May 27, 2009Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO
Why not give the CQ WPX CW contest a try - even at moderate to slow speeds on CW -- particularly on Sunday afternoon. Find a frequency high in the band above the digital mode watering holes and call CQ at a speed comfortable for YOU. If a speed demon calls you at too high a speed, send "QRS PSE" and they'll hit the brakes. Don't send "R" until you're sure you have their serial number copied right. Yes, they'll be impatient, but YOU'RE in the driver's seat...enjoy!
No bulletins in this issue.
The flying fingertips changed W1GV to W1FV with a single stroke - sorry about that, Stan! (Thanks John W1JA)
Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST
Undoubtedly, the most buzz was generated by the monstrously attractive 44-meter crank-up tower by Luso. A popular activity seemed to be having your picture taken standing next to it. Probably, just to scare the pants off the rest of the family! Kinda tough to get one in the overhead bins on the way home, though.
There was a lot of interest in the new Elecraft 144 MHz, 10-watt module for the K3. It is an internal module, not an external transverter. This extends the high performance of the K3 beyond the 1.8 - 54 MHz of current versions, including the IF output for SDR accessories. Perhaps adding 2 meters to this state-of-the-art rig will attract more HF contesters to VHF+ contesting?
The folks at Bencher have expanded their Yagi offerings with the new Skylark 12 and 17 meter Duoband Yagi. At 38 pounds and 6.5 square feet of wind loading on a 16-foot boom, this WARC band antenna would look nice above your 20-15-10 meter beam.
Ten-Tec was showing off the Model 238C, an update to the highly-rated 238B antenna tuner with a silky-smooth variable inductor, and the Model 715 outboard RF speech processor to increase average power on 'phone for rigs without one.
Gary, KD9SV has a new reversible Beverage antenna system that uses old military WD1 or WD-1A Field Telephone Wire or twisted-wire version. (Thanks, Rich KL7RA)
DX Engineering was showing off a couple of new tilt-up verticals for 80 and 160 and a new hexagonal beam that you can see in the photo. Pssst - maybe you can put some fabric over it and convince the neighbors it's a really cool patio umbrella!
Mactenna was demonstrating a portable Yagi called the SB20-10 Simple Beam. The design is similar to that described in the September 2008 QST article on the same subject. (Thanks, Pete N4ZR)
Portable operators should take a look at Super Antenna's YP3 Yagi-in-a-Bag and PR-1 Portable Rotator. (Would that be a Bagi? Just thinking...) Supplemented by mast, tripod, and mobile antenna accessories, this may be the answer to putting out a more potent signal as a stop-and-op entry in your State QSO Party!
Check out the Dayton Hamvention blog of the ARRL's Contest Branch manager Sean KX9X. The ARRL Expo booth was full of folks meeting the red-shirted ARRL staff and associates every time I dropped by. Fingers were flying at the ARRL Buildathon and there was a lot of interest in the DARC and JARL booths, too. I hope you got your ARRL Field Day button!
So how does one survive a multi-day event like the Dayton Hamvention with miles of aisles? Here's a tip - take one pair of comfortable, but different, shoes for each day. That way, at least different parts of you will hurt the following day!
Technical papers are solicited for presentation at the 28th Annual ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference to be held September 25-27 - in Chicago, Illinois. These papers will also be published in the Conference Proceedings (you do NOT need to attend the conference to have your paper included in the Proceedings). The submission deadline is July 31 . Please send papers to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Maty Weinberg at the ARRL's street address. Papers will be published exactly as submitted and authors will retain all rights. (Thanks, Steve WB8IMY)
Just in time for the CQ WPX CW contest and its myriad inscrutable prefixery, Jim AD1C has updated the Country (CTY) Files as of 19 May 2009. To install the file, follow the link to your software at the top of the page. This would be a job to do well before Friday afternoon - how about right now? Click on the link and get 'er done. It only takes a few minutes...we'll wait right here for you, OK? While they're gone, how 'bout those Yankees? Yep, weather's funny here, too. Welcome back...that was easy, wasn't it?
The term "crack open a book" has a literal meaning for old ham radio books. The binding on these ancient mariners often gives up the ghost at an advanced age. Patrick KF4LMZ contributes a flickr.com link and another on bookbinding that might be of help in maintaining your library.
Postage rates went up on May 11th and Paul KØJPL extracted the necessary info that hams care about from a US Postal Service bulletin:
So, did the FCC cook the books on broadband over power lines? Read this ARS Technica article and see what you think. It will be interesting to read the results of the ARRL's line-by-line review of the de-redacted version of the full BPL report. Two can not be made equal to three, even for very large values of two, apparently. (Thanks, Lowell KD7DQO)
Palmyra (KH5) is sometimes a welcome South Pacific multiplier, now recently purchased and in the process of being made hospitable for visitors. Honorary K7C expedition member Katie Stadler is currently on an extended visit to the island and recommends this Scientific American slide show for a view of what's happening below the surface of ham radio's original "blue lagoon".
Brian VE3MGY wrote an article in February 2005 CQ on exercise, diet and contesting titled "Putting Your Heart into Your Hobby". He said last week that, "It still holds true for me today, not only with DXing and contesting but work in general. Two weeks ago I ended up working about 30 hrs in two days with only 1.5 hrs of sleep in between and I kept thinking this is just like a contest. I was barely even tired while others were literally falling asleep on their feet. You just can't beat exercise and diet - and they are free!"
Just before the Hamvention, Bob W5OV passed word that long-time contester Lynn W5FO lost his battle with cancer and will no longer be gracing our logs from Texas. The list of Silent Keys at this year's Contest Dinner in Dayton was longer than ever - a sobering reminder of our mortality and an exhortation to make the most of your friendships each and every day. Let's keep that list short, boys and girls!
Web Site of the Week - As announced at the Dayton Contest Forum, CQ's World Wide Contest program is taking a big new step into the Technology Zone with the Xtreme Category in which contesters are encouraged to make the most of the new gadgets, software, and remote station links flooding into the radio world. A special normalized scoring algorithm will be applied, plus there will be an opportunity for recognition of meritorious efforts. Restrictions include a limit of one signal per band, a single transmitting location, and a power limit of 1500 watts or whatever the local rule may be remain, but if you've been anxious to jump into the deep end of the technology pool - is your year! Plaques for the Xtreme category will be donated by K3LR in memory of K3TUP. Take a look at page 32 of the June 2009 CQ magazine for the complete rules, including the requirement for advance notification.
WORD TO THE WISE
"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." Michael Jordan (Thanks, Tom K8AZ)
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
I'm not sure whether this is a News item, Sights and Sounds material, or Results! Nevertheless, put this YouTube video of the Dayton Supersuite Eyeball NS Sprint on your to-do list for next year's Hamvention fun! Or, if you prefer, here it is from another perspective in two parts - Part 1 and Part 2. (Thanks, Henk PA5KT and Dave KM3T)
See if you can keep up with CT1BOH operating as P40E from P43P's QTH and working 8181 CW QSOs in 48 hours - the highest CQ WW total ever. A log snippet is included for each file. This will let you follow along with what is happening. Thanks to KM3T for hosting the files!
Here's an inverse Sights and Sound item from Steve N2IC has the Contesting.com site ready for you to upload your Dayton 2009 pictures ! Another Dayton photo site is running on eham.net, too, says George K5TR. Yes, all of those guys and gals had a good time! See you next year!
RESULTS AND RECORDS
The 2008 ARRL 160 Meter Contest Web results by Gary K9AY are now online. The Web version of the results include more analysis than the QST version and the searchable database, too. Look for the RTTY Roundup, January VHF Sweepstakes, and 10 Meter contest Web versions before the next issue of this newsletter is out! (Thanks, ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Sean Kutzko, KX9X)
Preliminary results for the January 2009 NCJ North American CW QSO Party are online. Contest Manager WA7BNM asks that you take a look for possible questions or corrections. You can email Bruce at email@example.com.
Dave K1TTT has the real-time scoreboard setup to handle this weekend's CQ WPX CW contest. There is complete information on using the scoreboard on the site. If you don't have logging software that can automatically access the scoreboard, try their Universal Uploader program.
While everyone was enjoying Dayton, CQ WPX Director Randy K5ZD took the time to get download-able electronic certificates working for the WPX Contest. They turned out quite nicely! You can search for any score from the 2007 or 2008 contests - then click on the certificate link. Randy says, "The fastest way to find your certificates is:
1. Browse to http://www.cqwpx.com/score_db.htm
2. Enter your call in the Search by Call box. This will list any entry where your call appears either as the station call or operator.
3. Click on the [Cert] link of the entry for which you want to generate a certificate."
The results of the 30th Anniversary CW Pileup Competition have been posted by the Kansas City DX Club. Every pileup survivor that I saw was of the firm opinion that this was one of the toughest pileups ever! It really did sound like a real pileup, especially the "everybody zero beat" action. Congratulations to the ops that could pull more than half of the calls out of that mess - Tom NØSS really outdid himself this year. Tom was last seen running down the hall followed by a group of angry competitors yelling something about "Off with his head!" Thanks to Alex KU1CW and the whole KCDXC Pileup Team for another great year of Hamvention hospitality suite action. Oh yes, how did the CW Skimmer do this year? Take a look at the Web site and find out if John Henry beat the steam drill or...???
High claimed scores for the 2009 CQ WPX SSB contest are also online. Take a look and be sure your category was submitted correctly. For correction email firstname.lastname@example.org.
JIDX Contest Committee Chair Tack, JE1CKA write, "We are pleased to announce the 2008 JIDX Phone contest results are now online."
Similarly, the Russian DX Contest claimed scores are available for your inspection, as well. (Thanks, Harry RA3AUU and the RDXC Contest Committee)
Pay a visit to Todd KC9BQA's Web site for a post about increasing June VHF contest activity, especially educating and recruiting any new Rover-category stations. There is enough solid material in the article to get even a brand-new guy or gal out there making contacts.
TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION
Jim K9YC describes an old, but obviously not forgotten, technique for increasing the bandwidth of antennas. As activity starts to spread out on 160 meters, this may be a useful technique to use more of the band. "My antenna is a simple top-loaded Tee vertical, with the top flat section tuned a bit longer than resonance, and a series capacitance added at the feed point to bring it back to resonance. That was giving me 1.2:1 below 1845 kHz, but reached 2:1 around 1880 kHz or so. I lowered the antenna and added a second vertical wire in parallel with the first one, spaced with a foot or so between them. There are parallel conductors ONLY in the vertical portion of the antenna -- they're tied together where they hit the center of the Tee." After adding additional capacitance to match the antenna, Jim can operate from 1800 to 1980 kHz with SWR of less than 2:1! "The same sort of technique can be used on most resonant or semi-resonant antennas, including inverted Ls and dipoles. It IS important to keep the parallel conductors spaced apart -- the principle is to simply make the conductor "fatter"."
John K2MM found a Science News article about the solar anemia keeping Cycle 24 from stepping on to the scene. We'll just have to polish up our technique and low-band know-how until we get some spot action.
Hitch pin clips (cotter keys or cotter clips) are fairly large and harder to lose in the grass of a field site than most nuts and bolts. To avoid losing the clips, attach a short colorful ribbon to the loop end of each clip. (Thanks, LB W4RNL-SK)
Joe WA4RTE endorses Sweetwater as a reliable and reasonably-priced source of cables, adapters, and connectors. These vendors are always nice to have bookmarked in your Web browser!
Winding a bi/tri/quadrifilar winding is a lot easier if the wires are already stuck together! Try using computer ribbon cable (the multi-colored versions help keep the wires straight) or strip some network or telephone cable for twisted pairs. At higher power levels, speaker wire works well, too. (Thanks, Dick W1KSZ, Jim W5IFP, and Rick N6RK)
While you Northern Hemisphereans are doing antenna and tower maintenance this summer, if winter conditions are tough where you live, try snowmobile grease for exposed lube jobs, says Jim KK6MC. It holds up to the elements and stays where you put it.
Stopping by Tennadyne's booth at the Hamvention reminded me that they are the purveyors of the Cubex line of quad antennas and parts thereof. Their new Expo 10-meter quads may be just the ticket for someone wanting to try building their own full-size, rotatable antenna for an HF band.
Technical Web Site of the Week - Both Jerry WAØACF and Doug K1DG sent me a link to some pretty interesting reading about analog IC designer Barrie Gilbert. Even if you aren't a circuit designer, you have used his designs in all manner of electronics. He's best-known for the Gilbert cell used in mixers and multipliers, such as the MC1496 that was used in so many receiver designs. These and other historical articles provide insight into the names many know and all should appreciate from the early days of semiconductors.
Pushing the Envelope
CQ Worldwide's new "Xtreme" category is definitely a step in the right direction for accommodating new technology without our nearly century-old sport. The times, they are a-changin'. Take a look at the Kansas City DX Club Pileup Contest results for another reality update. There was serious consideration that the default assumption for a single-operator category in any contest should simply be "Unlimited" since the norm has become to be connected to the Internet and not the exception. Other "assumptions" about radio contests may get a stiff challenge over the next few years, too.
Depending on your point of view, this breaking down of barriers is either disturbing or a deliverance. Certainly, the key element remains radio. No one has been able to get QSO points for a logging program to logging program contact yet without a transmitter and receiver being involved. I don't think we're at the threshold of radio-less radiosport by any means, but we do have to keep the deeper principles of radio contesting firmly in our sights.
A murmur ran through the Contest Forum on Saturday when moderator Doug Grant K1DG casually mentioned that the entire CQ WW 160 Meter contest had been recorded to hard disk by a network of Perseus software-defined radios sprinkled about the planet - and the data sent to the contest committee. This will definitely change the status quo for contest adjudication. It's just a matter of time before the sponsors of every major contest record the on-the-air behavior for every QSO on every band and mode.
And who's to say they are the only ones that can have that data? A 5-Terabyte DVD was just announced - enough to hold all of that 160 Meter contest and more. Who will be the first to write software that looks for stations transmitting two simultaneous signals? Rubber-clockers will quiver knowing that a band-crawling bot will know exactly when that QSO was made and whether the ten-minute rule was followed.
Of course, this is not just about adjudication, but about new modes of competing. The Xtreme Team can be anywhere, anytime. Your band partner need not be at your elbow - but perhaps a continent away! There will be new contests created to test entirely new skills. Email and Web sites will be filled with chatter about successes and failures and bugs and features - the entire cloud of concerns that follow every technical advance and challenge.
What does it all mean? I have mixed feelings. I really enjoy the "operator and radio" tradition where it is just me and the ionosphere. That style of station and operating has meant the most to me ever since I got into this sport more than thirty years ago. But I'm also excited at the possibilities of new types of contests and strategies that new technology can make possible.
Realistically, I don't think that one can shoehorn this brave new world into the traditional "I'm Here, You're There" interpretation of radiosport - which remains totally valid and just as difficult and challenging as ever. I can understand the dismay of the traditionalist, but the up-side outweighs the down...to me, anyway. As long as there's a radio in there somewhere, I'll be playing along!
The new radiosport will grow up right alongside the old. Some contesters will make the leap, others won't, still more will try both, but all will share a common bond - the radio. Just as there are motor boats and sailboats and yachts of the latest carbon-fiber and hand-crafted varnished wood, all are spawned of the sea and river and lake. In the coming contest seasons, so too will there be signals that are lightning-loud and whisper-weak, from antennas majestic and minute, linked by hand, wire, and fiber. No matter the source or sink, every signal must make the leap across grid, state, country, and continent by the magic of wireless that has called its ethereal sailors down to the invisible sea since a faint, transoceanic "S" tickled the headphones on a windswept Newfoundland cliff. Welcome to the second century of radio!
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.
CQ WW WPX Contest--CW, from May 30, 0000Z to May 31, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and serial. Logs due: Jul 1. Rules
Kids Roundup--Phone, from May 30, 1400Z to May 31, 2200Z . Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50,144,440. Exchange: Call sign, QTH, category, first name. Logs due: Jun 29. Rules
QRP ARCI Hootowl Sprint--CW, from May 31, 8 PM to May 31, Midnight. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST, S/P/C QRP number or power. Logs due: Jun 30. Rules
Australian Shires Contest--Phone,CW, from Jun 6, 0600Z to Jun 7, 0600Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RS(T) and VK Shire or CQ Zone. Logs due: Sep 1. Rules
SEANET Contest--Phone,CW,Digital, from Jun 6, 1200Z to Jun 7, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Frequencies: CW--3.525,7.025,14.025,21.025,28.025, SSB--3.540/3.790,7.090,14.320,21.320,28.320. Exchange: RS(T), serial. Logs due: Jul 31. Rules
IARU Region I Field Day--CW, from Jun 6, 1500Z to Jun 7, 1459Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST, serial. Rules - see IARU Society Web sites
Alabama QSO Party--Phone,CW, from Jun 6, 1600Z to Jun 7, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28." Frequencies: CW--1.810, 3.545, 7.045, 14.045, 21.045, 28.045; PH--1.865, 3.855, 7.230, 14.250, 21.300, 28.450. Exchange: RS(T) and county, state, province, or 'DX'. Logs due: 30 days. Rules
EU EME Contest--Phone,CW, from May 30, 0000Z to May 31, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.2G. Exchange: TMO/RS(T) and "R". Logs due: 12 days. Rules
Kids Roundup--Phone, from May 30, 1400Z to May 31, 2200Z . Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50,144,440. Exchange: Call sign, QTH, category, first name. Logs due: Jun 29. Rules
LOG DUE DATES
27 May to 9 June
May 27 - Helvetia Contest, email logs to: email@example.com, paper logs and diskettes to: Dominik Bugmann, HB9CZF, Im Geeren 27a, 8112 Otelfingen, Switzerland. Rules
May 28 - RSGB 80m Club Championship, CW, email logs to: firstname.lastname@example.org, upload log at: http://www.vhfcc.org/cgi-bin/hfenter.pl, paper logs and diskettes to: (none). Rules
May 30 - Bill Windle QSO Party, email log summary to: KZ5D@aol.com, paper logs and diskettes to: (none). Rules
May 30 - VK/Trans-Tasman 80m Contest, Phone, email logs to: VK: email@example.com, ZL: firstname.lastname@example.org, paper logs and diskettes to: VK: VK/trans-Tasman Contest, 28 Crampton Crescent, Rosanna, VIC 3084, Australia, ZL:, VK/trans-Tasman Contest, P.O. Box 21-363, Christchurch 8143, New Zealand. Rules
May 31 - Nebraska QSO Party, email logs to: email@example.com, paper logs and diskettes to: HDXA NQP, 16111 Hickory St., Omaha, NE 68130, USA. Rules
May 31 - AGCW QRP/QRP Party, email logs to: firstname.lastname@example.org, paper logs and diskettes to: Manager, Jo (Juergen) Mertens, DJ4EY, Am Muehlenbruch 32, D-59581 Warstein, Germany. Rules
May 31 - Montana QSO Party, email logs to: email@example.com, paper logs and diskettes to: Norm Palin K7NCR, 68 Silver Leaf Drive, Kalispell, MT 59901, USA. Rules
May 31 - Holyland DX Contest, email logs to: 4Z4KX@iarc.org, paper logs and diskettes to: Contest Manager 4Z4KX, Israel Amateur Radio Club, Box 17600, Tel Aviv 61176, Israel. Rules
May 31 - JIDX CW Contest, email logs to: firstname.lastname@example.org, paper logs and diskettes to: JIDX CW Contest, c/o Five-Nine Magazine, P.O. Box 59, Kamata, Tokyo 144-8691, Japan. Rules
May 31 - Ontario QSO Party, email logs to: email@example.com, paper logs and diskettes to: Contest Club Ontario, P.O. Box 93149, Burlington, Ontario L7M 4A3, Canada. Rules
June 1 - Feld Hell Sprint, email logs to: (none), post log summary at: http://www.emailmeform.com/fid.php?formid=202397, paper logs and diskettes to: (none). Rules
June 1 - Portuguese Navy Day Contest, email logs to: firstname.lastname@example.org, paper logs and diskettes to: (none). Rules
June 1 - QRP to the Field, email logs to: email@example.com, paper logs and diskettes to: Paul Harden, NA5N, QRPTTF 2008, P.O. Box 757, Socorro, NM 87801, USA. Rules
June 1 - Portuguese Navy Day Contest, Digital, email logs to: firstname.lastname@example.org, paper logs and diskettes to: (none). Rules
June 1 - Slobozhansky Sprint Contest, email logs to: email@example.com, paper logs and diskettes to: Nick Panchenko (UX7LQ), P.O. Box 2373, Kharkiv-1, 61001, Ukraine. Rules
June 2 - New England QSO Party, email logs to: firstname.lastname@example.org, paper logs and diskettes to: NEQP, PO Box 3005, Framingham, MA 01705-3005, USA. Rules
June 2 - ARI International DX Contest, email logs to: email@example.com, paper logs and diskettes to: ARI Contest Manager, c/o ARI, Via Scarlatti 31, 20124 Milano, Italy. Rules
June 4 - QRP Minimal Art Session, email logs to: firstname.lastname@example.org, paper logs and diskettes to: DL1RNN, Lutz Gutheil, Bergstrasse 17, D-38446 Wolfsburg, Germany. Rules
June 5 - 7th Call Area QSO Party, email logs to: email@example.com, paper logs and diskettes to: 7th Call Area QSO Party, c/o CODXC, 61255 Ferguson Rd, Bend, OR 97702, USA. Rules
June 7 - MARAC CW QSO Party, email logs to: firstname.lastname@example.org, paper logs and diskettes to: Randy Hatt, AA8R, 7878 W. County Line Rd., Howard City, MI 49239, USA. Rules
June 7 - MARAC SSB QSO Party, email logs to: email@example.com, paper logs and diskettes to: Randy Hatt, AA8R, 7878 W. County Line Rd, Howard City, MI 49329, USA. Rules
June 8 - FISTS Spring Sprint, email logs to: W8PIG@yahoo.com, paper logs and diskettes to: Dan Shepherd, N8IE, 1900 Pittsfield St., Kettering, OH 45420, USA. Rules