6M Sprint Report — By far the worst I’ve seen in 9 years.

   6:20am Tuesday morning —  This week’s 2m SSB net announcements will be up very shortly. 

   I try to concentrate on good news in this VHF/UHF blog.  I have a crabby, Vince Lombardi-type part of me that can really be unpleasant, if I let it run free.   Plus, I do realize that this is a hobby, not a competitive sport where the players (you readers) are getting a weekly paycheck while I try to whip us all into being winners.  🙂 
   Having said that…

   The 6m Fall Sprint Sat. night had very poor participation.    It didn’t help that it was going up against whatever HF contest was happening.  I know the HF bands (especially 10m) have come alive and many ops have been concentrating on that the past few months.   In the future, a 6m sprint should not be scheduled against any HF contest — especially one where the higher bands like 10m are likely to be wide open.  
   HOWEVER… I also know there are plenty of V/UHF’ers who don’t get on HF much at all, so even if we were up against a popular HF contest, there’s no way the 6m Fall Sprint should have been this slow.   From the reports I have read about the 6m sprint, it seems that perhaps 2-3 dozen ops were on in a multi-state area.  That is just brutally slow.   *Hundreds* of hams have 6m SSB capability within 100-300 miles of me.  That less than 2-3% of them chose to operate in a 6m sprint says something — something that is not good news.  I have had ARRL multi-band VHF contests where I’ve worked 70, 80 or more QSO’s on 6m, *without* any E skip to pad my totals.  Hell, I had 101 Q’s on 6m (in 28 grid squares) in the Sept. 2009 ARRL Contest.  Again, this was without any sporadic E skip.  

   Another thing I’m going to point out — the promotion of these sprints is sorely lacking.  I monitor a ton of VHF chit-chat via email.  I saw NOTHING in the way of promotion from the sponsors themselves.   How on earth will guys participate in these sprints if they don’t get several reminders?  If it hadn’t been for me promoting in the Midwest, (and WB9QZB who is very diligent about emailing reminders to various ham groups on Yahoo)  a casual operator wouldn’t have even known the Fall VHF/UHF Sprints exist.   I honestly think if you’re not going to promote the sprints, there’s little point in having them at all. 

   The VHF/UHF bands suffer from a lack of activity and it is getting worse.  If you don’t actively promote the times where there will be activity, then you’re really shooting yourself in the foot.     We all have to work harder at getting the word out. 

    It turned out I did not operate 6m on Sat. night.   My wife and I ended up enjoying a haunted Halloween campground deal some friends always go all out for.  I’m glad I did that instead.  I’f I had stayed home to make 10-15 contacts, I’d have been increasingly annoyed as the sprint crawled along.   

   If you were on the air but “just listening” then you didn’t help one bit.  On dead bands, you want to call CQ and start something.   If 50 guys are at their rigs, but each of them are “just listening” then how many contacts get made?    (  zero  ) 

   The Fall Sprints are now done. 

   The next VHF contest will be a much more active one.   It’s the ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes, held on the weekend of Jan 21-22, 2012.  Go here for rules and more details:   http://www.arrl.org/january-vhf-sweepstakes  All bands from 50 MHz on up thru 144, 222, 432, 902/3, 1296 and higher into the microwaves are in play.  The multi-band contests always do much better than the single-band sprints.  So start saving time on your calendar now.

   Have no idea what a V/UHF contest is all about?  Neither did I, 9 years ago.  Within a year — by late 2003 — I was hooked.  I love the contests because they are the single time I can count on widespread activity. 
    If you want to learn more about V/UHF contesting, I’ll steer you toward a series of articles I’ve written called VHF Contesting School.  The link to those articles is at:  http://kc9bqa.com/?p=4676   You are free to share that info with hams everywhere.   Those articles break things down into bite-sized pieces.  If you take some time to absorb what I’m saying, you’ll feel comfortable sitting at the rig and calling “CQ Contest”.

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