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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
November 15, 2017
Editor: Paul Bourque, N1SFE

The ARRL Phone Sweepstakes contest is coming up on the weekend of November 18. While the ARRL website has extensive information on this event, you might also want to check out the Potomac Valley Radio Club's (PVRC) "ARRL Sweepstakes" document, which contains links to other documents that could also help.


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

16 Nov - 29 Nov 2017

November 16

November 17

November 18

November 19

November 20

November 22

November 23

November 24

November 25

November 29


I asked Larry, K8UT, to mention what's new in N1MM Logger+: "The biggest news, which may be old news to some, is N1MM+'s embedded Spectrum Display. Whereas the basic premise for packet spots is to tell you what happened a while ago at somewhere else, panadapters tell you what it happening now on your antenna. All spectrum analyzers can show you every signal within the scanned frequencies, but N1MM+'s Spectrum Display is optimized for contest operation and allows the operator to ignore signals based on signal strength and desirability (like dupes and mults). Some contest tools - like packet spots and skimmers - automatically classify the station as operating Assisted, but you can use Spectrum Display and still qualify as a non-Assisted contester. You can find more information in the N1MM Logger+ Documentation for the Spectrum Display.

The Pacific Northwest VHF Society's past conference proceedings have been posted to the PNWVHFS website. Some of these materials were added from the historical CD-ROMS from the events "for your nostalgic enjoyment." (Barry, K7BWH, via PNWVHFS reflector)

Pigeons and Amateur Radio have something in common: They're both considered "weird" networks of last resort by an Infoworld article.

Sometimes a contest rule is just a contest rule. A couple of issues ago, the Contest Update contained information related by Bob, N6TV, that would enable Icom radios with USB sound interfaces to supply the 'monitor' audio of what the operator hears during transmit. This capability is driven by the CQ WW DX contest's rules requiring that an audio recording of what the operator hears be made available on request of the judges. This is usually only required of the top competitive entries in each category. There are some SO2R operators that don't believe that it's necessary to record the transmitted audio, since when they operator SO2R, they aren't actually listening to the audio anyway! I emailed Doug, KR2Q, asking whether SO2R operators need to record transmitted audio. Here's what he said:

"Well, lots of folks try to see a "spirit" aspect and often can lead to rules clarifications which more clearly define things. But so far, we are sticking with what the rules says.

The question you raise is really a question for SO2R guys where they are transmitting "without listening" so that they can listen on different frequency.

As the rule is written now, if the operator(s) is(are) not listening to their own audio or sidetone, then we don't need to hear it either. But if the op is, in fact, listening to what they are sending, then we want to hear that too.

Just take the rule literally, I guess. Hope this helps. Maybe we'll post a blog about it.

Good luck in the contest!

de Doug KR2Q

on behalf of the CQWW Contest Committee"

For many of a certain era, the Zenith Trans-Oceanic Radio was the "gateway receiver" to becoming an SWL and moving on into Amateur Radio. Martin Rowe, Senior Technical Editor at EETimes, published a reminiscence of this receiver, and a mini book review of The Zenith Trans-Oceanic: The Royalty of Radio by John H. Bryant and Harold N. Cones.

IZ2BKT has published a program for Microsoft Windows, BktTimeSync, which will synchronize the computer system clock to a GPS receiver locally attached via USB, serial, or Bluetooth, or alternatively via an NTP server. This could be helpful if operating from a location that does not have internet access.


Link Margin: The difference between a receiver's minimum discernable signal, and the expected level of a signal delivered to the receiver. The value is usually expressed in dB. Link Margin calculations are used in analyzing receive and transmit signal paths for EME communications, and typically contain allowances for attenuation by atmospheric absorption or other effects.


With appropriate guying, an extension ladder can be used to hold up a Yagi under Field Day or DXpedition conditions. In this picture a SteppIR 2-Element Yagi for the current VK9MA DXpedition has been mounted is being tested. It can be turned manually.

Here are some sounds you don't want to hear: RFI. The ARRL "sound library" contains known RFI sources, and some that have not yet been identified. If you have a potential RFI problem, compare your noise to these to help eliminate it.


Chris, N6WM, operated as ZF1A in the CQ WW RTTY contest along with Trey, N5KO, Glenn, W6OTC, and Steve, K6AW. His article in the September Northern California Contest Club (NCCC) Jug newsletter discussed contest trip planning and execution, which resulted in a 7.1 million point result.


Just the Exchange, Please

It pays to mention it every contest season: During a contest or at any other time when contact rate is important, only provide the exchange - nothing more. If a running station has responded to your call, they only need your report. Don't repeat their call. If they didn't get your call right, provide your call again then the report. If your call was correct, just provide the exchange.


Amateurs attempting Earth-Moon-Earth communication can take advantage of ground gain to enhance their signal by up to 6 dB. In 2011, DUBUS magazine published an article by ON4KHG explaining ground gain, and how to measure and maximize it.

The September 2017 issue of The Gray Line Report, The Twin City DX Association's monthly newsletter, contains practical hints on using a rental bucket truck to do tower work as part of Al, K0AD's article "Rebuilding my Force 12 Forty Meter Beam." Among the tips are suggestions on how to estimate the right size of truck.

Adding panadapter functionality to a transceiver that doesn't have that capability from the manufacturer is possible with the DX-Patrol Mk4 SDR Receivers, according to DX Engineering. The Mk4 is an SDR receiver capable of tuning between 100 kHz and 2.0 GHz, and is compatible with a number of open source software packages. When used as a panadapter, it can receive signals in parallel with the transceiver, or can be fed from a transceiver IF output.

The HamSCI Resources web page just added "S-Meter Calibration" by Carl, K9LA. A measurement of the out-of-the-box accuracy of a number of radios is compared, and steps you can use to calibrate your radio's S-Meter are presented.

V-USB is an Atmel AVR software implementation of a USB low-speed device that you can use with your own open source AVR-based products, to potentially eliminate the requirement of a dedicated USB chip. Example drivers are included for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, and the driver supports multiple types of USB endpoints. If you need more than a serial interface for that project you're building, this might help you.


It Resembles Magic

Modern DSP noise reduction techniques can be so effective at separating what we want to hear from what we don't, the result can almost be described as magical. The Science Fiction writer Arthur C. Clark even had a "rule" about this: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

In a story about how a visual signal, a QR Code, was decoded from a blurry news broadcast to recover $1000 of Bitcoin from an electronic wallet, you can follow along. The signal being noise-reduced and recovered in this instance is not RF, but visual. It's not magic, it's math.

Sometimes technology advancement is so good, it's disruptive and unsettling to those unprepared for it. Some people recognize it for what it is, and benefit, while others try to ignore it, to their detriment. It can drive people into opposing camps. I'm talking, of course, about Autotune, which is automatic and dynamic pitch correction for the music industry. In its initial uses of subtly (and sometimes covertly) correcting pitch, it eliminated a lot of manual work (and jobs). Some artists, thinking out of the box, began to use the tool artistically... and then, all of the sudden, everyone knew about Autotune.

When our radios include the feature to be able to have "SSB Net" buttons to automatically adjust the receive frequency for normal sounding speech, it will probably look like magic. But there will be plenty of math involved.

That's all for this time. While you're reading this, your Editor is supposed to be making contacts from Mellish Reef as part of VK9MA. He'll be back, so 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


16 Nov - 29 Nov 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, Nov 15, 1300z to Nov 15, 1400z, Nov 15, 1900z to Nov 15, 2000z, Nov 16, 0300z to Nov 16, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 18.

NAQCC CW Sprint, Nov 16, 0130z to Nov 16, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: November 20.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Nov 17, 0145z to Nov 17, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: November 19.

QRP Fox Hunt, Nov 17, 0200z to Nov 17, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: November 23.

NCCC Sprint, Nov 17, 0230z to Nov 17, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: November 19.

YO International PSK31 Contest, Nov 17, 1600z to Nov 17, 2200z; PSK31; Bands: 80m Only; YO: RST + Serial No. + County, non-YO: RST + Serial No. + Country; Logs due: December 2.

SARL Field Day Contest, Nov 18, 1000z to Nov 19, 1000z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS(T) + Number of transmitters + Category (see rules) + Province (or "DX"); Logs due: see rules.

LZ DX Contest, Nov 18, 1200z to Nov 19, 1200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; LZ: RS(T) + 2-letter district, non-LZ: RS(T) + ITU Zone No.; Logs due: December 4.

All Austrian 160-Meter Contest, Nov 18, 1600z to Nov 19, 0700z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; OE: RST + Serial No. + District Code, non-OE: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: December 31.

REF 160-Meter Contest, Nov 18, 1700z to Nov 19, 0100z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; RST + Serial No. + Department Code; Logs due: December 3.

Feld Hell Sprint, Nov 18, 1900z to Nov 18, 2059z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; (see rules); Logs due: November 22.

RSGB 2nd 1.8 MHz Contest, CW, Nov 18, 1900z to Nov 18, 2300z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; UK: RST + Serial No. + District Code, non-UK: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: November 19.

ARRL Sweepstakes Contest, SSB, Nov 18, 2100z to Nov 20, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Serial No. + Precedence (Q/A/B/U/M/S) + [your call sign] + Check + ARRL/RAC Section; Logs due: November 25.

Homebrew and Oldtime Equipment Party, Nov 19, 1300z to Nov 19, 1500z (40m), Nov 19, 1500z to Nov 19, 1700z (80m); CW; Bands: 80, 40m; RST + Serial No. + "/" + class; Logs due: December 21.

Run for the Bacon QRP Contest, Nov 20, 0200z to Nov 20, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (Member No./power); Logs due: November 26.

SKCC Sprint, Nov 22, 0000z to Nov 22, 0200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: November 24.

QRP Fox Hunt, Nov 22, 0200z to Nov 22, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: November 23.

Phone Fray, Nov 22, 0230z to Nov 22, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: November 24.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Nov 22, 1300z to Nov 22, 1400z, Nov 22, 1900z to Nov 22, 2000z, Nov 23, 0300z to Nov 23, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 25.

RSGB 80m Autumn Series, SSB, Nov 22, 2000z to Nov 22, 2130z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: November 23.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Nov 24, 0145z to Nov 24, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: November 26.

NCCC Sprint, Nov 24, 0230z to Nov 24, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: November 26.

CQ Worldwide DX Contest, CW, Nov 25, 0000z to Nov 27, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + CQ Zone No.; Logs due: December 1.

QRP Fox Hunt, Nov 29, 0200z to Nov 29, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: November 30.

Phone Fray, Nov 29, 0230z to Nov 29, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: December 1.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Nov 29, 1300z to Nov 29, 1400z, Nov 29, 1900z to Nov 29, 2000z, Nov 30, 0300z to Nov 30, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: December 2.

UKEICC 80m Contest, Nov 29, 2000z to Nov 29, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: November 29.


See Feld Hell Sprint, above.


16 Nov - 29 Nov 2017

November 16, 2017

November 18, 2017

November 19, 2017

November 20, 2017

November 22, 2017

November 23, 2017

November 24, 2017

November 25, 2017

November 26, 2017

November 29, 2017

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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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