ARRL

Contest Update Issues

Preview
The ARRL Contest Update
March 26, 2014
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
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IN THIS ISSUE

NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

Band conditions have been great - jump in to any of the weekend contests and work stuff! The CQ WPX SSB contest will be an all-band picnic and if you're not a contester, the CW bands and WARC bands will be wide-open, too.

Technicians, especially - here's your chance to find out what us old-timers have been reminiscing about. Just this weekend, your editor started at 10 meters and worked one DX station on each band all the way down to 160 meters in a little over an hour. It's rare that all the bands are this lively - have at it!

BULLETINS

Remember that CQ WPX now has a 5-day log submission deadline!

BUSTED QSOS

Nothing horribly wrong was reported in the previous issue.

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

March 29-30

  • CQ WPX SSB Contest
  • Feld-Hell Worked all Americas Full Day of Hell
  • ARS Spartan Sprint--CW (Apr 1)

April 5-6

  • NS Weekly Sprint--CW (Apr 4)
  • Mississippi QSO Party
  • Worldwide EME Contest
  • LZ Open 40 Meter Contest--CW
  • PODXS 31 Flavors Contest--Digital
  • QRP ARCI Spring QSO Party--CW
  • Missouri QSO Party
  • SP DX Contest
  • EA RTTY Contest
  • Montana QSO Party
  • OK1WC Memorial Contest
  • VHF Spring Sprint--144 MHz (Apr 7)
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

The last open team for WRTC2014 - now only four months off - has been chosen! "Team 59" team took their name from not only being the 59th team named, but also due to it being the highest signal strength possible. The sponsor has named George Demontrond NR5M and John Crovelli W2GD as the operating team. George is a well-known and very active contester from Houston, TX. John is a veteran contester and has been a competitor in three WRTCs, holding numerous records in many different contests, often set from Aruba, where he uses the call sign P4ØW. In other WRTC2014 news, Rich DiDonna NN3W, Team Leader for selection area NA4E, has withdrawn from the competition due to family reasons. The replacement team leader is Nathan Moreschi N4YDU, who has elected to retain team member Kam Sirageldin N3KS as his partner. Ed Giambastiani N4OC has been named as the Grand Marshal for WRTC2014. Ed is retired from 37 years of service in the United States Navy, reaching the rank of admiral and served as the seventh Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for three years. As Grand Marshal, Ed will preside over the Opening Ceremonies and administer the Oath of Sportsmanship to all competitors. (Thanks, WRTC2014 Co-Chair, Randy K5ZD)

What tower part sounds like a bell? Rung!

The Mt Airy VHF Society's Cheese Bits newsletter for March 2014 features Jim KH6/K6MIO/s detailed analysis of the late-breaking (and welcome) second peak of Cycle 24. Will the peak beginning in October from the Sun's southern hemisphere be able to overcome the declining activity from the northern hemisphere? It looks to be a tossup at the moment - interesting reading!

More great reading from folks you will be hearing from or about - check out the Popular Mechanics web site and this article about 25 "makers and shakers" changing our world.

Another bit of radio history closes its books as the famous Delano, CA station site of Voice of America goes on the auction block. If you're in Dayton for the Hamvention, the original VOA West Chester, Ohio station is still open for tours on the 3rd Saturday of each month, courtesy of WC8VOA, the West Chester Amateur Radio Association. (Thanks, Glenn K6NA)

Ah, the RF "Black Arts" - there must still be some mystery involved because Microwaves and RF magazine just published an article about such prestidigitation in regards to the World's Largest Radio Telescope! (Thanks, Tim K3HX)

The Central States VHF Society's 48th Annual CSVHFS Conference will be held on 25-27 July, 2014 in Austin, Texas. The CSVHFS is soliciting papers, presentations, and poster displays for on all aspects of weak-signal VHF and higher Amateur Radio applications, designs, and techniques. You do not need to attend the conference, nor present your paper, to have it published in the Proceedings. Posters will be displayed during the two days of the Conference. More information regarding submission can be found on the CSVHF website or contact Tom K5TRA.

Height has no bearing on tower safety!

2014 AMSAT Field Day rules are now available via the AMSAT website's Event menu. With all the new FunCubes and CubeSats and the like, there's more available "up there" than the usual two or three birds. (Thanks, AMSAT Bulletin ANS-082)

The Missouri QSO Party had a good week: All of the special 1x1 call signs are allocated and as of a couple of days ago, 100% of the 115 counties will be active, including the rare ones. (Thanks, Randy NØLD)

The Force 12 phone number changed to the same number as InnovAntennas last November - (888) 998-8541. Forwarding on the old number has finally been has been switched off and all calls now go direct to Innovantennas. (Thanks, Bill AA7XT)

Lynn N7CFO stumbled on this unexpected source of unexpectedly clean vacuum tubes. Really clean!

Hams are in the business of imagining a picture of radio waves so why can't you imagine what gravity waves look like? Find out how in this IEEE Spectrum article. You're sure to get a big bang out it!

Web Site of the Week - In the "How Can I Miss You If You Won't Go Away" list, don't miss this article about a large sunspot region circling the Sun three times. (From ARRL Propagation Bulletin, ARLP010)

WORD TO THE WISE

QTM - Read the manual! Well, that's not the official meaning of QTM, but evertheless, it's amazing how many annoying and mysterious problems can be solved by a careful reading of the applicable manual as described by this XKCD graphic.

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SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Single-Operator Unlimited - ping-pong anyone?

Feets don't fail me now!

Kenwood has released this professional video showing how a TS-990 transceiver is assembled. The old days of technicians crouching over chassis with soldering irons is long gone! (Thanks, Tim K3HX)

And another of the major manufacturers, Icom America, has moved into new quarters near Seattle. You're invited to come have a look!(Thanks, Tim K3LR)

RESULTS AND RECORDS

There is lots of new material on the ARRL Contest Results web page! Finally catching up on the 2013 IARU HF Championship, the Log Checking Reports (LCRs), the searchable Results Database, and the Printable Line Scores are all available now. The database and line scores are also available for the 10 GHz Cumulative Contest, too. And moving right along, the full writeup for the 2013 ARRL CW Sweepstakes by Kelly VE4XT is now online, as well! The database, line scores, and LCRs will be posted very soon. (Thanks, ARRL Public Relations Manager, Sean KX9X)

An unde-feet-ed champion on his tower.

Preliminary results for the February North American QSO Party RTTY are now available at the new, improved National Contest Journal web site. Please report any problems directly the contest manager, K6UFO. Final results will be published in the May/June 2014 issue of the National Contest Journal. While you're there, enjoy the new NCJ website, check out the Bonus Content, and renew your subscription! (Thanks, NAQP RTTY Contest Manager, Mark K6UFO)

The new JARL web domain name is jarl.org. As a result of these changes, click here for the new link to the 2013 All Asia DX Contest results and here for the rules in English. (Thanks, Masa JN3NFQ and Bob N6TV)

The Michigan QSO Party Organizing Committee is pleased to announce that the 2013 results are now available. Certificate and plaque awards should be in the winner's hands by June 1, 2014. (Thanks, Dave K8CC)

For those concerned about the publication schedule for the CQ World Wide SSB and CW contests, both are expected to appear in the May 2014 issue of CQ Magazine. (Thanks, CQ WW Director, Randy K5ZD)

OPERATING TIP

Keep your BIC (Butt-In-Chair) time maximized by creating a comfortable monitor viewing arrangement. Bill N3RR and Bob KØRC recently handed out some advice on choosing video monitors for your operating position. Since you will be spending a whole lot of time looking at them, whether you are a contester or not, their selection and placement is important.

Never climb towers in a kilt - shorts, OK.

- Dual monitors are recommended although it may require an upgrade to your PC's video card.

- Consider your eyesight and choose a monitor with resolution to support font sizes you are comfortable with.

- Small bezels mean less distraction when moving the cursor from screen to screen.

- To avoid head and neck stress, video monitors must be viewed downward at a slight angle.

- Square inches of display area is a better metric than diagonal size and the wide-aspect format supports more windows at their normal sizes.

Bill's website has an extensive discussion on these and other topics related to SO2R station design. Steve N2IC and your editor also recommend getting a low-cost pair of single-focus glasses for the distance between your eyes and the monitor. This is good advice for anyone who spends a lot of time at their computer!

As long as we're on the subject of manuals, this would be a good time to make sure you have a properly-working version of your logging software with all supporting files like CTY.dat updated to the latest and greatest - especially for a contest like WPX with "interesting" prefixes in abundance. Don't wait until 2355 UTC on Friday!

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TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Whither steam-powered radio and the vacuum tube? Louis Frenzel, W5LEF provides his perspective in a recent Electronic Design column, "Long Live Vacuum Tube Amps".

Occasionally Dan AC6LA posts examples showing how his EZNEC manager software AutoEZ can be used to address different modeling questions. Those examples are now available on the AutoEZ web page. See the "Collected Short Examples" links (just below the Quick Start Guide links).

Need a new left-handed squelch knob? If you would like to try 3-D printing but aren't particularly enthused about purchasing the full set of equipment, UPS is trying out a new service to print the parts in their UPS stores. 3-D printing is still relatively new to ham radio but making it more available could change that! (Thanks, Tim K3HX)

How tall is this tower? Two feet!

DX Engineering has a new calculator - the Mast Load Estimator. Designed for DX Engineering's 2 and 3-inch OD masts, the program needs information about the height of the mast and where antennas will be placed. Presto - you get a pass/fail results for four wind speeds. That sounds a little less risky than "put it up and see what happens!"

"Staying Safe from High Voltage" is the topic and title of the Design News column "Sherlock Ohms". Read and heed - there is just no substitute for safety! While you're at it, check the test leads of that old meter. Cracked insulation can let those electrons take a short cut to your fingers instead of through the meter. And never use a meter at voltages beyond those it's rated for so that you don't experience a "flashover" which is a severe shock hazard. "Trifle not with high voltage..." begins the old and wise saying.

When trying to pull cables through conduit, Steve N6SJ recommends using a heavy-duty fishing swivel between the pull rope and the bundle of cables. This minimizes twisting inside the conduit which can lead to tangles and a most frustrating experience.

Technical Web Site of the Week - Carl, K9LA writes in with news of a new article. "I requested data from NA stations on the azimuth arrival angle of FT5ZM on 160m and 80m. I put together a short paper on the 160m results. It is on my web site [under] the 160m link on the left on the home page. Then open or download the file "Arrival Direction of FT5ZM in North America on 160m". It also discusses some 160m basics - the "black hole" in the southwest USA, great circle paths, [and other topics of interest.]"

CONVERSATION

A 160 Meter Sunrise

After spending too much time in the Top Band pileups this season, Dr Beldar came up with this adaptation of The Eagles' hit "Tequila Sunrise." Or perhaps, after adapting too many tequila sunrises, Dr Beldar came up with...well, you get the idea. He thought it might be appropriate for a publication close to very, very early April. You think?

It's a one-sixty-meter sunrise
Slidin' slowly up the sky
The sun says hi.
He was always on the band
Lookin' for new zones, he just needs five
The dawn slips by.

Ev'ry night when the sun goes down
Like every other op in town
He's out there tunin' round.

He couldn't work the expeditions
So he had to turn his big amp on.
The path's so long.
Oh, and it's a hollow feelin'
When they fade but work your friends
It never ends.

Take a walk to check the Beverage
Wonder why the op'nings never come.
His ears get numb.

It's a one-sixty-meter sunrise
This old band still sounds the same
The DX game....

73, Ward NØAX

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CONTESTS

26 March through 8 April

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

CQ WPX SSB Contest--Phone, from Mar 29, 0000Z to Mar 30, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS and serial. Logs due: 5 days. Rules

Feld-Hell Worked all Americas Full Day of Hell--Digital, from Mar 29, 0000Z to Mar 30, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, Feld-Hell member nr. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

ARS Spartan Sprint--CW, from Apr 1, 0200Z to Apr 1, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Monthly on the first Monday evening local time. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, and power. Logs due: 2 days. Rules

NS Weekly Sprint--CW, from Apr 4, 0230Z to Apr 4, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-14. Weekly on Thursday evenings local time. Exchange: Serial, name, and S/P/C. Logs due: 2 days. Rules

Mississippi QSO Party - 2014--Phone,CW,Digital, from Apr 5, 1400Z to Apr 6, 0200Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50-432, CW 50 kHz above band edge; Phone 3.862, 7.195, 14.270, 21.370, 28.370 MHz;Digital per band plan. Exchange: RS(T) and MS county or S/P/C. Logs due: Apr 30. Rules

LZ Open 40 Meter Contest--CW, from Apr 5, 0400Z to Apr 5, 0800Z. Bands (MHz): 7. Exchange: 6-digit serial and serial from previous QSO. Logs due: 10 days. Rules

PODXS 31 Flavors Contest--Digital, from Apr 5, 12 Noon to Apr 5, 6 PM. Bands (MHz): 14. 14.070-14.080 MHz. Exchange: S/P/C and name or 070 number. Logs due: May 8. Rules

QRP ARCI Spring QSO Party--CW, from Apr 5, 1200Z to Apr 6, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. QRP calling frequencies. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, power or QRP ARCI number. Logs due: 14 days. Rules

Missouri QSO Party--Phone,CW, from Apr 5, 1400Z - See website. Multiple time periods. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. CW 1.820 and 40 kHz from band edge; Phone--1.880, 3.825, 7.220, 14.250, 21.380, 28.350 MHz. Exchange: RS(T), serial, MO county or S/P/C. Logs due: May 5. Rules

SP DX Contest--Phone,CW, from Apr 5, 1500Z to Apr 6, 1500Z . Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS(T) and serial or SP province. Logs due: May 10. Rules

EA RTTY Contest--Digital, from Apr 5, 1600Z to Apr 6, 1600Z . Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST, serial or EA province. Logs due: Apr 20. Rules

Montana QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Apr 5, 1800Z to Apr 6, 0600Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50-432. Exchange: RS(T) and MT county or S/P/C. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

OK1WC Memorial Contest--Phone,CW, from Apr 6, 1630Z - See website. Multiple time periods. Bands (MHz): 3.5, 7. See website for bands. Exchange: RS(T) and serial. Logs due: 5 days. Rules

VHF+ CONTESTS

Worldwide EME Contest--Phone,CW, from Apr 5, 0000Z to Apr 6, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 5.7G. Exchange: TMO/RS(T) and "R". Logs due: Jun 15. Rules

VHF Spring Sprints--Phone,CW,Digital, from Apr 7, 7 PM to Apr 7, 11 PM. Bands (MHz): 144. Exchange: Grid square (6-character preferred). Logs due: 14 days. Rules

Feld-Hell Worked all Americas Full Day of Hell--Digital, from Mar 29, 0000Z to Mar 30, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, Feld-Hell member nr. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

Mississippi QSO Party - 2014--Phone,CW,Digital, from Apr 5, 1400Z to Apr 6, 0200Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50-432, CW 50 kHz above band edge; Phone 3.862, 7.195, 14.270, 21.370, 28.370 MHz;Digital per band plan. Exchange: RS(T) and MS county or S/P/C. Logs due: Apr 30. Rules

Montana QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Apr 5, 1800Z to Apr 6, 0600Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50-432. Exchange: RS(T) and MT county or S/P/C. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

LOG DUE DATES

26 March through 8 April

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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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