VHF-UHF Field Day Review


The following notes are my thoughts/suggestions to the above review:


1.     Contest time specification should be 01:00 UTC Saturday to 00:59 UTC next day (04:00 UTC to 03:59 UTC for VK6).  VKCL and the contest management software is written for a 24-hour contest, which ends at the end of the 00:59 minute. The next minute belongs to the following 24 hours.


2.     Prefer Division 2 because:

·        it is more interesting,

·        results depend more on “quality” of contacts rather than quantity

·        makes country stations more competitive

. a hybrid Div1/Div2 scoring could also be tried, the main scoring being based on Div2 but for each new 4-char activated and worked locators, bonus points could also be given. (Would need to decide whether the same on each band and how many points.)


3.     If Division 1 is preferred by majority, then contact points should be revised to be commensurate with the effort involved. Making 200 points on 6m even with 2-hour re-work interval is still a lot of effort, but it is less than the points allocated to the first microwave contact, irrespective of distance.


4.     Allow operation on any number of bands, but select the sub-section (one band, four band, or all band) when creating the log, using other contacts (if any) not required for the selected sub-section just for cross-checking.


5.     Keep the current system of allowing only a 24-hour or an 8-hour log, and two non-overlapping 8-hour logs if one is portable/rover and the other home.


6.     Keep the current 2-hour re-work period. There is less idle time, and with current participation, there is still enough time to work every station in range.


7.     Keep the exchange of RS(T), even though it is usually just ‘59(9)’ as it is part of making a contact. Currently it is not checked, not even imported into the contest management software. Should it be checked?  If so, should it be actual conditions and what if no match?


8.     The “four band” sub-section should be extended to cover all VHF and UHF bands, that is, from 6m to 13cm inclusive. That will advantage those that already have the five bands, but will also encourage others to improve their station. Most four band transceivers have facilities to operate with a 13cm transverter, and those transverters are now easily obtainable. (The field days have encouraged the use of higher and higher microwave bands, and the same should happen to the four band operators.)


9. Points calculation should be rounded to nearest whole point in the rules for Division 2.


10. If the locators are the same at both ends of the contact, at present in Division 2, unless one or both are portable, results in zero points as zero distance is calculated. Five points should be given for such contacts, as the average possible distance in the same 6-char locator is about 5km


11. It should be specified in the rules that 6-char locators are always used for distance calculations in Division 2, but 8-char locators may be used and exchanged if desired to improve direction calculations in both divisions.


12. There should be a minimum number of contacts, say at least 5, to receive a certificate. Also there should be more than one station worked in the field day, say 3.  Working just one station for the whole contest seems artificial.


13. No digital section -- not relevant to the contest, and should be held as a separate contest if there is interest.


14. Portable stations should be allowed to make one move to another location, in a different 4-char locator for Division 1 and at least 15 km away for Division 2, and to possibly return to the previously activated location. (Is allowing the latter move really necessary?)


15. Rovers sometimes do not travel any significant distance but circulate around a few Maidenhead locators, augmenting the score for those in range. For Division 1, prohibit rovers returning to a previous 4-char activated locator, and for Division 2 require a move of at least 15 km to activate another location, and a rover cannot return to within 15 km to any previously activated location, as measured using 6-char locators. (On the ground, it basically means that the eight 6-char locators surrounding an activated 6-char locator cannot be activated.)


16. Rovers and other mobile stations should be stationary when contacts are made. (Contacts while moving, even by a passenger operator must be distracting to the driver and should be considered dangerous.)


17. Logs should be publicly available at the WIA web site, after the results have been published, with email and address information removed. (This is done for CQ international contests since 2010, to provide transparency to the contest, among other advantages.)


18. Consider allowing clubs to operate from their clubrooms as multi-operator "home" stations with only one transmitter on air at a time. (That would give them little if any advantage but allow the club to participate even if not going to the field.)







Criteria for Log Checking


Cross-checking logs is a fair amount of work even with specially designed software. In general, only the correct contacts can be automatically processed, but when an anomaly is found, it is up to the human operator to review the anomaly and sometimes decide what the problem actually is and who may be at fault.


To make the effort worthwhile, there needs to be a well understood criteria for log checking that is fair to all concerned and encourages more accurate logging.  If it is too onerous, it will discourage participation, but if there is none or it is too lax, it may encourage some to ‘push the boundary’. Field days are supposed to be 'practice runs' for emergency situations, and in emergency situations accuracy is very important. Somebody's life may depend on the transferred information, an extreme case but not impossible.


The following are suggested for consideration:


1.     Cross-band contacts are mostly very difficult to resolve. (They have occurred even when both stations appear to be using OmniRig to read transceiver frequency, probably caused by being anxious to go to another band before finishing logging of contact).  Should they be allowed to stand as unresolved,  points reduced to the lower scoring band, or should they be disallowed altogether for both stations?  (A 3cm to 2m contact, that has been seen, can be worth significantly different points at the two ends in both divisions.)


2.     Cross-band contacts where it can be reasonably determined who is at fault are currently disallowed for the station deemed to be at fault. A station using OmniRig is considered more likely to be correct than the station that is not. Is that fair?


3.     Sent sequence numbers are assumed to be correct, so if a received sequence number does not match, the contact is disallowed for the receiving station. However there is some indication that that may not always be true. Should the contact be disallowed for both stations? That would make it important for both stations to ensure that the exchange was correctly performed.


4.     Contact logging time stamp differences range from 0 minutes to an hour or more. What should be done?  (In some international contests, contacts are disallowed for both if time stamp differs by more than three minutes.)  In this case, it is often possible to determine the log at fault.


5.     Worked locators are currently corrected if the worked station log is available.  Should they be corrected or should the contact be disallowed?  OR should there be a penalty for logging a wrong locator, say 10% of the correct distance points?  If there is no penalty, there is no incentive to get them right, and the ‘boundary pushers’ may use wrong locators to get longer distance in the hope they are not corrected.


6.     Missing locators are not currently filled in, resulting in zero distance points for the contact.  Should they be filled in if the correspondent log is available? Any penalty?


7.     Should the contest manager correct activated and/or worked locators where they are obviously wrong (eg. result in impossible contact distances) or that he suspects they could be wrong, even when there is no correspondent log for verification (using QRZ or other resources)?


8.     Should relatively obvious errors in logs be corrected by contest manager?  For example, logging VK3AAP instead of VK3AA/P, or using dig-0 instead of char-O. They are obvious but serious errors.


9.     Should a cross-check be made for logging or not logging /P correctly? Should there be a penalty? In Division 2, there already is if /P is omitted as 5 bonus points are not given, and perhaps 5 points should be lost if /P is used for a home station?


10. A new log output format will be implemented in future releases of VKCL (see VUCM_Log_Template format, a separate document). That format is also suitable for manual log preparation using Notepad. Only the current text format and the new log format will be accepted for log submission.  (Other format logs may be used as a check logs only at contest managers discretion. They will require transcription of the log into new format by the contest manager, which is time consuming and error prone. All care is taken but no responsibility is accepted for errors introduced by the process.)


11. Only logs uploaded to the WIA web site (and paper logs of 50 contacts or less received by the WIA office by mail) before the deadline for submission would be eligible to receive certificates. Logs received soon after the deadline may still be included in the results but marked as “Check Logs - not eligible for certificates”.



Mike, VK3AVV,  17 Apr 2016. Revised 4 Oct 2017