June 10, 2009Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO
You can pass along your interest in ham radio to one of our younger proto-hams during the bi-annual Kids Day event. All you need is your name, age, location, and favorite color (and a little patience). Invite a kid to your HF station or get on and work a few yourself! And while you're at it, don't forget to check off West Virginia in their state QSO Party.
ARRL Sweepstakes Log Deadline - Now 15 Days - Read the Conversation section!
Finally - a welcome return to Golden Log status last issue!
Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST
Arizona Outlaws Contest Club! Oh my goodness! What did they do? Of course, a headline like that couldn't be passed up, could it? Welcome the brand-new Arizona Outlaws Contest Club (AOCC) - it already has 83 members and the club call sign of N7AT! I'm sure we'll be hearing plenty from these operators and some challenges in the club competition, too. (Thanks, AOCC Founders - John K7WP, Bob K8IA, Sandy N7RQ, Mike KC7V, and Dave AB7E)
Dayton Hamvention - But Wait, There's More!
Heil Sound was proudly demonstrating their new noise-cancelling boomset, the Quiet Phone Pro. There have been a number of modifications that add boom mikes to noise-cancelling headsets, but this gets the job done in one package and there are connector adaptors for most amateur transceivers.
Inrad was selling a lot of roofing filter medication kits, including their new ones for the TS-850, FT-920, and IC-756PRO I/II/III. The 2nd edition of Managing Interstation Interference by W2VJN was selling like hotcakes, as well.
DZKit has announced new versions and add-ons for their Sienna Transceiver - a remote-control, all-mode HF transceiver that is ready to hook to a PC at home or at the other end of a data connection.
One of my more unusual purchases at Dayton was the Midnight Science Ultra-RX1 Ultrasound Receiver kit. With this handheld convertor, I'll be able to listen to bats and other animals that use ultrasound to communicate. As soon as I can get it built, I'll be anxious to learn what the world sounds like in ultrasound.
GPS is an important accessory for rover and mobile stations while out and about. Because of proprietary connectors, getting the right cables can be a problem. The RPC Electronics booth seemed to have a lot of the answers, including APRS trackers and similar gadgets, such as the Argent Data Systems APRS Trackers and the GTRANS GPS NMEA protocol translator.
Well beyond the orbit of Dayton, OH - just where DO those radio-signal-scattering meteors come from? This neat sky map from NASA on the Astronomy Picture Of the Day Web site shows the origin of 40,000 meteors over a two-year period. Ping on!
Many European contest rules refer to the IARU Region 1 band plan. You can find the band plan online in PDF format for downloading. (Thanks, Marc ON7SS)
So that you can plan ahead, dates and information have been added to the 2010 Dayton Contest University and 2010 Dayton Contest Dinner Web sites thanks to KA9FOX. The program from the 2009 Dayton Contest Dinner is also online. (Thanks, Tim K3LR)
Recent changes to Portugal's amateur radio regulations have made more spectrum available to CT contesters (I wonder what logging software they use?) and upped the power limits on segments of 160 meters. Of particular interest to contesters:
1818-1830 kHz - 200 W and 1830-1850 kHz - 1500 W maximum
Madiera Islands - additional prefix CQ2
Azores - additional prefixes CR8, CS8, CT8, CQ1, CS4, CQ8, CR1, CR2
(Thanks, Jose CT1BOH)
Even though the CW Skimmer took top honors this year, you still need to get ready for the Kansas City DX Club's 30th anniversary CW Pileup Contest at the 2010 Dayton Hamvention. Wow, thirty years! The contest will not only be fully computerized (results ready quickly in seven minutes for a run with six operators) and broadcast to TV/PC in the adjoining hospitality suite, but after the first stage, three groups of: "Expert", "Experienced", and "Beginner" will be defined. Six operators from each group will compete in a final round for prizes and acclaim with the beginners having just as much chance for a big prize as the top competitors. (Thanks, Alex KU1CW)
From AMSAT bulletin ANS-151 and SpaceWeather.com, "Lately, a growing number of observers are reporting intense "flares" coming from the International Space Station (ISS). During some night-time flybys, the luminosity of the space station surges 10-fold or more. Some people have witnessed flares of magnitude -8 or twenty- five times brighter than Venus." You can find out when the ISS (and many other celestial objects) will be visible from your location by using the Heavens Above Web site.
Also from AMSAT bulletin ANS-151, if you were wondering about those Field Day bonus points for satellite QSOS, "Commemorating the 40th year anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon July 20th, 1969, many large commercial dishes worldwide will be active on 23 cm on the weekend of June 26th (Field Day weekend). Many very large commercial and amateur dishes will be activated on SSB and CW. The Stanford University 150' dish will be participating using various calls, including W6TE."
Web Site of the Week - Thanks to George, K5TR, Doug, K1DG and Tom K8CX the 2009 Dayton Hamvention Antenna and Contest Forum presentations are now available online. Click the 2009 button on the lower left-hand side. Presentations from past years back to 2004 are available as well. We tip our caps to the authors, too! (Thanks, Tim K3LR)
WORD TO THE WISE
One comment I see a lot on the various email reflectors and group Web sites, is "Sorry for the dumb question" or "Apologies for asking such a basic question". I don't know anybody that was born a technical guru or operating All-Star. They all had to start out asking simple questions - which are sometimes the most important ones. So ask your question - after performing one bit of 'netiquette: Search the reflector archives for your topic. Many topics are revisited regularly and your question might have already been answered. If no answer is found, ask away, perhaps noting that you searched the archives. You'll usually find the resident experts to be ready and willing to help.
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
Fans of indie rock might enjoy the band Amateur Radio Operator. Hailing from Seattle, they are found in clubs around the Pacific Northwest. Their songs touch on radio themes, but they aren't "CQ DX" set to music. Here are some lyrics from the song "Canvas Bag":
"Ten watts of power in a canvas bag
(Thanks, Jack WAØRJY)
Recovery from the damaging ice storms of this winter is proceeding in various quarters. Looking at KC1XX's big 40-meter stack being renovated should be inspiring to all. We look forward to hearing Matt on the bands again this fall. (Thanks, Dave KM3T)
Tom K8CX's, 2009 Dayton Photo Gallery is now available, his 13th consecutive year for the gallery! It contains 293 photos from the Crowne Plaza hotel at various events and hospitality suites. Would you like to see the Sandwich Islands contingent? A-loooo-HA! (Thanks, Tim K3LR)
That first step's a Big One! Don't look down! Dave NN1N contributed this National Geographic video about working on one of the big TV towers.
RESULTS AND RECORDS
The 2009 ARRL RTTY Roundup Web results are now online. The ARRL Web team is hard at work on the 2008 10 Meter and 2009 January VHF Sweepstakes results. Look for them to be available this week. (Thanks, ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Sean Kutzko, KX9X)
The preliminary results for the January 2009 NAQP SSB contest have been posted on the NCJ Web site. Please let contest manager Bruce WA7BNM know of any questions or corrections at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A list of received logs for the 2009 Michigan QSO Party has been posted on the Michigan QSO Party Web site. Entrants are encouraged to check this page to ensure that the contest committee received your log and that it has been categorized correctly. (Thanks, Dave K8CC)
The 2009 Minnesota QSO Party results are available for viewing on the Minnesota Wireless Association Web page. Once again, there were record levels of participation: The top six mobile participants all exceeded last year's top mobile score. All counties were activated with a sweep by at least one participant. Says Mark WAØMHU, "Minnesota Wild Rice will be coming to those who have earned it! As Julius - N2WN stated: ""Is that cool beans, or hot rice?" My answer is that it's very cool, that we have so many dedicated participants. Enjoy the rice!" I understand it goes well with California QSO Party wine!
Those hams in the Dakota Division don't sit on their contest results very long! The results of the 2009 North Dakota QSO Party are online at the Web site of Lynn, KØLN. Lynn also notes that there will be a 2010 running, as well, on the same March weekend, so put that one on your calendars.
Foundation class licensees in Australia have four-letter suffixes, such as VK1ABCD. This has been causing a bit of confusion on the air, just as the 2E call signs from England did when they first appeared. Encourage these new contesters and log all four letters! Check your logging software to be sure the call signs are handled properly and update if needed.
TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION
Students of radio communications (i.e. - us) are immersed in Fourier's mathematics and the famous Euler identity; ei(theta) = cos(theta)+ i sin(theta). These concepts are deeply connected and are integral parts of the foundation of radio. If you'd like to know more about both, the book "Dr. Euler's Fabulous Formula" by Paul Nahin is an excellent guide. It does assume some college math background, but is worth the effort. Don W7WLL also wrote in with a link to an online book of mathematical constants and functions by the National Bureau of Standards. The home page of the site has many useful calculators and reference links, too.
Switching power supplies are found at the other end of transceiver power cables more and more, but the cooling fans in some units can sound like a small vacuum cleaner. Ken K5KA writes to recommend AD5X's small modification to the 35-amp Samlex SEC-1235M supply. By running the fan at a quiet, low speed all the time, burst of high-speed operation are much less frequent. The modification also describes how to add Anderson PowerPoleÒ connectors to the supply and this may be useful on any type of power supply.
While roaming the aisles of Mendelsohn's Liquidation Outlet tent at the Dayton Hamvention, I happened upon a rack of radio carrying cases. The Motorola 53542 Belt/Bike Carry Case caught my eye because I often attach a handheld radio to my bicycle. This particular case has three hook-loop fabric straps that were just right for the job. Designed for the Motorola FRS/GMRS handheld radios, it fit my medium-sized handheld just fine. These and similar cases are widely available for a few bucks and can be adapted to mobile and rover installation of radios, small test instruments, GPS receivers, etc.
For those who are installing new guy anchors, a discussion on the Towertalk reflector recommended a protective coating of roofing tar or roofing cement prior to burying them. Dick WC1M tried this method and reports that all looks well after a couple of years of exposure.
To keep the turns in place on a toroid after winding it, the solution hams have used for many years is Q-Dope by GC Chemicals (and probably other vendors). All one has to do is say "Q-Dope" to hams over a certain age and we can smell it! (Sorta like saying "mimeograph machine" to the same audience.) It's polystyrene dissolved in some manner of organic solvent to form a brush-on coating that is RF-safe. Hot glue can also be used, but will soften when reheated. Q-Dope won't. Oh, and plastic chopsticks work great for holding the smaller toroids while tinning their leads. (Thanks, Bob WB0POQ and Jim AB3CV)
Rick KC8AON has drawn up a diagram of how to make an adapter for mounting antennas on a camera tripod. It uses a common SO-239 to 3/8-24 adapter. A thumbscrew that fits the tripod holds the adapter in place. Great for hill-topping, portable, and emergency operations!
If you want to participate in a QRP contest, but the front panel power adjustment won't go below 5 to 10 watts (very common on rigs with an internal antenna tuner) you can still adjust the output power almost down to zero on most rigs via the ALC jack on the back. Check the manual to see what ALC voltage is required - on most radios, a negative dc voltage reduces power, with -4 V or so shutting the power completely off. A 9-V battery and 10 kohm potentiometer make a dandy power control and the battery will last a long time. (Thanks, Steve VE7SL)
Rich K2WR contributes a bit more on the new postal rates as they relate to QSL mailing. "Any first-class envelope over ¼-inch thick falls under the "First Class Flat Piece" rates (intended for large envelopes, and which has its own limitation of ¾-inch thickness). Mailing a 3-oz envelope under this category costs $1.22, after the latest increase." In addition, the W2 QSL Bureau has found, "...multiple 2 oz. mailings make the most sense. For example, two 2-oz envelopes can be mailed for 61¢ each, which is the same as the cost of the 3-oz flat piece described above."
iPhone applications are popping up all over. Carl K8NU has written an iPhone/iTouch application called iGridSquare that will calculate a grid square from latitude and longitude. On an iPhone with built-in GPS, the latitude and longitude values are automatically available.
Technical Web Site of the Week - Back in the 1980's, Byte Magazine's "Circuit Cellar" column by Steve Ciarcia was a must-read for electronics folks that lived at the junction of software and hardware. Three books of his columns were published, but are now long out of print. Steve went on to start the magazine Circuit Cellar Ink - a great magazine for professional and amateur alike, now approaching 20 years of publication. (And I have every issue!) Those three books are also available on Google Books - lots of good, basic stuff in there, even if processor speeds are a little higher these days!
ARRL Sweepstakes Log Deadline - Now 15 Days!
As part of our continuous improvement efforts for the November Sweepstakes Contest, it is our intention to dramatically reduce the timeframe for producing results that are available to all participants.
Sweepstakes results have historically been published six months after the contest has taken place. The contesting community at large has requested results be made available more quickly. To facilitate this request, we would like to make the 2009 ARRL Sweepstakes final results available on the Web in 60 days in the form of a PDF file. If this effort proves successful, we plan to shorten this window to 30 days in 2010. This PDF would simply be the scores in each category; full write-ups and detailed analysis of the Sweepstakes contest would still appear in QST and on the Web at a later time.
To meet this aggressive schedule, two major areas will need to be addressed:
First, the log submission deadline will be reduced from thirty days to fifteen days. For the 2009 Sweepstakes, the deadline for CW Sweepstakes logs will be 0300Z on Monday, November 23, 2009 and for Phone Sweepstakes, the deadline will be 0300Z on Monday, December 7, 2009.
Secondly, the number of non-Cabrillo logs received at ARRL HQ must be reduced. By receiving logs 15 days earlier we can begin the log checking process that much faster, but we will we need your help on the paper log issue. In 2008, the ARRL Contest Branch received over 300 paper logs for the Sweepstakes contests. These paper logs were converted to Cabrillo format by a dedicated, yet small group of volunteers. This took several hundred person-hours of time.
We plan to contact as many paper log submitters as possible and point out resources they can use to generate Cabrillo logs. I am asking that every club have a special project and meeting this year to insure that 100% of their members submit Cabrillo logs for SS. If you have club members that don't have PCs, please form your own volunteer teams to convert their logs after the contest. This would be a great excuse for a big post-Sweepstakes club pizza party, combining data entry with club camaraderie.
While the ARRL will never turn away a paper log, the advantages of electronic log submission are critical to the success of the accelerated presentation of the Sweepstakes results. Numerous software contest loggers exist for Windows and DOS, including the free packages CT and N1MM. Entrants are also able to manually convert their own paper logs to a Cabrillo log at the WA7BNM Cabrillo Web site.
You, the members of the contesting community, have requested faster turnaround of contest results for some time. With every contester's help, we can achieve this goal of dramatically reducing the time between contest and results. We have identified several other areas we hope to improve in the future, such as simplified Web access for SS information, historical log search capability, easy access to FAQ's, records, etc. and will continue to work on those goals. Thank you for your continued participation and help with the ARRL November Sweepstakes, the greatest domestic contest out there.
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.
ANARTS WW RTTY--Digital, from Jun 13, 0000Z to Jun 14, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST, UTC time, CQ zone. Logs due: Aug 1. Rules
WFF Green Days--Phone,CW,Digital, from Jun 13, 0000Z to Jun 14, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS(T) and WFF number if available. Logs due: 30 days. Rules
Portugal Day--Phone,CW, from Jun 13, 0000Z to Jun 14, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RS(T) and district code. Rules
Asia-Pacific Sprint--Phone, from Jun 13, 1100Z to Jun 13, 1300Z. Bands (MHz): 14-21. Exchange: RST, serial. Logs due: 7 days. Rules
GACW WWSA CW DX Contest--CW, from Jun 13, 1500Z to Jun 14, 1500Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST, CQ zone. Logs due: Jul 30. Rules
Spanish Islands Contest--Phone,CW,Digital, from Jun 14, 0600Z to Jun 14, 1200Z#REF! 3.5-28. Exchange: RS(T), DIE number or serial. Logs due: 60 days. Rules
All-Asian DX Contest--CW, from Jun 20, 0000Z to Jun 21, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST, operator age (YL may send 00). Logs due: Jul 31. Rules
West Virginia QSO Party--Phone,CW, from Jun 20, 1600Z to Jun 21, 0200Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Frequencies: CW--35 kHz from band edge, Phone--General segments. Exchange: RS(T), WV county or S/P/C. Logs due: Jul 20. Rules
Kid's Day--Phone, from Jun 20, 1800Z to Jun 20, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: Name, age, location, favorite color. Rules
ARRL June VHF QSO Party--Phone,CW, from Jun 13, 1800Z to Jun 15, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 50+. Exchange: Grid square. Logs due: Jul 15. Rules
SMIRK QSO Party--Phone,CW, from Jun 20, 0000Z to Jun 21, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 50. Exchange: Call sign, SMIRK number, grid square. Logs due: Aug 1. Rules
LOG DUE DATES
10 June to 23 June
June 10 - CQ-M International DX Contest, email logs to: CQM@SRR.RU, paper logs and diskettes to: CQ-M CONTEST COMMITTEE, P.O. BOX 25464, KRASNOYARSK 660049, RUSSIA. Rules
June 10 - His Maj. King of Spain Contest, CW, email logs to: email@example.com, paper logs and diskettes to: URE HF Contests, P.O. Box 220, 28080 Madrid, Spain. Rules
June 13 - Wake-Up! QRP Sprint, email logs to: firstname.lastname@example.org, paper logs and diskettes to: Valentin Kovalchuk, Internatsionalnaya str. 29 kv 39, Kaliningrad, 236011, Russia. Rules
June 14 - DigiFest, email logs to: email@example.com, upload log at: http://mixw.net/misc/DigiFest/digifest_log.php, paper logs and diskettes to: (none). Rules
June 15 - Indiana QSO Party, email logs to: firstname.lastname@example.org, paper logs and diskettes to: HDXCC, c/o Mike Goode, N9NS, 10340 Broadway, Indianapolis, IN 46280-1344, USA. Rules
June 15 - Nevada Mustang Roundup, email logs to: email@example.com, paper logs and diskettes to: Nevada Mustang Roundup 2008, Elko Amateur Radio Club, P.O. Box 5607, Elko, Nevada 89802, USA. Rules
June 16 - EU PSK DX Contest, email logs to: firstname.lastname@example.org, paper logs and diskettes to: (none). Rules
June 22 - RSGB National Field Day, upload log at: http://www.vhfcc.org/cgi-bin/hfenter.pl, paper logs and diskettes to: RSGB G3UFY, 77 Bensham Manor Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey CR7 7AF, England. Rules
June 23 - UN DX Contest, email logs to: email@example.com, paper logs and diskettes to: UN DX Contest, P.O. Box 88, 010000 Astana, Kazakhstan. Rules