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The ARRL Contest Update
July 22, 2020
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
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IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS -- THINGS TO DO

The IARU HF World Championship contest is past us, which means the fall contest season is almost here! It's a good time to mark the calendar for the fall and winter events that are important to you.

On August 1, tune in for the North American QSO Party CW. With 12 hours, 100 watts maximum, lots of entry categories, and the ability to team up for a group score, it can be a hoot. If you are entering single-operator in this contest, you are NOT ALLOWED any type of spotting information. You can enter multi-2 if you'd like to use spots. If you've made any station improvements this summer, NAQP is a good chance to test them out.

CONTEST SUMMARY

Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

23 Jul - 5 Aug 2020

July 23

July 24

July 25

July 26

July 27

July 28

July 29

July 30

July 31

August 1

August 2

August 4

August 5

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NEWS, PRESS RELEASES, AND GENERAL INTEREST

Don't forget to submit your ARRL Field Day scores and supporting materials by Tuesday, July 28, 2020.

On Saturday, July 25, 2020, DX Engineering is sponsoring the DXE Virtual Hamfest and DX Academy. The day's festivities are "free and open to all" and can be viewed via Zoom video conference or the DX Engineering YouTube channel. There will be drawings for DX Engineering gift cards for those that are registered and present on Zoom during the prize drawings. See the DX Engineering website for more information, or visit their Facebook page.

One of the most recent forecasts for Solar Cycle 25 hints that we could be partying like it's 1959: "...we deduce that Sunspot Cycle 25 will have a magnitude that rivals the top few since records began. This outcome would be in stark contrast to the community consensus estimate of Sunspot Cycle 25 magnitude... We predict with 95% confidence that the Cycle 25 amplitude will fall between 153 and 305 spots." See the ARRL Letter article for more details.

The Mortty v4 CW and FSK RTTY Keyer, compared to a quarter.

Larry, K8UT, and Steve, N8AR, turned suggestions and improvements to the Mortty v3 CW and RTTY Keyer into ... Mortty v4! According to Larry, changes include:

  • CW speed control is standard
  • Four status LEDs are provided: power, PTT, Radio1 Tx, Radio2 Tx
  • AUX I/O feature for CW monitor tone or a push button or a DIY project
  • Improved sketch management -- no tools or disassembly required
  • Fully Assembled and Tested only (no longer a kit)

To fit the new features into a similar small form factor, v4 uses surface mount components, and each unit is lovingly assembled by robots. Introductory pricing is $30. First units have already been shipped! Learn more on Mortty's homepage or read Mortty v4's Installation and Operating instructions

Dan's, KB6NU, blog explains two ways to display contest contacts on an online map. LogView, by EI8IC, and Log2Map, by ON6ZQ, operate on Cabrillo and ADIF files, respectively. Using tools like these can point to areas where you might want to improve your signal.

Scott, N3FJP, has released a new 1.2 version of Club Score Processor. This application can be used to display a web-based leaderboard of scores for a group of amateurs that are competing in a particular contest. Enhancements in the new version include additional text and HTML placement on the leaderboard page, and the ability to accept scores from non-N3FJP logging programs.

Here's an odd phenomenon: When watching soundless video, many humans can "hear" sound that would be appropriate to be associated with it. During and even after some contests, it seems like there's also the reverse - sounds in the headphones induce visualizations of the audio.

Mike's, VE7KPM, adventure to activatve Walbran Mountain is described in the Pacific Northwest SOTA newsletter. It's one of those stories that would not be nearly so interesting if it had worked out just as planned.

A number of Pacific Northwest VHF Society members have been getting on 122 GHz recently by building up transverters based on commercial radar chips. Such a design was described in an article by VK3CV in the May/June 2020 issue of QEX, which all ARRL members have access to via ARRL.org. At 122 GHz, the current PNWVHFS member distance record is 50 feet. With the ARRL 222 MHz and Up Distance contest coming up soon, I'd expect this distance to increase.

Tom, K5RC, writes: "On July 14, 2020, contesting lost one of our most avid members to COVID-19. Grady Ferguson, W5FU (ex-NA5R), was best known for his activities with the Texas DX Society in the 1970s and '80s in their winning Field Day efforts, The Great Armadillo Runs, and contests from XE2FU. Together with K5RC, he built a multi-op contest station in Texas that had but a few brief outings before Hurricane Alicia destroyed it in 1983. They restarted their efforts to build a world-class contest station in 2007 in Virginia City, NV. Grady worked behind the scenes to build the Comstock Memorial Station, W7RN. We have started a tribute page for Grady at http://www.w7rn.com/grady-ferguson-w5fu."

WORD TO THE WISE

Serendipity

From lexico.com: "The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way." Could this also be a synonym for "good conditions"?

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

@EditorNCJ recommends the Icom IC-705 walkthrough video by Bob, G0FGX. Described as a "shack in a box," it covers HF through VHF/UHF including D-STAR. At only 17 minutes long, the video is worth watching. There are a lot of nice "convenience" features, such as automatically setting display brightness based on ambient light levels, inclusion of a GPS receiver, built-in Wi-Fi, and even a matching piece of luggage!

The Central Arizona DX Association continues to build its brand and reputation with another club meeting video uploaded to YouTube for every ham's enjoyment. July's meeting featured N4QS's "Remote Ham Radio from the Bluegrass State."

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RESULTS AND RECORDS

Goetz, DJ3IW, announces that the results of the 2020 DL-DX RTTY Contest are available. For those that participated in the contest, certificates for the "deserving" are also available.

OPERATING TIP

Know Your Grid Square and Subsquare

For many contests using grid squares as the exchange, the four-character version is required. For the upcoming ARRL 220 MHz and Up Distance Contest, six-character grid squares are the exchange. Using six characters, stations in the same subsquare are no farther apart than 6.5 miles.

TECHNICAL TOPICS AND INFORMATION

Have an open-source project that you'd like to reduce to silicon? This November, you might have the opportunity as Google and efabless provide opportunities for open-source projects to fab with a 130nm process, in conjunction with the FOSSI Foundation. There's a Process Design Kit available on GitHub. Right now, it appears this is more suitable for digital logic devices, but the process appears capable of analog as well.

The New England SDR Group recently announced that their NEWSDR 2020 conference will be online on August 12, 2020. This is the tenth annual workshop by this group, dedicated to "providing a forum that enables individuals working on SDR-related projects within the New England area to get together, collaborate, and introduce SDR concepts to those interested in furthering their knowledge of SDR capabilities and available resources. NEWSDR 2020 welcomes both experienced SDR enthusiasts as well as individuals who are interested in getting started with SDR." They've lined up some great sponsors, including Analog Devices, Mathworks, Ettus Research/National Instruments, MediaTek, Lynk, and Verizon. Though the conference is free, registration is required by August 9 to obtain login information for the virtual sessions.

Simple helical antennas on 2.4 GHz could provide some additional gain for those contemplating using that band in the upcoming 222 MHz and Up Contest. Here's one design by F5AD that utilizes simple materials like PVC pipe and wire.

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CONVERSATION

Propagation as a Matter of Life Or Death

On May 25, 1928, the airship Dirigible Italia crashed on pack ice northeast of the Svalbard Islands, on its way back from a survey of the North Pole with 16 passengers and crew on board. At impact, one person was killed, and the cabin carrying nine people was separated from the hydrogen-filled airframe. Six crewmembers on the dirigible structure were never seen again as the airship became airborne again. The survivors on the icepack turned to their 5 watt wireless set to attempt to tell civilization they needed rescue, but it was only after nine days of trying that they were able to get the attention of a radio amateur 1900 km away.

The recently published article "The Shipwreck of the Airship "Dirigibile Italia" in the 1928 Polar Venture: A Retrospective Analysis of the Ionospheric and Geomagnetic Conditions" provides the gripping historical context, and tries to answer the questions of why it was so difficult to establish communications for a rescue. Drawing from sources of geophysical data collected at the time, and using modern theories of propagation -- including some directly derived from amateur radio observations -- the authors present data including sunspot count, magnetic flux, and F2 layer height, and take the reader through an analysis of the skywave and groundwave paths.

Ultimately, the authors suggest that groundwave path losses likely exceeded 100dB, leaving only the skywave as a potential link. In the initial few days after the crash, the ionospheric path was impossible at the frequency being used, due to disturbed conditions. It was only after conditions had settled that communication became possible, and only became reliable when a lower frequency was chosen.

We may complain about poor propagation, but the stakes are nothing like what the Dirigible Italia faced.

Even after communications were established, 15 rescuers were lost in the search and recovery operations, including Roald Amundsen, Norway's famed polar explorer. Finally, on July 12, 1928, 48 days after the initial crash, a Russian icebreaker was able to reach and rescue the survivors.

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

22 Jul - 5 Aug 2020

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 23, 0300z to Jul 23, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: July 25.

RTTYOPS Weeksprint, Jul 23, 1700z to Jul 23, 1900z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: July 28.

RSGB 80m Club Championship, Data, Jul 23, 1900z to Jul 23, 2030z; RTTY, PSK; Bands: 80m Only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: July 24.

QRP Fox Hunt, Jul 24, 0100z to Jul 24, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: July 25.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Jul 24, 0145z to Jul 24, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: July 26.

NCCC Sprint, Jul 24, 0230z to Jul 24, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: July 26.

RSGB IOTA Contest, Jul 25, 1200z to Jul 26, 1200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS(T) + Serial No. + IOTA No.(if applicable); Logs due: July 31.

ARS Flight of the Bumblebees, Jul 26, 1700z to Jul 26, 2100z; CW; Bands: 40, 20, 15, 10m; Home: RST + (state/province/country) + Power, Bumblebee: RST + (state/province/country) + Bumblebee no.; Logs due: August 9.

QCX Challenge, Jul 27, 1300z to Jul 27, 1400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Name + (state/province/country) + Rig; Logs due: August 4.

RSGB FT4 Contest Series, Jul 27, 1900z to Jul 27, 2030z; FT4; Bands: 80m only; 4-character grid square; Logs due: July 28.

QCX Challenge, Jul 27, 1900z to Jul 27, 2000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Name + (state/province/country) + Rig; Logs due: August 4.

Worldwide Sideband Activity Contest, Jul 28, 0100z to Jul 28, 0159z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RS + age group (OM, YL, Youth YL or Youth); Logs due: July 29.

QCX Challenge, Jul 28, 0300z to Jul 28, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Name + (state/province/country) + Rig; Logs due: August 4.

RTTYOPS Weeksprint, Jul 28, 1700z to Jul 28, 1900z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: July 28.

Phone Fray, Jul 29, 0230z to Jul 29, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: July 31.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Jul 29, 1300z to Jul 29, 1400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 1.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Jul 29, 1900z to Jul 29, 2000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 1.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Jul 30, 0300z to Jul 30, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 1.

RTTYOPS Weeksprint, Jul 30, 1700z to Jul 30, 1900z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: August 4.

QRP Fox Hunt, Jul 31, 0100z to Jul 31, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: August 1.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, Jul 31, 0145z to Jul 31, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 2.

NCCC Sprint, Jul 31, 0230z to Jul 31, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 2.

Batavia FT8 Contest, Aug 1, 0000z to Aug 2, 2359z; FT8; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; 4-character grid square; Logs due: August 16.

10-10 Int. Summer Contest, SSB, Aug 1, 0001z to Aug 2, 2359z; SSB; Bands: 10m only; 10-10 Member: Name + 10-10 number + (state/province/country), Non-Member: Name + 0 + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 10.

European HF Championship, Aug 1, 1200z to Aug 1, 2359z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS(T) + 2-digit year first licensed; Logs due: August 3.

RTTYOPS Weekend Sprint, Aug 1, 1600z to Aug 1, 1959z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name] + [6-character grid locator]; Logs due: August 8.

North American QSO Party, CW, Aug 1, 1800z to Aug 2, 0559z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; NA: Name + (state/DC/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: August 7.

SARL HF Phone Contest, Aug 2, 1400z to Aug 2, 1700z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: August 9.

Worldwide Sideband Activity Contest, Aug 4, 0100z to Aug 4, 0159z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RS + age group (OM, YL, Youth YL or Youth); Logs due: July 22.

ARS Spartan Sprint, Aug 4, 0100z to Aug 4, 0300z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: August 6.

RTTYOPS Weeksprint, Aug 4, 1700z to Aug 4, 1900z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: July 28.

Phone Fray, Aug 5, 0230z to Aug 5, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: July 24.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Aug 5, 1300z to Aug 5, 1400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: July 25.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, Aug 5, 1900z to Aug 5, 2000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: July 25.

VHF+ CONTESTS

ARRL 222 MHz and Up Distance Contest, Aug 1, 1800z to Aug 2, 1800z; Any; Bands: 222 MHz and up; 6-character grid square; Logs due: August 16.

WAB 144 MHz Low Power Phone, Aug 1, 1400z to Aug 1, 1800z; Phone; Bands: 2m only; British Isles: RS + serial no. + WAB square, Other: RS + serial no. + country; Logs due: August 11.

VHF-UHF FT8 Activity Contest, Aug 5, 1700z to Aug 5, 2000z; FT8; Bands: 2m, 70cm; 4-character grid square; Logs due: August 10.

Also, see Worldwide Sideband Activity Contest, above.

LOG DUE DATES

23 Jul - 5 Aug 2020

July 23, 2020

July 24, 2020

July 25, 2020

July 26, 2020

July 27, 2020

July 28, 2020

July 29, 2020

July 30, 2020

July 31, 2020

August 1, 2020

August 2, 2020

August 3, 2020

August 4, 2020

August 4, 2020

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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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