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The ARRL Contest Update
August 19, 2020
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
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IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS -- THINGS TO DO

August is typically a time when EU and UK citizens enjoy their holidays (vacations), so there are not so many DX contests. The YO DX and WW Digi DX contests would be your best bets for DX. Domestically, the Hawaii, Ohio, and Kansas QSO parties occur in the next 2 weeks. All offer CW and SSB opportunities; Hawaii and Kansas provide for FT4/FT8 contacts during their events. Check the specific rules for each on how to provide the right exchange using the digital modes.

While performing some antenna work the other day, I was reminded of how periodic inspection of cables and connections are necessary, especially outdoors. I found some coax that needed replacing, and some radial connections that I need to clean and re-tighten. It was better to do that when it wasn't cold, dark, and raining.

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

20 Aug - 2 Sep 2020

August 20

August 21

August 22

August 25

August 26

August 27

August 28

August 29

August 30

August 31

September 1

September 2

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NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

Alan, AD6E/KH6TU writes: "I just updated the Hawaii QSO Party website with this note about using FT8/FT4 in this contest." NOTE for FT8 and FT4 users: If you are in the US, then please use the Field Day exchange. For example, 1D NTX or 1D SCV, so we will know your state by knowing your Section. Grid squares are ignored except for DX. HI stations should send their QTH as part of their CQ, such as "CQ MAU KH6TU," or as a special 73 message such as "73 MAU." According to Alan, Hawaii stations will ignore the "1D" part, and use the ARRL Section to determine your state. When submitting your log, "...don't forget to put RY or DG as your mode. FT won't work. It's 'digital,' and that could mean RTTY, FTx, Olivia, PSK, or whatever."

The ARRL Ohio Section has a club newsletter competition each year, originally started by Joe, K8QOE, in 1992. His thought was that the competition would improve the quality of newsletters in general. Joe set consistent criteria and standards for judging, which have been borrowed by "a number of ARRL Sections and even Divisions." Any organization that publishes a newsletter via their website can benefit from suggestions by John, KD8IDJ, the Ohio ARRL Public Information Coordinator, as published in the August 2020 Portage County Amateur Radio Society (PCARS) Radiogram:

  • Make the link to your newsletter large and predominant on your club's website
  • Ensure that your website and newsletter display well on tablets and phones

John also points out that many Ohio Section club newsletters are available via the Ohio Section newsletter page. Oh, and the PCARS Radiogram? It earned 2nd place in the Ohio Section newsletter competition, and first place in the Great Lakes Division!

The new Australian contest call signs are here! According to Glenn, VK4DU: "The Australian comms regulator, ACMA, have approved the issue of 2 x 1 contest call signs with VJ, VK and VL prefixes. These call signs are available for Advanced-class amateurs and club stations, for contest operation only. There is a limit of one call sign per licensee and one per club. The 2 x 1 contest call sign structure was originally developed by a cross-sector committee convened by the Radio Amateur Society of Australia. After a suggestion by the ACMA's outsourced call sign provider, the Australian Maritime College, ACMA has extended this structure to two new prefixes; VJ and VL. This allows 2 x 1 call signs to be available to many more amateurs. [Here's] a link to the new call sign template and FAQ." Glenn is the President of the Radio Amateur Society of Australia Inc.

WORD TO THE WISE

GDT

An abbreviation for gas discharge tube, a device that can be used to protect sensitive circuits from voltage transients outside of their operating range. GDTs are available in a wide range of voltage levels appropriate to the protection task. The Array Solutions AS-RXFEP uses a GDT, as does DX Engineering's RG5000HD Receiver Guard.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

James, W7TXT, used Mt. Rainier (in the distance) as a reflector in the ARRL 10 GHz contest. He was approximately 60 miles away. [James Morris, W7TXT, photo]

The August 7 version of K3LR's "Weekend Special" has been posted to YouTube, and features a videos-within-a-video of tramming large antennas to the top of a tower. The antennas he's installing are for 10 meters. With solar activity increasing, are you getting ready for activity to return on 10 meters too?

Tim was also busy this week with the Radio Club of America interviewing Dr. Ted Rappaport, N9NB, a first in a new series. They discussed "Dr. Rappaport's career in wireless, plus...details of his life-long passion for radio, views on 5G, his background as an entrepreneur, information on the current work he's doing at NYU, his unique history with RCA, and what he sees for the future of wireless."

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RESULTS AND RECORDS

"The final results, narrative, and photos for the July 2020 NAQP RTTY are now available at the National Contest Journal website. Congratulations to all participants and Teams!" Mark, K6UFO, NAQP RTTY Contest Manager.

According to Dave, N4QS, "The Kentucky QSO Party had record participation this year! Results are now posted at www.kyqsoparty.org." Because of the increased participation, the KyQP committee increased the number of plaques awarded. The KyQP is sponsored by the Paducah Amateur Radio Association (PARA). (Dave, N4QS, and Dave, ND4Y)

Tree, N6TR, in a post to the Topband Reflector, wrote: "The results from the Summer Stew are basically final. Congrats to K1KI, who just edged out K2AV for the top spot."

OPERATING TIP

Move FTx Contacts to CW and SSB using Custom Messages

Peter, WW2Y, extensively reported on his operation from grid FN24 during the recent CQ WW VHF Contest for the August 2020 Mt. Airy Cheese Bits. Of particular note is his use of WSJT-X free-form messages to move stations to CW and SSB from FT4/8: "After working VE2HAY in FN35 on 2M FT8, I noticed that K1TEO was booming in and I didn't want to work Jeff on that mode. I loaded up the TX5 message saying, go to 195 SSB. He disappeared quickly, and I knew he figured it out. In a flash, he started calling me on 144.195 on SSB and worked him with S9 signals both ways. We quickly moved to 6M for a double." Later in the contest, N2NT called Peter: "N2NT's signal was definitely up now, and he noticed I was lurking on FT8. Suddenly, a modified TX5 message pops up saying go to 50099 CW. I knew this had to be John at N2NT, and I instantly changed bands to 6M CW." VHF/UHF operators who want to maximize paths and openings should learn how to customize the WSJT-X or JTDX TX messages on the fly to obtain contacts on CW and SSB.

TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Steve, W1SRD, posted this to the Elecraft email reflector: "...I found what I think is a far better program than Spectrogram for K2 filter alignment. Have a look at Friture (www.friture.org). It's currently under development, has more features, runs on all platforms, and is open source. All good."

I've had a couple of Larry's, N8LP, LP-100A digital vector watt meters for...a long time. I was chagrined to discover via a recent tweet by DL9HDA that said since 2009, LP-100As have had an option to add a second coupler to the main unit! According to Larry's website, the coupler selected for display "... can be manually selected from the front panel, or the meter can automatically sense whichever coupler is receiving power and display it." As Larry points out on his website, having two couplers feeding to one display could be very useful for SO2R - the operator only needs to look in one place to always see the output power, regardless of the transmitter in use.

The website for the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks has been redesigned, and the initial response by those using it are uniformly positive! The facility has 180 crossed-dipole antennas capable of lighting up the ionosphere with 3.6 megawatts on frequencies between 2.7 and 10 MHz. The antennas can beamform, and are used in conjunction with receiving sites to perform various physics and propagation experiments. Due to the opaque nature of the research to the general public, a number of conspiracy theories about the "real" purpose of the facility have grown up; credit goes to the University of Alaska to take advantage of a situation when T-shirts and glassware sales can be used to support real research! (Ward, N0AX)

EA6DX used vinyl to make a Yaesu FL-2100 look new again. "Wrapping" is popular for cars and boats - does anyone yet offer vinyl graphics for the front panels of popular vintage radios to ease restoration?

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CONVERSATION

Game Changers?

"Battery technology has advanced greatly in power capacity during recent years for their size and weight. Imagine someone who spends several hours hiking up to a peak with packed gear on their backs, only to operate in poor radio propagation conditions for 6 hours, only to return unsatisfied." - Pete, WW2Y, in the Mt. Airy VHF Society Cheese Bits newsletter.

Pete was describing the 6-hour limit that the CQ WW VHF Contest places on Hilltopper QRP Class entries, and how it can affect operators that happen to operate during 6 hours of poor propagation.

A related, more general question is, "what other technology assumption has changed, or is changing, that affects contesting and amateur radio in general?"

This year, we've all faced the near-overnight changes in social interaction due to the pandemic. Remote is the new black! But what about incremental technology changes that we may be taking for granted?

To Pete's point: battery technology is one that we "know" about, but in real terms, lead-acid batteries provide about 10 and 30 Watt-hours per kilogram. Lithium ion batteries? Between 130 and 180 Watt-hours per kilogram. A low power (vs QRP) battery-powered transmit signal doesn't seem out of the question.

Solar cell efficiencies have been increasing, too. Add that to the battery advances and overall miniaturization of electronics, and you can understand why high-altitude balloon flights using amateur radio for position reporting are interesting. A recent flight by the W5KUB team lasted over 72 days, circling the Earth three times.

For those that want to set some communication distance records using light wavelengths, it might be helpful to note that the laser diode power-vs-cost curve has been increasing exponentially for the past few years. There are plenty of high-power laser "pointers" available from eBay and other sources, but on the internet, someone always takes it to the next level: someone built a 100 watt output hand held laser, using an industrial part usually used in DLP projectors. Safety demands the emission from these parts to be respected and used responsibly -- just like high voltage in tube amplifiers and RF emissions at amateur frequencies that can cause human tissue damage.

Autonomous driving technology has spurred advances in radar, already trickling down to hobby use: The May/June 2020 QEX article "A Simple 122-GHz Transverter" uses a radar-on-a-chip device to reduce the cost and complexity of projects for this band.

The power of computing elements keeps increasing, while costs continue to decrease, especially at the low end. Today, for under $10, the ESP32-based modules with WiFi, USB-C Serial port, color LCD Display, buttons, plenty of I/O, Bluetooth, and compatibility with the Arduino programming ecosystem seems appealing for all sorts of projects. Combined with various mixed-signal PCB-level modules for DDS, PLL, power measurement, and so on it's possible to have higher-functionality projects with less time and effort.

Mike, K7MDL, used an M5Stack computing element based on an ESP32 and various analog modules to build an RF power meter with a graphical user interface. He has made his source code available via Github.

Github, and the general ability to find source code for software that has already been written to do that task you need done, is also one of those game-changers. For example, searching for "N1MM" on Github, one can find code ranging from decoding N1MM Logger+'s UDP packets to extracting contact information for a big screen for Field Day.

What do you think is a game-changer in 2020?

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

73, Brian N9ADG

CONTESTS

20 Aug - 2 Sep 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, Aug 20, 0300z to Aug 20, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 22.

RTTYOPS Weeksprint, Aug 20, 1700z to Aug 20, 1900z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: August 25.

QRP Fox Hunt, Aug 21, 0100z to Aug 21, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: August 22.

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

NCCC Sprint Ladder, Aug 21, 0230z to Aug 21, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 23.

Hawaii QSO Party, Aug 22, 0400z to Aug 24, 0400z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; HI: RS(T) + QTH, non-HI W/VE: RS(T) + (state/province), DX: RS(T); Logs due: September 7.

RTTYOPS Weekend Sprint, Aug 22, 1600z to Aug 22, 1959z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name] + [6-character grid locator]; Logs due: August 29.

Ohio QSO Party, Aug 22, 1600z to Aug 23, 0400z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; OH: RS(T) + county, non-OH: RS(T) + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: September 21.

CVA DX Contest, SSB, Aug 22, 2100z to Aug 23, 2100z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + type/UF(see rules); Logs due: September 9.

Worldwide Sideband Activity Contest, Aug 25, 0100z to Aug 25, 0159z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RS + age group (OM, YL, Youth YL or Youth); Logs due: August 26.

RTTYOPS Weeksprint, Aug 25, 1700z to Aug 25, 1900z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: August 25.

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

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

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Aug 26, 1300z to Aug 26, 1400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 29.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Aug 26, 1900z to Aug 26, 2000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 29.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Aug 27, 0300z to Aug 27, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 29.

RTTYOPS Weeksprint, Aug 27, 1700z to Aug 27, 1900z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: September 1.

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

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

NCCC Sprint Ladder, Aug 28, 0230z to Aug 28, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 30.

Feld Hell Sprint, Aug 29, 0000z to Aug 29, 2359z; Feld Hell; Bands: ; (see rules); Logs due: September 2.

ALARA Contest, Aug 29, 0600z to Aug 30, 0559z; CW, Phone; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ALARA: RS(T)A + Name, non-ALARA: RS(T) + Serial No. + Name + (whether YL/OM/club station); Logs due: September 30.

World Wide Digi DX Contest, Aug 29, 1200z to Aug 30, 1200z; FT4/8; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; 4-character grid square; Logs due: September 4.

YO DX HF Contest, Aug 29, 1200z to Aug 30, 1200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; YO: RS(T) + county, non-YO: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: September 6.

W/VE Islands QSO Party, Aug 29, 1200z to Aug 30, 0300z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Islands: RS(T) + USI/CISA Island Designation, Non-Islands: RS(T) + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 30.

Kentucky State Parks on the Air, Aug 29, 1400z to Aug 29, 2200z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; KY Park: park abbreviation, W/VE: (state/province), DX: "DX"; Logs due: September 12.

Kansas QSO Party, Aug 29, 1400z to Aug 30, 0200z and, Aug 30, 1400z to Aug 30, 2000z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; KS: RS(T) + county, non-KS: RS(T) + (state/VE section/"DX"); Logs due: October 1.

RTTYOPS Weekend Sprint, Aug 29, 1600z to Aug 29, 1959z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name] + [6-character grid locator]; Logs due: August 29.

SARL HF CW Contest, Aug 30, 1400z to Aug 30, 1700z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: September 6.

QCX Challenge, Aug 31, 1300z to Aug 31, 1400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Name + (state/province/country) + Rig; Logs due: September 8.

QCX Challenge, Aug 31, 1900z to Aug 31, 2000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Name + (state/province/country) + Rig; Logs due: September 8.

Worldwide Sideband Activity Contest, Sep 1, 0100z to Sep 1, 0159z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RS + age group (OM, YL, Youth YL or Youth); Logs due: August 19.

QCX Challenge, Sep 1, 0300z to Sep 1, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Name + (state/province/country) + Rig; Logs due: September 8.

RTTYOPS Weeksprint, Sep 1, 1700z to Sep 1, 1900z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: August 25.

Phone Fray, Sep 2, 0230z to Sep 2, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: August 21.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Sep 2, 1300z to Sep 2, 1400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 22.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Sep 2, 1900z to Sep 2, 2000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 22.

UKEICC 80m Contest, Sep 2, 2000z to Sep 2, 2100z; ; Bands: 80m Only; 6-Character grid square; Logs due: September 2.

G3ZQS Memorial Straight Key Contest, Sep 2, 2300z to Sep 4, 2300z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + name + FISTS No., non-FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + name + power; Logs due: October 4.

VHF+ CONTESTS

50 MHz Fall Sprint, Aug 22, 2300z to Aug 23, 0300z; not specified; Bands: 6m Only; 4-character grid square; Logs due: September 5.

VHF-UHF FT8 Activity Contest, Sep 2, 1700z to Sep 2, 2000z; FT8; Bands: ; 4-character grid square; Logs due: September 7.

Also, see NCCC Sprint Ladder, Worldwide Sideband Activity Contest, W/VE Islands QSO Party, Kansas QSO Party,

LOG DUE DATES

20 Aug - 2 Sep 2020

August 20, 2020

August 21, 2020

August 22, 2020

August 23, 2020

August 24, 2020

August 25, 2020

August 26, 2020

August 27, 2020

August 28, 2020

August 29, 2020

August 30, 2020

August 31, 2020

September 1, 2020

September 2, 2020

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

ARRL Contest Update wishes to acknowledge information from WA7BNM's Contest Calendar and SM3CER's Contest Calendar.

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