Archive for March, 2009

2009 Spring VHF/UHF Sprints announced

Posted in Contesting, Ham Radio with tags , , , , on March 22, 2009 by WA4ZKO

For the VHF/UHF Weak Signal folks, John, K9JK, has officially announced the 2009 Spring VHF UHF Sprints.

The announcement and rules can be found here.

In short:

The 144 MHz Spring Sprint will be Monday, April 6, 2009.  Runs 7PM-11PM local time.

The 222 MHz Spring Sprint will be Tuesday, April 15, 2009. Runs 7pm-11PM local time.

The 432 MHz Spring Sprint will be Wednesday, April 22, 2009. Runs 7PM-11PM local time.

The Microwave (902 MHz & up) Spring Sprint will be Saturday, May 2, 2009. Runs 6AM-1PM local time.

The 50 MHz Spring Sprint will run from 2300 UTC on Saturday, May 9, 2009 to 0300 UTC Sunday, May 10, 2009.

Note: there’s a 2 week turnaround time from the contest to it’s log submission deadline. Be sure to get your logs ready and sent in. I don’t know why this window has to be so short, but it is what it is.

Also it helps to know your 6-digit grid square, but it’s not mandatory.

In not so short….

The VHF/UHF Spring Sprints are a great chance for you to dust off the rigs after the long winter and check them and the antennas out before the bigger contests of Spring/Summer arrive.

A lot of us prefer these “Sprints” over the bigger contests for a variety of reasons:

1. The contest window is only 4 hours and typically on a local evening.  The 6m Sprint is the exception, mainly due to the need to leverage the potential propagation of this band. Granted, eskip is not real likely on 6m this early in May. I really think they should push this one up into late May, IMHO. The 4 hour window just works better for most of us than trying to be on for an entire weekend in the bigger contests.  Few of us have this much spare time anymore.

2. The rules are pretty simple.  Get on the air, use packet clusters if you want, use the web clusters, and make some contacts. The entry classes are kept simple, the rules are about what’s needed for 99% of things, and it’s just generally a fun, friendly contest to work , with minimal bureaucrats just  trying to make things more complicated than they have to be.

3. It’s a good deal for those that want to rove or operate portable. If you can sneak away from work at 4pm/5pm local, you’ve probably got 2-3 hours to find your way up to your favorite rover/portable locations. Since it’s a single band, you don’t have to pack a lot of gear and antennas if you don’t want to.

4. If you’re of the competitive type, the fact that these are single band contests, helps level the playing ground. The bulk of us are probably only in the “little gun” category.

5.  For those that are not really into competition, the Sprint contacts are simpler and the pace is usually considerably slower than the bigger VHF+ contests.  Many prefer this approach, some don’t.

Some changes I’d suggest?

1.  Personally, I think that  pushing the times back to 8PM-Midnight would be better for many folks. Many of us work till 5PM or 6PM and may have a long commute home after work. I’ve noticed that  a lot of the time the activity does not pick up till later in the evening. 7PM-8PM can be pretty dead around here, but that often changes after nightfall when folks come in from yard work and so forth.

2.  I think the 6m Sprint would benefit from being later in May, early June. This would increase the chances that it would benefit from stateside eskip openings.

3. I’m not sure why the 6-digit grid square stuff is necessary. Okay, maybe it could be helpful on UHF and up where the beam patterns are often really sharp. Other than that, I’m not so sure as to the real need. I don’t care one way or the other.  I’ve heard folks commenting that it’s more of the one person or little group trying to address/inject their personal pet peeves via adding to the rules that have been more than adequate for decades. Again, it’s not mandatory so no biggie…for me at least.

Other than those three extremely minor suggestions of mine, these are great little VHF/UHF Contests to work. Get active, get on the air. You don’t have to be strictly competitive, just get on the air and have some fun handing out your grid to folks. You can make it complicated or you can keep it simple, just get on the air.