September 23, 2015Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO
For a total-immersion contest weekend, the 48-hour CQWW RTTY contest (September 26) is your target. If you put in a significant effort, you'll likely be hearing phantom RTTY signals in your head for a few hours after the contest. During the contest you'll hear RTTY signals throughout the RTTY/data sub-band on most bands, which can crowd CW into lowest band segments. Be mindful of the RTTY/data sub-band upper edges to make sure you stay legal.
In these days of declining sunspots, there is always the chance that ten meters could be open next week. If it is, NRAU has a ten-meter mode-stravaganza to explore.
The California QSO Party is on October 3. There will be an abundance of activity, with 58 California counties providing some of the multipliers. It's good training for the November ARRL Sweepstakes, as the exchange is similar.
Dave, NN1N informs: "Matt Wilhelm, W1MSW, has moved-on from the position of Contest Branch Manager at ARRL to pursue other opportunities. Matt gave us an excellent 17 months - catching us up all the way to current, which was not an easy task. He recruited Frandy Johnson, N1FJ to assist as well, and I want to thank both Matt and Frandy for their work. The Contest Manager's job is not easy and relies on the good work of many to produce results. We will be evaluating the position's requirements and responsibilities in the near term before moving ahead. Dan, N1ND, Ward, N0AX, and Dave, NN1N will keep the workflow going in the meantime.
Randy, K5ZD recently noted "The CQ WW DX Contest Committee is conducting a survey to gather feedback from participants about the contest. An invitation email with a link to the survey has been sent to everyone who submitted a log in the 2014 SSB and CW contests. The responses will help us improve the contest and make important decisions about the rules. Please see the blog post with the details. The number of responses has slowed to the point that we are going to move up the end date of the survey to September 25, 2015 (next Friday). If you would like to respond please do so now. If you have already responded, thank you."
Hmm, log from last time must not be scored yet.
Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section
In discussions of shack layout and construction, issues of where and how to run electrical power inevitably crop up. The History of Residential Electrical Wiring in the US paints the picture of how electrical standards in the US have evolved, and can help illustrate why there has been such variety over time in something as mundane as a 220v branch circuit.
An article in the Wall Street Journal recently discussed how repairing electronic goods is better than throwing them away, and how the practice should be more mainstream. The author of the article found that manufacturer policies and lack of technical information to enable repairs introduce obstacles. Why does it cost $200 to fix something with a 69 cent part? Overhead! Someone has to be available to diagnose the problem, sometimes using complex, expensive, equipment, and information that may be expensive to produce and maintain. The repair facility rent isn't free; stocking parts requires infrastructure... (Charles Mount)
The WWROF is sponsoring a webinar entitled "WRTC 2018 Update" on Sunday, October 4, 2015 @ 1900 UTC. Topics include an overview of WRTC 2018, recent news, rules, and a discussion of the new Worked All Germany contest as a qualifying event.
According to a recent article in Scientific American, people are more likely to cheat at the end of a competitive activity. One of the causes cited is that some of the test subjects anticipated regretting a missed opportunity to cheat the system.
Jay Allen, VY1JA, has been stalwart in bringing the Yukon to the airwaves over the past 70 years. To help Jay continue to do so, but also reduce the technical and operational demands placed on Jay, a number of amateurs are collaborating to upgrade VY1JA to be fully accessible remotely. Most recently, Gerry, W1VE, set up a gofundme page to raise additional funds to accelerate the effort and build on early successes, and it's inspiring to see the donations and comments made by the donors. As of this writing, their initial funding goal was been surpassed in just 10 days!
While searching the 'net for a low-cost GPS source for use in his reverse beacon network node, Bill Hein, CEO of Force 12 Antennas, came across some GPS references made by Leo Bodnar, M0XER. These units are used in professional auto racing applications. Bill Hein bought one for his node, and also obtained US distribution rights for the units... the first ones will have landed by now, and he's able to take pre-orders.
ARES/RACES volunteers have activated in support of the response the California wildfires; the devastation to property and lives is extensive. At least one resident amateur radio operator was a victim, and the wildfires have claimed the American Museum of Telephony in Mountain Ranch, California, as a casualty.
If you're dealing with rig signals from a K3, you might find a "DB15 D-SUB VGA male plug 15pin port Terminal Breakout PCB Board" search on eBay will give you an interesting way to quickly connect into some of the lines. Winford.com also has a number of breakout-type boards that could help with interfacing needs. (Ralph N5RZ)
"I can't hear you now." - EMI levels can be so great that modern, every-day devices like cellular phones are affected... which can be an impetus to getting the underlying cause fixed. (Mark K6UFO)
If you use a standing desk, you may have spent long hours fretting over the choice of the right clothes to wear while standing at it. You are not alone.
Web Site of the Week - Carl and Jerry Stories
Reading them on paper only enhances the charm of the Carl and Jerry stories that John Frye wrote for Popular Electronics between 1954 and 1964. Yes, they're dated, but they're also a heck of lot of fun to read, as the duo get involved in situations that always require some application of electronics, but ultimately are about humanity. A number of the stories are available to read online, but reading the book collections is a great way to spend a winter afternoon.
WORD TO THE WISE - Galling
Galling is wear or damage occurring when two materials exhibit friction and/or adhesion between each other. Metals that depend on their oxides to inhibit corrosion, for example aluminum and titanium, as well as some softer steels, are prone to galling. If you're doing tower work with stainless steel hardware, it's recommended that you use some type of anti-seize compound on the threads to reduce the potential for galling.
On September 5, the LU Group Contest celebrated its 15th anniversary at a get together in the city of Villa María, Córdoba. One hundred and ten amateurs, many of them contesters, were present and included the participation of Radio Club Villa Maria LU1HYW, AMSAT Argentina and ICOM. The event drew from all parts of Argentina and colleagues from Uruguay, Chile and Brazil.
There were 12 presentations given by LU1BJW, LU1CGB, LU1DCX, LU1DZL, LU1FAM, LU1FP, LU3HY, LU7HZ LU8ADX, LU9EFO, M6SEJ / ZZ5JKL, along with a display of DXCC QSL cards and certificates assembled by LU3HBO. (Diego, LU8ADX)
Like Vinyl LP Records, Audio Cassettes are enjoying a bit of a renaissance. Here's a nice video on what it is like running and being in the last audio cassette factory.
The full results Results article (PDF) for 2015 ARRL DX CW is now online; The Top Ten History for the ARRL DX Phone Contest has also been added to the ARRL contest results web site.
Worth waiting for! The full 2015 RTTY Roundup results article is now
Kevin, W9GKA, informs that the Distance Scoring Working Group has 'back-tested' different distance scoring models on the Top 10 SOHP logs from the September 2010 VHF QSO Party, and some results look promising. If you're interested in the effort, you can join view the public web site, and see some preliminary results.
August 2015 NAQP SSB contest preliminary results have been posted to the NCJ web site. If you entered the contest, check your results and let the contest manager Bill, AC0W, know if you find something that doesn't seem right before September 26. You should verify your category, and make note if there's a large QSO count or score change from what you submitted. "Reminder these are just preliminary results, the final results may have some minor score adjustments."
OPERATING TIP - Signal reports during contests
Unless a contest sponsor says they are going to actually check signal reports as part of the exchange, it's generally a waste of effort to provide any report other than 59 or 5NN. During contests, the signal report is in reality used to frame the useful portions of the exchange. In marginal signal conditions, using anything other than 59 or 5NN may hinder the effective copying of the other useful parts of the exchange. Also, if you use 5NN for the signal report on RTTY, you are sending at minimum four 5-bit characters instead of the optimum three.
In a recent discussion of coax stubs on the TowerTalk reflector, Frank, W3LPL, explained why harmonics of your transmit frequency may sound "growly" in a nearby receiver:
Those "growly" signals you're hearing are harmonics of your transmitted signal generated by unintentional radiators, especially switching power supplies. This type of RFI -- sometimes called "flooding" -- is caused by solid state devices flooded by intense RF fields (your transmitted signal) in which they were not intended to operate. The unintentional radiator produces harmonics of your transmitted signal mixed with the AC power line or digital signals that are normally present in the unintentional radiator.
Common unintentional radiators of harmonics of your transmitted signal include many of the newer compact "wall wart" DC power supplies and susceptible power supplies in devices such as antenna rotators.
The control box for the Ham series and T2X rotator is a well-known source of re-radiated "growly" harmonics. Smart phone chargers are among the most common unintentional radiators of your harmonics in your home and neighborhood.
As you rotate your transmitting and receiving antennas you will notice a considerable variation in the signal strength of the "growly" harmonics you've observed. It's likely that your harmonics will be free of "growly" signals in some directions.
Another tool for pulling signals out of the noise -- you can build a mechanical audio filter for CW listening, in the form of a tuned speaker enclosure resonating at your rig's CW center frequency (KD1JV)
You may not see it on late night TV, however here's a list of the top 10 algorithms of the 20th Century and why they're considered such.
Communication is about transmitting information between two points. The actual recording or changing of a single bit of information takes a theoretical minimum amount of energy - Landauer's principle proposes a lower bound for this amount of energy. At room temperature, this is about 0.0172 eV.
Topband season is here in the northern hemisphere! K1LZ has some practical beverage antenna advice: www.qsl.net/k1fz/beverage_antenna.html (K1LZ via Topband)
Though the intended use is for a camera, a low-band vertical could in theory be used with the Fotokite. The Fotokite is a tethered drone with a camera. The drone part, powered through the tether, could stay up for a long time.
When a transistor fails, but there are no direct replacements available, you may be able to find your own substitute using this guide from EDN. The article may help you understand the characteristics that matter for the circuit in question. (Jeff, AD6MX via QRP-L)
If you need an oscilloscope or signal generator in the audio range, your smart phone may have an app for that. Don't forget that your laptop can also do this with appropriate sound input/outputs, and there are plenty of open source or free applications to generate or manipulate waveforms (for example, Audacity).
Audacity is also useful to prepare your voice macros for your contesting logging program.
EDN has a nice article on how MOSFETs can be used modulator applications. More generally, their application as on-off switches have wide modulation applicability from DC through RF. (Ward, N0AX)
The Class E Radio web site describes an abundance of amateur experimenter activity - MOSFETs are used extensively throughout the transmitter and modulator designs described on the site. QST also featured a construction article for a CW Class E amplifier a number of years ago.
You can use a good network analyzer and a belt sander to adjust phasing lines on the higher (VHF, UHF) frequencies, according to Dave, K1WHS. (via the Elecraft mailing list)
Bob, N6TV, writes:
"I've just completed a large update to VE3NEA's Rig Definition files for modern Icom radios supported by his Omni-Rig universal radio control program, which is used by Win-Test, Ham Radio Deluxe, Faros, and many other programs. The update includes new and updated files for the following Icom models and firmware versions:
Among other improvements, the latest Icom firmware for the "high end" models (IC-7600 and above), now support reading and setting VFO B directly from contest software, clearing the RIT, and using the radio's built-in USB sound card as a voice keyer. The new rig definition files also automatically set Icom CI-V Transceive OFF, eliminating the requirement to do that manually to use OmniRig.
Win-Test users can also use the radio's sound card for voice keying, as well as the internal CW keyer and Morse generator, using custom LUA Script extensions I've written and posted to my web site, http://bit.ly/wtscripts."
N3FJP reminds that his N3FJP WAE contest logging program provides QTC management.
N1MM Logger+'s version 12.03.00 and later requires certain ICOM radios (e.g. IC-7600, IC-7700, IC-7800, IC-9100, this list may not be exhaustive) to use more recent versions of the ICOM firmware which include a get-split command. If you recently updated N1MM Logger+ and your radio is no longer recognized, check N1MM Logger+ release notes to see if your radio model has such a requirement, and that your radio is up to date.
The NRAO published some pointers on electric fence construction and maintenance to minimize RFI.
Rigetti, a quantum computing startup, is looking for a RF/Microwave design engineer with (from reading the job listing) practical design and build experience. The desired qualifications are interesting reading.
While operating W7DX in the Salmon Run contest last weekend, members of our team were discussing inter-station interference and coax stubs. A quick internet search turned up Jim, K9YC's Q&A for coax and coax stubs (PDF). In addition to an explanation of the important quality characteristics of coax and a summarization of the theory behind the use of stubs, Jim has provided a nice collection of pointers to information so that you can go as deep as you like.
N3RR completed a big project to add stubs to his station, and was kind enough to share his project details with everyone (PDF). This 46 page PDF serves as his own station documentation, but also shows the thought and work that goes into a project like this.
My contest season started last weekend as I joined Dick, K7BTW and Adam, K7EDX for a multi-op at K7BTW's station near Olympia, Washington. Our mission was to make W7DX, the Washington State Salmon Run bonus station, well represented with CW and Phone on the bands. As the first contest of the season, it's also an opportunity for a shack shakedown to make sure we're ready for the rest of the season.
As we've worked together before, last weekend's effort came together easily enough over the summer with just a few discussions at the end of our monthly WWDXC club meetings, and some additional day-before emails.
As a group, we've tried different Salmon Run operations over the years: in the beginning a home station with one radio and three ops, other years included a beach cabin field-day style with 5+ ops and three stations, a home station with two transmitters in one location with digital in another over the internet with multiple ops, and even tent camping field day style low power with 2 ops on an island. We had a 'friendly heavy competition phase' over a number of years with Nick, K7MO and Harry, K7LAZ pulling off ever more elaborate (weekend) expeditions to Washington's less populous counties to provide a rare mult. Nick and Harry beat us every time as I recall, but we all had a fun time and it inspired everyone to try harder.
The last few years, we've joined up with Nick for some contests, and this year he and Valerie, K7VAP, were the digital side of W7DX located in nearby Tacoma.
Year to year individual participation and commitment ebbs and flows from real-life concerns intruding into our hobby, like health issues that preclude staying up all night, spousal commitments on the 2nd day, medications that could be incompatible with tower climbing, moving into town ... the list is infinite. We adapt. We get more operators involved so each of us can lose less sleep over the weekend. Salads appear on the contest weekend food menus. We operate at others' QTHs. No matter what the obstacle, we adapt. Well, except decaf. Never decaf. What I have come to appreciate more and more about radio contesting is that individually, we can mold our efforts in any contest to balance our resources and capabilities.
73, Brian N9ADG
24 Sep - 7 Oct 2015
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.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, Sep 23, 1300z to Sep 23, 1400z, Sep 23, 1900z to Sep 23, 2000z, Sep 24, 0300z to Sep 24, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 26.
RSGB 80m Club Sprint, CW, Sep 24, 1900z to Sep 24, 2000z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: October 1.
NCCC RTTY Sprint Ladder, Sep 25, 0145z to Sep 25, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: September 7.
NCCC Sprint, Sep 25, 0230z to Sep 25, 0300z; (see rules); Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: September 27.
CQ Worldwide DX Contest, RTTY, Sep 26, 0000z to Sep 28, 0000z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; 48 States/Canada: RST + CQ Zone + (state/VE area), All Others: RST + CQ Zone; Logs due: October 2.
Maine QSO Party, Sep 26, 1200z to Sep 27, 1200z; CW, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ME: RS(T) + county, non-ME: RS(T) + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: October 12.
Texas QSO Party, Sep 26, 1400z to Sep 27, 0200z, Sep 27, 1400z to Sep 27, 2000z; All; Bands: All, except WARC; TX: RS(T) + County, non-TX: RS(T) + (state/province/country/MM region); Logs due: October 31.
Classic Exchange, Phone, Sep 27, 1300z to Sep 28, 0700z, Sep 29, 1300z to Sep 30, 0700z; AM, SSB, FM; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; Name + RS + (state/province/country) + rcvr/xmtr manuf/model; Logs due: November 30.
Peanut Power QRP Sprint, Sep 27, 2000z to Sep 27, 2200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 40, 20, 15m; RS(T) + (state/province/country) + (peanut no./power output); Logs due: October 15.
Phone Fray, Sep 30, 0230z to Sep 30, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: September 25.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, Sep 30, 1300z to Sep 30, 1400z, Sep 30, 1900z to Sep 30, 2000z, Oct 1, 0300z to Oct 1, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 26.
UKEICC 80m Contest, Sep 30, 2000z to Sep 30, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: September 30.
NRAU 10m Activity Contest, Oct 1, 1700z to Oct 1, 1800z (CW), Oct 1, 1800z to Oct 1, 1900z (SSB), Oct 1, 1900z to Oct 1, 2000z (FM), Oct 1, 2000z to Oct 1, 2100z (Dig); CW, SSB, FM, Digital; Bands: 10m Only; RS(T) + 6-character grid square; Logs due: October 15.
SARL 80m QSO Party, Oct 1, 1700z to Oct 1, 2000z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; RS + Serial No. + Grid Locator or QTH; Logs due: October 8.
NCCC Sprint, Oct 2, 0230z to Oct 2, 0300z; (see rules); Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: September 27.
YLRL DX/NA YL Anniversary Contest, Oct 2, 1400z to Oct 4, 0200z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: Any; Serial No. + RS(T) + (ARRL Section/province/country); Logs due: November 2.
TARA PSK Rumble Contest, Oct 3, 0000z to Oct 4, 0000z; PSK; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; W/VE/JA/VK: Name + Call Area, Other: Name + Country; Logs due: October 31.
15-Meter SSTV Dash Contest, Oct 3, 0000z to Oct 4, 2359z; SSTV; Bands: 15m Only; WSSTVC-Member: RSV + "W" + 4-digit member no., non-Members: RSV + Serial No.; Logs due: October 19.
German Telegraphy Contest, Oct 3, 0700z to Oct 3, 1000z; CW; Bands: 80, 40m; DL: RST + LDK, non-DL: RST; Logs due: October 17.
Oceania DX Contest, Phone, Oct 3, 0800z to Oct 4, 0800z; Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: October 31.
TRC DX Contest, Oct 3, 1200z to Oct 4, 1200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; TRC Members: RST + "TRC", non-TRC Members: RST + ITU Zone No.; Logs due: October 11.
Russian WW Digital Contest, Oct 3, 1200z to Oct 4, 1159z; BPSK63, RTTY; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; UA: RST(Q) + 2-character oblast code, non-UA: RST(Q) + QSO No.; Logs due: October 9.
International HELL-Contest, Oct 3, 1600z to Oct 3, 1800z (80m), Oct 4, 0900z to Oct 4, 1100z (40m); Hell; Bands: 80, 40m; RST + QSO No.; Logs due: October 18.
California QSO Party, Oct 3, 1600z to Oct 4, 2200z; CW, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; CA: Serial No. + County, non-CA: Serial No. + (state/VE area/country); Logs due: October 31.
4 State 4x4 QRP Sprint, Oct 3, 1700z to Oct 3, 2100z; Any; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; 4SQRP Members: RST + (state/province/country) + 4x4, Non-Members: RST + (state/province/country) + power; Logs due: October 15.
FISTS Fall Slow Speed Sprint, Oct 3, 1700z to Oct 3, 2100z; 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: November 2.
WAB HF Phone, Oct 3, 1900z to Oct 4, 1900z; Phone; Bands: 20, 15, 10m; British Isles: RS + serial no. + WAB square, Other: RS + serial no. + country; Logs due: October 25.
UBA ON Contest, SSB, Oct 4, 0600z to Oct 4, 1000z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; ON: RS + Serial No. + ON Section, non-ON: RS + Serial No.; Logs due: October 25.
RSGB 21/28 MHz Contest, Oct 4, 0700z to Oct 4, 1900z; CW, SSB; Bands: 15, 10m; UK: RS(T) + Serial No. + UK District Code, non-UK: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: October 19.
ARS Spartan Sprint, Oct 6, 0100z to Oct 6, 0300z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: October 8.
Phone Fray, Oct 7, 0230z to Oct 7, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: September 25.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, Oct 7, 1300z to Oct 7, 1400z, Oct 7, 1900z to Oct 7, 2000z, Oct 8, 0300z to Oct 8, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 26.
UKEICC 80m Contest, Oct 7, 2000z to Oct 7, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: September 30.
AGCW VHF/UHF Contest, Sep 26, 1400z to Sep 26, 1700z (144), Sep 26, 1700z to Sep 26, 1800z (432); CW; Bands: 144 MHz, 432 MHz; RST + "/" + Serial No. + "/" Power class + "/" + 6-character grid locator; Logs due: October 12.
UBA ON Contest, 6m, Sep 27, 0700z to Sep 27, 1000z; CW, Phone; Bands: 6m Only; ON: RS(T) + Serial No. + ON Section, non-ON: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: October 18.
220 MHz Fall Sprint, Sep 29, 1900z to Sep 29, 2300z; not specified; Bands: 222 MHz; 4-character grid square; Logs due: October 13.
432 MHz Fall Sprint, Oct 7, 1900z to Oct 7, 2300z; not specified; Bands: 432 MHz; 6-character grid square; Logs due: October 21.
LOG DUE DATES
24 Sep - 7 Oct 2015
September 25, 2015
September 26, 2015
September 27, 2015
September 28, 2015
September 29, 2015
September 30, 2015
October 1, 2015
October 3, 2015
October 4, 2015
October 5, 2015
October 6, 2015
October 7, 2015
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