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Contesting

Seriously, contesting is one of the best things about the hobby of amateur radio. There are many radio contests to choose from throughout the course of the year and how much or how hard you want to play is completely up to you. Some choose the shack life where a home station is put to the test, others like to head to a high vantage spot around the state to set up camp and build a radio station for the same ends. All contests have one main purpose – to get plenty of stations on the air and to increase the opportunities for making contacts.

Contesting is popular worldwide, and throughout the year there are a number of local, Australian and international contests. There are contests to suit the interests of most amateurs. There are challenging contests and fun contests. There are contests for the HF bands, for the VHF-UHF bands, and for all bands.  Most contests have different sections for individual amateurs and multi-operator or club stations. – WIA site,

 

Contesting on the lower HF and VHF bands is popular. Some contests promote VHF and up operation such as the VHF/UHF contest here in Australia. This allows microwave operators to get out in the field and put their gear to the test. This is usually one occasion that microwave operators make the effort to get on air on mass.

 

Last Updated on May 13, 2021

NERG John Moyle Field Day circa mid 80s

Back in the mid-80s when I first got my ticket, I met up with a terrific bunch of like-minded amateur radio operators who just wanted to get out and have fun. Coincidentally these same guys are also fellow foxhunters. Most lived in the northern parts of Melbourne and were members of the NERG or the North East Radio Group.

 

On this occasion, a massive wind storm came through and blew tents away, and as you can see, nothing was going to stop us! If I remember correctly, and forgive me as it was a long time ago, we participated in the 24-hour section of the John Moyle Field Day. The aim of the contest then, as it is now, is to encourage and provide familiarisation with portable and field operation, and provide training for emergency situations.

3FS SPARC

SPARC John Moyle Field Day 2019

Contesting with your local radio club is a great way to find out how things work if you’d rather dip your toe in first. Many, if not all radio clubs participate in field weekends. Even if you’re not a member of a local club, chances are you’d be more than welcome to visit their contest station and even participate.

 

Some clubs operate from their club rooms, and others go mountain topping. SPARC tends to use the picnic area atop Mt Martha, a convenient location close to all members, whereas the EMDRC likes to go into mountains outside Melbourne.

 

There’s a natural tendency to operate from the warmth of club rooms over the cooler months, where the summer contests find mountain tops very attractive. Some take just what they need and operate from their car, and other take the kitchen sink and microwave.

 

Location, location, location!

The urban sprawl wasn’t what it is today back in the 80s when these pictures were taken. It was in the day before digital cameras when 35mm Kodak film offered up 12, 24 or 36 opportunities to capture the moment.

We were on top of a hill as you can see just near the big round-about in Greensborough. Houses now skirt the edge of the park but the Google map will show you where we were. In fact, there may even be houses where the station was set up. This is contesting in all its glory.

All bands were covered… from 160m up. We even had a satellite station and if I recall correctly, and worked through the OSCAR satellites. You gotta love the old Yaesu radios. There’s even a FT-480R in the mix. That was my first 2m radio! There’s an IC-502 on 6m, an IC-22s, and an Icom 70cm all mode mobile in there too. Wow! I bet there’s a few of those still in use today!

Some of the operators pictured above include Geoff, VK3CGH, now VK3VR, and Ewan, VK3OW. I’ll see if I can remember more. It’was 30 years ago! See if you can spot me. Grey cords and a blue t-shirt. I think I was VK3XFQ back then.

10Ghz transmitter at Loch

Australian Contests

When it comes to contesting, the Wireless Institute of Australia runs a number of contests throughout the year. The popular and well known ones include:

 

   Remembrance Day Contest

This contest is held every year on the anniversary of the end of World War II, in honour of the Australian amateurs who lost their lives in wartime. This contest is unusual because the trophy goes to the Australian state or territory that scores the highest level of activity.

 

   Trans Tasman Contest

This contest is especially for operators on the 160 and 80 metre bands. The aim is to make the greatest possible number of contacts between Australia and New Zealand.

 

   Oceania DX Contest

This is an international contest for the 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 metre bands, held in October each year. The aim is to make the greatest possible number of contacts between stations in Oceania and stations in other parts of the world.

 

   John Moyle Memorial Field Day

This contest is a Field Day for stations on all bands, HF and VHF.

 

   VHF-UHF Field Days

The Summer Field Day has been held in January each year since 1989. The Spring Field Day (November) was introduced in 1998. These two popular events have been joined in 2008 by a new Winter Field Day. These Field Days are open to individual amateurs and also to multi-operator or club stations.

 

   Ross Hull Memorial VHF-UHF Contest

This is a DX contest for stations on the VHF, UHF and microwave bands. The aim is to make as many contacts as possible over the greatest possible distances.

VK3FS