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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
January 10, 2018
Editor: Paul Bourque, N1SFE

Consider trying something new in January. For example, operating with others as a team. By choosing the right contest, you can remain solitary and stoic in your shack and don't even have to enter in the multi-operator category. In the upcoming North American QSO Party (NAQP) contests, teams can be formed with other NAQP competitors. The rules (PDF) state a "team must consist of two to five Single-Operator stations whose individual scores are combined to produce a team score. Although clubs or other groups having more than five members may form multiple teams, there are no distance or meeting requirements for a team entry. Teams must be registered prior to the start of the contest." You operate from your QTH, and submit your score as if you were a single operator.

There's also the traditional multi-operator category, where a number of operators gather at one location to jointly operate. In that context it's easier to share tips and techniques, and to notice small things that others do while operating that might improve your score.

As with any contest, using a search engine to search "NAQP strategies" can lead to a multi-hour advice adventure. Things to consider would be when to take an off time, how to balance rates versus multipliers, and where to point a beam.


11 Jan - 24 Jan 2018

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

January 11

January 12

January 13

January 14

January 17

January 18

January 19

January 20

January 21

January 22

January 23

January 24


The January ARRL VHF Contest is coming up, and something to consider is to use FT8 to work some extra grids.

Sean, WA1TE, as a Limited Rover as K1SIG/R in the 2016 and 2017 September ARRL VHF Contests shared his experiences on his blog page. To potential new Rovers, he recommended in an email sent to various VHF reflectors: "You might want to go simple for your first time, but we didn't and it didn't hurt us that much. You'll hit snags. Things won't go right. It'll still be fun. You'll think you're insane. You'll know you're insane. It'll be even more fun. The addiction will grow."

The uBITX transceiver kits are starting to land in the US, and the build stories are appearing. According to Rod, KM6SN: "This rig is fun to put together- the whole thing puts the 'tinkering fun' back into ham radio. There are lots of things to hack, hardware and software. The surface mount components are 0805 or bigger, and even us old guys can unsolder them and change them." (Dennis, N6KI)

Hi-Z Antennas has announced new product, the Hi-Z Shack Switch II Plus. This 8-way switch can be used with any of the Hi-Z antenna arrays, and sports a graphical display, rotary encoder knob, and USB interface for computer control. By 'acting like a rotator' with support for the GS-232 rotator protocol, it works with common programs such as loggers. It's possible to 'click on a spot' in your favorite program, and have the correct antenna selected based on the spots compass heading. See the Hi-Z website for more information.

Contest University, the premier event for contesters new and experienced returns to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dayton, Ohio on May 17, 2018, and registration is now open. If you'd like to attend this event, you must register in advance. Now in it's 12th year, the one-day "CTU" will be chock full of contesting goodness with sessions covering all aspects of contesting. Attendees will be learning from the best, and have multiple opportunities to rub elbows with their peers. You can watch video of sessions from past years on the website to get psyched. The Northern California DX Foundation is offering to pay the registration fee for students 25 years and younger that would like to attend - see the CTU website for more information.

The 26th Annual Dayton Contest Dinner happens on Saturday, May 19, 2018, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The festivities start off at 5:30 PM with a cash bar, followed by dinner at 6:30pm. This year's Contest Dinner features Chris, DL1MGB, as Dinner Speaker, and don't forget that the 2018 CQ Contest Hall of Fame Inductions will be announced at the event. Tickets will NOT be available at the door, and this event tends to sell out.

The 29th Annual Dayton Top Band Dinner will be held Friday evening May 18, 2018 at the Crowne Plaza in the Presidential Ballroom in Dayton, Ohio. Social hour is at 6:00 PM followed by dinner at 7:00 PM. This year's event features speaker Jerry Rosalius, WB9Z. "Jerry has worked and confirmed 316 countries and all 40 zones on the Top Band." Jerry is also part of the highly anticipated Bouvet DXpedition starting later this month. Reservations may be made through the Top Band Dinner website. (Tim, K3LR)

Ed, W0YK, announces that the RTTY Contest Dinner will be held Thursday, May 17, 2018, at 6pm the Spaghetti Warehouse, 36 West 5th Street, Dayton, Ohio. This location is two blocks from the Crowne Plaza hotel in downtown Dayton. This informal dinner is an opportunity to use a voice mode with your RTTY contesting friends. Contact Ed, W0YK to register.

The WRTC 2018 organization has published a summary report on the activities during 2017 in preparation for the 2018 event. The document would likely be helpful to future WRTC planning committees, and to everyone provides an overview of the extensive planning and coordination that go into an event of this magnitude.

The "Silver Snipers" is the name of a Counter Strike eSports team, the members of which are "of a certain age." The Lenovo sponsored team started with absolute neophytes, and built them into a team in just three weeks. Though they were defeated by other teams of relative youngsters, many of the 'Snipers members enjoyed the experience enough to keep gaming.

Pat, N9RV, maintains the Glossary of Contesting Terms included with Contest University course materials each year. What new terms will make it into the Glossary this year? (Tim, K3LR)



From the 2017 Contest University Glossary of Contesting Terms: "Prefill refers to the features of some software packages which automatically fill in exchange information based upon information obtained either before or during the contest. Prefill software might enter "Pat" in the name field for the NA Sprint, for example, if you work N9RV, either based upon previous contests, or based on working N9RV on a different band in the current contest. If the prefill information is different from what the station actually changes, of course, it is up to the operator to manually correct it." (used with the permission of

WRTC 2018 has announced the referees for the event taking place in July 2018. The sixty-five Amateurs were drawn from over 130 applications that were received. Each operating site will have one referee to observe adherence to the WRTC rules, and be available to answer questions by the competitors. They will also be required to simultaneously listen to audio from both of the operating positions.


Not that CQ. "CQ" in this context is Central Queensland. [Photo courtesy of David, W5XU]

Roy Lewallen, W7EL, EZNEC antenna modeling software creator and prolific author, was interviewed on the QSOtoday podcast by Eric, 4Z1UG, back in April. Roy discusses antennas, antenna modeling, and touches upon the difference between models and implementation, but also touches upon feedlines, losses, and how Amateur Radio has changed. He also has some advice for new Amateur Radio operators.

Ham Talk Live! interviewed new NCJ Editor Dr. Scott Wright, K0MD recently. Starting at about 5:40, Scott discusses upcoming changes at NCJ, and the imminent January/February 2018 issue.

A rare look at the inside of N6RO during the 2017 CQWW CW Contest. NA6O was the callsign used for the multi-multi operation. N6RO is in the foreground, WA6O and WX5S in the background. This photo appeared in November 2017 NCCC Jug. - Bob, N6TV [Photo taken by NA6O]

The Association of Tunisian Radio Amateurs documented the "first licensing examinations in this millennium" in Tunisia with pictures on their Facebook Page. Twelve candidates sat for the test.

Dave, 9Y4DG, explains how to use Win4Yaesu Suite software in combination with TeamViewer and Skype to do remote control of his radio station in this YouTube video.

According to D4C's Twitter Status, they've been using FT8 on 10 meters recently.


Unofficial Stew Perry Topband Distance Challenge results are posted on the Stew Perry website. The results are updated as batches of new logs are received, and scores change based on the entry class of logs submitted, as a QSO scores depend on the power category of both stations and distance between them. Remember, scores from event are due within 15 days of contest end.

The full results of the 2017 ARRL EME Contest have been posted at on the ARRL website. Held over three weekends, one hundred forty-eight logs were received, with a combined total of 6913 QSOs. During the contest, a new 10 GHz distance record for EME was achieved by Rex, VK7MO, and Jim, WA3LBI using the QRA64D mode. Operational details submitted by the various operations are included in the results article, such as the tidbit that the "team of hams at R1IF on Victoria Island in Franz Joseph Land had to find a better place to operate as they were being menaced by polar bears."

The results of the ARRL 10 GHz (and Up!) contest have also been posted to the ARRL website. An excerpt from the results: "One hundred and twenty-seven Amateurs turned in logs with contacts at X Band and above over the two (contest) weekends. This was slightly down from the 131 logs turned in for 2016." The results article includes detailed reports from many operators, organized by call area.

The International Grid Chase Leader Board is in operation on the International Grid Chase website. Results are updated a number of times each day as logs are uploaded to LOTW.

You can watch 5030 pins representing the locations of the contacts made by NU1AW/5 during the 2017 IARU HF Contest drop onto this map, with 24 hours compressed into 4.5 minutes.

"The Louisiana Contest Club had the privilege of operating the 2017 IARU HF contest with the call sign NU1AW/5. Operating as a distributed multi-multi from 3 stations, the group of 14 operators made 5,030 contacts in 24 hours.


# TX











Here is a map, animated to show the 5,030 contacts in the order they occurred and compressing 24 hours down to 4 1/2 minutes. At this rate, 19 markers per second are dropped onto the map (Click the DROP MARKERS button near the top of the map to start the pins dropping). A very detailed report on the operation is available from the W5WZ website. Thanks to the IARU for selecting Louisiana to operate the IARU headquarters station during this contest." (W5WZ)


Avoid Exchange Ambiguity

Make sure the contest exchange that you are using is crisp and unequivocal. Here's an example of an exchange that fails this criteria: The ARRL RTTY Roundup exchange uses signal report and state, and a W9 station sends "599 IN IL IL." IN and IL are both states in the W9 call area, both were sent in the exchange. What goes in the log? Which will be used for log scoring?


Larry, K8UT, read the item in the Contest Update earlier this year regarding keystroke latency, and shared his observation: "The movement from serial to UDP communication must have many hams wondering if there is some inherent benefit/detriment to either connection. I conducted a similar latency experiment earlier this year while developing a band decoder and SO2R switch that receives commands via UDP packets. I wanted to compare the elapsed time between clicking a mouse in the program and closing an external relay on a Raspberry Pi connected by DE9 serial ports, USB serial ports, or UDP packets. A lobotomized mouse exposed its left-click button to the test computer, which closed the button and then measured click-to-close times between software initiation and contact activation. Although hardly a controlled scientific experiment - there is a long list of hardware and software differences that could contribute errors in my findings - I was happy to discover that UDP activation occurred faster than either of the other two methods."

KB1LQC, Brenton, and KB1LQD, Bryce also collectively known as "The Salmi Brothers," are the founders of FaradayRF and designers of their premiere product, an open source digital radio which uses the 900 MHz band. Their goal is to enable experimentation using Amateur Radio but at a higher level than RF. Assume you have a data connection, the network you're connected to has a radio physical layer, and you can send and receive data. Some of the services you need might be temporarily over the horizon, or blocked by a mountain. It's not about the network plumbing anymore, it's about what you can do with the network. They're glad to share their opinions, and are weighing in how millenials will be changing amateur radio. Ham Radio 360 featured them in a recent episode, and they've even been mentioned in a recent AMSAT bulletin for work they did on the AO-91 MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracker) controller.

Ball lightning is thought to be a type of plasma, but is difficult to study since the conditions of formation are associated with lightning and thunderstorms. Researchers may have made progress in being able to reproduce the phenomenon in the form of a plasma ring that is stable in open air. What's more, the researchers noted that their experiment also generated RF at particular frequencies.

A Pragmatic Introduction to Signal Processing, by Tom O'Haver, Professor Emeritus, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland at College Park, is available for just a click. The emphasis is on how real-world time-series information can be manipulated, and examples are illustrated using various tools such as MatLab, Octave, and Microsoft Excel. Professor O'Haver invites feedback through his website and Facebook group.

Some people have built their own tubes, but how many have built their own integrated circuits? No, not using discrete components, but by laying out their own masks, using vapor deposition, and etching their own wafers. Probably not many, but this 17-year old high school student does and he started by reconditioning old equipment he found on auction sites.


Evolving LCRs

Performing a log analysis in conjunction with a log checking report (LCR) provided by the contest sponsor can help improve your score. Depending on the information provided by the contest sponsor in the LCR, you should be able to tell whether you're prone to miscopy certain letters, or whether other stations are miscopying your callsign or exchange. If it's the latter, maybe you need to try different phonetics, or understand if there's a way to send your information in a way that's clearer.

But there's also an opportunity for contest sponsors to think about LCRs differently, and provide even more value to operators that enter their contests.

The contest scorers have access to all of a contest's logs. Besides just direct log-to-log comparisons for scoring purposes, contest sponsors are in an ideal position to analyze any particular log against similar logs in the contest across other dimensions. For example, on an hour-by-hour basis, it might be useful to compare the number of contacts made on each band versus its peers to see if an opening was missed. Add to that the zones or countries worked, and a more complete picture may emerge. Perhaps a sponsor will even put up a website where ad-hoc queries like these can be performed. Sure, you can do this today with by downloading the logs of interest to a database, and doing this work yourself, and some do. It might also be an opportunity for a third party to build an infrastructure for analysis that would improve over time.

Contest sponsors could also further delight their contesting customers by borrowing some ideas from other 'sports.' For example, in many fantasy sports leagues, one of the results of each week's competition is a narrative report, written like a sports story. Today, some contest results articles contain these narratives, but they're usually only for the top few spots in any particular category, and written by a human. A computer generated report customized for each contest entry that contains useful statistics and comparison with peers is not much more difficult with today's technologies than generating a downloadable participation certificate. Dial up or down the cheekiness as needed, or make it an individual setting. Here's a fictional example of what's could be possible today with information that's readily available:

"N9ADG did better than average in the 2013 ARRL 10m Contest. Entering in the Single Operator, High Power CW-Only category from Western Washington, his 982 QSOs with 111 multipliers achieved a score of 433,344 points, earning him 104th place out 394 total category entries, 7th out of 15 total Northwest Division Entries, and first in the Western Washington section. Multipliers were key to N9ADG's performance, scoring higher than KN7T's close 2nd place WWA finish despite a fewer number of overall contacts. If N9ADG wants to have more points next year, here are some options:

· Consider trying a different ARRL section. The New England Division's average score in this category is nearly three times that of Western Washington.

· Consider trying a different category. Single operators scores dominated in the Western Washington section.

· Add a mode. N9ADG only operated CW, both CW and Phone are allowed.

Personal improvement goals for N9ADG in 2014's ARRL 10 Meter Contest should include:

· Starting on time. N9ADG's first QSO in this contest occurred 32 minutes after the contest start.

· Keeping the Butt In Chair. Though single operators may be on the air for 36 hours, it appears that N9ADG only operated for 22 of them.

· Better Strategy. Other WWDXC stations were able to work more multipliers including VK, ZL, FK.

· Reducing errors. N9ADG miscopied '4' three times during the contest.

· More running, less S&P. Compared to higher-scoring logs in the Western Washington Section, you had a higher percentage of contacts on different frequencies.

Over time, deeper analyses could be possible to suggest things that may not be obvious, such as needing to improve antennas in certain directions, change bands sooner or later, finding a little-known opening, and so on.

Which contest sponsor will do this first?

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


11 Jan - 24 Jan 2018

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, Jan 10, 1300z to Jan 10, 1400z, Jan 10, 1900z to Jan 10, 2000z, Jan 11, 0300z to Jan 11, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: January 13.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Jan 12, 0145z to Jan 12, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: January 14.

QRP Fox Hunt, Jan 12, 0200z to Jan 12, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: January 13.

NCCC Sprint, Jan 12, 0230z to Jan 12, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: January 14.

YB DX Contest, Jan 13, 0000z to Jan 13, 2359z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: January 20.

Old New Year Contest, Jan 13, 0500z to Jan 13, 0900z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + sum of operator age and years on the air; Logs due: January 28.

UBA PSK63 Prefix Contest, Jan 13, 1200z to Jan 14, 1200z; BPSK63; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ON: RSQ + UBA Section, non-ON: RSQ + Serial No. (starting with 001); Logs due: January 21.

SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, Jan 13, 1200z to Jan 15, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./"NONE"); Logs due: January 21.

North American QSO Party, CW, Jan 13, 1800z to Jan 14, 0559z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; NA: Name + (state/DC/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: January 19.

NRAU-Baltic Contest, SSB, Jan 14, 0530z to Jan 14, 0730z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40m; RST + Serial No. + 2-letter Fylke/Lan/Province/Region; Logs due: January 21.

NRAU-Baltic Contest, CW, Jan 14, 0800z to Jan 14, 1000z; CW; Bands: 80, 40m; RST + Serial No. + 2-letter Fylke/Lan/Province/Region; Logs due: January 21.

DARC 10-Meter Contest, Jan 14, 0900z to Jan 14, 1059z; CW, SSB; Bands: 10m Only; DL: RS(T) + QSO No. + DOK, non-DL: RS(T) + QSO No.; Logs due: January 29.

Midwinter Contest, Jan 14, 1000z to Jan 14, 1400z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; YLs: RST + Serial No. (beginning with 2001), OMs: RST + Serial No. (beginning with 001); Logs due: see rules.

Phone Fray, Jan 17, 0230z to Jan 17, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: January 19.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Jan 17, 1300z to Jan 17, 1400z, Jan 17, 1900z to Jan 17, 2000z, Jan 18, 0300z to Jan 18, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: January 20.

NAQCC CW Sprint, Jan 18, 0130z to Jan 18, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: January 21.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Jan 19, 0145z to Jan 19, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: January 21.

NCCC Sprint, Jan 19, 0230z to Jan 19, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: January 21.

LZ Open Contest, Jan 19, 1800z to Jan 19, 2200z; CW; Bands: 80, 40m; 3-Digit Serial No. + 3-Digit Serial No. received from last QSO; Logs due: January 29.

Hungarian DX Contest, Jan 20, 1200z to Jan 21, 1159z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; HA: RS(T) + 2-letter county/HA-DXC member no., non-HA: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: February 4.

North American QSO Party, SSB, Jan 20, 1800z to Jan 21, 0559z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; NA: Name + (state/DC/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: January 26.

WAB 1.8 MHz Phone, Jan 20, 1900z to Jan 20, 2300z; SSB; Bands: 160m Only; British Isles: RS + serial no. + WAB square, Other: RS + serial no. + country; Logs due: February 10.

Feld Hell Sprint, Jan 20, 2000z to Jan 20, 2359z (EU-AF), Jan 20, 2300z to Jan 21, 0259z (ENA-ESA), Jan 21, 0200z to Jan 21, 0559z (ENA-OC-AS); Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; (see rules); Logs due: January 25.

Classic Exchange, CW, Jan 21, 1300z to Jan 22, 0800z, Jan 23, 1300z to Jan 24, 0800z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; Name + RST + (state/province/country) + rcvr/xmtr manuf/model; Logs due: April 30.

Run for the Bacon QRP Contest, Jan 22, 0200z to Jan 22, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (Member No./power); Logs due: January 28.

SKCC Sprint, Jan 24, 0000z to Jan 24, 0200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: January 26.

NAQCC CW Sprint, Jan 24, 0130z to Jan 24, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: January 28.

Phone Fray, Jan 24, 0230z to Jan 24, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: January 26.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Jan 24, 1300z to Jan 24, 1400z, Jan 24, 1900z to Jan 24, 2000z, Jan 25, 0300z to Jan 25, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: January 27.


ARRL January VHF Contest, Jan 20, 1900z to Jan 22, 0359z; Any; Bands: 50 MHz and up; 4-character grid square; Logs due: February 1.

Also see SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, Classic Exchange, CW, above.


11 Jan - 24 Jan 2018

January 11, 2018

January 12, 2018

January 13, 2018

January 14, 2018

January 15, 2018

January 18, 2018

January 19, 2018

January 20, 2018

January 21, 2018

January 22, 2018

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