Aim High in the ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes
VHF operators will be on the bands in force the weekend of January 22-24 as the ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes hits the airwaves. This contest gives the VHFer in all of us a chance to do some contesting during the winter months.
According to ARRL Contest Branch Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X, January may not seem like the ideal time to hold a VHF+ contest, but sometimes he said, the propagation gods like to surprise and confound. “There have been plenty of QSOs made via sporadic-E in the colder months this winter, including a surprise opening from the Midwest and Western US to Australia and New Zealand just this week! QSOs on other forms of enhancement exist as well, thanks to tropospheric ducting and auroral propagation. Because of the advent of WSJT software, making QSOs via meteor scatter in the wee hours of the morning on 6 and 2 meters has never been easier. There are plenty of opportunities to make long-haul QSOs on the VHF+ bands in January.”
Kutzko said that getting on the VHF bands is easy. Technician class licensees have permission to use all amateur bands above 50 MHz and the antennas for VHF frequencies are smaller than their HF counterparts. A dipole for 6 meters is less than 10 feet long and most modern transceivers come with 50 MHz built-in. So why not string up a dipole for 6 meters and see what you can work?
While most contest QSOs will be made using SSB and CW, Kutzko advised amateurs to remember FM simplex: “Numerous stations enjoy 2 meter FM simplex QSOs, especially if you live near a large population center. Just be sure to keep the national 2 meter calling frequency of 146.52 MHz clear of contest activity. Don’t neglect the higher bands, since 222 MHz, 432 MHz and 1.2 GHz and up will see activity this weekend, too.”
The 2011 ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes runs from 1900 UTC Saturday, January 22 through 0359 UTC Monday, January 24. Participants can submit their Cabrillo-formatted logs via e-mail. Paper logs may be sent to ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. All logs must be postmarked no later than 0359 UTC Thursday, February 24, 2011.