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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
December 21, 2011
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX


Take a break! If you got into radiosport this year, you've discovered that right around the end of October, the weekends come in quick succession and test everything from your ability to withstand 160 meter static to finding just the right skew path to get that close-in state off of 10 meter backscatter. Oh, and to give the complete Sweepstakes exchange in one breath! So kick back and enjoy the bands, the holidays, and time with family and friends. See you next year!


From Dan K7SS following the ARRL 10 Meter Contest, "Welcome aboard to the many, many KC KD KE KF KG KJ etc new folks who are experiencing their first 10 meter peak.. fun, huh??" If you participated in the Dec 18th CW edition of the Rookie Roundup, be sure to submit your score online by 2359Z today!


No significant erors were reported in the previous issue.


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

December 24-25, 2011

  • RAEM Contest--CW
  • DARC Christmas Contest (Dec 26)
  • SKCC Straight Key Sprint (Dec 28)
  • NAQCC Milliwatt Sprint--CW (Dec 29)

December 31, 2011 - January 1, 2012

  • ARRL Straight-Key Night
  • New Years Snowball Contest
  • SARTG New Year RTTY Contest
  • AGCW Happy New Year Contest--CW

Here is an excellent reason to keep your logging software's CTY files up-to-date for DX contesting - a new list of prefixes for European Russia published by ARRL DXCC Manager, Bill NC1L. It's on the ARRL Awards blog - look that the item titled "DXCC and Russian Prefix Information (rev.)" Bill also notes that "since Russia joined CEPT, there are stations active with call signs that do not indicate DXCC entity, such as RA/N6TR who operated from Asiatic Russia, and RA/SM6LRR who operates from European Russia. These types of portable call signs will be managed individually in the DXCC system."

Who was behind that big HD2A signal in the ARRL 10 Meter Contest? Alberto HC2AQ (L) and Alfredo HC2SL shared the operating time for a 2.5 megapoint score! (Photo from HC2AQ)

For those of you considering doing some contest operating from an IOTA-qualifying island, be advised that for QSLs to be accepted for IOTA credit, the island designator may not be handwritten. This is spelled out in the IOTA program rules contained in the 2011 IOTA Directory - see rule C.4.2.

Look - up in the air! Wayyyyy up in the air! First a balloon travels all the way across the Atlantic Ocean while being tracked by ham radio technology. Then the US Air Force contracts with SETI to check newly-discovered planet Kepler-22b for intelligent life. Just how far did that balloon go, anyway?

Knowing what we do about wireless technology, I'm sure that many hams know why we are asked to turn off our electronic devices at takeoff and landing. For the lay audience, this Marketwatch article is not totally accurate in its technical descriptions but it does reinforce the message that the reason for turning off your devices is not just made up.

Who needs a dupe sheet when you can memorize 2660 random numbers per hour? Not bad - perhaps the new memory champ could be put to work at an IARU Headquarters station! (Thanks, Andy N2NT)

The UBA International Prefix Hunt committee has announced new rules to this interesting new contest. (Thanks, Marc ON7SS/OO9O)

The Internet Archive project has just published nearly every issue of defunct 73 magazine, all the way back to January 1961. While dominated by the editorial adventures of Wayne Green W2NSD, the magazine also featured loads of simple (sometimes too-simple) construction articles, expedition adventure writing by Gus Browning W4BPD and others, and had a loyal following for many years. You may read the material online or download PDF files. (Thanks Leigh WA5ZNU via the website)

This 60-meter beauty is the first rotating tower in Thailand, owned by HS0ZIA/N6BK. It has Yagis from 80 through 10 meters - HS may be a bit more workable now! (Photo by HS1NIV)

Why is radiosport such an attractive competitive activity to many of us whose athletic years are behind them? Bill N5RKD/G4NDH relayed an article from The Guardian that summarizes research addressing the risk-taking and competition of people between the ages of 25 and 50. It doesn't address radio contests specifically but the parallels are clear.

Web Site of the Week - Hams love maps, map software, and map-plications! Here's an online applet to create an simple azimuthal-equisdistant map centered on any location you care to specify. The map can be captured to a graphic file by using the PrntScrn key on Windows computers and made into a very nice control or switch label. (Thanks, Wes W3WL)


Here are some good words about Elmering posted by Mark WD4ELG: "I promised my Elmer (W4ZM, SK) that I would always help those who asked for it, and never denigrate or ridicule any question. I also promised my Elmer that I would never be afraid to ask questions and look for ways to learn more."


Some may be wondering what happened to the Radio Amateur Society of Thailand club station HSØAC in the recent round of flooding in Bangkok. Champ E21EIC sent some photos of the station after it spent two months underwater - there will be a long rebuilding process.

Wow - here's a serious radio location! Of course, it's on Saipan, so it might be a bit far for the annual club outing on Field Day. Nevertheless, this video shows how AHØBT set up their station for the 2010 CQ WW CW contest - not 2011 as in the first distribution of this newsletter. (Thanks, Steve N2IC)

Walter PP5WG sent links to some videos by PP1CZ of young contesters operating from ZX5J during the recent ARRL 10 Meter contest. (Video 1, Video 2, Video 3, Video 4) We will contact these operators many times in the coming years!

Here are two photos of the original W1BB station on display in the New England Museum of Wireless and Steam in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. The museum also includes a collection of radio history, including the Massie "PJ" station which was moved from the original Point Judith, RI location to the museum site. Dave N7RK also presents a 1947 picture of W1BB's station at the bottom of his personal web page. (Thanks, Gus KBØYH)


ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Sean KX9X speaks for all when he says, "It was certainly a treat for everybody to have good activity once again for the 2011 ARRL 10 Meter Contest. I'm especially happy for those of us who weren't licensed for the last solar peak around 2001 and are experiencing the pure joy of good 10 meter conditions for the first time." How good was activity? "As of 10:30 AM Monday, we have received 4,254 logs for the 2011 10 Meter Contest. This is an all-time record for this contest and we still have three weeks left until the log submission deadline!" This could be a 5000-log contest!

After spending a lot of time in flood disaster response, Champ E21EIC is back at work putting up antennas like this new C-4. (Photo from E21EIC)

In other ARRL Contest news, certificates for the 2010 ARRL International EME Competition have been shipped along with ARRL Club Competition gavels.

Stew Perry log-checker, Tree N6TR writes, "One of the exciting "behind the scenes" aspects of the Stew Perry contest is seeing how the scores keep growing as more low power and QRP logs show up. Most scores have already grown 10 percent (from the claimed score)." You can find a link to the current scores on the Stew Perry web page. This is why it is important for all of the low power and QRP stations to send in their log - to make sure those who worked them get full credit. More than 400 logs have already been submitted - perhaps the 1000-log level will be reached! Results for the October 2011 PreStew contest are also posted on the same website.

Results of the 2010 ARI DX International Contest (yes, 2010) are available with 2011 to follow shortly. (Thanks, ARI HF Contest Manager, Bob I2WIJ)

Results for the 2011 Texas QSO Party have been finalized and are now available on the contest website. (Thanks, TxQP Coordinator, Chuck NO5W)

Official results for the 2011 EU HF Championship are now ready, verified by the SCC Contest Committee and published on the SCC web page. All UBN reports are publicly available as usual, too. (Thanks, SCC Contest Manager, Robert S57AW)

The brand-new 10 Meter RTTY contest had 675 logs submitted according to the "logs received" web page. That's excellent for a brand-new contest! (Thanks, Don AA5AU)

N6TV has been studying the raw data from the Reverse Beacon Network and has prepared a tabulation of the most spotted stations from the recent CQWW CW Contest. (Thanks, Pete N4ZR)

Results of the 2011 Ukrainian DX Contest are now available online. (Thanks, Leo UT7CL)


As you tune the bands next week, here are some ways to wish a Happy New Year to your brothers and sisters around the world:

XÄ«n Nián Kuài Lè (Chinese)
Nouvelle année heureuse (French)
Glückliches neues Jahr (German)
Kalí hroñá (Greek)
Nuovo anno felice (Italian)
Akemashite omedetou (Japanese)
Ano novo feliz (Portuguese)
Novym Godom (Russian)
Feliz Año Nuevo (Spanish)

More translations (and in different fonts if your browser has trouble displaying these phrases) can be found at Babel Fish and


There's still plenty of low-band DX to be worked, even with the recent solar activity. Guy K2AV has designed an inverted-L antenna that uses a folded counterpoise. You can learn all the details of this antenna on WØUCE's website. Those readers living on a small lot or otherwise without a lot of space may find this design useful. Additional information can be found in the 2011 archives for the Topband reflector - search for the thread title "Best small space antennas". You can read more about propagation, particularly on 160 meters, on Carl K9LA's website.

Instead of looking for plastic caps that cover the end of hollow boom tubing, Don N8DE uses soft rubber balls that fit inside the end of the boom. He says that they last quite a bit longer than caps on the outside of the boom.

Rovers and portable operators may be interested in this Instructables "how-to" article about printing plastic maps that are waterproof and foldable. Not laminating but a process that uses sandwich and garbage bags and an ink-jet (not laser) printer. There are a number of steps involved but the process looks do-able. Also on the Instructables website is this neat collection of 24 different "radio hacks" that transform ordinary AM/FM receivers into completely different animals. You may find this thought-provoking for ham radio applications, too!

If you want to know why powdered-iron cores are usually specified over ferrite cores for RF transformers on the lower HF bands, Guy K2AV laid out some interesting history on the Topband reflector.

Here's an interesting story on "Big Batteries" that might get you thinking about replacing that generator! We're not talking about a pack of D-cells, here!

Paul W9AC mentioned an alternative to EZNEC - 4Nec2 - which is free from author Arie Voors. 4Nec2 will also open EZNEC files and supports the pro NEC/4 modeling engine if a license for it is purchased through Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

If you have a soldering iron or gun tip that is badly oxidized, the way to clean it right up is to use a sal ammoniac block (available at stained-glass window craft suppliers, for example) or a soldering iron cleaning paste such as from soldering equipment manufacturer Hakko. In both cases, avoid breathing the fumes given off as the tip is chemically scoured. (Thanks, Rod W7ZRC)

EDN magazine recently published a short online article by Dan KB6NU called "Build Something!" about kit-building for ham radio. He lists several websites that provide kits and technical information. And they have also published the ever-popular Christmas tree light tester article, too!

Thanks to a clever polarity-sensitive RF detector, Greg N8ZRY shows us how RF waves can be "seen" in this short video on the Makezine blog. Who says you can't see RF? (Thanks, Kirk K4RO)

A cover for your crank-up tower hoisting motor can never hurt, but if you need a replacement, Dan KØDAN recommends motors rated for "wash-down service". This is not a "submersible" motor but is rated for wet environments such as being exposed to the weather or getting spray-washed on a regular basis. Dan also notes that "even a wash-down motor can have its problems....those little compartments which contain the control relays, starter caps, etc., can leak, and should be inspected periodically, gaskets replaced, also protected with a bead of silicone caulk. If your motor is exposed to a lot of blowing rain, ice melt, etc., take steps to identify the source and protect the motor. Run the motor frequently...lack of use is a definite no-no. Change the oil in the gearbox once a year and inspect/lube pulleys, bearings, etc. A small amount of annual preventative maintenance will go a long way to extending the life of your motor, but eventually they will all need replacement."

Ken WA4MNT devised this terrific homebrew PCB holder with a dovetail groove that prevents any slipping of the board from the fixture, with minimal clamping pressure. All of the building details and even a kit of machined parts for assembly are available online.

A comprehensive cross-reference for F connectors has been published on the Belden web site. Some of the graphics don't seem to display properly but the text is OK and the connector table is fine. (Thanks, Roger N1RJ)

Another "junkyard find" was described by Ron N4XD as part of his quest to build a remote tune control for a vacuum variable. "I...was digging around...(and)...found an old broken car power antenna. Opening it I found it had a quite large motor, 12V of course. I used the large "wheel" that...gave me a slower rotation which turned out to be the perfect speed."

Many battery-powered accessories consume small amounts of power at all times, whether or not they are being used; boom mike preamps, for example. This wastes most of the battery energy but an on-off switch is often left out of the design! Pulling the batteries means a battery hunt every time you want to use the device. Here's an alternative - cut a small piece of plastic from one of those indestructible clamshell packages. Slip the plastic between one battery terminal and the battery, opening the power circuit (in most cases) - voila! Power switch! You can even close the access panel normally. If you lose the plastic, so what? You can even use a piece of paper or cardboard in a pinch.

The end of the pre-holiday season can be a boon for hams - take a look in the lighting display bin! For example, as of 19 December, my local Target was having a 30% off sale on all electrical stuff related to decor - including a heavy-duty outdoor-rated extension cord with outlets in the middle and at each end. I immediately thought, "Field Day!"

Technical Web Site of the Week - The Design News story "Engineer's Toy Becomes a Profession" will certainly bring forth a lot of old memories as it describes the discontinued building sets one couple decided to manufacture. Growing up with electricity and electronics kits were part of many ham childhoods - a parallel universe! If you hurry, there's still time for it to be delivered before Christmas morning!


Received and Understood

The top three US multi-op teams comprised about 36 operators and reported about 36,000 QSOs during the 48 hours of the CQ Worldwide CW contest. Add in the other multi-op teams around the world and you have a very large, very happy family making an extraordinary number of contacts. Imagine what you would see if you were watching from orbit with some "radio spectacles"!

These are wonderful experiences - if you've never participated in a big multi-op team, you should put it on your "gotta-do" list. It's a shared experience like few others in ham radio. The "gab" files of inter-station chit-chat are priceless records of the fast-paced teamwork and teasing only hinted at in the post-contest writeups. The post-contest pizza, the pre-contest repairs, stepping over the sleeping operators between's all part of the game.

Single-op is certainly challenging and fun, too, with participants doing everything from part-time efforts to full-bore, Sunday-afternoon-sleep-deprivation never-left-the-chair marathons. When you think about all of these different operators - thousands of them - distributed around the planet and taking to the airwaves in one big multi-band pileup...well, it is a wonderful feeling.

The new K9CT contest station near Peoria, IL is still performing flight testing but making a lot of QSOs doing it. Left to right are KB9UWU, NK9E, N9LR, and K9ZO trying to vacuum up every station in the ARRL 10 Meter Contest. (Photo by K9CT)

Although we are often solitary creatures, building and testing in our basements and shacks, when contest weekends roll around we become brothers and sisters in arms. If you think about it, probably some of the most profound personal experiences in our lives are those which take us "out of ourselves" and make us part of a much larger experience, even if only temporarily. Contesting certainly has the capability to be one of those experiences.

Writing and editing this newsletter, I'm very aware of the 25,000 readers, more-or-less, around the globe, any one or several of whom I may put in my log "on any given weekend." Hearing familiar calls pop up out of the static is a great feeling, too, just as traveling to a multi-op builds up the anticipation I feel at seeing my friends and putting my shoulder to the wheel along with them. Perhaps this makes the Contest Update a kind of very, very large multi-op?

And I am most grateful to be part of those teams and the ham radio family in whatever capacities I can offer. There is so much we share - I hope the generous ham spirit is sprinkled into every heart during this holiday season and throughout the coming year. Ham radio is an activity in which no one can truly engage alone. There always has to be someone on the other end, doesn't there? Yes, there is an essential connection so as we close out 2011 my message to you is, QSL my friends, received and understood.

73, Ward NØAX


December 21 , 2011 - January 3, 2012

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

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

DARC Christmas Contest--Phone,CW, from Dec 25, 0830Z to Dec 25, 1059Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-7. Exchange: RS(T) and DOK or special station code. Logs due: 3 weeks. Rules

SKCC Straight Key Sprint--CW, from Dec 28, 0000Z to Dec 28, 0200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50, Frequencies: Monthly on the 4th Wednesday UTC. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, name, SKCC nr or power. Logs due: 5 days. Rules

NAQCC Milliwatt Sprint--CW, from Dec 29, 0130Z to Dec 29, 0330Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, and NAQCC mbr nr or power. Logs due: 4 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


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 28, 0000Z to Dec 28, 0200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50, Frequencies: Monthly on the 4th Wednesday UTC. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, name, SKCC nr or power. Logs due: 5 days. Rules


December 21 , 2011 - January 3, 2012

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