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The ARRL Contest Update
September 7, 2016
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG

For traditional contests, placing well is "all about that rate," which implies running a frequency. For the North American Sprint format contests, it's still about rate, but runs are not a factor due to the mandatory QSY requirements. In the 4-hour North American CW Sprint next weekend, you'd typically tune to a frequency, hear a station completing a QSO, call them, complete the QSO, then you are called by someone else on that frequency. After your second QSO on that frequency, you have to move. Fast-paced and exhilarating. Give it a try!

The September 17-18 weekend, there are five QSO parties to take advantage of, along with two RTTY Sprints, in addition to a handful of other contests. The Washington State Salmon Run is the QSO party for Washington state, and if you're a category winner, you could be eligible to receive some smoked salmon. The BARTG Sprint 75 uses 75 baud Baudot, and does NOT have a QSY requirement. Remember that if you're calling CQ in the BARTG 75, you may want to lengthen your CQ message, as it helps a searching and pouncing station to better tune your signal.


The Mt Airy VHF Club is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2016. The December 15 club meeting of the Pack Rats is planned as an informal celebration for all current and past members.

At the 2016 New England Division ARRL Convention, aka Boxboro 2016, September 9-11, 2016 in Boxborough, Massachusetts, there will be a number of contest-related activities, including the Friday night DX/Contest Dinner, Yankee Clipper Contest Club forum, and a forum on using the FLEX-6000 for contesting and DXing.


Fred, K6DGW, reminded me that Greenland is also part of Region 2.

Steve, K6OIK, points out: "Last year's Pacificon presentation, entitled 'Weird Waves,' is about ...the electromagnetic properties of OAM waves. The 2005 and 2006 Pacificon presentations, 'Novel and Strange Antennas' introduced OAM too (along with metamaterial). So one must fairly conclude that radio amateurs were aware of OAM waves more than a decade ago. I built my first OAM antenna in 2010."


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

September 8

September 9

September 10

September 11

September 13

September 14

September 15

September 16

September 17

September 18

September 19

September 21


Scott, N3FJP, author of the many and varied N3FJP logging programs, has also written an article for the August 2016 issue of QST entitled "Kickstart Your Group with Club Contesting." It might provide impetus and guidance for getting members of your club to contest together.

Wayne, W5XD, has released the Contesting Super Simulator, an add-on to WriteLog. This software enables real CW or RTTY Practice, including SO2R, by emulating the radio and station hardware and providing simulated band conditions. Search and pounce mode is even available. (Redmond Radio Club newsletter)

The 64th Annual W9DXCC Convention and Banquet will feature Contest University on Friday, September 16, 2016, in Schaumburg, Illinois. Featured speakers include well-known contesters K9CT, K3WA, K9WX, K9ZO, and WW9R, who will discuss topics including contesting basics, ethics, RTTY contesting, propagation, modern contesting hardware and software, and how "little pistols" can be competitive. The day's sessions will be followed by a gathering of the Society of Midwest Contesters (SMC) at a local restaurant. The W9DXCC is an ARRL-approved Specialty Operating Convention.

With 20,000 square feet, six stories, and the roof's ability to hold 70 tons, this Blaine, Washington radar tower is intriguing for its potential as an operating location. As it has an in-town location, perhaps modern RFI sources could be a problem.

In the late 1950s, the US began monitoring what today we call space weather -- the effect of solar events on the Earth's ionosphere. In 1967, the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) was disrupted in a way that could be interpreted as jamming which, if true, would be interpreted as an act of war. But because of solar observations and their predicted effect on BMEWS, the US military did not go on heightened alert status. This information was only recently publicly reported after a number of personnel involved were able to share their stories. (John, WV8H)

Bill, K3WA, writes: "The Society of Midwest Contesters (SMC) held their 2016 annual SMC Fest on 27 August in Normal, IL. SMC is the Midwest's premier contesting club with over 300 active members. SMC Fest started off on Friday evening with an ad-hoc no-host dinner at Destihl Restaurant and Brew Works with over 45 members and guests sharing fine food and consuming a sufficient number of craft 807s to power all the legal limit amplifiers at any major multi-op contest station. The formal program commenced on Saturday morning at the Hyatt Place hotel in Normal, Illinois, with 71 SMCers enjoying a mix of presentations ranging from basic to the most advanced, from SO2R operating (Mike, W9RE) to contest station-building on a city lot with antenna restrictions (Pat, WW9R). The final session was a rousing and brain-twisting look into the future of radiosport presented by Ward, N0AX.

The ARRL was well-represented by Dave Patton, NN1N, ARRL Member Services Manager; Kermit Carlson, W9XA, Central Division Director; and Carl Leutzelschwab, K9LA, Central Division Vice Director. Dave gave an inspired presentation of the QSLing task the league faced after the 2012 Centennial operation. It required the handling of over 600,000 QSL cards. Attendees may never look at a "big" box of bureau cards in the same way again. Valerie, NV9L, oversaw the large number of door prizes, ranging from hats to gift certificates from ham radio's major manufacturers, and SMC raffled off a brand new Icom IC-7300 with all of the proceeds going to WRTC 2018. The last door prize awarded, a Heil Pro 7 headset donated by Heil Sound, was won by Pat, WW9R. Pat's wife had recently bought him a new PRO-7 headset, so he immediately auctioned it to the highest bidder, with the proceeds going to WRTC 2018. The last event for SMC Fest 2016 was selecting the winner of the Icom IC-7300, which turned out to be Pat, WW9R!"


MUF - Maximum Usable Frequency. The highest radio frequency that can be used to communicate between two locations when the path is via reflection off the ionosphere. When typically used as a descriptor of current conditions, it's the highest frequency that communications are perceived to be taking place. When used as a predictor, it's the highest frequency at which propagation may occur on 50% of the days of the month.


SSA, the Swedish Amateur Radio Association's booth at Friedrichshafen, July 2016. [Photo courtesy of Rob, N7QT]

Contest Club Ontario had a summer barbeque and Annual General Meeting on August 27, 2016 at the QTH of VE3EJ. With excellent weather, the pictures, too numerous and of too high a resolution to be embedded can be viewed here. (Photos courtesy of Peter, VE3HG)

Attendees at the YOTA Camp 2016 event in Austria. An eight-minute video summarizes aspects of the event.

This eight-minute video is a nice summary of the recent YOTA Camp 2016 event in Austria. English captions are available through a setting on the web page. Conference attendees were provided with WSPR hardware, and were recently invited to participate in a post-conference YOTA 2016 WSPR Contest.'s August 15 edition featured a spectacular picture of a gigantic jet of lightning emanating from the tops of a thunderstorm to reach into the ionosphere. The photo was taken over China while attempting to capture the Perseid meteor shower.

August 27 was the date of the last event at the Hara Arena. Non-hams also have memories of the venue, and are reminiscing.

The RSGB's focus on youth is evident in a recent promotional video. (Doug, EI2CN via Elecraft mailing list)

The WWROF has made available a webinar by Carl, K9LA, detailing the solar outlook to 2020.

The World Wide Radio Operator Foundation has posted "Solar Topics - Where We're Headed" by Carl, K9LA. Carl's presentation on propagation looks forward to 2020 and beyond.


The results of the 2016 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt have been announced, with the top five scores as follows:

  • 1st Place Overall - KX0R
  • 2nd Place Overall - N3AQC
  • 3rd Place Overall - AB9CA
  • 4th Place Overall - NN9K
  • 5th Place Overall - N0SS

(Larry, W2LJ)

The Friendship Radiosport Games team K7R during the NAQP SSB Contest. Pictured from L-R: Alex, UA0CDX; Alex, RN0C; Mikhail, RW0CN, Slava, RW0CD. [Photo courtesy of Bill, K2PO]

The Friendship Radiosport Games were held in Portland, Oregon, August 19 through 21. In its 27th year, the FRG consists of three elements: amateur radio direction finding (ARDF), high-speed telegraphy, and HF radio contesting. Overall, the Russian team had the highest aggregate score. The US team was able to narrowly best the Russians in the ARDF event, while the Canadians edged out the Russians in the HF contesting event. The direction finding event was held on a 60-acre field consisting of trails, creeks, marsh, and forests, with temperatures in the Pacific Northwest in the high 90s. With 90 minutes to find five beacons, no team finished in under 75 minutes, and only two of the 16 competitors found all five beacons. One of the spectator highlights of the ARDF event was Rick, VE7TK, wading in muddy water up to his waist to get across a creek. Chris, NW6V, was the winner in the Morse proficiency event (high speed RX, TX, and pileup). During the NAQP, the following call signs were used:

K7R - Russian Team

K7C - Canadian Team

K7K - US Team

K7J - Japanese Team

(Thanks to Bill, K7IOA, and Carl, WS7L)


Use Log Check Results (LCRs)

As you're getting ready for this fall's contest season, now might be a good time to review log check reports from last year's contests to understand where you need to make improvements or practice. Some contest sponsors provide LCRs automatically, while some require that you e-mail to request them. For example, If you're looking at a Phone Sweepstakes LCR, and you note having a higher error rate with the precedence, you should plan to be extra diligent in the contest this year. Perhaps practice using bandwidth, filtering, and noise reduction capabilities of your radio to better copy that field of the exchange. If the Check field was your kryptonite last year, it could indicate an over-reliance on a pre-fill database. Remember to always, always, log what is sent.


DARPA is sponsoring a smart radio contest. Billed as "The world's first collaborative machine-intelligence competition to overcome spectrum scarcity," the competition involves using a standardized SDR platform to demonstrate how intelligence can be built into radios to establish and maintain communications in the presence of congestion and interference. One of the interesting aspects of the competition format is that the qualifying or hurdle round entries are made using cloud computing images and data sets of sampled I/Q information, so nearly anyone with SDR expertise can enter.

Talk about a flea market find: A surplus auction buy some decades ago may inadvertently have preserved the software for the first Apollo Guidance Computer software. According to a link sent by Chris, ZS6EZ, the hardware from mission AS-202 was sold in a surplus scrap auction in 1976. Recently, an enthusiast in South Africa started to extract the bits from the core memory, after realizing the potential significance of the hardware. NASA apparently did not archive the AGC software, so this may be the only copy that exists.

Post-contest, when archiving all of the various files for a particular event, it's likely that you're using software like WinZip to keep all of a particular contests' files together. Bob, N6TV, provides this tip for using WinZip 20.5:

I couldn't resist the offer to upgrade to the latest version of WinZip 20.5 for only $10. I also installed the WinZip Command Line Support Add-On which command line aficionados find much faster and easier than waiting for WinZip GUI to load. The GUI worked fine, but every time I tried the new WZUNZIP from a command prompt to unzip a file downloaded from the Internet, it failed with, "Warning: (filename) was blocked by Windows. Extracted file was blocked due to security zone."

Internet searches revealed many unacceptable and incorrect solutions. I finally discovered the new -yz command line option, which turns the Security Zone identifier check OFF. WZUNZIP now extracts files just like the old wzunzip. Just add the "-yz" option, like this:

wzunzip -yz

Or put a one-line batch file in your PATH named unzip.cmd that adds the -yz option for you:

@"C:Program FilesWinZipwzunzip.exe" -yz %*

If you need to adjust a transformer's output voltage up or down a bit, there may be a different primary tap that you can select. If there's not, you could use an additional buck or boost transformer to do the job. Schneider Electric provides an online calculator can help in selecting a transformer with an appropriate rating, and provides a schematic of how to use it. Hammond Power Solutions also provides a selection guide in document form (PDF).

The customized RTL-SDR dongle version 3 has a "Direct Sampling HF Mode" that allows coverage from 500 kHz to 28.8 MHz without an external mixer. This should be of great interest to those that would like to use this device for CW or RTTY Skimmer applications, or for general use at HF.


Vacation Contesting

While speaking with Rob, N7QT, the other day, we started talking about potentially doing a contest from a location that had better propagation than the Pacific Northwest. I had been seeing a flurry of announcements in the DailyDX of planned contest activities, and was reminiscing about being part of VP5W for CQWW CW in 2008. Rob has been on a number of DXpeditions and I just wanted a refresher on travelling with radios. We were talking more about a multi-single or even perhaps a solo effort, a combination of R&R and operating. Part of the allure is that given the right contest, you'll be a multiplier, and will have non-stop action.

"After picking your contest and deciding what type of operation you'd like to do, your first priority is probably licensing. I've had varying experiences in getting licensed, everything from instant CEPT country licensing, to a surprising four month wait to obtain a VK license during a period where their systems were getting overhauled. The second thing I like to think about is location. You can't beat the Caribbean area for access, and depending on where you go, it can be quite reasonable. Once I've chosen some possible countries, I've had good luck searching AirBnB, VRBO, and other online sources for potential vacation rentals. I'm NOT concentrating on finding a location that's ham specific - I look for places that show a 360 degree view, or other suitable geography, and then I'll try to contact them to see if radios are OK, and find out how much room they have for antennas. I've had good success using verticals and wires. If I were using beams, I'd probably concentrate more on finding ham-specific locations. Sometimes the owners are amenable to antennas, sometimes not. You don't know for sure until you ask. Also ask about the Internet, if you need it. I've arrived at places that have assured us of Internet only to find that it was broken, or too slow to be usable during my stay."

"Airline tickets can be a challenge. Try to purchase a ticket that gets you from your home to your final destination, and back, on a single ticket. One time I thought we were saving money by buying the flight segments separately, but all of the airlines had different luggage rules, and we ended up paying excess baggage fees on many of the multiple segments, costing much more than we anticipated."

"You should always be thinking about medical contingencies. Be aware of the insects, animals, or plants that could affect your health, and bring countermeasures. Medical trip insurance is a personal decision, but even in places like Germany, if you have an issue, you may find that medical care must be paid for in cash if you don't have insurance that they'll take."

"When I pack my gear, I make sure everything is attached and running at home, and then I tear it down and then immediately pack it into luggage right in the ham shack. I don't even bring equipment to another room to pack it as there's simply too much risk of something important not getting packed. Checklists are important, and should be used. I usually take an extra radio, but if I take an amp and it breaks, I just enter a different power category. If other operators are going, each should have their own paddles and headsets. Noise cancelling headsets will be a real advantage in some places, the insects or birds can be really loud, and they wear on you after a while."

"I budget two or three days ahead of the contest to adjust to the time zone, and additional two days to get set up if it's not a complicated operation. Then I work out operating schedules with other operators, or more importantly, family members. Remember that Phone contests can be disruptive to those within earshot. Coordinating food can be a issue for a 24 hour or 48 hour effort. Eating is important, and I've found that in the grind of a long DXpedition or multi-hour effort, mealtimes can really lift spirits. It's important to have more than just junk food. We try to arrange for sandwiches or even full meals to be brought to us while we're operating. "

"I really try to do more than just radio on these trips, though admittedly that's sometimes difficult. I'm blessed that my significant other, Melanie, N7BX, understands. She likes to work the pileups before and after the contest. She even asks me where we want to go next!"

"It's not too late to plan a Caribbean trip for this fall - until December 15, prices can be very reasonable."

That's all for this time. Remember to send contesting related stories, book reviews, tips, techniques, press releases, errata, schematics, club information, pictures, stories, blog links, predictions, and dull axes to

73, Brian N9ADG


8 Sep - 21 Sep 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, Sep 7, 1300z to Sep 7, 1400z, Sep 7, 1900z to Sep 7, 2000z, Sep 8, 0300z to Sep 8, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 10.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Sep 9, 0145z to Sep 9, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: September 11.

NCCC Sprint, Sep 9, 0230z to Sep 9, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: September 11.

Kulikovo Polye Contest, Sep 10, 0000z to Sep 10, 2359z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; KP: RST + "KP", non-KP: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: September 25.

FOC QSO Party, Sep 10, 0000z to Sep 10, 2359z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, VHF; FOC-Member: RST + Name + Member No., non-Members: RST + Name; Logs due: September 24.

WAE DX Contest, SSB, Sep 10, 0000z to Sep 11, 2359z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: September 26.

SARL Field Day Contest, Sep 10, 1000z to Sep 11, 1000z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS(T) + Number of transmitters + Category (see rules) + Province (or "DX"); Logs due: September 18.

SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, Sep 10, 1200z to Sep 12, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./"NONE"); Logs due: September 18.

Russian Cup Digital Contest, Sep 10, 1500z to Sep 10, 1859z, Sep 11, 0600z to Sep 11, 0959z; RTTY, BPSK63; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Serial No. + 4-character grid square; Logs due: September 21.

Ohio State Parks on the Air, Sep 10, 1600z to Sep 11, 0000z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; OH Park: park abbreviation, OH: "Ohio", W/VE: (state/province), DX: "DX"; Logs due: September 24.

North American Sprint, CW, Sep 11, 0000z to Sep 11, 0400z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name] + [your state/province/country]; Logs due: September 18.

Swiss HTC QRP Sprint, Sep 11, 1300z to Sep 11, 1900z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + "/" + Class + "/" + (kanton, province, etc.) + "/" + first name; Logs due: see rules.

Classic Exchange, CW, Sep 11, 1300z to Sep 12, 0800z, Sep 13, 1300z to Sep 14, 0800z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; Name + RST + (state/province/country) + rcvr/xmtr manuf/model; Logs due: December 31.

Phone Fray, Sep 14, 0230z to Sep 14, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: September 16.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Sep 14, 1300z to Sep 14, 1400z, Sep 14, 1900z to Sep 14, 2000z, Sep 15, 0300z to Sep 15, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 17.

RSGB 80m Club Sprint, SSB, Sep 14, 1900z to Sep 14, 2000z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: September 21.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Sep 16, 0145z to Sep 16, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: September 18.

NCCC Sprint, Sep 16, 0230z to Sep 16, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: September 18.

AGB NEMIGA Contest, Sep 16, 2100z to Sep 17, 0000z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 80m Only; AGB Member: RST + QSO No. + Member No., non-Member: RST + QSO No.; Logs due: October 16.

Scandinavian Activity Contest, CW, Sep 17, 1200z to Sep 18, 1200z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: September 25.

All Africa International DX Contest, Sep 17, 1200z to Sep 18, 1200z; CW, SSB, RTTY; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: October 3.

SRT HF Contest SSB, Sep 17, 1300z to Sep 18, 1300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + CQ Zone; Logs due: see rules.

QRP Afield, Sep 17, 1600z to Sep 17, 2200z; All; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS(T) + (state/province/country) + (power or NE QRP No.); Logs due: October 17.

New Jersey QSO Party, Sep 17, 1600z to Sep 18, 0359z, Sep 18, 1400z to Sep 18, 2000z; CW, Phone; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; NJ: RS(T) + county, non-NJ: RS(T) + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: October 1.

New Hampshire QSO Party, Sep 17, 1600z to Sep 18, 0400z, Sep 18, 1600z to Sep 18, 2200z; CW/Digital, Phone; Bands: All, except WARC; NH: RS(T) + county, non-NH W/VE: RS(T) + (state/province), DX: RS(T) + "DX"; Logs due: October 31.

Washington State Salmon Run, Sep 17, 1600z to Sep 18, 0700z, Sep 18, 1600z to Sep 19, 0000z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; WA: RS(T) + County, non-WA: RS(T) + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 2.

Feld Hell Sprint, Sep 17, 1800z to Sep 17, 1959z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; (see rules); Logs due: September 21.

North American Sprint, RTTY, Sep 18, 0000z to Sep 18, 0400z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name] + [your state/province/country]; Logs due: September 25.

BARTG Sprint 75, Sep 18, 1700z to Sep 18, 2100z; 75 Baud RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Serial No.; Logs due: September 22.

Run for the Bacon QRP Contest, Sep 19, 0100z to Sep 19, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (Member No./power); Logs due: September 25.

Phone Fray, Sep 21, 0230z to Sep 21, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: September 23.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Sep 21, 1300z to Sep 21, 1400z, Sep 21, 1900z to Sep 21, 2000z, Sep 22, 0300z to Sep 22, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 24.


ARRL September VHF Contest, Sep 10, 1800z to Sep 12, 0300z; All; Bands: 50 MHz and up; 4-character grid square; Logs due: October 12.

ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest, Sep 17, 0600 (local) to Sep 19, 0000 (local); Any; Bands: 10 GHz to light; 6-Character Maidenhead Locator; Logs due: October 18.

SARL VHF/UHF Analogue/Digital Contest, Sep 17, 1000z to Sep 18, 1000z; Analog (CW/SSB/FM), Digital; Bands: 50 MHz, 70 MHz, 144 MHz, 432 MHz, 1296 MHz; RS + 6-character grid locator; Logs due: October 2.

144 MHz Fall Sprint, Sep 19, 1900z to Sep 19, 2300z; not specified; Bands: 2m Only; 4-character grid square; Logs due: October 3.

Also see FOC QSO Party, SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, Classic Exchange, Washington State Salmon Run, Feld Hell Sprint, New Hampshire QSO Party, above.


September 8, 2016

September 9, 2016

September 10, 2016

September 11, 2016

September 12, 2016

September 13, 2016

September 15, 2016

September 17, 2016

September 18, 2016

September 19, 2016

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