Please note that the rules for 2024 have changed SIGNIFICANTLY from previous years. Please read all rules carefully.

ARES is tasked with being able to provide communications “When all else fails.” Local communication is critical and typically takes place on the VHF or UHF amateur band. In order to improve our ability to perform on these bands, Ohio Section ARES is sponsoring the ARES VHF Contest (Yeah, we know, but calling it the Ohio VHF / UHF Contest got a little long-winded). Participants in the contest are encouraged to make as many contacts as possible within the timeframe of the contest, with as many different geographical locations as the bands permit. The contest is open to all amateur operators, ARES members are strongly encouraged to participate. How else are you going to win the ‘bragging rights’ session of your next ARES or club meeting?

Rule 1 – Contest Date and Time

Saturday, January 20, 2024 – 10:00 AM EST to 4:00PM EST (1500 – 2100 UTC)

The Ohio VHF Simplex contest occurs on the same Saturday as, and just before, the ARRL January VHF Contest. The contest period for the Ohio ARES VHF Contest is from 1000 AM EST (1500 UTC) to 1600 PM EST (2100 UTC). All stations may operate the full six hours. The last two hours of this contest overlap with the beginning of the ARRL January VHF Contest. The 2024 contest will be January 20, 2024.

Rule 2 – Bands & Modes

2.1 – Bands

Operation is restricted to the 6m, 2m, and 70cm bands. For FM Analog Voice, the following frequencies are recommended:

  • 6m: 52.525 MHz, 52.540 MHz, 52.510 MHz
  • 2m: 146.490 MHz, 146.460 MHz, 146.520 MHz
  • 70cm: 446.000 MHz, 446.025 MHz, 446.050 MHz, 446.100 MHz

For Digital Data, the following frequencies are recommended:

  • 6m: 50.62, 50.60 – 50.80 MHz for non-FM AFSK, 52.550 MHz, 52.570 MHz, 52.590 MHz for FM-AFSK
  • 2m: 146.535 MHz, 146.550 MHz, 146.565 MHz
  • 70cm: 446.200 MHz, 446.225 MHz, 446.250 MHz

2.2 – Modes

All contacts shall be classified as one of the following Modes:

FM Analog Voice – Transmissions made using standard FM simplex communication of “analog” voice. Use of voice-based digital vocoded modes such as C4FM/YSF, D-STAR, DMR, M17, NXDN, P25, etc. are considered “Other” modes.

Digital Data – Transmission of data-text message content using an AFSK or AFSK-based simplex emission (including AFSK-over-FM – e.g., MT63-2K over FM). In general this is transmissions such as MT63, OLIVIA, THOR, etc. It would also include AX.25 Packet or VARA FM (i.e., Winlink) when sent station to station only (relay through the Winlink infrastructure is NOT permitted). FT4 and JS8CALL may also be used so long as the required elements are properly exchanged as described in Rule 4. This mode does not include RTTY or CW.

Other -All other transmissions that are not FM Analog voice or Digital Data.

2.3 – Simplex Requirement

All contacts must be made using station to station simplex transmissions. No repeaters, hotspots, or other types of relaying are permitted. Cross-mode or cross-band contacts are not permitted. No use of store-and-forward messaging systems such as Winlink are permitted.

2.4 – Multiple Station Contacts

All stations may be worked one per band and mode combination. Contacts between two stations on the same band but different modes count for two QSOs. For example, W1AW may be contacted on both 6m FM Analog Voice and 6m Digital Data as separate contacts. However, use of two different digital modes such as MT63 and OLIVIA would count only as a single contact since both are considered “Digital Data” for the purposes of this contest.

Rule 3 – Entry Categories

3.1 – Fixed Station

Any fixed station operating from a permanent installation of transceiver, antenna, or both regardless of power source.

3.2 – Emergency Operation Center (“EOC”)

An Emergency Operations Center is defined as any amateur radio station at an established EOC communication site or field-deployed in a manner consistent with ARES support of Served Agencies. Stations may utilize equipment and antennas temporarily or permanently installed at the “EOC” consistent with the following:

  • Any station using equipment and antennas permanently installed at an Agency EOC as described in ARRL Field Day Rule 4.8.1
  • Any station operating from a mobile EOC command post vehicle so long as the mobile EOC is owned by an EMA and is a purpose-built/purpose-designated EOC vehicle (e.g. mobile command center)
  • A privately-owned vehicle/trailer that is purpose-designed for EMA/EOC support and is regularly operated in support of served agencies as part of exercises or deployments – i.e. it cannot be used just for contesting or as part of a general system (e.g. a camper, general-purpose trailer, etc).
  • An “in the field” deployment established according to defined operating plans/principles previously determined and exercised as an ARES operation in support of a Served Agency

3.3 – Portable

Any station established in a temporary location that does not normally have a radio and antenna installed. Such stations must be located in places that are not regular station locations and must not use facilities installed for permanent station use. Commercial electric may be used by a PORTABLE station, if available. Portable stations may not setup on borders or cross borders to multiply contacts – i.e. no ‘roving’ operations.

Rule 4 – Exchange

The exchange must include your station callsign, your county, and location identifier. The location identifier is your six-character maidenhead grid square or the phrase “QTH” noting you’re operating from your home station. If your FCC mailing address of record is not the same as your QTH, it is strongly encouraged to use your 6 character maidenhead location so operators can judge station and performance. Non-Ohio stations send their state/province and location identifier.

Entry categories of EOC must identify the station is an EOC by appending “/E” or “EOC” to the exchange as appropriate for the mode. Ohio ARES Officials (see rule 7.1) operating in the contest should identify themselves as part of the exchange for the other party’s bonus points.

Examples of Exchanges

TypeExample Exchange
FM Analog VoiceN8EI Summit County EN91DB
FM Analog Voice from an EOCW8WOO Wayne County EN90AT EOC
FM Analog Voice from an ARES OfficialKE8JNH Wayne EN90CX EC
Digital Data from N8EI to W1AWW1AW DE N8EI SUMM EN91DB K
Digital Data from an EOCN8EI DE W8WOO/E WAYN EN90AT K

As the Ohio VHF Simplex is a slower-paced contest, stations are encouraged to take time to announce station details and discuss performance of their equipment. However, this is NOT a part of the required exchange.

An example exchange of FM Analog Voice:
Station A – CQ CQ this is WW8TF for Ohio VHF+ Simplex
Station B – WW8TF this is W1AW
Station A – W1AW this is WW8TF Summit County EN91DB
Station B – Thanks WW8TF, I’m Holmes County QTH

Rule 5 – Scoring

5.1 – QSO Points

A QSO is counted as one contact between stations per band plus mode. For example two stations making contact on 2m FM Analog Voice, 2m Digital Data, 6m FM Analog Voice, and 6m Digital Data would be four QSOs.

  • Each FM Analog Voice QSO scores 5 points
  • Each FM Digital Data QSO scores 10 points
  • Each Other QSO scores 2 points

5.2 – ARES Officials and EOC Stations Bonus Modifiers

Each QSO with an identified ARES Official (see Rule 7.1) or an EOC station adds 25 points to the QSO. For the ARES Official bonus to apply to the QSO, the ARES Official must be actively making the contact on air – the mere presence of an ARES Official at the operation while a non-official operates the station does not award the bonus modifier. The ARES Official and EOC station bonus points stack; a QSO with an identified ARES Official operating from an EOC station adds 50 points to the QSO.

Example 5.1.A – An FM Analog Voice contact with an ARES Official is worth 30 points (5 points + 25 bonus)

Example 5.1.B – An FM Digital Data contact with an EOC is worth 35 points (10 points + 25 bonus points).

Example 5.1.C – For example, an FM Analog Voice contact with an ARES Official at an EOC is worth 55 points (5 points + 50 bonus points).

5.3 – Multipliers

QSO Points from 5.1 as enhanced by bonuses in 5.2 are multiplied by the total number of counties contacted. For contacts outside of Ohio, each unique state (including Canadian Provinces) is an additional multiplier.

5.4 – Bonus Points

  • EOC stations add 250 to your final score
  • PORTABLE stations add 200 points to your final score
  • ARES Officials (rule 7.1) not operating from an EOC adds 200 to final score. Multi-op stations qualify for this bonus as long as the ARES Official made at least one QSO during the entire operating time of entry. Mere presence of an ARES Official does not qualify.
  • Any station beaconing their location over APRS or sending contest location information (such as a portable station location or an information broadcast about the contest) add 50 to your final score. See 7.4 below.

Rule 6 – Reporting and Entry Submission

6.1 – Submissions

All entrants must report their score using the form at No paper submissions will be accepted. Checklogs from non-participants are not required for participants to receive points for a QSO.

6.2 – Logging and Retention of Logs

While not required for entry submission, all entrants are required to log all QSOs and retain those logs for three months following the contest. The logs must include the time, band, mode, callsign, and exchanged county/state. QSOs with various bonus stations must be noted. Logs will not be requested by Ohio ARES unless there is a concern about contest integrity.

Rule 7 – Miscellaneous

7.1 – Ohio ARES Official

For this contest, an “Ohio ARES Official” counts as the following:

  1. As described in the ARRL ARES Manual (rev 2015) Chapter 1 – Section Manager, Section Emergency Coordinator, District Emergency Coordinator, Assistant DEC, Emergency Coordinator (i.e. County EC in Ohio ARES), Assistant Emergency Coordinator; OR
  2. Only for the purposes of this contest, the Assistant Section Manager and any ARRL Official Emergency Station

7.2 – Coordination of QSOs

All entrants, regardless of category, are permitted to pre-plan communications or “spot” themselves using APRS, Internet, social media, etc. Entrants may advertise on nets, newsletters, social mediate, etc. Repeaters may be used to coordinate contacts or announce operations so long as such contacts are not scored as QSOs for the contest itelf. Participants should not self-spot to the “DX Clusters”.

7.3 – Multi-Multi / SO2R

All entry categories may be operated multi-operator multi-station (“multi-multi”) or single operator two radio (“SO2R”) but only under a single callsign and entry.

7.4 – APRS

All participants are encouraged to transmit APRS beacons to announce their station, the contest information, or to track their setup (e.g., portable operations, EOCs, ARES official present, etc.). Transmission of APRS packets may be from any radio or Internet-connected system (i.e. APRS-IS). Any one APRS broadcast counts for the bonus. Please broadcast at responsible intervals.

Rule 8 – Rulings and Disputes

Decisions on eligibility of participants, interpretations of rules, decisions on disputes, or any adjudication of submissions is executed by the Section Emergency Coordinator and the Section Manager. Their decisions are final.