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The ARRL Contest Update
August 9, 2017
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
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IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

The Worked All Europe DX Contest is a good place to find needed countries for DXCC... as long as they are in Europe. If you call a non-EU DX station and they ignore you, it could be propagation, but it also may be because a contest QSO counts for points only when it's between an EU station and a non-EU station.

There's plenty of RTTY activity to be had the weekend of August 19th between the SARTG WW RTTY Contest and ARRL Rookie Roundup, RTTY events. August 21st is a Monday, but if you are not standing in awe while safely observing the solar eclipse, try the Solar Eclipse QSO Party.

BULLETINS

For the 2017-2018 Contest Season, ARRL has announced in the upcoming September QST (p91) a few changes to reflect current "best practices" in the contest community and help us improve the quality of the competition and reporting of results. Some of the subjects discussed in the announcement include:

  • Increased focus on online log submissions via web app as we phase out email Robots.
  • Shortening log submission deadlines to help get the log data into log checking more quickly.
  • Encouraging in HF competition that logs use 1 kHz accuracy for improved log checking.
  • Making all logs public, once the contest results are made public.
  • Club Competition (discussion of past seasons updates and improvements).
  • Remote-Controlled-Station contest entries.

The announcement can be viewed at http://www.arrl.org/arrl-contests-changes-for-2017-2018 - Bart, W9JJ, ARRL Contest Branch Manager

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

August 10

August 11

August 12

August 13

August 14

August 16

August 17

August 18

August 19

August 20

August 21

August 23

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NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

If you can't observe the upcoming solar eclipse, but have access to the Internet, there will be plenty of online video streaming of the event from many sources, including high-altitude balloons. Don't forget the Solar Eclipse QSO Party, where you can participate by making contacts. Recent versions (v1.0.6585 or later) of N1MM Logger+ support the event using the SEQP contest name. Other ways you can observe radio-related phenomena: Try operating with JT65, JT9, or FT8 digital modes on 'nighttime' bands like 160 and 80 meters during the event, and make sure you're automatically uploading reception information to the PSKreporter website, by turning on that feature in the WSJT-X Settings->Reporting tab.

Not operating? Watch the PSKreporter website for reports on these bands. You could also watch the spots on the Reverse Beacon Network. During the interval of 1400-2200z on August 21, the RBN will accept as many spots as frequently as possible from participating RBN reporting stations. Normally, when a station is spotted by the RBN, it is not spotted again for 10 minutes. That 'respot interval' will be reduced or eliminated by some RBN reporting nodes for the eclipse. RBN stations are also being encouraged to collect the local logs created by their RBN software, since the timestamps have to-the-second resolution. If you operate an RBN node, see this message from Pete, N4ZR as configuration is required ahead of time.

N1MM Logger+ has at least one major new feature that might deserve some of your summer attention. The Spectrum Display Feature works in conjunction with some recent radios to show signals currently occurring in the radio's passband and in a Waterfall Bandmap display format. Signals can be identified by call sign data gleaned from packet spots, or entered locally via the operator(s). It might be a helpful new way to increase your situational awareness. The Spectrum Display feature is still evolving, but it looks like another way to keep your eyes on the logging program and the rate up.

Scott, N3FJP, announces two new logging programs for the Hawaii QSO Party. Both are available on his website, one for in-state contesters and one for stations outside of Hawaii. He has also updated his Iowa QSO Party and VHF Contest Logging programs. Scott notes that his VHF Contest Logging program can be used for the upcoming Solar Eclipse QSO Party on August 21.

Dennis, N6KI, notes that there is potential for more VU contesters soon, as the Potti Sriramulu Chalavadi Mallikarjuna Rao College of Engineering and Technology is setting up a ham radio club. (Dennis, N6KI)

"DX Engineering now offers an easy way to precisely prepare coaxial cable ends for RF crimp connectors. Its Coaxial Cable Prep Tool Kit for Crimp Connectors (DXE-UT-KIT-CC1) contains everything Amateur Radio enthusiasts need for professional-quality cutting, stripping and trimming of cable ends. The kit includes 4 coaxial cable strippers, grippers for 8X and 213-size coaxial cables, 10 replacement blades, side cutter braid trimmers, CHANNELLOCK cable cutters and a custom carrying case. The hinged strippers allow users to insert a coax against an internal stop, close the tool, and rotate to cut the cable to the correct measurement using three internal blades. The cable is reinserted into the other end and then withdrawn for simple removal of the cut portion. The strippers will prepare 400MAX, 8U, 213U, LMR-400, 8X and LMR-240-size cables for installation of crimp-style PL-259, N Type and BNC connectors. These tools are designed to prepare cables only for DX Engineering and Amphenol® crimp connectors" (Tim, K3LR)

The United Kingdom will soon require drone registration, drone operator flyer safety awareness courses, and drone operator testing. Any craft weighing more than 250 grams will require registration. One reason cited for registration is potential reduction of the incidence of restricted airspace incursions.

The US Navy still uses signal lamps on occasion for communication between vessels during periods of radio silence, and Navy signalmen are employed to send and receive the messages. In an investigation of ways to modernize this process, a "Flashing Light to Text Converter" was developed that used text messaging software on tablet computers interfaced to a USB camera and signal lamp switch. To send, the tablet converts a text message to light flashes, to receive uses the USB camera to decode flashes and regenerate the text message. Initial tests were successful in sending and receiving messages encoded using Morse code at today's typical speeds. Follow-on research will use LED arrays able to signal at an underlying rate of 1000 Hz, and will also investigate different modulation or symbol encoding schemes. (Dennis, N6KI)

Yankee Clipper Contest Club member Marty, KC1CWF, is the 2017 Amateur Radio Newsline Young Ham of the Year. Just fifteen years old and a rising high school sophomore, he's already co-founded a contest club, helped to educate new radio contesters, collaborates on a podcast, hobnobs with other well-known contesters, and is a all-around busy guy. You can keep up with him via Twitter: @KC1CWF.

Oxidation never sleeps! This picture of a Rohn 45 tower leg at PJ2T was taken in December 2016. The rust happened because there was a tape wrap at this location that trapped salt water underneath. The rust has been removed with aggressive wire brushing, and is ready for the next steps of repair, to eventually be covered with mutiple coats of epoxy paint. [Photo courtesy of Geoff, W0CG]

Serious DXing, or maybe "Extreme Remote Operation": Steering NASA's Voyager Probe. (Ward, N0AX)

Microwave Update 2017 will be held on October 26 through 29, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. The event is an annual international conference dedicated to microwave equipment design, construction, and operation, "...focused on, but not limited to, amateur radio on the microwave bands." In addition to a two-day technical program, there will be a microwave test lab, vendor displays, swap meets, a banquet dinner with speaker, and door prizes. Papers and presentations on technical and operational aspects of microwave amateur communications are invited, with submissions due by early September.

WORD TO THE WISE

Fill An item of information necessary to complete a contact that is not pre-programmed into a logging program's standard macro messages, and consequently must be sent by paddle or keyboard-generated CW. Example: WX3XXX is calling CQ in the Maryland-DC QSO Party, on 20 meters CW. 20 meters opens suddenly, and DJ7ZZZ, who is in the WAE DX CW Contest hears and responds to the CQ. WX3XXX sends 'STD CEC' for his exchange, indicating a 'Standard' station in Cecil county per the MDC rules. DJ7ZZZ sends NR? so WX3XXX responds with '5NN 01' manually, using paddles to send CW. DJ7ZZZ's logging program sends '59 894' with a single keypress since this is his 894th contact, and then the operator sends 'STD' manually since she's aware that the MDC QSO party requires a station classification. WX3XXX logs Standard DL as the exchange. Both log a contact for their respective contests.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Have a new 4K TV? Try this 4K UHD video of year of the Sun, as seen from the Solar Dynamics Observatory. At just under 10 minutes of time-lapse you can see the Sun's activity at 171 Angstroms from January 2015 through January 2016, with narration by a solar scientist. (NW7US via Twitter)

Here's a project that can help organize your batteries. You'll be able to tell at a glance when you need to stock up, and could be a convenient place to consolidate your charging. (Ward, N0AX)

Stan, VE3TW, has been involving his two grandsons in ham radio contesting recently. In the recent Ontario QSO party, they were a high scorer. Stan reports lots of enthusiasm for a new activity, and hopes he has generated new potential contesters for the hobby. [Photo courtesy of Linda, XYL of VE3TW]

Marty, KC1CWF, Young Ham Of The Year, sat down with Tim, K3LR for an interview during the 2017 Contest University. Their discussion includes how Marty got interested in Amateur Radio, and what he was planning on working on over the Summer.

Jet lightning, a phenomenon involving discharge between a cloud and the upper atmosphere, was captured by cameras in Hawaii. Normally these rare events are seen by airline pilots, or personnel aboard the International Space Station.

Each attendee of the RSGB's YOTA Summer Camp starting on August 5 will be building a QRP CW rig and going home with it. Here's a short video about the radio, which is being supplied by QRP Labs. Follow the hashtag #YOTA2017 for up-to-the-minute event information.

June's IARU contest weekend was a working session for WRTC 2018 volunteers preparing for next year's event in Germany. Gear was assembled, stations were constructed, personnel were trained, videos were made.

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RESULTS AND RECORDS

"Preliminary results for the July North American QSO Party - RTTY are now available at the National Contest Journal web site. Congratulations to all participants! Please report any problems directly to me, K6UFO. Final results will be published in the National Contest Journal magazine." (Mark, K6UFO)

OPERATING TIP

Finding Domestic Multipliers Quickly

This one comes from a talk by Dan, K7MM, at the Pacific Northwest DX Convention: To find a needed multiplier from a particular state in a domestic contest, turn down the RF gain, and rotate your directional antenna to quickly identify loud stations from the needed direction. Check those stations for your mult first.

TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Many modern transceivers have a single USB port for interfacing to a computer. This USB port can simultaneously provide CAT rig control, audio in and out, and rig keying. While it's relatively easy to set up AFSK RTTY keying, setting up FSK keying can be tricky, since it depends on whether the rig supports FSK keying via the virtual serial interface's handshaking lines. RTTY-loving ICOM IC-7300 owners are in luck, and can use FSK keying of their rig by following the instructions that Fred, WT2P, has posted. (Ward, N0AX)

According to Brian, K1LI, "Analog Devices' EVAL-ADAU1452 comprises a DSP development platform that can be programmed via USB using their free SigmaStudio graphical user interface. You don't need to write a single line of code to implement interesting and useful DSP functionality. The board includes a high-performance CODEC and ancillary filters that allow direct connection to off-the-shelf SDR boards like those from SoftRock and QRP Labs. I was demodulating "single-signal" CW and SSB from my SoftRock Ensemble RXTX within 15 minutes of opening the box (I had already read the manual!). The beauty of this approach is that it virtually eliminates the latency inherent in the Windows sound system when using a PC's soundcard for demodulation. And, with a source of line-level audio and an appropriate SDR board, the EVAL-ADAU1452 produces baseband IQ for transmit, too."

This is such an other-world problem: Mars was cut off from Earth communication because the Sun was in the way. (Dennis, N6KI)

OpenEMS is a "free and open electromagnetic field solver" which uses the Finite Difference Time Domain (FDTD) method for its models. You might find it useful for stripline work, or modeling UHF and microwave antennas.

If you're sending information via a lossy channel, you might want to use some bits for error correction. Here's an introduction to one forward-error-correcting code, the Reed-Solomon. The theory is approachable, but if you're going to experiment, why not use some code from Phil Karn, KA9Q? Here is the code that has been converted to C++. Digital modes such as JT65, JT9, and FT8 use error correction - in the case of FT8, a low density parity checking (LDPC) code.

Since July 1, 2016, smoothed sunspot numbers are being calculated in a new way, something to be remembered when comparing numbers cited in literature before that date and after. 'Version 2.0' is the nomenclature for the way measurements are now performed. For the full details, see the article by Carl, K9LA, "The New Sunspot Numbers," QST, page 38. In short, sunspot numbers are subjective, and calculated from counting sunspots, groups of sunspots, and adjusting for the observation conditions such as the telescope and 'bias of the solar observers.' (Carl, K9LA)

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CONVERSATION

Making the Tent Bigger vs. Finding a New Tent

Nowadays when DXers or Contesters gather, there's always talk about how "we should find ways of getting younger people involved in DXing or Contesting" because looking around the room, there just aren't a lot of people that aren't eligible for AARP. But wait, there are over 743,000 total Amateur Licenses as of this writing, the largest number of US Amateurs, ever. If there were ever a time to be able to 'find younger amateurs' that were interested in contesting, that would be now.

It's easy to determine that newly licensed Amateurs are predominantly of the Technician class. Technicians comprise over half of the current licensees. We should be appealing to this influx. In polite company when I bring this up I sometimes hear that all of the newly licensed amateurs are "going to EMCOMM" or "going to ARES" or the dismissive "Oh, you mean the shack-on-the-belt crowd?" All of these new Technicians that are interested in "those things" take the same license examination as those that turn into contesters. Do non-contesting interests somehow disqualify them from contesting? They already have their license!

Many say "If they only knew about contesting, they'd surely want to do it!" It is difficult to capture the essence of why contesting is fun. It's hard to make a YouTube video of exciting contest action. There are no energy beverage companies sponsoring and publicizing our 48-hour single op "iron-butt" events.

This smacks of being a marketing problem. Thinking about it from that angle, we can easily figure out who is newly licensed (potential customers) from FCC public records, and it would be feasible for contest clubs to reach out to every newly licensed Amateur in their area, inviting them to an event tailored specifically to them. Clubs would be challenged to have their most enthusiastic members providing this specialized program. Yes, the attendees would have to be "sold" on contesting. Based on feedback from attendees that were and weren't interested in contesting, content would need to be refined. It would be a reproducible process, with measurable results. Marketing funnels could be constructed, conversion rates could be tracked, and changes tested. If we do treat this issue more seriously by developing a process using proven resources to "market" contesting to these younger "customers," we're going to have to be prepared for feedback on our "product" that is contesting, and be willing to try changes that don't fit with some of the customs, traditions, and barriers of what we today view as contesting. We'll need to find the equivalent of a 'contest on the belt' that will engage populations of Amateurs that don't look, think, or operate like current contesters. Are we as Amateur Radio Contesters 1.0 confident and flexible enough to accept and encourage Amateur Radio Contesting 2.0?

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

10 Aug - 24 Aug 2017

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

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Aug 9, 1300z to Aug 9, 1400z, Aug 9, 1900z to Aug 9, 2000z, Aug 10, 0300z to Aug 10, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 12.

QRP Fox Hunt, Aug 11, 0100z to Aug 11, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: August 12.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Aug 11, 0145z to Aug 11, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 13.

NCCC Sprint, Aug 11, 0230z to Aug 11, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 13.

WAE DX Contest, CW, Aug 12, 0000z to Aug 13, 2359z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: August 28.

SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, Aug 12, 1200z to Aug 14, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./"NONE"); Logs due: August 20.

Maryland-DC QSO Party, Aug 12, 1600z to Aug 13, 0400z, Aug 13, 1600z to Aug 14, 0000z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2, 432 MHz; MDC: entry class + county, non-MDC: entry class + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 12.

4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint, Aug 14, 0000z to Aug 14, 0200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: RS(T) + (State/Province/Country) + Member No., Non-member: RS(T) + (State/Province/Country) + Power; Logs due: August 31.

Phone Fray, Aug 16, 0230z to Aug 16, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: August 18.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Aug 16, 1300z to Aug 16, 1400z, Aug 16, 1900z to Aug 16, 2000z, Aug 17, 0300z to Aug 17, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 19.

QRP Fox Hunt, Aug 18, 0100z to Aug 18, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: August 19.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Aug 18, 0145z to Aug 18, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 20.

NCCC Sprint Ladder, Aug 18, 0230z to Aug 18, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 20.

SARTG WW RTTY Contest, Aug 19, 0000z to Aug 19, 0800z, Aug 19, 1600z to Aug 20, 0000z, Aug 20, 0800z to Aug 20, 1600z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: September 12.

Russian District Award Contest, Aug 19, 0800z to Aug 20, 0800z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RU: RS(T) + District code, non-RU: RS(T) + QSO No.; Logs due: August 31.

Keyman's Club of Japan Contest, Aug 19, 1200z to Aug 20, 1200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; JA: RST + prefecture/district code, non-JA: RST + continent code; Logs due: September 20.

Feld Hell Sprint, Aug 19, 1600z to Aug 19, 1759z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; (see rules); Logs due: August 23.

North American QSO Party, SSB, Aug 19, 1800z to Aug 20, 0559z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; NA: Name + (state/DC/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: August 25.

CVA DX Contest, CW, Aug 19, 2100z to Aug 20, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + type/UF(see rules); Logs due: September 15.

SARL HF Digital Contest, Aug 20, 1300z to Aug 20, 1630z; RTTY, PSK31; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: August 27.

ARRL Rookie Roundup, RTTY, Aug 20, 1800z to Aug 20, 2359z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; NA: Name + 2-digit year first licensed + (state/province/XE area/DX); Logs due: August 23.

Run for the Bacon QRP Contest, Aug 21, 0100z to Aug 21, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (Member No./power); Logs due: August 27.

Solar Eclipse QSO Party, Aug 21, 1400z to Aug 21, 2200z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; [other station's call] + [RS(T)] + [6-character grid square] + [your call]; Logs due: September 30.

SKCC Sprint, Aug 23, 0000z to Aug 23, 0200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: August 25.

Phone Fray, Aug 23, 0230z to Aug 23, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: August 25.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Aug 23, 1300z to Aug 23, 1400z, Aug 23, 1900z to Aug 23, 2000z, Aug 24, 0300z to Aug 24, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 26.

VHF+ CONTESTS

MMMonVHF/DUBUS 144 MHz Meteorscatter Sprint Contest, Aug 11, 2200z to Aug 13, 2200z; Any; Bands: 2m Only; Signal report; Logs due: September 15.

ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest, Aug 19, 0600 (local) to Aug 21, 0000 (local); Any; Bands: 10 GHz to light; 6-Character Maidenhead Locator; Logs due: October 17.

LOG DUE DATES

August 10, 2017

August 11, 2017

August 12, 2017

August 13, 2017

August 14, 2017

August 15, 2017

August 16, 2017

August 17, 2017

August 20, 2017

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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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