The 2023 Vermont QSO Party saw much improved propagation over last year’s event. From our host station W1NVT, we were able to work stations all over North America and Europe, and the higher bands of 15 and 10 meters were hopping. California stations were numerous, compared to last year when they were hard to hear. The British Columbia QSO Party, which runs concurrently with ours, provided way more contacts this year than last year.
There were 26 Vermont stations submitting logs this year, up from 21 last year. Another 33 Vermont stations were on the air but did not submit logs resulting in a total of 55 Vermont stations on the air. We lost a few of our heavy hitters. N1JEZ is building a house and was not active this year. K1VMT now winters in Florida. We hope he gets a remote setup running by next year. On the other hand, we picked up a few new Vermont stations, who were entirely on FT8 and ran up some pretty impressive score totals. In fact, the FT8 and FT4 QSO’s increased dramatically and even surpassed the number of CW contacts. So, while the phone QSO’s dropped by around 1400, the digital contacts jumped up by 3300, resulting in an increase of total QSO’s by nearly 2500, or a 23% increase.
Unfortunately, we struck out with our mobile rovers this year. K1TTW was out of town. VE2GT hoped to fill in the northern counties, but with a cold snap of -20 degrees F on Saturday morning, he checked out. K1IB worked feverishly to get his vehicle started, got to his county line location and found that a power supply failed, canceling the mobile operation. Murphy is still out there! We have to wonder what the mobiles in the Minnesota QSO Party deal with!
With the mobiles out of action, many counties were very tough to work. Only a few worked Franklin, Grand Isle and Orleans as only one operator in each of those counties put in limited time. And Caledonia, Essex and Orange were totally missing. Ironically, Essex and Orange were represented, but the operators were on digital and only their grid square counted as a multiplier. Next year we hope to get the mobiles moving again and will work on getting fixed stations on the air in each of these counties.
Ultimately, logs from Vermont stations clicked up a total of 13515 QSO’s, the second highest total ever, just behind the bellwether year of 2021.
The difference now was that the activity was pretty evenly spaced between phone, CW and digital. And again, digital made the big difference in scores.
More than half of the Vermont logs (14/25) had digital activity and the top 5 scores all included a significant number of digital contacts.
One thing which is nice about the Vermont QSO Party is that it encourages the participants to try the different modes to bulk up their scores.
Gone are the days when you can just run up a few thousand QSO’s on 20 meter SSB and win the event
Top VT Stations
Ron KK1L (Chittenden/FN34) nailed the number 1 spot with a record setting 834k, using low power. His phone and CW numbers were the same as last year, but he logged 531 QSOs and 88 multipliers on digital to build a big score. Using two dualing radios on FT4 really ran up the digital contacts.
Kevin KE1VT (Addison/FN34) repeats as the number two entry with just shy of 400k. He had the same big numbers on phone and CW compared to last year and added a bunch of digital contacts to improve his score.
Skip N1IBM (Windsor/FN33), a new player in the Vermont QSO Party, ran up 759 digital QSO's and 108 multipliers for a score of 245k to take 3rd place.
Erik N1CFO (Chittenden/FN34), another new entry in the Vermont QSO Party, ran primarily on CW and digital for 201k and 4th place
Stew KC1IFK (Chittenden/FN34) was another digital only entry with 641 QSOs and 101 multipliers for 196k and 5th place, using a very compromised antenna.
Randy N1SP (Bennington/FN32) ran up 153k on phone and CW from the southern end of Vermont. He had a new yagi and put some high power into it to run up a nice score.
N1GVT (Chittenden/FN34) was our only Vermont multiop and they ran up an impressive 425k effort from K1ZK's location, piloted by K1ZK, AB1T, W1ZU, N1GZZ and KC1PYO.
Finally, thanks to the crew of KC1NGJ, KC1KUW, KC1SFJ and AA1SU who helped me churn out over 2700 QSO's at host station W1NVT.
As we did last year, all submitted logs were uploaded to the WA7BNM robot which does some basic checks to make sure that the log is in the correct Cabrillo format. We were very pleased to enlist the help of Ken Wolff K1EA who does much of the log checking for the larger ARRL and CQ contests. This required some modification to the code to allow for the rules which are very specific to the Vermont QSO Party. In particular, handling the digital contacts (which follow a different set of rules) was a bit complicated. But we ended up with logs which were very well adjudicated and most errors were indicated and handled properly. Again, thank you Ken for all the hard work and encouragement.
A major source of log checking headaches was due to our different rules regarding FT8 and FT4 contacts. Digital operators do not exchange the normal RST and state information but instead offer up signal strength in db and grid square - sometimes. So our rules require the these items to be exchanged only for FT8 or FT4 contacts. If the other digital station does not offer up a grid square, the contact counts, but no multiplier credit is earned. So to be clear, Vermont QSO participants must send signal report and grid and at least copy signal report while on FT8 or FT4. However, on phone, CW and other digital modes RS(T) and state/province must be sent and received in both directions for a QSO to count.
Most stations will find that they have lost a few QSO's from the log checking process. Most are due to the dreaded NIL - not in log. You work someone, and "believe" that they worked you, but did not. If your call sign is NOT in their log, it gets removed. There were a few busted call signs found. I chuckled when my call sign of W1NVT showed up as N1VT or was confused with N1GVT. There were many busted band or mode indications. For most operators, they tie the radio to the computer so that both should be in sync. I'm not sure why this is a problem anymore. So it should be emphasized that in any operating event, be certain about the information you put in the log!
One other thing which was seen but not penalized. The requirements are that all information MUST be copied. Some operators took the time to look up counties or grid squares on line. Please note that this is NOT OK and contrary to the rules. We can spot this very quickly. So please, copy all your information from the QSO and do not do lookups on line. Also, remember that outside Vermont stations can only work Vermont stations. We found a number of logs with MN and BC QSO's (from their QSO parties), and even a few W1AW/p contacts. These all will get removed.
Copying correct information is important. If you were copying emergency traffic, it is crucial. Strive to be a better operator!
Top Outside of VT Stations
Carl NX3A from Virginia takes the top spot with 4332 points, after 3 years as number 3. He had big QSO totals on all three modes for a nice finish.
Bob W9IZ from Indiana ends up as our number 2 finisher this year with 3630 points. He was tops in multipliers.
Mark WB9HFK from Illinois, a frequent top ten finisher, takes third place with 2091 points. He ran up impressive totals on phone and CW, without any digital QSOs.
Duane KK4BZ from Virginia picks up the 4th spot with 1833 points. He did not operate on CW, but ran up the highest number of digital QSO's.
Dave WN4AFP from South Carolina, a frequent top ten finisher, takes 5th place with 1449 points.
Anthony K8ZT had the highest QRP score and Connie K5CM, who shared his station with spouse Pam N5KW, had the highest high power score.
In the Vermont competition, certificates will go out to the top 5 single op finishers, top multi op finisher and top rover finisher. In addition, all Vermont stations making over 100 QSO’s will also get a certificate.
In the Outside Vermont competition, the “grand prize” for the 2023 Vermont QSO Party is a souvenir 3.4 oz jug of genuine Vermont Maple Syrup which goes to the top 3 Outside Vermont finishers who are within the U.S. You guys worked hard for those contacts and we recognize you with a product which is uniquely Vermont. If you’ve never had Maple Syrup before, it is very sweet and very concentrated, so a little goes a long way! Here in Vermont it is the breakfast topping of choice on pancakes, waffles or whatever.
Certificates will also go out to the top 10 stations outside Vermont and stations outside Vermont working 20 or more QSO’s.
Are there any other changes you think would be useful. Please let us know!
My first VT QSO Party. (N1CFO)
Only antenna used was a 135' doublet. I was quite surprised how well 40 was open - Close in, SE, Midwest and West Coast within a very short time! (N1SP)
I had a wonderful time in Bennington County calling CQ, and hunting other stations. This is the first year my radio setup hasn't had an issue with it, so I count this as my first time! I am glad to make contacts, and show people ham radio operators do actually live in Vermont! (K1MAZ)
Used two indoor fan dipoles and 80 watts. (K2MN)
Operating the MnQP with NG0C. (AC0W)
Operating with KD2KW KC5LL W5JK AND K5VOP. (K5LRK)
Mobile from Galveston State Park in Texas. Using Icom IC-7300, AH-730 tuner, 102" whip. (N5YIZ)
I didn't hear a lot of VT stations. I received no replies to my CQ CT. hopefully, It will be busier next year. (NQ2W)
This was another disappointing VTQP contest from the SF East Bay. My big question is, where were all the VT stations? I only heard the one station that is in the log. (WQ6X)
Icom IC-746 using 80 watts and 134 feet OCF wire antenna at 10 meters in trees. I had a lot of fun participating. The Vermont operators were fun to talk to on phone and even though it was a contest, I think they had the right balance of taking the time to be pleasant and even conversational. (KK4BZ)
This year's contest was quite a challenge for me. Participation seemed down, the high bands were long, and I had some problems with my station. My primary antenna came down in a wind storm a few weeks ago and I haven't been able to repair it. My CW keyer quit working sunday afternoon as well. I called many stations on the high bands which did not hear me. Many stations that were spotted on the high bands were not heard in Indiana. I did well with digital and CW contacts, but phone contacts were few and hard to find. My score is down from the last two years which is primarily due to lack of mults. Thanks to everyone who got on and to RANV for organizing the contest. (W9IZ)
I appreciate your time and you efforts in a very pleasant QSO party. I have my fingers crossed for at least a third place finish 3 years in a row, in order to add to the maple syrup bottles I have on my mantle in the radio room! (NX3A)
100 watts to two selectable dipoles. Thanks for the party, enjoyed the fun! (KE0TT)
Thanks for having the QSO party. (KA0PQW)
Thank you for the 2023 Vermont QSO Party. (KF3G)
Thanks for the great VT QSO party! (KC3STZ)
Thanks everyone for another fun event. Now get out there and put up some bigger antennas!
We look forward to upcoming years of great participation.