Welcome to the “ARRL Contest Update” from Big Island ARRL News. Views expressed in this Amateur/Ham Radio news summary are those of the reporters and correspondents. Content supplied by HQ ARRL, 225 Main Street, Newington, CT, 06111.
Accessed on 01 May 2019, 1545 UTC, Post 956.
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Editor: Brian Moran (N9ADG).
IN THIS ISSUE
The May 4 weekend has four QSO parties going simultaneously. How can you easily participate in all four? Dick’s, K4XU, recent post to the N1MM Logger+ group relates how to do with that particular logging software: “With N1MM Logger+ no matter where you are, you can run all four at the same time in the same log. Here’s how: If you are inside one of the four [Indiana, New England, 7QP, Delaware – Ed.], start a new log, pick “QSOParty” and then select your state from the drop-down list. If you are anywhere else, select “IN7QNE” as your “state”. These parties permit county line operation. During a contact, enter their whole exchange, e.g. IDWAS/ORMAL; N1MM Logger+ turns it into two log lines for proper scoring. Remember that each time a mobile enters a new county, he is considered a new station. This is another reason to copy their whole exchange. Each of these five “state” choices use the same multiplier list, so when you enter an exchange like WORMA from New England, ORDES from 7QP, INMAD from Indiana, or KDE from Delaware, N1MM Logger+ will give you the proper credit. That is, you’d get an MA credit as a 7QP participant and the guy in MA gets his Oregon credit. The beauty of all this comes at the end of the weekend. Simply send your Cabrillo file to all four of the sponsors. That’s it. They will score your log and disregard any non-counting contacts.”
For a DX contest during the May 4 weekend, try the ARI International DX Contest. Choose your mode(s) between CW, SSB, and RTTY. Everyone works anyone in a different country, but more points are given for inter-continent contacts. Contacts with any I/IS0/IT9 station are worth the most – see the rules. The May 11 weekend brings us the CQ-M Contest, and the VOLTA WW RTTY.
1 May – 15 May 2019
The Seventh Area QSO Party is coming up, and this year’s rules were changed a bit. According to the sponsor’s website: “digital QSOs are now worth 4 points instead of 3, and we’ve dropped the 6 and 2 meter bands.” According to Dick, K4XU, Oregon Captain, “Just to be clear, while the 7QP promotes the use of digital modes at 4 points per Q, FT8…cannot support the 5-letter exchange.”
Being spotted by CW skimmers is important if you’re running during a contest, so it pays to understand how Reverse Beacon Network (RBN)stations determine a station is soliciting contacts. According to Bob, N6TV: “The skimmer software looks for certain patterns of symbols representing a call sign. It also looks for CQ or TEST to distinguish “runners” from “callers.” Also according to Bob, the call sign patterns are determined by a fixed set of patterns representing call signs like N6@ N6@@… N6@@@@@@, where each @ “represents a number, letter, or slash.” Note that each @ matches ONE number, letter, or slash. Probably more than you wanted to know, but here’s the important part:
While operating mobile, roving, and other situations where you’re including more than your call sign in a CQ message, make sure you call “CQ <YOURCALL> <YOURCALL> <OTHER INFORMATION>” specifically with SPACES around your call sign. In the specific case of putting your county in your CQ message, DO NOT attach it to your call sign with a slash, since the skimmers will not match it. A further example: In the upcoming 7QP Contest, if you were stopped on the King (WAKNG) and Kittitas (WAKTT) county line, it would be good to use “CQ K7RU K7RU WAKNG/WAKTT” to get the attention of a skimmer.
Fall-arrest gear is meant to reduce the chances of death from falling from a tower. But dangling at the end of a rope in fall-arrest gear places you in grave peril from Suspension Trauma or “Harness Hang Syndrome (HHS).” According to the linked article, you have about 10 minutes before the effects of HHS start. You should always have a ground crew that can summon help and assist in your rescue, and the article provides some suggestions on what might be effective to delay HHS if you are in this position.
Surely you’ve heard of the newest WSJT-X protocol, FT4. FT4 was specifically designed to be better performing than other digital contest modes with faster speeds and better weak-signal performance. You should be able to download a “beta” version as WSJT-X 2.1.0-rc5 by the time you read this. After FT4 has stabilized and been proved, Joe, K1JT, has stated he would expect it to be able to be integrated with popular logging programs such as N1MM Logger+ much like RTTY has.
N1MM Logger+‘s Spectrum window display feature is being improved with a static reduction feature. According to Tom, N1MM, it’s not that the N1MM Logger+ is reducing or filtering static from the received signal, it’s just that the display will “omit displaying static crash data.”
A new “feature” in the RC5 release candidate of WSJT-X is moving “OK” and “Cancel” buttons as part of the QSO save process. The WSJT-X authors apparently felt compelled to do this because there are perceived to be operators that have automated the WSJT-X QSO process by using keyboard/mouse macro programs that can drive the UI. If you think you hit the wrong button to log a QSO, you can just press the “Log QSO” button again, and try again.
For electromagnetic radiation, signal degradation caused by variances in the velocity factor of the propagation medium between the frequencies composing the signal. In amateur applications, dispersion is usually only a factor for wideband signals at microwave frequencies or above.
Mark, K6UFO, recommends this YouTube video by Steve, VE6WZ, on how to shunt feed a tower, saying, “Even though I have fumbled through shunt feed a couple times, when I watched the video it finally made sense!”
Joe, K1JT, spoke at the Fair Lawn Amateur Radio Club recently, with the two-part video (Part 1, Part 2) captured and placed on YouTube. Part 2 of the discussion included details on the new FT4 mode, as well as mention of some of the WSJT-X derivative works such at MSHV, JS8Call, and JTDX. The FT4 discussion starts at about 15:00. (Jim, K7EG)
Train Your Weaknesses With the Contest Super Simulator
Steve, W1SRD, suggested at an IDXC talk that you should train to become better at the things that you know are a challenge, while choosing contest strategies that will capitalize on your skills and your station’s resources. We naturally gravitate towards doing things that we like to do…because that’s fun! But to get better at skills that we find difficult we have to get out of our comfort zone and practice them. Steve suggests using the free Contest Super Simulator by Wayne, W5XD, to increase operator skills regardless of mode. It can handle RTTY, CW, and SSB training scenarios, including SO2R. It faithfully recreates challenging situations such as bad operator behaviors, multiple callers, repeats, off-frequency calling and responds to operator radio skills such as tuning, bandwidth adjustments, and the like. Use it to present operating challenges that are uncomfortable, but that can be conquered over time.
Dan, AC6LC, writes: “In the April 3 issue, you mentioned that the VHF/UHF comparison tables by Lionel, VE7BQH, were recently updated. Along those same lines, your readers may be interested in a new tool to calculate the antenna Gain/Temperature ratio, the metric that is at the heart of the VE7BQH tables. XLGTa is an Excel workbook that can read 3D pattern data generated by EZNEC, AutoEZ, 4nec2, A.M. (Teri Software Antenna Model), or MMANA-GAL. In addition to G/Ta the app will calculate Average Gain, RDF (aka Directivity), and DMF (aka Rear Hemisphere Mean Sidelobe Level). The app can also automatically apply the “KF2YN correction” to the calculated G/Ta. Yet another feature is the ability to generate the 3D pattern data with one program, perhaps EZNEC, and then at a later time view the 3D pattern using a different program, perhaps 4nec2. For complete details and downloads see https://ac6la.com/xlgta.html. (Dan, AC6LA)
An effective VLF transmission with a 4-inch antenna? That’s what Stanford’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is touting on their website. Using a rod made out of lithium niobate, researchers are using the material’s piezoelectric properties to convert an imposed voltage to a mechanical effect, which in turn radiates an electromagnetic current. (via Elektor)
Some videogamers are seeking the next frontier in performance enhancement by trying to influence their own brain waves. There are some formal studies that show that transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) can help reinforce good neural activity in the quest of accomplishing certain tasks better. A small current on the order of a few milliamperes is used between electrodes placed at specific cranial locations.
Many know that rain or snow can create precipitation static noise in radio antennas. UCLA researchers have come up with a way to harvest the miniscule amounts of energy in charged snow particles to generate electricity. They call their device a “snow-based triboelectric nanogenerator” but a better marketing name for it might be brrr-lectric generator.
Internal SNR Improvement
I was having breakfast with a friend a few weeks ago, someone I’d really enjoyed working with a number of years ago, and whom I hadn’t really talked with in far too long. He’s involved in the game industry and virtual reality headset research, which doesn’t seem like it has much to directly relate to radio contesting… but stay with me. In their research, they looked into all aspects of the computer/human interface, which lead to survey of research into human/brain interfaces, and what people are doing with them.
A very active research area is how human learning can be enhanced without chemicals (drugs). It appears possible to train our brains to be “better” more quickly, or in ways we can’t do by ourselves by modifying our brain waves through various types of external stimulation, including audio or electrical. This ultimately results in detectable changes in brainwave patterns. The key is to find out how to do the appropriate stimulation in a safe, repeatable, and feasible manner.
Directly relevant to us: Brains getting “better” includes the stopping or reversing of certain brain aging effects by electrical stimulation of our cranium. Better cognitive performance and executive function may also be possible. Also directly relevant to those that have listened to radios for years: some types of tinnitus may also be treatable through these means by helping your brain ‘unlearn’ the internal responses that underlie the cause. Not all forms of tinnitus are the result of physical damage or change in the mechanics of hearing. The forms of tinnitus treatable through brain stimulation are thought not to come from physical causes, but from a brain’s uncoordinated electrical activity in the temporal or frontal lobes. Being able to increase your internal signal to noise ratio is directly related to potential contest score improvements.
That’s all for this time. Remember to send contesting related stories, book reviews, tips, techniques, press releases, errata, schematics, club information, pictures, stories, blog links, and predictions to firstname.lastname@example.org
73, Brian N9ADG
1 May to 15 May 2019
An expanded, downloadable version of QST’s Contest Corral is available as a PDF. Check the sponsors’ website for information on operating time restrictions and other instructions.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, May 1, 1300z to May 1, 1400z and, May 1, 1900z to May 1, 2000z and, May 2, 0300z to May 2, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: May 4.
NRAU 10m Activity Contest, May 2, 1700z to May 2, 1800z (CW) and, May 2, 1800z to May 2, 1900z (SSB) and, May 2, 1900z to May 2, 2000z (FM) and, May 2, 2000z to May 2, 2100z (Dig); CW, SSB, FM, Digital; Bands: 10m Only; RS(T) + 6-character grid square; Logs due: May 16.
SKCC Sprint Europe, May 2, 1900z to May 2, 2100z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: May 9.
NCCC RTTY Sprint, May 3, 0145z to May 3, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: May 5.
NCCC Sprint, May 3, 0230z to May 3, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: May 5.
10-10 Int. Spring Contest, CW, May 4, 0001z to May 5, 2359z; CW; Bands: 10m Only; 10-10 Member: Name + 10-10 number + (state/province/country), Non-Member: Name + 0 + (state/province/country); Logs due: May 13.
ARI International DX Contest, May 4, 1200z to May 5, 1159z; Phone, CW, RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; I: RS(T) + 2-letter province, non-I: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: May 10.
7th Call Area QSO Party, May 4, 1300z to May 5, 0700z; CW, Phone, Digital (no FT8); Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; 7th Area: RS(T) + 5-letter state/county code, non-7th Area: RS(T) + (state/province/DX); Logs due: May 15.
Indiana QSO Party, May 4, 1500z to May 5, 0300z; Phone, CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; IN: RS(T) + county, non-IN: W/VE: RS(T) + (state/province), DX: RS(T) + “DX”; Logs due: June 1.
FISTS Spring Slow Speed Sprint, May 4, 1700z to May 4, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + first name + FISTS No., non-FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + first name + power; Logs due: June 3.
Delaware QSO Party, May 4, 1700z to May 5, 2359z; CW, Phone, Digital/RTTY; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, VHF; DE: RS(T) + County, non-DE: RS(T) + (state/province/”DX”); Logs due: June 4.
New England QSO Party, May 4, 2000z to May 5, 0500z and, May 5, 1300z to May 6, 0000z; Phone, CW/Digital; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; CT,ME,MA,NH,RI,VT: RS(T) + county + state, non-NE: RS(T) + (state/province/”DX”); Logs due: June 4.
MIE 33 Contest, May 4, 2300z to May 5, 0300z; CW, Phone; Bands: All, except WARC; Mie: RS(T) + age + “ME”, non-Mie JA: RS(T) + age + “MEJ”, non-Mie non-JA: RS(T) + age; Logs due: May 31.
ARS Spartan Sprint, May 7, 0100z to May 7, 0300z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: May 9.
Phone Fray, May 8, 0230z to May 8, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: May 10.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, May 8, 1300z to May 8, 1400z and, May 8, 1900z to May 8, 2000z and, May 9, 0300z to May 9, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: May 11.
NCCC RTTY Sprint, May 10, 0145z to May 10, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: May 12.
NCCC Sprint, May 10, 0230z to May 10, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: May 12.
VOLTA WW RTTY Contest, May 11, 1200z to May 12, 1200z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + QSO No. + CQ Zone; Logs due: May 31.
SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, May 11, 1200z to May 13, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./”NONE”); Logs due: May 19.
CQ-M International DX Contest, May 11, 1200z to May 12, 1159z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: June 11.
Arkansas QSO Party, May 11, 1400z to May 12, 0200z; CW, Phone, Digital; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 2m; AR: RS(T) + County, non-AR: RS(T) + (state/province/”DX”); Logs due: May 25.
FISTS Spring Unlimited Sprint, May 11, 1700z to May 11, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + first name + FISTS No., non-FISTS: RST + (state/province/country) + first name + power; Logs due: June 10.
WAB 7 MHz Phone/CW, May 12, 1000z to May 12, 1400z; CW, SSB; Bands: 40m Only; British Isles: RS + serial no. + WAB square, Other: RS + serial no. + country; Logs due: June 2.
4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint, May 13, 0000z to May 13, 0200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: RS(T) + (State/Province/Country) + Member No., Non-member: RS(T) + (State/Province/Country) + Power; Logs due: May 15.
RSGB 80m Club Championship, SSB, May 13, 1900z to May 13, 2030z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: May 14.
Phone Fray, May 15, 0230z to May 15, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: May 17.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, May 15, 1300z to May 15, 1400z and, May 15, 1900z to May 15, 2000z and, May 16, 0300z to May 16, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: May 18.
Araucaria World Wide VHF Contest, May 4, 0000z to May 5, 1600z; CW, SSB, FM; Bands: 6, 2m; RS(T) + 6-character grid square; Logs due: May 10.
SBMS 2.3 GHz and Up Contest and Club Challenge, May 4, 0600 (local) to May 5, 2359 (local); Any; Bands: 2.3 GHz and up; 6-character Maidenhead locator; Logs due: June 4.
Microwave Spring Sprint, May 4, 0800 (local) to May 4, 1400 (local); not specified; Bands: All above 902 MHz; 6-character grid square; Logs due: May 18.
50 MHz Spring Sprint, May 11, 2300z to May 12, 0300z; not specified; Bands: 6m Only; 4-character grid square; Logs due: May 25.
1 May – 15 May 2019
May 3, 2019
May 4, 2019
May 5, 2019
May 6, 2019
May 7, 2019
May 8, 2019
May 9, 2019
May 10, 2019
May 11, 2019
May 12, 2019
May 13, 2019
May 14, 2019
May 15, 2019
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