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The ARRL Contest Update
October 17, 2018
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
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IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS -- THINGS TO DO

For some, the HF contest season really gets going with the CQWW SSB DX Phone contest, which will be held the weekend of October 27. Hams traveling to DX locations for the contest announce their activities via The Daily DX and other DX bulletins, and you'll typically hear contesters on the bands in the days leading up to the contest. Some big contesting stations like D4C announce their operators on Twitter. There are plenty of opportunities to practice and test beforehand with the Phone Fray held every week, and the Illinois and New York QSO Parties this coming weekend.

CONTEST SUMMARY

18 Oct - 31 Oct 2018

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

October 18

October 19

October 20

October 21

October 22

October 24

October 25

October 26

October 27

October 31

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NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

The December 2018 issue of QST includes the announcement of the 2019 ARRL RTTY Roundup. Though the contest is called the RTTY Roundup, since its first running in 1989, other digital modes have been allowed. Even at the time of the contest's inception, RTTY wasn't exactly cutting edge, and ASCII modes were on the upswing, so the contest rules showed some forethought. RTTY was and has remained the dominant mode for the RTTY Roundup, though "DG" as a mode has shown up in a few logs and has counted for points over the years.

On the 30th running of the contest, a new "DG" mode is possible: FT8. Only WSJT-X versions 2.x and later can support the ARRL RTTY Roundup's exchange. A sidebar column accompanying the contest announcement in QST notes that the WSJT-X program can be set up for the contest by:

  • Explicitly selecting the ARRL RTTY Roundup contest in the WSJT-X program's menu
  • NOT using Fox and Hound mode
  • Noting that WSJT-X is a "multi-channel decoder" and places the operator in the Single Operator Unlimited (SOU) or Multioperator, Single Transmitter category. Fldigi and Digipan software also require the operator to enter as SOU or MS if configured to decode the signals present in the audio.
  • Making sure your submitted logs show "DG" or "RY" as the mode for digital contacts
  • Using alternative FT8 frequencies during the contest to avoid congestion. For example, in 2.x versions of WSJT-X, 14.078 is also suggested as an FT8 frequency.

Stations attempting to use FT8 in the contest are encouraged to stay up to date with the latest version of the WSJT-X program, and pay heed to contest-specific operational details, such as frequency suggestions, by staying abreast of announcements on WSJT-X- or RTTY-specific reflectors and user groups.

Only WSJT-X 2.0 release candidate 2 and later versions support the ARRL RTTY Roundup contest. When setting up for the contest, make sure you've selected the right contest and entered your exchange information.

In the upcoming Worked All Germany contest, be aware that portions of the band are set aside as "Contest Free" by the contest sponsors. "Contest traffic in sectors marked as contest-free will be penalised." according to rule 3 (5) of the "General Rules for DARC DX & HF Contests." The frequencies designated as "contest free" can change from year to year.

It's not a contest, but the Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) is an investment in the future of Amateur Radio and contesting. According to Jim, K5ND: "This year's Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) is 19 to 21 October. Last year the event saw 1.5 million Scouts and Girl Scouts on the air from 150 countries with nearly 17,000 Amateur Radio operators helping to make that possible. This is a superb way to introduce Scouts to the technology, fun, and magic of Amateur Radio. We hope you're helping out with a nearby Scout or Girl Scout unit to get them on the air. But if not, you can help by making way for a few Scout stations operating around the frequencies outlined at https://k2bsa.net/scout-frequencies. You can also help them by answering their CQs and engaging Scouts in conversations. Finally, note that the Worked All Germany Contest happens that same weekend. They've designated contest free frequencies to avoid the JOTA frequencies."

According to a recent announcement on the 4O3A Genius System and Devices group, Dan, N7HQ, is now the contact/support person for 4O3A products in "the Americas." Dan states: "I'd love to hear from all of you and I can be reached danq@4o3a.com."

INRAD has announced the availability of their new W1 Headset. According to INRAD, this 13-ounce headset features "Extra wide and thick rubberized foam top padding for long stretches of wearing the headset while DXing or contesting" and comes with an "extra long straight + coiled cable with total length of almost 7 feet."

MicroHAM has introduced a new version of their flagship product, the microKeyer. The MicroHam USB microKeyer III claims among its new features a 24-bit USB Audio interface and "includes a CAT radio control interface that supports all common standards (RS-232, CI-V, Kenwood and Yaesu TTL), a powerful CW memory keyer using K1EL's WinKey, a Digital Voice Keyer for SSB, two channel audio processing for transceivers with dual receivers, automatic microphone selection, and a buffer/sequencer for amplifier or LNA control." The microKeyer III uses the same transceiver-specific DB-37 cabling scheme as previous versions of the interface, and is compatible with accessories made for the microKeyer II. (Jozef, OM7ZZ)

Scott, N3FJP, announces that version of Amateur Contact Log version 6.4 is available to address compatibility with security changes made to the ARRL LoTW website. Instructions have been posted on how to perform the upgrade.

WORD TO THE WISE

Libration

Apparent movement or oscillation of the moon, caused by changes in the physical distance between the Earth and Moon. In EME communications it is the cause of signal fading or Doppler shift. Libration fading was described and characterized by Joe Taylor, K1JT, in his paper "Frequency-Dependent Characteristics of the EME Path" presented at the 14th International EME conference.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

The Yankee Clipper Contest Club (YCCC) has a YouTube channel with recent presentations by a number of well-known contesters. At the time of this writing, eight WRTC-2018-related "speed talks" are listed, as well as an "Introduction to Antenna Modeling" presentation by K1KP, and "The Story of HQ9X" by K1XM.

Tim, K3LR, visited GB3RS Bletchley Park in the UK, then went on to attend the RSGB Convention where he was the keynote speaker.

Tomas, NW7US, tweeted a link to this NASA video describing the difference between a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) and solar flare.

Here's a video tour of the contest station PS2T, narrated by Oms, PY5EG.

The ARDF Lithuania team created a video about their journey to and participation in 19th World ARDF Championships in Sokcho, South Korea. It's well produced and worthy of a view, especially the portion showing the event sites and finishers starting at 3:00.

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RESULTS AND RECORDS

The ARRL June VHF contest results have been posted to the ARRL contest results website. A new feature of the results includes a "Soapbox Compilation" of comments that contesters submitted in their Cabrillo logs. Certificates are already available for the contest.

The preliminary results for the September North American CW Sprint are now available on the NCJ.com website. There were at least 47 multipliers available in the sprint. In this fast-paced contest, the preliminary top scorer in the High Power category had four letters in their name, while the shortest names used in the contest had two letters. (Fred, K4IU)

The results article of the 2018 Washington State Salmon run has been published, along with the full results. According to Dink, N7WA: "We had a total of 304 logs from 6 countries and 37 states and provinces. There were over 34,600 contacts represented in the logs sent in..."

The 2017 results of the JARTS (Japanese Amateur Radio Teleprinter Society) WW RTTY Contest are online, in time for this weekend's 2018 JARTS RTTY event. In 2017, nearly 200 logs were received from North American amateurs. (Hisami, 7L4IOU)

OPERATING TIP

How to be Spotted

Being "spotted" while running increases your rate and your score. But it's against most HF contest rules to ask other stations to spot you, and self-spotting is also not allowed. Friends might spot you if they hear you. Everyone can take advantage of "computer friends" listening and spotting CW and digital mode signals via the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN), but only if your CQ message is in the appropriate format. The article "Getting Spotted by the RBN" from HamSCI outlines how to call CQ when running to maximize your chances of getting spotted.

TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Ka Kit Lam, KM6VGZ, published an article on using cloud services to decode snippets of human speech received over a UHF/VHF channel. His included code samples might be useful as the basis of progress toward an "SSB Skimmer." I asked him via email what his next steps might be, and he said: "To improve speech recognition for ham radio conversation at scale, I think data is the key. Collecting lots of data from ham radio conversation and training a machine learning (ML) model based on the collected data is a promising direction... Currently, I am occupied by other stuff. I need more time to figure out what the next steps are for this project."

An SSB skimmer would require means to recognize and tune in individual SSB Signals. Robert Dick's article, "Tune SSB Automatically," in the January/February 1999 issue of QEX outlines some techniques that the author was using nearly 20 years ago on a 200 MHz Pentium computer.

KE4AL uses an Excel spreadsheet called the GridMaster to log his progress toward working the 488 US grid squares. He's been updating and improving it over time, and has also included additions by K7TAB. The spreadsheet has evolved to feature upcoming scheduled operations and record past rover activity. (K0FFY and WF7T via Twitter)

Rod, WE7X, found that the Harbor Freight HFT 63422 magnetic LED light "to be very handy. The base is magnetic, so it will stick in most places on the outside of my van, and the head rotates and swivels so it makes a good general area work light, with a moderately broad beam for...setting up and taking down antennas after dark." (via PNWVHFS reflector)

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CONVERSATION

Winning Contesters and Influencing Non-contesters

In the SOTABeams October 2018 newsletter, Richard, G3CWI, wrote about an experience of trying to put a Summit On The Air by biking to the beginning of climb, then hiking to the summit with some QRP gear. After he made his climb, he turned on his 100 mW fixed-frequency radio to hear a number of stations calling CQ TEST. Despite his numerous CQs, he wasn't rewarded with any contacts, so he made the best of his experience: he "kicked back in the heather and enjoyed the sunshine instead." Instead of having a "damned contesters!" experience, Richard understood the motivations of contesters, having been a self-described hardcore HF contester in the past. In his newsletter to his SOTA-inspired readers, he pointed out how contests can actually benefit a non-contester:

  • More opportunity to pick up a "new one" whether that be a grid square, country, zone, or band slot. In general, more stations are on more bands during contests
  • Many contest stations are well equipped to copy QRP and antenna-disadvantaged stations under adverse conditions
  • Over time, many 'bleeding edge" contest innovations have made it into mainstream gear for the general amateur population
  • Contesters limited by urban lots and high local noise levels develop effective solutions that benefit everyone

These points are worth mentioning if you engage in a polite discussion with someone who isn't pro-contest. Additionally, unwanted surprise over busy bands on contest weekends can be minimized by consultation with one of the online contest calendars. Non-contest bands can be utilized any time.

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

18 Oct - 31 Oct 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, 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.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Oct 19, 0145z to Oct 19, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: October 21.

NCCC Sprint, Oct 19, 0230z to Oct 19, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: October 21.

Zombie Shuffle, Oct 19, 1600 (local) to Oct 20, 0000 (local); CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RS(T) + (state/province/country) + (Zombie number/area code) + name; Logs due: December 15.

JARTS WW RTTY Contest, Oct 20, 0000z to Oct 22, 0000z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + age of operator; Logs due: October 31.

10-10 Int. Fall Contest, CW, Oct 20, 0001z to Oct 21, 2359z; CW; Bands: 10m Only; 10-10 Member: Name + 10-10 number + (state/province/country), Non-Member: Name + 0 + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 29.

Argentina National 7 MHz Contest, Oct 20, 0930z to Oct 20, 2230z; SSB; Bands: 40m Only; RS + 2-digit year first licensed; Logs due: November 20.

New York QSO Party, Oct 20, 1400z to Oct 21, 0200z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: All, except WARC; NY: RS(T) + county, non-NY: RS(T) + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: November 3.

Worked All Germany Contest, Oct 20, 1500z to Oct 21, 1459z; CW, SSB; Bands: (Please observe contest-free band segments, per the rules), 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; DL, DARC-Member: RS(T) + DOK (local area code), DL, non-DARC: RS(T) + "NM", non-DL: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: November 5.

Stew Perry Topband Challenge, Oct 20, 1500z to Oct 21, 1500z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: November 5.

Feld Hell Sprint, Oct 20, 2000z to Oct 20, 2359z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; (see rules); Logs due: October 24.

Asia-Pacific Fall Sprint, CW, Oct 21, 0000z to Oct 21, 0200z; CW; Bands: 20, 15m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: October 28.

Illinois QSO Party, Oct 21, 1700z to Oct 22, 0100z; CW/digital, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; IL: RS(T) + County, non-IL: RS(T) + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 22.

RSGB RoLo CW, Oct 21, 1900z to Oct 21, 2030z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + previous six-character grid square received; Logs due: October 22.

Run for the Bacon QRP Contest, Oct 22, 0100z to Oct 22, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (Member No./power); Logs due: October 28.

SKCC Sprint, Oct 24, 0000z to Oct 24, 0200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: October 28.

Phone Fray, Oct 24, 0230z to Oct 24, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: October 26.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Oct 24, 1300z to Oct 24, 1400z, Oct 24, 1900z to Oct 24, 2000z, Oct 25, 0300z to Oct 25, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 27.

RSGB 80m Autumn Series, SSB, Oct 25, 1900z to Oct 25, 2030z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: October 28.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Oct 26, 0145z to Oct 26, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: October 28.

NCCC Sprint, Oct 26, 0230z to Oct 26, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: October 28.

CQ Worldwide DX Contest, SSB, Oct 27, 0000z to Oct 29, 0000z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + CQ Zone No.; Logs due: November 2.

Phone Fray, Oct 31, 0230z to Oct 31, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: November 2.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Oct 31, 1300z to Oct 31, 1400z, Oct 31, 1900z to Oct 31, 2000z, Nov 1, 0300z to Nov 1, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 20.

UKEICC 80m Contest, Oct 31, 2000z to Oct 31, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: October 31.

VHF+ CONTESTS

Araucaria World Wide VHF Contest, Oct 20, 0000z to Oct 21, 1600z; CW, SSB, FM; Bands: 6, 2m; RS(T) + six-character grid square; Logs due: October 26.

UBA ON Contest, 2m, Oct 21, 0700z to Oct 21, 1000z; CW, Phone; Bands: 2m Only; ON: RS(T) + Serial No. + ON Section, non-ON: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: November 11.

ARRL EME Contest, Oct 27, 0000z to Oct 28, 2359z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 50-1296 MHz; Signal report; Logs due: December 25.

Also, see Feld Hell Sprint, Illinois QSO Party, above.

LOG DUE DATES

18 Oct - 31 Oct 2018

October 18, 2018

October 19, 2018

October 20, 2018

October 21, 2018

October 22, 2018

October 24, 2018

October 26, 2018

October 27, 2018

October 28, 2018

October 29, 2018

October 31, 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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