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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
May 2, 2018
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG

Multiple QSO parties are on tap for the weekend of May 5-6. See the News section for more information on how to participate in more than one at a time.

Slower code speeds will be expected and welcome for the FISTS Sprint Slow Speed Sprint. Thirteen words per minute and under is the guideline for this 4-hour event. The only catch is that at least one of the stations in any contact must be a FISTS member to count for points.


I busted the call for K0MD in the last issue. Sorry, Scott.


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

03 May - 16 May 2018

May 3

May 4

May 5

May 6

May 7

May 8

May 9

May 10

May 11

May 12

May 13

May 14

May 16


On the May 5-6 weekend you have the opportunity to participate in four QSO parties simultaneously. The 7QP, representing all states in the seventh call area (if you're operating portable in the 7QP, let the contest sponsors know, so they can update the list of active counties), as well as the Indiana, Delaware, and New England QSO parties all use a similar exchange. Some logging programs will handle multiple contest participation with just one log. For example, N1MM Logger+ has special support for out-of-state stations to use the IN7QPNE contest to log stations from any of the participating states.

Tim, K3LR, reminds us that the Contest Super Suite website has a guide to many of the contest-related activities occurring around Hamvention, including activities in Dayton and Xenia. The Contest Super Suite is a nightly gathering of contesters at the Dayton Crowne Plaza Hotel, hosted by the Mad River Radio Club (MRRC), Frankford Radio Club (FRC) and the North Coast Contesters (NCC). Pizza and wings are the customary party fare, sponsored variously by Dayton Contest University, the Society of Midwest Contesters (SMC), Potomac Valley Radio Club (PVRC), and the Yankee Clipper Contest Club (YCCC). This year, Friday is the night for music at the Crowne Plaza.

The 2018 Mid-Atlantic States VHF Conference will be held September 28 through 30, 2018 at the Holiday Inn Bensalem-Philadelphia. Sponsored by the Mt. Airy VHF Radio Club Packrats, this event will feature tabletop selling, papers and presentations, technical testing room, banquet, door prizes, outdoor mini-tailgate flea market, and hospitality suites. Papers and presentations on any topic related to VHF and above are encouraged. Past conferences have included contesting-related presentations on roving, station automation, and contest strategies. Contact Rick, K1DS, to submit your topic or title. Online and mail registration will start in the latter part of May. If you are making hotel reservations, be sure to mention "VHF Conference" to get the special rate.

DX Engineering is now the exclusive North American retailer for OptiBeam antennas. With a number of models in stock, DX Engineering is taking orders for the entire range of HF antennas, including monoband and multiband models covering 80 through 10 meters.

In April 2018, Tom, N1MM, presented to the Yankee Clipper Contest Club on the topic of "A $200 Panadapter." He's made his presentation available to everyone on the N1MM website. Tom uses an Airspy HF+ SDR receiver with SDR Console software to show how band information can be displayed inside an N1MM Logger+ window, with or without call sign information.

Sometimes it's not enough to go to Dayton just one time a year. Find out what autumn in Dayton is like while attending the Microwave Update 2018 conference there on October 11 - 14, 2018. It's typical for microwave rover stations to attend this event, and for the conference to contain material related to contesting on the microwave bands. If you'd like to be a presenter, abstracts and draft presentations are due by August 25, 2018, with final materials due on September 1.

If you'd like to learn Morse Code and you have an Amazon Echo device, you can install the Continuous Wave Alexa skill by Joe, N3HEE, to help you along. According to KB6NU, who described the skill on his blog, the current version is limited to 20 words per minute but is still entertaining. (KB6NU)

The Dayton VHF Dinner is being organized by Kim, WG8S, on Friday, May 18, at the DoubleTree Suites in Miamisburg, OH. Kim encourages anyone interested in activities at 50 MHz and above, including microwave, EME, and CW/SSB, to attend. See the announcement on the VHF Contesting reflector for more information.

"Warranty void if sticker removed!" - Don't believe it. Those stickers appear more and more frequently on new electronic devices. The FTC recently reminded a number of companies that the use of third-party repair services or parts does NOT affect warranty rights, and that such warnings may be in violation of the law.

Peter, HS0ZKX, writes: "I regret to inform the ham community of the passing of Bob Kupps, HS0ZIA/N6BK, an avid contester, who was in the process of building a world-class contest station in Chiang Mai, Thailand." (Peter, HS0ZKX)

"Pepe, XE2MX, who contested from Ensenada Baja, California for many years is now SK." Dennis, N6KI, can accept and forward condolences at his address to pass on to his family. (Dennis, N6KI)


Galvanic Corrosion

When two dissimilar metals are in contact, corrosion may occur due to differing electrode potentials of the metals. Metals are ranked according to their electrode potentials, the more "negative" of two metals will usually be the one to be corroded, if smaller in area than the more "positive." Radio towers and antennas are usually constructed of metal, and care must be taken when using fasteners, clamps, and hardware to ensure compatibility between metals that are in direct contact. The environment also has a large influence on corrosion -- for example moist versus wet, and fresh versus salt water. ARRL's website has an article on galvanic corrosion that may inform your choices.


Tim, K3LR, describing a picture of his younger self at his station during his Contest Dinner keynote at the International DX Convention in Visalia, California. [Bob Wilson, N6TV, photo]

You can sit in on some presentations of the Fair Lawn Amateur Radio Club by viewing the Fair Lawn ARC YouTube Channel. According to Rob, KA2PBT, their videographer Thom, W2NZ, is building up a "sizeable library of the club's programs and speakers." Programs covering a wide range of topics are available for your on-demand viewing. (Rob, KA2PBT, ARRL NNJ Section Manager)

Back in the 1990s, before video, internet, and video on the internet were prevalent, there was PJ1B, which went head to head with other stations from P4 and PJ9. Stu, VE7ZZ, was kind enough to upload video of CQ WW DX Phone contests from that era to YouTube, where you can see the station hardware, and watch how stations are moved between bands. (Ward, N0AX)

How many of these contesters do you recognize? Bob Wilson, N6TV, took this picture of the crowd at the International DX Convention Contest Dinner.


Results for the Ohio QSO Party (PDF) have been posted. Just shy of 36,000 contacts were submitted for scoring, almost evenly split between CW and SSB. All 88 Ohio counties were represented in the submitted logs. The 2018 Ohio QSO Party will be held on August 25.

The results article (PDF) for the 2018 CQ WW DX SSB contest is available online.


Cinco Nueve

Learn how to say your call sign in other languages to get more contacts in phone contests. If the exchange is just a signal report, you can likely get by just knowing your call sign and the letters and numbers of the target language. Try calling CQ while pointing in a suitable direction.


Machine Learning may help predict solar storms in the future. Researchers are applying machine learning to chaotic systems using a technique they've named "reservoir computing." Rather than constructing a precise model of a system's behavior, data is collected on the actual behavior of systems and used to train the "reservoir" to be able to predict future states with greater accuracy. Solar storm prediction as a problem is similar in nature to using the heart's electrical signals to predict cardiac events, and the use of weather readings to predict future weather events.

You don't need a compass to set your antenna rotator direction. By using the sun, you can avoid dealing with the details of magnetic declination. By pointing your antenna at the sun, and looking up the local time on a table generated using the US Naval Observatory website, you can read out the azimuth. (Original suggestion from CT1BOH via Twitter)

It's a situation you don't face every day -- you need to combine spot information from multiple sources, for example a packet cluster, and a skimmer operating locally. Rich, VE3KI, suggested that in such cases, you could "run a spot aggregator program like WinTelnetX on the computer that is running CW Skimmer" to combine the local and remote sources of spots, and act as a local spot server.

Lithium battery capacity may be able to increase 50 percent by incorporating a new cathode design, according to researchers. With a combination of structural and chemistry changes, fluorine doping is used to replace cobalt and nickel in traditional cathodes with manganese. (Dennis, N6KI)


Keeping Score

With the advent of multiple online scoreboards like and, it's now possible to have an almost current view of the performance of competitors in a particular entry class. It's possible, because that assumes that other participants have configured their logging programs to report their scores, that they've entered the correct category, they've configured the correct URL for score reporting. That's a lot of configuration, and the complexity limits the number of people using it.

Viewing current standings requires a web browser window to be open to the online scoreboard's URL, which refreshes every few minutes. "Real-time" scores can sometimes be "a few minutes ago" in this application.

Online scoreboards so far have only been able to capture a very small percentage of all those participating in most contests, with the CWops Mini-CWT Test being a notable exception. Why not have logging programs report scores by default for all contests, with configuration provided the logging program? After all, the logging program already knows the entry categories and scoring details of contests. At contest start time, a click-through dialog would inform that scores are being reported. Click OK to continue. All contesters, including casual ones, could opt-out if they like by clicking a checkbox somewhere. Participation could skyrocket with a new release of software with the opt-out feature.

Since one of the reasons to have score reporting is to make the competition more exciting, showing competitor score information right in the logging program would go a long way to accomplishing that and spurring adoption. No extra work to configure. It might be useful to know that the station just ahead of you is ahead on raw contacts but has fewer multipliers. Seeing that your cross-town rival just added a multiplier might spur you to work the second VFO extra hard. A good place to show the call sign, score, and multiplier count of the station just ahead might be next to my score, in the entry window.

My proposed recipe for success in driving adoption of real-time scores is simple as 1-2-3: 1:Turn reporting of scores on by default. 2:Make the scores really real time. 3:Display competitor scores right in the logging program.

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


03 May - 16 May 2018

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


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, 10 meters; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: May 5.

NRAU 10m Activity Contest, May 3, 1700z to May 3, 1800z (CW), May 3, 1800z to May 3, 1900z (SSB), May 3, 1900z to May 3, 2000z (FM), May 3, 2000z to May 3, 2100z (Dig); CW, SSB, FM, Digital; Bands: 10 meters only; RS(T) + six-character grid square; Logs due: May 17.

SKCC Sprint Europe, May 3, 1900z to May 3, 2100z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: May 10.

MIE 33 Contest, May 3, 2300z to May 4, 0300z; CW, Phone; Bands: All, except WARC; Mie: RS(T) + age + "ME", non-Mie JA: RS(T) + age + "MEJ", non-Mie non-JA: RS(T) + age; Logs due: May 31.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, May 4, 0145z to May 4, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: April 29.

NCCC Sprint, May 4, 0230z to May 4, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: April 29.

10-10 Int. Spring Contest, CW, May 5, 0001z to May 6, 2359z; CW; Bands: 10 meters only; 10-10 Member: Name + 10-10 number + (state/province/country), Non-Member: Name + 0 + (state/province/country); Logs due: May 14.

ARI International DX Contest, May 5, 1200z to May 6, 1159z; Phone, CW, RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; I: RS(T) + two-letter province, non-I: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: May 11.

7th Call Area QSO Party, May 5, 1300z to May 6, 0700z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2 meters; 7th Area: RS(T) + five-letter state/county code, non-7th Area: RS(T) + (state/province/DX); Logs due: May 16.

Indiana QSO Party, May 5, 1500z to May 6, 0300z; Phone, CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; IN: RS(T) + county, non-IN: W/VE: RS(T) + (state/province), DX: RS(T) + "DX"; Logs due: June 1.

FISTS Spring Slow Speed Sprint, May 5, 1700z to May 5, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + first name + FISTS No., non-FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + first name + power; Logs due: June 4.

Delaware QSO Party, May 5, 1700z to May 6, 2359z; CW, Phone, Digital/RTTY; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, VHF; DE: RS(T) + County, non-DE: RS(T) + (state/province/country); Logs due: June 5.

New England QSO Party, May 5, 2000z to May 6, 0500z, May 6, 1300z to May 7, 0000z; Phone, CW/Digital; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT: RS(T) + county + state, non-NE: RS(T) + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: June 5.

RSGB 80-meter Club Championship, SSB, May 7, 1900z to May 7, 2030z; SSB; Bands: 80 meters only; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: May 8.

ARS Spartan Sprint, May 8, 0100z to May 8, 0300z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: May 10.

Phone Fray, May 9, 0230z to May 9, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15 meters; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: May 11.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, May 9, 1300z to May 9, 1400z, May 9, 1900z to May 9, 2000z, May 10, 0300z to May 10, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: May 12.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, May 11, 0145z to May 11, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: April 29.

NCCC Sprint, May 11, 0230z to May 11, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: April 29.

SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, May 12, 1200z to May 14, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6 meters; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./"NONE"); Logs due: May 20.

VOLTA WW RTTY Contest, May 12, 1200z to May 13, 1200z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; RST + QSO No. + CQ Zone; Logs due: May 31.

CQ-M International DX Contest, May 12, 1200z to May 13, 1159z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: June 13.

Arkansas QSO Party, May 12, 1400z to May 13, 0200z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 2 meters; AR: RS(T) + County, non-AR: RS(T) + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: May 26.

FISTS Spring Unlimited Sprint, May 12, 1700z to May 12, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + first name + FISTS No., non-FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + first name + power; Logs due: June 11.

WAB 7 MHz Phone, May 13, 1000z to May 13, 1400z; SSB; Bands: 40 meters only; British Isles: RS + serial no. + WAB square, Other: RS + serial no. + country; Logs due: June 3.

4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint, May 14, 0000z to May 14, 0200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; Member: RS(T) + (State/Province/Country) + Member No., Non-member: RS(T) + (State/Province/Country) + Power; Logs due: May 16.

Phone Fray, May 16, 0230z to May 16, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15 meters; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: May 18.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, May 16, 1300z to May 16, 1400z, May 16, 1900z to May 16, 2000z, May 17, 0300z to May 17, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: May 19.

RSGB 80m Club Championship, Data, May 16, 1900z to May 16, 2030z; RTTY, PSK; Bands: 80 meters only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: April 27.


Araucaria World Wide VHF Contest, May 5, 0000z to May 6, 1600z; CW, SSB, FM; Bands: 6, 2 meters; RS(T) + six-character grid square; Logs due: May 11.

SBMS 2.3 GHz and Up Contest and Club Challenge, May 5, 0600 (local) to May 6, 2359 (local); Any; Bands: 2.3 GHz and up; six-character Maidenhead locator; Logs due: June 5.

Microwave Spring Sprint, May 5, 0800 (local) to May 5, 1400 (local); not specified; Bands: All above 902 MHz; six-character grid square; Logs due: May 19.

50 MHz Spring Sprint, May 12, 2300z to May 13, 0300z; not specified; Bands: 6 meters only; four-character grid square; Logs due: May 26.


03 May - 16 May 2018

May 4, 2018

May 5, 2018

May 6, 2018

May 7, 2018

May 8, 2018

May 9, 2018

May 10, 2018

May 11, 2018

May 12, 2018

May 13, 2018

May 14, 2018

May 15, 2018

May 16, 2018

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