ARRL

Contest Update Issues

Preview
The ARRL Contest Update
December 8, 2010
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
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IN THIS ISSUE

NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

The ARRL 10 Meter Contest is an excellent way to break into HF contesting, especially for the Technicians and remaining Novices who may have never experienced a 10 meter band full of signals. On the next weekend, try out your CW skills in the ARRL Rookie Roundup's inaugural CW edition!

BULLETINS

Log due dates for two major contests are (or were) earlier this year: The deadline for ARRL Phone Sweepstakes logs WAS 0300Z on 7 Dec (yesterday) and the deadline for CQ WW CW logs is 21 December.

BUSTED QSOS

None reported!

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

Dec 11-12

  • ARRL 10 Meter Contest
  • CWops Mini-CWT Test (Dec 8)
  • Feld-Hell Happy Birthday Sprint
  • NA High-Speed Meteor Scatter Contest
  • 28 MHz SWL Contest
  • PSK Death Match
  • UBA Winter Contest
  • Straight Key Weekend Sprint
  • Great Colorado Snowshoe Run--CW
  • Russian 160 Meter Contest (Dec 16)

Dec 18-19

  • ARRL Rookie Roundup--CW
  • OK DX RTTY Contest
  • RAC Winter Contest
  • Lighthouse Christmas Lights QSO Party-
  • Croatian CW Contest
  • Stew Perry Top Band Distance Challenge--CW
  • Holiday Spirits Homebrew Sprint--CW
  • Run For the Bacon--CW (Dec 20)
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

Be sure to update your logging software to handle the ARRL 10 Meter Contest's new XE multipliers. Here are the earliest versions of several popular programs that fully support the new multipliers including correct output format:
N1MM - version 10.11.2
Writelog - version 10.77
Win-Test - version 4.7.0
CT - user group's instructions
NA - user group's instructions
TRLog - version 6.96
TR4W - version 4.231
SD - version 15.25
N3FJP - version 3.1

Ken WM5R emphasizes that you need to help get new folks (and other casual HF contesters) interested in playing along this weekend. "Talk up the contest with your friends. Post something to your local club and mention the new XE multipliers. Grupo DXXE's reference sheet for Mexican multipliers can be downloaded and remember that in addition to the XA-XI prefix block, Mexico is also assigned prefixes in the ranges 4A-4C and 6D-6J." Hector XE2K/AD6D says that DXXE is also encouraging operators to activate the rare and semi-rare states - you can get an idea of who to look for in the online activity page. Now if we can just get some propagation!

Here is the list of Mexican states and the abbreviations to use for logging them in the ARRL 10 Meter Contest: (from Rule 5.2.3 of the contest rules) Aguascalientes (AGS), Baja California (BAC), Baja California Sur (BCS), Campeche (CAM), Chiapas (CHI), Chihuahua (CHH), Coahuila (COA), Colima (COL), Distrito Federal (DF or DFE), Durango (DGO), Estado de México (EMX), Guanajuato (GTO), Guerrero (GRO), Hidalgo (HGO), Jalisco (JAL), Michoacán (MIC), Morelos (MOR), Nayarit (NAY), Nuevo León (NLE), Oaxaca (OAX), Puebla (PUE), Querétaro (QRO), Quintana Roo (QUI), San Luis Potosí (SLP), Sinaloa (SIN), Sonora (SON), Tabasco (TAB), Tamaulipas (TAM), Tlaxcala (TLX), Veracruz (VER), Yucatán (YUC), Zacatecas (ZAC).

The CE4CT M2 Team is smiling because they broke the CQ WW CW record for Chile! Left to right are XE1KK, LU1AEE, CE4CT, and LU8ADX with the photo taken by CE3FZ. The capsule used to rescue the Chilean miners is in the background.

Want to encourage new blood in CW contesting? The ARRL Rookie Roundup on Dec 19th is your chance to break out a straight key and QRS to speeds a new CW operator can manage. Here's your chance to experience those wonderful Morse-filled experiences of days gone by - like glass elbow and hand cramps, but I digress. Slow down and put your call in a Rookie's log or help a Rookie master CW at your station!

Are you traveling to a DX location? Here are the TSA rules explaining what's required of you if any of your electronic equipment contains lithium or lithium-ion batteries. RC modelers deal with this all the time and are very helpful in making sure their battery-powered gear is treated properly. The TSA traveler's assistant Web page lists many do's and don'ts which are mostly common sense, but are helpful in protecting your stuff. (Thanks, Steve KS1G and Stuart K5KVH)

Japanese amateurs are operating RTTY on the low bands an if you're not aware of the band plan there, Rag LA6FJA has relayed an email from Hisami 7L4IOU on the subject:
3.520-3.530 and 3.599-3.612 MHz
3.520 - 3.525 is the main segment
3.525 - 3.530 and 3.599-3.612 has SSB QRM in early evening
7.025-7.045 MHz
7.030 - 7.035 is shared with SSTV

The KC1XX team looks like the U.S. winner in the M/M clubhouse after CQ WW CW - welcome back Matt and team! A very nice recovery from the extreme damage experienced from ice a couple of years ago! Left to right are (front row) N9NC, W2RQ, N1KWF, W1FV, WA1Z and (back row) KM3T, KC1XX, K1FWE, and K1TR. (Photo by KM3T)

A reversal of the Earth's magnetic poles would certainly make life interesting for hams. The Geomagnetic North Pole is currently moving north under the Arctic Sea at about 40 km per year, dragging the auroral oval along with it and affecting polar path propagation. While it's been three-quarters of a million years since the last reversal, no one knows whether we are overdue for a flip-flop and the field strength seems quite strong. Pull up a lawn chair, pop open a cool drink, and watch - you never know! (Thanks, Graham VE3GTC, Dana AD5VC, and Ron W2IOL)

Jon WØZQ and Gabor VE7DXG have reminded the VHF+ community of this great piece by the late Bill Seabreeze on strategy considerations for successful roving.

If you think your amplifier makes the house lights blink, how about when you plug in an electric car? According to this article on power industry concerns about supplying all that juice, a high-capacity battery in an electric vehicle (EV) such as the Tesla can draw nearly 17 kW - as much as a house - during the charging period. This will put a lot of stress on the residential power grid substations and distribution equipment. Got fuses?

Extending the discussion of ordinary (O) and extraordinary (X) waves reignited by KL7AJ's interesting article in the December issue of QST, Carl K9LA has written about HF circular polarization in his "Propagation" column in the current issue of World Radio. This topic is a well-known concept but has not captured the attention of hams - worth a read!

Spaceweather featured an interesting story on Long-Delayed Echoes (LDE) on 30 November reporting that Peter DK6NP received some LDEs during the recent geomagnetic storm on Nov 27th. I was interested to learn that LDEs were first reported in 1927! If you heard LDEs, please contact Peter as requested in the story.

Web Site of the Week - If you are a casual contest participant and don't want to install a contest logging program, the Cabrillo Forms Web site by WA7BNM gives you an on-line option of manually entering your QSOs and sending the resulting log to the contest sponsors in Cabrillo format. (Thanks, Doug KR2Q)

WORD TO THE WISE

Attenuation - reduction of signal level, particularly useful in receivers. As we go into the winter months of low-band activity, make sure your receiver isn't being overloaded by strong local signals and atmospheric noise. You may be surprised at how much you can improve the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) by reducing input signal level and cutting back on the RF Gain.

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SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Where are all those sections you worked in Sweepstakes, anyway? The ARRL has a colorful Worked All States (WAS) map online that labels all the sections. (Thanks, Norm W3IZ)

There is more to contesting than the contest as your Aruba representatives show in this post-CQ WW CW chow-down! Clockwise around the table are NX7M (P4ØL), W2GD (P4ØW),W6LD (P4ØL), WØYK (P4ØL), photographer KU1CW (P4ØC) and KU1CW's wife, KU1YL.

Auroras can wreak havoc with HF propagation, but they sure are pretty to look at as shown in this Astronomy Photo of the Day from Norway. Be sure to follow the article links and watch the video, too!

Do you have some photos from CQ WW 2010? Please share them with the contesting community on Contesting.com. On the right side of the home page, click "Add CQWW 2010" and follow the instructions! (Thanks, Steve N2IC)

These are the most colorful radials you'll ever see - they have excellent taste in France, as F5OHS demonstrates in putting up his vertical antenna with savoir-faire. (Thanks, Rich KL7RA)

RESULTS AND RECORDS

Now that the contest is done, you can evaluate your performance with Bob KØRC's "ARRL 160m Log Analyzer" spreadsheet. Recently updated for new features and faster processing, the latest revision, 1.0.8, is now available for download. Import your Cabrillo log file and review a variety of statistics.

Glenn WØGJ's QRP flamethrower signal in the ARRL 160 Meter contest originated from this full-size top-band vertical of Rohn 25. (Photo by WØGJ)

Soapbox from the recent CQ WW CW contest and others has been compiled for your reading pleasure by Dink N7WA. While you're replaying the recent CQ WW CW contest, a merged list of both 3830 claimed scores and actual log submissions has been compiled by Valery R5GA. Valery is also collecting contest photos for the Web site.

The results of the PreStew warmup for the Stew Perry Topband Distance Challenge held in October 2010 are now posted. Contest manager, Tree N6TR, reminds us that the "big" Stew is coming up in less than two weeks on December 18/19th.

SYLRA Contest 2010 preliminary results are out, just awaiting the final paper logs to be complete. (Thanks, Janne OH6LBW)

Kevin W9GKA has compiled some very interesting VHF reports on distance-based scoring and a historical data paper. Great reading for VHF+ enthusiasts!

OPERATING TIP

Anticipating a lot of new HF operators giving the ARRL 10 Meter Contest a try this weekend, Hank N8XX contributes a few tips for improved contest fun:
1. Call CQ - don't just Search and Pounce. Find a fairly clear frequency, call CQ, and see what happens! This works especially well towards the end of a contest when you are a new station on the bands!
2. On CW, call CQ at your speed, even if that speed is 10, 15, or 20 wpm.
3. Say or send only your call when answering a CQ - you'll get through quicker.
And always remember...
"The worst day of Contesting is infinitely better than the best day working" (Thanks, Tim K3LR and the ZM2M East Coast Contesters)

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TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

You might think a Hamming Code refers to Morse, but no! 60 years ago, Bell Labs scientist Richard Hamming came up with his method of encoding data to perform computations and telecommunications without errors. This was the beginning of the field of coding theory that combines computation, mathematics, and communication, an important step to the sophisticated digital world that we take for granted today.

Here's Dan the Tower Man, K1TO, at work on the N6TV stacks in San Jose, CA. Note the complete safety gear and hardhat! (Photo by N6TV)

Judging from signal levels during contests, it must be tough to be a receiver's front-end input circuit! The original "Front End Saver" circuit was described by KD9SV in Feb 1997 CQ Magazine. The finished product is available from Radio-Ware or a circuit board is available from FAR Circuits. A similar circuit has been designed by OK1RR, as well. These can save your radio a trip to the repair shop! Another problem with strong signals is caused by overload from local AM broadcast stations. Jack W8OZA at Clifton Laboratories has designed two new BC-reject filters - the Z10022 is a high-pass and the Z10020 a band-stop design that also allows reception below 540 kHz for LF and VLF reception. (Thanks, Joe W4TV)

Here's a nice Web article that goes into the details as it describes how to add PowerPole™ connectors to an Astron SS-25 or SS-30 switching power supply.

A good January 1995 QST article on tuning T-network tuners by W4ULD can be found in the online ARRL archives. After you figure out the basics, this online Java tuner applet by W9CF will let you practice what the article teaches! (Thanks, Jim W7RY)

If you want to neaten up those multi-cable bundles, but conduit or cable tray is too confining or expensive a solution, try these cable hangers that allow access to the cables at any point, but still corral them into neat runs. You can buy them at an electrical supply house and a #10 sheet metal screw will suffice for mounting. (Thanks, Dave K9XD)

Technical Web Site of the Week - The recording of last week's PVRC/NCCC webinar on HF Propagation and Sporadic E during WRTC 2010 by Dean N6BV is now available. The video file is 50 Mbytes in WMV format and a PDF version of the presentation slides is also online. (Thanks, Dean N6DE)

CONVERSATION

Wild Voices

For those of you that didn't get no satisfaction in Phone Sweepstakes, here's another mangled melody by Dr Beldar from the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses" - 73, Ward NØAX

Band edge running
Is easy to do
The mults will all work me
When I call CQ
Clueless invader
You hear where I am
You know I won't let you
Push me up the band

Wild voices
Couldn't push me away
Wild voices
You'll work me some day

I heard you tuning
Your carrier's plain
Now you're attempting
To drive me insane
No sweeping tuners
Or off-channel lines
Will make your rate better
Or attenuate mine

I know you heard me
You're tellin' a lie
I'm still on the band edge
But we wasted much time
Q's have been busted
Tears must be dried
Let's do some running
Until ending time

Loud voices
Couldn't push me away
Loud voices
You'll work me some day

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CONTESTS

8 December through 21 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

CWops Mini-CWT Test--CW, from Dec 8, 1100Z - see Web site, multiple operating periods. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Frequencies: Monthly on the second Wednesday, 18 to 28 kHz above band edge. Exchange: Name and member number or S/P/C. Logs due: 2 days. Rules

Feld-Hell Happy Birthday Sprint--Digital, from Dec 11, 0000Z to Dec 11, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST, Feld-Hell nr, S/P/C. Logs due: 2 weeks. Rules

ARRL 10 Meter Contest--Phone,CW, from Dec 11, 0000Z to Dec 12, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 28. Exchange: RS(T) and State/Prov or serial. Logs due: Jan 12. Rules

28 MHz SWL Contest--Phone,CW, from Dec 11, 0000Z to Dec 12, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 28. Exchange: Log ARRL 10 Meter Contest QSOs. Logs due: Jan 31. Rules

PSK Death Match--Digital, from Dec 11, 0000Z to Dec 12, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: Name and S/P/C. Logs due: Dec 25. Rules

UBA Winter Contest--Phone,CW,Digital, from Dec 11, 1700Z to Dec 11, 2100Z and Dec 12, 0600Z to Dec 12, 1000Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-7. Frequencies: Multiple operating periods. Exchange: RS(T) and UBA section or serial. Logs due: 3 weeks. Rules

Straight Key Weekend Sprint--CW, from Dec 12, 0000Z to Dec 12, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Frequencies: Monthly on the second Sunday. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, SKCC nr or power. Logs due: 5 days. Rules

Great Colorado Snowshoe Run--CW, from Dec 12, 2100Z to Dec 12, 2259Z. Bands (MHz): 14. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, class, CQC number or power. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

Russian 160 Meter Contest--Phone,CW, from Dec 16, 2100Z to Dec 16, 2300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8. Exchange: RS(T), serial, square ID (see Web site). Logs due: Jan 20. Rules

OK DX RTTY Contest--Digital, from Dec 18, 0000Z to Dec 19, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and CQ Zone. Logs due: Jan 15. Rules

RAC Winter Contest--Phone,CW, from Dec 18, 0000Z to Dec 18, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50,144. Exchange: RS(T) and province or serial. Logs due: Jan 31. Rules

Lighthouse Christmas Lights QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Dec 18, 0001Z to Jan 2, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50,144. Exchange: Serial or ARLHS number. Logs due: Jan 31. Rules

Croatian CW Contest--CW, from Dec 18, 1400Z to Dec 19, 1400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST and serial. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

Stew Perry Top Band Distance Challenge--CW, from Dec 18, 1500Z to Dec 19, 1500Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8. Exchange: Grid square. Logs due: Jan 31. Rules

ARRL Rookie Roundup--CW, from Dec 19, 1800Z to Dec 19, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50. Exchange: Both calls, name, check, S/P/XE or "DX". Logs due: 72 hours after contest. Rules

Holiday Spirits Homebrew Sprint--CW, from Dec 19, 2000Z to Dec 19, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, ARCI number or Power. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

Run For the Bacon--CW, from Dec 20, 0200Z to Dec 20, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Frequencies: Monthly on the third Sunday local time. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, Flying Pig nr or power. Rules

VHF+ CONTESTS

ARRL Rookie Roundup--CW, from Dec 19, 1800Z to Dec 19, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50. Exchange: Both calls, name, check, S/P/XE or "DX". Logs due: 72 hours after contest. Rules

NA High-Speed Meteor Scatter Contest--Digital, from Dec 11, 0000Z to Dec 16, 0200Z. Bands (MHz): 50-432. Exchange: Both calls, grid square, acknowledgement. Logs due: Jan 15. Rules

PSK Death Match--Digital, from Dec 11, 0000Z to Dec 12, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: Name and S/P/C. Logs due: Dec 25. Rules

RAC Winter Contest--Phone,CW, from Dec 18, 0000Z to Dec 18, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50,144. Exchange: RS(T) and province or serial. Logs due: Jan 31. Rules

Lighthouse Christmas Lights QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Dec 18, 0001Z to Jan 2, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50,144. Exchange: Serial or ARLHS number. Logs due: Jan 31. Rules

LOG DUE DATES

8 December through 21 December

December 9 - ARS Spartan Sprint

December 11 - Wake-Up! QRP Sprint

December 11 - PODXS 070 Club Jamboree

December 19 - EPC Ukraine DX Contest

December 21 - CQ Worldwide DX Contest, CW

December 21 - Homebrew and Oldtime Equipment Party

December 21 - EPC PSK63 QSO Party

December 21 - LZ DX Contest

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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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