The ARRL September VHF Contest gets under way on Saturday, September 10, at 1800 UTC and wraps up on Monday, September 12, at 0259 UTC. This annual event provides an opportunity for seasoned contesters and newcomers alike to experience contesting on the VHF and UHF bands. The higher you go, the greater the point value of contacts! The goal is to contact as many different stations in as many 2 × 1 grid squares as possible on frequencies above 50 MHz from home, operating in the field, or as a “rover” — traveling from grid square to grid square to hand out contacts.
Six meters has seen E skip in recent days, along with increased tropospheric enhancement. Scatter and auroral propagation are also possible. To follow potential tropo enhancement see the updated Hepburn maps. For a more focused 2 meter real-time propagation map check out the Mountainlake APRS site.
Spotting or other assistance is allowed before and during any ARRL VHF operating event, so participants can talk up their plans in advance and observe and discuss contacts posted on chat and spotting pages. Participants may not discuss the content of in-progress contacts, however.
Newest operating categories include Single-Operator, 3-Band (6 meter, 2 meters, and 70 centimeters), or Single-Operator, FM Only. More established categories include Single-Operator, Portable, or Single-Operator, High Power/Low Power. Using just a hand-held transceiver from an elevated location or attached to a small directional antenna can get you into the game. Utilizing frequencies that only require smaller, lightweight antennas provides an excellent opportunity to compete from a favorite operating location. Building your own small Yagis is fairly easy.
SSB/CW or digital operators will find most activity at the bottom few hundred kilohertz of the VHF+ bands. On 6 meters, most CW is operated between 50.080 and 50.100 MHz, SSB between 50.125 and 50.250 MHz, and digital modes from 50.250 to 50.300 MHz. The frequencies between 50.100 MHz and 50.125 MHz are considered a “DX window,” so avoid US-to-US contacts in that part of the band). On 2 meters, look for FM stations in the 146.40 to 146.57 MHz region (all FM simplex calling frequency restrictions were removed in 2015), or look for SSB around 144.200 MHz, with CW intermixed. Digital stations congregate around 144.140 MHz. On the higher bands activity will be focused around the “weak-signal” or FM calling frequencies. Check band plans for details on all bands.
Rules and entry forms are on the ARRL website. All logs must be uploaded to the web app or e-mailed (or mailed) no later than 0300 UTC on October 12. Electronic logs are preferred. Send paper logs to September VHF Contest, ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111.
For more information about the ARRL September VHF Contest, e-mail the ARRL Contest Branch.