WA4ZKO – 2011 ARRL Sept VHF Contest wrap up

Yeah I’m a little late, but since I’m stuck inside working today I figured I’d catch up on some VHF+ postings and calendar updates. I’ll try to get a wrap up for the June/July contests posted when I have time to go through the logs and notes.

Not much to report on the 2011 Sept VHF Contest. My results 0 QSO’s, 0 Grids (duh), and 0 points. Admittedly I was distracted working on other projects Saturday and gave up on Sunday as I was feeling ill. Saturday the bands were dead and I frankly did not hear any locals on and no sign of any Rovers. I was in the shop most of the time and within ear shot of the receiver. When outside I came in several times to check the bands and frequently gave the rotor a serious workout.

There was no sign of a 6m opening, but that was not surprising given the time of year. I gather activity levels were somewhat better in the northeast and around the great lakes.

After the great conditions we had during late spring and early to mid-summer…I’m really not complaining. It was a great year for VHF DXing, one of the best in several years. With the improving solar conditions I suspect 2012 will be even better.

Lately the SSN and Flux are starting to get up there pretty high at times. I wouldn’t be too surprised if we see some weak/brief 6m DX this fall. So I wouldn’t pack the 6m rig away just yet. Even if this fall disappoints, I’d venture to say Fall 2012 will get interesting ;-)

The ARRL sent me some wallpaper this week where I won Kentucky in the Single Op/Low Power class on 6, 2, & 432 during the 2010 Sept VHF Contest. I sort of had to chuckle at it. Looking at my 2010 logs for that contest I see 22 QSOs and a score of 546. Something tells me I might of been the only KY station on if I won the state on all 3 bands with that meager score ;-)

There was an interesting paragraph in the ARRL cover letter that came with my Sept 2010 Award. It pertains to the 2010 contest, so keep that in mind. I’ll quote the paragraph below:

In general, band conditions were not all that great with the exception of some nice “tropo” in the Midwest. As it turned out, activity decreased in virtually all operating categories with 488 log submissions this year versus 595 in 2009. Most importantly, the number of Rover logs was down significantly with a major impact on the number of contacts and grids available to all operators.

IMHO 2009’s Sept VHF Contest was a pretty good one, at least compared to recent years. Seems like the Sept VHF Contest is on a declining trend lately. That said, VHF activity during the June and July contests seems to be doing really well.

I’ve always felt that they should move the ARRL Sept VHF Contest up into early August for a much better shot at 6m openings. Then put the ARRL UHF contest in September. I suspect many ops just get out of the “mood” for VHF DXing by the time mid-September arrives and the number of 6m openings have faded away.

Rover activity levels? Well we’ve all noticed the big decline in rovers around here. I’ve worked a few out west lately on 6m openings, but that’s about it if Dan (K9ZF) is not out locally in IN/KY for us. I honestly can’t recall the last time I worked a rover down on the VA or E. TN mountains. Years ago there would be several of them out and about down that way. I will occasionally hear a rover up around the Chicago area, but never have any luck getting their attention. I don’t think they listen this way much ;-)

Reasons for the Rover decline? The obvious guess would be the economy and gas prices. Best I can tell (looking at my work mileage logs) gas prices were just under $3/gallon in Sept 2010. This year gas prices were dancing up against $4/gallon. Guess we’ll have to wait till the economy turns around and we get a clue about an energy policy before we can expect the Rover levels of the 1990’s/early 2000’s to return.

Don’t forget to try and work the Fall Sprints. I missed reminding folks of the 2m spring last week…oops. I’ll get an updated calendar and some reminders out in the coming days/weeks.

I’m in the midst of working on the tower and the VHF/UHF array is impacted by the work. As such, I’m off the air for a few weeks. I hope to be back up and running for the 6m Fall Sprint. Work schedule and weather will determine if that happens on schedule or not ;-)



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