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The ARRL Contest Update
August 13, 2014
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
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IN THIS ISSUE

NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

Two great opportunities are coming up this weekend - the SSB edition of the North American QSO Party runs on Saturday starting at 1800Z and the RTTY edition of the ARRL Rookie Roundup begins at 1800Z on Sunday. Both are excellent contests for those just starting out on the HF bands.

BULLETINS

Lest anyone be confused, the ILLW-sponsored Lighthouse Weekend (Aug 16-17) is separate from the ARLHS International Lighthouse-Lightship Contest (Aug 1-8). Different organizations, different events, same lighthouses.

BUSTED QSOS

The Worked All Europe CW contest was mischaracterized as being on the same weekend as the NAQP CW contest - apologies for any inconveniences! (Thanks, David K2DSL)

Files of the latest elevation angles for the HFTA software are available on the ARRL Product Notes web page in the section on the Antenna Book. (Thanks, Dean N6BV)

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

Aug 16-17

  • ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest
  • ARRL Rookie Roundup--Digital
  • North American QSO Party--Phone
  • NAQCC Monthly QRP Sprint--CW (Aug 13)
  • 70 cm Digital EME Championship
  • SARTG WW RTTY Contest
  • Russian District Award Contest
  • Keymen's Club of Japan Contest--CW
  • Feld-Hell Gridloc Sprint
  • Dominican Republic Contest--Phone
  • SARL Digital Contest

Aug 23-24

  • Run For the Bacon--CW (Aug 18)
  • ALARA Contest
  • Hawaii QSO Party
  • Kansas QSO Party
  • Ohio QSO Party
  • South Africa DX CW Contest
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

A new monthly English and Dutch-language publication, the DKARS Magazine, is now available for downloading, covering news and events in the popular Dutch-speaking Caribbean islands. The Dutch Kingdom Amateur Radio Society will represent the interest of all radio amateurs within the entire Kingdom of the Netherlands. Feel free to forward this non-copyrighted publication to clubs and friends! (Thanks, DKARS Secretary, Peter PJ4NX/PA3CNX)

The Central Texas DX and Contesting Club (CTDXCC) has a new slate of officers for 2014-2015 according to the Daily DX:

  • President - N5AUS, John Stratton
  • Vice President - NA6M, Mark Stennett
  • Secretary - W5MJ, Madison Jones
  • Treasurer - W2MN, Tom Nevue
  • CTDXCC DX Coordinator - WD5AAM, Gerry Moravec

After nearly two years off-line, the Dutch WebSDR is available once again. The receiver makes the entire HF spectrum visible on a single waterfall display, using a special whip antenna. No log in is required and either Java or HTML5 support is required. To tune to a specific frequency, type it in and hit Enter. Click the Zoom In and Zoom Out buttons to change the spread of the waterfall. "Click to Tune" allows you to jump to different signals, including an S meter, or use the [-] and [+] buttons, and you can change modes with mode buttons. (Thanks, Bob N6TV)

Here's the entire HF spectrum from just above 0 MHz to 30 MHz as displayed on the WebSDR website. You can get a pretty good of where the MUF resides. Clicking on a signal or entering a frequency tunes the receiver.

This recent Slashdot discussion on long- and short-wavelength radar and the effect of stealth technology is very interesting. Like most Slashdot discussions, the threads take a lot of technologically savvy twists and turns along the way - evasive action?

More wrapup of the WRTC 2014 competition will soon be available as a pair of World Wide Radio Operators Foundation (WWROF) webinars: "WRTC 2014 - North American Team Reviews" at 0100Z on Aug 14th (Wed evening in North America) and "WRTC 2014 - European Team Reviews" on Sunday, Aug 17th at 1900Z. The North American presentation features the winning team of K1A (N6MJ & KL9A) along with W1Z (N5DX & N2IC - #4 finish) and N1M (K9VV & VE3EJ - #5 finish). The teams will share their strategy, station configuration, and stories from the competition. The European presentation features W1L (OM3BH & OM3GI - #2 finish), W1P (DJ5MW & DL1IAO - #3 finish), and W1A (LY9A & LY4L - #6 finish). Question and answer sessions follow each presentation. (Thanks, Ken K4ZW)

A special Contest University (CTU) was held during the ARRL Centennial in Hartford, CT earlier this month with almost 200 in attendance. Content and contesting topics were covered in material from W3LPL, NØAX, W5ZN, K1DG, W1UE, W0YK and K5ZD. Due to popular demand, DX Engineering now offers the CTU Centennial textbook and the past three years of CTU books. (Thanks, Tim K3LR)

E21EIC, Champ, has received a permit for the E2A contest call sign from the NBTC (Thai telecom authorities). He started using it during the WAE CW contest. The license is good until Dec 31, 2014 and he can renew it every year. Champ also says 100Watts Magazine has received the call E2C that will be operated by E2ØPFE. Thailand now has four of the 1x1 call signs; E2A, E2C, E2E and E2X. (Thanks, Daily DX)

If you can't get a match with this Adventure Tuner L network...just turn it around! (Image courtesy of SOTABEAMS)

The new Adventure Tuner by SOTABEAMS is a simple, QRP antenna tuner kit. It is designed to be an easy-to-make construction project based on a bi-directional L network design that results in a wide range of matching options.

If you're in Chicago and need a refreshing libation with a splash of Morse, why not stop in at the Three Dots and a Dash? (Thanks, Matt W1MSW)

The VHF+ contesting community lost a very active member from the Pacific Northwest last week as Bruce Junkin KI7JA died suddenly on July 30th. Bruce was a very active member of the Pacific Northwest VHF Society who specialized in activating hard-to-work grids. (Thanks, Barry K7BWH)

Web Site of the Week - Dave W6AQ has had the pleasure of a long and distinguished career in television while at the same time enjoying this hobby of ours. He has written a twenty five-chapter online book called The World's Best Hobby that recounts his travels and adventures in both.

WORD TO THE WISE

Skew - referring to propagation along paths offset somewhat from the great circle route between stations. Skew paths to the south of the direct path are often open in the Northern Hemisphere when the direct path is too northerly to support communication.

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SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

An "ode to the code" several have called it - an NPR story about the reactivation and maintenance of coastal station KPH near San Francisco. There is a full article with some familiar faces online, too! (Thanks, Kip W6SZN and Steve W1SRD)

A movie by Miguel EC1DJ of the recent Youngsters On The Air ARDF event features one of my favorite tunes as the soundtrack (Turn Your Radio On)!

Well into his tenth decade, Bob W7LR has some new antennas at his Bozeman, MT QTH. Bob is active on 6 and 160 meters - and everything in between! (Photo by N6TR)

Nodir EY8MM has published a WRTC2014 photobook in a free eBook format as well as in printed book form. The paper version (with a full preview) is sold at cost - all 160 pages and 360 photos!

"It's Only a Game" is a radio program intended to be a non-conventional look at sports, conventional and not. In this case, ham radio and WRTC2014 are featured as the Olympic Games of Ham Radio. John K6AM, Dan N6MJ, and Dave N6AN are WRTC (The Olympic Games of Ham Radio) take part in the discussion. The 48-minute program covers several topics so if you want to skip right to the ham radio coverage, download the podcast and listen beginning at minute 39. (Thanks, Dennis N6KI)

RESULTS AND RECORDS

The ARRL Contest Branch is pleased to report that all results data items for 2013 contests have been created and posted through the 10 Meter and 160 Meter contests. Line Scores for the ARRL DX CW Contest are now online with the searchable databases close behind. RTTY Roundup line scores are also in the works as new Contest Branch Manager, Matt W1MSW, works through the backlog.

The logs for all WRTC2014 teams are now available online. You may view any individual log or download all logs as single zip file. (The site selection and evaluation description is also available as described below. (Thanks, WRTC2014 Vice President, Randy K5ZD)

Preliminary results for the July North American QSO Party - RTTY are now available at the National Contest Journal web site. Please report any problems directly to the Contest Manager, Mark K6UFO. Final results will be published in the November/December issue of the National Contest Journal.

The just-completed CW edition of the North American QSO Party definitely brought out the team players. Out of 652 Single-Op logs, almost half of them (321) credited their score to a team. There were 79 different teams registered for the event! (Thanks, Tree N6TR)

Results and records for the 2014 SSB King of Spain contest are now online. Look for some changes to the contest next year! (Thanks, Jesus EC1KR)

OPERATING TIP

Jim AD1C summarized a recent story in the Science Daily about light and its effects on sleep. "White light enriched with blue is more effective than the standard white light that is found in offices and homes for the purpose of synchronizing the biological clock and activating the non-visual functions that are essential to the correct functioning of the body. The effectiveness of this light does not require high levels of illumination."

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TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Lance W7GJ has followed the footsteps of K1WHS who designed a high-power low-pass filter for 6 meters. Lance's easily duplicated design is based on a design by YU7EF and will attenuate all harmonics more than 60 dB. The new filter also fits nicely into a standard commercially available enclosure! (From the August 2014 issue of the Mt Airy V.H.F. Radio Club's "Cheese Bits")

How to take care of those expensive deep-cycle batteries is the topic of this Batteries Northwest "Battery School" web article. (Thanks, Gary KBØH)

Here's the 304 angstrom solar disk on August 12th. The faculae are the many granular "bright spots" sprinkled across the solar disk. (Image courtesy of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.)

Scott Bidstrup, TI3/W7RI suggests, 'No sunspots? Sky and Telescope magazine recommends observing faculae.' Even in the absence of sunspots, faculae generate enough ultraviolet light to account for about half of the observed F2-layer propagation. An image of the solar disk at a 304 angstrom wavelength is available on Scott's web page. The faculae may not be as bright as the sunspots, but they make up for that in a much larger area on the solar surface. (From ARRL Propagation Bulletin ARLP031)

Information by WRTC2014 Site Selection Manager, Rich K1CC, on the methodology for choosing sites is now available, including an outline of the analytical methods used to evaluate them. A link is provided to the terrain and HFTA data for all 59 sites used in the competition. Rich will publish a more detailed article appearing the Sep/Oct issue of the National Contest Journal about the effort that went into finding equivalent sites in the hills of New England. (Thanks, WRTC2014 Vice-President, Randy K5ZD)

Aluminum pipe and PVC pipe are often fitted together in building antennas. The extreme limits of the two types of pipes sometimes result in the PVC being too small to allow the aluminum to fit. Heating the PVC in some boiling hot water solves that problem since the expansion coefficient of PVC allows it to expand enough to get the aluminum into the heated plastic pipe. (Thanks, Grant KZ1W)

If you've ever gotten a funny look from your spouse for saying, "Hey, that's the GOOD electrical tape!" you'll want to stick with the name-brand cable ties, particularly for UV resistance - Panduit and Thomas & Betts here in the U.S. Another tip is that covering even off-brand ties with a layer of that good-quality Scotch 33+ tape keeps them in place for years. This is particularly important when you don't want to have to replace them - such as way out on that boom! (Thanks, Glenn K6NA and John VE3EJ)

Did you know that LEDs are photodiodes, too? True! As described in this Analog Dialog article.

Working on towers means standing on rungs and that can be hard on the feet! What boots to wear provoked quite a discussion on the Towertalk reflector recently! Red Wing, Carhart, Caterpillar, Wesco, Vasque, Asolo, and Lacrosse - these brands were mentioned as offering a steel shank model that takes the load off your arches. No doubt there are others, too! Tree climbing and forestry boots also got the nod. A valuable reminder - measure the inside clearance of the tower you'll be climbing and be sure a pair of boots for your feet can fit comfortably side-by-side on the rung!

Here's a cable lifting tip from the HSØAC antenna crew: Cut the end off a plastic water bottle, slip it over the lifting rope, tie the rope around the cable, and slide the water bottle over the connector and knot. The water bottle keeps the cable and rope aligned while preventing snags during the lift. (Photo from E21EIC)

Tired of replacing incandescent pilot lamps? Jim K5LAD discovered an easy method to provide, inexpensive, and easily reproducible lighting for rotator control boxes. His new article is titled, "Adding LED Illumination to Antenna Rotator Control Box" and is menu choice #4.

In a short piece titled, "Toiletries to Tools," Popular Mechanics for July/August points out that toothpaste - which contains a fine abrasive - clears up cloudy plastic and burnishes dull chrome. Dental floss can be used as a thread locker to prevent a nut from coming off with waxed floss working the best. Nail clippers, as I suspect many of us have learned, also make good wire strippers and cutters in a pinch, so to speak.

Here's a web page that will answer some of those long-standing questions about nominal pipe sizes from Piping Engineering.

I sure wish I had one of these to solve all of my adaptor problems. While I might not lose it, lifting it might be another issue! And where do all my adaptors wander off to, anyway? (Thanks, Doug K1DG)

Technical Web Site of the Week - In another excerpt from The Circuit Designer's Companion, EDN magazine has published a discussion of crosstalk and twisted-pair cables. RF folks like hams will find this article's approach from the standpoint of digital signals to be of interest.

CONVERSATION

On the Rove Again

One type of operation that is becoming more and more popular - indeed, experiencing a renaissance of sorts - is mobile and roving operation. For many years, the large front seat of cars provided a natural mounting spot for mobile rigs under the dash. Well, putting a big old radio there did make it harder for one's main squeeze to scoot over and keep one company but where are our priorities? But cars got smaller and the mobile FM rig took over. Then the "dc-to-daylight" all-band radios started to appear beginning with the TS-50 and IC-706.

The K8GP/R station no doubt garnered more than a few stares while on the rove. You might not need to go quite this far to have fun as a VHF+ rover but K1RA and W8ZN had a blast! (Photo by K1RA)

HF Mobile is back! But VHF+ mobile never really left, particularly the rovers who load up the vehicle with gear for every band from 6 to whatever. (And sometimes HF, too!) Along with remote station operating, there is truly hope for the CC&R-challenged or apartment-condo dweller to have an effective station that is fun to operate on any band.

Andy K1RA has put together a big package of presentations that shows how much fun it is to operate a VHF+ rover. "Between work, vacation, family, yard work and other more pressing activities I've finally managed to pull together an article covering our (Terry W8ZN & Andy K1RA) rove during the 2014 June ARRL VHF contest. I had gotten some good feedback on my prior 2014 January VHF Contest article and I thought I'd try again to capture the fun and adventure of roving, this time under much warmer conditions.

"If you're not up for reading the lengthy article, I've got other links at the top of the article that link to the stand alone photo album, my post-contest Cabrillo log analyzer and mapping program, as well as a Youtube video. Thanks to all who followed us and provided us with numerous QSOs."

As Andy's dad, Rich K1HTV relates, "Because of severe winter ice damage to hundreds of elements on the many dozen VHF/UHF antennas at the K8GP Mt. Weather FM19bb QTH, the Grid Pirates were not able to operate from that site. Instead K8GP/R was activated again as a rover. In the Youtube video, you can hear the transmissions of a hundred-plus VHF/UHF/Microwave stations as they are worked by K8GP/R in the various grids from which they operated."

Inside the K8GP/R rover, the new layout was quite effective. This almost looks like a home station with W8ZN at the keyboard. (Photo by K1RA)

Along with the upcoming ARRL Fall VHF Contest and the Fall VHF Sprints, there are a number of state QSO parties that occur in the fall including the "big ones" - California, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Mobile operating in these contests is great fun whether you are in-state or not. Personally, I love driving from county to county in my home-state QSO parties. All it takes is a mobile rig and some whips to have a lot of fun. If you get serious on HF, a screwdriver or multi-resonator antenna will do the job and for VHF+ roving, just a halo antenna or two and maybe a push-up pole with a small Yagi will make a lot of QSOs on 6, 2, 222, and 432 MHz.

While mobile operating has long been a recognized part of VHF+ contesting, there are no specific categories for it at 30 MHz and below. Perhaps that needs to change - it would be easy to add an "overlay" for mobile operation in the Single-Operator (SO) categories. As long as the contest exchange remains consistent or at least compatible with SO rules, why not? Equipment is good enough and antennas effective enough that even DX contacts are plentiful from a mobile installation.

Paraphrasing another mobile master, Willie Nelson:

"The life I love is making contacts with my friends
And I can't wait to get on the rove again."

73, Ward NØAX

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CONTESTS

August 13 through August 26

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 Rookie Roundup--Digital, from Aug 17, 1800Z to Aug 17, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: Both calls, name, check, S/P/XE or "DX". Logs due: See web. Rules

North American QSO Party--Phone, from Aug 16, 1800Z to Aug 17, 0600Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: Name and state. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

NAQCC Monthly QRP Sprint--CW, from Aug 13, 0030Z to Aug 14, 0230Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Monthly on 2nd Tuesday or 3rd Wednesday local time (alternating). Exchange: RST, S/P/C, and NAQCC mbr nr or power. Logs due: 4 days. Rules

SARTG WW RTTY Contest--Digital, from Aug 16, 0000Z - See website. Multiple time periods. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and serial. Logs due: Sep 12. Rules

Russian District Award Contest--Phone,CW, from Aug 16, 0800Z to Aug 17, 0800Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS(T), serial or Russian district. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

Keymen's Club of Japan Contest--CW, from Aug 16, 1200Z to Aug 17, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: RST and JA pref/dist or continent. Logs due: Sep 17. Rules

Feld-Hell Gridloc Sprint--Digital, from Aug 16, 2000Z to Aug 16, 2200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Monthly on 3rd Saturday. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, Feld-Hell nr, 4-char grid square. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

Dominican Republic Contest--Phone, from Aug 17, 0000Z to Aug 17, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-7. Exchange: RS and serial. Logs due: Sep 1. Rules

SARL Digital Contest--Digital, from Aug 17, 1300Z to Aug 17, 1630Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Exchange: RST and serial. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

Run For the Bacon--CW, from Aug 18, 0100Z to Aug 18, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Monthly on 3rd Sunday night (local). Exchange: RST, S/P/C, Flying Pig nr or power. Rules

ALARA Contest--Phone,CW, from Aug 23, 0400Z - See website. Multiple time periods. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 144,440. Exchange: RS(T), serial, ALARA nr, name. Logs due: Sep 30. Rules

Hawaii QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Aug 23, 0400Z to Aug 25, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS(T) and Hawaii multiplier or S/P. Logs due: Sep 30. Rules

Kansas QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Aug 23, 1400Z - See website. Multiple time periods. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 50,144, CW--40 kHz above band edge; Phone--3.840, 7.240, 14.240, 21.340, 28.440 MHz. Exchange: RS(T) and KS county or S/P/"DX". Logs due: Oct 1. Rules

Ohio QSO Party--Phone,CW, from Aug 23, 1600Z to Aug 24, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: Serial and S/P or "DX". Logs due: 30 days. Rules

South Africa DX CW Contest--CW, from Aug 24, 1300Z to Aug 24, 1630Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Exchange: RST and serial. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

VHF+ CONTESTS

ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest--Phone,CW,Digital, from Aug 16, 6 AM to Aug 17, 12 AM. Bands (MHz): 10G+. Exchange: 6-char grid locator. Logs due: Oct 21. http://arrl.org/contestsRules

70 cm Digital EME Championship--Digital, from Aug 16, 0000Z to Aug 17, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 432. Exchange: TMO or RST and R. Logs due: 14 days. Rules

Keymen's Club of Japan Contest--CW, from Aug 16, 1200Z to Aug 17, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: RST and JA pref/dist or continent. Logs due: Sep 17. Rules

ALARA Contest--Phone,CW, from Aug 23, 0400Z - See website. Multiple time periods. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28, 144,440. Exchange: RS(T), serial, ALARA nr, name. Logs due: Sep 30. Rules

LOG DUE DATES

August 13 through August 26

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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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