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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
November 13, 2019
Editor: Paul Bourque, N1SFE

The next 2 weeks contain a couple of the most popular contests of the year. First up is the ARRL Phone Sweepstakes on November 16-17, followed by the CQ World Wide CW Contest November 23-24.

Sweepstakes is a domestic contest with a challenging exchange and 83 ARRL/RAC multipliers that can be worked once per contest over 24 operating hours out of a 30-hour contest period. The top single operator high-power score in the ARRL Phone Sweepstakes in 2018 was made by K5TR, who had 2,143 contacts, all 83 multipliers, and a score of nearly 356,000 points.

The 48-hour CQ WW CW contest has zone and country multipliers, and they can all be worked once per band for multiplier credit. Lots of per-band multipliers mean big scores - last year, the top single operator high-power score by CT1BOH (at D41CV) had 693 combined multipliers and 8,743 contacts, for a score just shy of 17 million points. CQ WW is usually a great opportunity to work some juicy DX if the bands are open.


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

14 Nov - 27 Nov 2019

November 13

November 15

November 16

November 17

November 18

November 20

November 21

November 22

November 23

November 25

November 26

November 27


ARRL Sweepstakes Phone is the weekend of November 16. In this picture, Mike, K7IR, is getting ready by setting up a BigIR vertical antenna. Adam, K7EDX, is barely visible in the right foreground.

Haven't tried ARRL Phone Sweepstakes yet? This is the weekend! Check out the 2019 ARRL November Sweepstakes package for everything you need to get started. The exchange is several mouthfuls, but the challenge is worth it. Just make sure you're sending all of the exchange information, which includes your call in it. Yes, it seems redundant, but it's required. If you have limited time but can choose when you can operate, try calling CQ on Sunday, mid-morning to afternoon. You'll be "fresh meat," and be plenty busy responding to callers. It might help to have the ARRL Section List handy if you're not familiar with all of the abbreviations for them. You can watch your score versus others using one of the online contest scoreboards (like or, report your score on, and then send in your log within 7 days.

N1MM Logger+ now has official translations for Italian, Dutch, German, Polish, Portugese (Brazil), Slovenian, and now Spanish! According to the translation coordinator AB2ZY's post in the N1MM Logger+ group: "A Spanish language translation is now available from Tools...Download and install language pack. Be sure to thank EA5WA Juan Carlos, EB1TR Fabian, EA4TV Jaime Robles, EA2CW Mikel Berrocal for their outstanding effort!" (via Twitter and

The digital edition of the December 2019 issue of QST may already be available by the time you read this, and it contains the 2019 ARRL Field Day results! According to results article author Paul, N1SFE, more than 36,000 operators participated across all 83 ARRL/RAC sections. Nearly 1.1 million contacts were made during the 24-hour event. "Soapbox" comments for the 2019 operating event are also available on the new website.

Elecraft's October 2019 newsletter suggests that if you'd like a new K3S transceiver, you shouldn't wait. They are discontinuing the K3S after their current stock is sold, in anticipation of the Elecraft K4's arrival later this year.

Although the sun rotates in about 27 days, different latitudes of the sun rotate with different periods. This is why propagation repeats about every 27 days. Here's an explainer from NASA. (Courtesy of N2IC via N0AX)


Nomophobia: The fear of being without, or not being able to use, your cellular phone.


The World Wide Radio Operator Foundation's Webinar "CQ WW SSB and CW - Current News on Your Favorite Contests" is on YouTube. "CQWW Director K1AR brings us up to date on the biggest annual global radiosport events on the calendar. Participant resources are examined along with log submittal, Log Check Reports, the Scores Database and awards. There are questions with answers at the end."

Looks like some people started early! This is the spectrum display of 20 meters a couple of minutes before the recent ARRL CW Sweepstakes contest started.

Disconnecting antennas from equipment is just one of the steps you might want to take to prevent damage from nearby lightning strikes. Mike, VA3MW, posted a link to K4FWJ's video on how he mechanically disconnects his remote station's equipment without "being there."

K3LR (blue) vs W3LPL (red) in the 2019 CQ World Wide SSB Contest. Who won? [Tim Duffy, K3LR, graph]

The recent CQ WW Phone contest saw a clash of the Titans - W3LPL versus K3LR battling for position. It was neck and neck throughout the 48 hours of the contest, and when the ether calmed, it was too close to call. According to Tim, K3LR: "There is no time to rest in a 48-hour contest - every minute counts!" (Tim, K3LR)

The K3LR Team from the 2019 CQ WW Phone weekend. [Credit: K3LR, Photo]


The 2019 IARU HF World Championship contest results have just gone live the on landing page. This contest has competition not just between radio operators and their stations, but also between special IARU headquarters stations, and in some years has a symbiotic relationship with the WRTC competition. This year, over 4,000 logs were submitted, and some areas of the US were even favored with transcontinental activity on 10 meters!

Pizza Lovers 259, sponsors of the Makrothen RTTY Contest, announce the results of the 2019 contest. All contest participants can download the LCR and a customized certificate from the website. Next year's contest will be on October 10 and 11, 2020 with the same three time-slot format.

Raw claimed scores for the 2019 CQ World Wide SSB contest are now available. (John, K1AR, via CQ-Contest)


Single Band Entry Subtlety

If you're entering a single band category (for example, in the ARRL International DX Contest), it is okay to also work stations on other bands. For example, if you're going to compete in the Single Op Single Band 40 meter category, it's okay to work stations on 20 meters. They won't count toward your 40 meter score, since the contest sponsor will just ignore the 20 meter contacts during scoring. But, ethically you cannot contact stations on 20 meters, and ask them to move to 40 meters to give you a contact. This is something to keep in mind if you start as SOAB, and then decide to change later.


It's a little late for last week's Frequency Monitoring Test, but... if you're a Flex Radio user and want to try a future ARRL Frequency Measurement Test you should read this article by WB2WGH, which will give you a big leg up in the competition. According to Mike, VA3MW: "... Ron has written up a great procedure to allow you be within a 1 Hz measurement."

Mark, K6UFO, found an article on researchers using Machine Learning to predict where lightning will next strike. Once their model was trained, their window of detection is 10 to 30 minutes within a 30 kilometer radius, using only atmospheric pressure, air temperature, relative humidity, and wind speed from local weather stations.

The title of the website article is intriguing: "Convert Radio Waves to Alerts using SDR, AWS Lambda and Amazon Transcribe." The first two words of the article are "Ham Radio", and then go on to describe a way to capture audio from an SDR dongle running ham2mon on a Linux computer, pipe the received audio through a voice recognition process running in the Amazon cloud which looks for a particular phrase, and then generates an alert event in another computer system. While the particular application may not be something you're looking for, it's great to know about the building blocks, some of which might be useful in a quest to develop an SSB Skimmer.

Brian, K6STI, has updated his Microsoft Windows program Coil Inductance & Q Calculator to include solenoids "made of solid or Litz Wire. The program includes an automatic optimizer that varies selected coil parameters to maximize Q while keeping inductance constant. I include accuracy data. The program is free. (Dennis, N6KI)

Lasers can inaudibly stimulate MEMS-based microphones by directing an amplitude modulated beam at the microphone element. Arbitrary audio waveforms can be introduced into the input. While it might be benign to silently trigger a voice-operated microphone in some circumstances, it can also potentially be used to get voice recognizing systems like smart speakers to execute arbitrary commands.


Contesting Metrics

In the score entry form for the website, there's a checkbox to tick off if you're using SO2R or operating remotely. The thinking behind the checkbox is to collect and display this information so that everyone can make inferences about whether these technologies add or subtract to contest scores. There's no doubt that operating on two bands can be better than one if one band can't support a good rate, and combining great operators with stellar radio locations, remotely, shouldn't surprise us by besting great operators in not-as-stellar radio locations. For some of us, the checks are there to provide a stark reminder that we should really learn those techniques. But there are probably other lower profile but more influential techniques and technologies that could be surveyed which would lead a greater number of operators to greater scores.

For example, I'd be interested in knowing whether ops in any particular contest took advantage of call history files or used panadapters or spectrum displays. Using a call history file (or even a call sign checking database like Super Check Partial) is a free, simple thing, that if used correctly and effectively, can yield lower error rates and higher scores. I would imagine that some contest entrants don't take the time to set them up and use them, despite their advantage.

Panadapters and spectrum displays don't just look cool, they can provide situational awareness that can cut down on the time spent finding open frequencies, finding new stations, and recognizing changing conditions. They used to be rare, but it's now getting rare to find modern radios that don't have some degree of this feature. Using these requires skills, it would be good to know who (besides N6TV) has them and uses them.

Taken further, let's consider operator instrumentation. I'd like to have a new logging program feature to collect and report on the operator usage of logging program features. It sounds redundant, but by having the logging program gather information on how it is being used over the course of the contest, more operating statistics could be gathered for post-contest review.

Knowing the percentage of time spend running vs. S&P, combined with a measurement of the rate during those intervals could better inform future operating strategies, and help avoid rationalizations. Other stats I've wanted to collect: how often an operator clicked on spots in the bandmap; what the run rate was each time an operator abandoned a run frequency; what percentage of time a contact progressed without asking for a fill; how many call sign typing corrections were made; whether an operator used call stacking as they listened to pileups - I'm sure you can think of other metrics that might inform better operating, and drive efficiency. It's hard to change what we can't measure, so if we're trying to develop better awareness of what the highest scoring activity is at any particular moment, information like this would be invaluable.

Taken to the extreme, a logging program could "score the scorer" for any particular contest, and this score itself could become part of a competition...

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


14 Nov - 27 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.


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: see rules.

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.

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

QRP Fox Hunt, Nov 15, 0200z to Nov 15, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: November 21.

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

YO International PSK31 Contest, Nov 15, 1600z to Nov 15, 2200z; PSK31; Bands: 80m Only; YO: RST + Serial No. + County, non-YO: RST + Serial No. + Country; Logs due: November 30.

SARL Field Day Contest, Nov 16, 1000z to Nov 17, 1000z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS(T) + Number of transmitters + Category (see rules) + Province (or "DX"); Logs due: see rules.

LZ DX Contest, Nov 16, 1200z to Nov 17, 1200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; LZ: RS(T) + 2-letter district, non-LZ: RS(T) + ITU Zone No.; Logs due: December 2.

All Austrian 160-Meter Contest, Nov 16, 1600z to Nov 16, 2359z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; OE: RST + Serial No. + District Code, non-OE: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: November 30.

REF 160-Meter Contest, Nov 16, 1700z to Nov 17, 0100z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; RST + Serial No. + Department Code; Logs due: December 1.

Feld Hell Sprint, Nov 16, 1900z to Nov 16, 2059z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40m; (see rules); Logs due: November 20.

RSGB 1.8 MHz Contest, Nov 16, 1900z to Nov 16, 2300z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; UK: RST + Serial No. + District Code, non-UK: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: November 17.

ARRL Sweepstakes Contest, SSB, Nov 16, 2100z to Nov 18, 0300z; SSB; 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 25.

Homebrew and Oldtime Equipment Party, Nov 17, 1300z to Nov 17, 1500z (40m) and, Nov 17, 1500z to Nov 17, 1700z (80m); CW; Bands: 80, 40m; RST + Serial No. + "/" + class; Logs due: December 20.

Run for the Bacon QRP Contest, Nov 18, 0200z to Nov 18, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (Member No./power); Logs due: November 24.

QRP Fox Hunt, Nov 20, 0200z to Nov 20, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: November 21.

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

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

RSGB 80m Autumn Series, SSB, Nov 20, 2000z to Nov 20, 2130z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: November 23.

NAQCC CW Sprint, Nov 21, 0130z to Nov 21, 0330z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: November 24.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Nov 22, 0145z to Nov 22, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: November 24.

QRP Fox Hunt, Nov 22, 0200z to Nov 22, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: November 28.

NCCC Sprint, Nov 22, 0230z to Nov 22, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: November 24.

CQ Worldwide DX Contest, CW, Nov 23, 0000z to Nov 25, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + CQ Zone No.; Logs due: November 29.

QCX Challenge, Nov 25, 1300z to Nov 25, 1400z and, Nov 25, 1900z to Nov 25, 2000z and, Nov 26, 0300z to Nov 26, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Name + (state/province/country) + Rig; Logs due: November 28.

SKCC Sprint, Nov 27, 0000z to Nov 27, 0200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: November 29.

Phone Fray, Nov 27, 0230z to Nov 27, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: November 29.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Nov 27, 1300z to Nov 27, 1400z and, Nov 27, 1900z to Nov 27, 2000z and, Nov 28, 0300z to Nov 28, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 30.

UKEICC 80m Contest, Nov 27, 2000z to Nov 27, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: November 27.


ARRL EME Contest, Nov 16, 0000z to Nov 17, 2359z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 50-1296 MHz; Signal report; Logs due: December 17.


14 Nov - 27 Nov 2019

November 14, 2019

November 15, 2019

November 16, 2019

November 17, 2019

November 18, 2019

November 19, 2019

November 20, 2019

November 21, 2019

November 22, 2019

November 23, 2019

November 24, 2019

November 25, 2019

November 27, 2019

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