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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
June 26, 2019
Editor: Paul Bourque, N1SFE

If you're a new HF operator and just tuning in to the Contest Update, here are some opportunities to practice your contesting skills on a frequent and consistent basis:

The Northern California Contest Club (NCCC) CW and RTTY Sprints happen on Thursday evenings. The Sprint format precludes establishing a long-term run frequency, but the fast pace provides ample opportunities to keep your CW and RTTY skills sharp.

On Tuesday evenings in the US, the Phone Fray is a 30-minute SSB contest that's similar to the North American QSO Party (NAQP). Multipliers are US states, Canadian provinces/territories, and DX entities.

CWops Tests, also known as CWT, occur as listed on the CWT website on Wednesday evenings in the US. What's nice about the one-hour long CWTs is that they occur three times on the designated day. This is so each time zone in the US has the opportunity for a session of contest at the same local time -- an attempt to equalize conditions between time zones. For new CW operators note that, "Three times a year, on the second Wednesday in March, June, and November, we replace the regular CWT sessions with special sessions in which participants are asked to keep their CW speed at or below 20 wpm. This is in order to honor the graduating CW Academy classes and encourage CW Academy students to take part in the CWTs."


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

27 Jun - 10 Jul 2019

June 27

June 28

June 29

July 1

July 2

July 3

July 4

July 5

July 6

July 10


Paul Bourque, N1SFE, Joins ARRL Headquarters Staff as Contest Program Manager.

Joe, OZ0J, and Bob, N6TV, are compiling a list of headquarter multiplier stations for the upcoming IARU contest on July 13-14, 2019. Joe takes care of updates to the list, while Bob formats and distributes the data as HQ station "pre-fill" files in multiple formats compatible with N1MM Logger+, Writelog, Win-Test,, TR4W, Skookum Logger and UcxLog. You can download the archive file, but remember that it is updated frequently, right up to just before contest start. Installation instructions and test procedure are documented in the Readme.txt file inside the zip archive. Please send any additions or corrections for the list to Joe via this special email address.

This just in from DX Engineering: Canadian amateurs can get free Fedex Ground shipping for a limited period of time when they place an order for more than $299 USD. Customers are responsible for any "applicable customs duties, taxes, and fees" but DX Engineering also offers "Landed Cost Delivery Service" to Canada. "This service lets you pay all applicable duties, taxes, and fees when you place an order--no more out-of-pocket expenses to pay when your parts arrive." (Tim, K3LR)

WRTC 2022's qualification standings are now available online, and as of this writing include claimed scores from 2019's ARRL International DX Phone and CW Contests, and 2019's CQ WPX Phone and CW Contests. According to the WRTC 2022 sponsors, claimed scores will be included in the standings until the official contest results are available, and as such the rankings are provisional. (Carlo, IK1HJS)

Current ARRL Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) Coordinator Joe, K0OV, is stepping down after more than 20 years in the role. Jerry, WB8WFK has been appointed as the new ARRL ARDF Coordinator effective July 1.

microHAM has announced a new REMOTE Control Suite to be available in fall 2019. Consisting of hardware devices for both client (REMOTE PAD) and server (REMOTE SERVER), once they are configured changing between local and remote operation is as "simple as flipping a switch." One of the benefits is said to be that a computer is NOT needed to control transceivers, station accessories, etc. by taking advantage of the four USB ports and 2 RS-232 ports. If you need more, you can add USB hubs and USB to RS-232 adapters as required.

Frank, W3LPL, posted to the Topband email reflector this week: "This article in Nature forecasts that we're approaching a grand solar minimum -- similar to Maunder Minimum -- starting in 2020 and lasting for three solar cycles. I hope these scientists are wrong."

Pat, N7UVH, writes: "I don't know if many know about Amazon donations to ARRL. Shoppers can set up how they want Amazon to donate to a charity." According to the quarterly report sent to Pat by Amazon, $1,779.41 was donated to ARRL through the Amazon Smile program. Products purchased in this way through Amazon cost the same, however 0.5% of the purchase price goes to your designated charitable organization. Also according to the report, $32,209.69 has been donated in total to ARRL.


"Moving Multipliers"

Asking a station you're in a contact with to move to another band where they'd be a multiplier for you. This is most effective when the other station is not busy, and should only be done when there's a reasonable expectation that you'll actually be able to make a contact on that different band subject to propagation. You should also agree on a frequency before QSYing to the new band.


Ham Talk Live Episode 169 is entitled, "Youth Contesting Program & YOTA Region 2" and features N0SSC talking about upcoming YARC (Young Amateurs Radio Club) activities and media outreach.

Faith Hannah, KD3Z, explains how to spot a station via the internet in this instructional video.

There are PLENTY of pictures of last weekend's ARRL Field Day operations posted on Twitter - check out this link, or search for the hashtag #ARRLFD yourself!

Also last weekend, HAM RADIO 2019 was held in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Many attendees were actively "broadcasting" via Twitter.


The results article for the January 2019 VHF Contest is on the ARRL website. Duffey, KK6MC, author of the contest article, writes: "The digital modes, in particular FT8, played a major role in the January contest, increasing the logs submitted significantly. But the overall number of contacts made in the contest remained the same. So, those additional digital QSOs came from the higher bands. I think this is not good. Please read my comments on this in the write-up and think about what it means for the future of VHF contesting, if you like that future, and what can be done to address the continued erosion of the bands above 144 MHz in contesting."

According to Goetz, DJ3IW, the results of the 2019 DRCG-WW RTTY Contest are available online, including certificates for those that qualified. (Goetz, DJ3IW)

D4C reports via Twitter that a 144 MHz contact between D41CV and 9Y4D was accomplished using FT8 on June 20. It could be a new AF/SA record, on the heels of an earlier contact between D41CV and FG8OJ. FG8OJ is encouraging East Coast US stations to listen for the F5ZRB beacon on 144.405 MHz CW and 144.4035 JT65 USB and D41CV continues to look for new South American and Caribbean stations on the 2 meter band.


Embrace Automation

"Reducing cognitive load" is just another way of saying that you're fool-proofing common operations by automating them. Automating manual tasks can gain a few seconds here and there, but even more importantly reduces the opportunity for human error in the wee hours.


Block diagram of the QSX Transceiver by QRP-Labs.

QRP-Labs principal Hans, G0UPL, designer of the forthcoming QSX (Qrp Ssb Xceiver) QRP SSB Transceiver, talked about the design decisions and overall difficulty of bring this transceiver into existence in a number of presentations related to the Hamvention and the Four Days in May (FDIM) event. Materials include a slide presentation, a 26-page paper, and a podcast recording of the event. See the linked page for details. QRP-Labs is known for their Ultimate3 beacon kits, used in many high-altitude balloon flights, as well as their QCX QRP CW Transceiver originally developed for the 2017 YOTA Camp. Over 7,200 QCX CW Transceiver kits have been shipped to date.

The interaction between the various bits and pieces of the "technology stack" required for a modern contest station is complicated. For serial communications alone, there may be virtual serial ports, real serial ports, USB to serial converters, and differing applications wanting to talk to the same serial device. An external device with a real serial port might communicate to a USB to serial converter, which is being "split" into two virtual serial ports to feed a logging program and perhaps an antenna controller. Tracking down a problem in stacks like these can be daunting. Troubleshooters may be able to empathize with this recent story of a photographer that had a problem with his computer not displaying anything on the screen. After literally thousands of dollars of warranty work being done on his computer, it turns out that he might not have had a problem at all!

A design by Rich, W3ACO, for a 30-meter Yagi antenna was published in the August 2013 issue of QST. He recently "changed the element taper schedule to make the elements droop less and simplified the feed arrangement to make it easier to build... (and) the new design has a simple coil (beta) match instead of the transformer." The EZNEC file of the design, a picture of a completed antenna at NO0B, and design notes for the updated antenna have been posted to the QST in Depth page on the ARRL website. After navigating to the URL, click on "2013" in the drop-down, and then scroll down to reach the August issue. Look for "UPDATE" in bold in the description.

The Raspberry Pi 4 is now available sporting a number of upgraded features over previous versions including faster processor, more memory options, dual display capability, and faster network. This new version should find even more application for Amateur Radio-related projects.


What Does Operating Assisted Mean (2019)?

Every few months it seems we get some new tool or technology to help put more contacts into the log more quickly. Call histories and contact exchange pre-fills, along with spots filling the bandmap are standard fare, and don't even qualify as "assistance" in many contests. Last year, spectrum displays and annotated waterfalls became must-haves for many. Once a new feature is established, more nuanced usages become desirable over time, for example clicking on a call sign can QSY to a frequency automatically, zero-beating or specifically NOT zero-beating the target station at the operator's choice in the hopes of working it as quickly as possible. If internet spots are not voluminous enough, a local skimmer can find those stations that haven't been spotted yet. Will 2019 find contesters selecting specific low-latency spot servers to get spots before their competitors, the way high-frequency traders seek to get closer to stock exchanges? With recent improvements to N1MM Logger+, radio spectrum information is digested by the logging program so the computer can quickly find the next empty frequency up or down the band for runs, or tune to frequencies that are in use for searching and pouncing. Probably more quickly than many humans.

Propagation predictions that inform operating strategy are readily available, but perhaps we'll see this information incorporated into a more advanced "Auto Elmer" type feature. A hypothetical "Auto Elmer" considers real-time solar weather inputs, current spot streams, VOACAP models, past logs, and current multipliers worked and multipliers needed to generate actionable suggestions of what the operator should be doing right now instead of what they are doing. The advice feature could present a list of tactics, and then execute with just a click, relying on the capabilities of the logging program to, for example tune to a new band, find an empty spot (consulting spot data as well as spectrum data), enter run mode, and start sending the CQ message.

Some might see any additional operator aids or technology improvements like an "Auto Elmer" as a drop of another few feet down the slippery slope to the operator's eventual role of just hitting the "Enter" key at the right time after the computer does everything, while others might see it as a way to be able to help operators to concentrate on operating.

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


27 Jun - 10 Jul 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, Jun 26, 1300z to Jun 26, 1400z and, Jun 26, 1900z to Jun 26, 2000z and, Jun 27, 0300z to Jun 27, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: June 29.

RSGB 80m Club Championship, SSB, Jun 27, 1900z to Jun 27, 2030z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: June 28.

Battle of Carabobo International Contest, Jun 28, 0000z to Jun 30, 0000z; Phone; Bands: 40, 20, 15, 10m; YV: RS(T) + state, Non-YV: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: July 31.

QRP Fox Hunt, Jun 28, 0100z to Jun 28, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: June 29.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Jun 28, 0145z to Jun 28, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: June 30.

NCCC Sprint, Jun 28, 0230z to Jun 28, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: June 30.

Feld Hell Sprint, Jun 29, 0000z to Jun 29, 2359z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; (see rules); Logs due: July 3.

UFT QRP Contest, Jun 29, 0600z to Jun 29, 0900z and, Jun 29, 1400z to Jun 29, 1700z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: RST + QRP/QRO + UFT member no., non-member: RST + QRP/QRO + "NM"; Logs due: July 29.

RAC Canada Day Contest, Jul 1, 0000z to Jul 1, 2359z; CW, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; VE: RS(T) + province/territory, non-VE: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: July 31.

10-10 Int. Spirit of 76 QSO Party, Jul 1, 0001z to Jul 8, 0000z; CW, SSB, PSK31, RTTY, FM, AM; Bands: 10m Only; 10-10 Member: Name + 10-10 number + (state/province/country), Non-Member: Name + 0 + (state/province/country); Logs due: July 15.

IQRP Quarterly Marathon, Jul 1, 0800z to Jul 7, 2000z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: All; RS(T); Logs due: July 21.

RSGB 80m Club Championship, CW, Jul 1, 1900z to Jul 1, 2030z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: July 2.

Fireflies QRP 72 Sprint, Jul 2, 0000z to Jul 2, 0200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Firefly: RS(T) + (state/province/country) + Firefly no., non-Firefly: RS(T) + (state/province/country) + power out; Logs due: July 10.

ARS Spartan Sprint, Jul 2, 0100z to Jul 2, 0300z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: July 4.

QRP Fox Hunt, Jul 3, 0100z to Jul 3, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: June 29.

Phone Fray, Jul 3, 0230z to Jul 3, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: June 28.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Jul 3, 1300z to Jul 3, 1400z and, Jul 3, 1900z to Jul 3, 2000z and, Jul 4, 0300z to Jul 4, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: June 29.

NRAU 10m Activity Contest, Jul 4, 1700z to Jul 4, 1800z (CW) and, Jul 4, 1800z to Jul 4, 1900z (SSB) and, Jul 4, 1900z to Jul 4, 2000z (FM) and, Jul 4, 2000z to Jul 4, 2100z (Dig); CW, SSB, FM, Digital; Bands: 10m Only; RS(T) + 6-character grid square; Logs due: July 18.

SKCC Sprint Europe, Jul 4, 1900z to Jul 4, 2100z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: July 11.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Jul 5, 0145z to Jul 5, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: June 30.

NCCC Sprint, Jul 5, 0230z to Jul 5, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: June 30.

FISTS Summer Slow Speed Sprint, Jul 6, 0000z to Jul 6, 0400z; 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: August 5.

Venezuelan Ind. Day Contest, Jul 6, 0000z to Jul 6, 2359z; CW, SSB, PSK; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: July 15.

DL-DX RTTY Contest, Jul 6, 1100z to Jul 7, 1059z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + QSO No.; Logs due: July 14.

Marconi Memorial HF Contest, Jul 6, 1400z to Jul 7, 1400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: July 21.

Original QRP Contest, Jul 6, 1500z to Jul 7, 1500z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + Serial No. + "/" + Power category; Logs due: July 31.

PODXS 070 Club 40m Firecracker Sprint, Jul 6, 2000z to Jul 7, 2000z; PSK31; Bands: 40m Only; RST + (state/province/country); Logs due: July 14.

Phone Fray, Jul 10, 0230z to Jul 10, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: June 28.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Jul 10, 1300z to Jul 10, 1400z and, Jul 10, 1900z to Jul 10, 2000z and, Jul 11, 0300z to Jul 11, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: June 29.

RSGB 80m Club Championship, SSB, Jul 10, 1900z to Jul 10, 2030z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: June 28.


See Feld Hell Sprint, RAC Canada Day Contest, SKCC Sprint Europe, above.


27 Jun - 10 Jul 2019

June 28, 2019

June 29, 2019

June 30, 2019

July 1, 2019

July 2, 2019

July 3, 2019

July 4, 2019

July 5, 2019

July 7, 2019

July 10, 2019

July 8, 2019

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