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MACRO STRATEGY -or- HOW SHOULD I OPERATE THE CONTEST? How should I operate? There are so many choices. The first choice you need to make is operating fixed or rover. Let's look at the rover option first. Rovering (at least for this year) is the fastest way there is to build a big score. The last several years' club competitions have been decided almost completely by rovers (Thus the contro- versy). Although a full-blown rover with microwave bands and lots of power is quite difficult (and expensive) to put together, you don't need a 12 band truck camper to have a lot of fun. If your rigs run on 12 volts, consider loading them into the car and going mobile. Selec going mobile. Select some high hills in various grid squares to operate from. Your antennas need not be fully mobile. Pack a tripod, a mast and a few medium-sized yagis. You may only be able to work four grid squares with a setup like this, but the above- average antennas will give you good results. If you add a small portable generator, you can add a rotor and some more sophisti- cated equipment to this setup. Most importantly, (especially in January) take a friend to help you unless all of your antennas are firmly attached to your vehicle and you have the discipline not to get stuck in the middle of nowhere. Another advantage of having a partner is the ability to effectively operate while in motion. This can be worth 1/3 of your score or more in a small rover. So, roving isn't for you? Then that means you will operate some sort of fixed operation. The biggest question here is single or multi-operator. If you don't have a decent station at home, give a lot of thought to joining a multi-op group. There is always at least one multi-op station on each January that is made up mainly of new operators. Sure, you may sound like a beginner at first, but even Wayne King, N2WK had to start somewhere. I will talk more about talk more about multiop later. For those with small stations who cannot or don't wish to join a multiop effort, there are single-op competition categories for you. Consider operating QRP. With one or two bands on FM, this is your best avenue if you want to do well. Be sure to review the rules, especially on power restrictions and portable operation. As time has gone on, you have built up your station. You may have six or more bands and several hundred watts on one or more bands. Unlimited single-op is for you, especially if you have only one or two steerable antenna arrays. This is an extremely competitive class, and you compete neck-to-neck with some of the world's best VHF operators!! If you have two or more steerable stacks, consider a multi-op operation. Again, there are classes to choose from. Limited multi-op is a good place to start. You can run any number of bands, but you can submit logs for only the best four. This gives you a taste of what a full-blown multiop is like. Last year, Ed Taychert, AA2MZ, (Then N2NVD) put on a limited multioperator operation. Many of the operators were inexperienced VHF opera- tors, and there was only one good steerable stack. But it paid off. paid off. His team finished second locally and tenth nationally! Finally, there is unlimited multioperator. For the serious VHF'er with the requisite 'aluminum' systems (At least three different steerable arrays) and at least six bands, this is the ultimate proving ground. Every operator should try to be on a big multiop team at least once. The experience you gain is not avail- able any other way. Personally, this is my favorite. I have only put in one serious single-op VHF effort in my ham career, and there are many other hams who nearly always operate multi-op. When deciding how to operate this year, don't hesitate to ask a more experienced operator. Many major single ops and multi-op captains have intensely studied this question and may be able to steer you in the right direction. Also read the awards rules. They may help you decide what class to compete in. As usual, I am out of space for this month. Next month, we will discuss 'micro-strategy' or what you need to do during the contest to score well. Just remember: THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR STATION IS YOU!!