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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
October 31, 2018
Editor: Paul Bourque, N1SFE

If you haven't set up for HF operation yet, Bob, K0NR, discusses some of the barriers you might face, as well as ways to overcome them. One of the suggestions is to find a mentor to help you get on the air, which should be the first thing to try.

If you haven't already, give one of the ARRL Sweepstakes Contests (Phone or CW) a try. The CW version can be daunting, with many stations sending the long exchange at 30-plus words per minute. While you can always ask stations to QRS, it can be less stressful to listen for stations that are already sending at a speed you can copy. The best way to get better at CW Sweepstakes is to participate. The ARRL Sweepstakes web page has pointers, and a link to the 2018 Operating Guide that can help to explain some of the nuances of the contest, and why it's a perennial favorite.


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

1 Nov 18 - 14 Nov 18

November 1

November 2

November 3

November 4

November 6

November 7

November 8

November 9

November 10

November 11

November 12

November 14


Please be cognizant of emergency operations that may be occurring on the amateur bands. For example, at the time of this writing, IARU Region 3 is using 7.095 MHz for Philippine emergency net operations in preparation for typhoon Yutu. Please keep clear of this frequency, and be aware other frequencies may also be used. Yutu made landfall in the Northern Mariana Islands on October 24, causing widespread damage. (PY2KC via Whatsapp)

November includes "both kinds" of ARRL Sweepstakes, CW and Phone. Sweepstakes started in 1930, and is the oldest domestic radio contest. First up is the CW portion, the weekend of November 3. The Sweepstakes exchange is notoriously long compared to other contests since it was inspired by the ARRL Radiogram Format. Consisting of a contact serial number, a "precedence" (operating category), your call sign, your "check" (year licensed), and ARRL/RAC section, there's a lot to miscopy. It's especially important to provide the exchange without any other unnecessary words or information, in standard order. It's also important to provide ALL of the exchange, which includes your call sign. You might be tempted to omit sending your call sign, but that would not be a valid exchange. The 2018 ARRL Sweepstakes Operating Guide (PDF) is available as a download from the ARRL Sweepstakes web page, and includes the rules as well as helpful pointers. Even if you've done sweepstakes since your "check," it still pays to read through the Operating Guide, and review the contest results from last year. (Portions courtesy of Rick, WW1ME, and The ARRL Letter)

When you're done reading the comments about last weekend's CQWW on 3830scores, head over to Twitter and search with the hashtag #CQWW. You could also try #CQWWSSB, and later this month, #CQWWCW. You'll get lots of spontaneous posts capturing contest moments, some with images and video. You don't need to log in to see the tweets.

Tree, N6TR, has changed the name of the October "warm-up" Stew Perry Topband Distance Challenge event as a memorial to Jack, VE1ZZ, who passed away a few days ago. The new name of the October event is the "LowBand Jack." VE1ZZ was a veritable 160-meter beacon from his Nova Scotia location, and an inspiration to many.

SOTA, or Summits on the Air, is an activity that involves climbing hills or mountains with radio gear and putting them on the air. Activators are on the summit, while Chasers communicate with the Activators. Points are awarded for Activating and Chasing, and parties compete to attain levels of achievement. Dave, N7LKL, describes how he prepares to be an Activator in the November/December 2018 Pacific Northwest SOTA Newsletter. Much of his preparation is relevant to any trip involving trails and map reading, and he has also has suggestions for things he does to encourage non-amateurs to accompany him on his trips. Also in the newsletter is a report by young amateur Katie, KI7HCX, about how she competed for contacts with her dad, W7TAO, when they climbed Dock Butte together.

Some contests such as the North American QSO Party (NAQP) have team competitions, where a number stations choose to combine scores to compete against other teams. Even if a particular contest doesn't offer it, sometimes there are friendly competitions between radio clubs or members of a radio club. The Contest Online Score Board has announced a new feature that supports the creation of teams, and the display of live team scores during contests. According to Victor, VA2WA, "We hope this new feature provides a way for local clubs to create internal competitions that increase the operating time and scores of their members."

On November 4, 2018, at 0200 local, Daylight Saving Time ends in for those countries (and states) that observe it. Don't change the time on your logging computer, it will probably do it automatically. Frank, PA3U, found a graphical illustration of how to handle various devices. (NJ4Y via Twitter)

An organization is preserving and curating portions of SDR-recorded radio spectrum. The Radio Spectrum Archive wants to make it possible to easily "tune in" a station via a web interface and placing it in the time and frequency context of its peers. Some of the earliest recordings date to 1986, when Medium Wave Broadcast Band DXers recorded the entire AM radio band onto VHS tapes. The advent of the internet has changed the broadcast landscape, causing many stations to disappear; it's only fitting that some of these signals can now live forever on the internet.

The proceedings of the 2018 Pacific Northwest VHF Conference are available via the PNWVHFS website. Slides from the presentations on power dividers, coast-to-coast grid roving, multiband transverters, and solid state power amplifiers are available for download.

A recent Yasme Foundation press release highlights their supporting grant to the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program as well as naming the latest Yasme Excellence award recipients. "The Yasme Excellence Award is presented to individuals and groups who, through their own service, creativity, effort and dedication, have made a significant contribution to Amateur Radio." The award recipient call signs of JH1AJT, K1LI, K9VV, K6TU will be in the logs of many contesters worldwide, and they participate in many facets of the hobby.


Occultation - The movement of one object in front of another, blocking its visibility. This term is typically used in astronomy. Occultation of radio signals by a planet's atmosphere can be used to measure characteristics of that atmosphere.


If you want to keep RF out, or RF in, this portable faraday cage from V Technical Textiles might do the job. The material is a silver coated rip stop nylon, one of many types of specialized textiles they use.

K3LR's presentation at the RSGB Convention, "25 Years of Multi-Multi Contesting," is available for viewing on YouTube.

Craig's, M0FLF, 41-second video shows that he doesn't need a microphone during the CQWW SSB contest when he uses the voice keyer of an Icom IC-7300.


From Bart, W9JJ, ARRL Contest Branch Manager: "The 2018 IARU HF Full Results and accoutrements are now available on the ARRL web. See the ARRL Contest Results Articles page, select 2018, then scroll down..."

The 222 Mhz and Up Distance Contest preliminary results are now available on the ARRL Contest Results website. The full results are slated for publication in the February 2019 issue of QST.

Bill, K6WSC, Arizona QSO Party Chairman, writes: "The 2018 Arizona QSO Party results have been published. The record number of logs submitted show over 12,000 contacts were made in the contest. All 15 Arizona counties were activated. 13 New Contester logs were submitted. A total of 3945 stations participated in the 2018 AZQP. Customized AZQP Certificates are available online to all entrants. If you worked the ARRL Arizona Section Manager Rick, W7RAP, you can also create your own customized ARRL-AZ QSL online. Thanks to all who participated and helped make the 2018 AZQP great!"

All scores are still preliminary, but K3LR's is at the top of the USA Multi-Multi heap (again) in the 2018 CQWW SSB Contest according to scores posted on If and when confirmed, this will be the fourteenth consecutive win for K3LR.

Tim, K3LR, jotted this quick note: "Subject: 14 years straight - #1 CQWW Phone USA Multi Multi. Streak started with a win in 2005 CQWW Phone. The 2018 win is subject to log checking - so it is not final yet. Second place is more than 2 million points behind - so we should be good."

According to, the next best claimed score is over 2 million points behind Tim's crew's claimed score of 14,876,680 points. KC1XX is currently in second place with 12.26 million points, followed closely by W3LPL's claimed score of 12.17 million points. From the published statistics, the tentative team win involved using the time-tested strategy of working more stations, more countries, and more zones than their competitors.


Work Local Stations on a Dead Band

This tip is courtesy of Rod, W7OM: In contests that have per-band multipliers, it pays to work at least one local station on every "dead" band. A mult is a mult, and sometimes a mult can be two mults: In CQWW, one local contact could count for a Zone and Country multiplier. Work you at 12:30pm local on 10 meters?


Jim, K9YC, has published a new paper on his website, entitled "Chokes and Isolation Transformers For Receiving Antennas." One key takeaway includes using chokes or transformers to break up the feed lines to your receive antennas into non-resonant lengths, like you would with guy wires. This helps to reduce the influence on your transmit antenna's pattern, and makes the the feed line a less efficient antenna. Jim has tested a number of types of magnetic material for chokes, and presents practical designs you can use.

The Pacific Northwest VHF Conference included W6PQL's talk "SSPA's - A QRO UPDATE." Jim discussed some new 65 V LDMOS devices that are appealing for a solid-state power amplifier builder, and some completed designs using the popular BLF188. Jim notes that some of the single-band PA designs for UHF EME are suitable for placement at the antenna, minimizing feed line losses. His single-device LDMOS 600 W power amplifier for 1296 MHz is interesting, as it eliminates the use of high-power RF capacitors by careful printed circuit board design and layout.


Fixing Fixing It

Being able to construct and repair our own gear has been part of the Amateur Radio ethos since the beginning. But today's radio gear is feature-full and complicated, requiring up-to-date tools and skills to work on it, and much of the "radio" part is now implemented in software, not hardware. Besides the schematic, source code is required to fully understand the design of most transceivers. Unless the code inside the radio is open source, manufacturers are generally reluctant to share the source, even for models that are out of production.

In the past, even when a manufacturer didn't publish schematics, troubleshooting, repair, and modification of gear was possible by tracing the schematics and using instruments like VOMs, oscilloscopes, etc. With most of the functionality in software, tools like in-circuit emulators, debuggers, logic probes, and disassemblers come into play, except that the legality of using those tools to repair your own gear in certain situations is questionable due to the DMCA - Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Equipment containing any "locks or protections" to safeguard embedded computer programs might be subject to the DMCA and its provisions. Proprietary software, a chip's programming fuse, the use of specialized connectors, or even glue obscuring a part on a printed circuit board could be construed as a lock or protection. The DMCA was intended to protect the intellectual property of manufacturers, but has also had a chilling effect on the repairability of devices for the last twenty years.

Some companies appear to be using the DMCA to limit repairs and maintenance of their products to authorized company representatives. Others have used it to ensure that only their brand of consumables can be used with their products.

Last week, as part of the DMCA's provision to consider consumer petitions for exemptions every three years, the US Copyright Office handed down rulings on petitions brought before them to allow circumventing locks or protections in very specific instances. It's now OK to repair smart phones, home appliances, or home systems and control systems, even if protection circumvention is required. You won't be running afoul of the DMCA if you repair your own tractor, or automobile. You can also pay someone else to repair those on your behalf. There are other exemptions, as well.

The complete language of the ruling is available online. But nowhere in the text is a discussion of anything that appears to be Amateur Radio equipment, or any category that our gear would fall into. So, it would appear that for now, if your CPU-controlled out-of-production rig breaks you might find that you are unable to take appropriate steps to repair it - by law.

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


1 Nov - 14 Nov 18

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, 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: November 3.

NRAU 10m Activity Contest, Nov 1, 1800z to Nov 1, 1900z (CW), Nov 1, 1900z to Nov 1, 2000z (SSB), Nov 1, 2000z to Nov 1, 2100z (FM), Nov 1, 2100z to Nov 1, 2200z (Dig); CW, SSB, FM, Digital; Bands: 10m Only; RS(T) + 6-character grid square; Logs due: November 15.

SKCC Sprint Europe, Nov 1, 2000z to Nov 1, 2200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: November 8.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Nov 2, 0145z to Nov 2, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: November 4.

NCCC Sprint, Nov 2, 0230z to Nov 2, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: November 4.

Jakarta RTTY Contest, Nov 3, 0000z to Nov 3, 2359z; RTTY; Bands: 15m Only; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: November 10.

IPARC Contest, CW, Nov 3, 0600z to Nov 3, 1000z, Nov 3, 1400z to Nov 3, 1800z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; USA IPA Members: RST + Serial No. + "IPA" + State, non-USA IPA Members: RST + Serial No. + "IPA", non-IPA Members: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: December 31.

Ukrainian DX Contest, Nov 3, 1200z to Nov 4, 1200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Ukraine: RS(T) + 2-letter oblast, non-Ukraine: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: December 4.

ARRL Sweepstakes Contest, CW, Nov 3, 2100z to Nov 5, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Serial No. + Precedence (Q/A/B/U/M/S) + [your call sign] + Check + ARRL/RAC Section; Logs due: November 12.

IPARC Contest, SSB, Nov 4, 0600z to Nov 4, 1000z, Nov 4, 1400z to Nov 4, 1800z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; USA IPA Members: RS + Serial No. + "IPA" + State, non-USA IPA Members: RS + Serial No. + "IPA", non-IPA Members: RS + Serial No.; Logs due: December 31.

EANET Sprint, Nov 4, 0800z to Nov 4, 1200z; Any; Bands: Any; RS(T); Logs due: November 18.

High Speed Club CW Contest, Nov 4, 0900z to Nov 4, 1100z, Nov 4, 1500z to Nov 4, 1700z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Members: RST + HSC No., non-Members: RST + "NM"; Logs due: November 25.

ARS Spartan Sprint, Nov 6, 0200z to Nov 6, 0400z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: November 8.

Phone Fray, Nov 7, 0230z to Nov 7, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: November 9.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Nov 7, 1300z to Nov 7, 1400z, Nov 7, 1900z to Nov 7, 2000z, Nov 8, 0300z to Nov 8, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 10.

UKEICC 80m Contest, Nov 7, 2000z to Nov 7, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: October 31.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Nov 9, 0145z to Nov 9, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: November 11.

NCCC Sprint, Nov 9, 0230z to Nov 9, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: November 11.

WAE DX Contest, RTTY, Nov 10, 0000z to Nov 11, 2359z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: November 26.

PODXS 070 Club Triple Play Low Band Sprint, Nov 10, 0000z to Nov 12, 2359z; PSK31; Bands: 160, 80, 40m; RST + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 19.

10-10 Int. Fall Contest, Digital, Nov 10, 0001z to Nov 11, 2359z; Digital; Bands: 10m Only; 10-10 Member: Name + 10-10 number + (state/province/country), Non-Member: Name + 0 + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 19.

JIDX Phone Contest, Nov 10, 0700z to Nov 11, 1300z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; JA: RST + Prefecture No., non-JA: RST + CQ Zone No.; Logs due: December 12.

OK/OM DX Contest, CW, Nov 10, 1200z to Nov 11, 1200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; OK/OM: RST + 3-letter district code, non-OK/OM: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: November 18.

SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, Nov 10, 1200z to Nov 12, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./"NONE"); Logs due: November 18.

CQ-WE Contest, Nov 10, 1900z to Nov 10, 2300z (CW/Digital), Nov 11, 0100z to Nov 11, 0500z (Phone), Nov 11, 1900z to Nov 11, 2300z (Phone), Nov 12, 0100z to Nov 12, 0500z (CW/Digital); CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2, 432 MHz; Name + Location Code (see rules) + Years of Service (see rules); Logs due: December 1.

AWA Bruce Kelley 1929 QSO Party, Nov 10, 2300z to Nov 11, 2300z, Nov 17, 2300z to Nov 18, 2300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40m; RST + Name + QTH + Eqpt Year + Transmitter Type (see rules for format) + Input Power(W); Logs due: January 1.

4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint, Nov 12, 0100z to Nov 12, 0300z; 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: November 14.

RSGB 80m Autumn Series, Data, Nov 12, 2000z to Nov 12, 2130z; RTTY, PSK; Bands: 80m Only; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: November 15.

Phone Fray, Nov 14, 0230z to Nov 14, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: November 16.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Nov 14, 1300z to Nov 14, 1400z, Nov 14, 1900z to Nov 14, 2000z, Nov 15, 0300z to Nov 15, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 17.


SARL VHF/UHF Analogue Contest, Nov 10, 1000z to Nov 11, 1000z; Analog (CW/SSB/AM/FM); Bands: 50 MHz, 70 MHz, 144 MHz, 432 MHz, 1296 MHz; RS(T) + 6-character grid locator; Logs due: December 3.
Also, see SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, above.


November 1, 2018

November 2, 2018

November 3, 2018

November 4, 2018

November 5, 2018

November 6, 2018

November 8, 2018

November 9, 2018

November 10, 2018

November 11, 2018

November 12, 2018

November 14, 2018

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