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Contest Update Issues

The ARRL Contest Update
October 14, 2020
Editor: Paul Bourque, N1SFE

The CQ WW DX SSB contest will dominate the weekend of October 24. In a year where travel to interesting multipliers is curtailed, there may be fewer multipliers, but expect the trend of more overall stations being on the air to continue. Get ready for the CQ WW SSB contest by making sure your station performs as expected in the NY or Illinois QSO Parties, or the Worked All Germany contest. For WAG, make sure you observe the "no contesting" band segments (see the rules).


John, K9JK, noted that the times for 432 MHz and Microwave Sprints were incorrect: "The listing for the 432 MHz and Microwave Fall Sprints in today's Contest Update shows times as being 'z' (UTC) but the Fall (and Spring) Sprints for 144, 222, 432 and Microwave are conducted in local time. Correct times for 144, 222 and 432 are 7pm (1900) to 11pm (2300) local time and the Microwave Sprint is 8am (0800) to 2pm (1400) local time. Only 50 MHz is conducted in UTC."


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

15 Oct - 28 Oct 2020

October 15

October 16

October 17

October 18

October 19

October 20

October 21

October 22

October 23

October 24

October 26

October 27

October 28


The ARRL School Club Roundup is October 19-23 - all weekdays. If you happen to be on and hear stations giving out "S" in their exchange, please support them with a QSO if you can. An individual or Single Operator, non-school station would use signal report "I" for Individual, and state or province as the exchange for domestic stations.

The JARTYS WW RTTY Contest coming up on October 19 uses operator age as part of the exchange. If you copy "99", it's probably a multi-operator club station.

The Worked All Germany contest the weekend before CQ WW SSB could provide some practice for CQ WW Multi-Single stations. The WAG rules regarding non-run stations working multipliers:

"For Multi operator Band changes are allowed every ten minutes; Exception: working of new multipliers. Other transmitters may be used in parallel to the main station to work multipliers on other bands. This means, several signals may be on the air on different bands at the same time" to the CQ WW Rules: "One -- and only one -- other transmitted signal (multiplier station/signal) may be used during any 10-minute period, if -- and only if -- it is on a different band from the run transmitter and the station worked is a new multiplier." You should study the rules to satisfy yourself, but WAG appears to allow more than one simultaneous multiplier-hunting-only station.

The Potomac Valley Radio Club (PVRC) announced in their September Newsletter that their club elections will be held online, using a secure website. In their announcement, they state the criteria for nominations, how to nominate, who can vote, and so on. Clubs that need to elect new officers without having in-person meetings may find their process adaptable to their needs.

Also in the September 2020 PVRC Newsletter is an analysis by John, K4HQK, of 2020 ARRL Field Day participation by class, compared to 2016. John found that the decrease in "A" classes was nearly equivalent to the increase in "D" class stations.

Bart, W9JJ, writes: "Last week ARRL announced a Worked All States (WAS) and Triple Play Awards 10% Off Plaque Sale. This offer is good from October 1 until the close of business at HQ on December 31, 2020, so if you need some contacts to complete your 5 Band WAS or Triple Play awards the November Sweepstakes, ARRL 160- and ARRL 10-meter contests are a good opportunities to find those elusive states to fill empty slots on your scorecard. Uploading your QSOs to LoTW can provide quick confirmation of the QSOs and makes it easy to apply for the awards."

The Northern California Contest Club turns 50 this September. The club will be having special events to commemorate this milestone, including a "Founders Presentation" on November 15 with stories from the beginning. Many out-of-circle NCCC alums are slated to return, virtually, for the event.

Bob, K6XX, suffered a total loss of his mountaintop home and QTH in the August 2020 SCU Complex fire. He writes about it in great detail for the NCCC September 2020 Jug, reflecting on his fire-safe preparation, how opportunities were missed to use those resources to save his property, and the rebuilding process he now faces.

Joe, K1JT, offered this comment in the Mt. Airy VHF Society's October 2020 Cheese Bits, regarding the September ARRL VHF Contest: "I fail to understand why anyone who uses FT8 in a contest would fail to use FT4 for much of the time. FT4 is about 3 dB less sensitive than FT8, but it's twice as fast. A large fraction of stations you work with FT8 are much more than 3 dB above the FT4 decoding threshold. With FT4 you can still work anyone that can be worked with CW, and near the CW threshold you'll do it faster using FT4. And with FT4 you can work stations that are far weaker (by ~20 dB!) than what's necessary for SSB. When I did work other stations with FT4, I did it by transmitting the FT8 message 'K1JT FT4 318'. I then QSYed to 50.318 FT4, and generally found several people followed me there. Many more would have made it much more fruitful!"

David, K1RZ, found K0SM's website useful in the ARRL 10 GHz contest after not finding a direct tropo path from FN41EE to Gene, WA4PGI, in FM07BW: "... I quickly checked Andy, K0SM's new web-based program on my cell phone and the app showed a 'red dot' solution on a rain cell off the Delaware coast. I passed Gene the bearing and sure enough we tried and the path was productive, and we made the CW contact. This contact remains my new best DX on 10 GHz at 795 km."

IARU Bandplans:


Chicken Stick

This one doesn't come with peanut sauce. A chicken stick is a device used to actively discharge components before working on a tube amplifier or other equipment that has high voltages. It consists of a non-conductive body, a wire with an alligator clip or ring terminal connected to ground, and a conductive tip. After a piece of gear is unplugged from the AC mains and any capacitors are given time to discharge, the chicken stick is grounded to the chassis and the tip touched to various components to ensure there is no stored charge. In an amplifier, anything in the power supply and RF deck that you could possibly come in contact with is a candidate for "touches," including coils, capacitors, chokes.


W9RE's presentation "SO2R with W9RE" is available on YouTube, along with all of the other presentations from the Society of Midwest Contesters' virtual SMCFest 2020.

The Frankford Radio Club's September 2020 meeting featured Professor Jim Breakall's "Some projects over the Years Pulled Out of WA3FET's Bag of Designs." If big towers, stacks, Yagi antennas for 80 meters, and station building appeal to you, you'll enjoy this nearly two hour long video. There's even some footage of the "Russian woodpecker" at the end.

Jim, N7CXI, will be presenting "Modern HF Amplifiers & SDR Designs" at the virtual November meeting of the Spokane DX Association.

Jerry, W1VE/VE1RM and Tom, VE3CX, presented "Contesting: Remote Operating - "Welcome to the New World!" at the Radio Amateurs of Canada 2020 conference. The video discusses how contesting is being affected by the COVID pandemic, such as how multi-op stations are using remote technology to continue to compete. Gerry also covers many of the current technologies available to get your station working remotely. Other videos from RAC 2020 can be found on their YouTube channel.


Tree, N6TR, writes: "The results for the Summer Stew are now final. Again, congratulations go to K1KI who edged out K2AV for the top high-power score. K1LT had a very impressive Low Power score and ended up with the #1 score after factoring in the power multiplier. VE3MGY and WB8JUI were not far behind. KN1H posted the top QRP score. Conditions seem very good right now on Top Band with QSOs being made all over the world. The next Stew Perry (aka LowBandJack) will be in eight days, on October 17. Hope to work you then. Results and rules and other info --"

Steve, VE6WZ, reported that he worked his first EU station of his 160 meter season on August 24. ON7PQ got into his log around 0400z.

Alan, KH6TU/AD6E, notes that the results of the Hawaii QSO Party are now available. W7DRA's soapbox comments: "40M rig: SX 71 with an ARC5 VFO and Globe Chief 90, ground plane. 80M Heath HW16 with three parallel 810 tubes at 450 watts antenna wire in a tree."

Final results for the WW Digi DX Contest are available on the contest website, including a results article, line scores, and so forth. It's great to see the results article filled with pictures of familiar call signs!

Raw scores for August's CQ WW RTTY contest have been posted. These scores have not been adjusted for errors or other scoring criteria.


Running With The Keyboard

"I run 20 like there's no tomorrow

Frequency I'm on, they crowd in on me

Least I don't need to touch my paddle

I send QRL with just one key!"

With today's logging programs, nearly any interaction you would want to have with a rig can be done by pressing a key on the keyboard. If you're looking for speed, learn how to keep your hands on the keyboard to turn RIT on/off, to switch receive filters, to send fills and say hi to a club member with a keyboard typed message. You'll save time, and you'll be less prone to make mistakes.


Mike, VA3MW, produced a video on how to get FlexRadio's SmartSDR and N1MM Logger+ to work together in a Single Operator, 1 VFO (SO1V) configuration.

When phase coherence is crucial between elements in a system, don't neglect to look at everything, including cables. Cables from different spools, and certainly different manufacturers, may vary in their characteristics. PTFE-dielectric cables are temperature sensitive - at 19 degrees C, PTFE material exhibits dimensional changes which can influence the phase characteristics enough to matter at UHF and microwave frequencies. For critical equipment like radar, exotic cable dielectrics like silicon dioxide are sometimes used.

The new WSJT-X software provides a wide variety of parameters that can be tweaked in transmission time, bandwidth, and so forth. One might ask whether so many options are really necessary, or whether they might represent a stumbling block to two uncoordinated stations to make a contact. Paul, N1BUG, addresses this in his post to the WSJT-X development email reflector:

"I understand the concern about so many different speeds, but as a very active 2200m operator, let me offer a few words. These modes were created with LF and MF bands in mind. LF and MF are not HF. There is no 'one size fits all' for these bands. On HF you may be able to work the whole world with one relatively fast speed. It is not so down here. We are limited to 5 watts EIRP on 630m and 1 watt on 2200m. Real DX takes some very special modes and a lot of determination and patience. One would probably not want to use anything slower than 120 seconds for QSOs with well-equipped stations at 1000 km distance. It would be very boring and waste a lot of time. But for some DX paths on 2200m only 1800 or 900 second periods would offer any hope for success. It's not so boring when you are about to set a new world record or make a personal best DX QSO. We need this flexibility.

"I think over time, some conventions will emerge. For example: on 630m, 900 and 1800 second periods might not see much use, while most of the faster choices probably will. On 2200m I think all four FST4W speeds will be quite useful. It may be that the fastest FST4 options won't see a lot of use on 2200m but it may be too early to know for sure.

"It has long been common practice to monitor multiple modes at the same time at least on 2200m. It is part of the culture on that band. I currently monitor WSPR2, WSPR15, FST4W-120, FST4W-300, FST4W-900, FST4W-1800, Opera32 and two QRSS windows every night. Usually I have one or two FST4 monitors going too, but it varies. There is never enough monitor space but I won't complain because monitoring all activity one of the things I really like about LF operating.

"I am extremely grateful to the developers for giving us not only new modes but also the flexibility needed to exploit a wide range of opportunities on LF and MF. This flexibility gives us choices we did not previously have but wished for. This opens the door to new opportunities.

"That said, it would seem really nice if a single instance could decode all four FST4W speeds. :) But there is a down side to that too. Since WSPRnet does not provide any means to show the mode and speed, some of us are using call sign suffixes to indicate this. For some it is important to know that information. I do not know how different suffixes could be used for each speed if they were all decoded by a single instance. Even with these wonderful, game changing new modes and speeds, there is no perfect world."


Level Up Your Playing Field

I'm going to say it: It's probably impossible to have a "level playing field" in radio contesting. The WRTC event comes closest to providing a true level playing field by controlling many of playing field's variables: antennas, power output, terrain, and so on. But the WRTC event expects contestants to bring their own transceivers and associated peripherals, which could include special purpose filters, signal processors, and the like. If only one band is open, and your teammate is able to "hear" through runs to work multipliers your team probably has an advantage.

For regular contests, different categories grossly lump stations together so that they're reasonably competitive against one another. But a Single Operator High Power (SOHP) entry from a station in an excellent low noise location with towers and good antennas will probably win over a SOHP effort from a city lot with dipoles, given reasonably matched operators.

Increasing your chances of winning is all about tilting the playing field to your advantage. If the rules allow 150 watts of output power in your category, you'll be at a disadvantage if you're only running 100 watts. If you can position your station geographically to better reach European multipliers, you should do so. Notice that your 10 meter antenna is too high after using HFTA to analyze signal arrival angles? Better move it lower. Single operators now have to have SO2R skills to earn a world or country podium spot in most contests. If your multi-single station is only using a single run radio and a single multiplier radio, you'll be giving up points to extremely serious multi-single operations have multiple teams working on each band.

What's the weakest part of your contest station compared to your peers? Fix that first. Where do you go from there? Pick the next weakest thing, and repeat.

Chances are, antennas are going to be high on the priority list. As far as I know, the only major-contest category that puts limitations on the antennas that can be used is the Tribander-and-Wires (TB-WIRES) overlay category for some CQ Contests. Resources put into improving antennas yield great rewards across all categories.

Remember, you can never have too many antennas to choose from!

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


15 Oct - 28 Oct 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, Oct 15, 0300z to Oct 15, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 17.

RTTYOPS Weeksprint, Oct 15, 1700z to Oct 15, 1900z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: October 20.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Oct 16, 0145z to Oct 16, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: October 18.

NCCC Sprint, Oct 16, 0230z to Oct 16, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: October 18.

JARTS WW RTTY Contest, Oct 17, 0000z to Oct 19, 0000z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + age of operator; Logs due: October 31.

10-10 Int. Fall Contest, CW, Oct 17, 0001z to Oct 18, 2359z; CW; Bands: 10m Only; 10-10 Member: Name + 10-10 number + (state/province/country), Non-Member: Name + 0 + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 26.

New York QSO Party, Oct 17, 1400z to Oct 18, 0200z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: All, except WARC; NY: RS(T) + county, non-NY: RS(T) + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: October 31.

Stew Perry Topband Challenge, Oct 17, 1500z to Oct 18, 1500z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: November 2.

Worked All Germany Contest, Oct 17, 1500z to Oct 18, 1459z; CW, SSB; Bands: (Please observe contest free band segments per the rules), 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; DL, DARC-Member: RS(T) + DOK (local area code), DL, non-DARC: RS(T) + "NM", non-DL: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: October 26.

Feld Hell Sprint, Oct 17, 2000z to Oct 17, 2359z; Feld Hell; Bands: (see rules); Exchange: (see rules); Logs due: October 21.

Argentina National 7 MHz Contest, Oct 17, 2130z to Oct 17, 2230z; SSB; Bands: 40m Only; RS + 2-digit year first licensed; Logs due: November 17.

Asia-Pacific Fall Sprint, CW, Oct 18, 0000z to Oct 18, 0200z; CW; Bands: 20, 15m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: October 25.

Classic Exchange, Phone, Oct 18, 1400z to Oct 19, 0800z and, Oct 20, 1400z to Oct 21, 0800z; AM, SSB, FM; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; Name + RS + (state/province/country) + rcvr/xmtr manuf/model; Logs due: January 31.

Illinois QSO Party, Oct 18, 1700z to Oct 19, 0100z; CW/digital, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; IL: RS(T) + County, non-IL: RS(T) + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 19.

RSGB RoLo CW, Oct 18, 1900z to Oct 18, 2030z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + previous 6-character grid square received; Logs due: October 19.

Run for the Bacon QRP Contest, Oct 18, 2300z to Oct 19, 0100z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (Member No./power); Logs due: October 25.

K1USN Slow Speed Test, Oct 19, 0000z to Oct 19, 0100z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; Maximum 20 wpm, Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 21.

ARRL School Club Roundup, Oct 19, 1300z to Oct 23, 2359z; CW, Phone, RTTY/Digital; Bands: All, except 60, 30, 17, 12m; RS(T) + Class (I/C/S) + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 7.

Telephone Pioneers QSO Party, Oct 19, 1800z to Oct 19, 1900z (digital only) and, Oct 19, 1900z to Oct 20, 0300z (all modes); CW/Digital, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, VHF/UHF; Members: RS(T) + chapter no. + name, non-Members: RS(T) + name; Logs due: December 10.

RSGB FT4 Contest Series, Oct 19, 1900z to Oct 19, 2030z; FT4; Bands: 80m Only; 4-character grid square; Logs due: October 20.

Worldwide Sideband Activity Contest, Oct 20, 0100z to Oct 20, 0159z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RS + age group (OM, YL, Youth YL or Youth); Logs due: October 21.

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

Phone Fray, Oct 21, 0230z to Oct 21, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: October 23.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Oct 21, 1300z to Oct 21, 1400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 24.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Oct 21, 1900z to Oct 21, 2000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 24.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Oct 22, 0300z to Oct 22, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 24.

RTTYOPS Weeksprint, Oct 22, 1700z to Oct 22, 1900z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: October 27.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Oct 23, 0145z to Oct 23, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: October 25.

NCCC Sprint, Oct 23, 0230z to Oct 23, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: October 25.

CQ Worldwide DX Contest, SSB, Oct 24, 0000z to Oct 25, 2359z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + CQ Zone No.; Logs due: October 30.

Kentucky State Parks on the Air, Oct 24, 1400z to Oct 24, 2200z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; KY Park: park abbreviation, W/VE: (state/province), DX: "DX"; Logs due: November 7.

RTTYOPS Weekend Sprint, Oct 24, 1600z to Oct 24, 1959z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name] + [6-character grid locator]; Logs due: October 31.

K1USN Slow Speed Test, Oct 26, 0000z to Oct 26, 0100z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; Maximum 20 wpm, Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 28.

QCX Challenge, Oct 26, 1300z to Oct 26, 1400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Name + (state/province/country) + Rig; Logs due: November 3.

QCX Challenge, Oct 26, 1900z to Oct 26, 2000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Name + (state/province/country) + Rig; Logs due: November 3.

Worldwide Sideband Activity Contest, Oct 27, 0100z to Oct 27, 0159z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RS + age group (OM, YL, Youth YL or Youth); Logs due: October 28.

QCX Challenge, Oct 27, 0300z to Oct 27, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Name + (state/province/country) + Rig; Logs due: November 3.

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

SKCC Sprint, Oct 28, 0000z to Oct 28, 0200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: October 30.

Phone Fray, Oct 28, 0230z to Oct 28, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: October 30.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Oct 28, 1300z to Oct 28, 1400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 31.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Oct 28, 1900z to Oct 28, 2000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 31.

UKEICC 80m Contest, Oct 28, 2000z to Oct 28, 2100z; ; Bands: 80m Only; 6-Character grid square; Logs due: October 28.


Araucaria World Wide VHF Contest, Oct 17, 0000z to Oct 18, 1600z; CW, SSB, FM; Bands: 6, 2m; RS(T) + 6-character grid square; Logs due: October 23.

UBA ON Contest, 2m, Oct 18, 0700z to Oct 18, 1000z; CW, Phone; Bands: 2m Only; ON: RS(T) + Serial No. + ON Section, non-ON: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: November 1.

Also, see Illinois QSO Party, Telephone Pioneers QSO Party, above.


15 Oct - 28 Oct 2020

October 15, 2020

October 16, 2020

October 17, 2020

October 18, 2020

October 19, 2020

October 20, 2020

October 21, 2020

October 22, 2020

October 23, 2020

October 24, 2020

October 25, 2020

October 26, 2020

October 27, 2020

October 28, 2020

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