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The ARRL Contest Update
September 6, 2017
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
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IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

Contest activity experiences an uptick as we transition to fall in the northern hemisphere, and the next two weeks offer plenty of variety and opportunity. You'll find a number of QSO parties, a number of contests where US Amateurs are the DX, CW and RTTY Sprints, and more.

Sprints are fast-paced short-duration contests, usually just a few hours long. Rules prevent 'camping out' on a run frequency by only allowing one solicited contact before a mandatory QSY, and there's a protocol used by participants that helps indicate which station gets to stay on frequency for an additional contact. It sounds complicated, and it can be if you haven't practiced! Fortunately, practices are held every Thursday evening with the NCCC Sprint practices and periodic NCCC Sprint Ladder competitions. Check out the operating tips on the NCCC Sprint website and give it a try. Though the SKCC Weekend Sprintathon sounds like a Sprint, it's a contest of a more traditional format, but using straight keys, sideswipers, or bugs, with some interesting bonus points and special stations.

The Worked All Europe (WAE) contests attract a lot of DX, and feature a fun score-enhancer called a QTC. Make sure you read the rules about QTCs, and what countries count for scoring credit - some stations may not answer your call if you're worth zero points to them. Pay attention to band segments in which no contesting activity is to occur, which are listed in the rules.

BUSTED QSOS

QRU

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

7 Sep - 20 Sep 2017

September 7

September 8

September 9

September 10

September 11

September 12

September 13

September 14

September 15

September 16

September 17

September 18

September 20

NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

Before using a frequency, remember to listen, listen, listen. Please be sensitive to health and welfare frequencies during the ongoing "Harvey" relief, potential "Irma" impacts, and other emergency operations.

If you operate your own skimmer hardware feeding into the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN), here is a challenge for you - can you hear all eighteen of the beacons in the Northern California DX Foundation's International Beacon Project in one day? This can be a good test of your location, setup, and band conditions, and a chance to get on the leaderboard.

Array Solutions has a new product from Hamation which is said to be a "Swiss army knife for complex set-ups." The SM-8 Shackmaster is targeted to help solve some of the issues with interfacing radios, PCs, SDR radios like Flex and ANAN to station accessories such as SteppIR controllers, band decoders, and antenna switches. It takes CAT information from one type of radio, and can translate it to other radio types simultaneously, for example from Icom to Yaesu. Being from Hamation, it also works with the ShackLan network.

A new pre-release version of WSJT-X is available. This release labeled "1.8.0-rc2" fixes a number of issues, provides better performance, and has some new features. With any software release, it is prudent to read the user guide and release notes: "Depending on what code revision you upgrade from, it may be necessary to do a one-time reset of the default list of suggested operating frequencies." Some new features are discussed in the WSJTGROUP Yahoo group, for example, the ability to use a shortened exchange sequence with an alternate TX4 message.

Scott, N3FJP, has released Amateur Contact Log 6.0, directly as a result of demand for support of the new FT8 mode. He's made a few other changes to his software, as well. Check out the cumulative release notes for more information.

The rules for the upcoming Scandinavian Activity Contest (SAC) on September 16 differ from last year. Notable is the adoption of the IARU Region 1 HF band plan for contest frequencies. For CW: 3510-3560, 7000-7040, 14000-14060, 21000-21070, 28000-28070 kHz. For SSB: 3600-3650, 3700-3800, 7060-7100, 7130-7200, 14125-14300, 21151-21450, 28320-29000 kHz. The log entry deadline is now five days after the contest end. As always, see the website of the contest sponsor for the most up to date rules.

A solar storm is expected to affect Earth starting on September 6, with G2 and spikes of G3 levels. According to spaceweather.com, there were a number of M-class eruptions, and a sunspot labeled AR2673 spewed a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) towards Earth.

WORD TO THE WISE

Oblast - The term for a government-defined region in the former Soviet Union, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, Russia, and Ukraine, similar to a state or province. It is part of the contest exchange used in the Russian DX Contest.

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SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

David, K1TTT, spent many hours during the summer of 2016 mounting lightning protection devices at the cable entry point to K1TTT Superstation. Clear labeling and neat layout makes it easier to troubleshoot in the event of trouble.

The North Coast Contesters Summer Picnic was held at K3LR, and Greg, W8WWV, used a drone to make a video of the K3LR grounds. If you have the bandwidth and display, you can watch it in up to 4K resolution. (Tim, K3LR)

You can design your own printed circuit boards without leaving the comfort of your computer's desktop! Here's an Instructable on how to get started. (Ward, N0AX)

If you design exclusively with Digikey parts, you can download and use free software for schematic capture, board layout, block diagrams, and more.

RESULTS AND RECORDS

Results from August's Seventeenth USA National ARDF Championships/Ninth IARU Region 2 ARDF Championships have been posted, along with pictures from the event. There were multiple events, including sprint, foxoring, and classic 2-meter and 80-meter competitions.

The 2017 ARRL RTTY Roundup results article is now available on the ARRL website. Aggregate QSO totals were down by over 16% versus 2016, attributable to poor conditions. Log submission numbers were still on par with 2016. (Jeff, WK6I)

The 2016 ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest results have been updated on the ARRL website.

OPERATING TIP

Time Synchronization

Example output showing millisecond offsets from various time sources using the Meinberg NTP utilities. View the image to expand.

If you're using the new digital modes like JT65 and FT8, it's more important than ever to make sure your computer's time is correct. If your computer's clock is off by more than a second or two, contacts with other stations may be difficult or impossible.

A snipped from the WSJT-X screen. The "DT" column is the Delta Time -- the difference between your computer's clock and the other station's clock. You want this to be as close to zero as possible.

For internet-connected computers, time synchronization could be as easy as turning on and configuration Internet time synchronization in your operating system settings. For those on DXpeditions or otherwise not connected, alternative means of time synchronization such as WWVB or GPS can be used.

The WSJT-X documentation recommends using Meinberg NTP on Windows machines to synchronize with Internet timeservers. Meinberg comes with utilities that help you better monitor the quality and health of your clock synchronization source(s).

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TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

N1MM Logger+ releases later than 1.0.6731 have a new feature that allows adding QSOs to an N1MM log from external programs. JT-Alert is already compatible with this interface, so contacts can be made using WSJT-X, which feed into JT-Alert, which are then fed into N1MM Logger+. In technical terms, N1MM Logger+ can be enabled to listen on UDP and TCP ports for ADIF-formatted log information.

G8JNJ tracks down VDSL RFI using a mobile setup that combines information from a USB spectrum analyzer, GPS receiver, webcam, and SDR. He uses audio cues of signal levels while driving so his attention can stay on the road, and the webcam allows him to capture pictures of infrastructure that may be involved in RFI. His setup may provide some ideas and a pointer to some useful RFI tools. (Southgate ARC via RFI Mailing List and Tony, K2MO)

Version 3.0.6 of the ADIF standard with support for the FT8 mode, was released August 13, 2017. LOTW now supports the upload of FT8 QSOs after a TQSL configuration file update released shortly after the new ADIF standard. To update your TQSL program, see the LOTW website on how to check for TQSL updates, update TQSL, and upload your FT8 QSOs.

CONVERSATION

Siri is not a Ham

I was trying to use the hands-free feature of my iPhone the other day to call K7BTW to talk about the upcoming Washington Salmon Run contest. Of course, I only have Dick's contact information in my phone by his callsign, like many of my ham friends. This would be a fine challenge for both Apple's voice recognition, and my diction, I reckoned.

I pushed the button on my phone to wake up Siri, and said "Call K7BTW."

Siri responded with "I have two phone numbers for K7LAZ, which one do you want to use?"

Huh, that's odd, I thought. I don't want to call Harry... I want to call Dick.

I tried again: "Call Kay Seven Bee Tee Double-Yew"

Siri: "I have two phone numbers for K7LAZ, which one do you want to use?"

Hmm. Maybe sound it out: "Call Kay-Seven-BuhTWah"

Siri: "Did you mean K7RX?"

Ugh, Kevin has been a silent key for a number of years now. Note to self -- remove Kevin from my contact list.

There's a skit I remember from watching Sesame Street as a kid, about a parrot responding to a doorbell ring with "Who is it?" and the plumber replying "It's the plumber. I've come to fix the sink." Over and over again. I feel like I'm having a Sesame Street moment.

Maybe Dick's call is just not going to work. Pehraps a 1x3 call is too much for Siri. Maybe Siri needs something simpler.

"Call Kay Seven Ess Ess"

Nothing happens. I glance at the screen. All I see is the single word "Call" displayed. Huh. I try again, with the same result. Siri isn't even trying with Danny's call.

"Call Kay Seven SSSSSSSSS." Siri continues to be uncommunicative.

Maybe the phone application has a problem. I try something else.

I say "Play the ay are are ell The Doctor is In Podcast."

Siri replies: "Not found."

Again: "Play err-ole The Doctor is in Podcast." Also not found.

I try four other variations, eventually getting to a very pirate-like "Play the ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRL Doctor is in Podcast."

Siri: "Not Found."

ARRRRRRGGGH.

In my mind I hear some sad, sad trombones.

Later, while in front of a computer, I read that there are two fields that can be added to a contact to help Siri recognition: "pronunciation first name" and "pronunciation last name." For K7BTW's contact, changing those fields to "kay-seven" and "bee-tee-double-you" helps Siri to recognize the callsign nearly every time. I still don't know what to do about the name of podcasts with lots of non-word letters in the title.

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 contest-update@arrl.org

73, Brian N9ADG

CONTESTS

7 Sep - 20 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.

HF CONTESTS

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: September 9.

NRAU 10m Activity Contest, Sep 7, 1700z to Sep 7, 1800z (CW), Sep 7, 1800z to Sep 7, 1900z (SSB), Sep 7, 1900z to Sep 7, 2000z (FM), Sep 7, 2000z to Sep 7, 2100z (Dig); CW, SSB, FM, Digital; Bands: 10m Only; RS(T) + 6-character grid square; Logs due: September 21.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Sep 8, 0145z to Sep 8, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: September 10.

NCCC Sprint Ladder, Sep 8, 0230z to Sep 8, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: September 10.

Kulikovo Polye Contest, Sep 9, 0000z to Sep 9, 2359z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; KP: RST + "KP", non-KP: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: September 24.

FOC QSO Party, Sep 9, 0000z to Sep 9, 2359z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, VHF; FOC-Member: RST + Name + Member No., non-Members: RST + Name; Logs due: September 23.

WAE DX Contest, SSB, Sep 9, 0000z to Sep 10, 2359z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: September 25.

SARL Field Day Contest, Sep 9, 1000z to Sep 10, 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 17.

SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, Sep 9, 1200z to Sep 11, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./"NONE"); Logs due: September 17.

Ohio State Parks on the Air, Sep 9, 1400z to Sep 9, 2200z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; OH Park: park abbreviation, OH: "Ohio", W/VE: (state/province), DX: "DX"; Logs due: September 23.

Russian Cup Digital Contest, Sep 9, 1500z to Sep 9, 1859z, Sep 10, 0600z to Sep 10, 0959z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Serial No. + 4-character grid square; Logs due: September 20.

North American Sprint, CW, Sep 10, 0000z to Sep 10, 0400z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name] + [your state/province/country]; Logs due: September 17.

Swiss HTC QRP Sprint, Sep 10, 1300z to Sep 10, 1900z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + "/" + Class + "/" + (kanton, province, etc.) + "/" + first name; Logs due: see rules.

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

4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint, Sep 11, 0000z to Sep 11, 0200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: RS(T) + (State/Province/Country) + Member No., Non-member: RS(T) + (State/Province/Country) + Power; Logs due: September 30.

RSGB 80m Autumn Series, SSB, Sep 11, 1900z to Sep 11, 2030z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: September 14.

Phone Fray, Sep 13, 0230z to Sep 13, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: September 15.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Sep 13, 1300z to Sep 13, 1400z, Sep 13, 1900z to Sep 13, 2000z, Sep 14, 0300z to Sep 14, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 16.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Sep 15, 0145z to Sep 15, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: September 17.

NCCC Sprint Ladder, Sep 15, 0230z to Sep 15, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: September 17.

AGB NEMIGA Contest, Sep 15, 2100z to Sep 16, 0000z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 80m Only; AGB Member: RST + QSO No. + Member No., non-Member: RST + QSO No.; Logs due: October 15.

Scandinavian Activity Contest, CW, Sep 16, 1200z to Sep 17, 1200z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: September 22.

All Africa International DX Contest, Sep 16, 1200z to Sep 17, 1200z; CW, SSB, RTTY; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: October 2.

SRT HF Contest SSB, Sep 16, 1300z to Sep 17, 1300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + CQ Zone; Logs due: see rules.

Iowa QSO Party, Sep 16, 1400z to Sep 17, 0200z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: All, except WARC and 60m; IA: RS(T) + County, non-IA: RS(T) + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: October 17.

Washington State Salmon Run, Sep 16, 1600z to Sep 17, 0700z, Sep 17, 1600z to Sep 18, 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 1.

QRP Afield, Sep 16, 1600z to Sep 16, 2200z; All; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS(T) + (state/province/country) + (power or NE QRP No.); Logs due: October 16.

New Hampshire QSO Party, Sep 16, 1600z to Sep 17, 0400z, Sep 17, 1600z to Sep 17, 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.

New Jersey QSO Party, Sep 16, 1600z to Sep 17, 0359z, Sep 17, 1400z to Sep 17, 2000z; CW, Phone; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; NJ: RS(T) + county, non-NJ: RS(T) + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: October 1.

Feld Hell Sprint, Sep 16, 1800z to Sep 16, 1959z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; (see rules); Logs due: September 20.

North American Sprint, RTTY, Sep 17, 0000z to Sep 17, 0400z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name] + [your state/DC/province/country]; Logs due: September 24.

BARTG Sprint 75, Sep 17, 1700z to Sep 17, 2059z; 75 Baud RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Serial No.; Logs due: September 24.

Run for the Bacon QRP Contest, Sep 18, 0100z to Sep 18, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (Member No./power); Logs due: September 24.

Phone Fray, Sep 20, 0230z to Sep 20, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: September 22.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Sep 20, 1300z to Sep 20, 1400z, Sep 20, 1900z to Sep 20, 2000z, Sep 21, 0300z to Sep 21, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 23.

RSGB 80m Autumn Series, CW, Sep 20, 1900z to Sep 20, 2030z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: September 23.

VHF+ CONTESTS

ARRL EME Contest, Sep 9, 0000z to Sep 10, 2359z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 50-1296 MHz; Signal report; Logs due: December 6.

ARRL September VHF Contest, Sep 9, 1800z to Sep 11, 0300z; All; Bands: 50 MHz and up; 4-character grid square; Logs due: September 20.

ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest, Sep 16, 0600 (local) to Sep 18, 0000 (local); Any; Bands: 10 GHz to light; 6-Character Maidenhead Locator; Logs due: October 17.

SARL VHF/UHF Analogue/Digital Contest, Sep 16, 1000z to Sep 17, 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 9.

144 MHz Fall Sprint, Sep 18, 1900z to Sep 18, 2300z; not specified; Bands: 2m Only; 4-character grid square; Logs due: October 2.

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LOG DUE DATES

7 Sep - 20 Sep 2017

September 7, 2017

September 8, 2017

September 9, 2017

September 10, 2017

September 12, 2017

September 15, 2017

September 16, 2017

September 17, 2017

September 18, 2017

September 20, 2017

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

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

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