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The ARRL Contest Update
August 22, 2018
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
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IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS -- THINGS TO DO

Variety is the theme of the next 2 weeks. Digital operators will enjoy the SCC RTTY Championship and Russian RTTY Championship events. US operators may find more activity with the former, as it's an everyone-work-everyone event. Fourteen percent of the US states are represented by a QSO party over the next 2 weeks. Everyone works everyone in the YO DX HF Contest, but contacts with Romanian Amateurs are worth more. Trans-equatorial DX is a most-of-the-time thing, so the CVA DX Contest is a worthwhile try if you're a phone operator. CW folks may prefer the SARL HF CW Contest on August 26. On September 1, the All Asian DX Contest will have the Phone operators' attention.

CONTEST SUMMARY

23 Aug - 05 Sep 2018

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

August 23

August 24

August 25

August 26

August 29

August 30

August 31

September 1

September 2

September 3

September 4

September 5

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NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

Bart, W9JJ, ARRL Contest Branch Manager, reminds: "The September ARRL VHF Contest begins 1800 UTC Saturday September 8 and runs through 0259 UTC Monday (September 8-10, 2018). There is plenty of time left to make your home, portable or roving plans for the event. All bands and all modes above 50 MHz are allowed. See the full 2017 contest results at http://www.arrl.org/contest-results-articles."

FT8Call is a new program that builds upon WSJTX-X, using FT8 signaling to support free-form chat-style contacts. Both ends of the contact must use the software to successfully make contacts, and different frequencies are used than those for WSJT-X. FT8Call is a derivative work of the open source WSJT-X software.

Discussions about the defunding of WWV and WWVH HF Broadcasts have been keeping email reflectors busy over the last week or so. Individuals that care to voice their support of these services can do so in a number of venues, however the most impactful may be to contact your Congressional Representatives because it is Congress that approves spending.

Hans, G0UPL, has come out with a new transceiver in support of this year's YOTA activities -- the QSX SDR Transceiver kit. He was interviewed by Faith Hannah, AE4FH describing this new transceiver initially available for 40 meters and only to YOTA attendees. Ten watts, multi-mode capabilities, no PC required for CW and SSB. It's self-contained, but also can connect to computers via USB to support digital modes (yes, FT8 too) with built-in sound card capability, and be computer controllable. Hans has made its audio interfaces compatible with standard cellular phone earbud plugs for microphone and speaker audio - something every teen will likely have. There's also an RJ-45 jack for radio-style microphone input. Attendees were able to start building the kit, however it's still under development by QRP Labs. Hans' CW transceiver kit from last year, the QCX, is very popular, with over 5500 kits shipped.

The Daily DX, published by Bernie, W3UR, can be a valuable source of information regarding contesters traveling to far away places to compete. Recent issues included reports on progress toward getting 4U1UN in New York City back on the air, as well as the operators behind TC2F in the upcoming All-Asia DX SSB Contest. You can get a free 2-week sample of The Daily DX and The Weekly DX at http://www.dailydx.com/free-trial-request/ or by contacting Bernie.

Bob, N6TV, has a new version of his S-BOX, which he has called the "Swiss Army Knife of interface boxes." The original S-BOX "eliminates y-cabling, and makes it particularly easy to connect any modern transceiver to a computer and an Elecraft/SPE/ACOM amplifier and a SteppIR controller/KRC2/ShackMaster SM-8, all at the same time, with automatic band changes for all connected devices, and with no serial port conflicts." The new S-BOX-USB "...comes with a built-in FTDI USB-to-Serial adapter" which can further simplify many configurations. See https://bit.ly/S-BOX for photos and wiring examples.

The Board of Directors of The Yasme Foundation, a "worldwide foundation dedicated to supporting projects that help amateur radio flourish," is pleased to announce that it has elected Marty Woll, N6VI, as the newest Yasme Foundation Director. "Marty brings a wealth of experience in ham radio including nine years of service as Vice-Director for the ARRL Southwestern Division and Life Member of ARRL, past president of the Southern California DX Club, past president of the Los Angeles Area Council of Radio Clubs, past chair of the ARRL's Contest Advisory Committee, and founding member of the Southern California Contest Club. Marty is also active in public service as Training Officer f or the Los Angeles Fire Department's Auxiliary Communications Service. He authored a chapter of the ARRL's Introduction to Emergency Communications course and is a popular speaker at clubs and conventions."

The Win-Test Contest Logger is available as a free download for DXpedition-style use. The DXpedition version of Win-Test is full function, with no timeouts, and not a demo. However, this version doesn't support any contests, just DXpedition mode, which means that the only QSO information that can be entered is RST and an optional "Notes" field. The paid version supports all contests, and also includes DXpedition mode. By trying out the DXpedition version, operators can decide whether they'd like to purchase the full version. There is also a separate "demo" version of Win-Test that supports all contests plus DXpedition mode, but times out randomly after a few QSOs. It is intended for verification-of-operation only, for example that rig control and CW sending and logging and scoring all work, without requiring any fee or password. (Bob, N6TV)

WORD TO THE WISE

Interlock

A device, usually hardware, that enforces contest rules regarding restrictions about how many transmitters may be on the air at a given time. Some contests permit only one transmitted signal at a time, while others may allow multiple transmitted signals, but only one per band, for particular entry classes. In the ARRL Phone Sweepstakes, some multioperator stations use transmitter interlocks to ensure that only one signal is transmitted at a time.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

In a few weeks I'll be able to publish the links to some of the video presentations from the upcoming 2018 TAPR Digital Communications Conference (DCC). Jason, KC5HWB, successfully funded his Kickstarter campaign to travel to the conference to record the sessions to make them available on his website. I suspect Jason's effort was successful because he:

  • demonstrated he has necessary the skills and track record via his Ham Radio 2.0 Live from the Hamshack Podcast
  • already has an audience that he appealed to for support
  • obtained appropriate permissions and support of the conference
  • approached his fundraising through an established channel (Kickstarter)
  • knew how to reach sponsors via email and social media channels
  • worked in cooperation with Gary, KN4AQ, who video recorded this event in the past

With the air quality in the "unhealthy" category, it is NOT the time for outdoor work of any kind in many parts of the country. Sam, WC7Q, took this afternoon picture of the sun attempting to shine through the thick smoke produced from fires in the Pacific Northwest. [Sam Rubin, WC7Q, photo ]

Many of the YOTA (Youngster On The Air) 2018 activities were tweeted about. You can read stories and see pictures on the YOTA Twitter stream (no Twitter account required).

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RESULTS AND RECORDS

Mark, K6UFO, announces that the preliminary results for the July 2018 North American QSO Party, RTTY are now available at the National Contest Journal website. He encourages anyone that notices problems with the results to contact him. The final results will be published in an upcoming issue of NCJ. The next running of the NAQP RTTY contest will be Saturday February 23, 2019.

All-time ARRL Contest Records have been updated by Larry, K5OT, to include the results of the following contests: 2017 ARRL 160 Meter Contest, 2017 10 Meter Contest, 2017 ARRL CW Sweepstakes, and 2017 ARRL Phone Sweepstakes.

Preliminary results of the 2018 June ARRL VHF Contest have been posted to the ARRL Contest Results webpage.

The results of the 2017 Oceania DX (OCDX) Contest are available on the OCDX website. Despite poor conditions, the sponsors report that over 1,300 logs were submitted, a year over year increase of 9%. Indonesian amateurs submitted more logs than any other country, reflecting the excellent efforts of YB amateurs to increase interest in the hobby. The 2018 Oceania DX Phone contest will occur 0800 UTC October 6 to 0800 UTC October 7, with the CW segment the following weekend, 0800 UTC October 13 to 0800 UTC October 14. Some special operations are planned for 2018 with up-to-date information available via the website.

OPERATING TIP

Have a Contest Checklist, and Use It

Pilots use them. Surgeons use them. You should too. A Contest Checklist can improve your contest scores by providing a consistent process to preparing for competition. N3FJP publishes a checklist that is helpful no matter what contesting program you are using. You could build on this one, adding items specific to your situation.

TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Jim, K9YC, surveyed some of the band-pass filter products that are available for building SOxR or Multioperator stations, and he's published his results on his website. (Jim, K9YC)

Bob, N6TV, shares: "If you're using a FTDI-based USB-to-Serial adapter you might notice that each time your computer starts up, as part of the Microsoft Windows boot process the serial lines are exercised. Depending on how you're using the serial adapter, this can key a rig, send CW, or just be annoying. To keep Windows from generating unwanted signals on this device on startup, I recommend using the Windows Device Manager to disable both the 'Serial Enumerator' and 'Modem Ctrl At Startup' options, which are needed only for legacy devices like serial mice and dial-up modems. For step-by-step instructions with screen shots, refer to https://bit.ly/FTDItip."

Most contesters use logging software running on the Microsoft Windows operating systems. Sometimes completely legitimate versions of these or other Amateur Radio related software are flagged by anti-virus or anti-malware software as malicious. The worst time that this can happen is just before, or even during a contest! Program authors can lessen the chances of this occurring for their software by following some suggestions detailed in this article from Microsoft. Although the details are particular to Windows Defender ATP, many other vendors use similar techniques.

Julian, OH8STN, has put together an article about how to use a Raspberry Pi computer in off-the-grid situations, including with a USB-connected GPS to derive accurate time for certain digital modes. There are a lot of other interesting pieces in this article that could be applied to solve various problems you might encounter when operating portable, contesting from a DX location, and so on.

"A spectrum analyzer software program has been released for the RSP series of SDR Radios ... If you have an RSP radio, you will want to look at this free software" according to Dave, NK7Z. From the website, this software is compatible with the RSP1, RSP2/RSP2Pro, and RSP1A radios. Since the software is still under development, performance reports are requested via a forum support thread. (Dave, NK7Z, via Ward, N0AX)

Contesters at VHF and up frequencies sometimes use objects to reflect their signals to make contacts. Bob, W7PUA, is experimenting with web-based tools to predict radio scattering frequency from data entered from real operating situations. In his own words: "Experimenters, here is something for entertainment. For several years I have been working with calculating the amount of signal received from bounces off 'mountains.' This has resulted in a couple of on-line calculators that seem to provide reasonable results." The full text of Bob's message describes the two calculators he has modeled based on his observed characteristics of mountains in the Pacific Northwest, and he invites others to share their observations. (Bob, W7PUA, via PNW Microwave Group)

Win-Test logging with a KX2 radio has gained some new features. Bjorn, SM7IUN, used N6TV's KX3 Win-Test scripts as a basis for some KX2-specific scripts for Win-Test. New functionality at your keyboard fingertips includes ClearRIT, SwapVFO, RIT up/down, VFO up/down, A=B, B=A, Play/Record DVR voice messages, and the ability to generate CW or RTTY messages using radio's internal keyer (using Elecraft-specific KY commands). (Bob, N6TV)

Mini-circuits has a new "DIY Vector Network Analyzer Kit" targeted as a "University Project." Their two-port VNA kit, containing all cables, calibration standards, and so on, is rated from 500 MHz to 6000 MHz, and is intended for use in UHF to microwave Electromagnetics lab courses, with support for Python, Matlab, and other programming environments. The price for the kit is $2,495. (Ward, N0AX)

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CONVERSATION

Back To School

Two of my children have been licensed since they were very young. My son and daughter took the Technician test when they were 7 and 10 years old, and passed. They participated in a few Kids Day-type contests and a QSO party or two, but didn't really continue their interest. I didn't push them to participate, because that's a sure way for them to NOT find it enjoyable. Fast-forward 11 years to fall 2017: my son is a freshman at a college that has a valid claim to having the oldest school radio station in the US. When we dropped him off -- well, even before that, on the campus tour a few months ahead of time -- I pointed out the array of HF beam antennas on one of the campus buildings. He surprised me by later joining the Amateur Radio club as a new student.

After the first half of the school year, he related that the activities of the radio club were more of a public service nature - for example, supporting multi-college sporting events with communications. When I asked about using the big antennas and contesting, he mentioned that he didn't think they were working, and that the radio station itself was in a period of renovation. He didn't know anyone that did HF contests from that station. As students do, he became interested in other activities such as Greek life, part-time jobs, sports, and everything else. School too. Radio Club meetings conflicted with his part-time job.

As he leaves to go back to school tomorrow, I asked him whether he'd have time for Radio Club this year. His work schedule probably still interferes with the Radio Club meetings. He's still involved in the other activities. Not enough impetus to prioritize Radio Club higher on the list.

Lack of an operating HF station last year isn't the primary reason for his resulting non-participation. However, it may have contributed.

Competitive operating events to spur school activity are great focus points, and the new ones like the inaugural September Collegiate QSO Party, and last January's NA Collegiate Championship are welcome additions. Perhaps we also need a before-school-year operating event that provides opportunity and a milestone for devoted alumni who are interested in being boosters for radio contesting to help get their alma mater's stations in competitive on-the-air shape, so that school stations can be ready for the events that occur during the school year.

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

23 Aug - 05 Sep 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, 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.

QRP Fox Hunt, Aug 24, 0100z to Aug 24, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: August 25.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Aug 24, 0145z to Aug 24, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 26.

NCCC Sprint Ladder, Aug 24, 0230z to Aug 24, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 26.

Hawaii QSO Party, Aug 25, 0400z to Aug 27, 0400z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; HI: RS(T) + QTH, non-HI W/VE: RS(T) + (state/province), DX: RS(T); Logs due: September 30.

ALARA Contest, Aug 25, 0600z to Aug 26, 0559z; CW, Phone; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 2m; ALARA: RS(T)A + Name, non-ALARA: RS(T) + Serial No. + Name + (whether YL/OM/club station); Logs due: September 30.

SCC RTTY Championship, Aug 25, 1200z to Aug 26, 1159z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + 4-digit year license first issued; Logs due: August 28.

W/VE Islands QSO Party, Aug 25, 1200z to Aug 26, 0300z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Islands: RS(T) + USI/CISA Island Designation, Non-Islands: RS(T) + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 15.

YO DX HF Contest, Aug 25, 1200z to Aug 26, 1200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; YO: RS(T) + county, non-YO: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: September 25.

Kansas QSO Party, Aug 25, 1400z to Aug 26, 0200z, Aug 26, 1400z to Aug 26, 2000z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; KS: RS(T) + county, non-KS: RS(T) + (state/VE section/"DX"); Logs due: October 1.

Ohio QSO Party, Aug 25, 1600z to Aug 26, 0400z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; OH: RS(T) + county, non-OH: RS(T) + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: September 24.

CVA DX Contest, SSB, Aug 25, 2100z to Aug 26, 2100z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + type/UF(see rules); Logs due: September 15.

SARL HF CW Contest, Aug 26, 1400z to Aug 26, 1700z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: September 2.

Phone Fray, Aug 29, 0230z to Aug 29, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: August 31.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Aug 29, 1300z to Aug 29, 1400z, Aug 29, 1900z to Aug 29, 2000z, Aug 30, 0300z to Aug 30, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 1.

QRP Fox Hunt, Aug 31, 0100z to Aug 31, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: September 1.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Aug 31, 0145z to Aug 31, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: September 2.

NCCC Sprint Ladder, Aug 31, 0230z to Aug 31, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: September 2.

G3ZQS Memorial Straight Key Contest, Aug 31, 2300z to Sep 2, 2300z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + name + FISTS No., non-FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + name + power; Logs due: October 2.

All Asian DX Contest, Phone, Sep 1, 0000z to Sep 3, 0000z; Phone; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + 2-digit age; Logs due: October 3.

CWOps CW Open, Sep 1, 0000z to Sep 1, 0359z, Sep 1, 1200z to Sep 1, 1559z, Sep 1, 2000z to Sep 1, 2359z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Serial No. + Name; Logs due: September 15.

Russian RTTY WW Contest, Sep 1, 0000z to Sep 1, 2359z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RU: RST + 2-letter oblast, non-RU: RST + CQ Zone; Logs due: September 11.

Wake-Up! QRP Sprint, Sep 1, 0600z to Sep 1, 0629z, Sep 1, 0630z to Sep 1, 0659z, Sep 1, 0700z to Sep 1, 0729z, Sep 1, 0730z to Sep 1, 0800z; CW; Bands: 40, 20m; RST + Serial No. + suffix of previous QSO ("QRP" for 1st QSO); Logs due: September 8.

AGCW Straight Key Party, Sep 1, 1300z to Sep 1, 1600z; CW; Bands: 40m Only; AGCW: RST + Serial No. + "/" + Class + "/" + Name + "/" + Age; Logs due: September 30.

RSGB SSB Field Day, Sep 1, 1300z to Sep 2, 1300z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: September 7.

Colorado QSO Party, Sep 1, 1300z to Sep 2, 0400z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, VHF/UHF; CO: Name + county, W/VE: Name + (state/province), DX: Name + DXCC prefix; Logs due: October 1.

IARU Region 1 Field Day, SSB, Sep 1, 1300z to Sep 2, 1259z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: September 17.

Alabama QSO Party, Sep 1, 1500z to Sep 2, 0300z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; AL: RS(T) + County, non-AL: RS(T) + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: October 1.

PODXS 070 Club Jay Hudak Memorial 80m Sprint, Sep 1, 2000z to Sep 2, 2000z; PSK31; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 9.

Tennessee QSO Party, Sep 2, 1800z to Sep 3, 0300z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, VHF/UHF; TN: RS(T) + county, non-TN: RS(T) + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 3.

MI QRP Labor Day CW Sprint, Sep 3, 2300z to Sep 4, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + (member no./power output); Logs due: September 17.

ARS Spartan Sprint, Sep 4, 0100z to Sep 4, 0300z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: September 6.

Phone Fray, Sep 5, 0230z to Sep 5, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: August 24.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Sep 5, 1300z to Sep 5, 1400z, Sep 5, 1900z to Sep 5, 2000z, Sep 6, 0300z to Sep 6, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 25.

VHF+ CONTESTS

50 MHz Fall Sprint, Aug 25, 2300z to Aug 26, 0300z; not specified; Bands: 6m Only; 4-character grid square; Logs due: September 8.

WAB 144 MHz QRO Phone, Sep 2, 1000z to Sep 2, 1400z; SSB; Bands: 2m Only; British Isles: RS + serial no. + WAB square, Other: RS + serial no. + country; Logs due: September 23.

Also, see Tennessee QSO Party, W/VE Islands QSO Party, NCCC Sprint Ladder, Kansas QSO Party, ALARA Contest, above.

LOG DUE DATES

23 Aug - 05 Sep

August 24, 2018

August 25, 2018

August 26, 2018

August 27, 2018

August 28, 2018

August 31, 2018

September 1, 2018

September 2, 2018

September 5, 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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