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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
January 23, 2019
Editor: Paul Bourque, N1SFE

Get your contest pulse rate up with the North American CW Sprint on February 3, 2019. Sprints are fast-paced. Keeping your wits about you, copying reliably and quickly, and understanding the Sprint protocol are all key to enjoying this type of contest. You have a couple of practice sessions left before the main event - The Northern California Contest Club sponsors a practice every Thursday evening (NA time), and provides some Sprint operating tips. You can also check the February 2019 issue of QST for N3BB's article "Sprints: The Indy 500 of Radiosport."


24 Jan - 6 Feb 2019

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

January 24

January 25

January 26

January 30

January 31

February 1

February 2

February 3

February 4

February 5

February 6


Bob, N6TV, writes: "Chad, WE9V has created a new world map of all the CW and RTTY Skimmers that have been reporting spots to the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) within the last 90 days. Though coverage is worldwide, there are many obvious gaps where more coverage would be helpful. Want to help fill the gaps? Add a skimmer or two of your own! The Red Pitaya is an SDR board that can simultaneously support CW or RTTY skimming on 8 bands simultaneously. For details, see here. A new STEMlab SDR based on an upgraded Red Pitaya SDR board is currently under development. Once the board is available and current software is modified, this SDR should also be able to directly support simultaneous CW or RTTY Skimming on 8 or more bands simultaneously. Note that an impedance matching transformer is strongly recommended to improve the receive performance of the current Red Pitaya, but it will not be needed for the new version."

Identifying signals that are displayed on your waterfall or spectrum display can be helped by using the Sigidwiki website. You can compare what you see on your the screen to what you see on the website, and listen to real samples of various types of emissions. No category appears to be excluded! Representative samples include those you'd see on Amateur bands, and others we'd like NOT to see on our bands: over the horizon radar, cellular signals like 4G LTE, Tire Pressure Management System (TPMS) emissions, and scores of others. (Howard, WB4IVF, via Flexradio email list)

Steve, WB6RSE, has announced that registration is open for the 2019 Visalia Top Band Dinner to occur Friday April 12, 2019 in Visalia, California. This event is coincident with the annual International DX Convention being held at the Visalia Convention Center that same weekend. All tickets must be purchased in advance. For more information, see the event's website.

The AM Rally is happening February 1-3, 2019. According to the sponsors, the purpose of this event is to encourage the use of Amplitude Modulation (AM) on the 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, and 6-meter bands, and to highlight the various types of AM equipment in use today. The AM Rally is open to all radio amateurs who are running full-carrier amplitude modulation (standard AM), using any type of radio equipment. The Rally starts at 0000Z on Saturday, February 2, and ends at 0700Z on Monday, February 4. You'll find more information online at

Scott, K0MD, NCJ Editor retweeted a link to a Cleveland Clinic article on how coffee has health benefits. Important takeaways: drink the coffee black, either regular or decaf. Decaf is suggested if coffee intake increases your heart rate or interferes with your sleep.

It pays to be attentive to email lists/support groups that support your equipment and contesting tools. An example: During the January ARRL VHF Contest, an issue was noted with N1MM Logger+'s interpretation of an FT8 message. Rick, N2AMG, expeditiously published a hotfix during the contest. Those that kept up with the N1MM Logger+ group were able to download a version during the contest that resolved the issue.

Fair warning: Extended support for Windows 7 ends in January 2020. This means that no new security updates will be published for the operating system after that date. Using computers that are not up to date with security patches can present risks to all of the other computers and devices on your network.

The magnetic north pole is moving! Besides invalidating the 'magnetic declination' numbers on your hiking maps, it has real consequences for some of your electronic devices that use magnetic field measurements as part of their direction calculations.



Simultaneously receiving signals using more than one antenna (and receiver chain) to take advantage of complementary antenna characteristics to help maintain reception during varying signal path conditions.


Randy, K5ZD and Victor, VA2WA, talked with Neil, WB9VPG about real-time contest scoreboards on Ham Talk Live! recently. They discussed why you might want to use them, and how it's probably easier to set up than you think. Victor walked through some of the features of his website, and answered questions from their listening audience. Randy also explains how he especially finds online scoreboards helpful for part-time contest participation.

Harry Park, 10, got some chair time at the NX6T M2 operation during NAQP SSB, making about a dozen contacts. L-to-R: Dennis, N6KI, Harry Hyun, and Peter, W2PWS [Credit: Mokyou Hyun, photo]

If you were on at the right time during the NAQP SSB contest last weekend, you may have worked 10-year-old guest operator Harry Park at NX6T, operating in the M2 category. Dennis, N6KI, combined a 90-minute tour of NX6T with some operating, and the youngster made about a dozen SSB contacts. According to Dennis, Harry was "fascinated with learning CW and even learned how to send CQ with a paddle and keyer in 5 minutes!! Expect hearing a new KM6 call soon, and watch the WRTC 2026 youth category." Harry's mom Mokyou took pictures, and followed up with an email: "Thank you so much for taking the time out of your contest and weekend to show Harry around Nash-ville! The towering antennas, the 360 views and the history behind the property gave us a good sense of this special world of ham radio operators. Harry couldn't have asked for a better ham radio expert to show him the ropes."

Dan, K7SS, sent this link that reinforces CW character training by backing it with a Euro beat.

Bob, K0NR, combined participation in the January VHF Contest with a SOTA (Summits on the Air) operation, and wrote about it in his blog. There are some great pictures in there, and Bob and companion got some exercise to boot!


Fifteen schools reported results for the NA College Championship held concurrently with the NAQP SSB contest last weekend. Don't see your school listed in the results? You can fix that in time for the upcoming RTTY portion. Indiana University and Georgia Tech reported the same number of contacts... but IU reported three more multipliers.

One way to memorialize the names of Amateurs that have passed is to use them in contest exchanges. During the recent NAQP contests, there were many stations giving out 'Paul' in memory of W0AIH.

The cold weather system moving through the Midwest and eastern part of the US took its toll on many stations operating in the January ARRL VHF Contest. As the snow and ice piled on, it detuned antennas and made some teams reconsider their rover plans. NS3T found a way to make contacts while satisfying family commitments: "Best moment was Sunday morning at my kid's indoor lacrosse game. Fired up the laptop to do some remote FT8 from the sidelines, and who did I get a QSO with? K1JT. Thanks to his hard work, I made a few more contacts than I otherwise would have on 6." (via


Set up and Configure the Equipment Before the Contest

Make sure you cycle through ALL of the bands you expect to use in a contest before the contest starts to make sure things like operating mode, frequency, power, filter, IF shift, and so on, are set up correctly. Otherwise it can be disorienting to find that the radio is set to the middle of the Phone band with the wrong filters selected as you switch to a new band during the CW contest.


The GNU Radio project has had mentions in the Contest Update especially relating to Amateur-relevant talks from their annual GNU Radio Conferences, and it's basis for a bunch of SDR experimentation. The talks from the 2018 GRCon are starting to make it to YouTube, and here's another example where folks are using it to make backyard radio telescopes!

Raspberry Pi computers are being used more frequently as building blocks for station automation tasks. Cases and touch screens have been available for these computers for a long time, but the devil has been in the details of finding the right case that works with the screen that you want to use. A combo screen and case is now available at a price point that is getting people excited. (Jeff, KE9V, via Twitter)

When I needed a sheet of high-temperature silicone rubber to make a chimney for a tube amplifier, I turned to the McMaster-Carr catalog, since I knew that they'd have it. They also have thousands of other items that might be useful for station building or maintaining gear.


Let's Have Some More Exuberance

Ward, N0AX, provides this issue's Conversation...

You may have heard about the upcoming adventures of "Team Exuberance" - a group of six young operators who will travel to K3LR's station for the CQ WPX SSB contest at the end of March. This is a great example of making it possible for new contesters to get experience and encourage others to join the fun - thanks, Tim!

Always willing to mentor and act as a station host, Tim and his team were inspired by the Youth Contesting Program (YCP) in Europe ( YCP is part of the highly successful YOTA (Youngsters On The Air; group that arranges for regional and world-wide gatherings, special call sign operating, and other social events.

From the YCP website, "Youth members from IARU R1 member societies are invited to take part in a contest from so called "Top-Gun" stations. These young hams will learn how to operate the contest station, improve their contest skills, and aim for the best results together as a team. A youngster will probably be coming for the first time to the host country and will get the chance to experience this country and share amateur radio knowledge with local youngsters." In 2018, station hosts included these well-known contesters: ES5TV, 9A1A, EC2DX, 4O3A, and DM9EE. More YCP events are planned for 2019, too.

Young Amateurs Radio Club-

You may be wondering if IARU's Region 2 has something like YOTA and YCP. That's where the Young Amateurs Radio Club (YARC - comes in. Started from an online community for young hams, they've gone worldwide and developed a thriving community. Other groups like the ARRL's Collegiate Amateur Radio Initiative (CARI - are out there, too.

Tim has taken a big step forward by hosting a team. You can, too! There are many young operators out there who would love to get on the air during a big contest. Do you have a capable station -- anything from tri-bander and wires or bigger will work -- and are you willing to host and mentor a small team or a single-op during CQ WPX SSB? The YARC group has offered to serve as the coordinator between US and Canadian hosts and operators. The plan is to recruit operators who are within easy travel distances of a host's station, make the introductions, and let the contest happen.

No reason to limit this to the US and Canada - station hosts in Central America, the Caribbean, and South America are all invited to get teams of young operators on the air for the contest! If your club or society is interested, do whatever is appropriate for your area.

To offer your station, navigate to and fill out the form, or just send an email to Give your location, contact information, and what level of competition you can support; SO, MS, M2, or MM. YARC will try to connect you to operators in your area. You and the team then work out the transportation and operating details. My station will be registered and can handle an SO, MS, or M2 team -- I'm looking forward to it. Let's get this started!

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


24 Jan - 6 Feb 2019

An expanded, downloadable version of QST's Contest Corral is available as a PDF. Check the sponsors' website for information on operating time restrictions and other instructions.


CWops Mini-CWT Test, Jan 23, 1300z to Jan 23, 1400z and, Jan 23, 1900z to Jan 23, 2000z and, Jan 24, 0300z to Jan 24, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: January 26.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Jan 25, 0145z to Jan 25, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: January 27.

QRP Fox Hunt, Jan 25, 0200z to Jan 25, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: January 31.

NCCC Sprint Ladder, Jan 25, 0230z to Jan 25, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: January 27.

CQ 160-Meter Contest, CW, Jan 25, 2200z to Jan 27, 2200z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; W/VE: RST + (state/province), DX: RST + CQ Zone; Logs due: February 1.

REF Contest, CW, Jan 26, 0600z to Jan 27, 1800z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; French: RST + Department/Prefix, non-French: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: February 4.

BARTG RTTY Sprint, Jan 26, 1200z to Jan 27, 1200z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Serial No. (no signal report); Logs due: February 3.

UBA DX Contest, SSB, Jan 26, 1300z to Jan 27, 1300z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ON: RST + Serial No. + province, non-ON: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: February 10.

Winter Field Day, Jan 26, 1900z to Jan 27, 1900z; Any (see rules for exceptions); Bands: All, except WARC; Category + ARRL Section (or DX); Logs due: February 28.

QRP Fox Hunt, Jan 30, 0200z to Jan 30, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: January 31.

Phone Fray, Jan 30, 0230z to Jan 30, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: February 1.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Jan 30, 1300z to Jan 30, 1400z and, Jan 30, 1900z to Jan 30, 2000z and, Jan 31, 0300z to Jan 31, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: February 2.

UKEICC 80m Contest, Jan 30, 2000z to Jan 30, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: January 30.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Feb 1, 0145z to Feb 1, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: January 27.

QRP Fox Hunt, Feb 1, 0200z to Feb 1, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: January 24.

NCCC Sprint Ladder, Feb 1, 0230z to Feb 1, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: January 27.

Vermont QSO Party, Feb 2, 0000z to Feb 4, 0000z; All; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, VHF/UHF; VT: RS(T) + County, non-VT W/VE: RS(T) + (state/province), DX: RS(T); Logs due: March 3.

10-10 Int. Winter Contest, SSB, Feb 2, 0001z to Feb 3, 2359z; Phone; Bands: 10m Only; 10-10 Member: Name + 10-10 number + (state/province/country), Non-Member: Name + 0 + (state/province/country); Logs due: February 11.

Black Sea Cup International, Feb 2, 1200z to Feb 3, 1159z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; HQ: RS(T) + club/org abbreviation, Black Sea Countries: RS(T) + ITU Zone No., BSCC Members: RS(T) + "BS" + club number, Others: RS(T) + ITU Zone No.; Logs due: February 13.

F9AA Cup, CW, Feb 2, 1200z to Feb 3, 1200z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 2m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: March 4.

Mexico RTTY International Contest, Feb 2, 1200z to Feb 3, 2359z; RTTY Only; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; XE: RST + State, non-XE: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: March 9.

FYBO Winter QRP Sprint, Feb 2, 1400z to Feb 3, 0000z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS(T) + (state/province/country)+ name + power out + temperature(F); Logs due: March 4.

Minnesota QSO Party, Feb 2, 1400z to Feb 3, 0000z; CW (CW/RTTY/PSK), Phone (FM/SSB), FT8 (see rules); Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; MN: Name + County, W/VE: Name + (state/province), DX: Name; Logs due: February 16.

AGCW Straight Key Party, Feb 2, 1600z to Feb 2, 1900z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; AGCW: RST + Serial No. + "/" + Class + "/" + Name + "/" + Age; Logs due: February 28.

British Columbia QSO Party, Feb 2, 1600z to Feb 3, 0400z and, Feb 3, 1600z to Feb 4, 0000z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; BC: RS(T) + District, non-BC: RS(T) + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: March 4.

FISTS Winter Slow Speed Sprint, Feb 2, 1700z to Feb 2, 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: March 4.

North American Sprint, CW, Feb 3, 0000z to Feb 3, 0400z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name] + [your state/province/country]; Logs due: February 10.

RSGB 80m Club Championship, SSB, Feb 4, 2000z to Feb 4, 2130z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: February 5.

ARS Spartan Sprint, Feb 5, 0200z to Feb 5, 0400z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: February 7.

QRP Fox Hunt, Feb 6, 0200z to Feb 6, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: January 24.

Phone Fray, Feb 6, 0230z to Feb 6, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: January 25.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Feb 6, 1300z to Feb 6, 1400z and, Feb 6, 1900z to Feb 6, 2000z and, Feb 7, 0300z to Feb 7, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: January 26.

UKEICC 80m Contest, Feb 6, 2000z to Feb 6, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: January 30.


See NCCC Sprint Ladder, Winter Field Day, Vermont QSO Party, F9AA Cup, CW


24 Jan - 5 Feb 2019

January 24, 2019

January 25, 2019

January 26, 2019

January 27, 2019

January 28, 2019

January 30, 2019

January 31, 2019

February 1, 2019

February 2, 2019

February 3, 2019

February 4, 2019

February 5, 2019

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