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The ARRL Contest Update
August 10, 2016
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
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IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS -- THINGS TO DO

The SKCC Sprintathon will be a good place to work some CW, even if you don't have a boat anchor rig, or any vacuum tubes in your gear. You'll have to examine the rules to understand why tubes are a benefit in this contest. All weekend long the WAE DX CW contest will opportunities to work EU stations, as those are the only ones that count. A special feature of WAE is the exchange of QTCs, which count for additional points. For more traditional fare, the Maryland-DC QSO Party will provide CW, phone, and digital contact opportunities.

On August 12, the Duke City Hamfest, in Albuquerque, New Mexico will have an HF Academy, focusing on those who have recently upgraded to General or higher. Topics include Rigs, Antennas, Propagation, Modes, Computer use in the shack, and there will be some hands-on demonstrations.

For the weekend of August 20, the NAQP SSB contest will provide the bulk of domestic contest contacts, but if you've not tried RTTY before, the ARRL Rookie Roundup RTTY is the spot to give it a go.

BULLETINS

The emergence of Tropical Storm Earl prompts the reminder to avoid frequencies on which emergency traffic may be present. You can keep abreast of emergency frequencies and operations by monitoring the IARU region 1 website, and the ARRL website.

BUSTED QSOS

QRU

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

August 11

August 12

August 13

August 14

August 17

August 18

August 19

August 20

August 21

August 22

August 24

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NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

The Dayton Hamvention has lost its home of 52 years, the Hara Arena, and will be moving to the Greene County Fairgrounds in Xenia, Ohio, starting in 2017. According to Tim Duffy, K3LR, the Contest University, Contest Supersuite, Contest Dinner, and other activities revolving around the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dayton are unaffected. "We fully support DARA and the move. This is a good thing."

If you happen to be in the Huntsville, Alabama area the weekend of August 20th & 21, the Huntsville hamfest will have a Saturday Contesting Multi-forum, with Tim, AB4B, moderating and presenting "Contesting 101." Craig, K9CT, will be presenting "Simplify your Contest Station," and Chris, NV4B, "VHF/UHF Contesting, Portable Style." Check their website for additional forums and information.

Kenny, K2KW, suggests that if you want to plot a map of the grids you used in last June's contest, use K1RA's Cabrillo Grid Square Plotter, or WG7J's Gridmapper.

Using a photogenic indoor antenna? The ARRL is looking for some good photos of indoor antennas for an upcoming book. E-mail qst@arrl.org

You have to be able to hear them to work them, and tinnitus can interfere with that, and life in general. New research points to some ways to treat the symptoms of this chronic condition affecting 50 million people in the US alone.

According to the recently released Semiconductor Industry Association's International Technology Roadmap report, future innovation in transistor density will not be made by shrinking the size of transistors, but rather through changes in topology or geometry. The de-emphasis on size may occur as soon as 5 years from now. Ars Technica has placed the ITRS report in the context of other trends and industry history.

WORD TO THE WISE

Diplexer - A device that is used to combine different frequencies or bands to a single output, or which can separate a common input into different bands or frequencies. They are common in UHF/VHF mobile applications where 2 meter and 440 MHz radios share a single coax cable to feed an antenna. In recent WRTC contests, triplexers have been used to allow two radios on two different bands to simultaneously use a tribander antenna.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Contesting can help hone the communications skills required for Public Service Communications. An ARRL Webinar encourages PSC personnel to give contesting a try.

Contesters and amateurs involved in Public Service Communications should have a lot in common. The ARRL Webinar, Contesting as Training for Public Service Communications, by Ward, N0AX, discusses the similarities and might provide an impetus for greater contest participation. It could also be the basis for a program at a future emergency communications meeting.

The Fredrichschafen hamfest is a favorite for contesters, too. For the over 20 years, the Barvarian Contest Club has held a dinner at a family restaurant during the event. Pictured from L to R: Helmut, DK6WL, Rudolf, DJ3WE, Manfred DJ5MW, Manfred, DK2OY (back row), Bernd DL9YAJ (front row), Olaf DK5OS, Wolfgang, DL3LAB, Sandy, DL1QQ, Ben, DL6RAI, Andreas, DC6RI, Luise, DL2MLU, Gerard, PA1TX, Hartmut,DL5KUT, Uli, DM5EE, John AG7N, Alex KE7WUD. A larger version of this picture is located at https://www.dropbox.com/s/hho2k6uy6o76qtp/DE_N7QT_1.jpg
[Photo courtesy of Rob, N7QT]

Many of the steps like soldering, cutting, or painting, which might be necessary in homebrewing a project for your station yield gases, smells, or particulates. Here's an instructable showing a simple way build a fume extractor and fume box for small projects.

The Louisiana Contest Club will have its regional meeting at the Shreveport, Louisiana Hamfest on August 13.

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RESULTS AND RECORDS

The results of the 2016 Minnesota QSO Party (PDF) have been posted. Over 23 thousand contacts were made by the contest participants! The write-up includes details of a frosty combined MNQP and NPOTA operation by N0ECK. (Mark, WA0MHJ)

Preliminary results of the July NAQP RTTY contest are available at the NCJ website. The NAQP RTTY Contest Manager, Mark, K6UFO, requests that any problems be reported to him via e-mail.

OPERATING TIP

This one is from Bob, K8IA: It has become tradition to honor the memory of contesters that have recently become Silent Keys by using their names in the contest exchange. You may have recently heard "Milt" being used in the NAQP CW, in memory of Arizona Outlaw Contest Club member Milt Jensen, N5IA, who passed away recently.

TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Faraday Cages work...how, exactly? One person's journey to understand them on a physics level yielded a number of surprises, and questions the accuracy of conventional explanations.

As RF design goes nearly all digital, this EDN article provides a look at what it's like to design radios using digital building blocks. One of the biggest changes is that the design environment may provide a working prototype without the necessity of building any hardware.

FreeSRP is an SDR that covers 70 MHz to 6 GHz, and is open source and open hardware. What's more impressive it was designed and built from scratch by a motivated 18-year-old. He discusses how he did it and talks about the platform in this Reddit.

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CONVERSATION

Starting and Maintaining a Weekly Contest

Practice reinforces skills, and you can consistently practice those skills with weekly contests such as the CW Ops Mini-T contest, the Phone Fray, or the Northern California Contest Club's Thursday night CW and RTTY Sprints. All of these contests share a relaxed intensity - the stakes are low, but the competition level can be high. Scores are self-reported to 3830scores.org. I asked Dean, NW2K, director of the Phone Fray, and Ken, K6MC, NCCC RTTY Sprint Director, for their comments on what it takes to run a contest on a weekly basis. Dean, who got the Phone Fray started just about a year ago, opines: "Certainly, the mechanics are important (e.g. rules, log submission and adjudication, presentation of results.) However, the most important task is marketing, the creation of a sense of excitement among the ops about the event and the associated challenges. It's not enough that the event is fun. It needs to be compelling to get hams on the air. I'm not good at marketing and I have a lot to learn. Starting Phone Fray was interesting and I wanted to try moving beyond '599 5' and have the contest exchange actually 'perform work.' Initially, I designed it to have an unconventional scoring system akin to what one might find in video games. In it, the degree of challenge was variable. New contesters could play since the scoring system had an entry level for new folks. Mid-level contesters found mid-level challenges and experts had a window into maximum challenge. Without going into the details, the contest exchange had a certain complexity, which conveyed important information...simply. I wanted the unconventional event to be SSB so that new contesters felt most welcome. (The contest would have a) New exchange, new scoring, new and veteran participants. The station is certainly a key component...but the initial Phone Fray put operator skills at the top. After a disciplined review of the initial Phone Fray rules by a dozen of our best contesters, it was decided to scale back the contest's complexity. It was felt that a NAQP SSB style event held weekly for 30 minutes was innovative enough for launch. If successful, 'special' events could be held on occasion to test some of the unconventional ideas. I'm grateful to the reviewers, the NCCC NS, the CWops CWT, and Matt NQ6N for all the excellent input and inspiration. Phone Fray just celebrated its first birthday. Winning rates are 120-150 QSOs/hour and participation continues to grow. Marketing is still the primary challenge; we need to get more SSB ops on the air on Tuesday evenings. We haven't slipped in a 'special' event yet....but perhaps soon! I believe firmly that we need to be more innovative in designing new contests. "

Ken also mentions promotion in his comments: "When I took over from the previous person I did spend some time sending emails to contest clubs and RTTY Sprint participants. Other than the weekly announcements I don't really do very much now. Sprint format is not overly popular and combined with the mid-week time we have marginal turnout. But those of us that are active enjoy it so it keeps us going. We do get new people to join in on and off so we are a little successful at introducing RTTY Sprinting to some. I've never worked in sales so I don't have a background that would assist in promotion of our event. As far as goals, I look at it as a chance to get new people to try RTTY as well as Sprints. For the ongoing folks it really is a practice session, similar to spending time copying cw. It also gives folks a chance to check out equipment before the weekend, especially since RTTY activity is not great other than in contests. In my case it was a chance to learn something about SO2R, which was totally new to me when I returned to contesting after a 35-year absence. So I think practicing a new skill as well as learning are the main goals."

Both gentlemen are doing a fine job promoting their contests. If you're starting a new contest, promotion appears to be key, as well as making the format and rules appealing to a wide range of skills. If you've not done so yet, give each of these weekly contests a try!

That's all for this time. Remember to send contesting related stories, contesting pictures, book reviews, tips, techniques, press releases, errata, schematics, club information, pictures, stories, blog links, predictions, and favorite twitter handles to contest-update@arrl.org

73, Brian N9ADG

CONTESTS

11 Aug - 24 Aug 2016

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

HF CONTESTS

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Aug 10, 1300z to Aug 10, 1400z, Aug 10, 1900z to Aug 10, 2000z, Aug 11, 0300z to Aug 11, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 13.

QRP Fox Hunt, Aug 12, 0100z to Aug 12, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: August 13.

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

NCCC Sprint, Aug 12, 0230z to Aug 12, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 14.

WAE DX Contest, CW, Aug 13, 0000z to Aug 14, 2359z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: August 29.

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

Maryland-DC QSO Party, Aug 13, 1600z to Aug 14, 0400z, Aug 14, 1600z to Aug 15, 0000z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2, 432; MDC: entry class + county, non-MDC: entry class + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 13.

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

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

QRP Fox Hunt, Aug 19, 0100z to Aug 19, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: August 20.

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

NCCC Sprint, Aug 19, 0230z to Aug 19, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 21.

SARTG WW RTTY Contest, Aug 20, 0000z to Aug 20, 0800z, Aug 20, 1600z to Aug 21, 0000z, Aug 21, 0800z to Aug 21, 1600z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: September 12.

Russian District Award Contest, Aug 20, 0800z to Aug 21, 0800z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RU: RS(T) + District code, non-RU: RS(T) + QSO No.; Logs due: August 31.

Himalayan Contest, Aug 20, 1200z to Aug 21, 1200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; VU: RS(T) + VU State, non-VU: RS(T) + Power; Logs due: September 20.

North American QSO Party, SSB, Aug 20, 1800z to Aug 21, 0559z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: August 28.

Feld Hell Sprint, Aug 20, 2000z to Aug 20, 2159z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; (see rules); Logs due: August 24.

CVA DX Contest, CW, Aug 20, 2100z to Aug 21, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + type/UF(see rules); Logs due: September 15.

SARL HF Digital Contest, Aug 21, 1300z to Aug 21, 1630z; RTTY, PSK31; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: August 28.

ARRL Rookie Roundup, RTTY, Aug 21, 1800z to Aug 21, 2359z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; NA: Name + 2-digit year first licensed + (state/province/XE area/DX); Logs due: August 24.

Run for the Bacon QRP Contest, Aug 22, 0100z to Aug 22, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (Member No./power); Logs due: August 28.

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

Phone Fray, Aug 24, 0230z to Aug 24, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: August 26.

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

VHF+ CONTESTS

MMMonVHF/DUBUS 144 MHz Meteorscatter Sprint Contest, Aug 11, 2200z to Aug 13, 2200z; Any; Bands: 2m Only; Signal report; Logs due: September 15.

50 MHz Fall Sprint, Aug 13, 2300z to Aug 14, 0300z; not specified; Bands: 6m Only; 4-character grid square; Logs due: August 27.

ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest, Aug 20, 0600 (local) to Aug 22, 0000 (local); Any; Bands: 10 GHz to light; 6-Character Maidenhead Locator; Logs due: October 18.

See SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, above.


See Maryland-DC QSO Party, above.

See ARRL Rookie Roundup RTTY, above.

LOG DUE DATES

August 12, 2016

August 14, 2016

August 15, 2016

August 17, 2016

August 18, 2016

August 22, 2016

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ARRL Contest Update wishes to acknowledge information from WA7BNM's Contest Calendar and SM3CER's Contest Calendar.

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