ARRL

Contest Update Issues

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The ARRL Contest Update
January 21, 2009
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
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IN THIS ISSUE

NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

If you haven't yet tried Top Band (160 meters) thinking there's no way your antenna can be effective on that band, think again! Clip on some extra wire, change your feed line length, fiddle with that antenna tuner and be amazed at what Top Band is like during a contest. There's no better time to start working on that 160 meter WAS.

BULLETINS

Watch for weekend changes in February contests due to the odd weekend structure of February this year.

BUSTED QSOS

The Southeast VHF Society Conference will be held Charlotte, NORTH Carolina, and not SOUTH Carolina as reported.

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Commentary section

January 24-25

  • NAQCC Monthly Straight Key Sprint, CW (Jan 22)
  • CQ WW 160 Meter Contest, CW
  • YLISSB QSO Party, Phone
  • REF French Contest, CW
  • BARTG RTTY Sprint
  • Winter Field Day
  • UBA Contest, Phone
  • Classic Exchange, CW

January 31-February 1

  • WAB Top Band Phone Contest
  • QRP Winter Fireside SSB Sprint
  • ARS Monthly Spartan Sprint, CW (Feb 3)
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

The North Coast Contesters are proud to announce the 17th Annual Dayton Contest Dinner! 2009 Contest Dinner tickets are on sale now exclusively via the Web again this year, thanks to Scott KA9FOX and QTH.com. The Contest Dinner will be held on Saturday night, May 16, 2009 at 6:30 PM in the Van Cleve Ballroom of the Crowne Plaza Hotel at 5th and Jefferson Streets (next to the Convention Center) in Dayton, Ohio. (Thanks, Tim K3LR)

Is this the last thing a bug sees at the K4RO QTH? Kirk K4RO (r) is a fine musician along with being a hot contest operator and columnist. Your editor (l) attempts to keep up with him at times. (Photo N0AX)

NAQP Contest Manager, Bruce WA7BNM reports that he has received a large number of e-mailed NAQP CW logs and would like to remind us that the preferred method of submitting NCJ-sponsored contest logs is via the Web form upload. There is no NAQP e-mail log robot.

The CQ WW 160 contest rules no longer mention a DX window and the window will not be in force during the contest. The reason for the change is discussed by CQ 160 Contest Director, Andy N2NT. "The activity in the contest has become so large that 5 kHz reserved for DX QSOs is just not practical. I would much rather see more of the band used, especially the region above 1875 kHz. The window cannot be used fairly and it is better to make use of the whole spectrum available. Even though many stations are using bandwidth-limited antennas, you would be surprised how much easier it can be higher in the band. Try it!"

Speaking of the 160, while amateur allocations on Top Band are becoming wider and more uniform, there is still a lot of variation around the world. Jeff K8ND has prepared a table of 160 meter amateur allocations for download and handy reference in the contest this coming weekend.

EI8IC's unique (and free) Contest Log Mapping Tool, LogView, has just been updated with the results of 35 new contests. It works from an online database of about 970,000 W/VE call signs past and present to plot the QSOs in a Cabrillo-format contest-log on one of eight different maps of North America. You can step through the log manually, or animate the contest at a range of speeds and watch QSOs build up. Each spot can be annotated with a call sign label, and you can keep a running check of multipliers worked with position-distance-bearing information for each QSO. All the maps you create can be saved for offline viewing and detailed future analysis. (Thanks, Tim EI8IC)

Writing on PCMag.com John Dvorak pans the effects of Visicalc's invention in The 30th Anniversary of the (No Good) Spreadsheet App. As a frequent user (and over-user) of spreadsheets, I was simultaneously amused, horrified, and enlightened by the article.

CQ Magazine announced a new e-mail list has been established to notify readers of the availability of each new issue of WorldRadio magazine, which is converting to a free online-only publication. SatMagazine, a free Web-based magazine is also available on-line and this month's issue is dedicated to Cubesats. AMSAT and Amateur Radio are mentioned, as well. The first English issue of the free electronic Amateur Radio magazine Ham-Mag is also available. The first issue can be downloaded and if you subscribe (subscriptions are free) the magazine will be emailed to you each month. (From AMSAT News Service Bulletin 011.05)

The sad news regarding Don Doughty W6EEN reached me following his passing on the evening of 16 January. Don had suffered a stroke earlier in the week. His highly capable and impressive station was a beacon from Southern California on the HF bands and he hosted numerous guest operators, many of whom have posted testimonials to the hospitality of Don and Phyllis. Don supported many ham radio organizations; ARRL, QCWA, NCDXC and others. We'll all regret not hearing "dit dit dah-dit" in the coming contest season.

Check out the great articles from Finland in CCF's online magazine, "Pileup"!

Contest Club Finland's PileUP! 52-page PDF magazine is available for downloading. The next issue is scheduled to be available in mid-March. (Thanks, Ilkka OH1WZ)

Web Site of the Week- Wired Magazine's Web site offers a useful page called "Jargon Watch". Hams love jargon, but sometimes even we are stumped by the new words and word-like-objects finding their way into our daily information stream. Becoming a jargo-naut for a few minutes will rub a new wrinkle into your cerebral cortex in the time it takes to say, "Wack!"

WORD TO THE WISE

Robot--the automated email system by which electronic contest logs are submitted. While the word conjures the vision of old W1ICD cartoons with a frazzled contest editor sorting through stacks of paper, the new robot is really a program. It watches those log submission Inboxes and is quick to scan through your log, making it ready for the log checking process that begins later. While the robot is occasionally implacable or obtuse, it would be hard to imagine contest sponsors dealing with the old regimen of paper and diskettes.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Here's a band I'll bet you haven't worked--they're called Eddy Current Suppression Ring after an element of a power transformer. The band hails from Zone 30 and the Melbourne lads will be coming to the US next year for a fuse-blowing tour.

Once upon a time, mechanical pencils were considered to be an operating advantage. This image of an ARRL Operating Aid No. 6 shows why. (Thanks, Phil K3UA)

As radio amateurs, we tend to be aware of seasonal variations in the ionosphere invisible to the non-ham, but the remarkable Astronomy Picture of the Day for 15 January shows a very visible variation observed with the barest minimum of equipment.

Ramon XE1KK went on a short trip to NA-124 and has published a presentation about his "lunch time" expedition. It is quite interesting, especially considering the very simple setup and the short time on the islands. Joaquin, XE1R, made a video that is on Youtube, recording several QSOs from his home.

Many new contesters that got started in the Age of Computer Logging may have never experienced the pleasure of using an Op Aid 6 for 48 hours. Phil K3UA dug out this beauty, scanned it, and made it available on line. So when the software asks if you want to use the "visible dupe sheet", this is what it's referring to.

I don't think it will be showing up in Tim K3LR's multi-multi stations any time soon, but here's a neat video about making a simple receiver. I love the thumbtacks and paper clips as connectors! (Thanks, Tim K3LR)

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RESULTS AND RECORDS

The results for the 2008 CQ 160 contest are now available on the Web. You will find a copy of the article, along with scores, expanded soapbox and operator lists. The 2007 results are posted, as well. (Thanks, CQ 160 Contest Director, Andy N2NT)

2008 Worked All Europe (WAE) CW results are now available on the WAE Web site. (Thanks, WAE DX Contest Manager, Joerg, DL8WPX)

Updated WRTC Results have been compiled and posted on NS3T's radio-sport.net. As we close in on the final qualifying event for WRTC-2010, the competition is really exciting to watch.

These folks wouldn't stand a chance against a seasoned contester--or would they? Check out the Couch Potato Contest! (Thanks, Bruce AA5B)

OPERATING TIP

You can't have a new year without a resolution, so resolve to make 2009 the year in which you learn a new trick--operating or technical. I'll bet you're already on the way to making that happen!

TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Alan K0BG has released another good eham article on safe mobile installations. This should be of particular interest to the VHF+ rovers and HF mobile contesters. We make more intensive use of our equipment while in motion and often have lots of extra gear installed on a temporary basis. Consider your safety when gearing up for the next road trip!

Alan K0BG has written a LOT about mobile operating and installation. His Web site has tons of useful photos. (Photo K0BG)

The use of braided strap as an RF grounding conductor has largely been discontinued by commercial and military station builders, particularly outside. How come? Frank W3LPL answers the question, "Braid works well when it's under pressure and protected from corrosion, for example in coax cable where it's under pressure and protected by the jacket. It's fine for dc, as well, because there's no RF skin effect. However, braid is a poor performer for indoor RF applications and an extremely bad performer outdoors because the skin effect forces the RF to jump from wire to wire each time at each braided overlap. The joints aren't under pressure, so the quality of the connections is poor. Outdoors the joints corrode and the connections are terrible. In both cases the resistance of the braid joints is poor. So, for RF connections use copper wire or strap. You can use stainless steel as a buffer between copper and galvanize to avoid galvanic action (except in a salt spray environment)."

If you are rebuilding or modifying an amplifier and the new tubes require a higher or lower voltage, a new filament transformer can be hard to find and expensive. A less expensive way to get the new voltage is to add a small 1 or 2 amp Variac in the primary connection to the existing filament transformer. These are often available at low prices on eBay or other e-commerce Web sites. (Thanks, Carl KM1H)

Here's a device that was science fiction not so long ago. Analog Devices has just announced the release of the ADF4350 integrated synthesizer chip. It's a single, low phase-noise synthesizer with continuous tuning range from 137.5 MHz to 4.4 GHz. I can certainly see a lot of interesting uses for this in the VHF+ contester's technical toolbox.

Technical Web Site of the Week--What IS my grid square, anyway? We all generally know the grid square of our home QTH, but what it you are on vacation or just traveling (roving) and need to know? Here are four Web sites that will help you find out:

ARRLWeb: Grid Locators and Grid Squares

ARRLWeb: Calculate Grid Square

F6FVY's GoogleMaps grid calculator

QTH or grid square locator with a distance calculator

(Thanks, Larry RW4WZ)

CONVERSATION

It's Our Turn

Rhetoric is swirling like the snowflakes as a new President is inaugurated--a time at which our country pauses to consider the future and the steady march of history as a nation. Parallels can be drawn between the challenges writ large across an entire society and the challenges that face amateur radio. In the previous issue of the Contest Update, I wrote about another golden age of amateur radio. I didn't say how it would come or even that we would know when it had arrived. But I do know this: It is up to all of us--from the newest Technician to the DXCC lifetime total's last-man-standing winner--to make sure that there will be a fertile amateur radio in which the seeds of that golden age can germinate and flourish.

As we are challenged to put a shoulder to our country's wheel at large, we should not neglect the comparatively diminutive wheel of amateur radio, also in need of its many shoulders. To be sure, amateur radio is an activity in which we choose to participate, or not, depending on our circumstances and inclinations. By and large, it does not directly put bread on our tables or raise our children, but it is an activity with many benefits to its practitioners and to the public at large. Thus, it is surely a worthy goal to insure amateur radio's continued vitality in the years ahead.

The readers of this newsletter are predominately interested the competitive wheels of amateur radio--contesting, DX-ing, chasing awards, or just extending their own abilities and skills in competition with themselves. We can take pride in the many advances to which our shoulders have been bent. But what of amateur radio, the service? Amateur radio, the community? How can we, who seek and understand the power of multipliers, multiply our own efforts to keep the wheel of amateur radio turning free and true? There are many ways.

Know your vision for amateur radio! Ask those that head your organizations and societies to share their vision. Articulate your vision and ask others to do the same. Engage others and grow. Find common purpose where you can and learn from the vision of others where you do not. Amateur radio has never remained static, always changing, steered by those with vision for the future. The amateur radio we experience today is the amalgamation of the many visions of the past.

Take action! It is not enough to make wishes for amateur radio. Neither is it acceptable to wait for others to do the work of turning the wheel. Amateur radio is, and always has been, a work in progress and each of us has a job to do in that great enterprise, one hundred years of age and counting. The ARRL and every club and contest and award were started by a handful of amateurs that took action when action was called for.

Lead by example. Be the amateur radio that you wish it to be. By its very nature, amateur radio is a public activity. Your conduct on the air, at meetings, on the Internet--all make a statement about you and make amateur radio what it is today. Make known your principles and then live by them not only in the calm between contests, but in the din of a crowded band and changing propagation.

Lead by instruction. Teach others what they need to know. Knowledge is useless if not given to others where it can be turned into information, then to wisdom, and beyond. We are awash in the Information Age. There have never been so many opportunities, venues, and technologies for spreading and multiplying knowledge. If you see the need to instruct, then take it upon yourself to do so or help others in doing so.

Find a wheel and push it. All around you are opportunities crying out for a shoulder to help roll the wheel along; a contest sponsor's committee, an unfilled club leadership position, a work day to help raise an antenna, a training class or licensing exam session. If you are pushing a wheel, keep pushing, and let us all know at the satisfaction you feel in doing so.

Build a wheel. Every wheel added to the engine of amateur radio propels it faster, farther, smoother. That great idea will count for naught, should it stay out of sight on a notebook page, in a computer file, on your workbench, or in your mind. Drill that hole, solder that component, write that code, raise that antenna and start a new wheel turning.

Tell others about the wheel by rolling it out into the light of day so that others will appreciate your wheel and come to help you get it turning faster, perhaps adding their own ideas and vision. Every powerful wheel of amateur radio turning today started as a little wheel, stopping and starting, getting stuck, slipping and sliding, only to be propelled forward by the shoulders of individual amateurs, just like you.

Help the newcomer as you asked for help from the old-timer. It is impossible to go forward if we do not welcome and encourage and lift up those new to our ranks. Respect every other ham for what they bring to amateur radio and listen for the skills and experience they possess, even if, especially if, they are different from your own. Remember that amateur radio is a process, a journey, in which we are all engaged. There is always one more ham ahead of us, no matter how many are behind.

Capture the stories. Write your own story. Sing your own song. Amateur radio has many fascinating and exciting stories to tell; of technology, of operating, of competition, of failures and of successes. Our stories are what bind us together and help us remain an "us"--and not a disconnected collection of "thems". The stories of yesterday, today, and tomorrow are all of equal importance in the growing story of amateur radio.

Be amateur radio. Get on the air outside of your regular bands and modes and activities. Take some time to mingle with the great crowd of thousands and thousands of hams engaging in their own amateur radio. Learn, grow, and make amateur radio bigger and better with every contact and every meeting. Take the story and excitement of amateur radio outside our borders to those who may have forgotten or never known of our existence.

Take joy in amateur radio and the magic that springs to life every time the power switch is pressed. Don't let amateur radio become a chore. Don't let doubts and doubters darken your enjoyment. Take pleasure in the experiences and accomplishments of other hams and it will return to you many times over.

And never forget that there can be no "last ham". For there to be an amateur radio, there must be more than one for amateur radio is bigger than any of us could be by ourselves, transmitting alone without a responding signal to decipher and wrestle from the static, and no sibling ham to greet. Together, all of us must push that wheel along to the future where other shoulders will surely be waiting for us to deliver amateur radio to them.

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CONTESTS

21 January through 3 February

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

NAQCC Monthly Straight Key Sprint--CW, from Jan 22 0130Z to Jan 22 0330Z. Bands (MHz):3.5-14, Monthly on 2nd or 3rd Wednesday. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, and NAQCC member number or power. Logs due: 4 days. Rules

CQ WW 160 Meter Contest--CW, from Jan 23 2200Z to Jan 25 2200Z. Bands (MHz):1.8 Exchange: RST and S/P/C. Logs due: Feb 26. Rules

YLISSB QSO Party--Phone, from Jan 24 0000Z to Jan 25 2359Z. Bands (MHz):1.8-28 Exchange: Call sign, RS(T), ISSB number. Logs due: Mar 20. Rules

REF French Contest--CW, from Jan 24 0600Z to Jan 25 1800Z. Bands (MHz):3.5-28 Exchange: RST and serial or department ID. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

BARTG RTTY Sprint--Digital, from Jan 24 1200Z to Jan 25 1200Z. Bands (MHz):3.5-28 Exchange: Serial. Logs due: Mar 1. Rules

Winter Field Day--Phone,CW,Digital, from Jan 24 1200Z to Jan 25 1200Z. Bands (MHz):1.8-28, 50+ Exchange: Call sign, RS(T), category, local temp. Logs due: Mar 1. Rules

UBA Contest--Phone, from Jan 24 1300Z to Jan 25 1300Z. Bands (MHz):3.5-28 Exchange: RS and serial. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

Classic Exchange--CW, from Jan 25 1400Z to Jan 26 0800Z. Bands (MHz):1.8-28, 50, 144: CW 1.810, 3.545, 7.045, 14.045, 21.135, 28.050, 50.100, 144.100 . Exchange: RST, QTH, Receiver, Transmitter. Rules

WAB Top Band Phone Contest--Phone, from Jan 31 1900Z to Jan 31 2300Z. Bands (MHz):1.8 Exchange: See Web site. Logs due: Feb 21. Rules

QRP Winter Fireside SSB Sprint--Phone, from Feb 1 2000Z to Feb 1 2359Z. Bands (MHz):3.5-28: 3.865, 7.285, 14.285, 21.385, 28.385. Exchange: RS, S/P/C, QRP ARCI number or power. Logs due: Mar 8. Rules

Spartan Sprint--CW, from Feb 3 0200Z to Feb 3 0400Z. Bands (MHz):3.5-28 Monthly on first Monday. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, power. Logs due: Thurs. Rules

VHF+ CONTESTS

Winter Field Day--Phone,CW,Digital, from Jan 24 1200Z to Jan 25 1200Z. Bands (MHz):1.8-28 50+ Exchange: Call sign, RS(T), category, local temp. Logs due: Mar 1. Rules

Classic Exchange--CW, from Jan 25 1400Z to Jan 26 0800Z. Bands (MHz):1.8-28, 50, 144: CW 1.810, 3.545, 7.045, 14.045, 21.135, 28.050, 50.100, 144.100 . Exchange: RST, QTH, Receiver, Transmitter. Rules

LOG DUE DATES

21 January through 3 February

January 21 - ARCI Holiday Spirits Homebrew Sprint, email logs to: contest@qrparci.org, paper logs and diskettes to: ARCI Holiday Spirits, c/o Jeff Hetherington, VA3JFF, 139 Elizabeth St. W, Welland, Ontario L3C 4M3, Canada. Rules

January 22 - AGB New Year Snowball Contest, email logs to: eu1eu@qsl.net, paper logs and diskettes to: Igor "Harry" Getmann, EU1EU, PO Box 143, Minsk 220005, BELARUS. Rules

January 24 - North American QSO Party, CW, email logs to: (see rules, web upload preferred), upload log at: http://www.ncjweb.com/naqplogsubmit.php, paper logs and diskettes to: Bruce Horn, WA7BNM, 4225 Farmdale Avenue, Studio City, CA 91604, USA. Rules

January 26 - DARC 10-Meter Contest, email logs to: 10m@dxhf.darc.de, paper logs and diskettes to: (none). Rules

January 26 - Run for the Bacon QRP Contest, email logs to: (none), upload log at: http://www.fpqrp.com/autolog.php, paper logs and diskettes to: (none). Rules

January 28 - PODXS 070 Club QRP DX Scramble, email logs to: n3dqu@yahoo.com, paper logs and diskettes to: Jay Budzowski, N3DQU, 070 Club QRP DX Scramble, 109 S Northview Ave, New Castle, PA 16102-1633, USA. Rules

January 30 - Fall Classic Country Uncle DX Event, email logs to: sid@countryuncledx.com, paper logs and diskettes to: (none). Rules

January 31 - Stew Perry Topband Challenge, email logs to: tbdc@contesting.com, paper logs and diskettes to: BARC, 15125 SE Bartell Rd, Boring, OR 97009, USA. Rules

January 31 - Lighthouse Christmas Lights QSO Party, email logs to: (none), paper logs and diskettes to: Dave Ruch, NF0J, PO Box 20696, Bloomington, MN 55420-0696, USA. Rules

January 31 - RAC Winter Contest, email logs to: canadawinter@rac.ca, paper logs and diskettes to: Radio Amateurs of Canada, 720 Belfast Road, Suite 217, Ottawa, Ontario K1G 0Z5, Canada. Rules

January 31 - SARTG New Year RTTY Contest, email logs to: contest@sartg.com, paper logs and diskettes to: SARTG Contest Manager, Ewe Hakansson, SM7BHM, Pilspetsvagen 4, SE-291 66 KRISTIANSTAD, SWEDEN. Rules

January 31 - AGCW Happy New Year Contest, email logs to: hnyc@agcw.de, paper logs and diskettes to: Daniel Schirmer, DL5SE, Am Teich 15, 25917 Stadum, Germany. Rules

January 31 - NRAU-Baltic Contest, CW, email logs to: oh6rx@sral.fi, paper logs and diskettes to: NRAU-Baltic Contest, Jussi-Pekka Sampola, Tolbyn niittytie 23B, FI-65460 Tolby, Finland. Rules

January 31 - NRAU-Baltic Contest, SSB, email logs to: oh6rx@sral.fi, paper logs and diskettes to: NRAU-Baltic Contest, Jussi-Pekka Sampola, Tolbyn niittytie 23B, FI-65460 Tolby, Finland. Rules

January 31 - North American QSO Party, SSB, email logs to: (see rules, web upload preferred), upload log at: http://www.ncjweb.com/naqplogsubmit.php, paper logs and diskettes to: Bruce Horn, WA7BNM, 4225 Farmdale Avenue, Studio City, CA 91604, USA. Rules

January 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. Rules

February 1 - International Naval Contest, email logs to: mick_g3lik@ntlworld.com, paper logs and diskettes to: Mick Puttick, G3LIK, 21 Sandyfield Crescent, Cowplain, Waterlooville, Hants, PO8 8SQ, UK. Rules

February 2 - ARRL RTTY Roundup, email logs to: RTTYRU@arrl.org, paper logs and diskettes to: RTTY Roundup, ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111, USA. Rules

February 3 - Kid's Day Contest, email logs to: (none), paper logs and diskettes to: (see rules). Rules

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

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

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