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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
October 30, 2019
Editor: Paul Bourque, N1SFE

Kirk, K4RO, posted a message to the new ARRL Contesting group noting that the "Contesting 101" columns he originally wrote for NCJ (National Contest Journal) aimed at beginning contesters are also available on the Tennesee Contest Group website. Topics of the fifteen columns range from Searching and Pouncing to SO2R.

The ARRL CW Sweepstakes contest is the weekend of November 2. This domestic contest is steeped in history and has a non-trivial exchange, but that challenge is part of the fun. The following weekend, the WAE DX RTTY Contest also has some components that make it a standout - a serial number is part of the exchange, and additional points can be earned by sending and receiving QTC traffic. QTCs are records of other stations that have already been worked in the contest. Most logging programs that support WAE DX RTTY have some provision for sending and receiving QTCs automatically, and it's fun to see what other stations have been working. It's also a good way to increase your point totals.


In the last issue, the link to a survey about the Louisiana QSO Party was incorrect. This is the correct link, and W5WZ would still like your opinions on how to increase participation.


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

31 Oct - 13 Nov 2019

October 31

November 1

November 2

November 3

November 4

November 5

November 6

November 7

November 8

November 9

November 10

November 11

November 13


Some areas of the US are changing back to standard time from daylight saving time at 2 AM local time on November 2. Most contests start and end at specified UTC times, and UTC time isn't subject to daylight saving time.

Perhaps you saw the headline in last week's ARRL Letter: "ARRL Creates New Online Groups for Members to Communicate with Leadership." All of the groups are "hosted" by, but available under the ARRL domain, requiring separate registration. One of the new groups is "ARRL Contesting" to "foster discussion of radio contesting, contest operating, and contest rules." Only a few days old, the contesting group has already seen signups in the hundreds of new users.

The latest entry for DX Engineering's blog,, focuses on some of the "little things" that can really affect contest operation, such as ergonomics and automation. Ward, N0AX, discusses the causes of the symptoms that can reduce the "butt in chair" time, and how to improve your contesting life.

Every time I see ads for BIC writing instruments, I think their name communicates a subliminal (okay, overt) message to stay at the rig longer. If you have this brand of pens hanging around the station, will your scores improve?

Tom, K5RC, custodian of the Comstock Memorial Station W7RN, has published a new book: 73 and DX: 60 Years of Ham Radio - A Retrospective, which is a "compilation of my experiences in ham radio and stories of the incredible gifts the hobby has given to me... and the incredible friends I have made along the way." You can read this book on your Amazon Kindle device, and all proceeds from the sales of the $5.99 book will go towards the W7RN maintenance fund.

Ethernet cables sometimes go bad just because the small plastic retaining tab on the connector breaks off, and the RJ45 plug doesn't stay seated in the RJ45 jack. The RJCLIP provides a replacement retaining clip, so you don't have to throw that cable away. (Dennis, N6KI)

The ARRL Sweepstakes CW and Phone contests are coming up over the next three weeks. These are North American contests, with their own Operating Guide, which relates some of the history and evolution of Sweepstakes. The events have operating category choices that provide fun no matter how much time you have. Some seasoned operators try for their personal best time of completing the "clean sweep" of working all 83 sections, while others might try for just 83 contacts - one with each section - as their contest goal. Most people just try to make as many contacts and work as many multipliers as they can.

Different ARRL sections can be scarce in different years. Stations in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have been absent in years when hurricanes devastated those areas. This year, there are indications that only one station will reliably be on from the Northern Territories (NT) section -- VY1AAA. Furthermore, it's probably the last year it's going to be on. Gerry, W1VE/VE1RM is going to make sure that VY1AAA is on for both Sweepstakes contests. If you have limited time and want to have a great time running a bunch of stations, operate on Sunday morning or afternoon. Find a clear(-ish) frequency. Call CQ. Stations will find you, and be glad you're there.

Setting up logger macros for CW Sweepstakes can be a challenge, since there's so much information that needs to be conveyed, including a contact serial number. For advice on how to set up for N1MM Logger+, check out this discussion on the logger's support group.

Your logging program's computer is an essential piece of gear in a contesting station. With the modern demands of filtering and displaying spot information, potentially showing spectrum displays, performing searches on partial call signs for multiplier and duplicate status, you shouldn't expect your century Windows XP-based machine with a single core to keep up with the demands of today's software. Tom, N1MM, suggested the following when looking for a suitable CPU to use with N1MM Logger+: "A couple of notes about how N1MM+ uses threads. Each spectrum window and the grayline window use a separate thread. CPUs with more processors ("cores" - Ed.) will help with that. Serial/parallel CW generation also uses a separate thread. I generally use Passmark Software's CPU LIST to decide which processor to buy. It has an overall performance rating for each CPU, and if you drill down, it also has a single thread rating. That rating is also very important for apps and portions of apps that are not multi-threading. Four processors, with or without hyperthreading with a high single thread rating is probably optimal. More than four processors probably will not help N1MM+ performance. This is my opinion, I have not measured this particular recommendation."


Skin Effect

Most of the flow of RF currents occurs near the surface of an electrical conductor. The depth of the current flow is inversely proportional to its frequency. The skin effect is exploited in certain antenna designs such as the End Fed Half Wave where the currents flowing on the inside of a coaxial cable are part of the transmission line, while the currents on the outside of the cable are part of the antenna.


Ward, N0AX, writes: "Cool piece from Slim Gaillard that starts with him "scatting" CQ DE! W1WEF found this gem and posted it on the YCCC list." My wife, KA7MOM, recognized the opening refrain immediately, despite not being proficient at CW!


N3BB hard at "work" in his station. Jim placed third in the September 2019 NA CW Sprint, and is also the author of the final results article in NCJ. [Credit: N3BB, photo]

The final results for September 2019's North American CW Sprint are online at Jim, N3BB, did the write-up of the event, and also placed third overall! Jim noted that it was great to see a younger contester, KG5HVO, in second place in the low power category. (Ward, N0AX)

The Hawaii QSO Party Results are in:

"Please let our brethren know that I've released the results of the 2019 Hawaii QSO Party. I also just finished a complete re-write of the website. A special thanks to Icom for again providing the unique surfboard award to the category winners.

With Aloha, Alan AD6E / KH6TU

HQP Chairman"


How to Do Well In Sweepstakes

I am brazenly stealing this one from the Northern California Contest Club's September 2019 JUG newsletter, which lists this "tip." N5KO's Strategies to make 100K points or more in ARRL CW Sweepstakes, depending on your station capabilities:

  • If you are using high power, and have beams: Run for 24 hours.
  • If you are using high power, and have wire antennas: Run for 24 hours.
  • If you are using low power, and have beams: Run for 24 hours.

The source article also contains a number of other just as valid but less tongue-in-cheek suggestions to address specific operating situations that one may encounter in Sweepstakes.


Adam, K0FFY, tweeted a link to the IEEE Spectrum article "Build a Long-Distance Data Network Using Ham Radio." The author uses off the shelf hardware chips for the UHF ISM band and gain blocks from DMR radio for the physical layer, and uses new protocol for packet framing to achieve his goal of a few hundred kilobits per second. To Ethernet-attached networking gear, the device looks like an IPv4 network device.

Elektor published an article on how to control inrush current for audio power amplifiers at power-on, and the need is similar for tube RF amplifiers where electrolytic capacitors used in the DC power supply resemble a short-circuit at initial turn on. "Soft Start For Amplifiers" presents the problem, and considers various solutions, some involving inrush current limiting (ICL) thermistors, some involving relays. The theory and practical calculations for selecting an appropriate ICL are nice to know.

Laurent, F6FVY, tweeted about his YouTube video showing how to use his KiCAD plugins for doing RF PCB design. Some of the features include automatic 'fencing' of signal paths using vias to ground plane layers, trace rounding, and more control over PCB solder masks. (get image from

If you're not familiar with KiCAD, you can learn more from Dan's, KW4TI, presentation "Open Source for Amateur Radio Projects" made to the Raleigh Amateur Radio Society of September 10, 2019. He walks through the entire process of taking a design from schematic capture all the way to sending a Gerber file to a board fabrication house for manufacture. It's easier than ever to get quality PC boards fabricated inexpensively, and projects built this way can be less prone to wiring errors and more rugged than point to point wiring construction.


Taking Advantage of Garbage Time

In professional time-based sport competitions like basketball or football, an insurmountable lead by one team can produce a situation known as "garbage time." The first-string players on the dominant team are benched by team management, and their up-and-coming teammates are given a chance to play against real opponents in real games to develop their skills. Poor band conditions and/or lack of activity could be viewed as radiosport's garbage time equivalent. CQing into a dead band for potentially hours on end could compel you to read a book, surf the web, watch TV, or just give up. But don't be beaten by conditions! Think of the longer game - you've already set the time aside for radio activity, so take advantage of it. You could constructively use that time to learn a new logging feature, explore the limits of your radio or antenna system, practice a radio skill like tuning the VFO between CQs, or plan the next thing to automate in your station. You could even get in a little Morse Runner practice. Only you can decide whether the radio-fun-rate with stinko conditions merits sticking it out vs. doing something non-radio-related. On the other hand, some seemingly non-radio-related activity like spending weekend time with your spouse could also put money in the bank in exchange for a contest to be named later...

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


31 Oct - 13 Nov 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, Oct 30, 1300z to Oct 30, 1400z and, Oct 30, 1900z to Oct 30, 2000z and, Oct 31, 0300z to Oct 31, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 2.

RSGB 80m Autumn Series, SSB, Oct 31, 1900z to Oct 31, 2030z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: November 3.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Nov 1, 0145z to Nov 1, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: November 3.

NCCC Sprint, Nov 1, 0230z to Nov 1, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: November 3.

Silent Key Memorial Contest, Nov 1, 0600z to Nov 1, 0859z; CW; Bands: 80, 40m; RST + ITU Zone or RST + SK call sign you wish to recognize; Logs due: December 1.

Zombie Shuffle, Nov 1, 1600 (local) to Nov 2, 0000 (local); CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RS(T) + (state/province/country) + (Zombie number/area code) + name; Logs due: November 15.

IPARC Contest, CW, Nov 2, 0600z to Nov 2, 1000z and, Nov 2, 1400z to Nov 2, 1800z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; USA IPA Members: RST + Serial No. + "IPA" + State, non-USA IPA Members: RST + Serial No. + "IPA", non-IPA Members: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: December 31.

Ukrainian DX Contest, Nov 2, 1200z to Nov 3, 1200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Ukraine: RS(T) + 2-letter oblast, non-Ukraine: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: December 3.

SA Sprint Contest, Nov 2, 2100z to Nov 2, 2259z; SSB; Bands: 40, 20m; RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: November 9.

ARRL Sweepstakes Contest, CW, Nov 2, 2100z to Nov 4, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Serial No. + Precedence (Q/A/B/U/M/S) + [your call sign] + Check + ARRL/RAC Section; Logs due: November 11.

IPARC Contest, SSB, Nov 3, 0600z to Nov 3, 1000z and, Nov 3, 1400z to Nov 3, 1800z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; USA IPA Members: RS + Serial No. + "IPA" + State, non-USA IPA Members: RS + Serial No. + "IPA", non-IPA Members: RS + Serial No.; Logs due: December 31.

EANET Sprint, Nov 3, 0800z to Nov 3, 1200z; Any; Bands: Any; RS(T); Logs due: November 13.

High Speed Club CW Contest, Nov 3, 0900z to Nov 3, 1100z and, Nov 3, 1500z to Nov 3, 1700z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Members: RST + HSC No., non-Members: RST + "NM"; Logs due: November 24.

RSGB FT4 Contest Series, Nov 4, 2000z to Nov 4, 2059z; FT4; Bands: 80m Only; Signal Report + 4-character grid square; Logs due: November 5.

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

Phone Fray, Nov 6, 0230z to Nov 6, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: November 8.

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

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

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

SKCC Sprint Europe, Nov 7, 2000z to Nov 7, 2200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: November 14.

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

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

WAE DX Contest, RTTY, Nov 9, 0000z to Nov 10, 2359z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: November 17.

PODXS 070 Club Triple Play Low Band Sprint, Nov 9, 0000z to Nov 11, 2359z; PSK31; Bands: 160, 80, 40m; RST + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 18.

10-10 Int. Fall Contest, Digital, Nov 9, 0001z to Nov 10, 2359z; Digital; Bands: 10m Only; 10-10 Member: Name + 10-10 number + (state/province/country), Non-Member: Name + 0 + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 18.

JIDX Phone Contest, Nov 9, 0700z to Nov 10, 1300z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; JA: RST + Prefecture No., non-JA: RST + CQ Zone No.; Logs due: December 10.

OK/OM DX Contest, CW, Nov 9, 1200z to Nov 10, 1200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; OK/OM: RST + 3-letter district code, non-OK/OM: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: November 17.

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

CQ-WE Contest, Nov 9, 1900z to Nov 9, 2300z (CW/Digital) and, Nov 10, 0100z to Nov 10, 0500z (Phone) and, Nov 10, 1900z to Nov 10, 2300z (Phone) and, Nov 11, 0100z to Nov 11, 0500z (CW/Digital); CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2, 432 MHz; Name + Location Code (see rules) + Years of Service (see rules); Logs due: December 1.

AWA Bruce Kelley 1929 QSO Party, Nov 9, 2300z to Nov 10, 2300z and, Nov 16, 2300z to Nov 17, 2300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40m; RST + Name + QTH + Eqpt Year + Transmitter Type (see rules for format) + Input Power(W); Logs due: January 1.

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

4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint, Nov 11, 0100z to Nov 11, 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: November 13.

RSGB 80m Autumn Series, Data, Nov 11, 2000z to Nov 11, 2130z; RTTY, PSK; Bands: 80m Only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: November 14.

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

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


SARL VHF/UHF Analogue Contest, Nov 9, 1000z to Nov 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: December 2.
Also see SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, SKCC Sprint Europe, CQ-WE Contest, above.


31 Oct - 13 Nov 2019

October 31, 2019

November 1, 2019

November 2, 2019

November 3, 2019

November 4, 2019

November 5, 2019

November 7, 2019

November 8, 2019

November 9, 2019

November 10, 2019

November 11, 2019

November 13, 2019

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