ARRL

Contest Update Issues

Preview
The ARRL Contest Update
November 24, 2010
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
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IN THIS ISSUE

NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

New HF operators often shy away from Top Band (160 meters) thinking the demands of the band too severe for modest stations and antennas. No need for that! There is lots of potential for Top Band excitement for the Little Pistol - load up anything you can and see what happens! This weekend's CQ WW CW and then the ARRL 160 Meter Contest are great opportunities to try 160 Meters On A Budget.

BULLETINS

Don't forget that this year's ARRL 10 Meter Contest will add the 32 Mexican states as multipliers! Be sure your logging software and CTY files are up to date, avoiding unpleasant mid-contest surprises.

BUSTED QSOS

A golden issue last time!

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

Nov 27-28

  • CQ World Wide CW Contest
  • SKCC Straight Key Sprint (Nov 24)

Dec 3-5

  • ARRL 160 Meter Contest--CW
  • Top Band Sprint--CW (Dec 2)
  • NS Weekly Sprint--CW
  • TARA RTTY Mêlée
  • Top Operators Activity Contest--CW
  • AWA Bruce Kelly QSO Party--CW
  • ARS Spartan Sprint--CW (Dec 7)
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

CQ WW DX Contest Director, Bob K3EST emphasizes rules pertaining to the Single-Operator Assisted category and the use of a CW Skimmer which is permitted for all Multi-Operator stations, as well:

  • The use of a personal skimmer located within the distance rule limitations of your QTH (500 meter rule) is OK.
  • The use of a remote, personal skimmer is NOT allowed. This is the same as a using a remote receiver outside the 500 m station circle, which is not allowed for any category.
  • If you are a single-op entry and access the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN), you MUST submit your log as ASSISTED.

Speaking of CQ, contester Chip Margelli K7JA is moving from Heil Sound to CQ Communications where he will be Director of Advertising Sales and Marketing for all of the CQ family publications. Chip is a member of the CQ Hall of Fame and is well-known in contest circles. Congratulations, Chip!

This photo of the B7P operating site for CQ WW SSB was partially covered by an ad graphic in the previous issue - apologies to our photo donor, Nelson VR2AAW.

It has also been announced that Hi-Z Antennas will be partnering with Array Solutions for sales, service, and marketing. Hi-Z manufactures a number of innovative receive antenna products and the new partnership will allow Hi-Z to focus on manufacturing and new product development.

Pete N4ZR has just published two articles on the RBN blog at that will be worthwhile reading for anyone planning to use this resource in Assisted or Extreme mode in the CQ WW CW this weekend. One explains how to connect to the RBN Telnet node and gives step by step instructions on how to use CC User to set up your filters exactly as you want them. The other addresses fail-safes just in case the RBN team hasn't fixed the server and it goes down during the contest. The RBN can also be used to compare your signal against those of other stations and between antennas of your own in real time.

The Getscores live scoreboard at is now set up for the CQWW CW contest this weekend. Please check out your logger software's interface early, remembering that the developers are probably hoping to be eating Thanksgiving dinner and watching football Thursday rather than fixing bugs. The WriteLog Web site has been updated by author W5XD to help post scores from that program, including using the Universal Posting Application. Note that if you have WriteLog 10.74 or later it is now much easier to set up to post scores than older versions. (Thanks, David K1TTT)

Here's the station host's view of the hard-working operator behind the big KL7RA CW Sweepstakes score. (AL7IF did the honors during Phone SS.) Note that Tree N6TR has a supply of treats handy as rewards for each new section worked! (Photo by KL7RA)

Don't forget to stop by the ARRL Contest Soapbox page for some amusing and interesting tales. Drop in a few photos and words of your own - we'd love to see them, especially the contest results writeup authors!

These "space bubbles" look like something familiar to hams - maybe it's the Universe's largest Hertzian antenna! (Thanks, Bill WY3A)

More sky-ward events are occurring in December. The most visible is a "high eclipse" of the Moon, in which the complete sequence of a total lunar eclipse will be visible across North America on the night of December 20-21. This is the first such eclipse in nearly three years. Just before the eclipse, the Geminid Meteor shower of mid-December is eagerly anticipated by the meteor scatter aficionados known as "ping jockeys". Often surpassing even the better-known, late-summer Perseids, the Geminids are one of the year's best showers. This would be a good time to investigate getting your station set up for FSK441, part of the K1JT WSJT software suite. For more information on both events, keep an eye on the Spaceweather and Sky and Telescope Web sites.

We'd all like to see more CW activity from new HF hams, so plan on spending some time with the ARRL Rookie Roundup on Sunday, December 19 from 1800-2400 UTC. It's a CW contest this time... get on with a straight key, QRS and work the CW newbies! (Thanks, Sean KX9X)

Sam K5OAI, Dawid SQ6EMM, and Petr, OK1RP came up with a list of several on-line "Web receivers" that can be listened to over the Internet: websdr, hb9fx-websdr, oe3mzc receivers, smeter.net, ralabs.com webradio, and globaltuners. Remember the restrictions on use of Web receivers when choosing a contest category!

The CQ WW SSB story of Hurricane Tomas by 8P5 operator Tom W2SC makes for fascinating (and scary) reading!

A new release of the Super Check Partial database files is now available from Bob WA1Z. Update your logger files right away so you aren't scrambling right before or during the contest. The files contain more than 40,000 call signs (10,000 for RTTY). If you want to check the version of the SCP files you are using, look for a call beginning with "VER". Every SCP file includes the version number in the list of calls. In the format "VERYYYYMMDD".

Web Site of the Week - A team at Carnegie Mellon University has published the results of a large-scale survey of more than 2600 members of six do-it-yourself communities; Instructables, Etsy, Dorkbot, Ravelry, Adafruit and Craftster. Creativity, learning, and open sharing are key values of these communities - that sounds a lot like ham radio, doesn't it? Contesters are resourceful individuals, so maybe "Do It Yourself" (DIY) competitions would be of interest!

WORD TO THE WISE

Move and Pass - ask a station to QSY to another band temporarily to log a new multiplier there. In 2003 Jim AD1C wrote the program PASS to find passes in contest log. It takes a Cabrillo log file and finds two or more QSOs with the same station (on different bands) within a given window of time (default is 5 minutes). This enables you to see how many passes you made during a contest. The program is command-line based and will (should) run either in DOS or in a CMD window under the various flavors of Windows except for 64-bit versions.

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SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Tim K3LR sent a picture of a strange-looking broadcast transmitter and a little research dug up the related Web site describing home-brew projects like these. In case you are wondering, those are 833A tubes. (Thanks, Tree N6TR)

Alex KU1CW paid a visit to a recent Chinese Taipei Amateur Radio League (CTARL) meeting in Taipei after operating in the CQ WW SSB as BW2/KU1CW. Left to right are BX2AL, JP1RIW, BX2AM, BM2AOS, BV2DQ, KU1CW, BX2AN-front, BV2MV-rear, BQ2AB, BM2AAN, BM2APH, BM2FUN, and BU2AI. (Photo by KU1CW)

Take a few minutes to watch this map animation track 1000 years of European history! Imagine trying to keep the European DXCC list up to date! Contesters missed out on some serious multiplier proliferation a few hundred years ago. Then think about communications coming to a place for the first time as described in this photographic essay about the trans-Pacific cable found by Tim K3LR.

If there had not been Sporadic-E clouds all throughout Europe, the WRTC 2010 competitors would probably not have enjoyed what has been called a flat-out "European rate fest." N6BV explores the effects of Sporadic-E on 20/15/10 meter propagation during WRTC 2010 using propagation-prediction tools and actual ionograms in this latest of the Potomac Valley Radio Club video Webinars. (Thanks, Dean N6DE)

RESULTS AND RECORDS

A table of results of ARRL contests downloadable in CSV format is now online. The secret word for the night is "Rover!" in the online results of the 2010 ARRL August UHF Contest by John K9JK. You can also find the updated records for the ARRL 10 Meter Contest by Ken WM5R on the ARRL Contest Branch Web site and on Ken's Web site. Curtis K9AKS has also delivered a complete, updated package of records for the ARRL June VHF QSO Party. (Thanks, ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Sean KX9X)

Results from the November ARRL Frequency Measuring Test (FMT) have been posted online, as well. As hoped for, two "cross-pond" measurements were submitted by G3WW and PA3FWM - nice going! The Method and Soapbox comments make for some very good reading. Thanks to the FMT team led by K5CM for running the event and to WA7BNM for providing the reporting compilation page.

Radio-sport.net has a bunch of new stories about recent and upcoming contests, including the news of the first European CQ WW SSB Single-Operator, All-Band High-Power win in 52 years! Keep an eye on NS3T's site for more great writing about radiosport activities.

Official results for the 2010 EU HF Championship are now ready, verified by the SCC Contest Committee and published on the SCC Web page. All UBN reports are publicly available as usual, too. (Thanks, SCC Contest Manager, Robert S57AW)

Marc ON7SS/OO9O reports that the results of the 2010 UBA Contest - SSB are online now. To receive your contest certificate, follow the instructions on the results page.

The results have been posted for the 2010 Connecticut QSO Party and certificates are printed and ready for mailing. (Thanks, Bob W1IG)

The list of logs received for the 2010 NY QSO Party has been posted - if you have sent a log, please check and make sure we have received it and that we have your information correct. (Thanks, Ken N2ZN)

OPERATING TIP

It has been noted that 40% of the ARRL CW Sweepstakes Top Ten didn't get a sweep. 100% of the next 38 stations all got sweeps but had lower scores than the Top Ten. This might indicate it is better for your score to keep running than to go off looking for that last section. (Thanks, Rich KL7RA)

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TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

A research team at the University of Newcastle in the United Kingdom have engineered a new type of bacteria that can be used to patch cracks in concrete structures. Injected into the crack, three types of cells produce calcium carbonate, act as reinforcing fibers, and generate a glue to hold it all together. The next task for these mighty mites is growing the tower!

Information about coaxial receiving loops can be found online from authors such as K9FD, W8JI, and GU4YOX. These small antennas can be helpful in Top Band operating from small lots or when portable. (Thanks, Petr OK1RP)

How do you stay focused during the Sunday afternoon doldrums? Try operating standing up as Nick KZ2V demonstrates at W7RN. (Photo by K5RC)

Uwe DL9NC checked nearly 20 different transceivers to see which output high-power transients when the transmitter is activated in CW or SSB. The article is in German, but the diagrams speak for themselves!

Gene AD3F references an online archive QST article from August 1996 (page 35) that shows the proper way to attach a tower to a house by using a wall bracket.

How good are the Shure E2C and SE-115 ear buds? Bob W5OV says, "The first pair I got were stolen by my wife because of how much better they made her ITouch sound." While they are not cheap, they are comfortable, have good sound quality, and have a connector at chest level to let you disconnect and move around without taking them out. Tree N6TR recommends the less-expensive Yamaha Inner Ear headphones. Both got high marks in recent contests.

Here is a detailed description of a 90-foot vertical for 160 meters by Greg W8WWV. (Thanks, Tim K3LR)

Are the HAM-IV and Tailtwister pin connections the same and can the same controller be used for either type of rotator? According to tower climbing pro, Steve K7LXC, the answer to both questions is "Yes." You still have to write down the wire colors in your station notebook, though!

The technically-inclined reader interested in cognitive radio should look up a copy of the August 2010 issue of the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Magazine. The article "Cognitive-Radio Systems for Spectrum, Location, and Environmental Awareness" presents an overview of system-level issues and an exhaustive bibliography of detailed papers on the subject.

These thin-film energy storage devices from Infinite Power Solutions won't power your full-gallon amplifier, but they can harvest energy and store it from all sorts of nano-power sources. QRPPPers might benefit sooner than QROers. (Thanks, Jack N3ALO from his "Break Points" column in Embedded Systems Design)

Ameritron is a good source of amplifier parts for builders and repairs. On the home page, select "Amplifiers", then model, and at the bottom of the page is a parts list. If you download the MFJ catalog in PDF format, you can find the parts there, too.

EMI from switchmode power supplies is a growing problem. This EE Time Design article by Yong Li of iWatt about using BJT instead of FET to reduce EMI and costs of controlling EMI is a good start.

Technical Web Site of the Week - RSGB's Propagation Studies Committee has released Understanding LF and HF Propagation, a free eBook written by GØKYA and G3NYK and available for download. The book is a compilation of Technical Feature articles written by the authors for the RSGB's Radcom magazine. (Thanks, Mark K6UFO)

CONVERSATION

You Can Go Home Again

As many of the Contest Update readers prepare to head over the river and through the woods to Grandma's house for Thanksgiving festivities, I'm here to report on a ham radio equivalent. While Norman Rockwell may not have painted it, the charm and goodwill of sharing the Sweepstakes operating duties at one's alma mater club station certainly captures the same essentials.

I was fortunate to make contact with my former club at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, WØEEE, and secure an invitation for Phone Sweepstakes. This year's rule change to allow alumni to operate School Club category stations made possible my personal "ham radio homecoming". So early Saturday morning, I loaded the car with toolbox, spare gadgetry, and a bag of cough drops (don't ask) to make the 100-mile journey down I-44.

Jim KD5TPH (left), NØAX (the old guy in the middle), and Barry KCØYDZ shared operating duties at WØEEE for Phone Sweepstakes. (Photo by NØAX)

Right on schedule, I met club president Barry KCØYDZ for a hamburger and we adjourned to the Electrical Engineering building to which weekend access had been arranged. The station had been relocated from the stone basement of the venerable Rolla Building, once adorned with a 60-foot tower perched on the granite chimney and a Mosley Classic 36 tri-band Yagi at the 100-foot level, a legendary 80 meter dipole stretched completely across the campus quadrangle, the last dime glass-bottle soda machine in central Missouri, and a brigade of belfry bats to bamboozle beam builders. These days, the club has much more modern quarters with a tower gracing another building's roof and a great shot to the horizon in all directions. The bats stayed behind.

A more youthful NØAX (left) and Randy WAØRAD pilot WØEEE during CW Sweepstakes in 1974. (Photo by WAØACF)

As the club's HF beam had been destroyed by a recent ice storm, a multi-band dipole was going to be the antenna of choice, but for Sweepstakes that's not the handicap it might have been for a DX contest. Indeed, it proved to be more than up to the job! A different challenge was presented by a piece of equipment that I knew well and was still on the job - a grizzled veteran of many electromagnetic campaigns, the club's SB-220. Yes, everything still lit up properly without a whisper of complaint but keying the amp proved to be problematic. Until the small toggle switch labeled "Standby / Active" was discovered. One click of the antenna relay and an upward flick of the power meter later, we knew we had a winner.

NØAX (with somewhat less hair, on the right) pounds the pileups as WØEEE with Barry KCØYDZ vigilant for elusive new multipliers. (Photo by KCØSU)

250 contacts later, my roborant homecoming came to an end over a shared pizza. There were contacts to celebrate and future projects to consider. I have three new friends at WØEEE and they have a new one not far away. Already, alumni of our old rivals at Kansas State, WØQQQ, are thinking about another Sweepstakes challenge. I'd like to put that "dit dit dit" back on the air during a big contest, too. We shall see. I am grateful to the club members - Barry KCØYDZ, Jim KD5TPH, and Andreas KCØSU - who stuck around on the beginning of Thanksgiving break to humor an enspirited alumnus somewhat soggy with nostalgia and let him hog the operating chair for the day. I'll be back, guys, thanks!

The oldest WØEEE club member of all - a 38-year-old SB-220 repaired by NØAX in 1978 and still ticking! (Photo by NØAX)

While appreciating the plenteous season, though, let us not forget that all is not an exuberant Thanksgiving cornucopia. Many are slicing what they have extra thin this year and relying on the generosity of others to get them through every day. Rockwell painted that scene, too. Share ham radio's weal of helpful kindness and have a great holiday season, no matter how you celebrate it.

73, Ward NØAX

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CONTESTS

24 November through 7 December

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

SKCC Straight Key Sprint--CW, from Nov 24, 0000Z to Nov 24, 0200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50, Frequencies: Monthly on the fourth Wednesday UTC. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, name, SKCC nr or power. Logs due: 3 days. Rules

CQ World Wide CW Contest--CW, from Nov 27, 0000Z to Nov 28, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST and CQ zone. Logs due: Dec 21. Rules

Top Band Sprint--CW, from Dec 2, 0000Z to Dec 2, 0600Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, ARCI number or Power. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

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

ARRL 160 Meter Contest--CW, from Dec 3, 2200Z to Dec 5, 1600Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8. Exchange: RST and ARRL/RAC section if US/VE. Logs due: Jan 4. Rules

TARA RTTY Mêlée--Digital, from Dec 4, 0000Z to Dec 4, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST and State/Province or serial. Logs due: Jan 1. Rules

Top Operators Activity Contest--CW, from Dec 4, 1600Z to Dec 5, 1559Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST, serial, and TOPS/PRO number. Logs due: Dec 31. Rules

AWA Bruce Kelly QSO Party--CW, from Dec 4, 2300Z to Dec 5, 2300Z and Dec 11, 2300Z to Dec 12, 2300Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5,7. Frequencies: Multiple operating periods. Exchange: RST, Xmtr type, power, name. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

ARS Spartan Sprint--CW, from Dec 7, 0200Z to Dec 7, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Frequencies: Monthly on the first Monday evening local time. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, and power. Logs due: 2 days. Rules

VHF+ CONTESTS

SKCC Straight Key Sprint--CW, from Nov 24, 0000Z to Nov 24, 0200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50, Frequencies: Monthly on the fourth Wednesday UTC. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, name, SKCC nr or power. Logs due: 3 days. Rules

LOG DUE DATES

24 November through 7 December

November 28 - High Speed Club CW Contest

November 28 - Run for the Bacon QRP Contest

November 29 - WAE DX Contest, RTTY

November 30 - 50 MHz Fall Sprint

November 30 - JARTS WW RTTY Contest

November 30 - W/VE Islands QSO Party

November 30 - SYLRA Contest

November 30 - ARRL EME Contest

November 30 - ARRL EME Contest

November 30 - ARRL EME Contest

December 1 - Feld Hell Sprint

December 1 - OK/OM DX Contest, CW

December 1 - CQ-WE Contest

December 4 - YO International PSK31 Contest

December 6 - SARL Field Day Contest

December 6 - RSGB 2nd 1.8 MHz Contest, CW

December 7 - DARC 10-Meter Digital Contest

December 7 - Ukrainian DX Contest

December 7 - ARRL Sweepstakes Contest, SSB

December 7 - NA Collegiate ARC Championship, SSB

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

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

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