For this year’s JMFD contest I thought weather and propagation conditions were fairly bleak.
The weather was wet and windy to say the least. Many field stations reported having their tents and masts blown down.
The high point for me was working 3UHF on 1296 with only a single 18 el yagi, and barefoot (10w nominal). The distance was 501 km according to the VK1OD distance calculator, using the VK1DA/p and VK3UHF locations from the VHF Logger.
I didn’t like my chances of having hf antennas stay up and didn’t want to extend the tear down process, so I limited myself to the vhf/uhf bands. I had a car full of antennas and several extra masts but in those conditions, there is no point in trying to do too much.
The temp in the tent at 5AM Sunday morning was 3.5 C though the official overnight minimum according to BOM was 2C. No wind gust peak data was available.
Operating techniques and problems observed.
There is a continuing tendency for operators to call and make contacts on only one frequency, 144.150. Can everyone please tell their club operators that there is no repeater there, they are allowed to move the big knob in the middle of the radio panel. It is ok, nothing will break, the rest of the band also works for making contacts. It would be better to train vhf ssb operators on HF so they get to know how to operate on ssb, how to work the tuning knob and how to tune around the band to find stations to work. FM channels and repeaters are quite the wrong training ground for SSB but I’m afraid that the FM repeater operation mode (staying on one frequency, as if it is the only conduit to any other station) is the method many operators learn and continue to use.
It is up to the experienced operators to teach new operators better techniques. I appreciated those experienced operators who I heard requesting a QSY as soon as initial contact had been made.
During the contest I tried many times to make contact with some stations in the greater Sydney and Melbourne areas, whose signals were perfectly readable, but whose operators seemed to want to chat to locals interminably, on 144.150. There are bonus points for working longer distances and these operators were ignoring those chances. eg. a contact with another local station is worth 2 points, but a contact with a station 300+ km away would be worth 50 points. This surely would make it worth listening to a weaker signal.
We should encourage people to operate in vhf events in a manner similar to the HF bands. Find a clear frequency (within the band plan) and call CQ. If looking for a contact, tune the band. If activity is low, don’t move too far from other activity (but be mindful of local interference problems – this is why I qsy 30 kHz up from 150, not just 5 kHz as I might on HF). If activity is high, move further out. Give the dx something to tune for. Don’t clump up and make it impossible!
My QSO tally
All contacts ssb. These scores are about half the corresponding number from the summer VHF/UHF field day in January.
6m – 9
2m – 54
70cm – 31
23cm – 7
13cm – nil.