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The ARRL Contest Update
February 11, 2016
Editor: Paul Bourque, N1SFE


A reminder from last time: The ARRL School Club Roundup started February 8, and runs through February 12. The weekend of February 13, the CQ WPX RTTY contest will be dominant. This contest is fun because call sign prefixes are the multipliers. A nice way to verify that everything is ready to go in your station is to participate in the NCCC RTTY Sprint on Thursday evening (US time zones).

The weekend of February 20, the ARRL International DX Contest, CW figures prominently. If you are a contester and a DX chaser, this will be the place to be that weekend.


The International DX Convention in Visalia, CA will NOT feature a Contest University this year. There will be a one-hour Contest Forum, chaired by Ward, N0AX, on Saturday, April 16.

The CQ WW Contest is looking for a new Director. Randy, K5ZD, who has been exemplary in this role since 2012, is actively seeking a replacement, as his career demands have increased. The contesting community has benefited from Randy's leadership as the contest's log scoring capabilities and integrity of the results have improved. Thank you, Randy! Randy has posted a description of the role, and qualifications of potential new Directors, on the CQWW Blog.


Last month, I mentioned the "Carolina Weekend" and a BBQ prize drawing. Marty Young, W4MY, writes: "Please note that to be eligible for the drawing contestants must submit a log to BOTH NC and SC QSO parties occurring on consecutive days, SCQP on Feb 27 and NCQP on Feb 28."


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

February 11

February 12

February 13

February 14

February 16

February 17

February 18

February 19

February 20

February 22

February 24


RFI from hydroponic growing lights has markedly increased over the past few years. Now police are using that RFI to detect and bust illegal marijuana growing operations. (K4KYV via RFI reflector)

DX Engineering is now sourcing 572B power tubes: "572B tubes are found in several new Ameritron Amplifiers, including the celebrated AL-572 and the AL-811HD. They are also common in a wide range of vintage RF amplifiers. Used in pairs, DX Engineering 572B tubes are capable of generating up to 600 watts of RF transmit power; quads will produce 1,200 watts"

Tom, N4TL, has assembled a checklist of NPOTA codes (PDF) to assist in the National Parks on the Air (NPOTA) operating event that is running all year.

In sprints, one has to keep things moving. This could be a good desk solution. (Ward, N0AX)

High-tech headsets and coordinated clocks sound like something we'd use in a multiop, but they are just part of the overall technology the NFL uses for football games. One unfamiliar name mentioned in the article, Vokkero (the article references a slightly different spelling), makes headsets which may have a contesting application.

There's some sort of glitch that's causing many find-my-phone applications to point to one geographical location. Unfortunately, the address belongs to someone's home, and the people living there have become accustomed to visits at all hours of people, including law enforcement personnel, seeking the missing cell phones.

One company thinks that reaching this generation's engineers may require different communication techniques than those used in the past. While the article is not revelatory, keeping some of these tips in mind may improve your club's communication with younger members.

Royal Bank of Scotland is "crowdsourcing" the choice of the historic figure to be printed on Scotland's £10 note. Voting closed on February 7, however one of the candidates was James Maxwell (Facebook link). (James, AJ3K via N0AX)

Tektronix turned 70 years old last week, and also did some remodeling on its logo.

The 2014 WRTC event required 65 portable generators (including backups) to power the stations. The contest sponsors chose the Honda EU2000is, which were found to be RFI free on 40 meters -10 meters, and only a small amount of noise on 80 meters. (Dennis, N6KI)

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn will be visible to the South-Southwest in clear US skies through late February. [Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech]

If you get up early this month, you may be able to simultaneously see Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter in the pre-dawn sky.

Website of the Week -

Dan Ariely is a behavioral economist, and the author of Predictably Irrational, and The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty. His research interests include the motivations and psychology behind cheating, including how it can be discouraged. In 2012, he wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal entitled Why We Lie . The article discussed his research findings of why people cheat, and how cheating can be discouraged. One simple deterrent: providing a moral reminder to not cheat before an opportunity to cheat is presented. This can be as simple as asking participants to provide a signed statement along the lines of, "I promise that the information I am providing is true" before the information is elicited, rather than after.

Perhaps we'll see logging programs providing the option to display a dismissable dialog box with a similar message before generating and submitting contest log files.

WORD TO THE WISE-- Flooded Cable

When running conductors under ground, they can be subjected to damage from water intrusion, rodents, gardening, or even just the weather. Flooded cable has a gel or liquid that discourages the intrusion of water by displacing it and the gnawing of rodents by being unpleasant tasting.


Mike, VE3GFN, active Toronto contester and author of the Little Pistol Page in the National Contest Journal, performing maintenance work on the 6M Yagi on his 40-foot tower. Also visible is a Cushcraft A4S tribander.
[Photo courtesy of Richard Synergy]

Ever wiser! Mike, VE3FGN shares some wisdom about tower work: "At 75, I've taken to ensuring I have a babysitter around when I climb. I've also expanded the climbing harness system I use, so that I'm always tied to the tower, even when climbing up or down (well, almost always!). It does slow down the climbing process, however!"

David, WA1OUI, sends a link to a video detailing the human implications of living in the National Radio Quiet Zone. "It's about the thousands of square miles around the National Radio Telescope in West Virginia [Including parts of Virginia and Maryland -- Ed.] that must be radio emission free, and what that does to the inhabitants: no cell, microwave, Wi-Fi, ham radio or anything!"


New multiop team Landon, AF5OD, and Darron, KG5ABL, sweating it out during the Roundup. [Photo courtesy of Joel, W5ZN]

Use Challenges and Teams to Develop Multi-op Skills

Joel, W5ZN, used a challenge and reward to develop new operator skills in his local radio club:

"The Rookie Roundup has proven to be an excellent modern day replacement for the Novice Roundup of years past. The format and activity is excellent, but the entries have been single op! This year in the Rookie Roundup -- CW in December I challenged my local club to learn CW and the reward would be the opportunity to operate from my station. Two "Rookies" took the challenge and chose to operate as a multiop, assisting each other with the effort finishing with an outstanding score and pride of accomplishment.

So, here is my challenge to all of you multiops, or multiop-capable stations: Get some Rookies to your station for a multiop Rookie Roundup effort!"


"After having issues with USB ports in radios and computers getting damaged by voltage surges, I bought some USB Optoisolators. Unfortunately, in their unshielded, plastic cases, they generate radiate excessive noise at RF frequencies in my environment." -- Steve, N2IC

Here's an interesting party trick (well, it depends on the party): Generating electricity from cardboard, pencil, and teflon tape ! It generates enough energy to power an LCD display.

Rusts on the surface of non-exotic iron materials can be removed with a little salt and electrolysis. (Ward, N0AX)

Steel bluing and browning also provide some protection against conventional rusting.

Here's a DIY smartphone mount. Scale it up or down for your device. (Ward, N0AX)


Impedance Mismatch

For a number of years, a group of non-ham friends and I have gone on an annual ski trip. Usually, we look for reasonable snow and inexpensive accommodations about one month before an agreed upon week, alternating between US locations and Europe locations since some members live in the UK. This year, we planned two months ahead, finding a place in the area of Val Gardena, Italy. For the first time ever for this group, I would bring along some ham gear, a portable antenna (SteppIR CrankIR) and radio (Elecraft KX3), renting skis instead bringing my decade-old pair of Salomons. I planned to use the radio in the early evenings, and on any day that we didn't ski.

Checking out the ARRL web page for guidance on requirements for operation in CEPT countries, one thing I needed was an original copy of my amateur license. That's easier now that the "originals" can be printed at will from the FCC site. Check.

Another item required was proof of citizenship. My passport satisfied this requirement.

The last document required was a "DA 11-221," which is the FCC's public notice about the requirements of operating under CEPT. I loaded the PDF from the ARRL website onto my phone.

Figuring out my callsign prefix during the trip required some work. I found IW5EDI's page on operating in Italy to be very helpful, and between Google maps and a call area map of Italy I was able to determine that I'd be IN3/N9ADG.

As the trip grew closer, I thought about how to pack everything. I settled on putting the CrankIR, coax, ski clothing, and one ski boot in checked luggage (one free on British Airways), the other boot, ski helmet, and regular clothing in a roll-on, the KX3 and associated cables in my laptop's backpack, to be stowed under seat. Everything fit well, I even had room for a Tokyo High Power HL-50b 50 W amplifier and switching power supply in the checked luggage. My thermal underwear worked as packing material. The checked luggage weighed 49.9 lbs, just under the limit of 50.

The trip from Seattle to the Italy was hassle free. The KX3 went through security screening inside my backpack. My checked luggage didn't have the usual friendly notice of inspection from TSA. Nobody asked to see any documents or asked about the extra gear.

The people I ski with have worked in various roles in the technology industry, and are acquainted with the concept of ham radio, though only one of our group had actually seen what was involved. As I unpacked, I received some good-natured ribbing about nerdiness. Imagine "breaker breaker one nine good buddy" spoken with a British accent. I took everything out of the suitcases and backpack...and there it sat.

For the first 3 days, in the early evening during the time I'd thought I'd be operating, our group would be reliving our day's adventure, planning the next, or catching up on life's happenings, discussing the issues of the day, and it just didn't seem appropriate to put on headphones and be on the radio, a solitary activity.

On the fourth evening, I finally set up the CrankIR, enlisting the help of a college friend in the assembly, and lashed it to a wooden bench just outside our chalet. Running the coax in through the window, I realized that I forgot a coax jumper between the radio and the amp. 10-15 W would have to do (the higher power level was possible with beta KX3 firmware).

Turning on the radio 90 minutes after sunset, I was faced with S8-S9 noise on 40 meters. Not very encouraging. The noise attracted onlookers as I tried to find signals on the band. Tuning up above 7.020, I heard "CQ TEST" being called by a handful of loud stations. Perfect! What contest was this? Doesn't matter! The exchange was RST and serial number. The onlookers were intrigued. "What's he saying?" Oops, missed the call. "You can understand that?"

I worked an IU9 and a UA6, called a couple of other stations who didn't hear me... then turned it all off and rejoined the group.

There's a time and place, and this was neither.

Three nights later, I packed it all away without having turned it on again.

Coming back to the US, security screening at Heathrow airport was much more interested in the gear, and they could tell they had an enthusiast on their hands. They only needed about 20 minutes of explanation.

That's all for this time, don't forget to send your contest-update-worthy tips and techniques to

73, Brian N9ADG


11 Feb - 24 Feb 2016

An expanded, downloadable version of QST's Contest Corral in PDF format is available. Check the sponsor's website for information on operating time restrictions and other instructions.


CWops Mini-CWT Test, Feb 11, 0300z to Feb 11, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: February 13.

NCCC RTTY Sprint , Feb 12, 0145z to Feb 12, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: February 14.

QRP Fox Hunt , Feb 12, 0200z to Feb 12, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: February 13.

NCCC Sprint Ladder , Feb 12, 0230z to Feb 12, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: February 14.

CQ WW RTTY WPX Contest , Feb 13, 0000z to Feb 14, 2359z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: February 19.

SARL Field Day Contest , Feb 13, 1000z to Feb 14, 1000z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS(T) + Number of transmitters + Category (see rules) + Province (or "DX"); Logs due: February 21.

Asia-Pacific Spring Sprint, CW , Feb 13, 1100z to Feb 13, 1300z; CW; Bands: 40, 20m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: February 20.

KCJ Topband Contest , Feb 14, 1200z to Feb 15, 1200z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; JA: RST + Prefecture/District Code, non-JA: RST + Continent Code (AF,AS,EU,NA,OC,SA); Logs due: March 14.

SKCC Weekend Sprintathon , Feb 13, 1200z to Feb 15, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./"NONE"); Logs due: February 21.

Dutch PACC Contest , Feb 13, 1200z to Feb 14, 1200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; PA: RS(T) + province, non-PA: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: March 15.

OMISS QSO Party , Feb 13, 1500z to Feb 14, 1500z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + (state/province/DX) + (OMISS No. if member); Logs due: March 1.

New Hampshire QSO Party , MOVED TO SEPTEMBER. See last issue.

FISTS Winter Unlimited Sprint , Feb 13, 1700z to Feb 13, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + first name + FISTS No., non-FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + first name + power; Logs due: March 14.

RSGB 1st 1.8 MHz Contest , Feb 13, 1900z to Feb 13, 2300z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160m Only; UK: RST + Serial No. + District Code, non-UK: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: March 2.

PODXS 070 Club Valentine Sprint , Feb 14, 0000z to Feb 14, 2359z; PSK31; Bands: 160, 80, 40m; Name + (OM/YL) + (state/province/country); Logs due: February 28.

Balkan HF Contest , Feb 14, 1200z to Feb 14, 1800z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40m; RS(T) + QSO No.; Logs due: February 21.

Classic Exchange, Phone , Feb 14, 1400z to Feb 15, 0800z, Feb 16, 1400z to Feb 17, 0800z; AM, SSB, FM; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; Name + RS + (state/province/country) + rcvr/xmtr manuf/model; Logs due: November 30.

QRP Fox Hunt , Feb 17, 0200z to Feb 17, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: February 18.

Phone Fray , Feb 17, 0230z to Feb 17, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: February 19.

CWops Mini-CWT Test , Feb 17, 1300z to Feb 17, 1400z, Feb 17, 1900z to Feb 17, 2000z, Feb 18, 0300z to Feb 18, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: February 20.

AGCW Semi-Automatic Key Evening , Feb 17, 1900z to Feb 17, 2030z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + Serial No. + "/" + 2-digit year first used a bug; Logs due: March 15.

RSGB 80m Club Championship, CW , Feb 18, 2000z to Feb 18, 2130z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: February 25.

NCCC RTTY Sprint , Feb 19, 0145z to Feb 19, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: February 21.

QRP Fox Hunt , Feb 19, 0200z to Feb 19, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: February 20.

NCCC Sprint Ladder , Feb 19, 0230z to Feb 19, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: February 21.

ARRL International DX Contest, CW , Feb 20, 0000z to Feb 22, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; W/VE: RST + (state/province), non-W/VE: RST + power; Logs due: March 22.

SARL Youth Day Sprint , Feb 20, 0800z to Feb 20, 1000z; SSB; Bands: 40m Only; RS + age; Logs due: February 27.

Russian PSK WW Contest , Feb 20, 1200z to Feb 21, 1159z; BPSK31, BPSK63, BPSK125; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RU: RST + 2-letter oblast, non-RU: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: February 26.

Feld Hell Sprint , Feb 20, 2000z to Feb 20, 2159z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; (see rules); Logs due: February 27.

AWA Amplitude Modulation QSO Party , Feb 20, 2300z to Feb 21, 2300z; AM; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: March 22.

CQC Winter QSO Sprint , Feb 22, 0100z to Feb 22, 0259z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; Member: RST + (state/province/country) + name + CQC member no., non-Member: RST + (state/province/country) + name + power; Logs due: March 23.

Run for the Bacon QRP Contest , Feb 22, 0200z to Feb 22, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (Member No./power); Logs due: February 28.

SKCC Sprint , Feb 24, 0000z to Feb 24, 0200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: February 26.

QRP Fox Hunt , Feb 24, 0200z to Feb 24, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: February 25.

Phone Fray , Feb 24, 0230z to Feb 24, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: February 12.

CWops Mini-CWT Test , Feb 24, 1300z to Feb 24, 1400z, Feb 24, 1900z to Feb 24, 2000z, Feb 25, 0300z to Feb 25, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: February 27.

UKEICC 80m Contest , Feb 24, 2000z to Feb 24, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: February 24.


Maine 2 Meter FM Simplex Challenge, Feb 14, 1700z to Feb 14, 2100z; FM; Bands: 2m; Name + City/Town + Power; Logs due: 0359 UTC, February 29.

Also see SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, NCCC Sprint Ladder in HF section.


11 Feb - 24 Feb 2016

February 11, 2016

February 12, 2016

February 13, 2016

February 14, 2016

February 15, 2016

February 17, 2016

February 18, 2016

February 20, 2016

February 22, 2016

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