[VHFcontesting] Digital Modes (FT8) in January 2019 Contest

Keith Morehouse

Where I live, EVERY contact on 2M and above is DX.  There may be 5-10 local QSOs to be made, but many of them are only available because I moved them from 6.  The closest concentration of 'above 6M ops' ( "Above's" ?? ) is 250 miles away.  I work more 2M stations on meteor scatter then locals.

I live and die by 6M openings and, like Paul, I can be nationally competitive in June if 6M cooperates.  I'm also a little strange, evidently (according to some), because I do VHF contests specifically to run rate.  Massive rate.... I'm addicted to rate.  This is why I have issues with FT8 attracting a lot of ops off of SSB, but that's not what this thread is about.

Dropping 6M would be the death of serious VHF contesting for me and many others.  A lot of the big signals you hear on 6 in the western half of the county ONLY work 6.  We would all be gone or, at most, we would be giving out token multipliers on 2M scatter.  Knee jerk reactions have seriously hurt VHF contesting in the past (revised Rover rules....), don't make the same mistake.


Keith Morehouse
via MotoG

On Wed, Jun 19, 2019, 11:44 AM Paul Kiesel via VHFcontesting <vhfcontesting@...> wrote:
 I've finally come to the realization that digital is here to stay. I hate that not so many SSB and CW contacts can be made now during the contests. It's not that they are superior to FT8, but that operating in the contest is a hell of a lot less fun without them.

In recent years' June contests, I've competed in the Single Op/High Power category against all others in the same category. But, I've operated solely on 50 MHz because it's a challenge to beatothers who run many or all of the higher bands. It used to bother me a lot that I could beat others both in number of QSOs and number of multipliers and still not win because of the points advantages given for use of bands 222 MHz and above. Now, I welcome this challenge, even though I know I will not win in the category. But, the guys running all the high bands during the contest know they are competing against me. This makes operating on the higher bands an advantageous opportunity to my competition. The result of this is that they will make as many contacts as they can on all available bands while being careful to not neglect 50 MHz. Planning and coordination are important for them.

This is not the first time that people have suggested eliminating 50 MHz from the June contest. I don't think dumping six meters is going to solve anything, but make things worse. Rather, havingall VHF and higher bands as relevant in the contest is the way to go.
What bothers me more than the reduced use of SSB and CW in the contests is the fact that the digital modes are restricted to audio bandwidth zones. This could be considered an efficient use of spectrum, but actually the conditions during a contest or band opening in that narrow a zone are nothing less than horrid. All one needs is one strong station in the other FT8 sequence to ruin any possibility to compete or decode weak DX. And this problem is not going to go away by trying to enforce which stations call on even and which call on odd.

It may be time to think about rearranging the rules, but eliminating 50 MHz from the June contest would be a bad mistake. It would be better to consider either limiting the number of contacts that can be made using a single mode or by maybe having a suite of frequencies wherein FT8 QSOs could be made. As an example 50.310 to 50.320.

The June contest is unique and should be kept the way it is as much as possible. You shouldn't remove a band from the contest because people are choosing to use it!
73, Paul K7CW

    On Wednesday, June 19, 2019, 2:46:24 PM UTC, JamesDuffey <jamesduffey@...> wrote: 

 Chris - Thanks for your comments on the impact of FT8 on the January contest.

To your first point, I don’t think that the increase in 6M activity is due entirely to casual ops using digital modes (FT8) instead of SSB and CW. For one thing, this year there was a significant increase, about 19%  in the number of logs submitted in the contest over 2018 while the total number of QSOs in the contest only grew by about 3%; essentially remaining the same. If the digital mode ops are all casual they do a much better job of submitting logs than do the casual SSB ops.

The actual number, as well as the fraction of QSOs on all bands 144MHz and above decreased significantly over 2018. This strongly suggests that the increase in digital (FT8) activity came at the expense of QSOs on the higher bands.

I think that the increase in activity in the January Contest is good and welcome. I think that the decrease in the activity on the higher bands is not good. To me, it appears that both of these effects are due to the digital modes, in particular FT8. Interestingly enough, there does seem to be a significant number of FT8 ops, who once they saw how straight forward it was to make  digital QSOs, also tried MSK144, thereby increasing that activity as well.

I am not sure what the answer is, but I fear that all the VHF contests will become dominated by 6M, not just the June contest when Es is in. Perhaps it is time to rethink the contesting paradigm. - Duffey KK6MC

James Duffey KK6MC
Cedar Crest NM

> I have been wondering for a while where the FT8 VHF contest ops are
> coming from and if perhaps some of the community's concern is overblown.
> I see two possibilities:
> * Casual ops who have that HF+6 radio and get on to play around for a
> couple hours, get some new grids towards VUCC, etc.  In the past, these
> people would have done the same thing but on SSB.  I have a feeling her and
> there's a lot of them.  They are not serious contesters and were never
> going to be people you could work through the bands with.
> * More serious contesters who are wanting to try something new and are
> focusing much of their time on making digital contacts.  I feel like
> there are relatively few of these people due to their likely time and
> money investment in having gear for other bands.
> The first group wasn't going to have 2m, 70cm, and up beams and amps at
> home.  Not having digital modes available means we are losing points and
> some mults by not being able to work this group, but I don't have any
> concerns that I am missing higher band contacts due to the move from SSB
> to FT8 here.
> The second group is the one to be concerned with.  I haven't been here
> long enough to know what the answer is, so hopefully someone else does.
> Personally, my roving plan for at least future June contests is to have
> two ops.  One op will essentially be a mult station, dedicated to
> watching 6m on SSB and FT8 during openings (and also watching for when
> those openings occur).  The other op will be the points station and
> handle all the other bands.
> --
> Chris Lumens - KG6CIH
> Hike * MTB * XC Ski * Haskell
> Research - Experimentation - Testing - More Testing

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Jonesy W3DHJ

On Wed, 19 Jun 2019, Dave Miller wrote:

Nomex suit on
I think the simple solution is to make FT8 contacts worth 0.001 pts per QSO.
Keep 6M in contest as when it opens it one of few wasy to get mults when
you live on BC
Solves all problem.
Nomex suit off

I had thought about
Points per Contact:
CW 3
Ph 2
Digital 1

Marvin L Jones | W3DHJ | W3DHJ | https://W3DHJ.net/
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