Second Post to the VHFContesting Reflector:


Subject:  Having Assisted Classes in all ARRL VHF/UHF contests

About one month ago, at the request of our new Divsion Manager, David Woolweaver, K5RAV, I wrote a "white paper" about VHF/UHF contesting, ideas, and practice.  I submitted my first draft to 15 very well known VHF ops and asked for their comments--in support or in opposition.  I received 5 replies that were very strong positives and one negative.  I made a few word changes and then posted the article on the VHFContesting reflector.  That "white paper" is my First Post to the VHFContesting Reflector.

After posting to the VHFContesting reflector, I received 26 positive responses(some very strong positives), 4 negatives, and 4 wishy-washy(I don't care) responses.  All the responses from VHF operators in the West Gulf Division were either positive or strongly positive--there were no negative responses at all.  I was expecting this as there is a good consensus on these ideas in our area.  

Via the responses that I received, I have come to understand that there are some ops who believe in what most would call Search & Pounce(S&P)--tuning the bands carefully, listening for others calling CQ or calling CQ yourself, and making whatever contacts come your way.  The people who are into this mode of operation believe that this method produces a contact that is "more pure", "more valid", or "more valuable" than contacts made via schedules. 

I have nothing against the guys that wish to operate in this manner and I believe that they should continue to operate in a manner that they enjoy.  However, to those of us that believe in "making as many contacts as possible, on as many different bands as possible, to as many different VHF stations as possible, for as long a distance as possible", this is just not a very efficient method of operation.  I want to be WORKING as many stations as possible during the contest period.  As I said in my first post to the VHFContesting Reflector, "In the VHF world, you must have precise control of antenna pointing(both directions), frequency, mode, sequencing, and the time of the attempt to make a single contact".  Assistance makes this possible as opposed to just hoping that you "bump" into another station on the bands. 

For these reasons, I would like to propose to the VUAC the following concepts--to be implemented via rule changes in the Rules for VHF Contests.

1.  The strict definition of what constitutes a VHF contact must be observed.  It is our duty as VHF operators and Elmers to teach this and via word and deed to respect it. 

DISCUSSION:  Some VHF ops have become "sloppy" about what constitutes a VHF contact.  We should have definite and clear rules stating what constitutes a contact and we should "preach" them.  I operated the ARRL DX phone contest last weekend.  I would venture to say that NONE of those contacts, which are routinely accepted practice in the HF world, would be valid VHF contacts.  This is not to criticize the standards of the HF world, it is just to indicate that the two standards are different. 

2.  VHF contesting should be about "making the contacts"....making as many contacts as possible, on as many different bands as possible, to as many different VHF stations as possible, for as long a distance as possible.

DISCUSSION:  This seems self-evident to me. 

3.  All VHF contests should have an Assisted class of operation.  Stations in an Assisted class may make schedules at any time via any means--however, the strict definition of what makes a VHF contact must be carefully observed. 

DISCUSSION:  Those ops that want to be Non-Assisted can continue operating as they wish, in their own class.  Stations that want to maximize their contacts during the event, can enter the Assisted Class.  Currently, HF contests have Assisted classes, but in the VHF world, the only "assistance" allowed is on 2.3GHz and above in the EME contest.  There are no other Assisted classes in the ARRL's VHF world.  This seems strange to me--that the HF world has plenty of Assisted classes and we have essentially none.  NOTE:  There was an Assisted class in the EME contest for the last couple of years.  Judging by logs sent in, it was the most popular class.  However, this class was deleted. 

Because I believe that "Contacts are King", how and when "assistance" is rendered is just not an important issue.  If you make a schedule before the contest or during the contest, is just not relevant.....you still have to WORK the other station while observing the strict definition of what constitutes a VHF contact(Tilton's Rule).  Via reflectors and/or propagation loggers, you would know who was on and where they were.  This would allow you to work as many of them as possible.  Since everyone(except Rovers) has the Internet these days, there is no advantage to one station over another.  On the other side of that coin, it does me no good to know that W7XYZ/R is in CN88 ready to run the bands.  I can't work him anyway.

Speaking of rovers, how will all this affect them?  The most common complaint that I have heard from rover stations is that they arrive at some new grid, sometimes a rare one, and they cannot "attract" anyone's attention.  So they sit there for an hour or two and work only a very few stations.  I have heard this complaint over and over again--from rovers here in the West Gulf Division as well as from rovers around the country.  It is very frustrating to the rover guys when this happens--and it seems to happen a lot.  An Assisted Rover could call several of the big stations in his area on the cell phone and alert them that "I am in EL28 and ready to run".  This would allow the rover to work as many stations as possible--which is, after all, why he is out there.  As an added bonus, other stations(both Assisted and Non-Assisted) would hear these contacts being made.  This would result in additional contacts that would otherwise never occur. 

I believe that ALL VHF contesting should be Assisted, however, in deference to those that want to do S&P with no outside help, I am suggesting that we have Assisted classes and Non-Assisted classes.  This permits each operator to enter a class of operation that suits his / her "modus operandi". 

Thank you for your attention to this proposal and the ideas presented herein. 


Marshall P. Williams, K5QE