My Responce to The Proposed
VHF Contest Rules Changes:
de K9ZF /R
Section 1) Change Rover
Subparagraph A) Reverting to old Rover rules.
I started Roving after the change to the new rules, so this isn't a big
issue with me personally. It is with others, however, and I doubt that many
of the folks who left Roving due to this issue will likely return now. So
I'm not sure if it is worth the trouble to switch the rules back. It may
just create more problems and confusion.
Subparagraph B) Not counting Rovers toward club scores.
I've never contributed my Rover score toward a club score, so I am not
really qualified to speak on this. However, I think excluding Rover scores
will likely reduce some Rover participation. Which is, of course, a bad
thing. I would propose keeping club scores separate, but including a "Rover
club" as a subsection of each group. For example: "The Old Farts Ham Club"
score, and then "The Old Farts Rover Club" score.
Subparagraphs C,D, & E) Grid circling and captive Roving.
This is a tough one. I think the proposal is too vague in stating the
practices are "highly undesirable." Are they against the rules or not? As
the rules are now written, it is legal. If we are going to make the
practice illegal, then how are we going to write the rule? I'll be honest,
I don't like the idea of grid circling. It creates "artificial" QSO's. But
how do we outlaw it without penalizing legitimate Rover activity? For
example, during last years June contest I came to a grid corner and found a
multi-op working another rover. I tail ended their exchange, and followed
them through the bands. The second Rover then moved, and we all worked each
other again. And again through 4 grids. Then I moved to the next grid, and
so on until I had gone through 4 grids. We then all went our separate ways.
We could have picked up more points by 'dancing' back through the grids a
couple of times, but neither of us wanted to waste that much time. These
QSO's added a significant chunk to my score, should I have been
disqualified? I don't think so. However, I don't think 3 Rovers should be
able to rack up mega point scores working just themselves either. So how do
we distinguish between the two? Before I would agree to a rule change in
this area, I would need to see the fine print. The best suggestion I have
seen is to establish a time limit before a Rover is allowed to re-activate
a grid. However, many of us backtrack pretty often so this time limit would
need to be set low. I would suggest a 1 hour maximum. This would
effectively hinder grid circling, and would allow us to still backtrack
through grids without to much problem.
The proposal is too vague with captive Roving as well. The idea of a Rover
going out and refusing to work other stations sounds terrible to me.
However, if John Doe of the Old Farts Ham Club crosses 3 grid boundaries on
his way home from work, and works the guys at the club station on all 5 of
the FM bands in his mobile, should his contacts not count? If the guys at
the Old Farts Ham Club set John up with a laser pointer and a 10gig Wide
Band FM rig and work him over on the next mountain top, should this be
illegal? I don't think so. So how do we decide which QSO's are good, and
which are not? Do we discount all uniques? I hope not! I know that a lot
of the guys I work on FM don't even write down the contact, much less submit
a log! So I dislike the idea of captive Roving, but so far I don't see a
good way to prevent it.
Section 2) QSO Point Changes
Subparagraph A) 1 point Rover QSO's & distance scoring.
Absolutely NOT! This would make Rover QSO's much less valuable to fixed
stations [we can't always be in a new grid!]. I think this would do a lot
more damage to Roving than the old rules change ever did! Don't do it! Did
I make my opinion clear? I don't have anything against distance scoring in
itself, but don't do this to Rovers. As often as not Rover QSO's are pretty
difficult due to low power and small antennas. Making the point value lower
may well mean we're not worth the trouble.
Subparagraph B) Microwave point values.
So far my top band is 432. But I know that making QSO's on the microwave
bands is much more difficult than the lower bands. So microwave QSO's
should be worth more points. And these bonus points are incentive to add
microwave capability to your station. So leave the microwave QSO point
Section 3) Limiting bands for the June VHF QSO Party.
I'm only active on 6 - 432, but I would rather leave the microwaves in. I
don't think microwave activity significantly detracts from the contest, and
pulling those bands would surely detract from microwave activity. Which
would be a bad thing... No.
Section 4) New categories.
The new Limited Single sounds OK, but please don't exclude 222. Yes, the
multi band rig owners you are trying to attract are probably not on 222, but
it leaves them something to improve with. Adding 222 isn't really
difficult. And I can see a new comer wanting to add 222 to make them more
competitive. But possibly not doing so if it would bump them up with all of
the 'big guns'. On the other side of the coin, I can also see some stations
that would leave their 222 rig turned off, so they would be able to compete
in the limited category. Much as some have said of the Limited Multi doing
harm to the microwave band activity.
The hilltopper class sounds good. However, the 6 hour time limit seems a
bit overly restrictive. Someone else suggested a 12 hour window. That
sounds much better to me.
Section 5) Other changes
A) low power limit.
OK, but I would go with 200 watts or less to be better in line with the
commonly available bricks on the market today.
B) DX to DX.
Why restrict the DX? They will work us if they can just for the mults, we
don't need to restrict them. Let them have fun too.
C) Eliminate multi ops working themselves.
No opinion really, although I really don't see the need for them to work
themselves. If I don't find someone to work on 432 [it happens often!],
then I'm out of luck. If they have extra equipment, recruit a visitor to
come over and make the QSO.
Yes! I'm sure there will be plenty of clubs and individuals that would like
to sponsor a plaque.
And give out more certificates. Anyone with an inkjet printer can make nice
certificates, for next to nothing. And everyone loves to get wallpaper:-)
F) Activity Hours.
Further sections: Microwave contest, EME, etc...
I'm not currently active in these areas, so I don't have any real input.
I would like to say thanks for all of the work you folks are putting in to
improve VHF contesting. And kudos for asking for input from the masses.
Now it falls again to the committee to use the input it has requested.
Dan Evans K9ZF
Scottsburg, IN 47170
K9ZF /R no budget Rover
Check out the Rover Resource Page at:
Central States VHF Society
IN-Ham list administrator
Here is the original proposal, in case you missed it:
To VHF+ contesters:
For the last year or so the ARRL has been studying ways to increase interest and participation in VHF+ contests (and awards). It was a good sign that participation was up in last June's VHF QSO Party, and we're looking to encourage more participation, especially those who have multi-band transceivers.
Our recommendations had several basic goals. Changes to the contest rules and awards programs should:
1) encourage more people to work more other people
2) encourage QSOs made over longer distances
3) encourage more people to join in and participate
1) Changes in the rover rules
2) QSO point changes
3) June VHF QSO Party 50-1296 only
4) New categories in Jan/Jun/Sept
5) Expanded Microwave contest based on 10 GHz Cumulative - UHF contest dropped.
These major recommendations, and a number of minor ones, are still just recommendations. We felt it would be important to have further input from the VHF+ contest community at this point.
After you've had a chance to read through and think about the proposed changes, we'd like to hear from you. Please send any comments to [email protected] - we'd like to have your input by March 7th.
January VHF SS and June/September VHF QSO Parties
1) Change Rover Rules
After considerable discussion about the impact of the present rover rules and comments from both rovers and non-rovers, we have recommended reverting to the rover scoring rules originally established in 1991. The text of the original rule is "The final score consists of the total number of QSO points from all bands times the total number of multipliers from all grid squares in which they operated." This change would encourage rovers to go to rarer and more distant grids instead of staying closer to metropolitan areas.
Because rover scores can be so large under the original rover scoring rules, they can distort the club competition scores. To solve this major problem with the original rules, we propose that rover station scores should not be counted towards club competition scores. Rovers would continue to contribute substantially to increasing the scores of club members by providing numerous QSO points and activating new grids.
Finally, we believe it is time to be more definitive and state unequivocally that grid circling and captive roving are highly undesirable practices and that no rover station should engage in them. We recognize that due to the great disparities in population and geography, hard and fast analytical tests for these activities may not be possible but both these practices are well understood.
Grid circling has been observed quite clearly under both the original and present rover rules two or more rovers congregate at the intersection of four grid squares and then circle each other around that corner making short distance QSOs with each other. Operating practices that look like grid circling are easy to detect and will result in review of the log by the contest managers.
The term "captive rover" refers to stations whose primary activity is to increase the score of one fixed station either single operator or multi-operator, and who never, or seldom, work anyone else in the contest. These may or may not be people who are part of the same team or group. Again, this is easy to detect during the log checking process and will attract the attention of the contest manager.
2) QSO Point changes
The current rules provide for increasing QSO points as contacts are made on higher bands plus additional multipliers on each band for each new grid. We propose to change the values for QSO points for all three contests. Regardless of band you would receive two points for QSOs with your own grid and any adjacent grid, and three points for each QSO beyond that. QSOs with rover stations would count one QSO point each, regardless of distance.
This change would reward those who can make more distant QSOs, and it would make a volume of short range microwave QSOs somewhat less critical to the final score although microwave grid multipliers would still be crucial to an all band entry. It would also tend to make QSOs with casual participants and newcomers more appealing than constantly running from band to band.
3) June VHF QSO Party 50-1296 MHz only
It seemed to us that at least one of the "big three" VHF+ contests ought to emphasize the VHF bands. We thus recommend that the June VHF QSO Party be limited to 50-1296 MHz only. June is often the time for sporadic E openings on 6 meters - as was the case in 2003. We would discontinue the Limited Multi category in the June VHF QSO Party only.
4) New categories in Jan/Jun/Sept
Getting started in VHF+ contesting can be a bit daunting, and we wanted to find ways to attract the many people who have purchased multi-band transceivers that include VHF bands like the IC-706 and others.
We recommend the establishment of a new Limited Single Operator category designed with the newcomer in mind - 50-144-432 MHz only, with low power operation only. For those who are "real estate challenged" because of antenna restrictions or topography, we also recommend a new 6-hour QRP Hilltopper category. This latter category should also be appealing to QRPers with radios like the FT817, one of the more rapidly growing segments in Amateur Radio.
5) Other recommended changes (Jan/Jun/Sept)
a) Simplify the limit for low power operation to 150w for 50-144-222-432 MHz.
b) Allow DX-to-DX contacts for QSO point and multiplier credit, but the DX station must make at least one QSO
with W/VE on each band for which QSOs are submitted.
c) Eliminate the rules that allow Multi-Operator stations to work their own operators on 2.3G and up.
d) Offer plaques for the January and September contests, in addition to June. Work to find individual, club or corporate
sponsors. Otherwise offer plaques to national and regional leaders at cost.
e) Make sure the rules indicate certificates are awarded for low power entries in January, and for top DX entries.
f) Resume promoting suggested times and frequencies for "activity hours" on each band.
New Microwave contest based on 10 GHz Cumulative - UHF contest dropped
We recommend expanding the format of the successful 10G and Up microwave contest and expand it to cover from 2.3 GHz and up. The August UHF Contest would be discontinued after 2004. It never reached a critical mass of support and entries.
1) Add one more weekend in April or May to the existing two-weekend cumulative contest.
2) Include 2.3G, 3.4G and 5.7G bands.
3) Have four basic categories - 2.4/3.4/5.7G, 10G only, 10G and up, and all band (2.4G and up). Each major category would
include portable and home-based categories.
4) Perhaps call them the X-band contests to increase interest.
1) The Contest department should work to establish the dates for the EME contest weekends as early as possible,
and include them with the contest calendar as the yearly summary is released.
2) Change the multiplier to include US states and Canadian provinces instead of call areas. The report remains the signal report.
3) Drop the requirement that stations operating outside of their traditional call area sign with a portable designation.
Changes Already Implemented
1) Allow digital QSOs in the EME contest. Implemented for 2003 contest.
2) Work to establish an Internet template for entry of small and medium sized logs. Implemented in January 2004.
3) Add a club competition to the June VHF QSO Party. Implemented for 2003 contest.
4) Work to find good authors and to encourage more regional reporting of VHF+ contest results. This had been in place for more
than a year now. Staff is working hard to identify authors and would welcome volunteers, particularly experienced contesters
5) Encourage Logbook of The World development to be supportive of VHF+ awards, like the VUCC. Implemented in September 2003.
6) Encourage more activity by developing a high-quality grid square map of the United States. A very nice laminated, color grid
square map covering North America was released in June 2003.
1) Change the entry-level steps for VHF+ awards so more people will be able to get started in the VUCC, WAS and DXCC
using VHF+ frequencies. Consider changing the steps for different level awards to a smaller increment.
2) Establish a VUCC challenge-type award, similar to the one used by DXCC.
3) Create a new award or awards to appeal to entry-level or rover/portable operation, such as a grids activated or miles per
watt award. Consider GCR certification rather than card checking.
4) For VUCC awards on 50 through 1296 MHz and Satellite, all contacts must be made from a location or locations within the
same grid locator or locations in different grid locators no more than 200 kilometers apart [the approximate distance between
the corners of a grid square]. (Currently they have to be made from the same grid square or from distances no more than
50 miles apart.)
How we got here
The number of logs submitted to ARRL VHF+ contests has generally been decreasing for several years and the perception is that activity is not increasing in spite of the advent of commercial HF/VHF/UHF radios. After a number of discussions, ARRL Board members voted (January 2002) to have the Membership Services Committee review the existing VHF, UHF, and Microwave contest and awards programs and make recommendations on ways to increase interest and participation. The MSC established a subcommittee of K1KI N0AX W5ZN and N7NG.
The early work included a survey in September 2002. The survey, intended as a way to gather ideas, not to measure exact opinion on issues, was a great success. Some 250 people provide valuable input. Initially, the subcommittee produced recommended changes for the VHF+ awards. That progress report was given at the January 2003 meeting of the MSC.
At this point, to increase the expertise relating to the VHF+ contests it was recommended that the MSC-VHF subcommittee be expanded to include several knowledgeable VHF+ contesters. The subcommittee was expanded (K1JX K2UA W3ZZ AA7A KM0T and N1ND were added) and started work in April. Over the past several months the original discussions were reviewed and new ideas culled from discussions with friends, from the major VHF+ reflectors and from participating in on the air contest activity lead to modifications and new recommendations. The recommendations detailed above are the result of this process.
Again, we'd like to hear from you about the proposed changes. Please send any comments to [email protected] - we'd like to have your input by March 7th.
-- Tom Frenaye/K1KI
MSC VHF-UHF Contest and Awards Subcommittee
Tom Frenaye, K1KI, chairman
Clarke Green, K1JX
Joel Harrison, W5ZN
Rus Healy, K2UA* (Atlantic Division Contest Advisory Committee member)
Mike King, KM0T
Wayne Mills, N7NG (Membership Services Department manager)
Ward Silver, N0AX (Northwest Division CAC member)
Ned Stearn, AA7A (Southwest Division CAC member)
Gene Zimmerman, W3ZZ (also QST VHF column editor)
Dan Henderson, N1ND (Contest Department manager)
* unable to participate for the last few months
e-mail: [email protected] ARRL New England Division Director http://www.arrl.org/
Tom Frenaye, K1KI, P O Box J, West Suffield CT 06093 Phone: 860-668-5444