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Expect VHF Activity This Weekend

Bob Witte, K0NR <list@...>
 

This weekend (Jan 18-20) is the "activity weekend" for VHF
operation. Actually, it is the ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes.
I called it the "activity weekend" because the word "contest"
often makes people think of the fast-paced, chaotic, band-crushing
experience of HF contests.

VHF contests usually have a much different feel. The problem
with the VHF bands is that they are often underutilized.
You put out a call on simplex and nobody is there. Dead silence.
But on VHF contest weekend, you are sure someone is going to
be on the air, so the event tends to increase the activity,
bringing people out of the woodwork. A VHF contest is more like
a friendly reunion of local VHF enthusiasts.

(Sometimes a VHF contest can get pretty intense, especially if
there is a significant band opening on 6 Meters. Then things
start to sound like the HF bands with signals coming in from across
the country.)

FREQUENCIES
Frequencies above 50 MHz (6M and higher) are used during the contest.
Most of the operation will be on 6 Meters, 2 Meters and less on higher
bands. Most of the operation will be on the SSB portion of the
band, so if you have an all-mode VHF rig, you'll want to use
it. Perhaps you have one of those HF rigs that also does VHF,
such as the ICOM IC-706 or the Yaesu FT-100D. This weekend will
be a great time to try it out.

The standard SSB calling frequencies are:
50.125 MHz
144.200 MHz
432.100 MHz

If you only have FM gear, you will be at a disadvantage but
you may still be able to work a bunch of stations. Unfortunately,
the contest has a rule that we CANNOT use 146.52 MHz (the
2M FM Calling Frequency). You can use any of the other standard
simplex frequencies (and never use a repeater during a contest).
I recommend we use 147.42 MHz, which is the calling frequency
used in the Colorado 14er Event.

We can use the FM calling frequencies on the other bands:
52.525 MHz
446.000 MHz

MAKING A CONTACT
OK, so you get on the right frequency and the right mode. Now what?
You need to make a contact. An official contact requires that the
two operators exchange callsigns and grid squares. VHF grid
squares are a system that divides the world up into rectangles
that are 1 degree of latitude by 2 degrees of longitude.
You can work each station once per band for contest credit.

For a map of Colorado with Grid Squares shown, see
http://www.rwitte.com/vhf_grids.html

All of Colorado Springs and Pueblo are in grid DM78.
All of greater Denver and Castle Rock are in DM79.
Longmont, Loveland and Fort Collins are in DN70.

If you are close to the edge of a grid, you will need a good
map or a GPS receiver to figure out your grid.

The rules for the January VHF Sweepstakes are at
http://www.arrl.org/contests/rules/2003/01vhfss.html

More information on VHF operating can be found at the
Rocky Mountain VHF Plus web site
http://www.qsl.net/rmvhf

The contest starts at 1900 UTC on Saturday (that's noon
Mountain time) and goes until 0400 UTC on Monday
(that's 9 PM Sunday night Mountain time).

Plug it in, turn it on and work someone on VHF this weekend.

73,

Bob

Bob Witte K0NR
(formerly KB0CY)
k0nr@...
DXCC WAS VUCC
http://www.rwitte.com

Epswalth@...
 

<PRE>Thanks Bob