ARRL

Contest Update Issues

Preview
The ARRL Contest Update
September 1, 2010
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
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IN THIS ISSUE

NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

The fall contest season really begins to pick up steam in September - look at all those contests! Some are all-weekend affairs, but there are many short "sprint" contests, too. If you're just getting started, the state QSO parties are great for learning the ropes and working on awards. If you're into digital operating, there is a lot to choose from, as well.

BULLETINS

There are no bulletins in this issue

BUSTED QSOS

A golden issue last time!

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

September 4-5

  • ARRL EME Contest
  • NS Weekly Sprint--CW (Sep 3 UTC)
  • All Asia Contest--Phone
  • Russian Radio RTTY WW
  • DARC 10-Meter Digital "Corona"
  • Colorado QSO Party
  • IARU Region I Field Day--Phone
  • Straight Key Party
  • Tennessee QSO Party
  • ARS Spartan Sprint--CW
  • Labor Day Sprint--CW
  • CWops Mini-CWT Test

September 11-12

  • ARRL September VHF QSO Party
  • 070 Club KA3X Memorial Sprint--Digital (Sep 10)
  • Straight Key Weekend Sprint
  • WAE DX Contest--Phone
  • Arkansas QSO Party
  • Ohio State Parks On the Air
  • QRP ARCI VHF Contest
  • North American Sprint--CW
  • Classic Exchange--CW
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

Four new proposals for the Single-Operator, Low Power category are being circulated for comment by the ARRL's VHF/UHF Advisory Committee (VUAC). Contact your VUAC representative to learn about the options and let them know the option you prefer.

Pete N4ZR reports that the Reverse Beacon Network now makes its raw data available in one-day chunks. (The data is available from the Downloads menu.) Data are contained in zipped CSV (comma-separated values) files - unzipped, the files can contain upwards of 100,000 spots during contest periods! With upwards of 30 Reverse Beacons available, if a station was CQing on a band, you'll find it there.

Rita and Julius N2WN made the trek to the West Virginia State Convention to buy and sell a few treasures. You'll find Julius in the upcoming Tennessee QSO Party. (Photo by NØAX)

Dave AB7E has created a Web page to investigate how much difference in signal strength might be noticeable in weak signal and/or contest conditions, with several audio files included as illustration. He doesn't consider it authoritative, but it might be of interest.

The Daily DX reports on a talk by NASA's Dr. David Hathaway on "The Solar Dynamo Saga: Chapter 11". Dr. Hathaway predicts the weakest cycle in 100 years with a peak in July-August of 2013. You can browse his Huntsville Hamfest presentation and review his predictions on the NASA Web site.

Who's in and who's out? For club secretaries trying to set up their ARRL Club Competition circles for the fall frays, Gabor VE7DXG sends note of a widget that draws nice circles on a map, supplying precise coordinates and radius information.

Amateur Radio Direction-Finding - the "other radiosport" - is a Big Deal around the world. Ken WM5R has just released an updated version of the IARU Region II ARDF Web site. Ken notes, "We're coming up on the World Championships in 9A-land on September 13-18, 2010. 34 IARU member societies will be at the championships, including the ARRL and RAC from Region II." Here is that young radiosport presence!

The August 2010 issue of IEEE Communications magazine has a very interesting historical article, "An Early History Of the Internet", by Leonhard Kleinrock. On the figures in the article is an entry in a lab notebook showing the first computer-to-computer communication, "Talked to Stanford". Many technical and college libraries have this magazine in their stacks.

What's old is new again, as seen in this guide to decoding those abbreviations flying by in short-messaging texts. CW operators will recognize ABT (about), BCNU (be seein' you), CUL (see you later), QSL (reply), and QSO (contact). I'm sure there are more in use - for example, GG (going) would be a natural.

Syl, VE5ZX wants to remind everyone that the Canada contest reflector can be subscribed to by sending an email to canada_contest-subscribe@narc.net and information about the list can be found online, as well. This is in addition to the email reflector mentioned in the last issue.

The Central Texas DX and Contest Club held elections last Monday for 2010-2011 officers. They are:
President: Bob Farmer, W9BF
Vice President: Gary Schmidt, W5ZL
Secretary: Jim George, N3BB
Treasurer: Craig Markley, AD5YJ
CTDXCC DX Coordinator: Gerry Moravec, WD5AAM
(Thanks, The Daily DX)

Web Site of the Week - The Web site Teen Radio Journey might be a good resource to help get some young people interested in radio or perhaps find out what interests them. Don't forget to check out College ARC online, too! (Thanks, Mike K5WMG)

WORD TO THE WISE

The August 2010 issue of the digital newsletter from Make Magazine featured a list of technical jargon and slang that surely have a home in ham radio. Here are my favorite pair:

Bricked -- To make a device inoperable through an action or an attempted fix that goes awry.

Ejectrode -- A straight pin, paper clip, or other suitable pokey thing used to engage the mechanical eject button on disc drives, SIM card bays, etc. Also used to hit reset buttons.

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SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

And you think your Field Day site was inconveniently located? This video and slide show are about the NØB adventure up Colorado's Huron Peak (14,003 ft) with Guy N7UN, Rich AC7MA, and Steve WGØAT accompanied by their faithful sherpas, goats Rooster and Peanut, during the recent Summits On The Air (SOTA).

Putting up W2VJN's new skyhooks are (L-R) Joe NK7U, Brad K7EUG, and George W2VJN. At the bottom, Rosie is clearly the boss and these guys are slacking! (Photo from W2VJN)

A second and final Potomac Valley Radio Club (PVRC) Webinar about WRTC 2010 will feature the European teams S5ØA/S57AW, ES5TV/ES2RR, and the winning team of RW1AC/RA1AIP. The Webinar is free but you must register to view it. (Thanks, Ken K4ZW)

After you've had too many cups of strong coffee, or maybe a six-pack of energy drinks, maybe a lightning storm would look like this. While you're there, take a look at this unique event. (Thanks, Jim VE7RF)

If you are into analog electronics, here's an old video explaining tube amplifier design from 1964. It also covers four methods of signal coupling. (Thanks, Ken N4ZED) And for videos about how they made those tubes, try these videos from Philips and Mullard. (Thanks, Pete Lancashire)

RESULTS AND RECORDS

The August 18th running of the ARRL Rookie Roundup went pretty smoothly this time and participation was much higher than for the April kickoff edition. Results are available on-line and certificates will be emailed to each Rookie sometime this week. If your Rookie had a good time, the upcoming Tennessee QSO Party is offering an 18-and-under plaque and many other contests do have special youth awards - check 'em out!

The CQ WPX Online Score Database has been extended back to 1975. Thanks to LB1G, AA4NU, W1MD, AC0DS, HK1KXA, LU8ADX, and DL8MBS for typing in 1982 to 1975. That's a lot of work!! All CW results are included back to the beginning of the contest in 1979. (Thanks, CQ WPX Director, Randy K5ZD)

Results for the Alabama QSO Party have been posted by the Alabama Contest Group. (Thanks, Jim KC4HW)

The Michigan QSO Party Organizing Committee announces that the official results of the 2010 MiQP are now available on-line. (Thanks, Dave K8CC)

OPERATING TIP

Slashed zeros - not so much an on-the-air but an on-the-keyboard tip, resist the urge to replace the 0 in your Cabrillo log with Ø. The slashed-zero character in many fonts is not the ASCII numeral zero (ASCII code 48), but a different character with an ASCII code of 216 or 248. That really screws up a computer trying to read your log. Some fonts do display the 0 with a slash and still put good old ASCII code 48 in the electronic file. Eric K3NA recommends the fixed-width font Dina as excellent for both on-screen and print applications.

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TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Winches and hoists - What is the difference between and winch and a hoist? A winch is for pulling and a hoist is for lifting. Hoists are geared differently and have locking brakes to hold a load. Be sure to know the lifting versus pulling capacities of whichever you decide to use - some winch/hoist products can do both jobs, but not with the same capacity. (Thanks, Jon W4ABC)

Back on an extended assignment to Guam, KH2/N2NL is putting this Spiderbeam to good use from the mid-Pacific. Dave has also been on Top Band recently and plans lots of activity from Zone 27. (Photo by N2NL)

Fans of Bob Pease's writings about electronics (and other subjects) will be glad to know that Electronic Design has collected his "What's All This..." columns online - all 456 of them.

What can you do with a 10-foot diameter satellite dish? The gang at Slashdot.com had a good time with this conundrum. You might imagine some of the radio-oriented uses, but there were quite a few other uses, as well.

The Dentron AT-3K antenna tuner is a heavy-duty, full-power model occasionally seen at hamfests and in online swap and auction sites. If there's no documentation with it, you're not out of luck because Jim K5LAD just had the same problem and solved it for you by posting a collection of information about the tuner online.

Repainting outdoor enclosures doesn't have to be an expensive exercise. Jim W5IFP recommends self-etching primer from auto parts stores, such as NAPA. Large spray cans only cost a few dollars and the primer is intended to be used on steel, aluminum and fiberglass. (You might want to sand fiberglass to remove loose fibers - using a dust mask and gloves, of course.) Once primed, use a good-quality exterior paint or pickup truck bed liner paint - also available at the auto parts store.

Why is 10.7 cm the wavelength at which measurements are taken to determine the solar flux index? Spaceweather published this interesting article that explains why. (Thanks, Tree N6TR)

Call before you dig - even for ham installations! Every state by law has a free "Call Before You Dig" service funded by the utilities. The usual number is 811, but the online service is also available nationwide. The service will find not only your utility services, but any underground feed lines, too. (Thanks, Mike KM1R)

What could you do with a hard drive that weighs "less than a paper clip and is smaller than a postage stamp"? The new 64 Gbyte Sandisk iSSD drive is designed to be soldered directly to PC boards, meaning that it could find its way into all sorts of accessories and gadgets.

Insulation is important for safety and proper operation at high voltages (or at extremely low current levels). Yet the garden variety multimeter isn't sensitive enough to find low-current ground faults and leakage currents. This Nuts and Volts online article shows how to boost the sensitivity of an inexpensive meter to do the job.

Technical Web Site of the Week - The world's first communications satellite, Echo 1, didn't contain one bit of electronics. A giant, metallic balloon 30 meters across, Echo 1 relayed signals by reflecting them from its 1,048-mile high orbit. Echo 1 was launched forty years ago on Aug 12, 1960. Easily visible to the naked eye, Echo 1 circled the Earth until May 1968. You can see many satellites in the night sky today - check out the Heavens-Above Web site to find visible passes of the ISS and other satellites, including amateur birds. (Thanks, Tim K3LR)

CONVERSATION

Trust But Verify

It is getting so routine, the submission of logs electronically, that we don't think twice about generating a Cabrillo-formatted log, entering an email address, and hitting the "Send" button. Click, clack, and it's done. Or is it? Any log handler or checker will tell you that it's often NOT done!

How many of my readers out there take the time to carefully read the message returned from the log-handling robot? First, you might THINK that if the robot sent you a return message, all is well. Maybe not. Let's back up and start with the simplest of information - what you sent during each QSO. You might be surprised at how common it is for the information in a QSO: line not to agree with what you actually sent during the contest. To generate the Cabrillo QSO: line, most logging software relies on stored personal data you. If you have something else programmed in your CW messages, for example, the program doesn't check those!

Hmmm...what were N7MQ and KB7HDX attempting to represent at the recent Pacific NW DX Convention? Does anything ring a bell? Answer in the next issue! (Photo by NØAX and N2NL)

Moving around as I do, I often change QTH from one contest to another. More than once, I've checked my Cabrillo output file and found that I had forgotten to change my stored QTH to the correct one. As a result, the sent exchange in my log is wrong. And maybe I had the wrong club or mailing address or station call - there are lots of ways to send in the wrong information. Be sure all of your header and QSO: line information is correct before ever emailing the log! (Here's a tutorial about the Cabrillo format standard and if you are using a general-purpose logging program, several log converters are available.)

The next problem may be that the category information you send could be incorrect for the contest. Again, most logging software will let you select from quite a number of category choices - not all of which are allowed in the contest. For example, there is no Single-Op, Assisted (SOA) category in the ARRL 10 Meter Contest - only Multioperator (MO). If you send in your log as SOA, the robot will take its best guess at what the correct category is (MO) and will tell you about it in the message it returns to you. Yes, you will get a receipt number for the log but the category to which your log is assigned may not be what you expect! Read the response message!

All of the information about your log has to be in that Cabrillo log file, by the way. In all likelihood, no human will ever read your subject line or any notes in the body of the message. The robot files your email under the call sign in the subject line, opens the Cabrillo text attachment, and responds accordingly. All the rest is probably going into the "bit bucket", so notes about how far off your PC clock was or soapbox comments about conditions - all those disappear before any human will see your log data. Put those notes in the Cabrillo header using SOAPBOX: lines where they can be harvested by the log checking software.

Let's say everything went perfectly - all of your information was correct and the response message from the robot has the correct claimed score and category. Excellent! Now comes the "verify" part. Most sponsors will maintain an on-line list of all logs received, including the claimed score and category. For example, the ARRL's Log Received Web page maintains an up-to-date list of every log received and processed by the robot. If you received a receipt number from the robot, then your score should soon appear in the list. Double-check that your call, QTH, category, and score are all as you expect. If not, check that robot message again. If the robot message looks good, contact the sponsor, such as ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Sean KX9X.

There's almost always plenty of time to get it right, so there should be no unpleasant surprises when the results are printed and someone has to experience the dreaded, "Where's my score!!!" fantod. The automated process and Cabrillo format have made log submission a breeze and the quality of the final results better than ever, but you still have a crucial role in providing the "right stuff" - trust, but verify.

73, Ward NØAX

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CONTESTS

1 September through 14 September

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

NS Weekly Sprint--CW, from Sep 3, 0230Z to Sep 3, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-14. Frequencies: Every Thursday evening (local). Exchange: Serial, name, and S/P/C. Logs due: 2 days. Rules

All Asia Contest--Phone, from Sep 4, 0000Z to Sep 5, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RS and age ("00" for YL). Logs due: Oct 31. Rules

Russian Radio RTTY WW--Digital, from Sep 4, 0000Z to Sep 4, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and oblast or WAZ zone. Logs due: Oct 1. Rules

DARC 10-Meter Digital "Corona"--Digital, from Sep 4, 1100Z to Sep 4, 1700Z. Bands (MHz): 28. Exchange: RST and serial. Logs due: 2 weeks. Rules

Colorado QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Sep 4, 1200Z to Sep 5, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50+, Frequencies: CW--1.850, 3.550, 7.050, 14.050, 21.050, 28.050; Phone--1.870, 3.850, 7.250, 14.250, 21.350, 28.450. Exchange: Call sign, name, and county or S/P/C. Logs due: Oct 5. Rules

IARU Region I Field Day--Phone, from Sep 4, 1300Z to Sep 5, 1300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS and serial. Logs due: 16 days. Rules: See IARU Society Web pages

Straight Key Party--CW, from Sep 4, 1600Z to Sep 4, 1900Z. Bands (MHz): 7. Exchange: RST, serial, category, name, age. Logs due: Sep 30. Rules

Tennessee QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Sep 5, 1800Z to Sep 6, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50+, Frequencies: See Web site. Exchange: RS(T) and county or S/P/C. Logs due: Oct 8. Rules

ARS Spartan Sprint--CW, from Sep 6, 0200Z to Sep 6, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Frequencies: Monthly on the first Monday evening. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, and power. Logs due: 2 days. Rules

Labor Day Sprint--CW, from Sep 6, 2300Z to Sep 7, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, MI QRP nr or power. Logs due: Oct 7. Rules

CWops Mini-CWT Test--CW, from Sep 8, 1100Z to Sep 9, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Frequencies: 18 to 28 kHz above band edge. Exchange: Name and member number or S/P/C. Logs due: 2 days. Rules

070 Club KA3X Memorial Sprint--Digital, from Sep 10, 8 PM to Sep 11, 2 AM. Bands (MHz): 3.5. Frequencies: 3.580. Exchange: Call sign, RST and S/P/C. Logs due: Oct 11. Rules

Straight Key Weekend Sprint--CW, from Sep 10, 0000Z to Sep 10, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: RST, QTH, name, member number. Logs due: 5 days. Rules

WAE DX Contest--Phone, from Sep 11, 0000Z to Sep 12, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RS and serial. Logs due: Sep 28. Rules

Arkansas QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Sep 11, 0800Z to Sep 11, 2000Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 144, Frequencies: CW--3.550, 7.050, 14.050, 21.050, 28.050; Phone--3.980, 7.260, 14.260, 21.360, 28.360, 145-147. Exchange: RS(T), county or S/P or "DX". Logs due: Nov 1. Rules

Ohio State Parks On the Air--Phone,CW,Digital, from Sep 11, 1600Z to Sep 11, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50,144. Exchange: "Ohio" or S/P/DX and Park ID. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

ARRL September VHF QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Sep 11, 1800Z to Sep 13, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 50+. Exchange: Grid square. Logs due: Oct 13. Rules

QRP ARCI VHF Contest--Phone,CW,Digital, from Sep 11, 1900Z to Sep 12, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 50+. Exchange: Grid square. Logs due: Oct 13. Rules

North American Sprint--CW, from Sep 12, 0000Z to Sep 12, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Exchange: Call signs, serial, name, and state. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

Classic Exchange--CW, from Sep 12, 1300Z to Sep 13, 0700Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50,144, Frequencies: 1.820, 3.545, 7.045, 14.045, 21.135, 28.05, 50.1, 144.1. Exchange: Name, RS, S/P/C, type of equipment. Logs due: 60 days. Rules

VHF+ CONTESTS

ARRL EME Contest--Phone,CW,Digital, from Sep 4, 0000Z to Sep 5, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 2.3G+. Exchange: Both call signs, sig rpt, acknowledgement. Logs due: Nov 30. Rules

ARRL September VHF QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Sep 11, 1800Z to Sep 13, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 50+. Exchange: Grid square. Logs due: Oct 13. Rules

Colorado QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Sep 4, 1200Z to Sep 5, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50+, Frequencies: CW--1.850, 3.550, 7.050, 14.050, 21.050, 28.050; Phone--1.870, 3.850, 7.250, 14.250, 21.350, 28.450. Exchange: Call sign, name, and county or S/P/C. Logs due: Oct 5. Rules

Tennessee QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Sep 5, 1800Z to Sep 6, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50+, Frequencies: See Web site. Exchange: RS(T) and county or S/P/C. Logs due: Oct 8. Rules

Labor Day Sprint--CW, from Sep 6, 2300Z to Sep 7, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, MI QRP nr or power. Logs due: Oct 7. Rules

Straight Key Weekend Sprint--CW, from Sep 10, 0000Z to Sep 10, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: RST, QTH, name, member number. Logs due: 5 days. Rules

Arkansas QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Sep 11, 0800Z to Sep 11, 2000Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 144, Frequencies: CW--3.550, 7.050, 14.050, 21.050, 28.050; Phone--3.980, 7.260, 14.260, 21.360, 28.360, 145-147. Exchange: RS(T), county or S/P or "DX". Logs due: Nov 1. Rules

QRP ARCI VHF Contest--Phone,CW,Digital, from Sep 11, 1900Z to Sep 12, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 50+. Exchange: Grid square. Logs due: Oct 13. Rules

Classic Exchange--CW, from Sep 12, 1300Z to Sep 13, 0700Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50,144, Frequencies: 1.820, 3.545, 7.045, 14.045, 21.135, 28.05, 50.1, 144.1. Exchange: Name, RS, S/P/C, type of equipment. Logs due: 60 days. Rules

LOG DUE DATES

1 September through 14 September

September 1, 2010 RSGB 80m Club Sprint, SSB

September 1, 2010 Feld Hell Sprint

September 1, 2010 Portugal Day Contest

September 1, 2010 VK Shires Contest

September 1, 2010 CQ Worldwide VHF Contest

September 4, 2010 North American QSO Party, SSB

September 4, 2010 TARA Grid Dip Shindig

September 7, 2010 ARRL UHF Contest

September 13, 2010 SARL HF CW Contest

September 14, 2010 Maryland-DC QSO Party

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

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

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