July 29, 2015Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
IN THIS ISSUE
NEW HF OPERATORS - THINGS TO DO
With everyone using low power, the North American QSO Party, CW on August 1 provides the opportunity to be as loud as your antennas permit with 100 watts. The contest period is only 12 hours long, and can be even more fun if you pair up with someone that has done it before in the Multi-two entry category. The next weekend, the Maryland-DC QSO party provides the opportunity to get familiar with some of the calls you'll need to work for the (sometimes elusive) DC multiplier in future contests.
Matt, W1MSW writes: "As many of you have probably noticed, the release of the full results for the ARRL International DX CW contest were delayed. Immediately after the August QST contest results article was sent out, errors were discovered in the multiplier list used to score the contest. Because of this error the initial scores reported for W/VE entries in the print and digital article were incorrect. The good news is that once the scores were recalculated using the correct multiplier list, there were no changes to the order of finish. More good news is that the problem was caught and corrected before the ARRL DX Phone article was released and all information in that article (soon to be available) is accurate. At this time I have made the updated ARRL DX CW results database, line scores, and log checking reports available. An updated version of the QST article and full results article will be available soon. We apologize for this error and appreciate your patience while we update the results. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org"
It seems like it's early to be thinking about a nice escape to a warmer clime, but Chris WF3C informs that 2016 Orlando Contest Dinner will be held on Friday, February 12, 2016 during the ARRL National Convention at the Orlando Hamcation (Orlando, Florida). "The attendees will enjoy a buffet-style dinner, free 807s, and the rhetorical stylings of H. Ward Silver N0AX, along with a formidable lineup of door prizes. Ticketing information will be available at a later date." Questions should go to Chris at email@example.com
The FCC is Closing Field Offices -- Though it was generally known that the FCC would be taking this action, on July 16, the FCC voted to close 11 field offices. Offices that will remain open include: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Columbia, MD, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, Portland, Oregon, New York, and San Francisco. Field offices that will be closed: Anchorage, Buffalo, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Norfolk, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Juan, Seattle, and Tampa. The FCC had originally proposed to close almost all of the field offices, but scaled back that plan after strong objections from Congress and broadcasters.
Tim, K3LR, reminds that "Registration opens at 9 AM EDT on August 3, 2015 for reservations at the Dayton Crowne Plaza hotel, site of the 2016 Contest University"
W9RE noted the contest update came out on Thursday last time, not Wednesday, as the Contest Update template states. The new editor (that's me) had a production issue, and unfortunately it delayed the issue by one day.
Complete information for all contests follows the Conversation section
The DOD has just selected Rochester, NY as a site of a manufacturing center for Photonics technology. Time will tell, but when a concentration of talent and technology occurs in an area, it can feed a "virtuous cycle" where additional companies and talent in adjacent technology areas are also attracted.
The 3rd annual Flagpole Contest, organized by the Manly-Warringah Radio Society in Sydney, Australia takes place on 19 September, from 0000 to 2359 UTC. Go portable with a flagpole as part of your antenna system (optional)! How does a contest like this get started? Richard, VK2SKY, writes: "Two years ago, one of our club members identified a source of modestly priced collapsible eight metre flagpoles. We figured that these would be ideal for portable radio operations, so the club organised a bulk purchase. Our next bright idea was that, seeing how many of us now had an excuse for operating portable, we should make an event out of it. And so, in the blink of an eye, the Manly-Warringah Radio Society Flagpole Contest was born. As it happened, the date we chose for the contest coincided with International Talk Like a Pirate Day, so a new contest rule was added: bonus points for talking like a pirate during the QSO. Now, let me make it clear that the Manly-Warringah Radio Society does not approve of piracy, be it on the air, at sea, or on the internet. But we reckon that talking like pirate is fine, at least for this special occasion. You can also earn bonus points for dressing up like a pirate, or hoisting the Skull and Crossbones (or any humorous flag) on your flagpole. Photographic proof to be submitted either via email or to the club station VK2MB on 20 metre SSTV, on 14 decimal 31415 Megahertz (the unofficial 'pi rat' frequency.) Details of the upcoming and previous Flagpole Contests can be found at http://www.mwrs.org.au/flagpole-contest/ "
A map of the telegraph routes of yesteryear closely resembles the major routes of the internet today. Which makes sense, as the population centers are about the same, and the telegraph cable rights-of-way evolved into fiber optic rights-of-way over time...
Escape Dynamics is considering using RF energy to propel payloads into Earth orbit. RF Energy would be beamed to the launch vehicle, where a microwave-absorbing heat exchanger superheats hydrogen to 2000 degrees C before ejecting it through an aerospike nozzle. The overview (PDF) explains that 300-400 Megawatts of RF at 92 GHz feeding a steerable phased array would be needed. QRP is not going to get things into orbit.
If you thought surface mount was bad... imagine trying to wire to a transistor made of one molecule and a few atoms. Researchers from a number of countries collaborated to make such a small transistor recently, using a scanning tunneling microscope to help place the molecule in relation to the atoms. This effort differs from other efforts which model very small transistors using 'quantum dots', in that the orientation of the molecule changes depending on its charge state. A theoretical model of the transistor matched the observation using a scanning tunneling microscope. (thanks N6KI)
LightYear.FM is a fun way to explore the reach of Earth's radio waves in the universe. Just by scrolling, you move away from Earth, hearing the music and broadcasts that are just now getting "there". Gene Pitney's fan club could be growing. Remember that the inverse square law applies.
WORD TO THE WISE
TL;DR - "Too Long, Didn't Read." Often given as the reason that those with an 'internet attention span' may tune out or otherwise lose focus when faced with a comprehensive or detailed discussion or explanation, in email form, or even in interpersonal communication.
Each August members of Contest Club Ontario meet at the QTH of John, VE3EJ for a barbecue. This popular event has grown to over 100 hams attending. Last year Mike, VA3MW put together this video showing the antenna farm. Neat! (thanks VE3TW)
Beyond the Visible: The Story of the Very Large Array is narrated by actor Jodie Foster, and describes the technology and the science being done with it. At about 9:25, there's a discussion of RFI, and comparative signal levels of the desired signals and cell phone interference. There's even some telescope climbing! (thanks N6KI)
Results of the Radio Amateurs of Canada - 2014 Canada Winter Contest are now available, including the full write-up. You will find that some very familiar calls from both Canada and the U.S. were top scorers.
The Oceania DX (OCDX) contest committee is pleased to announce that the results of the 2014 OCDX contest are now available. The contest committee congratulates all of the winners and thanks everyone who made it a success by participating, even if only to make one or two contacts. "The excellent band conditions over the Phone weekend resulted in a record number of Phone logs along with the highest level of activity ever recorded in the contest on the 10M band. New records were set for the numbers of Phone logs from Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines. There was also a heightened level of activity in both the Phone and CW sections from rarer Oceania entities including V84, 9M6, T32, KH2, KH7, V63, DU, 5W, A35 and YJ. This increased activity from Oceania stations is encouraging, as growing Oceania participation is critical for attracting more participation from stations outside Oceania. We especially appreciate the efforts of the operators who activate the rarer entities -- both resident operators and others who spend considerable time, energy and money to travel to these entities to put them on the air in the contest." Forty nine new continent records and 213 new country records were set in the 2014 contest. The 2015 OCDX contest will be held on the first two full weekends (October 8, October 15) of October. The rules are available on the contest web site.
Avoid using Non Standard Contest Exchanges - In any given contest, it's not helpful to have an exchange differing from that required by the contest sponsor. For example, if the exchange is RST and zone, send 599 05. Sending anything more or less than that will likely confuse others or cause them not to work you. In practice, this does not seem to apply if you are a valuable multiplier. If you're a valuable multiplier, other stations will work you no matter how 'unique' you make your exchange, but you will not engender good will. If your exchange contains different information than everyone else you are working, it's a hint that you may have an opportunity to improve it.
Researchers found a Weyl of a signal! Weyl points, a concept involving topological monopoles, were until recently only theoretical. MIT researchers detected their existence in the physical world . They were able to demonstrate their existence from microwaves to visible wavelengths. Their physical manifestation could lead to more interesting ways to manipulate microwave energy.
Here's another array of antennas for observing the universe, this time down-under, forming the "most powerful telescope in history."
Power measurement can be difficult, especially at higher frequencies, or when the waveform is complex. "Pondering Power Measurements," by Joseph Carnak and published in May 2015's High Frequency Electronics, provides a survey of the types of power measurements and where they apply.
If you're an IEEE member, you may enjoy a recent article by Robert Caverly, WB4PWZ: "MRI Fundamentals" in IEEE Microwave Magazine, July 2015. This article provides a very detailed description, and is written for technical readers.
Using an inexpensive USB DVB-T dongle combined with a quadrifilar helix antenna, you can receive weather pictures from NOAA satellites on your computer. The USB DVB dongles can also used in a number of other projects, as was mentioned in the last Contest Update.
Need a PVC enclosure for your project? You can use PVC post covers available from your hardware or home improvement store to build them.
Max Maxfield, an Electronic Engineering Times editor, poses the question "What's the best way to store Morse Code dashes and dots in C." Some of the answers are really two-bit.
Some software details about the $9 small-form-factor Linux computer, called the CHIP, were recently released. There's been a great uptake of Arduino and Beagleboard/Beaglebone computers for ham-related projects in the last few years, perhaps this one will get folks building as well!
One of the Voice of America's enduring legacies is the propagation analysis software VOACAP - Voice of America Coverage Analysis Program. This software takes into account transmitter location, receiver location, antennas, sunspot information, and a number of other variables to predict the probability of reception of a transmitter by a receiver at various frequencies and times. It is useful when you're planning contest activities, especially if your contest has per-band multipliers, so that you maximize the probability of being able to work your multipliers on the bands you need. The engine that drives VOACAP has been available in different forms over the years. It has evolved from one that could be a challenge to use to today's inclusion in stand-alone programs, and availability as a web page. VOACAP.com, brought to you by Jari Perkiömäki (OH6BG), James Watson (HZ1JW) and Juho Juopperi (OH8GLV), provides an immersive VOACAP experience. You can learn about the history of VOACAP, how to use it, predict paths between points on the planet, and use website-enhanced features, like predictions for upcoming DXpeditions and a propagation planner for contesters that can factor in different antennas for different bands, providing CQ or ITU specific zone maps by band and time. Some functions have been added in the last month.
How do we get more people involved in contesting? Being welcoming on the air during a contest, talking non-contest folks through an exchange, and encouraging them to work additional stations is one way. Field day, the not-a-contest contest, is a good way to see who is pre-disposed to the "contesting disease."
How about also making an investment in contesting's future by running your own 'Contest College' over a weekend or two. The goal for a Contest College weekend is to win - by elmering those who haven't seriously contested before. Invite a soon-to-be contester over, and tutor them in all aspect of contest operation from your QTH. One event that could be ideal for this treatment is the August RTTY Rookie Roundup, coming up on August 16. Don't go it alone - get some other ham friends involved, and form a team. Compete with them, or against them! As an aside -- perhaps in the future there should be the 'elmer' entry category, scoring for which is heavily based on the number of past rookies you elmered entering on their own, this year.
October brings the School Club Roundup, a multi-day contest spanning elementary schools through colleges and universities, clubs and multi-operator groups. While there is an "individual" category, the emphasis is on groups. Some have used this event to set up a station at their elementary or high school to spark interest in ham radio. There's even a support group to help. It's always nice to see your alma mater's radio club beat their rivals in the results.
The 'work' you do to encourage others to get into contesting can pay off in a number of ways - more contesters to work in future contests, keeping newly licensed operators engaged in the hobby, and encouraging students to develop new talents and achieve goals. But you may also find that the 'work' is more akin to fun, and your satisfaction deep in sharing your radio interest with others.
30 July through 12 August 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.
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 Ladder, Jul 31, 0230z to Jul 31, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 2.
TARA Grid Dip Shindig, Aug 1, 0000z to Aug 2, 0000z; PSK, RTTY; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Name + 4-character grid square; Logs due: August 29.
International Lighthouse-Lightship Weekend Contest, Aug 1, 0001z to Aug 2, 2359z; All; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ARLHS Member: Member No. + (state/province/country), Non-Member: Contact No. + (state/province/country), Lighthouse/Lightship: ARLHS Name + ARLHS No. + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 31.
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 17.
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 10.
North American QSO Party, CW, Aug 1, 1800z to Aug 2, 0559z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: August 9.
RSGB RoPoCo CW, Aug 2, 0700z to Aug 2, 0830z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + previous postcode received; Logs due: August 18.
SARL HF Phone Contest, Aug 2, 1300z to Aug 2, 1630z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: August 9.
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.
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 31.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, Aug 5, 1300z to Aug 5, 1400z, Aug 5, 1900z to Aug 5, 2000z, Aug 6, 0300z to Aug 6, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 1.
NRAU 10m Activity Contest, Aug 6, 1700z to Aug 6, 1800z (CW), Aug 6, 1800z to Aug 6, 1900z (SSB), Aug 6, 1900z to Aug 6, 2000z (FM), Aug 6, 2000z to Aug 6, 2100z (Dig); CW, SSB, FM, Digital; Bands: 10m Only; RS(T) + 6-character grid square; Logs due: August 20.
QRP Fox Hunt, Aug 7, 0100z to Aug 7, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: August 1.
NCCC RTTY Sprint, Aug 7, 0145z to Aug 7, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 2.
NCCC Sprint Ladder, Aug 7, 0230z to Aug 7, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 2.
WAE DX Contest, CW, Aug 8, 0000z to Aug 9, 2359z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: August 24.
SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, Aug 8, 1200z to Aug 10, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./"NONE"); Logs due: August 15.
Maryland-DC QSO Party, Aug 8, 1600z to Aug 9, 0400z, Aug 9, 1600z to Aug 10, 0000z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2, 432; MDC: entry class + county, non-MDC: entry class + (state/province/country); Logs due: September 8.
NAQCC CW Sprint, Aug 12, 0030z to Aug 12, 0230z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: August 16.
Phone Fray, Aug 12, 0230z to Aug 12, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: July 31.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, Aug 12, 1300z to Aug 12, 1400z, Aug 12, 1900z to Aug 12, 2000z, Aug 13, 0300z to Aug 13, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 1.
RSGB 80m Club Sprint, CW, Aug 12, 1900z to Aug 12, 2000z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; [other station's call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: August 19.
ARRL August UHF Contest, Aug 1, 1800z to Aug 2, 1800z; All; Bands: 222 MHz and up; 4-character grid square; Logs due: September 1.
50 MHz Fall Sprint, Aug 8, 2300z to Aug 9, 0300z; not specified; Bands: 6m Only; 4-character grid square; Logs due: August 22.
MMMonVHF/DUBUS 144 MHz Meteorscatter Sprint Contest, Aug 12, 0400z to Aug 14, 0359z; Any mode; Bands: 2m Only; Signal report; Logs due: September 15.
LOG DUE DATES
July 30, 2015
July 31, 2015
August 1, 2015
August 2, 2015
August 3, 2015
August 9, 2015
August 10, 2015
August 11, 2015
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