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Contest Update Issues

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The ARRL Contest Update
August 18, 2010
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
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IN THIS ISSUE

NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

The North American QSO Parties are a great introduction to HF contesting and don't require a full weekend of time. The SSB contest is this Saturday - just exchange your name and state. You can work stations on all six HF contest bands from 160 to 10 meters.

BULLETINS

There are no bulletins in this issue.

BUSTED QSOS

Aside from getting Hank N8XX's call wrong in the last issue, it was relatively untarnished.

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

August 21-22

  • ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest
  • SARTG WW RTTY Contest
  • Russian District Award Contest
  • Silent Key Memorial Sprint--CW
  • North American QSO Party--Phone
  • New Jersey QSO Party
  • Run For the Bacon--CW

August 28-29

  • Hawaii QSO Party
  • YO DX Contest
  • SCC RTTY Championship
  • Kansas QSO Party
  • Ohio QSO Party
  • ALARA Contest
  • South Africa DX Contest--CW
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Sean KX9X notes that the Contest Branch Blog is once again active on the ARRL Web site. While visiting, VHF+ contesters should take note of the discussion about the use of non-amateur means to solicit QSOs during contests.

Squinting at needles and mis-reading scales is a thing of the past after replacing a Bird 43 wattmeter's analog meter with Array Solutions' digital readout kit.

Array Solutions has released a new product that is a digital upgrade to the popular Bird 43 wattmeters. The AS-43A kit replaces the analog meter with a backlit digital display that can be read "from across the room". Running on alkaline batteries, the display kit works with your current meter housing and sensing elements (a.k.a. "slugs"). (Thanks, Jay WXØB)

Roger G3SXW has announced that the VooDoo Contest Group will be operating as 9L5VT in the CQ WW CW contest this year, in honor of Vince K5VT who became a Silent Key earlier this year. If you ever wondered about how the group was named, this reprint of a 1997 CQ Contest article makes great reading and explains the mystery. (Thanks, Tom K7FA)

Tom VE3CX has created a new Yahoo group called Contest_Canada. To join, please send an email to Contest_Canada-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Tom's intention is to create a forum where issues of interest to Canadian contests can be discussed.

A new release of the Super Check Partial database files is now available. This version has 41,164 calls in the main database and 9,772 in the RTTY file. The next SCP release will occur about a week before CQ World Wide SSB in October. To check the version of the SCP files you are currently using, look for a call beginning with "VER". Every SCP file includes the version number in the list of calls in the format VERYYYYMMDD. Your editor notes that it is a good thing to update your software and supporting files well in advance of the contest. (Thanks, Bob WA1Z)

Here's a good story about ham radio in the Caymans, one of the most popular contest expedition destinations. (Thanks, Tom K1KI)

Another of QSL collector K7SS' prizes - this one from Shanghai in 1936. Shades of Indiana Jones! (Photo from K7SS)

Craig K1QX notes that the "Beyond Landschiedt" Web site is recommended by Accuweather as having done a superior job of predicting solar activity. Unfortunately, the site predicts a drop in activity after this current burst of solar enthusiasm - we shall see! And why might that drop in solar activity occur, anyway? A recent BBC article relates the changing duration and amplitude of the solar cycle to changes in the speed at which plasma circulates in the north and south solar hemisphere.

Chip K7JA reports that, "Dr. Len Kaufer KHØAC, became a Silent Key in his home on beautiful Saipan. Len, formerly KG6SW, went out to the Trust Territory of Saipan in the 1960s as a Jesuit priest. Len was everyone's Saipan multiplier for many years."

Web Site of the Week - Hams love high spots, particularly the VHF+ contesters. Finding these gems is easier if you use the Former Fire Lookout Sites Register. There are also links to the National Historic Lookout Register and the Forest Fire Lookout Association to supplement the FLSR listings. Most reports are for the typical non-ham visitor, but there is no reason for the VHF+ enthusiast not to add a note. (Thanks, JD VA7OTC)

WORD TO THE WISE

Papain - No, that's not the pronunciation of "pain" after you are stung by an insect. Papain is an enzyme used in some meat tenderizer powders to break down protein in the meat. It is obtained from the papaya and breaks down the venom proteins, too. Stings from wasps, hornets, and bees can be a big problem during tower or antenna work, so keeping a small shaker of it in the tool kit might be a good idea. Applying it in a paste to the sting is one way to soothe the pain. Don't use seasoned meat tenderizer as the spices can cause inflammation of their own accord. An antihistamine such as Benadryl can provide temporary relief from allergic reactions, but if you have any symptoms such as swelling or breathing difficulties, call 911 immediately.

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SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

The Potomac Valley Radio Club (PVRC) will host a Webinar on 'Contesting in Africa' on August 22nd, at 1900Z. The Webinar is presented by Mike KC7V and Roger G3SXW, members of the Voo Doo Contest Group, and takes a look at the challenges and excitement of operating the CQWW DX Contest from various West Africa countries. Registration (free) is required, but the Webinar will be archived for future viewing.

WRTC-2010 fans will enjoy these collections of photos and videos:

Official photos on WRTC-2010 site by RA6LBS

Official videos on WRTC-2010 site by RW3QC/RK3QS

DXCC card checkers Dick K7BTW (L) and Al K7AR (R) were on duty at the Pacific Northwest DX Convention in Vancouver. Dick sure wishes that Mt Athos QSL was in his pile! (Photo by NØ AX)

UA6LP video from one of the field locations

RA5A photos

UA4FBG photos

EY8MM photos

UA9MA photos

Photo slideshow by OE6MBG

Photo slideshow by IK1JHS

(Thanks, Rytis LY4U and Bob N6TV)

The ARRL Propagation Bulletin for August 13th (ARLP032) included links to this series of videos taken at different wavelengths of the August 7th M-class flare by the Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite. While you are viewing movies, be sure to check out the simulation of Earth's magnetosphere on August 3 in which you can see the arrival (about 30 seconds into the video) and then the passing of the coronal mass ejection from the multiple-eruption event of August 1, 2010. The massive filament eruption associated with the C-class flare of August 1 was also captured.

How about a new way of lifting a line over those tall trees? Watch the Hexakopter do its tricks! Able to lift 1 kg, it's interesting watch the attitude-maintenance algorithm deal with the swinging weight. (Thanks, Rick K6VVA)

Frequent flyers will enjoy this graphic flight-blog called, "The Red-Eye" by Cristoph Niemann. (Thanks, Steve K6AW)

Just as drivers slow to look at car wrecks, hams look at tower failures. Here is a photo album of the three self-supporting towers (well, not any more they aren't) of WWVA that blew over in high winds on August 4th. Ouch!

And who can resist a photo album of strange CW keys? (Thanks, Matt NØMSA)

RESULTS AND RECORDS

The expanded results for the 2010 ARRL DX Phone contest are now online. More than half of over 100 pages of content were written by Regional authors looking out for your scores, stories, and pictures. Take a look through the Top Ten and read about accuracy, records, and trends!

The Pacific Northwest's DX Traveling Trophy for cumulative club contest scores went south to Oregon this year as Jim VE7FO (L) hands it off to Brad K7ZSD (R). (Photo by NØAX)

This weekend also saw the phone bands playing host to the second ARRL Rookie Roundup contest. Thanks to all the non-Rookies that got on and handed out QSOs. As of Tuesday at 1845Z, 102 Rookies had submitted scores via the online score submission page - a big increase from April's initial event. Results will be online Wednesday and electronic certificates will follow shortly.

WRTC-2010 log-checking reports are now online. If you'd like a look at how the best operators did it, here is your chance! (Thanks, Harry RA3AUU)

The REF Contest Committee announces that the results of the 2010 REF Contest (a.k.a. Coupe du REF) are now available online. (Thanks, Pascal F5LEN)

New Top Operator rankings have been published by radio-sport.net and a long-time leader has been replaced! There's a good story about the upcoming NAQP SSB, as well.

OPERATING TIP

Order - of the information in an exchange is important to efficient operating. In general, try to give out the information in the same order in which the contest rules specify it. Changing the order is confusing to the receiving operator and increases errors. For example, if the rules specify an exchange of signal report, serial number, and S/P/C (state, province, or country), don't switch the serial number and S/P/C information. You'll find everything runs much smoother without "surprising" the other operator!

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TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Marshmallows are a sweet idea and might even be a safety aid! A friend recently told of an incident during antenna work in which he walked directly into the tip of an element. If he hadn't been wearing glasses, he might have lost an eye! Placing a colored item on the small element tips of an antenna can prevent that accident from happening to you - a tennis ball or ping-pong ball would work and would eventually fall off. A marshmallow is guaranteed to dissolve in the sun and rain - or a bird will eat it. At any rate, save the eye-patches for pirate costumes!

Jim KK6MC recently undertook another Rover ramble, but his post-contest report had a bad ending as his car caught fire! Apparently not radio-related (yes, he did save the logs), the sad saga pointed out the need to carry one or two fire extinguishers. The ensuing discussion featured this electrical safety wisdom from Southwestern Division Vice Director, Marty N6VI, "I strongly suggest you put a Class T fuse as close to the battery terminal as possible. Class T's contain arc-squelching powder and carry an amp-interrupt rating in the tens of thousands of amps. Without one, you may have not just a fire but an explosion in case of a system short. [They] are available through marine retailers and off-grid distributors."

Here are some links to tower-climbing and related safety equipment; LHR Services & Equipment, Conney Safety, PK Safety, and US Safety Equipment. Gravity isn't our friend when atop the tower! (Thanks, Ken K5RG)

The NOAA Spaceweather site is a treasure trove of information and novel e-gadgets to view it. Jake K9WN found a good Java applet - this scrollable view of the sunspot numbers. Click on any value in the year window so that it is highlighted, move the cursor away from the year list and use your mouse's scroll wheel to zoom back and forth through the years.

Using your mobile rig "hands-free" doesn't have to mean giving up the full suite of microphone buttons and rig controls. Flynn KD7FDK found a project showing how to connect a throat-mounted microphone intended for mobile phones to a regular hand mike.

ARRL Contest Branch support volunteer and ARRL UHF Contest results author John K9JK at the recent Central States VHF Conference in St Louis. (Photo by NØAX)

For constructing RF switching networks, Dave K6LL relays that Top Ten Devices uses these inexpensive Panasonic relays useful at full legal power on HF. W8ZR recommends the Schrack/Tyco RTD14012F relay and uses it in his StationPro controller (see the August 2010 QST for more information). Beyond the contact current ratings, other important considerations for using inexpensive relays is the isolation across the contacts and voltage breakdown ratings, both across the contacts and to the coil and armature.

If you're getting ready for contest season or the fall-winter Top Band DXing season, a one-tower "Poor Man's Four-Square" is described in this 1998 Dayton Antenna Forum presentation on the "Spitfire Array" by Fred K1VR. (Thanks, Craig K1QX)

Rick O'Keefe, a reader of the Towertalk reflector, sent news of two Yahoogroups that may be of interest. A lightning protection group and a power-quality group. Read the home page for information about the mission and scope of each before joining and, as always, search the archives before jumping in with a question that has already been answered.

Amplifier builders constructing bias networks know that high-power Zeners are getting harder to find and more expensive, too. G3SEK has constructed a "programmable Zener" using a voltage regulator IC and pass transistor as described on page 11. (Thanks, Mike G8TIC)

Technical Web Site of the Week - If you're interested in meteor scatter communications, check out the Radio Meteor Observation Bulletin. The archives are full of information about MS communications and are a great way to keep up with the meteors and those who ping them.

CONVERSATION

Amok Time

Star Trek fans will recognize the title as that of an episode in which the normally logical, unemotional Mr Spock suffers through pon farr, the Vulcan mating urge. His behavior changes dramatically - even challenging Captain Kirk to a fight-to-the-death and apparently prevailing, to his extreme dismay. But for the subterfuge of Dr McCoy, the story would not have had its TV-style happy ending. Here in real life, we have our own amok times - they are called "election years".

One of Amateur Radio's mantras - not always followed - is to refrain from discussing politics (and religion and sexual topics) over the air. Unfortunately, it's easy to hear what happens when that advice is not followed - the results are generally unpleasant for the parties involved and anyone tuned in. During the political "silly season", we should redouble our efforts at restraint, particularly in such an energetic year as this one is proving to be.

The many off-the-air channels of Amateur Radio - club newsletters, Web sites, on-line forums, email reflectors, etc - are just as worthy of restraint and consideration for the views and feelings of others. It is all too easy to poison the collegial atmosphere of a club with an injection of non-amateur politics. When a member is made to feel uncomfortable, nothing may be said outright, but he or she will often find something else to do on meeting night or find a better use for membership dues. That's a loss to all of Amateur Radio.

The best policy is to "check politics at the door" in any amateur group or forum without an obviously political mission. This suggestion has nothing to do with limiting one's freedom of expression - except to acknowledge the concomitant responsibility to use that freedom wisely and act accordingly. Before pressing that PTT switch or hitting the ENTER key, ask yourself if there isn't a better forum for making a politicized comment.

Does a political signature line really need to be part of emails about electronics or operating? Does a club newsletter really need to include items promoting a particular political viewpoint or issue? There are many alternate forums for expressing political views in which debate is encouraged - use them. Editors, officers, and moderators need to keep a steady hand on the tiller when navigating the rough seas in the political windy season. (See the editorial in August 2006 QST for information on IRS restrictions of 501(c)3 non-profit organizations with respect to political campaigns.)

Amateur Radio and by extension, amateur organizations, should be a refuge from the hurly-burly of politics. That's one of our great strengths - the hobby is open to kings and paupers on an equal basis with many great over-the-air friendships between people from wildly different walks of life. It can remain that way but only if each and every one of us works at it - I'm no different in having to watch out for (and sometimes recover from) the urge to throw in one's two cents. Like Star Trek and elections there's always another episode, but hurt feelings and resentment can last a lifetime.

73, Ward NØAX

Answers to the 4 August Music Quiz - thanks again to Andy N2NT!

EASY CATEGORY
K1AR + Mrs. K1AR - the Doors; K2UA - Rush; W3LPL - Donovan

REQUIRES SOME THOUGHT

9V1YC + WB6ACU - James Gang; N6AN + W2REH + K8AZ - David Clayton Thomas (credit given for Blood, Sweat & Tears); W3LPL + K2MM - Frank Zappa; S5ØA + G3VTT - Tina Turner; NN3W + K1ZZ - Donna Summer; W7OM + K3MM - Rod Stewart

HIGH DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

F6BEE + G3SXW + G3TXF - The Bee-Gees; W2NSD + K2NT - Green Day; EX-W4OI - Another Bee-Gees if you didn't get the first one; K1TO/m in Pittsburgh - Steely Dan

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CONTESTS

August 18 through August 31

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

SARTG WW RTTY Contest--Digital, from Aug 21, 0000Z to Aug 22, 1600Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Frequencies (MHz): Multiple operating periods. Exchange: RST and serial. Logs due: Oct 9. Rules

Russian District Award Contest--Phone,CW, from Aug 21, 0800Z to Aug 22, 0800Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS(T), serial or Russian district. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

Silent Key Memorial Sprint--CW, from Aug 21, 1500Z to Aug 21, 1800Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, QRP ARCI mbr nr or pwr. Logs due: Sep 15. Rules

North American QSO Party--Phone, from Aug 21, 1800Z to Aug 22, 0600Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: Name and state. Logs due: 14 days. Rules

New Jersey QSO Party--Phone,CW, from Aug 21, 2000Z to Aug 22, 0700Z and Aug 22, 1300Z to Aug 23, 0200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50,144, Frequencies (MHz): Multiple operating periods. Exchange: Serial and NJ county or S/P/C. Logs due: Sep 13. Rules

Run For the Bacon--CW, from Aug 23, 0200Z to Aug 23, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Monthly on the third Sunday local time. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, Flying Pig nr or power. Rules

Hawaii QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Aug 28, 0700Z to Aug 29, 2200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS(T) and HI location ID or S/P/C. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

YO DX Contest--Phone,CW, from Aug 28, 1200Z to Aug 29, 1159Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RS(T), serial or YO district. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

SCC RTTY Championship--Digital, from Aug 28, 1200Z to Aug 29, 1159Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST, 4-char year first licensed. Logs due: Sep 15. Rules

Kansas QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Aug 28, 1400Z to Aug 29, 0200Z and Aug 29, 1400Z to Aug 29, 2000Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50,144, Frequencies (MHz): CW--40 kHz above band edge; Phone--3.840, 7.240, 14.240, 21.340, 28.440. Exchange: RS(T) and KS county or S/P/"DX". Logs due: Oct 1. Rules

Ohio QSO Party--Phone,CW, from Aug 28, 1600Z to Aug 29, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: Serial and S/P or "DX". Logs due: 30 days. Rules

ALARA Contest--Phone,CW, from Aug 28, 0400Z to Aug 28, 1359Z and Aug 29, 0400Z to Aug 29, 1359Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 144,440, Frequencies (MHz): Multiple operating periods. Exchange: RS(T), serial, ALARA nr, name. Logs due: Sep 30. Rules

South Africa DX Contest--CW, from Aug 29, 1400Z to Aug 29, 1600Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Exchange: RS and serial. Logs due: 15 days. Rules

VHF+ CONTESTS

ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest--Phone,CW,Digital, from Aug 21, 6 AM to Aug 21, 12 AM. Bands (MHz): 10G+. Exchange: 6-character grid locator. Logs due: Oct 21. Rules http://arrl.org/contests

New Jersey QSO Party--Phone,CW, from Aug 21, 2000Z to Aug 22, 0700Z and Aug 22, 1300Z to Aug 23, 0200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50,144, Frequencies (MHz): Multiple operating periods. Exchange: Serial and NJ county or S/P/C. Logs due: Sep 13. Rules

Kansas QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Aug 28, 1400Z to Aug 29, 0200Z and Aug 29, 1400Z to Aug 29, 2000Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50,144, Frequencies (MHz): CW--40 kHz above band edge; Phone--3.840, 7.240, 14.240, 21.340, 28.440. Exchange: RS(T) and KS county or S/P/"DX". Logs due: Oct 1. Rules

ALARA Contest--Phone,CW, from Aug 28, 0400Z to Aug 28, 1359Z and Aug 29, 0400Z to Aug 29, 1359Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 144,440, Frequencies (MHz): Multiple operating periods. Exchange: RS(T), serial, ALARA nr, name. Logs due: Sep 30. Rules

LOG DUE DATES

August 18 through August 31

August 18 - DMC RTTY Contest

August 18 - ARRL Rookie Roundup, SSB

August 19 - RSGB 80m Club Sprint, CW

August 21 - North American QSO Party, CW

August 22 - Run for the Bacon QRP Contest

August 23 - 10-10 Int. Summer Contest, SSB

August 30 - WAE DX Contest, CW

August 31 - Venezuelan Ind. Day Contest

August 31 - European HF Championship

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

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

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