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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
December 22, 2010
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX


Straight Key Night on New Year's Eve is a great way to exercise your manual sending skills - and don't forget the AMSAT Straight Key Night on OSCAR, too!


The deadline for CQ WW CW was yesterday and scores must be submitted for the ARRL Rookie Roundup today (the 22nd). With log deadlines moving up left and right, be sure not to get left out of the listings!

The 070 Club's QRP DX Scramble scheduled for Dec 26 has been cancelled. (Thanks, Charlie K8IJ)


The photo of the P4Ø gang last week misidentified Mike N7MH as NX7M - I have subtracted three additional operators from the photo as my penalty! (Thanks, Mike N7MH)


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

Dec 25-26, 2010

  • SKCC Straight Key Sprint (Dec 22)
  • RAEM Contest--CW
  • DARC Christmas Contest

Jan 1-2, 2011

  • ARRL Straight-Key Night (Dec 31)
  • Kid's Day--Phone
  • South Dakota QSO Party (Dec 31)
  • New Years Snowball Contest
  • SARTG New Year RTTY Contest
  • AGCW Happy New Year Contest--CW
  • Original QRP Contest--CW
  • EUCW 160 Meter Contest--CW
  • ARS Spartan Sprint--CW (Jan 4)

Fans of the NCJ's North American QSO Party (NAQP) should be aware that the ARRL's RTTY Roundup and the NAQP CW contest will exercise the CSMA/CD (Carrier Sense Multiple Access/Collision Detection) expertise of the radiosport community this coming Jan 8th and 9th. This happens rarely, so no realignment of contest weekends was deemed necessary by the contest managers. Cooperation will be the key, particularly on 40 meters. Designers of cognitive radio systems might find the algorithms put in play by contesters to be of interest. In other NAQP news, Mark K6UFO is the new manager of the NAQP RTTY contest. The Contest Update tips its cap to retiring manager, Shelby K4WW.

Ramon XE1KK at CTU 2010 during the Audio Sprint, intensely focused on making another QSO. (Photo by NØAX)

After traveling to the UK, Germany, and Italy in 2010, the fifth year of Contest University (CTU) has been announced by CTU Chairman, Tim K3LR, and he wants everyone to know that "early bird" registration is now open! Held in Dayton on May 19th just before the annual Hamvention, this will be the only Contest University held in the USA during 2011. This year's CTU includes a brand-new Youth CTU track led by Scott W3TX. As always, CTU will feature well-known contesters and station builders as CTU Professors. CTU is sponsored by Icom America and a host of other supporting organizations listed on the CTU Web site - thanks to all!

How does Santa travel the world in a single night? It takes a fast start and this new rail gun technology from the Navy would sure satisfy that performance requirement! (Thanks, John N2NC)

The latest IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society Student Design Challenge for 2011 is "Radiation Patterns on a Budget". Participants are asked to build a measurement system that can be used to find the gain and radiation pattern of an antenna. The top three teams will travel to the annual AP-S Symposium, this year held in Spokane, WA from July 3-8, 2011.

The Southeastern VHF Society is calling for technical and operating papers and presentations for the 15th annual Southeastern VHF Society Conference to be held in Huntsville, Alabama on April 29th and 30th, 2011. (Thanks, Robin K4IDC)

Ray ND8L reminds us to report radio equipment BEFORE leaving the US as your gear could be impounded on trying to leave your host country. The US Customs web site has complete information.

Have fun with the Reverse Beacon Net and its reporting features, particularly after a recent contest, to see how your signal and those of the competition stack up. From Bob N6TV, "Hover your cursor over DX spots in the toolbar at the top of the page, then select the Analysis tool." You can click the signal strength button or the frequency button and start having fun. Hours may pass. To save the image, use Prt Scrn and then paste into an MS Paint window and crop. The image doesn't "save" like most graphics do.

The analysis tools on the Reverse Beacon Net site make it easy to compare received signal strengths at any of the CW Skimmer receiving sites.

Chris, N6WM is the new Director of the "Slow NCCC Sprint" or SNS, replacing Mike W9RE. This is a lower-speed version of the NCCC Sprint and Sprint Ladder (NS and NSL) on Thursday nights.

A contest presence from Zone 21 has been stilled as HZ1HZ, Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed Zidan, has become a Silent Key. He was the first HZ contact for many over the last few decades. His QSL manager, N7RO has sent out over 90,000 cards for HZ1HZ. Licensed since 1949, Ahmed held several high posts in the Saudi PTT Ministry, the last being Deputy Minister of Communications, and represented Saudi Arabia at all the ITU conferences and meetings since 1956. (from the Daily DX for 13 Dec 2010)

Another Silent Key from Finland was reported with the passing of Axel OH5NW. During WRTC-2002, Axel and his brother Peter OH5NQ hosted a wonderful tour of the famous Arboretum Mustila - home to a unique collection of exotic conifer species and horticultural plants for all of Scandinavia. It was an interesting combination of garden and antenna farm!

With the deletion of the old PJ entities and the addition of the new ones it is now possible to have worked 400 DXCC countries including all current and deleted entities. K6ZO is reported to tally 398, but who will be the first to 400? (Thanks, Alan KØAV and Bill NC1L)

Bob N6TV reports cleaning up some major bugs in the Cabrillo Statistics for Windows (CBSW) rate sheet generator, originally written by Ken K5KA (SK), to allow it to work well with the latest versions of CTY.DAT. "It's a simple Windows command line tool. Type CBSW and enter the name of your Cabrillo file and the name of the output file. You get a nice rate sheet in text format suitable for posting to 3830, and a breakdown of stations worked in each country or section, plus some other statistics." N2IC recompiled the Linux version and that has been updated, too.

Bad operating has now attracted the attention of academic researchers! ""North Carolina State University is a national leader in the study of LID and has advanced LID research and implementation, including the development of the state's LID guidance, the "North Carolina LID Guidebook." The NC State Cooperative Extension's LID certification program also has the potential to be replicated nationally." A LID guidebook? Who thought they were that organized? (Thanks, Rich NU6T)

Users of the ARRL's Logbook of the World should be aware that a new version of the TQSL software version (v1.13) has been released. Check the LOTW Web page for more information. (Thanks, Dick AA5VU)

Finding your local DXCC Card Checker has been updated with an online search function. To find your local checker open this link and for USA click 'State' and for non-USA click 'Country'. For USA only, you can narrow your search within your state to Zip Code and distance from your zip code by noting this information in the boxes shown. Remember that DXCC card checkers can also certify QSLs for WAS, VUCC, and WAC. (Thanks, Bill NC1L)

Web Site of the Week - Ham radio was in the automotive news this week as a new Chevy Camaro antenna design was credited to an amateur. I don't want to spoil things for you, so you'll have to read the article for yourself! What's an antenna without a rotator, asks George K5TR? This new model - the Cytorq - looks like it could turn the Chevy Camaro antenna and the Camaro, too!


Gall - yes, a lot of operators seem to have no shortage of it, but what's in mind here is a type of "cold-welding" in which the surfaces of threads break down and lock together. This is a particular problem with stainless steel fasteners. The solution is to use an anti-galling lubricant and tighten the fasteners slowly. This will save all sorts of grief in antenna work where stainless steel bolts and nuts are common.


We know Tom W2SC as the dynamo behind 8P5A, but between contests he occupies his time as the CEO of NetApp. Forbes Magazine profiled Tom and his true vocation in this recent article about his contest activities. (Thanks, Gary KN4AQ)

Will CW fade away? Not with the enthusiasm expressed by KB1TSU and her dad, WB2HTO! (Thanks, Tim K3LR)

Old Timers in the aviation biz probably know what "Four Course Radio Range" means, but it was a new one to Dan K1TO as explained in this video.

If only the ancient Greeks had Lego, maybe we wouldn't have to wait 100 years to figure out what the Antikythera Mechanism was for! (Thanks, Dan KE7MTN)

You've probably heard the old story about the "barrel of bricks and the pulley", but our favorite myth-busting re-enactors took the retelling one step further, producing this video of it in exacting detail. Just perfect...and fun, too! (Thanks, David K2DBK)

That big green stripe on the left? It's us! Browse the VHF and UHF spectrum with the new FCC "Spectrum Dashboard" described in the Technical section below.

While you're still laughing about that "barl" going up and down, browse on over to this video on ladder safety. We all think we know everything but ask any emergency room doctor for the real story about the effects of ladders on their workload, particularly during holiday decorating season. (Thanks, Larry W1DYJ)

As the maladaptations of "A Night Before Christmas" raise their yearly clatter, I can't resist mentioning this interesting multimedia version by Gary KN4AQ featuring loads of classic radio images to accompany the audio text. (Thanks, Tim K3LR)

And if jolly old St Hiram doesn't bring you that big tower, you can commiserate with KT8K's (a.k.a. the Mandolin Maniac) musical expression of that vertical angst. (Thanks, Garry NI6T and Mitch DJØQN)


How many XE stations were active for the recent ARRL 10 Meter contest featuring XE state multipliers? Ramon XE1KK reports after receiving log information from more than 30 stations, "The results are surprisingly good: nearly 100 XEs and 26 of 32 Mexican States were on the can see the preliminary report and we will prepare a detailed report that may take longer to generate and will be used to promote participation." Ramon also reports that, "it was a big "fiesta" down here and even the stations that made a few contacts are reporting their numbers enthusiastically. A good beginning!"

The 2010 Washington Salmon Run results, scores, and awards are now online - find first-place fish finishers! (Thanks, Jim K7WA for the Salmon Run Committee)


"There is a 100% chance they will never call me if I don't keep calling CQ." (Thanks, Andy N2NT)


Don K4ZA's new ARRL book on towers is just the thing to read BEFORE you start that big antenna project!

What to do with that gift certificate you got for a present? Globe-trotting tower pro Don K4ZA has a brand-new ARRL book on Antenna Towers for Radio Amateurs. You'll find this great reading in preparation for the upcoming antenna and tower work you're planning.

In the "Oops, my oscilloscope got lost in my pocket" department, George K5TR points us at this pint-sized DSO Nano digital storage scope. While you're marveling at that achievement, consider the $16 pocket spectrum analyzer that adapts the IM-Me consumer gadget to span frequency ranges of 281 - 361, 378 - 481, and 749 - 962 MHz covering ISM, LMR, television, amateur bands, pagers, and mobile phones. (Thanks, Brian N9ADG)

Here's a neat on-line wire-size calculator - I like the table of lowest frequencies for 100% penetration of the copper.

Crank-up towers weigh a lot! How do you move them around after the truck drops it off in your driveway? Bill W2CQ rented a drywall dolly from a home improvement store for a small fee. He used a couple of sheets of plywood to act as a rolling surface across the yard and small automobile jacks to lift the tower on and off the cart. Simple, no?

Array Solutions announces a new W3NQN-designed high-performance broadcast-band filter that is rated for use in-line with your transceiver output. This filter features a very steep roll off starting at 1.8 MHz, 50 to 80 dB of stop-band loss from 0.5 to 1.65 MHz, and has a 150- W ICAS Power rating with only 0.5 dB insertion loss at 1.8 MHz, dropping to 0.1 dB at higher frequencies.

I've referred readers to the incredibly useful RF Cafe web site in the past - now site author Kirt KB3UON returned the favor in pointing the readership to QST and other ARRL publications. Wired magazine also got into the act with this "How To Become a Ham Radio Operator" article. (Thanks, Joel N1BKE and Tom K1KI)

The boom of my homemade VHF/UHF HDTV antenna is a fiberglass "snow stick" used to mark the edges of things buried in snow. See Kent WA5VJB's "Cheap Yagis" web site for construction details - it works great, supported on a threaded plastic sprinkler pipe and a cast-iron floor flange! (Photo by NØAX)

Why does recharging slowly kill off batteries? As described by this Science magazine article, it turns out that the nanostructures inside the batteries are distorted by the reversed chemical process, eventually leading to a more disordered state that provides less capacity.

'Tis the season for snow sticks intended for use outside to mark driveways and ditches buried beneath winter's blanket. These are often fiberglass and nearly always a rugged and inert plastic - good for all sorts of antenna building projects. Take advantage of a consumer-priced volume item at your local hardware emporium!

Technical Web Site of the Week - The FCC recently released its most recent version of the "Spectrum Dashboard" which allows you to browse and zoom in on all allocated spectrum from 225 MHz to 3700 MHz with a graphical tool. (From the December issue of "Cheese Bits" Mt Airy "Packrats" VHF Radio Club)


Endpieces Interwoven

It's customary to gallivant through the fields and valleys of holiday homily in a year-ending editorial, but I'll moderate the tristful entreaties with a little fun, sprinkling busticated brumal bromides betwixt verses of "Code For the Holidays", another of the seemingly inexhaustable Dr Beldar's transmogrifications.

This one is for my mom, it being based on one of her favorites, the 1954 Perry Como hit "Home For the Holidays" when I was just a muffin in the oven...

Also from December of 1954, this QST cover features aeronautical mobile, satellite operation, and possibly moonbounce on a polar path! Have a great holiday and see you in 2011 - 73, Ward NØAX

Oh, there's no mode like code for the holidays,
'Cause no matter how QRS you go,
When you pine for the rhythm of a friendly fist
For the holidays, you can't beat old Morse code.

I worked a gal who lives in Tennessee,
She was callin' for
Pennsylvania, so we ragchewed for a while.
From Pennsylvania, hams are beamin'
South to work those W4's,
From Atlantic to Pacific,
Gee, the QRM's terrific.

Even if the QRM is terrific, take an extra ten-count before firing off that email or pressing the microphone button. Be not a provoker or too easily provoked. Caution takes but an instant, while regret can last a lifetime.

Oh, there's no mode like code for the holidays,
'Cause no matter how QRS you go,
When you pine for the rhythm of a friendly fist
For the holidays, you can't beat old Morse code.

With your keyer solid-state
Or that brass J-38
Even mobile while you're driving in the car
For the pleasure that you bring
When you make those earphones ring
No contact is too far

Rarely is the hyperbole so easily ladled out as tasty to eat as it smells during the cooking. Benefit of the doubt is often oil upon the waters and something we are all deserve at times. Be free with understanding and miserly with invective.

I worked a gal who lives in Tennessee,
She was callin' for
Pennsylvania, so we ragchewed for a while.
From Pennsylvania, hams are beamin'
South to work those W4's,
From Atlantic to Pacific,
Gee, the QRM's terrific.

And last, but not least, follow the old Native American advice of walking a mile in the other person's moccasins. Empathy is a marvelous thing, often wished for after the fact. When the sun comes up tomorrow, most of us are still going to be here on this earthly ball, whirling around our annual track, so we might as well make the effort to share the place a little better.

Oh, there's no mode like code for the holidays,
'Cause no matter how QRS you go,
When you pine for the rhythm of a friendly fist
For the holidays, you can't beat old Morse code.
For the holidays, you can't beat old Morse code.

Have a great holiday season and don't forget to have fun with the rest of your ham radio family!

73, Ward NØAX


22 Dec 2010 through 4 Jan 2011

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.


ARRL Straight-Key Night--CW, from Jan 1, 0000Z to Jan 1, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50+. Exchange: General QSO information. Logs due: Jan 31. Rules

Kid's Day--Phone, from Jan 2, 1800Z to Jan 2, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: Name, age, location, favorite color. Rules

SKCC Straight Key Sprint--CW, from Dec 22, 0000Z to Dec 22, 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

RAEM Contest--CW, from Dec 26, 0000Z to Dec 26, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: Serial and lat/long in degrees. Logs due: Jan 25. Rules

070 Club QRP DX Scramble--Digital, from Dec 26, 0000Z to Dec 26, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 14. Exchange: Call sign, first name, WR 100 entity. Logs due: Jan 28. Rules

DARC Christmas Contest--Phone,CW, from Dec 26, 0830Z to Dec 26, 1059Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-7. Exchange: RS(T) and DOK or special station code. Logs due: 3 weeks. Rules

South Dakota QSO Party--Phone,CW, from Dec 31, 1700Z to Dec 31, 12 Mid. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS(T) and SD county or S/P/C. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

New Years Snowball Contest--Phone,CW, from Jan 1, 0000Z to Jan 1, 0100Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5. Exchange: RST, serial, AGB number. Logs due: 3 weeks. Rules

SARTG New Year RTTY Contest--Digital, from Jan 1, 0800Z to Jan 1, 1100Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-7. Exchange: RST, serial, Happy New Year in your language. Logs due: Jan 31. Rules

AGCW Happy New Year Contest--CW, from Jan 1, 0900Z to Jan 1, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Exchange: RST, serial, AGCW number. Logs due: Jan 31. Rules

Original QRP Contest--CW, from Jan 1, 1500Z to Jan 2, 1500Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Exchange: RST, serial, and category. Logs due: Jan 31. Rules

EUCW 160 Meter Contest--CW, from Jan 1, 2000Z to Jan 1, 2300Z and Jan 3, 0400Z to Jan 4, 0700Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8. Frequencies: Multiple operating periods. Exchange: RST, serial, club name, member nr or "NR". Logs due: Feb 15. Rules

ARS Spartan Sprint--CW, from Jan 4, 0200Z to Jan 4, 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


ARRL Straight-Key Night--CW, from Jan 1, 0000Z to Jan 1, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50+. Exchange: General QSO information. Logs due: Jan 31. Rules

SKCC Straight Key Sprint--CW, from Dec 22, 0000Z to Dec 22, 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


22 Dec 2010 through 4 Jan 2011

December 22, 2010 - ARRL Rookie Roundup, CW
December 25, 2010 - MDXA PSK DeathMatch
December 26, 2010 - Run for the Bacon QRP Contest
December 31, 2010 - Kentucky QSO Party
December 31, 2010 - JIDX Phone Contest
December 31, 2010 - PRO CW Contest
December 31, 2010 - All Austrian 160-Meter Contest
December 31, 2010 - TOPS Activity Contest
January 1, 2011 - Feld Hell Sprint
January 1, 2011 - TARA RTTY Melee
January 2, 2011 - ARCI Topband Sprint
January 4, 2011 - ARRL 160-Meter Contest

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