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The ARRL Contest Update
June 25, 2008
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
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SUMMARY
NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

Pass it on! That's the great underlying theme of Field Day. Take what you've learned, find someone else hungry for know-how, and help them learn it, too. If you're brand-new yourself, go to Field Day with open eyes, open ears, and a willing attitude. You'll do fine!

BULLETINS

There has been a lot of discussion about the use of Skimmer in the upcoming IARU HF World Championship. The published rules for 2008 do not refer to "Skimmer," nor is there a Single Operator Assisted or Unlimited category in this event. For the 2008 event, any Single Operator station that uses Skimmer (and does not use spotting assistance) will be placed in the Single-Operator category.

The evaluation of the technology, as well as the integrity of the adjudication process, is of paramount importance to the Contest Branch. To make sure the results are generated properly, we require that all Single Operator stations using Skimmer make that statement in the Soapbox field in their Cabrillo header. For example, "Skimmer was used." is sufficient. Do not put such a statement in the subject or body of the email log submission - it will not be read. If the log checkers do not know that Skimmer was used, an incorrect conclusion as to entry class (e.g. Single Operator or Multi-Operator) may be reached, or a log could be subject to review by the ARRL Awards Committee, which could result in penalties up to and including disqualification.

This accommodation of Skimmer technology for the 2008 IARU HF Championship does not imply in any way the permanent acceptance of Skimmer's use in Single-Operator category operation in ARRL Contests. The technology will be evaluated and long-term rulings on how it may be used in this contest will be made in the 2009 rules or before.

Since there is no Single-Operator Assisted category, anyone using external assistance through packet or the internet should enter as a Multi-Operator entry, and, as in the past, the entry may be re-categorized or disqualified if assistance is not declared.

As with the 2007 IARU HF Championship, there will be continued emphasis on log adjudication in 2008. Stations claiming exceptional results should be prepared to have their log undergo thorough examination.

ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Sean Kutzko KX9X

BUSTED QSOS

A golden issue last time!

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CONTEST SUMMARY

Rules follow Commentary section

June 28-29

  • Bavarian Contest Club QSO Party (June 25)
  • His Majesty King of Spain, Phone
  • Digital Pentathlon - Hellschreiber
  • ARRL Field Day
  • QRP ARCI Milliwatt Field Day

July 5-6

  • Canada Day Contest (July 1)
  • Digital Pentathlon - Throb (July 4)
  • MI QRP July 4th Sprint (July 4)
  • Venezuelan Independence Day Contest
  • DL DX RTTY Contest
  • 070 Club Firecracker PSK31 Sprint
  • DARC 10-Meter Digital Corona
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

If you prefer reading the ARRL Contest Update in a plain-text format, please read these guidelines for configuring your email reader. The newsletter that arrives in your Inbox contains both the plain-text and HTML versions, so either can be viewed.

Electronic Design editor Louis Frenzel W5LEF delivered a nice summary of the Dayton Hamvention. His assessment rings true and he has some nice things to say about the Hamvention and ham radio in general. (Thanks, Hank K8DD)

Short "sprint" contests are fun, but are they all on weekends? Heck, no! There are quite of number of sprints that run monthly or weekly. Here are a few of them:

Northern California Contest Club Thursday NS Sprint

Adventure Radio Society Spartan Sprint

Flying Pigs Run for the Bacon

North American QRP Club's NAQCC Sprints

Straight Key Contest Club Weekday Sprint

Note that most of these are casual events and the NS Sprint is preceded by 15 minutes of slow-speed (20 wpm max) practice that starts 30 minutes before the higher speed regular contest. (Thanks, Bill N2CQ and Hank K8DD)

Ev W2EV reports, "PropNET software has been upgraded to parse non-PropNET formatted PSK31 signals that contain either 'CQ CQ' or 'CQ DX' and plot them on the PropNET maps (available via the "Realtime Plots" menu)! PropNetPSK inspects everything in the reception that "looks like a callsign" and tries to look it up in a callsign database. If one is found, and grid information is present, the station is plotted with a special brown "N" symbol. Some database entries don't have grid info, but do have city names. Those are plugged into a public geocoding system, which often returns a latitude and longitude. If you see stations in Russia labeled on the PropNet maps, you'll know that's working too."

You've worked these folks! Julia KD7PJC, Mike N6MZ, James 9V1YC, and Dick K6KR share some of Zone 6's culinary delights during James' 2007 visit to Seattle. (N0AX photo)

World champ contester John W2GD suffered a bad fall while working on a tower last week and will be out of action for a while. (Until he figures out how to get a radio on the air while recovering, that is.) You can wish John well on a blog set up by Doug K1DG.

Tree N6TR discovered that June 20th was the anniversary of Samuel Morse receiving his initial patent in 1844. The online story has quite a bit more interesting reading.

Web Site of the Week - In the poem "Chant-Pagan" by Rudyard Kipling is found this snippet of a stanza relating the experience of those pre-radio days through the eyes of a heliograph operator:

" Me that 'ave watch 'arf a world
'Eave up all shiny with dew,
Kopje on kop to the sun,
An' as soon as the mist let 'em through
Our 'elios winkin' like fun -
Three sides of a ninety mile square,
Over valleys as big as a shire -
'Are ye there? Are ye there? Are ye there?"

That certainly sounds familiar to a ham, doesn't it? The craft of heliography has quite a history! (Thanks, Mike AA1TJ)

WORD TO THE WISE

Lead - I could be referring to being in first place, a tip, a connecting wire, or 63% of most solders, but the meaning I intend is to instruct and enlighten others. That's your job this week (and every week) at Field Day (and at other times) as you show other hams the skills and techniques developed from exposure to radiosport. Remember, too, that the more fun you have, the more they'll want to join in.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

This short Hamflight Video touting Field Day is nicely done. Send the link to your friends along with the URL for the ARRL and the Field Day Locator. Anyone know who produced this nice piece of work? (Thanks, Paul K0JPL)

Would you like to hear what CQ World-Wide sounds like from Zone 21? Jon KL2A has posted several recordings of the audio during interesting periods of his operation from 9K2HN in the 2007 CQ WW CW. There are some fast bits, some pileups, and some neat propagation.

Rich K2WR lives within line-of-sight to the Alpine Tower described in the previous issue of this newsletter. Being acquainted with the site, he sent a link to a more extensive history of the tower with some additional photos.

A free 10-minute clip of Robin AA4RC describing how he took the D-STAR data stream apart and analyzed it is available on KN4AQ's Web site and on YouTube, as well. There is a DVD available from KN4AQ that with videos of all of the D-STAR presentations.

ON8PO, Mathieu in Belgium has quite the collection of aviation radio gear in his Belgian museum. This would be good to browse over morning coffee! (Thanks, Dennis N6KI)

Those in the know treasure the videos featuring an earnest promotion of the Turbo Confabulator or Retro Encabulator. Here are two such videos for your amusement and bewilderment, not necessarily in that order! And watch that inverse reactive current in the differential girdle spring!

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RESULTS AND RECORDS

The ARRL Contest Branch has received 623 electronic logs and 13 paper logs for the 2008 June VHF contest as of Monday, June 23. On HF, Log Checking Reports are available for the 2007 IARU contest, thanks to the efforts of Larry N6TW. Membership and Volunteer Programs staffer Carol KB1QAW has tackled the backlog of returned certificates and helped to create a "trouble ticket" process that will help track and resolve any awards problems. All 2008 ARRL DX participation pins have been shipped, too. (Thanks, Sean KX9X)

ARRL RTTY Roundup Log Checking Reports had to be regenerated after a problem in the submitted exchanges of several stations was discovered. The reports have been regenerated as of 12 June and are available from the ARRL Contest Branch. (Thanks, Sean KX9X)

CQ WPX Director K5ZD reports that the log checking reports for all entries from both modes of the CQ WPX Contest 2007 are available. Send an email to k5zd@cqwpx.com to request your report. Please include the call used in the contest and the mode (CW or SSB) in your request. Randy also extends his tnanks to K6AW and N8BJQ for doing all the work on the 2007 contest and for making these reports available.

Worthy of a helping of hyperbole, in what must be a record for fastest QSO Party results publication, the results of the 2008 7th Area QSO Party were posted on the 7QP Web page on 14 June, just 8 days after the log deadline. The plaque winners list will be posted this week. (Thanks, Dick K4XU)

The 2008 Ontario QSO Party results are now available. You can also view and print your certificate. 35 records were either set or broken!! Check the updated records page to see if you were one of them. (Thanks, OQP Chairman, Brian VE3MGY)

Results for the 2007 Oceania DX Contest are now available for viewing. The results include soapbox comments, details of equipment and antenna used by entrants, and photos of some of the leading entrants and their stations. (Thanks, Oceania DX Contest Committee)

If you participated in JIDX 2008 CW contest in this past April, please browse the JIDX 2008 CW claimed category list. Final results are expected in mid-August. (Thanks, Tack JE1CKA/KH0AM)

If you're considering the Worked All Europe (WAE) contest in August, here is a link to audio recordings of stations exchanging QTC following a QSO. Nice to hear Silent Key N6ZZ's call sign renascent. (Thanks, Randy K5ZD)

A miscommunication about the actual audio frequency used caused the initial results for the May 2008 Frequency Measuring Test to be calculated improperly. The correct frequencies were substituted and the correct results posted on 19 June. (Thanks, Bruce WA7BNM and Joe NJ1Q)

OPERATING TIP

In order to lead (see Word to the Wise), others must be able to observe and that means hearing the action. Even though it's not the most effective method, use the speaker to copy or split the receive audio between your headphones and a communications speaker so that other ops can listen in. If you are sharing a rig with a new operator, be sure to have a headphone jack splitter in your pocket and a spare pair of "cans" for them.

TECHNICAL TIPS AND INFORMATION

Given the story about W2GD earlier in this issue and that it is tower season, perhaps some cogent words of caution would be in order before buckling up your safety harness. Steve K7LXC has published "The 10 Most Common Tower Building Mistakes" on his Web site. And might I add my own caution, "It's Not a Race."

It looks like K5TR was experiencing some pretty good 2 meter propagation during the ARRL June VHF QSO Party.

George K5TR sent this neat graphic of a VHF propagation map taken during a big sporadic-E opening on 2 meters. The site works by reading packet radio routing information from APRS transmissions. The APRS system runs continuously, so the information displayed on the Web site is as close to real-time as can be.

Looking for a particular part or service? You might try logging on to the ARRL's free Technical Information Service (TIS) and trying the TISFind database. Enter a keyword into the search window or scroll down the page and click one of the keywords listed there. You'll probably discover a couple of vendors to add to your list of favorites. Why not add the TIS - one of the best ARRL services - to your Favorites bookmarks while you're at it?

W0CD, W8UVZ, and K8GG have used spark plugs as lightning arrestors on 80 and 160 meter vertical arrays, noting that they have fired several times over the years. Here are some of their observations:

1. Make sure they are not resistor plugs!
2. Locate them in line between the element and ground. The straightest route is the best route.
3. Check for corrosion and replace them every few years when the spark plug gap shows corrosion. (Thanks, George K8GG)

Tod K0TO evaluated a DuneStar 600 filter by using a spectrum analyzer to do transmission scans of all six filters. His report is fairly thorough and is worth a look.

We all seem to have a small (or larger) pile of obsolete computer plug-in cards, RAM modules, etc gathering dust. But they're too good to throw away - they might be good for something, someday! Right? Well, pieces of them are good for homebrewing circuits as this article from the eham.net Web site shows. (Thanks, Tom AK2B)

Technical Web Site of the Week - From the 20 June edition of the ARRL Propagation Bulletin, editor Tad K7RA relays online information on sporadic-E. Under "Six News Categories", select "6M Propagation Theories" and then the fourth listing, ''a primer on sporadic-E''. An older article on the subject is also available.

CONVERSATION

Not A Contest

Nope, Field Day is not a contest. It's an amalgam of all that is Amateur Radio and more. Most of all, however, it's a pretty darn good training opportunity! A lot of top contesters got their starts on Field Day when the guy running the radio suddenly turned to their junior logger and said, "Here, you take it." Gulp!

If that happened to you, it's your turn to instruct by example, so even if you are the potentate of 75 phone, slow down a little bit and make sure the junior logger can understand what you're doing. Plenty of narrative, not too much invective, season with snickers and guffaws here and there. Be not parsimonious with your praise! Take the time to be an Elmer and set an up-and-coming operator's noggin aright.

Is that the dinner bell? Al K7NHV gets ready to take a break at the W7VMI Field Day CW station last year. (N0AX photo)

Take a minute to learn something, yourself, too. All of the bonus points bring out the unusual station accessories and accoutrements. Maybe somebody is going to try to make a satellite QSO - check it out! How about one of those 'non-traditional' modes? You know, the ones many of us think of as QRM? Go see how it's done and maybe give it a try. And all of the HF ops can learn a few tricks from the VHF+ folks making contacts on sporadic-E, tropo (at least those minatory storm fronts can be good for something!), meteor scatter, or in some other interesting way.

I volunteered to set up the VHF+ station for W7VMI this year. We have a number of CW operators lined up and I'll certainly take my turn on HF (give me 40 CW after dinner and stand back), but I'd like to see if I can catch some of the recent nation-wide 6 meter sporadic-E lightning in a bottle. And Mt Rainier is a pretty good scattering surface for 2-meters and 70 cm around the Pacific Northwest. Could be a pretty fun time on our little hilltop.

How's the grub? What's your favorite Field Day recipe? In our club, Al K7NHV's XYL makes a surfeit of her excellent BBQ ribs. If you're late to the table, they're gone! I'm making a pot of chili verde to see if I can challenge Maxine for second place - I know my limits. Regardless of the eats, I'll bet some of the best Field Day times come from those Saturday evening replete raconteur roundtables of rumination under the dining fly while the stations are kept busy on 40 and 75, huh?

Will you have to fix some stuff? You bet! Murphy is a part of just about every Field Day team I've ever been around in my six-squared years of Field Day-ing. My tools and tackle box full of connectors and adaptors are ready to load in the trusty station wagon. I gave the HF2V low-band vertical a vacation from its normal patina, found nearly all of its parts, effected a tune-up, and I think we're good to go! Don't forget the duct tape and the precision sledgehammer!

I've been looking at the weather reports and it looks like we'll get lucky this year. If your team gets rained on (and there are a lot of stations in the Midwest that will be conducting Field Day for real this year) or blown out or bug-bit, I'm sorry. There will be another Field Day next year and another chance for summer time radio fun.

Just as W1ICD depicted on his halcyon QST covers of before-and-after Field Day with the Podunk ARC deploying their gear across the verdant landscapes of June, so it is in the 21st century. The technology and tools have changed. The food - maybe. The enthusiasm and the sharing in the Great Melting Pot that is Field Day? Not at all. Have fun and don't mistake the poison ivy for a purty vine.

73, Ward N0AX

CONTESTS

25 June through 8 July 2008

An expanded, downloadable version of QST's Contest Corral in PDF format is available. Check the sponsor's Web site for information on operating time restrictions and other instructions.

HF CONTESTS

Bavarian Contest Club QSO Party, Phone/CW, from 25 Jun 1700Z to 25 Jun 1900Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-7, CW--1.825,3.535,7.035, Phone--1.855,3.735,7.085. Exchange: 59(9), BCC number or serial. Logs due: 14 days. Rules

His Majesty King of Spain, Phone, from 28 Jun 1200Z to 29 Jun 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS, serial or EA province. Logs due: 30 Jul. Rules

Digital Pentathlon - Hellschreiber, Digital, from 27 Jun 1800Z to 27 Jun 2200Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: Serial, 6-digit grid locator, power. Logs due: 30 Jul. Rules

ARRL Field Day, Phone/CW/Digital, from 28 Jun 1800Z to 29 Jun 2100Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50+. Exchange: Category, ARRL/RAC section or DX. Logs due: 26 Jul. Rules

QRP ARCI Milliwatt Field Day, Phone/CW/Digital, from 28 Jun 1800Z to 29 Jun 2100Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50+. Exchange: Category, ARRL/RAC section or DX. Logs due: 26 Jul. Rules

Digital Pentathlon, Throb, Digital, from 4 Jul 1800Z to 4 Jul 2200Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: Serial, 6-digit grid locator, power. Logs due: 30 Jul. Rules

Canada Day Contest, Phone/CW, from Jul 1 0000Z to Jul 1 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50-144. Exchange: RS(T), Province/Territory or serial. Logs due: Jul 31. Rules

MI QRP July 4th Sprint, CW, from Jul 4 2300Z to Jul 5 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, and QRPMI number or power. Rules

Venezuelan Independence Day Contest, Phone/CW, from Jul 5 0000Z to Jul 6 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS(T) and serial. Logs due: Aug 31. Rules

DL DX RTTY Contest, Digital, from Jul 5 1100Z to Jul 6 1059Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and serial. Logs due: Aug 10. Rules

070 Club Firecracker PSK31 Sprint, Digital, from Jul 5 2000Z to Jul 6 0200Z. Bands (MHz): 7. Exchange: RST and S/P/C. Logs due: Aug 5. Rules

DARC 10-Meter Digital Corona, Digital, from Jul 6 1100Z to Jul 6 1700Z. Bands (MHz): 28. Exchange: RST, serial. Logs due: 14 days. Rules

VHF+ CONTESTS

ARRL Field Day, Phone/CW/Digital, from 28 Jun 1800Z to 29 Jun 2100Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50+. Exchange: Category, ARRL/RAC section or DX. Logs due: 26 Jul. Rules

QRP ARCI Milliwatt Field Day, Phone/CW/Digital, from 28 Jun 1800Z to 29 Jun 2100Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50+. Exchange: Category, ARRL/RAC section or DX. Logs due: 26 Jul. Rules

Canada Day Contest--Phone/CW, from Jul 1 0000Z to Jul 1 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50-144. Exchange: RS(T), Province/Territory or serial. Logs due: Jul 31. Rules

MI QRP July 4th Sprint--CW, from Jul 4 2300Z to Jul 5 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, and QRPMI number or power. Rules

LOG DUE DATES

28 June through 8 July 2008

June 25 - ARCI Hootowl Sprint, email logs to: contest@qrparci.org, paper logs and diskettes to: ARCI Hoot Owl Sprint , c/o Jeff Hetherington, VA3JFF , 139 Elizabeth St W, Welland, Ontario L3C 4M3, Canada. Rules

June 26 - MI QRP Memorial Day CW Sprint, email logs to: n8xx@arrl.org, paper logs and diskettes to: Hank Greeb, N8XX, 5727 11 Mile Rd NE, Rockford, MI 49341, USA. Rules

June 29 - Kids Roundup, email logs to: contest@ki3ds.org, paper logs and diskettes to: AARC, Jr, 7901 Pepperbox Lane, Pasadena, MD 21122-6328, USA. Rules

June 30 - EUCW Fraternizing CW QSO Party, email logs to: eucwfp@agcw.de, paper logs and diskettes to: Werner Jochem, DK7VW, Wendelsborn 34, D-66606 St Wendel, Germany. Rules

June 30 - IARU Region 1 Field Day, CW, email logs to: (see your national society rules), paper logs and diskettes to: Your national society. Rules at your national society web site

July 1 - SARL Youth Day Sprint, email logs to: hfcontests@netactive.co.za, paper logs and diskettes to: Bloemfontein Radio Amateur Club, PO Box 12104, Brandhof 9324, South Africa. Rules

July 1 - CQ WW WPX Contest, CW, email logs to: cw@cqwpx.com, paper logs and diskettes to: CW WPX Contest, CQ Magazine, 25 Newbridge Rd, Suite 405, Hicksville NY 11801, USA. Rules

July 1 - Feld Hell Sprint, email logs to: feldhellcontest@comcast.net, post log summary at: http://www.bambinomusical.com/autolog.html, paper logs and diskettes to: John Graf, WA6L, 23085 Old Ranch Rd, Alpine, CA 91901, USA. Rules

July 1 - Baltic Contest, email logs to: lrsf@lrsf.lt, paper logs and diskettes to: Baltic Contest, PO Box 210, LT-44003, Kaunas, Lithuania. Rules

July 1 - UKSMG Summer Contest, email logs to: m5ade@uksmg.org, paper logs and diskettes to: Adrian Deane, M5ADE, 5 Osbourne Terrace, London Rd, Thrupp, Stroud, Glos, GL5 2BJ, UK. Rules

July 7 - Alabama QSO Party, email logs to: logs@alabamaqsoparty.org, paper logs and diskettes to: Jim Johnson, KC4HW, 6274 South CR 49, Slocomb, Al 36375-5528, USA. Rules

July 7 - AGCW VHF/UHF Contest, email logs to: vhf-uhf@agcw.de, paper logs and diskettes to: Manfred Busch, DK7ZH, Ebachstr 13, D-35716 Dietzhoelztal-Mandeln, Germany. Rules

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

ARRL Contest Update wishes to acknowledge information from WA7BNM's Contest Calendar and SM3CER's Contest Calendar.

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