Register Account

Login Help

Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
July 25, 2018
Editor: Paul Bourque, N1SFE

Antennas are a lot easier to work on during the summer when it's not raining or snowing. Now there's a new plant hazard to look out for in some states when working on Beverages and other ground-based antennas: Giant Hogweed.

This upcoming weekend is relatively quiet, from the major contest perspective. The RSGB IOTA Contest is popular, and some of the rarer islands could be a challenge if they are activated using low power and non-directional antennas. If you hear participants in the YARC (Young Amateurs Radio Club) QSO Party, give them your QTH and license year for an exhange, like Sweepstakes. Only stations that are operated by Amateurs under 30 years old may claim points in this contest.

The weekend of August 4 features the NAQP (North American QSO Party) CW Contest. With 100 W maximum output for all entrants, conditions and antennas will be of paramount importance.

If you have the desire to participate in serious multioperator efforts during this fall's contest season, now might be a good time to network with some teams to learn about those opportunities.


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

July 26

July 27

July 28

July 29

August 1

August 2

August 3

August 4

August 5

August 7

August 8


Downloadable contest award certificates in PDF and JPEG formats are now are available for some recent ARRL contests on the ARRL website, and more will be available in the future. Just type in your call sign and press Go. The website will even show certificates for the station call of multioperator efforts where the typed call sign was submitted as one of the operators. As of this publication, the following contests support certificate download:

  • 2017 ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest
  • 2017 IARU HF Championship
  • 2017 ARRL 222 MHz and Up Distance Contest
  • 2017 ARRL September VHF Contest
  • 2017 November Sweepstakes
  • 2017 ARRL 10 Meter Contest
  • 2017 160 Meter Contest
  • 2018 RTTY Roundup
  • 2018 January VHF Contest

According to Bart, W9JJ, ARRL Contest Branch Manager, "The new online certificates will offer enhanced content over what has been previously available on ARRL certificates. New recognitions have been added for Top 10 participants in a broader number of geographical (country, Division, Section) or categorical entries."

The ARRL 222 MHz and Up Contest is coming soon, and K0NR's SOTA (Summits on the Air) operating advice could come in handy. Perhaps the most important for 222 MHz and up neophytes: "The challenge with VHF and higher is that the radio range is limited compared with HF. VHF propagation will vary depending on a lot of factors, but for SOTA activations our range is typically 50 to 100 miles... you may want to stay close to a metropolitan area." For additional hints, you might look at past years' ARRL 222 MHz and Up contest results articles on the ARRL website, or individual after-contest reports in past year's July or August newsletters from various contest clubs, for example the Mt. Airy VHF Radio Club. The Mt. Airy VHF Radio Club Packrats have been in existence since 1956.

The July 19 issue of The ARRL Letter covered the 18th USA National Championships of Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) that recently concluded in California. Some of those participants are looking to win a berth on the US national team for the upcoming 19th ARDF World Championships taking place in Korea in early September. ARDF combines Amateur Radio Frequency transmitter location finding with orienteering. Since only receiving is involved, competitors don't need an Amateur Radio license to participate.

WRTC 2018 is a wrap! The participating teams had to place well in multiple contests in the 2 years preceding the event to qualify to compete; by definition, they all went into this last event as winners. The top-ten box is detailed in the Results and Records section below. WRTC 2018 highlights and awards ceremony videos are available on the WRTC 2018 website, with English subtitles provided for the some of the interviews conducted in German.

A mapped view of the locations of all of the WRTC 2018 competitor stations can be found here.

The WRTC Committee asks that paper QSL cards for the Y8* stations to NOT be sent through the bureau at this time. There will be an announcement forthcoming about how to request QSL cards for contacts with WRTC 2018 Y8* calls electronically. (David, K3ZJ)

The WRTC Sanctioning Committee has announced that WRTC 2022 will be organized by the Italian Host Committee. See the Conversation section, below, for more information.

Joe, OZ0J, has a call history file for the upcoming IOTA contest ready for download. According to Joe, it's a "copy from the call history file I got from Claude, VE2FK... so far I have only updated a few Danish call signs." Joe asks that you send him updates.

DX Engineering announces the RXSHARE audio switch, which allows two channels of audio from one or two radios to be split between two operators. According to DX Engineering, each operator uses a three-position switch to select "one, the other, or both channels of audio." This device requires no dc power, and audio levels are controlled by transceiver AF controls. For more information, see the DX Engineering website.

Remember: use VHF Contest mode and exchange grid squares when using WSJT-X and FT8 in most contests occurring at VHF and above. Signal reports are not usually required, so don't send them. As always, check the rules for a particular contest to be sure.

Icom 7610 users, hold off on the latest firmware upgrade. If you use the radio's ability to provide spectrum display to a computer via the USB interface, stick with version 1.06 of the firmware. According to many reports, an incompatibility has been introduced in version 1.10 that affects operation with many types of software that use the spectrum display feature. It may be best to wait for a version after version 1.10. (via CQ-Contest)

Bob, N6TV, announces the release of the "Serial Box" (S-BOX), which is a "configurable, passive nine-pin serial port Y-splitter and amplifier interface box." According to Bob, it can provide automatic frequency tracking and band change information from a nine-pin serial connector on a modern transceiver to compatible amplifiers made by Elecraft, ACOM, or SPE. The unit also features four configurable PTT outputs. Bob has made information, schematics, and photos available online.

Here's a recent article from IEEE Spectrum on a company attempting to beat the competition in financial trading using HF frequencies instead of conventional terrestrial or satellite means of communication. Bloomberg picked up on it, too. This whole thing started when an observant network engineer in Chicago noticed a large HF antenna on a tower near a telecom building, which he tracked to a company that is purportedly using it to transmit financial information to/from Europe via HF. Since the IEEE article was published, the engineer has discovered even more about "Shortwave Trading" and has uncovered more mystery gear. (Dennis, N6KI)


Receiver Desensing

Desensing is the overloading of receivers by very strong signals on frequencies near to the desired receiving frequencies, limiting or preventing reception on the desired frequency. This can be an acute problem when a receiver is used close to broadcast television, AM/FM, or commercial transmitters, as might be the case during roving operations from hills or summits. Usually, the stronger the field strength of the interfering signal, the farther away the interfering signal can be in frequency and still have an effect.


Ham Radio Workbench has posted a podcast on the design of their 4 Port Coax Relay project. A completed unit was on display at their booth during Hamvention. The over-two-hour podcast discusses the tradeoffs in the various portions of the design that might be useful when designing your own projects.

Randy, K5ZD: "I am not a great photographer, but I took a lot of pictures at WRTC 2018. Feel free to look through them and remember the experience."

Achtung! WRTC 2018 highlights video on YouTube.


In the WRTC 2018 event, the top-ten box of winning teams was dominated by Europeans:























































Core Strength

A lack of core strength can cause your body to want to slouch at the operating position. Slouching at the operating position is bad for your back, shoulders, and neck, and causes pain. Pain can hinder your operating enjoyment and limit your operating time. Too much pain, and your body will start to compensate by trying to use other muscles to sit in other bad positions -- which can cause other parts of your body to have pain. Avoid entering this vicious cycle by keeping your core strong. While there are plenty of how-to's for core strengthening, none of the good ones are performed while sitting in a chair.


The sun has more than just the 11-year cycle for sunspots. According to a short article by Scientific American, other cycles of length 88, 200, and 2400 years have been noted. The 11-year cycle that we're most attuned to is called the Schwabe cycle, discovered in 1843 by German astronomer Samuel Schwabe. The longer-duration solar cycles were discovered from isotope information recovered from cores drilled from ice built up over the last 9,000 years.

Triangulating arbitrary HF signals is just a few website clicks away. Using a new feature of the global crowdsourced network of Kiwi-SDR receivers, multiple receiving sites can be chosen. Receiver IQ data is collected and analyzed, and a map of potential transmitter locations can be displayed. The Time Difference of Arrival method does a very reasonable job when there are multiple receiving stations, and all can hear a ground wave from the transmitter. (Brian, K7ON, via QRP-L list)

Embarcadero has announced the free community edition of their C++ Builder toolset, for most hobby scenarios. Some Amateur Radio Software, for example the EXTFSK RTTY library, are dependent on long-obsolete versions of Borland's C++ Builder, which is an ancestor of the Embarcadero product. With the new availability of these tools for hobbyist use, Builder-dependent packages can be now be maintained and enhanced by a broader population of Amateur experimenters.


Notes from Germany -- WRTC 2018

Ward, N0AX, traveled to Germany with his wife Ellen for the WRTC 2018 event. Ward, who is on the WRTC Sanctioning Committee, was also a judge for the event. He had to be right there in the tent with a team for the entire 24 hours of the contest. Here are his thoughts after the event:

The things I will take home from WRTC 2018 in Wittenberg, Germany, are personal: warm greetings, deep discussions, raucous laughter, intense competition, and sincere congratulations. This is what WRTC is truly about. We could get into a big analysis of technique and equipment and strategy. At some point, each of those rates a full discussion. For now, the afterglow of sharing the event with everyone is what dominates my thoughts.

Even toward the end of the contest, Robert S57AW (left) and Tine S50A (right) kept focused right through to the closing bell at 2 PM [Ward, N0AX, photo]

The organizing committee, led by Christian, DL1MGB, and Michael, DL6MHW, did an awesome job in putting on this biggest WRTC yet. Sixty-three teams, spread out across the farmland southeast of Wittenberg, all got an equal opportunity to make a run at the top spot. The hundreds of volunteers were truly awesome with many of them camped out at the operating sites for days to be sure the antennas were in order and that everything was ready for the competitors. Once the competitors were onsite, no job was too big or small for them to handle -- from food to troubleshooting noise problems. WRTC can't work without volunteers and that includes all of the main committee members, too -- good job!

You may have seen photos of the happy Lithuanian team holding their first place trophies -- they bested a very strong field with more than 5,000 QSOs. All this from a 30-foot tower with a two-element Yagi and a pair of inverted Vs. It's hard to beat that kind of performance, emphasizing just how good all of the front-running WRTC team operators really are. One of the leading WRTC contenders asked, "Y81N -- who are those guys? They were everywhere!" Congratulations to Lithuania's first WRTC winners!

The teams all worked hard through the night with good rates on 40 and 80. Excellent work for using the low inverted Vs on those bands. [Ward, N0AX, photo]

Conditions on the HF bands turned out to be quite good for a low-flux, mid-summer contest. There really were no dead periods, including the sleep-inducing wee hours. The low bands kept pumping out QSOs all night long. How the committee arranged this, along with having the rainstorms pass over us on Thursday so we didn't have any local QRN, remains a mystery -- but please tell the next organizers!

Speaking of the next WRTC, it was announced during the Closing Ceremony that the WRTC 2022 event has been awarded to an Italian group and will be held in the city of Bologna. Not only that, the WRTC HQ will be Marconi's house! We look forward to the complete set of qualification and operating rules for this biggest on-the-air competition in ham radio. On your marks, get set, go -- and we'll see who are the Team Leaders in 4 years.

A technical innovation, the SCC (Score Collecting Computer) connected to the operator's network and reported the score on the WRTC network at the HQ Hotel. [Ward, N0AX, photo]

But back to those personal elements. Ellen and I stayed in Wittenberg for an extra day to have a little time before heading home. The hotel was so quiet and peaceful. In the town we were once again anonymous in the flow of residents and the regular tourist numbers -- no groups of hams wearing their WRTC T-shirts were seen. It is always this way -- after the intense experiences of a WRTC, we disperse again to the ends of the world. We think, "What just happened?" and the whole event becomes slightly unreal in our memory -- or maybe it is that our world has become a little different as a result and we are adjusting. At any rate, it is like a dream -- did it really happen? Yes, it really did! We'll remember it forever, like the other WRTCs.

All contesters, whether they were at WRTC 2018 or not, can carry that WRTC spirit along -- fellowship, fair play, friends for life, all competing -- as it should be. That doesn't have to end after leaving Wittenburg. Keep the flame alive and share it with others so that WRTC 2022 once again presents the best of the best. That really is what it's all about.

73, Ward N0AX

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


26 Jul - 8 Aug 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, Jul 25, 1300z to Jul 25, 1400z, Jul 25, 1900z to Jul 25, 2000z, Jul 26, 0300z to Jul 26, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: July 28.

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

QRP Fox Hunt, Jul 27, 0100z to Jul 27, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: July 28.

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

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

RSGB IOTA Contest, Jul 28, 1200z to Jul 29, 1200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS(T) + Serial No. + IOTA No.(if applicable); Logs due: August 3.

YARC Summer QSO Party, Jul 28, 1600z to Jul 28, 2159z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2, 222, 432, Internet; (state/province/"DX") + 4-digit year licensed; Logs due: August 12.

ARS Flight of the Bumblebees, Jul 29, 1700z to Jul 29, 2100z; CW; Bands: 40, 20, 15, 10m; Home: RST + (state/province/country) + Power, Bumblebee: RST + (state/province/country) + Bumblebee no.; Logs due: August 12.

Phone Fray, Aug 1, 0230z to Aug 1, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: July 27.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Aug 1, 1300z to Aug 1, 1400z, Aug 1, 1900z to Aug 1, 2000z, Aug 2, 0300z to Aug 2, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: July 28.

NRAU 10m Activity Contest, Aug 2, 1700z to Aug 2, 1800z (CW), Aug 2, 1800z to Aug 2, 1900z (SSB), Aug 2, 1900z to Aug 2, 2000z (FM), Aug 2, 2000z to Aug 2, 2100z (Dig); CW, SSB, FM, Digital; Bands: 10m Only; RS(T) + 6-character grid square; Logs due: August 16.

SKCC Sprint Europe, Aug 2, 1900z to Aug 2, 2100z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: August 9.

QRP Fox Hunt, Aug 3, 0100z to Aug 3, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: July 28.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Aug 3, 0145z to Aug 3, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: July 29.

NCCC Sprint, Aug 3, 0230z to Aug 3, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: July 29.

10-10 Int. Summer Contest, SSB, Aug 4, 0001z to Aug 5, 2359z; SSB; Bands: 10m Only; 10-10 Member: Name + 10-10 number + (state/province/country), Non-Member: Name + 0 + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 13.

European HF Championship, Aug 4, 1200z to Aug 4, 2359z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS(T) + 2-digit year first licensed; Logs due: August 6.

North American QSO Party, CW, Aug 4, 1800z to Aug 5, 0559z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; NA: Name + (state/DC/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: August 10.

SARL HF Phone Contest, Aug 5, 1400z to Aug 5, 1700z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: August 12.

ARS Spartan Sprint, Aug 7, 0100z to Aug 7, 0300z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: August 9.

Phone Fray, Aug 8, 0230z to Aug 8, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: July 27.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Aug 8, 1300z to Aug 8, 1400z, Aug 8, 1900z to Aug 8, 2000z, Aug 9, 0300z to Aug 9, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: July 28.


WAB 144 MHz Low Power Phone, Aug 4, 1400z to Aug 4, 1800z; Phone; Bands: 2m Only; British Isles: RS + serial no. + WAB square, Other: RS + serial no. + country; Logs due: August 25.

ARRL 222 MHz and Up Distance Contest, Aug 4, 1800z to Aug 5, 1800z; Any; Bands: 222 MHz and up; 6-character grid square; Logs due: August 19.

Also see YARC Summer QSO Party, above


26 Jul - 8 Aug 2018

July 27, 2018

July 28, 2018

July 29, 2018

July 30, 2018

July 31, 2018

August 3, 2018

August 6, 2018

ARRL Information

Click here to advertise in this newsletter, space subject to availability.

Your One-Stop Resource for Amateur Radio News and Information

Join or Renew Today!

ARRL membership includes QST, Amateur Radio's most popular and informative journal, delivered to your mailbox each month.

Subscribe to NCJ - the National Contest Journal. Published bimonthly, features articles by top contesters, letters, hints, statistics, scores, NA Sprint and QSO parties.

Subscribe to QEX - A Forum for Communications Experimenters. Published bimonthly, features technical articles, construction projects, columns and other items of interest to radio amateurs and communications professionals.

Free of charge to ARRL members: Subscribe to The ARRL Letter (weekly digest of news and information), the ARES E-Letter (monthly public service and emergency communications news), Division and Section news -- and much more!

ARRL offers a wide array of products to enhance your enjoyment of Amateur Radio. Visit the site often for new publications, specials and sales.

Donate to the fund of your choice -- support programs not funded by member dues!

Reprint permission can be obtained by sending email to with a description of the material and the reprint publication.


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




Donate Now


Instragram     Facebook     Twitter     YouTube     LinkedIn