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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
October 3, 2018
Editor: Paul Bourque, N1SFE

Phone operators will favor the Oceania DX Contest next weekend for international contacts, while the California QSO Party will attract both CW and Phone activity domestically. If you enjoyed last weekend's CQ WW RTTY contest, you'll find more RTTY activity in the upcoming Russian WW Digital Contest, or the Makrothen RTTY Contest the weekend of October 13. Also during the weekend of October 13 are five QSO parties. Recent versions of the N1MM Logger+ can submit the same Cabrillo log to both the PA and NV QSO parties just by verifying/changing the log header. If you're a new contester, you can qualify for the Arizona Prickly Pear Cactus Jelly award in the Arizona QSO Party.

If you happen to be near Colorado Springs Saturday, October 13, you could attend the Tech Day - Ham Radio Education Event to hear Stu, W0STU, talk about "Your First HF Station" or Shel, KF0UR, present "Portable High Frequency (HF) Operating" among the day's sessions. The free event is sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Monument Radio Association. (Bob, K0NR via Twitter)

Bob, K0NR, talks about the challenges facing Amateurs that are new to HF on his blog. He promises further discussion to address some of the issues which include Antenna Restrictions, RFI, Cost, and what he calls the "Fiddle Factor" but could also be described as all of the small details that must taken care of to get a signal on the air.


Tom, K1KI, noted that Joe Taylor's call sign is K1JT, and Scott Robbins is W4PA. Thanks Tom!


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

4-Oct - 17 Oct 2018

October 4

October 5

October 6

October 7

October 8

October 10

October 11

October 12

October 13

October 14

October 15

October 17


The ARRL School Club Roundup fall session is October 15-19, 2018. The point of this contest is to foster friendly competition and increase Amateur Radio activity at elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and colleges. Non-school clubs and individuals can also participate. This multi-day event happens during the week, presumably when contesters are able to use resources at school. Some schools make this event part of their radio club's activities driven by an educator or club sponsor. Many schools at the college level rely on the students to decide on whether and how to participate. Results from previous events are available, where you can see consistent strong participation from particular schools.

"Makrothen" is an ancient Greek word that means "great distance" or "some distance away" according to the contest's sponsors, the PL259 Club. It's also the name given to a RTTY contest that uses a grid-based exchange and distance based scoring. By eliminating multipliers, the contest sponsors believe scores reflect operating skills versus geographic advantage. With three eight-hour sessions separated by eight hours, the contest can fit into a busy weekend. Operators can work as many of the sessions as they like. Entry categories include all permutations of Single/Multi Op, Single/Multi Transceiver, and High/Low power. This year's Makrothen RTTY contest starts at 0000z on October 13, 2018.

Ria, N2RJ, writes: "This is a gentle reminder that the DX/NA YL contest is coming up next weekend, running from 1400z October 6, 2018 to 0200z October 8, 2018. It is a great opportunity for YLs to get on the air and get to know each other during the contest. Contacts in this contest can count toward YLRL Awards. We accept electronic and paper logs including logs from contest logging software. Logs are due to Barbara Yasson, AC7UH, YLRL Vice President by November 8."

The California QSO Party has been in existence since 1966. It's one of the most active QSO parties, perhaps because of the size of the state, or in part because of the many opportunities to earn a wooden plaque for the ham shack, or a special bottle of Northern California Contest Club (NCCC) Private Reserve California Wine (for winning operators 21 and over). This year's event takes place October 5-6, 2018, and as of this writing activations of 56 of California's 58 counties were planned.

Bill Clark, K6WSC, and Arizona QSO Party Chairman, writes: "The Arizona QSO Party (October 13 & 14, 2018) has a new website!" He also notes a rules change, and new website features: "After conducting a survey of prior participants, the serial number was deleted from the exchange. The new exchange is RS(T) + county or state / province / country. Detailed AZQP Certificates for all participants can now be created online. The Arizona Prickly Pear Cactus Jelly award is open to new contesters. The K7A Bonus Station will be on all modes including FT8. Results will be published two weeks after the logs due date of October 24."

The Pennsylvania QSO Party Association has announced a slate of new officers and committee members as it assumes management of the Pennsylvania QSO Party this year. This year's PAQP is the weekend of October 13, 2018. The Nittany Amateur Radio Club managed the contest for the previous 52 years. County activation intentions and latest PAQP news appears on the PAQP Facebook page.

Scott, N3FJP is supporting the PA QSO Party with a new release of his software. "PA In State 4.4 and Out of State 4.2 have been updated for the new contest rules and are now on the website." Scott has also updated the other programs in his suite of contest software with new features such as "Tab Sends Message" for CW and additional DX spotting functionality. See his website for more information.

N5NA maintains a list of QSO party dates in his State & Province QSO Party Calendar.

Tim, K3LR, wearing his "6 Meter BBQ Coordinator" hat writes: "Last weekend (September 21-22, 2018 - Ed.) we held the annual Six Meter BBQ in Austin, Texas. Rich in history, the 6 Meter BBQ was started by K5AND and W6JKV over 30 years ago! There were eight great presentations last Saturday. Thanks to all who provided the very informative talks! Here are the papers. 73!" (Tim, K3LR)

VY0ERC (NA-008, CQ Zone 2, ITU Zones 4/75), the Eureka Amateur Radio Club, Eureka, Nunavut, is using to raise funds specifically for 40 meter and 80 meter antennas that can withstand the high arctic weather conditions found on Ellesmere Island. Their appeal: ""Do you need Zone 2 on 40 and 80m, or do you need our rare multiplier in the contest? VY0ERC would like to help you get it, but we need help establishing antennas that can reliably result in contacts! Our aim is to eventually arrive at phased vertical arrays for 40m and 80m. Please donate!"


Great Circle Route

The great circle route is the shortest distance between two points on the surface of a sphere. Two-dimensional projections of the globe showing parallel lines of latitude typically display great circle routes as arcs.


A tour of the K3LR station was featured as a photo montage in the October 2018 Portage County Amateur Radio Service (PCARS) Club Newsletter.

4O4YCP was the call sign used by YOTA participants at the 4O3A station for the CQ WW RTTY Contest. Ranko, 4O3A, live streamed the effort on YouTube, and nearly 12 hours of in-shack video is available.


The North American CW Sprint preliminary results are online in a new format. Final results will also be available one issue earlier than previously - in the November/December issue of NCJ. (Ward, N0AX)

"The 2018 Tenth Anniversary Kansas QSO Party (KSQP)preliminary results are posted to the KSQP web site, With a record 444 logs (including 20 FT8 logs), and 56,328 QSOs, we had another good year despite poor propagation the last weekend in August. John, N6MU completed his eighth consecutive clean sweep of all 105 Kansas counties. We had all but ten counties triple-covered, and those ten were double-covered by a record 18 mobiles, 8 portable stations, and our many fixed stations. This year we fielded 61 1x1 call signs spelling KANSAS, QSOPARTY, SUNFLOWER and YELLOWBRICKROAD plus our NotX Challenge operators. We will be sending out antique-radio-stamp themed tee shirts or monogrammed sweatshirts to our award winners. Please check the preliminary results for your call and report any problems to Bob/w0bh. Thanks for participating! 73, Bob/W0BH, KSQP Coordinator" (Bob, W0BH)


Headphone / Earbud Hygiene

When was the last time you really examined your headphones? They require care and maintenance like everything else so that they operate flawlessly during a contest. Check for loose, frayed, or intermittent connections, especially at locations where cable enters the headphone or connector body. The microphone boom pivot point is another location to check, as well as the microphone itself. Make sure nothing is loose. The "ear muff" part of headphones also needs attention. Sometimes the foam material can start to degrade and leave black or gray foam particles on your ears. Replacement cushions are sometimes available from the manufacturer. Clean your headphones (especially the mouthpiece) every once in a while, especially after you've used them when feeling under the weather. Consider bringing your own headphones to a multi-operator event as a courtesy to other operators, and yourself. For ear bud cleaning, check out this article.


Knowing how and when to use a spectrum analyzer can save time and effort in a contester's quest for lower noise floors and better reception. Rohde Schwarz has published a fundamentals guide discussing the application and use of modern analyzers.

Driveways, sidewalks and other obstructions are a challenge when placing radials or conduits. Jeff, VE3CV, suggests that the Borit tool may be appropriate especially if the cost is shared among the members of a radio club.

VHF and up, up, up, up enthusiasts may want to check out research on graphene's potential as a detector for signals in the infrared light range of the spectrum. The novel part of the work described in the article is that a room-temperature thermal sensor is possible, and graphene's thermal response time can be as small as a nanosecond, which could support fast communications. Ward, N0AX, points out that light wave contacts are already used in some contests, and could be a potential "non-licensed facet that is open to non-hams on operating teams."

It's sort of like a cloud chamber, but for radio waves. Cells filled with "excited cesium atoms" are likely NOT going to be in any type of desktop transceiver any time soon, but they have been used to optically detect and demodulate radio waves. Features of these new detectors include frequency discrimination, overload immunity, and resistance to electromagnetic interference and pulses.

"Some Recent Developments in the Art of Receiver Technology: A Selected History on Receiver Innovations over the Last 100 Years" published by Analog Devices, starts with Marconi, and ends with a discussion of highly integrated SDR designs. It's a good overview of the evolution of receiver design. (Ward, N0AX)



Just a few dozen months ago, remote operation in contests was a dicey proposition. There were, and still are, opinions that it isn't 'real ham radio.' Nowadays in just about any contest, a number of operators will report that they participated via remote, and it's become more of a non-issue. Furthermore, remote capabilities have allowed many to escape urban RF environments, or transcend their group living antenna restrictions.

From the recent announcements by the development team, WSJT-X 2.0 will have features that will enable the FT8 mode to be used in some HF contests by supporting more message flexibility. Initial 2.0 versions will support exchanges for ARRL Field Day and contests that require states/provinces and contact serial numbers. You'd also expect that post 2.0 versions of WSJT-X would have features that support other contesting formats. Amateurs were already trying to use WSJT-X with FT8 during 2018 Field Day, but the software was not ready. I expect Field Day 2019 to really show how FT8 and temporary / compromise antennas can work well together, but also highlight the challenges in using idealized conventions with varied operating styles under contest conditions.

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


4-Oct - 17 Oct 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, Oct 3, 1300z to Oct 3, 1400z, Oct 3, 1900z to Oct 3, 2000z, Oct 4, 0300z to Oct 4, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 6.

NRAU 10m Activity Contest, Oct 4, 1700z to Oct 4, 1800z (CW), Oct 4, 1800z to Oct 4, 1900z (SSB), Oct 4, 1900z to Oct 4, 2000z (FM), Oct 4, 2000z to Oct 4, 2100z (Dig); CW, SSB, FM, Digital; Bands: 10m Only; RS(T) + 6-character grid square; Logs due: October 18.

SARL 80m QSO Party, Oct 4, 1700z to Oct 4, 2000z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; RS + Serial No. + Grid Locator or QTH; Logs due: October 11.

SKCC Sprint Europe, Oct 4, 1900z to Oct 4, 2100z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: October 11.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Oct 5, 0145z to Oct 5, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: October 7.

NCCC Sprint, Oct 5, 0230z to Oct 5, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: October 7.

YLRL DX/NA YL Anniversary Contest, Oct 5, 1400z to Oct 7, 0200z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: Any; Serial No. + RS(T) + (ARRL Section/province/country); Logs due: November 5.

TRC DX Contest, Oct 6, 0600z to Oct 7, 1800z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; TRC Members: RST + Serial No. + "TRC", non-TRC Members: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: October 14.

Oceania DX Contest, Phone, Oct 6, 0800z to Oct 7, 0800z; Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: October 31.

Russian WW Digital Contest, Oct 6, 1200z to Oct 7, 1159z; BPSK63, RTTY; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; UA: RST(Q) + 2-character oblast code, non-UA: RST(Q) + QSO No.; Logs due: October 12.

International HELL-Contest, Oct 6, 1600z to Oct 6, 1800z (80m), Oct 7, 0900z to Oct 7, 1100z (40m); Hell; Bands: 80, 40m; RST + QSO No.; Logs due: October 21.

California QSO Party, Oct 6, 1600z to Oct 7, 2200z; CW, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; CA: Serial No. + County, non-CA: Serial No. + (state/VE area/DX); Logs due: October 22.

FISTS Fall Slow Speed Sprint, Oct 6, 1700z to Oct 6, 2100z; 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: November 5.

SKCC QSO Party, Oct 6, 1800z to Oct 7, 1800z; CW; Bands: All, except WARC; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + 4-Character Grid Square; Logs due: October 15.

RSGB DX Contest, Oct 7, 0500z to Oct 7, 2300z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: October 12.

UBA ON Contest, SSB, Oct 7, 0600z to Oct 7, 0900z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; ON: RS + Serial No. + ON Section, non-ON: RS + Serial No.; Logs due: October 28.

Peanut Power QRP Sprint, Oct 7, 2200z to Oct 7, 2359z; CW, SSB; Bands: 40, 20, 15m; RS(T) + (state/province/country) + (peanut no./power output); Logs due: October 21.

RSGB 80m Autumn Series, CW, Oct 8, 1900z to Oct 8, 2030z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: October 11.

10-10 Int. 10-10 Day Sprint, Oct 10, 0001z to Oct 10, 2359z; All; Bands: 10m Only; 10-10 Member: Name + 10-10 number + (state/province/country), Non-Member: Name + 0 + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 18.

NAQCC CW Sprint, Oct 10, 0030z to Oct 10, 0230z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: October 13.

Phone Fray, Oct 10, 0230z to Oct 10, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: October 12.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Oct 10, 1300z to Oct 10, 1400z, Oct 10, 1900z to Oct 10, 2000z, Oct 11, 0300z to Oct 11, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 13.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Oct 12, 0145z to Oct 12, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: October 14.

NCCC Sprint, Oct 12, 0230z to Oct 12, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: October 14.

Makrothen RTTY Contest, Oct 13, 0000z to Oct 13, 0800z, Oct 13, 1600z to Oct 14, 0000z, Oct 14, 0800z to Oct 14, 1600z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; 4-character grid square; Logs due: October 21.

Nevada QSO Party, Oct 13, 0300z to Oct 14, 2100z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, VHF/UHF; NV: Serial No. + "NV" + county, non-NV: Serial No. + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: November 1.

Oceania DX Contest, CW, Oct 13, 0800z to Oct 14, 0800z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: October 31.

QRP ARCI Fall QSO Party, Oct 13, 1200z to Oct 14, 2359z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ARCI: RST + (state/province/country) + ARCI No., non-ARCI: RST + (state/province/country) + power out; Logs due: October 28.

Scandinavian Activity Contest, SSB, Oct 13, 1200z to Oct 14, 1200z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: October 19.

SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, Oct 13, 1200z to Oct 15, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./"NONE"); Logs due: October 21.

Arizona QSO Party, Oct 13, 1600z to Oct 14, 0600z, Oct 14, 1400 (local) to Oct 15, 0000 (local); CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; AZ: RS(T) + county, non-AZ: RS(T) + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 24.

Pennsylvania QSO Party, Oct 13, 1600z to Oct 14, 0500z, Oct 14, 1300z to Oct 14, 2200z; CW, Phone, PSK, RTTY; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; PA: Serial No. + County, non-PA: Serial No. + ARRL/RAC Section; Logs due: November 14.

FISTS Fall Unlimited Sprint, Oct 13, 1700z to Oct 13, 2100z; 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: November 12.

South Dakota QSO Party, Oct 13, 1800z to Oct 14, 1800z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; SD: RS(T) + county, non-SD: RS(T) + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 3.

PODXS 070 Club 160m Great Pumpkin Sprint, Oct 13, 2000z to Oct 14, 2000z; PSK31; Bands: 160m Only; RST + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 21.

UBA ON Contest, CW, Oct 14, 0530z to Oct 14, 0800z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; ON: RST + Serial No. + ON Section, non-ON: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: November 4.

4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint, Oct 15, 0000z to Oct 15, 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: October 17.

ARRL School Club Roundup, Oct 15, 1300z to Oct 19, 2359z; CW, Phone, RTTY/Digital; Bands: All, except 60, 30, 17, 12m; RS(T) + Class (I/C/S) + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 3.

Telephone Pioneers QSO Party, Oct 15, 1800z to Oct 16, 0300z; CW/Digital, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, VHF/UHF; Members: RS(T) + chapter no. + name, non-Members: RS(T) + name; Logs due: December 10.

Phone Fray, Oct 17, 0230z to Oct 17, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: October 19.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Oct 17, 1300z to Oct 17, 1400z, Oct 17, 1900z to Oct 17, 2000z, Oct 18, 0300z to Oct 18, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 20.

RSGB 80m Autumn Series, Data, Oct 17, 1900z to Oct 17, 2030z; RTTY, PSK; Bands: 80m Only; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: October 20.


Microwave Fall Sprint, Oct 6, 0800z to Oct 6, 1400z; not specified; Bands: 902 MHz and above; 6-character grid square; Logs due: October 20.

UBA ON Contest, 6m, Oct 14, 0800z to Oct 14, 1000z; CW, Phone; Bands: 6m Only; ON: RS(T) + Serial No. + ON Section, non-ON: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: November 4.

See Nevada QSO Party, SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, Arizona QSO Party, Pennsylvania QSO Party, South Dakota QSO Party, Telephone Pioneers QSO Party, above.


4-Oct - 17 Oct 2018

October 4, 2018

October 5, 2018

October 6, 2018

October 7, 2018

October 8, 2018

October 9, 2018

October 11, 2018

October 12, 2018

October 13, 2018

October 14, 2018

October 15, 2018

October 16, 2018

October 17, 2018

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