Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to enter The Ohio 2 Meter Simplex Squares contest?
Nothing. Zip. $0.00.
When is it, and what frequencies do I use?
The contest is Saturday April 07, 2018 from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM (EDT) and Sunday April 08, 2016 from 1:00 PM until 6:00 PM (EDT). You must make all contacts using wideband (15KHz) FM in the two 2 meter simplex sub-bands of 146.400 to 146.580 MHz and 147.420 MHz to147.570 Mhz. While in Ohio these sub-bands are channelized to 15KHz intervals, when operating in search and pounce mode you may want to use 5KHz channel steps and tune for the clearest signal.
I can only operate one of those days. Is it worth it?
If you're enjoying the contest I think it would be. Hopefully, you'll still build one of the suggested antennas. You probably won't make the most contacts or work the most grid squares, but you'll still get a Participation Award and all your contacts will be converted to entries in the random drawing for the prizes. Remember, just one valid contact using only an HT is 10 entries for you in the prize drawing.
Why can't Clubs win prizes and achievement awards?
This contest is designed to introduce new and inactive hams to contesting and antenna building and demonstrate that there is more to Ham Radio than nets and public service. Consequently, this year we are limiting individual achievement awards (most contacts, most grid squares activated, etc.) and the eligibility for prize drawings to single operator stations (individual Hams). Club and contest stations are invited to participate and submit logs (for checking), but they are not eligible to win prizes or earn awards.
However, clubs can earn awards based on the aggregate log submissions of their members. When a single operator station submits their log they can specify an affiliated club (by call sign), a club that they are a member of. Two awards, Most Member Contacts and Most Member Grid Squares Activated will be awarded to the clubs whose members collectively achieve these accomplishments.
I don't understand this exchange part.
The exchange is just the two stations telling each other who they are, what mode they are operating as, and where they are, by grid square identifier.
Here is a sample contact in which station KD8ABC is on a contest frequency calling CQ as a 'run station', and station W8XYZ tunes him in and responds back to him as a 'hunt and pounce' station:
KD8ABC: . . . CQ CQ This is KD8ABC portable ff calling CQ for the FM Squares Contest.
KD8ABC: I copy W8XYZ, go ahead.
W8XYZ: This is W8XYZ, operating Mobile in location EN91dc.
KD8ABC: QSL W8XYZ, I am operating Portable in location EN91ff.
W8XYZ: QSL, Good luck in the contest.
KD8ABC: Thank you and good luck. CQ CQ CQ FM Squares Contest, this is KD8ABC.
What makes a valid contact?
For this contest, a valid contact must meet four requirements. 1) One side of the contact must be from a 6 character Maidenhead Grid Square that is at least partially within the political boundary of Ohio, 2) One side of the contact must be a single operator station using their own call sign (if you look the call sign up in the FCC database, it must be active and have content in the Operator Class field), 3) The stations must exchange their call signs, operating modes, and grid square locations during the contact, 4) The combination of call signs and 6 character Maidenhead grid squares on each end of the contact must be unique. In other words any further contact between these two stations is only valid if at least one of them has moved to a different 6 character grid square location. Valid contacts must be unique between pairs of stations and locations. For example, follow this sample log page:
As you can see, the combination of your call and your location and their call and their location MUST be unique.
It sounds confusing, but if in doubt, make the contact and log it in the automated contact logging web site. It won't count if it's a duplicate, but it doesn't hurt your score either.
I always have trouble hearing similar sounding letters, like p c e g v, etc.
This has been a common problem since the early days of voice radio. The solution is to know and use phonics, such as the International Phonic alphabet, commonly used by hams in noisy conditions. Rather than to say the letter, use its phonic such as Papa for P, Charlie for C, echo for E, and so on. For example, in the above exchange, if noise was a problem, part of it might go as:
W8XYZ: This is Whiskey eight X-ray Yankee Zulu operating Mobile in location Echo November Niner One Delta Charlie.
Because of the clarity of FM this is often not needed but when you are working another station at the limit of your equipment, noise and static may make communication 'iffy'. Remember, to be a valid contact the information must be exchanged during the contact, not later.
I've never worked a contest, how do I do this?
First, do some prep work. Make sure your radio is set up correctly (simplex, pl tones off, pl squelch off, 5 KHz frequency steps, etc.), that you have a good antenna, charged batteries (if appropriate), and most importantly, that you know where you are in terms of your 6 character grid square coordinates.
Assuming you plan to go mobile or portable, don't forget to print out and bring contact log sheets and several pencils or pens. Also, try making your first contacts using 'hunt and pounce' mode, from your own driveway or back yard using the equipment you expect to take with you. This is a chance to work out and equipment bugs and get comfortable by making some initial contacts, and missing tools and parts are close at hand. Once you've got everything working, load up your antenna and head out to another grid square location and start having fun!
When you've exhausted all the unique contacts you can make from one grid square, pack up your gear, drive to another, set up your gear, and start making contacts again. End up talking to the same ham again? Not a problem, you're in a new grid square, so it's a valid contact for the both of you.
If the same ham contacts you again, but his grid square is different than the last time, it's another valid contact for the both of you.
What is the difference between 'Hunt and Pounce' and 'Run Mode' styles?
In many ham contests participants operate in one of two styles called 'hunt and pounce' and 'run mode'. The choice of which style to operate is based on experience, how many other contesters are active on the band, and personal operating preferences, but both modes provide the opportunity to make contacts and you can change modes whenever you feel like it.
For 'hunt and pounce' style, you tune your radio through the contest frequencies listening for a station that you want to contact. When you hear them call CQ Contest, come back to them with your call. If they hear you, they respond with your call sign and you and they exchange necessary information. When the contact is complete, you resume scanning frequencies and they remain on the frequency and continue calling CQ.
'Run mode' style involved finding an open station and calling CQ until 'hunt and pounce' stations come to you. Amateur Radio courtesy and protocol requires you to first ask 'Is this frequency in use' and if it is, find another frequency.
Please clarify the different operating modes.
In general, your operating mode is determined by how portable your equipment and source of power is.
If you use any equipment that is installed at a fixed location, or you use commercial AC power, your operating mode is Base. For example, you take your battery operated HT over to your antenna tower (containing a 2 meter antenna), connect the antenna to your HT, and start making contacts. Your operating mode is Base - because you are using a piece of fixed equipment. If you were to disconnect the tower antenna and start using a hand held antenna, you would be operating in Portable mode.
If you are not operating in Base mode, and you use any equipment that is installed in or on a motor or recreational vehicle, or you use electrical power from a motor vehicle, your operating mode is Mobile. The one exception is that you may use a motor vehicle to support a temporary antenna (such as with a drive on base, or a hitch mount) and not automatically be considered Mobile. If you can drive with the antenna in place, it's mobile. If you couldn't legally or safely drive, such as with an antenna on a twenty foot mast pole held in a hitch mount on the back of your vehicle, you may be operating as Portable mode.
Portable mode operation requires that all equipment, including the power source, be transported (carried, wheeled, dragged, etc.) to the operating site by human or animal power. For this contest, operating from a non-motorized vehicle (such as a bicycle or a horse), is considered portable operation. You can drive to a location in a motor vehicle, remove all the equipment (and power source) you will use, take one step away, and start making contacts. Assuming you are not using vehicle power, your operating mode will be portable.
If you are in doubt, the lower point value operating mode applies.
Can a friend and I share equipment as we make contacts under our call signs?
While intended as a single operator contest, there's nothing in the rules that prohibits groups of hams from working together. They can share a station and log all of their contacts under one Ham's call sign (it must be an individual, not a club or contesting station). They can also take turns using the same station and making and logging contacts under their individual call signs.
What if I make a contact with a station using an invalid call sign? Will it still count towards awards and generate points for the prize drawing? What about a Canadian station?
Your contact counts towards awards and points if the station you contact that has a valid Ham Radio license (and that all other rules are met). The contact is invalid if it is a duplicate (same call/grid combination as a previous contact), if the other call sign is not a US or Canadian Amateur call sign, or if the station is using an expired call sign.