ARRL

Contest Update Issues

Preview
The ARRL Contest Update
April 27, 2011
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
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IN THIS ISSUE

NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

It's time to see if those sunspots are up to snuff - give the Ten-Ten International Spring CW Contest a try. This is open to Technician class licenses and most CW speeds are lower than in the Big Ones. While you're at it, pick up some of the rarer New England states in their regional QSO party.

BULLETINS

There are no bulletins in this issue.

BUSTED QSOS

As entertaining as K5KG may be, his QTH is Siesta Key, not Fiesta! Ted, NH6YK observes that the cloud over Juan de Nova referred to last time is not likely volcanic - and he should know, living in Volcano, Hawaii. And Kazu JK3GAD/MØCFW points out that the example call sign of a Japanese ham operating in Russia under the new CEPT agreement is incorrect as Japan is not a CEPT member. Nice to hear from these sharp-eyed readers.

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

30 April - 1 May

  • VHF Spring Sprints--432 MHz
  • 2 GHz and Up World Wide Contest
  • Worldwide EME Contest--5.7 GHz
  • Nebraska QSO Party
  • Florida QSO Party
  • BARTG 75 Sprint
  • ARS Spartan Sprint--CW (May 3)

May 7-8

  • SNS and NS Weekly Sprints--CW (May 6)
  • Microwave Spring Sprint--902+ MHz
  • Worldwide EME Contest--2.3 GHz
  • Ten-Ten Spring CW Contest,
  • 7th Area QSO Party
  • Indiana QSO Party
  • Radio Club of America QSO Party--Phone
  • ARI International DX Contest
  • New England QSO Party
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

The 16th VHF Weak Signal Group banquet will be held on Friday, May 20th, at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Dayton. The speaker will be Dana Whitlow K8YUM, presenting "Noise at Arecibo- it's not just the Coqui". For more information contact Tony WA8RJF directly. If you're still trying to decide whether to go to the Dayton Hamvention, Ken K4ZW reports that Tim K3LR will provide an overview of the myriad of contest related activities planned in an upcoming free PVRC webinar on May 2. QRP operators can attend the Four Days In May event, as well, with special programs and streaming video of the Thursday build-along exercise.

This is the new XG3 signal source from Elecraft - a handy programmable reference for the bench and field. (Photo courtesy of Elecraft)

Researchers at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia have created sheets of graphene (a planar array of carbon atoms) ten times stronger than steel (under tension, presumably). It only a matter of time until there are golf clubs made from this new material - can tower sections be far behind?

Elecraft has announced the XG3, a miniature, programmable, 160-2 meter (and higher) synthesized RF signal source that generates RF with highly accurate levels of -107 dBm (1 uV), -73 dBm (50 uV or S9), -33 dBm (S9+40), and 0 dBm. Built into a T1-sized enclosure, the XG3 runs on an internal 9-V battery or from an external power supply. (Thanks, Wayne N6KR and Eric WA6HHQ)

The Boring ARC has decided to "sponsor" a summer Stew Perry Top Band Distance Challenge (TBDC) event. This is a great time to get some activity on the band and take advantage of the good propagation to the southern hemisphere. The date will be June 18th and 19th with the same 1500 UTC start and stop times. Scores will be compiled in a similar way to the existing PreStew "warmup" in October. Look for rules and scoring procedures on the Stew Perry TBDC web site. (Thanks, Brian N9ADG)

Technical papers are being solicited for presentation at the 30th Annual ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference to be held September 16-18, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. Please send papers by email or in print to Maty Weinberg at the ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111.

Ready for duty, Dennis K7BV (L) has rebounded from recent medical issues and was busily telling Tom K5RC (R) about his plans for a 6 meter grid-pedition - amazing! (Photo by N6TV)

If new home construction is using a metalized insulation board it may be a hindrance in that it keeps WiFi and other wireless signals from making it outside. It might also be a boon to hams in providing a modicum of shielding to obnoxious radiated emissions from appliances and computer gear. It won't do anything about conducted emissions but it could also help keep our signals out of audio gear and the like. As an added bonus it keeps the aliens from reading your thoughts!

Dr Megacycle, aka Jim KK6MC, provided some resources for and studies of learning the code - a most important skill for the successful radiosport practitioner. He refers us to the Koch Method which is summarized in a chapter of the ebook "The Skill of Radio-Telegraphy". There is an online trainer with exercises for improving one's skill even if experienced with CW.

As long as we are on the subject of copying CW, Rich KL7RA notes that a recent biography of Johnny Cash mentions the singer as having been a CW circuit operator for the U.S. Air Force during the 1950's with a top speed of about 45 WPM. Rich goes on to wonder why a guy would give up copying code for $125 per month for a musical career worth "$1 million billion...seems odd you would give up a cool CW job...but to each his own."

The rules for the 2011 CQ WW VHF Contest, July 16 - 17, have been posted on the CQ VHF Contest website. If you missed the results for the 2010 contest in the February issue of CQ, the write-up, scores, and expanded results are also on-line there alongside records updated by Curt, K9AKS. (Thanks, CQ WW VHF Contest Director, John W1XX)

Kirk NTØZ has released a new book, "Stealth Amateur Radio" and expects it to be available for the Kindle ebook reader soon. Kirk also notes that moving his auto-tuner into the backyard near his antenna helped to reduce RF noise pickup and common-mode current on his feed line that was causing RFI inside. You may find that trick of use at your QTH.

Brian NJ1F wrote to let us know that the Yankee Clipper Contest Club has elected new officers and the full slate can be viewed on their web site. Similarly, Jack W6FB reported that the Northern California Contest Club has new leadership, as well. Thanks to the volunteers who make our organizations go!

If you've been wondering where the Ukrainian hams have gone, they've lost some HF frequencies lately - 10100-10150 kHz (all of the 30 meter band) and 14250-14350 kHz. They've also lost a fair amount of UHF and microwave spectrum. (Thanks, Alex UYØLL)

If you want to keep up with the latest announcements about WRTC 2014, the organizers have set up a news reader feed. (Thanks, WRTC-2014 Co-Chair, Randy K5ZD)

Fred K1VR has been busy updating his must-have for the tower building ham - more than half of the 2nd edition is new!

Web Site of the Week - Finished just in time for Dayton, the 2nd edition of "Antenna Zoning" by K1VR is mostly new. Fred claims he's learned something in the 10 years since the last edition with new approaches to CC&R problems (now a whole chapter), plus a complete application for a TV antenna that would otherwise be forbidden by homeowner association rules. There is more on justifying the need for height, presenting at a hearing, and dealing with the press. Look for the sections on drafting a local ordinance, or state statute. VE6SH added a whole new chapter on Canadian regulation, too.

WORD TO THE WISE

BIP/BOP - No, those are not the sound of water dripping off your feed lines! BIP - Both In Phase - and BOP - Both Out of Phase are the phase relationships when driving a stack of two horizontally-polarized Yagi antennas. BIP aims your signal towards the horizon while BOP creates a high-angle lobe for working short-skip or high-angle signals. BIP-BOP switching is explained in this Array Solutions application note for modifying their popular StackMatch switching system.

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SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

The recent International DX Convention in Visalia was a big hit for all as shown in these great photos in an online album by Hector XE2K and the photos elsewhere in this issue by Bob N6TV.

Sean KX9X (L) and Tim K3LR (R) headlined the well-attended Visalia Contest Forum. (Photo by N6TV)

Mark K1RX and Geoff KA1IOR visited K5ZD's station during WPX SSB and recorded some SO2R operation. There are three videos - Part 1 is a general discussion about SO2R while Parts 2 and 3 are of SO2R operating.

From the Daily DX newsletter for April 25th, we learn of Rick NE8Z's recent gift-bearing visit to Mount Athos and Monk Apollo. He created an on-line slide show and coincidentally there was a CBS' "60 Minutes" program on Mt Athos this past weekend.

EME for QRPers - not an oxymoron at all! - is discussed in this online video produced by Gary W9XT. (Thanks, Rich KZ9K)

This Wired Magazine article asked for help in identifying any of these mysterious scientific instruments. Heck, hams probably have several of each in their junk boxes! (Thanks, Jim W6EU)

RESULTS AND RECORDS

The extended version of K9AY's 160 Meter Contest writeup is in final production and should be available online later this week. The first extended writeup of 2011 - WS7I's report on the RTTY Roundup - will follow. After the April 18th SSB Rookie Roundup, scores were received from several stations without filling out the required submission form. Please remember that scores must be submitted via the online submission form to be included in the results. (Thanks, ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Sean KX9X)

In late-breaking news, the total number of CQ WPX SSB logs submitted topped 5000 for the first time ever according to CQ WPX Director Randy K5ZD.

The results of the 2010 New York QSO Party can be found at the updated NYQP website. Paul K2DB and Rick W1TY also thank the contest volunteers and webmaster Scott K2ZS for their help in producing the contest.

Bob K6XX was the winner of the coveted Maxwell Trophy this year, awarded at the Saturday night banquet of the Visalia International DX Convention. (Photo by N6TV)

Tom K1KI reports that results for the 2010 New England QSO Party have been posted online. Certificates and plaques are going in the mail shortly - predominantly to the 9th call district!

If your logging program only creates ADIF files, try the new ADIF file converter on the CQ WPX web site or use the excellent free LM software by DL8WAA. LM is also a great way to type in your paper log and convert it to Cabrillo format. (Thanks, CQ WPX Director, Randy K5ZD)

OPERATING TIP

Jim K8MR observes that when trying to correct a logged call sign or exchange, the delay can cause the other station to repeat the information and create an unnecessary series of transmissions. His suggest is to simply use the "TU QRZ" key and catch up while the computer is sending. Some logging software can be set up to send the corrected information as well so that everything is confirmed.

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TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

George VE3ERP's great package of software ham radio calculators, HAMCALC, has run into some significant issues in working with Win7 with the GWBASIC routines used by HAMCALC's many components. If you could provide guidance or assistance in this area, George is open for suggestions.

A method of increasing the efficiency of an inverted L or vertical antenna is to raise the point of maximum current well above ground as in this "Double L" antenna for 160 and 80 meters by K2LQ. The same idea could be applied to 80 and 40 meters. (Thanks, Rik van Riel)

No, it's not a walking Field Day robot antenna, but this SteppIR Dream Beam was quite an attraction at the International DX Convention! (Photo by N6TV)

Remember when oscilloscopes took two people to lift them and had to be rolled around on a cart? Well, Chris KL9A found that there's an app for that now as exemplified by this handy gizmo from Oscium. Jack Ganssle of Embedded System Design - also known as N3ALO - took a good look at the latest offering in more traditional scopes from Agilent in his column "Scoping Out the New Scopes".

Magnetic light - not as strange as it sounds - may be another intriguing technology for creating electricity from solar energy and does not require absorption. The "optical battery" uses the surprisingly strong magnetic properties of light traveling through a non-conductive material to generate current.

Jim W7RY summarized some of the issues associated with dissimilar metals being used in amateur installations. "Copper should never touch galvanized material directly without proper joint protection. Water shedding from the copper contains ions that will wash away the galvanized (zinc) tower covering. Stainless steel can be used as a buffer material. However, be aware that stainless steel is not a very good conductor. If it is used as a buffer between copper and galvanized metals, the surface area of the contact should be large and the stainless steel should be thin. Joint compound should also be used to cover the connection so water cannot bridge between the dissimilar metals. This is why you want to use tinned wire (or suitable transition material) not bare copper when connecting to a galvanized tower."

Regular US rural type mail boxes are observed to work well for protecting outdoor gadgets as they have to seal well. The few drain holes let the water out so that they will protect most anything once the door is closed. (Thanks, Mike K5WMG)

Tom KK3OQ has posted videos of homebrewed PCB fabrication, PIC chip experiments, high powered LED projects, Arduino applications, QRP kit builds, and Electronics Tourism.

More and more reports surface of "temporary" rope guys stretching or failing, leading to tower "incidents". Luckily, the reports don't mention fatalities but there have certainly been some near misses, such as to regular climbers Don K4ZA and John W2GD. Don't mess around - use steel or Phillystran guys if you or someone else is going to be on that tower. Field Day is coming and the temptation to take short cuts "just for the weekend" is strong - be safe!

Machinist's Workshop magazine tested penetrating oils for break-out torque on rusted nuts. They "scientifically rusted" nuts and bolts, treated them with various commercial penetrants and one home brew mixture, and then measured the torque required to remove them. The results?
- No penetrant - 516 pounds
- WD-40 - 238 pounds
- PB Blaster - 214 pounds
- Liquid Wrench - 127 pounds
- Kano Kroil - 106 pounds
A homebrew mix of automatic transmission fluid and acetone was also reported to have worked but that is disputed in several online discussions. (Thanks, Tim K3LR)

Technical Web Site of the Week - The theory and operation of RF amplifier tubes is by no means a dead technology as many contesters well know. There is plenty of good information about them on the web including this Eimac classic. KK5DR also has a web page full of good material about the care and feeding of these beasties. You can read all this while waiting for the filaments to warm up. (Thanks, Dave WA3GIN)

CONVERSATION

Uncle Leo to All

I got into the ham radio game a few years too late for the reign of World Radio Labs gear but my Novice QSL collection included many cards from other Novices bearing that self-confidence-building "My QTH" arrow pointing right to your station's location. (My QSLs were from the Little Print Shop.) It is now, much later, that I am learning more about what Leo Meyerson, WØGFQ who passed away last week at the age of 100, meant to so many. I pass the editorial baton to my friend Rich Strand, KL7RA, for his wistfully wry recollections of his relationship with "Uncle Leo".

73, Ward NØAX

Ham radio lost one of its finest members last week when Leo Meyerson, WØGFQ went Silent Key. At a recent gathering to help him celebrate his 100th birthday he mentioned he really didn't do that much for the hobby but as a young teenager with a new Novice license I can tell you that he did.

We called him "Uncle Leo" and he owned the magic ham radio store across the mighty Missouri river from Omaha, Nebraska [where Rich lived - Ed.] in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Every weekend I and my friends would try to make the pilgrimage to the World Radio Laboratories (WRL) just to walk the aisles of ham radio "stuff" and it was packed with "stuff". Of course all the famous WRL gear like the Globe King, Scouts and Chiefs with the Galaxy line, but also "stuff". All kinds of surplus military receivers and just about anything you could imagine as a kid but had no chance of buying ever in your life.

You may recall this video of G7VJR working K3LR with 0.1 watts on 40 meters - the two finally got to meet in person (G7VJR - left, K3LR - right) at the Visalia International DX Convention. (Photo by NØAX)

On the way out the door there was a large wooden box of crystals. All on 7173.333 kc and every Novice within three hundred miles had that frequency. It was Uncle Leo who told me not to keep the xtal's on top of the hot transmitter but to use his xtal holder case. I believe he also made xtals and I would skip lunch at school, so to speak, to have the few bucks to buy a new freq each visit. Back then a man's worth was measured in the number of rocks he had on the chief operating desk.

I bought a pair of headphones, probably WW2 B-29, and at 8 pounds with a head clamp pressure of 15 lbs per square inch just a tad uncomfortable. Uncle Leo to the rescue. I was able to find in the WRL the solution. What appeared to be toilet plunger cups were really headphone cushions that fit the B29 headset perfect. And they were cheap. No mention of the fact they caused your ears to sweat and the cups would heat weld to the side of your head and soon dispense an awful smell. They worked great.

WRL had copperweld wire. I was going to be cheap and buy the 18 gauge but finally did things right for once and bought the 12. Very heavy roll tightly wound in a surprisingly small package. Trying to get the exploded slinky of wire out of my bedroom that evening is best described by my mom. I had the world's first 80 meter dipole that was only 20 feet long counting the "coils" and even after some high Nebraska winds didn't really stretch out that much.

Uncle Leo would give a Novice a free WAS map, in color. If you can find a 1950-60's copy of Popular Electronics, look for the "Novice of the Month" column and often you would see that map on their shack wall. I hope all of you who covered Uncle Leo's picture with your QSL card have a few moments of guilt. I did.

The hams reading this from the 50-60's who knew Uncle Leo and the WRL, maybe got your first rig or built one of his transmitter kits and continued on in ham radio to be contesters, will recognize what he did for the hobby and we say, "73 Uncle Leo, BEST DX OM SK."

73, Rich KL7RA

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CONTESTS

27 April through 10 May

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

Nebraska QSO Party--Phone, CW, Digital, from Apr 30, 1100Z to May 1, 1700Z . Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50, 144. Frequencies: CW: 1.805 and 35 kHz above band edge, Nov/Tech--10 kHz above band edge; Phone--1.915, 3.865, 7.265, 14.265, 21.365, 28.465, 146.460. Exchange: RS(T), NE county or S/P/C. Logs due: May 31. Rules

Florida QSO Party--Phone, CW, from Apr 30, 1600Z to May 1, 0159Z and May 1, 1200Z to May 1, 2159Z. Bands (MHz): 7-28. Frequencies: Multiple operating periods; CW 7.025-7.035, 14.040-14.050, 21.040-21.050, 28.040-28.050; Phone 7.18-7.19, 14.265-14.275, 21.340-21.350, 28.480-28.490. Exchange: RS(T), FL county or S/P/C. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

BARTG 75 Sprint-- Digital, from Apr 30, 1700Z to Apr 30, 2100Z . Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: Serial. Logs due: Jun 1. Rules

ARS Spartan Sprint-- CW, from May 3, 0200Z to May 3, 0400Z . Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Monthly on the first Monday evening local time. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, and power. Logs due: 2 days. Rules

SNS and NS Weekly Sprints-- CW, from May 6, 0200Z to May 6, 0300Z . Bands (MHz): 1.8-14. Weekly on Thursday evenings local time. Exchange: Serial, name, and S/P/C. Logs due: 2 days. Rules

Ten-Ten Spring CW Contest-- CW, from May 7, 0001Z to May 8, 2359Z . Bands (MHz): 28. Exchange: Call sign, name, 10-10 number, state. Logs due: 15 days. Rules

7th Area QSO Party--Phone, CW, Digital, from May 7, 1300Z to May 8, 0700Z . Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50, 144. Frequencies: CW--40 kHz above band edge; SSB--1.845, 3.855, 7.235, 14.255, 21.355, 28.455. Exchange: State and county code. Logs due: Jun 5. Rules

Indiana QSO Party--Phone, CW, from May 7, 1600Z to May 8, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Frequencies: CW--1.805 and 40 kHz above the band edge on 80-10 meters, SSB--1.845, 3.820, 7.190, 14.250, 21.300, 28.400. Exchange: RS(T) + S/P or IN county, DX RS(T) only. Logs due: Jun 15. Rules

Radio Club of America QSO Party--Phone, from May 7, 1700Z to May 8, 0459Z . Bands (MHz): 3.5-21. Exchange: RS, QTH, name, equipment. Rules

ARI International DX Contest--Phone, CW, Digital, from May 7, 2000Z to May 8, 1959Z . Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS(T), serial or Italian province. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

New England QSO Party--Phone, CW, Digital, from May 7, 2000Z to May 8, 0500Z and May 8, 1300Z to May 8, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Frequencies: Multiple operating periods; CW--3.540, 7.035, 14.040, 21.040, 28.040; SSB--3.850, 7.180/280, 14.280, 21.380, 28.380. Exchange: RS(T) and S/P or New England county. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

VHF+ CONTESTS

VHF Spring Sprints--Phone, CW, Digital, from Apr 27, 7 PM to Apr 27, 11 PM . Bands (MHz): 432. Exchange: Grid Square (6-character preferred). Logs due: 14 days. Rules

2 GHz and Up World Wide Contest--Phone, CW, Digital, from Apr 30, 6 AM to May 1, 8 PM . Bands (MHz): 2.4G+. Exchange: 6-char grid locator. Logs due: 60 days. Rules

Worldwide EME Contest--Phone, CW, from Apr 30, 0000Z to May 1, 2400Z . Bands (MHz): 5.7G. Exchange: TMO/RS(T) and "R". Logs due: Jun 25. Rules

Nebraska QSO Party--Phone, CW, Digital, from Apr 30, 1100Z to May 1, 1700Z . Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50, 144. Frequencies: CW: 1.805 and 35 kHz above band edge, Nov/Tech--10 kHz above band edge; Phone--1.915, 3.865, 7.265, 14.265, 21.365, 28.465, 146.460. Exchange: RS(T), NE county or S/P/C. Logs due: May 31. Rules

Microwave Spring Sprint--Phone, CW, Digital, from May 7, 6 AM to May 7, 1 PM . Bands (MHz): 902+. Exchange: Grid Square (6-character preferred). Logs due: 14 days. Rules

Worldwide EME Contest--Phone, CW, from May 7, 0000Z to May 8, 2400Z . Bands (MHz): 2.3G. Exchange: TMO/RS(T) and "R". Logs due: Jun 25. Rules

7th Area QSO Party--Phone, CW, Digital, from May 7, 1300Z to May 8, 0700Z . Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50, 144. Frequencies: CW--40 kHz above band edge; SSB--1.845, 3.855, 7.235, 14.255, 21.355, 28.455. Exchange: State and county code. Logs due: Jun 5. Rules

LOG DUE DATES

27 April through 10 May

April 28 - RSGB 80m Club Championship, Data

April 30 - Oklahoma QSO Party

April 30 - SP DX Contest

April 30 - ARLHS Annual Spring Lites QSO Party

May 1 - BARTG HF RTTY Contest

May 1 - New Mexico QSO Party

May 1 - Feld Hell Sprint

May 1 - UBA Spring Contest, SSB

May 1 - EU Spring Sprint, SSB

May 3 - QCWA Spring QSO Party

May 3 - Missouri QSO Party

May 4 - 222 MHz Spring Sprint

May 9 - 10-10 Int. Spring Contest, Digital

May 9 - PODXS 070 Club PSK 31 Flavors Contest

May 10 - Yuri Gagarin International 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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