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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
April 13, 2011
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX


If you've been licensed for three years or less (or you know someone like that) then give the ARRL's Rookie Roundup a try on April 17th. It's a contest in which the Rookies (that's you) are sought after by the experienced stations instead of vice versa! This is the Phone version - there will be an RTTY and a CW version later in the year! Try web-based logging at In The Log. Stay tuned to the ARRL Rookie Roundup page for more information about on-line logging and certificates.


There are no bulletins in this issue.


Your editor managed to avoid bedaubing the previous issue with any errors of confabulant scuttlebutt.


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

April 16-17

  • ARRL Rookie Roundup--Phone
  • NAQCC Monthly QRP Sprint--CW (Apr 13)
  • CWops Monthly Mini-CWT Test (Apr 13)
  • Holyland DX Contest (Apr 15)
  • TARA Skirmish Dig Pfx Contest
  • Lighthouse Spring Lites QSO Party
  • ES Open HF Championship
  • All America Contest--CW
  • EU Spring Sprints--Phone
  • Feld-Hell QRP Sprint
  • Michigan QSO Party
  • EA QRP Contest--CW
  • Ontario QSO Party
  • YU DX Contest--CW

April 23-24

  • VHF Spring Sprints - 222 MHz (Apr 19)
  • Ten-Ten Spring Digital Contest
  • SP DX RTTY Contest
  • Helvetia Contest
  • QRP To The Field--CW
  • South Dakota QSO Party

Tim K3LR wants to be sure everyone knows that Contest University includes a new Youth CTU ("YCTU") track this year as part of the Dayton 2011 CTU experience. YCTU is specifically aimed at Amateur Radio operators that have an interest in contesting and who are 25 years old and younger. YCTU is led by Scott, W3TX - there is a separate classroom for all-day YCTU activities. If you are attending CTU, you are encouraged to consider bringing a young licensed Amateur Radio operator with you to CTU, family or friends. Full scholarships have been sponsored for YCTU attendees, so there are no YCTU fees for those (under 25 years old) who preregister from the CTU website. Please consider bringing someone "young" to YCTU and submit their scholarship request ASAP. CTU 2011 will be held outside the US, too - June 25 in Germany; July 16/17 in Brazil; and Oct 8 in England. CTU also has its own Facebook page and Tim also wants to be sure we all know the Contest Super Suite will be active all four nights, as well as the 19th Annual Contest Dinner on Saturday.

Considering the success of the weekly NS Ladder series of sprint contests, here's another "low-impact" contest that could spark some ideas to attract new contesters on VHF. The Oregon Tualatin Valley ARC (OTVARC) sponsors a "Fifth Wednesday" simplex contest on 147.54 MHz for an hour from 8-9 PM. (Thanks, Don W7WLL)

Is your summer bookshelf fully stocked yet? If your tastes include the seasonings of math, these three titles may tickle your thinker.

Being a complete science geek, your editor enjoys reading books about various math topics and my recent word wanderings took me to three very enjoyable titles:
Hidden Harmonies: The Lives and Times of the Pythagorean Theorem by Robert and Ellen Kaplan
Here's Looking at Euclid by Alex Bellos
Figuring It Out - Nuno Crato
The latter two tackle topics of various sorts from geometry to the interesting behavior of numbers without getting too deeply tangled in minutia or jargon. The first takes a more focused look at what is probably the most famous theorem in mathematics and possibly the oldest. Leavened with lively bits of writing, the book covers the history of the theorem and the many highways and byways that intersect in its domain - some quite surprising. If you've a sweet tooth for math candy, these three will make good summer reading.

My favorite ham radio celebration - WARD - the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), and its member societies representing over 150 countries around the world, will celebrate World Amateur Radio Day on April 18. The theme for this year's celebration is "Amateur Radio: The first technology-based social network." Make sure you get the word out - reminding readers that long before the Internet and smart phones, hams were talking, texting and sharing for decades without pre-established supporting infrastructure. Look for special events and call signs to be active with attractive QSLs and certificates.

Alex VE3NEA has released CW Skimmer, version 1.7. This version is designed to work on Windows 7 in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. The update is free for registered users and all others have a new 30-day trial period. (Thanks, Pete N4ZR)

More Dayton Hamvention radiosport news from Shelby K4WW - "A History Of RTTY Contesting" by Mike K4GMH will run from 12-1 PM on Saturday, May 21, in Room 3. Beginning with the first contest in 1953, Mike's talk will help explain how and why many of today's contest rules came about. In addition, Mike will interject first-hand descriptions of what it was like participating in an early-1970's RTTY contest compared to today's RTTY contesting during the presentation.

In the "Friends Like These" category from ARRL Propagation Bulletin ARLP014, Danny K7SS of Seattle notes that just before the recent improved propagation conditions his antenna blew down in a windstorm. Now some of his more superstitious ham friends are begging him not to put it back up.

CQ/X uses online mapping tools to create useful mobile and rover logging features. Now if it could just steer!

A new version of Chuck NO5W's cool mobile contesting software CQ/X is now available. The most interesting feature creates a county line crossing file used for real-time updates of the distance and time to the next county. CQ/X allows you to draw your planned route on a Google Map and submit it to CQ/X for analysis. CQ/X then determines your county line crossings and in addition creates a "drive path" that is then used during real-time operation to calculate distances and times to the next county and to specified waypoints on the basis of planned driving route.

From Eugene UAØCA, "I wish to inform all of pleasant news - Russia has joined CEPT. Now foreign hams who have a radio amateur license and come to Russia will be able to operate without notice, using their call sign with a slash adding the call area of Russia. For example, RAØ/JA8BMK."

Mitch DJØQN reports sad news - "The DARC e.V. has learned of the death of the Chairman of the DX and HF Contesting Committee of the DARC, Dr. Lothar Wilke, DL3TD, who was 58 years old. OM Lothar died in a house fire during the night of Thursday, April 7, 2011. His wife Christiane and some neighbors have been hospitalized for smoke inhalation. OM Lothar was instrumental in integrating the RSV (German Democratic Republic) with the DARC (Federal Republic of Germany) following the German reunification. An experienced contester, Lothar has been responsible for the success of DAØHQ, as well as many other activities. With Lothar, the DARC has lost not only a key member of the DX and HF Contesting Committee, but a fine person and radio amateur. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his wife Christiane and family from the DARC Executive Committee and all members."

Web Site of the Week - Bell Labs was the birthplace of many technologies and scientific discoveries that virtually define our understanding of the modern world and The Bell System Technical Journal (BSTJ) was the record of those achievements. Not only that, but it included reprints of other important papers and reports, too. That's why it's great news to see in the IEEE's Antennas and Propagation Magazine "AP-S Turnstile" column by Rajeev Bansal that the entire archives of the BSTJ were placed online by Alcatel-Lucent - from the technical community, thank you!


Sale Time - As we move into the warmer months, don't forget to take advantage of spring sales on camping and fishing equipment that serve double duty in the ham shack! Tackle boxes, fishing line, tools, poles - the list goes on and on. Take advantage of the high-volume consumer market to score some deals - and then you can spend the savings on real radio stuff!


While wireless may not be the first thing one thinks of when considering artistic subject matter, Art Weinerman finds plenty. Check out his Fyrbotlz website for some vintage radio art, & other interesting old time stuff. (Thanks, Don K4ZA)

"Windy" was the nickname of Loren Windom, for whom the famous antenna is named. I guess it's appropriate that the graphic of his QSL card is off-center? (Thanks, Dan K7SS)

Dave NN1N forwarded a link to this compilation of great photos from the ISS including a picture of Juan de Nova (FR/J) with an erupting volcano. While you're online, register your QTH at Heavens Above so you can wave as the ISS goes by overhead!

This release by Radiosport Films (WW2DX and W2RE) is a fun take on their CQ WW mission! Fun and fast-paced with some great helicopter shots, recommended by Dave KM3T.

Standing Waves! Fire! Excellent! This Ruben's Tube (not Rubik's Cube) video has just about everything! (Thanks, Rick WØPC)


Results for the 2010 ARRL Phone Sweepstakes by Steve N2IC are online for your reading pleasure. Steve's usual insightful comments and "horse race" features are always fun. Similarly, you'll find the 2010 EME Results by Jeremy W7EME a click away. Next up will be the ARRL 160 Meter results by Gary K9AY.

The Sweepstakes results didn't get released without a little excitement, however, as recounted by ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Sean KX9X. "After the initial release of the 2010 November Sweepstakes club scores, it was brought to our attention that some stations claimed club affiliation even though they were operating outside of their club's circle. This was confirmed with a re-examination of the Club data. As a result, we re-compiled the Club Competition table and the order of finish in the Medium and Local Club categories in the 2010 November Sweepstakes has changed. Remember: ARRL Club Competition rules prohibit claiming club affiliation when operating outside of your club's circle, with the exception of offshore DXpeditions in the ARRL DX Contest in Medium and Unlimited Club categories. While the ARRL accepts responsibility for the error and regrets it, please do not claim Club affiliation if you are operating outside your club's circle."

Here's your editor trying to have his way with 15 meters at K3LR in this winter's ARRL DX CW contest. (Photo by band partner, K1DG)

The full results of the 2010 CQ WPX CW Contest are now available on the CQ WPX web site. Go to the Results tab to view PDF files of the writeup and scores from CQ Magazine. Also available is an Excel file with full breakdown of all club scores. All submitted logs (except CHECKLOGS) have been made public, too. Now is the time to start looking over the records for your area and setting a goal for the 2011 CW contest on May 28-29. (Thanks, CQ WPX Director, Randy K5ZD)

As long as we're on the subject of WPX results, how about this pair of WPX SSB Claimed Scores:
DR1A - 11969 QSOs & 1923 prefixes for 65,735,832 points
Non-USA M/2 HP
5D5A(@CN3A) - 10498 QSOs &1713 prefixes for 67,492,200 points
Wow! That's a lot of calls, points, prefixes, and ratt'lin. (Thanks, John K1AR)

Ron WD4AHZ reports that he has just finished and posted the 2010 FQP results on the Florida QSO Party web site. This year's contest is just weeks away!


Operating ethics apply to DXing and contests much the same. To that end, here are a couple of online resources. The Utah DX Association has published the "New DXers Manual" by Bryce K7UA. Another useful "handbook" is "Ethics and Procedures for the Radio Amateur (3rd edition)" which is sponsored by the IARU and written by ON4UN and ON4WW. Both might remind even grizzled veterans of certain rules of the radio road. And don't forget the ARRL's contribution, "HF Operating Guidelines". (Thanks, Jim K7WA and Rob KD7H)


Although "hot switching" is usually a bad thing, RF switching relay contacts that are intermittent on receive can sometimes be temporarily restored that way. Tim K3LR suggests, "set (output power) at about 20 watts. Hot switch your relay box several times while transmitting a CW carrier. The small arcing that occurs while doing this "hot" switching - along with the wipe from the relay contact construction closure may clean the contacts well enough that the problem will subside during receive." You'll probably still have to manually clean or replace the relay but this procedure may provide temporary relief.

Dennis N6KI found this excellent writeup with photos by KB5WIA on repairing and maintaining the Yaesu ATAS-120A motorized screwdriver antenna.

Every enthusiast needs an "Awesome Button" and this video shows how to use an Arduino microprocessor to create one! I'll bet that with a little coding, you could turn this into a voice keyer for contesting - maybe it could say, "What's your call?" or come up with other ways to ask for a repeat of exchange info!

Here's the source of that big South Florida signal from George K5KG on Siesta Key. A salt water canal is one incautious step behind the photographer! (Photo by NØAX)

Wow - here's a new technology that might catch on. "Regional Broadcast Using an Atmospheric Link Layer" was described in the April 1st compilation of articles by Slashdot and has an Internet RFC standard and everything! I wonder if this is patented!

An interesting new VHF/UHF turnstile antenna design was published in the October 2010 issue of the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Magazine. (Vol 52, No 5) by Radnović, Nešić, and Milovanović. The design takes care of the phasing requirements by detuning the elements from resonance - no quarter-wave feed lines are required, simplifying construction. An L-C lattice balun is used at the feed point.

Here's a simple Excel spreadsheet that illustrates the principles of intermod prediction by predicting intermod between up to five frequencies and two broadcast carriers. It is also unprotected with all the formulas visible, so you can see how to expand it to consider more channels or improve it. (Thanks, Jim K9YC)

If you are concerned about abrasion of cables on a tower leg or rung, look for a product called Spiral Wrap which is normally used to tidy up cabling. Spiral wrap is perhaps a sixteenth of an inch thick plastic and can be wrapped around the offending material or the feed line to be protected then secured with electrical tape. (Thanks, Doug EI2CN)

Technical Web Site of the Week - If you are a fan of utility programs, you'll be glad to know that Dan AC6LA has been busy lately! His TLDetails transmission line utility program has been modified to include the effects of dc resistance and internal inductance, added two new plot functions, and several dozen new line types have been added. The Zplots Excel utility calculates and plot various attributes of transmission lines from antenna analyzer or vector network analyzer data. There are two small workbooks showing various formulas that are used when dealing with transmission lines and a workbook to aid in the design of a typical two-element phased array loosely based on the 'Arrayfeed1' app by W7EL.


Turn On, Tune Up, Tune In

You may remember the call sign W5ZN - perhaps as a past-President of the ARRL? Joel has moved on to bigger and better things - he's the new Contest Manager for ARRL VHF+ contests! As an ARRL Contest Manager, Joel will be promoting and helping to guide the ARRL VHF+ contest program - and operating in them, too. Joel is building a bigger and better station for all bands, now that he has more time for getting on the air. Let's see what he has to say!

73, Ward NØAX

As the low band and DX contesting season comes to a close many begin to focus on VHF+ activity with the birth of a new sporadic E and tropo season, and thoughts of the summer VHF+ contests avail.

While various VHF+ contests, sprints and operating activities occur throughout the year, the most anticipated of all is the ARRL June VHF QSO Party, scheduled each year to take advantage of the peak sporadic E season. There is nothing more exciting than to be constantly calling CQ on a band and have it instantly burst wide open with activity. Just last year the 2 meter band, open only to local contacts within a 300 mile radius, burst wide open on paths from Texas to New England. When "double hop" sporadic E occurs on 50 MHz stations on the East Coast easily work West Coast stations and those in the "middle" enjoy paths to both.

ARRL VHF+ Contest Manager Joel W5ZN (L) passes multipliers between bands in his capable HF/VHF/UHF station as Dave NN1N minds the pileup on 6 meters during the June VHF QSO Party last year. (Photo from W5ZN)

As Solar Cycle 24 begins its incline, DX contacts on 50 MHz during the contest will increase. Each June a few are made into the South and Midwest, however, given the propagation enhancement on 10 meters recently resulting from increased sunspot activity I expect an increase in DX contacts this spring and summer.

50 MHz has become increasingly popular over the past few years thanks primarily to the availability of 6 meters on just about all HF radios and the small size and lower antenna height requirements. n addition, columns in QST and The National Contest Journal focus on 6 meters, thus raising awareness of what that band can produce.

As with all contests, a variety of categories exist to accommodate various VHF+ operating styles. One popular contest category is Rover. Its popularity is driven by two factors; the small size of VHF+ antennas with gain that can be applied to a mobile installation and the use of Maidenhead Grids as multipliers in VHF+ contests. This category provides a unique appeal to those that live in antenna-restricted neighborhoods in that a multiband station can be installed in a vehicle, providing operation from a variety of grids. You can become VERY popular from a rare grid multiplier!

The usual fixed-station categories are also available for single and multi-op entries. The competition is not only fierce but quite exciting among entrants. If you want to join in the excitement from this angle, review past contest results to see who the multi-ops are and contact them to see if any operator slots are available. Stations will be active on all bands from 50 MHz all the way up to light!

Want to learn more about VHF+ Contesting? Contest University in Dayton provides two sessions on the topic covering everything from beginner to advanced strategy. You can also review a very detailed and informative paper on VHF+ contests written by Kevin, W9GKA.

The Spring VHF Sprints are about to begin, so tweak up the station and get ready for the ARRL June and September VHF Contests and the CQ July VHF Contest!

73, Joel W5ZN


13 April through 26 April

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 Rookie Roundup--Phone, from Apr 17, 1800Z to Apr 17, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50. Exchange: Both calls, name, check, S/P XE# or "DX". Rules

NAQCC Monthly QRP Sprint--CW, from Apr 13, 0030Z to Apr 13, 0230Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Frequencies: Monthly on 2nd Tuesday or 3rd Wednesday (alternating). Exchange: RST, S/P/C, and NAQCC mbr nr or power. Logs due: 4 days. Rules

CWops Monthly Mini-CWT Test--CW, from Apr 13, 1300Z - Multiple operating periods. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Twice monthly on 2nd and 4th Wed, 18 to 28 kHz above band edge. Exchange: Name, member number or S/P/C. Logs due: 2 days. Rules

Holyland DX Contest--Phone, CW, Digital, from Apr 15, 2100Z to Apr 16, 2100Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS(T), serial or Israel district. Logs due: May 31. Rules

TARA Skirmish Dig Pfx Contest-- Digital, from Apr 16, 0000Z to Apr 16, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: Name, prefix. Logs due: May 17. Rules

Lighthouse Spring Lites QSO Party--Phone, CW, Digital, from Apr 16, 0001Z to Apr 24, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: ARLHS number or serial, name, S/P/C. Logs due: 12 days. Rules

ES Open HF Championship--Phone, CW, from Apr 16, 0500Z to Apr 16, 0859Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5,7. Exchange: RS(T), serial, dupes OK once/hour. Logs due: May 20. Rules

CQ MM Contest--CW, from Apr 16, 1200Z to Apr 17, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST, continent, and category. Logs due: Jun 30. Rules

EU Spring Sprints--Phone, from Apr 16, 1600Z to Apr 16, 1959Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Frequencies: 3.730, 7.050, 14.250. Exchange: Both call signs, serial, name. Logs due: 15 days. Rules

Feld-Hell QRP Sprint-- Digital, from Apr 16, 1600Z to Apr 16, 1800Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Frequencies: Monthly on 3rd Saturday. Exchange: RST, QTH, Feld-Hell number. Rules

Michigan QSO Party--Phone, CW, from Apr 16, 1600Z to Apr 17, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Frequencies: CW 45 kHz from band edge, Phone 3.825, 7.200, 14.250, 21.300, 28.450. Exchange: Serial and MI county or S/P/C. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

EA QRP Contest--CW, from Apr 16, 1700Z to Apr 17, 1300Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST, category, M if EA QRP member. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

Ontario QSO Party--Phone, CW, from Apr 16, 1800Z to Apr 17, 0500Z and Apr 18, 1200Z to Apr 18, 1800Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50,144, Frequencies: Multiple operating periods; CW 30 kHz above band edge; Phone 1.870, 3.735, 3.860, 7.070, 7.260, 14.130, 14.265, 21.260, 28.360; VHF-SSB: 50.130, 52.540, 144.205, 146.550. Exchange: RS(T), S/P/C or Ontario QTH. Logs due: May 19. Rules

YU DX Contest--CW, from Apr 16, 2100Z to Apr 17, 0500Z and Apr 18, 0900Z to Apr 18, 2100Z - Multiple operating periods. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST and ITU zone. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

Ten-Ten Spring Digital Contest-- Digital, from Apr 23, 0001Z to Apr 24, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 28. Exchange: Call, name, county & S/P/C, 10-10 number. Logs due: 15 days. Rules

SP DX RTTY Contest-- Digital, from Apr 23, 1200Z to Apr 24, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST, serial, SP province. Logs due: May 24. Rules

Helvetia Contest--Phone, CW, Digital, from Apr 23, 1300Z to Apr 24, 1259Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS(T), serial or Swiss canton. Logs due: 15 days. Rules

QRP To The Field--CW, from Apr 23, 1500Z to Apr 24, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 7-28. Exchange: RST, S/P/C. Logs due: Jun 1. Rules

South Dakota QSO Party--Phone, CW, Digital, from Apr 23, 1700Z to Apr 24, 1700Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Frequencies: CW - 3.58, 7.035, 14.07; Phone - 1.845, 3.855, 7.180, 14.255, 21.355, 28.455 on SSB; RTTY - 3.585, 7.038, 14.075, 21.075; PSK - Clg Freq. Exchange: RS(T) and SD county or S/P/C. Logs due: Jun 1. Rules


VHF Spring Sprints--Phone, CW, Digital, from Apr 19, 7 PM to Apr 19, 11 PM. Bands (MHz): 222. Exchange: Grid Square (6-character preferred). Logs due: 14 days. Rules

ARRL Rookie Roundup--Phone, from Apr 17, 1800Z to Apr 17, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50. Exchange: Both calls, name, check, S/P XE# or "DX". Rules

TARA Skirmish Dig Pfx Contest-- Digital, from Apr 16, 0000Z to Apr 16, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: Name, prefix. Logs due: May 17. Rules

Ontario QSO Party--Phone, CW, from Apr 16, 1800Z to Apr 17, 0500Z and Apr 18, 1200Z to Apr 18, 1800Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50,144, Frequencies: Multiple operating periods; CW 30 kHz above band edge; Phone 1.870, 3.735, 3.860, 7.070, 7.260, 14.130, 14.265, 21.260, 28.360; VHF-SSB: 50.130, 52.540, 144.205, 146.550. Exchange: RS(T), S/P/C or Ontario QTH. Logs due: May 19. Rules


13 April through 26 April

April 13 - RSGB Commonwealth Contest

April 15 - Classic Exchange

April 15 - Virginia QSO Party

April 15 - SKCC Weekend Sprint

April 15 - CLARA HF Contest

April 15 - Elecraft QSO Party

April 16 - SOC Hank Kohl Memorial CW Bash

April 17 - Montana QSO Party

April 17 - ARCI Spring QSO Party

April 17 - UBA Spring Contest, 2m

April 19 - RSGB RoPoCo SSB

April 20 - Wisconsin QSO Party

April 22 - SARL 80m QSO Party

April 23 - EA RTTY Contest

April 24 - EU Spring Sprint, CW

April 25 - CQ WW WPX Contest, SSB

April 25 - Hungarian Straight Key Contest

April 26 - QRP Homebrewer Sprint

April 26 - 144 MHz Spring Sprint

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