May 26, 2010Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO
If you had a good time with the WPX SSB contest in late March, why not give its Morse equivalent a try? Everything is exactly the same - exchange a signal report and serial number. You can enjoy the late spring DX propagation, too!
There are no bulletins in this issue.
Bob W5OV corrected my reference from "goonie birds" to "goonie boxes" referring to Gonset radios. I guess I fell into that booby trap by winging it. And I omitted noting that Jim K1TN was the founder of the DX Bulletin and was its editor from 1979 through 1986, the years of the set of bulletins donated to the ARRL. Jim sold the newsletter to VP2ML in 1986, who published another 500 issues before his death in 1999. If any reader has a set of the VP2ML-published newsletters, the ARRL would be glad to complete their collection.
Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST
The WRTC-2010 Committee has announced a competition for those of us who will be filling the logs of the WRTC-2010 competitors from home. There will special trophies, plaques, T-shirts, and certificates for working the WRTC stations that will be using the distinctive call signs block R3ØA - R39Z. You'll need to send your log to the committee as soon as the contest is over - that will help to make log checking as thorough as possible. The committee also asks that you be ready to QSY to another band when requested by a WRTC station as that is an important source of QSO points for them!
The Contest Club of Finland (CCF)'s PDF magazine Pileup!, issue 14(2), is now available for downloading. The theme of the issue is "Low-Cost Contesting" - a useful and timely subject for the post-Hamvention timeframe! (Thanks, Pileup! Editor, Ilkka OH1WZ)
AMSAT reports in weekly bulletin ANS-136 that on May 17 Japan's Space Agency JAXA plans to launch its Planet-C Venus Climate Orbiter "AKATSUKI" mission to Venus. Also aboard the rocket will be UNITEC-1, a 15 kg, 35cm cubed nano-satellite developed by twenty-two universities and colleges of UNISEC (University Space Engineering Consortium). This will be the first university satellite to pass beyond lunar orbit and they will be depending on amateurs - such as the expert VHF+ contesters - to receive the microwave downlink signals. The team has created an Amateur Radio forum that will evolve into a site for the latest information as well as provide a path to upload received data. They'll be using a special version of SPECTRAN software that can be downloaded from Alberto I2PHD's weak-signal operating Web site.
Using Internet mapping software enables some pretty interesting applications. Here's a mapper from KE6UZM for finding the local hams by grid square, Zip code, or call sign. (Thanks, Alan KB7MBI)
Jari OH6BG writes to let us all know that VOACAP (Voice of America Coverage Analysis Program) Online has been opened to the public. VOACAP is a well-known HF propagation prediction program. The online package uses a QTH locator based on Google Maps. The prediction is given as a color-coded "circuit reliability" graph showing the probability of achieving a CW-grade transmission quality between the transmitter and the receiver. VOACAP Online was developed by Jari OH6BG, James KZ1JW, and Juho OH8GLV.
More from the Flying Finns as the soft launch of the new DX Summit was opened to all users on May 15. With additional capacity now in place, the team is seeking new application ideas via a discussion forum with the software gurus of Radio Arcala. (Thanks, Jarmo OH2BN)
Don VE3XD informs Contest Update that the Web site for Contest Club Ontario can now be found using the new URL of www.va3cco.com.
In the 19 May issue of the Daily DX, Al WA3GFM describes how to purchase IRCs directly from the USPS Web site. On the home page, enter "international reply coupons" in the search window. The first link returned should be page to order IRCs.
Do you know someone whose subscription to this newsletter has suddenly "gone missing"? It may be due to a problem with their ARRL Member Options. Here's an easy way to restore your subscriptions for any ARRL email publication:
In the "End Of An Era Department", Ken K1EA officially declares CT development for DOS "dead". The required elements to maintain that code are long-gone. A tip of the Contest Update cap acknowledges a program that really did change the world of contesting. Remember your first contest on computer? No more cramped hands and scribbled log sheets. Logs ready for submitting within minutes instead of weeks. Actual scoring during the contest! Technology may have bypassed CT for DOS, but like the first word processor, it seeded the future. Thanks, Ken!
The 30th running of the Kansas City DX Club's CW Pileup Competition was a hit again this year, filling the hospitality suite with cheers and jeers until the wee hours of Sunday morning. When the last of the 99 scores were tallied, the winners were K1VR, K4BAI, W9WI, K1TO and YT6W tied with VE3DZ for fifth. (That should have provoked a refrain of "99 listings of calls on the wall, 99 listings of calls..." but it did not for reasons unclear to your editor.) The call signs used by KØVXU were a historical set based on the 1932-1938 logs of long-time KC DX Club member and recent Silent Key, WØJM. There were some seriously interesting calls in the log!
The two newest CQ Contest Hall of Fame members, Larry Weaver N6TW and Don Hill AA5AU, were formally inducted at the Dayton Contest Dinner, attended by more than 400 from around the world. Congratulations to these deserving fellows!
The four excellent papers that were presented during the sometimes-standing-room-only Hamvention Antenna Forum are now online courtesy of K5TR and K8CX. In fact, you can find the Antenna Forum presentations back to 2004 at that Web page. (Thanks, Antenna Forum Coordinator, Tim K3LR)
One of my must-acquire stops was consummated this year as I carted home some of Gerry WB6IVF's chocolate espresso bars. Gerry's company, The Unseen Bean, produces not only great coffee, but a 72% bittersweet chocolate bar with fresh-roasted Malawi coffee, too. Combining ham radio, dark chocolate, and java is a hit in my book!
I'm really enjoying my pair of "graphic novelettes" featuring Dash! The Dog-faced Ham by Jeff K1NSS. They capture quite well the heady days of discovering and entering ham radio in ways familiar to many of us and with a modern graphic style.
Hendricks QRP Kits had a couple of really nice new transceiver kits available by designers KD1JV (a dual-band kit) and N7VE (a single-bander). These guys really know how to pack the performance of "eight great tomatoes in a tiny, little can!"
Web Site of the Week - How is your personal frequency response? Ken WO1N reports that the High Frequency Response and Hearing Test shows that he's "still good up to 13 kHz" and he suggests that such an evaluation "might be of interest to us contesters that frequently punish our hearing for 48 hours at a time."
WORD TO THE WISE
The Right Height - In a Field Day Q&A session at this past week's Contest University, when asked about what power level was appropriate for a competitive Field Day entry, I liked Frank W3LPL's answer far better than mine ("More"). Frank pointed out that even a 100-watt station could make winning numbers of QSOs with an efficient antenna at the right height - plan ahead!
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
By the time this edition has been emailed, QST's "World Above 50 MHz" columnist and Grid Pirates contest team member, Gene W3ZZ, will have presented a Potomac Valley Radio Club (PVRC) Webinar entitled: "VHF Contesting: What to do and How to Win". You can view this Webinar after the fact by clicking "Recorded Webinars" on the PVRC home page.
What can you do with a used cellular monopole? Why, make it into a sculpture, of course! (Thanks, Ralph K9ZO)
The Web site There, I Fixed It should probably be in the Technical Section, but the potential for amusement was just too good. The real question is, "How Many Of These Could Have Been Taken In Your Shack?" Once browsing, plan on a long stay, punctuated by outbursts of laughter, then self-recognition! (Thanks, Jim Foley)
I had a great time at Dayton this year, blogging away for the ARRL and beating feet through every mile of the hamfest. Thanks to the Hamvention staff for putting on another great show - one visible and welcome addition was Rest Stations at strategic intervals in the flea markets. They seemed to be in constant use! Along with the blog photos, I hope you enjoy some of the extra photos in this issue from my Hamvention Holiday!
RESULTS AND RECORDS
ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Sean KX9X, reports that the full online package including log-checking reports (LCRs) is released (or about to be released) for the 2009 160 Meter and 10 Meter contests and the 2010 RTTY Roundup and Jan VHF Sweepstakes up now and 2009 10 Meter contests. Plaques and certificates for the 2009 June VHF QSO Party are out the door on their way to your mailbox. In fact, a new Contest Awards Processing Status page is available on the Web site to keep you up to date.
In IARU HF Championship news, the DARC response to log-padding allegations has been posted on the interim ARRL Contest Branch blog. The ARRL is continuing to work on this issue.
The online CQ WPX score database now includes the complete results from 30 years of the WPX CW Contest (1979 - 2009). Thanks to SP5UAF, LB1G, K1ZR, N5IE, and W4AU for their work to type in the last six years of scores. Enter your call sign into the search box to see your personal results. If you do find an error, send a note to WPX Contest Director, Randy K5ZD. While you're there, you should take a peek at the records and participation to get ready for this weekend's WPX CW contest.
Rick K6VVA (a.k.a. "The Locust" for his effect on a station's stock of comestibles) has created a couple of prizes waiting to be claimed for setting the following records during a single NS Ladder event during 2010:
The more we participate, the more reachable those achievements!
For those who took part in the 2009 LZ DX Contest, Wally LZ2CJ reports that the results are now available on-line.
The preliminary results of the January 2010 NAQP CW Contest are now available. Please let NAQP Manager Bruce, WA7BNM know as soon as possible of any problems. SSB preliminary results will be posted within a week.
Tack JE1CKA reports that he has uploaded the 2009 JIDX Phone contest results to the JIDX home page.
Hold Your Fire - If you aren't blessed with an awesome and powerful signal, getting through the pileups quickly takes more than just blasting away. Little Pistols can sometimes pick off their larger caliber competition by holding off a half-second or two before sending their call. While all the other 20-over-9 four-character calls mash themselves into AGC-bending mush, you wait, then slip your call out there in the clear when the Big Noise stops.
TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION
Two new books of interest to the contest community have been released by the ARRL - WB8IMY's Remote Operating for Amateur Radio and a new edition of the ARRL RFI Book. It's interesting that the first topic (remote stations) is somewhat driven by considerations of the second (RFI). Nevertheless, both supply good information of use to more and more of us every day.
Here's Lynn N7CFO's solution to a common problem -hook-and-loop tape with adhesive that gives up at high-temperatures, leaving a big sticky mess. Coil-n-wrap tape has a high-temperature adhesive that will hold up even on your dashboard in the Texas sun. Rovers may want to give this product a try!
Making SSB intermodulation distortion measurements is addressed in this classic Motorola paper, Engineering Bulletin EB-38 by Helge Granberg. (Thanks, Martin W2RWJ)
Larry N6NC adds a clarification about the suggestion to avoid galling by mixing grades of stainless steel fasteners. "The design and failure strengths of fasteners are calculated assuming the same alloy strength. If you use softer alloy parts with harder alloy parts, you are just asking for trouble as the harder parts under stress will strip out the softer parts before either reaches failure strength." So it may not be a good trade-off (galling vs strength) to mix parts in a high-stress application. In that case, use an anti-sieze compound as recommended originally.
In case you're a bit of a mathophile, you'll want to browse the new National Institute of Standards "Handbook of Mathematical Functions". It's freely available online and includes a lot of graphics that the text it replaces couldn't provide.
Here's something you needed to know - the German term for open-wire feed line is "Huehner-Leiter" ("chicken ladder").
The term "Windom" is applied to all sorts of off-center-fed antennas, but how about taking a look at the original? The original article from Loren Windom can be retrieved from the QST archives in the September 1929 issue of QST (and reprinted in December 1966) and is entitled "Notes on Ethereal Adornments," sub-titled "Practical Design Data for Single-Wire-Fed Hertz Antenna." (Thanks, Paul W9AC)
Gene AD3F reminds us at the beginning of antenna and tower season of the QST article, "Install a House-Bracketed Tower -- The Right Way." It's in the August 1996 issue on page 35 - another plum to be pulled from the QST archives. Since doing things the wrong way can damage the house, this might be a good read before designing your installation!
Here's an antenna you can roll up and stash between hilltop stops. Take a look at Diana KC2UHB's Make Online how-to article on building a dual-band VHF/UHF Yagi using fabric and Nylon webbing to hold metal rods and tubes in place. The idea is similar to collapsible kites and could easily be extended to a two-element 6 meter Yagi. Diana has published lots of how-to's on the site.
ARRL Handbook contributor, Ron NØIVN, has an article on velocity of propagation published in the March 2010 online issue of Communications Technology magazine.
Tektronix is pretty much synonymous with "oscilloscope". Test equipment aficionados around the world will be pleased to learn of the Tektronix Museum. One of the founders is long-time contester, Stan W7NI, who has amassed a second-to-none collection of Tektronix equipment. Check out this interview with Stan! (Thanks, Tree N6TR)
Chip K7JA notes that Lubriplate low-temperature grease is outstanding for re-lubricating rotators if their bearings have seized up because the grease has lost viscosity in very cold weather.
Technical Web Site of the Week - Happy 50th Birthday to the LASER! What was once a lab-only device now costs nearly nothing and appears nearly everywhere. Zap!
Beginning with the 2010 ARRL November Sweepstakes, the prohibition against alumni operating at a School Club station has been repealed! The goal is to get more school clubs active for Sweepstakes and on HF. Sweepstakes is just a little over five months away - the first and third weekends of November! What are your plans? Wouldn't it be nice to hear the call sign of your alma mater ringing out in the middle of the Sweepstakes exchange? Sure it would!
Entering Sweepstakes in the Multioperator category was once a staple of the fall semester's competitive atmosphere, but many high-school and collegiate clubs have fallen silent or nearly so over the past decades. Your school club might be interested in hosting an alumnus or two - why not contact them? If the club station has been inactive in recent years, this would be a good way to help get activity jump-started again. To get the juices flowing, challenge a nearby club or try to beat a score from days gone by.
If you want to help put the S back in SS, the station must be on-campus or on University property. If no such station is available, a local station may be used this year with the approval of the club trustee. Otherwise, there are no limits on alumni participation. Take advantage of a wonderful opportunity to help with a work party or string up some antennas. You can have fun and be a contesting Elmer at the same time - the goal of the rule change. Make it a priority to involve as many of the club members as possible, not to create the Alumni Nostalgia QSO Party.
Check out the School Club records on the ARRL Contest Branch Web page. There might be some "low-hanging fruit" to be picked...for a while, that is. While you're working up a plan, check out WM5R's Collegiate Championship Web page and two-contest scoring system. If you are really motivated, the ARRL Contest Branch is looking for a volunteer to go through the records for the Multioperator and School Club categories and organize them by NCAA and NAIA Conferences. What is the NCAA Big Ten record for CW SS? How about the NAIA Sunrise Conference record for SS Phone?
The energy and goodwill of alumni across the US and Canada can help return vitality to a category that should be a hotbed of activity in the November Sweepstakes. Why not contact your club and see if there is an opening in Sweepstakes 101? For more information and questions about participating, contact Sweepstakes Manager, Dan Street K1TO or ARRL Contest Branch manager, Sean Kutzko KX9X.
26 May through 8 June 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.
CQ WW WPX Contest--CW, from May 29, 0000Z to May 30, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and serial. Logs due: Jun 27. Rules
QRP ARCI Hootowl Sprint--CW, from May 30, 8 PM to May 30, Midnight. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST, S/P/C QRP number or power. Logs due: Jun 30. Rules
MI QRP Memorial Day CW Sprint--CW, from May 31, 2300Z to Jun 1, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, MI QRP number or power. Logs due: 30 days. Rules
SEANET Contest--Phone, CW, Digital, from Jun 5, 1200Z to Jun 6, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Frequencies (MHz): 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
LOG DUE DATES
26 May through 8 June 2010
May 29 - VK/Trans-Tasman 80m Contest, Phone, email logs to: VK: firstname.lastname@example.org, ZL: email@example.com, 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
June 1 - Feld Hell Sprint, email logs to: (none), post log summary at: http://sites.google.com/site/feldhellclub/Home/contests, paper logs and diskettes to: (none). Rules