WB2FKO short contest report
6m was exasperatingly bad on Saturday. Plenty of puny openings
coming in from all directions that were too weak for ssb and too
short for FT8. Propagation was in and then gone in less than 30
seconds. Found the NMVHF chat page useful for coordinating with
ops who were within tropo range including several in Arizona, WE7L
in Colorado, and K5LA in El Paso. Made some meteor scatter
contacts after the sun went down then called it a night with 64
Meteor scatter conditions on Sunday morning were superb. This
produced 21 more contacts, all but one on the 6m calling
frequency. Patchy, short duration 6m Es openings persisted for
most of the morning with an FT8 contact about once every 5 minutes
on average. I checked SSB and cw frequencies periodically and
heard only silence, so spent majority of Sunday on 6m FT8.
Sustained 6m Es finally happened Sunday afternoon. As the FT8
waterfall filled with signals, I jumped down to ssb and found very
little on tap. Did some S&P and got a few multipliers.
Parked on 150.140 and sent out a string of CQs to no avail. Same
on 150.125. I occasionally heard local AA5B on ssb so maybe he
Perhaps because I have a moderate station deep in the city noise, FT8 is where I found the action on 6. My run rate actually wasn't much different than in past June contests when on phone. Fortunately and much to my surprise, most digital ops were using contest mode with FT8; that means a QSO happens in 3 exchanges lasting 45 seconds. Yes this is still almost 10x slower than traditional ssb, but FT8 does have some advantages for VHF contests even when there is good propagation: i) I can work stations that would be hopelessly inaudible on ssb, invariably in a new, distant grid; ii) I can see everyone's grid locator and make strategically advantageous calls/replies that add multipliers, not just single points. If I had stuck to traditional analog for this contest, I'm certain my score would have been far lower.
I decoded and was decoded on 6m FT8 in JA and EU during the
contest, but did not make any DX QSOs. Worked 3 New Mexico
rovers: KK6MC, W0AMT, and AA5PR, but try as I might could not find
the latter in DM83. Was tracking Duffey via APRS on Sunday, but
still missed him in 2 grids. Did not do any FM or 432 this
contest. Apologies to the locals for the QRM.
I was single-op, high-power: