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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
May 23, 2012
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX


The CW weekend of the CQ WPX (Worked PrefiX) Contest will be held in what looks to be good late-spring conditions - keep your fingers crossed and the prefix table handy! Digifest is a relatively new contest that exercises the growing number of digital modes in a single contest. It also calculates contact point value according to the distance between stations.


Dayton contest festivity-goers, Contest University attendees, and those who watched at home will be sad to learn that the guy who made the Internet audio-video feeds sing - Tom Samacicio KB4HQA - was in a serious automobile accident on his way home from the Hamvention and suffered significant injuries. Cards to Tom's home address (3740 Wake Robin Way, Cumming, GA 30040) or email messages are welcome. Your editor and members of the Spurious Emissions band in particular wish him a speedy recovery along with the readership of the Contest Update. Online posting of the Dayton contest activity videos are a far lower priority than Tom's recovery. (Thanks, Tim K3LR)

The weekly SNS and NS CW Sprints are now preceded by a short RTTY sprint, as well! (Thanks, Ed WØYK)


Penalty points have been taken from your editor's score for the typo changing SM3EVR's call sign to SM5EVR - Sorry, Tord! (Thanks, Trey N5KO and Glenn K6NA) And the photos of WGØAT's operations should be credited to WGØAT. (Thanks, John AE5X)


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

May 26-27

  • Worldwide EME Contest
  • CQ WW WPX Contest--CW
  • QRP ARCI Hootowl Sprint--CW (May 28)
  • MI QRP Memorial Day CW Sprint

Jun 2-3

  • Ten-Ten Open Season--Digital
  • Digifest--Digital
  • LZ Open 20 Meter Contest--CW
  • Maritime (Canadian) QSO Party
  • SEANET Contest
  • UKSMG Sporadic E Contest
  • IARU Region I Field Day--CW
  • Alabama QSO Party
  • DARC 10 Meter Digital Contest
  • OK1WC Memorial Contest (Jun 4)
  • ARS Spartan Sprint--CW (Jun 5)

New releases of the HF Super Check Partial (SCP) and the VHF Super Check Partial and Prefill database files are now available. From the HF release notes we learn that the file is based on more than 40,000 calls and for the RTTY file, just over 11,000 calls. That's a lot of active stations! To check the version of the HF SCP files you are using, look for a call beginning with "VER". Every SCP file includes the version number in the list of calls as "VERYYYYMMDD". On the VHF side, the release version number is 20120513_00. Only 2011 plus Jan 2012 Logs were used in building the 2012 release of the VHF file. For either HF or VHF, W9ZRX notes, "...these files are intended for use ONLY as an OPERATING AID. Their availability does not mitigate the responsibility of the user to COPY and ENTER the exchange given to them during a contest." Even with computing power applied, the contest remains a test of operator skill! (Thanks, Bob WA1Z and Dave W9ZRX)

Doing a land-office business in T-shirts and pins, the WRTC2014 fundraising booth was busy from start to finish. Left to right are Tree N6TR, Doug K1DG, and Tom K1KI. (Photo by NØAX)

WRTC2014, Inc. has announced that a draft of the competition rules has been made available for review. These are the rules that will be followed by the onsite competitors. There will be a 30-day open review period. Comments, suggestions, and corrections are welcome during the comment period and should be sent by email. The comment period will close on June 18, 2012 and the final rules will be released before July 1, 2012. The rules are very similar to those used at WRTC 2010 in Russia. The most significant change is to rule 16.2.4 that allows both radios to transmit at any time. (Thanks, Andy N2NT)

Here's that big new radio from Kenwood - the TS-990S. It should be ready for this year's holiday gift-giving (and getting) season! (Photo by N6TV)

Kenwood has released a new HF transceiver, the TS-990S. Roving Contest Update reporter Bob N6TV took the photo at right and observed, "The 57-pound TS-990S was displayed under glass with the rear panel completely covered so it is still quite the mystery box. The sub-receiver performance is claimed to be equivalent to a TS-590S." Bob was not sure whether it would support phase lock between the two receivers for true diversity reception. Bob also asked about including a waterfall display as part of the spectrum display like the Elecraft P3 but no news will be available until the Friedrichshafen hamfest. The price is in the $5,000 to $10,000 range and the radio is expected to be available by November.

Not a dry eye in the house as CQ Managing Editor, Gail K2RED receives a plaque of appreciation for 30 years of service to the contest community. (Photo by NØAX)

The 2012 inductees to the CQ Contest Hall of Fame were celebrated at the Dayton Contest Dinner. The first was Lothar Wilke, DL3TD (SK), a leading contester and promoter of contesting in Germany. Under his leadership, DAØHQ won the IARU World Championship 11 times. It was good to see a number of German hams there to honor his memory and the full ceremony will take place at the Friedrichshafen hamfest. The second inductee was on-hand to receive his honor -- Jim Reisert, AD1C - he maintains and constantly updates the CTY country and prefix files on which all of us depend for proper operation of our logging software. Jim is also an active contester with a lot of top scores under his belt. In addition, Gail Sheehan, K2RED, Managing Editor for CQ magazine also received an award of recognition for her 30 years of service to the CQ WW and WPX Contest Managers and the contest community.

On this anniversary of the Joplin tornado, it is a good idea to remind US hams to have the NOAA/NWS weather station frequencies programmed into their handheld VHF radio memories.
162.400/425/450/475/500/525/550 MHz
Your editor has them programmed into the "top" seven channels - meaning the memories with the highest numbers. With the "usual" channels (favorite repeaters, simplex frequencies, etc) beginning at memory 1, the WX channels are never more than a few clicks away. This can be very handy when the clouds roll in.

Web Site of the Week - Dave W6NL turned up a great website "QSL Cards from the Past" by W8JYZ featuring many old QSL cards, including many of famous hams, such as a 1929 card from David Packard 9DRV before he founded Hewlett-Packard. Dave also recommends "The History of Wireless: How Creative Minds Produced Technology for the Masses" by Ira Brodsky. The book begins with critical elements of research by scientists like Volta and Hertz, moving along through subsequent developments right up to the present day - and beyond.


Contest University Glossary - Pat N9RV did a lot of leg work and created an extensive glossary of all the contest jargon we take for granted. Presented to the Contest University students at the Dayton Hamvention, you too can use it as soon as it is posted on the ARRL Contest website.


From AMSAT bulletin ANS-141, "51 years ago on May 5, 1961, NASA launched the Mercury-Redstone 3 rocket carrying Alan B. Shepard, Jr. aboard the Freedom 7 capsule. Shepard successfully became America's first man in space, making a brief but historic suborbital test flight that propelled American astronauts into the space race of the 1960s. NASA has compiled a video from from photographs taken by a film camera mounted to the Freedom 7 spacecraft. Compare the view in 1961 with the latest generation of space video we routinely receive from the ISS!

The "falling derrick" technique of raising medium and small towers seems to be catching on as in this YouTube video. I'm not sure the human counterweight is a very good idea but the video does illustrate the idea pretty well. (Thanks, Steve N2IC)

If you had a good time at the Dayton Hamvention, you might also enjoy the latest music video from Andrew and Lissa of the Ham Band. In fact, there seem to be three Lissas in this one! Bela Fleck of banjo fame is featured, too. (Thanks, Doug K1DG)

Wouldn't this have been just the thing for a pre-computer logging multi-multi or maybe your next Field Day operation?


There are meetings at Dayton? Here are some of the hard-working volunteers (and one staffer) who make ARRL contests happen. Left to right are John K9JK, Sean KX9X, Ken K1EA, Dave K8CC, and Bob N6TV. (Photo by NØAX)

Great contest result writeups from two new authors will be on-line by the end of this week for the 2011 ARRL 10 Meter Contest (Scott K7ZO) and the 2012 January VHF Sweepstakes (Kevin W9GKA). Featuring a lot of graphics and in-depth analysis, you'll definitely want to read these. The 6 meter "play-by-play" maps developed by John K9JK will really whet your appetite for the upcoming ARRL June VHF QSO Party. Ken WM5R has also updated the 10 Meter Contest records which have a lot of new call signs! Section records for the September VHF QSO Party have been updated to 2011. Comments and corrections are welcome (although we already know about a minor problem with the million-plus scores in the Multi-Op table). (Thanks, ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Sean KX9X)

The results of last year's CQ-M contest are now available online. You'll find the rules there, too. (Thanks, Henk PA5KT)

As the pileup exercise proceeds, the scores creep across the screen and can be compared to the current "Top Five" above. It sure provokes a lot of rooting and hollering! (Photo by NØAX)

The Kansas City DX Club hosted the annual CW Pileup Contest at the Dayton Hamvention again this year. For the past couple of years Chuck NO5W's "horse race" display of real-time action (seen at right) has drawn lots of viewers and 2012 was no different. The winner was Dave K5GN with 76 calls out of the possible 100 - a very high score, indeed! Dave last won the contest during his last visit to the KCDXC hospitality suite - 30 years ago! First prize was a Yaesu FT-450 - we think Dave will come back next year to defend his title.

Here's Dave K5GN, the winner of the pileup copying contest, receiving his prize of a brand-new FT-450! Thanks to the KCDXC for hosting this annual event. (Photo by NØAX)

Kevin W9GKA writes, "Congratulations to Zack W9SZ for being awarded the 2012 June gavel last night at the Society of Midwest Contesters hospitality suite in Dayton ! Zack has done a great job over the years at activating everything up through 24 GHz and most of the time in portable conditions with only a few watts and using equipment he scratch built."


Study propagation for the summer contests - it's changing rapidly. Propagation for the end-of-May WPX CW contest is very different than for the end-of-March WPX SSB contest. Adjust your strategy or pick your categories accordingly!


Steven K9IER writes, "For years, I've enjoyed reading iFixit without ever thinking about its applicability to our needs, especially a new ham wanting to build stuff and needing electronic skills. In addition, they offer a supply of tools and things that support the interests of a repair person or just any curious ham."

Here's a kit-cat in his hat - and no, he doesn't leave my hamfest table messed up! Meet CQ's "Kitbuilding" column editor, Joe KØNEB, a frequent Dayton visitor and seminar leader. (Photo by NØAX)

The slim new book, "The ABCs of Software Defined Radio" by Martin Ewing, AA6E is an excellent introduction to the practical characteristics and use of SDRs. Avoiding the usual math-heavy treatments of SDR and DSP, the book includes a few block diagrams but focuses on what SDR does and how it affects operating. With nearly every new radio incorporating digital technology to greater and greater extents, this is a good first read to start you down the on-ramp to the SDR highway.

Two recent articles on the Electronic Design web site make good reference reading. The first explains the difference between voltage feedback and current feedback op amps. A second goes through all of the new (and old) amplifier operating classes, explaining the differences.

Jim K9YC has discovered a line-loss modeling program called SimSmith, a Java application written by Ward AE6TY with documentation available from the program's website. One application is translating impedance measured at the shack end of a feed line to impedance at the antenna. The resulting SWR data can then be used to design matching networks, for example.

Technical Web Site of the Week - Microwave Journal offers a number of live and archived webinars in association with Besser and Associates. The most recent entry is Mixers and Frequency Conversion and an extensive archive of previous material is available from the Events page.


A Happy Blur

The Dayton Hamvention generally goes like this for me:

  • Step One - preparation
  • Step Two - panic as preparation falls behind
  • Step Three - leave for Dayton anyway
  • Step Four - engage in several days of high-bandwidth hamming
  • Step Five - drive home wondering "What just happened?"

Here are your best contest friends in Wyoming! Dwayne WY7FD and Katie WY7KRA were everywhere this weekend - watch for them in Sweepstakes, too! (Photo by NØAX)

This year was no different. There is so much to see and so many friends to greet that you just have to forget about doing it "all". I'm not even sure anyone knows what "all" is, anyway! Sometimes I feel like a dog with its head outside the car, ears flapping in the wind, happily barking at anything and everything - "Hey! Hey! Hey!" (as well as asking, "You gonna eat that?")

I really enjoy the Visalia International DX Convention, too - it's like Sweepstakes in that you can find and work every multiplier - but the Dayton Hamvention is like the CQ World Wide. There's no way you'll even hear every mult, much less work them! If you go, be prepared to come back having left more than a few things undone and faces unseen.

Just wandering around listening to the sounds was very cool - over here was the chatter of antique telegraph sounders. Around the corner was the busy stitching at one of the several embroidery booths as another call sign went on another new baseball cap. Audio Alley sported lots to listen to - every time I went by one of the Ham Nation hosts was busy giving an interview or telling a story. Radio noise and conversations were everywhere. It is possibly the one place left on Earth where conversations on handhelds outnumber those on mobile phones.

This photo pretty much sums up my assessment of Dayton this year - smiles all-round with friends galore! Left to right are Ted N9NB, Angel WP3R, Jim W8WTS, Jim WA3FET, and Mike W9RE. (Photo by W8WTS)

And thanks to the Dayton Hamvention committee, led by Mike Kalter W8CI, for a lot of hard work that paid off over the weekend. The weather could not have been better and attendance seemed to be very good with a big Friday turnout, especially. Putting on such a big show is a lot of work and takes a lot of time that might be put to other uses, such as ham radio operating. We appreciate it!

I'll be posting photos from Dayton throughout the next couple of issues - some of people, some of gear - it was all good. Support your local hamfest(s) this year - you won't regret it. Maybe even serve on the planning committee or volunteer your time at an information booth or in the parking lot. And do put Dayton on your "bucket list" if you haven't been there yet.

73, Ward NØAX


23 May through 5 June 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.


CQ WW WPX Contest--CW, from May 26, 0000Z to May 27, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST and serial. Logs due: Jun 20. Rules

QRP ARCI Hootowl Sprint--CW, from May 27, 8 PM to May 27, Midnight. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST, S/P/C QRP number or power. Logs due: 14 days. Rules

MI QRP Memorial Day CW Sprint--CW, from May 28, 2300Z to May 29, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, MI QRP number or power. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

Ten-Ten Open Season--Digital, from Jun 2, 0000Z to Jun 3, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 28. Exchange: Call, name, S/P/C, member numbers. Logs due: 15 days. Rules

Digifest--Digital, from Jun 2, 0400Z to see website. Multiple operating periods. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and grid square. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

LZ Open 20 Meter Contest--CW, from Jun 2, 1100Z to Jun 2, 1500Z. Bands (MHz): 14. Exchange: 6-digit serial and serial from previous QSO. Logs due: 10 days. Rules

Maritime (Canadian) QSO Party--Phone,CW, from Jun 2, 1200Z to Jun 3, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50,144, Frequencies: 25 to 50 kHz from band edge. Exchange: Maritime county or S/P/C. Logs due: 1 month. Rules

SEANET Contest--Phone,CW,Digital, from Jun 2, 1200Z to Jun 3, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Frequencies: CW--3.525, 7.025, 14.025, 21.025, 28.025, SSB--3.540/3.790, 7.090, 14.320, 21.320, 28.320. Exchange: RS(T), serial. Logs due: Jul 31. Rules

IARU Region I Field Day--CW, from Jun 2, 1500Z to Jun 3, 1459Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST, serial. Rules - see IARU society websites

Alabama QSO Party--Phone,CW, from Jun 2, 1600Z to Jun 3, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Frequencies: CW--1.810, 3.545, 7.045, 14.045, 21.045, 28.045; PH--1.865, 3.855, 7.230, 14.250, 21.300, 28.450. Exchange: RS(T) and AL county or S/P/C. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

DARC 10 Meter Digital Contest--Digital, from Jun 3, 1100Z to Jun 3, 1700Z. Bands (MHz): 28. Exchange: RST, serial number. Logs due: 14 days. Rules

OK1WC Memorial Contest--Phone,CW, from Jun 4, 1600Z to see website. Bands (MHz): 3.5, 50, 144, Frequencies: First through fourth Monday of each month; see website for bands. Exchange: RS(T) and serial. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

ARS Spartan Sprint--CW, from Jun 5, 0200Z to Jun 5, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Frequencies: Monthly on the first Monday evening. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, and power. Logs due: 2 days. Rules


Worldwide EME Contest--Phone,CW, from May 26, 0000Z to May 27, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.2G. Exchange: TMO/RS(T) and "R". Logs due: Jun 25. Rules

UKSMG Sporadic E Contest--Phone,CW,Digital, from Jun 2, 1300Z to Jun 3, 1300Z. Bands (MHz): 50, Frequencies: No QSOs below 50.080 or from 50.100-130 MHz. Exchange: RST, member nr, 6-char grid locator. Logs due: Jul 1. Rules

OK1WC Memorial Contest--Phone,CW, from Jun 4, 1600Z to see website. Bands (MHz): 3.5, 50, 144, Frequencies: First through fourth Monday of each month; see website for bands. Exchange: RS(T) and serial. Logs due: 7 days. Rules


23 May through 5 June 2012

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