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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
November 29, 2017
Editor: Paul Bourque, N1SFE

If you're a college or university student enrolled in your school's radio club, don't forget about the North America Collegiate Championship (NACC) coming up soon on January 20, 2018. This "contest within a contest" occurs during the North American QSO Party contest. If your club could use some assistance in getting ready for the contest, see the NACC website, and contact the organizers - Contest clubs are aware of this event, and may be able to help.

The upcoming ARRL 10 Meter contest includes both phone and CW modes. Choose to do either, or both. You can work a station once on each mode for credit. During this part of the solar cycle, the pace of activity is likely going to be on the slow side, but that could change depending on short-term solar conditions. Bands are generally more open than we think they are as indicated by tools such as the Reverse Beacon Network and the PSK Reporter websites.


See corrections to QST Contest Announcements for some upcoming contests, below.


The November 2017 QST's announcement of the 2017 ARRL 10 Meter Contest announcement contained an error. Contest participants "... may choose to choose to operate CW, Phone, or Mixed. Stations in the Mixed category may work stations on both modes for contact credit -- i.e., once on CW and once on phone."

In the 2018 ARRL RTTY Roundup announcement published in the December 2017 issue of QST, the log submission deadline is stated as being February 12, 2017. That is incorrect. The correct date is January 12, 2018.

Chuck, N6KW, and Ken, K6MR, point out that in the Worked All Europe (WAE) RTTY Contest, QTC traffic must occur between stations on different continents. Section 12 of the WAE Rules is dedicated to the special exceptions for RTTY.

Rick, WW1ME, noted that the date published in the Contest Update for the ARRL Sweepstakes Phone was incorrect. The event actually occurred the weekend of November 18, 2017.

Dave, K3ZJ, and Chuck, N6KW, wrote in expressing concerns about using the N1MM Spectrum Display while entering non-assisted category. The relevant rule Dave cited is "The use of decoding technology to detect where callsigns are being transmitted and indicate this to the operator is considered assistance in locating stations. This is different from a band scope that shows where signals are, but does not apply any intelligence to identify the source of the signal." See ( and "Now if the technology only provides callsign or multiplier information it is considered assistance." (

Chuck points out that "If only the signals were displayed, without linking spots to signals for call sign information, then it would be in compliance. In that configuration, Spectrum Display is merely an expanded version of the display on the front panel of many current radios."

When the N1MM Logger+ Spectrum Display function is used without an external source of spot information (i.e. without a connection to a spot cluster, and without any type of non-operator signal decoders), then the only calls displayed in the spectrum will be those entered by the local operator(s) by listening to or working those stations - complying with the unassisted rules. It is analogous to populating the 'band map' with callsigns by copying or working signals up and down the band.


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

30 Nov - 12 Dec 2017

November 30

December 1

December 2

December 3

December 5

December 6

December 7

December 8

December 9

December 10

December 11

December 13


Contesters! Don't let your alma mater be defeated by your school's rival in the upcoming NACC Contest on January 20! Make sure your school is on top of their game and ready to go by offering your assistance within the bounds of the rules. Remember, only currently enrolled students that are part of the school's radio club may compete on the school team.

January 1 is the start of a new year long 'operating event' -- the ARRL International Grid Chase. The object of the game is to make as many contacts with as many different grid squares as possible on a monthly and yearly basis. Contests or modes that exchange grid information are a natural for this challenge, but any valid contact uploaded to LOTW is eligible, and it's not even necessary to exchange the grid square as part of the contact, as long as the uploaded contact information has valid station grid square information. See the ARRL IGC web page for more information.

The U.S. Navy is opting for well-rested sailors on when on watch in a recent naval fleet command order to 'employ circadian watchbills.' The Naval Postgraduate School found that 21 hours without sleep was similar to a blood alcohol level of 0.08%. Remember that after a 48-hour solo contesting effort. (Larry, N6NC)

The Yankee Clipper Contest Club's email reflector was bursting with contesting tips, which were assembled into by Fred, K1VR, into a document that you can view on YCCC's website (PDF). It's potentially ironic that the first tip is "Don't be afraid to read the competition's newsletter."

Electronic Engineering Times found a well-stocked electronics store in Rochester, NY: Goldcrest Electronics. The pictures are reminiscent of stores that were commonplace thirty years ago.

A 250-mile long lightning bolt was captured on a satellite image. The bolt occurred over Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri on the night of October 22, 2017. Powerful lightning has long been theorized to be able to cause nuclear reactions, but the phenomenon was only recently observed in nature. Gamma rays, a result of certain types of nuclear reactions, were measured by radiation detectors during a storm near Niigata, Japan in February, 2017.

If you've been using FT8 for a while, you likely have upgraded the software you've been using along the way. You might want to review "FT8 Operating Tips for DXers" (PDF) to see if there are operating practices that also need to be updated as a result of the new software.

Array Solutions' Bandmaster V (BM-5) is like a clearing-house for different types of band information and band-related switching in your shack. It claims to provide translation between various manufacturer's CAT formats (e.g. Elecraft, Yaesu, Icom) and also has relay outputs. It even connects to a USB port on FlexRadio 6000 series SDRs. (Array Solutions)

I'm not sure if 'Millenials are Killing Ham Radio' so much as they are just not interested in using it in the same way as older generations. Is there a right way and wrong way to enjoy the hobby?

According to The DailyDX, the 2018 International DX Convention at Visalia, California is "calling for ... interesting DX and technical presentations." The 2018 date for the Visalia, California event is April 20-22, 2018 at the Visalia Convention Center. Potential presenters are asked to "email N6RV with a brief description."

The Yasme Foundation announces the Yasme Excellence Awards for 2017. "The Yasme Excellence Award is presented to individuals and groups who, through their own service, creativity, effort and dedication, have made a significant contribution to amateur radio. The contribution may be in recognition of technical, operating or organizational achievement..." The latest recipients include:

  • The Dayton Amateur Radio Association upon their successful move of the storied Hamvention to a new location with little notice
  • Paul Verhage, KD4STH and Bill Brown, WB8ELK for their continued leadership and innovation in the area of Amateur Radio high altitude ballooning.
  • Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF and Magda Moses, KM4EGE for creating and leading HamSCI, an organization devoted to the pursuit of science through Ham Radio, and for their Solar Eclipse QSO Party
  • The WSJT Development Team, who invented the new weak signal modes like FT8 and develop supporting software
  • Dale Hughes, VK1DSH, for his work on 60 meter Amateur allocations during the ITU's 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference.

The Yasme foundation also provided a grant to Gary Pearce, KN4AQ, for his "production and distribution of videos of interest to the amateur radio community through Ham Radio Now and YouTube."

Sure, it's probably a gag. The Internet Escape Pod is a $5000 Faraday cage made from steel and stainless steel and being sold by none other than Kentucky Fried Chicken. The verbiage really does a nice job of explaining what it will do, but I'm not sure what it really has to do with fried chicken. It could be useful at Field Day when cabling is picking up RFI.


Variometer - A type of variable inductor consisting of two coils where the axis of one coil may be moved with respect to the other coil. One might use a variometer with a Low Frequency (LF) transmitter on 630 meters to couple to the antenna.


The 2017 Hamvention Antenna Forum presentations have been published as PDFs, alongside Antenna Forum presentations dating all the way back to 2004. Tim, K3LR, thanks K5TR, K8CX, and all of the presenters for making the Antenna Forum possible.

This Instructable explains the differences between many types of screws, including the specialized types used in modern electronic devices. Included is a history of these fasteners, pictures, and summaries of the claimed benefits of the various proprietary types. Wikipedia also contains a good summary of screw drive types.

A histogram of the top spots on the Reverse Beacon Network during the recent CQWW CW - The top spotted call was 9A1A. Additional graphs are available at

Here's a video of the waterfall view of last three minutes of the recent CQWW CW contest on 40 meters, with audio. The display is mesmerizing, quite the matrix of calls. There are a number of well-known contest calls in the mix, and the end is not as synchronized as you might expect.

Russ, N3CO, sends this one in: "Here's a gem I found on YouTube - Highway Patrol, Season 1, Episode 8 - to warn us about what we buy at surplus sales and also contains a reference to ARRL. These guys were real 'HAMS'!"

When soldering on PL-259s, always, always, always check that everything is assembled in the right order, otherwise... this.


The NJIT Magazine, the magazine of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, had an informative write-up of their Solar Eclipse QSO Party experience. The origins of HamSCI, and participation in the SEQP party by Amateurs all across the country are discussed.


It's good practice to update reference information when it changes. You can download recently updated frequency charts from the ARRL website, changed to reflect our newest 2200 and 630 meter bands.


Solar Flare Intensity measures the flux of X-rays, as detected with spacecraft. The measurements contain a letter (A, B, C, M, X) combined with a number representing the intensity in Watts per square meter. Using scientific notation, the letter represents the order of magnitude (power of 10 exponent), while the number is the mantissa. For example, a M2.5 flare would represent a flux of 2.5 x 10^-5 Watts/m^2. X-class flares are the largest, and the mantissa for an X-class flare can be as large as necessary.

As far as the effects of flares go, M-class flares can cause radio outages, while X class flares can disrupt GPS satellites and affect power grids. A large flare measured in 2003 was greater than X28 - the maximum of the satellite sensor - but that one didn't hit Earth directly. The near miss was strong enough to damage other satellites, and affect some airplane navigation systems. The largest event yet noted by humans affecting Earth was the Carrington Event in 1859.

Radio Blackouts are measured by NASA using an R-scale from R1 to R5. R1, "minor" corresponds to an M1 flare, while R3, "strong" is correlated to X1 flares.

Bakelite was the first synthetic plastic, and is celebrated as a "National Historical Chemical Landmark" in an article by the American Chemical Society. Formed under high pressure and temperature by the reaction of formaldehyde and phenol, Leo Hendrik

Baekeland's discovery ushered in the age of molded parts that were ideal for the use in the emerging age of electricity and radio. Bakelite, an insulator, found application inside of radios for tube sockets, connector bodies, stand-offs, and anywhere that conductors needed to be precisely located. Bakelite was also used to mold the cases for consumer radios, some of which are very collectible today.

A New TV Standard, ATSC 3.0, has been approved by the FCC for voluntary adoption by broadcasters. The new version allows for more targeted geographic broadcasting, higher display resolutions, and multiple broadcast streams within a single program. In what could be a boon to electronics manufacturers, the new standard is only required to overlap the old standard by five years.

The history of the Eimac 4CX25000 illustrates how a tube is 'brought to life' for a particular application, enters into production, then potentially fades away. The article also contains a link to a paper on how to tune cavity resonators. (Tim, K3HX)

Here's a design for an automated multiplier bell. The Jeeves project uses minimal hardware to 'listen' for broadcasts from N1MM Logger+ to drive a mechanical bell. It appears to also support WinTest. (Michael, G7VJR, via Twitter)


Tools for the Right Job

I had an opportunity to "be the DX" as part of the VK9MA DXpedition to Mellish Reef earlier this month. As a team we were satisfied with the number of contacts that we made, and even exceeded our pre-trip goal. However I believe we could have made even more contacts, especially to some parts of the world that seemed to be clamoring for a QSO. On nearly every mode and every band, we experienced (near) immediate pileups from the first CQ, but because of the number of repeats required to complete QSOs, the rates were in many instances diminished. The cause? Interference from what could charitably called 'tail ending attempts.'

The technology and tools available to anyone - Waterfall displays, panadapters, spectrum displays means little skill is needed to find out which frequency the DX is working when operating split. Any operator can look on the screen, see which station is responding with their report, click there, and blast away with their call, with no regard for the interference they're causing to the contact already in progress. The net result? Information must be repeated, everyone in the pileup waits, and the rate suffers. It's frustrating for the DX and those seeking the DX. It's poor operating. There's a DX Code of Conduct that provides guidelines, but it's not reaching those that could use it the most, or maybe some believe that this is the proper way to operate.

I hold out hope that those 'blasting' stations will improve their reputation and effectiveness by operating more ethically, and learning how to use their tools skillfully instead of as a bludgeon. I'm glad that the DX & Contest Conventions, Seminars, and "Universities" exist to provide venues for learning the about the latest tools, and the responsible ways to use them.

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


30 Nov - 12 Dec 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 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.

RSGB 80m Autumn Series, CW, Nov 30, 2000z to Nov 30, 2130z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: December 1.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Dec 1, 0145z to Dec 1, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: December 3.

QRP Fox Hunt, Dec 1, 0200z to Dec 1, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: November 30.

NCCC Sprint, Dec 1, 0230z to Dec 1, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: December 3.

ARRL 160-Meter Contest, Dec 1, 2200z to Dec 3, 1600z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; W/VE: RST + ARRL/RAC Section, DX: RST; Logs due: December 8.

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

TOPS Activity Contest, Dec 2, 1600z to Dec 3, 1559z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; TOPS/PRO-CW Members: RST + Serial No. + Club Abbreviation, non-Members: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: December 10.

EPC Ukraine DX Contest, Dec 2, 2000z to Dec 3, 1959z; BPSK63; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Ukraine: RSQ + Ukr Admin Region, non-Ukraine: RSQ + QSO No.; Logs due: December 17.

Ten-Meter RTTY Contest, Dec 3, 0000z to Dec 4, 0000z; RTTY; Bands: 10m Only; W: RST + state, VE: RST + province/territory, non-W/VE: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: December 11.

SARL Digital Contest, Dec 3, 1300z to Dec 3, 1600z; PSK, RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + QSO No.; Logs due: December 10.

ARS Spartan Sprint, Dec 5, 0200z to Dec 5, 0400z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: December 7.

QRP Fox Hunt, Dec 6, 0200z to Dec 6, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: November 30.

Phone Fray, Dec 6, 0230z to Dec 6, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: December 8.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Dec 6, 1300z to Dec 6, 1400z, Dec 6, 1900z to Dec 6, 2000z, Dec 7, 0300z to Dec 7, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: December 9.

QRP ARCI Topband Sprint, Dec 7, 0000z to Dec 7, 0600z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160m Only; ARCI: RST + (state/province/country) + ARCI No., non-ARCI: RST + (state/province/country) + power out; Logs due: December 21.

NRAU 10m Activity Contest, Dec 7, 1800z to Dec 7, 1900z (CW), Dec 7, 1900z to Dec 7, 2000z (SSB), Dec 7, 2000z to Dec 7, 2100z (FM), Dec 7, 2100z to Dec 7, 2200z (Dig); CW, SSB, FM, Digital; Bands: 10m Only; RS(T) + 6-character grid square; Logs due: December 21.

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

QRP Fox Hunt, Dec 8, 0200z to Dec 8, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: November 30.

NCCC Sprint, Dec 8, 0230z to Dec 8, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: December 10.

ARRL 10-Meter Contest, Dec 9, 0000z to Dec 11, 0000z; CW, Phone; Bands: 10m Only; W/VE: RST + State/Province, XE: RST + State, DX: RST + Serial No., MM: RST + ITU Region; Logs due: December 15.

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

International Naval Contest, Dec 9, 1600z to Dec 10, 1559z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Naval Club Member: RS(T) + Club + Member No., non-Naval Club Member: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: February 1.

AWA Bruce Kelley 1929 QSO Party, Dec 9, 2300z to Dec 10, 2300z, Dec 16, 2300z to Dec 17, 2300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40m; RST + Name + QTH + Eqpt Year + Transmitter Type (see rules for format); Logs due: January 15.

QRP ARCI Holiday Spirits Homebrew Sprint, Dec 10, 2000z to Dec 10, 2359z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (ARCI number/power); Logs due: December 24.

CQC Great Colorado Snowshoe Run, Dec 10, 2100z to Dec 10, 2259z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country); Logs due: January 9.

4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint, Dec 11, 0100z to Dec 11, 0300z; 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: December 31.

NAQCC CW Sprint, Dec 13, 0130z to Dec 13, 0330z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: December 17.

QRP Fox Hunt, Dec 13, 0200z to Dec 13, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: November 30.

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

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


See SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, above.


30 Nov - 12 Dec 2017

November 30, 2017

December 1, 2017

December 2, 2017

December 3, 2017

December 4, 2017

December 5, 2017

December 6, 2017

December 10, 2017

December 12, 2017

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