ARRL

Contest Update Issues

Preview
The ARRL Contest Update
January 16, 2013
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
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IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

The SSB North American QSO Party this coming weekend is a fun way to spend a few hours and is particularly good for young and beginning operators - all you have to exchange is your name and state. Plus, you can work stations on each HF band from 160 through 10 for fun all day and night. It starts at 1800Z and you can operate for 10 of the next 12 hours, taking a break during those crucial playoff games!

BULLETINS

The log submission deadline for the North American QSO Parties will be 7 days after the running of the January-February 2013 contests, shortened from 14 days as it was previously. All six NCJ-sponsored contests (CW, SSB and RTTY Sprint and NAQP contests) now have a consistent 7-day log submission deadline. (See discussion in the News section below.)

BUSTED QSOS

The ARRL Morse code CD uses the Farnsworth method, using 18 wpm characters sent with 5 wpm spacing, not the Koch method. (Thanks, Dan N2DD)

Dennis KSØDX corrects the color code for network cabling given in the previous issue: "There are two standards, 568B and 568A. 568B (B for Bell Labs which surprisingly came first) goes like this:

  • White/Orange, Orange, White/Green, Blue, White/Blue, Green, White/Brown, Brown.

568A goes like this:

  • White/Green, Green, White/Orange, Blue, White/Blue, Orange, White/Brown, Brown.

A Null or Crossover cable would have 568B on one end and 568A at the other and would be used for a DTE to DCE connection such as connecting two LAN switches or back-to-back PCs. The color code provided in the previous issue is the "IW" color code used in telephone network wiring but not CAT5 or CAT6 LAN or WAN network wiring."

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

Jan 19-20

  • ARRL January VHF Contest
  • North American QSO Party--Phone
  • Linc Cundall Memorial CW Contest (Jan 16)
  • NAQCC Monthly QRP Sprint--CW (Jan 17)
  • Locust QSO Party--CW (Jan 17)
  • LZ Open Contest--CW
  • YLISSB QSO Party--Phone
  • International United Teenager Contest
  • HA DX Contest
  • Feld-Hell Gridloc Sprint
  • Run For the Bacon--CW (Jan 21)

Jan 26-27

  • QRP Winter Fireside SSB Sprint (Jan 24)
  • NAQCC Special 160M Sprint--CW (Jan 25)
  • CQ WW 160 Meter Contest--CW (Jan 25)
  • REF French Contest--CW
  • BARTG RTTY Sprint
  • UBA Contest--Phone
  • Winter Field Day
  • WAB Top Band Phone Contest
  • Classic Exchange--CW
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NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

The rules for the North American QSO Party (NAQP) and Sprint contests were accidentally omitted from the January/February 2013 issue of the National Contest Journal (NCJ). You can now find the official rules for the 2013 NAQP contests at the NCJ website. All rules for NCJ NAQP and NA Sprint contests will be published in the March/April 2013 issue of NCJ. Along with the new log submission deadline noted in the Bulletin section above, a rule change requires that the same name must be used throughout the contest, even by multioperator stations. Note that since the rules were not printed in the magazine on time, the one-week deadline for the January and February NAQP contests is waived and will remain at two weeks. Starting with the July 2013 NAQP contests, the 7-day deadline will apply. The 7-day deadline for NA Sprint contests remains in place. (Thanks, NCJ Editor, Kirk K4RO)

You wondered where all those funny prefixes in the CQ WPX come from? There are so many it takes a van to bring them all! (Photo by Jeff KL2HD)

The Florida Contest Group is hosting the 2013 Orlando Contest Dinner on February 8. Chris WF3C announces "Our speaker this year is Randy Thompson K5ZD, who will be talking to us about administering the CQ WW DX and CQ WPX contests, participating in four prior WRTCs, planning WRTC-2014, and anything else that catches his fancy." Contact Blake N4GI for tickets and information by February 2.

The deadline for ordering 2012 Sweepstakes Clean Sweep mugs and participation pins is January 31. Mugs are $15 and pins are $8 (both include all shipping/handling charges) and will be shipped late March - early April. Pins are mode-specific, mugs are not. Get your orders in now! (Thanks, ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Sean KX9X)

CQ WW DX Director, Randy K5ZD reminds us, "this is one of those years where the CW WW contest is not on the US Thanksgiving holiday!" It will run on 23 and 24 November - the weekend BEFORE Thanksgiving which is on the 28th. This year you can have your CW WW and eat plenty of turkey, too!

John K9JK noticed something interesting in May 1976 QST about the 1975 Sweepstakes logs. It seems that there have always been log submission problems as described by K1TN on page 55. Can you imagine cross-checking all those paper logs by hand? ARRL members can access the QST online archives to download the article.

The North Coast Contesters are proud to announce the 21st Annual Dayton Contest Dinner. Master of Ceremonies, John K1AR, will introduce a familiar featured speaker - Dr Robert Cox, K3EST! The dinner is held on Saturday of the Dayton Hamvention weekend, 18 May at 6:30 PM in the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Be sure to order tickets in advance - no tickets will be available at the door. The Contest Dinner is just one of the festivities at the Crowne Plaza where the Contest Super Suite runs from Wednesday through Saturday night. (Thanks, Tim K3LR)

Tim K3LR is also rolling out the 7th straight ConTest University (CTU) during the Hamvention on Thursday, May 16th, at the Crowne Plaza hotel. Early-bird registration rates are available now - see the CTU website for suggested topics including a topic survey. New CTU Professors include familiar call signs such as K5GN, NØJK, K9YC, K3EST and K6MM. Returning CTU Professors with new papers this year are W3LPL, K1DG, WØYK, NCØB, N6TV, K5ZD, MØDXR and K3LR. Six different countries have hosted CTUs: USA, Germany, Italy, England, Brazil and Finland. CTU Australia will be held in a few weeks. Nearly 2000 students have attended CTUs with more than 60 CTU Professors sharing their contesting experiences. See the CTU website for discounts to speakers giving talks about contesting to their local groups!

The situation with International Reply Coupons is changing rapidly. The Daily DX reports that W9OL has updated his chart of IRC and postage costs around the world. He requests that you send updated information if available.

The new flagship of Kenwood's HF Transceiver line - the TS-990S.

Kenwood has released information on their new TS-990S, top of the line HF+6 meter transceiver. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • All down-conversion main receiver for amateur bands featuring an IP3 of +40 dBm, and five high-IP roofing filters
  • The sub-receiver is an advanced version of the TS-590S receiver with up/down-conversion on main contest bands
  • Full remote control via ARCP-990 control program
  • Dual TFT display with band scope and built-in waterfall display
  • 200 watts output with low-noise oscillators and built-in antenna tuner
  • Separate digital and data mode connections

Al W5LUA and Shichirou JA6CZD made the first 24 GHz EME contact between the USA and Japan on January 2 at 1430Z. The two stations had about an hour of common window where each had 15 to 20 degrees of elevation. Congratulations to each for this significant technical and operational achievement! (From AMSAT Bulletin ANS-006)

The long-running Hunting Lions In the Air contest is now officially kaput due to declining interest in past years. (Thanks, Bruce WA7BNM)

Web Site of the Week - Fans of Radio-Sport.net can take heart - the website will continue operations in 2013. Jeff N1SNB is going to keep the outlet for contest news and stories going. "I plan on making the site more of a community hub for discussion, op-ed content, and contesting resources. I hope to carry on more of the great work NS3T started as well with contesting news published as it happens." Jeff expects to re-launch the site soon and is busy rebuilding it now.

WORD TO THE WISE

"No single method is ever 100%." (K4PI)

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Andy K1RA (a.k.a. W1RT/Rover) has put together a video about his roving adventures in the ARRL September VHF Contest.

Ouch! When it hurts, that's probably enough juice, don't you think? Perhaps, but neither QRM nor QRN stops the NTS from getting the traffic through! (Photo by K4BG)

Well, how ARE you supposed to coil up coax? Scott N7SS directs us to a video by a guy who coils cables for a living. It seems like a good video to show before the next Field Day, don't you think?

On January 19, BBC Radio 3 will be broadcasting "Between the Ears - Space Ham" via radio and on the web celebrating Amateur Radio and space exploration. The program takes a look back at advances in the amateur space program, including W5LFL, WØSL, and W4EJA.

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RESULTS AND RECORDS

Initial results for CW Sweepstakes are online as are the final results for the December CW edition of the Rookie Roundup. This includes all results tables and printable line scores but not the searchable database. The initial results for Phone Sweepstakes should be available early next week. Unfortunately, the January VHF Contest certificates are running behind due to changes in the certificate layout and printing - the nice new design will be worth the wait, though! (Thanks, ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Sean KX9X)

Bob WØBH reports that the results for the 2012 Kansas QSO Party are out along with some really nice certificates featuring the artwork of Hesston College alumnus Ashley Hager and Lorna KØWHY along with three vintage Amateur Radio postage stamps.

That youngster on the right goes by N6MJ these days. On Dan's far left is his older brother Darrell KK6BB - they were hosted by Shane BV2FA (center) for the 1993 CQ WW SSB contest.

A new online score database for the NAQP CW contest is the product of a team led by Steve N2IC. It currently shows all of the NAQP CW scores - more NCJ contests will follow. (Thanks, NCJ Editor, Kirk K4RO)

Whether you fired up your "steam-powered radio" or not, take a minute to enjoy the reports and pictures from the last Classic Exchange contest in the "September 2012 CX Newsletter" which features pictures of homebrew rigs and some unusual commercial boat anchors. (Thanks, Mac WQ8U)

Stew Perry Top Band Distance Challenge log-checker, Tree N6TR reports that "In the QRP category you have to go all the way to 15th place to find a station who's best DX is within his own continent and in the QRP Top Ten, the distances for the best DX were all over 7000 km. Five different continents were used by the QRP Top Ten to accomplish this (Asia was missing)."

Don AA5AU and Ed WØYK report that, "Results of December's 10 Meter RTTY Contest are now posted. Wine awards will go out in the next week, followed by plaques and certificates in the April timeframe. With depressed 10 meter conditions, especially compared to the 2011 event, participation was about two-thirds of last year. Still it seems everyone had a great time and it was an opportunity to prepare for the ARRL 10 Meter Contest on CW/SSB the following weekend, as well as the ARRL RTTY Roundup a couple weeks later. Log checking reports (LCR) are available by request." Don's notes for the 2013 ARRL RTTY Roundup with pictures are also available.

The Maritime Contest Club offers the Acadia Award to local operators based on results for Maritime contesters. Perhaps this will inspire your contest club to devise ways of recognizing the great efforts of your membership? (Thanks, Tom K1KI)

Tony N3ME (shown here in 8P) is planning on a serious effort during the CQ WPX RTTY contest next month as J76A. Dominica is widely needed on RTTY so watch for him! (Photo by Bernie W3UR)

Valery R5GA's Pileup website has some new rate reports available from recent CQ WW and WPX contest public logs. The reports are available sorted by several different criteria - there are some amazing hours! (Thanks, Bob W5OV)

OPERATING TIP

Under difficult conditions, speaking the name for a numeral in the native language of the listener can make a big difference. The Wikipedia website list of numbers in various languages will help you say "five nine" with a global savoir faire. (Thanks, Rich KL7RA)

TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Several good articles on the solar cycle and sunspot physics have rotated into view in recent weeks. From the ARRL Propagation Bulletin ARLP002 we find two from the NASA EarthSky website: a short primer on the cycle and a report on cycle progress by Frank Hill. Elsewhere, an article about the effects of solar activity on Earth's climate makes for good reading, too. (Thanks, Dick W7WKR)

Michael NJ2X and his son Shea KC2VSR built the polarity checker described in a recent Hands-On Radio column on polarity protection and made it into a very nice how-to article that is suitable for beginning builders. It would make a nice project for a club "build-it" night, as well, are some of the other DIY (do-it-yourself) projects on his site. A particularly good reason to build the tester is that not all automotive cigar/cigarette connectors are wired with the center positive and he also lists a number of other reasons that polarity might be reversed.

Here's a great Instructables project on getting those rolls of wire up and out of the way, yet still accessible to the workbench.

The NASA Solar Observatory captured this sequence of photos in extreme ultraviolet. Come on Cycle 24!

A continuation of the article "What's All This Multiple Bandscope Stuff, Anyhow?" about using band scopes as an aid to VHF+ contesting is now available in the latest edition of the Pack Rat's "Cheese Bits" newsletter.

Paul W9AC has discovered "As CATV companies have transitioned from NTSC to QAM channel line-ups, high-quality field analysis meters have been showing up on the used market in big numbers. I recently acquired a used Wavetek SAM III Digital for about USD $100. Another great unit is the SAM I Analog. These units are excellent for localizing power line noise, especially when used with a scope to replicate the noise finding method recommended by Loftness and Radar Engineers."

Though AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) and GFCI (Ground-Fault Cicuit Interrupter) outlets may look similar, they are very different. AFCIs are relative newcomers and the RFI fixes for one may not be the same for the other. (Thanks, David K1TTT)

Plenty of good projects for the homebrewer are online at the Hamradio-Builder website, including this detailed description of how to build your own air-variable capacitors.

Jim W4ENE, author of numerous articles the ELSIE filter-design software, has updated a long-running discussion of audio speech processing.

IZ5OVP has designed a very inexpensive memory keyer that anyone can use but it might take a little time to program and more time to change the messages! Back in the day, there were a number of PCB-based "memory keyers" constructed by using a knife to create the message by removing copper from the board. If the rig was cathode-keyed, there was often enough juice to create burns and pits in the copper as an added attraction! While you're practicing your technique - here's a useful training film for aspiring brass pounders, too. (Thanks, Tim K3LR and Rich KL7RA)

Technical Web Site of the Week - The latest World Wide Radio Operator's Foundation (WWROF) webinar in the online archive is by tower mavens John W2GD and Don K4ZA. It covers "Things we've learned from almost 100 years of combined experience, focusing on safety, cost-savings, and problem-solving." That is a LOT of ground to cover!

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CONVERSATION

Bring On the New

Everybody has a resolution or two, right? No doubt we all have made and broken resolutions many times over the years. What about ham radio - how many of you make a ham radio resolution - show of hands, please. OK, that's quite a few of you!

My resolution for ham radio in 2013 is quite simple - try something new. That's not necessarily just a new piece of equipment or a different contest. I mean something NEW that might change my way of thinking. It's easy to get into a rut when you think you're in a groove. Sure, I like holding a frequency and mashing F1 as much as anybody - pushing the rate meter to new heights is a fabulous thing - but I get the feeling I'm missing out on some of the fun. It's just too bad there aren't more hours in the day!

How about a new mode I've never used before? There are lots of new digital modes - seems like there is one added to FLDIGI every week! The ones that sound like circus organs run amuck might be fun or maybe the new WSJT for HF. I feel the need to explore meteor scatter and WSPR and EME! Yeah, that's the ticket - bounce a signal off the old orb! Not really new - it's been done by hams for three score and more years - but it certainly pushes one's envelope to send a signal a half-million miles with the mother of all skips in the middle!

What are these people doing with the headbands and the VHF Yagis out in the woods? They are actually sweating and exercising...and doing ham radio? Is that allowed? I have a handheld with GPS in it, a tape-measure Yagi from a club build-an-antenna night, and the inclination to work off a few calories. So a geocaching-fox-hunt - a.k.a. geo-foxing - might just be in the cards.

Or maybe I will tackle a new technology like SDR that I can really get to know and explore. Clearly, SDR is taking major strides toward becoming the new standard, about to dethrone the superheterodyne after more than eight decades of dominance. The barrier to entry is incredibly low - SDRs the size of a thumb drive (heck, they ARE thumb drives...) with an SMA connector on one end and a USB connector on the other cost less than an extra-large pizza. And I really don't need to eat another extra-large pizza so soon after the holidays.

As new as some of these things may seem, however, most are just incremental changes to ways of doing business on the ham bands that have been around for nearly a century. Much bigger changes are just waiting for a fortuitous combination of technology and vision to change our world by giving us new ways to imagine and view and hear it. There is so much truly new happening in ham radio that it's hard to know where to begin. Ham radio 2.0 - are you ready?

So I'll get started and sure, I'll feel like a Nervous Novice for a while but then I'll get the hang of it and off to the races I'll go! That's why so many of us are ham radio "lifers" - there are and always have been lots of new things just around the corner if we can conquer our fear of not being considered an expert and give them a try. Why, I might have to say, "I don't know," and ask for instructions and read a manual - nooooooooo!!!

I will just have to cowboy up and get 'er done - I'm just kidding about that fear-conquering business. (Well, maybe mostly kidding...) I'll keep you posted on what I turn up. Maybe there will be contests! What do you bet I'll enjoy it? Ring it on up!

73, Ward NØAX

CONTESTS

16 January through 29 January

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

North American QSO Party--Phone, from Jan 19, 1800Z to Jan 20, 0600Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: Name and S/P/C. Logs due: 14 days. Rules

Linc Cundall Memorial CW Contest--CW, from Jan 16, 2300Z to Jan 17, 2300Z. Multiple operating periods. Bands (MHz): 1.8-7. Exchange: See Web site. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

NAQCC Monthly QRP Sprint--CW, from Jan 17, 0130Z to Jan 17, 0330Z. Monthly on 2nd Tuesday or 3rd Wednesday local time (alternating). Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, and NAQCC mbr nr or power. Logs due: 4 days. Rules

Locust QSO Party--CW, from Jan 17, 0200Z to Jan 17, 0256Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-7. Frequencies (MHz): 3.556, 7.056. Exchange: Name, state or province or 'DX'. Logs due: Jan 31. Rules

LZ Open Contest--CW, from Jan 19, 0000Z to Jan 19, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5, 7. Exchange: 6-digit serial and serial from previous QSO. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

YLISSB QSO Party--Phone, from Jan 19, 0000Z to Jan 20, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: Call sign, RS(T), ISSB number. Logs due: Mar 16. Rules

International United Teenager Contest--Phone,CW, from Jan 19, 0600Z to Jan 19, 1400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RS(T) and age or "RT". Logs due: 30 days. Rules

HA DX Contest--Phone,CW, from Jan 19, 1200Z to Jan 20, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS(T) and serial. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

Feld-Hell Gridloc Sprint--Digital, from Jan 19, 1600Z to Jan 19, 1800Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, Feld-Hell member nr. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

Run For the Bacon--CW, from Jan 21, 0200Z to Jan 21, 0400Z. Monthly on 3rd Sunday night (local). Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, Flying Pig nr or power. Rules

QRP Winter Fireside SSB Sprint--Phone, from Jan 24, 2000Z to Jan 24, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Frequencies (MHz): QRP calling frequencies. Exchange: RS, S/P/C, QRP ARCI number or power. Logs due: 14 days. Rules

NAQCC Special 160M Sprint--CW, from Jan 25, 0130Z to Jan 25, 0330Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, and NAQCC mbr nr or power. Logs due: 4 days. Rules

CQ WW 160 Meter Contest--CW, from Jan 25, 2200Z to Jan 27, 2200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8. Exchange: RST and S/P/C. Logs due: Feb 28. Rules

REF French Contest--CW, from Jan 26, 0600Z to Jan 27, 1800Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and serial or department ID. Logs due: 15 days. Rules

BARTG RTTY Sprint--Digital, from Jan 26, 1200Z to Jan 27, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: Serial. Logs due: Mar 1. Rules

UBA Contest--Phone, from Jan 26, 1300Z to Jan 27, 1300Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RS, serial, and ON province. Logs due: 2 weeks. Rules

Winter Field Day--Phone,CW,Digital, from Jan 26, 1700Z to Jan 27, 1700Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50+. Exchange: Call sign, RS(T), category, local temp. Logs due: Feb 28. Rules

WAB Top Band Phone Contest--Phone, from Jan 26, 1900Z to Jan 26, 2300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8. Exchange: See Web site. Logs due: 21 days. Rules

Classic Exchange--CW, from Jan 27, 1400Z to Jan 28, 0800Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50, 144, Frequencies (MHz): CW 1.810, 3.545, 7.045, 14.045, 21.135, 28.050, 50.100, 144.100 . Exchange: RST, QTH, model of rcvr and xmtr. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

VHF+ CONTESTS

ARRL January VHF Contest--Phone,CW, from Jan 19, 1900Z to Jan 21, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 50+. Exchange: Grid square. Logs due: Feb 20. Rules

Winter Field Day--Phone,CW,Digital, from Jan 26, 1700Z to Jan 27, 1700Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50+. Exchange: Call sign, RS(T), category, local temp. Logs due: Feb 28. Rules

Classic Exchange--CW, from Jan 27, 1400Z to Jan 28, 0800Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50, 144, Frequencies (MHz): CW 1.810, 3.545, 7.045, 14.045, 21.135, 28.050, 50.100, 144.100 . Exchange: RST, QTH, model of rcvr and xmtr. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

LOG DUE DATES

16 January through 29 January

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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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