January VHF is Right Around the Corner!

I know it’s been a little while since I’ve written, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been scheming for this upcoming VHF Contest! Admittedly I haven’t done too much yet, but I’m putting together my list of needs, and wants going into January, and the list to get on the road is surprisingly short! I’m not planning on adding any new bands at the moment, and I still have some loaner equipment for 2.3ghz. I’m planning on doing a few different things for this upcoming contest year, and it’s all staring in January. A local affiliate club that was a great help in our just past club anniversary is hitting a milestone of their own this year, so I’m signing on to help them out for the January contest this year, and doing so means hitting the road for some different grids! Now, this is all weather permitting of course, but this idea of moving towards a different grid cluster (which will be a little further from home than normal) has led me to really think about the necessities, as well as what can I do to speed up my process? And in addition, how many grids do I really want to do, even if it is to help another club?

  1. Switches, Distances, and Locations
    • Switches: They’re usually a problem for me… and it’s really not so much the switches as it is the connectors. This year I need to order two four position switches to maximize the ability of my station, and redo my coax, ensuring that all connectors are uniform across the cables to lessen the necessity of adapters that I’ve become consistently reliant on.
    • Distance/Location: I can’t just swing home on the trip between grids, because, well, that’d kill a lot more time than I want. In September, I upped my grids activated from four to six. While this had a positive score impact, this wasn’t from new/unique calls/grids, this was my moving, and getting a lot of the same calls but from new grids. This isn’t how I like to contest. Part of the fun for me is to get those unique grids, and making those Q’s, with new people, and if I’m just going to contact the same people again and again, I may as well stay home and just work FT8 for the contest, so combing over some topo maps, as well as asking some of the usual suspects what their suggestions as far as spots go will be key.
  2. How Many Grids?
    • Well… here’s the tricky part. The path that I’m traveling, I could easily hit eight grids, however, as I stated above, unless I’m going to have a full time driver, or run a multi-op and we can alternate, this just ain’t in the cards as far as my contesting is concerned. So, where does this leave us? To take the four grid path, or the six grid path? The real question in ALL of this is going to be the weather, and something tells me this is going to be an 8am Saturday call.
  3. Antennas: Transportation, and Deployment
    • Part of this contest is likely going to bring me into Canada on one of my planned excursions… with this, I’m actually going to leave a question to people who have done this, traveling to and from VE3-land, should I leave them up at the boarder, or leave everything packed, and setup/take-down before crossing? And with this, what is going to be the best method of speeding all of this up? The 6m beam can go from screws to wing-nuts quick enough, are there any additional changes to be made? I’d like to add in my dish, but I think bringing in new microwave equipment is going to lend to needing to add some more antenna mounting hardware.

Any of this that I want to get going, I’m going to have to get rolling on it soon, as we’re really only about a month and a half away, and I have no clue what the plan is going to be. With the weather around here though, all of those plans could be shot in an instant!

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