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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
May 15, 2019
Editor: Paul Bourque, N1SFE

If you're not attending Contest University, you can still watch some of the sessions streamed live on Thursday May 16 from Dayton, Ohio. While not all of the day's sessions are streamed, you can still review slides and video from previous years' sessions.

CQ WW WPX CW is coming up the weekend of May 25. Thirty-six hours is all that a single-operator is allowed to work in this contest, where there are so many multipliers that having any kind of explicit multiplier-chasing strategy may not be the best choice. QSO Points are the game here since contacts are worth between 1 and 6 points. Inter-continental contacts on 40, 80, and 160 meters are worth the most. Make sure you take advantage of the TB-WIRES (tribander and wire antennas) or ROOKIE overlays if you qualify. Check the rules! As with any WPX contest there will be many "special" prefixes used. Always log what you copy!


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

16 May - 30 May 2019

May 16

May 17

May 18

May 19

May 20

May 22

May 23

May 24

May 25

May 27

May 28

May 29


First, Hamvention-related items that may be of interest to contesters:

Some general tips: Check the Hamvention and associated activities websites' for last-minute updates. Attendees navigating through Xenia traffic should tune to 1620 AM for Hamvention information. On Sunday, May 19, admittance to the event is free. It's too easy to get involved in ... well, everything, and miss some of the scheduled events, so why not set reminders in your cellular phone for the events/sessions you want to attend?

Friday, May 17: John, K3TN, will be "be discussing the issues of automation and multiplexing that FT8/FT4 bring to contesting" at the Hamvention's Friday Digital Contesting Forum as part of his talk entitled "Future of FT8 in Digital Contesting." The forum is moderated by Ed, W0YK, and will also include "The Future of RTTY Contesting" by Jeff, AC0C.

Also on Friday, Tim, K3LR, will be moderating the Antenna Forum, with slated topics to include using a tower as an antenna on both the 80 and 160 meters, high performance 6m antennas, propagation forecasting, and vertical dipole arrays (VDAs).

On Saturday, May 18:

Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) and Foxhunting are competitions that involve finding the locations of one or more transmitters on foot or via mobile, depending on the competition. The techniques can also be applied to locate unintentional radiators and RFI that affect plain ole' HF and VHF contesting. The ARDF/Foxhunting Forum on Saturday at 9 AM promises a good introduction and practical techniques to use in this endeavor. Presenting a tough choice for some, the ARDF/Foxhunting session occurs at the same time as the HamSCI Forum and Summits on the Air (SOTA) Forum.

The Contesting Forum moderated by Doug, K1DG, is at 2 PM Saturday and includes:


"The Team Exuberance WPX SSB operation at K3LR"

Violetta, KM4ATT, and Marty, NC1C

"Changing The Game - Contesting with a Live Scoreboard"

Randy, K5ZD, and Victor, VA2WA

"The Road to WRTC2022"

Carlo, IK1HJS

"FT8 and the Future of Contesting"

Ed, W0YK

"TI7W and The Quest for 10,000 QSOs"

Chris, KL9A and Kam, N3KS

According to Ward, N0AX:

"Both HamSCI ( and Ham Radio 2.0 will be well-represented at the upcoming Dayton Hamvention. Look for the adjacent Yasme Foundation-sponsored booths in Building 4 between the food trucks and flea market - location, location, location!

As last year, the Ham Radio 2.0 area will be host to a series of talks by both HamSCI presenters and folks with a "2-point-0" perspective on operating and technology. The talks begin at 10 AM on Friday and run through 3 PM on Saturday. The HamSCI Forum begins at 9 AM on Saturday.


10a - NN1C on Moonbounce Via the MIT Remote Linked EME Station

12a - K3TN on Contesting with FT4 - Issues and Opportunities Going Forward

2p - VA2WA on How Real-Time Scoreboards Change Contesting


10a - WB8ELK on Balloon Pico Races

12a - KD8VRX and KG5HVO on the Youth Contesting Program in North America

2p - K9IR on SOTA and New Methods of Portable Operating

Along with the talks, the Ham Radio 2.0 area will be home to a mini-booth staffed by members of the Young Amateurs Radio Club and the Young Contesters Program (YCP) that is associated with the European YOTA (Youngsters On The Air). Come by to meet hams doing interesting things in interesting places!"

Don't miss the contest-related activities in downtown Dayton at the Crowne Plaza Hotel: Contest University, the Contest Super Suite, activities listed on the Contest Super Suite Related Events Page, Topband Dinner, Contest Dinner, and of course the nightly pizza party and hospitality suites.

The Kansas City DX Club will once again be sponsoring their CW Pileup Competition in the Crowne Plaza hotel. Anyone can enter this contest to copy as many calls from a 'standardized pileup' as possible, and winners win prizes! Past pileups and resources can be found linked from the KCDXC website for your practice.

Not in Dayton this weekend? Courtesy of Icom, you'll once again be able to watch some sessions from Contest University on your computer on Thursday morning. These sessions are shown live.

Not Hamvention-related:

Residents of the Sun City Grand community in Surprise, Arizona now have a path to approval for some outdoor Amateur Radio antenna installations including verticals and long wires. On April 11, the Board of Directors voted 6 to 1 to "allow licensed amateur radio operators to erect certain outside ham antennas on their property." With one of the largest Home Owner Associations (HOAs) and what is perceived as a "strict" HOA board, an agreement was reached on the basis of Amateur Radio to potentially provide community service in a time of need. (Gordon, NW7D)

Prompted by some polite emails to the contest sponsors followed by a discussion at a West Virginia State Amateur Radio Club (WVSARC) meeting, the rules for the upcoming West Virginia QSO Party (June 15, 2019) have been changed to allow remote operating, to be in accordance with evolving standard Amateur practice. "Remote operating is permitted and the use of spotting nets is allowed to encourage contest participation." (Mike W4AAW).

Is your club ready for any planned FT8 Field Day operation? It's probably a good idea to install, configure, and test WSJT-X or your software of choice (even just using a couple of PCs with speakers and microphones) well in advance to ensure that ARRL Field Day will go smoothly! Configuration for the special operating modes can be tricky, and make sure you have logging working correctly, especially if you want to integrate with your favorite contest logging software.

Scott, N3FJP, announces that Amateur Contact Log 6.5 is Now Available via his website. Enhancements include the export of FT4 in accordance with the anticipated new ADIF protocols, better support for 4K monitors, and convenience changes for satellite operators. According to Scott: "This release wasn't planned just now, but it is necessitated by FT4 bursting on the scene. Lots of FT4 users are eager to upload their data to LoTW, etc. Being a brand new mode, the ADIF transfer specifications are just now being finalized by the ADIF committee. It turns out that FT4 ADIF specs will likely differ from how FT8 and many other modes are handled, which requires this update." Scott continues: "Even after installing this update, you will not be able to upload your FT4 QSOs to LoTW quite yet. ARRL will likely have to update their TQSL software to accept FT4 as well. Keep an eye out for ARRL's announcements for updates on the latest TQSL release."

The 2019 VHF Super Conference Proceedings CD is available for order on the conference website. The CD includes presentations and papers on all aspects of UHF/VHF/Microwave operation, including station building and contesting. Past years' proceedings are also available at the same website location.


Stochastic Resonance

When a signal is too weak to be detected by a sensor, adding a small amount of white noise to the original signal can increase the chance that the signal is detected by increasing the signal above the detection threshold. The noise can be filtered out in later stages, after detection. This effect has been observed in electrical systems and is also believed to occur in some biological systems such as the human auditory system.


Sometimes you have go get outside your comfort zone to build new skills in pursuit of more contacts. Non-snowmobilers Josh, WU7H, and Darryl, WW7D, purchased and restored some almost-vintage "sleds" intending to reach SOTA (Summits on the Air) trailheads in the winter. Their first expedition was to the foothills around Mt. Rainier. You'll enjoy part one of their adventure in May-June 2019 PNW SOTA Newsletter.

So simple even a computer can do it! Tuning an SSB signal isn't too difficult for a human, but like any task we might perform in a contest, it can take a little time and brain power. Tom, N1MM, posted a YouTube video of a potential new feature in the N1MM Logger+ spectrum display window to jump to the next/previous in-use SSB frequency. This looks like a great way to S&P on a different VFO while running without spending any effort on tuning. Conversely, if you want to find an empty frequency to run, Tom has a solution for that, too. Both of these features will be in N1MM Logger+ shortly, if not already. As an aside, how long before someone just writes an app to use these tuning techniques, pipe the audio into a voice recognition engine to find phrases like "CQ Contest W7XYZ", spot the call sign part, and then move to the next in-use frequency?


The results for the Spring Stew Perry are available on the Top Band Distance Challenge website. Top Scorers: "N2CW had the highest USA score, and OM2XW the highest European Score. KF5EYY operated from 3V8SS for the highest African score and JH2FXK was number one in Asia." The Summer Stew will happen on June 15.

April's ARRL Rookie Roundup results have been posted to Contest radio clubs and contest stations: here are potential new recruits!

January's ARRL VHF Contest preliminary results are now on the website. Participation was up, up, up, to the "highest in this century" so far. "The increase in activity came largely from digital, mostly FT8, contacts on 6 meters." A number of new records were set, among them WW7D/R's Northwestern Division Limited Rover score of 43,065 points. Darryl is also mentioned in the Sights and Sounds section in this issue...

Results from the April 12 ARRL Frequency Measuring Test (FMT) have been posted. Like golf, a lower score wins. Many stations managed to be within 1.0 Hz of the official station. Five stations managed to be within a tenth of a Hertz. Want to try it? The setups for many of the participating stations are shown in the results. An informed guess was good enough for W8GNM: "Elecraft K3 warmed up and calibrated vs. 10 MHz WWV. Fractional Hz are guesses." - off by 0.08Hz on the 40 meter frequency test.

Results from the Ohio QSO Party have been posted to the OhQP website. The sponsors thank all who participated, and invite them to participate in this year's event on Saturday, August 24, 2019.


Practice Continuous Improvement

What are you going to learn before the next contest, so that you can use it in the contest? Those that are often found in the top ten box tend to always be looking for opportunities to improve their skills and techniques and ways to recognize and rid themselves of bad habits. Do 'hard work' before the contest to have more fun in the contest!


Steve, VE6WZ, has made a video about the omega match he uses to feed his tower, and "how it can transform the resistive component of the complex impedance of a shunt feed." At just about four minutes, it's a worthwhile watch.

Wait, what? The FT4 Reverse Beacon Network spot infrastructure is now in testing. It seems like we've only had FT8 spots for a few months.

Paul, W6PNG, is working on a 2x6 Antenna Controller based on an Arduino microcontroller as part of a suitcase DXpedition project. By building in support for the OTRSP (Open Two Radio Support Protocol), N1MM Logger+ can already "talk" to it via USB to switch antennas right from the logger. Earlier articles discuss some of the design tradeoffs and sourcing of parts for the project.


Try a Different Verb

"X Is Killing Y" - We've all heard it. I'm sure that everyone has their own pet X. Add whatever sub-facet of our hobby you see fit under column Y. Sometimes what was once was a huge issue doesn't mean so much now. For example, if you weren't around in the late 1950's, you might wonder why sideband is even on the list. The 'competition' between AM and SSB was such a big deal we still collectively remember it. Keyers were even controversial at one time.

Sometimes the impact of something isn't really felt until everything has just... changed. How many 1985 repeater users understood the impact that cellular phones would have?

You'd think that SSTV would be "dead," killed by globe-spanning networks and all SSTV capable computers also being on the Internet, but non-SSTV operators still seem to avoid 14.230 - 14.233 MHz even in contests.

CW Skimmers were sure to lead to the demise of contesting about ten years ago, but has instead turned into a tool that gives smaller stations better opportunities to be worked.

FT8 is in the spotlight nowadays as a "disruptor" of all we hold dear. But last January's ARRL VHF Contest saw the largest number of participants in almost two decades, directly attributable to new participants using FT8 on 6 meters. Those new FT8 contesters are having way too much fun to worry about how they might be doing it wrong.

Factors that are "killing" Amateur Radio in general aren't doing that good a job. The absolute number of licensed Amateurs is the highest EVER in the U.S. Over half the U.S. population of Amateurs are Technicians. So something is attracting new people to Amateur Radio, but they're not necessarily making it to HF contesting.

Changing is a more appropriate word to describe the overall effect, because in some cases the X ended up enhancing the Y, in others, diminishing.

But changing is a harder word to use than killing. "Killing" implies that the activity that we enjoy is not going to exist because of some external factor that is maybe beyond our control. "Changing" implies that our favored activity still exists, but we haven't necessarily changed along with it.

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


16 May - 30 May 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, May 15, 1300z to May 15, 1400z and, May 15, 1900z to May 15, 2000z and, May 16, 0300z to May 16, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: May 18.

NAQCC CW Sprint, May 16, 0030z to May 16, 0230z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: May 19.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, May 17, 0145z to May 17, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: May 19.

NCCC Sprint, May 17, 0230z to May 17, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: May 19.

UN DX Contest, May 18, 0600z to May 18, 2100z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Kazakhstan: RS(T) + District Code, non-Kazakhstan: RS(T) + QSO No.; Logs due: June 2.

NZART Sangster Shield Contest, May 18, 0800z to May 18, 1100z and, May 19, 0800z to May 19, 1100z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; ZL: RST + Serial No. + Branch No., non-ZL: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: June 15.

Portuguese Navy Day Contest, May 18, 0900z to May 20, 1700z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; NRA Club: RS(T) + Member No., non-member: RS(T) + QSO No.; Logs due: June 4.

Aegean RTTY Contest, May 18, 1200z to May 19, 1200z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + QSO No.; Logs due: June 15.

EU PSK DX Contest, May 18, 1200z to May 19, 1200z; BPSK63; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; EU: RST + EU area code, non-EU: RST + QSO No.; Logs due: May 24.

His Maj. King of Spain Contest, CW, May 18, 1200z to May 19, 1200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; EA: RST + province, non-EA: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: June 3.

Feld Hell Sprint, May 18, 1600z to May 18, 1759z and, May 18, 2000z to May 18, 2159z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; (see rules); Logs due: May 21.

Baltic Contest, May 18, 2100z to May 19, 0200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80m Only; RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: June 9.

Run for the Bacon QRP Contest, May 20, 0100z to May 20, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (Member No./power); Logs due: May 26.

SKCC Sprint, May 22, 0000z to May 22, 0200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: May 24.

Phone Fray, May 22, 0230z to May 22, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: May 24.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, May 22, 1300z to May 22, 1400z and, May 22, 1900z to May 22, 2000z and, May 23, 0300z to May 23, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: May 25.

RSGB 80m Club Championship, Data, May 22, 2000z to May 22, 2030z; RTTY, PSK; Bands: 80m Only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: May 23.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, May 24, 0145z to May 24, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: May 26.

NCCC Sprint, May 24, 0230z to May 24, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: May 26.

CQ WW WPX Contest, CW, May 25, 0000z to May 26, 2359z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: May 31.

QCX Challenge, May 27, 1300z to May 27, 1400z and, May 27, 1900z to May 27, 2000z and, May 28, 0300z to May 28, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Name + (state/province/country) + Rig; Logs due: June 4.

Phone Fray, May 29, 0230z to May 29, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: May 31.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, May 29, 1300z to May 29, 1400z and, May 29, 1900z to May 29, 2000z and, May 30, 0300z to May 30, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: June 1.


No VHF/UHF focused contests - Use the time to get ready for E-season and the June VHF Contest.

Also, see Feld Hell Sprint,


16 May - 30 May 2019

May 16, 2019

May 17, 2019

May 18, 2019

May 19, 2019

May 20, 2019

May 21, 2019

May 22, 2019

May 23, 2019

May 24, 2019

May 25, 2019

May 26, 2019

May 18, 2019

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