ARRL

Contest Update Issues

Preview
The ARRL Contest Update
December 17, 2014
Editor: Ward Silver, NØAX
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IN THIS ISSUE

NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

If you are hesitant about diving into heavy CW traffic, the kinder, gentler ARRL Rookie Roundup's CW edition will help you give it a try. Answer stations calling "CQ R" ("CQ Rookies" - a non-Rookie looking for Rookies) or call "CQ RR" yourself ("CQ Rookie Roundup" - a Rookie looking for any station) at a speed at which you feel comfortable. After you enjoy Rookie Roundup, don't forget to take a tap at the key in the ARRL Straight Key Night before your New Year's Eve fun begins. It starts precisely at Jan 1, 0000Z and runs for 24 hours on 3.5-28 MHz and all bands from 50 MHz up. Exchange general QSO information and send in your list of contacts by Jan 31st.

BULLETINS

That weird source of Top Band (160 meter) interference around 1915 kHz has been identified by Doug K1DG. He explains what it turned out to be in this email on the Top Band reflector.

BUSTED QSOS

Your editor managed to avoid driving into any really deep potholes in the last issue.

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

December 20-21

  • ARRL Rookie Roundup--CW
  • NAQCC Milliwatt Sprint--CW (Dec 17)
  • Russian 160 Meter Contest (Dec 18)
  • Feld-Hell Rudolf Hell Sprint
  • OK DX RTTY Contest
  • Lighthouse Christmas Lights QSO Party
  • Croatian CW Contest

December 27-28

  • SKCC Straight Key Sprint (Dec 24)
  • DARC XMAS Contest (Dec 26)
  • RAC Winter Contest
  • Iron Ham Contest
  • Stew Perry Top Band Distance Challenge--CW
  • Original QRP Contest--CW
  • RAEM Contest--CW
NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

The Spaceweather services we've all grown to love have changed as of December 9th! The two websites www.spaceweather.gov and www.swpc.noaa.gov now link to origin-www.swpc.noaa.gov. SWPC's legacy website will be available to all users for a transition period of at least 60 days (with the exception of POES satellite products which will be discontinued December 31). Bookmarks or automatic links to pages on the old website will no longer work. Most of the content will be available on the new site under new links and lots of new links there are (look at the bottom of the page). The ham's eye view of R (Radio blackouts), S (Solar Radiation Storm Impacts), and G (Geomagnetic Storm Impacts) at the top of the page (maximum, now, and predicted) are easy to read at a glance. Is this like a new solar cycle?

If you worked 4J1VR 4V1JR in the CQ WW CW contest, here are a couple of the principals. On the left, Ricardo PY2PT is hard at work on the air. On the right is their generous host, Jean-Robert, HH2JR. Watch for more operations by the Haiti International Friendship ARC team! (Photos by N3BNA)

While hams and broadcasters are occasionally at odds, in many cases our interests align. For example, the steadily rising noise floor bedeviling hams? It's cutting into AM reception area - and audience - as well. Combining forces to tell our story about RF noise abatement sounds like a good idea! (Thanks, Tim K3HX)

DX Engineering has acquired some familiar antennas - the Bencher Skyhawk (20-15-10 meters) and Skylark (17-12 meters) along with the Butternut vertical antenna line; HF9V (80-6 meters), HF6V (80-10 meters), and HF2V (80 and 40 meters). The Bencher line of CW paddles will still be sold by Bencher. All of the accessories and add-ons for the antennas will continue to be available, including replacement parts.

The Northern California DX Foundation's 5Z4B HF beacon went off the air due to equipment failure back in August but is now back up and running. The RR9O HF beacon had also been off the air since late September but its TS-50 has been repaired and it is back on the air. This system of precisely timed and coordinated beacons is a good reason to support the NCDXF. (Thanks, Daily DX)

This story from yesteryear tells of the important role played by women in early radio. There were lots of women in radio rooms around the world from the very earliest days. (Thanks, Max KØAZV)

Scott N3FJP has released new versions of all N3FJP contesting software plus the Amateur Contact Log program. There are too many details to relate here but if you browse to Scott's Dec 5th news release, not only do you get the full story but the section "CW Encouragement for the CW Challenged (including me)!" Good stuff!

Gary AL9A reporting finding a "neat little Kindle Android app - PolyClock shows world time in many cities/time zones. You can set up additional cities as you desire and it shows the boundaries of that particular time zone along with day/night gray line on either a globe display or a flat map. You can manually move both maps to see where the sunset/sunrise areas are now and can modify the clock time ahead or behind. No Internet connection required!

Wes SP4Z (photo below) has been a travelling operator recently, hitting the airwaves from Will K6ND's and Pamela K6NDV's station in the CQ WW CW and then on to Fred K1VR's station for the ARRL 10 Meter contest. Wes really enjoyed Will's and Pamela's full SO2R station with the "house right in the middle of the 160 meter 4-square antenna" and had a great time on his "third serious CQWW CW contest outside of Poland." He seems to have done pretty well at K1VR, too, with a 1.4 Mpoint claimed score!

The PVRC Newsletter for December contains a couple of great articles, "Snowbird Remote" by John K3AM on getting a remote station operating and "Parapsychology of Dipole Antennas" by Art K3KU. Art details his design and construction adventures to restore a 200-foot dipole to its former six-band glory with some relays and a coil or two.

Carl AI6V (SK) acquired this wall of plaques over a lifetime of contest operating and inspiring and encouraging others to excel. (Photo by N6TV)

A contest pioneer fell silent this week as Carl AI6V died following some years of ill health. (K3LP assembled a collection of photos to tell the story.) It was Carl's groundbreaking P4ØV effort (see the QSL image below) that simultaneously put Aruba on the map as a dominant Zone 9 location and kick-started the large-team operations from the Caribbean. To be sure, there had been other operations from Aruba and other contest-peditions but none quite like P4ØV. Later, Carl became P49V and he and his wife Sue P4ØYL were regulars on the contest bands. He will be missed.

Web Site of the Week - What's all this 3-D printing stuff? Seemingly, it has leapt onto the scene in recent years but its history goes back quite a ways as recounted in this story from the IEEE The Institute.

WORD TO THE WISE

What is the right word meaning "a group of contesters"? Like an "exultation of larks" or a "gaggle of geese," surely there can be a word for us. In the latest issue of the DKARS Magazine, Steve PJ4DX suggests a "cluster" or "cacophony" of contesters.

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SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Don Wallace W6AM was a legendary DXer for his skill, his antenna farm of rhombics, his mobile kilowatt, and more. Jim K7EG relays word of this 1.5-hour YouTube video about Don and his station. Filmed in 1984, the video is presented by the California Radio Historical Society. The antenna farm and external feed line switching frame appear a bit after the hour mark but you'll enjoy all of the tales in this extended interview by Wayne N6NB for the PBS series, "Radio Collector."

From last August's Contest Club Ontario picnic at VE3EJ's station, we have a pair of Yuris - that's VE3DZ on the left and VE3XB holding the 807. (Photo by VE3GFN)

Where did the famous Zenith brand get its start "putting the quality in before the name goes on"? In this little house near the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago that also housed station 9ZN. The antenna looks pretty strange but it is just a very wide, inverted triangle conductor for a vertical radiator. (Thanks, Paul, W9AC)

Operating from the border sounds exciting anywhere but how about from the jungle-region border between Guyana and Brasil? Paulo PV8DX made a satellite DXpedition on December 6 and 7 along with this video of the adventure.

This technique of repairing an 80 meter beam is definitely not for the faint of heart! (Thanks, Gary AL9A)

Who'd like a copy of a colorful and festive spectrum poster? I know you would - so rush on over and download a copy! It's just the thing for your holiday shack decorating needs. (Thanks, Tom KB8UUZ)

RESULTS AND RECORDS

Raw scores for the CQ WW DX Contest CW 2014 are now available. As of Dec 7th at 2100 UTC, more than 7,000 logs had been received! The raw scores are calculated by the CQ WW log checking software before log checking but with duplicate contacts removed. The score you see online may be different than the one submitted with the log due to differences in the country files and from some contacts not being accepted. If you see a large difference, please report this to questions@cww.com. If you do not see your log in the raw scores, first confirm that the log has been received by visiting the Logs Received page. (Thanks, CQ WW Director, Randy K5ZD)

If you have one of these QSLs from the late-1980s in your collection, pull it out and take a look at the world-class team of operators whose calls appear in Top Ten tables today!

Final results of the 2014 TESLA Memorial HF CW Contest have been published. Worldwide results can be viewed sorted by continents and countries. (Thanks, YU1RA Contest Committee)

Don't wait - make sure you send your photos and stories for the ARRL 160 Meter and ARRL 10 Meter contests to writeup authors K9AY and K7ZO via the ARRL Soapbox page. They can create a much more interesting story if they have memories, photos, and notable quotes to work with!

The recent operation by the 3B8MU team smashed all CQ WW CW records in any category from four zones - 36, 37, 38, and 39. The best part is that it was all done with wire antennas! (Thanks, Olof GØCKV)

Part of operating in the BC era (Before Computers) was the ability to negotiate, maintain, and update a dupe sheet while operating at top speed. Also known as ARRL Operating Aid No. 6, the closest thing left to it today is the Field Day Dupe Sheet. Does anyone out there have copies of a nicely filled-out Op Aid 6? Like a Hollerith card, it would be fun to post one online to show how it was done "once upon a time".

OPERATING TIP

The CW version of the Rookie Roundup is almost here and we need experienced operators to join the fun. If you happen to be in the shack on Sunday, why not turn your keyer down slow and put it in beacon mode to see who you can catch on the air?

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TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

WA3FET is known in ham circles as "Doctor Jim" and is a well-known antenna designer and professor at Pennsylvania State University. The OWA (Optimized Wideband Antenna) beam designs used by many top contest stations are one of his creations along with many novel antennas found at research facilities like the Arecibo Observatory and the recently-decommissioned HAARP facility in Alaska. Read more about Jim and his career, including some good PR for ham radio, in this recent EEWeb interview. (Thanks, Tim K3LR)

Part of the Spaceweather makeover is a new map display for the aurora forecast. Now the aurora is shown in green, and there is a gray line overlay as well. Neat! (Thanks, Kirk K4RO)

Here's one of the improvised tuning networks built by the 3B8MU team to keep their station on the air. No HRO, RadioShack, or DigiKey for a very long way in any direction! (Photo from GØCKV)

Another good idea for finding inexpensive antenna and construction goodies is to check your big box store's garden section for fiberglass plant and tree stakes. They work very well for everything from spreaders for parallel/fan dipoles, small quads and Moxon antennas, and supports for low Beverage antennas, generally available in sizes from 1/4" x 3' to 1" x 10'. Some stores also carry bamboo plant stakes in lengths to 10 feet for a few dollars each. (Thanks, Joe W4TV)

ARRL 160 Meter contest participants may have been wondering about those multi-tone signals above 1835 kHz. Jim K9YC fills in the blanks, "JT65 uses USB with a dial frequency of 1838 kHz to transmit between about 1838.35 and 1840.5 kHz, with an occupied bandwidth about 200 Hz. JT9 uses a dial frequency of 1840 kHz, with an occupied bandwidth about 20 Hz. JT65 and JT9 are small-signal modes, but not always low power modes. On the HF bands, TX powers in the range of 5-20 W, often with antennas equivalent to a wet string, are pretty much the norm, and many operate at these levels on 160 meters."

Here's a discussion of various types of diodes as RF detectors. There is a surprising variety among them and the whole story is pretty interesting. (Thanks, Brad AA1IP)

A new connector family doesn't really mate but it does kiss. Keyssa has unveiled a short-range wireless technology for transferring data at huge rates over its "KISS" family of interfaces.

I don't know about you but using one of the high-rpm drills with a cutoff wheel makes me nervous due to the thin disc and high velocities involved. Thus, this inexpensive and improvised guard for rotary tools is a welcome Instructable project. And if it saves a reader from an injury, what could be better?

Technical Web Site of the Week - I'll bet this first-ever antenna analyzer (the "Antennalyzer") went through batteries at a hellacious rate, don't you? (Thanks, Eric W3DQ)

CONVERSATION

Mystery and Challenge

On a recent morning I was outside at sunrise in my robe and pajamas getting the paper - nothing unusual about that - and looking up at the sky - which was unusual. Why look up? Because the International Space Station was scheduled to make a long pass almost directly overhead at that time. How did I know this? I am subscribed to the free NASA "SpotTheStation" service that emails me about upcoming visible ISS passes. On that particular morning at 6:37 am, the pass was supposed to begin in the southwest with the station visible for 6 minutes, quite a long time as passes go. So there I was, holding the paper and scanning the skies.

As is the usual case, I saw the ISS rather suddenly - an amazingly bright point of light - moving through the sky. Rarely do you see a faint dot right at the horizon in the first seconds of visibility. It usually surprises your retinas as they abruptly lock on...and it moves fast! It always takes my breath away a little to see it up there, humans on board and whizzing past 268 miles overhead. I watch until it disappears, fading until I blink or my eyes move a little and can't pick it out again. Occasionally, in a late evening pass, it will travel into the Earth's shadow, fading quickly in a second or two. Star light, star bright...

Wes SP4Z enjoys operating in contests outside his native Poland, such as from K1VR as seen in this photo by K1IR.

What amazes me almost as much as the sheer physical presence and beauty of seeing the ISS, is that so many people have never seen it at all! Sure, they know what the ISS is but they don't think they can actually see it without equipment. I mean, it's in SPACE for crying out loud and that's a long way off, isn't it? Not really! Find a visible pass on a day with good visibility and call your neighbors outside to have a look.

It's much the same with radio. People largely have NO IDEA about what radio signals are and that they can actually be reflected off invisible layers of the atmosphere or the northern lights or meteors or rain or anything else. Radio is just a content-delivery service, one of many, and not a natural phenomena at all.

Victims of our own excellent technology, radio receivers of most kinds no longer offer users the ability to manipulate them beyond a means of selecting what content to consume. Even the channel IDs no longer have a fixed relationship to frequency. I mean, when was the last time you operated a broadcast receiver with continuous tuning? It's almost impossible to make recent models tune between channels -- a source of mystery that opened many of our young minds to the possibilities of exploration.

That closed door will not be re-opened for the benefit of ham radio but what we do have is an opportunity. Regardless of how perfect entertainment appliances become, most people still enjoy connecting with the natural world, particularly in a novel and unexpected way. You'll probably find that your neighbors are excited to learn they can see the ISS go overhead. They might also be interested to know that you can hear day change to night on your radio, detect the trails of meteors, or listen to the effects of solar events.

We can open these doors if we choose. The renowned utility of Amateur Radio is one thing but what really captures and holds the imagination is mystery and challenge. We live it and breathe it every time we turn on the radio. Take the time to open that door for people and keep it open. Share your enthusiasm at experiencing the world in a way that is to them entirely new. Perhaps one day you'll find them out there at sunrise looking up in the sky, too.

73, Ward NØAX

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CONTESTS

17 December through 30 December

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

HF CONTESTS

ARRL Rookie Roundup--CW, from Dec 21, 1800Z to Dec 21, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: Both calls, name, check, S/P/XE or "DX". Logs due: See web. Rules

NAQCC Milliwatt Sprint--CW, from Dec 17, 0130Z to Dec 17, 0330Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, and NAQCC mbr nr or power. Logs due: 4 days. Rules

Russian 160 Meter Contest--Phone,CW, from Dec 18, 2100Z to Dec 18, 2300Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8. Exchange: RS(T), serial, square ID (see website). Logs due: Jan 20. Rules

Feld-Hell Rudolf Hell Sprint--Digital, from Dec 20, 0000Z to Dec 20, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Monthly on 3rd Saturday. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, Feld-Hell member nr. Logs due: 7 days. Rules

OK DX RTTY Contest--Digital, from Dec 20, 0000Z to Dec 21, 2400Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RST and CQ Zone. Logs due: Jan 15. Rules

Lighthouse Christmas Lights QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Dec 20, 0001Z to Jan 4, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50-440. Exchange: Serial or ARLHS number. Logs due: Jan 31. Rules

Croatian CW Contest--CW, from Dec 20, 1400Z to Dec 21, 1400Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28. Exchange: RST and serial. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

SKCC Straight Key Sprint--CW, from Dec 24, 0000Z to Dec 24, 0200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50, Monthly on the 4th Wednesday UTC. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, name, SKCC nr or power. Logs due: 5 days. Rules

DARC XMAS Contest--Phone,CW, from Dec 26, 0830Z to Dec 26, 1059Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-7. Exchange: RS(T) and DOK or special station code. Logs due: 3 weeks. Rules

RAC Winter Contest--Phone,CW, from Dec 27, 0000Z to Dec 27, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50,144. Exchange: RS(T) and province or serial. Logs due: Jan 31. Rules

Iron Ham Contest--Phone,CW,Digital, from Dec 27, 1200Z to Dec 28, 1159Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: RS(T) and CQ zone. Logs due: 3 days. Rules

Stew Perry Top Band Distance Challenge--CW, from Dec 27, 1500Z to Dec 28, 1500Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8. Exchange: 4-char grid square. Logs due: 30 days. Rules

Original QRP Contest--CW, from Dec 27, 1500Z to Dec 28, 1500Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-14. Exchange: RST, serial, and category. Logs due: Jan 31. Rules

RAEM Contest--CW, from Dec 28, 0000Z to Dec 28, 1200Z. Bands (MHz): 3.5-28. Exchange: Serial and lat/long in degrees. Logs due: Jan 25. Rules

VHF+ CONTESTS

Lighthouse Christmas Lights QSO Party--Phone,CW,Digital, from Dec 20, 0001Z to Jan 4, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50-440. Exchange: Serial or ARLHS number. Logs due: Jan 31. Rules

SKCC Straight Key Sprint--CW, from Dec 24, 0000Z to Dec 24, 0200Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50, Monthly on the 4th Wednesday UTC. Exchange: RST, S/P/C, name, SKCC nr or power. Logs due: 5 days. Rules

RAC Winter Contest--Phone,CW, from Dec 27, 0000Z to Dec 27, 2359Z. Bands (MHz): 1.8-28, 50,144. Exchange: RS(T) and province or serial. Logs due: Jan 31. Rules

LOG DUE DATES

17 December through 30 December

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

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

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