One Mode Down, Two to Go!
With the advent of the ARRL's Triple Play Award, on-air participation has reached a level of excitement not seen in recent years. This new, exciting award is available to all amateurs who confirm contacts with each of the 50 states using three modes for each state: CW, phone and RTTY/digital. All 150 contacts must be made on or after the January 1, 2009 and must be confirmed via Logbook of The World (LoTW). All bands -- with the exception of 60 meters -- may be used in pursuit of the Triple Play Award.
The ARRL RTTY Round Up, held this past weekend, was one of the first organized events eligible for the award. "If the amount of activity in the 2009 ARRL RTTY Roundup is any indicator, the Triple Play is off to a fantastic start," said ARRL Contest Branch Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X. "The RTTY Roundup was the first contest to take place since the award's inception. It ended only a few days ago, and we already have received almost 1100 logs. There's been a lot of chatter on the RTTY e-mail reflectors about getting the Triple Play completed, and I personally have seen numerous stations calling 'CQ Triple Play' on PSK31 since the first of the year. People already have their 'needed list' programmed into their PSK31 macros. There is no question that the new Triple Play award is causing a lot of buzz in the digital community. I'm happy that we have been able to come up with a new award that so many people are interested in right off the bat."
According to Norm Fusaro, W3IZ, Assistant Manager for the Membership and Volunteer Programs Department, hundreds of new LoTW certificates have been processed each day since the first of the year. "We are excited to see such an upswing in LoTW participation," he said. "I know what a thrill it can be to upload my logs to LoTW right after a contest and see the QSOs appear almost instantaneously. That's the magic of Logbook of The World."
Those who participated in the RTTY Round Up were ecstatic over how easy it was to use LoTW. Jose Castillo, N1BAA, of Amherst, Massachusetts, said, "Just amazing! Just under 24 hours since I uploaded my ARRL RTTY Round Up log and now I have Worked All States confirmed via LoTW [from just the RTTY Round Up]. Gotta love LoTW!" Bob Garceau, W1EQ, of Putnam, Connecticut agreed: "I'm impressed with the response to my uploaded log to LoTW. I uploaded 728 QSOs and 50 hours after the contest closed, I have 336 QSLs. That's a 46 percent response. Impressive! I think that someone will get #1 Triple Play by the end of January."
Don't be too upset if you wanted to work one of the digital modes and didn't participate in the RTTY Round Up -- other digital modes, such as PSK31 and Hellschreiber are also eligible for the digital portion of the award. The first ever 24 hour Hellschreiber sprint takes place January 17. According to the Feld Hell Club's Web site, all modes of Hell on any band (with the exception of 17, 30 and 60 meters) are allowed in the sprint. If you like operating digital modes and you missed the RTTY Round Up, why not give the Feld Hell sprint a try? According to QST Editor and digital guru Steve Ford, WB8IMY, free sound card software for Hellschreiber, such as Fldigi, MultiPSK (for PCs) and cocoaModem (for Macintosh) can be found online.
For SSB and CW aficionados, the North American QSO Parties (NAQP) are later this month; the CW portion is 1800 UTC January 10-0600 UTC January 11, and the phone portion is 1800 UTC January 17-0600 UTC January 18 (the NAQP RTTY Contest is 1800 UTC February 28-0600 UTC March 1). Of course, you don't have to participate in a contest to chase the Triple Play Award. As long as you submit your logs to Logbook of The World, you're good! LoTW is set up to calculate your Triple Play QSOs separately from your other QSOs (see picture).
According to ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, the Triple Play Award is a one-time award -- once you have made the required 150 confirmed contacts via LoTW, you're done. The Triple Play Award is not a contest, but Sumner points out that with all the contests happening this time of year, it should be fairly easy to achieve this award. "Contesters are among the most loyal devotees of LoTW," Sumner said, "so participating in RTTY Round Up and the NAQP events should take care of all of the easy states, as well as some of the more difficult ones."
Sumner warned that it can be "addictive" once you begin making your contacts for the Triple Play Award, and that "there are many possible variations on the theme. You can try to be the first (or at least the first on your block) or you can set your own pace. Think it's too easy? Limit yourself to QRP while operating your favorite mode (or all three). Maybe you prefer to be the quarry; it will quickly emerge which states are the most difficult to find, offering opportunities to earn the gratitude of your mates by activating the ones you can get to with your portable or mobile rig."
So get on the air, make contacts and submit them via Logbook of The World. Before you know it, you'll have something new to hang up on your shack wall.