ARRL

Contest Update Issues

Preview
The ARRL Contest Update
July 4, 2012
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
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IN THIS ISSUE

NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

If you had fun operating on HF at Field Day, there are plenty of opportunities to keep the ball rolling. There are several sprints, digital and CW contests, and the biggest of the upcoming two weeks - the IARU HF Championship. This is a 24-hour contest that begins Saturday morning here in North America. Both CW and phone modes are used and the exchange is a signal report and your ITU zone (not the CQ WW zone). Especially watch the higher bands as sunset falls and ionospheric absorption drops!

BULLETINS

Happy Independence Day to our US readers!

BUSTED QSOS

Sorry for causing any palpitations - the first use of the new Ontario section abbreviations will be this November in the 2012 Sweepstakes, not next year as reported in the previous issue. Also, the misdirection of internal links to the editor's personal C: drive was due to a newsletter editing program hiccup - apologies for not catching that on the way to publication.

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

July 7-8

  • MI QRP July 4th Sprint--CW (Jul 4)
  • SNS and NS Weekly Sprints--CW,Digital (Jul 6)
  • FISTS Summer Sprint--CW (Jul 6)
  • 070 Club Firecracker PSK31 Sprint
  • Venezuelan Independence Day Contest
  • DL DX RTTY Contest
  • Straight Key Weekend Sprintathon
  • DARC 10-Meter Digital Corona
  • QRP ARCI Summer Homebrew--CW

Jul 14-15

  • CWops Monthly Mini-CWT Test (Jul 11)
  • IARU HF World Championship
  • DMC RTTY Contest
  • CQC Great Colorado Gold Rush--CW
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

This year the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Headquarters station NU1AW will be operating in the IARU HF World Championship from the state of Wisconsin as NU1AW/9. Activity will take place on all bands on both modes from Paul WØAIH's hilltop multi-multi station in Wisconsin. The team of operators is still growing, however, some of the team members are WØGJ, NØIJ, KØMD, NE9U, WØUC and the host. With this year's contest, Paul will be one of a very few stations to have hosted both the W1AW and NU1AW operations!

Even the dog was having a good time at Field Day this year! The KOØA team - St Charles (MO) ARC - braved the heat and had a great time. We hope you did, too! (Photo by NØAX)

Along with a new team taking the reins at North American QSO Party Headquarters (see the Conversation section below), National Contest Journal editor, Kirk K4RO, also announces that Chris Tate, N6WM is the new manage for the SSB NA Sprint. Chris replaces long-time manager Jim Stevens, K4MA - thanks, Jim! Because of the heavy contest schedule in February, the winter Phone NA Sprint will move to the third Sunday of March at the same time, 0000 to 0359Z on March 16, 2013. This is Saturday afternoon or evening, local time, in the US and Canada. The September dates are not changing.

It's hard enough keeping everything working at room temperature. Can you imagine trying to do it at the South Pole? The EDN article "Extreme electronics in Antarctica" will take you into the shop of the most southern repair shop on the planet and introduce you to the "fuelies".

Scott N3JFP announces that the upgraded November Sweepstakes Log 4.7 is now available. The new version accommodates the new Ontario sections and upgrads the Cabrillo output format to 3.0 (Cabrillo 2.0 is still being accepted). With the new sections going into effect in September, you will definitely need this version for this fall's contest. Scott will be adding the additional sections to his other major contesting programs including the Field Day program in plenty of time for next year.

While this item is a little late for the 2012 Field Day, it's never too early to start preparing for next year. The N1MM team produced a 12-minute video "Operating N1MM Logger on Field Day". There are other helpful videos on the site, as well, and would be good training for the new operators you helped get started during Field Day. (Thanks, Larry K8UT)

Don't pass up opportunities to put ham radio in front of the public - summers are full of parades and fairs. Your club could operate a station, get a special call, work the pileups, and look fun and exciting. The St Charles ARC will be activating WØS from an actual float right in the July 4th Riverfest parade - speakers regaling the crowds with CW and voice! (Look for us at the low end of the General class band segments on 15 and 40 meters...a shameless plug.) All it takes is an enthusiastic team, some decorations, and a little ham innovation!

Engineering jokes - no that's not an oxymoron - and EDN provides us with several groaners, some that you've probably heard, and more that you probably haven't. Enjoy!

Web Site of the Week - In past presentations and in various Webinars on contest station design, N6BV has focused on antennas at multi-multi superstations, like N6RO, W6YI, K3LR and KC1XX. But what about a Little Gun? In this latest Potomac Valley Radio Club webinar, "Antennas for Contesting -- Little-Gun vs a Superstation", N6BV delves into more modest antenna installations that can still give a lot of bang for the buck in contests or DXing. (Thanks, PVRC President, Ken K4ZW)

WORDS TO THE WISE

"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is." Attributed to both de Snepscheut and Yogi Berra...I prefer Berra.

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SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

How do they do it? Every year at Field Day, I hear some amazed operator shout, "I just worked a station that has a million transmitters!" That would be the W3AO team - check out how it's done in this great set of photos. Amateur Radio Video News (ARVN) produced a DVD, "The Last Big Field Day" about W3AO's record-setting, all-time biggest Field Day effort - it makes for a great club program!

Everybody was having a great time at the Hamvention this year. Jim W8WTS snapped this photo of Mark KD4D (left) and Gary K9AY in the halls at Contest University.

If you expect to have visitors during a contest or are setting up in a public place, here's an idea for some eye-catching PR. Connect a tablet or laptop to the Reverse Beacon Net web site and use the call sign filter to show only spots of your call. The screen will display a zoom-able map of where your signal is being heard, worldwide. (Thanks, Pete N4ZR)

The Grumman Corporation produced the Lunar Modules that were so familiar during the space race to the Moon. EDN has packaged this nice slide show about the LM and its role in the Apollo program.

Take a look at this great 270-degree panorama of DJ3FS' "Funkbude" - I like that name! (Thanks, Tim K3LR)

"Wild ride at Georgetown's Power Tool Drag Race" - what more do you need to know? This is what they do in Seattle while waiting for summer to show up. There are quite a few YouTube videos of the event, as well - search for "power tool drag race georgetown 2012"

RESULTS AND RECORDS

The final version of Claimed Scores for the 2012 CQ WPX Contest are now available for both CW and SSB. These are all of the logs received as of June 24. Scores are calculated by the log checking software and before any reductions. (Logs submitted as check logs are not included in the claimed scores.) Please check that your log has been placed in the correct category. Any feedback or corrections should be made to Randy Thompson, K5ZD, Director of the CQ WPX Contest.

Official Claimed Scores for the 2012 CQMM DX Contest are available online, showing all logs received (including checklogs) with scores calculated before reduction by log checking process. Be sure that your log shows the correct category. If you find any errors, contact the CQMM Committee by email as soon as possible.

OPERATING TIP

You are - no you're not! When giving out exchanges, why say "You are..." and then give your own section? Wouldn't the right words be "We are..."? Actually, the right words are "Roger" or "Thank you" followed by your class and section without any extra verbiage.

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TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

To pass cables underneath a driveway or walkway and if you have access on each side underneath, you can "drill" a hole with some PVC pipe and leave the pipe in place for use as a conduit. What's needed is a nozzle of some kind at the "drill" end of the pipe, and a threaded garden hose connection at the other. The nozzle can be a PVC pipe cap with some small holes drilled in the end. Water pressure will wash away the soil ahead of the nozzle. Use stiff PVC sections with fittings that can be screwed together. Add more sections as you work the pipe under the drive. Note that If you run into a rock, you're "done" and will have to try another location. Hardware stores may also have "water drill" kits that do the same job. (Thanks, Charlie NØTT and Mike K6BR)

A lot of DXing has passed the ears of these two fellows - that's retired DXCC Manager, Don W3AZD (left) and this year's NU1AW/9 host for IARU HF, Paul WØAIH. (Photo by NØAX)

The ARRL web site offers a three-part series about lightning protection and the IEEE also publishes and lightning protection guide. (Thanks, Tom WØIVJ and Larry WØQE)

Here is a simple RC filter for the high-frequency hiss in audio output stages based on the LM386. Originally described in the SPRAT QRP journal, quite a number of audio accessories and rigs use this IC. Getting rid of the hiss reduces operator fatigue quite a bit! (Thanks, Brien VE3VAW)

If you are just learning how to use an oscilloscope (or want to learn) the Instructables web site offers a nice introductory tutorial on learning to use the eyes of the electronic workbench.

Why are the outer shells of some coaxial power connectors positive when most are grounded? Steve KD1JV answer the question. "The reason the shell is positive is so when you have a battery-operated device with an ac adaptor jack, the shell is what activates the switch inside the jack to disconnect the internal battery...having the plus (contact) on the shell simplifies the jack wiring. Otherwise, you'd be switching the ground to the battery, and that could lead to complications. For stuff which does not have internal batteries, you will often find the adaptor which comes with the device has a negative shell."

Dink N7WA recommends the Pyle-Pro PHA40 4-Channel Stereo Headphone Amplifier that the Mike & Key Club uses at Field Day every year. Another recommendation comes from Scott W5WZ - he says, "I've had great luck using an ART HeadAmp 4 Headphone Amp. They seem to be pretty immune to RF and have independent audio gain for each of the 4 outputs. A plus is that all inputs and outputs have paralleled 1/8" and 1/4" jacks."

One of the annual thorny problems is trying to minimize coupling between Field Day antennas while staying within the site size rules. Tom W8JI tackles this problem on his website and opines, "Having two antennas in the nulls of each other is worth a whole lot more than distance."

The father-daughter team of Byron NØAH and Anna WØANT made the rounds at the Hamvention - looks like they were doing some shopping for radio stuff, ya think? (Photo by NØAX)

The W1PNS/WAØITP/AB8XA Battery Life Estimator is a really handy tool for testing battery capacity - something important at Field Day and for portable or emcomm use all year long. (Thanks, TJ WØEA)

Here's a tip from TS-590S owner Mark K6UFO that might also have some utility in other radios with adjustable display colors or shading - "I've read that you should configure the Menu A settings in amber and the Menu B settings in green, so you can tell them apart. Menu A/B settings are discussed in the manual on page 14."

Popular Mechanics has published the plans for an Arduino-based EMI detector that translates RF field strength into an audio tone. It's designed to help sniff out emitters of radio energy around the house. I wonder what it would do during a contest weekend?

Magazine roundup:

  • National Geographic for June 2012 - "Solar Super Storms - How they could impact our high-tech world". Along with numerous fetching photos, the story covers the history of solar storms beginning with the enormous flare of 1859. Operators who were on the air during the 2003 CQ WW SSB contest will remember well the effect of the large flare, filling the bands with hiss and reducing the strongest signals to whispers.
  • Popular Mechanics for July 2012 - "Welcome to the new solar maximum", more coverage of solar storminess which seems to have captured the public's attention. The article includes a good summary of the current solar monitoring satellites. The issue also includes "Build Your Own Telegraph" that lists parts and diagrams of a neat project for kids and students.
  • Elektor for May 2012 - part three of the "AVR Software Defined Radio" adds an active ferrite antenna kit for VLF-MF reception and instructions for changing the tuning higher in frequency.
  • Wired for June 2012 - Mythbusters host Adam Savage authors a great article on science and tech projects for you and your kids. He doesn't mention ham radio but you can run with the idea!

Technical Web Site of the Week - From ARRL Propagation Bulletin ARLP026, the Kyoto World Data Center for Geomagnetism publishes planetary K and A indices all the way back to 1932. With a perpetual calendar you can find your favorite contest weekend for any year, as well.

CONVERSATION

The Work of Many

National Contest Journal editor, Kirk Pickering K4RO announces some changes in management for the North American QSO Party (NAQP) contests.

"After many years of service, Bruce Horn, WA7BNM will hand over management of the North American QSO Party (NAQP) to a new team of volunteers. I'd like to thank Bruce for all of the time, energy and resources he has put in to the NAQPs. These events are as vibrant and popular as ever and we have Bruce to thank for guiding their growth over the years.

"Bruce began overseeing the SSB NAQPs in January 1998 and took over the CW NAQPs in January 2003. As Bruce recalls, "Bob Selbrede, K6ZZ who was managing NAQP CW asked me if I'd be interested in managing the January 1998 NAQP SSB. Bob had been using an Excel spreadsheet for log checking, but it was limited by the maximum number of rows allowed by Excel at that time. I subsequently build at log-checking system using Microsoft Access, which was later used for CW log checking a couple of years later. I then wrote a more sophisticated log-checking system based on Web applications that I've used until the present. I started producing the CW results writeup and Correspondence (in addition to SSB) starting in January 2003. Finally, I started log checking the RTTY logs in January 2008, when the contest had a manager transition."

This was the best way to stay cool at Field Day - operate at night! Even the bands seemed to perk up after dark. That's Ed KØKL (left) working 20 CW with Jeff KC9KNB and Lon WØLON (right) on 40 meter phone at the KOØA operation. (Photo by NØAX)

"In addition to assisting in the transition to the new NAQP management team, Bruce will continue to handle online certificates and team registration for the NAQPs. Bruce will also work directly with ARRL Headquarters on other contesting-related IT challenges, applying his considerable experience and programming skills.

"The new team of volunteers consists of operators who are very familiar with the NAQPs and includes contesters with decades of collective log-checking experience. Many thanks to these top contesters for offering their time and experience to carry the NAQPs into the future.

"The new NAQP contest managers (and contest report authors) are Chris Hurlbut, KL9A for NAQP CW and Bill Lippert, ACØW for NAQP SSB. Mark Aaker, K6UFO remains onboard as the NAQP RTTY contest manager. Log collection and log checking will be handled by Trey Garlough, N5KO and Tree Tyree, N6TR, respectively. Bruce, WA7BNM will continue to handle online certificates and team registration. Finally, Steve London, N2IC and Rich Strand, KL7RA will manage NAQP score records. (As the NCJ editor, Kirk will be responsible for the contest rules.)"

First, I join with K4RO in appreciation for WA7BNM's hard work to support one of my favorite contests. There is a lot going on behind the scenes to make a contest like NAQP happen not just once a year but a half-dozen times! Thank you, Bruce. Second, if you step back and look at the transition, Bruce is being replaced not by one person but by six new workers. Six! The job has grown over the years, hasn't it?

I'll bet there is a person in your club like Bruce who doesn't get noticed all that often while doing a job that has gotten bigger and bigger with time. Does that person need some help? Does the job need to be divided into manageable chunks? My local club took a close look at the job of hamfest chair and discovered that there were basically eight major responsibilities and more than a dozen time-critical jobs that needed to be done over a sixteen-month period! Now we're careful to make sure the hamfest chair has at least one assistant and that volunteers are available to take some of those jobs.

On this Independence Day, let's take a moment to both recognize the hard-working volunteers who do so much on our collective behalf. Some are relatively anonymous (and may prefer to remain that way) but thank them anyway, publically or privately. Doing the work of many, they help make ham radio the thriving service that it is, providing enjoyment and satisfaction to us and public service to the nation and to our fellow citizens.

73, Ward NØAX

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CONTESTS

4 July through 17 July 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

IARU HF World Championship--Phone,CW, from Jul 14, 1200Z to Jul 15, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST and IARU zone. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

MI QRP July 4th Sprint--CW, from Jul 4, 2300Z to Jul 5, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, and QRPMI number or power. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

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

FISTS Summer Sprint--CW, from Jul 6, 2000 EDT to Jul 6, 2400 EDT. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, name, FISTS number or pwr. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

070 Club Firecracker PSK31 Sprint--Digital, from Jul 7, 8 PM to Jul 8, 2 AM. Bands (MHz): 7. Exchange: RST and S/P/C. Logs due: Jul 21. Rules

Venezuelan Indep Day Contest--Phone,CW,Digital, from Jul 7, 0000Z to Jul 8, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS(T) and serial. Logs due: Aug 31. Rules

DL DX RTTY Contest--Digital, from Jul 7, 1100Z to Jul 8, 1059Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and serial. Logs due: Aug 10. Rules

Straight Key Weekend Sprintathon--CW, from Jul 8, 0000Z to Jul 8, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: RST, QTH, name, member nr if member. Logs due: 5 days. Rules

DARC 10-Meter Digital Corona--Digital, from Jul 8, 1100Z to Jul 8, 1700Z. Bands (MHz): 28. Exchange: RST, serial. Logs due: 14 days. Rules

QRP ARCI Summer Homebrew--CW, from Jul 8, 2000Z to Jul 8, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, QRP number or power. Logs due: 14 days. Rules

CWops Monthly Mini-CWT Test--CW, from Jul 11, 1300Z with 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

DMC RTTY Contest--Digital, from Jul 14, 1200Z to Jul 15, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and serial. Logs due: Aug 15. Rules

CQC Great Colorado Gold Rush--CW, from Jul 15, 2000Z to Jul 15, 2159Z. Bands (MHz): 14. Exchange: RST, serial, category, CQC member nr. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

VHF+ CONTESTS

MI QRP July 4th Sprint--CW, from Jul 4, 2300Z to Jul 5, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, and QRPMI number or power. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

Straight Key Weekend Sprintathon--CW, from Jul 8, 0000Z to Jul 8, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: RST, QTH, name, member nr if member. Logs due: 5 days. Rules

LOG DUE DATES

4 July through 17 July

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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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