Get in on the Winter Fun with the ARRL January VHF Contest


The 2013 ARRL January VHF Contest -- scheduled for the weekend of January 19-21 -- is sure to make the dreary winter days come to life with the sound of RF! “Don’t let cold weather dissuade you from getting on the air,” said ARRL Contest Branch Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X. “Many a portable or rover operation has done just fine in January. Even so, the VHF bands can be tough, especially if there’s no enhanced propagation; however, we had pleasant sporadic E openings on 6 meters in late December 2012, and last year’s January VHF Contest also saw some sporadic E.”

Two new categories have been added to the ARRL January VHF Contest for 2013: Single Operator/3 Band and Single Operator/FM Only. Hams who choose to operate in the Single Operator/3 Band category may only use 6 meters, 2 meters and 70 centimeters. While hams can use 100 W on 6 and 2 meters, there is a limit of 50 W on 70 centimeters. The Single Operator/FM Only category is limited to 6, 2 and 1.25 meters (222 MHz) and 70 centimeters, with a 100 W output power limit on all four bands.

“These new categories are great opportunities for those new to VHF operating to get their feet wet,” Kutzko said. “The Single Operator/3 Band category is perfect for those with an all-in-one rig that covers the HF and VHF bands, while the Single Operator/FM Only category can help shift the focus from repeaters to VHF simplex operating.”

Kutzko said that the Single Operator/FM Only category is an excellent activity for a local club or Public Service group: “Hold a competition within your group, or think of it as a deployment exercise and have fun, all while getting practical experience in handling traffic. Head for a high operating site with a clear horizon, open the squelch on your FM rigs and see how far you can work without a repeater. Experiment with different antennas. For example, try a J-pole, a large vertical or a small, vertically polarized Yagi with a 5 W handheld transceiver and see how much better you can do.”

Kutzko explained that there are numerous stations that enjoy 2 meter FM simplex QSOs, especially those near a large population center. “Just be sure to keep the national 2 meter calling frequency of 146.52 MHz clear of contest activity, including making or soliciting QSOs,” he said. “Also, please keep in mind General Rule 1.9: ‘Only recognized FM simplex frequencies may be used, such as 144.90 to 145.00; 146.49, .55 and .58, and 147.42, .45, .48, .51, .54 and .57 MHz on the 2 meter band.’ Calling frequencies of 52.525, 223.5 and 446.0 MHz may be used during the contest, but don’t monopolize them. Be sure to tune above or below the calling frequencies to check for additional FM contest activity in your area.”

The 2013 ARRL January VHF Contest runs from 1900 UTC Saturday, January 19 through 0359 UTC Monday, January 21. Participants can submit their Cabrillo-formatted logs via e-mail. Paper logs may be sent to ARRL January VHF Contest, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. All logs must be postmarked no later than 0359 UTC Wednesday, February 20, 2013.