Tips on VHF / UHF contesting for the FM only operator
These contests are a good oportunity for both new hams and those hams with limited stations to get on the air and make contacts and have a little fun over the course of a contest week-end.
OK, so what do you need to get on the air for the contest? Basically if all you have is a HT & halfway decent outside antenna we have enough people in the general Houston and S/E Texas area. And if a lot of people would get on the air and participate a little we could really have some fun just using FM on 2 meters and 70 centimeters alone. Who knows if you have a good enough set up you may even work a grid square other than EL-29 which is the grid that most of greater Houston area is in. Did you know that the intersection of EL-29, EL-19, EM-10 and EM-20 is just to the west of Houston. And it would not take much more than a half tank of gas to go operate as a rover from all four grids.
Obviously the better station you have the better chance you have of working more people. Several years ago With a 25 watt radio (FT-736R) and a Comet GP-9 mounted at ~25' I have worked W5DWI near Port Lavaca on a semi-regular basis "on FM". I was down near his house once and with my GPS I was able to determine that's 107 miles without the aid of repeaters. His two meter station is nothing more than a 50 watt mobile and a 7 or 8 el yagi.
Do I need a computer and computer logging program? Nope you sure don't. You can download the necessary forms from either the league web-site or CQ Magazine's web-site and use them. Heck, you don't even have to send in a log but the serious folks would appreciate it if you would, just right "Check Log" on it so they know how to handle it.
Now, for sucessful FM constesting we need to have a plan. You can't use 146.52 or its ajoining frequencies, BTW no one I know really knows how far away from 146.52 you have to be for it not to be considered and "ajoining frequency". Most of us agree that if you avoid 146.50 -146.54 you should be fine. Nor can you use any repeaters for contacts of for soliciting contacts, so I'm suggesting that you become familiar with where to look for simplex FM operations in the area. The following is the accepted simplex FM band plans. The frequencies in bold italic are ones that I suggest we program in our radios for the contest. That does not limit you to those frequencies, its just a place to start "fishing for contacts".
Now for you regular SSB / CW contesters and rovers, lets make an effort to go work these FM stations too!
Six Meters (50-54 MHz)
This is the 6 meter sub-band.
52.05 - 53.00 MHz 52.525 MHz also look between 52.410 and 52.530 as well.
Two Meters (144 - 148 MHz)
FM simplex is allowed on the following sub-bands and here is an idea of where to find FM simplex stations to work. If you feel energetic you could program them all in but if we just focus on a couple we should have a lot of fun. I suggest lets attempt to use the frequency next to the sub-band.
144.900 - 145.100 - Avoid
145.500 - 145.800 - 145.58
146.400 - 146.600 - 146.58
147.400 - 147.600 - 147.58
This may not work in all areas but its a good place to start.
1-1/4 Meters (222 - 225 MHz)
This is the 1 1/4 meter sub-band.
223.400 - 223.520 - 223.500
70 Centimeters (430 - 450 MHz)
This is the 70 cm FM sub-band.
445.000 -447.000. 446.000 also look between 446.025 - 446.075 as well.
Soooo, lets program
52.525 / 145.580 / 146.580 / 147.580 / 223.500 / 446.000
in those radios and get on the air that week end.