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The ARRL Contest Update
June 27, 2018
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
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IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

It's the time of the year for sporadic E propagation to occur, and while most associate it with 6 meters and above, don't forget that 10 meters also benefits. Just in time for the upcoming 10-10 International Spirit of 76 Event, and NRAU 10 meter activity contest.

July 1 features the RAC Canada Day Contest for CW and Phone contacts on the HF contest bands plus 6 and 2 meters. Multipliers include the 10 provinces and 3 territories, and QSO points are doubled for contacts with special Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) stations.

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

28 Jun - 11 Jul 2018

June 28

June 29

June 30

July 1

July 2

July 3

July 4

July 5

July 6

July 7

July 9

July 11

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NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

Bart, W9JJ, Contest Branch Manager, posted the following to a number of contest-related email reflectors:

"We have reviewed the ARRL VHF Contest Rules, and with input from several helpful participants we have also revisited ARRL Board action history.

In January 2015, in conjunction with the announcement of the expansion of spotting assistance and added categories in the all ARRL VHF Contests, the ARRL Board approved several changes including to "...allow single operators to transmit on more than one band at a time."

This was published in ARRL News 21 January 2015 at http://www.arrl.org/news/arrl-board-okays-changes-to-dxcc-program-vhf-and-above-contesting-rules

This action was intended to apply to all ARRL VHF/UHF Contests above 50 MHz.

Accordingly, the online rules for the January, June and September VHF Contests, as well as the "222 MHz and Above Distance Contest" have now been adjusted to conform to this policy.

Earlier, the January, June and September Contest Rules on line "sort of" said this in the miscellaneous rules at the bottom, but did not clearly state this in the section 3 rules which were specific to Single Operator stations.

These adjustments will now clearly bring the VHF Contest Rules into harmony - permitting single operators to transmit on more than one band at the same time.

As promised, N6TV and OZ0J have made the 2018 IARU HQ station prefill files available via their website. The file itu.zip contains files compatible with N1MM+, Writelog, Win-Test, and DXLog.net. Also inside the zip file is Readme.txt with detailed installation and testing instructions. The zip archive will be updated as necessary until the contest start. Questions go to Bob, N6TV, and call sign or headquarter updates to contest@oz0j.dk. (Bob, N6TV)

DX Engineering is pleased to announce it now carries K7NV's Mast Clamps for rotators. These are bolt-on upgrades to stock M2 OR-2800 or Yaesu DXA series rotator mast clamps and can improve the mast connection to the rotator. With larger antennas or arrays, this helps prevent masts from slipping.

The Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) network will soon start handling FT8 spots. Some RBN nodes are already testing upgraded software with actual spots to make sure the increased load can be handled. According to a message by Pete, N4ZR, on two typical days at the end of May, FT8 spots accounted for over 85% of all spots received at one of the testing locations. The CW and RTTY spots will continue to be available on available on port 7000, while FT8 spots will be available on port 7001, using the standard TELNET protocol. For those RBN nodes that want to provide FT8 spots, a new version of the aggregator software will be required. According to Pete, "We will closely monitor how the RBN servers handle this new load, as more and more nodes begin sending FT8 spots. We also reserve the right to take steps as necessary to protect the core mission of the RBN, including shutting off the FT8 stream on major CW and RTTY contest weekends or, in an extreme case, discontinuing spotting of FT8 altogether. Even in a worst case scenario, FT8 spots will continue to be carried by PSKReporter."

The Nittany Amateur Radio Club has been the sponsor of the Pennsylvania QSO Party for the past 52 years, and Mike, N3LI, its Chairman for the past 13 years. In 2018, the event will transition to the PA QSO Party Association (PA QSO PA) to continue the tradition of "The Friendliest QSO Party." "The PA QSO Party Association is made up of participants of the Party who have a vision to carry the Party into the future and we are grateful to have been selected as the organization to which the torch is being passed." The event will continue to occur each year on the second full weekend in October, with the same start and end times. Additional information will be available on the PA QSO PA website as the event nears.

Did the operators of your last multi-multi leave unsightly white rings on your wooden operating desk from their beverage cans? Now you can protect against that potential damage and find a good use for all of those small bits of cable you've accumulated through the years. Sliced Cable Resin Coasters are easy to make, and are sure to become a treasured addition to your shack. (Ward, N0AX)

WORD TO THE WISE

Birdies

Birdies are unwanted RF or AF signals generated by or within equipment or receiving systems. Switching power supplies, computer CPU clocks, Ethernet cables, and poorly shielded internal oscillators are among the common birdy generators.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Brian, N7RVD is using the falling derrick method of raising a ladder tower for a 2018 ARRL Field Day camp in EWA. In the background is Rob, N7QT. [ Justin, K5EM, Photo ]

With WRTC2018 occurring in just two weeks, Dave, K3ZJ, reminds that the promotional video for the first WRTC event held in Seattle, Washington in 1990 is available on YouTube. "The movie captures the international goodwill, optimism, and energy of the early 1990's." Younger versions of some of today's contesters can be seen in this video. (Dave, K3ZJ, via CQ-Contest)

Snow isn't something you expect during a June VHF Contest operation, however W4DVE's operation on the top of South Fork Mountain at 4800 feet provided a number of weather challenges.

A radome cover can sure keep out snow and ice, but also can keep in ...acorns. (VE7LAD via PNWVHFS reflector)

Mike, W8LID, found the Lock Jaw product at Home Depot to be handy to hold lightweight antennas when combined with a portable mast. He used it with a VHF/UHF satellite antenna. (via Twitter)

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RESULTS AND RECORDS

The full results article and accuracy index tables for the 2018 ARRL International DX Contest (CW) have been posted on the ARRL contest results website. Of note: first and second places in the W/VE Single Operator High Power categories were won by operators helming remote stations. Charlie, K1XX, results article author, explains what the accuracy index is, and provides analysis of stations with the best numbers.

OPERATING TIP

Operate in the Days Before the Contest

Try to be active on the bands in the days before a contest to better understand band conditions, noise and signal levels, and equipment operation. Remember that you can utilize resources like the Reverse Beacon Network to verify band status if you don't hear any signals.

TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Knowing more about HF radio wave propagation can make for better contest operating strategy. The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) has a free course (registration required) "Radio Wave Propagation" to provide a solid basis of understanding of how radio waves are propagated through the ionosphere, and how solar events affect propagation. Propagation at higher frequencies is the focus of the "Introduction to Electromagnetic and Electro-Optic Propagation" course also offered by UCAR. (Bill, AE0EE)

A couple of ways to reduce birdies you may be hearing from your computer's networking gear include using common mode chokes on all of the networking cables, and switching to higher-speed networking gear such as gigabit Ethernet to move some of the frequencies out of the HF bands. Sometimes changing the location and orientation of network cables also can help.

Bob, N6TV, writes:

"Rob Sherwood, NC0B, has measured the receive latency of several popular transceivers, including the IC-7300, IC-7851, IC-781, IC-756 Pro III, TS-990S, ADT-200A, ANAN-200D, Flex 6700, Flex 6600M, Apache ANAN-7000DLE and IC-7610. The results are published as a PDF file. The receive latency is displayed in the upper right corner of the scope traces.

Why does latency matter? It affects QSK performance and contest exchange timing, especially on CW and FT8. A long thread on this subject may be found in the IC-7610 discussion group, here (Groups.IO sign-on and group membership required)."

Codec2, an open source project by David Rowe, VK5DGR, is the focus of a blog post comparing and contrasting low bit-rate audio CODECs. Using samples provided on the website, comparisons of different encoding bitrates are presented. Another researcher has used Codec2 bitstreams and a machine-learning based decoder to get quality that appears to rival bitrates that are nearly four times higher.

Think of it as a cache for ... power. A company is proposing to combine carbon based ultra-capacitors with lithium batteries, to realize the advantages of both. A capacitor's faster charge and discharge rates can smooth over bursty energy demands. (Dennis, N6KI)

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CONVERSATION

QSB

We're reminded ever more frequently of our own mortality with the absence of familiar calls on the bands, or faces present at our meetings. The sudden loss of a person recently encountered shows that fate is fickle. But let's not forget that some fade more gradually, and while they may not be attending the club meetings, or are not on the air, effective communication may still be possible with a phone call or personal visit. Say hello before you end up saying goodbye.

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

28 Jun - 11 Jul 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, Jun 27, 1300z to Jun 27, 1400z, Jun 27, 1900z to Jun 27, 2000z, Jun 28, 0300z to Jun 28, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: June 30.

RSGB 80m Club Championship, SSB, Jun 28, 1900z to Jun 28, 2030z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: June 29.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Jun 29, 0145z to Jun 29, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: July 1.

NCCC Sprint, Jun 29, 0230z to Jun 29, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: July 1.

Battle of Carabobo International Contest, Jun 30, 0000z to Jul 1, 0000z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 40, 20, 15, 10m; YV: RS(T) + state, Non-YV: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: July 31.

Feld Hell Sprint, Jun 30, 0000z to Jun 30, 2359z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; (see rules); Logs due: July 4.

RAC Canada Day Contest, Jul 1, 0000z to Jul 1, 2359z; CW, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; VE: RS(T) + province/territory, non-VE: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: July 31.

10-10 Int. Spirit of 76 QSO Party, Jul 2, 0001z to Jul 9, 0000z; CW, SSB, PSK31, RTTY, FM, AM; Bands: 10m Only; 10-10 Member: Name + 10-10 number + (state/province/country), Non-Member: Name + 0 + (state/province/country); Logs due: July 16.

IQRP Quarterly Marathon, Jul 2, 0800z to Jul 8, 2000z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: All; RS(T); Logs due: July 22.

RSGB 80m Club Championship, CW, Jul 2, 1900z to Jul 2, 2030z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: July 3.

ARS Spartan Sprint, Jul 3, 0100z to Jul 3, 0300z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: July 5.

Phone Fray, Jul 4, 0230z to Jul 4, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: June 29.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Jul 4, 1300z to Jul 4, 1400z, Jul 4, 1900z to Jul 4, 2000z, Jul 5, 0300z to Jul 5, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: June 30.

NRAU 10m Activity Contest, Jul 5, 1700z to Jul 5, 1800z (CW), Jul 5, 1800z to Jul 5, 1900z (SSB), Jul 5, 1900z to Jul 5, 2000z (FM), Jul 5, 2000z to Jul 5, 2100z (Dig); CW, SSB, FM, Digital; Bands: 10m Only; RS(T) + 6-character grid square; Logs due: July 19.

SKCC Sprint Europe, Jul 5, 1900z to Jul 5, 2100z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: July 12.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Jul 6, 0145z to Jul 6, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: July 8.

NCCC Sprint, Jul 6, 0230z to Jul 6, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: July 8.

FISTS Summer Slow Speed Sprint, Jul 7, 0000z to Jul 7, 0400z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + first name + FISTS No., non-FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + first name + power; Logs due: August 6.

Venezuelan Ind. Day Contest, Jul 7, 0000z to Jul 7, 2359z; CW, SSB, PSK; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: July 22.

DL-DX RTTY Contest, Jul 7, 1100z to Jul 8, 1059z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + QSO No.; Logs due: July 15.

SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, Jul 7, 1200z to Jul 9, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./"NONE"); Logs due: July 15.

Marconi Memorial HF Contest, Jul 7, 1400z to Jul 8, 1400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: July 22.

Original QRP Contest, Jul 7, 1500z to Jul 8, 1500z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + Serial No. + "/" + Power category; Logs due: July 31.

PODXS 070 Club 40m Firecracker Sprint, Jul 7, 2000z to Jul 8, 2000z; PSK31; Bands: 40m Only; RST + (state/province/country); Logs due: July 15.

4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint, Jul 9, 0000z to Jul 9, 0200z; 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: July 11.

Phone Fray, Jul 11, 0230z to Jul 11, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: June 29.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Jul 11, 1300z to Jul 11, 1400z, Jul 11, 1900z to Jul 11, 2000z, Jul 12, 0300z to Jul 12, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: June 30.

RSGB 80m Club Championship, SSB, Jul 11, 1900z to Jul 11, 2030z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: June 29.

VHF+ CONTESTS

See RAC Canada Day Contest, Feld Hell Sprint, SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, above.

LOG DUE DATES

28 Jun - 11 Jul 2018

June 29, 2018

June 30, 2018

July 1, 2018

July 2, 2018

July 3, 2018

July 4, 2018

July 5, 2018

July 8, 2018

July 9, 2018

July 11, 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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