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The ARRL Contest Update
September 19, 2018
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
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IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS -- THINGS TO DO

The major contest in the next 2-week period is the CQ WW DX RTTY contest on September 29. With a simple exchange, it's a good way to get a large number of stations in the log. If conditions are favorable, this contest makes it possible to earn digital DXCC in a weekend. Thursday evening NCCC RTTY Sprints are a good way to validate your RTTY configurations. Check Contest University's website for presentations on basic and advanced RTTY operation. Many who are serious about RTTY use several different decoders to have the best chance to decode under varying band conditions.

If you enjoyed participating in the CW or RTTY Sprint contests in the last few weeks, try the NA SSB Sprint coming up.

New to HF, but like old or homebrew gear? The "Classic Exchange" contests are for you. Bonuses are earned for crystal-controlled and homebrew gear, and the multiplier is the number of years old the gear happens to be. In the case of homebrew gear, it counts as 25 years old unless "unless actual construction date or date of its construction article is older." As with any contest, see the rules for the details.

BUSTED QSOS

I misspelled Duffey, KK6MC's first name, in the last issue.

Scott, K4PA, was present at WRTC-2018 as a "WRTC sponsor with Vibroplex and Spiderbeam. Did not operate or referee. I was there, though, and have a good story to tell." See him this weekend, September 21, at the W4DXCC convention.

CONTEST SUMMARY

20 Sep - 4 Oct 2018

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

September 20

September 21

September 22

September 23

September 25

September 26

September 27

September 28

September 29

September 30

October 1

October 2

October 3

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NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

Even during the excitement of contest weekends, please be mindful of staying well clear of any hurricane / typhoon / cyclone relief operations that may be occurring in multiple countries and on multiple bands. In the US, the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) operates on 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz. As storms and situations develop, other frequencies may be in use in other countries and IARU Regions.

Some contest logging programs provide a feature that enables you to log and score non-mainstream contests. This might be useful if your club has a private competition between members, or if you're logging for a contest within a contest. N1MM Logger+'s User Defined Contest feature has been used to support 170+ additional contest configurations. Participants in the ARRL EME Contest can use N1MM Logger+ with the ARRL EME User Defined Contest UDC File to log their activity.

Joe, W1JT, has announced the release of WSJT-X 2.0 rc1. This is a new major version number for the WSJT-X program, with many new FT8 and MSK144 features of particular interest (and impact) to contesters. While a previous ARRL website article covered the prospective changes, Joe has published a more recent point-by-point summary of the features on his website. Specific contest-related changes include:

  • Better support for North American VHF Contests with improved handling of grids and /R rover call sign designators
  • Six-character locators and call sign suffix support for portable operators focused on EU VHF contesting
  • Support for ARRL Field Day exchanges
  • Support for ARRL RTTY Roundup exchanges
  • Support for call signs up to 11 characters to support non-standard and compound call signs

With the support of the new exchanges, WSJT-X and FT8 will surely have an impact on any contest that non-specifically permit "Digital" contacts that have exchanges of traditional signal reports and State/DX. In January's ARRL RTTY Roundup, contesters will have to decide how to split their operating time between modes such as RTTY and FT8, or perhaps use RTTY and FT8 simultaneously. The two modes may also be in contention for the same frequencies during the same contest.

Your logging computer's "contesting desktop" can be complicated by a number of different programs to support things like rotators, antenna switches, grayline display, rig interfaces, and so on. Just starting up all of the required pieces can require a checklist, or at very least a good memory. When a specialized mode is involved, for example RTTY, even more applications might be required. During a discussion on the N1MM Logger+ email reflector, Andy, KU7T, mentioned that he wrote his own Microsoft Windows PowerShell script to repeatably launch various different configurations. He uses a text file to list the applications that he wants launched. "Currently it launches all applications ... (and) can gracefully exit them and also does a backup of all my config files every day. With that, multiple profiles are possible, like one to launch everything to operate, another one to launch everything for MorseRunner training, and so on." Andy will be providing his scripts on his website.

The North American SSB Sprint Contest is coming up on September 23, 2018, from 0000 to 0359 UTC. This works out to be Saturday, September 22, 2018 in North America. The NA SSB Sprint adds to the fun with what they're describing as "door prizes." Contesters submitting logs that have scores of at least 1,500 points are entered into a random drawing for a number of prizes, which can include t-shirts, equipment, or gift certificates from contest sponsors. Operators who work all states in the contest can get a WAS t-shirt. Plaques are awarded to the highest scores in HP, LP, and QRP categories, while certificates are awarded for top billing in a number of different dimensions.

WRTC 2022 is coming! The first qualifying event is the ARRL International DX Contest CW, February 16, 2019.

Psst! Early birds: Registration for the 2019 Contest University in Dayton, Ohio opens on December 14, 2018.

WORD TO THE WISE

Macro

When used in the context of a logging program's messages, the text messages that are sent at various phases of a contact. The text can expand to include contact-specific fields such as signal report, call sign, and contest exchange, and may also have directives that control logging operations, such as increasing the serial number. For example, in Win-Test, $MYCALL would expand to N9ADG in a CW message. The equivalent in N1MM Logger+ would be * or {MYCALL}. Make sure you are using messages specific to the particular contest you are in. If your messages are NOT like those being sent by the other contesters, it's a big clue that your configuration needs attention.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Kari, SM0HRP, demonstrates two-band synchronized interleaved QSOs (2BSIQ) with a FlexRadio 6700 and N1MM Logger+ in this YouTube video. Jose, CT1BOH, originator of the formalized 2BSIQ technique, tweeted about it, with the comment that he found it better with two keyboards.

Freakonomics, a podcast that is a collaboration between a journalist and an award-winning economist, explores the sports industry in its latest episode which launches a special series entitled "The Hidden Side of Sports." Of interest to contesters may be the exploration of the psychology behind the perception of human limits or barriers, such as running's 4-minute mile. The series promises to cover many aspects of sport, including what drives athletes in various sports to excel.

In the YouTube video, "Alien Contact Outer Space," NE9U is calling CQ Sweepstakes to anyone providing the Saturn multiplier. Thanks to Al, N9ISN, for finding this one!

Members of the Kentucky Contest Group gathered at the recent Louisville Hamfest to sell extra gear and plan for the contest season. The group had two tables at the event, and 23 members were present at various times. Pictured from left to right: Shelby, K4WW; Steve, W4PF; Dan, K4FXN; Glenn, KE4KY; David, ND4Y; and Tyler, N4TY. [Dan, K4FXN, photo]

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RESULTS AND RECORDS

Prelininary results of the 2018 IARU HF Championship have been posted to the ARRL website.

Bill, AC0W, North American QSO Party (NAQP) SSB Manager, writes: "The August NAQP SSB preliminary results are now available on the NCJ website. Readers should check their scores and categories. If they find anything wrong or scores are way off contact me so I can investigate and resolve no later than Sept 28."

D4C tweeted they were looking for operators for the upcoming CQWW SSB Contest on October 27-28, 2018.

Ray, W7GLF, posted some pictures from the ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest to the contest soapbox. Ray's comments included an interaction with a trucker that inadvertently SWL'd his signals with a RADAR detector.

No result is still a result, right? After calling CQ for 15 minutes on Saturday afternoon during the Washington State Salmon Run on 15 meters, my 1,500 W signal was heard and reported by exactly ZERO reverse beacon network reporting stations. Brutal.

OPERATING TIP

This one is from Frank, W3LPL, as part of his presentation "How to Adapt your DX Contest Strategies for Low Solar Activity" at the 2018 Contest University. "In a time of low solar activity, start every DX contest on 40 meters. Openings to the EU can end only a few hours after sunset in the US."

TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Ken Shirriff, who normally writes about restoring vintage computers, recently took on a Teletype Model 19 power supply. He analyzed its regulation characteristics versus modern power supplies, and found that it didn't to too badly. Ken provides a great overview of current loops and Teletype machines, which might inspire additional "Heavy Metal" entries in the ARRL RTTY Roundup.

Zip ties are available in stainless steel for special applications that might require different characteristics than nylon, such as high melting temperature, resistance to various solvents, or better UV survivability. Buy them at your favorite online retailer, industrial supply house, or home improvement store. (Stan, KK3KK, via SteppIR email reflector)

Potassium hydroxide is that white stuff that leaks out of alkaline batteries (more correctly, cells) and corrodes the inside of your electronic gizmos. This Instructables article shows how you can remove that gunk, rehabilitate your corroded battery terminals, and potentially restore your equipment to operational condition. (Ward, N0AX)

The latest version of N1MM Logger+ supports the ARRL 10 GHz and Up contest. The name of the contest to use is new contest dialog is "ARRL10GHZ." If you made contacts in the August running of the contest, you could enter the contacts manually into the logging program and edit the time and date to generate a Cabrillo file and verify proper logging operation. Reports of improper operation should be posted to the N1MM Logger+ group.

At the dawn of the home computer age, microprocessors were available from a wide variety of companies in integrated circuit form. The CDP1802 was an RCA microprocessor, and came in a silicon-on-sapphire version that made it useful for high radiation environments such as space. Several Amateur Radio satellites used this CPU, including AMSAT Phase 3-D and several OSCAR satellites. NASA even used them for the Hubble Space Telescope. Intersil still makes these chips, and you can toggle down memory lane with this Altoids-sized "Membership Card" CDP-1802 computer kit that you can assemble and program with switches, just like in the old days.

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CONVERSATION

It's Different for a YL

One YL operator I spoke with recently shared some of her experiences in becoming a contester. She relates that after she'd become an Amateur and expressed her contesting interest at a local radio club meeting, she was told that "she didn't want to be a contester" by more than a small number of crusty been-there done-that types, in various ways verbally and non-verbally. Thankfully, she's persistent, confident, and has skills that enable her to reach her goals, and also met some contesters that encouraged her interest. It turns out she's a good operator, and not infrequently makes more contacts than anyone else when she participates in multi-op groups. When she does a multi-op, she has different on the air experiences than her male team members. She has not infrequently received comments on the order of "I hate when women do contests, I can't understand their accent." After calling "CQ Contest," callers will often uncomfortably draw out the contact, and stray from the contest format with creepy requests for non-exchange related personal information. If tolerance for this type of behavior continues as part of Amateur Radio, then we should expect continued declining numbers and lack of diversity in our hobby. The next time you hear a female-sounding voice during a contest, you should assume that person is on the air to make a lot of contacts, just like you. If you hear someone stopping to comment on a voice or request non-relevant personal details, not only are they delaying her, they're slowing down everyone else in the pile up... including you.

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 Sep - 4 Oct 2018

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

HF CONTESTS

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Sep 19, 1300z to Sep 19, 1400z, Sep 19, 1900z to Sep 19, 2000z, Sep 20, 0300z to Sep 20, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 22.

NAQCC CW Sprint, Sep 20, 0030z to Sep 20, 0230z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: September 23.

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

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

AGB NEMIGA Contest, Sep 21, 2100z to Sep 22, 0000z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 80m Only; AGB Member: RST + QSO No. + Member No., non-Member: RST + QSO No.; Logs due: October 21.

FOC QSO Party, Sep 22, 0000z to Sep 22, 2359z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, VHF; FOC-Member: RST + Name + Member No., non-Members: RST + Name; Logs due: October 6.

Maine QSO Party, Sep 22, 1200z to Sep 23, 1200z; CW, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ME: RS(T) + county, non-ME: RS(T) + (state/province/"DX"); Logs due: October 8.

UK/EI DX Contest, SSB, Sep 22, 1200z to Sep 23, 1200z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; UK/EI: RS + Serial No. + District Code, DX: RS + Serial No.; Logs due: September 24.

North American SSB Sprint Contest, Sep 23, 0000z to Sep 23, 0400z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name] + [your state/province/country]; Logs due: September 30.

Classic Exchange, CW, Sep 23, 1300z to Sep 24, 0700z, Sep 25, 1300z to Sep 26, 0700z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; Name + RST + (state/province/country) + rcvr/xmtr manuf/model; Logs due: November 1.

SKCC Sprint, Sep 26, 0000z to Sep 26, 0200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: September 30.

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

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Sep 26, 1300z to Sep 26, 1400z, Sep 26, 1900z to Sep 26, 2000z, Sep 27, 0300z to Sep 27, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 29.

UKEICC 80m Contest, Sep 26, 2000z to Sep 26, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: September 26.

RSGB 80m Autumn Series, Data, Sep 27, 1900z to Sep 27, 2030z; RTTY, PSK; Bands: 80m Only; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: September 30.

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

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

Feld Hell Sprint, Sep 29, 0000z to Sep 29, 2359z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; (see rules); Logs due: October 3.

CQ Worldwide DX Contest, RTTY, Sep 29, 0000z to Oct 1, 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 5.

Texas QSO Party, Sep 29, 1400z to Sep 30, 0200z, Sep 30, 1400z to Sep 30, 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 30, 1300z to Oct 1, 0700z, Oct 2, 1300z to Oct 3, 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 1.

IQRP Quarterly Marathon, Oct 1, 0800z to Oct 7, 2000z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: All; RS(T); Logs due: October 21.

ARS Spartan Sprint, Oct 2, 0100z to Oct 2, 0300z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: October 4.

Phone Fray, Oct 3, 0230z to Oct 3, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: September 21.

German Telegraphy Contest, Oct 3, 0700z to Oct 3, 1000z; CW; Bands: 80, 40m; DL: RST + LDK, non-DL: RST; Logs due: October 17.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Oct 3, 1300z to Oct 3, 1400z, Oct 3, 1900z to Oct 3, 2000z, Oct 4, 0300z to Oct 4, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 22.

UKEICC 80m Contest, Oct 3, 2000z to Oct 3, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: September 26.

VHF+ CONTESTS

220 MHz Fall Sprint, Sep 25, 1900z to Sep 25, 2300z; not specified; Bands: 222 MHz; 4-character grid square; Logs due: October 9.

AGCW VHF/UHF Contest, Sep 22, 1400z to Sep 22, 1700z (144), Sep 22, 1700z to Sep 22, 1800z (432); CW; Bands: 144 MHz, 432 MHz; RST + "/" + Serial No. + "/" Power class + "/" + 6-character grid locator; Logs due: October 8.

ARRL EME Contest, Sep 29, 0000z to Sep 30, 2359z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 50-1296 MHz; Signal report; Logs due: December 25.

432 MHz Fall Sprint, Oct 3, 1900z to Oct 3, 2300z; not specified; Bands: 432 MHz; 6-character grid square; Logs due: October 17.

Also, see Feld Hell Sprint, Classic Exchange, Phone, NCCC Sprint Ladder, Feld Hell Sprint, Classic Exchange, CW, FOC QSO Party above.

LOG DUE DATES

20 Sep - 4 Oct 2018

September 20, 2018

September 21, 2018

September 22, 2018

September 23, 2018

September 24, 2018

September 25, 2018

September 26, 2018

September 28, 2018

September 29, 2018

September 30, 2018

October 1, 2018

October 2, 2018

October 3, 2018

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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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