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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
February 19, 2020
Editor: Paul Bourque, N1SFE

Most of the time the 160 meter band is the domain of CW and FTx, which is why this weekend's CQ 160 meter SSB Contest is a great opportunity to flex some phone muscles on Top Band. Given where we are in the sunspot cycle, it could also represent a nice opportunity to work some DX.

Imagine a block party, but with radios instead of live music: The North Carolina and South Carolina QSO Parties have gotten together to put on the "Carolina Weekend" February 29 to March 1. There's even a prize incentive to participate in both events - potential to win a $100 Gigaparts Gift Certificate for submitting a log to both weekend contests. The SCQP is on Saturday, the NCQP on Sunday. Make sure you see the website for details. What's more, the weekend's events also qualify for the State QSO Party Challenge.

The NAQP RTTY Contest on February 29 is a way to satiate your digital contest cravings. Plenty of activity, everyone-friendly rules like a 100 watt power limit, family friendly 12 hour contest period, and the opportunity to form teams make it a favorite.


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

20 Feb - 5 Mar 2020

February 20

February 21

February 22

February 23

February 24

February 25

February 26

February 27

February 28

February 29

March 1

March 2

March 3

March 4


ARRL has created a new HF Band Planning Discussion Group to focus on the ARRL HF Band Planning Committee's recommendations and other band-planning activities. "At the ARRL Board's January meeting, the committee presented its specific recommendations in graphical form for each HF band and each US license class, with the goal of increasing harmony on the HF bands, particularly between CW and digital users."

Radiosport contesters and DXpeditions know that an uncomfortable desk chair can increase operator fatigue and ultimately reduce QSO counts. PC Gamers have similar needs for good ergonomics, to remain as fresh as possible over extended butt-in-chair sessions. It makes sense to leverage the learnings and recommendations from that much larger user population . If you've spent thousands on your radios, antennas, and other station accessories, spending a few hundred to help use all of that gear more effectively can make sense.

The Youth On The Air Camp is being held this summer in Cincinnati, Ohio. It's an opportunity for licensed Amateur Radio youth to gather and learn from one another through workshops and hands-on activities.

"From now until the end of February, 2020, every dollar donated in support of the Youth on the Air Camp will be matched by Steve, KM9G, up to a total of $4000! Your donations in support of this unique opportunity for youth to share ham radio with their peers will count DOUBLE until the end of February. For links and details, visit and click "Donate" in the top right corner."

Applications to the Youth On The Air Camp are being accepted through March 15, 2020. "Licensed amateur radio operators ages 15 through 25 who want to attend are encouraged to apply online at The camp will take place June 21 through June 26, 2020 at the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting in West Chester Township (North Cincinnati), Ohio. The application process is FREE. The cost of the camp is $100 plus transportation to and from the VoA museum. The $100 fee will not be payable until after acceptance. Should a potential camper not be able to afford the $100 fee, he or she may apply for a scholarship. Campers will be selected by the committee and notified by the end of March." See the Youth On The Air website for additional details!

Though the CQ WPX RTTY Contest was last weekend, there are still opportunities to get your call sign on a plaque. The trick is to sponsor one! According to Rick, N1IXF: "Plaques create interest in contests and recognize performance in various entry categories. At the same time, sponsoring a plaque helps give something back to RTTY contesting. Plaques are awarded to category winners ONLY if they are sponsored and that's where we need you. Please visit the "Plaques & Sponsors" page to see what plaques are now available for sponsorship. A list of the plaque sponsors and the winners will be included in the final results article. Additionally, if you wish to sponsor a plaque that recognizes contest achievement in your call area or country, you can sponsor your own category. The fee to sponsor a plaque is currently $65 and includes shipping to the winner." If you are willing to sponsor a CQWPX RTTY plaque, please contact Rich Cady, N1IXF, at

The 2020 Dayton Hamvention website is up and running. Tickets for general admission, flea market space rentals, and vendor exhibition are available.

Jim, K5ND, describes why he's going to be using N1MM Logger+ in the ARRL June VHF Contest in his article entitled "N1MM+ Logger and VHF Contesting" An excerpt: "You'll find it is nearly perfect for VHF contesting and roving. Here's why..."


Claimed Score

The claimed score is the point total calculated by your logging program as you're logging contacts during a contest. It represents the encoding of the interpretation of the contest rule scoring algorithm by the contest program authors, using the contacts that have been entered in the logging program. The claimed score itself is not even used by contest sponsors. Contest sponsors use the "raw contacts" - the individual entries representing each contact - to calculate an official score, after accounting for duplicates, busts, or NILs. Claimed score calculations by a logging program may not be accurate; for example, in the Stew Perry Top Band Distance Challenge contest, a contact's point value is based on the distance between each station and the power used by the stations in the contact. The power used is not part of the exchange; only the contest sponsor knows the right value to apply to each contact. Some oversea territory/possession call signs can make contest scoring problematic, since the call sign's use can affect its status as a multiplier or counter.


Why is this K3LR team smiling? Because they are a contender for the top spot in the just-completed ARRL International DX Contest, CW. K3LR finished with a claimed 9.9 million points. See related graph, below [Credit: K3LR, Photo]

When conditions give you lemons, do you use FT8? John, N7AME, notes that when 10 meters is otherwise closed for communications, FT8 will enable some contacts. But how to transmit the required exchange for, say, the 10-10 International Digi Contests, or any other contest? "Randy, AJ7B has instructions to pass all required information in two passes for the 10x10 International digital contests or any 10 meter QSO on ten meters. You will notice that in my call, name and 10x10 number (minutes 10:30 - 15:00 in the demo) passed in one."

Multi-multi operations W3LPL and K3LR were neck and neck for nearly the entire ARRL International DX Contest [Credit: K3LR, graph]


The NAQP CW Preliminary Results are available. A team from the Arizona Outlaws Contest Club comprised of N2IC, N6WIN, K8IA, K6LL and W0RIC is current sitting in the top team spot. Steve, N2IC, is the current top single-op LP, while KE3X, is the atop the single-op QRP list. (Chris KL9A)

Raw scores for the recent CQ 160 CW contest are available. Note that these are the scores calculated BEFORE any type of log checking has been applied. (Dave K3ZJ)

Raw scores for last weekend's CQ WPX RTTY Contest are available. (Ed, W0YK)


SOU: Take Care With Spot Sources

In "General Rules for ARRL Contest Below 30 MHz" for Single Operator Unlimited entries, spotting data is allowed, but ONLY if the spotting data source is inside the boundaries of the station, or the spotting sources is generally available to the public. If you have your own skimmer set up, it must be within the boundary of your station; you can't use a skimmer you've set up for your private use in a low-noise environment in the next town. Note that spots provided via a phone call, email, SMS, etc. from a source outside the station boundary are also not allowed by the rules.


Frank, NF8M, writes: "Here's an item that popped up in TV Technology today, about the consequences of mixing cable, cable connectors, and water. Should be of interest to a few, though much has already been covered in seminars such as at Contest University. I've met (Industry Consultant) Steve Lampen at various broadcast trade shows (he even sent me a sample spool of cable to try out for a particular application). He's very knowledgeable and interesting speaker." The article contains some interesting information tidbits, for example electrode dimensional changes due to oxidation, and also discusses the tradeoffs of metal types.

Steve, N2IC, has made available a Visual Basic application that decodes UDP broadcasts from N1MM Logger+ and generates TCP messages to control a 4O3A Antenna Genius antenna switch. "I have uploaded the source code to my N1MM-to-AG application to Github." If you don't have Antenna Genius hardware, you could fork the code and modify the application to use the band information data from N1MM Logger+ for other types of hardware, or even decode other N1MM Logger+ broadcast types for other purposes.

Mike, K7MDL, wrote an extensive description and review of NanoVNA-H and NanoVNA-H4 vector network analyzers for the Pacific Northwest VHF Society email list. "In case you have not seen it yet, NanoVNA-H and NanoVNA-H4 (a 4" screen version) are now available with extended coverage to 1.5GHz using the 5th harmonic of the PLL max frequency with reduced but still usable range. The new 3.4 version board has changes that include better RF shielding. increased RF output level, frequency stability <0.5ppm, new CPU, and larger 1950maH battery with improved charging. Uses a USB Type C connector for charging and data communication to a smartphone or computer." His conclusion is "great value covering the all the HF through 1296 bands" but the entire review is thoroughly worth reading.

Using an audio-reverb chip to do the modulation decoding for an SDR receiver is kind of cool... but might also give some ideas of how to use the FV-1 reverb chip for custom audio processing for radio purposes.



Time and commitment can be significant barriers for new hams to learn how the contest to decide whether they like to contest. Mike, K5NZ, took up the challenge to devise a way to mentor some potential new contesters without making them commit to an entire weekend of serious contesting. He even minimized the overhead of traveling, maximized the amount of contesting time, and made the techniques relevant to the operator's home station ... by using the operator's home station!

Mike drew upon his experience setting up for a W1AW event where logging computers were linked via the Internet. Consulting with Steve, N2IC, who has extensive experience using Virtual Private Networks to link N1MM Logger+, Mike set up each prospective contester's station to link to his own, so it was "as if we were sitting in the same room" on the same network, just the a big multi-multi. The group was able to virtually contest together, gaining an understanding of how a multi op works, how to use the software, recognize changing propagation, software use, propagation, and so on, with the familiarity and convenience of their own station.

The operators communicated with one another via VPN chat windows and also via the built in "gab" function in N1MM Logger+ "as if they were in the same room doing a big multi-multi."

How did it work? According to Mike, once it was set up, "flawlessly! The new operators loved it, got excited working multipliers, watching the rate in real time, chasing packet spots while not leaving their own home and obligations." The operators gain positive reinforcement by "seeing their limited dipoles or verticals make a difference when all were playing together." Charlene, K5MXG, one of the first that Mike mentored, mentioned that the "teaching" aspect of this was the most impactful. For example, when she encountered difficulty hearing a station on 40 meters, a suggestion of "try a non 40 meter antenna" followed by success was immediate reinforcement. By the way, after just a few times multi-mentoring sessions, she was invited to K5NA for a multi, did great, and has an invitation to return anytime!

Mike mentioned that even some long-time hams were interested in the mentored experience. It allowed them to try a new facet of Amateur Radio, be a part of a team, yet not consume the entire weekend.

Mike points out that while their "distributed multi-multi" entry wouldn't fall into any of the current contest categories, he hopes that in the future that contest sponsors would allow these entries in some category just like any other multi-op. He also recalls that in the not-so-distant past, the CQ WW Contest had the "Extreme" category, which might be appropriate for this style of operation. With appropriate coordination with the contest sponsors, an outside organization could even run this as a "contest within a contest." Having the new contesters see their scores posted, no matter their point totals, reinforces their bond with the rest of the contesting population.

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


20 Feb - 5 Mar 2020

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, Feb 19, 1300z to Feb 19, 1400z and, Feb 19, 1900z to Feb 19, 2000z and, Feb 20, 0300z to Feb 20, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: February 22.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Feb 21, 0145z to Feb 21, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: February 23.

QRP Fox Hunt, Feb 21, 0200z to Feb 21, 0330z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: February 27.

NCCC Sprint, Feb 21, 0230z to Feb 21, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: February 23.

CQ 160-Meter Contest, SSB, Feb 21, 2200z to Feb 23, 2200z; SSB; Bands: 160m Only; W/VE: RS + (state/province), DX: RS + CQ Zone; Logs due: February 28.

REF Contest, SSB, Feb 22, 0600z to Feb 23, 1800z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; French: RS + Department/Prefix, non-French: RS + Serial No.; Logs due: March 2.

UK/EI DX Contest, CW, Feb 22, 1200z to Feb 23, 1200z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; UK/EI: RST + Serial No. + District Code, DX: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: February 23.

SARL Digital Contest, Feb 23, 1400z to Feb 23, 1700z; PSK, RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + QSO No.; Logs due: March 2.

High Speed Club CW Contest, Feb 23, 1500z to Feb 23, 1800z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Members: RST + HSC No., non-Members: RST + "NM"; Logs due: March 8.

QCX Challenge, Feb 24, 1300z to Feb 24, 1400z and, Feb 24, 1900z to Feb 24, 2000z and, Feb 25, 0300z to Feb 25, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Name + (state/province/country) + Rig; Logs due: February 27.

SKCC Sprint, Feb 26, 0000z to Feb 26, 0200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: February 28.

QRP Fox Hunt, Feb 26, 0200z to Feb 26, 0330z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: February 27.

Phone Fray, Feb 26, 0230z to Feb 26, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: February 28.

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

UKEICC 80m Contest, Feb 26, 2000z to Feb 26, 2100z; ; Bands: 80m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: February 26.

RSGB 80m Club Championship, CW, Feb 27, 2000z to Feb 27, 2130z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: February 28.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Feb 28, 0145z to Feb 28, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: March 1.

QRP Fox Hunt, Feb 28, 0200z to Feb 28, 0330z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: March 5.

NCCC Sprint, Feb 28, 0230z to Feb 28, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: March 1.

Feld Hell Sprint, Feb 29, 0000z to Feb 29, 2359z; Feld Hell; Bands: ; (see rules); Logs due: March 4.

FTn DX Contest, Feb 29, 1200z to Mar 1, 1200z; ; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; W: RST + state, VE: RST + province/territory, non-W/VE: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: March 15.

UBA DX Contest, CW, Feb 29, 1300z to Mar 1, 1300z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ON: RST + Serial No. + province, non-ON: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: March 16.

South Carolina QSO Party, Feb 29, 1500z to Mar 1, 0159z; CW, Digital, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; SC: RS(T) + County, non-SC: RS(T) + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: March 31.

NA Collegiate Championship, RTTY, Feb 29, 1800z to Mar 1, 0559z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; NA: Name + (state/DC/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: March 6.

North American QSO Party, RTTY, Feb 29, 1800z to Mar 1, 0559z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; NA: Name + (state/DC/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: March 6.

NSARA Contest, Mar 1, 1200z to Mar 1, 1600z and, Mar 1, 1800z to Mar 1, 2200z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 80m Only; Nova Scotia: RS(T) + county, non-NS: RS(T); Logs due: March 31.

SARL Hamnet 40m Simulated Emergency Contest, Mar 1, 1200z to Mar 1, 1400z; SSB; Bands: 40m Only; Class A: RS + Serial No. (starting with 201), Class B: RS + Serial No. (starting with 401), Class C: RS + Serial No. (starting with 601), Class D: RS + Serial No. (starting with 801), Non-participants: RS + Serial No. (starting with 001); Logs due: March 8.

North Carolina QSO Party, Mar 1, 1500z to Mar 2, 0059z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; NC: County, non-NC: (state/province/country); Logs due: March 16.

RSGB 80m Club Championship, Data, Mar 2, 2000z to Mar 2, 2130z; RTTY, PSK; Bands: 80m Only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: March 3.

ARS Spartan Sprint, Mar 3, 0200z to Mar 3, 0400z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: March 5.

AGCW YL-CW Party, Mar 3, 1900z to Mar 3, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; YL: RST + Serial No. + "/YL/" + name, OM: RST + Serial No. + "/" + name; Logs due: March 31.

QRP Fox Hunt, Mar 4, 0200z to Mar 4, 0330z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: February 20.

Phone Fray, Mar 4, 0230z to Mar 4, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: February 21.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Mar 4, 1300z to Mar 4, 1400z and, Mar 4, 1900z to Mar 4, 2000z and, Mar 5, 0300z to Mar 5, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: February 22.

UKEICC 80m Contest, Mar 4, 2000z to Mar 4, 2100z; ; Bands: 80m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: February 26.


See South Carolina QSO Party, North Carolina QSO Party, above.


20 Feb - 5 Mar 2020

February 20, 2020

February 21, 2020

February 22, 2020

February 23, 2020

February 26, 2020

February 27, 2020

February 28, 2020

February 29, 2020

March 1, 2020

March 2, 2020

March 3, 2020

March 4, 2020

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