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The ARRL Contest Update
April 15, 2020
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
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IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS -- THINGS TO DO

The ARRL Rookie Roundup (SSB) is April 19. This event is targeted specifically toward those who have been licensed 3 years or fewer, to encourage them to experience contesting on the HF bands. Though the mission statement says "Experienced operators ('Non-Rookies') are strongly encouraged to participate and help new operators - either on the air or in person" the "in person" part DOES NOT APPLY DURING THIS TIME OF SOCIAL DISTANCING. Desktop sharing software like TeamViewer, NoMachine, and the like can help with mentoring at a distance.

Many radio clubs have been recently thrust into the realm of remote meetings. While in the past you may have had to travel to attend a meeting as a guest, for many clubs all you might need is a conference ID and meeting time so you can join via Zoom or other conferencing technology. Check the websites of some of the major clubs to see when their next meeting occurs.

CONTEST SUMMARY

16 Apr - 29 Apr 2020

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

April 16

April 17

April 18

April 19

April 20

April 21

April 22

April 23

April 24

April 25

April 26

April 27

April 28

April 29

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NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

Version 2.5.2 of TQSL in support of ARRL LoTW has been rolled out. Contest rovers will find better support for multiple operating locations determined on a per-QSO basis from uploaded logs containing grid square information. Other features include enhanced error checking when used with logging programs that have been updated to support version 2.5.2.

Here are some ideas to put to use in the extra time you may have right now: "Spring Station Inspection Tips" published by DX Engineering. My vote for the most widely applicable tip is #2 - Use naphthalene mothballs to deter critters.

5G cellular sites are being attacked and destroyed by people in the UK. Unfortunately, the vandals believe that 5G equipment has something to do with causing the COVID-19 pandemic.

"STAYHOME" is the suffix being used in a number of countries for call signs intended to "raise awareness for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic." Let's hope these call signs won't be in use for long.

The RSGB Announces the Hope QSO Party, intended "To help and support radio amateurs who are isolated at home and would appreciate contact with other people." This is a weekly series of 90-minute events that occur at the following times, with the following modes:

Day

Time (UTC)

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Monday

08:30 - 10:00

SSB

RTTY

CW

SSB

FT4

CW

Tuesday

10:00 - 11:30

CW

SSB

RTTY

CW

SSB

FT4

Wednesday

11:30 - 13:00

FT4

CW

SSB

RTTY

CW

SSB

Thursday

13:00 - 14:30

SSB

FT4

CW

SSB

RTTY

CW

Friday

14:30 - 16:00

CW

SSB

FT4

CW

SSB

RTTY

The contest sponsors suggest using "CQ WPX template in their contest logging software for the SSB, CW and RTTY events." The N1MM Logger+ website lists it as supported, and support files are available for download. Make sure you check the rules regarding operating frequencies. For example, the frequencies mandated by the event sponsors for 40-meter SSB only include 5 kHz of the US phone band.

The ARRL Letter reports that the IARU HF World Championship could be affected by COVID-19, particularly multioperator stations and member-society HQ Stations. "Multioperator and IARU member-society HQ station operations must adhere strictly to the regulations and physical-distancing guidelines issued by the responsible health authorities and the World Health Organization in effect at the time of the event -- even if observing those guidelines is not legally required at their locations. This requirement also applies to single-operator stations, and especially to those hosting guest operators."

Bud, AA3B, is the new CQ WPX Contest Director, succeeding Randy, K5ZD, interim Contest Director. Bud is a well-known contester and officer of the Frankford Radio Club, among his many affiliations.

"Distributed Multiop" is a phrase that's been used to describe a coordinated effort by separate stations under a single call sign. It's a way for stations to operate together, but not be physically co-located. Transmitting and receiving occurs from multiple locations, but actual operation is usually constrained to by rules such as "Only one transmitted signal on the air per band at any time. More than one transmitted signal may be on the air on different bands at any time." Until this year, most contests did not have a category for this type of operation, and this type of operation did not fit the definitions of traditional multioperator categories.

"Remote Multiop" is a description of a traditional multioperator station where the operators are accessing the station remotely. Transmitting and receiving occurs at one geographic location, constrained by the rules of the contest, such as "All transmitters and receivers must be located within a 500-meter diameter circle, excluding antennas."

A number of contests and QSO parties are reacting to human distancing requirements forced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have been canceled for 2020 (e.g. Florida Parks on the Air), while others have had rule changes. It's good practice to check an event's website for the most up-to-date information.

According to Chris, NX4N, the upcoming 2020 Florida QSO Party April 25-26 has some rule changes:

  • Mobile and Expedition categories are suspended due to Florida's stay-at-home mandate
  • Distributed multiops are ALLOWED for operators in the same Florida County, or for operators in the same State/Province for W/VE, or entity for DXCC.
  • An additional letter has been added to their 1 x 1 call sign Spelling Bee - it is now LOVEBUGS. "Those ops who sweep the LOVEBUGS earn a very nice certificate (printable). As they say, the chase is the fun -- last year we spelled BEACH and had 597 sweepers!"

The 7QP - Seventh Area QSO Party on May 2-3, 2020 also has some rule changes:

  • 7th area Multioperator stations will be allowed to operate from multiple QTHs as long as all stations are located in the same county and give the same state-county five-character exchange.
  • Non-7th area Multioperator stations will be allowed to operate from multiple QTHs as long as all stations are located in the same state and give the same state report.

The intent of these changes is to allow operators of multioperator stations to each operate from their home station while still being able to enter the multioperator category under a single call sign. Stations operating in this manner must share log data to avoid dupes, have only one transmitted signal on any given mode/band combination at a time, and submit a single, combined log."

Most contest logging software that can be used for traditional multi-operator contesting where a number of computers are networked together can also be used for distributed multioperator contesting. The key is to set up a virtual private network over the internet. Setting up a VPN isn't particularly difficult, but requires attention to many small details. VU2PTT used SoftEther VPN for a headquarters IARU operation, and documented it for your use (zip file with multiple document). The N1MM Logger+ development team is anticipating greater and continued use for distributed multi-operator cases, and have published a comprehensive (preliminary) guide on how to use N1MM Logger+ with the popular Hamachi VPN software by LogMeIn.

For an existing single-operator station participating in a distributed multiop, beyond setting up the coordinated logging, there is not much station building to do. The harder problems of traditional multiop station building such as minimizing interference between operating positions, coordinating antenna switching, and other resource contention issues are side-stepped by having separate stations at a distance.

"Team Exuberance regrets to announce that we are postponing our planned Team Exuberance CW CQ WPX CW operation until May 2021." The team was planning to compete from K3LR in this May's WPX CW. See the team's website for more information.

A number of contest logging software authors have been busy updating their programs for rule changes and new contests:

Paul, EI5DI, writes: "SD by EI5DI V21.26 supports these recently-announced contests:

SD gives fast and simple logging on Windows and Linux (Wine/Wineconsole) PCs. It's free from www.ei5di.com"

Scott, N3FJP, encourages users of his N3JFP Logging Software and LOTW to "Please click Settings > Setup and make sure that the value in the Operator field is either empty or contains your call sign. If the field contains a value other than your call sign and you have entered QSO records, TQSL 2.5.2 will not upload those records, so you will either need to edit those records, or make sure your LoTW uploads are up to date before upgrading to TQSL 2.5.2." For more information, please see his website.

Qsorder is an "audio recording app for N1MM and TR4W contest QSOs" by Vasiliy, K3IT, intended to help record separate audio files for each contact logged. Each contact is separated into its own WAV or MP3 file, so it's easy to find the contact you want. Your audio files are stored on your local hard drive, or they can be automatically uploaded to Dropbox. If you store them in the cloud with Dropbox, you can get an extra benefit: With your permission, Qsorder also works in conjunction with the QSORDER search website (also by K3IT) to make qsorder audio files you've uploaded to Dropbox searchable and playable. Anyone can search and play the uploaded files. If you go to the QSORDER search page and put in your call, you may find a contact or two that you made has already been uploaded there already. (Ward, N0AX)

If you find that you have too much time to do other things like read a book or check your email during traditional 45.5 baud RTTY contests, I challenge you to try the BARTG SPRINT75 contest this month. It's all about the rate in this 75 baud RTTY contest, so niceties such as RST are eliminated. The exchange is just the contact number. This one could be a workout, since things are different at 75 baud. Here's one hint: Make your CQ message longer than you would otherwise, because it's difficult for a search and pounce station to tune in your signal if your CQ is too short.

The DailyDX reported in its April 6 issue that the US Postal Service stopped accepting outgoing mail to many other countries on April 3, "for the duration of the coronavirus issues." This effectively stops QSLing via paper QSL cards to these countries, unless the DX station has a US-based QSL manager. More and more stations are using LoTW every day...

WORD TO THE WISE

VPN

"VPN" is an initialism for Virtual Private Network. It's a way for computers in different physical locations on different networks to be able to work as if they were all connected on the same local area network. For contesting purposes, a VPN can be used to connect computers running logging programs together for multi-single or multi-multi contesting.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Kyle, AA0Z, went portable for the Missouri QSO Party as W0W, and captured some of the highlights on video. At around 11:00, check out his highlights of some of the stations he worked in the contest that also had YouTube channels. Kyle ended the contest with 578 contacts, 49 States/Provinces, and 50 Missouri counties in 19 hours of operating. He also made a video of how he prepared the equipment for the event.

The Fair Lawn Amateur Radio Club has been digging into the club archives and publishing it on YouTube. One of the latest videos to be posted is a presentation by Bob, KQ2M, entitled "DXing and The Relationship To Contesting," originally presented in August, 2016.

Sterling, N0SSC, posted a video on how to install and start up a recent version of N1MM Logger+, specifically for CQ WPX. Program installation and general configuration is applicable to any contest, and this video would be appropriate for someone that hasn't installed and used N1MM Logger+ before.

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RESULTS AND RECORDS

The results of the 2019 Ohio QSO Party are on the Ohio QSO Party website. The next running of this event will occur on August 22, 2020, 1600z to 0400z, or noon to midnight EDT (Jim, K8MR).

Preliminary results of the March 2020 RTTY Sprint have been posted to the NCJ website.

With the pandemic-caused shutdown of public activities, it seems like more hams have been on the bands throughout the week. The recently completed 2020 WPX SSB Contest saw a record number of entries. Raw scores for this event are available now, but Randy, K5ZD, contest Director, notes that "Score reductions of 2% to 15% (or more) are possible, so we will have to wait for the log checking process before final results can be announced."

OPERATING TIP

75 Baud RTTY Configuration

Operating success starts with proper configuration. Check out AA5AU's website for Writelog tips on how to configure your messages, configure MMTTY and 2Tone settings for 75 baud. The N1MM Logger+ website contains similar directions for MMTTY 75 baud setup.

TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Proceedings of the now-cancelled 2020 Eastern VHF/UHF Conference have been placed online by the North East Weak Signal Group.

The Southeastern VHF Society announced the cancellation of its 2020 Conference. According to the conference website, the "The next SVHFS conference will be scheduled for April of 2021 at an unknown venue..." and "This year's technical presentations would have been a highlight in anyone's experience with the SVHFS conferences of the past. The Technical Committee amassed 23 papers for publishing and many of them ready were for presentation. Because of this, it has been decided that these papers will be published in a proceedings type format and will be available to both the Society and the general public for a standard nominal fee."

Firmware and microprocessors are a big part of any type of radio gear today. For equipment that is no longer supported by its manufacturer, fixing issues in firmware might still be possible with the help of specialized tools made possible by your tax dollars. Ghidra is a "suite of software analysis tools for analyzing compiled code on a variety of platforms" including a variety of embedded processor types. It was developed and is supported by the NSA, and freely available, including source code.

While looking for way to do audio processing with an Arduino-compatible processor, I came across this audio shield from NooTropicdesign. My original intent was to build a box that sat between headphone jack and headphones which I could use to continuously record RX audio, but then when I pressed a button, to play back the last N seconds to hear it again. The website also features a DJ Shield providing some buttons and potentiometers that could be useful in nearly any project.

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CONVERSATION

Calvinball Contesting

A few friends and I have a running SMS text chat going all the time, mostly focused around radio topics. With recent mandatory stay home orders in place, for some in the group there's been more time to chase DX during the weekdays. Over the past few weeks, our informal text-message spotting network has evolved into informal weekday morning contesting sessions.

One person will throw down the gauntlet with a single text: "Worked T6AA on 20m." Anyone else on the chat group and near a radio scrambles to find something else to work, and someone might fire back with "A92GE on 20m."

Then it's REALLY on.

As long as the band stays open, people will fire claims of contacts back and forth as they're worked, trying to find stations that others haven't announced yet. It's been keeping the interest level up in otherwise down band conditions.

While we haven't worked out an actual scoring system yet, we've at least been talking about it, and talking about the rules is also now part of the game. We've considered rules like "First person to get on the band and work a DX station gets to make the rules" and have debated various means of handicapping so that everyone has a chance to win. We haven't determined whether winning is the most contacts, farthest single contact distance, cumulative most miles-per-watt, or ... something else. But we might be getting closer. I know at least one person is campaigning to have style points awarded for the use of tube vintage radios.

Some of our group members are "essential" or are working from home. And though via text message the at-work members can only spectate, cheer, and chime in on what the rules should be, we all feel like we're part of the action.

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 contest-update@arrl.org. Twitter:@Contest_Update

73, Brian N9ADG

CONTESTS

16 Apr - 29 Apr 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.

HF CONTESTS

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

RSGB Hope QSO Party, Apr 16, 1300z to Apr 16, 1430z (ft4); ; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ; Logs due: April 22.

UKEICC 80m Summer Series, Apr 16, 1800z to Apr 16, 1900z; ; Bands: 80m Only; ; Logs due: April 16.

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

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

RSGB Hope QSO Party, Apr 17, 1430z to Apr 17, 1600z (ssb); ; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ; Logs due: April 22.

Holyland DX Contest, Apr 17, 2100z to Apr 18, 2100z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; 4X: RS(T) + area, non-4X: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: May 31.

ES Open HF Championship, Apr 18, 0500z to Apr 18, 0559z and, Apr 18, 0600z to Apr 18, 0659z and, Apr 18, 0700z to Apr 18, 0759z and, Apr 18, 0800z to Apr 18, 0859z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40m; RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: May 1.

Worked All Provinces of China DX Contest, Apr 18, 0600z to Apr 19, 0559z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; BY: RS(T) + 2-character province, non-BY: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: April 26.

YU DX Contest, Apr 18, 0700z to Apr 19, 0659z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; YU/YT: RS(T) + County, non-YU/YT: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: April 29.

QRP to the Field, Apr 18, 0800 (local) to Apr 18, 1800 (local); CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15m; RST + (state/province/country) + name/SOTA; Logs due: May 8.

CQMM DX Contest, Apr 18, 0900z to Apr 19, 2359z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; All: RST+continent abbreviation, CWJF members: RST + continent + "M", QRP: RST + continent + "Q", YL: RST + continent + "Y", Multi-Op, Clubs, Groups: RST + continent + "C"; Logs due: May 30.

SAMOVAR Contest, Apr 18, 1500z to Apr 18, 1959z and, Apr 19, 0500z to Apr 19, 0959z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; SAMOVAR Zone No. + QSO No.; Logs due: April 22.

Michigan QSO Party, Apr 18, 1600z to Apr 19, 0400z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; MI: Serial No. + county, non-MI: Serial No. + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: May 18.

EA-QRP CW Contest, Apr 18, 1700z to Apr 18, 1800z (10m) and, Apr 18, 1800z to Apr 18, 1900z (15m) and, Apr 18, 1900z to Apr 18, 2000z (20m) and, Apr 18, 2000z to Apr 18, 2100z (40m) and, Apr 18, 2100z to Apr 18, 2300z (80m) and, Apr 19, 0700z to Apr 19, 0900z (40m) and, Apr 19, 0900z to Apr 19, 1000z (20m) and, Apr 19, 1000z to Apr 19, 1100z (15m) and, Apr 19, 1100z to Apr 19, 1200z (10m); CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + 1-letter category + "M" (if EA-QRP member); Logs due: May 19.

Ontario QSO Party, Apr 18, 1800z to Apr 19, 0500z and, Apr 19, 1200z to Apr 19, 1800z; CW, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; ON: RS(T) + county, non-ON: RST + (state/province/country); Logs due: May 20.

Feld Hell Sprint, Apr 18, 1800z to Apr 18, 2159z; Feld Hell; Bands: ; (see rules); Logs due: April 21.

ARRL Rookie Roundup, SSB, Apr 19, 1800z to Apr 19, 2359z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Name + 2-digit year first licensed + (state/province/XE area/DX); Logs due: April 22.

Run for the Bacon QRP Contest, Apr 19, 1900z to Apr 20, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (Member No./power); Logs due: April 26.

RSGB Hope QSO Party, Apr 20, 0830z to Apr 20, 1000z (cw); ; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ; Logs due: April 22.

RSGB Hope QSO Party, Apr 21, 1000z to Apr 21, 1130z (rtty); ; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ; Logs due: April 22.

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

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

RSGB Hope QSO Party, Apr 22, 1130z to Apr 22, 1300z (ssb); ; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ; Logs due: April 22.

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

UKEICC 80m Summer Series, Apr 22, 1800z to Apr 22, 1900z; ; Bands: 80m Only; ; Logs due: April 23.

RSGB 80m Club Championship, Data, Apr 23, 1900z to Apr 23, 2030z; RTTY, PSK; Bands: 80m Only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: April 24.

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

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

RSGB Hope QSO Party, Apr 24, 1430z to Apr 24, 1600z (ft4); ; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ; Logs due: April 29.

10-10 Int. Spring Contest, Digital, Apr 25, 0001z to Apr 26, 2359z; Digital; Bands: 10m Only; 10-10 Member: Name + 10-10 number + (state/province/country), Non-Member: Name + 0 + (state/province/country); Logs due: May 4.

SP DX RTTY Contest, Apr 25, 1200z to Apr 26, 1200z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; SP: RST + 2-letter province, Non-SP: RST + QSO No.; Logs due: May 3.

Helvetia Contest, Apr 25, 1300z to Apr 26, 1259z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; HB: RS(T) + 2-letter canton, non-HB: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: May 4.

Florida QSO Party, Apr 25, 1600z to Apr 26, 0159z and, Apr 26, 1200z to Apr 26, 2159z; CW, Phone; Bands: 40, 20, 15, 10m; FL: RS(T) + county, W/VE: RS(T) + (state/province), DX: RS(T) + DXCC prefix; Logs due: May 10.

BARTG Sprint 75, Apr 26, 1700z to Apr 26, 2059z; 75 Baud RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Serial No.; Logs due: May 3.

RSGB Hope QSO Party, Apr 27, 0830z to Apr 27, 1000z (ssb); ; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ; Logs due: April 29.

QCX Challenge, Apr 27, 1300z to Apr 27, 1400z and, Apr 27, 1900z to Apr 27, 2000z and, Apr 28, 0300z to Apr 28, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Name + (state/province/country) + Rig; Logs due: May 5.

RSGB FT4 Contest Series, Apr 27, 1900z to Apr 27, 2030z; FT4; Bands: 80m Only; 4-character grid square; Logs due: April 28.

RSGB Hope QSO Party, Apr 28, 1000z to Apr 28, 1130z (cw); ; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ; Logs due: April 29.

Phone Fray, Apr 29, 0230z to Apr 29, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: May 1.

RSGB Hope QSO Party, Apr 29, 1130z to Apr 29, 1300z (rtty); ; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ; Logs due: April 29.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Apr 29, 1300z to Apr 29, 1400z and, Apr 29, 1900z to Apr 29, 2000z and, Apr 30, 0300z to Apr 30, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: May 2.

UKEICC 80m Contest, Apr 29, 2000z to Apr 29, 2100z; ; Bands: 80m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: April 29.

VHF+ CONTESTS

432 MHz Spring Sprint, Apr 22, 1900z to Apr 22, 2300z; (not specified); Bands: 432 Only; 4-character grid square; Logs due: May 6.

Also, see the Ontario QSO Party, above.

LOG DUE DATES

16 Apr - 29 Apr 2020

April 16, 2020

April 17, 2020

April 18, 2020

April 19, 2020

April 20, 2020

April 21, 2020

April 22, 2020

April 23, 2020

April 24, 2020

April 25, 2020

April 26, 2020

April 27, 2020

April 28, 2020

April 29, 2020

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