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The ARRL Contest Update
October 5, 2016
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
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IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS -- THINGS TO DO

If you're looking for something out of the ordinary, the next weekend offers a few choices. The North American Phone Sprint coming up on October 9 is a good way to get familiar with the sprint contest format. See the item later in this issue for more information. On the digital side, the Makrothen RTTY contest is different in a number of ways: three separate contest periods during the weekend, distance based scoring instead of multipliers, and further incentives for distant contacts on 40 meters and 80 meters. Top Band is traditionally the domain of CW, but during your choice of 6 hours during the contest period on October 8 and 9, PSK will be the mode during the PODXS 160 Meter Great Pumpkin Sprint. The exchange is just a signal report, and your state or province.

The Oceania DX Contest CW, also on the weekend of October 8-9, has published advice on entering a first contest. The OCDX Contest has been held since the 1930s.

BULLETINS

With Hurricane Matthew churning through the Caribbean, please be aware and stay clear of the various nets and frequencies in use for civil defense and hurricane relief. If you are in or near the affected areas or east coast of the US, stay aware of evolving weather conditions. The Daily DX published the following information in Vol. 20 No. 189, October 3, 2016: "The American Hurricane Watch Net is operating on 14.325 and 7.268 MHz as the storm works its way through the region. CO2KK reports the Cuba National Emergency Net is operating on 7.110 MHz primary, 7.120 MHz secondary in the daytime. At night the primary frequency is 3.740 MHz and secondary 3.720 MHz. The main net control station is CO9DCN, operating from the Cuban National Civil Defense Headquarters, in Havana, with CO2JC in charge. Volunteer hams across the island nation are going portable to check on flooding of rivers and roads and plan to report in. The Dominican Republic on Cuba's eastern neighbor, the island of Hispaniola, is using 7.065 MHz LSB for emergency communications." (Courtesy of The Daily DX, and Bernie, W3UR)

BUSTED QSOS

Jim, K9YC, commented that the signal-to-noise ratio numbers in RBN spots reflect the conditions at the RBN receiver, and aren't "subjective." I agree; what I should have said was that the measurements of one RBN receiver may not be directly comparable to another's due to differences in antenna directivity and receiver type. Jim also pointed out that he and W6GJB "used the RBN to evaluate a new design for a portable antenna for the California QSO Party. See http://k9yc.com/80M-FDVertical.pdf, beginning with slide 40. The RBN data plotted from an Excel spreadsheet is on slides 51 and 52."

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

October 6

October 7

October 8

October 9

October 10

October 12

October 13

October 14

October 15

October 16

October 17

October 19

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NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

The ARRL School Club Roundup is happening October 17-21, 2016. This contest is intended to foster contacts with and among school radio clubs, using phone, CW, RTTY, and PSK modes. Note that the 5 days of the contest period run Monday through Friday, and stations are only allowed to operate 6 hours out of any 24-hour period, with a maximum of 24 hours of operation during the 107 hour event. The exchange is simple - RST, class: Club, Individual, or School, and State/Province/Country.

During the weekend of August 5-6, 2017, look for the new ARRL 222 MHz and Up Distance Contest, which replaces the August ARRL UHF Contest. The rules are now available on the ARRL website. Top scores will be awarded per contest region, as defined by the rules.

The ARRL Contest Club Competition tools web page has been updated with a revised FAQ.

The North American SSB Sprint Event News: "The next NA SSB Sprint event will be held this Saturday evening October 8 (local time), which is Oct 9 (0000-0359 UTC). Visit ssbsprint.com for all details: Rules, Previous results, Prizes, All-time Records, Planned activity, Team Registration, etc. If you plan to operate, please click on the planned activity link to let everyone know. The NA SSB Sprint has been able to activate all states and Canadian multipliers in the past and six different stations have actually been able to work all 50 states during the 4-hour event. But we need to know that all states will be QRV. Submitted logs with at least 1,500 points are eligible to win a prize via a Random Drawing. The call sign of every operator that submits an NA SSB Sprint entry and has achieved a score of at least 1,500 points (only about 50 QSOs and 30 multipliers) will be entered in a random drawing for over thirty door prizes, including gift certificates from GigaParts and T-shirts sponsored by Icom. The NA SSB Sprint committee is committed to having all 50 states and all Canadian multipliers on the air during the event. Any station able to successfully work all 50 states during the 4-hour SSB Sprint contest will receive a special T-shirt rewarding that achievement. Plenty of plaques and certificates will be awarded; see the website for details." (Rob, KW8N)

"One consequence of the recent changes in the ARRL Club Competition rules is that the club center location can changed for each individual contest." (Barry, K6RM, via VHFContesting reflector)

"The FCC released a public notice in three languages outlining amateur service operation in European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) countries. Here is a link to the article, which contains a link to download the FCC Public Notice and the list of participating CEPT countries." (Dana, KC7SDD)

The 2016 Microwave Update (MUD) is October 13-15, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri. Dedicated to microwave equipment design, construction, and operation, the conference has taken place annually since 1985. One of Friday's activities includes an antenna range, where attendees can see how well their antennas perform, and visit "Rover's Row" to see how other attendees have constructed their mobile stations. Previous "Contest Update" Editor Ward, N0AX, will be a speaker on Friday, with a session entitled "Ham Radio - Now What?"

Want to check on the air activity for any call sign? DJ1YFK has compiled all the CW and RTTY spots for everyone ever spotted by the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN), going all the way back to January, 2015. The activity is displayed in a calendar-style "heat map" that displays, day-by-day, when each station called CQ, and other statistics such as total hours on each band, and activity by time of day. Just go to https://foc.dj1yfk.de/activity/w1aw for example. You can substitute any call sign for "w1aw" at the end of the URL, or type any call sign in the search box at the bottom of the page. (Bob, N6TV)

WORD TO THE WISE

ESM - "Enter Sends Message." In many logging programs, the progress of the QSO is determined by the information entered for the QSO so far, and pressing the ENTER (or Return) key can send the next message appropriate for the QSO. For example, if no information has been entered, a CQ message is sent. If a call sign has been entered, the exchange information is sent. If all information has been entered, the "thank you" message is sent. Using ESM mode means that for many QSOs, the operator may only have to repeatedly press the ENTER key, reducing cognitive load. This could be especially welcome in the wee hours of the morning.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

NIDXA's W9DXCC event featured a full day of Contest University, with 94 attendees. [Photo courtesy of Bill, K3WA]

The Northern Illinois DX Association (NIDXA) held the annual W9DXCC convention on September 16 and 17, 2016. W9DXCC included both Contest University and DX University on Friday the 16th with 94 attendees. Contest University is in its third year at W9DXCC, and was focused on prospective and newer contesters. Next year promises to be even bigger and better! (Bill, K3WA)

Dan Romanchik, KB6NU, and Rich Barnich, KA8BMA, drove from Ann Arbor for the Findlay Hamfest held on September 8, 2016. [Photo courtesy of Tim Prosser, KT8K]

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RESULTS AND RECORDS

A successful contest requires planning and hard work. SFARC members play-tested the contest rules for the recent San Francisco 2-meter FM QSO Party. L-to-R:Thaddeus Allen, KM6CQH, Wassim Nassif, WN6WJN, Nick Powell, NF1P, Darby Powell, and James Downs, KM6ASJ [Photo courtesy of Robert, AD6I]

The results of the San Francisco 2 meter FM QSO Party have been posted to the San Francisco Amateur Radio Club website. The goal of "have fun" was met. One highlight of the contest was a 70-mile QSO through a mountain range between KJ6PTX and WA6OSX. (Robert, AD6I)

"The NAQP August SSB preliminary results are now on the NCJ website. Please check to make sure things look correct in your entry, such as category, and you don't see any unusual score reductions. If you do please notify me at ssbnaqpmgr@ncjweb.com very soon as I need to get the article completed later this week." (Bill, AC0W, NAQP SSB Manager)

Gary, ZL2IFB, commented on last weekend's Oceania DX Contest - Phone:

"Auroras during OCDX phone contest last weekend meant high absorption and very weak DX signals over polar paths. Despite the challenges, there was plenty of activity. We have already received over 320 phone logs with more arriving every day. The deadline for both phone and CW logs is the end of October." He also mentioned a comment by Graeme, ZL1T: "Conditions were as bad as I've heard in over 50 years...The 10 meter band opened to the US the day after the contest."

The results of the 2016 Alabama QSO Party have been posted on the Alabama QSO Party website. Jim, KC4HW, having revitalized the AQP, will be turning over administration duties to the Alabama Contest Group starting in 2017. (Tim, AB4B)

Raw scores for the CQWW RTTY Contest have been posted. Please inform Ed, W0YK, if there are any discrepancies.

OPERATING TIP

Check your coax before the contest season. Faulty or degraded coax cable can be the root cause of a number of hard-to-find issues, and you may not even know that you have an issue. Besides checking for open or short circuits, check for degraded or intermittent shielding, or water intrusion if conditions warrant. Many of today's antenna analyzers have a setting to measure cable loss; if tracked over time, you will be able to note changes in your station.

TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

One of the ways to be successful in VHF and above contests is to use as many bands as possible, and move contacts to other bands. If you need some inexpensive Yagis, WA5JVB's designs for cheap antennas may help you out. (Steve, VE3SMA, via VHFContesting reflector)

GNU Radio is an open source project that can be used to build SDR radios as easily as drawing and connecting functional building blocks. Now there is a project that provides pluggable decoders for GNU Radio to help decode various satellites' telemetry. Though covering non-Amateur satellites, some of the processing blocks support formats and protocols used by amateur satellites, such as AX.25. The project web pages also contain a number of links to other SDR-related software that may be of interest to the SDR experimenter.

The AMSAT news service published a link to an article on using your fist to estimate angular measurements of the sky using your hands and fingers. For example, by holding your fist at arm's length while gazing at the back of your hand, you can measure approximately 10 degrees. Other measurements between 1 and 25 degrees are possible with different hand gestures.

MIT Researchers have come up with a way to recognize emotional state using radio waves. If incorporated into radio gear of the future, perhaps your radio will recognize how sad ionospheric conditions are making you, and suggest a band change.

Jay, WX0B, of Array Solutions, recommends Ohmite 470 ohm non-inductive resistors for beverage terminations. He also suggests putting a 75 volt 10 kA GDT (Gas Discharge Tube) in parallel with the resistor, to reduce the chance of damage from a static or nearby lighting discharge. (Jay, WX0B, via Topband reflector)

If your electronic project is using a part for which there is no schematic symbol or PCB footprint, you can use a new service called InstaPart to find the symbol for free, or have one made for you for a nominal fee. The component symbols are compatible with Eagle, KiCAD, and Altium, and perhaps others.

Defective electrolytic capacitors are notorious for causing problems with modern electronics, but an Elektor magazine article noted that between the mid 1940s and the mid 1970s, can-type electrolytic capacitors had issues too. Radio News published a picture of an exploding can capacitor in 1947.

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CONVERSATION

Contest Middle School

The twice-yearly ARRL School Club Roundup (SCR) invites students from elementary, middle, high school, or college stations to get on the air and make contacts with one another as well as the regular amateur population. For some students, this will be an introduction to our hobby, and their experience could determine how they view Amateur Radio, and whether it could be a continuing interest for them. I encourage you to be listening for their activity, and hand out contacts if you are able.

In the February 2016 SCR, the Schofield Middle School Radio Club was the top scorer in the W/VE Middle/Intermediate/Junior High School category, with over one thousand contacts. They made contacts with 58 other schools, and 49 US states. Fifteen students participated. I asked Ken, KQ4KK, the listed primary sponsor of the effort, what they had planned for the upcoming October Roundup:

"Students will operate from 3:35PM to about 6:35PM each day, Monday thru Friday, October 17-21, of the contest period. We could go a little longer if the students want to. We will have two antennas, the 20- and 40-meter dipole on surplus fiberglass push-up poles, which we always use, and a 5BTV vertical that we will put up each day and take down. A brand-new Icom IC-7300 will be used with an Elecraft KPA500 Amplifier, along with a KAT500 Antenna auto tuner for the amp. We will be logging using a Dell laptop we have used the past 4 or 5 years. The Icom IC-7300 connects to the computer using a USB interface, making logging and control easier. To keep the operators going, we provide snacks and drinks for the first 4 days. It's tradition to have pizza on Friday around 4 pm or later.

"We went from 3rd place, to 5th place, then 1st place for a number of reasons. We worked more multipliers from other schools, which we had not done before, and also more states. The amp also helped! We noted that other clubs operated for nearly the limit on hours (24). We had been stopping at about 16 hours, so we went longer. Over time, the students became more experienced. We have two returning YLs (8th graders now) that have 'Q' rates of over 90 per hour! Our 40-meter antenna also helped.

"We have four Elmers from the sponsor club, North Augusta-Belvedere Radio Club, K4NAB, that help all year long. When not doing SCR, we spend time soldering, desoldering, making satellite contacts, operating PSK-31, foxhunting, working with electronic training kits called 'Snap Circuits' for theory and practical circuits, spend a little time on license prep, and even do some CW training."

Kent and his crew have dedicated themselves to provide ample opportunities for students to learn about a wide range of Amateur Radio activities, of which contesting is just one. Perhaps these students will continue with Amateur Radio as an activity through high school and beyond, and pursue it as a lifelong hobby.

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

73, Brian N9ADG

CONTESTS

6 Oct - 19 Oct 2016

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

HF CONTESTS

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Oct 5, 1300z to Oct 5, 1400z, Oct 5, 1900z to Oct 5, 2000z, Oct 6, 0300z to Oct 6, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 8.

NRAU 10m Activity Contest, Oct 6, 1700z to Oct 6, 1800z (CW), Oct 6, 1800z to Oct 6, 1900z (SSB), Oct 6, 1900z to Oct 6, 2000z (FM), Oct 6, 2000z to Oct 6, 2100z (Dig); CW, SSB, FM, Digital; Bands: 10m Only; RS(T) + 6-character grid square; Logs due: October 20.

SARL 80m QSO Party, Oct 6, 1700z to Oct 6, 2000z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; RS + Serial No. + Grid Locator or QTH; Logs due: October 13.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Oct 7, 0145z to Oct 7, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: October 9.

NCCC Sprint, Oct 7, 0230z to Oct 7, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: October 9.

Makrothen RTTY Contest, Oct 8, 0000z to Oct 8, 0759z, Oct 8, 1600z to Oct 8, 2359z, Oct 9, 0800z to Oct 9, 1559z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; 4-character grid square; Logs due: November 15.

Oceania DX Contest, CW, Oct 8, 0800z to Oct 9, 0800z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: October 31.

SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, Oct 8, 1200z to Oct 10, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./"NONE"); Logs due: October 16.

Scandinavian Activity Contest, SSB, Oct 8, 1200z to Oct 9, 1200z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: October 16.

QRP ARCI Fall QSO Party, Oct 8, 1200z to Oct 9, 2359z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ARCI: RST + (state/province/country) + ARCI No., non-ARCI: RST + (state/province/country) + power out; Logs due: October 23.

Pennsylvania QSO Party, Oct 8, 1600z to Oct 9, 0500z, Oct 9, 1300z to Oct 9, 2200z; CW, Phone, PSK, RTTY; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; PA: Serial No. + County, non-PA: Serial No. + ARRL/RAC Section; Logs due: November 15.

Arizona QSO Party, Oct 8, 1600z to Oct 9, 0600z, Oct 9, 1400z to Oct 9, 2359z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; AZ: Serial No. + state + county, non-AZ: Serial No. + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 31.

FISTS Fall Unlimited Sprint, Oct 8, 1700z to Oct 8, 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: November 7.

PODXS 070 Club 160m Great Pumpkin Sprint, Oct 8, 2000z to Oct 9, 2000z; PSK31; Bands: 160m Only; RST + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 22.

North American SSB Sprint Contest, Oct 9, 0000z to Oct 9, 0400z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name] + [your state/province/country]; Logs due: October 16.

UBA ON Contest, CW, Oct 9, 0600z to Oct 9, 0900z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; ON: RST + Serial No. + ON Section, non-ON: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: October 30.

10-10 Int. 10-10 Day Sprint, Oct 10, 0001z to Oct 10, 2359z; All; Bands: 10m Only; 10-10 Member: Name + 10-10 number + (state/province/country), Non-Member: Name + 0 + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 25.

NAQCC CW Sprint, Oct 12, 0030z to Oct 12, 0230z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: October 16.

Phone Fray, Oct 12, 0230z to Oct 12, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: October 14.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Oct 12, 1300z to Oct 12, 1400z, Oct 12, 1900z to Oct 12, 2000z, Oct 13, 0300z to Oct 13, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 15.

RSGB 80m Club Sprint, CW, Oct 12, 1900z to Oct 12, 2000z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: October 13.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Oct 14, 0145z to Oct 14, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: October 16.

NCCC Sprint, Oct 14, 0230z to Oct 14, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: October 16.

MCG Autumn Sprint, Oct 14, 1500z to Oct 14, 1900z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20m; RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: October 31.

JARTS WW RTTY Contest, Oct 15, 0000z to Oct 17, 0000z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + age of operator; Logs due: October 31.

10-10 Int. Fall Contest, CW, Oct 15, 0001z to Oct 16, 2359z; CW; Bands: 10m Only; 10-10 Member: Name + 10-10 number + (state/province/country), Non-Member: Name + 0 + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 31.

Iowa QSO Party, Oct 15, 1400z to Oct 15, 2300z; CW/Digital, Phone; Bands: All, except WARC and 60m; IA: RS(T) + County, non-IA: RS(T) + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: November 15.

New York QSO Party, Oct 15, 1400z to Oct 16, 0200z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: All, except WARC; NY: RS(T) + county, non-NY: RS(T) + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: October 31.

Worked All Germany Contest, Oct 15, 1500z to Oct 16, 1459z; CW, SSB; Bands: (Please observe contest free band segments per the rules), 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; DL, DARC-Member: RS(T) + DOK (local area code), DL, non-DARC: RS(T) + "NM", non-DL: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: October 31.

South Dakota QSO Party, Oct 15, 1800z to Oct 16, 1800z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; SD: RS(T) + county, non-SD: RS(T) + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 14.

Feld Hell Sprint, Oct 15, 2000z to Oct 15, 2359z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; (see rules); Logs due: October 19.

Asia-Pacific Fall Sprint, CW, Oct 16, 0000z to Oct 16, 0200z; CW; Bands: 20, 15m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: October 23.

Illinois QSO Party, Oct 16, 1700z to Oct 17, 0100z; CW/digital, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; IL: RS(T) + County, non-IL: RS(T) + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 17.

RSGB RoLo CW, Oct 16, 1900z to Oct 16, 2030z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + previous QRA locator received; Logs due: October 23.

Run for the Bacon QRP Contest, Oct 17, 0100z to Oct 17, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (Member No./power); Logs due: October 23.

ARRL School Club Roundup, Oct 17, 1300z to Oct 21, 2359z; CW, Phone, RTTY/Digital; Bands: All, except 60, 30, 17, 12m; RS(T) + Class (I/C/S) + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 5.

Telephone Pioneers QSO Party, Oct 17, 1900z to Oct 18, 0300z; CW/Digital, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; Members: RS(T) + chapter no. + name, non-Members: RS(T) + name; Logs due: December 10.

Phone Fray, Oct 19, 0230z to Oct 19, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: October 21.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Oct 19, 1300z to Oct 19, 1400z, Oct 19, 1900z to Oct 19, 2000z, Oct 20, 0300z to Oct 20, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 22.

VHF+ CONTESTS

Microwave Fall Sprint, Oct 8, 0800z to Oct 8, 1400z; not specified; Bands: 902 MHz and above; 6-character grid square; Logs due: October 22.

UBA ON Contest, 2m, Oct 16, 0600z to Oct 16, 1000z; CW, Phone; Bands: 2m Only; ON: RS(T) + Serial No. + ON Section, non-ON: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: November 6.

Also, see the SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, the Pennsylvania, Arizona, South Dakota, Illinois, and Telephone Pioneer QSO Parties, the Feld Hell Sprint, and the ARRL School Club Roundup, above.

LOG DUE DATES

October 6, 2016

October 7, 2016,

October 8, 2016

October 9, 2016

October 10, 2016

October 11, 2016

October 12, 2016

October 15, 2016

October 16, 2016

October 17, 2016

October 18, 2016

October 19, 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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