Friday, March 15, 2013

Operating the Virginia QSO contest on VHF only

With the Virginia QSO party coming tomorrow, I thought I'd share a bit about my experience with operating on VHF for the party. It will be quite a challenge, but I'm up to it, because I planned a head.

Operating an amateur radio contest only on VHF is quite tricky. Essentially, VHF is only line of site, with perhaps a bit of "Tropospheric bending" possible. But, for the Virginia QSO party, it is actually quite possible to do well, if you plan carefully. I'm not going to reveal all of my secrets, but here's a few general tips.

1. Know your gear, know the rules. If you know the rules and your gear, you won't have to mess with it on the day of the contest, which is definitely not where you want to be.
2. Going mobile is your best bet. Either an expedition, or mobile contact, either way, you are likely to get more points. Why? For every county or independent city you make a contact from, you get 100 points. Also, moving around will make it far more likely that you will get more counties contacted. Each one is a multiplier. If you talk to 10 people when you are in 10 different counties from 10 different locations, that gives you 1010 points, time 10, or 10,100. That is a very respectable score for VHF.
3. Plan your route out ahead of time. Think about where you are going to stop, and find out what county that's in. I've got my plan almost all worked out, which will make sure that I get every point I can get.
4. Make sure your battery is going to hold. You will probably be using a higher power than normal, make sure you can handle it.

Bottom line, have lots of fun! This is a great time for you to check out some areas you've never been to before, and see some new things.

Good luck!

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