New Categories Added in ARRL VHF Contests — Help Get the Word out to Joe Q. Ham. Plus, Link to VHF Contesting School Articles at the Bottom.

   9:45am Sunday

   The info in this post should be made available to every ham in the USA and Canada.   Please do your part to help.   Make sure you share the VHF Contesting School articles at the bottom of this post with hams everywhere.  There’s never been a better time to introduce Joe/Jane Q. Ham to VHF/UHF Contesting, thanks to the recent ARRL rule changes, creating the 3-band and FM-only categories. 

   Because we run our own nets and promote other nets 52 weeks a year, a casual visitor to might think I’m all about nets.  Actually, I’m more into the contests.  Go back thru the blog archives at in the months of January, June, July, August and September.  You will see I fire up at contest time.   I love the contests because it’s the one time where the SSB/CW portions of the VHF/UHF ham bands come alive with signals you might not hear at any other time. 

   I’m continually amazed at how few hams have tried a V/UHF contest.   
   ARRL and other promoters of ham radio love to talk about how there have never been more licensed amateurs in the USA.  Guess it’s well over 700,00 by now.   In theory, nearly all those hams should at least have 2m or 6m capability, right?    ARRL has now made it a lot easier for Joe or Jane Q. Ham to enjoy a VHF contest.   These rule changes are most welcome.  They should help — if weak-signal V/U enthusiasts will share the info with other hams. 

    Behold the 3-band and FM-only categories.  These are changes that every one of the 700,000+ hams should know about.  Please help me by spreading the word to your clubs, ham buddies, via your ham newsletters, email groups, etc, etc. 

   From the ARRL June VHF Contest rules:    (at )
3.3. Single Operator, 3-Band:

            3.3.1. Restricted to 50, 144 and 432 MHz.

            3.3.2. Power limits are 100 W PEP on 50 and 144 MHz, 50 W PEP on 432 MHz.

3.4. Single Operator, FM Only

            3.3.1. All QSOs must be made using Frequency Modulation (FM).

            3.3.2. Restricted to 50, 144, 222 and 440 MHz.

            3.3. Power limits are 100 W on all bands.

    You know the 1000’s of all-bands-in-one-box rigs out there?  160m on up to 70cm?  Now there’s a great reason to use the VHF/UHF portion of your multi-band rig.  Plus you will be playing on a level field.  Put up some decent antennas for 6m, 2m and 70cm, and see how you stack up.   We look forward to working you on 50, 144 and 432 MHz. 

    You know the 1000’s and 1000’s of mobile, FM-only rigs?  The HT’s, the base stations the repeater guys use?  They now have their own category in a VHF contest, too.    We already saw an impressive turnout in the Chicago area with the new FM-only category in the January contest.  Some hams got motivated, helped spread the word and made a splash.   FM groups everywhere need to know the welcome mat has been rolled out.   Hopefully some will become even more curious and will investigate the DX potential using SSB and CW.  

    No idea how a VHF contest works?  Don’t know where to start?  I didn’t either, 10 years ago.   Read my series of articles called VHF Contesting School.  They are broken down into bite-sized pieces and are available here:   Take 5-10 minutes a day with one article and in no time, you’ll have learned about an exciting aspect of ham radio.  You are welcome to share any/all of this info with hams everywhere.

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