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The ARRL Contest Update
November 11, 2009
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
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IN THIS ISSUE

NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

You'll enjoy trying for the Clean Sweep of all 80 sections in Sweepstakes. It's how a lot of today's contesters got their starts and you'll see why once you start filling your log. Watch for pileups on stations from VY1/VE8 and VO1, but don't forget that every section counts just the same! If asked for your "precedence" - respond with your category abbreviation. Your "check" is the last two digits of the year you were first licensed. All this is explained in the Sweepstakes articles on the ARRL Contest Branch Web site.

BULLETINS

Remember that CW Sweepstakes logs are now due 15 days after the contest - that's November 24! QST's printed Contest Corral page has the old dates (your editor is responsible for that). If you know anyone needing a little help submitting their Cabrillo-formatted log or converting a paper log, here's your opportunity for a good deed and a little contest Elmering.

BUSTED QSOS

A golden issue last time!

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

Nov 14-15

  • Worked All Europe DX Contest--Digital
  • FOC Bill Windle QSO Party--CW
  • Japan International DX Contest--Phone
  • OK-OM DX Contest--CW
  • Kentucky QSO Party
  • CQ WE (Western Electric)
  • Homebrew and Oldtime Contest--CW

Nov 21-22

  • ARRL November Sweepstakes--Phone
  • Collegiate ARC Championship--Phone
  • Mongolia DX Contest
  • LZ DX Contest
  • RSGB 1.8MHz Contest--CW
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

Congratulations to the WRTC-2010 teams! The complete list of team leaders and teammates has been published by the WRTC-2010 Committee. I see a good mix of familiar and new calls. If you're interested in what propagation will be like from Moscow in July of 2010, the SRR has published all logs for the 2009 Russian Radiosport Team Championship. (Thanks, Harry RA3AUU)

No, the antennas weren't on top of Devils Tower, but what ham can look at it and not think about it? Here's some of the WY7SS locals and their hired guns for the CW Sweepstakes: (L-R) hosts Dwayne WY7FD and Katie WY7KRA, Ward NØAX, Janet KL7MF, and Chip K7JA. (Photo - K7JA)

John VE8EV was a welcome QSO in a lot of Sweepstaker's logs this past weekend. You can enjoy his writings about CW Sweepstakes and other contests on his blog. (Thanks, Tree N6TR)

The Southeastern VHF Society is calling for the submission of papers and presentations for the upcoming 14th Annual Southeastern VHF Society Conference to be held at Morehead State University in Morehead, KY on April 23rd and 24th, 2010. Papers and presentations are solicited on both the technical and operational aspects of VHF, UHF and Microwave weak signal operating. The deadline for the submission of papers and presentations is February 5, 2010. (Thanks, Robin K4IDC)

Readers of Popular Mechanics may have missed it in October 2009's "The Self-Reliance Issue", but the article "Ready For Anything", by Glenn Harlan Reynolds mentions that "One underappreciated is the amateur radio community. Acquire a ham radio license...and you can become a major resource if a disaster strikes. It's fun, too." Another well-written article on the technical attractions of ham radio appeared in the Computerworld online article "Want to bone up on wireless tech? Try ham radio" by John W6JE. Psssst - I think this ham radio thing may be catching on again!

David K1TTT contributed this item appropriate for a Veteran's Day issue. "USAA is a coop for US Military and their families that provides insurance, banking, investment services, etc. Until now you had to join while you were on active or reserve duty, but now they have opened up membership to all who have honorably served in the US Military." David has been a member for 30 years including home owner's insurance that has covered damage to towers, antennas, and radios.

Contest University (CTU) UK Director Mark MØDXR reports that the event is growing - attracting 245 students as part of this year's RSGB Convention at Wyboston Lakes in Bedfordshire on October 10th. This is almost double last year's attendance! Classes were taught by 14 of the UK's top contest operators and Tim K3LR via video link from the USA. Mark also extends his thanks to CTU UK sponsor Icom UK, helping CTU continue to grow on a global scale, all of the professors, and his wife Gemma 2EØWPX for managing the certificates.

The The success of the K3 transceiver and other radio products has propelled Elecraft into a new building!

Was SETI the first organized attempt to detect communications from extraterrestrial civilizations? Hardly! How about a 1924 exercise? (Thanks, Brent W5WW)

A dictionary isn't a lot of use for spelling assistance! If you're confronted with having heard a technical term whose spelling escapes you (remember the first time you heard "quartz crystal"?), try Gabby's Wordspeller phonetic dictionary from DMFrank Publishing. It can also help young students or someone learning English.

Web Site of the Week - We're about to get another pair of eyes on the Sun as NASA launches the Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) mission in the coming months. The additional data may shed some light of the visible kind on the workings of the solar dynamo on which HF propagation depends.

WORD TO THE WISE

Regional - Every contest has a favored region depending on propagation or geography or both. If you operate from such a QTH, you are far more likely to receive notice in the results than when operating elsewhere. If you would like to see more coverage of your non-favored region, consider volunteering to write a short review of the contest from your perspective. With many result writeups expanding on-line, their authors would probably be happy to include your contribution!

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SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Jim K7WA was active during the CW Sweepstakes while portable from the Lamar Buffalo Ranch in Yellowstone National Park. You can read about his adventures as a winter-months volunteer and what happened when his antenna farm met the fabled bison!

Who was behind the microphones at K3LR's winning CQ WW Phone operation? Left to right: (back row) W2RQ, K8GL, K6AW, N2NC, N2NT, N6MJ, LU7DW, N3GJ, DL6LAU, K1AR, N3UA (front row) K3LR, and LW8EXF. You might recognize some of those calls!

Here's a video of the antennas on Midway Island taken by Joe AA4NN during the recent K4M expedition. Additional photos are available on the expedition's Web site, too. (Thanks, Lynn W4NL)

Thor TF4M sends his greetings from the Arctic and a Web site describing his new Top Band transmitting antenna, known as "The King". As Thor says, "The King is ready for action - action speaks louder than words."

In case you were wondering about the SOS distress signal - perhaps after too many hours in the operating chair this weekend - the Wikipedia entry thereupon comes with its own sound bite, too. Good reading for non-hams, too! Note that Firefox users may hear an extra couple of dits after the first playback or two - maybe "iSOS" was just a bit ahead of its time. (Thanks, Ramon XE1KK)

RESULTS AND RECORDS

The last SS CW QSO was made less than two days ago, and we've already received over 800 logs! That is outstanding! Participation was high, the bands were in great shape, and the low bands were quiet. I haven't had any reports of frequency fights or intentional QRM from either contesters or non-contesters. This sounds like a very gentlemanly affair. Many, many thanks to the operators who activated he rare sections; being QRV from one of the Rare Ones can start to feel like an obligation after a while. Know that your efforts are appreciated by all that managed a Clean Sweep. Don't forget to get those SS CW logs in to HQ by 0300Z November 24th. Will the great conditions roll over to SSB Sweepstakes? Let's certainly hope so! Don't forget to be mindful of the non-contesters that will be utilizing the phone bands on the weekend of the 21st. Go the extra mile to be polite and accommodating, and be sure to ask if that frequency is in use before firing up the voice keyer. CU in a couple weeks! (Thanks, ARRL Contest Branch Manager Sean KX9X)

Dink N7WA reports that the CW Sweepstakes Soapbox collection is growing! These are comments harvested from the score reports submitted via the 3830 reflector. Bob KØRC reminds us that his spreadsheet-based Sweepstakes log analyzer is also available for post-pileup perusals.

I know - it's not a contest - but the Field Day results are online, too!

David XE2AUD is 13 years old and just made his first contact in the CQ WW SSB after only one week with a license. He is being Elmered by the members of Grupo DXXE. (Thanks, Hector XE2AUD)

Preliminary results for the NA RTTY Sprint held on 11 October 2009 are on the National Contest Journal's Web site. Full results will be in the Jan/Feb issue. Log checking reports (LCRs) can be requested with an email to rttysprintmgr@ncjweb.com. (Thanks, NA RTTY Sprint Manager, Ed WØYK)

If you entered CQ WW Phone in the new Xtreme category, the instructions in CQ and on the CQ Web site are in error for constructing your Cabrillo log. The log should contain this line in the header area:
CATEGORY-OVERLAY: XTREME. A category of "SINGLE-OPERATOR XTREME" will be rejected as invalid. (Thanks, Doug K1DG)

Certificates for the 2009 CQ 160 Contest were all mailed recently, thanks to the help from Barry W5GN. Trophies are soon to follow. Results will appear in the December 2009 issue of CQ magazine and log checking reports will be available by request from director@cq160.com. (Thanks, CQ 160 Meter Contest Director, Andy N2NT)

OPERATING TIP

Start early - not the contest, but your preparation for the contest. For example, Friday afternoon is a bad time to start downloading a new version of software or to discover that you're missing a filter or cable or connector!

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TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Tropospheric propagation ("tropo" for short) is an important part of VHF+ contesting, but given its weather-related nature, can it be predicted? Jim W4KXY uses the Hepburn tropo prediction maps to determine when and where to look for tropo openings. The maps are derived from world-wide weather data and are updated daily.

To help you with that tower-building design, here are some links to Online Metal's information on mast materials. Yield strength is a good place to start followed by a visit to the weight calculator. (Thanks, Craig Ervin)

When building that tower, we try to minimize the weight of the tool bucket but don't want to risk having to climb all the way down again. The result is that we usually haul more tools than we need. How about an eight-in-one socket wrench? The November 2009 issue of Popular Mechanics Home Journal column reviewed the Craftsman Dog Bone and Black & Decker ReadyWrench in their "wish list" column. The combination wrenches feature two sets of four rotating sockets on a single handle.

ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Sean KX9X decided to take W1AW on a stealth mission in this year's CW Sweepstakes. With his personal FT-817 running "full-bore", he handed out the W1AW QSO to 534 surprised recipients! (Photo - Sean KX9X)

More interesting tools for radio and antenna work are available from Davis RF. They have a new page on their Web site featuring cable preparation tools to make those feed line and connector installation chores a lot easier.

Doug K1DG was confronted with an aerial challenge - Phillystran truss cables on a large beam had slipped out of cable clamps on the boom. Was he going to have to lower or rotate the antenna to reattach the truss? His solution was to "...attach the loose end of the Phillystran with new cable clamps and thimble to a stainless-steel snap hook similar to a carabiner. I taped the snap hook open with a single turn of tape, connected a long piece of strong string firmly to the tape, and threaded the string through the eyelets of a fishing pole. I disconnected the Phillystran at the mast end to give me some slack, then went "fishing" for the eye bolt on the boom. I had to extend the fishing pole with a long wooden pole to reach the eyebolt." When Doug "had a bite" with the hook in the eye bolt, yanking the string pulled off the tape so the snap hook could close, capturing the cable in its original position!

We've all encountered Ground Fault Circuit Interruptors (GFCI), but how about Arc Fault Circuit Interruptors (AFCI)? Paul W9AC posted a link to an explanation of these two protective devices.

Analog Device's email newsletter Analog Dialogue contains some great tutorials and overviews. This past issue contained the second part of "Phase Response in Active Filters". Phase response is important to understand, especially in applications like narrow CW filters. If you like lifting the hood to see what makes circuits go, this is a good newsletter to receive.

Skip KH6TY has published a simple design for interfacing sound cards and radios. PTT is derived from the output audio, eliminating one control signal path. This might be handy for getting on the air for a digital mode contest.

Instead of attaching Beverage antenna wires directly to trees, Steve HAØDU has an alternative that keeps the wires straight and flexible. "I put pieces of [bailing twine] between pairs of trees along the path and the Beverage wire is attached to these. This results in less zig-zagging and larger distances from trees. The ropes are a little loose, so even if the trees are moving in the wind, the ropes are not broken."

Technical Web Site of the Week - The shape of a rhombic antenna forms the outline of radio society logos from our own ARRL and those around the world. With its almost mythical reputation, here's one of the original technical (and equation-laden) papers on the rhombic and how it does what it does. (Thanks, Larry N7DF)

CONVERSATION

Check It Out!

Is it just my imagination or did this year's Sweepstakes have more checks (the last two digits of the year first licensed) beginning with 9 or 0? And this was the CW weekend - the phone weekend ought to bring out even more new HF operators! The word may be getting out that radiosport is a lot of fun! Not that one has to become a total devotee, but a casual game now and then is a great way to get a little radio exercise.

Most contests are open-ended, meaning that it's very difficult to work every participant or every multiplier. Sweepstakes is an exception with its coveted "Clean Sweep" of all 80 sections. Ed VE4EAR not only made a lot of "sweeps" possible, but has captured the excitement of chasing one very well with this 3830 post: "The magical thing that separates Sweepstakes from all other contests is the personal emotion that comes with it. This is truly one contest where big gun or little pistol, everyone is searching for the elusive "SWEEP". You may not win a section but the sweep is a goal within reach. Even though this is CW, you can hear the emotion in the other party when you give them a sweep. Congratulations to all that achieved their goals!"

There is a sizeable group of operators gunning for 80-80; 80 sections in 80 QSOs. Some go for Worked All States or Worked All VE. I know I filled out a considerable chunk of my 5BWAS-QRP QSOs during Sweepstakes by working the Big Guns with ears to match. Each Sweepstakes mug, broom, medal, and pin has a special place in my ham radio history.

That Clean Sweep is something even non-hams can understand. How many of us have had a visitor stop in at the shack door and ask if we've "gotten our sweep, yet?" It flavors the whole contest with scores reported afterwards as "XXX QSOs and a sweep" or "YYY contacts and missed [fill in one of the usual suspects here]". Part of the name and part of the competition, it's all about the sweep.

The flip side of a sweep is helping others make their sweep from a needed section. Some sections are so rare that operators from those locations might have serious difficulty making a sweep of their own, even as they are handing out the final section to others left and right. I got a taste of that buzz by operating from Wyoming as WY7SS last weekend (with K7JA and others), hearing many "TKS WY" as a QSO was completed. It feels good!

Let operators from those rare sections know that you appreciate their efforts. For many years, VY1JA was our only hope from his Yukon station and the pileups were legendary. Today, stations like VE8EV, VY1EI, and VE8NWT are filling the logs. VO1MP gets on to run the pileups on NL from the other side of the continent. And there are many others with the world beating a path to their receiver front ends.

All on account of that fabulous sweep! If there was ever a great way to illustrate contesting, Sweepstakes brings out the best of the contest world. There's another one coming up, folks, and when I set up my electronic calendar, the first and third weekends in November are occupied. When asked how long Sweepstakes repeats, it was an easy choice; yearly and forever! Thanks for the sweep!

73, Ward N0AX

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CONTESTS

November 11 to November 24

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

Worked All Europe DX Contest --Digital, from Nov 14, 0000Z to Nov 15, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and serial (see Web for QTC rules). Logs due: Nov 30. Rules

FOC Bill Windle QSO Party--CW, from Nov 14, 0000Z to Nov 14, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50,144. Exchange: RST, name, and FOC number if member. Logs due: Nov 30. Rules

Japan International DX Contest--Phone, from Nov 14, 0700Z to Nov 15, 1300Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and JA prefecture or CQ Zone. Logs due: Dec 31. Rules

OK-OM DX Contest--CW, from Nov 14, 1200Z to Nov 15, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST and serial or OK/OM district. Logs due: Dec 1. Rules

Kentucky QSO Party--Phone,CW, from Nov 14, 1400Z to Nov 15, 0200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50, Frequencies: CW--1.815, 3.550, 7.050, 14.050, 21.050, 28.050, 50.090; SSB--1.855, 3.820, 7.240, 14.280, 21.390, 28.390, 50.190. Exchange: RST and serial or KY county. Logs due: Dec 31. Rules

CQ WE (Western Electric)--Phone,CW,Digital, from Nov 14, 1900Z to Nov 16, 0500Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50-440. Exchange: Call, name, Bell QTH, yrs of svc (see Web). Logs due: Dec 1. Rules

Homebrew and Oldtime Contest--CW, from Nov 15, 1300Z to Nov 15, 1700Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-7. Exchange: RST, serial, and category. Logs due: Dec 15. Rules

Mongolia DX Contest--Phone,CW, from Nov 21, 0000Z to Nov 22, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS(T) and CQ Zone. Logs due: Dec 31.

LZ DX Contest--Phone,CW, from Nov 21, 1200Z to Nov 22, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and ITU Zone or LZ district. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

ARRL November Sweepstakes--Phone, from Nov 21, 2100Z to Nov 23, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: Serial, category, call, check, ARRL sec. Logs due: Dec 8. Rules

Collegiate ARC Championship--Phone, from Nov 21, 2100Z to Nov 23, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: See ARRL Sweepstakes. Logs due: Dec 8. Rules

RSGB 1.8MHz Contest--CW, from Nov 21, 2100Z to Nov 22, 0100Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8. Exchange: RST, serial, UK district. Logs due: 16 days. Rules

VHF+ CONTESTS

FOC Bill Windle QSO Party--CW, from Nov 14, 0000Z to Nov 14, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50,144. Exchange: RST, name, and FOC number if member. Logs due: Nov 30. Rules

Kentucky QSO Party--Phone,CW, from Nov 14, 1400Z to Nov 15, 0200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50, Frequencies: CW--1.815, 3.550, 7.050, 14.050, 21.050, 28.050, 50.090; SSB--1.855, 3.820, 7.240, 14.280, 21.390, 28.390, 50.190. Exchange: RST and serial or KY county. Logs due: Dec 31. Rules

LOG DUE DATES

November 11 to November 24

November 13, SKCC Weekend Sprint, Post log summary at: Summary, Mail logs to: (none), Find rules at: Rules

November 15, California QSO Party, E-mail logs to: (see rules, web upload preferred), Upload log at: Upload, Mail logs to: NCCC, c/o Rick Eversole, N6RNO, 1225 Vienna Dr. #919, Sunnyvale, CA 94089, USA, Find rules at: Rules

November 15, Pennsylvania QSO Party, E-mail logs to: paqsolog@nittany-arc.net, Mail logs to: PA QSO Party 2008, c/o NARC, P.O. Box 614, State College, PA 16804-0614, USA, Find rules at: Rules

November 15, Makrothen RTTY Contest, E-mail logs to: tmc-rtty@arcor.de, Mail logs to: (none), Find rules at: Rules

November 17, Iowa QSO Party, E-mail logs to: wa0dx@yahoo.com, Mail logs to: Dale Stoy, NS0D, 1335 N. Van Buren Ave., Ottumwa, IA 52501, USA, Find rules at: Rules

November 17, Microwave Fall Sprint, E-mail logs to: wd4jqv@arrl.net, Mail logs to: Bruce Randall, WD4JQV, 928 Falls Rd., Rock Hill, SC 29730, USA, Find rules at: Rules

November 17, PODXS 070 Club 160m Great Pumpkin Sprint, E-mail logs to: jbudzowski@verizon.net, Mail logs to: Jay Budzowski, N3DQU, 109 S. Northview Ave., New Castle, PA 16102, USA, Find rules at: Rules

November 17, Stew Perry Topband Challenge Warmup, E-mail logs to: tbdc@contesting.com, Mail logs to: BARC, 15125 SE Bartell Rd, Boring, OR 97009, USA, Find rules at: Rules

November 18, ARCI Fall QSO Party, E-mail logs to: contest@qrparci.org, Mail logs to: ARCI Fall QSO Party, c/o Jeff Hetherington, VA3JFF, 139 Elizabeth St. W., Welland, Ontario L3C 4M3, Canada, Find rules at: Rules

November 19, Illinois QSO Party, E-mail logs to: n9jf@arrl.net, Mail logs to: WIARC, P.O. Box 3132, Quincy IL 62305-3132, USA, Find rules at: Rules

November 23, ARRL School Club Roundup, E-mail logs to: (none), Mail logs to: School Club Roundup, c/o Lew Malchick, N2RQ, Brooklyn Technical HS, 29 Fort Greene Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217, USA, Find rules at: Rules

November 24, ARRL Sweepstakes Contest, CW, E-mail logs to: SSCW@arrl.org, Mail logs to: November SS CW, ARRL, 225 Main St., Newington, CT 06111, USA, Find rules at: Rules

November 24, NA Collegiate ARC Championship, CW, E-mail logs to: SSCW@arrl.org, E-mail log summary to: wm5r@wm5r.org, Mail logs to: November SS CW, ARRL, 225 Main St., Newington, CT 06111, USA, Find rules at: Rules

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

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

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