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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
August 23, 2017
Editor: Paul Bourque, N1SFE

Some contests offer the opportunity to improve your operating skills by increasing the difficulty of the exchange. The exchange for the ARRL Sweepstakes in November composed of a serial number, ARRL section, precedence, and check, can be a workout, but each component has a relatively limited number of possibilities, and only the serial number component changes during the contest. The upcoming Wake-Up! QRP Sprint offers a steeper challenge - one component of the exchange consists of the suffix of the previous contact. There's also a serial number, and since it's a Sprint format contest, there's a mandatory QSY required after soliciting a contact. With four 30-minute contest sessions over a two-hour period, there's a lot going on, and a lot to manage. Once you've mastered this one, imagine how relaxing other contests will be by comparison.


"You may have already received feedback on this from other Navy sailors. In the last issue, in the paragraph on U.S. Navy signal light communications Signalmen are mentioned. The Navy did away with the Signalmen (SM) rate more than 20 years ago. You will also notice when accessing the first underlined link in the paragraph the photo caption states QM3 operating the light. QM stands for Quartermaster. This is the rating that picked up the job when the Signalmen rating was eliminated. Yes, Old Salts pick up on this stuff and to call a QM an SM would create reaction from both people in both ratings because each are proud of the job they do." - Jim Bassett, RMC(AC), USN, Retired, W1RO


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

August 24

August 25

August 26

August 27

August 30

August 31

September 1

September 2

September 3

September 4

September 5

September 6


There's still time to enter the 27th NCCC Sprint Ladder competition, NSL XXVII. It's like a weekly bowling league, but using CW. Dates are August 18, 25, September 1, 8, 15, 22, 29. You have missed August 18, but you can still be a top contender since only your top four scores are counted for the final rankings. See the NCCC Sprint website for rules, operating tips, and more.

The upcoming Kansas QSO Party provides the opportunity for contesters to earn antique radio stamps by working enough 1x1 suffixes to spell out certain words. For 2017, BISON has been added as a new word, joining KANSAS, QSOPARTY, and SUNFLOWER. See the Kansas QSO Party Rules for more information.

The W4DXCC DX and Contest Convention on September 22 and 23 has added a new talk by K0EJ entitled "So you want to be a Contester..." The complete program is detailed on the W4DXCC website.

The AUSTRALIAN LADIES AMATEUR RADIO ASSOCIATION (ALARA) Contest will count Echolink contacts, and one award category includes "Top Score YL Echolink." The results article for the 36th running of ALARA mentioned that "inclusion of Echolink has resulted in a number of negative comments directed at the contest format" but that it reflects the realities of some of the ALARA members operating conditions: "... as we have a few members who can only use Echolink it will remain in the short term."

Amateur Radio event attendees often look forward to prize raffles and door prizes, which clubs use for fundraising and promotion. Prize sponsors donate valuable prizes in support of these events, and an expression of thanks is always appreciated. At the recent Pacific Northwest DX Convention, the Spokane DX Association made it easy for raffle prize winners to personally thank sponsors by having thank-you cards on hand to use for the purpose.

VHF/UHF contests and QSO parties encourage rover operation to activate grids and counties, and many publish a schedule of anticipated operating times and locations ahead of a contest. An APRS tracker could be useful during a contest to automatically post location updates if that is allowed by the rules, while another option is might be to use a smart phone and appropriate app that reports via APRS-IS.

Dennis, N6KI, ponders whether this growing robot vine could be used for antenna purposes?

The first-ever NVIS-focused contest will be held September 30, 2017 from 1500 UTC to 2100 UTC. Sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Portable Operator Association, the six hour contest is limited to 80 meters, and includes single and multi-operator classes, with three power categories. For full details, see the MAPOA website. (Larry, W8ANT)

Many will recognize the vintage Weller soldering tools on display at this online soldering "museum" and may have the models that are still made today.

A Friday afternoon seminar on station automation has been added to the Mid-Atlantic States VHF Conference taking place October 6 to October 8. According to Rick, K1DS, "The seminar is intended to be an in depth introduction to modern software and computer-based methods of station automation. It will include detailed discussions and examples of the use of MCUs (microcontroller units) and SBCs (single board computers) for station control. By the end of the seminar it is anticipated that attendees will be ready to begin using these devices for station control activities in their amateur stations." The seminar will be led by Roger, W3SZ, with additional help from Phil, K3TUF and Ed, WA3DRC. Registration are requested by September 1 to ensure a proper supply of handouts. For those who have already registered for the conference, send an RSVP for the seminar to Roger, W3SZ.

Claude Shannon developed much of the mathematical underpinnings of modern information and communication theory. A number of articles have been published recently, ranging from a profile of his life to essential takeaways from his biographers. His wife is also now being recognized as contributing to Shannon's successes.

Tim Wininger, AB4B, President of the Alabama Contest Group, presents a check for 1000 Euros to Tim Duffy, K3LR, in support of WRTC 2018. The presentation occurred during the 2017 Huntsville Contest Luncheon on August 19. [Photo courtesy of Charlie Wooten, NF4A]

The Alabama Contest Group (ACG) has graciously sponsored a tent for WRTC 2018. Their 1000 Euro donation was presented to Tim Duffy, K3LR, during the 2017 Huntsville, Alabama Hamfest's Contest Luncheon on the August 19. The ACG's 90 members are proud to have sponsored a tent for WRTC 2014, and are looking forward to the WRTC 2018 event next year. The ACG was formed in 2006, and now also includes members from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Florida residing within the ARRL and CQ contest club radius boundaries. The ARRL-affiliated club is welcome to potential new members seeking to improve their operating skills and station effectiveness, and to nurture their competitive spirit.

The 4O3A contest station suffered major damage due to wildfires in July. According to the 4O3A website, all antennas, feedlines, and control lines outside of the shack were destroyed. The station is not anticipated to become operational again until the summer of 2018. (Ken, K2KW)

The YOTA2017 Twitter feed reports that 10387 contacts were made with GB17YOTA during the week-long IARU Summer Camp event focused on Amateur Radio for young people.

Contest summaries displayed on have been enhanced to show whether the self-reported scores were obtained using SO2R, and/or remote operation.


Capture Effect - The phenomenon of when receiving multiple frequency modulated (FM) signals that are close to or on the same frequency, only the strongest signal will be demodulated. The weaker signals are effectively suppressed.


Xenia, ZL4YL, about to relinquish the run station to Ralph, DL1SVA, during the 2016 ARRL DX CW Contest [Photo courtesy of Holger, ZL3IO]

Holder, ZL3IO/ZM4T, notes: "ARRL DX CW contest falls together with the Art Deco Festival in Napier, New Zealand. At this time of the year we in the southern hemisphere are in the best time of our summer. While the serious contest operator enjoys great US pile ups, the not so radio-fanatic companions can go on a time travel back to the 1930's. Pictured is ZM4T, a multi-single operation, with Ralph, DL1SVA about to take over the running station from Xenia, ZL4YL who is already dressed up to go to town for the Art Deco festival. Xenia was running a CW pile-up on 15 meters when the photo was taken. She wears in-ear noise cancelling headphones. I plan to take Xenia to Germany next year as my teammate for WRTC 2018. We may not stand a chance against the likes of N6MJ, KL9A, K2PO, K6XX and many others but it will hopefully be a great experience for the two of us."

ZM4T running on 40M SSB during the 2016 CQWW SSB Contest: Alice, ZL2EM, Xenia, ZL4YL, Birgit, ZL2YL. [Photo courtesy of Holger, ZL3IO]

Holger and Xenia operated remotely for the IARU Contest in July: "We participated via remote operating DM3W. Fully 90% of the 20-hour operating was done by Xenia. The station, DH8BQA, was an Elecraft K3 with 100 watts located in Schwedt, in the northeast corner of Germany. It's about 150-200 km north of the WRTC region. Xenia had never experienced EU bands before and was simply overwhelmed by the pure amount of stations packed on the bands. She was surprised by the endless flow of Russian and Ukrainian stations and was always saying 'I didn't know that there are so many Russian Hams!' It was not about winning, but about learning for her. She did around 700 Qs. She improved her operating over time and got used to the crowded bands."

A number of WRTC 2018 teams made their way to Germany for the 2017 IARU contest to experience propagation and practice, practice, practice. Pictures, station descriptions, and logs are available on the WRTC 2018 website.

WRTC 2018 Chairman Christian Janssen, DL1MGB, was interviewed by Tim, K3LR, during May's Contest University. Tim and Chris discussed how Chris became interested in Amateur Radio, DXpeditions, and of course WRTC 2018.

The ARRL School Club Roundup is October 16-20, 2017. Is your school ready? Time to find more operators in the incoming class!


Contest Sponsors: Remember to email a link to the Contest Update when your contest's results are published to your website.


"Expect to be loud" entering each pile-up. Loudness is more than watts through your coax - it's an attitude. If you expect to be successful, it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.


Carl, K9LA, discusses the impact of our pathetic solar conditions, and how digital modes may be able to provide some propagation opportunities in his recent paper "What mode of operation enables JT and FT digital modes?" (PDF)

Online schedule coordination for special events, remote contest efforts, or even club events can be challenge, but a good starting point could be the open source software written by N2IW used to schedule W1AW Centennial QSO Party.

Researchers are working on techniques to enhance speech intelligibility in situations like noisy factories and crowded rooms to eventually be built into hearing aid devices. According to the article, their work focuses on using machine learning techniques like neural networks to "train" a signal processing chain to filter on characteristics of human speech, yielding performance gains that can improve tested intelligibility to better than human normal. Factory and crowd noise situations were used in their research, and some of the models are published on the investigator's website.

Anecdotal observations of 160-meter propagation during the solar eclipse indicate that some stations observed strengthening of received signals, in one case by over eight S-units.

Spacecraft are tag-teaming to observe solar phenomena like coronal mass ejections (CMEs). From October 2014 to March 2016, a single CME was tracked from the Sun to the outer reaches of our solar system by ten different NASA and ESA spacecraft. (Dennis, N6KI)

According to Tom, VA2FSQ, "The latest release of Win4K3Suite now supports N1MM+ Contest Logger's Spectral display. This enhancement broadcasts spectral data from Win4K3Suite to the spectrum display window in N1MM+ allowing identification of signals that you can actually hear as shown in the spectral display. You can see this in action in this YouTube video. This capability works using the IF output of the K3/K3S with an LP-PAN Panadapter or the SDRPlay RSP, the IQ output of the KX3 and a sound card, or the KX2 with a SDRPlay RSP and a T-R switch."


Location, Location, Location

So, you want to be competitive with your contest station. Most of the time, talk turns to terrain analysis, tower types and height, and antennas. Before that fun stuff, make sure you've given proper consideration to the real estate aspects of your station project. First of all, zoning and permitting rules by government can affect what type of towers you can erect in general. Many levels of government place different constraints on aspects such as tower height, setbacks, and construction standards.

Landowners should not be surprised by Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) that a particular property may have, since they are recorded with the property's title. It's prudent to get copies of these before any property is purchased, so that they can be reviewed thoroughly. All manner of things can be in CC&Rs, and it's your responsibility to know what you're allowed and not allowed to do with your property. For example, in our local area, one large development has a CC&R document of over 160 pages. CC&Rs might also require membership and compel compliance with rules created by a home owners association (HOA). Current HOA rules may not mention any restrictions on your hobby, but the rules can change over time by actions of the HOA. It pays to read the HOA rules about how rules are made, and how to get on the HOA to make them.

In an ideal situation, you've done the research, and there aren't any CC&Rs that would prohibit your tower project, there is no HOA that might have sway, you have a good relationship with your neighbors. You've obtained any and all required state/city/county/town permits, you've built to the requirements of applicable codes, and your tower is standing, concrete curing. At any time, even after the antennas have been installed and are being used, you can still be subject to civil legal suit by someone that does not like your tower and antennas. If you've followed all of the rules to the letter, your building department should back you up, but no law or rule can prevent the filing of suit in the first place. Even in the most optimistic situation, once a suit is filed it's still going to take time and money to defend. There is no magic pill to protect against someone who does not appreciate your tower from taking civil legal action.

Take a layered approach to your tower project: Research all CC&Rs ahead of time. Follow all relevant rules, obtain all required permits. Build to code. Get all required inspections. Nurture excellent relationships with your neighbors.

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, and predictions to

73, Brian N9ADG


24 Aug - 6 Sep 2017

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 Mini-CWT Test, Aug 23, 1300z to Aug 23, 1400z, Aug 23, 1900z to Aug 23, 2000z, Aug 24, 0300z to Aug 24, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 26.

QRP Fox Hunt, Aug 25, 0100z to Aug 25, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: August 26.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Aug 25, 0145z to Aug 25, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 27.

NCCC Sprint Ladder, Aug 25, 0230z to Aug 25, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 27.

Hawaii QSO Party, Aug 26, 0400z to Aug 28, 0400z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; HI: RS(T) + QTH, non-HI W/VE: RS(T) + (state/province), DX: RS(T); Logs due: September 30.

ALARA Contest, Aug 26, 0600z to Aug 27, 0559z; CW, Phone; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 2m; ALARA: RS(T)A + Name, non-ALARA: RS(T) + Serial No. + Name + (whether YL/OM/club station); Logs due: September 30.

SCC RTTY Championship, Aug 26, 1200z to Aug 27, 1159z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + 4-digit year license first issued; Logs due: August 29.

W/VE Islands QSO Party, Aug 26, 1200z to Aug 27, 0300z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Islands: RS(T) + USI/CISA Island Designation, Non-Islands: RS(T) + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 15.

YO DX HF Contest, Aug 26, 1200z to Aug 27, 1200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; YO: RS(T) + county, non-YO: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: September 26.

Kansas QSO Party, Aug 26, 1400z to Aug 27, 0200z, Aug 27, 1400z to Aug 27, 2000z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; KS: RS(T) + county, non-KS: RS(T) + (state/VE section/"DX"); Logs due: October 1.

Ohio QSO Party, Aug 26, 1600z to Aug 27, 0400z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; OH: RS(T) + county, non-OH: RS(T) + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: September 25.

CVA DX Contest, SSB, Aug 26, 2100z to Aug 27, 2100z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + type/UF(see rules); Logs due: September 15.

SARL HF CW Contest, Aug 27, 1300z to Aug 27, 1630z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: September 3.

Phone Fray, Aug 30, 0230z to Aug 30, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: September 1.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Aug 30, 1300z to Aug 30, 1400z, Aug 30, 1900z to Aug 30, 2000z, Aug 31, 0300z to Aug 31, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 2.

QRP Fox Hunt, Sep 1, 0100z to Sep 1, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: August 26.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Sep 1, 0145z to Sep 1, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 27.

NCCC Sprint Ladder, Sep 1, 0230z to Sep 1, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 27.

G3ZQS Memorial Straight Key Contest, Sep 1, 2300z to Sep 3, 2300z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + name + FISTS No., non-FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + name + power; Logs due: October 3.

CWOps CW Open, Sep 2, 0000z to Sep 2, 0359z, Sep 2, 1200z to Sep 2, 1559z, Sep 2, 2000z to Sep 2, 2359z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Serial No. + Name; Logs due: September 16.

All Asian DX Contest, Phone, Sep 2, 0000z to Sep 4, 0000z; Phone; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + 2-digit age; Logs due: October 4.

Russian RTTY WW Contest, Sep 2, 0000z to Sep 2, 2359z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RU: RST + 2-letter oblast, non-RU: RST + CQ Zone; Logs due: September 17.

Wake-Up! QRP Sprint, Sep 2, 0600z to Sep 2, 0629z, Sep 2, 0630z to Sep 2, 0659z, Sep 2, 0700z to Sep 2, 0729z, Sep 2, 0730z to Sep 2, 0800z; CW; Bands: 40, 20m; RST + Serial No. + suffix of previous QSO ("QRP" for 1st QSO); Logs due: September 9.

RSGB SSB Field Day, Sep 2, 1300z to Sep 3, 1300z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: September 8.

AGCW Straight Key Party, Sep 2, 1300z to Sep 2, 1600z; CW; Bands: 40m Only; AGCW: RST + Serial No. + "/" + Class + "/" + Name + "/" + Age; Logs due: September 30.

IARU Region 1 Field Day, SSB, Sep 2, 1300z to Sep 3, 1259z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: September 18.

Colorado QSO Party, Sep 2, 1300z to Sep 3, 0400z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, VHF/UHF; CO: Name + county, W/VE: Name + (state/province), DX: Name + DXCC prefix; Logs due: October 1.

PODXS 070 Club Jay Hudak Memorial 80m Sprint, Sep 2, 2000z to Sep 3, 2000z; PSK31; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 10.

Tennessee QSO Party, Sep 3, 1800z to Sep 4, 0300z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, VHF/UHF; TN: RS(T) + county, non-TN: RS(T) + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 4.

MI QRP Labor Day CW Sprint, Sep 4, 2300z to Sep 5, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + (member no./power output); Logs due: September 18.

ARS Spartan Sprint, Sep 5, 0100z to Sep 5, 0300z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: September 7.

Phone Fray, Sep 6, 0230z to Sep 6, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: August 25.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Sep 6, 1300z to Sep 6, 1400z, Sep 6, 1900z to Sep 6, 2000z, Sep 7, 0300z to Sep 7, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 26.

UKEICC 80m Contest, Sep 6, 2000z to Sep 6, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: September 6.


50 MHz Fall Sprint, Aug 26, 2300z to Aug 27, 0300z; not specified; Bands: 6m Only; 4-character grid square; Logs due: September 9.

WAB 144 MHz QRO Phone, Sep 3, 1000z to Sep 3, 1400z; SSB; Bands: 2m Only; British Isles: RS + serial no. + WAB square, Other: RS + serial no. + country; Logs due: September 24.


24 Aug - 6 Sep 2017

August 25, 2017

August 26, 2017

August 27, 2017

August 28, 2017

August 29, 2017

August 31, 2017

September 1, 2017

September 3, 2017

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