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INCREASED ACTIVITY IN RECENT SARL VHF/UHF CONTEST – “The VHF/UHF contest in Div 4 & Div 6 was a great improvement from the previous contest. It really looked like the efforts to create more and regular activity paid off. From Saturday 12:00 CAT when the contest started till a few minutes before the contest finished on Sunday stations were calling CQ contest all the time. Most of the activities were on 2 metres and 144,200 MHz was very busy, I logged 32 stations. But many of the regular guys of 144,300 MHz Activity Net, got a bit lost not knowing that the contest was on 144,200 MHz (the contest channel).
“The preparation and new Yagi’s that were installed paid off as the guys realized that long distance contacts of over 100 km are not difficult and it is important to work more grid squares. 70 cm was also busy with between 12 to 15 stations active. Stations realized that this is the point-scoring band. On 23 cm 4 stations were active. Interest in this band is picking up and I hope to see more stations on this frequency in the future. There was not much activity on 6 metres. 3 Club stations participated, ZS6PTA (Pretoria), ZS6POT (Potchefstroom) and ZS6RTB (Rustenburg) as field stations with very strong signals. I heard lots of positive comments from stations who use to take part in the past and beginners enjoying the contest for the first time. Logs are starting to come in and we expect to see a great improvement in logs submitted.
“Our braai day on 1 November in preparation for this contest is paying off and I would strongly suggest that other Regions start to look at generating activity on a regular basis and prepare and motivate the guys for VHF/UHF contest. Nothing will happen during a contest if there was nothing going on the whole year. Regards Carl Minne, ZS6CBQ”.
THE PHILAE LANDER ON COMET-67P NOW IN SLEEP MODE – So far all efforts made by the European Space Agency to wake up the Philae lander on the Comet-67P has failed. It may only wake up out of hibernation within the next few months when the comet approaches the Sun and more sunlight falls on the solar panels. Fortunately before Philae lost power, it drilled into the comet and sent back to Earth a large amount of data. Scientists view the ten year trip of Rosetta and its lander to catch up with the speeding comet and the landing an outstanding success. Within the next few months ESA will release the scientific results obtained so far.
NEW ARRL VHF-UHF-MICROWAVE CONTEST RULES TO ALLOW SPOTTING – Unlike most HF contests, operating skill and knowledge of propagation may not be enough to find stations to work. You can’t just point your antenna to Europe or Asia at the right time and find a ready supply of potential contacts. The less predictable nature of VHF propagation and the necessarily higher-gain, narrow-beamwidth antennas used make finding someone to work largely a matter of chance. Indeed, most microwave contacts would never occur at all without the use of real-time coordination. We have stories of rovers who invest time and fuel to activate a remote location only to have no one find them or work them. This discourages such remote activations. A great number of non-contesters monitoring a repeater or APRS network have no idea there is a distant or rare station out there to try to work.
The League’s current prohibitive stance on assistance (other than for the 10 GHz & Up Contest) and self-spotting is the most-often-heard complaint about our VHF contest program, and the members of the Subcommittee believe that removing those prohibitions will foster greater participation and result in more contacts and a more positive experience for participants without impacting the existing challenge of actually completing contacts.It is proposed that all entrants, regardless of category, to be permitted to use spotting assistance or nets, including DX-alerting nets, internet chat rooms, packet, reverse beacon networks and repeaters to identify stations available for contacts and to announce (self-spot) their availability for contacts. Announcements shall be limited to call sign, location, band or frequency, mode and — if applicable — transmitting sequence. Such assistance may not be used to facilitate the completion of any contact. This means such assistance may not be used to convey receipt or non-receipt of any required element of a contact or to request a repeat of any required element of a contact.
INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION WITHOUT HAMS FOR A WHILE – The only two radio amateurs on the International Space Station (ISS) were among three crew members who returned to Earth on November 10, and another ham-astronaut won't arrive onboard the ISS until later this month. But an exciting 2015 appears to be in store.