ARRL

Contest Update Issues

Preview
The ARRL Contest Update
March 3, 2010
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
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IN THIS ISSUE

NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

If you "Turn On, Tune In, and Tune Up" this weekend, you'll encounter bands full of DX in the annual ARRL DX Phone contest. The exchange from US and VE stations is signal report and state or province. In return you'll get a report and the station's power. It's okay to enter "K" or "KW" for kilowatt, by the way - the log checking software understands that just fine.

BULLETINS

IARU Region 2 and the Red Chilena Nor Austral de Servicio (RECNA) request that hams monitor the following emergency communications frequencies for traffic pertaining to the Chilean earthquake and tsunami: 3.738, 3.750, 7.050, 7.100, 14.200, 14.350, 21.200, 21.350, 28.300 and 28.500 MHz. As ARRL DX Phone is coming up, please take extra care for calling or answering CQ's on those frequencies.

BUSTED QSOS

A golden issue last time!

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

March 6-7

  • ARRL International DX--Phone
  • High Speed CW Contest
  • Open Ukraine RTTY Championship
  • DARC 10-Meter Digital "Corona"
  • CLARA and Family HF Contest-- (Mar 9)

March 13-14

  • Heavy Metal Rally,
  • RSGB Commonwealth Contest--CW
  • AGCW QRP Contest
  • QRP ARCI HF Grid Square Sprint--CW
  • EA PSK31 Contest
  • Idaho QSO Party
  • North American RTTY Sprint
  • Wisconsin QSO Party
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

Krassy K1LZ, President and co-founder of amplifier manufacturer Acom, is managing fundraising efforts for the upcoming WRTC-2010 in Moscow in July. As previous WRTC's have shown, it's important to have the financial support of the international radiosport community for the event's success. In North America, donations are being handled as for previous WRTC's by the Northern California DX Foundation through the mail and via both credit card and PayPal. For more information, a letter from Krassy is posted on his QRZ.com Web page, including information about tax-deductibility for US donors.

Here are the ops behind that big 20-meter score from K3LR in ARRL DX CW - WRTC North American teammates Chris KL9A (L) and Dan N6MJ (R). They sound tuned up and ready for July! (Photo - NØAX)

With work on the new ARRL.org Web site underway, ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Sean KX9X has temporarily moved his Contest Branch blog to a new site. Once blog capabilities are running on the new ARRL site, the blog will return. Note that Web versions of the results for the 2009 ARRL 10 GHz and Up, September VHF Sweepstakes, IARU HF Championship and EME Contests are also temporarily being hosted off-site. The searchable database and Log Checking Reports are waiting for work to be completed on the new Web site.

The recent Contest Club of Finland (CCF) Contest & DX Conference in Riga, Latvia featured the world premier of RTTY Contesting School. You can download the session handouts by Kari OH2BP on RTTY Contesting, Vilnis YL2KF on comparing RTTY decoders, and a photo tour of Daniel OK1DIG's terrific station you've heard as OL6X and OK3R in RTTY contests.

A February 20th's Slashdot item cites an IEEE Spectrum article that looks at the technology used to battle cheating in video games. The article is thought-provoking and invokes echoes of detecting radiosport rascals.

If you fancy some ham radio-themed shirts or bumper stickers or just about anything else, the Café Press Web site should appeal to you. Search for "ham radio" from the home page and you'll find page after page of stuff from the silly to the sublime. For example, check out the "QRO Beer Stein" or a ham tee-shirt for your dog! (Thanks, Nancy W7FIR)

Steve N2IC notes with some interest that in the recent ARRL DX CW contest the top Single Operator, Assisted claimed scores are higher than the top Single Operator scores. That's fairly uncommon! It might be due to the unexpectedly good conditions or perhaps a harbinger of things to come. Time will tell.

The Hands-On column of IEEE Spectrum for Feb 2010 features "Do-It-Yourself Eye In the Sky" by David Schnieder. An RV pilot, David describes "First Person View" RC aircraft piloting with the video relayed to ground via 910 MHz ATV transmissions. Amateur radio license requirements get mentioned, so David must be a ham. Take a look at the videos on the Web site to get your own front-seat view!

There is quite a variety in computer-controlled radios. How are you supposed to tell what each can do? The N1MM team has compiled a long list of radios with computer interfaces and discusses the limitations of each. Once you've decided on a radio, this index of ARRL Product Reviews on the ARRL TIS Web page is a listing by manufacturer and model of the date when the review was released. Even an Allied Knight-Kit transceiver was reviewed (Oct 1966) but, no, it did not have a computer interface! (Thanks, Tom K1KI and Bob AD5VJ)

After a big contest, digging through the flood of 3830 messages for the juicy commentary can be quite a chore. Luckily, Dink N7WA has extracted the Soapbox comments and distilled them down to a heady brew you may quaff at leisure.

Web Site of the Week - Petr OK1RP has updated his list of Top Band beacons. He asks for continued contributions, updates, and notification of any errors.

WORD TO THE WISE

Urban legends - Ever wonder how to check out those interesting emails that wind up in your Inbox? Snopes.com is my favorite "truthiness assessment" site, but the Urban Legends site is good, too. For the ham radio and technical rumor mill grist, copy-and-paste a section of the email's text into an Internet search engine window. You'll often find the necessary de-bunkum in the first few links.

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SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Ragav VU3VWR found a rather addictive online video that aims to teach teach Morse by music. He says that it "sticks to your head almost instantly. Besides Morse, it teaches you sign language as well!

Congratulations and thanks to the VE7 home team for a fabulous Winter Olympics! Back in 1924, however, there were only five VE call districts as this QSL to 7RY in Seattle shows. (Thanks, K7SS)

Gabriel LU3DAT made a short video with pictures of LU3DY's ARRL Contest activity, Workshop and Anniversary celebration. (Thanks, Alberto LU1DZ)

RESULTS AND RECORDS

ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Sean KX9X reports, "2600 logs have been received for the 2010 ARRL DX CW contest only five days after the end of the event! That's stunning; just five years ago, we received 2570 logs for the entire DX CW contest! Let's hope propagation will be as good for DX Phone!" [February did have a sunspot every for the first time since Jan 2007 - Ed.] Sean also reports that with the Contest Branch assistant being on extended medical leave, he is running a little behind. Plaques for 2009 ARRL DX have been ordered and all awards are expected to be shipped out in a couple of weeks.

Preliminary North American CW Sprint results are now available on the NCJ Web site. (Thanks, Tree N6TR)

The new CQ WPX records Web page allows you to look up records at the World, Continent, Country, and Call Area levels. For each region, the records are shown for all possible categories for both CW and SSB. If you want to learn more about a particular record, click on the hyperlink for the category to see a list of the all time high scores for that category and geographic region. (Thanks, CQ WPX Director, Randy K5ZD)

Some contesters submitting REF contest logs have reported trouble receiving acknowledgement messages from the email robot. If so, a Web form has been prepared. (Thanks, Pascal F5LEN)

More than 2300 logs for the CQ WPX RTTY have been received to date! CQ RTTY Contest Director Ed WØYK reminds all participants that now is a great time to email him your stories and photos for the contest report while it is fresh on your mind.

RAC Canada Winter Contest Manager, Sam VE5SF, announces that a summary of logs received for the Canada Winter Contest 2009 is now online. You can advise him of any errors at Canadawinter@rac.ca. In some cases where the category claimed was not clear or conflicted with the actual content of the log, logs were re-categorized to give the entrant the best possible competitive position in terms of total potential multipliers.

Another historic photo shows the LU1DAY contest team in 1965. From left to right, LU8DK - LU1DAY(SK) - LU8DQ (SK) and LU2DKG (now LU1DZ). (Photo from LU1DZ)

The final results of the 2009 Worked All Europe DX Contest SSB are available. Thanks to all participants and congratulation to the winners. WAE begins again in August. (Thanks, WAE DX Contest Manager, Joerg HB9/DL8WPX)

Rick K6VVA, having suffered a plaque of errors in log processing for the Locust QSO Party, recovers by announcing, "We now have TWO LQP/NCCC NS NOOB Category Winners for the 2010 LQP: AD6E (NCCC) and K9JWV (Non-NCCC). Both will receive an NCJ Subscription (or Renewal). Accordingly, I have revised the 2010 Results."

OPERATING TIP

Trust But Verify - As more and more spots pour into and out of the spotting networks, it is up to the operator to be even more vigilant that calls are correct. Not only can call signs be busted, but with automatic CW decoders located in different locations, more than one station can be present on a frequency! It only takes a little bit of frequency offset somewhere along the line and it's easy to work a station adjacent to the one you intended to call. So confirm the call sign before entering it in your log. And pileup running stations -give your give call frequently to reduce slowing your rate from duplicate QSOs!

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TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

If you want to know how to wind your own power transformer for repairing old equipment or building new stuff, you should visit Manfred XQ2FOD's Web site. It is quite extensive with lots of illustrations and photos. Manfred has also provided a design spreadsheet to help with the calculations. Be sure to browse the other pages around the site, including the supporting Transformers and Coils page. If toroids are your cup of tea, Diz W8DIZ has published a toroidal inductor calculator using the common T, FT, and BN part numbers.

More technical photos are found on the Web site of Tony G3NPF. He goes into great detail with descriptions and illustrative graphics for different types of components - look in the "Technical" area. This may help you identify a component or help a new ham about the different types of components and why their characteristics are useful.

This is what an automated CW decoder looked like in 1981 at W2PV! This skimmer used note paper inputs from verbal spots performed at each band station and exported them to a 2 meter spotting network. Things have changed. (Photo from K3UA)

Rudy N6LF's article on radials in the May 2010 issue of QST is certainly drawing well-deserved attention. The entire set of Rudy's seven QEX articles on ground systems is available online on his Web site. (Thanks, Steve N2IC)

The previous issue's discussion of drilling holes in tubing at right angles was missing a technique for marking the drill points spaced by ninety degrees. Bob WA6GFR discovered just such a procedure in the recent August 2009 issue of QST - "Diamonds In the Sky" by KH6TY. The article shows how to mark straight lines along the tubing and do the job with a hand drill, as well.

The March 2010 issue of Nuts and Volts features a nice article, "Build Your Own Electronics Test Fixtures" by W. Hartley Roberts. The techniques for making simple jigs can save you tons of time when making repetitive tests of components or connectors. Good for club projects, too!

With all the gadgets a contest operation requires, there are lots of ways to accidentally apply reverse-polarity power. This is even easier to do when operating away from home. To protect your low-power, 12-volt gear from reverse polarity without damage and with a minimum of voltage drop, install a 1N5817 Schottky diode in series with the incoming power line. It will handle up to 20 V of reverse voltage and 1 amp of continuous forward current with only 0.45 V of voltage drop. (Thanks, Chuck W5USJ)

The Winter 2010 issue of CQ VHF shows how to convert a Bird Model 43 wattmeter to a digital readout in an article by Mark Spencer WA8SME. Mark uses a small microprocessor to convert the display to digital and digitize the sensing element output. The magazine also features spectacular photos of a "Fata Morgana" mirage and tropospheric duct by Chip K7JA.

Technical Web Site of the Week - We'd all like to have one of those low-band four-squares, but certain practical considerations often put the kibosh on those plans. Nevertheless, one can enjoy a look at four-square arrays around the world at G4ATA's "The 4-Square Site". Pictures and construction details abound! If you do have a four-square of your own, why not contribute photos and construction details? (Thanks, Kris N5KM)

CONVERSATION

Sidewalk Radio

This is the time of year when at club meetings the president gravely scans the assembled throng and with dulcet tones delivers a hortatory call to rise as one in support of the annual Field Day adventures. A sough rustles across the membership as they rouse from their post-supper hebetude to contemplate the implications. A leader is chosen, sometimes in clever ambush, launching the annual roborant exertion of weaving March's gallimaufry into June's fructuous spectacle of wireless effulgence!

Ah, Field Day. Many an operator will remember a long-past Field Day as having provided the first of many radio enlightenments. Indeed, quite a few will have experienced that personal tipping point by which they are delivered to ham radio during those early summer imbroglios of comestibles, cables, connectors, conversation, and camaraderie. Field Day is a time when ham radio blooms, attracting the cognoscenti and curious alike.

In this sense of presentation to other, I suggest that we consider the location in which we plant our gardens. If yours is a group for whom a big score and competitive mastery is the goal, then perhaps that secret hilltop is the optimum spot. But for the rest, why not offer up ham radio to the beginners and passers-by? So much of our hobby-sport-service takes place out of view in basements, spare bedrooms, local EOCs, and club houses, access to which the public is rarely granted. We are invisible!

It is commonly agreed that ham radio has lost much of its place in the public conversation. We are too often seen as preservationists or oddballs tinkerering with obsolete technology. Services rendered by hams in time of need may be duly noted, but after the fact and still the public has little interaction with what it is we do. It seems to me that instead of hiding our activities, we should be performing them out in plain view where anyone can experience the ham radio of today.

Amateur astronomers, facing parallel concerns, have adopted what they call "Sidewalk Astronomy". Never mind that the local street corner does not have optimum "seeing". What's important is that passers-by, many of whom have never looked through a telescope, get an opportunity to effortlessly experience astronomy and talk with an enthusiastic stargazer. Never mind that 10th-magnitude stars are obscured by light pollution. Point the 'scope Moon-ward and let someone get their first glimpse of shadows cast by lunar mountains across crater floors!

We need to practice "Sidewalk Radio" so that the public can have a similar encounter with ham radio "in the wild" and not as a curiosity. Field Day is a perfect opportunity to set up in a public area. For example, if you operate near the local baseball and soccer playfields, you will have a continuous stream of curious kids dragging the parents over to have a look! Where do people go on weekends? How about shopping centers and malls?

I can hear the groaning now, "What a terrible location! It will be noisy! People will bother us!" Fiddlesticks! We can lock ourselves in the basement the other 51 weekends of the year - get out there and welcome the public. Don't set up a defensive perimeter -- arrange the tables and tents so that a "civilian" doesn't feel like an intruder. Have a greeter and tour guides to break down those social barriers! Be prepared to answer questions, have handouts and brochures available, and act like you're enjoying yourself! Sit up straight and brush your teeth! (Sorry, got carried away there...)

Seriously, put out signs that say "Amateur Radio Demonstration - Public Welcome!" Better yet, add a sign that says, "Free Coffee and Cookies!" Don't expect people to know what "Field Day" is - you need to get them to come over so that you can tell them! And when they ask about local radio clubs or other events (like a flea market) be prepared with a custom handout that shows all of the local radio club Web sites and meeting information.

Once you start Sidewalk Radio, you might enjoy it enough to ask yourself, "Why not some time other than Field Day?" Exactly! It's easy to get out there and put up a no-ground vertical and work a little HF - it doesn't have to be worldwide DX with a big beam. Figure out how to use your handheld radio and a VHF/UHF "Cheap Yagi" to work a ham radio satellite from the parking lot of the local big-box store. Show off meteor scatter on 6 meters with WSJT. Once you get started, the ideas will flow and you'll hear a lot of, "I never knew hams did that!" Our signals are invisible, but we don't have to be.

73, Ward NØAX

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CONTESTS

March 3 through March 16, 2010

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

ARRL International DX--Phone, from Mar 6, 0000Z to Mar 7, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS and state, province, or power. Logs due: Apr 5. Rules

High Speed CW Contest--CW, from Mar 6, 0900Z to Mar 6, 1100Z and Mar 6, 1500Z to Mar 6, 1700Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and HSC nr or "NM". Logs due: 30 days. Rules

Open Ukraine RTTY Championship--Digital, from Mar 6, 2200Z to Mar 7, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: Regional abbreviation and serial. Logs due: Apr 7. Rules

DARC 10-Meter Digital "Corona"--Digital, from Mar 7, 1100Z to Mar 7, 1700Z. Bands (MHz): 28. Exchange: RST and serial. Logs due: Apr 7. Rules

CLARA and Family HF Contest --Phone,CW, from Mar 9, 1700Z to Mar 10, 1700Z and Mar 13, 1700Z to Mar 14, 1700Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-21. Exchange: RS(T), name, QTH, and CLARA . Logs due: Apr 15. Rules

Heavy Metal Rally--Phone,CW, from Mar 13, 0000Z to Mar 14, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RS(T) and serial, plus "V" if vintage equip. Logs due: Apr 3. Rules

RSGB Commonwealth Contest--CW, from Mar 13, 1000Z to Mar 14, 1000Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and serial (Commonwealth only). Logs due: 30 days. Rules

AGCW QRP Contest--CW, from Mar 13, 1400Z to Mar 13, 2000Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST, serial, class, AGCW number or NM. Logs due: Mar 31. Rules

QRP ARCI HF Grid Square Sprint--CW, from Mar 13, 1500Z to Mar 13, 1800Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Frequencies: QRP calling frequencies. Exchange: RST, 4-digit grid square, QRP ARCI number. Logs due: Apr 13. Rules

EA PSK31 Contest--Digital, from Mar 13, 1600Z to Mar 14, 1600Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST + serial or EA province. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

Idaho QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Mar 13, 1900Z to Mar 14, 1900Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50-440, Frequencies: CW 35 kHz above band edge; Phone 7.260, 14.260, 21.335, 28.470 MHz, plus 50, 144, 440 . Exchange: RS(T) and S/P/C. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

North American RTTY Sprint--Digital, from Mar 14, 0000Z to Mar 14, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Exchange: Both call signs, serial, name, and S/P/C. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

Wisconsin QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Mar 14, 1800Z to Mar 15, 0100Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50+, Frequencies: CW 3.550, 7.050, 14.050; Phone 3.890, 7.230, 14.290, 21.350, 28.400. Exchange: WI county or S/P/C. Logs due: Apr 14. Rules

VHF+ CONTESTS

Idaho QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Mar 13, 1900Z to Mar 14, 1900Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50-440, Frequencies: CW 35 kHz above band edge; Phone 7.260, 14.260, 21.335, 28.470 MHz, plus 50, 144, 440 . Exchange: RS(T) and S/P/C. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

Wisconsin QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Mar 14, 1800Z to Mar 15, 0100Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50+, Frequencies: CW 3.550, 7.050, 14.050; Phone 3.890, 7.230, 14.290, 21.350, 28.400. Exchange: WI county or S/P/C. Logs due: Apr 14. Rules

LOG DUE DATES

March 3 through March 16, 2010

March 4, ARS Spartan Sprint, paper logs and diskettes to: spartansprint@yahoo.com, paper logs and diskettes to: (none). Rules

March 5, PODXS 070 Club Valentine Sprint, paper logs and diskettes to: w4krn@his.com, paper logs and diskettes to: Karen Russo, W4KRN, 7720 Willow Pond Lane, Nokesville, VA 20181, USA. Rules

March 7, Russian PSK WW Contest, paper logs and diskettes to: ra3bb@mail.ru, paper logs and diskettes to: (none). Rules

March 7, ARCI Fireside SSB Sprint, paper logs and diskettes to: contest@qrparci.org, paper logs and diskettes to: Jeff Hetherington, VA3JFF, 139 Elizabeth St. W., Welland, Ontario L3C 4M3, Canada. Rules

March 7, FYBO Winter QRP Sprint, paper logs and diskettes to: FYBO2010@azscorpions.org, paper logs and diskettes to: John Stevens,, Attn: FYBO, 21547 N. 91st Drive, Peoria AZ 85382, USA. Rules

March 8, Black Sea Cup International, paper logs and diskettes to: bscup@ur5eaw.com, paper logs and diskettes to: BSCI, Box 4, KERCH 98319, UKRAINE. Rules

March 8, Mexico RTTY International Contest, paper logs and diskettes to: xe3rr@prodigy.net.mx, paper logs and diskettes to: Daniel Baraggia, XE3RR, Concursos FMRE, Calle Meteoro 5 Mza. 4 Lote 5 S.M. 47, Residencial La Herradura, Cancun, Q.Roo 77505, Mexico. Rules

March 9, Delaware QSO Party, paper logs and diskettes to: qsoparty@gmail.com, paper logs and diskettes to: Contest Chairman, FSARC, PO Box 1050, Newark, DE 19715, USA. Rules

March 9, Vermont QSO Party, paper logs and diskettes to: vtqsologs@westriverradio.org, paper logs and diskettes to: Vermont QSO Party, c/o Darrel Daley, K1KU, PO Box 445, Putney, VT 05346-0445, USA. Rules

March 12, ARRL School Club Roundup, paper logs and diskettes to: (none), paper logs and diskettes to: School Club Roundup, c/o Lew Malchick, N2RQ, Brooklyn Technical HS ARC, 29 Fort Greene Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217, USA. Rules

March 13, North American QSO Party, RTTY, paper logs and diskettes to: (see rules, web upload preferred), upload site, paper logs and diskettes to: Shelby Summerville, K4WW, 6506 Lantana Ct., Louisville, KY 40229-1544, USA. Rules

March 14, KCJ Topband Contest, paper logs and diskettes to: kcj-log@kcj-cw.com, paper logs and diskettes to: M. Namba, 1420-55 Kibara, Sammu-city, Chiba 289-1212, Japan. Rules

March 15, YLRL YL-OM Contest, paper logs and diskettes to: n0wbv@earthlink.net, paper logs and diskettes to: Cheryl Muhr, PO Box 342, Littleton, CO 80160, USA. Rules

March 15, AGCW Semi-Automatic Key Evening, paper logs and diskettes to: semiautomatic@agcw.de, paper logs and diskettes to: Manager:, Ulf-Dietmar Ernst, DK9KR, Elbstrasse 60, D-28199 Bremen, Germany. Rules

March 15, Dutch PACC Contest, paper logs and diskettes to: pacc@dutchpacc.com, upload site, paper logs and diskettes to: PACC Contest Manager, c/o VERON Central Bureau, PO Box 1166, 6801 BD Arnhem, The Netherlands. Rules

March 15, FISTS Winter Sprint, paper logs and diskettes to: wa1lad@cox.net, paper logs and diskettes to: Gil Woodside, WA1LAD, 30 Hilltop Ave., West Warwick, RI 02893-2825, USA. Rules

March 15, Louisiana QSO Party, paper logs and diskettes to: laqso@bellsouth.net, paper logs and diskettes to: LAQSO Party, 508 Hache St., Houma, LA 70364, USA. Rules

March 15, Minnesota QSO Party, paper logs and diskettes to: MNQP@ISD.NET, paper logs and diskettes to: MNQP, 4745-170th Lane NE, Ham Lake, MN 55304-5233, USA. Rules

March 15, OMISS QSO Party, paper logs and diskettes to: (none), upload site, paper logs and diskettes to: OMISS QSO Party, c/o James Main, N8FV, 4427 S. Dangl, Muskegon, MI 49444, USA. Rules

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

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

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