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The ARRL Contest Update
July 11, 2018
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
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IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

This weekend it's all about the IARU HF World Championship contest, and the WRTC 2018 "Contest within a Contest" which piggy backs off of the IARU. It's OK to be caught up in the excitement of challenge of working the WRTC stations, and also fun to follow the results via social media or the WRTC 2018 live scoreboard.

Regular contesting activity resumes the week of July 16. The North American QSO Party RTTY Contest (NAQP RTTY) is a good bet the weekend of July 21. Though not HF, many contesters are looking forward to the CQ World Wide VHF Contest that also takes place on that weekend. All stations in the CQ WW VHF Contest can use spots, however self-spotting is NOT allowed. Like any contest, make sure you review the rules before operating.

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

12 Jul - 25 Jul 2018

July 12

July 13

July 14

July 15

July 16

July 18

July 19

July 20

July 21

July 22

July 25

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NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

If you participated in ARRL Field Day, don't forget that score submissions are due Tuesday, July 24, 2018. You can check to see if yours was received at this manually updated link. If you submitted via hardcopy or email, it will be noted in the received logs the week of July 23.

If you copy 'cut numbers' as the zone part of the exchange during the upcoming IARU HF World Championship Contest, make sure you translate them into the appropriate numbers before logging them. For example, should someone send you 'AA' for the zone, you should log the corresponding number 11. "Copy as sent, but translate for log checking purposes." (Bart, W9JJ)

WRTC 2018, WRTC 2018, WRTC 2018: You don't need to know anything about "tweeting" or Twitter to read some of the social media posts by the WRTC 2018 team for the upcoming event. Examples of some things that have been covered include the online scoreboard testing, team arrivals, and station configurations. You can also find WRTC 2018 related tweets from others. The WRTC 2018 opening ceremony will be video-streamed 1700z on July 12, which translates to Thursday morning on the US west coast, and just after lunch on the US east coast.

The WRTC 2018 event coordinators are going to great lengths to ensure consistency between stations. Some of that work involves surveying elevations and checking for interference.

If you operate in the IARU Contest, the WRTC 2018 event coordinators ask that in addition to submitting your log to the IARU Contest Sponsors that you send your electronic log to WRTC 2018 so that they can use it during the WRTC 2018 judging. As an incentive, your log could also qualify for some of the many WRTC 2018 activity awards. Since WRTC is a contest within the IARU contest, are the WRTC 2018 Activity awards a contest within a contest within a contest?

OZ1HQ, the Danish IARU Society headquarters station, is offering an award for stations contacting it on multiple bands during the IARU HF Championship Contest. See their QRZ.COM page for more information.

Twenty young Amateurs between the ages of 16 and 26 will be volunteers at WRTC 2018. These youth, all part of YOTA (Youngsters On the Air) will have the opportunity to meet and interact with the competitors and be part of the event.

Bob, N6TV reminds that he and Joe, OZ0J, continue to compile a master list of headquarter stations that may be active for the IARU HF Championship Contest this weekend. This "pre-fill" information is in "multiple formats compatible with N1MM Logger+, Writelog, Win-Test, DXLog.net, TR4W and Skookum Logger" via this link. The zip archive file at that link location will be updated frequently until the contest start. "Instructions for all popular loggers are in a Readme file inside Zip archive." Send HQ station corrections / updates to contest@oz0j.dk.

Also from Bob, N6TV: Elecraft has compiled a detailed two-page comparison table between the Elecraft K3S and the Icom IC-7610. One important advantage of the K3 receiver appears to be strong nearby signal handling on the same band. Among the replies posted to the Elecraft K3 discussion group at Groups.IO, W4TV concludes: "None of the tested direct conversion SDRs (e.g. IC-7610) are capable of 100+ dB 'dynamic range' while simultaneously maintaining a MDS of ~-140 dBm, unlike a IF/filter receiver (either analog like the K2 or DSP like the K3/K3S)."

Well-known contesters Jerry, WB9Z, and Val, NV9L, have donated an Icom IC-7200 to the upcoming YOTA (Youngsters on the Air) program in South Africa. The YOTA annual event "brings together young people from various IARU R1 member societies in Africa and Europe for an entire week... Eighty participants aged from 16 to 25, and from over 30 countries have been invited to attend a fun-filled week of Amateur Radio from the 8th to the 15th August 2018."

Presentations from the 2018 Contest University are now available, courtesy of Teri, K8MNJ, Icom America, and the CTU Professors. Video of some of 2018's presentations are also available, thanks to Mary, KC1CWF.

Rule changes for the 2018 CQ WW Contests have been outlined by John, K1AR, in a CQWW blog entry. Included are changes in the impact of certain penalties, as well as an emphasis on log submission via web form versus email.

Archeologists have found that evidence of extreme solar events that occurred in pre-historic times may be recorded in individual tree rings. By using carbon dating techniques, event dates can be narrowed to within 50 to 100 years.

Marshall, K5QE, well-known VHF+ operator and contester, succinctly described how to use WSJT-X and FT8 on VHF and above bands during contests:

  • VHF operators exchange grids, even in casual operating. No signal reports.
  • VHF Contests require the exchange of grids
  • The WSJT-X NA Contest Mode guarantees that grids are properly exchanged in a contest and it takes less time

WORD TO THE WISE

CWAC - Contest Within A Contest

A contest that takes place during an existing contest and may use different rules or operating categories that are of significance to the participants. Examples include the WRTC event that occurs during the IARU HF World Championship Contest, certain contest clubs' intra-member competitions, or even special awards sponsored by clubs or individuals on a whim.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

"Contest Video Essay - A Look at Radiosport" by K4ZA features many well-known contesters. It was originally produced with a grant from the Yasme Foundation, and has been placed on YouTube with permission. Ward, N0AX, describes it this way: "With many perspectives and plenty of variety, it's kind of like mini-ham-radio-TED-talks." Thanks go to Yasme and Bob, N6TV, for making this available.

The Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany features a room devoted to Amateur Radio, as well as the museum station DL0DM, shown here.

George, K9TRV, recorded TAPR, HamSCI, and SDR Forums at the Hamvention, and has uploaded them to YouTube for your viewing pleasure. The presentation by Jerri, AI6TK at the AMSAT/TAPR Banquet is also available.

NOAA's new weather satellite enables very detailed views of weather events over North America. A recent article by the UK's Independent features a mesmerizing video of lightning strikes as storms move across the continent. (George, NE2U, via Mt. Airy Cheese Bits)

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RESULTS AND RECORDS

The 2018 ARRL International DX Contest, Phone Full Results article has been posted on the results website. The article includes accuracy information for the top 20 logs. Log Checking Reports (LCRs) and Accuracy Index tables are also available.

Contest Records for the ARRL International DX Contest, CW have been updated to reflect results through 2018.

The Logs Received portion of the ARRL website is undergoing some revision. A new version will be available and refined over the next few weeks. (Bart, W9JJ)

OPERATING TIP

Copy Cut Numbers, Log the Real Numbers for the IARU HF Championship contest

If you're sent letters for the zone during the IARU HF World Championship Contest, it's a good bet that the other station is using 'cut numbers' in an attempt to save time. Make sure you copy them accurately, and then translate to the actual numbers as you log the contact. The contest scoring software for scoring submitted logs for IARU is expecting numbers for the zone.

TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

John, N8UR, has developed a means to provide VHF+ spots to the Reverse Beacon Network using RTL-SDR hardware, Raspberry Pi computers, and CW Skimmer software. The key is in emulating a multi-band HPSDR using some additional software by N1GP running on the Raspberry Pi. He describes his work in a slide presentation (PDF). By having more VHF+ capable nodes able to spot existing beacons, more band openings may be able to be detected.

Analog devices has released a downloadable book, Software Defined Radio for Engineers, focusing on, well, SDRs. This 375 page tome covers theory as well as practice. Examples can be used with AD's ADALM-PLUTO SDR, and simulated with MATLAB.

The WRTC 2018 Live Scoreboard's architecture uses Raspberry Pi computers and the Internet to keep all scores up to date. The architecture even anticipates and provides for backup methods to transmit the scores via SMS in the event of internet unavailability at some of the station sites.

The history of the Nixie tube is described in this article from the IEEE Spectrum. Nixies were used for frequency display in a few Amateur rigs, including some made by SBE, and the Signal One CX7.

Raspberry Pi computers are being used for all sorts of Amateur Radio applications, such as providing VPN functionality between distributed contest locations, live contest scoreboards, QSO information uploads, and so on. The Pi is normally powered by a USB-connector-attached power supply, or via pins on the expansion connector. PiSupply has introduced a UPS specifically for the Pi, using the Pi Hat form factor, which can provide 4-6 hours of power, or even more with a larger batteries. This might solve some problems the next time power quality is an issue during an operating event.

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CONVERSATION

EMI Hits Home

We've all likely encountered times when transmitted RF has entered audio cables, interfered with TV reception, or has set off alarm systems. My son's computer headset is particularly sensitive to even 50 watt HF power levels. Most of the time, problems caused by RF stop when the RF is stopped. Not every time however.

A couple of weeks ago, my wife alerted me to the fact that our outdoor air conditioning unit was operating, however we didn't have the air conditioning "on." What was more curious was that the unit was running despite the whole system being OFF. The compressor and compressor fan, located approximately fifty feet from my backyard vertical antenna, were ON and could only be turned off by turning off the circuit breaker.

Investigating further, I found that the indoor furnace system's control board status LEDs were rapidly flickering between operating states, even after I had disconnected our smart thermostat by unplugging it from it's base. Normally, the system stays in the appropriate state while going through a complete heating or cooling cycle. I jumped to the (hasty) conclusion that the furnace control board PCB had gone bad. I ordered a replacement control board. After it was delivered two days later, I installed it and found that my efforts didn't change the situation one bit.

As part of renewed deeper troubleshooting, I disconnected the thermostat wires from the control board. The flickering stopped. Manually jumpering the thermostat inputs demonstrated that the control board worked just fine. It turned out that our smart thermostat's special base has active electronics that are not turned off as a consequence of unplugging the actual thermostat. The thermostat base was malfunctioning -- it was clocking the cooling mode ON and OFF many times per second, even when the thermostat itself was removed from the base! This rapid pulsing also caused the high-current contactor relay in the outdoor unit to cycle quickly, which is a bad thing. Rapid on/off pulsing caused arcing, and eventually the contactor relay contacts in the outdoor unit to welded closed, which left the outdoor unit ON.

A damaged contact for a high-current relay typical to outdoor air conditioning units. It was burned and melted as a result of rapid cycling of the air conditioning compressor. The suspected underlying cause was a malfunctioning smart thermostat, damaged by transmitted RF picked up by thermostat wiring.

After replacing the smart thermostat and the base, and also replacing the contactor, I had a working heating and cooling system once again.

In thinking about what could have caused this, I recalled that the night before the malfunction I'd been on the air, notably using an amplifier for the first time in nearly a year to help overcome poor band conditions. I can only surmise that RF had gotten into the thermostat wires and had damaged the thermostat base, causing a cascade of problems for other equipment. It could have been worse - had the situation gone unnoticed, a new A/C compressor might have been required. I've added bypass capacitors at appropriate places on all of the control lines, but I've yet to 'test' the configuration by using the amplifier again.

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

12 Jul - 25 Jul 2018

An expanded, downloadable version of QST's Contest Corral is available as a PDF. Check the sponsor's Web site for information on operating time restrictions and other instructions.

HF CONTESTS

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Jul 11, 1300z to Jul 11, 1400z, Jul 11, 1900z to Jul 11, 2000z, Jul 12, 0300z to Jul 12, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: July 14.

QRP Fox Hunt, Jul 13, 0100z to Jul 13, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: July 14.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Jul 13, 0145z to Jul 13, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: July 15.

NCCC Sprint, Jul 13, 0230z to Jul 13, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: July 15.

FISTS Summer Unlimited Sprint, Jul 14, 0000z to Jul 14, 0400z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + first name + FISTS No., non-FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + first name + power; Logs due: August 13.

IARU HF World Championship, Jul 14, 1200z to Jul 15, 1200z; CW, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; IARU HQ: RS(T) + IARU Society, Non-HQ: RS(T) + ITU Zone No.; Logs due: July 20.

QRP ARCI Summer Homebrew Sprint, Jul 15, 2000z to Jul 15, 2300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (ARCI no./power); Logs due: July 29.

Run for the Bacon QRP Contest, Jul 16, 0100z to Jul 16, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (Member No./power); Logs due: July 22.

Phone Fray, Jul 18, 0230z to Jul 18, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: July 20.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Jul 18, 1300z to Jul 18, 1400z, Jul 18, 1900z to Jul 18, 2000z, Jul 19, 0300z to Jul 19, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: July 21.

NAQCC CW Sprint, Jul 19, 0030z to Jul 19, 0230z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: July 22.

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

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Jul 20, 0145z to Jul 20, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: July 22.

NCCC Sprint, Jul 20, 0230z to Jul 20, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: July 22.

Russian Radio Team Championship, Jul 21, 0700z to Jul 21, 1459z; CW, SSB; Bands: 40, 20, 15, 10m; RRTC: RS(T) + 3-character code, Non-RRTC: RS(T) + ITU Zone No.; Logs due: July 21.

Trans-Tasman Low-Bands Challenge, Jul 21, 0800z to Jul 21, 1400z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40m; RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: July 28.

Jakarta DX Contest 40m, Jul 21, 1000z to Jul 21, 2200z; SSB; Bands: 40m Only; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: July 28.

DMC RTTY Contest, Jul 21, 1200z to Jul 22, 1200z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: August 22.

Feld Hell Sprint, Jul 21, 1200z to Jul 21, 1359z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; (see rules); Logs due: July 25.

North American QSO Party, RTTY, Jul 21, 1800z to Jul 22, 0559z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; NA: Name + (state/DC/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: July 27.

SA Sprint Contest, Jul 21, 2100z to Jul 21, 2259z; CW, SSB; Bands: 40, 20m; RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: July 27.

RSGB Low Power Contest, Jul 22, 0900z to Jul 22, 1200z, Jul 22, 1300z to Jul 22, 1600z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + Serial No. + Power; Logs due: July 23.

CQC Great Colorado Gold Rush, Jul 22, 2000z to Jul 22, 2159z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 21.

SKCC Sprint, Jul 25, 0000z to Jul 25, 0200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: July 29.

Phone Fray, Jul 25, 0230z to Jul 25, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: July 27.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Jul 25, 1300z to Jul 25, 1400z, Jul 25, 1900z to Jul 25, 2000z, Jul 26, 0300z to Jul 26, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: July 28.

VHF+ CONTESTS

CQ Worldwide VHF Contest, Jul 21, 1800z to Jul 22, 2100z; Any; Bands: 6, 2m; 4-character grid square; Logs due: July 27.

Also, see Feld Hell Sprint, above.

LOG DUE DATES

12 Jul - 25 Jul 2018

July 12, 2018

July 13, 2018

July 14, 2018

July 15, 2018

July 16, 2018

July 17, 2018

July 18, 2018

July 19, 2018

July 20, 2018

July 21, 2018

July 22, 2018

July 23, 2018

July 24, 2018

July 25, 2018

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

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