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The ARRL Contest Update
November 5, 2014
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
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IN THIS ISSUE

NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

A humongous station is not required to have a lot of fun in the Sweepstakes - modest antennas and 100 watts will do just fine. Since only one contact per station is needed and not one per band, you can stay on your best band and work stations that tune by. Give the other bands a try, too, and you will probably be surprised at how well you do. Here's an Operating Guide for Sweepstakes - try for a Participation Pin and a Clean Sweep mug!

BULLETINS

The brand-new Russian World-Wide Multi-Mode Contest will be active at the same time as the Phone weekend of ARRL November Sweepstakes. Congestion ahead!

BUSTED QSOS

Log checking has cleared the previous issue.

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

November 8-9

  • ARRL EME Contest
  • CWOps Weekly Mini-CWT Tests (Nov 6)
  • NS Weekly RTTY Sprint (Nov 7)
  • NS Weekly CW Sprint (Nov 7)
  • Worked All Europe DX Contest--Digital
  • 10-10 Fall Digital QSO Party
  • Japan International DX Contest--Phone
  • OK-OM DX Contest--CW
  • Straight Key Weekend Sprintathon
  • Kentucky QSO Party
  • CQ WE (Western Electric)

November 15-16

  • ARRL November Sweepstakes--Phone
  • Russian WW Multi-Mode Contest
  • Feld-Hell Turkey Shoot Sprint
  • All Austria 160 Meter Contest--CW
  • Collegiate ARC Championship--Phone
  • RSGB Second 1.8 MHz Contest--CW
  • ARS HF Contest
  • Homebrew and Oldtime Contest--CW
  • Run For the Bacon--CW (Nov 17)
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

Spaceweather reports that an active region, AR2205, is emerging over the Sun's northeastern limb (photo below), producing multiple coronal mass ejections (CMEs) in the past 48 hours. So far, Earth is outside the line of fire and the solar storm clouds are sailing wide of our planet. This could change, however, as the sunspot turns toward Earth in the days ahead, and any blast of charged particles would definitely affect the Phone Sweepstakes and other contest action.

Congratulations to the HK1NA team - they are "first in the clubhouse" after the CQ World Wide SSB Contest with a nice score of nearly 46 Mpoints in the Multi-Multi category! Taking care of business, front to back, are Charlie K1XX, Esteban LW1DTZ, Mark LU8EOT, Bill K1MM, and Rich K1CC. (Photo by KM3T)

Portable power is often a challenge for casual or contest operating but how about your own personal portable wind turbine? Omni3D is a Polish company that specializes in 3D printing and manufacturing - they have created the AirEnergy 3D turbine capable of generating up to 300 watts of power. Funded as a Kickstarter program, the turbine is designed as a kit and capable of being transported in a backpack.

Lance VK6DU collected a set of propagation planning resources beginning with his favorite, the online version of VOACAP. "It gives you a good indication of events (usually an hour behind the event but you can predict forward to some degree). W6ELPROP is downloadable software and by doing a Google search for W6EL, you will find more information about configuring it. For 6 meters I use NASA's and the Jet Propulsion Lab's Real-Time Ionospheric Maps. When you are in the red, you are cookin'!"

Dave K8CC relays word that the KB6KQ loops are again available from a company called Loops-N-More located in Kansas. The company offers a 6 meter model, a 2 meter/70 cm dual-bander, and a 125 cm (222 MHz) model, all of which have potential for simple, low-cost rover use. Another handy VHF+ rover antenna recommended by Marshall K5QE is the Efactor, a dual-band, single-feed line, 2 meter/70 cm loop created by David WT4E. "What I liked about these antennas is that you get "automatic band switching", since there is only one feed line. You just plug the coax into the 2M/432 coax outlet on your IC-706/IC-7000/FT-857/FT-897 radio and you are done. Very easy to hook up and very easy to use....especially for rookie rover ops."

Ready for some serious VHF+ fun, Mark K2QO (left) and Dick K2ZR are ready to rumble in the K2QO Rover during the ARRL September VHF Contest. (Photo by K2QO)

You think your Field Day was an adventure? Consider doing a three-month, one-man operation from the most remote location on Earth - Bouvet Island! (Thanks, Phil K3UA)

The popular DX Summit website is testing a major upgrade to its capabilities and display, including mobile device support. New functions include improved filters and call sign monitoring, advanced propagation tools, current and previous spot viewing, and a DX News section. Radio Arcala, sponsors of DX Summit, is looking for beta-testers to give the new functions thorough exercising before it goes live. Contact them by email if you would like to participate. (Thanks, Martti OH2BH)

Web Site of the Week - With the FT4TA gang tearing it up, you might want to read a couple of stories about adventures on Tromelin and sister island, Juan de Nova. For National Geographic readers, the FT/J story was in the April 2014 issue with the hedgehog on the cover. (Thanks, John N7TK and Jim K9JF)

WORD TO THE WISE

Off time - Contests like ARRL Sweepstakes and the North American QSO Party include a strategic element of not allowing full-time operation. You have to choose when to "go dark" and that makes a lot of difference in the final score. There is no frustration like that of running out of operating time and having to listen to the contest going on while you are unable to transmit! Know the rules and plan ahead.

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SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Perhaps this should be in the "Sights and No Sounds" section? Doug K1DG found this animation of the October 19th X-class flare's effect on propagation. He recommends the simulated global D-layer absorption starting about 8 seconds into the video.

Kirk KD5FYD hosts the online program, "This Week in Radio Technology" covering broadcasting and recording topics. Your editor was featured in a recent program about digital transmission (also available on the GFQ website) and you can also view the program's Facebook page for earlier and ongoing topics.

The November 4th Sun (seen in this Solar Dynamics Observatory 335-angstrom image) has more surprises with another active region rotating around to face Earth (seen at left). The interesting thing about this new spot is its location in the northern hemisphere - the previous Big Spot moving out of sight on the lower right was on the other side of the solar equator. Cycle 24 still has some tricks up its sleeve, it seems! (Image courtesy of NASA)

The HamRadioNow program has begun posting talks from the recent TAPR Digital Communications Conference. The DCC is a frequent launching pad for new ham radio digital technology and you can also find updates on existing modes, SDR technology, and other topics of the digisphere.

Bruce AA5B notes that this Astronomy Picture of the Day movie of the Sun taken in visible and ultraviolet light on 22 October really hits the spot!

RESULTS AND RECORDS

Only 24 hours after the contest, the CQ World Wide committee was reporting on their Facebook page that they had received 4,317 logs. By the log submission deadline, 7,445 logs had been received! If you ever wonder why it gets slow at the end, by 2359Z on Sunday of the contest, CQ WW Director, Randy K5ZD reports they already had 981 logs submitted.

In the busy ARRL Contest Branch, 2014 RTTY Roundup Plaques are reportedly out the door and headed to mailboxes across the land! (Thanks, ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Matt W1MSW)

N2NC and his talented typists have been at it again. The CQ WW DX Contest online score database now includes all entries from 1961 through 2013. There are 164,905 entries in the SSB database and 160,292 in the CW table. It is kind of hard to imagine that CQ WW 1961 had only 578 entries for SSB and 1130 for CW! How times have changed. Check out the log entries by year, too. The all-time records are generated from the database. See all category records by world, continent, and country, as well as zone records. (Thanks, Randy K5ZD)

OPERATING TIP

There is no problem with working and logging duplicates in Sweepstakes - they'll be removed from your log without penalty. Dupes only result in penalties if they are submitted in paper logs. (See the ARRL's General Rules For All ARRL Contests, Rule 7.8.) If a station calls in as a duplicate, it's far simpler to work and log them. Sometimes the first QSO is bad (for them or for you) and this is an easy opportunity to correct the error, saving the QSO (and maybe a multiplier!) It has also been noted that some stations are also trying to fill in band-modes for the Centennial QSO Party. Just work it!

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TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Getting ready for B category in Sweepstakes? Be a good neighbor and be brief when tuning up that amplifier - check your drive and output adjustments before the contest. Gary K4FMX contributes a couple of tips: "You should always tune your amp for maximum output power for whatever drive power you are using...slightly "over tuning" or (setting the) loading a little heavier than maximum output so that the output drops slightly from maximum is ideal as the amp will not flat-top (saturate) as easily if the speech level is driven a little harder." We all know that one's voice can get a little louder during a contest for some reason! Also, "When looking at your signal with a scope...remember power is E2/R. When the voltage doubles that is an increase of four times the power."

With the blue saltwater of the Caribbean in the background, the HK1NA station was plenty loud in the CQ WW SSB as these fellows know. (L-R) Rich K1CC, Dave KM3T, and Jorge H K1NA. (Photo from KM3T)

Hans N2JFS reminds antenna builders that grounding a coax feed line shield anywhere between the feed point and a choke balun will give current a path to bypass the choke and defeat its purpose.

If you are looking for flooded or adhesive-lined heat shrink, Don W7WLL suggests checking with ship and fishing fleet outfitters and marine stores. This is a good reminder that high-volume consumer outlets often sell the very same products at a significantly lower cost than in specialty electronics stores. He also notes, "If you live near a port, these outfitters also typically carry lots of other 'stuff' useful to hams such as stainless steel hardware, fixtures, tubing, cable, corrosion and washout blocking greases, etc. Many also may have qualified riggers who can proficiently create high quality replacement crankup tower cables."

Delighted at finding a cool project, Dave KM3T relays a link to this portable shortwave SDR. No, wait, it's a vector network analyzer! Well, whatever this device considers itself, it is described as "highly hackable." Game on!

While the math might be a little stiff for non-engineering students, the University of California - Berkeley course, Integrated Circuits for Communication, EECS 142/242A, covers a lot of familiar territory for hams, and in depth! (Thanks, Jim N9GTM)

Remember when our computers started clocking faster than our transmitters? Well, the transistors are now switching up in the terahertz (a megamegahertz) region as described by this Gizmag story. I wonder how many points that will count for in the ARRL VHF+ contests? (Thanks, Dennis N6KI)

This is a rare photo - long-time multi-op host, operator, and mentor, Rich KL7RA making his first CW Sweepstakes QSOs since 1958! The box of tissues comes in handy on the Kenai peninsula in November. (Photo by N6TR)

Popular Science for November 2014 published an article about converting an old broadcast radio to listen to meteor showers - with a data recorder! The technique of listening to distant FM stations as they pop in and out from reflection off of burns is time-honored. This new method records signal bursts using Radio-Sky-Pipe II computer software.

How many repair projects get tangled up in glue? If you're like me, it's pretty easy for strands of the sticky stuff to sneak off to where they aren't wanted. It always seems like they're in a visible location, doesn't it? At any rate, this Instructables project shows how to make disposable nozzles and put the glue just and only where you want it!

Goodbye to the last vacuum tube consumer product! Solid-state technology takes over one more "hollow-state" niche but it's not what you might think they've got cooking.

Technical Web Site of the Week - We have a pair of EDN magazine online articles to share - the first is an interview with Prof. Mark Somerville of the Olin College of Engineering. He has some interesting observations and suggestions on the state of engineering education. Some of what he suggests - hands-on experimentation, accumulating practical experience, and developing a life-long love of learning - sounds an awful lot like ham radio! The second article lists some great reference books for electronics enthusiasts - it's never too early to start that holiday present list!

CONVERSATION

What's Next?

As the ARRL's Centennial year comes to a close, so does the steady stream of "W1AW Portable" operations that have brought so many to the HF bands in 2014. Folks who probably didn't see themselves doing a lot of HF operating have found themselves watching propagation, building antennas, jumping into pileups and generally having a great time! This series of events, shining a spotlight around the continent and out into the Pacific and Caribbean, has been one of the most popular ARRL programs ever.

So what happens on January 1st when W1AW/something disappears from the airwaves and returns to its little brick building at 225 Main Street in Newington, Connecticut under the watchful portrait of The Old Man? We'll all have pileup withdrawal, that's what! I haven't heard of any follow-up program and I think the several million contacts will take some time to confirm, but still, mike-button thumbs, keyboard fingertips, and key-tapping digits will be eager for activity in 2015.

More from the KL7RA CW Sweepstakes multi-op as Ryan AB8XX (left) gets some tutoring from Kris AL2F. This shows the KL7RA Rule in action: "Whatever you learn you pass on to the next group of hams coming into contesting." Words to live by! (Photo by KL7RA)

This is your opportunity to guide new HF operators in building on their success through award programs and contests. These are always available and with a year's worth of experience chasing W1AW, our new operators will find easy success as they fill their logs with DX, rare counties, and hours of contacts. Now is the time to schedule a late-December or January club program about operating in contests or chasing awards like DXCC or CQ's WPX.

Show them how to keep an envelope on file at the QSL bureau - and maybe even volunteer to sort a letter or two. If they're not on Logbook Of the World, why not explain how that works. Present a survey of some of the awards within their reach. The K1BV Awards Directory is free and lists more the 3,300 awards for accomplishments small, large, and...strange!

Those of us who have been around for a while tend to forget how thrilling it was to complete Worked All Continents. Or maybe that first time you experienced a solid over-the-pole or long-path opening during a contest, filling the log with call signs you never expected to hear, much less log. Hey, pass it on! Be a radiosport Elmer and have a ready answer when asked, "What is there to do now?"

73, Ward NØAX

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CONTESTS

5 November through 18 November

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 November Sweepstakes--Phone, from Nov 15, 2100Z to Nov 17, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: Serial, category, call, check, ARRL/RAC sec. Logs due: Dec 2. Rules

CWOps Weekly Mini-CWT Tests--CW, from Nov 6, 1300Z - See website. Multiple time periods. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Weekly on Wednesday, 28 to 38 kHz above band edge. Exchange: Name and member number or S/P/C. Logs due: 2 days. Rules

NS Weekly RTTY Sprint--Digital, from Nov 7, 0145Z to Nov 7, 0215Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Weekly on Thursday evenings local time. Exchange: Serial, name, and S/P/C. Logs due: 2 days. Rules

NS Weekly CW Sprint--CW, from Nov 7, 0230Z to Nov 7, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-14. Weekly on Thursday evenings local time. Exchange: Serial, name, and S/P/C. Logs due: 2 days. Rules

Worked All Europe DX Contest--Digital, from Nov 8, 0000Z to Nov 9, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and serial (see web for QTC rules). Logs due: 2 weeks. Rules

10-10 Fall Digital QSO Party--Digital, from Nov 8, 0001Z to Nov 9, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 28. Exchange: Call, name, 10-10 number, S/P/C. Logs due: Nov 25. Rules

Japan International DX Contest--Phone, from Nov 8, 0700Z to Nov 9, 1300Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and JA prefecture or CQ Zone. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

OK-OM DX Contest--CW, from Nov 8, 1200Z to Nov 9, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST and serial or OK/OM district. Logs due: Dec 1. Rules

Straight Key Weekend Sprintathon--CW, from Nov 8, 1200Z to Nov 9, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Monthly beginning on the second Saturday local time. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, name, SKCC nr or "none". Logs due: 5 days. Rules

Kentucky QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Nov 8, 1400Z to Nov 9, 0200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50, CW--1.815, 3.550, 7.050, 14.050, 21.050, 28.050, 50.090; SSB--1.855, 3.820, 7.240, 14.280, 21.390, 28.390, 50.190 MHz. Exchange: RST and KY county or S/P/C. Logs due: Dec 31. Rules

CQ WE (Western Electric)--Phone,CW,Digital, from Nov 8, 1900Z to Nov 10, 0500Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50-440, Send "ZZ" for Bell QTH if not a Bell System ham. Exchange: Call, name, Bell QTH, yrs of service pt . Logs due: Dec 1. Rules

Russian WW Multi-Mode Contest--Phone,CW,Digital, from Nov 15, 1200Z to Nov 16, 1159Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST and serial or 2-char oblast code. Logs due: 14 days. Rules

Feld-Hell Turkey Shoot Sprint--Digital, from Nov 15, 1600Z to Nov 15, 1800Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Monthly on 3rd Saturday. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, Feld-Hell member nr. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

All Austria 160 Meter Contest--CW, from Nov 15, 1600Z to Nov 16, 0700Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8. Exchange: RST, serial, OE district. Logs due: Dec 31. Rules

Collegiate ARC Championship--Phone, from Nov 15, 2100Z to Nov 17, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: See ARRL Sweepstakes. Rules

RSGB Second 1.8 MHz Contest--CW, from Nov 15, 2100Z to Nov 16, 0100Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8. Exchange: RST, serial, UK district. Logs due: 16 days. Rules

ARS HF Contest--Phone,CW,Digital, from Nov 16, 0000Z to Nov 16, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS(T). Logs due: 15 days. Rules

Homebrew and Oldtime Contest--CW, from Nov 16, 1300Z to Nov 16, 1700Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-7. Exchange: RST, serial, and category. Logs due: Dec 18. Rules

Run For the Bacon--CW, from Nov 17, 0200Z to Nov 17, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Monthly on 3rd Sunday night (local). Exchange: RST, S/P/C, Flying Pig nr or power. Rules

VHF+ CONTESTS

ARRL EME Contest--Phone,CW,Digital, from Nov 8, 0000Z to Nov 9, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 50-1296. Exchange: Call signs, signal report, acknowledgement. Logs due: Jan 1. Rules

Kentucky QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Nov 8, 1400Z to Nov 9, 0200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50, CW--1.815, 3.550, 7.050, 14.050, 21.050, 28.050, 50.090; SSB--1.855, 3.820, 7.240, 14.280, 21.390, 28.390, 50.190 MHz. Exchange: RST and KY county or S/P/C. Logs due: Dec 31. Rules

CQ WE (Western Electric)--Phone,CW,Digital, from Nov 8, 1900Z to Nov 10, 0500Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50-440, Send "ZZ" for Bell QTH if not a Bell System ham. Exchange: Call, name, Bell QTH, yrs of service pt . Logs due: Dec 1. Rules

LOG DUE DATES

5 November through 18 November

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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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