ARRL

Contest Update Issues

Preview
The ARRL Contest Update
September 3, 2008
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
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IN THIS ISSUE

NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

If you've never tried one of the NCJ Sprint contests, they are worth listening to. Hey, where did everybody go? That's one of the neat things about these contests - their innovative and unique "QSY Rule". If you call CQ and make a contact, you've got to QSY at least 5 kHz. If you answer a CQ and make a second QSO on the frequency, you'll have to QSY at least 1 kHz before responding to another CQ. That makes "the Sprints" much more difficult than longer contests in which holding a frequency is paramount. Read the "how to Sprint" article by champ N6TR for some pointers about what to expect.

BULLETINS

There are no bulletins in this issue, although with hurricanes lined up in the Atlantic, keep an eye on the ARRL home page for emergency communications frequencies to avoid.

BUSTED QSOS

  • Sharp-eyed reader Prasad VU2PTT was the first to notice that it is the CQ WW 160 SSB contest that has moved to the Feb 28/Mar 1 weekend, not CQ WW SSB.
  • The correct URL for the Louisiana Contest Club is http://www.louisianacontestclub.org. (Thanks, Mark K5ER)

CONTEST SUMMARY

Rules follow Commentary section

September 6-7

  • All-Asia, Phone
  • Russian Radio RTTY WW
  • IARU Region I Field Day, Phone
  • Ohio State Parks On the Air
  • North American Sprint, CW
  • Tennessee QSO Party

September 13-14

  • ARRL September VHF QSO Party
  • 070 Club 80 Meter Autumn Sprint, Digital
  • WAE DX Contest, Phone
  • Arkansas QSO Party
  • Second-Class Operators Sprint, CW
  • North American Sprint, Phone
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

Icom unveiled the new IC-7600 HF/6m transceiver at Tokyo Hamfair 2008. Adam VA7OJ/AB4OJ was there to capture the event and took photos. His description features hi-resolution front and rear panel views and lists the salient points of the radio.

They may be living in the Black Hole, but they sure know how to have a summer picnic! Here's the SMC having fun at "ZO Fest" this summer. (Photo WX9U)

The Society of Midwestern Contesters gathered for "ZO Fest" in early August, bringing together 45 members for an afternoon of fun, technical presentations, demonstrations, and food. Hosted by Ralph K9ZO and his wife Connie, some members drove for over 3 hours to attend! This big club had a lot of fun - yours should try it!

The speaker lineup for the Pacific NW VHF Conference (Oct 3-4 in Moses Lake, WA) has been announced. The keynote speaker will be Joe Taylor, K1JT, on "Software for VHF Meteor-Scatter Communication". Other speakers include Lyle Johnson KK7P and Eric Schwarz WA6HHQ of Elecraft and Sean Kutzko KX9X, ARRL Contest Branch Manager.

The Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) official band plan for 160 meters, drafted in July of this year, was officially announced yesterday. Broadly, the plan is:

  • 1800 - 1810: CW, Narrow-Band Digital
  • 1810 - 1840: CW
  • 1840 - 1999: CW, Phone
  • 1999 - 2000: Beacons

There is additional discussion that applies to each segment. (Thanks, Eddie VE3CUI)

VE3NEA's "DX Bulletin Reader" is a software tool to find and extract information from DX bulletins on subjects of interest to you, such as DX entities you need.

Busy beaver VE3NEA continues to produce a stream of great software. Mark K6UFO reports, "DX Bulletin Reader is a new program from VE3NEA that searches the DX bulletins to highlight information on the countries you designate as "Needed." Or you can do text searches on individual bulletins or all the bulletins you have downloaded. Downloading new bulletins is cut-and-paste from the bulletin websites or from your email. I've found the highlighting function to be better than reading through the whole long bulletins to find just the few I'm interested in."

You've got the DXCC entity list memorized, right? Of course you do, so making a clean sweep on this "how many countries can you name" quiz should be a snap! After the aftereffects of that experiment have worn off, see how old your brain is with another online exercise. (Thanks, Randy K5ZD and Dennis N6KI)

The Potomac Valley Radio Club has published some great contesting presentations by Dan K2YWE; "Contests - Why Bother?", "Contesting for the little pistol", and "Contesting - Best Practices". Your club might find these interesting and useful. (Thanks, Mark KD4D)

Many of us past a "certain age" grew up savoring the columns and articles of Tom Kneitel, then K2AES and more recently W4XAA. He wrote for Popular Electronics, Popular Communications, and S9 among other publications. His work in CB Horizons probably drew as many to amateur radio as any other single writer. That one could be humorous and also write about technical topics was a revelation to me and I keep one such memorable tidbit in my collection.

Multi-op host and Florida Contest Group founder, Vic Dubois N4TO, passed away Aug 15th. The cumulative list of operators that Vic hosted is quite formidable and his "Vicnics" were instrumental in growing the Florida contester community. (Thanks, Dan K1TO)

This coming month brings the 50th Scandinavian Activity Contest that spotlights stations in SM, OZ, OY, OH, LA, and TF. There will be special anniversary prizes this year. There is a special SAC Web page where operations will be announced on-line. (Thanks, Ingo SM5AJV/SE5E)

Web Site of the Week - What to do while waiting for the "next contest"? If you need a regular dose of contesting action, there are quite a few weekday contests. Some even run monthly or weekly! A few are definitely low-key, but if you go with the flow, they are a lot of fun! Here's a few:

NCCC Sprint - every Thursday, includes slow-speed period

Straight-Key Contest Club Weekday Sprint - fourth Wednesday

QRP Fox Hunts - irregular schedule

ARS Spartan Sprint - first Monday

WORD TO THE WISE

Cut numbers - the practice of using abbreviations for numbers in order to reduce transmission time. For example, T for 0, A for 1, E for 5, N for 9. Except for 5, the abbreviation simply replaces all of the repeated dashes with a single dash. 0, 1, 5, and 9 are the most commonly "cut" but others are heard, as well. This can be confusing to operators not expecting cut numbers, so use them judiciously. If the other operator is not expecting a cut number, the copying error or time spent repeating information can hurt your score more than help.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Mmmmm...stacked 3-element 80 meter beams! You and I might just dream, but others have taken up the challenge and made it happen; NO8D, NR5M, and KC1XX are three worthy examples! (Thanks, Frank W3LPL and Dave K1TTT)

Does this robotic swarm technology have applications for contesting? Is it a contest? Does it represent contesters? I don't know, but it's fun to watch! (Thanks, Randy WB9FSL)

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RESULTS AND RECORDS

Congratulations to the divisional winners of the NCCC Sprint Ladder V Compeition; W4NZ, K7SS, N6RO and N9RV. Thanks to Ed W0YK for maintaining the results Web page. A discussion about changing the rule on duplicate contacts in the NS is on-line as a Google "knol" (knowledge unit). (Thanks, Bill N6ZFO)

What a place to get charged up for a contest! From the days of yore, these scalywags are (left to right) K7LXC, KT7H (now K7RA), K7SS, KC7RN, K7HBN, K7LR representing AG7M, W7WA, and KB7G/VR2BG. (Thanks, K7LXC)

The results of the EU Sprint Contest - Spring SSB from April have just been released and the results of the CW Sprint will follow within days. The results, logs, and UBN reports are available on the new EU Sprint

Web page. Once again both the UBN and logs will be public. (Thanks, Paolo I2UIY)

Updated rules are now available for the 2008 Fall VHF/UHF Sprints. There have been changes to Rover scoring. (Thanks, Lu N2SLN)

The Boeing Employees' Amateur Radio Society - STL, BEARS, sponsors of the Missouri QSO Party, regret that not all logs submitted as contest entries from the April 2008 contest have been received by the Contest Manager, K2DP. The complete explanation and instructions for re-submittal of your log can be found on the BEARS-St. Louis Web site. Logs may be submitted up through September 15, 2008. (Thanks, Dave K2DP)

OPERATING TIP

You're operating in a DX contest and you're called by a US station - should you log the QSO? Yes! Even a zero-pointer for you could be a zone multiplier for the caller. Just leave the contact in your log. The sponsor will not assess a penalty for logged QSOs that don't have point value. By removing those QSOs from your log, you probably create a unwarranted NIL (Not-In-Log) for the calling station. Log 'em and leave 'em in, folks!

TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Astron power supplies, a fixture in ham shacks, are reliable and sturdy, but nothing lasts forever. With the high duty cycle of extended contesting, a power supply make occasionally let the magic smoke out of something inside. When that happens and you need some guidance of fixing the supply, the Repeater Builder's Web site has plenty of good information to help you that Astron pumping out the coulombs again.

Trees are time-honored antenna supports, of course. But if you don't care for the lag-bolt/screw-eye method of attaching the antenna, what other options are available? Just tying a rope around the tree or over a branch often results in damage to the outer (and most critical) layers of the trunk or branch. Eric W3DQ discovered a device called a Friction-Saver or Cambrium Saver available from arborist suppliers. Bert VE3OBU also turned up the instructions for using one. Take care of valuable flora and hold up the skyhook, too!

Who's your favorite Beverage supplier? No, not Anheiser-Busch, the receiving antenna! Beverages look a lot like fences and so why not take advantage of the high-volume fencing material distributors? Paul WY7I found Kencove Farm Fence Supplies to be a good source of Beverage-building materials; from wire to insulators and everything in between, including fencepost pounders - even the highly soughtafter "Z Pigtail Offset"!

If you're building a remote station or using the USB interface as part of your shack automation efforts, then you might find this Isolated USB-controlled power outlet project from the Instructables Web site. With serial ports disappearing from computers, USB interfaces like this will be increasingly necessary.

Here's a big fraction of the New Mexico contest call signs in your log! Left to right: Scott K5TA, Arne N7KA, Bruce AA5B, James KK6MC, Steve WA4ITA, Gary K5TQ, Steve N2IC (Photo AA5B)

As tower-building season enters autumn (I hesitate to use the word "fall" in association with towers), holes are surely being dug across the land. Some cautionary reminders may be appropriate, especially for those of us that don't work in the construction industry:

- Any hole deeper than 4 feet needs shoring to prevent collapse

- Working at the bottom of a hole for long periods can lead to oxygen depletion

- The pressure from loose soil anywhere on your body can cause serious injury

Small excavators are available at very reasonable rates from local equipment rental services or a professional can do a very nice job, leaving you to do whatever it is that you do best. (Thanks, several Towertalk reflector contributors)

Fuel cell technology is starting to make its appearance in the personal electronics market. Can a fuel-cell powered radio be far behind? Cells from Power It Anywhere output 3.6 to 5.45 V at up to 220 mA - enough to run a handheld radio. (Thanks, Ken N9VV)

We're all greatly affected day-to-day by our closest star. The article "Living With A Star" talks about some upcoming spacecraft that will measure and monitor the Sun in ways never before attempted. We live inside the outer layers of the Sun's atmosphere, in fact, so it's a great idea to learn as much as possible about how the Sun works.

Dan N3OX recommends VK1OD's transmission line calculator as his favorite tool for estimating transmission line mismatch losses. Visit the site's home page for many more interesting and useful links. (Thanks, Dan N3OX)

From Richard G3CWI's "Portable" column in the October 2007 issue of the RSGB's "Radcom" comes a good idea. On the case of sealed lead-acid and similar rechargeable batteries, write the date placed purchased or placed into service. This will help you keep track of the how long the battery lasts (or doesn't), especially important when buying pull-out batteries or evaluating different suppliers or technologies.

Technical Web Site of the Week - Tuning "north" from 14.040 MHz, one hears the most interesting collection of signals and I'm not just talking about DX flutter or chirpy CW. Digital modes are multiplying every day, as the totals in digital contests attest. Yet, what are they? How can you tell a mode from the way the signal sounds? Well, it's not that easy. Into the fray steps Patrick F6CTE with a paper titled "Digimode Identifiers" that makes a proposal for a standard method of self-identification. This may become very important to digital contesters (and cognitive radio designers) in the near future. The ZIP file contains several papers about digital mode operating. And what better illustration of the explosion of digital modes than Patrick F6CTE's free software package MultiPSK 4.1? The list of supported modes, including RX only on non-amateur modes, boggles the mind. (Thanks, Mark WB9QZB)

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CONVERSATION

It's Not a Job

There are very few hams that I've met for whom their first interest remains their primary interest throughout their ham career. For example, I may have started by operating in contests with my other high school ham buddies, but I've dabbled in QRP and antennas and other reaches of the hobby from time to time. Emergency communications is a large chunk of my ham activity, as well. My interest in and enjoyment of all these activities ebbs and flows over time.

We all have a list of call signs in our memories that are no longer seen in our contest logs. What happened to those familiar calls? Assuming the person is well, are they still hams? What are they doing these days? Sometimes, we lose a contester due to "burnout". They focus so intently on the competitive chase that eventually it wears them down and they quit. For them, it wasn't fun any more.

This happens in all sorts of activities, of course; at work, in one's church or other social groups, our volunteer groups, even just groups of friends. What was once a rewarding or relaxing activity now holds one captive until escape is the only recourse. This is particularly sad in ham radio because it has so many different facets. If one wearies of building equipment, dozens and dozens of operating events exist. If running a club or emcomm team is getting old, take a little time off.

Even within contesting, there are plenty of opportunities to freshen up an activity that might be a little stale. If slugging it out on 20 Phone during a DX contest seems too much like a chore, why not get out of the shack and do a VHF+ hilltop expedition? If you're a single-band enthusiast, change bands! Hosting a small multi-single operation is a refreshing change from a solitary SOAB existence. Change modes, change bands, whatever it takes to turn that rut back into a groove!

What would happen if you took a break? Would the world come to an end? A friend once related to me, "If you think you're indispensable, put your hand in a bucket of water then pull it out. If there's a hole left behind where your hand was, then you're indispensable." Not too many of us will fit that description! Ham radio is a big world with lots of exciting things going on of which you have never heard. Take a road "less traveled" some time to reinvigorate your appreciation for a terrific hobby!

73, Ward N0AX

CONTESTS

3 September through 16 September 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

All Asia Contest--Phone, from 6 Sep 0000Z to 7 Sep 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RS and age ("00" for YL). Logs due: 29 Sep. Rules

Russian Radio RTTY WW--Digital, from 6 Sep 0000Z to 6 Sep 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and oblast or WAZ zone. Logs due: 1 Oct. Rules

IARU Region I Field Day--Phone, from 6 Sep 1300Z to 7 Sep 1300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS and serial. Logs due: 16 days. For rules, see IARU Society Web pages.

Ohio State Parks On the Air--Phone,CW,Digital, from 6 Sep 1600Z to 6 Sep 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50,144. Exchange: RS(T), serial, "Ohio" or S/P/C, and park nr. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

North American Sprint--CW, from 7 Sep 0000Z to 7 Sep 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Exchange: Call signs, serial, name, and state. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

DARC Digital 10m Corona--Digital, from 7 Sep 1100Z to 7 Sep 1300Z. Bands (MHz): 28. Exchange: RST and serial. Rules

Tennessee QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from 7 Sep 1800Z to 8 Sep 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50+, CW-1.815 and 40 kHz above band edge; SSB-1.855, 3.82, 7.24, 14.28, 21.39, 28.39; Dig-3.585, 7.085, 14.085, 21.085, 28.085; VHF/UHF-50.195, 144.195, 146.55. Exchange: RS(T) and county or S/P/C. Logs due: 9 Oct. Rules

070 Club 80 Meter Autumn Sprint--Digital, from 12 Sep 8 PM to 13 Sep 2 AM. Bands (MHz): 3.5. Exchange: RST and S/P/C. Logs due: 12 Oct. Rules

WAE DX Contest--Phone, from 13 Sep 0000Z to 14 Sep 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RS and serial. Logs due: 15 Oct. Rules

Arkansas QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from 13 Sep 0600Z to 14 Sep 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. CW-50kHz above band edge; Phone-3.98, 7.26, 14.26, 21.36, 28.36, 145-147; PSK-3.58, 7.07; 14.07; 21.08; 28.12. Exchange: RS(T), county or S/P or "DX". Logs due: 30 days. Rules

Second-Class Operators Sprint--CW, from 13 Sep 1800Z to 13 Sep 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. 1.810, 3.560, 7.040, 14.060, 21.060, 28.060. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, SOC nr or power. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

North American Sprint--Phone, from 14 Sep 0000Z to 14 Sep 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Exchange: Call signs, serial, name, and state. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

VHF+ CONTESTS

ARRL September VHF QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from 13 Sep 1800Z to 15 Sep 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 50+. Exchange: Grid square. Logs due: 8 Oct. Rules

Ohio State Parks On the Air--Phone,CW,Digital, from 6 Sep 1600Z to 6 Sep 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50,144. Exchange: RS(T), serial, "Ohio" or S/P/C, and park nr. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

Tennessee QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from 7 Sep 1800Z to 8 Sep 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50+, CW-1.815 and 40 kHz above band edge; SSB-1.855, 3.82, 7.24, 14.28, 21.39, 28.39; Dig-3.585, 7.085, 14.085, 21.085, 28.085; VHF/UHF-50.195, 144.195, 146.55. Exchange: RS(T) and county or S/P/C. Logs due: 9 Oct. Rules

LOG DUE DATES

3 September through 16 September 2008

September 3 - RSGB 80m Club Sprint, SSB, email logs to: cwsprint.logs@rsgbhfcc.org, upload log at: http://www.vhfcc.org/cgi-bin/hfcover.pl, paper logs and diskettes to: (none). Rules

September 6 - ARRL UHF Contest, email logs to: AugustUHF@arrl.org, paper logs and diskettes to: August UHF Contest, ARRL Contest Branch, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111, USA. Rules,

September 13 - New Jersey QSO Party, email logs to: w2rj@arrl.net, paper logs and diskettes to: Englewood ARA, PO Box 528, Englewood, NJ 07631-0528, USA. Rules

September 15 - Maryland-DC QSO Party, email logs to: mdc.logs@verizon.net, paper logs and diskettes to: Antietam Radio Association, PO Box 52, Hagerstown, MD 21741-0052, USA. Rules

September 15 - SARL HF CW Contest, email logs to: hfcontests@netactive.co.za, paper logs and diskettes to: Bloemfontein Radio Amateur Club, Box 12104, Brandhof, 9324, South Africa. Rules

September 15 - SCC RTTY Championship, email logs to: rtty@hamradio.si, paper logs and diskettes to: Slovenia Contest Club, Saveljska 50, 1113 Ljubljana, Slovenia. Rules

September 15 - WAE DX Contest, CW, email logs to: waecw@dxhf.darc.de, paper logs and diskettes to: (none). Rules

September 16 - ARCI Silent Key Memorial Sprint, email logs to: contest@qrparci.org, paper logs and diskettes to: ARCI Silent Key Memorial Sprint, c/o Jeff Hetherington, VA3JFF, 139 Elizabeth St W., Welland, Ontario L3C 4M3, Canada. Rules

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

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

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