New ARRL VHF+ Contest Categories (FM and SO3B) Effective Jan 2013

Our ARRL VUAC Central Division Rep. is W9GKA Kevin.  This morning, Kevin sent out email to various reflectors concerning brand-new rule changes for ARRL V/UHF Contests.  What follows is W9GKA’s words.
”  The VUAC has been considering several ideas which flowed from comments received by contesters.  VUAC made various recommendations in January, 2012, which can be found at:
http://www.arrl.org/files/file/About%2520ARRL/Committee%2520Reports/2012/January/Doc_31.pdf

The ARRL Programs and Services Committee has now approved rule changes for ARRL VHF+ contests effective beginning in January, 2013 for the following:

— to create a Single-Op FM-only category (100 W max, 50/144/222/440 MHz).
— 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, beginning with the 2013 January VHF Sweepstakes.  A short summary of the rules changes can be found in the ARRL contest update:  http://www.arrl.org/contest-update-issues%3Fissue%3D2012-04-25

Please feel free to provide any feedback you may have on these rules changes and any other items that you feel would contribute to VHF contesting.”  (W9GKA’s email is kkaufhold (at) yahoo (dot) com)

Kevin
W9GKA
VUAC Central Division Representative

A few thoughts from KC9BQA follow…
You will notice that I rarely pass along traffic like this at kc9bqa.com.   After having visited reflectors and ham websites that have plenty of bitching and moaning, I wanted this space to be an irritation-free zone.  Seems that just about any time rules changes get discussed in ham radio contesting, it’s a big headache filled with all sorts of melodrama.  (Which I am perfectly capable of contributing to, if I let myself, LOL)
All I’m saying is that if you have comments, share them with W9GKA.  He’s asked for the feedback.  I have not.

As always, what I ask for is increased participation in any aspect of VHF/UHF ham operation.  Whether it’s a contest, general ragchewing, DX’ing, you name it.   Getting more signals on the air has always been the focus at kc9bqa.com.
Do I think these rule changes will help V/U contesting?  Yes, I think so, and more importantly I hope they do.  For years and years now, we’ve had these HF + V/UHF all-bands-in-one-box rigs that are dying to be used on 6m, 2m, 70cm.  Many who enjoy VHF contesting have been eagerly waiting for an influx of new operators who will try something different.  The SO3B category seems tailor-made for the thousands of hams who have HF + V/UHF rigs.
As for the Single-Op FM-only category, that’s something I’ve tried to promote for years now.  Long-time readers of my emails know I didn’t start this blog until April, 2009.  Prior to that, I worked hard to encourage FM’ers to try a V/UHF contest.  In 2009, we had great success in the southern WI area.  In 2010 and beyond, these FM’ers largely disappeared.  Some of them migrated over to the SSB side, which is what I was hoping would happen anyway.  Either way, I couldn’t keep spending dozens of hours before contests, trying to motivate casual, FM-only contesters.  I can honestly say I’m glad so many gave it a try.
I just hope the shack-on-a-belt hams will realize that to get the most out of a VHF contest experience, you need to move beyond the HT and rubber duck.  Do you need stacked horizontal beams up 100′?  Lord no.  I’d say less than 10% of V/UHF contesters have that type of station.  But to make enough contacts to keep your interest alive, strive for at least 25-100w out, into a good external antenna, fed with lower-loss coax, up as high as you can safely install it.  And yes, we certainly hope you will move forward, improve your station and use horizontally-polarized yagis on SSB/CW.  This way, you will become capable of working DX, even on flat bands, and surely in the occasional band openings.

I would like to thank the VUAC for working toward these new rules.   I know it can be a thankless job.

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