ARRL Jan. VHF Sweepstakes is only 4 weeks away

    Those of you who have been around this website a while know how much I love the V/UHF contests.   The major ones are in June, July, August, September and January.   Wintertime is a quieter time for V/UHF in general, but the January ARRL VHF SS is a lot of fun.    Please save some time for playing radio the weekend of Jan. 23-24th.   The contests are the single most active time on bands like 6m, 2m, 1.25m and 70cm.   If you enjoy operating microwaves on 900, 1296, 2304 MHz and beyond, it’s one time you will have significant activity, outside of a big band opening.     

     The contest starts at 1pm central, or 1900Z on Sat. Jan 23rd. and runs for 33 hours, until 10pm or 0400Z on Sun. Jan 24th, or Mon. Jan. 25th, using UTC.   Operate as much or as little as you like.   Obviously, my preference leans toward the “as much” side.   All bands from 6 meters (50 MHz) right on up thru 2 meters, 1.25m, 70cm and above are in play.   The more bands you have, the more contacts you make.  
     The good news is that in V/UHF contests, the bread-and-butter bands are 6 and 2 meters, which almost everyone has.   So if you have only those two bands, you’re all set.    We need you.  🙂 
     Here’s the link to the ARRL rules:

    I could go on about contests for several hours.   And I have!  
   I did not have this website until April 1st, 2009.   So there are no website updates for last year’s Jan VHF Sweepstakes.   But last year we did have a very active Jan. contest, in and around WI and ILL.   A lot of guys got on board, including some new ones who really perked things up.   This momentum continued throughout 2009, so we want you to get involved in 2010.    
     You do not have to have a superstation to contest.     If only the superstations got on, you’d have about 20 guys across 4-5 states working each other.   We’d be done in an hour or two, and be bored as heck.    Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy working the big stations.   I’m very glad for anyone who achieves at a high level.   You should always strive to improve your station and your operating skills.   I’m very grateful for quite a few guys who are new and already have made big improvements.   Always want to encourage that.  
      But I hear a lot of guys who think they aren’t good enough to play in a contest.    They should give a few contests a try and see what it’s really like before deciding it’s not for them.   Also, the contests on V/UHF bands are quite a bit different than what you hear with an HF contest.   On HF, there is often congestion and a very competitive, busy pace.   Which is as it should be.   I have nothing against HF contesting.   If I were into HF contesting, I’d be just as passionate about it as I am on the V/UHF side.   But as a V/UHF guy, when I hear misconceptions  I want to share my 7 years of experience and set the record straight.      
      Here in the Midwest/Great Lakes, we do have good activity levels, but there’s plenty of room on the band to operate.   The exception would be when 6 meters opens up in the summer contests.   Then 6 meters sounds like an HF band.   Which is big fun!   Another misconception about contesting is that we’re all robots and there’s no human interaction.   Well it’s true that the contest objective is to work as many contacts on as many bands from as many different grid squares as possible.   But there are times where we take a few moments to say hello to someone, ask them briefly how it’s going, etc.   There are plenty of slack times in a V/UHF contest, and honestly, sometimes a bit of ragchewing is a good strategy for finding new guys to work.   Not long-winded ragchewing.   No, no, no.   But just keep in mind that when you’re not making noise, nobody knows you are out there.   This concept is important to making more contacts.

      I’m getting that feeling in my head where I want to say 20 things and I can’t type fast enough to keep up.   Let me try to cut this post here with a final thought.  
       I actively promote V/UHF Contesting to all hams.   I think we need more promotion and to be more welcoming to newcomers.   I don’t think contesting is nearly as complex as some hams make it.   The first time I ever did a V/UHF contest, was only 2-3 months after I got on the air.   I did it with only stacked horizontal loops up 30′ and 100 watts on 6 and 2 meters.   Hardly a superstation.   I do have a good QTH, which really helps.    I made a lot of contacts and worked many different grid squares.   I got 66 contacts in 22 grids on 6 meters, and 81 Q’s in 25 grids on 2 meters.   The weather was cloudy and damp, and I don’t recall any periods of enhanced propagation.    Here’s the writeup I made back in Sept. 2003, right after I played in my first contest ever.

(I will be putting out more contest posts in the next several days.   If you want more info right now, I’d look back thru my June-Sept. posts and keep an eye open for anything with “contest” in the title)

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