Warm Up with the ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes!
VHF weak-signal operators will be on the bands in force the weekend of January 23-25 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.
ARRL Contest Branch Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X said that January may not seem like the ideal time to hold a VHF+ contest: "After all, sporadic-E propagation is most commonly associated with summer months; however, the propagation gods like to surprise and confound, and there have been plenty of QSOs made via sporadic-E in the colder months through the years. Plenty of other chances for enhancement exist as well, thanks to tropospheric ducting and auroral propagation. Thanks to 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. You have 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 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 built-in. So, 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 said, "don't forget about FM simplex. There are numerous stations that 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, either -- 222 MHz, 432 MHz and 1.2 GHz and up will see activity this weekend, too."
The 2010 ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes runs from 1900 UTC Saturday, January 23 through 0359 UTC Monday, January 25. 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 25, 2010.