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The ARRL Contest Update
July 23, 2008
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
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IN THIS ISSUE

NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

If you've grown weary of waiting for the high bands to open, why not turn the tables on the HF operators and demonstrate how to work 6 meters? Lots of long-haul contacts are being made lately, including some DX. A 6 meter pileup is good practice for the coming fall contest season, too!

BULLETINS

There are no bulletins in this issue.

BUSTED QSOS

It is regrettable that Silent Key VS6DO's name was given incorrectly. It was Paul, not Phil. Your editor had too many recently-deceased Phil's in mind, thus the error. Aki JA5DQH has written a very nice story about Paul with many pictures. (Thanks, Bill W4ZV)

Contrary to the description of the snatch block in the last issue, it is actually a pulley with a removable cover, allowing a rope to be placed in the pulley anywhere along its length. (Thanks, Dave N3RD and Jim N1NK)

The link purporting to be for the 2007 CQ WW Results was premature. Only material in support of the 2007 contest is on line at this time. Sorry about that!

CONTEST SUMMARY

Rules follow Commentary section

July 26-27

  • IOTA Contest
  • Flight of the Bumblebees

Aug 2-3

  • ARRL UHF Contest
  • TARA Grid Dip Contest
  • National Lighthouse-Lightship Weekend
  • 10-10 Summer Phone QSO Party
  • European HF Championship
  • North American QSO Party - CW
  • SARL HF DX Contest
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

After 30 years of sales and service to the amateur radio community, Pat Stein N8BRA of Command Technologies is transferring the business to Dan Simmons KK3AN, the owner of AN Wireless in Somerset, PA. The transfer is expected to take a few months, during which Pat will be available for sales and customer service. We wish Pat well in retirement and hope to see the Command Technologies line of products sold for the indefinite future. (Thanks, Dave KM3T and QRZ.com)

From the July 16th issue of QRZ DX, "You may remember the announcement that Harbach Electronics had prchased the rights to manufacture and sell Peter Dahl's line of transformers. A new Web site for Harbachs has been launched with all of those products and more."

Is your club or contest group making a special operation? Be sure to let the world know by using the ARRL's Special Events Web-based data entry page. For example, N9N is an upcoming special operation commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first submarine journey under the North Pole. By entering the information, the event will be announced both in print and on-line. To get the announcement in QST, you have to enter the information no later than 2 months in advance of the issue in which the information needs to be printed. For example, enter data no later than 1 Aug for an event taking place in October.

The KB7DQH Ultra-Rover, aka "The Enterprise II" is a fixture on the VHF+ bands around the Pacific Northwest. (Photo KB7DQH)

Submitting your score for a club is fun, but be sure to get the name right! Log checker Tree N6TR reports that there is a great deal of variation in how club names are spelled in a log file. For example, logs crediting the "Podunk Amateur Radio Club" might contain variations such as "Podunk ARC", "Radio Club of Podunk", "PARC", "PRC", "Podunk RC", and so forth. Club names are frequently mis-spelt, as well. Help the log checkers get it right by spelling the name of your club correctly and encouraging all members to use the same form of the club name.

The news of the electrocution deaths of KC0TIG and his son spread rapidly through the world of amateur radio last week. Raising an antenna, it came in contact with distribution lines at around 7 kV with instantaneous and tragic consequences. Many of us have such lines along our property with our antennas not too far away. There is no room for error when dealing with any kind of power line. Take your time, assume the worst could happen, and plan accordingly.

A question was posed about what happens to duplicate contacts during log checking. Tree N6TR, who log checks for several contests, provided this example of what happens if:

1. W7AA calls CQ

2. W7BB answers but logs the call as W7AAA.

Does W7AA get credit for the contact? Does W7BB get a NIL (Not In Log) for logging the wrong call? The call W7AAA should be identified as a busted call in W7BB's log when doing the cross-check from the W7AA log against the W7BB log. Where the cross-check expected to find W7AA - it finds W7AAA around the same time. This will count as a verified QSO for W7AA and a busted call for W7BB.

Then later:

1. W7AA calls CQ again

2. W7BB makes a duplicate contact, logging the call correctly

Who gets credit for this QSO? W7AA will have a dupe with W7BB in the log and the QSO won't be checked. In W7BB's log - the QSO will count. It isn't a dupe and it matches up to W7AA's log. If W7AA removed the second, duplicate QSO, then W7BB would likely end up with a NIL. When the first QSO doesn't appear in one of the log, the log-checking program will try to match up the second QSOs and count the first one as the dupe. This illustrates why you should leave duplicate contacts in your electronic log.

More interesting software for working with the CW Skimmer is available. The CW Skimmer Scheduler automates bandswitching for Skimmer operation. This allows the Skimmer to be cycled through a set of configurable bands, looking for CW activity. (Thanks, Pete N4ZR)

Web Site of the Week - It's a good thing that the Internet wasn't around in 1933 or we'd all have "thrown in the towel" and taken up...oh, I don't know...computer programming using mercury-filled memory delay lines. Why? Because the current solar minimum is still a piker compared to the one between Cycle 16 and Cycle 17! This NASA article should make everybody feel a little better - especially the little arrow that says, "You Are Here" right before the next cycle is predicted to zoom right back up! (Thanks, Bill W4ZV)

WORD TO THE WISE

Prop pitch - a very heavy-duty dc motor assembly used to control the angle (pitch) at which the blades of a propeller (prop) moved through the air as they were rotated by the aircraft engine. Originally available in large numbers on the military surplus market after WWII and later, these were quickly found to be very useful as antenna rotators. The popular characterization of their legendary torque and brake rating is that they can "turn a house." They are primarily used today to turn beam antennas with extremely large wind loads.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

I'm not sure whether this is news, a technical item, or entertainment - possibly all three! Here's a Web site about the erection of a 1500' foot tower in Daytona Beach, FL. Lots of interesting information and a time-lapse view, as well. (Thanks, Dave NN1N)

James KD7SMI has the right attitude - or is that altitude? - at the W7VMI Field Day exercise. (Photo N0AX)

What goes up must come down, I'm afraid. Break out a fresh box of hankies before you watch this YouTube video of the famous Greenbury Point VLF transmitting towers coming down. You can also take a virtual tour of the facility when it was operating. Wouldn't it have been fun to "borrow" the site on certain contest weekends? (Thanks, Frank W3LPL and Peter DF3KV)

So pop a bowl of corn, open a cold 807, and prepare to be amazed at this collection of Field Day video links from Scot K9JY. There are plenty of good (and bad), thought-provoking examples of "operating on the hoof" to keep you watching "just one more!"

Here's a Web site from BG1DRJ, an active contester in China's burgeoning ham radio ranks. (Thanks, Dennis N6KI)

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RESULTS AND RECORDS

Andrew ZS6AA notes that the QST writeup for the 2008 ARRL International DX CW Contest has been posted on the ARRL Contest Web site. IK0XBX has also posted some results sorted by DX entity prefix.

Claimed scores from the ARRL June VHF QSO Party have also made an appearance online. (Thanks, Steve K4GUN)

Passwords for the 2007 CQ WW SSB Contest UBN (Unique-Busted-Not In Log) reports are being emailed to everyone that submitted a log. The logs are online at the CQ WW Web site. (Thanks, Juha OH6XX)

Curt K9AKS reminds us, "With the CQ WW VHF contest only a week away, you might be interested in looking at the highest scores ever attained in this event (at least its latest version, which started in 2000). High scores by call area and continent are listed in tables for each of the entry categories." With 6 meters so hot, maybe we'll get lucky and catch a live weekend for VHF propagation -good luck!

Bart VE5CPU, RAC Canada Day Contest Manager, relays the information from RAC HQ that the plaques and certificates for the 2007 Canada Day contest have been shipped. If you are a prize winner - watch the mail!

WRTC fans will be interested in the results of the Russian Radiosport Team Championship. It sounds like they had some serious weather during this Field Day-style competition, but everybody went home happy and with lots of QSOs in the log. Watch this site for photos in coming days. (Thanks, Harry RA3AUU)

There was also a West Coast Regional WRTC-style competition during the IARU. Three teams went at it, used special 1x1 calls, and had a great time. Read all about it! (Thanks, John K6AM)

Have a look at the results of the Minnesota QSO Party while you're at it! (Thanks, Mark WA0MHJ)

OPERATING TIP

Another collection from Scot K9JY - "30 Days - 30 Contesting Tips" - is good information about all sorts of things!

TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

The CW Skimmer software (or any wideband decoding technology) requires a good receiver to handle the wide dynamic range of signals on the bands, especially during a contest, and doubly especially on the same band as the run transmitter. The inexpensive Softrock receivers work aren't up that job. Luckily, you might be able to use your main rig's sub-receiver for that purpose as in this modification to an FT-1000MP, adapting the subreceiver to become an SDR-compatible receiver with a 20 kHz bandwidth. (Thanks, Doug K1DG)

In case you were wondering why silver-plated strap is often used in amplifier construction, it's to keep werewolves from infesting the tank circuit. Just thought you'd like to know that. (Thanks, Marv WC6W)

Tower pro, Steve K7LXC, has all the right gear to do the job right on K6KR's stack. (Photo N0AX)

Here's a "why didn't I think of that?" tip from Merle W0EWM. "When you plan to do any significant antenna work you really want to have more people then you think are needed to do the physical work. People that aren't holding the antenna can be observing the operation and surroundings for safety." In light of the unfortunate antenna-raising accident that claimed the life of a father and son this past week (noted above), why not give your club members a call to come help keep an eye on the proceedings?

If you savage the body of PL-259 connectors while trying to get them threaded on to RG-213-sized cable, relief is at hand. Craig K1QX found the DX Engineering DXE-UT-80TN at the 2008 Dayton Hamvention. It enables simple threading of PL-259 body onto the vinyl jacket by hand! The instructions for using the tool are available on the DX Engineering Web site, as well.

K0BG's excellent eham.net article on mobile noise abatement has been recirculated. Alan touches on several common problems that raise the noise floor and obscure calling stations. With the use of small antennas close to the ground, every extra dB counts!

A great tip on its own merits was contained in the comments following the previous article by K0BG. Wendell K4MC suggests, "If you order any ferrite cores, beads, etc, you should also stop by an office supply store and pick up a light colored Sharpie (I like silver). Mark each of the beads with the mix number. If you don't, the ID of the mix could be lost." Looking at the indeterminate charcoal-grey beads in a box on my shelf, I could have used this tip some time ago.

Doing some guy wire work and can't remember whether the saddle of the wire clamp goes on the "live" section of the guy between the anchor and tower or on the "dead" section that is wrapped around the anchor or thimble? Try the old mnemonic, "Never Saddle A Dead Horse" - the saddle always goes on the live guy section.

An interesting new switching power supply topology (Class Phi) takes advantage of the characteristics of quarter-wave transmission lines to control voltage and current waveforms. Either actual transmission lines or lumped-constant networks can be used. The trend towards higher and higher conversion frequencies is enabling designers of power control and RF amplifier circuits to "meet in the middle", leading to all sorts of novel applications. High-efficiency switch-mode RF amplifiers for amateur use at HF have already been described in various articles, so affordable products are probably not far behind. (Thanks, Marv WC6W)

And you think it was tough to design your last station upgrade? Here's an out-of-this-world story about what goes into the design of the SuitSat experiment. Like many things, this started out as a casual, impromptu, "fun" project.

Technical Web Site of the Week - A recent presentation by Jim K9YC recently described improper ac wiring connections to ground (instead of the required neutral) as a potential source of hum and buzz in transmitted audio in a. An example of the "right" and "wrong" way to connect a fan is shown on pages 38 and 39. Depending on how an individual amp is built, it could be quite easy to rewire the fan to eliminate the problem. The "right" circuit is similar to what is done on the Ten-Tec 425 Titan amplifier.

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CONVERSATION

On Edge?

In a conversation about ham radio, a friend asked, "Is ham radio edgy?", edgy meaning an interesting and novel coolness. Hip, if you will. As Tower of Power has been asking for a long time, "What is hip?" What, exactly, is the hipness, the cool of ham radio? And so I had to think a bit.

To look at hams doing ham radio stuff, we are not a group that the public would immediately identify as "edgy". There are lots of knobs and screens and equipment, but to the non-ham, it's quite inscrutable. We generally do not wear colorful, tight-fitting athletic clothing and protective gear while engaged in ham radio. There are no eye-catching logos, no ear-splitting exhausts, no referees ejecting enraged managers, no "play of the day" videos. But there are a lot of things that make other hams high-five and go, "Wow!" What would make a casual acquaintance do the same?

This is the point at which I start thinking of ham radio as "Extreme Wireless". There are "extreme" sports of all sorts - biking, skiing, skateboarding, etc. All have the common theme of taking an ordinary sport to some new, um, extreme. That certainly fits ham radio - an otherwise perfectly ordinary and well-behaved communications technology getting pushed to all kinds of new limits by hams.

But does ham radio have the requisite elements of an extreme sport? There have to be...

1 - Some rules

2 - Some judges

3 - Fear of instant death

One and two, we've got those covered. Now about that instant death thing. I guess climbing up a tower could count. I show photos like the one here in the article and you can feel the air pressure drop as the audience inhales. It puts ham radio in a whole new light for them.

New England Division Director K1KI's feet at a height of 120 feet. (Photo K1KI)

That's actually kind of interesting, isn't it? Once somebody's tootsies appear perched on a tower rung a couple hundred feet up, the image of ham radio as a kind of Civil War re-enactment diminishes. People have a whole new view of us when we're doing something, well, edgy!

What else is edgy? Rover vehicles festooned with gigantic antenna arrays. Satellite stations with antenna systems that swivel around to track the ISS across the sky. Hoisting a massive three-element, full-sized 80 meter Yagi up to the 200-foot level. Firing tennis balls over gigantic conifers to string up antennas. Can somebody get hurt or at least get an ow-ie? Yeah? Well then...pretty edgy.

Once you get people imagining the possibilities, ham radio starts to hold their interest. At that point, we can start yakking about hundreds of contacts and hour and bouncing signals off of meteor trails and amplifiers and all the neat stuff that makes hams sit on the edges of their seats. Now, it would be REALLY cool if we could figure out a way to include blowing stuff up in our contests, but that will have to be the subject of a different editorial.

73, Ward N0AX

CONTESTS

23 July through 6 August 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

IOTA Contest--Phone,CW, from Jul 26 1200Z to Jul 27 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RS(T), serial, IOTA number if island. Logs due: Sep 1. Web site

Flight of the Bumblebees--CW, from Jul 27 1700Z to Jul 27 2100Z. Bands (MHz): 7-28, 7.040, 14.060, 21.060, 28.060. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, Bumblebee nr or power. Logs due: Aug 9. Web site

TARA Grid Dip Contest--Digital, from Aug 2 0000Z to Aug 4 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 160-28, 50. Exchange: Name and grid square. Logs due: Sep 2. Web site

National Lighthouse-Lightship Weekend--Phone,CW,Digital, from Aug 2 0001Z to Aug 3 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. CW-1.830,3.530,7.030,14.030,21.030,28.030; SSB-1.970,3.970,7.270,14.270,21.370,28.370. Exchange: Serial or ARLHS mbr/light nr, name, S/P/C. Logs due: Aug 30. Web site

10-10 Summer Phone QSO Party--Phone, from Aug 2 0001Z to Aug 3 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 28. Exchange: Call, name, 10-10 number, S/P/C. Logs due: Aug 18. Web site

European HF Championship--Phone,CW, from Aug 2 1200Z to Aug 2 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS(T), last two digits of 1st year licensed. Logs due: Aug 31. Web site

North American QSO Party--CW, from Aug 2 1800Z to Aug 3 0600Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: Name and state. Logs due: 14 days. Web site

SARL HF DX Contest--Phone, from Aug 3 1300Z to Aug 3 1630Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Exchange: RS and serial. Logs due: 14 days. Web site

VHF+ CONTESTS

TARA Grid Dip Contest--Digital, from Aug 2 0000Z to Aug 4 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 160-28, 50. Exchange: Name and grid square. Logs due: Sep 2. Web site

ARRL UHF Contest--Phone,CW,Digital, from Aug 2 1800Z to Aug 3 1800Z. Bands (MHz): 222+. Exchange: Grid square. Logs due: Sep 6. Web site

LOG DUE DATES

23 July through 6 August 2008

July 23 - NAQCC Straight Key/Bug Sprint, email logs to: naqcc33@alltel.net, post log summary at: http://www.arm-tek.net/~yoel/sprint_submit_log.html, paper logs and diskettes to: Tom Mitchell, KB3LFC, RD6 Box 122A, Kittanning, PA 16201, USA. Web site

July 28 - VK/Trans-Tasman 160m Contest, Phone, email logs to: VK: vktasman@hotmail.com

ZL: vktasman@robglassey.com, paper logs and diskettes to: VK:, VK/trans-Tasman Contest, 28 Crampton Crescent, Rosanna, VIC 3084, Australia, ZL: VK/trans-Tasman Contest, PO Box 21-363, Christchurch 8143, New Zealand. Web site

July 29 - ARRL Field Day, post log summary at: http://www.b4h.net/cabforms/fielddayentry.php, paper logs and diskettes to: Field Day Entries, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111, USA. Web site

July 29 - ARCI Milliwatt Field Day, email logs to: contest@qrparci.org, paper logs and diskettes to: Milliwatt Field Day, c/o Jeff Hetherington, VA3JFF, 139 Elizabeth St W, Welland, Ontario L3C 4M3, Canada. Web site

July 29 - Ukrainian DX DIGI Contest, email logs to: orionua@orion.od.ua, paper logs and diskettes to: (none). Web site

July 29 - Marconi Memorial HF Contest, email logs to: contest.marconi@arifano.it, paper logs and diskettes to: ARI sez.di Fano, PO Box 35, 61032 FANO (PU), Italy. Web site

July 30 - GACW WWSA CW DX Contest, email logs to: auranito@speedy.com.ar

guillev@v2r.com.ar, paper logs and diskettes to: GACW DX Contest, PO Box 9, B1875ZAA Wilde, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Web site

July 30 - Manchester Mineira All America CW Contest, email logs to: cwjf@powerline.com.br, paper logs and diskettes to: CWJF Contest Committee, PO Box 410, Juiz de Fora - MG 36001-970, Brazil. Web site

July 30 - Digital Pentathlon, email logs to: club@dqso.net, paper logs and diskettes to: (none). Web site

July 31 - Original QRP Contest, email logs to: oqrpc@qrpcc.de, paper logs and diskettes to: Dr Hartmut Weber, DJ7ST, Schlesierweg 13, D-38228 SALZGITTER, Germany. Web site

July 31 - VOLTA WW RTTY Contest, email logs to: log2008@contestvolta.it, paper logs and diskettes to: Francesco Di Michele, I2DMI, PO Box 55, 22063 Cantu, Italy. Web site

July 31 - SEANET Contest, email logs to: teleniuslowe@gmail.com, paper logs and diskettes to: SEANET CONTEST 2008, c/o Steve Telenius-Lowe, 9M6DXX, WDT 527, 88905 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Malaysia. Web site

July 31 - RAC Canada Day Contest, email logs to: canadaday@rac.ca, paper logs and diskettes to: Radio Amateurs of Canada, 720 Belfast Road, Suite 217, Ottawa, Ontario K1G 0Z5, Canada. Web site

August 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. Web site

August 1 - SMIRK Contest, email logs to: aa5xe@ktc.com, paper logs and diskettes to: Dale Richardson, AA5XE, 214 Palo Verde Dr, Kerrville, TX 78028, USA. Web site

August 3 - MI QRP July 4th 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. Web site

August 5 - DARC 10-Meter Digital Contest, email logs to: df5bx@darc.de, paper logs and diskettes to: Werner Ludwig, DF5BX, PO Box 1270, 49110 Georgsmarienhuette, Germany. Web site

August 5 - PODXS 070 Club 40m Firecracker Sprint, email logs to: jbudzowski@verizon.net, paper logs and diskettes to: Jay Budzowski N3DQU, 109 S Northview Ave, New Castle, PA 16102, USA. Web site

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

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

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