The ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes Means Winter Contesting Fun for Everyone
VHF operators will be on the bands in force the weekend of January 21-23, 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. “Don’t let the cold weather in much of the US 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. While propagation enhancement can seem fleeting in January, there have been some monstrous openings during this contest in years past. Who knows? Perhaps the propagation gods will grant us a late holiday gift with an extended aurora or tropospheric event!”
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 comparatively smaller than their HF counterparts. A dipole for 6 meters is less than 10 feet long and most modern transceivers come with 50 MHz already built in. Why not try stringing up a dipole for 6 meters and see what you can work?”
While most contest QSOs will be made using SSB and CW, Kutzko reminded operators not to forget about FM simplex. “There are numerous stations that enjoy 2 meter FM simplex QSOs, especially if you live near a large population center,” he explained. “Just be sure to keep the national 2 meter calling frequency of 146.52 MHz clear of contest activity. But don’t neglect the higher bands -- 222 MHz, 432 MHz and 1.2 GHz and up will see activity this weekend, too.”
The 2012 ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes runs from 1900 UTC Saturday, January 21 through 0359 UTC Monday, January 23. 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 Wednesday, February 22, 2012.