August 26, 2015Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO
If you've not done a Sprint before, you should! It's only four hours long, fast paced, and a lot of fun. The contest is a bit different than all other formats, as there is a mandatory QSY rule after one contact. There are also protocols for the exchange depending on whether you are the caller or callee, so that others tuning by know who to call. Sound complicated? It's not, really; check out the SSBSPRINT web site, and also N6TR's Sprint Survival Guide.
The next weekend, a couple of QSO parties are available; if you're on the West Coast of the US, the All Asian DX Contest could be fun if the bands are open. The CWOps CW Open provides multiple sessions over the weekend, each counting as a separate contest if CW is more to your liking.
Danny, K7SS submits: "The 2nd running of the newly refurbished North America SSB SPRINT will be held August 30, 0000-0400 UTC (Saturday August 29th evening in the US) with a great new added feature - T-SHIRTS ! ICOM has come up with a cool NA SSB T-shirt. Everyone that submits a log with at least 1500 points (e.g. 50 Qs x 30 mults) will be entered into a drawing for one of 25 shirts. See SSBSPRINT.COM for more details and contest info. Saturday evening 00-04z, on 20m, 40m, and 75m. The fastest four hours in radiosport! The North American SSB Sprint ! SEE YOU THERE !"
The term "WKCs" was left in a photo caption in the last issue... that meant "Well-Known Contesters", but it was redundant with the text that was there already.
Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section
The FCC is remaining tough on WiFi jamming, with a recent $750K fine announced for actively blocking access to the usage of the spectrum. Earlier this year, Marriott Hotels were fined for the similar activities. The method used to 'jam' the spectrum involved sending 'disconnect' packets to clients of 'rogue' access points.
In a tantalizing historical tidbit, it appears that HF propagation was pretty good from the US East Coast to Europe during 1941 to 1945, so much so that even battlefield communications could be monitored. A farm in Scituate, Rhode Island, was set up as a listening post. The location turned out to be stellar, and was instrumental in providing a wide range of radio-derived intelligence information during WWII.
Jameco recently did a survey of Electronic Hobbyists (PDF), and while it's market research oriented, it reflects the population of their most avid customers. The profile of their typical customer is one that has been involved in their hobby for 35 years (so, older), and has twice as much education as the average American, among other characteristics. The report identifies popular technologies, future hobbyist intent, and expectations of how the hobby will evolve.
U.S. Hams may be getting new allocations soon in the 2200m and 630m bands. Band noise and propagation is different at VLF. 'Natural' RF noise has been the subject of enthusiast interest for a long time. Emanating from lighting, geomagnetic events, and other known and unknown sources, and then subject to the propagation effects of the Earth's magnetic field, different words are used to describe the received noises: 'sferics', 'tweeks', and 'whistlers.'
Sure the bands have been a bit lacking lately, but what if Earth were directly in the path of a really big Coronal Mass Ejection? More folks are realizing that it could be very bad news.
If you're looking for the right tool for the job of finding out what's under various potting compounds on pc boards, you might use a laser cutter.
Wireless Power Transfer is going to be tested in England for vehicles while the vehicles are moving. "Dynamic wireless power transfer" is the term used to describe the technology, which in real use would be targeted to specific routes, and enable the use of electric versions of vehicles which aren't today viewed as suitable for electrification - examples include buses and large trucks.
Which state has the least expensive electrical power? The US Energy Information Administration has profiles on each state. Oh, and it's Louisiana at 6.9 centers per kWh.
Most cellular carriers allow for 'overlay' networks on their network. They effectively wholesale minutes to MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators). These operators in turn provide services to consumers, differentiated in many ways. MVNO examples in the US include Boost Mobile and Credo Mobile. A company recently announced something that could be a 'stealth play' for this business model, but for electrical power - a Virtual Utility Operator perhaps. SunPort is providing electrical sockets that communicate with their servers while supplying electricity from your normal utility, to specify that the devices you are plugging in have a preference for Solar generated energy. In this fashion, SunPort can continuously inform your utility of the consumer-driven demand for solar. Other utilities (e.g. Green Mountain Power) already offer their customers the choice of paying a little more for specialty generation (cow-manure generated power), but on a monthly-bill basis.
If you live in California, and want to be on the "supply side" vs. the demand side, Google is making it easier to determine if your location will work. (Thanks N6KI)
You're working the 15 meter multiplier station. You're on the ball, and you see a spot for the 3W multiplier, so you swing your big stack around... you want to get in and out before too many callers pile on. You know your conditions are not ideal, as you'll be beaming directly through the shack, and there're birdies from a network switch you replaced just before the contest. You hear him; you thrust your call into the fray; you get a tingly feeling just before you hear him return your call. That's odd. You're a seasoned contester, and 3W is not THAT rare... perhaps you need "the first shielded underpants that (supposedly) protect male fertility." Using a special fabric, the stylish briefs claim the ability to block up to 99.7% of all WiFi signals (as well as other electromagnetic radiation). Despite no conclusive scientific evidence that this is a problem in search of a solution, the company states "if it comes out that EM radiation is not bad for us then people still have very comfortable underwear with all the other beneficial properties of silver." No word yet on whether they'll be showing at Dayton next May. (Thanks to Elektor & N0AX)
KO7X, Silent Key. One of the most active Wyoming voices is no more. From Alan's Facebook page, he died unexpectedly on Aug 15th. He was formerly K6QPH and K6XO. More recently, Alan had been active from Wyoming since 2003. Alan was a frequent attendee of the Dayton Hamvention and many other conventions and hamfests. (N0AX)
Web Site of the Week - The Spark Museum of Electrical Invention
If you can't travel to Bellingham, Washington to visit it in person, check out their excellent web site, for example "The Beginning of Radio and the Wireless Era." Beautiful photography and easy navigation make for a great experience. If you visit in person, you may find the museum's Tesla coil in operation - It's capable of 10 foot sparks. Licensed amateurs may be able to operate the museum's amateur station, W7MRE.
WORD TO THE WISE
3830 - The term "3830" used to (and still can) refer to the 80m frequency where contesters gathered after the contest to compare scores. It was particularly lively on the east coast of the US, where the very competitive multi-multi stations would share their unverified QSO counts, multiplier counts, and scores. With the advent of email and the internet, it then evolved to be the 3830 email reflector on contesting.com, where Dink, N7WA posts contest summaries for many contests. Bruce, WA7BNM made it easier to post scores through his website, which is (now) 3830scores.com. With any change, things are lost, and things are gained. While 3.830 MHz is generally empty post-contest, contest summaries and commentary are available any time (and potentially in perpetuity) via the reflector and web site, and provide thoughtful and useful information that can improve your contest scores.
N6KW reports: "Scott Charles VE7FYC climbed Hollyburn Mountain (4350 feet) just north of Vancouver BC in CN89 for the 2015 August ARRL UHF Contest. He only made one QSO, but it was a doozy. 234 miles (377 km) to WW7D/R in CN86 on 223.5 MHz FM HT."
Scott, VE7FYC describes the moment: "My family and I took a little bit of hike to the peak of Hollyburn Mtn. (4350' in CN 89) I brought along 2 HT ( Icom IC-03AT for 223.5Mhz and a Wouxun KG-669P for 446mhz.) WW7D/R was breaking the squelch on 223.5mhz as we made our way to the top. Once at the peak I made QSO with Darryl WW7D/rover and then tried a 70 cm contact but was not successful. He was in CN86 some 234 miles / 377Km away. Not bad for a 30 year old HT."
Darryl, WW7D/R reports: "He had a great signal for a hand-held! And we were probably cross-polarized, unless he was holding his radio sideways, so that was an amazing way to finish off the contest." Darryl also has an excellent write-up of his 2015 ARRL UHF contest operation on his blog.
(Thanks to N6KW, VE7FYC, and WW7D)
NPR's 2014 "Only A Game" broadcast on WRTC was recently rebroadcast as a "Best Of" episode.
According to Ulf, DL5AXX, WRTC current qualification standings now contain
· ARRL-DX-CW 2015, final scores
· ARRL-DX-SSB 2015, final scores
· RDXC 2015, claimed scores
· CQWPX-SSB 2015, claimed scores
· CQWPX-CW 2015, claimed scores
· IARU R1 FD, final scores
· EU HF 2015, claimed scores
The results of the UBA Contest CW 2015 are published on the UBA website. Contest certificates can also be downloaded. Make sure that in the field "call" there is only your call and nothing else. 73 cu next year - Marc, ON7SS
The 2015 CQ 160 Contest Results have been posted:
(JN3VQM via TopBand reflector)
If you're new to a particular contest, you can research how others approach it by examining past years' post-contest commentaries on 3830scores.com. Even the shaggy dog stories are helpful, for humor or counter-example.
2.4 GHz WiFi falls within the 2.4 GHz Amateur Radio band. If you're building a project that requires WiFi connectivity, you might like this survey of embedded WiFi development boards. While it's not all-encompassing, it does have a few you're likely to come across, some you should know about, including the nearly-ubiquitous ESP8266, with which you can add connectivity to your project for under $6 from some sources.
DefCon is an increasingly important conference which started as an annual gathering of blackhat and whitehat hackers. It's still that, but now the corporations and press have discovered it, and it's a bigger deal. The electronic threats and vulnerabilities that attendees talk about which were once seen as merely interesting are ever more mainstream. One of the presentations that was to occur, but which was pulled, had an intriguing name -- "ProxyHam". From early descriptions, the talk was described a means to set up a combination wireless link and repeater and web proxy to allow the use of public WiFi points to disguise the true physical location of the user. Not that big a deal to folks that set up wireless infrastructure, but it was a press darling for being cancelled.
High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography is all about being able to faithfully capture all of the distinct light levels in a given image. One way that cameras do it today is by taking multiple varying exposures, and combining them. That method has downsides, including accounting for motion of the subject between exposures. Doing it a different way, researchers at MIT now claim a "Near infinite dynamic range camera." Understanding that the way sensors work is by accumulating light as represented by electron charge, the MIT innovation is that during any particular exposure, each sensor capacitor is monitored for when it 'fills up' (reaches maximum charge). The sensor is reset, and allowed to continue to fill up. This fill-the-bucket, empty-the-bucket cycle continues until the exposure time is complete; the number of resets and the amount of charge finally accumulated is used to calculate the actual amount of light detected.
Unless you're a filmmaker, perhaps you've not noticed the revolution in the shooting of video at higher resolutions, like 4K and above - arguably, better than film. Here's an article on the use of RED cameras. These are some amazing devices.
If you'd like to get the signal strength of your iPhone's base station in dB, you can enable a field test mode just by dialing a special number. And it's not 867-5309.
DARPA sees future for electron tubes, in the high millimeter-wave frequencies. Using newer technologies for manufacturing, such as 3D printing, they hope to cut costs and increase reliability. (N6KI)
MIT and Samsung teamed up to find a way to extend the shelf life on batteries - potentially indefinitely. Solid Electrolyte leads to batteries with indefinite shelf life
Amazon just opened up voice control of arbitrary devices through their API (the API is for lighting, but 'turn on', 'turn off', and brightness levels can be repurposed for other control tasks)... the voice controlled ham shack control scenario I mentioned a few issues back is getting closer.
Technical Web Site of the Week - Instructables.com
Whether you need to know how to shave with an Axe (getting ready for the Field Day Press onslaught, perhaps?), make your own locknuts, get your workshop organized, or thousands of other topics, this site has it. There's even one for becoming one of us - How to Talk to Someone using Ham Radio. As it's all user-generated content, you too can help others by sharing your knowledge.
Technology has brought many changes to our hobby. The recent spate of revelations of logging improprieties... no, let's use the right word, the harsh word, the word that creates the more visceral reaction - cheating - has been argued more effectively, more definitively, by using technology. The ability to analyze cumulative log data allows contest sponsors to present evidence which indicates that some individual winning logs contain an over-abundance of erroneous information. If left to stand, awards to cheaters devalue and diminish the experience of everyone participating.
The CQWW committee announced recently that it is examining the last four years of CQWW logs for evidence of log padding. If a winning entrant is found to have violated the rules, he/she will lose the award, and be subject to varying levels of future disqualification.
Besides the loss of standing in the contest results, what about the hit to character points that the cheater faces? What is the road back?
Over the past few years we've seen a number of public figures and celebrities who have fallen from high esteem. There's an industry built around the rehabilitation of character; according to one expert in sports marketing, Paul Swangard of the University of Oregon, one formula is to "... apologize, then act responsibly and then get back to what people liked watching you do -- compete and win."
Individually, and as a community, we must not accept the charade of "I made a mistake..." as if the competitor intended to do the right thing and somehow, improbably, just didn't. Their hands did not just slip on the power control or amplifier switch, or "mistakenly" enter tens or hundreds of bogus ("wishful thinking") contacts; the logging program did not malfunction and suddenly display the band map window loaded with spots. Baloney! Intentional and willful transgressions are not mistakes. Errors in judgment are more difficult to admit both to oneself and to one's community.
While it's doubtful that Oprah will invite a fallen contester onto her show for a mea culpa and heart-felt apology, there will have to be a conversation between the disqualified and the contest community. The first step, apology, could be the hardest, and perhaps insurmountable. An ego may just not be able to withstand it. It requires the acknowledgement that willful, conscious violations of the rules - cheating - occurred.
The contest community should be dismissive of the unrepentant, of those who don't take the difficult first steps, and understandably wary of those who do. Actions and motives of the previously disqualified will be highly scrutinized for a long time, as the trust deficit is diminished.
The words of the contest community to "follow the rules, and be ethical in your contesting" only have the power and meaning that we as a community give them through our actions and follow-through.
28 Aug through 8 Sep 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.
SKCC Sprint, Aug 26, 0000z to Aug 26, 0200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: August 28.
Phone Fray, Aug 26, 0230z to Aug 26, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: August 28.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, Aug 26, 1300z to Aug 26, 1400z, Aug 26, 1900z to Aug 26, 2000z, Aug 27, 0300z to Aug 27, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 29.
RSGB 80m Club Sprint, SSB, Aug 27, 1900z to Aug 27, 2000z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: September 3.
QRP Fox Hunt, Aug 28, 0100z to Aug 28, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: August 22.
NCCC RTTY Sprint, Aug 28, 0145z to Aug 28, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 23.
NCCC Sprint Ladder, Aug 28, 0230z to Aug 28, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 23.
Feld Hell Sprint, Aug 29, 0000z to Aug 29, 2359z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; (see rules); Logs due: September 5.
ALARA Contest, Aug 29, 0400z to Aug 29, 1359z, Aug 30, 0400z to Aug 30, 1359z; CW, Phone; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 2m; ALARA: RS(T) + Serial No. + ALARA member + Name, non-ALARA: RS(T) + Serial No. + Name + (whether YL/OM/club station); Logs due: September 30.
YO DX HF Contest, Aug 29, 1200z to Aug 30, 1200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; YO: RS(T) + county, non-YO: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: September 29.
W/VE Islands QSO Party, Aug 29, 1200z to Aug 30, 0300z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Islands: RS(T) + USI/CISA Island Designation, Non-Islands: RS(T) + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 15.
SCC RTTY Championship, Aug 29, 1200z to Aug 30, 1159z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + 4-digit year license first issued; Logs due: September 7.
Kansas QSO Party, Aug 29, 1400z to Aug 30, 0200z, Aug 30, 1400z to Aug 30, 2000z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; KS: RS(T) + county, non-KS: RS(T) + (state/VE section/"DX"); Logs due: October 8.
North American SSB Sprint Contest, Aug 30, 0000z to Aug 30, 0400z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name] + [your state/province/country]; Logs due: September 6.
SARL HF CW Contest, Aug 30, 1300z to Aug 30, 1630z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: September 6.
Phone Fray, Sep 2, 0230z to Sep 2, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: August 28.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, Sep 2, 1300z to Sep 2, 1400z, Sep 2, 1900z to Sep 2, 2000z, Sep 3, 0300z to Sep 3, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 29.
UKEICC 80m Contest, Sep 2, 2000z to Sep 2, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: September 2.
NRAU 10m Activity Contest, Sep 3, 1700z to Sep 3, 1800z (CW), Sep 3, 1800z to Sep 3, 1900z (SSB), Sep 3, 1900z to Sep 3, 2000z (FM), Sep 3, 2000z to Sep 3, 2100z (Dig); CW, SSB, FM, Digital; Bands: 10m Only; RS(T) + 6-character grid square; Logs due: September 17.
QRP Fox Hunt, Sep 4, 0100z to Sep 4, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: August 22.
NCCC RTTY Sprint Ladder, Sep 4, 0145z to Sep 4, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: September 6.
NCCC Sprint, Sep 4, 0230z to Sep 4, 0300z; (see rules); Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: September 6.
G3ZQS Memorial Straight Key Contest, Sep 4, 2300z to Sep 6, 2300z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + name + FISTS No., non-FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + name + power; Logs due: October 6.
Russian RTTY WW Contest, Sep 5, 0000z to Sep 5, 2359z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RU: RST + 2-letter oblast, non-RU: RST + CQ Zone; Logs due: September 20.
CWOps CW Open, Sep 5, 0000z to Sep 5, 0359z, Sep 5, 1200z to Sep 5, 1559z, Sep 5, 2000z to Sep 5, 2359z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Serial No. + Name; Logs due: September 19.
All Asian DX Contest, Phone, Sep 5, 0000z to Sep 7, 0000z; Phone; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + 2-digit age; Logs due: October 7.
Wake-Up! QRP Sprint, Sep 5, 0600z to Sep 5, 0629z, Sep 5, 0630z to Sep 5, 0659z, Sep 5, 0700z to Sep 5, 0729z, Sep 5, 0730z to Sep 5, 0800z; CW; Bands: 40, 20m; RST + Serial No. + suffix of previous QSO ("QRP" for 1st QSO); Logs due: September 12.
RSGB SSB Field Day, Sep 5, 1300z to Sep 6, 1300z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: September 22.
IARU Region 1 Field Day, SSB, Sep 5, 1300z to Sep 6, 1259z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: September 30.
Colorado QSO Party, Sep 5, 1300z to Sep 6, 0400z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, VHF/UHF; CO: Name + county, W/VE: Name + (state/province), DX: Name + DXCC prefix; Logs due: October 3.
AGCW Straight Key Party, Sep 5, 1600z to Sep 5, 1900z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; AGCW: RST + Serial No. + "/" + Class + "/" + Name + "/" + Age; Logs due: September 30.
PODXS 070 Club Jay Hudak Memorial 80m Sprint, Sep 5, 2000z to Sep 6, 2000z; PSK31; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 19.
WAB 144 MHz QRO Phone, Sep 6, 1000z to Sep 6, 1400z; SSB; Bands: 2m Only; British Isles: RS + serial no. + WAB square, Other: RS + serial no. + country; Logs due: September 27.
DARC 10-Meter Digital Contest, Sep 6, 1100z to Sep 6, 1700z; RTTY, Amtor, Clover, PSK31, Pactor; Bands: 10m Only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: September 21.
Tennessee QSO Party, Sep 6, 1800z to Sep 7, 0300z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, VHF/UHF; TN: RS(T) + county, non-TN: RS(T) + (state/province/country); Logs due: October 7.
MI QRP Labor Day CW Sprint, Sep 7, 2300z to Sep 8, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + (member no./power output); Logs due: September 21.
ARS Spartan Sprint, Sep 8, 0100z to Sep 8, 0300z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: September 10.
ARRL EME Contest, Sep 5, 0000z to Sep 6, 2359z; Analog (CW, Phone), Digital; Bands: 50-1296 MHz; Signal report; Logs due: January 1.
LOG DUE DATES
28 Aug through 8 Sep 2015
August 28, 2015
August 29, 2015
August 31, 2015
September 1, 2015
September 8, 2015
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