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The ARRL Contest Update
November 25, 2020
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
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IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS -- THINGS TO DO

The big contest of the November 28 weekend is the CQWW CW Contest. Although isn't a normal year where there will be extensive travel to exotic places by teams of amateurs to achieve big scores, check out NG3K's announced operations to see the ones that will be active. The weekend of December 5, look for the ARRL 160-Meter Contest, or if digital is your thing, the FT Roundup.

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

26 Nov - 9 Dec 2021

November 26

November 27

November 28

November 30

December 1

December 2

December 3

December 4

December 5

December 6

December 7

December 8

December 9

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NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

Please be aware of Hurricane Emergency Traffic nets and frequencies, even now as the storm season should be at its end - relief operations may still be ongoing. One place to find this information is http://www.arrl.org/2020-hurricanes. For example, from the ARRL bulletin regarding hurricane Iota: "Radio amateurs not involved in the emergency response are asked to avoid (± 5KHz) the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) and WX4NHC (National Hurricane Center) frequencies of 14.325 and 7.268 MHz, as well as a Honduran emergency net operation on 7.180 MHz (net control station is HR1JFA), and a Nicaraguan emergency net operating on 7.098 MHz."

There are many responsibilities for a successful radio contest sponsor, not the least of which is scoring the actual event. For those starting a brand-new event who are not up for the task of writing custom software to take (probably) Cabrillo logs, applying scoring criteria, and calculating a score, check out the Cabrillo Log Evaluator software from W3KM. With frequent updates, it touts the ability to score a wide range of contests. What's more, the program author offers to supply contest-specific setup files for first-time contest sponsors.

Seasoned contesters reading this likely already know that the ham community recently lost the Low Band force of nature, radio contester, and author, John Devoldere, ON4UN. A "Digital Farewell" was held for John on November 21. Some of the many places that John is being remembered include the IARU Region 1 website and Hamgallery.com. John was exceptional in his ability to pursue his radio interests in a positive way that inspired everyone around him, including non-amateurs. According to his daughter Marleen: "Ham radio, and especially low-band DXing, were my father's lifelong passions and always had a strong presence in our house... Though I don't have a call sign, I very much feel a part of the big radio family and always will."

The YASME Foundation announced a new class of Excellence Award winners. Among them are contesters Bob, N6TV, and Jim, K9YC. YASME recognizes "Bob's technical support to literally hundreds of hams through various radio manufacturer's user groups, to logging software communities, and the detailed assistance he provides to Reverse Beacon Network hosts, keeping their equipment configured and running" and his "...invaluable support to traveling hams worldwide when they most need help." Jim is recognized for "his extensive contributions to amateur radio regarding ferrite materials and their use in combating RF interference, feed line applications, and transformers. His efforts to improve transmitter performance and operating practices are also greatly appreciated, as are the extensive set of personal publications available to the public and performing reviews of technical material for amateur radio publishers."

Jari, OH6BG, was also a recipient of a YASME Excellence award: "Jari has supported the online VOACAP software and website www.voacap.com for almost 20 years, without compensation, making world-class HF propagation prediction and modeling services available to any radio amateur. He believes in team work, acknowledging the contributions and ideas from all of the ham community for further development of the service, but especially from James Watson M0DNS/HZ1JW and Juho Juopperi OH8GLV. He estimates that today VOACAP Online serves thousands of users, with visits from more than 100 countries every month, including integration with the DX Summit and Club Log services. He is part of the Radio Arcala, OH8X, team and acts as a propagation specialist, assisting the WRTC community, RSGB and others."

Jari wrote this for the Contest Update:

Major server upgrade on VOACAP Online for Ham Radio by Jari Perkiömäki, OH6BG:

"A few weeks ago, VOACAP Online for Ham Radio was moved to a new web platform, and this change forced me to re-factor the majority of the code in the back-end. I have now completed this task, and continuously fine-tuning it, but I am pleased to inform that the coverage area maps and point-to-point prediction graphs are now much cleaner & neater than before, using a different mapping library. In addition, most of the codebase has been optimized and hopefully is more robust than ever. Especially the Propagation Planner, the propagation planning tool for HF contests (e.g. CQ WW) & DXpeditions, should now be faster and also, as a bonus, offers the predicted values as CSV files for a more detailed analysis. All the same changes have also been implemented on the site of the VOACAP DX Charts. VOACAP Online for Ham Radio is a free HF propagation prediction service for the global ham community, running for more than ten years now, with integrations to the DX Summit and Club Log sites, for example. No registration required, no tracking on the site by Google Analytics, no ads on the pages, and no subscription fee for the service. Follow and subscribe to the latest VOACAP developments on Twitter."

The ARRL 160 Meter Contest is the weekend of December 6. Conditions on 160 meters have been pretty darned good this season so far, and this year may be the best for minimal solar activity as we begin the next solar cycle.

The CQ WPX Contest will see some rule changes in 2021, including a "new Multi-Transmitter Distributed category," the usage of spotting information in all single-operator categories except for the Classic Overlay category. The blog discusses the rationale for the changes, with complete rules to be available in "early 2021."

The Kentucky QSO Party will be held June 5-6, 2021, sponsored by the Kentucky Contest Group. In 2021 KQP Contest Committee consists of Dave, ND4Y, Dave, N4QS, Paul, ND4X, Glenn, KE4KY, and Tyler, N4TY. Kentucky has 120 counties, the fourth highest in the United States. In 2020, 87 Kentucky counties were activated, and the 370 logs submitted contained nearly 21,000 contacts. (Dave, ND4Y)

Dave, AD8Y, wrote in about my definition of the word "serendipity" in a past Contest Update: "

The word actually has a more specific meaning than that. It comes from the legend of the three princes of the island of Serendip, whose father the king sent them out on an adventure to further their education. The word is used loosely as you define it but really means accidentally finding something good while observing or while looking for something else good. It is akin to Pasteur's line that "chance favors the prepared mind." Good conditions, then, are merely luck. Serendipity is chancing across meteor scatter or auroral skip when looking for sporadic E -- and recognizing that you have done so."

HamSCI is looking for amateur radio operators around the world to help collect propagation data during the December 14 eclipse across South America. Data collection requires an HF radio connected to a computer. There will be a 24-hour practice run on December 5. The main data recording will run from December 9-16, to ensure an abundance of control data. Details of the experiment may be found at https://hamsci.org/december-2020-eclipse-festival-frequency-measurement. Instructions are also available in Spanish and Portuguese. Interested operators should sign up at https://forms.gle/C9PFSTeLf7xvCQDYA or directly contact Kristina Collins at kd8oxt@case.edu.

Chrome, the Google web browser, proclaims better performance and consumption of fewer system resources in a recent blog post, which will benefit those running on a laptop or other battery-powered devices. However, the way it accomplishes some of those improvements is by providing fewer resources to background browser tabs. If you're using multiple tabs to keep track of multiple sources of spot information in a contest (as one might do in a rover situation for a VHF/UHF contest), you may see the behavior of those tabs change, leading to delayed or missing alerts or updates. The exact behavior may depend on the website and the way the specific backgrounded page has been written. Something to keep in mind if you notice a difference.

Your favorite headphones can be turned into your favorite headset with the addition of the Antlion Audio Modmic attachable microphone. It can magnetically attach to an existing headset. Kirk, K4RO, says this about it in a post to CQ-Contest email reflector: "Add it to your favorite headphone set (it clips on magnetically) and you'll be rocking with some great transmit audio for 50 bucks."

Another source for a good operating chair could might be your local big-box store.

Dennis, N6KI, found that this review of a desk chair for gamers might have relevance for contesters spending 36-48 hours in a chair. It's not a dry read.

It's not April Fools Day, but Bob, K0NR, takes the "...On The Air" radiosport concept to its illogical extreme in his recent humorous blog post. Serial numbers are fine for a casual event, but a more challenging contest event would be a GUID. Imagine an exchange like "You're 59, 123E4567 dash E89B dash 12D3 dash A456 dash 426655440000," which on CW could immediately be shortened to "5N123E4567TE89BT12D3TA456."

WORD TO THE WISE

Lash (Backlash)

From Wikipedia: "Clearance or lost motion in a mechanism caused by gaps between the parts." In a gear train, such as might be found in a rotator mechanism, it's the amount that a shaft can be turned without appreciable resistance and the movement of the entire mechanism. One synonym for backlash is play. A large amount of lash in a rotator mechanism can translate into many inches or even feet of variance at the end of an antenna boom.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Paul, W6PNG, went mobile (as K7E) to combine radio contesting and camping during the California QSO Party in May. His expedition to Mineral County, Nevada, is documented in a travelogue-style post on Paul's website. Paul's takeaways from the experience include bringing a cooler with better food, an amplifier, and a directional antenna to take advantage of the terrain.

Steve, VE6WZ, provides a tour of the control side of his successful remote station, which includes extensive receive arrays. His quick 15-minute video discusses the rationale behind some of his station building decisions.

Tim, K3LR, provided a virtual station tour of his multi-multi station to the Bay Area DXers Contest Club. You, too, can use YouTube to see some of the hard work that enables those stellar contest scores.

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RESULTS AND RECORDS

Stu, K6TU, reports:

"The results for the 2020 running of the Makrothen RTTY Contest are now available on the Pizza Lovers 259 website. Personalized certificates are available to all participants and plaques are awarded for the top three placements in categories 1 and 2 (Single Op, Single Rx - Low/High power). This year's contest saw a record number of submitted logs (780) as well as record activity (approximately 140,000 reported QSOs). We would like to thank all who took part and congratulate the top scorers in all categories. The 2021 Makrothen RTTY Contest will take place on October 9 and 10."

The results of the 2020 Nevada QSO Party that took place in October have been posted. According to Jim, W6US, the NVQSO Chairman, there were about three times as many submitted entries compared to past years! "Since we were using the Field Day overlay for FT8, we were using ARRL/RAC sections and not just states. Hopefully, in the future FT8 will be able to handle state QSO parties more easily than it does now."

OPERATING TIP

Little Pistols: Arrive to a Band Early, or Stay Late

In a popular event like the ARRL Sweepstakes, running stations can be wall-to-wall on the most-open band, with search-and-pounce stations piled up to work them. QRP and Low power operators having difficulty breaking these pileups could try the next-most-open band, where it may be possible to obtain a higher QSO rate. In contests like Sweepstakes that do not have per-band multipliers, it doesn't matter on what band you work that multiplier, as long as you eventually do work them.

TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Jim, K9YC, very recent YASME Excellence award winner, wanted to clarify that there's a difference between bias and phantom power as part of a discussion on the CQ-Contest email reflector: "The bias that ham gear and computers provide is NOT 'phantom power,' which is VERY different. Phantom power is an international standard for pro mics with BALANCED outputs, and is applied equally between the two signal conductors and the shield through two equal value resistors. The two systems are not even slightly compatible."

Jim, K9YC, also publishes and updates his document "A Ham's Guide to RFI, Ferrites, Baluns, and Audio Interfacing" on his website. On page 23, he discusses the use of common mode chokes to reduce or eliminate common mode noise from portable generators, like the kind that DXpeditions or Field Day-style contest operations use. If you're thinking of going portable to get away from "city" RFI, be sure to verify you aren't also bringing noise sources with you.

Steve, VE6WZ, made a video on how he constructed a band-stop filter to minimize interference to broadcast band reception while he was transmitting on 160 meters. He walks through calculating the values for circuit components using an online tool from WA4DSY, selecting a filter design, and then construction of the circuit. He finishes up using a nanoVNA with nanoSaver software to characterize his build.

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CONVERSATION

How Are You Getting On?

Its Friday night, before the contest. It's one of your favorites. It's been a long work week. But, there's always more work to do, some could be done over the weekend, just to get a jump on the next week. And there's a deadline on Tuesday evening. Oh, and the 80-meter dipole is acting up. And the coax to the vertical is being wonky, it's been in need of replacement.

There are always reasons not to get on the air.

But one of the best reasons to be on the air?

That's where your friends are hanging out.

Especially when they take time out of their run to say "Good to hear you on the air."

Well, it's good to hear you, too.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

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

26 Nov - 9 Dec 2021

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.

HF CONTESTS

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Nov 26, 0300z to Nov 26, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No./"CWA", non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 28.

RTTYOPS Weeksprint, Nov 26, 1700z to Nov 26, 1900z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: December 1.

RSGB 80m Autumn Series, CW, Nov 26, 2000z to Nov 26, 2130z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: November 29.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Nov 27, 0145z to Nov 27, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: November 29.

NCCC Sprint, Nov 27, 0230z to Nov 27, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: November 29.

ARRL EME Contest, Nov 28, 0000z to Nov 29, 2359z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 50 MHz and up; Signal report; Logs due: December 29.

CQ Worldwide DX Contest, CW, Nov 28, 0000z to Nov 30, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + CQ Zone No.; Logs due: December 4.

RTTYOPS Weekend Sprint, Nov 28, 1600z to Nov 28, 1959z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name] + [6-character grid locator]; Logs due: December 5.

K1USN Slow Speed Test, Nov 30, 0000z to Nov 30, 0100z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; Maximum 20 wpm, Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: December 2.

QCX Challenge, Nov 30, 1300z to Nov 30, 1400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Name + (state/province/country) + Rig; Logs due: December 8.

OK1WC Memorial (MWC), Nov 30, 1630z to Nov 30, 1729z; CW; Bands: 80, 40m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: December 4.

QCX Challenge, Nov 30, 1900z to Nov 30, 2000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Name + (state/province/country) + Rig; Logs due: December 8.

Worldwide Sideband Activity Contest, Dec 1, 0100z to Dec 1, 0159z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RS + age group (OM, YL, Youth YL or Youth); Logs due: December 2.

QCX Challenge, Dec 1, 0300z to Dec 1, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Name + (state/province/country) + Rig; Logs due: December 8.

RTTYOPS Weeksprint, Dec 1, 1700z to Dec 1, 1900z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: December 1.

QRP Fox Hunt, Dec 2, 0200z to Dec 2, 0330z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: December 3.

Phone Fray, Dec 2, 0230z to Dec 2, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: November 27.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Dec 2, 1300z to Dec 2, 1400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No./"CWA", non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 28.

VHF-UHF FT8 Activity Contest, Dec 2, 1700z to Dec 2, 2000z; FT8; Bands: see rules; 4-character grid square; Logs due: December 7.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Dec 2, 1900z to Dec 2, 2000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No./"CWA", non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 28.

QRP ARCI Topband Sprint, Dec 3, 0000z to Dec 3, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; ARCI: RST + (state/province/country) + ARCI No., non-ARCI: RST + (state/province/country) + power out; Logs due: December 19.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Dec 3, 0300z to Dec 3, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No./"CWA", non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 28.

RTTYOPS Weeksprint, Dec 3, 1700z to Dec 3, 1900z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: December 8.

NRAU 10m Activity Contest, Dec 3, 1800z to Dec 3, 1900z (cw) and, Dec 3, 1900z to Dec 3, 2000z (ssb) and, Dec 3, 2000z to Dec 3, 2100z (fm) and, Dec 3, 2100z to Dec 3, 2200z (dig); CW, SSB, FM, Digital; Bands: 10m Only; RS(T) + 6-character grid square; Logs due: December 17.

SKCC Sprint Europe, Dec 3, 2000z to Dec 3, 2200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: December 10.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Dec 4, 0145z to Dec 4, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: November 29.

QRP Fox Hunt, Dec 4, 0200z to Dec 4, 0330z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: December 10.

NCCC Sprint, Dec 4, 0230z to Dec 4, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: November 29.

ARRL 160-Meter Contest, Dec 4, 2200z to Dec 6, 1600z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; W/VE: RST + ARRL/RAC Section, DX: RST; Logs due: December 13.

UFT Meeting, Dec 5, 0500z to Dec 5, 0800z and, Dec 5, 1500z to Dec 5, 1800z and, Dec 6, 0700z to Dec 6, 1000z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: RST + Member No., non-Member: RST + "NM"; Logs due: January 15.

Wake-Up! QRP Sprint, Dec 5, 0600z to Dec 5, 0629z and, Dec 5, 0630z to Dec 5, 0659z and, Dec 5, 0700z to Dec 5, 0729z and, Dec 5, 0730z to Dec 5, 0800z; CW; Bands: 40, 20m; RST + Serial No. + suffix of previous QSO ("QRP" for 1st QSO); Logs due: December 12.

PRO CW Contest, Dec 5, 1200z to Dec 6, 1159z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; CW Club Member: RST + Serial No. + "/M", non-Members: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: December 12.

RTTYOPS Weekend Sprint, Dec 5, 1600z to Dec 5, 1959z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name] + [6-character grid locator]; Logs due: December 5.

FT Roundup, Dec 5, 1800z to Dec 6, 2359z; FT8/FT4; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; W (except KH6/KL7): RST + state, VE: RST + province/territory, non-W/VE: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: December 13.

EPC Ukraine DX Contest, Dec 5, 2000z to Dec 6, 1959z; BPSK63; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Ukraine: RSQ + Ukr Admin Region, non-Ukraine: RSQ + QSO No.; Logs due: December 20.

K1USN Slow Speed Test, Dec 7, 0000z to Dec 7, 0100z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; Maximum 20 wpm, Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: December 9.

OK1WC Memorial (MWC), Dec 7, 1630z to Dec 7, 1729z; CW; Bands: 80, 40m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: December 11.

Worldwide Sideband Activity Contest, Dec 8, 0100z to Dec 8, 0159z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RS + age group (OM, YL, Youth YL or Youth); Logs due: December 9.

ARS Spartan Sprint, Dec 8, 0200z to Dec 8, 0400z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: December 10.

RTTYOPS Weeksprint, Dec 8, 1700z to Dec 8, 1900z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: December 8.

NAQCC CW Sprint, Dec 9, 0130z to Dec 9, 0330z; CW; Bands: (see rules) ; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: December 13.

QRP Fox Hunt, Dec 9, 0200z to Dec 9, 0330z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: December 10.

Phone Fray, Dec 9, 0230z to Dec 9, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: November 27.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Dec 9, 1300z to Dec 9, 1400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No./"CWA", non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 28.

VHF-UHF FT8 Activity Contest, Dec 9, 1700z to Dec 9, 2000z; FT8; Bands (see rules) ; 4-character grid square; Logs due: December 14.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Dec 9, 1900z to Dec 9, 2000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No./"CWA", non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 28.

VHF+ CONTESTS

See Worldwide Sideband Activity Contest, SKCC Sprint Europe, above.

LOG DUE DATES

26 Nov - 9 Dec 2021

November 26, 2020

November 27, 2020

November 28, 2020

November 29, 2020

November 30, 2020

December 1, 2020

December 2, 2020

December 3, 2020

December 4, 2020

December 5, 2020

December 7, 2020

December 8, 2020

December 9, 2020

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ARRL Contest Update wishes to acknowledge information from WA7BNM's Contest Calendar,

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