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The HF Bands Come Alive for the ARRL International DX SSB Contest

02/23/2011

With the CW running of the ARRL International DX Contest over, it’s time to get ready for the phone portion. With the solar flux peaking at 125 during the CW contest -- and 10 meters in unexpectedly good shape and open to Europe all through the event -- one wonders if the same kind of conditions will be present for the phone running, 0000 UTC Saturday, March 5-2359 UTC Sunday, March 6.

How will the bands be for the phone portion of the contest? According to ARRL Contest Branch Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X, conditions for the DX CW Contest were mixed: “Even with last week’s solar flare and coronal mass ejection impacting overall conditions, the low bands were in surprisingly good shape, while 15 meters showed signs of life all weekend. Activity on 10 meters was a welcome surprise, with South American and African stations working all regions of the US. We saw marginal openings between Europe and the US, primarily on a skewed path, not on a direct short path, like we usually see.”

Kutzko advised that there are some rule changes this year for the ARRL International DX Contest. “There are two new categories this year,” he explained. “The Single Operator Assisted and the Multioperator/Single Transmitter categories have been subdivided into High and Low Power. Those without amplifiers who want to use spotting assistance (information gathered from DX clusters, chat rooms or e-mail) can now do so in without having to compete with the high-power crowd. Those competing in the regular Single Operator categories -- High Power, Low Power and QRP -- as well as all Single-Band entrants may not use spotting assistance.”

In this contest, stations in the US and Canada work only DX stations -- Alaska and Hawaii are considered DX for this contest -- and DX stations only work the US and Canada. DX stations will be trying to make QSOs with all US states and Canadian provinces. The contest exchange is simple: US and Canadian stations send a signal report and their state or province, while DX stations send a signal report and the amount of power they are transmitting with.

With another region of the Sun coming around to face Earth for this contest, there could be more unstable conditions. But if the solar flux index stays high -- and there aren’t any more solar flares -- the ARRL DX SSB Contest could have some openings like there haven’t been in years. Are you ready?

The ARRL International DX SSB Contest runs from 0000 UTC Saturday, March 5-2359 UTC Sunday, March 6, 2011. Complete rules and forms can be found online. Electronic logs should be submitted via e-mail; paper logs can be sent to ARRL DX CW Contest, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. Paper logs must be postmarked no later than 0000 UTC Tuesday, April 5, 2011.



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