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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
November 28, 2018
Editor: Paul Bourque, N1SFE

Despite the lack of sunspots,10-meter contests must go on! The upcoming ARRL 10-Meter Contest provides a generous 36 hours of operating within the 48-hour contest period. Most operators will confine their CW or SSB operation to daylight hours to take advantage of any potential band openings. If you're in an area of higher population density, make your operating plans known to your radio club's members for extra contacts. For example, emailing people to let them know "I'll be on at noon during the 10-meter contest" could encourage others to get on for a contact. If you prefer a digital mode, you could try the 10 Meter RTTY Contest (CANCELLED, See website) on December 2, which follows on the heels of the first-ever FT8 Roundup, on December 1.

Operating on the 160-meter band can be a challenge just from the size of the antennas required for this band, and the noise levels in any areas that are populated. But because we are at the bottom of the sunspot cycle, Top Band conditions have the potential to be very good this year during the ARRL 160-Meter contest. One strategy to get on the air if you don't have your own antennas is to find a DXer in your radio club that would let you use their station to operate.


29 Nov - 12 Dec 2018

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

November 29

November 30

December 1

December 2

December 4

December 5

December 6

December 7

December 8

December 9

December 10

December 12


The ARRL 160-Meter Contest is on tap for November 30. Since we're near or at the bottom of the sunspot cycle, this could be a year when new records are set, just as 2017 favored many in the Single Operator Unlimited High Power category. Records for this and other ARRL contests can be found on the ARRL contest records web page.

Scott, N3FJP, has upgraded his ARRL RTTY Roundup Contest Logging software to version 3.5. New in this version is the "ability to separate RTTY from other digital modes in the Cabrillo submittal file."

It may be the first contest exclusively for the FT8 mode -- the FT8 Roundup occurs December 1, 1800z to December 2, 2359z. According to the FT8 Roundup website, participants must use WSJT-X version 2.0 RC4 or later, since that version of the software supports the exchange. It's important that all participants read the rules, and also read the WSJT-X release notes for version 2.0. Entry classes include Single Operator Unlimited and Multioperator with all classes limited to 100 W. According to the rules, no entry class allows more than one signal to be transmitted simultaneously unless the software allows it and those signals are in the same audio passband. Two practice sessions before the FT8 Roundup contest will be available to make sure software is installed and working, and to gain familiarity with the newest version. The first is November 29 0200-0300z, the second December 1, 0200-0300z. More information on the practice sessions is available here.

FT8 users: The WSJT-X development team is urging you to update the version of your software to a version of WSJT-X v2.0 by December 10. Joe Taylor, K1JT, writes: "As soon as possible after December 10, and certainly by January 1, 2019, everyone should be using WSJT-X 2.0 or a compatible v2.0 version of derivative programs such as JTDX or MSHV. As of today, PSKreporter statistics show roughly 3,000 users of WSJT-X versions older than v1.9.1, 9500 users of v1.9.1, and 3,000 users of v2.0-rc#. Please, everyone, help us to spread the word that upgrading to v2.0 after December 10 is very important. There will be no looking back!" WSJT-X v2.0 RC5 is available now on the WSJT-X web page.

The Potomac Valley Radio Club (PVRC) November 2018 Newsletter highlighted a "Team Exuberance" GoFundMe effort to bring six young contesters and their parents to the K3LR superstation to compete in the CQ WW WPX SSB Contest in March 2019. Their fundraising goal is $5,000, which will be used for "transportation, hotels, meals, and other needs." Included in the youth operators are Violetta, KM4ATT; Bryant, KG5HVO; David, VE7DZO; Chris, KD8YVJ; Dhruv, KC9ZJX; Marty, KC1CWF, and Mason, KM4SII.

Contester Terry, AB5K, passed away unexpectedly last week. Terry had a hand in many areas of Amateur Radio, including the packet cluster network and N1MM Logger+.


"RF Black Hole"

A colloquial, non-technical, non-scientific, non-specific description of the location that you are operating from when transmitted or received signals are negatively influenced by a known or unknown combination of propagation, antennas, location, interference, time of day, opinion, or other factors. If you perceive that anyone else has better propagation than you, then you are in an "RF Black Hole."


The operators of K6AM worked hard to make a claimed 2,004 contacts and "Clean Sweep" in the ARRL Phone Sweepstakes from SDG. It might be enough to win them the top spot in the Multi Single High Power category. Operators pictured: K6AM, KK6NON, N6MJ, N6WIN. N6KI and KI6RRN, not pictured, were also part of the team. [N6KI, photo]

Val, NV9L, put together a tribute video for Paul, W0AIH, from photos collected over the years.

Catch up with #CQWW tweets.

Bob, WC3O, writes: "On Saturday, November 10th 2018 a group of Pittsburgh area hams traveled to DX Engineering in Ohio. We presented Teri Grizer, K8MNJ, with an award in appreciation for her work and extraordinary efforts in helping hams around the world. No matter if it is supplying equipment for a DXpedition, organizing many aspects of Contest University, organizing events at DX Engineering or many other aspects of her job -- Teri keeps it all straight. Congratulations Teri and thank you for all your work, from Skyview Radio Society K3MJW/W3GH and radio amateurs around the globe." [Al, N2MA, photo]


Bruce Meier, N1LN, CW Open Manager, writes: "The CW Operators CW Open is over for another year with the final results released in the November 2018 issue of the Solid Copy Newsletter. This was another banner year for participation in the three session CWOpen. Even with the questionable propagation we broke all previous records from log submission (up >34%), QSO counts (up >40%), Multiplier counts (up > 55%) and total and individual session scores with six single session results exceeding 100k points. We are all looking forward to breaking more records in the 2019 CW Open that will be held on September 7, 2019. For additional CW Open and CW Operators Club information please refer to the CWO website."

The results from last December's 21st Stew Perry Topband Distance Challenge have been posted. This year's Stew Perry TBDC is December 29, 2018, starting at 1500z. (Tree, N6TR)

Preliminary results for the September 2018 North American RTTY Sprint have been posted. According to Ed, W0YK, the final results article will be in the January-February 2019 issue of NCJ (National Contest Journal).


Set Up your Radio Before the Contest

In a multi-band contest, make sure that your radio has already been set to the correct modes and frequencies for the contest. Many modern radios will remember the last mode and frequency in use when a band is changed. You can save a little time and minimize operator confusion by changing to each band to set the contest's mode and expected frequency before the contest. Some radios also have band specific values for settings like output power and receive filter width.


Deep Neural Networks can be used to perform noise suppression on channels carrying human speech. Nvidia's developer blog discusses how they work, and provides an impressive video demonstrating the performance when applied to a video conferencing scenario. There's even an app that Mac users can download and try it out.

The Earth's South Atlantic Magnetic Anomaly is a weakness in the Earth's magnetic field that allows one of the Van Allen radiation belts to be nearer the atmosphere than at other locations of the planet. When the belt particles interact with the atmosphere, there is enough resulting heating to be detected with satellite-borne infrared radiometers, the purpose of which is to detect fires on Earth's surface. So the satellites detect that there are fires in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The automated systems that analyze the satellite data to alert for real fires are tuned to recognize data from the region and filter out the false alarms.

Amazon has just announced a new service: AWS Ground Station. Yes, it's a real service. You can schedule time on Amazon's dish infrastructure to receive raw spectrum data from a particular satellite, then "the raw analog data from the satellite is processed by our modem digitizer into a data stream (in what is formally known as VITA 49 baseband or VITA 49 RF over IP data streams) and routed to an EC2 instance that is responsible for doing the signal processing to turn it into a byte stream." It's really aimed a certain type of customer needing to receive information from commercial birds. But the concept is really interesting, and if it becomes popular, expect that a bunch of tools and techniques for processing spectral information will become available. Some Amateur gear, for example Flexradio, already uses VITA 49 standards for parts of their software.


Perception Can Make Your Reality

We think our multi-operator team probably did well in the 2018 ARRL Phone Sweepstakes now that it is over and we can see the scores being posted on 3830scores. But during the contest, we were concerned and disappointed by our rate and overall number of contacts, which made the contest less enjoyable than it could have been, and it was entirely our fault. We'd talked ourselves into expectations based on our experiences in the 2016 contest, which turned out to be a great year for our team. Going into the contest, our attitude was "Why wouldn't we do as well?" But as the hours ticked by, we just didn't have the same number of contacts. At hour 8 or 9, it really wasn't fun, as the rate really dropped and the noise levels on 80 meters increased. Our collective attitude had a chance of negatively influencing how seriously we'd take the rest of the contest, how hard we'd work to hear and work those last few multipliers, how dogged we'd be at covering the band between CQs. We should know better, but heck, we're human. What we did instead was try to convince ourselves that others must be having the same kinds of conditions we were, and to keep going. And tell ourselves that conditions might improve by the next morning. Sure enough, starting again 6 hours later a few hundred contacts behind where we'd like to have been, the bands sounded as if the party was back on and we were late! Our rates were up during the next 11 hours and so were our spirits. I was cautiously optimistic as hour 24 came to a close, even though we never regained the few hundred we'd "missed" the first day. A week later, in hindsight, it's hard to recall how bad those "bad hours" were, but easy to realize how we made them worse with our misperceptions.

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


29 Nov - 12 Dec 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.


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.

RSGB 80m Autumn Series, CW, Nov 29, 2000z to Nov 29, 2130z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: December 2.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Nov 30, 0145z to Nov 30, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: December 2.

QRP Fox Hunt, Nov 30, 0200z to Nov 30, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: December 6.

NCCC Sprint, Nov 30, 0230z to Nov 30, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: December 2.

ARRL 160-Meter Contest, Nov 30, 2200z to Dec 2, 1600z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; W/VE: RST + ARRL/RAC Section, DX: RST; Logs due: December 7.

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

YARC QSO Party, Dec 1, 1400z to Dec 2, 0259z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2, 222, 432; age + (state/province/MX/DX) ; Logs due: December 7.

TOPS Activity Contest, Dec 1, 1600z to Dec 2, 1559z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; TOPS/PRO-CW Members: RST + Serial No. + Club Abbreviation, non-Members: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: December 9.

FT8 Roundup, Dec 1, 1800z to Dec 2, 2359z; FT8; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; W: RST + state, VE: RST + province/territory, non-W/VE: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: December 9.

EPC Ukraine DX Contest, Dec 1, 2000z to Dec 2, 1959z; BPSK63; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Ukraine: RSQ + Ukr Admin Region, non-Ukraine: RSQ + QSO No.; Logs due: December 16.

Ten-Meter RTTY Contest, Dec 2, 0000z to Dec 3, 0000z; RTTY; Bands: 10m Only; W: RST + state, VE: RST + province/territory, non-W/VE: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: see rules.

ARS Spartan Sprint, Dec 4, 0200z to Dec 4, 0400z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: December 6.

QRP Fox Hunt, Dec 5, 0200z to Dec 5, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: November 29.

Phone Fray, Dec 5, 0230z to Dec 5, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: November 30.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Dec 5, 1300z to Dec 5, 1400z, Dec 5, 1900z to Dec 5, 2000z, Dec 6, 0300z to Dec 6, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: December 8.

QRP ARCI Topband Sprint, Dec 6, 0000z to Dec 6, 0300z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160m Only; ARCI: RST + (state/province/country) + ARCI No., non-ARCI: RST + (state/province/country) + power out; Logs due: December 19.

NRAU 10m Activity Contest, Dec 6, 1800z to Dec 6, 1900z (CW), Dec 6, 1900z to Dec 6, 2000z (SSB), Dec 6, 2000z to Dec 6, 2100z (FM), Dec 6, 2100z to Dec 6, 2200z (Dig); CW, SSB, FM, Digital; Bands: 10m Only; RS(T) + 6-character grid square; Logs due: December 20.

SKCC Sprint Europe, Dec 6, 2000z to Dec 6, 2200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: December 13.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Dec 7, 0145z to Dec 7, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: December 9.

QRP Fox Hunt, Dec 7, 0200z to Dec 7, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: November 29.

NCCC Sprint, Dec 7, 0230z to Dec 7, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: December 9.

PODXS 070 Club Triple Play Low Band Sprint, Dec 8, 0000z to Dec 10, 2359z; PSK31; Bands: 160, 80, 40m; RST + (state/province/country); Logs due: December 17.

ARRL 10-Meter Contest, Dec 8, 0000z to Dec 10, 0000z; CW, Phone; Bands: 10m Only; W/VE: RST + State/Province, XE: RST + State, DX: RST + Serial No., MM: RST + ITU Region; Logs due: December 16.

TRC Digi Contest, Dec 8, 0600z to Dec 9, 1800z; RTTY, BPSK63; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; TRC Members: RST + Serial No. + "TRC", non-TRC Members: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: December 16.

SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, Dec 8, 1200z to Dec 10, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./"NONE"); Logs due: December 16.

International Naval Contest, Dec 8, 1600z to Dec 9, 1559z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Naval Club Member: RS(T) + Club + Member No., non-Naval Club Member: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: December 31.

QRP ARCI Holiday Spirits Homebrew Sprint, Dec 9, 2000z to Dec 9, 2300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (ARCI number/power); Logs due: December 23.

CQC Great Colorado Snowshoe Run, Dec 9, 2100z to Dec 9, 2259z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country); Logs due: January 8.

4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint, Dec 10, 0100z to Dec 10, 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: December 12.

NAQCC CW Sprint, Dec 12, 0130z to Dec 12, 0330z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: December 16.

QRP Fox Hunt, Dec 12, 0200z to Dec 12, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: November 29.

Phone Fray, Dec 12, 0230z to Dec 12, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: November 30.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Dec 12, 1300z to Dec 12, 1400z, Dec 12, 1900z to Dec 12, 2000z, Dec 13, 0300z to Dec 13, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: December 15.


See SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, YARC QSO Party, above.


29 Nov - 12 Dec 18

November 29, 2018

November 30, 2018

December 1, 2018

December 2, 2018

December 3, 2018

December 4, 2018

December 6, 2018

December 7, 2018

December 8, 2018

December 9, 2018

December 10, 2018

December 12, 2018

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