A VHF Contest in January — How Cool is That?


If El Niño has your weather upside down, perhaps the ARRL January VHF Contest will get you right side up and back in a contesting mood! This annual event begins at 1900 UTC on Saturday, January 30, and it wraps up at 0359 UTC on Monday, February 1. The object is for amateurs in the US and Canada (and possessions) to work as many stations in as many different Maidenhead grid squares as possible using frequencies above 50 MHz. It’s the US and Canada (and possessions) working each other and the rest of the world (think F2 propagation!). The dates are typically selected to place this event between the last NFL playoff weekend and the Super Bowl (which are 2 weeks apart – and later than usual this year).

“Assuming Mother Nature cooperates, the January VHF Contest offers a welcome reprieve from what might be the long winter doldrums,” said new ARRL Contest Branch Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ. Whether at home, portable, or even rover, the event offers something for everyone. “I have also seen an increased amount of chatter regarding the FM-Only category,” Jahnke said, “with enthusiasm from potential first-time participants.”

Jahnke said a good mix of propagation typically prevails in January, and, while tropo may be less of a factor, aurora offers the northern tier a stronger presence in winter VHF events. “Meteor scatter and EME (moonbounce) folks will be looking for newcomers as well as the seasoned crowd to join in this more-challenging fun,” he said.

The January VHF Contest offers Single-Operator and Multioperator categories, and there is even a Single-Operator, FM-only category, as well as a Single-Operator, 3-Band (50 MHz, 144 MHz, and 440 MHz) category.

Getting on the VHF/UHF bands is easy, and Technician licensees have access to all amateur bands above 50 MHz. Antennas for VHF and UHF frequencies are far smaller than their HF counterparts. Most modern transceivers have 6 meter capability, and sometimes even an HF dipole or HF beam can be used to work many stations on 6. Contest contacts may be made using SSB, CW, and even FM simplex.

All entries must be e-mailed or postmarked no later than 0359 UTC Wednesday, March 2, 2016. Submit Cabrillo-formatted logs via e-mail. Mail paper logs to ARRL January VHF Contest, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111.

Contact the ARRL Contest Branch for more information.