Contesting

Some advice for newcomers, from Neill Taylor G4HLX.

Log Verificator

Have you ever thought of entering a VHF contest? If it seems a bit daunting, it needn’t be. Getting started can be really straightforward and a lot of fun. There is the excitement of the competitive spirit, the friendly trial of your equipment and operating skills against others. But there’s a lot more: you can expect some contacts over much greater distances than you usually achieve, thanks to many stations operating from good VHF sites far away. You should make a large number of QSOs, including some in regions, squares or counties that are normally hard to find. If you have chosen to go portable, there’s the pleasure of a day in the great outdoors. And finally there’s the satisfaction of seeing your callsign in the results listings. Oh yes, and of course there’s just the sheer delight of playing with radios all day long!

The Practical Wireless 144 MHz QRP Contest is an ideal event for your first go at VHF contesting. The rules are simple, the log-keeping and scoring straightforward, and the 3 watt transmitter power limit makes it easy to compete effectively even with simple equipment. Year after year we receive reports from first-time entrants who are amazed by the DX they have achieved with their simple station. And after your first experience of a VHF contest, you might like to move on to operate in some of the many VHF/UHF contests organised by the RSGB.

The first thing to stress about entering a VHF contest is that preparation is essential. Planning is the key to success, and it starts with taking stock of what you will need, in terms of radio equipment and other requirements. And right at the start you must decide if you are going to go-it-alone as a single operator, or get together with some friends to form a group. There’s a lot to be said for this, in terms of pooling of resources such as equipment and antennas, and sharing of the work on the day – not only operating the station, but getting everything set up and running.

Article first published in Practical Wireless, May 1999.