Spring 2006 Issue

Historical Trends
of the CQ VHF Contest

The reasons for the ups and downs of VHF contesting are elusive and hard to determine. Here W9GKA analyzes the CQ VHF Contest to determine what role it plays in the overall picture of VHF contesting history.

By Kevin Kaufhold, W9GKA



Figure 1. Log data for the CQ VHF
contests in the 19561966 and
1985-to-the-present time frames.

In an attempt to find out what has been causing the massive fluctuations in VHF contest activity, historical data on the ARRL VHF contests has been collected over the last several years. This article extends the effort to the CQ WW VHF Contest, and finds some interesting trends in the data and historical information.

History of the
CQ VHF/WPX Contests

CQ magazine has sponsored VHF contests in two distinct eras: 1956 to 1966, and 1985 to the present. In the first era, the CQ contests were marked by an extraordinary amount of innovation. Counties and county equivalents were used as multipliers some 25 years before the League adopted the Maidenhead grid squares as sub-section multipliers. Operator effort was awarded through a multiplier for the number of hours of operation in which at least one contact was made. No corresponding item has ever been incorporated into the ARRL events. A power multiplier was established 30 years before the League moved to high- and low-power distinctions in the multi-op categories and 40 years before the appearance of the SOLP (Single Operator, Low Power) category. A one-day, 12-hour contest was experimented with 30 years before the four-hour long VHF Sprints were implemented in 1983. As early as 1960, a CQ Century Club award was given for anyone having a certain number of contacts on the VHF bands. This award predated the VHF UHF Century Club (VUCC) by some 23 years.

This innovative style has continued into more recent times. In 1985, the WPX program was used as the basis for multipliers, and the contest was then styled as the CQ WW WPX VHF Contest. A CW incentive was awarded from 1992 through 1999, which is something that would still be of relevance today. In 2000, Gene Zimmerman, W3ZZ (then the newly installed CQ VHF contest coordinator), extensively revamped the contest to 6 and 2 meters only. This concentration on only the two lower VHF bands is in sharp contrast to the all-inclusive nature of the three main ARRL VHF contests.
Contest log data for the CQ VHF contests in both eras is shown in figure 1. Missing data in the graph is due to the following: no results are believed to have been published for spring 1960, 1998, and 1999; results were published but have not yet been located for summer 1966 and 1988; and no contests were conducted in summer 1960, 1962, and 1991. The author would be grateful to anyone who can supply information or published results for any of these.

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