October 29, 2008Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO
During the fall's numerous contest weekends, it is a good time to reflect on the recurrent nature of HF propagation. Now that sunspots are beginning to reappear on the face of Ol' Sol, the 27-day rotation period of the Sun begins to make itself felt on the HF bands. Take some notes during the contests about propagation, particularly on the high bands, and then check it again four weeks later and compare the solar indices and sunspot count from each. What goes around, comes around!
There are no bulletins in this issue.
Jim W7DHC is the Northwestern Division VUAC Rep and Gabor VE7DXG the Canadian VUAC Rep, correcting the omission of W7DHC in the last issue.
Rules follow Commentary section
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST
Andy N2NT, CQ 160 Contest Director, calls in with information about the 2009 version of this popular contest. Read carefully, because there are significant changes. "The 2009 CQWW 160 Meter Contest has undergone major changes this year. [previous director] Dave K4JRB has been very helpful in the transition, and is still working on certificates/trophies from prior contests. Please be patient if you are waiting for an award, it should be coming shortly. Please visit the Web site for important information, including the full text of the new rules. You will find records and log info there also. Here are some of the rule change highlights:
Please note there has been no change in multipliers or qso points. We hope these changes will help to improve the contest, and stay consistent with the rules for other CQ contests." This is a good time to put a reminder on the calendar to update your logging software!
West Mountain Radio has announced two new accessories for the contest station owner. The RIGblaster duo® is a two-radio station integration console that extends RIGblaster capability to a second rig. A pair of USB connections are available to act as USB-to-serial convertors, as well. The RIGrunner® Model 4004 USB adds USB connections to the popular RIGrunner series for devices that charge an internal battery via the USB connection.
TAPR announces the release of the HPSDR Mercury Receiver board! High Performance Software Defined Radio is an open-source hardware and software project designed and developed by interested experimenters worldwide. The assembled Mercury receiver board uses SMT parts and is manufactured in quantity by machine. You will find the information under the <Projects><TAPR-HAMSDR> tab, including the Mercury board specifications. Contesters will find the input filtering of particular interest as well as the receiver performance metrics.
It's not too late to have your CQ WW CW Contest operation announced! Both Daily DX and NG3K are keeping a running list of expedition announcements. A printout of expedition calls and bands is a great motivator--it's fun to chase down every one! (Thanks, Bernie W3UR and Bill NG3K)
While you're crawling around under the operating desk looking for another electric outlet, you'll be able to sympathize with this story about recharging electric vehicles. And after you do find an outlet and fire up the station, read this article about power consumption while the filaments are heating. I think they're just mistaking the surge for all of us trying to work the latest DXpedition, myself. I wonder if there has been a power consumption measurement done during CQ WW?
Imagine this for the first CQ IWW (Inter-World Wide) Contest in 2148:
"The famous Drake equation calculates the number of advanced civilizations in our galaxy right now. But the result is hugely sensitive to the assumptions you make about factors such as the number of habitable planets that orbit a host star, how many of these actually develop life and what fraction of these go on to become intelligent etc. Disagreements about these figures leads to estimates for the number of advanced civilizations ranging from 10^-5 to 10^6. Now an astronomer in Scotland has worked out how to make the calculations more precise so that different theories about the origin of planets, life and civilizations can be compared. His calculations say that the rare-life hypothesis predicts only 361 advanced civilizations in the Milky Way now. However, the so-called tortoise and hare hypothesis predicts 31,573 and the theory of panspermia says that there ought to be 37,964 extraterrestrial civilizations more advanced than our own in the Milky Way." (from Slashdot on 20 Oct 2008) You could have a triple mult - country, zone, and civilization!
Let's flip the calendar pages in the other direction - Hal W1NN published a short article on the cq-contest reflector called "CW Sweepstakes Then and Now". It's an interesting discussion about the characteristics of the contest in 1958 compared to today. You might be surprised to learn that more than 1600 stations submitted logs in that particular running! Hal asks whether the annual November fracas will see its own centennial running - the answer is probably up to us!
You think hams have big stations - how about a 28-ton trebuchet for flinging contests? The annual "punkin' chunkin'" competitions are just as hotly strategized and pre-planned as the biggest multi-multi effort. They throw vegetables and fruit, we throw RF. (Thanks, Mark K1RO)
If a Tree blogs in the forest and no one reads it, did he write anything? You can answer that question by taking a look at Tree N6TR's new blog as he works on antennas for the coming season and talks about radio stuff.
Would you like to read after-contest Soapbox comments without plowing through 600 emails to 3830@contesting .com? Dink N7WA has published the Soapbox digest for the two first major contests of the season, CQWW RTTY and CQWW SSB.
Speaking of Soapbox, the NK7U CQ WW SSB writeup by Scott K7ZO is worth reading. NK7U took the whole station down last year and has a goodly portion of it all back up in time for this year's contest season. Not bad!
Web Site of the Week - Jim AD1C writes, "I just noticed that 12 October 2008 marked the 15th anniversary of my contest country file releases. Back then, it was CT only. Then NA, TR and WriteLog got on board, followed by many more." The list of programs that use Jim's carefully maintained file is extensive. The "CTY Files" (these could be a TV show all by themselves) is a key element of making contesting fun for everyone. Thank you, Jim! And while you're getting all the hardware ready, make updating the supporting files your logging software uses part of your pre-contest checklist.
WORD TO THE WISE
Mult Bell--I'm not sure where it got started (perhaps K2GL's seminal multi-multi operation), but it's common to have a desk bell, like those found at a hotel's front desk to call the bellhop (maybe that's why they are called bellhops), to ring when a new multiplier is worked. Big fun! And a related word, "double dinger", refers to the two rings during CQ WW when a multiplier is both a new zone and a new country! This can get old on Saturday really quickly, but during the night and into Sunday afternoon, that cheery sound perks up the whole team!
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
Transequatorial Propagation (TEP) on 6 meters is not uncommon, but for those of us too outside the favored areas, it's rarely encountered. Flavio PY2ZX provides videos of TEP operation and many other very watchable short subjects on the Japy DX Group YouTube Web page.
Progress at Radio Arcala OH8X continues apace. And heres's a big station from next door in Zone 16 - if you worked RD3AF, here's what steers the Poynting Vector at their QTH. (Thanks, Rich KL7RA and Steve K6AW)
The "falling derrick" technique is catching on as a safe and straightforward way of erecting masts and small towers. Here's a video from RA4LW as a mast goes up. The speech is in Russian, but you'll be able to get some ideas, no matter what your native tongue. (Thanks, Tree N6TR)
Mobile runs during a State QSO Party are always a lot of fun and the WW7LW Euro van Rover Bus story is no different. Chuck AC7QN and Rich KR7W hit the road during the 2008 Salmon Run WA QSO Party and their Web site tells the tale.
RESULTS AND RECORDS
The claimed scores for the ARRL September VHF QSO Party are now posted on the ARRL Web site. The scores also show section, category, claimed score, and club. Be sure your call sign and information are listed correctly! (Thanks, Steve K4GUN)
The QST version of the ARRL June VHF QSO Party results write-up by Rick K1DS is online. Rick's expanded Web version will follow as soon as conversion is completed.
The remaining one-third of 2007 Sweepstakes plaques arrived last Friday. Carol KB1QAW will have them out the door early this week. This means that all 2007 Sweepstakes plaques have now been processed. A group of volunteers will get together and process the ARRL 10 Meter Contest certificates early this week. (Thanks, Sean KX9X, ARRL Contest Branch Manager)
Preliminary results for the North America RTTY Sprint are available. Your LCR (Log Check Report) can be requested from firstname.lastname@example.org and the National Contest Journal's results article will be in the Jan-Feb 2009 issue. (Thanks, Ed W0YK, NA RTTY Sprint Manager)
From Randy K5ZD, Director - CQ WPX Contest, "Thanks to the efforts of Jim Monahan, K1PX, the all-time records for the CQ WPX Assisted category have been collected and are now posted. It is interesting to note that the Assisted category scores are below those of the Unassisted category in most cases. I suspect this is because there are so many multipliers available in WPX that adding a few extra via packet spots is not as helpful."
Results for the 2007 Canada Winter Contest 2007 and rules for 2008 have been posted online at the contest's Web site. There are no changes to the rules for the 2008 winter contest other than the contest date - which for this year is Dec 27, 2008. (Thanks, Sam VE5SF, Canada Winter Contest Manager)
The Logs Received list for the 2008 Canada Day Contest has been posted, too. Please let Contest Manager, Bart VE5CPU know if your entry is missing.
The worldwide qualifying scores for the 2010 World Radiosport Team Championships in Russia have been updated and can be viewed at the Radio-Sport Web site. There are full spreadsheets available for every region in the world. (Thanks, Jamie NS3T)
The 2008 Maryland QSO Party results have been published on-line. (Thanks, Al KZ3AB, Chairman)
Tack JE1CKA, JIDX Contest Committee Chairman announces that the JIDX 2008-CW results are now online, as well.
Things to learn from CQ WW SSB:
1) The uppermost frequency on 20 meters for your rig to display (the carrier frequency) and still be in the band on USB is 14.347, not 14.350! Any higher and your sidebands are out of the band! Similar considerations apply on other bands, band edges, and band segments. This is discussed in more detail in the 2002 Frequency Measuring Test announcement.
2) Know your band segment edges and watch those split frequencies on 40 meters. Europeans are not permitted to work US stations on phone simplex above 7200 kHz. Americans are not permitted to work Europeans simplex below 7125 kHz (regardless of license class). Here is the US Amateur Service band chart in case there are any questions -. This is particularly important for beginning operators whose enthusiasm may override memory.
3) If the exchange says "signal report and zone" - that means you have to give both every time.
4) Don't believe everything you read on the Internet and don't believe everything you see coming out of the spotting networks or from your auto-fill software. Operators move. Spots get busted. There are penalties.
5) The contest ends at 0000Z. It takes a few seconds to sync up your PC with WWV or with the National Institute of Standards and Technology time-sync Web site.
TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION
Hams use the Maidenhead Locator System and you would think GPS receivers, as well, but it's not always the case. Lynn N7CFO has started a Web page directory of GPS equipment and its support for grid locators.
A "double-D" hole is one with two flat sides and are often used for UHF- and N-series bulkhead or feedthrough connectors. The flat sides prevent the connector from turning when cables are connected or disconnected. (BNC panel-mount jacks often have a single-D cross-section.) These are not easy to make by hand unless you have a double-D hole punch. The punches are rather pricey, but another option is to order your panel from a service such as Front Panel Express. You provide the drawing and they provide the panel, often costing less than the punch! (Thanks, Jim W6RMK)
Doug K1DG reports a wideband noise source that may be in your home or shack - a USB connector that sources power to USB-powered speakers. You'll have to turn off the speakers to get this annoying interference to go away, even when the PC is off! And a man-bites-dog interference story appeared in which iPhones interfered with a clock radio. The article explains the problem reasonably in non-technical language and suggests that consumers start to ask about the ability of devices to reject interference. (Thanks, Bob N6TV)
Here's a collection of useful electronics tutorials for builders and designers. The surface-mount soldering tutorial is very handy if this is something new to you.
If you are wrestling with the tuning for a 160-meter vertical, Array Solutions has an application note that make be just right. There is plenty of other information there, as well. (Thanks, Jay WX0B)
The Rohn TB-3 thrust bearing is made of aluminum and the screws are stainless steel. That often leads to corrosion problems and frozen bolts. To prevent the problem in the first place, use a grade-8 steel fastener (there will be six hash marks on the bolt head) and plenty of anti-sieze compound. If you already have frozen bolts, PB Blaster thread lubricant may help get them started. If all else fails, hacksaw the heads off close to the collar and drill them out. The screws actually won't hold a lot of weight, so you can achieve the same function with muffler clamps on the mast (such as DX Engineering's Super Duty Saddle Clamps as shown here) to hold the weight. Back-to-back muffler clamp saddles with machine bolts through each also make a nice saddle clamp. Screws in the bearing collar can then center the mast without having to hold it up, too. (Thanks, Doug K1DG, Tom K8AZ, Dave N2NL, and Glenn K6NA)
Zoneprop is a propagation prediction program that uses a daily smoothed sunspot number (SSN) to predict CQ zone-to-CQ zone propagation. This is quite handy in CQ WW contests. A detailed description of how the propagation engine works is provided. (Thanks, Syl VE5ZX)
David K1TTT found a persistent and irritating source of interstation interference on sub-harmonics of the transmit frequency--diodes in shack equipment were connected to a wire long enough to act as an effective inbound and outbound antenna. In his case, it was an electronic RF power meter, but as he observes, "The key is a diode connected to something close to a 1/2-wavelength on the lower frequency band. Basically, when the diode conducts on one peak a pulse goes down the 1/2-wave line, reflects back, and arrives just in time to prevent the diode from conducting on the next cycle. Here's an example with twp diodes and a random piece of cable. The diode action gives the waveform a distinctive characteristic, a sharp turn-on threshold. As the transmit power is increased there won't be any subharmonics until a critical voltage is reached when the diode turns on, then it quickly generates a strong subharmonic. (Thanks, David K1TTT)
Technical Web Site of the Week - General metalworking comes up a lot in shack projects, from gadget panels to full-blown welding jobs for tower and antenna hardware. These three Web sites--a Googlegroups metalworking forum, Machinists Web, and Home Machinist--may come in handy for your tinkering travails. (Thanks, Jim N9GTM)
Maxim P Filament, KL1CKY here and welcome to the pre-game edition of "Air Things Considered". Brought to you by LayerLube Propagation Grease, it opens up the tightest band, and Sporadi-Key, when libration fading has you behind the grey line. My guests this week are top Sweepstakes Single-Op contenders Wes Gulf, N5URP and Sandy Eggo, NR6PU...
MPF: This weekend is the CW half of ARRL Sweepstakes and nationwide polls show an extremely close race. Wes, you seem to be lagging, but your technical staff has gone on record as saying you'll close the gap by 2100Z on Saturday. Comments?
N5URP: Well, the crew's been puttin' up some mighty big alum'num and I s'pect that come startin' time, I'll do just fine.
MPF: What about propagation? We're in a prolonged ionospheric slump here and the QSO markets have been - well, let's be honest - in free-fall for some time with no relief in sight. The Contester Confidence Index is at it's lowest since the last solar minimum. Sandy, that puts you at a significant disadvantage.
NR6PU: We have an excellent ground-wave game all over the West Coast and we're prepared to pull out all the stops to GOTC.
MPF: Do you think Midwest and East Coast operators are willing to swing their beams to the left in search of changing propagation to the West?
N5URP: Why bother? Nobody between Denver and Frisco to work...well, maybe a couple in Arizona.
MPF: With this year's special broom awards, everyone will be chasing those rare sections, so how do you plan on pushing that Clean Sweep into the logging dustpan?
MPF: What about third category candidates?
NR6PU: Multi-Op entries do have a tendency to take QSOs away from Single-Op, but we expect that to effect both entries equally.
MPF: Well, there you have it. Two competitors ready to battle it out to the wire and who will prevail? The projections indicate there will be a historic turnout for Sweepstakes this year and early tune-up has already started in many sections. Tune in to 3830.com for Sunday night results reportage, beginning as soon as the bands close in the New England Division. Wes, Sandy, thank you and good luck! For National In-Public Radio, I'm Maxim P Filament. See you in the Sweeps!
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.
ARRL November Sweepstakes--CW, from 1 Nov 2100Z to 3 Nov 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Check is last two digits of first year licensed. Exchange: Serial, category, call, check, ARRL sec. Logs due: 3 Dec. Rules
Collegiate ARC Championship--CW, from 1 Nov 2100Z to 3 Nov 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: See ARRL Sweepstakes. Logs due: 3 Dec. Rules
IPA Contest--Phone,CW, from 1 Nov 0600Z to 1 Nov 1800Z and 2 Nov 0600Z to 2 Nov 1800Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. CW on 1 Nov, SSB on 2 Nov, break times on Web site. Exchange: RST and serial or "IPA" and state. Logs due: 31 Dec. Rules
Ukranian DX Contest--Phone,CW, from 1 Nov 1200Z to 2 Nov 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST and serial or Ukraine oblast. Logs due: 30 days. Rules
Radio Club of America QSO Party--Phone, from 1 Nov 1700Z to 2 Nov 0500Z. Exchange: RST, QTH, name, equipment. Rules
High Speed Club CW Contest--CW, from 2 Nov 0900Z to 2 Nov 1100Z and 4 Nov 1500Z to 4 Nov 1700Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. 10-30 kHz above band edge. Exchange: RST and MSC member nr or "NM". Logs due: 6 weeks. Rules
DARC 10-Meter Digital "Corona"--Digital, from 2 Nov 1100Z to 2 Nov 1700Z. Bands (MHz): 28. Exchange: RST and serial. Logs due: 4 weeks. Rules
Worked All Europe DX Contest --Digital, from 8 Nov 0000Z to 9 Nov 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Everyone works everyone format. Exchange: RST and serial (see Web for QTC rules). Logs due: 15 Dec. Rules
Japan International DX Contest--Phone, from 8 Nov 0700Z to 9 Nov 1300Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and JA prefecture or CQ Zone. Logs due: 31 Dec. Rules
OK-OM DX Contest--CW, from 8 Nov 1200Z to 9 Nov 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST and serial or OK/OM district. Logs due: 1 Dec. Rules
Kentucky QSO Party--Phone,CW, from 8 Nov 1400Z to 9 Nov 0200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50, CW 1.815, 3.54, 7.04, 14.04, 21.04, 28.04, 50.08; SSB 1.855, 3.82, 7.24, 14.28, 21.39, 28.39, 50.19. Exchange: RST and serial or KY county. Logs due: 31 Dec. Rules
CQ WE (Western Electric)--Phone,CW,Digital, from 8 Nov 1900Z to 10 Nov 0500Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50-440. Exchange: Call, name, Bell QTH, yrs of svc (see Web). Logs due: 1 Dec. Rules
CQ WE (Western Electric)--Phone,CW,Digital, from 8 Nov 1900Z to 10 Nov 0500Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50-440. Exchange: Call, name, Bell QTH, yrs of svc (see Web). Logs due: 1 Dec. Rules
LOG DUE DATES
29 October through 11 November
October 29 - TARA PSK Rumble Contest, email logs to: (none), post log summary at: http://www.n2ty.org/seasons/tara_rumble_score.html, paper logs and diskettes to: (none). Rules
October 29 - RSGB 80m Club Sprint, SSB, email logs to: email@example.com, upload log at: http://www.vhfcc.org/cgi-bin/hfcover.pl, paper logs and diskettes to: (none). Rules
October 31 - All Asian DX Contest, Phone, email logs to: firstname.lastname@example.org, paper logs and diskettes to: JARL, All Asian DX Contest, Phone, 170-8073 Japan. Rules
October 31 - Texas QSO Party, email logs to: email@example.com, paper logs and diskettes to: Texas QSO Party Committee, 6 Sweetdream Place, The Woodlands, TX 77381-6009, USA. Rules
October 31 - Washington State Salmon Run, email logs to: firstname.lastname@example.org, paper logs and diskettes to: Western Washington DX Club, PO Box 395, Mercer Island, WA 98040, USA. Rules,
October 31 - Scandinavian Activity Contest, CW, email logs to: email@example.com, paper logs and diskettes to: SACCW, Jan-Eric Rehn, SM3CER, Finstavagen 26, 7 tr., SE-863 31 Sundsbruk, Sweden. Rules
October 31 - Scandinavian Activity Contest, SSB, email logs to: firstname.lastname@example.org, paper logs and diskettes to: SACSSB, Jan-Eric Rehn, SM3CER, Finstavagen 26, 7 tr., SE-863 31 Sundsbruk, Sweden. Rules,
October 31 - German Telegraphy Contest, email logs to: email@example.com, paper logs and diskettes to: Wolfgang Schwarz, DK9VZ, In den Bleichwiesen 7, D-65779 Kelkheim, Germany. Rules,
November 1 - Feld Hell Sprint, email logs to: (none), post log summary at: http://www.bambinomusical.com/autolog.html, paper logs and diskettes to: (none). Rules,
November 2 - UBA ON Contest, SSB, email logs to: firstname.lastname@example.org, paper logs and diskettes to: Leon Welters, ON5WL, Borgstraat 80, B-2580 Beerzel, Belgium. Rules,
November 5 - YLRL Anniversary Party, CW, email logs to: email@example.com, paper logs and diskettes to: Annette Wood, KC8SQM, 6167 Oakwood Circle, North Ridgeville, OH 44039, USA. Rules,
November 5 - 432 MHz Fall Sprint, email logs to: firstname.lastname@example.org, paper logs and diskettes to: Jim Worsham W4KXY, 1915 Oak Wind Lane, Buford, GA 30519-6766, USA. Rules,
November 9 - UBA ON Contest, 2m, email logs to: email@example.com, paper logs and diskettes to: Leon Welters, ON5WL, Borgstraat 80, B-2580 Beerzel, Belgium. Rules,
November 10 - 10-10 Int. Fall Contest, CW, email logs to: firstname.lastname@example.org, paper logs and diskettes to: Dan Morris, KZ3T #41015, 131 Valencia Lane, Statsville, NC 28625, USA. Rules
November 10 - FISTS Fall Sprint, email logs to: W8PIG@yahoo.com, paper logs and diskettes to: Dan Shepherd, N8IE, 1900 Pittsfield St., Kettering, OH 45420, USA. Rules,
November 10 - Oceania DX Contest, Phone, email logs to: email@example.com, paper logs and diskettes to: Oceania DX Contest, c/o Wellington Amateur Radio Club Inc, PO Box 6464, Wellington 6030, New Zealand. Rules
November 10 - Oceania DX Contest, CW, email logs to: firstname.lastname@example.org, paper logs and diskettes to: Oceania DX Contest, c/o Wellington Amateur Radio Club Inc, PO Box 6464, Wellington 6030, New Zealand. Rules,
November 10 - 10-10 Int. Fall Contest, Digital, email logs to: email@example.com, paper logs and diskettes to: Dan Morris, KZ3T #41015, 131 Valencia Lane, Statsville, NC 28625, USA. Rules