ARRL

Contest Update Issues

Preview
The ARRL Contest Update
August 1, 2012
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
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IN THIS ISSUE

NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

If you are chasing your Worked All States award (WAS) there can hardly be imagined a better opportunity for putting those "last few" in the log than the one-day-only North American QSO Party sponsored by the NCJ. The CW version is this Saturday and the Phone version is on the 18th - both are 100 watts and all you have to exchange is your name and state! The Worked All Europe's CW weekend opens up the fall contest season, too.

BULLETINS

For those of you reading this from outside the United States and Canada and who have yet to submit your IARU HF Championship log, please be sure that your Cabrillo log includes the tag line "LOCATION: DX" in the header at the beginning of the file. If this is missing, the log will be rejected by the contest's log submission robot. Logs should be submitted to iaruhf@iaru.org. (Thanks, ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Sean KX9X)

BUSTED QSOS

OSCAR 1, which launched on December 12, 1961 was actually the first satellite constructed with private sponsorship, something of which the amateur community in general, and the amateur satellite community particularly, is justifiably proud. (Thanks, Paul K9NO)

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

August 4-5

  • ARRL UHF Contest
  • North American QSO Party--CW
  • Int'l Lighthouse-Lightship Contest
  • TARA Grid Dip Shindig--Digital
  • 10-10 Summer Phone QSO Party
  • European HF Championship
  • South Africa DX SSB Contest

August 11-12

  • OK1WC Memorial Contest (Aug 6)
  • CWops Monthly Mini-CWT Test (Aug 8)
  • Worked All Europe--CW
  • Maryland-DC QSO Party
  • Fall VHF Sprints
  • Straight Key Weekend Sprintathon
  • NJQRP Skeeter Hunt--CW
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

CQ WW Director, Bob Cox K3EST announced, "With the technology available today and the presence of the Internet practically everywhere, it has been decided to reduce the log submission time for all CQ contests to five (5) days. Approximately 70% of all electronic logs (more than 10,000!) were received within 7 days after the contest. We realize that in some cases circumstances may not allow a timely submission. If an entrant requires more time to submit a log, an extension can be granted for legitimate reasons by contacting questions@cqww.com. Send your email to that address prior to the submission deadline - including before the contest if you expect to require more time. We encourage clubs to notify their members of the new deadline as they may not be aware of the rule change. This is an excellent opportunity for clubs to help members generate and email Cabrillo-formatted logs if they have not done so before." CQ Editor, Rich W2VU notes, "The five-day log submission deadline takes effect with the SSB weekend of the 2012 CQWW DX Contest in October. The deadline for the 2012 CQWW RTTY DX Contest (Sept. 29-30) remains 15 October, as published in the July issue of CQ."

Congratulations to Eric T6MO/K9GY - Eric (left) received the Bronze Star on July 13th from his commander for meritorious service. This probably doesn't cover his getting on the air under the most difficult circumstances but his fellow hams appreciate that, too! (Photo from K9GY)

Also from CQ Communications, we receive word that John Lindholm, W1XX, has stepped down as director of the CQ WW VHF Contest. John ran the VHF contest for 10 years and quintupled the number of logs submitted. Steve Bolia, N8BJQ, (who was once the CQ WPX Director) has graciously agreed to step into John's shoes. In addition to his current responsibilities as WPX Award Manager, Steve has already been helping John with VHF Contest log-checking for the past several years. Thanks to both John and Steve for their service!

Carl Luetzelschwab K9LA presented a July 2012 Webinar reviewing the recent solar minimum, Cycle 24's present status, and propagation in relation to the progress of Cycle 24. The effect of trees on HF and MF propagation and the best height for your antenna were also discussed. You can find the webinar on the Potomac Valley Radio Club's website archive of past webinars.

Array Solutions has just announced affordable band-pass filters for 160 (AS-160) through 10 meters (AS-10). Shown at right, these are designed for Field Day operations, club purchases, and DXpeditions. The filters are an improved version of the I.C.E. model 403-411 two-resonator filters and are symmetrical so that they can be connected in either orientation. The website includes vector network analyzer data on the filters, too.

Dave W9GRX requests that VHF+ contesters send a copy of their recent logs "for use in compiling the VHF Super Check Partial (SCP) Database. This is a complement to the excellent HF Contest SCP Database maintained by WA1Z. Logs are kept in confidence. The previous year of logs is deleted when the June Database is released. The various files can be found at www.k3lr.com/w9zrx/. The trailing / is required. Cabrillo files should be emailed to zephd@indy.rr.com.

Many DX cluster nodes are now carrying Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) spots in addition to traditional spots. If you go to the online DX Cluster directory and check only the boxes for AR Cluster and CC Cluster, you will find cluster nodes that offer that option identified in the left-hand column. Both ARCluster and CC Cluster offer extensive filtering options particularly designed for handling Skimmer spots. (Thanks, Pete N4ZR)

Is there an iPad app for logging contacts? Hans KØHB reports finding "HamLog" in the online store at a cost of 99 cents.

Hans also reports excellent results from new hearing aids featuring a Bluetooth link to a stereo audio source. "Wow! It's like you have your head inside the radio! No headset needed! I don't need to abandon CW after all." Sounds like he likes it. Many new models feature this wireless link including both behind-the-ear and in-the-ear aids.

Here's a ham in the news - the new Prime Minister of Serbia is Ivica Dacic, YU1YU. Will a tribander appear over the presidential residence? (Thanks, Venci Z39Z)

Steve Powlishen K1FO became a Silent Key this past week. Steve designed high-performance antennas that are standards in the VHF+ contest community. He was also a QST and QEX author with several ground-breaking articles on VHF+ antennas and amplifiers.

Web Site of the Week - David K2DSL relayed word of this Google Calendar formatted online contest calendar by DL2NBY. By clicking the Google icon at the bottom right, you can add this calendar to your own Google Calendar.

WORD TO THE WISE

ID - it's not just for ragchews anymore! The availability of Internet spotting networks does not remove the requirement to send your call sign in contests - we need to know who you are!

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SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Here is Randy, K5ZD taking his turn at the controls during IARU HF Championship, verifying that the WRTC-2014 stations were operating smoothly. (Photo from K5ZD)

The WRTC 2014 team was busy checking out their station design with 15 stations participating in the IARU HF Championship under "WRTC Conditions". Event co-chair, Randy K5ZD, "...drove 7.5 hours and 286 miles over the weekend. Visited 7 of the 13 stations. It was very impressive to see all of the stations look so professional - and similar! The enthusiasm and effort of the volunteers was truly outstanding." Allen N2KW took many photos of the Sholan Farms site and "Beam Team" leader K1RX also provided a photo tour of his efforts, too.

The London Olympics special station 2O12L is making a lot of QSOs on the bands - here's their website showing a pretty nice set-up. (Thanks, Bob N6TV)

Bob N6TV also discovered an online audio archive maintained by OL5Q. The audio is in Ogg Vorbis format and more information about playing these files is available from the Wikipedia.

Tim, N6WIN has created an extensive website about his VP9 operation with Kurt W6PH during the 2012 ARRL DX Phone contest - great info about Bermuda and operating from VP9!

The Mars Science Laboratory is going to be landing on the Red Planet on August 5th - its advanced landing mechanism has heightened the curiosity of millions around the world. For some pre-landing preparation, AMSAT Bulletin ANS-211 including the following videos:

There's a lot going on overhead lately and here's a neat story about a satellite that will beam 200 watts of Morse code down to Earth as visible light! Deployment from the ISS is scheduled for Sep 6.

A chart of the electromagnetic spectrum adorns a lot of workshops, offices, and ham shacks - here's a free download version from Unihedron and a full-size printed copy can be purchased as well. (Thanks, AMSAT Bulletin ANS-197)

Speaking of well-equipped shacks, does your shack need a "makeover"? Jake K9WN turned up this oldie-but-goodie from the Yankee Clipper Contest Club archives.

Lightning at 7,207 images per second is just as impressive - and maybe more - than a real-time strike. You can see for yourself in this high-speed movie on Astronomy Picture of the Day.

RESULTS AND RECORDS

The work of the Regional writeup authors has been collected and the 2012 ARRL DX Phone extended results article is now online. Although there are a couple more to add, thanks to all of the volunteers who contribute to this article. Diego LU8ADX tells the tale in both Spanish and English for contesters from Central and South America.

Certificates for the 2011 ARRL August UHF Contest should be hitting the mailboxes shortly. They are in the spiffy new graphic format that was so well-received for the ARRL June VHF Contest. (Thanks, ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Sean KX9X)

The 14th running of the NCCC Sprint Ladder, 'NSL XIV - Spring 2012' has come to a close with 67 unique stations participating. Congratulations to winners:
Atlantic: Eric ('Ty') Tichansky, NO3M
East Central: Tor Clay, N4OGW
West Central: Todd Dravland, WDØT
West: Danny Eskenazi, K7SS
NCCC: Ken Keeler, N6RO
The 15th Sprint Ladder begins tomorrow night (Aug 3, 0230-0300Z) on 5 bands during the single 30-minute contest period! (Thanks, Bill N6ZFO and Ken KE3X for the NCCC Sprint Contest)

I don't know if a map on the wall helps bring in the DX but it didn't hurt! Doug K1DG found the pileups of European stations unending from N1LI in this past weekend's IOTA contest. (Photo by NØAX)

The Oceania DX (OCDX) contest committee reports the results of the 2011 contest are now available. "What a difference one year can make! After many years of hibernation the 10 meter band finally exploded back to life with more than 20% of the action in the 2011 contest occurring on this band. The 2011 OCDX contest was the biggest so far with a total of 1259 logs being submitted. In particular it was pleasing to see an 81% increase in the number of logs submitted from North American stations. (Thanks, Brian ZL1AZE for the OCDX Contest Committee)

The final results of the UBA Contest CW 2012 are online at the UBA website including downloadable contest certificates. (Thanks, Marc ON7SS/OO9O)

Results of the 2012 Ukrainian DX Classic RTTY Contest are already available at the contest website. (Thanks, Leon UT7CL)

OPERATING TIP

Retired USCG Radioman, Chris K4HC relays that "the proper meanings of the Procedural Words Roger and Wilco are:
Roger - Message received and understood
Wilco - Message received and understood, and I will comply.
Therefore, saying "Roger Wilco" is akin to saying "73's". The two are NEVER used together. Hollywood got it wrong on this one."

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TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

With several generations of Rohn tower sections "in play" across the land, there are reports of difficulties in getting them to fit together. Rich KL7RA devised a handy gauge of copper pipe to help with alignment chores. "I soldered two 90-degree ¾-inch elbows to a pipe. It measured a perfect fit for the top legs of Rohn 25 as a quick check. If my leg gauge didn't fit I would put that section aside and [used] a big pipe to bend the leg in or out. The ¾-inch pipe matches the OD of the top legs very closely to indicate misalignment and fits inside the bottom of the legs."

The WRTC-2014 team has to assemble 60 40-foot towers for their stations so maybe they will be using the tips at left from KL7RA and N9RV. You can also see the "falling derrick" erection fixture used by the team to put up the towers with tribanders and wire antennas in place. (Photo by K5ZD)

Pat N9RV weighs in with some advice for Rohn 25 tower builders, as well. "File off the galvanizing [slag] first. There are at least two problems to tower fit - legs out of round and legs not true (slightly bent). Mate pairs of sections and mark them. Correct for legs out of round (oval) by pounding simultaneously with sledges on the wide parts until they are sufficiently close to circular (both sections). Correct for legs out of true by spreading or compressing using something that is stiff and can give you leverage (such as a [length] of pipe)."

Locknuts or lockwashers? Grant KZ1W writes that "Engineering tests show that double nuts properly tightened are superior to lock washers and the Nylock nut is somewhat better as the second nut. Even if the nylon insert degrades (there are non-nylon inserts as well) the double nut friction still is better than a lockwasher. There are other choices as well to insure the fastener stays tight. Perhaps the easiest and most reliable is Loctite. The medium strength grade (blue 242) can be disassembled with hand tools (no heat required). However, the bolt surface should be clean so use the Loctite to prevent SS galling."

Assembling our favorite connector (the PL-259) is a never-ending source of suggestions and favorite procedures. Here's a good process for PL-259's with the RG-58/59/8X adapters by K6MHE from W5FC's website that has the benefit of allowing you to see what the finished solder job looks like. (Thanks, Paul W9AC)

But will they make a Smart Toolbag for tower work? This Gadget Freak Case #221 presents "Smart Toolbox Finds the Right Tool".

A free online EDN course covers the fundamentals of off-grid, stand-alone photovoltaic (PV) systems, with a good overview of the technologies, topologies and electronics that make up such systems. An earlier course--Fundamentals of Solar: Grid Connected--focused on PV systems connected to the power grid; if you're considering connecting your system to the grid at any point, please check out that course, too.

Aggregate concrete finishes can look more attractive than plain concrete surfaces. Scott W5WZ explains the difference: "Aggregate concrete (in our market more commonly called "washed concrete") is simply regular concrete that is finished differently. Instead of using trowels to get the smooth surface, at that point in the curing process, the upper layer of cement is washed away with water to expose the aggregate which is contained in the ready-mix. This principle works well on mixes of strength between 2500 & 4500 PSI, albeit the stronger mixes require more precise timing of the washing operation." He notes that your local ready-mix plant will help you get the look and strength you need.

Technical Web Site of the Week - Is 1 or 2 dB worth the bother? Judge for yourself at Dave AB7E's "Minimum Discernable Difference" website.

CONVERSATION

Bring On the Rookies!

In just over two-and-a-half weeks (Aug 19th) the August edition of the ARRL's Rookie Roundup contest will hit the airwaves for six hours - 1800 through 2359Z. This is a perfect opportunity to give those promising new operators you met at Field Day some hands-on time in the shack. It's important to put the word out early so that busy end-of-the-summer weekend time can be added to the all-important Master Refrigerator Calendar.

This is the digital edition of Rookie Roundup - meaning RTTY. Many younger hams are far more comfortable wrangling a keyboard than they are a microphone or Morse key so encourage them to "drop by and make a few QSOs". I'll bet they find it exciting and interesting enough to stay for quite a while!

There have been some recent changes in the Rookie Roundup rules to encourage teamwork and group mentoring. After receiving a number of requests for it, the Multioperator category is now a reality. Any number of Rookie operators may now band together at a single QTH and take turns operating using a single call and submitting a single score. This also works for a stream of operators dropping in for some chair time. Note that Multioperator teams are allowed only a single transceiver.

What do you do with that ARRL Field Day tee-shirt afterwards? You can dress it up with some stick-on letters from the local hobby store - a great idea to help your Rookies be proud of their call signs! (Photo by W5AJ)

In the new Team Competition up to five Rookie Single-Operator entrants can operate from separate stations and combine their scores for a cumulative team score. Team members can be located anywhere. Note that Multioperator entrants and non-Rookies are not eligible to be part of a Team, only Rookie Single-Operators. Operators are also limited to being on only one team for each RR. Team registration will begin one week before each RR starts; look for the link to Team Registration in the At-A-Glance section of the ARRL's Rookie Roundup web page. How about your club challenges another local club to see whose team of Rookies do the most rounding up?

As always, Non-Rookies are encouraged to help the Rookies through on-site Elmering during the contest and by getting on the air and working Rookies in the event itself. If you're not on RTTY, this event is a great testing ground for hooking up the necessary pieces - just a couple of cables and your contest logging software, most likely - will get you going.

If you're considering hosting a couple of new members - put out the word today! An email to the club email reflector or website is a good way to get started. If your club newsletter comes out at the beginning of the month - be sure to send the editor a note. And then follow up with photos and an after-event report to encourage more activity throughout the contest season.

73, Ward NØAX

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CONTESTS

1 August through 14 August 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

Int'l Lighthouse-Lightship Contest--Phone, CW, Digital, from Aug 4, 0000Z to Aug 5, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: Serial or ARLHS mbr/light nr and name, S/P/C. Logs due: Aug 31. Rules

TARA Grid Dip Shindig--Digital, from Aug 4, 0000Z to Aug 4, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: Name and 4-char grid square. Logs due: Sep 3. Rules

10-10 Summer Phone QSO Party--Phone, from Aug 4, 0001Z to Aug 5, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 28. Exchange: Call, name, 10-10 number, S/P/C. Logs due: Aug 20. Rules

European HF Championship--Phone, CW, from Aug 4, 1200Z to Aug 4, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS(T), last two digits of 1st year licensed. Logs due: Aug 31. Rules

North American QSO Party--CW, from Aug 4, 1800Z to Aug 5, 0600Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: Name and state. Logs due: 14 days. Rules

South Africa DX SSB Contest--Phone, from Aug 5, 1300Z to Aug 5, 1630Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Exchange: RS and serial. Logs due: 14 Aug. Rules

OK1WC Memorial Contest--Phone, CW, from Aug 6, 1600Z - see website. Bands (MHz): 3.5, 50, 144, First through fourth Monday of each month; see website for bands. Exchange: RS(T) and serial. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

CWops Monthly Mini-CWT Test--CW, from Aug 8, 1300Z - see website. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Multiple operating periods, twice monthly on 2nd and 4th Wed. Frequencies: 18 to 28 kHz above band edge. Exchange: Name and member number or S/P/C. Logs due: 2 days. Rules

Worked All Europe--CW, from Aug 11, 0000Z to Aug 12, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and serial (see website for QTC rules). Logs due: 15 days. Rules

Maryland-DC QSO Party--Phone, CW, Digital, from Aug 11, 1600Z - see website. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50-440. Exchange: Maryland county/city or S/P/C. Logs due: Sep 14. Rules

Straight Key Weekend Sprintathon--CW, from Aug 12, 0000Z to Aug 12, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: RST, QTH, name, member nr if member. Logs due: 5 days. Rules

NJQRP Skeeter Hunt--CW, from Aug 12, 1700Z to Aug 12, 2100Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Frequencies: QRP calling frequencies. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, Skeeter number or power. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

VHF+ CONTESTS

ARRL UHF Contest--Phone, CW, Digital, from Aug 4, 1800Z to Aug 5, 1800Z. Bands (MHz): 222+. Exchange: 4-char grid square. Logs due: Sep 6. Rules

Fall VHF Sprints--Phone, CW, Digital, from Aug 11, 2000Z to Aug 11, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 50. Exchange: 4-character grid square. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

TARA Grid Dip Shindig--Digital, from Aug 4, 0000Z to Aug 4, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: Name and 4-char grid square. Logs due: Sep 3. Rules

OK1WC Memorial Contest--Phone, CW, from Aug 6, 1600Z - see website. Bands (MHz): 3.5, 50, 144, First through fourth Monday of each month; see website for bands. Exchange: RS(T) and serial. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

Maryland-DC QSO Party--Phone, CW, Digital, from Aug 11, 1600Z - see website. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50-440. Exchange: Maryland county/city or S/P/C. Logs due: Sep 14. Rules

Straight Key Weekend Sprintathon--CW, from Aug 12, 0000Z to Aug 12, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: RST, QTH, name, member nr if member. Logs due: 5 days. Rules

LOG DUE DATES

1 August through 14 August 2012

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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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