Topics

[VHFcontesting] Pondering

Keith Morehouse
 

This is all good and very true.  BUT, the problem is only a small percentage of ops on 6M during a June or July contest really CARE if they are winning or losing.

The vast majority of ops the "big guys" work during a killer run, be it on 6 during the ARRL June VHF contest or on 40 during Sweepstakes phone, are only there casually.  You or I can stand on our street corner box and preach the gospel of using SSB (OK, or CW...) during an opening, threatening hell-fire, damnation and, gasp!, a contest lost and the majority of those we work will think, "Why should I care ?  I'm not a competitor anyway.  I'm just in it for a contact, a new grid, for something to do untill the game comes on TV...".

FT8 (I separate that mode out as the real killer of contest rate - MSK144 & JT65 ENHANCE your score - FT8 does the opposite) is a fine mode, being used improperly by the very operators serious contesters need to put up 'the good numbers'.  You will probably not stop this by traditional means - such as education through mentoring or Contest University.  Heck, maybe it SHOULDN'T be stopped and just accepted as a natural change in the VHF contesting scene, like grid squares replaced ARRL sections as mults.

If that is the case, MANY traditional ops, unfortunately for the casual ops, those with some of the bigger signals, will leave (and are leaving...) the band for other endeavors more satisfying then mouse clicking all day.  If this was happening to HF contesting you would see rapid movement for change.

I believe the HF contesting movers and shakers don't realize or care that VHF has a problem that is lowering scores and diminishing contesting skills.  VHF contests, by definition, allow all modes to be used.  HF contests have CW weekends and Phone weekends.   

The question on 6M is not whether you love or hate FT8, it's a matter of fundamentally changing the state of the VHF contesting art for the worse.  If this is acceptable to the majority, so be it.  If it's not acceptable, what changes need to be made ?

-W9RM

Keith Morehouse
via MotoG


On Wed, Sep 25, 2019, 4:30 PM Marshall-K5QE <k5qe@...> wrote:

The really great ops that sometimes visit here can do more than 200 contacts per hour. 
What that means is that if you are fooling around with FT8, making 30
contacts an hour(a fair estimate) while a big Es opening occurs, you
will lose the contest.  On the other hand if you spend loads of time
calling CQ on SSB, hoping for an opening that never occurs, you will
lose the contest.

The contest knowledge and skill is in knowing when to be running SSB,
when to be running MSK144, when to use JT65, and when to use FT8.  I can
almost guarantee that if you blindly park on one of the FT8 "watering
holes" for the entire contest, you will not do as well as someone that
uses a more "adventurous" approach.




Bill
 

I've been lurking on this issue for some time now. I must say that the declining  VHF contest environment since the advent of FT8 has become masterfully defined by many.  I agree with most of the comments thus far: We cannot put that beautiful genie back in the bottle. Contesting life as we knew it has changed forever. We're doing a poor job of protecting our spectrum space by concentrating activity on a few channelized hot spots..... and so on.

I'd like to see some discussion about proposed changes.  I've heard some good ones: Allow points to be accrued by contacts made on different modes on each band. Have separate contests for digital and SSB/CW as examples.  So lets hear some chatter about solution proposals.

As long as the "submitted logs" metric is thought to be the accepted goodness factor, we'll have a difficult time convincing anyone that anything needs fixing. Average VHF QSOs per log is decreasing. So is activity on the higher UHF bands; and those are the metrics we should use in discussions about changes.

Bill W7QQ
DM75ao


On Wed, Sep 25, 2019 at 6:40 PM Keith Morehouse <w9rm@...> wrote:
This is all good and very true.  BUT, the problem is only a small percentage of ops on 6M during a June or July contest really CARE if they are winning or losing.

The vast majority of ops the "big guys" work during a killer run, be it on 6 during the ARRL June VHF contest or on 40 during Sweepstakes phone, are only there casually.  You or I can stand on our street corner box and preach the gospel of using SSB (OK, or CW...) during an opening, threatening hell-fire, damnation and, gasp!, a contest lost and the majority of those we work will think, "Why should I care ?  I'm not a competitor anyway.  I'm just in it for a contact, a new grid, for something to do untill the game comes on TV...".

FT8 (I separate that mode out as the real killer of contest rate - MSK144 & JT65 ENHANCE your score - FT8 does the opposite) is a fine mode, being used improperly by the very operators serious contesters need to put up 'the good numbers'.  You will probably not stop this by traditional means - such as education through mentoring or Contest University.  Heck, maybe it SHOULDN'T be stopped and just accepted as a natural change in the VHF contesting scene, like grid squares replaced ARRL sections as mults.

If that is the case, MANY traditional ops, unfortunately for the casual ops, those with some of the bigger signals, will leave (and are leaving...) the band for other endeavors more satisfying then mouse clicking all day.  If this was happening to HF contesting you would see rapid movement for change.

I believe the HF contesting movers and shakers don't realize or care that VHF has a problem that is lowering scores and diminishing contesting skills.  VHF contests, by definition, allow all modes to be used.  HF contests have CW weekends and Phone weekends.   

The question on 6M is not whether you love or hate FT8, it's a matter of fundamentally changing the state of the VHF contesting art for the worse.  If this is acceptable to the majority, so be it.  If it's not acceptable, what changes need to be made ?

-W9RM

Keith Morehouse
via MotoG

On Wed, Sep 25, 2019, 4:30 PM Marshall-K5QE <k5qe@...> wrote:

The really great ops that sometimes visit here can do more than 200 contacts per hour. 
What that means is that if you are fooling around with FT8, making 30
contacts an hour(a fair estimate) while a big Es opening occurs, you
will lose the contest.  On the other hand if you spend loads of time
calling CQ on SSB, hoping for an opening that never occurs, you will
lose the contest.

The contest knowledge and skill is in knowing when to be running SSB,
when to be running MSK144, when to use JT65, and when to use FT8.  I can
almost guarantee that if you blindly park on one of the FT8 "watering
holes" for the entire contest, you will not do as well as someone that
uses a more "adventurous" approach.




Arne N7KA
 

Contesting is not a concern for quite a few VHF/UHF folks who just want casual QSOs.  For example NMVHFS now  has 63 members, BUT in almost any contest I hear maybe 10-15% of quantity, MAX.  That has affected my contest activity, and also consider lack of 6M openings and digi modes robbing folks  from CW/SSB.  Rovers to me seem to have both good and bad affects.  I hear a rover working someone, the rover asks other bands?, then QSY.  Am I to sit there and wait for the rover to come back so I  can do the same thing, work them on 1 band then QSY to another, oh that next station now has to wait for the rover to return and repeat the process again.  Who can blame the rover in trying to maximize their score, though negatively affecting fixed  station scores.  Yes it nice to get rover mults but to what overall negative affect?  I have shut off the radio to enjoy some  other interesting event, like grass growing on my sandy 1 acre.  I  firmly believe separate CW/SSB from DIGI modes, have 2 contests.  Thankfully  VHF/UHF is not wall-to-wall contesting every weekend.

 

That's my personal opinion.  Take it or leave it.


Arne N7KA

On September 25, 2019 at 7:38 PM Bill <bill4070@...> wrote:

I've been lurking on this issue for some time now. I must say that the declining  VHF contest environment since the advent of FT8 has become masterfully defined by many.  I agree with most of the comments thus far: We cannot put that beautiful genie back in the bottle. Contesting life as we knew it has changed forever. We're doing a poor job of protecting our spectrum space by concentrating activity on a few channelized hot spots..... and so on.

I'd like to see some discussion about proposed changes.  I've heard some good ones: Allow points to be accrued by contacts made on different modes on each band. Have separate contests for digital and SSB/CW as examples.  So lets hear some chatter about solution proposals.

As long as the "submitted logs" metric is thought to be the accepted goodness factor, we'll have a difficult time convincing anyone that anything needs fixing. Average VHF QSOs per log is decreasing. So is activity on the higher UHF bands; and those are the metrics we should use in discussions about changes.

Bill W7QQ
DM75ao

On Wed, Sep 25, 2019 at 6:40 PM Keith Morehouse < w9rm@...> wrote:
This is all good and very true.  BUT, the problem is only a small percentage of ops on 6M during a June or July contest really CARE if they are winning or losing.

The vast majority of ops the "big guys" work during a killer run, be it on 6 during the ARRL June VHF contest or on 40 during Sweepstakes phone, are only there casually.  You or I can stand on our street corner box and preach the gospel of using SSB (OK, or CW...) during an opening, threatening hell-fire, damnation and, gasp!, a contest lost and the majority of those we work will think, "Why should I care ?  I'm not a competitor anyway.  I'm just in it for a contact, a new grid, for something to do untill the game comes on TV...".

FT8 (I separate that mode out as the real killer of contest rate - MSK144 & JT65 ENHANCE your score - FT8 does the opposite) is a fine mode, being used improperly by the very operators serious contesters need to put up 'the good numbers'.  You will probably not stop this by traditional means - such as education through mentoring or Contest University.  Heck, maybe it SHOULDN'T be stopped and just accepted as a natural change in the VHF contesting scene, like grid squares replaced ARRL sections as mults.

If that is the case, MANY traditional ops, unfortunately for the casual ops, those with some of the bigger signals, will leave (and are leaving...) the band for other endeavors more satisfying then mouse clicking all day.  If this was happening to HF contesting you would see rapid movement for change.

I believe the HF contesting movers and shakers don't realize or care that VHF has a problem that is lowering scores and diminishing contesting skills.  VHF contests, by definition, allow all modes to be used.  HF contests have CW weekends and Phone weekends.   

The question on 6M is not whether you love or hate FT8, it's a matter of fundamentally changing the state of the VHF contesting art for the worse.  If this is acceptable to the majority, so be it.  If it's not acceptable, what changes need to be made ?

-W9RM

Keith Morehouse
via MotoG

On Wed, Sep 25, 2019, 4:30 PM Marshall-K5QE < k5qe@...> wrote:

The really great ops that sometimes visit here can do more than 200 contacts per hour. 
What that means is that if you are fooling around with FT8, making 30
contacts an hour(a fair estimate) while a big Es opening occurs, you
will lose the contest.  On the other hand if you spend loads of time
calling CQ on SSB, hoping for an opening that never occurs, you will
lose the contest.

The contest knowledge and skill is in knowing when to be running SSB,
when to be running MSK144, when to use JT65, and when to use FT8.  I can
almost guarantee that if you blindly park on one of the FT8 "watering
holes" for the entire contest, you will not do as well as someone that
uses a more "adventurous" approach.




 

 

Michael Daly
 

Keith,

I suggest you write an article about this and submit to the National Contest Journal.  It’s a great and timely topic.

 

Scott Wright, K0MD, is editor.  I copied him on this.

Mike, n5sj

 

 

From: nmvhf@groups.io [mailto:nmvhf@groups.io] On Behalf Of Keith Morehouse
Sent: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 6:40 PM
To: vhfcontesting@...
Cc: GMCC <gmc@...>; nmvhf@groups.io
Subject: Re: [nmvhf] [VHFcontesting] Pondering

 

This is all good and very true.  BUT, the problem is only a small percentage of ops on 6M during a June or July contest really CARE if they are winning or losing.

 

The vast majority of ops the "big guys" work during a killer run, be it on 6 during the ARRL June VHF contest or on 40 during Sweepstakes phone, are only there casually.  You or I can stand on our street corner box and preach the gospel of using SSB (OK, or CW...) during an opening, threatening hell-fire, damnation and, gasp!, a contest lost and the majority of those we work will think, "Why should I care ?  I'm not a competitor anyway.  I'm just in it for a contact, a new grid, for something to do untill the game comes on TV...".

 

FT8 (I separate that mode out as the real killer of contest rate - MSK144 & JT65 ENHANCE your score - FT8 does the opposite) is a fine mode, being used improperly by the very operators serious contesters need to put up 'the good numbers'.  You will probably not stop this by traditional means - such as education through mentoring or Contest University.  Heck, maybe it SHOULDN'T be stopped and just accepted as a natural change in the VHF contesting scene, like grid squares replaced ARRL sections as mults.

 

If that is the case, MANY traditional ops, unfortunately for the casual ops, those with some of the bigger signals, will leave (and are leaving...) the band for other endeavors more satisfying then mouse clicking all day.  If this was happening to HF contesting you would see rapid movement for change.

 

I believe the HF contesting movers and shakers don't realize or care that VHF has a problem that is lowering scores and diminishing contesting skills.  VHF contests, by definition, allow all modes to be used.  HF contests have CW weekends and Phone weekends.   

 

The question on 6M is not whether you love or hate FT8, it's a matter of fundamentally changing the state of the VHF contesting art for the worse.  If this is acceptable to the majority, so be it.  If it's not acceptable, what changes need to be made ?

 

-W9RM

Keith Morehouse
via MotoG

 

On Wed, Sep 25, 2019, 4:30 PM Marshall-K5QE <k5qe@...> wrote:


The really great ops that sometimes visit here can do more than 200 contacts per hour. 
What that means is that if you are fooling around with FT8, making 30
contacts an hour(a fair estimate) while a big Es opening occurs, you
will lose the contest.  On the other hand if you spend loads of time
calling CQ on SSB, hoping for an opening that never occurs, you will
lose the contest.

The contest knowledge and skill is in knowing when to be running SSB,
when to be running MSK144, when to use JT65, and when to use FT8.  I can
almost guarantee that if you blindly park on one of the FT8 "watering
holes" for the entire contest, you will not do as well as someone that
uses a more "adventurous" approach.