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Explore the Upper Reaches of the Amateur Radio Spectrum in the ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest

08/08/2012

If you enjoy the technical side of Amateur Radio and being on the cutting edge, you might want to take a look at the microwave bands. The weekends of August 18-19 and September 15-16 give you a perfect chance to explore this portion of the radio spectrum with the 2012 ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest.

The contest period for both weekends starts at 6 AM local time on Saturday and runs until midnight local time on Sunday. Points are awarded based on the distance of each QSO, and operating from several locations during the contest period is not only allowed, it’s encouraged. According to ARRL Contest Branch Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X, most participants use SSB, although some choose to operate using CW. “Power levels are relatively low compared to HF,” he explained. “Most stations only run several hundred milliwatts, and a station running just a few watts is considered a ‘big gun.’ Antennas are usually dishes, such as those used for receiving satellite TV.”

Many QSOs on the microwave bands are completed by bouncing signals off of other objects, such as mountains, buildings and even raindrops. You can also get lucky and catch a good tropospheric opening. In the 2007 running of the contest, a ham in California made a 907.2 mile QSO on 10 GHz to Mexico.

“If someone in your area is active on the microwave bands, ask if you can tag along and observe,” Kutzko offered. “If you live in an area that has a microwave club, such as the North Texas Microwave Society, the North East Weak Signal Group, the Mt Airy VHF Club, the Northern LIghts Radio Society and several others, find out what their members are doing for the contest. Elmering is a big part of the microwave groups and they are only too happy to introduce their fun to you.”

The 2012 ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest takes place over two weekends: August 18-19, 2012 and September 15-16, 2012 and runs from 6 AM (local time) on Saturday through midnight (local time) on Sunday each weekend. Complete rules and entry forms may be found here. All logs must be e-mailed or postmarked no later than 2359 UTC Tuesday, October 16, 2012. Paper logs should be sent to ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111.



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