ARRL

Contest Update Issues

Preview
The ARRL Contest Update
March 14, 2012
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
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IN THIS ISSUE

NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

The Russian DX Contest is rapidly becoming a popular spring-time DX contest and counts for WRTC scoring points, too. Then on the month's last weekend, put your call on the air as a sought-after prefix in the CQ WPX SSB contest! You can also work on your WAS by chasing the OK, VA, and ND QSO Parties.

BULLETINS

There are no bulletins in this issue.

BUSTED QSOS

No discombobulations were reported in the previous issue.

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

March 17-18

  • CWops Monthly Mini-CWT Test (Mar 14)
  • Feld-Hell St Patrick's Day Sprint
  • 10-10 Mobile QSO Party
  • BARTG HF RTTY Contest
  • CQIR - Ireland Calling
  • Russian DX Contest
  • Oklahoma QSO Party
  • Virginia QSO Party
  • North Dakota QSO Party
  • Run For the Bacon--CW

March 24-25

  • CLARA and Family HF Contest (Mar 20)
  • NAQCC Monthly QRP Sprint--CW (Mar 22)
  • CQ WPX SSB Contest
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

The threes are cleaning up in operating events lately and I don't mean Maryland-DC, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The ARRL Triple Play award and other multi-mode contests have now been followed by the World Wide Iron Ham Contest from Brazil and the Greek Triathlon DX Contest. Limber up the fingers to type, squeeze, and send in all three modes! (Thanks, Kostas SV1DPI and Oms PY5EG)

The 16th Annual SVHFS Conference will be held on April 20-21 in Charlotte, NC. There will be an antenna gain "shootout" and a noise figure test on Friday. ARRL President, Kay Craigie N3KN will be the featured speaker on Friday. There are plenty of technical and operating presentations, commercial vendors, plus a flea market on Friday evening. The Saturday banquet keynote speaker will be Nobel laureate Joe Taylor K1JT. (Thanks, Jim W4KXY)

A flip of the Contest Update fedora to these ARRL-VEC staffers who process your paperwork! Front row (L-R) - Ann Brinius (ret), ARRL-VEC Manager Maria Somma AB1FM, and Lisa Riendeau. Back row (L-R) - Pete Warner K1HJW, China Chaney, Amanda Grimaldi KB1VUV, and Perry Green WY1O. (not pictured - Sabrina Hughes)

Many clubs are looking for ways to help their newly-licensed members become active and learn HF operating skills. The upcoming ARRL Rookie Roundup (April 15th) has added the Multioperator category along with Team competition to help clubs do just that. Set up an all-day operating event, activate the club station, arrange for an open house - whatever is best for your club. Challenge another local club for bragging rights - competition is fun! As an extra bonus, you'll be training and recruiting a crop of brand-new Field Day operators, too!

The tongue-in-cheek suggestion by Guy N7ZG of using the Q signal QTK to tell a pileup of spot-clickers to spread out got a lot of interest. I found, however, that QTK is actually a real Q-signal and means "What is the speed of your aircraft in relation to the surface of the Earth?" (Upon which I naturally wondered, "Laden or unladen?" but I digress...) Doing a little research on Q codes, I found the far better amateur net operations Q signal, QNY, which means "Shift to another frequency". Seriously - why not use QNY to mean "spread out"? Even if no one knows exactly what it means, it will confuse enough of the stations to let you work a few of the remaining callers.

K5RQ eloquently compared ham radio to Facebook as the "original social network" in this Sarasota SRQ article. Come to think of it, QSLing is a lot like collecting friends! (Thanks, Dan K1TO)

Richard Krajewski WB2CRD authors a regular blog for EE Times called "The Noble Profession". Recently, he penned the article "Who Needs Career Fairs When We Have Best Buy?" that takes a look at how kids get interested in technology. His key point is that you give them access and let them play with it!

I wonder if this speech-squashing gun would work on an out-of-control pileup? (Thanks, Tom K1KI)

Contest logging for the blind is a lot easier if they can use software that is friendly to screen reader programs such as JAWS. One such program is White Stick Log from the UK. (Thanks, Mike NF4L)

This nice note was received by Tim K3LR after the ARRL DX Phone contest, "hi my name is jake or m6jbr i made contact with you today at 6:55 GMT and i thought that i would give you a bit more info i am 14 i have been licenced since september 2011 you are the 3rd hf contact and i was using a ts 440s from the south west of england a place called bristol nice talking to you 73s" Welcome to the world of HF radiosport, Jake! It's good to see enthusiastic operating from our newest hams.

Guess which of the Reverse Beacon Network maps was captured during the March 8th solar flare!

Pete N4ZR writes in to let us know of an updated article on the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) website called "What Does a Flare Look Like?". While you're there, you might also be interested in the article on the listings of RBN stations and use the Options menu to display a real-time map of stations the RBN is hearing. It's so fascinating that you need to remember to get on the air, too!

NOAA has released a test version of Ovation - a new space weather product that provides a real-time estimate of the auroral intensity, including that of the aurora australis at the South Pole. The program also shows where the aurora is expected to be visible. This was an interesting site over the past week as major flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) were occurring. (Thanks, John N2NC)

NASA invites you watch the 2012 Exploring Space Lectures held at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. live on the web:

(From the AMSAT ANS-071 bulletin)

VHF+ DXers may be interested in this article on the new Sub-millimeter Array of radio telescopes atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The array is the most accurately guided RF antenna in the world and receives 180 through 700 GHz with a beam width of less than one arc-second. No gain figures are reported but I imagine there are a lot of zeroes involved. (Thanks, Jeremy W7EME)

Here are Gary K4MQG and Bill K4CIA checking through DXCC and VUCC submissions at last weekend's Charlotte, NC Hamfest - thanks for your services, guys! (Photo by NØAX)

Can the astronauts on the ISS see you shining a light at them? The AMSAT ANS-071 bulletin reports that "On March 4, about 65 amateur astronomers were in position at the Lazano Observatory in Springbranch Texas (near San Antonio). They turned on searchlights and waited as the ISS was set to make an appearance in the sky. Astronaut Don Pettit, KD5MDT had no trouble seeing the flashes." Watch the video and take a look at this light-frequency QSO.

Legendary DXpeditioner and keen CW operator Ron Wright ZL1AMO died last week at the age of 75. Ron put many Pacific multipliers in many logs - in and out of contests. A cab driver who enjoyed sharing his holidays with all of us, Ron's last expedition was to Fiji in 2002. (Thanks, Jess W6LEN)

Another giant was added to the list of Silent Keys, as well, as John Thompson W1BIH died in the month of his 97th birthday. John took to the air from Curacao as PJ9JT in the 1970s and was the first to construct a large contest station on the Dutch islands off the northern coast of South America. His signals were legendary and so were the scores from the station you now know as PJ2T. (Thanks, Jack W1WEF)

Web Site of the Week - Happy Pi Day! (3.14) Have an irrationally transcendent day!

WORD TO THE WISE

Checklog - if you realize you've operated in some way that makes you ineligible to participate in the contest, submit your log as a checklog. That's an option in the Cabrillo format - place the line CATEGORY-OPERATOR: CHECKLOG in the log file's header section. That way, your contacts can still be used for log checking and the sponsors appreciate that.

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SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

The Northern California Contest Club (NCCC) has published a video of program author Dean N6BV giving tips on using his HFTA terrain analysis program. (Thanks, Jim K9YC)

Take a look at a great YouTube video on the RZ9OZO family club station and some amazing 4 and 6-year-old operators. You want young operators? Here they are! (Thanks, Yuri VE3DZ)

Who was that YL operator at KL2R during the ARRL DX Photo contest? Why, that was Ms. Dale Slater - being assisted here by Carl WL7BDO but by all accounts she will be running a pileup herself before we know it! (Thanks, Larry KL7/N1TX)

While you're enthusing about the new operators appearing on the air, Mauro PP5MCB just posted this video of 13-year-old Vitor, PU5DCB operating in the ARRL DX Phone contest. Vitor was operating in the Single-band, 15 meter category.

The N1MM Logger Overview Webinar has been posted on the Potomac Valley Radio Club (PVRC) website under the "Recorded Webinars" link. As a reminder, Part 2, Multi-Op & Digital Contesting is also available. PVRC President, Ken K4ZW also wishes to thank Pete N4ZR, Rich VE3KI, Steve N2IC, and Larry K8UT for putting together this series of presentations.

How tall is your tower? Not as tall as the Tokyo Sky Tree - the world's tallest free-standing broadcast tower!

Here's what a solar flare sounds like - the M8-class flare that hit Earth on March 10th was captured in this audio recording of the blast by an amateur astronomer in New Mexico.

RESULTS AND RECORDS

The results of the 2011 Ohio QSO Party are now available at the Ohio QSO Party web site. (Thanks, Jim K8MR, OhQP Chairman )

Sponsor, Rick K6VVA reports that the 2012 Locust QSO Party (LQP) final results have been posted and include a first-ever surprise 3-way tie in one category, a special poem offering by N6ZFO, and a few other unusual Soapbox Comments this year.

OPERATING TIP

A reminder - asking to be spotted is considered "self-spotting" and is specifically not allowed in nearly all contests.

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TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Pink or White? No, we're not talking about your dinner wine selection, we're talking about noise. What do all those different names for noise mean? Find out in this Electronic Design article that summarizes the terminology - pass the popcorn noise, please!

The documentation on K2AV's Folded Counterpoise Antenna (FCA) contain a lot of good information. Take a look around the WØUCE web site for more!

Pres N6SS reports how he discourages nibbling of his "Beverage On Ground (BOG)" wires by the local rodentia: "BOGs here are made from #14 stranded insulated house wire...before rolling (them) out at the start of each low band season the reel is submerged for a week in a tub of diesel fuel mixed with a bag of chili powder. This procedure renders the wire far less tasty to Arizona critters. In 15 years not a single 'chew thru' has occured."

Jim W6RMK reports that the IEEE/ANSI RF safety standard, C95.1-2005, can now be downloaded for free now. OET Bulletin 65 is the usual amateur reference and a good summary but you can also download the actual standard now.

If you would like to see what a real college Electrical Engineering course is like these days and have the necessary math background, MIT is making their course 6.002x (Circuits and Electronics) available. Circuits and Electronics is a first course and is in the core of department subjects required for all undergraduates in EECS (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science). (Thanks, Steve N2IC)

Everybody has encountered the dreaded Philips-head slots worn down to the point where a screwdriver can't grip enough to turn the screw. This Apartment Therapy article has a good idea - use a rubber band!

If you deal with electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) testing or certification, you'll encounter tests that require a Line Impedance Stabilization Network (LISN). This fixture enables a device to operate from ac power while test equipment measures emissions from the device conducted on the power conductors. (Thanks, Kurt KD7JYK)

Contest operator Steve AA4V stepped up to say hello during his rounds in the Charlotte (NC) Hamfest flea market! (Photo by NØAX)

Scope probes are explored in the article "Probing Pointers" by Jack Ganssle N3ALO in the March 2012 issue of Embedded System Design.

Here's a great antenna and tower tip from a veteran of many skyhook projects - "Always drill U-bolt holes two drill sizes (that's two-64ths) bigger than the actual size of the U-bolt. Got a 3/8"-stock U-bolt? Make the holes 13/32-inch. Be happy up there." (Thanks, Glenn K6NA)

Mitch DJØQN discovered this handy db-and-watts calculator on-line from Rohde & Schwarz. It also handles voltage conversions and VSWR-return loss, among other things. No need now to convert units back and forth when making a combined calculation.

Technical Web Site of the Week - Al AB2ZY reports success in using Scheme-It, a new web-based schematic capture tool hosted by Digi-Key. The tool also compiles a Bill of Materials (BOM) and the results are shareable across the web. As the article points out, this will probably save a few napkins and tablecloths - since the service can be accessed by a web browser wherever you are, including a restaurant or coffeehouse!

CONVERSATION

Two Score and More

After I got home from operating at K3LR in the ARRL CW contest I remembered that February of 1972 was the month I received my FCC license after having passed the Novice test in late December - it took a long time to get the paperwork through back then.

My first glimpse of a call sign (WNØGQP) came, interestingly, on the mailing label of an envelope from The Little Print Shop - the dominant QSL printer in those days. They had access to the FCC database and were no doubt contacting every new Novice as soon as the call was assigned. I remember looking at the envelope thinking, "Who is WNØGQP?" before realizing that was MY CALL! Then I had to wait a few more days for the actual license to arrive - a very long wait, I remember.

The happy guy on the left is Jim AD1C receiving a plaque of appreciation from the Bavarian Contest Club (BCC) represented by Chris DK9TN. Recognition of Jim's long service to ham radio and contesting is well-deserved - thanks, Jim! (Photo from K3LR)

So when I got back home after the contest, I decided to take a look and see just when I finally did get on the air four decades ago - I still have the QSL from my first contact with WB5FXC so I sent him a QSL yesterday, commemorating that first contact. The QSO took place on the 16th of February - just one day before my annual flight to Pittsburgh this year. It is truly great to have spent my 40th anniversary of ham radio manning the 15 meter position with K1DG and sharing the weekend with the team. I couldn't have written a better script!

In relating this to the K3LR team, we happily discovered there were five of us celebrating our 40th ham radio anniversaries: host Tim K3LR, 20 meter operator John VE3EJ, and the 80 meter team of Phil K3UA and Dave K5GN. It must have been something in the 1971 air!

As I considered those 40 years, I started thinking about the events and equipment and other memories along the way. Although some of them had been captured in my station log on paper - these days I log on computer and rarely add the kind of notes so common when entries were in pencil or pen. John K1AR gave me a good idea - to start an open file to capture some of these moments before I forget them.

Sure enough, once I began typing in milestones, memories started popping out of the dusty trunks in my mental attic and I could barely type fast enough. Now each time I open the file, more appear as if they had been waiting for me to call them up. My rate has been terrific!

Start noting what makes ham radio exciting and enjoyable today - even if you just got your ticket last week. All you have to do is open a simple text file or a notebook and start recording. Don't wait two score and more!

73, Ward NØAX

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CONTESTS

14 March through 27 March 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.

HF CONTESTS

CWops Monthly Mini-CWT Test--CW, from Mar 14, 1100Z. Multiple operating periods, twice monthly on 2nd and 4th Wed. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Frequencies: 18 to 28 kHz above band edge. Exchange: Name and member number or S/P/C. Logs due: 2 days. Rules

Feld-Hell St Patrick's Day Sprint--Digital, from Mar 17, 12 PM (local) to Mar 17, 2 PM. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Monthly on 3rd Saturday. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, Feld-Hell member nr. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

10-10 Mobile QSO Party--Phone, CW, Digital, from Mar 17, 0001Z to Mar 17, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 28. Exchange: Call, name, county & S/P/C, 10-10 number. Logs due: Mar 31. Rules

BARTG HF RTTY Contest--Digital, from Mar 17, 0200Z to Mar 19, 0200Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: 3-digit serial and 4-digit time. Logs due: May 1. Rules

CQIR - Ireland Calling--Phone, CW, from Mar 17, 1200Z to Mar 18, 1159Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: Serial and county code. Logs due: Apr 15. Rules

Russian DX Contest--Phone, CW, from Mar 17, 1200Z to Mar 18, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS(T), serial or oblast abbr. Logs due: See web. Rules

Oklahoma QSO Party--Phone, CW, Digital, from Mar 17, 1300Z. Multiple operating periods. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50, Frequencies: CW 35 kHz above band edge; Phone 3.860, 7.195, 14260, 21.335, 28.470, 50.130 MHz. Exchange: RS(T) and OK county or S/P/"DX". Logs due: Apr 30. Rules

Virginia QSO Party--Phone, CW, Digital, from Mar 17, 1400Z to Mar 18, 0200Z and Mar 18, 1200Z to Mar 18, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50-440. Frequencies: CW 1.805, 50 kHz+ band edge; Phone 1.845,3.86,7.26,14.27,21.37,28.37; 50.130, calling frequencies on 144/220/440. Exchange: Serial and VA county/city or S/P/C. Logs due: Apr 15. Rules

North Dakota QSO Party--Phone, CW, from Mar 17, 1800Z to Mar 18, 1800Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50,144. Exchange: RST and ND county or S/P/C. Logs due: May 15. Rules

Run For the Bacon--CW, from Mar 18, 0200Z to Mar 18, 0400Z. Monthly on 3rd Sunday night (local). Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, Flying Pig nr or power. Rules

CLARA and Family HF Contest--Phone, CW, from Mar 20, 1700Z, Multiple operating periods. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Frequencies: CW 3.688, 7.033, 14.033, 21.033; Phone 3.750, 3.900, 7.033, 7.200, 14.120-130, 14.288, 21.288, 28.488 MHz . Exchange: RS(T), name, QTH, and CLARA. Logs due: Apr 15. Rules

NAQCC Monthly QRP Sprint--CW, from Mar 22, 0030Z to Mar 22, 0230Z. 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

CQ WPX SSB Contest--Phone, from Mar 24, 0000Z to Mar 25, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS and serial. Logs due: Apr 18. Rules

VHF+ CONTESTS

Oklahoma QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Mar 17, 1300Z. Multiple operating periods. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50, Frequencies: CW 35 kHz above band edge; Phone 3.860, 7.195, 14260, 21.335, 28.470, 50.130 MHz. Exchange: RS(T) and OK county or S/P/"DX". Logs due: Apr 30. Rules

Virginia QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Mar 17, 1400Z to Mar 18, 0200Z and Mar 18, 1200Z to Mar 18, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50-440. Frequencies: CW 1.805, 50 kHz+ band edge; Phone 1.845,3.86,7.26,14.27,21.37,28.37; 50.130, calling frequencies on 144/220/440. Exchange: Serial and VA county/city or S/P/C. Logs due: Apr 15. Rules

North Dakota QSO Party--Phone,CW, from Mar 17, 1800Z to Mar 18, 1800Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50,144. Exchange: RST and ND county or S/P/C. Logs due: May 15. Rules

LOG DUE DATES

14 March through 27 March 2012

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ARRL Contest Update wishes to acknowledge information from WA7BNM's Contest Calendar and SM3CER's Contest Calendar.

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