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The ARRL Contest Update
May 30, 2018
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
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IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS -- THINGS TO DO

The next two weekends offer a potpourri of smaller contests and activities on the HF bands. DigiFest offers an opportunity to contest with "unconventional" digital modes, including 75 baud RTTY and Olivia. The PVRC Reunion is open to all, and provides more traditional CW and SSB fare. The Kentucky QSO Party has moved to June, and is now 12 hours long.

The weekend of June 9 has the SKCC Weekend Sprintathon. It's an opportunity to make CW contest contacts in a low-pressure setting. SKCC members are encouraged to use boatanchor rigs, and incented to use crystals for frequency control. Non-members are welcome to use whatever equipment they like.

BUSTED QSOS

"Regarding the video of a 1970's ARRL Field Day in the last Contest Update, note that Chip's, K7JA, old call was K7VPF." (Mark, K0EJ)

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

May 31

June 1

June 2

June 3

June 4

June 5

June 6

June 7

June 8

June 9

June 10

June 11

June 13

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NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

The June VHF Contest is coming up the weekend of June 9. You might want to study the results article for the January VHF Contest, and read some post-contest comments on 3830scores.com to understand how the VHF contesting landscape is changing vis-à-vis FT8. Remember, the contest exchange is just the grid square. Don't squander valuable band opening moments by sending any extraneous information. No signal report is required for the exchange. SSB and CW mode rates are usually greater than FT8 rates if the band is open. Remember to use Contest Mode if you're using FT8 on WSJT-X. If you see impractical grids being sent by the other side, one side is probably not using contest mode. Marshall, K5QE, published "VHF+ Contesting and the Digital Modes" which contains practical, specific guidance on how and when to use specific modes. It always pays to read the manual or help files for the software that you're using.

The Eighteenth USA ARDF (Amateur Radio Direction Finding) Championships will be held June 13 - 17, 2018 in Truckee, California. There will be a day of training activities before the main event on June 13, open to anyone participating in the Championships. IARU Region 1 ARDF rules will be in effect for the competition.

To encourage use of the Contest Online Scoreboard by competitors during the just-completed CQ WPX CW Contest, two new plaques were sponsored by the operators of the Contest Online Scoreboard:

  • Highest Online Scoreboard (Single Operator)
  • Highest Online Scoreboard (Multi Operator)

To be in contention for one of these plaques, the competitor must have had to actively contributed their scores to the Contest Online Scoreboard during all periods of contest activity. Most of the popular logging programs already feature upload of scores to website.

The ARRL reported that FT8 Activity has been increasing at the expense of some other modes. According to Norm, W3IZ, ARRL Radiosport Manager, "Activity in the traditional modes of SSB and CW has decreased only slightly, by 10%."

John Dorr, K1AR, was named as Director of CQ World Wide DX Contest, taking over the reins from Doug, KR2Q. John has been involved in contesting for decades, including as emcee of the Dayton Contest Dinner for 25 years. He was also inducted into the CQ Contest Hall of Fame in 1997.

The Dayton Contest Dinner featured the induction of Andy, N2NT, and Tom, N1MM, into the CQ Contest Hall of Fame. Andy has a number of world-class contest wins going back to 1979, and is known for being able to get on the air to be competitive despite adverse conditions. He's been the director of the CQ WW 160 Meter DX Contest for the last decade. Tom is known by the contest community and beyond for the N1MM Logger+ program, which supports hundreds of different radio contests, and is supported by a dedicated team of volunteers.

Regarding the mention of the Zepp antenna in a previous edition of the ARRL Contest Update: "The Zepp airship antenna patent is available on line. Included in the patent are detailed diagrams." (Ray, W8LYJ)

"The WSJT Development Group is pleased to announce WSJT-X Version 1.9.0. If you have been using version 1.8.0, or a candidate release v1.9.0-rc#, you should upgrade at this time. New features and enhancements since Version 1.8.0 are summarized here." (Joe, K1JT)

Hackaday's article on low-cost Amateur Radio gear highlights modern radio kits in general, and the QRP Labs QCX CW Transceiver in particular. KK6MC's contest write-up (see below) noted that there were many more Single Operator entries in the January VHF Contest this year - small, low-power portable stations. The SOTA (Summits On The Air) trend is extending beyond HF to VHF+ contesting and lightweight and low-cost gear is important to that type of operation. Look for many more SOTA/NPOTA-style operations like this. Articles like this are highlighting a new (or lesser-used) door to ham radio. (Ward, N0AX)

Craig, K9CT's comments about conditions in last weekends CQ WPX Contest: "20 meters was a real surprise! Nice to be open most of the time to somewhere in the world. Several times in the day we could hear and work SE Asia. Typical springtime storms affected our operation and was probably shared by many others as well. 40 meters was also a very good band for getting the 6 point QSOs to EU. 80 and 160 were probably open but QRN made them very difficult copy of calls and serial numbers. 15m had some decent openings to EU...second day better than the first. It was a pleasure to have Dave, NN1N be a part of our team. He moved near us after leaving the ARRL and was great teammate and operator."

If you have a contesting-related product or service, make sure your PR department copies contest-update@arrl.net with your press releases.

WORD TO THE WISE

Off-by-One

Usually used in reference to a call sign. A call sign that has a one-character difference from another. For example, N9ACG is an Off-by-one for the call sign N9ADG.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Ward, N0AX, one of the Contest University professors, talking about operator care and maintenance.

Bob, N6TV, writes: "All of my YouTube videos of N0AX's alter-ego band 'Working By Numbers with The Incessant Callers' (Spurious Emissions, Second Harmonic), recorded live in the Presidential Ballroom, of the Crowne Plaza in Dayton, Friday, May 18th, 2018, may be viewed here on this YouTube playlist. Click SHOW MORE on YouTube to read all of the lyrics of each song to follow along with the singing. 73, Bob, N6TV"

Stu, N7ZZ, posted some vintage but excellent quality video of contest operations that took place at PJ1B. (N7ZZ)

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RESULTS AND RECORDS

The Solar Eclipse QSO Party (SEQP) Contest Scores are now available. The SEQP website has also been updated to include science results, contest results, and data resources. The scoring committee included Nathaniel, W2NAF; Spencer K2AEM; and Ward, N0AX. Gizmodo even covered the Solar Eclipse Amateur Radio activity.

The results of the 2018 Seventh Area QSO Party (7QP) have been posted at http://www.7QP.org. The next running of the contest will occur the first Saturday of May, 2019.

The 2018 ARRL International DX Contest CW preliminary results are now on the ARRL Contest Results website. The article by Charlie, K1XX, notes that the two top finishers in the Single Operator, High Power category were both operating remotely. Over 3,700 logs were turned in for the contest.

Duffey, KK6MC, writes: "The ARRL January VHF Contest results are now available on the ARRL Contest Results website. Thanks to all who participated, submitted logs, and made the contest successful. Despite generally poor to flat conditions, participation was the highest since 2012, the last year the January contest enjoyed widespread sporadic E. The increased participation came from users of the FT8 mode and from SOTA participants who doubled the number of SOP category entrants."

The results of the SPDX contest are now posted. Certificates for participants, and public UBN are available at the website. (Matt, SQ7D)

OPERATING TIP

Use WWV to Detect Band Openings

This one was suggested by a post by Wayne, N6KR, on the Elecraft mailing list: Listen for WWV on 25 MHz to suggest if the 15 meter band is open to your location. A very strong WWV presence could also suggest that 10 meters is open. Note that this works if WWV is not within ground wave distance to you.

TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Club Log QSO statistics on a per-mode basis is being made available on the Club Log website. QSO data are broken out daily, but updated on the Club Log website monthly, starting with QSOs that occurred in 1990. If you're hankering to see how many of what types of QSOs are being uploaded to their site, you'll want this data. The blog discussion includes other tidbits on how the data might be used, and caveats about using recent data.

Joel, W5ZN, presented "A Five-Element Parasitic Rotatable Vertical Yagi for 160 meters" at the Hamvention Antenna Forum.

The Analog Devices AD9361 is a complex SDR transceiver on a chip, capable of operation from 47 MHz to 6 GHz. Typically used in cellular telephone base stations, it's capable of many different types of modulation schemes. It's been literally put under a microscope to examine how the device has been realized in silicon.

How and why do dielectric materials break down? Some reasons may involve "nano defects" in the materials (Tom, WA9YI)

Electronic parts are specified to operate within certain temperature ranges, but usually the top-end is about 125 degrees Celsius. The University of Arkansas and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology of Sweden are working on building a radio that can be used at 500 degrees Celsius.

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CONVERSATION

Making Your Own Propagation

The announcement to the Pacific Northwest VHF Society's email reflector started out with this post from Ray, W7GLF:

"We are forming a special interest group for individuals who have an interest in exploring Microwave operations without spending a lot of money for a commercial transverter. The idea is to get together to build and troubleshoot inexpensive transverters for the bands 903 MHz up to 10 GHz based on Paul Wade's (W1GHZ) "Multiband Microwave Transverters for the Rover." More information on his designs can be read here.

No previous experience is necessary. We plan to get together to build the transverters and then to go out and actually use them. We plan start out with 903 and/or 1296 (the transverters are pretty much identical) and those bands have a good bit of activity during the contests. If you already have those bands but are interested working on another band that would be a possibility as well.

We will have soldering stations available and well as an introduction to working with SMD parts - it's really not as scary as it looks. There will be expertise to answer questions and equipment to perform the necessary alignment once the kit is assembled... The intent is to foster learning and have a good time while doing it. If you are interested in participating, watching or just being kept up to date with our progress please send a reply directly to me at w7glf at arrl dot net and I will make sure you are added to our mailing list."


What better way to find more people to work in a contest, especially UHF and above, than helping them get on the air! I asked Ray what was the catalyst for getting this project going, and how the response has been:

"This idea was the result of a number of unrelated occurrences happening close in time. I had a friend Dale, KD7UO, who was interested in learning about and getting on Microwave so he ordered and was building the W1GHZ 903, 1296, 2304 and 10 GHz transverters. My friend Mike, KD7TS, and I have been active on Microwave for a number of years so we were helping Dale with technical questions and test gear. At the same time another friend John, W7FU, had built an SDR Microwave transverter and was interested in getting a group together to test the gear. Finally a ham Frank, AG6QV, from the SBMS (San Bernardino Microwave Society) was moving into the area and posted an inquiry on our local PNWVHFS reflector asking about 10 GHz activity in the area. We all decided to get together and discuss what we could do to try to get more interest and Dale suggested a group build.

So far we are not requiring any investment from individuals who are simply interested in learning about what it takes to build their own transverter however we are trying to interest as many as possible to try building their own transverter. Since Dale has already built 903, 1296, 2304 and 10 GHz he has compiled parts lists that can be used to order the parts. If enough individuals are interested we can get price breaks if we combine are orders.

We already have members who have resources such as soldering stations, counters, power meters, spectrum analyzers who are willing to bring them to the build sessions. I bought some boards from Paul Wade at the Microwave conference last year and built the W1GHZ 10368 and the multiplier boards just for the fun of it. Now I have some experience with the W1GHZ kits as well.

So far I have had 28 responses from the posting. Probably 15 are in the local area -- others just want to be part of the group even if the cannot directly join us for the build session. If they want to tackle the build themselves we are definitely going to be available to support their questions. The real question now is how many will actually order the parts and join the build session.

I am hoping this will become a social experience as well as a building experience. Our next step is to set up a reflector for this group -- we do have a volunteer for that. When we do that we will post the URL on the PNWVHFS reflector as well as I will send it directly to those on the address list I am building."

Ray and the others are helping to build and enable the community of Amateurs that are engaged and active on UHF bands, and potentially indirectly increasing their own contest scores by increasing the number of potential stations to work!

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 contest-update@arrl.org

73, Brian N9ADG

CONTESTS

31 May - 13 Jun 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.

HF CONTESTS

CWops Mini-CWT Test, May 30, 1300z to May 30, 1400z, May 30, 1900z to May 30, 2000z, May 31, 0300z to May 31, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: June 2.

PVRC Reunion, Jun 1, 0000z to Jun 1, 0400z (CW), Jun 2, 0000z to Jun 2, 0400z (SSB); CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; PVRC Member: 1st year of membership + name + (state/province/country) + call sign when joined PVRC, non-Member: name + (state/province/country); Logs due: June 16.

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

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

10-10 Int. Open Season PSK Contest, Jun 2, 0000z to Jun 4, 0000z; PSK31; Bands: 10 meters only; Name + (state/province/country) + organization membership numbers; Logs due: June 11.

DigiFest, Jun 2, 0400z to Jun 2, 1200z, Jun 2, 2000z to Jun 3, 0400z, Jun 3, 1200z to Jun 3, 2000z; RTTY75, BPSK63, MFSK16, HELLSCHREIBER, OLIVIA; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; RST + 4-character grid square; Logs due: June 10.

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

SEANET Contest, Jun 2, 1200z to Jun 3, 1200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: July 3.

Kentucky QSO Party, Jun 2, 1400z to Jun 3, 0200z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2 meters; KY: RS(T) + county, non-KY: RS(T) + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: June 23.

IARU Region 1 Field Day, CW, Jun 2, 1500z to Jun 3, 1459z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: June 18.

RSGB National Field Day, Jun 2, 1500z to Jun 3, 1500z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: June 8.

Dutch Kingdom Contest, Jun 2, 1500z to Jun 3, 1500z; CW, SSB; Bands: 40, 20, 15, 10, 6 meters; RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: June 10.

RSGB 80m Club Championship, Data, Jun 4, 1900z to Jun 4, 2030z; RTTY, PSK; Bands: 80 meters only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: June 5.

ARS Spartan Sprint, Jun 5, 0100z to Jun 5, 0300z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: June 7.

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

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

NRAU 10m Activity Contest, Jun 7, 1700z to Jun 7, 1800z (CW), Jun 7, 1800z to Jun 7, 1900z (SSB), Jun 7, 1900z to Jun 7, 2000z (FM), Jun 7, 2000z to Jun 7, 2100z (Dig); CW, SSB, FM, Digital; Bands: 10 meters only; RS(T) + 6-character grid square; Logs due: June 21.

SKCC Sprint Europe, Jun 7, 1900z to Jun 7, 2100z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: June 14.

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

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

HA3NS Sprint Memorial Contest, Jun 8, 1900z to Jun 8, 1929z (40m), Jun 8, 1930z to Jun 8, 1959z (80 meters); CW; Bands: 80, 40 meters; HACWG Members: RST + Membership No., non-Members: RST + NM; Logs due: June 23.

DRCG WW RTTY Contest, Jun 9, 0000z to Jun 9, 0759z, Jun 9, 1600z to Jun 9, 2359z, Jun 10, 0800z to Jun 10, 1559z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; RST + CQ Zone; Logs due: June 17.

VK Shires Contest, Jun 9, 0600z to Jun 10, 0600z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; VK: RS(T) + Shire, non-VK: RS(T) + CQ Zone; Logs due: July 1.

Asia-Pacific Sprint, SSB, Jun 9, 1100z to Jun 9, 1300z; SSB; Bands: 20, 15 meters; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: June 16.

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

Portugal Day Contest, Jun 9, 1200z to Jun 10, 1200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; CT: RS(T) + District, non-CT: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: September 1.

GACW WWSA CW DX Contest, Jun 9, 1500z to Jun 10, 1500z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10 meters; RST + CQ Zone No.; Logs due: July 30.

Cookie Crumble QRP Contest, Jun 10, 1700z to Jun 10, 2200z; All; Bands: All, except WARC; RS(T) + (state/province/country) + cookie no. + name; Logs due: July 31.

4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint, Jun 11, 0000z to Jun 11, 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: June 13.

NAQCC CW Sprint, Jun 13, 0030z to Jun 13, 0230z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20 meters; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: June 16.

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

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

RSGB 80m Club Championship, CW, Jun 13, 1900z to Jun 13, 2030z; CW; Bands: 80 meters only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: June 14.

VHF+ CONTESTS

UKSMG Summer Contest, Jun 2, 1300z to Jun 3, 1300z; not specified; Bands: 6 meters only; RST + Serial No. + 6-character grid square + (optional UKSMG member no.); Logs due: July 1.

REF DDFM 6m Contest, Jun 9, 1600z to Jun 10, 1600z; CW, SSB, FM; Bands: 6 meters only; RS(T) + Serial No. + 4-character grid square; Logs due: June 18.

ARRL June VHF Contest, Jun 9, 1800z to Jun 11, 0259z; All; Bands: 50 MHz and up; 4-character grid square; Logs due: June 21.

Also, see Kentucky QSO Party, Dutch Kingdom Contest, SKCC Weekend Sprintathon

LOG DUE DATES

31 May - 13 Jun 2018

May 31, 2018

June 1, 2018

June 2, 2018

June 3, 2018

June 4, 2018

June 5, 2018

June 7, 2018

June 8, 2018

June 9, 2018

June 10, 2018

June 11, 2018

June 13, 2018

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

ARRL Contest Update wishes to acknowledge information from WA7BNM's Contest Calendar and SM3CER's Contest Calendar.

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