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The ARRL Contest Update
April 18, 2018
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
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IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

A number of QSO Parties are on tap for the next couple of weeks. Nebraska's QSO Party is the second I've noted to allow the use of the new FT8 mode. If you enjoy that mode but are new to contesting, why not give the Nebraska QSO Party a try?

On April 21, the CQMM DX Contest (CW only) counts South American stations as per-band multipliers, while other countries are per-contest. It will pay to turn a beam toward SA for those multipliers!

The BARTG Sprint 75 RTTY contest is only four hours, but at nearly double the speed of 'normal' 45.5 baud RTTY with an exchange that omits the RST you'll have to keep your wits about you. Some comments from Dick, K7BTW, a past participant in this contest: "I note is that it is more difficult when doing Search and Pounce to get stations tuned in when they are using the same CQ message that they use at 45.45 baud. The transmissions are so short that it takes several cycles to get on their frequency. If you are running, entering your call sign twice with perhaps a CQ at the end of the string actually promotes a faster rate."

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

19 Apr - 2 May 2018

April 19

April 20

April 21

April 22

April 25

April 26

April 27

April 28

April 29

May 1

May 2

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NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

Andy, AE6Y, is an experienced phone contester, achieving the top-10 box in contests many times from his Aruba station. His article on phone contesting in the March 2018 issue of the Northern California Contest Club's Jug newsletter entitled "Phone Contesting Tips For DX Contests" was reprinted in the April 2018 Western Washington DX Club's Totem Tabloid newsletter. You can find it at either link, available for your reading pleasure. One of his many recommendations includes using context-specific phonetics for increased copyability.

The International DX Convention (IDXC) in Visalia, California is coming up April 20-22, 2018. On the schedule this year are a number of events that should be of particular interest to contesters, starting with the Contest Dinner on Friday evening. Saturday's "Contest Forum" chaired by Scott, K0MD, editor of NCJ, includes panelists Ward Silver, N0AX; Bill Lippert, AC0W; Dick Norton, N6AA; Tim Duffy, K3LR, and Sandy Raeker, DL1QQ. WRTC 2018 and updates from the ARRL are on the agenda, along with 45 minutes of moderated audience questions and answers.

Also on Saturday, April 21 is the session "Radiosport 2.0 - Lightning Ideas and Views" chaired by Ward, N0AX. Ward promises "something completely different from the usual forums, with lightning talks on forward-looking topics." He expects a spirited discourse from a panel to include Kevin Rowett, K6TD; Kristen McIntyre, K6WX; Jeri Ellsworth, AI6TK; Tim Duffy, K3LR; Joel Harrison, W5ZN, and yours truly.

Your smart phone or computer calendar application can automatically keep track of all radio contests by subscribing to shared contest calendars. WA7BNM's Contest Calendar website publishes a contest event calendar in iCal format, or as a shared Google calendar. So does DL2NBY's website. Your club's website can also embed one of these contest calendars with just a few lines of HTML, so the dates will always be handy. Similar calendars exist for scheduled DXpeditions and other radio related events.

Let's say you need zone 36 in a contest. What are ALL of the prefixes should you be listening for? Find out using this handy website that shows all countries possible for a particular zone. (Mark, KB7HDX)

A bigger contest score is achievable by more contacts and higher rates. Touch typing ability was once thought to be key to rapid data entry during contests, however researchers have found that the style of typing doesn't limit overall speed. This is not an endorsement of hunting and pecking. To achieve maximum speed, non-touch-typing keyboarders must have the layout memorized, practice to achieve high speeds and low error rates, and should use a 'make before break' style of typing where the next key is struck before the last key is released. And never, ever, look at the keyboard! (Dennis, N6KI)

The Society of Midwest Contesters' "SMC Fest" will be held Saturday, August 25, 2018 at the Hyatt Place in Normal, Illinois. The tentative agenda for the event already includes topics including SO2R operating, Contesting from a DX location, and how to configure antennas for contesting.

WSJT-X had its second public test of the new FT8 DXpedition mode, which was described in the April 12 issue of the ARRL Letter. During this session, rates of 225 contacts per hour were attained by one of the test "foxes." It was also noted that as with any mode, operating skill and rates increase with practice.

The 2018 Hamvention event and forum schedules are now available online. In this photo, well-known contester Craig, K9CT, is presenting at a Hamvention Forum during the Hara Arena days.

The Hamvention website has been updated with new Event Schedule information and Forum schedules. You can even add single events to your own Google calendar, or import the whole calendar to see everything. Your smart phone can keep track of all of the activities taking place and help remind you not to miss your favorites.

WORD TO THE WISE

Jitter

For periodic signals, or signals that are associated with a particular timing, jitter is the difference from an expected period or clock rate. For example, for RTTY communications at 45.5 bauds, each bit time is 22 milliseconds in length. If a transmitted bit time is shortened or lengthened, a decoder expecting a 22 millisecond bit may not sample the correct bit during decode, and error rates can increase. Some software-generated RTTY signals may exhibit jitter due to inexact timing worsened by high CPU demand or the nature of timers in general purpose operating systems. JA7UDE, author of the EXTFSK program to generate FSK, analyzed software timer generated RTTY versus hardware generated RTTY and illustrated the differences.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

The IARU Region 1 Field Day event happens the first weekend in June. In 2017, The Contest Group Wittgenborn Germany put DP6T on the air, with some very serious equipment.

When the contest is over, the bands clear quickly. NG0Z's panadapter documents just how quickly at the end of the CQ WPX SSB contest.

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RESULTS AND RECORDS

The final results for the 2017 ARRL Phone Sweepstakes are online. With 1674 logs submitted, participation was down slightly from 2016. K5TR's call sign made the top-ten box twice in the Single Operator, High Power category, and W6YI's hegemony in the MSHP (Multi-operator Single transmitter High Power) category continued. Hesston College, K0HC, extended their reign over the School category with their fifth consecutive win. The Potomac Valley Radio Club (PVRC) took home the gavel the ARRL Affiliated Club Unlimited category for the tenth year in a row. In 2018, the ARRL Phone Sweepstakes will be held November 17-19.

Gary, K9AY, notes that the full results of the December 2017 ARRL 160 Meter Contest are now available online. Gary also announces that after his tenth year of writing the contest's results articles, it's time for someone else to give it a go. Contact Bart, W9JJ, Contest Director, if you're interested. Thank you for your years of dedication to this contest Gary!

The 2017 Florida QSO Party results are now online, and the all-time records for this event have also been updated. This year's event takes place April 28 and 29, 2018.

Rate statistics are now available for CQ WPX Contests held since 2008. For each log submitted, the highest 60 minute rate was calculated over the raw log. Sorts may be performed by continent or country, with the top 20 of each entry category displayed in the results. Single call sign searches are also possible.

The 2017 CQ WW SSB results and on-line certificates are now online. It was a record setting year for the number of logs submitted with a year-over-year increase of 13%. Of the 8606 logs received, 63 logs -- 1.2% reflected 40 or more operating hours. This year's event takes place October 27-28, 2018.

The 2017 results of the New England QSO Party were posted recently. As one of the larger QSO Parties, the event received 633 logs in 2017. The 2018 NEQP will be held May 5-6, 2018.

OPERATING TIP

Room to Run

Be aware that if a frequency sounds unoccupied to you, it may not be elsewhere in the world. While you're running, occasionally ask stations that are calling you how they are copying you, and if there's any interference on their end. Another indicator that your run frequency may be busy is stations giving their call signs, but not responding when you call them back. A precipitous drop in your rate could indicate interference, or changing band conditions. If you are allowed to use spots in your entry category, seeing DX spotted near your run frequency can also indicate that your rate is in peril.

TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Bob, N6TV, has updated his Win-Test LUA scripts to provide better support of Icom radios, including support for the new IC-7610. Certain Icom models can now utilize the built-in voice keyer functions from the Win-Test keyboard. Win-Test is unique among contest loggers with its built-in LUA language interpreter, providing for very advanced functionality to be added without a program update.

Paul, WA3GFZ, found that inexpensive Analog Devices ADF5355-based boards available on eBay can be used as the basis for a 54 MHz to 13.6 GHz synthesizer with the addition of a few parts. He eventually wants to use his work as the basis of a transverter to cover additional bands in VHF and Up contests. His describes his work in the April 2018 Mt. Airy VHF Radio Club's Cheese Bits newsletter.

The Twin City DX Association's March 2018 The Gray Line Report describes how a number of their members are adding SDR hardware to their existing HF rigs for more flexibility and increased capabilities. The comprehensive article by Kirk, N0KK, details the modifications performed to their transceivers, along with the software that they are using to add panadapter and other advanced functionality.

Subvocalization is the silent, internal speech sometimes made when reading or practicing speaking without making sound. Even though no sound is emitted and the mouth may not move, small movements in neck and head muscles still occur. Researchers at MIT have built a headset to detect these muscle movements and use them to command a computer. Combined with a digital voice keyer, could this be a way to do a "silent" phone contest in the future? (Dennis, N6KI)

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CONVERSATION

Video Generation

Is your radio club taking advantage of video for its club meetings? Not for the presentation, but of the club meeting proceedings. Some very active contesting clubs are already doing this. Video used to be difficult and expensive, but that hasn't been true for the past few years. Today, your cellular phone probably has high definition quality video recording capability, and service plans likely contain enough data to even allow live streaming. YouTube, Facebook, and many other services will be glad to handle your stream for free. Don't want to live stream? Store the video on your phone and upload it to your club's website or YouTube channel later. You could even do a live 'webinar' style meeting where the remote audience can participate. If your club has business or committee meetings that are 'open to all,' video is a good way to get more club members involved.

For club members that have travel, geographic, or physical limitations, this is a way that they can still be involved. Younger generations, the ones we talk about needing to keep our hobby vital, may be unfamiliar with the entire concept of 'attending a club meeting', but will be more willing to participate using their screens.

Adding this new 'mode' to club meetings has some implications for the mechanics of club meetings. In addition to the requirements of club members to set up, record, and monitor the video stream, thought will have to be given to the meeting content. Meetings may have to be optimized over time to keep the format lively, interesting, and on schedule. Coincidentally, such changes would also be appreciated by those attending in-person.

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, IDXC selfies, and predictions to contest-update@arrl.org

73, Brian N9ADG

CONTESTS

19 Apr - 2 May 2018

An expanded, downloadable version of QST's Contest Corral is available as a PDF. Check the sponsor's Web site for information on operating time restrictions and other instructions.

HF CONTESTS

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Apr 18, 1300z to Apr 18, 1400z, Apr 18, 1900z to Apr 18, 2000z, Apr 19, 0300z to Apr 19, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: April 21.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Apr 20, 0145z to Apr 20, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: April 22.

NCCC Sprint, Apr 20, 0230z to Apr 20, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: April 22.

Holyland DX Contest, Apr 20, 2100z to Apr 21, 2100z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; 4X: RS(T) + area, non-4X: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: May 31.

ES Open HF Championship, Apr 21, 0500z to Apr 21, 0559z, Apr 21, 0600z to Apr 21, 0659z, Apr 21, 0700z to Apr 21, 0759z, Apr 21, 0800z to Apr 21, 0859z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40m; RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: May 1.

Worked All Provinces of China DX Contest, Apr 21, 0600z to Apr 22, 0559z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; BY: RS(T) + 2-character province, non-BY: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: April 29.

QRP to the Field, Apr 21, 0800 (local) to Apr 21, 1800 (local); CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + name; Logs due: June 1.

YU DX Contest, Apr 21, 1200z to Apr 22, 1159z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; YU/YT: RS(T) + County, non-YU/YT: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: May 2.

CQMM DX Contest, Apr 21, 1200z to Apr 22, 2359z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; All: RST+continent abbreviation, CWJF members: RST + continent + "M", QRP: RST + continent + "Q", YL: RST + continent + "Y", Multi-Op, Clubs, Groups: RST + continent + "C"; Logs due: May 22.

Nebraska QSO Party, Apr 21, 1300z to Apr 22, 0200z, Apr 22, 1300z to Apr 22, 2200z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, VHF/UHF; NE (non-FT8): RS(T) + county, non-NE (non-FT8): RS(T) + (state/province/country), FT8: signal-to-noise + grid square; Logs due: May 7.

Michigan QSO Party, Apr 21, 1600z to Apr 22, 0400z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; MI: Serial No. + county, non-MI: Serial No. + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: May 21.

EA-QRP CW Contest, Apr 21, 1700z to Apr 21, 2000z (10-20m), Apr 21, 2000z to Apr 21, 2300z (40-80m), Apr 22, 0700z to Apr 22, 0900z (40m), Apr 22, 0900z to Apr 22, 1200z (20-10m); CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + 1-letter category + "M" (if EA-QRP member); Logs due: May 22.

Ontario QSO Party, Apr 21, 1800z to Apr 22, 0500z, Apr 22, 1200z to Apr 22, 1800z; CW, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; ON: RS(T) + county, non-ON: RST + (state/province/country); Logs due: May 23.

Feld Hell Sprint, Apr 21, 1800z to Apr 21, 2159z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; (see rules); Logs due: April 25.

SKCC Sprint, Apr 25, 0000z to Apr 25, 0200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: April 27.

Phone Fray, Apr 25, 0230z to Apr 25, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: April 27.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Apr 25, 1300z to Apr 25, 1400z, Apr 25, 1900z to Apr 25, 2000z, Apr 26, 0300z to Apr 26, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: April 28.

UKEICC 80m Contest, Apr 25, 1900z to Apr 25, 2000z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: April 25.

RSGB 80m Club Championship, Data, Apr 26, 1900z to Apr 26, 2030z; RTTY, PSK; Bands: 80m Only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: April 27.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Apr 27, 0145z to Apr 27, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: April 29.

NCCC Sprint, Apr 27, 0230z to Apr 27, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: April 29.

10-10 Int. Spring Contest, Digital, Apr 28, 0001z to Apr 29, 2359z; Digital; Bands: 10m Only; 10-10 Member: Name + 10-10 number + (state/province/country), Non-Member: Name + 0 + (state/province/country); Logs due: May 7.

SP DX RTTY Contest, Apr 28, 1200z to Apr 29, 1200z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; SP: RST + 1-letter province, Non-SP: RST + QSO No.; Logs due: May 13.

Helvetia Contest, Apr 28, 1300z to Apr 29, 1259z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; HB: RS(T) + 2-letter canton, non-HB: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: May 7.

Florida QSO Party, Apr 28, 1600z to Apr 29, 0159z, Apr 29, 1200z to Apr 29, 2159z; CW, Phone; Bands: 40, 20, 15, 10m; FL: RS(T) + county, W/VE: RS(T) + (state/province), DX: RS(T) + DXCC prefix; Logs due: May 13.

BARTG Sprint 75, Apr 29, 1700z to Apr 29, 2059z; 75 Baud RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Serial No.; Logs due: May 6.

AGCW QRP/QRP Party, May 1, 1300z to May 1, 1900z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + QSO No. + "/" + Class ID (A/B); Logs due: May 20.

Phone Fray, May 2, 0230z to May 2, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: April 20.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, May 2, 1300z to May 2, 1400z, May 2, 1900z to May 2, 2000z, May 3, 0300z to May 3, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: April 21.

VHF+ CONTESTS

432 MHz Spring Sprint, Apr 25, 1900z to Apr 25, 2300z; (not specified); Bands: 432 Only; 4-character grid square; Logs due: May 9.

Also, see Nebraska QSO Party, Ontario QSO Party, and Feld Hell Sprint, above.

LOG DUE DATES

19 Apr - 2 May 2018

April 19, 2018

April 20, 2018

April 21, 2018

April 22, 2018

April 23, 2018

April 25, 2018

April 27, 2018

April 28, 2018

April 29, 2018

April 30, 2018

May 1, 2018

May 2, 2018

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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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