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The ARRL Contest Update
May 16, 2018
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG

The Hamvention in Xenia, Ohio and contest activities centered around the Crowne Plaza hotel in Dayton, Ohio are the places to be this week. Tim, K3LR, talks about all of the activities available in a World Wide Radio Operator Foundation (WWROF) webinar. If you're not able to attend, but near a computer on Thursday, May 17, you can stream Contest University sessions, courtesy of Icom.

The big contest the weekend of May 26 is the CQ WW WPX Contest, CW. This contest traditionally sees plenty of activity. Don't forget to review the rules to find the best entry category that suits your station's capabilities and your personal goals.


Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section

17 May - 30 May 2018

May 17

May 18

May 19

May 20

May 21

May 23

May 24

May 25

May 26

May 28

May 30


All of the 2017 CQ WW DX CW Contest logs will be rescored after it was noted that the handling of duplicate contacts was different than in the CQ WW DX SSB contest. According to the article on the ARRL website, "After considerable discussion and debate among members of the CQ WW Contest Committee and consultation with CQ management, it was decided to restore the original scoring methodology and to rescore all CW logs for the 2017 CQ WW DX."

Norwegian Amateurs can now apply for 2x1 call signs to be used during contests. According to Frode, LA6VQ of the NRRL Contest Committee "Following a longtime request from the Norwegian contest community, the Norwegian Communication Authority (NCA) recently permitted the use of 2x1 contest call signs for individual radio amateurs. With few exceptions Norwegian 2x1 call signs have been reserved for club stations, which have also been permitted to use the LN prefix in contests. The new call signs will use the LC prefix and one letter suffixes. The 2x1 call signs are available for all radio amateurs with a Norwegian call sign. They are issued for contest use only and must be renewed every five years." (John, KE7B)

According to the Southgate ARC website, part of the drive for issuing the shorter call signs was to "... improve the QSO rates and the call sign readability and reduce the error rates for our contacts. With five and six characters call signs, Norwegian contesters may we have felt a little disadvantaged, but now we can be on equal terms with many contesters in other countries" according to Rag, LB3RE, leader of the NRRL Contest Committee.

Hamvention attendees can plan their vendor visits with the assistance of the Hamvention Vendor Tracker web page. Archives of vendor locations from past years are also provided. (Quicksilver Radio)

If you're not able to be in the Dayton area this week, you can still view some Contest University sessions by watching the live stream over the Internet, courtesy of Icom. As with past years' Contest University sessions, they are also promised to be added to the CTU website sometime over the next few months.

Tim, K3LR and the DX Engineering crew will be on site at the Hamvention and at Contest University showing the new Geochron Digital 4K UHD Computer. (Tim, K3LR, Photo)

DX Engineering is now selling the Geochron Digital 4K UHD computer. Just put a big 4K UHD display on your wall, attach the Geochron 4K UHD, and you'll have "every map set and lighting option available in (Geochron's) famous mechanical clock but at a fraction of the cost." It will be on display at the Hamvention and Contest University in Dayton. (K3LR, via Twitter)

More consumers seem to be putting televisions outside these days, so consequently an entire segment of outdoor and weather resistant TVs are now available. What better way to highlight your Field Day operation than to show current score, a map of stations worked, and so on, in large UHD format to Field Day visitors?

The Yasme Foundation is sponsoring a "Ham Radio 2.0: Innovation and Discovery" area at the Hamvention, to highlight projects "on the cutting edge of ham radio science and engineering research." HamSCI is part of this "2.0 Row" and the complete schedule of talks can be found at the HamSCI website. According to Ward, N0AX: "We have a list of interesting presentations, most with significant contesting interest, including propagation, real-time scoreboards, FT8 and WSJT modes, etc. They run all day on Friday and Saturday, 9:15 AM to 4 PM. The YOTA (Youngsters On The Air) group from Europe (Florian, OE3FTA) and Africa (Koos, ZR6KF) will be on hand with their own presentation to publicize YOTA and the upcoming YOTA 2018 conference in South Africa this August. Come meet the next generation of contesters!"

"The Maryland DC (MDC) QSO Party is being changed and will be a one day event now... this year it will be Saturday, August 11 from 1600z to August 12 0400z (Noon to Midnight EDT). The website will have the new rules posted soon." (Mike, K3MAW, MDC QSO Party Chairman)

From one Walmart parking lot to another Walmart parking lot, nothing but ... satellite. Walmart Parking Lots on the Air (WMPLOTA) is a thing. The first operating event happened the weekend of April 28-29, 2018 and was deemed a success, so now it's rinse and repeat! Grab your portable satellite gear and head to the nearest Walmart parking lot on July 2 starting at 0000z. Satellite smart... satellite Walmart.

Summits on the Air starts with a climb up a hill or a mountain. That's the summit part. Then you get to operate. Find out what the SOTA fans in the Pacific Northwest are up to on the Pacific Northwest Summits on the Air website, or mine the May-June 2018 newsletter for some good tips on how to be prepared to operate once you get to the top. The newsletter also contains some good tips for checking mountain conditions ahead of time for those planning for ARRL Field Day. (Etienne, K7ATN)

Someone may be using shortwave frequencies to better compete in financial markets by sending data with lower latency from Europe to the US midwest. KE9YQ noticed some antennas, found some boxes suggesting use of SDR radio gear, and inferred that market signals from Europe may be arriving via shortwave to provide a lower-latency link. Don't forget, FCC rules in the US prohibit commercial use of the Amateur bands.


Curie Temperature

The temperature at which magnetic materials such as powdered metal cores exhibit adverse changes in their inductive characteristics. It's important to select lower loss and higher Curie temperature materials for high power applications like baluns. Tom, W8JI, discusses core selection on his website.


ARRL Field Day, 1970s style. Verticals at or over saltwater in the direction of the continental US: "These operations are still wistfully remembered by local DXers - W7VPF is now K7JA and the young lady is Janet KL7MF, both of whom are now running a lot of HRO. The older fellow in the plaid shirt and cap is the irrepressible W7RM and the guy in the white tee shirt is W7PHO who ran an infamous DX net for many years. You can see the legendary 4-element 40 meter vertical beam and the 20 meter mono-bander that was mounted up on the gravel loading boom out over the salt water. It truly was record-setting at the time and would be hard to beat today." (Ward, N0AX, via W7VMI reflector)


The full results of the ARRL 10 Meter Contest are available on the ARRL Contest Results website. Scott, K7ZO, authored the results article. The one sentence describing 2017's contest was "That was painful." Despite poor conditions and reduced QSO counts, some Single Operator Unlimited section records were still broken. Scott performed a deep-dive analysis of Log Checking Reports to attempt to characterize types of errors that were made, which might suggest techniques to mitigate those errors. Scott even compared the types of errors made in 2017 to those made in a good year for propagation, 2014. The big takeaway is that the patterns of errors made were similar, but error rates were smaller in 2014 despite a larger number of contacts. He provides specific, data based, concrete suggestions for how to increase scores for both CW and SSB modes. Those suggestions are applicable to any contest.

The final results for the 2018 ARRL RTTY Roundup are now posted on the ARRL Contest Results website. According to the results article author Jeff, WK6I, ten meters was a stand out for a grand total of forty contacts made across all submitted logs. Despite poor conditions, new division records were set in some single operator categories, mostly in the Midwest. 4M1K achieved a new continental record for South America in the single operator unlimited high power category. Overall participation in the contest was on par with that of 2017. The 2018 contest was the first time for the "heavy metal" overlay, which encouraged the use of mechanical printers. Three brave (and mechanically inclined) souls entered this category in 2018. The results article includes a link to a video showing how gears are paper are used to make contacts. Additional nuggets of RTTY contesting information are provided by sections entitled "Heavy Metal" by Dale, W9DKB and "Single Op, Unlimited Low Power Report" by Wray, AB4SF.

The 2017 ARRL 160 Meter Contest results article has been posted to the ARRL Contest Results website. 2017's event received more logs than any other running of this contest over the past five years. Gary, K9AY's writeup includes comments by many of the competitors on what they did to prepare for and execute their plan during the contest. In general, the east coast of the United States was favored with a band that was open to Europe than to any other DX locale.

The SARTG HNY RTTY Contest results are available online. (Ewe, SM7BHM)


If you can't operate in the contest...

Invite someone else to operate your station, or allow a group of operators to do a multi-op. This will require preparation on your part to make sure other operators know how to operate your station safely and effectively. It can also point out areas of your station that you might need to improve, for example if you have to show the right technique to wiggle the antenna switch to get reliable contact, it may be time to replace that antenna switch.


Jim, K9YC, commenting on the remote outside placement of an antenna tuner for a 630 meter antenna: "Because coax loss is quite low at those frequencies, unless the coax is a significant fraction of a wavelength, a tuner in the shack should work equally well." By putting the tuner in the shack, concerns about remote control and weatherproofing can be minimized.

Bob, N6TV, recommends how to adjust Elecraft K3 AGC settings for best performance on CW, especially in situations were large pileups are encountered. The rationale for the setting is provided in addition to the setting itself. (Bob, N6TV, via Elecraft mailing list)

"Mult Chaser is a free add-on that displays contest multipliers on a map as they are worked." Mult Chaser was written by Patrick, NA0N. By setting up an "extra" networked computer running N1MM Logger+, you could display the multiplier map on a large screen TV on the shack wall to motivate and inform the operator(s).

Say you've got a vertical antenna on a beach in eastern Russia at 58.61667, 162.23333, and you'd like to take advantage of an all-saltwater path. What's the longest saltwater-only path, and what's at the end? According to some work recently done to find the Earth's longest all-saltwater path it will be 32,090 kilometers ending at the shore in Pakistan at 25.28333, 66.66667. (Ward, N0AX)


Good and Bad

Google showed off some impressive technology at its annual Google I/O Conference last week. One of the most impressive was Google Duplex, a feature that will be added to Google Assistant that can accomplish tasks on behalf of a human using telephone calls. The gist is that it will understand your desire to "Make a reservation at the Hometown Wings restaurant on Tuesday for six people" and just get it done for you. The challenge that Google faces in providing such a service today is that this type of task can't be consistently accomplished by an app or visiting a website. Many establishments do not yet provide web access to their services. An interaction with a human is required. So Google built a service that can place phone calls, communicate with a human that answers, and communicate back the results. As demonstrated (four minutes, worth watching), the service accomplished the tasks. On the face of it, this is exactly what the long promise of having computer assistance was supposed to be like. Immediate reaction included Wow! Amazing! And nearly just as swiftly, concern, fear, and perhaps condemnation. The biggest concerns seem to revolve around the idea that there is something wrong with a computer mimicking a human and doing such a good job of it, that the human couldn't tell it was talking to a computer. Back in the 1950s, at the beginning of the computer era, a goal was for computers to exhibit enough human behavior to not be discernable from computers. It was seen something to strive for, and given a name - the Turing test. Apparently, in the view of some, passing the Turing test conducted by telephone is actually a failure. Maybe Google did too good a job in their demonstration. The team working on this was likely very familiar with their technology, but didn't understand well enough that technology improvements take time to be conceptually absorbed by others.

When it's possible to hook up appropriate portions of this technology to a radio, it will be interesting to see if it could be 'adapted' to make contacts in a contest like Sweepstakes. All by itself but with a control operator in attendance, of course. While we contest-oriented humans are all trying to remove extra words and time from our exchanges to increase the rate, would we also have to add in contest foibles like "please copy" to make some operators more comfortable working it?

That's all for this time. Say hello if you're in Dayton / Xenia. Remember to send contesting related stories, book reviews, tips, techniques, press releases, errata, schematics, club information, pictures, stories, blog links, and predictions to

73, Brian N9ADG


17 May - 30 May 2018

An expanded, downloadable version of QST's Contest Corral is available as a PDF. Check the sponsor's Web site for information on operating time restrictions and other instructions.


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

NAQCC CW Sprint, May 17, 0030z to May 17, 0230z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: May 20.

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

NCCC Sprint, May 18, 0230z to May 18, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: May 20.

Portuguese Navy Day Contest, May 18, 0900z to May 20, 1700z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; NRA Club: RS(T) + Member No., non-member: RS(T) + QSO No.; Logs due: June 4.

Slobozhansky Sprint Contest, May 18, 1800z to May 18, 1959z (SSB), May 18, 2000z to May 18, 2159z (CW); CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80m; Serial No. + Administrative District (URDA,RDA,province,state); Logs due: June 8.

UN DX Contest, May 19, 0600z to May 19, 2100z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Kazakhstan: RS(T) + District Code, non-Kazakhstan: RS(T) + QSO No.; Logs due: June 3.

NZART Sangster Shield Contest, May 19, 0800z to May 19, 1100z, May 20, 0800z to May 20, 1100z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; ZL: RST + Serial No. + Branch No., non-ZL: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: June 16.

Aegean RTTY Contest, May 19, 1200z to May 20, 1200z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + QSO No.; Logs due: June 15.

EU PSK DX Contest, May 19, 1200z to May 20, 1200z; BPSK63; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; EU: RST + EU area code, non-EU: RST + QSO No.; Logs due: May 25.

His Maj. King of Spain Contest, CW, May 19, 1200z to May 20, 1200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; EA: RST + province, non-EA: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: June 4.

Feld Hell Sprint, May 19, 1600z to May 19, 1759z, May 19, 2000z to May 19, 2159z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; (see rules); Logs due: May 23.

Baltic Contest, May 19, 2100z to May 20, 0200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80m Only; RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: June 10.

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

SKCC Sprint, May 23, 0000z to May 23, 0200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: May 27.

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

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

RSGB 80m Club Championship, CW, May 24, 1900z to May 24, 2030z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: May 25.

NCCC RTTY Sprint, May 25, 0145z to May 25, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: May 27.

NCCC Sprint, May 25, 0230z to May 25, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: May 27.

CQ WW WPX Contest, CW, May 26, 0000z to May 27, 2359z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: June 1.

QRP ARCI Hootowl Sprint, May 28, 0000z to May 28, 0100z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (ARCI no./power); Logs due: June 11.

Phone Fray, May 30, 0230z to May 30, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: June 1.

CWops Mini-CWT Test, May 30, 1300z to May 30, 1400z, May 30, 1900z to May 30, 2000z, May 31, 0300z to May 31, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: June 2.


See Feld Hell Sprint, above.


May 17, 2018

May 18, 2018

May 19, 2018

May 20, 2018

May 21, 2018

May 22, 2018

May 23, 2018

May 25, 2018

May 26, 2018

May 27, 2018

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