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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
May 6, 2015
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX


Do you ever wonder what happens just outside our ham bands? The annual Armed Forces Communications Test gives you an opportunity to find out! Listen outside the bands for military stations calling CQ, announcing a listening frequency somewhere in our bands. You'll get a nice QSL in the mail if you make contact! Get your radio set for "split" operation and check that VFO A/B indicator before making a transmission - maybe it's just me but accidentally QRMing a station with the call letters WAR doesn't seem like such a terrific idea...


Disaster relief operations are ongoing in earthquake-stricken Nepal with frequencies published on a daily basis through various websites. Please avoid these frequencies and remember that you may be heard in Nepal even though you cannot hear their low power transmitters. Charly 9N7UD/HSØZCW reports from Bangkok that "real and vital traffic is definitely on-going."


It's nice to finish this gig with reporting a golden issue last time!


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

May 9-10

  • CWOps Weekly Mini-CWT Tests (May 6)
  • Alessandro Volta RTTY DX Contest
  • Armed Forces Comm'ns Test
  • CQ-M International DX Contest
  • Straight Key Weekend Sprintathon
  • Portuguese Navy Day
  • Nevada Mustang Roundup
  • FISTS Spring Sprint--CW
  • 50 MHz Spring Sprint

May 16-17

  • Worldwide EME Contest
  • Portuguese Navy Day--Digital
  • His Majesty King of Spain Contest--CW
  • Feld-Hell Hamvention Sprint
  • Worked All Britain - 7 MHz Phone
  • Run For the Bacon--CW

The rumors are, in fact, true, the white smoke is rising above W1AW, and the Contest Update has a new editor! Please put your hands together and welcome Brian Moran N9ADG who will take the reins with the very next issue. I'll let him introduce himself but rest assured he's a smart, active ham with great sense of humor - you'll enjoy his take on things! From my perspective, it's been a great ride since that first tentative issue in 2002 and I have greatly appreciated the respect shown by the readers in allowing me to present my biweekly basket of shiny things collected from around cyberspace and elsewhere. Your next assignment? Keep supporting the Update and go sign up your club members - they'll thank you for it!

Jim K7WA operated portable for 7QP from Jefferson County. "I took the 7:55 am ferry to Kingston and drove west across the Hood Canal floating bridge to Shine Beach, a small day-use state park. I had a great view across the water to the east and south - and perfect weather. I watched the clam diggers while operating from my car, and couldn't help but get out for a couple of walks during the course of the day." Not a bad view from the shack, eh? (Photo by K7WA)

The Mid-Atlantic States VHF Conference will be held on the weekend of October 2-4 at the Holiday Inn-Bensalem-Philadelphia in Bensalem, PA The tentative schedule includes hospitality suites, a big flea market, conference presentations, and a banquet buffet with door prizes. (Thanks, Rick K1DS)

The W9DXCC DX Convention and Banquet will be held September 11-12 in Schaumburg, Illinois. One new addition this year is a Contest University program that will join the DX University on Friday. One more - if you've a mind to visit the British Isles this fall, the RSGB Convention is October 9-11, as well. (Thanks, Daily DX)

If any readers are skilled in working with installation mechanics of Windows software, the ARRL has a small project for a volunteer. Please contact Steve Ford WB8IMY if you're interested.

It's only a few weeks until Dayton and the ever popular Saturday night KCDXC CW Pile Up Competition. Chuck NO5W, author of the ever-popular horse-race display software, suggests, "In case you're feeling a little rusty and think a warm-up using past competitions would be helpful, point your browser to (his) PileUpNet Practice page." You'll need to download a player application and some practice tapes. Got that pencil sharpened up?

ARRL RTTY Roundup writeup author, Jeff WK6I, notes a need for both photos and plaque sponsors. "If you have any words and/or pictures about your Roundup effort, station, etc. please send them along ASAP. If you sent them in January I won't mind if you send them again. We also have an absolute dearth of sponsors for plaques, including many of the major top honors. There are also plenty of opportunities for your regional clubs to sponsor Division-level plaques in any or all of these categories. Currently only the Pacific and Roanoke Divisions have any sponsored plaques. A plaque sponsorship costs only $60. Contact ARRL Contest Branch Manager, Matt W1MSW, if you can help!"

Speaking of plaques, Doug K1DG writes "A number of plaques for the WPX SSB contest have become available for sponsorship, effective with this year's recent contest. Plaques may be sponsored by individuals, clubs, and may be dedicated as a Memorial. If you (or your club) are interested in supporting the contest by sponsoring one or more of these awards, please contact me directly." Doug also reminds us that the World Wide Radio Operators Foundation handles the tax-deductible donations for these plaques.

Does this look familiar? Things haven't changed very much in the 87 years since this cartoon was published! (Thanks, Dennis N6KI)

When Mike K8CN saw the headline on this story, he said "Uh-huh, now I understand why I have zero recollection of a contest once it's done! The study poses a dilemma: should I log with pencil and enjoy total recall of a contest, or keep using the keyboard for better accuracy and remember nary a thing that transpired?"

If you enjoy state QSO parties, you might want to join the QSO Party Connection on Yahoo! Groups. One more resource for the contesting amateur. (Thanks, Dave WN4AFP)

Do you ever wonder why if you give some people an inch (cm), they'll take a mile (km)? Could be that there is enough wiggle room in the rules to encourage wiggling as described in this discussion of ethical transgressions. (Thanks, Tom K1KI)

Here's a book which encapsulates what characteristics can make a hobby so interesting and all-consuming. Know any hobbies like that? "Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78 RPM Records" by Amanda Petrusich is highly recommended by someone you'll get to know over the next few months, Brian N9ADG.

Do you know someone who is not a Public Relations professional but who has done good work in publicizing Amateur Radio to the public? If so, why not nominate them for the Phil McGan Award? The deadline for nominations is May 22.

Website of the Week - Ed WØYK, Don AA5AU, and Larry K8UT invite everyone to take a quick survey on RTTY contesting. There are 23 multiple-choice questions which are easy to answer in less than five minutes. The questions expand on the surveys done in 2007 and 2010, so we can see how our preferences have evolved. The survey will close at 2359 UTC on Saturday, May 9th so you have a couple of days yet. Results will be presented at the Dayton RTTY Forum and on the RTTY Contesting website.


"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." Albert Einstein

The bonus word is "Bio-SCP" meaning your personal memory of who is and who isn't active. The ops at the top have worked hard to develop their very own callbook over many years - you should, too! (Thanks, Zoli HA1AG)


Tim Duffy, K3LR, has put together a short video detailing Contest University 2015 and other contesting activities coming next week at the 2015 Dayton Hamvention. See you there! (Thanks, Ken K4ZW)

It can be difficult for a ham, used to all things RF, to explain the electromagnetic spectrum to non-hams or during a licensing class. NASA prepared this 30-minute "Tour of the Electromagnetic Spectrum" video accomplishing exactly that! This would make a good club or meeting video, as well. (Thanks, Steve WB8IMY)

It doesn't take a major antenna system to have some fun in the VHF Spring Sprints. Tree N6TR put together this quad loop for the recent sprint on 222 MHz. (Photo by N6TR)

Kirk K4RO stumbled on this crazy and amazing collection of through-hole and vintage electronic parts, much of it hand-harvested. "I've seen some serious parts collections, but this one takes the cake!"

From the fabled archives comes a PDF slide show, "When Giants Walked the Earth," by Doug KR2Q and presented some years ago at the Dayton Contest Forum. It's a big file but it's way cool for radiosport historians and those of us who just like to look at big antenna farms! (Thanks, Dan K7SS)

QSO Today by Eric 4Z1UG always features interesting conversations about ham radio with his guests, including the recent Episode 38 with Tim, K3LR. You may be familiar with the station and the call sign, how about the man behind the big scores? (Thanks, Randy K5ZD)

This is the ultimate in "dead bug construction" - heck, I can't even see the pins the wires are getting soldered to! (Thanks, Rich KZ9K)

Your daily dose of musical geography awaits. I'm sure the reference to "Spanish Sahara" was supposed to be obscure but we know where it was, don't we? (Thanks, Ellen KDØPES)


The full results for ARRL Sweepstakes Phone have been published, including the expanded line scores and all of the LCRs. Thanks to Steve N2IC for another meaty writeup. Next to lift off the launch pad will be the full results of the ARRL 160 Meter and ARRL 10 Meter contests.

Results for the 2014 CQ WW CW DX Contest are now available from the online database on the CQ WW website. Lots of "DQs" were made this year and they're not talking about ice-cream cones. How many people participated? 7,657 logs were submitted with 5,848,165 QSOs from 213 different countries with 39,696 unique calls. Not bad for a mode invented before the Civil War! (Thanks, CQ WW Director, Randy K5ZD)

The 2014 Ohio QSO Party results are now available on the OhQP website. Thanks to all who participated and submitted logs, says, Jim K8MR.

The first week of the current NS Sprint Ladder had a big turnout of over 40 stations, producing rates of 125/hr for top stations. Ready for some weeknight fun? And the NS RTTY Sprint precedes the CW event, as well. (Thanks, Bill N6ZFO)


"Fail as many times as it takes, and be strategic about what you learn." Bre Pettis, co-founder of Makerbot Industries


Measuring RF power/signal strength accurately is a non-trivial undertaking. Mike N8MSA strongly recommends this Keysight (nee Agilent nee Hewlett-Packard) tutorial or this older, more detailed treatment. Both cover the complexity caused by different modulation types, bandwidths, onset rise-time and numerous other factors.

A sky full of CubeSats? There will be if Planet Labs gets enough funding to fulfill its dream of taking one full-Earth snapshot every day! (Thanks, John WV8H)

Wouldn't this look great on your kid's sports uniform? Why not pass the hat at the next club meeting and sponsor a boy's or girl's sports team - it's fun, interesting, and a good way to get ham radio back into the conversation. (Photo by KL7RA)

Every time we turn around there is a new technique to do something in your own lab which previously required special machines and techniques. Here's an EE Times story about alternative ways to do your own PCB fabrication.

Repurposing champ, Charlie NØTT found a great method of cable control. "I use plastic guttering from the local home center for use as a wiring/cable tray. I homebrewed some brackets to attach it to the back of my desk then cut access holes I wanted with a hole saw/drill."

Transparent aluminum? Unfortunately, it's not electrically conductive or the whole issue of antenna restrictions would have been rendered moot! "What antenna?"

Brian N9ADG found a one-dollar add-on clip to fix that RJ-45 connector with the broken-off tab that allows your microphone to fall out of the rig and under the passenger seat where you can't reach it and have to pull all the way over to the shoulder to get it and then you can't merge back on to the highway and wind up late! Wait, what was I talking about?

Technical Websites of the Week - Glenn WØGJ spotted this article about disturbances in the upper atmosphere resulting from the recent earthquake in Nepal. Does this imply a mechanism for short-term propagation caused by quakes? On the Sun, nano-flares can stir things up and add heat to the corona - like it needs to be any hotter - resulting in changes in our upper atmosphere, too. Elsewhere, the Daily Mail takes the pulse of Ol' Sol with an article about two-year cycles inside the Sun driving big solar storms. Big cycles, little cycles - as long as they make sunspots, who cares?


A Triangle of Respect

Having kicked around this radiosport contesting game for a long time, I have witnessed a lot of technological twists and turns toppling dearly-held assumptions and expectations. Techniques once thought crucial (Anybody remember how important it was to be able to hold a pencil and send code at the same time?) or extraordinary (sending and writing with different hands, for example) are completely unknown today. Hotly debated rules such as having to remove duplicate contacts from our paper logs or risk a penalty have been reversed and we are encouraged to log and report dupes! More change comes with every new contest season.

You think you have antenna separation issues? Try a full-bore mobile multi-multi? There are four antennas on that vehicle, home to the K4OJ M/M entry in the recent Florida QSO Party. (Photo by NX4N)

Yet underlying all of this turmoil must be something common, something fundamental, which keeps contesting and the radiosport community vibrant and moving more or less in the same direction. So many different people and so many different techniques and so many different circumstances! Yet, in the finest traditions of Amateur Radio, we self-organize to conduct our competitions and celebrate our results year after year even in the face of relentless innovation and invention. What is that bedrock on which radiosport rests?

Back when I was an impressionable high school student, our award-winning principal, Dr. Al Burr, managed to steer to success an institution composed of hundreds and hundreds of students, faculty of all backgrounds and interests, and an administrative staff charged with keeping the whole thing on the rails.

Each year, during the first week of school, we got what was popularly referred to as "The Triangle Talk" during an all-hands-on-deck, school-wide assembly in which Dr. Burr covered what made West tick, and tick it did. Instead of a manual of do-and-don'ts, we had a SINGLE sheet of paper on which was written six principles of interaction for a triangle of students, teachers, and administration: All parties were expected to share and balance privileges, freedoms, and responsibilities; know the difference between desires and rights; take ownership of change; and above all, conduct our affairs in an atmosphere of mutual respect and dignity.

What Dr. Burr knew well (and what we were discovering as students) was that without respect, it didn't matter how many rules, regulations, processes, procedures, and penalties were applied. As he wrote me recently, the handbook approach results in an atmosphere of "Make rule, watch, catch, report, penalize. This paradigm pits two groups (teachers and administrators) against the other group (students). I believe that under those conditions it is impossible to ever establish a oneness of purpose."

Here's what the K4OJ-mobile looked like from the kibitzer's gallery in the back-back seat. CQ FQP! (Photo by NX4N)

In short, without respect you had nothing. And so it is in our radiosport community. Our triangle is a little different because we are all students, teachers, and administrators. Sometimes all at once! Thus, our triangle is one of respect:

Respect for others - paraphrasing the Golden Rule, "Operate as you would have others operate." Do not take unfair advantage on or off the air. Understand that every right you claim comes with the responsibility to use that right wisely and so that all benefit from your actions.

Respect for the game - you hear that phrase all the time from professional athletes, especially the ones being honored by their peers. Ask yourself, "Does my conduct on the air make radiosport better? Do I encourage others to participate in a positive way? Have I done my part to support and advance radiosport for the community?"

Respect for ourselves - it doesn't matter if you feel anonymous in front of your radio. You know if you cheated, whether you were caught or not. You know if you behaved well and reasonably. First and foremost, you have to earn respect from the person looking back at you in the bathroom mirror every morning. An entire encyclopedia of rules can't change that or do it for you.

Oneness of purpose - I like that phrase, don't you? Sometimes I say it as "knowing where the Good Arrow points" and I'm sure each reader has his or her own way of similar thinking. Our continued enjoyment of radiosport and Amateur Radio by their very nature depend on cooperation and, deeper, on the respect we all have for each other as amateurs sharing our special privilege and ability to experience the world in ways mysterious and unknown to others. I work on my triangle every day and I hope you do, too.

73, Ward NØAX


May 6 through May 19

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.


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

Alessandro Volta RTTY DX Contest--Digital, from May 9, 1200Z to May 10, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST, serial, CQ zone. Logs due: May 31. Rules

Armed Forces Comm'ns Test--Phone,Digital, from May 9, 1200Z to May 10, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. See website for specific station schedules. Exchange: RS(T). Logs due: no logs. Rules

CQ-M International DX Contest--Phone,CW, from May 9, 1200Z to May 10, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RS(T) and serial. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

Straight Key Weekend Sprintathon--CW, from May 9, 1200Z to May 10, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: RST, QTH, name, member nr if member. Logs due: 5 days. Rules

Portuguese Navy Day--Phone,CW, from May 9, 1500Z to May 10, 1500Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RS(T), serial, CQ zone. Logs due: 20 days. Rules

Nevada Mustang Roundup--Phone,CW,Digital, from May 9, 1700Z to May 10, 1700Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: RS(T) and S/P/C or NV county. Logs due: Jun 15. Rules

FISTS Spring Sprint--CW, from May 9, 1700Z to May 9, 2100Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RS(T), S/P/C, name, FISTS nr or power. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

50 MHz Spring Sprint--Phone,CW,Digital, from May 9, 2300Z to May 10, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 50. Exchange: Grid square (6-char preferred). Logs due: 14 days. Rules

Worldwide EME Contest--Phone,CW, from May 16, 0000Z to May 17, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 10G+. Exchange: TMO/RS(T) and "R". Logs due: Jun 15. Rules

Portuguese Navy Day--Digital, from May 16, 0800Z to May 16, 1500Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST, serial, CQ zone. Logs due: 20 days. Rules

His Majesty King of Spain Contest--CW, from May 16, 1200Z to May 17, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST and serial or EA province. Logs due: 15 days. Rules

Feld-Hell Hamvention Sprint--Digital, from May 16, 1600Z - See website. Multiple time periods. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Monthly on 3rd Saturday. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, Feld-Hell member nr. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

Worked All Britain - 7 MHz Phone--Phone, from May 17, 1000Z to May 17, 1400Z. Bands (MHz): 7. Exchange: RS, serial, and WAB nr or DXCC entity. Logs due: 21 days. Rules

Run For the Bacon--CW, from May 18, 0200Z to May 18, 0400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Monthly on 3rd Sunday night (local). Exchange: RST, S/P/C, Flying Pig nr or power. Rules


50 MHz Spring Sprint--Phone,CW,Digital, from May 9, 2300Z to May 10, 0300Z. Bands (MHz): 50. Exchange: Grid square (6-char preferred). Logs due: 14 days. Rules

Worldwide EME Contest--Phone,CW, from May 16, 0000Z to May 17, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 10G+. Exchange: TMO/RS(T) and "R". Logs due: Jun 15. Rules

Straight Key Weekend Sprintathon--CW, from May 9, 1200Z to May 10, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: RST, QTH, name, member nr if member. Logs due: 5 days. Rules

Nevada Mustang Roundup--Phone,CW,Digital, from May 9, 1700Z to May 10, 1700Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50. Exchange: RS(T) and S/P/C or NV county. Logs due: Jun 15. Rules


May 6 through May 19

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