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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
April 22, 2015
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX


Get into a State QSO Party state of mind because the Florida QSO Party is this coming weekend and the May 2nd-3rd weekend is an even bigger one with the two regional contests (7QP and NEQP) combined with the Indiana and Delaware contests. Let's see, that's (wait a minute...) sixteen states in one big party. Work all of those contests and you're one-third of the way to WAS!


As we go into hamfest season, you'll have lots of opportunities to get lucky with raffles and drawings for donated prizes. If you win one, be sure to drop the prize donor a note of thanks.


Last issue's video by K9YC on editing audio messages is actually a how-to for using WavePad, not Audacity. (Thanks, Ric WO4O)


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

April 25-26

  • Ten-Ten Spring Digital Contest (Apr 21)
  • SP DX RTTY Contest
  • QRP To The Field--CW
  • Helvetia Contest
  • Florida QSO Party
  • BARTG 75 Sprint--Digital
  • VHF Spring Sprints--432 MHz (Apr 29)

May 2-3

  • NS Weekly RTTY Sprint (May 1)
  • NS Weekly Sprint--CW (May 1)
  • 2 GHz and Up World Wide Contest
  • Microwave Spring Sprint
  • Worldwide EME Contest,
  • Ten-Ten Spring CW Contest
  • ARI International DX Contest
  • 7th Area QSO Party
  • Indiana QSO Party
  • Delaware QSO Party
  • Radio Club of America QSO Party--Phone
  • New England QSO Party
  • OK1WC Memorial Contest (May 4)
  • ARS Spartan Sprint--CW (May 5)

David Moore sent this article and image from Southern Iceland to the European Space Agency. Not so good for HF propagation, though! (Image courtesy of ESA)

"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." So sayeth Neils Bohr, one of the fathers of quantum mechanics. Thus it is very handy to have an archive of propagation predictions from K7RA's ARRL Propagation Bulletin ARLP016. Excel spreadsheets contain data for the planetary A index and the solar flux values. If you don't have Excel on your system, you can download a free Excel Viewer program. The predictions are revised daily, and come from 45-day NOAA forecasts.

From the WRTC 2018 group, Michael DL6MHW reports, "The first four (qualifying) events (ARRL DX CW and SSB, RDXC, and WPX SSB) are over and the log submission deadlines are passed. However, there are no claimed scores available. Therefore we can not publish any standings yet." The scoring web page is live but with test data at the moment, following the approach of Marek SQ2GXO. WRTC 2018 thanks Marek for the great ham spirit!

Much is made of "Moore's Law" regarding the rate at which progress occurs in the semiconductor technology business. With fundamental limits of size and shape being approached - it is said that one atom's erroneous placement can ruin a modern IC - is this remarkable observation on the industry finally running out of steam? IEEE Spectrum recently posted several bits of commentary considering the possibilities.

Bob KØRC reports that his "2015 Florida QSO Party workbook has been completely redesigned to be more efficient for users. What used to be multiple Excel worksheets for each day has been consolidated into a "Saturday" and a "Sunday" worksheet. Sort buttons have been added that reorganize the tables with a single click." Bob notes that his tools require Excel 2003 or newer versions, with macros enabled.

Visalia convention-goers could hardly miss the new M2 satellite antenna system for VHF/UHF birds. (Photo by NØAX)

I think we can all identify with the astronomers as they fret over mysterious noise sources that turn out to be, literally, right around the corner. (Thanks, Dennis N6KI)

Could this heat-sensing program be a new implementation of "partner mode" for contest logging software? While the data rate would put it in the QRSS contest category, I'm sure we can expect great progress in the future! (Thanks, Brian N9ADG)

From the Department of Things That Never Change comes this story of a chess grandmaster using "undeclared assistance" in a recent tournament.

Art W1AWX has developed a wonderfully colorful history of New England broadcasting and published it on his web page.

Web Site of the Week - So how big is your antenna, Old Man? I'll bet it's not as big as Project Sanguine. (Thanks, George K5TR)


Along with a list of disqualifications and warnings, the CQ World Wide Committee has published this reminder that they are, indeed, listening. "The CQ WW Contest Committee takes its job as referee for the contest very seriously. Each year a group of dedicated members spends many hours poring over logs, listening to SDR recordings, and following up on input from the contest community. We do not always have perfect information and it is difficult when each entrant is operating from their own station without any outside observer. Even so, the logs and recordings often tell us a clear story. It is our job as referees to call them as we see them." Please make a note of it!


It was a true multimedia experience as Visalia convention breakfast MC K7JA challenged (L-R) W2GD, K1DG, and N9RV to an unconventional keying contest using a straight key or dual-lever paddle. How unconventional was it? Let's just say that ASCII isn't always an acronym. W2GD won on style points, um, going away. (Photos by NØAX)

The crowd at the recent International DX Convention in Visalia is portrayed in this excellent album from roving photographer Bob N6TV. Enjoy!

It's never too late for a little April Foolery is it? How about crowdsourced CW copying as imagined by Andy N2CN. (Thanks, Dick AA5VU)

Can't we come up with the ham radio equivalent of Robogames? Oh's called "sprint contests."

Online video presentation of contesting might benefit from this interesting approach to live coding. (Thanks, George K5TR)

I know more than a few of the Contest Update readers take an interest in musical amplifiers as well as the radio variety. Popular Mechanics had a photographer document what a classic Fender amp looks like in its most fundamental state.

Bringgggg! Aliens discover radio!


ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Matt W1MSW has updated the list of plaques for the 2014 RTTY Roundup. If you or your club are interested in sponsoring one of these plaques ($75 each), please contact Matt before May 5th. And in the awards department, 2014 June VHF Contest plaques were mailed April 15 so watch your mailbox!

Matt also reports that the April SSB Rookie Roundup was a big success! "We've already received a record number of entries even before the 72-hour log submissions deadline. Over 130 Rookie entries (Single and Multioperator) and more than 25 non-Rookie entries have been submitted so far with 32 hours left to submit scores. Thank you to all the Rookies who participated, the Elmers who were there to mentor, and the Non-Rookies who gave out contacts during the event.

The Scandinavian Activity Contest 2014 Results Booklet is now available in PDF format for your reading pleasure with the full contest results, along with contest stories written by participants from different parts of the world. Thanks to all who contributed to the booklet, and to Flemming OZ8XW, for taking care of the layout! The SAC Contest Committee also invites you to take a survey on SAC.

Solid-state amplifiers are making headway against the vacuum tube designs as exemplified by this Expert Amps 1K-FA kilowatt model displayed at the Visalia convention. (Photo by NØAX)

Raw claimed scores for the 2015 WPX SSB Contest are now available online. The listing shows raw scores as calculated by the WPX log checking software prior to any checking. This should give participants a good indication of their category placement at the World, Continent, or Country level. Please check that your entry is in the correct category. Report any errors to the CQ WPX Contest Director, Terry N4TZ.

Wow - here's a horse race for you: Yankee Clipper Contest Club (YCCC) Scorekeeper, Alec W2JU, recently presented the results of the recent ARRL DX contest. By his counting, as of yesterday, the difference in score between YCCC and arch-rivals Frankford Radio Club (FRC) was only 178K points! That may sound like a lot of points but out of each club's aggregate score of 301 Mpoints, that represents a margin of 0.06%!! The outcome of this contest will be determined by overall club accuracy! (Thanks, K1KI)

Good conditions and a good turnout resulted in a Spartan Sprint this month that was universally described as fun. Winner of the Skinny Division is Bill W4ZV and topping the Tubby Division is John K4BAI. QSOs in the Skinny Division are sorted by QSOs/pound - of the equipment, not the operator! (Thanks,Richard KI6SN)


What's the most important part of the contester's body? From my personal experience, it's your butt! If it's not "in the chair," the rest of your corporeal being is pretty much irrelevant. Make it easy to maximize BIC (butt in chair) time with a comfortable shack chair. After all, a weekend contest takes as much time as a week at work - or more - so take care of your "supporting technology."


You might think that the big multi-multi stations have serious receiver front-end protection problems and you would be right. But where else will you find a lot of power coming back down the feed line from another transmitter? How about Field Day? Craig K9CT recommends this web page on antenna coupling from W8JI. Perhaps some protection is in order to save those fragile components?

For big antenna installations, many station builders prefer a heavy-duty, self-aligning bearing to take the load off the rotator and ease the job of maintenance. Stan K5GO recommended these flange bearings as doing a good job for him. (Similar units are available from He also reminds us to leave a little room in the diameter - a 2" galvanized mast requires a 2-1/16" bearing to fit cleanly - and to add a muffler clamp just above the bearing as a little insurance against set screw failure. Shaft collars also remove the need to rely on set screws. If you do use the set screws, be sure they are stainless steel to avoid rusting, since most bearings of this type are specified for indoor use. (Thanks also, Gerald K5GW)

Chris was showing off his new tilt-over truck-mount at Visalia - the latest KF7P Metalwerks product - along with Yellow Jacks and other tools. (Photo by NØAX)

While on the subject of bearings and clamps atop your tower, Jon W4ABC notes that Oatey makes a roofing flange (14052 Master Flash) that can easily be configured to fit around your mast, just above the bearing. It's widely available online and in home improvement and plumbing stores. A similar part is the Fernco 1056-62 flexible coupling recommended by J D KF5U.

I don't expect us to have 160 meter antennas in the form of wrist-watches any time soon but science marches on. Here's a news item on how electromagnetic innovation places antennas right on a chip. (Thanks, Roger K8RI)

Updated antenna comparison tables from VE7BQH have been uploaded to the website of Lance W7GJ, just in time for the summer roving season. (Thanks, Lance W7GJ)

Here's a list of about 10 small receive antennas, with links to information on each type. (Thanks, Mike WØBTU)

What kind of wire do you need for radials? With a big station and lots of 160 meter activity, Frank W3LPL has considered lots of options. "In most soils mechanical durability is the only consideration for long term durability of copper wire, but out of sight out of mind can be a big problem for radial systems in at least two cases.

"Galvanic corrosion will damage a buried radial system if electrical currents flow from the shield of your coaxial cable into your radial system. Of course, small diameter wire will fail more quickly than heavier wire. This is not a trivial consideration because in many installations the buried radial system has significantly lower ground resistance than any other ground in your home or in your station. You can determine if this is a problem in your installation by using a milliammeter (or a common VOM) to check for shield current.

"Corrosive soils may also damage a buried radial system. Fortunately most soils are not corrosive for copper but there are important exceptions, some examples are:

  • soils with large quantities of organic matter,
  • poorly drained soils such as wetlands,
  • soils with a history of heavy agricultural use with farm animals or fertilizer, and
  • soils containing materials such as cinders or cinder blocks."

Technical Web Site of the Week - This video from Icom is an excellent demonstration of the effect from phase noise of internal oscillators creating reciprocal mixing. Transmit signal cleanliness has become the new frontier of transceiver design and it's about time! (Thanks, Scott KØDQ)


Where the Action Is

Just having returned from the International DX Convention in Visalia, California, I'm still buzzing from the social whirl. Attendance was a new high-water mark and I definitely noticed plenty of DX visitors, women and girl hams, folks on the left-side of the demographic curve, shall we say, and so forth. Many of my long-time friends made the trek, too, leading to loads of conversation, photos, and memories to share.

You can't deny this group was having a lot of fun in Visalia! Left to right are Carole W6TTF, Katie, WY7YL, and Saraj KU6F. See you all in Dayton, I hope! (Photo by WY7YL)

The image of the ham convention is changing along with the ham. Today's successful conventions are more about learning and sharing than ever before. Visalia hosts DX University and Contest Academy. Dayton is home to Contest University and the QRPer's Four Days in May (and many other focused programs).

I realize that many of my readers, however, are not impassioned contesters or DXers. What does a convention offer them? Just to review the list of technical topics at Visalia, you could sample material on Remote Operating, Transmission Line Stubs, Logging Network IT, Receiver Performance, Effective Portable Antennas, and that list doesn't even include the sessions on propagation and the like in "university-style" program tracks. Every ham could have taken home plenty of increased know-how from that set of forums.

QSLs everywhere - this colorful display by the K6DGE radio club really caught the eye of Visalia conventiion-goers. (Photo by NØAX)

Along with the station-building and operating, you would have also discovered unexpected delights such as the K6DGE team of fifth and sixth-grade students, nearly all YLs, led by Beverly WA6BK. With the assistance of local hams like David K3LP, the club at Dorothy Grant Elementary School has "caught a fire" and makes waves on the air as evidenced by their colorful display and presence at the convention. It was wonderful to see the girls holding impromptu sessions with experienced YL operators like Katie WY7YL and Val NV9L.

Elsewhere around the convention, Bob KK6EK was busy discussing the upcoming VKØEK expedition to Heard Island, you could catch up with what projects the Northern California DX Foundation was sponsoring, and chat with Sandy DL1QQ about plans for WRTC2018 in Germany. In the exhibition hall, you could see the latest high-performance antennas, amplifiers, and accessories while stocking up on those ever-important bits and pieces. So many opportunities, so little time!

If you find yourself wondering where the action is, maybe a road trip is in order. Perhaps you can't make the Big Ones but do try to pay a visit to one of the larger, regional conventions taking place in your division this year. Whatever your interests in ham radio, there will certainly be something to hone your edge a bit finer or maybe even get you to exclaim, "I had no idea!" Either way, you come out a winner and could be bringing home a new goodie for shack, as well.

73, Ward NØAX


22 April through 5 May 2015

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.


Ten-Ten Spring Digital Contest--Digital, from Apr 25, 0001Z to Apr 26, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 28. Exchange: Call, name, county & S/P/C, 10-10 number. Logs due: 15 days. Rules

SP DX RTTY Contest--Digital, from Apr 25, 1200Z to Apr 26, 1200Z . Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST, serial, SP province. Logs due: May 4. Rules

QRP To The Field--CW, from Apr 25, 1200Z to Apr 25, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 7-28. Exchange: RST, S/P/C. Logs due: Jun 1. Rules

Helvetia Contest--Phone,CW,Digital, from Apr 25, 1300Z to Apr 26, 1259Z . Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS(T), serial or Swiss canton. Logs due: 15 days. Rules

Florida QSO Party--Phone,CW, from Apr 25, 1600Z - See website. Multiple time periods. Bands (MHz): 7-28. See website. Exchange: RS(T), FL county or S/P/C. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

BARTG 75 Sprint--Digital, from Apr 26, 1700Z to Apr 26, 2100Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: Serial. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

NS Weekly RTTY Sprint--Digital, from May 1, 0145Z to May 1, 0215Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-14. Weekly on Thursday evenings local time. Exchange: Serial, name, and S/P/C. Logs due: 2 days. Rules

NS Weekly Sprint--CW, from May 1, 0230Z to May 1, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-14. Weekly on Thursday evenings local time. Exchange: Serial, name, and S/P/C. Logs due: 2 days. Rules

Ten-Ten Spring CW Contest--CW, from May 2, 0001Z to May 3, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 28. Exchange: Call sign, name, 10-10 number, state. Logs due: 15 days. Rules

ARI International DX Contest--Phone,CW,Digital, from May 2, 1200Z to May 3, 1159Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS(T), serial or Italian province. Logs due: 5 days. Rules

7th Area QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from May 2, 1300Z to May 3, 0700Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50,144, CW--40 kHz above band edge; SSB--1.845, 3.855, 7.235, 14.255, 21.355, 28.455 MHz. Exchange: RS(T)+S/P or 7th-area county code. Logs due: May 17. Rules

Indiana QSO Party--Phone,CW, from May 2, 1600Z to May 3, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. CW--1.805 and 40 kHz above the band edge on 80-10 meters, SSB--1.845, 3.820, 7.190, 14.250, 21.300, 28.400 MHz. Exchange: RS(T) + S/P or IN county, DX RS(T) only. Logs due: Jun 15. Rules

Delaware QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from May 2, 1700Z to May 3, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50+, CW 1.825, 3.55, 7.05, 14.05, 21.05, 28.05, 50.95; SSB 1.86,3.96,7.26,14.26,21.36,28.36,50.135 MHz; Digital per band plan. Exchange: RS(T) and DE county or S/P/C. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

Radio Club of America QSO Party--Phone, from May 2, 1700Z to May 3, 0459Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-21. Exchange: RS, QTH, name, equipment. Rules

New England QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from May 2, 2000Z - See website. Multiple time periods. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. CW--3.540, 7.035, 14.040, 21.040, 28.040; SSB--3.850, 7.180/280, 14.280, 21.380, 28.380 MHz. Exchange: RS(T) and S/P or New England county. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

OK1WC Memorial Contest--Phone,CW, from May 4, 1630Z to May 4, 1730Z. 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 May 5, 0200Z to May 5, 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


VHF Spring Sprints--Phone,CW,Digital, from Apr 29, 7 PM to Apr 29, 11 PM. Bands (MHz): 432. Exchange: Grid square (6-char preferred). Logs due: 14 days. Rules

2 GHz and Up World Wide Contest--Phone,CW,Digital, from May 2, 6 AM to May 3, Midnight. Bands (MHz): 2.3G+. Exchange: 6-char grid locator. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

Microwave Spring Sprint--Phone,CW,Digital, from May 2, 8 AM to May 2, 1 PM. Bands (MHz): 902+. Exchange: Grid square (6-char preferred). Logs due: 14 days. Rules

Worldwide EME Contest--Phone,CW, from May 2, 0000Z to May 3, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.4G. Exchange: TMO/RS(T) and "R". Logs due: Jun 15. Rules

7th Area QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from May 2, 1300Z to May 3, 0700Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50,144, CW--40 kHz above band edge; SSB--1.845, 3.855, 7.235, 14.255, 21.355, 28.455 MHz. Exchange: RS(T)+S/P or 7th-area county code. Logs due: May 17. Rules

Delaware QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from May 2, 1700Z to May 3, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50+, CW 1.825, 3.55, 7.05, 14.05, 21.05, 28.05, 50.95; SSB 1.86,3.96,7.26,14.26,21.36,28.36,50.135 MHz; Digital per band plan. Exchange: RS(T) and DE county or S/P/C. Logs due: 30 days. Rules


22 April through 5 May 2015

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