picked up and 10 Meters is alive and kicking. We have quite a few new Technicians that are discovering the wonder of worldwide HF propagation with even a modest station.

I decided to operate from our cabin up in the mountains. I haven’t been happy with the performance of my trap dipole on 10 Meters, so I wanted to try something different. I pulled a twinlead J-pole antenna out of the basement and strung it up in a tall pine tree. This basically gave me a 1/2-wave vertical on 10 Meters and I was pleased with the performance.

I had a great time with the 10 Meter contest, operating for part of Saturday and Sunday.

You’ve got to like a contest that has:
– Only one band, so no fretting about which bands to focus on
– CW or SSB, take your pick or do both
– Lots of DX
– Work anybody anywhere
– You can sleep at night and not miss anything

I mostly searched and pounced around but did manage a few runs with my mighty wire antenna. Not being a real CW operator, I did decide that I would push myself to make 10 CW contacts. Most of those guys are going way too fast for me, but I got it done.

ARRL10M Score Summary Sheet
Start Date : 2011-12-10
    Band Mode QSOs Pts Cty
      28 CW    10   40   8
      28 USB  254  508  72
 Total        264  548  80
Score : 43,840

73, Bob K0NR

This Spewed Out of the Internet #20

There’s lots of information spewing forth from the interwebznet. Here are a few items of interest.

The amateur radio community is buzzing with excitement from the excellent propagation on the HF bands during the CQ Worldwide DX Contest last weekend. For example, see the post or my post.

One of our local Boy Scouts passed his Technician exam on the Saturday before the contest, showed up in the FCC database on Friday and was working DX on 10 Meters on Saturday. He managed to snag some good ones, including Australia.

The ARRL is reporting that Logbook of the World is having trouble keeping up with the influx of radio logs. Although it would be nice if they could put a little more compute horsepower on the system, I think it is great that LoTW is seeing this kind of volume.

The Interstate Highway Rest Area Society is making a pitch to encourage hams to monitor 146.52 MHz when mobile.  I usually try to do this and every once in a while I will stumble onto a great QSO that way. This group is also promoting ham radio activation of highway rest areas. Yes, really, it is not a hoax.

73, Bob K0NR