Jan 2012 ARRL VHF Contest Wrap-Up

  8:15am  Tuesday —
  I bet I will be adding to this post as more contest comments arrive via email.  Here’s some early impressions.
  1)  I wasn’t on, I was sick, as mentioned in the post below.  Everything I’m relaying is other people’s impressions. 
  2)  There was a 6m E skip opening in the beginning part of the contest, on Saturday.  While 6m Es is common in the summer months, it’s a definite bonus when the smaller winter peak produces an opening during the Jan. contest.
  3)  The bands (mostly 6m and 2m) opened up via auroral propagation at various times, mostly Sunday.  Aurora is a power and gain game; small, limited stations rarely work more than a contact or two.  Omni antennas are virtually useless with aurora because you have to point your power and gain to the N (or at least generally somewhere between NW and NE, an auroral opening can be shifty that way.)  
  4)  Many Midwest stations were plagued with high SWR problems on Sunday and especially Sunday afternoon and evening, due to icing.  I know that WI had a large area of freezing drizzle.  It doesn’t take much to shoot the SWR’s thru 2:1 and 3:1. 
  5)  Activity sounds like it was low.  I’m waiting for more email reports to confirm this.  Sunday was especially dead. 
  6)  Many VHF’ers would like this contest to switch dates, to help improve activity.  If the contest were next weekend (the last weekend of January), there would be no conflict with the NAQP SSB on HF, plus it would fall on the “off-week” between the NFL Conference Championship Games and the Super Bowl.   

   Like I said, I expect to be adding to this post over the days to come.

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