Jul 172011
 

The problem

For some time now, we’ve been putting up with interference from a few stations, who for now will remain nameless.  Foul language, deliberate interference, the list goes on…

Allegedly some of these people have been doing it for longer than I’ve been alive.

It is as if, these people, believe we are not entitled to use a small patch of radio spectrum to engage in a little friendly chat.

Some have even gone as far as vowing to do “everything they can” to “ruin” amateur radio.

This means war.

Well, we could complain to the ACMA… apparently some have done this already… many times.  If they haven’t acted after 20 years worth of complaints, I don’t think they’ll ever act.  Not without a very substantial amount of evidence.

There is nothing however, that stops us, getting on the band and having a chat, except one thing.  Someone parking on the frequency we choose and interfering with our communications.  Yes, we could QSY, but experience has shown the culprits just chase us up and down the band.

They cannot be on all frequencies however.  One big group, on one frequency, is vulnerable to attack.  Numerous smaller groups, scattered across the band however, is far more resilient.  They cannot be on all frequencies at the same time.  More to the point, more ears open and listening, means more data points … bonus points if those “ears” are directional.

My proposal

What we need to do is stir up some activity on the 80m band.  The 80m amateur band is a wonderful local chit-chat band.  It has almost guaranteed propagation for distances over 1000km on any given evening.  It is open to all license classes.  (Well, if you ignore the DX window.)  I’m proposing a contest with a difference.

Most contests, you make contact with a station, exchange numbers, then it’s ta ta… (or “73”) and you go your separate ways.  Not terribly exciting listening.

I’m proposing a social ragchew contest.  I want to encourage as many people, on as many groups, as possible.  The more people, the better.  Talk about anything you like.  QRP and QRO stations welcome.  Mobile and portable stations, also welcome.  Newcomers, especially welcome.  Make it a large group, or a small group, doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t have to be a formal net, just so long as there’s at least three people.

How will it be scored?

This is something I’m still thinking about… but I’m thinking something along these lines… I would love your input.

For every hour, or part thereof, each member of a group chatting on the same frequency, will get one point for each member of that group.

So if 3 of you talk for 2¼ hours, that’s 3×3=9 points.

Multipliers

  • Triple points for every station who has held their license:
    • Less than 12 months
    • Greater than 50 years
  • Double points for every:
    • Station that is “mobile” (i.e. moving between localities) or  “portable” (i.e. set up temporarily at some location for less than one week)
    • QRP station (running 5 watts or less)
    • DX contact (overseas)

I’m thinking these should be added together, so if in your group of VK’s you happen to score someone joining your group from Europe (for example) that only just got their license a month ago and is running QRP whilst mobile, add 24 points to each group member for every hour or part thereof that they participate on your group.

What about interference?

More than likely, this will stir up the trolls that seek to ruin our experience.  Part of the aim of this, is that a lot of people will be listening.  The following is something anyone can do, even the shortwave listeners.

  • Log the following:
    • the time in UTC
    • your location (latitude/longitude or Maidenhair Locater)
    • the signal strength
    • the nature of interference
  • If you can, record the interference
  • If you have a directional antenna, point that in the direction where the signal is strongest.  Use that to measure the signal strength, and log the bearing, along with the antenna type.

With enough evidence, we can flush out these serial pests once and for all.

When will it be held?

This is open to discussion… I’m thinking Friday or Saturday night.  I’m thinking it should start some time in the evening when the band opens up, maybe after 7:00PM.

The contest should remain open until the last group participating in the contest goes clear… if a group manages to successfully run to dawn the next day, good on them, maybe there should be bonus points for their efforts. 🙂

Let me know what your thoughts are… this is, as I say, a request for comment.  Feel free to get in touch with me directly or leave a comment here.