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The ARRL Contest Update
March 6, 2019
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
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IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

Don't forget to turn in your log from the ARRL International DX Phone contest, just concluded. The NAQP RTTY Sprint is coming up on March 10. This contest is only four hours long. Oklahoma, Idaho, and Wisconsin are having their QSO Parties that weekend. Wisconsin's event is unique in that it's only seven hours long, on the Sunday of the US weekend.

The weekend of March 16 has QSO Parties from Virginia and Louisiana, but most digitally-inclined operators will be spending their time on RTTY in the BARTG HF RTTY Contest. Serial numbers and Time are used as the exchange in this contest, and a thorough reading of the rules should be done to choose the operating category. The Russian DX Contest will be garnering the attention of CW and Phone operators that weekend, especially in the EU.

CONTEST SUMMARY

7 Mar - 20 Mar 2019

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

March 7

March 8

March 9

March 10

March 11

March 13

March 14

March 15

March 16

March 17

March 18

March 19

March 20

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NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

ARRL Field Day 2019 is June 22-23, 2019.

ARRL Field Day 2019 is less than 110 days away! The Field Day website already has updated content for 2019, and more is planned. While there are no substantial changes from prior years, some website text has been updated and clarified. With appropriate software versions and proper setup, the Field Day exchange can now occur using FT8. Make sure the software you are using (e.g. WSJT-X, MSHV) can support the Field Day exchange, and is set up to do so.

You can't work them if you can't hear them, and unfortunately for we Amateurs, any electronics gear that has wired networking capability also has the potential to generate RFI that can mask the signals we'd like to hear. According to DX Engineering, their ISO-PLUS Ethernet RF Filter "fights common-mode RFI and EMI noise interference for radio frequencies from below 1 MHz to over 100 MHz, including 160 through 6 meter Amateur bands." It works both ways: "Installed on either end of Ethernet cables, ISO-PLUS filters mitigate RFI caused to the Ethernet-connected device. At the same time, they reduce interference to radio receivers and other Ethernet devices caused by RFI or EMI generated by an Ethernet-connected device." Check the DX Engineering website for more information. (Tim, K3LR)

If you haven't looked recently, the cost of Solid State Disk (SSD) drives continue to drop. It's one of the easiest ways to bring new pep to that laggy logging computer with a hard disk drive that you just haven't replaced...yet.

The Elgato Stream Deck is a programmable multi-button USB peripheral that might be useful for some station automation tasks. The concept seems simple enough - a box that sits on your desk, with a bunch of buttons on it. The buttons have small LCD screens built in to each one, so can display graphics or text. They're programmable with a Software Development Kit, so they can be labeled however you like. Button press behavior is programmable, too. SM0MDG tweeted about testing it to switch receive antennas, and wrote a blog article on how the setup works.

Another contest announced explicit support for FT8: The Hiroshima Worked All Squares (WAS) Contest. In an announcement to a RTTY email group on February 22, the contest organizers noted that the 2019 contest on February 28 would use the standard FT8 frequencies in addition to others announced on their website, with the 'NA VHF Contest Mode' of operation set in WSJT-X.

WORD TO THE WISE

Falling Derrick

A means of raising a tower using a (usually shorter) mast attached to the tower at a 90-degree angle, and guyed to the top of the tower, forming a triangle. Both can pivot about an anchored attachment point. Starting with the tower on the ground and the mast vertical, the mast is pivoted towards ground, pulling up the tower with the guy.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

W9SN's video shows a packed 40 meter band during the ARRL International DX Contest.

W9SN made a video of tuning the band during the ARRL International DX CW Contest... from his Maine-based station using four-stack of four-element 40m antennas. The Flex Radio SmartSDR screen is displaying call signs received via the spotting network right in the spectrum display.

Here's a video of YCCC members putting up a tower using the falling derrick method.

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RESULTS AND RECORDS

Jim, N3BB, has completed the write-up for the 2019 Winter North American CW Sprint, and it and the results are posted on the NCJ website. A few new records were set, those will be added to the results article.

The January NAQP SSBB Preliminary results have also been posted to the NCJ website. Bill, AC0W, would appreciate your reports of any issues.

OPERATING TIP

Microphone Settings Can Minimize Vocal Cord Wear

Save your voice, let your radio do the work. Set up your microphone gain and compression settings to let you phone contest at conversational or even sub-conversational levels. You can still be enthusiastic and excited, just do it more quietly. What good is having stealth antennas when your neighbors can hear you shouting all weekend? Your voice will thank you, and so will any other household members.

TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

"Crowdsourced HF Receivers" is a way to describe the Reverse Beacon Network which monitors the HF spectrum and reports Digital and CW activity. "Crowdsourced ADS-B receivers" is how live air traffic websites like FlightRadar24 gather their information. Here's an article about how easy it is to set up a node for ADS-B reception. By nature, ADS-B reception is easier than skimming HF since receivers only need to listen to the one ADS-B frequency. But the installation has been made so simple that nearly anyone can do it.

The new Red Pitaya SDR hardware that can be used to operate an 8-band skimmer is now available for order.

Larry, K8UT, has a combination hardware/software project for those that want to do more station automation: "For those interested in a Do-It-Yourself project that supports Band-Drive or Frequency-Driven antenna control, the freeware program FreqEZ runs as a Windows Console that connects via Ethernet or Wi-Fi to a Raspberry Pi controller and antenna selector... configuration and definitions are done in software - no switches/jumpers/diodes/solder bridges. Communication is done with UDP and TCP packets - no messy serial ports." More information about FreqEZ can be found on Larry's website.

During big contests, 20 meters can get really congested. Too many users, too little spectrum. The US military also has this issue, and they have radar systems that are in the mix. Their Shared Spectrum Access for Radar and Communications (SSPARC) project is kicking off its second phased, where they're going to be focusing on users of the S-band (2 to 4 GHz). (Dennis, N6KI)

There's a new upgrade to GNU Octave. Some experimenters use it to model new communications models, construct digital filters, and in general to perform signal processing on data sets. A number of articles by Maynard Wright in QEX have used it for "the solution of problems in radio, antenna, and transmission line design."

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CONVERSATION

Choose Your Own Adventure

A perennial question in online contest discussions, and occasionally sent to me via email, is a variation on "Why aren't there any contests that are just for a person and their radio: no computer, no spots, no amps? Just a single operator with a radio and an antenna."

I find that answering this question really involves knowing the context in which it's asked. If this question appears somewhere in the discussion about how "XYZ new technology is going to ruin Amateur Radio as we know it," then, well, it's not really a question. It's a challenge, more of a comment about how the hobby has changed since the time that the commenter remembers liking it, and they are pining for their personal golden days of Amateur Radio. There is no answer that will satisfy this person. They will continue to ask the question.

Someone that doesn't contest much might ask this question while they are setting up for a contest, while facing issues that aren't radio-related. Sure, it's possible to just operate in the contest and hand out a few contacts, log by paper (or never log at all!) and never send in a log. But some casual operators are also excellent operators, and might make a few hundred contacts on their favorite band. The contest sponsors ask, and maybe pester, them to send in their log just so it can help them in the cross checking. But the sponsors want the log in Cabrillo electronic format, which requires logging with a computer. For this person, helping them get the right logging program set up for their interest level is important, and there are a number of good choices available, many of which that don't even require radio control.

The person that is new to Amateur Radio and genuinely curious about contesting might ask this question when they see pictures of multi-operator contest stations with banks of screens and big amplifiers, or hear about huge scores, or ponder how to use the many operator aids that Assisted category allows. They don't know if they'll like contesting yet, and they don't know if their HF radio and vertical in their backyard even gets them in the game. Luckily, we can answer this person: "Nearly every contest has a single operator, low-power, unassisted category. You'll be able to make contacts with everyone, but you're only scored against others in your category. To turn in a log, you'll still need to generate it using a computer, so you might as well use a computer to log in the first place. The 100-watt radio that you have will work, the bands will be crowded during the contest, that antenna will work fine to see if you like contesting. Don't be intimidated by the extensive setups of many stations. Most of those stations started where you are right now. You actually have an advantage - you probably will never have to learn how to use a dupe sheet."

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

7 Mar - 20 Mar 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.

HF CONTESTS

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Mar 6, 1300z to Mar 6, 1400z and, Mar 6, 1900z to Mar 6, 2000z and, Mar 7, 0300z to Mar 7, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: March 9.

NRAU 10m Activity Contest, Mar 7, 1800z to Mar 7, 1900z (CW) and, Mar 7, 1900z to Mar 7, 2000z (SSB) and, Mar 7, 2000z to Mar 7, 2100z (FM) and, Mar 7, 2100z to Mar 7, 2200z (Dig); CW, SSB, FM, Digital; Bands: 10m Only; RS(T) + 6-character grid square; Logs due: March 21.

SKCC Sprint Europe, Mar 7, 2000z to Mar 7, 2200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: March 14.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Mar 8, 0145z to Mar 8, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: March 10.

QRP Fox Hunt, Mar 8, 0200z to Mar 8, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: March 14.

NCCC Sprint, Mar 8, 0230z to Mar 8, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: March 10.

YB DX RTTY Contest, Mar 9, 0000z to Mar 9, 2359z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: March 16.

RSGB Commonwealth Contest, Mar 9, 1000z to Mar 10, 1000z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: March 15.

South America 10 Meter Contest, Mar 9, 1200z to Mar 10, 1200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 10m Only; RS(T) + CQ zone; Logs due: March 24.

F9AA Cup, SSB, Mar 9, 1200z to Mar 10, 1200z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 2m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: April 9.

SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, Mar 9, 1200z to Mar 11, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./"NONE"); Logs due: March 17.

AGCW QRP Contest, Mar 9, 1400z to Mar 9, 2000z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + QSO No. + class(pwr) + (AGCW Member No./"NM" if not member); Logs due: March 31.

Oklahoma QSO Party, Mar 9, 1500z to Mar 10, 0200z and, Mar 10, 1400z to Mar 10, 2100z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; OK: RS(T) + County, non-OK: RS(T) + (state/province/country); Logs due: April 12.

Stew Perry Topband Challenge, Mar 9, 1500z to Mar 10, 1500z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: March 25.

EA PSK63 Contest, Mar 9, 1600z to Mar 10, 1600z; PSK63; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; EA: RSQ + province code, non-EA: RSQ + Serial no.; Logs due: March 25.

TESLA Memorial HF CW Contest, Mar 9, 1800z to Mar 10, 0559z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + Serial No. + 4-character grid square; Logs due: March 15.

QCWA QSO Party, Mar 9, 1800z to Mar 10, 1800z; CW/Digital, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; last 2 digits of year first licensed + name + (state/province/country or QCWA chapter); Logs due: April 9.

Idaho QSO Party, Mar 9, 1900z to Mar 10, 1900z; CW, Phone, Digital (no FT8); Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ID: County, non-ID: (state/province/country); Logs due: April 9.

QRP ARCI Spring Thaw SSB Shootout, Mar 9, 2200z to Mar 9, 2300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + (state/province/country) + (ARCI number/power); Logs due: March 23.

North American Sprint, RTTY, Mar 10, 0000z to Mar 10, 0400z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name] + [your state/DC/province/country]; Logs due: March 17.

WAB 3.5 MHz Phone/CW, Mar 10, 1800z to Mar 10, 2200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80m Only; British Isles: RS + serial no. + WAB square, Other: RS + serial no. + country; Logs due: March 31.

Wisconsin QSO Party, Mar 10, 1800z to Mar 11, 0100z; CW/Digital, Phone; Bands: All, except WARC; WI: county, non-WI: (state/province/country); Logs due: March 24.

4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint, Mar 11, 0000z to Mar 11, 0200z; 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: March 13.

QRP Fox Hunt, Mar 13, 0100z to Mar 13, 0230z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: March 14.

Phone Fray, Mar 13, 0230z to Mar 13, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: March 15.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Mar 13, 1300z to Mar 13, 1400z and, Mar 13, 1900z to Mar 13, 2000z and, Mar 14, 0300z to Mar 14, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: March 16.

RSGB 80m Club Championship, CW, Mar 13, 2000z to Mar 13, 2130z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: March 14.

AWA John Rollins Memorial DX Contest, Mar 13, 2300z to Mar 14, 2300z and, Mar 16, 2300z to Mar 17, 2300z; CW; Bands: 40, 20m; RST + Eqpt Type + Eqpt Year; Logs due: April 10.

QRP Fox Hunt, Mar 15, 0100z to Mar 15, 0230z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: March 21.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Mar 15, 0145z to Mar 15, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: March 17.

NCCC Sprint, Mar 15, 0230z to Mar 15, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: March 17.

BARTG HF RTTY Contest, Mar 16, 0200z to Mar 18, 0200z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No. + 4-digit time (UTC); Logs due: March 25.

Russian DX Contest, Mar 16, 1200z to Mar 17, 1200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Ru: RS(T) + 2-character oblast, non-Ru: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: March 31.

Virginia QSO Party, Mar 16, 1400z to Mar 17, 0400z and, Mar 17, 1200z to Mar 18, 0000z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: All, except WARC; VA: Serial No. + county, non-VA: Serial No. + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: April 15.

Louisiana QSO Party, Mar 16, 1400z to Mar 17, 0200z; CW/Digital, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; LA: RS(T) + Parish, non-LA: RS(T) + (state/province/country); Logs due: April 16.

Feld Hell Sprint, Mar 16, 2000z to Mar 16, 2159z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; (see rules); Logs due: March 19.

UBA Spring Contest, SSB, Mar 17, 0700z to Mar 17, 1100z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; ON: RS + Serial No. + UBA Section, non-ON: RS + Serial No.; Logs due: March 31.

Run for the Bacon QRP Contest, Mar 18, 0100z to Mar 18, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (Member No./power); Logs due: March 24.

Bucharest Contest, Mar 18, 1800z to Mar 18, 2059z; CW, SSB, PSK; Bands: 80, 40m; YO: RS(T) + QSO No. + Sector/County, non-YO: RS(T) + QSO No. + Country Code; Logs due: March 30.

CLARA Chatter Party, Mar 19, 1700z to Mar 20, 1700z and, Mar 23, 1700z to Mar 24, 1700z; CW, Phone; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 2m; RS(T) + Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: April 20.

QRP Fox Hunt, Mar 20, 0100z to Mar 20, 0230z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: March 21.

Phone Fray, Mar 20, 0230z to Mar 20, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: March 22.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Mar 20, 1300z to Mar 20, 1400z and, Mar 20, 1900z to Mar 20, 2000z and, Mar 21, 0300z to Mar 21, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: March 23.

VHF+ CONTESTS

SARL VHF/UHF Analogue Contest, Mar 9, 1000z to Mar 10, 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: April 1.

UBA Spring Contest, 2m, Mar 10, 0700z to Mar 10, 1100z; CW, Phone; Bands: 2m Only; ON: RS(T) + Serial No. + UBA Section, non-ON: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: March 24.

AGCW VHF/UHF Contest, Mar 16, 1400z to Mar 16, 1700z (144) and, Mar 16, 1700z to Mar 16, 1800z (432); CW; Bands: 144 MHz, 432 MHz; RST + "/" + Serial No. + "/" Power class + "/" + 6-character grid locator; Logs due: April 1.

Also, see F9AA Cup, SSB, SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, Oklahoma QSO Party, QCWA QSO Party, Wisconsin QSO Party, Louisiana QSO Party, Feld Hell Sprint, CLARA Chatter Party, above.

LOG DUE DATES

7 Mar - 20 Mar 2019

March 7, 2019

March 8, 2019

March 9, 2019

March 10, 2019

March 11, 2019

March 12, 2019

March 13, 2019

March 14, 2019

March 15, 2019

March 16, 2019

March 17, 2019

March 18, 2019

March 19, 2019

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

ARRL Contest Update wishes to acknowledge information from WA7BNM's Contest Calendar and SM3CER's Contest Calendar.

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