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The ARRL Contest Update
August 8, 2018
Editor: Paul Bourque, N1SFE

One way to improve operating skills in general, polish mode-specific skills, make new radio acquaintances, and have fun, is to participate in a weekly or monthly contesting event. The weekly Phone Fray can hone your SSB operating. For CW, there are a number of weekly or monthly events put on by the CW Ops, the Northern California Contest Club (NCCC), Straight Key Century Club, the QRP Fox Hunt group, and the North American QRP CW Club.

An event that accumulates a score over a number of consecutive weeks with multiple events is a good 'excuse' to operate more. The NCCC's 28th National Sprint Ladder contest starting August 10 consists of eight weekly sessions of thirty minutes using the Sprint format - see the rules. Bands include 160 meters through 15 meters, 100 watts maximum, with a QSY requirement. No spotting assistance is permitted. Only your top five scores count toward the NSL's final award. All of these events take place on Thursday evenings, so you won't miss weekend contests!


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

9 Aug - 22 Aug 2018

August 9

August 10

August 11

August 13

August 15

August 16

August 17

August 18

August 19

August 20

August 22


More and more contests are being supported by the Contest Online Scoreboard. You might want to add 'click the box in my logger to report my score' to your pre-contest checklist.

North American QSO Party, Phone contest is coming up on August 18. I asked Danny, K7SS, what he likes to do in this contest: "The real fun is moving rare mults from band to band....and of course running. Good time of year to try and use sporadic E skip on the higher bands. Don't forget 10!"

The twenty-eighth running of the National Sprint Ladder (NSL) will be held starting Thursday night, August 8 (US time zones). The Ladder will run for eight consecutive weeks, ending September 26. The weekly are "short, sweet, and very spirited," lasting only 30 minutes and including five bands: 15, 20, 40, 80, and 160 meters. Sprint QSY format is used and multipliers are similar to the North American QSO party, counted per band. As with every contest, see the rules for nuances. The NSL events are conducted by the Northern California Contest Club with weekly results posted on the web site. The NSL Ladder cumulative scores are posted on the NCCC website. (N3BB via CQ-Contest)

Bart, W9JJ, submits: "In just over two weeks on August 18-19, 2018 is the first weekend of the ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest (weekend two is September 15-16, 2018). Operations may take place for 24 hours total on each contest weekend. Each weekend begins at 6:00 AM local Saturday though 12:00 midnight local Sunday. In recent weeks, the San Bernardino Microwave Society had their tune-up event, and the North East Weak Signal Group had their picnic with microwave range testing offer their members opportunity for performance tweaking. If you have gear for 10, 24, 47, 74 GHz or higher these are the weekends to dust them off and have fun. See the full results at ARRL Contest Results website."

The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), now operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, planned to use the WSPR mode on 80 meters for a multi-day experiment. It appears they did so, with spots for the experimental call sign WI2XFX appearing on the WSPRnet website.

DX Engineering and FlexRadio Systems are teaming up to sponsor the 2018 Six Meter BBQ in Austin, TX, September 21-22, 2018. The event consists of welcome and hospitality activities on Friday, and a Saturday full of sessions related to six meter operating and equipment. Registration closes on September 14. There will be no sign ups at the door. (Teri, K8MNJ)

An digital operating mode that combines today's FT8 characteristics for decoding sensitivity, along with better support for grid information and rover support for VHF Contest operation, along with an exchange formats that can easily support ARRL Field Day, ARRL RTTY Roundup, and arbitrary exchanges including serial numbers is being proposed as "FT8+" by the same crew that brought us FT8. FT8+ will first appear in a version of WSJT-X perhaps as soon as September 2018, and utilize the segments of the bands that originally saw JT9 signals. After a transition period, it's planned for the original FT8 protocol to be retired. See the WSJT-X 2.0 plans document for more details.

The Mid-Atlantic States VHF Conference September 28 through September 30 features a Friday seminar entitled "Using N1MM Logger++ to Maximize Benefit" by Roger, W3SZ, and Phil, K3TUF. Additional contest related sessions cover topics such as antennas, test equipment, transverters, and using FT8 to take advantage of Sporadic E propagation. Registration is via the website.


Zero Beat

A recent edition of ARRL The Doctor is In podcast discusses Zero Beat. The Zero Beat term originated from the time when receivers and transmitters were separate and the receiver frequency was brought to the same frequency as the transmitter by listening to carrier signals at the two frequencies simultaneously. As the frequencies become closer and closer together, the difference frequency can be first heard as a tone, but as they become nearly identical, a difference of a few cycles per minute is heard as more of a varying in loudness of one of the signals, eventually a thump, or beat. Hearing no beat indicates that the frequencies are identical.

With today's frequency stable transceivers tunable with sub-Hertz accuracy in some cases, zero beat can also be used to indicate the act of tuning exactly to a frequency of another station, perhaps as the result of clicking on a spot in a logger band map. During a contest, you might NOT want to be zero-beat with the spot frequency of a multiplier you need, since others may be calling at the same time. You'd like your signal to stand out.


Ham Nation episode 361 from August 1, 2018 features Tim, K3LR talking about WRTC 2018 at about the 19:00 minute mark.

You can follow the 2018 Youngsters On the Air activities from South Africa via Twitter. Look for ZS9YOTA to be on the air at various times.


This July 12, 2018 photo by the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory shows no sunpots, a condition that persisted until July 22. The 23 day interval of no sunspots was the longest in nine years, signaling the approach of the solar minimum. [NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory, Photo]

It's a record... According to NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, July 22 marked the longest interval of no sunspots in nine years - 23 days. We're getting close to solar minimum "more rapidly than many scientists predicted." (NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory)

Results of the 2018 Ukrainian DX Classic RTTY Contest are available.

Contest Sponsors: One way to continue to inspire interest in your contest is by keeping it top of mind with the contesting community. Send notice of contest results being available to


A Straight Key Can Be a Quick Way through a Pileup

While competing for a contact with other stations in a pileup, you want your signal to be distinctive, to stand out, and be easier to copy than other s tations. There are a number of ways to achieve this and the best one depends on the operator and pileup. In a receiver pass band of computer-generated CW, artisanal hand-sent CW can sometimes be enough of a differentiator to make it through before others. Remember, the objective is for the other operator to copy your signal quickly and effectively, so make sure you're sending excellent well-formed elements.


Logs for WRTC 2018 competitors are available online. The log checking report, raw Cabrillo format, and SH5 statistics for each team are provided. With this information you can see the overview of scores, and get QSO-by-QSO information for your own analysis.

At the same time you're looking through the data, you can listen to audio of the bronze finishers Chris, KL9A, and Dan, N6MJ in stereo! They've posted all 24 hours of audio from their WRTC operation. (Dave, K3ZJ)

"The deadline to submit a design for the 2018 QST Antenna Design Competition is just ahead -- September 1! The competition challenge is to design the best LF, MF, or HF antenna for limited-space applications. ARRL can only accept one entry per person (or team), but there's not much time left to complete building and testing of your design. Full details appeared in the June 2018 issue of QST. Three cash prizes are on the line: First place is $600, second place is $250, and third place is $150. Even designs that don't win a prize might still be eligible for future QST publication. Antennas must be designed for one or more bands between 2200 meters and 10 meters, must fit within a 30 × 50 foot area, and stand no taller than 30 feet at any point."

In future years, maybe we'll see a human-emitted CW Pileup competition? An adjunct to the LED badges some wear at hamfests?


Technology Can Level the Playing Field

WRTC 2018 was the latest event to take incredible care in making sure each radio site was as 'equal' as another. WRTC is all about highlighting the difference in operating team skill versus advantage derived from location or equipment. In a future WRTC, perhaps the sponsors will be willing to try something different. Here's just one thought: Deploy a standardized station setup in a number of locations, but concentrate all of the competitors at the host hotel. Have the competitors operate the equipment remotely, and automatically switch locations every so many minutes. If one station is different than another, other teams will also experience that. Allowances would have to be made for trading off time spent connected to one location versus another versus changing propagation. Maybe even split up the 24 hour operating period into smaller heats.

Some other benefits of thinking about something like this would be reducing the logistical load of geographically dispersed competitors and judges. All competitors in one location could potentially allow for a more vivid spectator experience. Imagine something like a cross between mission control and a motor racing event. Differences between stations or geography help or hinder in a more equitable way.

More importantly, it could be a way to combine the traditional elements of radiosport with controlled incorporation of modern techniques and technology in a way that reflects Amateur ethos of advancing the art and science of radio.

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


9 Aug - 22 Aug 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.


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: August 11.

QRP Fox Hunt, Aug 10, 0100z to Aug 10, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: August 11.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Aug 10, 0145z to Aug 10, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 12.

NCCC Sprint Ladder, Aug 10, 0230z to Aug 10, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 12.

WAE DX Contest, CW, Aug 11, 0000z to Aug 12, 2359z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: August 27.

SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, Aug 11, 1200z to Aug 13, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./"NONE"); Logs due: August 19.

Maryland-DC QSO Party, Aug 11, 1600z to Aug 12, 0400z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2, 432; MDC: entry class + county, non-MDC: entry class + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 11.

4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint, Aug 13, 0000z to Aug 13, 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: August 15.

NAQCC CW Sprint, Aug 15, 0030z to Aug 15, 0230z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: August 18.

Phone Fray, Aug 15, 0230z to Aug 15, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: August 17.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Aug 15, 1300z to Aug 15, 1400z, Aug 15, 1900z to Aug 15, 2000z, Aug 16, 0300z to Aug 16, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 18.

QRP Fox Hunt, Aug 17, 0100z to Aug 17, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: August 18.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Aug 17, 0145z to Aug 17, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 19.

NCCC Sprint Ladder, Aug 17, 0230z to Aug 17, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 19.

SARTG WW RTTY Contest, Aug 18, 0000z to Aug 18, 0800z, Aug 18, 1600z to Aug 19, 0000z, Aug 19, 0800z to Aug 19, 1600z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: September 12.

Russian District Award Contest, Aug 18, 0800z to Aug 19, 0800z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RU: RS(T) + District code, non-RU: RS(T) + QSO No.; Logs due: August 31.

Keyman's Club of Japan Contest, Aug 18, 1200z to Aug 19, 1200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; JA: RST + prefecture/district code, non-JA: RST + continent code; Logs due: September 5.

Feld Hell Sprint, Aug 18, 1600z to Aug 18, 1759z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 15, 10, 6m; (see rules); Logs due: August 22.

North American QSO Party, SSB, Aug 18, 1800z to Aug 19, 0559z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; NA: Name + (state/DC/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: August 24.

CVA DX Contest, CW, Aug 18, 2100z to Aug 19, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + type/UF(see rules); Logs due: September 15.

SARL HF Digital Contest, Aug 19, 1400z to Aug 19, 1700z; RTTY, PSK31; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: August 26.

ARRL Rookie Roundup, RTTY, Aug 19, 1800z to Aug 19, 2359z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; NA: Name + 2-digit year first licensed + (state/province/XE area/DX); Logs due: August 22.

Run for the Bacon QRP Contest, Aug 20, 0100z to Aug 20, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (Member No./power); Logs due: August 26.

SKCC Sprint, Aug 22, 0000z to Aug 22, 0200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: August 26.

Phone Fray, Aug 22, 0230z to Aug 22, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: August 24.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Aug 22, 1300z to Aug 22, 1400z, Aug 22, 1900z to Aug 22, 2000z, Aug 23, 0300z to Aug 23, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 25.


MMMonVHF/DUBUS 144 MHz Meteorscatter Sprint Contest, Aug 11, 2200z to Aug 13, 2200z; Any; Bands: 2m Only; Signal report; Logs due: September 15.

ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest, Aug 18, 0600 (local) to Aug 20, 0000 (local); Any; Bands: 10 GHz to light; 6-Character Maidenhead Locator; Logs due: October 16.

Also, see ARRL Rookie Roundup, RTTY, Feld Hell Sprint, Keyman's Club of Japan Contest, NCCC Sprint Ladder, Maryland-DC QSO Party, SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, above.


9 Aug - 22 Aug 2018

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