[Moon-Net] ARRL EME contest

Bob Atkins ka1gt at hotmail.com
Tue Sep 24 19:56:12 CEST 2019


You make a lot of interesting and valid points. I don't particularly like contests, but I do like activity!  I'd be perfectly happy with designated international activity weekends. I'd put just as much effort into getting on the air. With a contest and a winner, the station with the biggest antenna and most power will probably win (assuming they can stay awake long enough). In terms of absolute winners, it's probably a competition between a dozen "big guns". The rest of us are not trying to win anything. The only advantage of a contest over an activity period is that for some reason it probably encourages more activity. There are those who like competion and just wouldn't bother with an activity weekend.

The ARRL contest is broken up into sections though. You can "compete" in the CW only section if you want competition. You can "compete" on a single band/ You can be a single op or multi op stations. There's no "QRP" category (as there is in the ARI contest), but then you run into the problem of defining QRP. The limit would be having so many categories that everybody would "win" one of them!

I can understand QST not running many feature articles on EME. I don't know what percentage of the membership is on EME or is likely to get on EME, but I suspect it's probably less than 1% of those interested in HF antennas. It's also not new or as newsworthy as it was back when the first amateur EME contacts were being made. Perhaps there coverage in QEX? I don't know since I don't subscribe to it.

Probably, if you want to win an EME contest, the best way would first be to move to Europe! Nothing to do with rules or start times. They may start 6 hours ahead of us, but they also finish 6 hours after we do. It's just that there's far more activity in Europe then there is here. You are right that after the moon sets in Europe you might as well get some sleep until the VK/JA window opens. I'm not sure why activity is greater in Europe. It may have something to do with population density, so if you get on the higher bands you'll have someone to work on tropo.  You can also find a lot of beacons. Then you move on to EME. Where I am (Northern Maine coast, and in a hole in the ground surrounded by mountains), EME is just about the only way to work anybody!

As for digital, it it wasn't for digital modes you'd have even fewer stations to work. Digital opens up EME to those who simply do not have the resources to put up a stations capable of making more than a few CW contacts with the "big gun" stations. Digital is what keeps EME alive and brings new stations on the air. I can't think of anyone I know who has built an EME station in the last 10(?) years only to operate on CW. Building a state of the art digital station is not easy and neither is working very weak stations using digital modes. In some ways CW is technically much easier. I worked 70cm EME back around 1980. No computers involved at all (except for mainframe printouts of the moon's position!). The whole system was much simpler than what I'm using today.

I think internet "spotting" is also a very positive thing. It increases activity. In essence it's no different than 40 years ago. Most EME contacts were mode via skeds, whether setup over an HF link, by snail mail, by telephone of other means available at the time. As long as the contact is made via EME, with all required exchanges, I don't think it matters what information is exchanged AFTER the EME QSO has taken place. Could people cheat? I guess so, but if people want to cheat they will find a way. I'm for anything that increases activity and allows small stations to work each other.

All EME contests are international, so you have the Dubus contest, the ARI contest and others if you want to play be different rules. I'm not saying the ARRL contest is perfect, but if you want a contest broken down by mode, band, power, internet restrictions etc., with variable multipliers for different modes and different bands (and number of bands worked), extra ppoints for working Italian stations etc., the ARI EME contest is on this weekend! I will be participating on 23cm. I'm not entering the contest, just looking for activity and giving points to those who are in the contest to win! (see http://www.eme2008.org/ari-eme/Trophy%202019%20rules.pdf)

Bob, KA1GT
From: Moon-net <moon-net-bounces at mailman.pe1itr.com> on behalf of John stefl via Moon-net <moon-net at mailman.pe1itr.com>
Sent: Tuesday, September 24, 2019 9:20 AM
To: moon-net at mailman.pe1itr.com <moon-net at mailman.pe1itr.com>
Subject: [Moon-Net] ARRL EME contest

Several additional comments:

I have 23 cm through 3 CM equipment for my dish. The amplifiers for 23 CM through 9 CM are in the shack and 6 and 3 cm equipment is all at the feed point. I am able to change bands in 20 minutes or less, but I am not about to go outside and climb my ladder in the dark to do it. The contest officially started well before the moon rose at my QTH, Europeans had a 6 hour head start on me. My window limitations meant that even 20 minutes to change feeds would take a way a substantial portion of my window. The sad fact is that once Europe loses the moon stations in the US may as well QRT until the Asian window. We have over 300 million people and only a handful of stations on the MW bands.

I have no problem with stations that want to use digital modes. I happen to enjoy hearing the station that I am working and using my poor CW skills to do my best to copy weak signals. To me, a contest is an event to determine a winner. The best operator with the best equipment should be the winner. Mixing JT contacts with CW or SSB contacts seems like trying to mix oil and water to me. If this were called an activity weekend rather than a contest, I would be fine with it. I personally would like to see that contest broken into categories to allow smaller stations to compete against other smaller stations and let the big guns fight it out amongst themselves. I believe that JT contacts should be on a separate weekend.

I believe that allowing the use of the internet further destroys the concept that this is a contest. On 3 CM this last weekend, many stations used the HB9Q logger to make schedules rather than to get on and call CQ. It becomes much easier to work a station when you know the call sign in advance and know what frequency they will be on.

It is pretty obvious that EME is not on the ARRL radar like it once was. When is the last time that QST published an article about EME?  I was in high school in the early 1960’s when Sam Harris was writing about his EME efforts and couldn’t wait for the next month to find out what he was up to. After more than 50 years of advancing technology that makes EME easier than ever, the ARRL just seems to pretend that it doesn’t exist and publishes articles aimed at the least technically inclined ham. I am really getting sick of articles about HF antennas.

I like EME because it is difficult. I enjoy the challenge of copying impossibly weak signals and the challenge of getting the most out of my equipment. I have upgraded my equipment many times over the years as technology has advanced. Computers have made great advances since I started on EME using my 8086 computer loaded with a floppy disk to track the moon. We are at the point where a computer can make a contact and tell you about it later. That may be seen as progress for some, but it seems pretty useless to me.


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