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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
November 14, 2018
Editor: Paul Bourque, N1SFE

Practice really does help you get better, and weekly contests, such as the NCCC RTTY Sprint, NCCC CW Sprint, and Phone Fray, are great lower-stakes ways to get in practice before 'main events' occurring on the weekends.

In the upcoming two-week interval two of the major contests include the ARRL Phone Sweepstakes, and the CQWW CW Contest. Even casual contesters try to work all 83 section Sweepstakes multipliers in the US and Canada, a "clean sweep."

Operators looking for a particular DX entity should check websites listing DX "planned operations" and be on for the CQWW. One such website by NG3K provides a CQWW-specific page. Special prefixes or call signs are sometimes used in contests, and becoming familiar with them beforehand can save time in the contest.


14 Nov - 27 Nov 18

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

November 14

November 15

November 16

November 17

November 18

November 19

November 20

November 21

November 22

November 23

November 24

November 28

NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST is the new place for everything about ARRL Radio Contests! The new website will organize the information by contest, with single click access to a particular event's rules, results, lists of logs received, and so on. According to The ARRL Letter, "... the previous Contest Results Articles web page, which offers current and historical results dating back some 20 or more years, will be known as the "legacy site" going forward."

N1MM Logger+ users: Please upgrade to the latest version if you intend to use the program in the upcoming Phone ARRL Sweepstakes. According to Tom, N1MM: "There is a new version available with improved Sweepstakes parsing." See more information on using N1MM Logger+ in Sweepstakes in the Operating Tip below, and be aware that additional updates to N1MM Logger+ may occur between now and the contest.

The Society of Midwest Contesters has announced the 2019 North American Collegiate Championship. In 2018, this contest-within-a-contest ran concurrently with the Phone North American QSO Party (NAQP Phone). New for 2019 is the addition of a RTTY contest, coincident with the 2019 NAQP RTTY. While only college and university stations can compete in the NACC, contacts with them are worth points to NAQP competitors. During the contest NACC competitors will be sending their scores to an online scoreboard, so you can cheer for your favorite. ICOM is the principal sponsor of NACC awards.

Release Candidate "RC4" of WSJT-X is available, see the announcement here. The developers urge anyone upgrading to the new version to read the release notes thoroughly, since the upgrade requires operator settings changes and may not work "out of the box" when upgrading from previous versions. This latest version of WSJT-X removes compatibility with earlier versions of the software in certain circumstances.

Coinciding with the release of WSJT-X RC4, the WSJT-X development team is having a practice session to help operators become familiar with the software and identify operational issues. From the release notes: "A one-hour FT8 mock contest will be held next week: November 20, 0200-0300 UTC (that's Monday evening, November 19, NA time). Watch for a separate announcement with more details."

Jose, CT1BOH tweeted a block diagram of the station setup he'll be using for CQWW CW later this month. Operating as D41CV from the D4C contest station, Jose will be practicing his 2BSIQ (Two Band Synchronized Interleaved QSOs) technique in the contest. If conditions improve, could 3BSIQ be a possibility?

Though this furniture is not targeted towards Amateur Radio Operators that build or repair things, when I saw these I thought that they could go a long way to keeping small parts organized. There are some good ideas here, pending some changes to incorporate tools and test equipment. Add a nice rug and it could really tie the ham shack together.

Teletype machines, those oil-drinking, paper-breathing beasts of Baudot, originally had green-colored keys, and required occasional mechanical as well as electronic maintenance. Thirty years ago's computers mostly made the mechanical devices obsolete, but the sounds and smells of the old machines live on in some basements, and discussion of state-of-the-lost-art continues on the greenkeys email reflector. Now these oil-electric hybrids have a new yearly event as Jeff, WK6I, announces "Green Key Night" to run concurrently with Straight Key Night, January 1, 0000 to 2359 UTC. See the official announcement for more details.

Well-known contester and CQ Contest Hall of Fame member Paul, W0AIH, passed away on October 31. NCJ Editor, Scott, K0MD, penned a tribute to Paul, describing his life and touching on why there's been such an outpouring of emotion from the Amateur Radio and contesting community about his passing.

Scott, KA9FOX, has spearheaded an effort to establish a W0AIH Memorial Scholarship fund (to be administered by the ARRL Foundation). According to the GoFundMe page: "On October 31, 2018, the amateur radio world lost one of its best ambassadors, Rev. Paul Bittner, WØAIH, at age 84. Licensed for nearly 70 years, Paul built one of the largest ham radio stations in the world, and for decades, opened it up for others to use and operate. Over the years, Paul also helped countless hams to get on the air, or to improve their stations, by installing their towers and antennas. Paul never passed up an opportunity to help a fellow ham. As a remembrance to this great, giving man, we would like to establish The Rev. Paul E. Bittner, WØAIH, Memorial Scholarship via the ARRL Foundation. This will be a permanent award, with a $1,000 scholarship awarded each year to a deserving young amateur radio operator pursuing higher education (to be used for tuition, books, fees and other educational expenses)." It's not necessary to use the GoFundMe website if you're interested in contributing, instructions are on the website for those that prefer to send a check.

Jan, SM3CER is convalescing after a September accident. Consequently the SM3CER Contest Calendar is not current with contest information while Jan focuses on his recovery.

Ronnie Bolton, WU4G, writes: "The Central Virginia Contest Club (CVCC) has obtained the club call of W4MYA to honor our long time member, friend, and contester extraordinaire - Bob Morris, who, as you may know, became a SK in August. We hope to continue his legacy of "Run 'em Dude". Bob and his station were instrumental in CVCC's Local Club category successes for many years. His contribution to contesting will be sorely missed." Ronnie is the CVCC President.


Pareidolia - After a weekend RTTY contest, you might think you're still hearing RTTY signals in wind noise, random static, or while driving... but there's no RTTY there. This phenomenon is called Pareidolia. Your brain is trying to impose order on random sounds. You are "perceiving a familiar pattern where none exists."


Scott, K0MD, Editor of NCJ, was interviewed on Episode 8 of the No Nonsense Amateur Radio Podcast.

Pat, N9RV, past editor of NCJ, was interviewed back in March, 2018, by Tim, K3LR. The video was just posted to YouTube.

Gerry, W1VE, operating VY1AAA in the ARRL CW Sweepstakes, tweeted how an operator at N0AX stood out from everyone else in the pileup. You can also hear the exchange for yourself.

Paul, K9PG, made a video of a drive between a number of WRTC 2018 operating sites in the company of W0AIH, K9NW, and DM9EE. (via SMC and Contest reflectors)

Someone at Apple (more likely, their ad agency) knows Morse Code, and isn't afraid to use it.

Tony N2TK (left), and Steve, NY3B (right) traveled to KP2M for the CQ WW SSB Contest. "Lots of damage still apparent on St. Croix and at KP2M we only had one usable tower after significant damage to the station from last year's storms. Plans are underway, footers dug, and hopefully by next year's contest the 2nd tower will be erected. We ended up putting up a 20 meter sloper and supported much of the US runs with that antenna, allowing us to simultaneously work EU on other bands with the beam. The Beverages on 160 meters were damaged last year and we didn't put them out this year, making 160 meters a little challenging. All in all we did put a few Qs in the books and both Tony and I had a great time down there. 73 de NY3B [Credit: Steve, NY3B, Photo]


ARRL CW Sweepstakes is done for this year, and the log deadline has just passed. Many stations used "49" as the contest exchange check in honor of recent Silent Key Paul, W0AIH. From the reports, the "VI" section appears to have been the rarest. A quick look at the claimed scores indicates that if you're aiming for the top-ten box as a single operator, SO2R is mandatory.

Preliminary results for the October 2018 ARRL School Club Roundup have made their way to the web. K9SOU was happy with their score and preliminary win in the Senior High School category and tweeted about it.

Raw scores before log checking for the 2018 CQWW SSB Contest have been posted. A contact form is provided to report discrepancies.

Preliminary scores for the Scandinavian Activity Contest (SAC) CW 2018 contest are available on the SAC website.


Tom, N1MM, CQ Contest Hall of Fame member and the N1MM in N1MM Logger+, provided some logging tips just before the now past ARRL CW Sweepstakes. With a few changes, they're also valid for the upcoming ARRL SSB Sweepstakes:

  1. Verify that you're using the latest version of software, as there may changes relevant to your contest.
  2. Make sure you use the correct exchange. Look up your precedence according to Sweepstakes rules.
  3. You don't need to send a signal report, so make sure you're not using 59 in any contest messages.
  4. Practice entering the Sweepstakes exchange in your logging program. Make sure you know how your logging program interprets the serial number portion of the exchange versus the check. Know how to use the keyboard keys to move between entry fields. N1MM Logger+ specific: the exchange textbox will parse the exchange for you and MAKE ASSUMPTIONS about which number is the number and which is the check. There is ambiguity with one and two digit numbers, so as a precaution, always enter in couplets, for example 12A or 77CT. If a number is attached to a precedence, it will ALWAYS be interpreted as a serial number. If attached to a section, it will ALWAYS be interpreted as a check.
  5. N1MM Logger+ specific: The frame above the exchange tells you how the program interpreted what you typed.
  6. N1MM Logger+ specific: You may enter the exchange data multiple times. The last data entered is used. Watch the frame to see this work. 123A 55CT 56CT will be interpreted as 123A 56CT.
  7. N1MM Logger+ specific: You may enter a call sign in the exchange textbox and it will override what is in the call sign textbox. Just press space and type the correct call.
  8. Always log what you copy. Use pre-filled information only if it's correct. N1MM Logger+ specific: Call history will fill in only the check and section. Make sure they are correct. If they don't need to be reentered, you can just type the serial number and precedence. For example, using a pre-fill database, typing N1MM<space> might fill the exchange textbox with "61 CT ", after which you can type the serial number and precedence. If N1MM actually sends 61 CT, you can just hit return to log the contact. If you copy a different year and section just type those in, it will override the "61 CT ". Watch the exchange frame to see how it works.
  9. Practice well before the contest, not at 2050 UTC.

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are the new wires since more of how we process radio signals, or control equipment is about moving data from one application to another. In version 1.0.7336 of N1MM Logger+ a new feature, "UDP Broadcast for DXers" was added, described as: "... new XML broadcast for external call sign lookup that other applications can use to improve integration. Trigger point in N1MM+: Operator uses the TAB or space key when in the call sign box. The new DXLab N1MM to DXKeeper Gateway takes advantage of it by doing a call sign lookup in all appropriate applications." Besides the explicit use with DXLab, this feature could be used by a DXpedition and appropriate external program to thank donors as they are worked. By exposing integration points each application can concentrate on doing what it does best. N1MM Logger+ doesn't have to add features to support QSLing, award tracking, and QSO uploads, and DX Keeper doesn't have to handle contest features.

When Ol' Sol erupts with CMEs (Coronal Mass Ejections), there can be real consequences. Power grids can be disrupted, satellites become unreliable or damaged, GPS can degrade. During the Vietnam War in the 1970s, CMEs were likely responsible for the premature detonation of sea mines. The CMEs influenced the Earth's magnetic field to the extent that the munitions were fooled into thinking a ship was passing near.

"Antenna Fire" is not something you'd expect at US Amateur power levels, but here near Seattle an FM antenna shared by a number of local stations caught fire last week. One local radio station tweeted a picture of the antenna burning at about the 200 foot level.


Troubleshooting is a Process

Last week, while getting ready for Phone Sweepstakes, I was reminded in a good way of the importance of having a repeatable process for getting to the root of problems. Members of our team had just assembled and installed a newer model SteppIR antenna to replace one that had been removed from the tower a few months ago. After assembling the beam on the ground, hoisting it to the side-arm rotator, and getting it installed, we found that one element was inoperative, usually indicating a break in the wiring to the antenna. So we started troubleshooting the cable at the shack and worked our way to the tower. We identified an issue with one of the circuits, which culminated with finding a broken wire at a connector in a junction box on the tower. After fixing it and putting it back, we found that the element still didn't work. At this point, we could have assumed that the wiring was all good since we'd just worked on it, and the next step was to bring the antenna back to the ground. Instead, we did the boring, patient thing, and started the troubleshooting process all over again. We found another break in a different wire to the same element. A climb up the tower to inspect the same connector revealed we'd broken an adjacent wire while fixing the first. Had we gone with our gut and removed the antenna, we'd have wasted a bunch of time removing a working antenna from the tower.

As we were cleaning up, while we were verbally patting ourselves on the back over our good fortune and diligence, we noticed an internal part of the new antenna that we'd set aside during the construction phase. It was still on the ground, while the rest of the antenna was in the air. So, that antenna is coming down again before the contest after all.

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


14 Nov - 27 Nov 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.


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: see rules.

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.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Nov 16, 0145z to Nov 16, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: November 18.

QRP Fox Hunt, Nov 16, 0200z to Nov 16, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: November 22.

NCCC Sprint, Nov 16, 0230z to Nov 16, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: November 18.

YO International PSK31 Contest, Nov 16, 1600z to Nov 16, 2200z; PSK31; Bands: 80m Only; YO: RST + Serial No. + County, non-YO: RST + Serial No. + Country; Logs due: December 1.

SARL Field Day Contest, Nov 17, 1000z to Nov 18, 1000z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS(T) + Number of transmitters + Category (see rules) + Province (or "DX"); Logs due: see rules.

LZ DX Contest, Nov 17, 1200z to Nov 18, 1200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; LZ: RS(T) + 2-letter district, non-LZ: RS(T) + ITU Zone No.; Logs due: December 3.

All Austrian 160-Meter Contest, Nov 17, 1600z to Nov 17, 2359z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; OE: RST + Serial No. + District Code, non-OE: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: November 30.

REF 160-Meter Contest, Nov 17, 1700z to Nov 18, 0100z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; RST + Serial No. + Department Code; Logs due: December 2.

Feld Hell Sprint, Nov 17, 1900z to Nov 17, 2059z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40m; (see rules); Logs due: November 21.

RSGB 2nd 1.8 MHz Contest, CW, Nov 17, 1900z to Nov 17, 2300z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; UK: RST + Serial No. + District Code, non-UK: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: November 18.

ARRL Sweepstakes Contest, SSB, Nov 17, 2100z to Nov 19, 0300z; SSB; 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 26.

Homebrew and Oldtime Equipment Party, Nov 18, 1300z to Nov 18, 1500z (40m), Nov 18, 1500z to Nov 18, 1700z (80m); CW; Bands: 80, 40m; RST + Serial No. + "/" + class; Logs due: December 21.

Run for the Bacon QRP Contest, Nov 19, 0200z to Nov 19, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (Member No./power); Logs due: November 25.

Phone Fray, Nov 21, 0230z to Nov 21, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: November 23.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Nov 21, 1300z to Nov 21, 1400z, Nov 21, 1900z to Nov 21, 2000z, Nov 22, 0300z to Nov 22, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 24.

RSGB 80m Autumn Series, SSB, Nov 21, 2000z to Nov 21, 2130z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: November 24.

NAQCC CW Sprint, Nov 22, 0130z to Nov 22, 0330z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: November 25.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Nov 23, 0145z to Nov 23, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: November 25.

NCCC Sprint, Nov 23, 0230z to Nov 23, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: November 25.

CQ Worldwide DX Contest, CW, Nov 24, 0000z to Nov 26, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + CQ Zone No.; Logs due: November 30.

SKCC Sprint, Nov 28, 0000z to Nov 28, 0200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: December 2.

QRP Fox Hunt, Nov 28, 0200z to Nov 28, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: November 29.

Phone Fray, Nov 28, 0230z to Nov 28, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: November 30.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Nov 28, 1300z to Nov 28, 1400z, Nov 28, 1900z to Nov 28, 2000z, Nov 29, 0300z to Nov 29, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: December 1.

UKEICC 80m Contest, Nov 28, 2000z to Nov 28, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: November 28.


ARRL EME Contest, Nov 24, 0000z to Nov 25, 2359z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 50-1296 MHz; Signal report; Logs due: December 25.


14 Nov - 27 Nov 2018

November 15, 2018

November 16, 2018

November 17, 2018

November 18, 2018

November 19, 2018

November 20, 2018

November 21, 2018

November 22, 2018

November 23, 2018

November 24, 2018

November 25, 2018

November 26, 2018

November 28, 2018

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