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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
December 7, 2011
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX


Check out those 10 meter conditions in the upcoming ARRL 10 Meter Contest. As writeup author Scott K7ZO points out in his "pre-writeup" on the contest's web page, good conditions feed on themselves with increased activity so don't miss out! The following weekend finds the second CW version of the ARRL Rookie Roundup for newcomers to ham radio - will there be a three-peat winner?


There are no bulletins in this issue.


My flying fingers miscombobulated the call sign of Midge K7AFO in the Nov 23rd issue - apologies! I hope I am not banned from the kitchen and her corn chowder...and Jim K1TN pointed out that CW, the mode, began in the 1920's while it was just the Morse, the code, that was devised in the early 1800's.

John W6BXQ reminds your editor that the 219-220 MHz allocation is limited to digital data messaging so CW is not allowed everywhere on the ham bands.


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

December 10-11

  • ARRL 10 Meter Contest
  • 28 MHz SWL Contest
  • UBA Winter Contest
  • AWA Bruce Kelly QSO Party--CW
  • NA High-Speed Meteor Scatter Contest--Digital
  • SKCC Weekend Sprintathon--CW
  • Great Colorado Snowshoe Run--CW
  • NAQCC Monthly QRP Sprint--CW (Dec 14)
  • CWops Monthly Mini-CWT Test (Dec 14)
  • Russian 160 Meter Contest (Dec 15)

December 17-18

  • ARRL Rookie Roundup--CW
  • Feld-Hell Happy Birthday Sprint
  • 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 19)

Don Rohn, leader of Rohn Towers during its growth from a small TV-tower manufacturer to an industry giant, died on Nov 21st at the age of 72. Rohn towers are by far the most common in ham radio and set the standard by which towers are judged. (Thanks, Bill K3WA)

The AS-300 surge arrestors from Array Solutions are designed to clamp surge energy with both a gas-discharge tube and an inductor so the energy stays in the feed line and doesn't make it to your gear. Read the product brochure to find out how.

Array Solutions has released some new models in the AS-300 ICE Surge Arrestor product line. The design applies a saturable inductor to help dissipate surge energy in the feed line as described in the device manual. There is a multi-arrestor version of the product for mounting on a single-point entry, as well.

The new Alpha 4040 auto-tuner by RF Concepts/Alpha Amplifier is truly a heavy-duty product, rated at 4 kW maximum over the 1.8 - 30 MHz range. The tuner uses vacuum-variable capacitors and a new multiple-contact edge-wound inductor in a Tee configuration. The front panel features an LCD screen and can even display impedances in a Smith Chart format.

Keep your prefix list up-to-date - to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the CBC/Radio Canada, Canadian amateurs may substitute the following prefixes between December 1-31, 2011:

  • VG for VA
  • VX for VE
  • XJ for VO
  • XK for VY

For example, VX3AT is really VE3AT. (Thanks, AMSAT, newsletter ANS-338)

The previous issue's Conversation regarding prompt log submissions was in reference to those submitting logs electronically. There are plenty of good reasons that logs might not be ready to send right after the contest - for example, rovers and mobile stations usually keep paper logs that must be transcribed or a station on an expedition might be far from email. The point was - if in preparing your log you are changing the information to what you think you "should" have copied, that's going too far - nothing more.

Speaking of mobiles - if you operate your mobile station in the ARRL 10 Meter Contest, you must stay within one state or province. If your travels take you beyond that boundary, you must either change your operation to use a different call sign or submit your log as a checklog.

More plaque sponsors have stepped forward for the upcoming Stew Perry contest on 160 meters:

  • Sponsor - Category
  • K7FL - Top Score 100% Search & Pounce
  • N7UA - Top Score High Power
  • N2KW - Highest rate for 1 hour w/o bust
  • K6ND - K6SE Memorial-Top Score World
  • NAØY - Top Score USA
  • F8BPN - Top Score EU- Low Power
  • EI4HQ - Perhaps you were Irish and didn't know it (Top # of calls containing sequential "EI")
  • N9ADG - Top Score Asia

(Thanks, Lew W7EW)

Where would you guess Dave N6AN was operating in the recent CQ WW CW? I'll bet you would not think of Zone 6 - Mexico! Dave (a.k.a. XE2GG) operated from Mexicali well away from the palms and beaches - it gets cold at night in Zone 6, too! (Photo by N6AN)

Here's a book that is definitely going on my to-read list: Wi-Fi and the Bad Boys of Radio by Alex Hills. The Wired magazine review definitely piqued my interest as it mentions Mr Hill's progressions from ham radio through college radio stations to field experience and finally to the development of Wi-Fi technology that we almost take for granted today. Until we can't get it...that's where the "Bad Boys of Radio" come in. I'll leave those acquaintances for you to discover!

Three great articles await you in the December issue of the Potomac Valley Radio Club Newsletter: a report on the recent High Speed CW Championships by Ken KE3X, a recounting of the CQ WW SSB from Thailand by Fred K3ZO, and a wire beam design by Jim K4QPL. Good reading and photos, too!

The QRP ARCI web page is now updated to list the entire roster of QRP ARCI 2012 contests through December of 2012. (Thanks, QRP ARCI Contest Manager, Jim K9JWV)

Web Site of the Week - Hams love maps and contesters are the mappiest of the lot - well, maybe next to DXers - so how well do you have the US states placed in your memory? Try this drag-n-drop online test for fun! (Thanks, Bob N6TV)


Listen - listen to the call sign the CQing station responds to and don't be a lid - stand by if it's not very close to your call. Too many stations just keep calling and calling, regardless of who the CQer comes back to. If you're transmitting, you're not listening and can't tell what the CQing station is doing. Give a couple of calls, then listen - it's a lot easier to get through that way.


Diego LU8ADX recently participated as part of the PJ4T team in the 2011 CQ WW SSB Contest and has published an extensive photo album of his experiences. Can you find the drempels?


ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Sean KX9X reports that the 2011 ARRL August UHF Contest's extended writeup is now online. Sweepstakes log submissions total 1404 for CW and right at 1800 for Phone - no wonder it was so hard to hold a frequency! In addition, plaques and certificates for the 2011 ARRL RTTY Roundup are also now in the mails - an early present for the lucky recipients!

An updated version of the ARRL 160 Meter CW Log Analyzer is ready for your download, including the "One click" Cabrillo import feature. For fun and a good luck at the difference between the first and second halves of the contest, import your log for the first half of the contest into the worksheet labeled "Position 1" and the second into "Position 2". (Thanks, Bob KØRC)

They're ba-a-a-a-ack! The KC1XX team certainly deserved this enthusiastic celebration of their top reported score in CQ WW CW after rebuilding the station following a devastating ice storm. Left to right are DL1MGB's XYL Anja, DL1MGB, N1KWF, W1FV, WA1Z, KC1XX, K1QX, K1TR, W1UE,
KM3T, and W2RQ. K1EA also participated but could not be back on Sunday. (Photo by KM3T)

The 2011 Canada Day contest results and writeup are now posted online at the Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) web site. The results will also be published in the next The Canadian Amateur (TCA) magazine (Jan / Feb issue). (Thanks, Bart VE5CPU)

From the Pacific Northwest comes word that the Salmon Run log season has closed and the fish counted for a total of 290 logs. Results have been posted and nets are being repaired for next year! (Thanks, Jim K7WA)

Kansas QSO Party results are now ready with lots of soapbox and information. The 33 stations using 1x1 call signs made 21,509 QSOs with 4,851 unique stations, an average of 652 contacts per operator. (Thanks, Cliff KØCA)

Results for the new August CW Open have been published. The sponsors report that participation met their expectations and the format of three separate operating periods was interesting. The sponsors have changed the contest date to September in 2012 to avoid conflicts with other contests and will make other adjustments to the format. (Thanks, Alan AD6E)

The Logs Received web page for the 10-Meter RTTY Contest has been updated with logs received up to about an hour ago. 426+ logs have been submitted so far in the first 24 hours. Activity was good worldwide with lots of spots though run rates weren't high. The solar flux rose throughout the week and the contest started with an SFI of 160 and moved up to 164 during the contest with low A and K index numbers: The A dropped from 8 to 5 and the K from 2 to 0. There was a lot of interesting spotlight propagation that moved around the world as the ionosphere changed - a great warmup for the ARRL 10 Meter contest this weekend and ARRL RTTY Roundup in about a month. The contest picked up three new plaque sponsors and now has nine plaques sponsored. (Thanks, Don AA5AU and Ed WØYK)

The recent SKYWARN day sponsored by the National Weather Service also heated up the bands as reported by Deb N9SJ. From a portable vehicle station, she and Steve WD9CIR made 979 contacts hitting 46 states, at least 3 Canadian provinces and 3 DX stations not to mention 69 of the 105 NWS WFO's on the air.

Following his strong performance as WW1WW in the CQ WW CW, Scott KØDQ (front left) enjoyed breakfast with Bill K1GQ (front right) and (rear left to right) Chris DL1MGB, Dave KM3T, host Woody WW1WW, and Matt KC1XX. (Photo by KM3T)

Did you have a great experience in a recent ARRL contest? If so, while it's still fresh in your memory, share it with us and the writeup authors using the ARRL Soapbox web page. Photos are especially welcome!

Doug KR2Q gives the Pileup web site by Valery, R5GA his "SUPER GREAT" rating. The website compiles claimed scores from sponsors and from 3830, presenting the information sorted in several useful ways. There are also sections for related comments, published videos, and side-by-side comparisons. Wow!

Another popular compilation, the 3830 CQ WW SSB Soapbox comment compilation is online as well! (Thanks, Dink N7WA)


If you answer a CQing station and they respond with an error in your call, the most reliable way to be sure they have your call correct is to send only your call sign again and not the exchange. Don't send the exchange until the CQer responds with your correct call - then send your exchange.


The Franklin array of half-waves in phase is common in ham radio VHF/UHF omnidirectional antennas but not many hams know that it was once popular, but difficult, in the AM broadcast industry, as well. These required a serious amount of tower and property to put up and guy. (Thanks, Paul W9AC)

A recent online edition of EE Times included a nice EMC-basics design article on battery charger designs from a standpoint of minimizing RFI. The article is a good introduction to EN standards, as well.

Don't toss those PL-259 backshells left over from removing a connector - put them to work! Cover and wrap the back end with tape or a plastic cap and you will have a nice screw-on water-resistant cover for an SO-239. It's not waterproof, but it sure helps!

The Case of the RF Disturbances is the latest tale of resolving radio-related rebellion from Design News magazine's Tales of Sherlock Ohms series. Get out the aluminum foil, Kenneth!

In a discussion of using external fans to provide extra cooling for amplifiers, it was pointed out that if the fan is in the exhaust (hot) air stream, avoid fans with blades that age or warp in the heat or that have oiled bearings.

Do you think these verticals got out well? The CQ WW CW score of V31OT will attest to the effectiveness of salt water grounds! (Thanks, Mark N5OT)

One of the originals in the field, Radioshack is now selling DIY Arduino-based kits as part of "The Great Create" project for Do-It-Yourself projects. It is encouraging that so much attention is being paid to building electronics and other gadgetry - an excellent pathway to ham radio if we can get the word out!

In the latest edition of QRP ARCI's QRP Quarterly I noticed a neat method of homebrewing large air-wound coils by Phil AD5X. It uses flexible grommet strips as the support structure with the result very similar to the B&W Miniductor product. Whether you prefer QRP or QRO, every issue of QRP Quarterly is jam-packed with building ideas applicable to nearly every shack and their contests are fun, too.

Kevin KI8IR notes that while, "it may be common practice with a lot of hams to refer to the PL-258 as a 'barrel' adapter but in the RF Test/Measurement world an adapter that is female on each end, such as the PL-258, is referred to as a 'bullet' and the male-male same-series adapters are referred to as a barrel." We learn something new every day!

Technical Web Site of the Week - Mike K5WMG has written and published a good paper illustrating the effects of height-above-ground on vertical takeoff angle for beam antennas. It shows why a good "first tower" height of 50 feet works well and why higher performance antennas need that extra vertical "oomph".


Rather than get into semi-hemi-demi-quaverings of year-end auld lang syne waves (next time, I promise) it seemed better to print a repurposing of a tune I'm sure you'll recognize. You might also enjoy the work of Peter K3ZM as he adapts "My Favorite Things" to the view of a contester - nice job!

Ringin' In Your Ears

Steelied from the Dan's "Reelin' in the Years" by Dr Beldar

Your chance to make the Top Ten
You can see it fading fast
So you grab a channel on a
Band you think is gonna last
You wouldn't know an Eimac
If you held it in your hand
The things you think are useful
I can't understand

Is there ringin' in your ears
Callin' away the time
Is the frequency now clear
Or are you stealin' mine?

You been tellin' me you're a winner
Since you were seventeen
In all the time I've known you
You still haven't won a thing
The weekend in Aruba
Didn't turn out like you planned
The things that pass for know-how
I can't understand

Is there ringin' in your ears
Callin' away the time
Is the frequency now clear
Or are you stealin' mine?

I've spent a lot of money
And I've worked a lot of guys
The trip we made to KH6
Is etched upon my mind
After all the things I've tried to teach
You search and pounce the band
The way you run a pileup
I can't understand

Is there ringin' in your ears
Callin' away the time
Is the frequency now clear
Or are you stealin' mine?

73, Ward NØAX


7 December through 20 December 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 10 Meter Contest--Phone,CW, from Dec 10, 0000Z to Dec 11, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 28. Exchange: RS(T) and State/Prov or serial. Logs due: Jan 11. Rules

ARRL Rookie Roundup--CW, from Dec 18, 1800Z to Dec 18, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50. Exchange: Both calls, name, check, S/P/XE or "DX". Logs due: See web. Rules

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

UBA Winter Contest--Phone,CW,Digital, from Dec 10, 1700Z - See website. Bands (MHz): 1.8-7. Multiple operating periods. Exchange: RS(T) and UBA section or serial. Logs due: 3 weeks. Rules

AWA Bruce Kelly QSO Party--CW, from Dec 10, 2300Z - See website. Bands (MHz): 3.5,7. Multiple operating periods. Exchange: RST, Xmtr type, power, name. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

SKCC Weekend Sprintathon--CW, from Dec 11, 0000Z to Dec 11, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. 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 11, 2100Z to Dec 11, 2259Z. Bands (MHz): 14. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, class, CQC number or power. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

NAQCC Monthly QRP Sprint--CW, from Dec 14, 0130Z to Dec 14, 0330Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14.Monthly on 2nd Tuesday or 3rd Wednesday local time (alternating). Exchange: RST, S/P/C, and NAQCC mbr nr or power. Logs due: 4 days. Rules

CWops Monthly Mini-CWT Test--CW, from Dec 14, 1300Z - see website. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Multiple operating periods, twice monthly on 2nd and 4th Wed, 18 to 28 kHz above band edge. Exchange: Name and member number or S/P/C. Logs due: 2 days. Rules

Russian 160 Meter Contest--Phone,CW, from Dec 15, 2100Z to Dec 15, 2300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8. Exchange: RS(T), serial, square ID (see website). Logs due: Jan 20. Rules

Feld-Hell Happy Birthday Sprint--Digital, from Dec 17, 0000Z to Dec 17, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Monthly on 3rd Saturday. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, Feld-Hell member nr. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

OK DX RTTY Contest--Digital, from Dec 17, 0000Z to Dec 18, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and CQ Zone. Logs due: Jan 15. Rules

RAC Winter Contest--Phone,CW, from Dec 17, 0000Z to Dec 17, 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 17, 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 17, 1400Z to Dec 18, 1400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST and serial. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

Stew Perry Top Band Distance Challenge--CW, from Dec 17, 1500Z to Dec 18, 1500Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8. Exchange: 4-char grid square. Logs due: Jan 31. Rules

Holiday Spirits Homebrew Sprint--CW, from Dec 18, 2000Z to Dec 18, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, ARCI number or Power. Logs due: Jan 3. Rules

Run For the Bacon--CW, from Dec 19, 0200Z to Dec 19, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Monthly on 3rd Sunday night (local). Exchange: RST, S/P/C, Flying Pig nr or power. Rules


ARRL Rookie Roundup--CW, from Dec 18, 1800Z to Dec 18, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50. Exchange: Both calls, name, check, S/P/XE or "DX". Logs due: See web. Rules

NA High-Speed Meteor Scatter Contest--Digital, from Dec 11, 0000Z to Dec 15, 0200Z. Bands (MHz): 50-222. Exchange: Both calls, grid square, acknowledgement. Logs due: Jan 15. Rules

RAC Winter Contest--Phone,CW, from Dec 17, 0000Z to Dec 17, 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 17, 0001Z to Jan 2, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50,144. Exchange: Serial or ARLHS number. Logs due: Jan 31. Rules


7 December through 20 December 2011

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