As summer starts to warm up, the VHF bands will be hot for the 2013 ARRL June VHF Contest, June 8-10. Even with a modest station, it’s possible to work hundreds of miles on the VHF bands during a good opening. ARRL Contest Branch Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X, is a VHF enthusiast. “The June VHF Contest occurs at the beginning of summer’s sporadic E season, which can produce intense openings on 6 meters, and even 2 meters,” he said. “With interesting propagation characteristics like sporadic-E, tropospheric ducting, aurora and even meteor scatter and moonbounce, VHF offers QSO opportunities that HF can never satisfy.”
Kutzko explained that getting on the VHF bands can be quite simple, since many HF transceivers come equipped with at least 6 meters, and possibly other VHF/UHF bands. This year, the June VHF Contest has two new entry classes: Single Operator/FM Only and Single Operator/3-Band. “SOFM” allows 100 W on 6 meters through 70 centimeters using only FM, while “SO3B” allows 100 W on 6 and 2 meters, and 50 W on 70 centimeters on any mode. Operations for both the new categories must be conducted from a single fixed location.
You can find plans for simple VHF antennas at the Technical Information Service area of the ARRL website, as well as in the “Antennas” chapter of the ARRL Handbook or in the “VHF and UHF Antenna Systems” chapter of the ARRL Antenna Book. Because VHF antennas are generally smaller than their HF counterparts, Kutzko said that portable operation is simple: “You can operate from your favorite hilltop, campsite or any location with high terrain and make many QSOs. All you need to know is the Maidenhead grid square of your operating location, which is the contest exchange. Some grids can be quite rare; if they’re not too far from you, you might want to consider a portable operation to a rare square for a chance to be sought-after DX.”
“The weekend promises to be a tremendous amount of fun on the VHF and UHF bands. Don’t miss out! All amateurs — from Technicians to Extras, experienced VHF operators to the first-time VHF dabblers — can join in the excitement,” Kutzko said. The ARRL June VHF Contest runs from 1800 UTC Saturday, June 8 through 0259 UTC Monday, June 10 (Saturday afternoon to Sunday evening for most of the US and Canada). Complete rules and entry forms may be found here. All logs must be e-mailed or postmarked no later than 0300 UTC Wednesday, July 10. Questions can be sent via e-mail to the Contest Branch.