May 12, 2010Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO
If you're not going to the Dayton Hamvention, pick up some of the South American countries in the All America CW contest. South America is under-represented on CW (although that is changing) and this is a good way to pick up needed band-mode contacts for 5BDXCC.
There are no bulletins in this issue.
Tony Rogozinski is W4OI/HK1AR and hasn't been N7BG in quite a while! (Thanks, Wayne N7NG)
Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST
A flash WRTC-2010 news item - there is a new West Coast USA team! Team Leader, Mitch K7RL has had to withdraw from the competition and has been replaced by Bob K6XX, according to the WRTC-2010 selection procedures. At Monday's Northern California Contest Club meeting, K6XX announced the selection of Rick N6XI, to be his team mate. Good luck, guys!
In other WRTC news, the Contest Update recently published a team photo of Marv K5AW and Terry N4TZ, observing that they had never met except over the air. Well, they did manage to get together at Marv's QTH for the recent Russian DX Contest and worked out a few things, taking advantage of the contest's similar format to WRTC. "The contest itself was a great chance to get a feel for how to use two radios effectively when only one can transmit at a time. It made for a few awkward moments but by and large it turned out to work better than we anticipated, especially when doing S&P on both radios. Things get a little more complicated when running on one radio (much less two), especially when the rate goes up." There were some hardware issues to work out, as you might imagine, but the most important item learned was, "We found we got along well together and are good partners...and are both looking forward to having a great time at WRTC 2010!"
Dean Straw N6BV (former ARRL Antenna Book editor and author of the HFTA terrain analysis software), and Radioware announce the release of "N6BV Propagation Predictions" software on CD-ROM. Dean has put a lot of effort into this new software package. HF Contesters and DXpedition planners will find it useful in figuring out how to be on the right band at the right time. The CD-ROM will be available at the Dayton Hamvention, too.
The good folks behind DX Summit have launched the "My Summit" feature, allowing you to customize your DX Summit interface and generate emailed notifications of rare station appearances. There are more features - take a look - the new battery-operated notification add-on looks quite useful! (Thanks, Martti OH2BH)
On April 15 the "LU Contest Group" group celebrated its 10th anniversary. The LUCG has over 200 members, including most of the contesters in Argentina, and colleagues in seven countries. 80 members attended the celebration on April 24, held at one of Argentina's biggest contest stations - BadPower - LT1F, located in Alvarez, Santa Fe Province. Claudio LU7DW made the trip from Canada just for this event - enhorabuena, amigos! (Thanks, Diego LU8ADX and Hector XE2K)
Gonset is a storied name in ham radio - the famed "Goonie Birds" were popular means of getting on the VHF bands "back in the day". Even though the Goonie Birds mostly perch on the shelf these days, the family name is still very active. Bob Gonsett W6VR carries on the family traditions as described by Radio World's online magazine.
From the Amateur Radio Newsline Report 1708 we learn that the big KP4AO EME weekend logged well over 200 stations in nearly 60 DXCC entities! Team leader K1JT reports huge pileups of signals coming off the Moon, so the completed QSO totals represent only a fraction of the workable signals. The KP4AO team will be going through the recordings to pull out more call signs.
You've heard and heard of frequency fights, but how about longitude fights? Bob N6TV relied this news item about an out-of-control broadcast satellite starting to menace other Clarke Orbit (geosynchronous) inhabitants. I guess falling asleep on the keying paddles isn't so bad after all!
Frequent contributor to the Contest Update, Jim K1TN recently donated a set of vintage DX Bulletins to the ARRL. Readers of that newsletter will fondly remember the writings of Chod Harris, VP2ML, your editor's first ham radio publisher.
The voting is done and the cancer-fighting invention of John Kanzius K3TUP has been selected as the recipient of a $250,000 development grant! John's wife, Marianne, wishes to thank all of the hams that supported the project with their votes. (Thanks, Tim K3LR)
Web Site of the Week - Todd KC9BQA has published an eight-part series of articles aimed at newcomers to VHF+ contesting. The articles are designed to help someone get started with contests above 50 MHz. As Todd says, "If you want more VHF/UHF contest activity, then spread the word!"
WORD TO THE WISE
Apply the Power of Early - Dave, N9KT of Industrial Communication Engineers (I.C.E.) wrote to let me know that the company will be closed from June 21 through July 2 for the annual factory shutdown and remote Field Day event. As a result, they will be unable to fulfill last-minute orders by Field Day Chairpersons for band-pass filters and the like. This is good advice for Field Day and for all contests - upgrade the contesting software before Friday afternoon, take inventory and keep spare parts on hand, and do a station checkout with enough time to effect repairs before The Big Day. Why wait until that last minute?
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
ARRL "Contest TV" makes its prime-time debut with this online video featuring ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Sean KX9X and his goofy sidekick. Scroll down to the "Contest TV" link and enjoy!
Hector XE2K was very active with his digital camera and has posted many Visalia International DX Convention photos on-line for all of us to enjoy!
In the "Be Careful What You Wish For Department", Spaceweather.com reports, "This weekend, magnetic fields around sunspot 1069 became unstable and erupted--over and over again. On May 8th alone, the active region produced more than half a dozen flares. High-resolution movies from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory show that even the "minor" eruptions were jaw-dropping spectacles."
"Boom-boom! Out go the lights!" Watch as this LORAN tower changes polarization from vertical to horizontal in just a few seconds! (Thanks, Bob N6TV)
George K5TR notes that it is now easier to randomly browse the eham Spotlight photos. Click "Spotlight Gallery" to load pages of photo thumbnails.
I'm not sure the computer application shown in the video on this Web page is ready for use as a contest logging program, but it might make a nice QSL designer! (Thanks, Rick KUØW)
RESULTS AND RECORDS
The claimed scores for the WPX SSB Contest 2010 are now online, representing 4,499 electronic logs received. (Scores from paper logs will be added later in the summer.) Scores can be sorted by continent and category and a search function is included so you can quickly locate a particular score. WPX Contest Director, Randy K5ZD has posted more about the calculation of the scores on his WPX Blog.
Accumulate time to reinforce your skills or, as the German's say, "Ubung macht den meister." (Practice makes the master) Even if it's just an hour here and there, it does keep those neurons limbered up for when you really want to apply them.
TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION
When you're working away on your antenna system this summer, don't forget to use a small amount of anti-oxidation compound in aluminum-to-aluminum joints. Two of the better known and widely available brands are Penetrox and Noaxlox. Either or both may be available at your local hardware emporia and the latter is available from RadioShack.
Jim W7RY posted some photos of his homebrew 8877 amplifier, noting his metalworking technique of using aluminum angle and flat plates from Metal Supermarkets. Jim cut the angle with an aluminum cutting blade in his table saw and reports excellent results.
Rick N6RK has posted photos of the bases for his irrigation-pipe vertical antennas - click "Flat falling derrick base" on his home page. You'll find a lot of good information on his Web site.
Here's a handy reference for wind loading calculations on Wikipedia. (Thanks, Gene AD3F)
Regarding the determination of GPS coordinates, Don W7WLL notes that, "While it may not apply to all counties, I found that [my] county surveyors were willing to provide the coordinates and elevation crosscheck for me. Other county or local government surveyors may also be willing to help if properly approached, and do the same for other amateurs."
Not a knot-knot joke for naught, here are two videos (video 1 and video 2) showing how to tie knots similar to the "trucker's hitch". This knot is very useful for tensioning ropes. Someone on every ground crew should know it - be ready for Field Day! (Thanks, Grant KZ1W)
The shoveling, troweling, and cleaning are over - how long must you wait for that new tower base to be strong enough to get busy with the antenna work? Jim W6RMK has the answer, "28 days is when the concrete will have reached its "data sheet" spec. It still keeps getting stronger for years. You're [at] about 50% of the 28-day strength in 7 days. You MUST keep the surface wet for the entire cure time." Wet cloths such as old sheets from the thrift store or plastic sheeting with water sprayed underneath can be keep the surface damp. Jim also provided this reference, the Federal Highway Administration's "Guide for curing of portland cement pavements".
What is that goopy white stuff in the bearings of variable capacitors? It's a lightweight, lithium grease called Lubriplate and, yes, it's still available through lubricant distributors and is often used on bicycles. To remove the grease on old air-variables, try a spin through the dishwasher or a dip in some carburetor cleaner. (Thanks to the QRP-L reflector readers)
Super-capacitors just seem to get better and better in pursuit of battery-like energy densities. Steve AG1YK found this IEEE article on a new process for making them by baking them.
Here's a prescient technical article from the QST archives, titled "The "Transistor" - An Amplifying Crystal". The original can be found in the online QST archives for 1948 - open to ARRL Members. Do you think those "amplifying crystal" thingies ever caught on? (Thanks, Don N1DG)
Norm W1ITT wrote in with a tip about reducing galling in stainless steel hardware. "We found that if you mix different alloys of stainless in the nuts and bolts, galling was reduced. For example, if you buy 318-series stainless bolts, buy 314 or 316 for the nuts. The numbers don't seem to matter, just so long as they are different. Our theory was that one alloy will have different physical properties from another, and one will give when the other tries to grab. It was not a foolproof cure, but it did cut down on skinned knuckles and bad language."
Technical Web Site of the Week - A recent four-part series of eham articles on propagation is worth a read. It's called "Plasma Physics For the Radio Amateur" by Eric KL7AJ. It covers a lot of the foundational physics not often available to a ham. While you're there, you can check out your editor's modern-day mystery, "Where Does 468 Come From?".
Overheard last year during a little squall, "It's just not Dayton without horizontal rain!" In case you're wondering, here's an online weather forecast for Dayton. As of noon on Tuesday, the probability of precipitation is dropping slightly on Friday and a welcome yellow Sun is peeking out on Saturday with temperatures in the upper-60's. Umbrella or sunscreen? Yes!
The two room-fillers of top interest to contesters are:
Also of prime interest to contesters, yes, the Kansas City DX Club will be hosting the 30th consecutive running of its annual CW Pileup Competition at Dayton this year. The event will be held Saturday evening in the Kansas City DX Club's hospitality suite, Room 525 at the Dayton Crowne Plaza Hotel. The tests, lasting about 10 minutes, can be taken anytime from 8:00 pm until Midnight, at which time many excellent prizes will be awarded. Watching the assembled throng salute, cheer, and groan over the posting of a new batch of test results is priceless! (Thanks, Bill KØVBU)
Kenwood is rumored to have a new HF transceiver, succeeding the TS-570, and a new dual-band handheld radio with GPS built-in. More whispers of a new HF radio from Alinco have been making the rounds, but no sightings. A Chinese company, Wouxon, is reported to be bringing a VHF/UHF dual-band handheld to Dayton, as well.
Don't miss up a chance to wander by the Discover Homebrew demo area, in the North Hall, on Friday and Saturday. Better yet, bring your favorite homebrew project to show off! Sponsored by Hamvention, and supported by the members of the Midwest VHF/UHF Society (MVUS), the demo area is located in booths 179, 180, 191, 192, 203, 204, 215, and 216. AC power and HF (and possibly VHF) antenna access will be available.
If last year's Hamvention is any indication, this year's will be a lot of fun and a big kickoff for the summer hamfest season across the country. See you there!
May 12 through May 25
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.
Portuguese Navy Day--Digital, from May 15, 0800Z to May 15, 1500Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST, serial, CQ zone. Logs due: 20 days. Rules
EU PSK DX Contest--Digital, from May 15, 1200Z to May 16, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and EU area code or serial. Logs due: 30 days. Rules
His Majesty King of Spain Contest--CW, from May 15, 1200Z to May 16, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST and serial or EA province. Logs due: Jun 10. Rules
All America Contest--CW, from May 15, 1500Z to May 16, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST, continent, and category. Logs due: Jul 30. Rules
Worked All Britain - LF Phone--Phone, from May 16, 1000Z to May 16, 1400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-7. Exchange: RS, serial, and WAB nr or DXCC entity. Logs due: 21 days. Rules
Baltic Contest--Phone,CW, from May 22, 2100Z to May 23, 0200Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5. Exchange: RS(T) and serial. Logs due: Jul 1. Rules
EU EME Contest--Phone,CW, from May 22, 0000Z to May 23, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.2G. Exchange: TMO/RS(T) and "R". Logs due: Jun 12. Rules
LOG DUE DATES
May 12 through May 25
May 14 - SKCC Weekend Sprint, post log summary at: http://www.skccgroup.com/sprint/wes/wes-submit.html, paper logs and diskettes to: (none). Rules
May 23 - AWA John Rollins Memorial DX Contest, email logs to: (no info), paper logs and diskettes to: (no info). Rules