September VHF contesting

We all know that the only radio contesting I ever participate in is the VHF contests… and even then it is only to see if I can beat my previous score. It certainly is not to impress my wife. With ‘in-attic‘ antennas I’m about the only one I can beat. I’m actually pretty pleased with these antennas tho, because I don’t have to twist a rotator back and forth, and I can work just about anyone that I can hear. Sometimes I hear things the other guys don’t, cause they are pointed off to the side or something. Often omni-directional antennas get a bad rap, but they do have their advantages. I had some preamps on there last year, but then I could hear folks that can’t hear me. I do rely on other folks that have big antennas on tall towers with serious power for my DX. Still tho I really enjoy having so many stations on for a good weekend of VHF. Again this contest, we had a local ARES Simplex Exercise Saturday afternoon, to bring out a few more operators, and introduce them to the world of VHF without repeaters. Pretty good participation !

I don’t have a lot of space in my shack, and share the desk with my computer stuff.

the Radio side of my desk

the Radio side of my desk

Several years back I built these desk-boxes to hold the radio gear, thinking they would be easy to disconnect and take portable for EmComm type events. It sorta works well that way, as I do take them out for Field Day, Boy Scout demos and/or an occasional bicycle tour… During contests tho, I initially log on paper. I’ll have a scratch pad for notes, partial calls with grid info, etc… Once I get a confirmed entry I’ll add a line onto a page I’ve printed from a spreadsheet log template. I have columns for Call, Grid, Time, & Freq. If it is not given I’ll usually look up the name and add that later. I also have columns on the side where I can keep up with how many contacts on the different bands… All that method was developed years back before I had registered the VHF Log program from N3FJP. I still start off on paper and add them to the PC log when there is no one to talk to. I’m not gonna let the keyboard entry distract me from completing the exchange. The program is great tho, as it keeps me informed as to how many grid multipliers I have, as well as dup-detection and my overall score. Here is a screen-shot of the final screen.
N3FJP's VHF Contest  Log

N3FJP's VHF Contest Log

After the contest this program can export the Cabrillo format that I submit via email to the ARRL contest conductor. Then I export the same info as ADIF and read that into the ACLog program that I use for general logging (again another fine program by N3FJP). This way I can add names, exact frequencies, and whatever else I want to include before sending a batch to, again via ADIF export. It may sound complicated, but once you break into computer logging, you recognize (at least I did) how come you never sent out many QSL cards. Especially with eQSL, it has never been this easy.

Anyway, having the laptop near the radios is useful not only for logging, but with so many new digital modes available now – my laptop is still my fastest computer, and has the most memory – so it works out well having a shared desk. I have enough wires running back and forth all around the room. I’ll keep the ones between the radios and the computers fairly short.

Computer lab / Ham Shack @ WB5RMG

Computer lab / Ham Shack @ WB5RMG

And for the record … Thanks to the ARES Simplex Exercise and a better antenna on 50 MHz, I had nearly doubled my score just on Saturday ! I even spent most of Sunday evening with Shelby’s birthday party and my last 3 contacts took me from 500 points to 605 points !!! I worked Craig – K4XR during the final 60 seconds – pushing me over the 600 mark. I even had 3 FM contacts on 223.5, for 4 bands total. My best DX was with Bob – KB5YZG in Hendersonville, NC. at 245 miles on 144.200 MHz with 25 watts. Not bad for indoor antennas I must say. You should try a VHF contest if you haven’t…

73 for now. Thanks /;^)


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