ARRL

Contest Update Issues

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The ARRL Contest Update
February 13, 2013
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
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IN THIS ISSUE

NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

Start by spending some time in the shack one of these weekday afternoons and tune for the School Club Roundup - encourage students in their ham radio endeavors by making a QSO on any mode. If you're into the digital modes, the NAQP RTTY contest is a great exercise and there's no better way to work some CW DX than to put in some time with the ARRL DX CW contest - where the DX wants to work you!

BULLETINS

There are no bulletins in this issue.

BUSTED QSOS

I'm surprised that only one cartoon aficionado picked up the cue - Donald Duck is a Disney creation, not Looney Tunes - well done, Peter N5UWY! And the Marconi Club's call sign is KM1CC, not WM1CC - thanks to one of the operators, Dave KM3T.

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

February 16-17

  • ARRL International CW DX Contest
  • NAQCC Monthly QRP Sprint--CW
  • CWops Monthly Mini-CWT Test
  • PODXS Valentine Sprint--Digital (Feb 14)
  • Russian WW PSK Contest (Feb 15)
  • Feld-Hell Annual WAS Sprint

February 23-24

  • North American QSO Party RTTY
  • Run For the Bacon--CW (Feb 18)
  • Semi-Automatic Key Evening (Feb 20)
  • CQ WW 160 Meter SSB--Phone (Feb 22)
  • REF Contest--Phone
  • UBA Contest--CW
  • Mississippi QSO Party
  • North Carolina QSO Party
  • CQC Winter QSO Party (Feb 25)
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

The judging committee responsible for certifying the results of the WRTC2014 competition has been announced. Dave Sumner K1ZZ will serve as Chief Judge leading the committee of Nodir Tursoon-Zadeh EY8MM, Don Field G3XTT, Dan Street K1TO, and Dick Norton N6AA. WRTC2014 Chairman Doug Grant K1DG notes, "Each [member] is highly respected by the contesting community and brings valuable experience and skills to the event. It is our goal to ensure a fairly-judged competition and we are confident this team will do a great job." Andy Blank N2NT, WRTC2014 Director of Competition, will serve as liaison to the WRTC Board of Directors and a log-checking team consisting of Larry "Tree" Tyree N6TR and Trey Garlough N5KO will provide software support and log-checking services to the Judging Committee. Thanks to all of these hams - champions many times over - for volunteering their services in support of WRTC2014.

Here's Kailey Scanlon (age 10) being assisted in making some January Kid's Day contacts by Joe KO4RR at the station of Lloyd KH6LC. Note the use of a detailed script to help young operators and the use of headphones to help with noise and QRM. Mahalo, Lloyd! (Photo by KH6LC)

School Club Roundup is going on all week - look for our next generation of contesters operating from club stations from elementary school through universities in the afternoon after classes and later in the evening.

The comment period closes on 25 February for the FCC's NPRM 12-338 regarding (in part) the disposition of the upper 100 kHz of the 160 meter band. The comments of other respondents can be viewed on the FCC's website and there is an ARRL news item about the NPRM as well. You can submit your own comments by using a word processor, preferably saving your comments as a PDF document. Use this link to submit your comments. (Thanks, Frank W3LPL and Tony K4QE)

Two upcoming VHF+ conferences have been announced. The North East Weak Signal Group is sponsoring the Eastern VHF-UHF-Microwave Conference will be held on April 26-28 in Manchester, CT (near Hartford). There will be a flea market, test lab, banquet on Saturday night, and lots of presentations. A special "Newcomers" registration rate is available, too. Later in the year, the Central States VHF Conference is scheduled for July 25-28 in Elk Grove Village, IL (near Chicago). Sponsored by the Central States VHF Society, the conference features "Rover Row" and an antenna test range for some shootouts. ARRL CEO Dave Sumner K1ZZ will be the banquet speaker. VHF+ contesters - take your pick!

Another get-together at the other end of the radio dial is coming up, too - the 2013 Visalia Top Band Dinner will be held on April 19. There will be a buffet dinner, door prizes, and a special program by Les Kalmus W2LK: "ZL9HR - The Auckland and Campbell Island 160m Challenge." (Thanks, Steve WB6RSE)

Here's the new InnovAntennas Sales and Marketing Manager, Chip K7JA (L) sharing some contesting stories with CQ WW and WPX Director, Randy K5ZD (R) at the recent Orlando Hamcation. (Photo by KL7MF)

Chip Margelli, K7JA, a well-known presence in the world of ham radio companies, has a new QTH. InnovAntennas announced that Chip will manage InnovAntennas' sales and marketing activities in the Americas and will also contribute to the company's global strategic planning. Chip has more than 35 years of experience working with companies such as Yaesu, Heil Sound, and CQ Communications. His operational expertise spanning HF through the "ultra-highs" will be put to good use as InnovAntennas continues to introduce new and ground-breaking antenna designs.

Just in time for this weekend's contest, N3JFP has released ARRL International DX Contest Log 3.0 following updates for NAQP and CQ 160. This is the third application of the re-written software using C#.NET. The older, tried and true VB6 versions are also available. The latest version is completely new code - every single line of it!

A new Morse training program called Morsefusion takes a novel path to learning the world's first digital communications mode. Sending books as a stream of characters that adjusts to your abilities is a fun way to learn Morse and enjoy some literature at the same time. Once you get started, you'll have Great Expectations, for sure! (Thanks, Blaine KØNE)

In the Small World Department, Tom W7WHY notes that his first JT65 QSO last August was with WØZWV and it turned out that Tom was 'ZWV's very first Novice QSO as WNØZWV back in 1955!

Web Site of the Week - Kudos to the sponsors of the North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska QSO Parties for working together to create the "High Plains QSO Parties" on April 20-21. All three remain separate contests but recognizing the attraction of having these relatively rare states on the air at the same time, the sponsors aligned their dates and times to create a trio of ways to check off some of those 5BWAS counters! Also, a special thanks to the Nebraska chapter of QCWA for responding right away to the need for a new Nebraska QSO Party sponsor.

WORD TO THE WISE

Single-band - If you want to really "learn" a band, operate in a major contest as a single-band entry. Instead of moving up and down in frequency, you'll be able to stay with the band as it opens and closes, including long-path and skew-path openings that a multi-band entry often misses. What's out there in the middle of the night? You might be surprised!

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SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

More webinars hit the Internet as the World Wide Radio Operators Foundation (WWROF) announces a pair of upcoming crowd-pleasers:

  • The First Topband DX Contest - the 1921 Transatlantic Test, hosted by Frank Donovan W3LPL
  • What I've Learned in Two Decades of Terrain Assessment, hosted by HFTA author Dean Straw N6BV

Details and registration links are available on the Webinars link on the WWROF home page. (Thanks, Ken K4ZW)

New hams seem to take naturally to the digital modes - here are Ben Fremin (back) and Sara Beth Teel (front) working the CQ WPX RTTY contest from the station of George K5TR. (Photo by K5TR)

John K7HV wonders, "Is this the first ham radio-focused pop release?" A 45-rpm recording of "CQ Serenade", written by orchestra-leader VE2QS and VE2BR, with vocals by Joyce Hahn, was produced around 1951. John found the link on DL6JF's QRZ.com profile.

"But I don't LIKE Spam!" It's not Spam (which your editor actually does like) but, rather, a tasty liver casserole. What is it doing sending CW? (Thanks, Andy N2NT)

RESULTS AND RECORDS

The very first CQ WW DX Contest took place in October and November of 1948. Martin LU5DX points us to this reproduction of CQ magazine from June 1949 with the complete results. He notes that scores were listed in descending order by zone and there was no distinction between number of operators or power. The world-high phone score came from PY2AC at 124,069 points made in what were apparently very poor conditions. CW operators fared better - GI6TK turned in a score of 452,454 points. No station exceeded 1000 contacts on either weekend! Single-op, multiop, and single-band categories were created for the 1949 contest. What will operators think of our contest scores in 65 years?

Making his first-ever QSO - with ZD7JC! - Joe Wilson is learning about ham radio and PSK31 at the St Charles High School Club station, KDØQLW. Joe will be making more QSOs in the School Club Roundup this week. (Photo by NØAX)

Official contest results have been recently published and/or posted for 11 more WRTC2014 qualifying events. WRTC2014 Event Scores based upon them are now posted. Official results for 44 of the 55 qualifying events are now included and over 27,000 different operators have submitted scores in those events. Eight qualifying events have taken place for which official results are not yet available. Many Selection Area races are coming down to the wire. There are only two events left to operate in the qualifying period - ARRL DX CW and Phone! (Thanks, WRTC2014 Team Selection Director, Dan K1TO)

Vytenis LY2KZ made an audio recording of the LY2W CQ WW 160 CW operation in which you can search for your call sign and listen to the QSO. A similar record has been posted for the 2012 CQ WW DX CW contest. Server space is limited so the CQ WW DX CW record will only be accessible for another week or so. The CQ WW 160 CW contest audio will be around for another couple of months.

At the deadline, 2218 logs had been submitted for the CQ WW 160 Contest, beating last year's total of 2089. The 5-day submission deadline does not seem to be causing any problems! (Thanks, CQ WW 160 Manager, Andy N2NT)

Time to package up and send in your logs - not to the contest sponsors but to the keepers of the call sign databases! Send your VHF+ contest logs (in Cabrillo format) to Dave W9PA (ex-W9ZRX) for the VHF+ database and the HF contest logs to Bob WA1Z at supercheckpartial.com.

If you made 500 QSOs or more in last weekend's CQ WPX RTTY contest, you are in the running for the CQ Triathlon Award! The award is open to everyone who operates in any Single-Op category in all three CQ WPX contests: RTTY, SSB and CW and makes at least 500 QSOs - not as hard as it may sound. Does your club have a tri-athlete worthy of recognition?

OPERATING TIP

Adding a footstool under your operating desk can help circulation and avoid "sore spots" by lifting your legs above the chair cushion from time to time. It doesn't have to be fancy - even a shallow cardboard box turned upside down will work fine. An adjustable-height chair is also a great way to reduce operator fatigue.

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TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Alan W2AEW has put three new videos on YouTube explaining some often hard-to-understand concepts about voltage and current in capacitors and inductors, series and parallel resonance, and self-resonance.Tektronix has a new How to Use An Oscilloscope video including a free 60-page publication to go with the video. An 1970s military training film, Introduction to RL Circuits is also easy to understand - and has terrific intro music, to boot. You just can't have enough good ways to teach technical topics! (Thanks, Don W7WLL)

Alerted by Julius N2WN, this Slashdot article about the bladeRF SDR project caught my eye...or, rather, ear. I hope my readers are catching up on what Software Defined Radio technology is all about because it's displacing analog receiver technology very, very quickly.

Jesse Basler made several voice QSOs during the October 2012 School Club Roundup from the St Charles High School Club station, KDØQLW. (Photo by NØAX)

Amplifier builders and fixers take note - Harbach Electronics is dropping the Peter Dahl line of high-performance power transformers as of Feb 14th. While the product line may yet be picked up by another manufacturer, check with Electronic Products Design for plate and filament transformers built to the Dahl specifications. (Thanks, Ed KB5GT and Gary K4AVC)

Shack On a Belt may be giving way to Shack In a Pocket! Remote station control, like everything else, is going portable in a big way. Rick K6VVA who operates via remote control from California and the U.S. Virgin Islands, found this neat new app for the Android operating system. Dan YO3GGX is developing his software to run on tablets and smartphones, including an SDR mode.

Magazine Mailbag - here are some recent technical articles that piqued the interests of your editor. Individual issues of the print magazines may be available from the library or members of your club.

Circuit Cellar, Feb 2013 - QR Coding for Engineers, by Jeff Bachiochi, explains those "square bar codes"

Scientific American, Feb 2013 - The Battery-Powered Bullet, by Gregory Mone, discusses the challenge of high-speed EVs

Electronic Design, 10 Jan 2013 - Wired Communications Hold Their Own and A Ubiquitous Wireless World Unfolds, by Louis Frenzel W5LEF, good surveys of current wired and wireless network technology

Popular Science, February 2013 - Rewire Your File-Transfer Routine shows how to make a crossover network cable

Nuts and Volts, February 2013 - The Wide Range Pulse Generator by Gailbreath and Peterson, a good addition to your test bench

Elektor, Jan-Feb 2013 - Toroid Cutting by Thijs Becker and Aviation Band Antenna by Gert Baars, an interesting way to make a J-pole

IEEE Spectrum, February 2013 - Phreaking Out Ma Bell by Phil Lapsley about the history of the "blue box"

Technical Web Site of the Week - Jim K9YC has just published this detailed article comparing several popular switchable band-pass filter sets. Look around on Jim's site for his tutorial on ferrites, as well!

Conversation

15 Meter Moon

In place of the usual Conversation feuilleton, I am relating a truly amazing accomplishment. Tonno ES5TV has been putting up bigger and bigger antennas every year and recently completed construction of an 8-antenna "H-frame" array - two side-by-side 4-high stacks of 5-element Optibeam OB5-15 Yagis separated by 12 meters horizontally and 14 meters vertically. The highest antenna in each stack is 64 meters above the ground. Does the array make its own band openings? Well, just about!

We'll start with this high-resolution video of the tower erection put together by ES5PC. The video also includes the very first QSO with the new stack - it's with Paul K8PO, whose station is near Portland, Maine. The delicate music at the start gives way to more energetic accompaniment later on. (A photo gallery is also available.)

I don't know about you but I do believe in the ability of this 15 meter array to make an EME contact - can they do it? (Photo by ES5TV)

Tonno lists the specifications for the array below the YouTube video - 24 dBi forward gain over real ground and a beamwidth of less than 30 degrees (that is between the half-power points and not from dead ahead to one side) give serious consideration to qualifying this antenna system as a "pencil beam" array!

While this is newsworthy in its own right as possibly the largest amateur 15 meter array in the world, there is more to the story. Tonno will certainly be holding a frequency during the coming contests - as will a number of other big stations. Tonno went further, though - much further. In fact, one-half million miles further!

"After two fruitless attempts at moonrise I got [an] EME QSO with myself done during moonset! Here is the video of the best minute out of a 10-minute period. The signals were audible with strong QSB on January 13th, from 1615 to 1625Z about 2 hours after sunset.

"[The] Moon was setting at about 243 degrees azimuth and the signals were audible while the Moon was from 3.3 to 2.2 degrees of elevation peaking at 2.6 degrees. Antenna was pointing within 3 degrees of the correct direction. [The] Radio: FTDX5000 + ACOM 2000A.

"It is noteworthy that the band was not 100% closed as even some SA signals were heard. Also the amazing strength of the signals ... especially the 3rd time the signals come back ... is probably also attributable to some ground gain at this elevation." U.S. moonbounce guru Gerald K5GW suggests that Tonno's array has a narrow enough beamwidth that he will be able to detect the contribution to received noise of the many sources in the Milky Way.

While several big array builders have reported receiving echoes off the Moon on 10 meters (WØUN and AA7XT (then AA6TT) having built two such systems) none have reported conducting a full two-way EME QSO. This is far more difficult, requiring a second station with a sufficiently large antenna system situated so that the Moon is in the main beam of both systems at the same time - most likely one at moonrise and the other at moonset. These arrays are not physically steerable in the vertical plane although they do have some control of the beam's vertical angle through phase switching.

Will there be a first-ever 15 meter EME contact? At press time, there are some possibilities in the coming weeks but the windows are very short and the odds are long. Of course, the same could be said about the first transatlantic contacts in November of 1923! This is the amateur pioneering spirit at its best - pushing the limits and advancing the radio art - just as Deloy 8AB and Schnell 1MO and Reinartz 1XAM did 80 years ago. We'll be cheering them on as beams are centered on the silvery lune with everything adjusted "just so" hoping to hear those first signals pop out of the aether once again - good luck, Tonno!

73, Ward NØAX

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CONTESTS

13 February through 26 February

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

ARRL International CW DX Contest--CW, from Feb 16, 0000Z to Feb 17, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST, state/province or power. Logs due: Mar 19. Rules

North American QSO Party RTTY--Digital, from Feb 23, 1800Z to Feb 24, 0600Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: Name and S/P/C. Logs due: 14 days. Rules


NAQCC Monthly QRP Sprint--CW, from Feb 13, 0130Z to Feb 13, 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

CWops Monthly Mini-CWT Test--CW, from Feb 13, 1300Z to Feb 7, 0400Z. Multiple operating periods, twice monthly on 2nd and 4th Wed. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Frequencies (MHz): 18 to 28 kHz above band edge. Exchange: Name and member number or S/P/C. Logs due: 2 days. Rules

PODXS Valentine Sprint--Digital, from Feb 14, 8 PM to Feb 15, 2 AM. Bands (MHz): 1.8-7. Frequencies (MHz): 1.807, 3.580, 7.070/7.035 EU/7.028 JA. Exchange: Name, OM or YL, S/P/C. Logs due: Feb 28. Rules

Russian WW PSK Contest--Digital, from Feb 15, 2100Z to Feb 16, 2100Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST and oblast code or serial. Logs due: 15 days. Rules

Feld-Hell Annual WAS Sprint--Digital, from Feb 16, 2000Z to Feb 16, 2200Z. Monthly on 3rd Saturday. 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 Feb 18, 0200Z to Feb 18, 0400Z. Monthly on 3rd Sunday night (local). Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, Flying Pig nr or power. Rules

Semi-Automatic Key Evening--CW, from Feb 20, 1900Z to Feb 20, 2030Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5. Exchange: RST, serial, first year of bug use. Logs due: Mar 15. Rules

CQ WW 160 Meter SSB--Phone, from Feb 22, 2200Z to Feb 24, 2200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8. Exchange: RST and state/province or CQ zone. Logs due: 5 days. Rules

REF Contest--Phone, from Feb 23, 0600Z to Feb 24, 1800Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RS and French dept or serial. Logs due: 15 days. Rules

UBA Contest--CW, from Feb 23, 1300Z to Feb 24, 1300Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RS, serial, and ON province. Logs due: 2 weeks. Rules

Mississippi QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Feb 23, 1500Z to Feb 24, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50-432, Frequencies (MHz): CW 3.545, 7.045, 14.045, 21.045, 28.045; Phone 3.857-862-867,7.238,14.275,21.375,28.375;Digital per band plan. Exchange: RS(T) and MS county or S/P/C. Logs due: Mar 31. Rules

North Carolina QSO Party--Phone,CW, from Feb 24, 1500Z to Feb 25, 0059Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50, 144, Frequencies (MHz): CW 3.54, 3.74, 7.04, 7.14, 14.04, 21.04, 21.14, 28.04, 28.14, Phone 3.86, 7.26, 14.26, 21.36, 28.36. Exchange: RS(T) and NC county or S/P/C. Logs due: Apr 1. Rules

CQC Winter QSO Party--Phone,CW, from Feb 25, 0100Z to Feb 25, 0259Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Frequencies (MHz): 3.560, 7.040, 14.060. Exchange: RS(T), S/P/C, name, CQC nr or power. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

VHF+ CONTESTS

Mississippi QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Feb 23, 1500Z to Feb 24, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50-432, Frequencies (MHz): CW 3.545, 7.045, 14.045, 21.045, 28.045; Phone 3.857-862-867,7.238,14.275,21.375,28.375;Digital per band plan. Exchange: RS(T) and MS county or S/P/C. Logs due: Mar 31. Rules

North Carolina QSO Party--Phone,CW, from Feb 24, 1500Z to Feb 25, 0059Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50, 144, Frequencies (MHz): CW 3.54, 3.74, 7.04, 7.14, 14.04, 21.04, 21.14, 28.04, 28.14, Phone 3.86, 7.26, 14.26, 21.36, 28.36. Exchange: RS(T) and NC county or S/P/C. Logs due: Apr 1. Rules

LOG DUE DATES

13 February through 26 February

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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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