I don’t consider myself a contester, but there are a few weekends each year that I let my family know that I plan to be unavailable. Don’t include me in any plans, as I intend to hole myself up in the office for most, or all, of the weekend, leaving only to grab a quick bite or use the bathroom. I might not come to bed, so don’t wait up. I might not shower, so don’t get too close. This was one of those weekends. This past weekend was the California QSO Party.
I went out for about half an hour last Tuesday evening to see who was participating in the Fall 2020 135 cm (222.1MHz SSB/223.5MHz FM) Sprint. In 25 minutes of operating, I contacted seven stations, all located in Ventura County.
The fourth of the major yearly VHF contests was held during the second weekend in September. I’d known for months that it would be significantly affected by the COVID-19 virus because multi-operator and two-person rover operations would be nearly impossible to achieve. Then high temperatures and dense, polluting smoke from the wildfires further inhibited the contest event.
Operators hiked to local hilltops or worked the VHF bands from home shacks, cars and even bicycles for the CVARC “Virtual Picnic” Sprint on Saturday August 29, 2020. Sprint organizer Keith Elliiot-W6KME said 24 operators reported scores. A remarkable total of 455 QSOs were made during the three-hour VHF contest.
For several reasons, the August 222MHz and Up Distance Contest was a unique and different contest for me. Several clubs in the local area had made special plans to help less experienced hams gain operating experience by utilizing 2 meter handhelds and mobile rigs to make QSOs during this year’s COVID-19-modified Field Day. They also encouraged operation on 6 and 2 meters during the “CQ VHF Contest.” For this reason, I heavily promoted this year’s “ARRL 222 MHz and Up Distance Contest” to encourage local area stations to participate and gain more experience in this part of the hobby.
The August 2020 ARRL 222 MHz & Up Distance Contest runs from 11 A.M. PDT on Saturday, August 1, 2020 until 11 A.M. PDT on Sunday, August 2, 2020. Contacts made on all frequencies 222 MHz (135cm) and up are permitted. As usual, repeaters may not be utilized.
New hams – particularly those with Technician licenses and hand-held radios – may wonder if they can get much out of Field Day (June 27-28) with their operation limited mostly to the VHF band. CVARC and the other Ventura County amateur radio clubs have been encouraging these new hams to get involved on Field Day through the VHF Initiative where experienced operators will be monitoring VHF simplex frequencies to make Field Day QSO’s with the new hams.
The Spring 2020 Microwave SPRINT was held on Saturday, May 2nd. Five seasonal SPRINT events, sponsored by the Central States VHF Society, are held in the Spring and Fall to encourage use of and foster simplex activity on the VHF/UHF bands.
During four hours of operation from three locations, Pete Heins-N6ZE made 14 contacts on 23cm and 33cm with 10 different stations. He made two additional contacts with N6VI from another location, but only the furthest distance counted for points.