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The ARRL Contest Update
July 10, 2019
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
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IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO

Let's say for argument purposes that you're already set up for FT8, and you're sending and receiving just fine. You're just a software install away from also being able to use the same physical set up for RTTY! Some reasons to try RTTY for contests include:

  • There are a larger number of RTTY contests per year
  • Rates during a RTTY contest can be well over 100 per hour
  • RTTY contests typically 'spread out' over a larger portion of the band
  • It's fun, and can build new radio skills

Before setting up for RTTY, I suggest writing down all of the settings that you are already using with your FT8 software for radio control, including port names, speeds, and so on. Do the same for your audio devices. You'll need those values to set up the RTTY software.

Close your FT8 application and then install a RTTY program of your choice. There are a number of options for RTTY software, but one of the easiest to get going is MMTTY. You can use Don, AA5AU's "Getting Started on RTTY" to guide you through the dialogs to get the program configured for stand-alone mode, using AFSK. The trickiest part might be getting the PTT control going if you use a radio command in your FT8 program.

Once you've configured the software for stand-alone mode, you'll want to find some RTTY stations to work to verify everything is as it should be. Best bets for that are on Thursday evenings as part of the NCCC NS RTTY Sprint practice, or on weekends when there are RTTY contests.

Once your configuration has been tested, the next step is getting your contest logging program to work with your RTTY engine. For N1MM Logger+, you can use this guide as a starting point.

The NAQP RTTY Contest is coming up July 20 - a great opportunity to give RTTY a try.

BUSTED QSOS

In the last issue, I gave a rationale for the three contest sessions of the CWT. Alan, AD6E/KH6TU comments: "The reason for three sessions is to give similar conditions in each of the three IARU zones. Basically, one in the morning, one in evening, and one at night. At least that was the original reasoning. It's similar to how the CW Open is run."

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

11 Jul - 25 Jul 2019

July 11

July 12

July 13

July 14

July 15

July 17

July 18

July 19

July 20

July 21

July 22

July 24

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NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

Don't forget to submit your ARRL Field Day reports by July 23. It's easy to forget, but it's also easy to submit it via the web form.

There's a new exclusively-FT8/FT4 Contest, sponsored by the World Wide Radio Operators Foundation (WWROF), and the Slovenia Contest Club: The World Wide Digi DX Contest. The inaugural 24-hour event will occur August 31 starting at 1200 UTC, and features distance-based scoring based on the exchange of grids. Multipliers are grid fields (the letter part of a grid, for example "CN" of "CN87"), and are per band, so it will pay to get multipliers on multiple bands. There are entry categories for single operators of various power levels in addition to Multi-One, Multi-Two, and Multi-Unlimited categories. See the contest rules for more information. An N1MM Logger+ version to be released later this week will have support for this new contest, including a new Grid Field Map display to visually show the multipliers.

The organizers of the World Wide Digi DX Contest would like your help in testing their log submittal and log checking. Ed, W0YK, states: "At the end of May 2019, I worked over 600 QSOs on FT8 and FT4 as P49X. I would appreciate it if anyone who worked P49X on the FT modes would please send me their ADIF log file. It can be any date range as long as it includes the end of May QSOs with P49X. Our software can ignore QSOs outside that period. Just forward your ADIF log file to P49X Log Contacts to help us get ready for log processing." (W0YK)

Attention Midwest Contesters - The Society of Midwest Contesters' SMC Fest will be held August 24, 2019 in Normal, Illinois. The program includes practical information on station building, maximizing contest scores even with part-time effort, SO2R from small lots, mobile and rover operations, and more. See you there?

A Call History file with IARU Headquarter multiplier stations for the upcoming IARU contest is available for download. Updates go to Joe, OZ0J.

In a recent blog entry Bob, KB6NU, discusses three areas he'd like to improve on for his next ARRL Field Day: Schedule Operators, Train Operators, and Better Antennas.

Contesting has a big information management component. More computer screen real estate allows the display and management of more information, and it's typical to see multiple monitors attached to computers used for contesting. A startup is addressing the particular multi-screen needs of laptops with a product called the 'Trio' - it brings two additional HD-resolution screens that can be flexibly used in landscape or portrait mode. The extra two screens combined weigh less than 1.8 pounds, so they might be suitable for portable or travel operation. (Dennis, N6KI)

A typical pre-contest task is to load the new "country files" into our logging programs. This file helps logging programs keep track of what zones and countries have been worked for multiplier purposes based on the call sign. Jim, AD1C, compiles these files and periodically releases new versions for different logging programs and different contests. If you've never done so before, take a look at a typical change log to appreciate the detail of this information.

Well-known RTTY Contester Bill, W6WRT, has passed away.

WORD TO THE WISE

"Country File"

A file used by your logging program that maps call sign patterns and individual call signs as necessary to countries and zones so that you can have an accurate display of worked versus needed multipliers during a contest. See further information about country files, above.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Fifteen operators from the Skyview Amateur Radio Club in Pittsburgh went to K3LR for 10 hours of operating in the 13 colony event as K2M on July 6. They put 7 stations on the air on 80 meters through 6 meters SSB and 20 meter CW. Two thousand contacts were made! According to Tim, K3LR, one of the highlights: "Mike, W3MLJ (pictured above -- Ed.) - 14 years old rattling guys on 20 SSB almost the entire time. 745 QSOs on 20 SSB. He'll be in 9th grade this year." [Credit: K3LR, Photo]

Videos from Contest University 2019 have been posted on the YouTube, courtesy of Icom America, and of course Contest University. Nine videos, including the "eyeball sprint contest" are available this year!

Steve, VE6WZ, has been publishing videos on different aspects of station and antenna building on 160 meters. He's added more on the topic of receive antennas. Steve says it best: "A few weeks ago I uploaded a video on some design and construction ideas for Beverage matching and termination boxes. I show how to wind your own transformers, and present a few different enclosure methods. I show how I have designed and built some commercially made double sided boards for broadside phase boxes and 4 Beverage switch boxes using KiCad and OSH park. This video is part of my "RX antenna series" which includes various videos about low-band RX antennas. It is still a work in progress and in a week or so I will add another video about installing Beverage wires in the field, and a video about beverage maintenance." (via Topband reflector)

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RESULTS AND RECORDS

Results for the Ontario QSO Party have been posted. Over 170 logs were received for this contest. The highest-QSO-count station, VE3ODX in the SOHP mixed class made 832 contacts split roughly between CW and SSB. The highest-scoring station was VE3EJ in the SOHP class with 600 CW contacts.

OPERATING TIP

Rates are Relative

If you've been maintaining a high run rate for an extended period of time, any reduction is bound to feel like there's something wrong. A 75 QSOs-per-hour rate seems slow after you've been running at 120+ per hour, but it might be all that you can do on that particular band at this particular time. Modern logging programs can tell you what your rate is for the last 10 or 100 contacts. Use this information to help you make a decision based on data vs. your gut. Is another band better? Better check before committing to the change!

TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

NXP Semiconductors has released two new LDMOS transistors that will certainly be of interest to HF circuit designers - the MRF101AN and MRF300AN. Both are for 50 volt designs -- the MRF101AN is for 100 watt applications, while the MRF300AN is targeted for 300 watt applications. Both parts are available in complementary pinouts for push-pull designs. To get the designer juices flowing, NXP is also sponsoring a design contest for these parts, with a submission deadline in October. (PA1DSP via Twitter, K5EM via email)

Bob, 5B4AGN, is gauging demand for a group buy of components to assemble single-band bandpass filters. Bandpass filters are useful for SO2R station setups, or any time you have multiple transceivers on different bands in close proximity. Based on a W3NQN design, these filters are generally well regarded and can be a satisfying and useful project to undertake if you have all of the correct parts on hand. Please see Bob's email message in the Multi-band TX BPF Yahoo group (you will have to log in to Yahoo to view this message).

Amateurs looking to assemble a new computer for their station might want to look into new CPUs just released by AMD. The Ryzen 9 chips are getting great reviews for their combination of high computing capability, low power consumption, and very competitive pricing. Checking for them online, it's not that they're not available yet, it's that the first run of these high-end chips is mostly sold out.

According to researchers, telepathy is possible with the right gear. Immediately after the announcement, telepathy traditionalists stated that the use of technology isn't "real telepathy."

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CONVERSATION

"Perfect is the Enemy of Good"

That little gem of a phrase has been attributed to Voltaire, and it gets rediscovered and repackaged from time to time. I bet that most Amateurs would say "of course it is" if you mentioned this phrase to them. There's imperfection all the way down! The Ionosphere is an imperfect medium, subject to the capricious nature of the sun. Our operating location can suddenly be surrounded by plasma TVs and people arc welding on contest weekends. We don't have enough room for all of the antennas we want. We can't get our antennas high enough. The exact relay we wanted for our coax switch is no longer available. The zip ties we had to use most recently are the wrong color and don't match the others.

All of those things could keep us from the enjoyment of being on the air, if we demand perfection!

Instead, we muddle through, sometimes using compromise antennas, re-purpose equipment that we have, or surplus equipment.

But just having "good" leaves room for the possibility of always finding and using something better, which drives innovation.

I don't know if Robert Watson-Watt was an Amateur Radio Operator, but in my mind this Scotsman certainly had all of the qualities. In the 1920s he figured out how to use oscilloscopes with long-persistence phosphor and directional antennas to detect the direction of potentially damaging thunderstorms for pilots. He also was among the first to determine there was a layer of something in the sky that would reflect radio signals. It was called the Heaviside layer then, ionosphere now. He was able to use his oscilloscopes to observe the return echoes of signals to determine the height of the reflective layer. This was the precursor to RADAR. During WW2, he was instrumental in developing airborne RADAR to counter nighttime enemy bombers. But he faced challenges in the physical size of the equipment and power consumption. The gear he came up with weighed less than 200 lbs, and consumed less than 500 watts of power. He realized those constraints meant that he would have to use a frequency greater than 300 MHz to minimize antenna size, but those frequencies were a challenge in those days. It wasn't perfect, but worked well enough by 1940 to help end the Blitz.

His view on perfection? "Give them the third-best to go on with; the second-best comes too late, the best never comes."

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

11 Jul - 25 Jul 2019

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, Jul 10, 1300z to Jul 10, 1400z and, Jul 10, 1900z to Jul 10, 2000z and, Jul 11, 0300z to Jul 11, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: July 13.

QRP Fox Hunt, Jul 12, 0100z to Jul 12, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: July 13.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Jul 12, 0145z to Jul 12, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: July 14.

NCCC Sprint, Jul 12, 0230z to Jul 12, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: July 14.

FISTS Summer Unlimited Sprint, Jul 13, 0000z to Jul 13, 0400z; 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: August 12.

IARU HF World Championship, Jul 13, 1200z to Jul 14, 1200z; CW, Phone; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; IARU HQ: RS(T) + IARU Society, Non-HQ: RS(T) + ITU Zone No.; Logs due: July 21.

SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, Jul 13, 1200z to Jul 15, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./"NONE"); Logs due: July 21.

QRP ARCI Summer Homebrew Sprint, Jul 14, 2000z to Jul 14, 2300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (ARCI no./power); Logs due: July 28.

4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint, Jul 15, 0000z to Jul 15, 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: July 17.

Phone Fray, Jul 17, 0230z to Jul 17, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: July 19.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Jul 17, 1300z to Jul 17, 1400z and, Jul 17, 1900z to Jul 17, 2000z and, Jul 18, 0300z to Jul 18, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: July 20.

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

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Jul 19, 0145z to Jul 19, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: July 21.

NCCC Sprint, Jul 19, 0230z to Jul 19, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: July 21.

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

Russian Radio Team Championship, Jul 20, 0700z to Jul 20, 1459z; CW, SSB; Bands: 40, 20, 15, 10m; RRTC: RS(T) + 3-character code, Non-RRTC: RS(T) + ITU Zone No.; Logs due: July 20.

Trans-Tasman Low-Bands Challenge, Jul 20, 0800z to Jul 20, 1400z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40m; RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: July 27.

Feld Hell Sprint, Jul 20, 1200z to Jul 20, 1359z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; (see rules); Logs due: July 24.

North American QSO Party, RTTY, Jul 20, 1800z to Jul 21, 0559z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; NA: Name + (state/DC/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: July 26.

SA Sprint Contest, Jul 20, 2100z to Jul 20, 2259z; CW, SSB; Bands: 40, 20m; RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: July 27.

RSGB Low Power Contest, Jul 21, 0900z to Jul 21, 1200z, Jul 21, 1300z to Jul 21, 1600z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + Serial No. + Power; Logs due: July 22.

CQC Great Colorado Gold Rush, Jul 21, 2000z to Jul 21, 2159z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 20.

Run for the Bacon QRP Contest, Jul 22, 0100z to Jul 22, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (Member No./power); Logs due: July 28.

SKCC Sprint, Jul 24, 0000z to Jul 24, 0200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: July 26.

Phone Fray, Jul 24, 0230z to Jul 24, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: July 26.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Jul 24, 1300z to Jul 24, 1400z and, Jul 24, 1900z to Jul 24, 2000z and, Jul 25, 0300z to Jul 25, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: July 27.

VHF+ CONTESTS

CQ Worldwide VHF Contest, Jul 20, 1800z to Jul 21, 2100z; Any; Bands: 6, 2m; 4-character grid square; Logs due: July 26.

Also, see SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, above.

LOG DUE DATES

11 Jul - 25 Jul 2019

July 11, 2019

July 12, 2019

July 13, 2019

July 14, 2019

July 15, 2019

July 16, 2019

July 17, 2019

July 18, 2019

July 19, 2019

July 20, 2019

July 21, 2019

July 22, 2019

July 23, 2019

July 24, 2019

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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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