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The ARRL Contest Update
May 21, 2014
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
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IN THIS ISSUE

NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

Why not venture out into the exciting world of the CQ WW WPX CW contest? Interesting prefixes count for multipliers and your call sign just might be one that folks need in their logs, too!

BULLETINS

The CWops Tests will now be permanently held on Wednesday and Thursday. They also remain open to everyone who wishes to participate. (Thanks, Hank W6SX)

Don't forget to take a look in the night skies in the early morning of this coming Saturday, May 24 as a new meteor shower - the Camelopardalids (say that ten times!) - is predicted. The NASA Spaceweather website has all the details and I'm sure the "ping jockeys" will be out in force, as well. Peak times are predicted to be 0600 UTC to 0800 UTC.

BUSTED QSOS

No problems reported in the previous issue.

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

May 24-25

  • NAQCC Monthly QRP Sprint--CW (22 May)
  • Day of the YLs
  • Worldwide EME Contest - 10 GHz+
  • CQ WW WPX Contest--CW
  • QRP ARCI Hoot Owl Sprint--CW
  • MI QRP Memorial Day CW Sprint (26 May)

May 31-Jun 1

  • Worldwide EME Contest - 1.2 GHz
  • Full Day of Hell Feld-Hell Contest
  • OK1WC Memorial Contest (2 Jun)
  • ARS Spartan Sprint--CW (2 Jun)
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NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

Sunday, June 1, from 0000 UTC through 2359 UTC, will be the first round of "Red Badges on the Air." This is an opportunity for ARRL Centennial QSO Party participants to work more "Red Badge-rs," the ARRL officers, elected officials -- such as Director or Section Manager -- and Headquarters staffers and volunteers, which offer higher point value in the yearlong event. While you're badger-bagging, remember that every ARRL member is worth at least one point this year, so all activity is welcome. Watch the ARRL website for more information and any updates. (Thanks, Sean KX9X)

Here are the two happy HOF-ers - Scott KØDQ on the left and Ed WØYK on the right. (Photo courtesy K6XX)

The CQ Amateur Radio Contest Hall of Fame inducted two new members at the annual Dayton Contest Dinner this year. J. Scott Redd KØDQ is already a member of the CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame for his service to our nation. Scott has always found time within his professional duties for Amateur Radio and his first love, contesting. He is one of only two people to have won the Single-Operator, All-Band category in all of the world's major contests. Ed Muns WØYK is a noted RTTY contester with nine Single-Op, All-Band, one Multi-Two championships, and six world records. Ed is also Director of the CQ World Wide RTTY DX and RTTY WPX Contests, and manager of the North American Sprint RTTY Contest. (Thanks, Daily DX)

As we get closer and closer to WRTC2014, more and more press coverage is focusing on this quadrennial competition. As an example, Radio World ran this detailed story with a theme of the competition returning to the United States after 16 years abroad. Is your local media looking for a good story this summer? Why not send them in the direction of WRTC?

Jim AD1C reports, "Version 5.2 of my ADIF County Conversion tool is now available. This program takes an ADIF file from a contest logger like WriteLog or N1MM Logger, and converts the contest-specific county abbreviations into real ADIF field values which can be imported into a general-purpose logging program."

ARRL presented the 2013 Bill Orr, W6SAI, Technical Writing Award to Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA. The ARRL Foundation selected Luetzelschwab at its January 21 meeting for his article "The Sun and the Ionosphere," which appeared in the March 2013 issue of QST. Luetzelschwab, who frequently writes on solar and propagation phenomena and trends, is the "Propagation" columnist for the National Contest Journal.

At the recent Idaho State Convention, I picked up a copy of K6SPP's nice history of the early ARRL. Focusing on the early days of Hiram Percy Maxim and introducing us to Clarence Tuska, the book adds more information about the ARRL in it's centennial year.

As long as we're bouncing signals off things in the sky, what about "sprites" - a plasma-related phenomenon that occurs in the D layer of the ionosphere. This is the same region in which meteor scatter occurs and perhaps the same protocols could be used to communicate via sprites. A more complete article on the Phys.Org website explains what sprites are and some current research on their origins. (From the ARRL Propagation Bulletin, ARLP019)

Keys, keys, keys, and more keys - if you want a website that covers the subject thoroughly, you won't find better sites than Radiotelegraphy.net. (Thanks, Ed KØKL)

Top contesters often have prodigious memories for calls and contacts that they wield in support of high-speed radiosport. And if it's a skill, we can be sure that there is a competitive event for it, such as the Extreme Memory Tournament held recently in San Diego. Perhaps radiosport and memory contests could be combined? How about a log-less Sprint in which the participant submits a list of calls from memory? If only I could remember when it was held! (Thanks, Tom W2SC)

Web Site of the Week - To maximize your ability to make QSOs with the WRTC2014 stations, you need to understand the best times and bands for the Boston region. Just in time, Stu K6TU is offering free propagation forecasts for the WRTC event. The WRTC2014 committee has also published a summary of the WRTC test station logs by band and hour which may also be helpful in planning your strategy.

WORD TO THE WISE

Nap - don't be afraid to take one during a contest if you find yourself unable to focus on making and logging QSOs. You're doing your score no favors and may be incurring additional penalties for busting calls. Better to close your eyes for 10 minutes or so than to make a lot of errors! If you decide to take a longer nap, stay with an approximately 90-minute cycle to avoid waking up in the middle of deep sleep, which leaves you disoriented and groggy.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Bob N6TV has generously posted a lot of excellent photos from the Dayton Hamvention on his Picasa website. He asks, "Feel free to publish this link and re-use any of these photos in club newsletters or web sites or blogs as long as the source is indicated. For other publications, or for high resolution originals without watermark, please contact me directly."

Now this is what I call a proper socket for a cold 807! Walt K1LT was spotted putting this BC-610 coil to good use at the Society of Midwest Contester's hospitality suite at the Hamvention. (Photo by NØAX)

More photos have been posted by Will K6ND in eight separate albums: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8. If you click on the first picture of the album, it will begin a slide show. See if you can find the "blast from the past" hiding in the pictures!

VR2UU/KØUU's wife, Carolyn Strandberg recently published a lovely entry on her blog A Chinese New Year about meeting hams in Hong Kong. It's called "Hamsters in Hong Kong" and tells the story of meeting some local hams as the Strandberg's began a two-year work assignment. Some great pictures augment the familiar story of hams befriending hams who are far from home.

Chris KL9A, a WRTC2014 competitor, was recently interviewed by K3LR about his contest experiences in and out of WRTC.

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RESULTS AND RECORDS

The full results article by Scott K7ZO covering the 2013 ARRL 10 Meter Contest is now online on the ARRL Contest Results web page. Scott has generated plenty of analysis and chronicles in detail an extremely close race at the top of the multi-op standings. The 2014 ARRL January VHF Contest writeup by John K9JK will soon follow. Certificates for the 2013 ARRL June VHF Contest were mailed on May 16. Plaques will begin shipping shortly. You can always track the progress of ARRL contest awards processing online. (Thanks, Sean KX9X)

Chuck NO5W's "horse race" software was packing the Kansas City DX Club's hospitality suite on Saturday night at the Hamvention. Congratulations to Doug W9WI on a big win, copying 75 calls in the five minute period. (Photo by NØAX)

Stan EI6DX has added CQ WW 2013, CQ WPX 2012, and CQ WPX 2013 have been added to his Log Analyser web page.

The results of the 2013 Ohio QSO Party are now available. Congratulations to single-op winners KW8N, K8AZ (W8WTS, op), and AE8M, plus rover entry K8MR/R. The winning clubs inside and outside of Ohio were the Delaware ARA and Frankford Radio Club, respectively. (Thanks, Jim K8MR)

OPERATING TIP

Alfredo, WP3C asked the cq-contest email reflector about drinks and staying awake during the contest. This set off quite a discussion that has good information for hams peforming extended operations in public service and disaster relief.

TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

The ARRL Propagation Bulletin ARLP018 reported that "Robert Steenburgh, KA8JBY is a NOAA Space Weather Forecaster, and he said that on July 23, 2012 there were three CMEs (Coronal Mass Ejections), "the largest had an angular width of 190 degrees, followed by a 132 degree event." How do they know? They use Cactus, a system for computer-aided CME tracking which analyzes data from LASCO, the "Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph Experiment." In addition, the latest CMEs are tracked and displayed, as well. Anything in color on that hyperlinked web page is a clickable link to data on each CME, including a movie you can download.

What's the difference? Electronic Design magazine has posted a couple of resources explaining the difference between bit rate and baud, which is a good thing to know these days. And how about watts versus volt-amperes? That's online, too!

If you line up the zebras just right - do their stripes interact with the Yagi elements? This is a brand new Force 12 XR6 HF+6 Yagi installed at 9J2MM. Listen for the big new signal out of Zambia! (Photo from GØKSC)

Early personal computers will remember CP/M, a competitor to the early DOS systems, developed by Gary Kildall and his company, Digital Research. Gary first popularized the terms BIOS (Basic Input-Output System) which is still in use today and BDOS (Basic Disk Operating System). Your editor recalls using the CP/M program PIP to manipulate files, back in the day. Kildall is slated to receive an IEEE Milestone Award for his contributions.

In our "Make Something!" department, here are a pair of useful projects just in time for Field Day. EDN magazine describes making "Great-sounding Bucket Speakers in an Afternoon" and Instructables delivered the highly useful "Cordless Tool Battery to USB Charger" project.

Stan K2STN contributed a link to this article on maintaining steel structures that are exposed to the weather. That would cover most of our towers, wouldn't it? Spring and summer are seasons for tower work and preventative maintenance so this is worth reviewing. A related topic is cathodic protection which is important in certain types of soils and environments. Gene AD3F discovered a PE (Professional Engineer) continuing education course on the subject that you can take for free, although the certification exam requires a fee. Register as a user and search for course E181.

Stainless steel galling seems to generate a lot of discussion during the antenna work season. Galling occurs when the surfaces of the threads break down under load, often freezing a bolt and nut together and requiring complete replacement of the entire fastener. Mike NF4L suggests that "A swipe of a PipeTite crayon on the threads assures it will come apart." Others recommend Never┬ĚSeez which comes in several grades. Several expressed a caution that if you are in a salt-spray environment, be sure your compounds are specifically formulated for use in marine environments or you may do more harm than good. (Thanks also, Patrick NJ5G and Jon W4ABC)

Tom W3FRG responds to requests for Yaesu rotator connectors, "I have replacement OEM cable connectors for Yaesu Antenna Rotors & Controllers. Yaesu models:G-450A, 650A, 800A, SA, DXA, 1000A, SA, DXA, 2800DXA, 5500 and many more. Available are the small rectangular ELP & R-06V, 6-pin connector for the controller and the round metal 7-pin connectors, NJC-207-PF, -RM & -Adm, and the 6-pin, NCS-256-P, cable/rotor. For both the cable and units. Mating connectors are also available for making cable extensions. I also have connectors available for use with many of the Transceiver Antenna Auto Tune functions on the TS-50S, TS-480, TS-570, TS-590S, TS-850S ACC4, TS-990S, TS-2000, TurboTuner, LDG K-OTT and many, many more."

Dave W6NL and Hardy N7RT have discovered a line of insulating tubing clamps from Stauff for boom-to-element mounting. You can get the clamps in tubing or pipe sizes and they are relatively inexpensive. Technical Specialties carries them in small lots - check out the Stauff and Stauff Hi-Clean catalogs.

Technical Web Site of the Week - If you are learning electronics, the tutorials at EEV Blog are fun to watch, "presented in Dave's unique non-scripted overly enthusiastic style!" Learning might as well be fun, right? (Thanks, Kirk K4RO)

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CONVERSATION

Scratching An Itch

The Word of the Day service recently brought me a fine new word, "tarantism." Pronounced TAR-uhn-tiz-uhm, its primary meaning is "a mania characterized by an uncontrollable impulse to dance" often thought to be caused by the bite of the tarantula spider. I thought it applied very well to hams in relation to hamfests and conventions!

After all, we certainly are considered to "have the bug" and refer to our interest in ham radio as "when the bug bites" so perhaps we are "tarantists" of some sort? This is not to suggest that our workplaces and stations, which possibly could use some attention from cleaning products, are sources of these bites. Not at all - the bite is entirely mental. It also seems to be incurable!

Hmmm...what could this hamfest find be? Why, it's the front panel from a ten meter amplifier, of course! (Photo by K1DG)

In wandering the hallowed halls, stalls, byways, warrens, and catacombs of the Hara Arena and its immediate environs this past weekend, I observed many hams happily and deeply engaged in expressing their inner tarantist. Perhaps it was hardware, or maybe software that enwebbed them? Or antennas and cables and connectors captured their fancy? Whatever item you desired, it was probably there in the 100 acres, more or less, of the Dayton Hamvention.

In my case, the uncontrollable impulse was to associate. Some years, I'm in the hunt for tasty gadgets to capture and take home. This year, though, it was a "people trip." From the time I arrived on Wednesday until I was again on a sunny Sunday afternoon driving west on I-70 thinking, "What just happened?" I was talking, meeting, greeting, even singing, with my friends old and new until the wee hours of the morning.

Even with four solid days of time, I couldn't tackle my tarantism completely. So many folks who passed like ships in the night - I'll have to catch up with you next year! I hope you had as good a time as I did, though. There was no shortage of things to do and people to see, as they say, even though the weather was not very cooperative on Friday and Saturday.

So, thanks to the Hamvention sponsors and organizers who put on this massive show for us, year after year and who do their best to get the "trains to run on time." Thanks to those who organize and produce quality dinners and banquets and programs - contesters owe a special tip of the contest cap to Tim Duffy K3LR for his efforts on our behalf. Then there are the clubs who staff and stock hospitality suites for us to gab away into the night. Is it any wonder that time flies by at the Hamvention?

Even if you didn't attend Hamvention, surely there are a bevy of hamfests and conventions, large and small, not too far from you. Be sure to go - meet your friends, kick some tires, share a story - the more you do it, the more you'll find that "uncontrollable urge" pulling you back over and over again. Scratching that itch is one of the best parts of ham radio - don't miss out!

73, Ward NØAX

CONTESTS

May 21 through June 3

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

NAQCC Monthly QRP Sprint--CW, from May 22, 0030Z to May 22, 0230Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Monthly on 2nd Tuesday or 3rd Wednesday local time (alternating). Exchange: RST, S/P/C, and NAQCC member number or power. Logs due: 4 days. Rules

Day of the YLs --Phone,CW,Digital, from May 24, 0600Z to May 25, 1500Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. CW--3.533, 7.033, 14.033, 21.033, 28.033; RTTY--3.588, 7.044, 14.088, 21.088, 28.088; SSB--3.733, 7.133, 14.213, 14.240, 14.300, 21.233, 21.400, 28.433 MHz. Exchange: RS(T) and "YL" or "OM". Logs due: Jun 26. Rules

CQ WW WPX Contest--CW, from May 24, 0000Z to May 25, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST and serial. Logs due: 5 days. Rules

QRP ARCI Hoot Owl Sprint--CW, from May 25, 8 PM to May 25, Midnight. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST, S/P/C QRP number or power. Logs due: 14 days. Rules

MI QRP Memorial Day CW Sprint--CW, from May 26, 2300Z to May 27, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, MI QRP number or power. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

Full Day of Hell Feld-Hell Contest--Digital, from May 31, 0000Z to May 31, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, Feld-Hell member nr. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

OK1WC Memorial Contest--Phone,CW, from Jun 2, 1630Z - See website. Multiple time periods. Bands (MHz): 3.5, 7. Weekly on Monday, see website for bands. Exchange: RS(T) and serial. Logs due: 5 days. Rules

ARS Spartan Sprint--CW, from Jun 3, 0200Z to Jun 3, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Monthly on the first Monday evening. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, and power. Logs due: 2 days. Rules

VHF+ CONTESTS

Worldwide EME Contest--Phone,CW, from May 24, 0000Z to May 25, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 10G+. Exchange: TMO/RS(T) and "R". Logs due: Jun 15. Rules

Worldwide EME Contest--Phone,CW, from May 31, 0000Z to Jun 1, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.2G. Exchange: TMO/RS(T) and "R". Logs due: Jun 15. Rules

LOG DUE DATES

May 21 through June 3

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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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