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 provided by HQ ARRL, 225 Main Street, Newington, CT, 06111.
Editor: Brian Moran (N9ADG).
Accessed on 07 August 2019, 1445 UTC, Post 1067.
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IN THIS ISSUE
If you’re new to Amateur Radio and HF Operating, you can get a crash course in a number of topic areas by attending the W4DXCC Ham Radio Bootcamp on September 20 in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Saturday, during the convention, there’s a session entitled “So you want to be a Contester…But do Not have a Beam?” by Bill, N4IQ, that you might also want to attend.
The quality of your experience in the upcoming Worked All Europe DX CW contest will depend on conditions. Only contacts with Europe count, so if the bands are open, it’s an opportunity to work a lot of DX stations. If the bands are not open… it could be a little slow. The SARTG RTTY and the ARRL Rookie Roundup, RTTY are both the weekend of August 17. If you’re set up for the FT modes, you’re equipped for RTTY, too. The North American QSO Party (Phone) is the same weekend. Like all NAQPs, all contestants are limited to 100 W, leveling the playing field somewhat.
In response to a link to IZ2UUF’s website in the last issue, Jim, K9YC, wanted to make ARRL Contest Update readers aware of some of the work he’s done to characterize the choking ability of certain magnetic materials. For choking purposes, “powdered iron cores are a poor choice…” Jim does not think that type #43 ferrite is useful, either: “Research I did last year and published around the first of the year has convinced me that Fair-Rite #31 is the only good material for chokes for HF + 160M. The shortcoming of #43 is its relatively high Q, which, combined with the fact that ferrites are wide tolerance parts, makes the cookbook design approach impossible. Type #31 works because it’s a much lower Q part…Fair-Rite #31 is a very special MnZn ferrite, which has both lower Q and a dimensional resonance that combines with its circuit resonance well at HF.”
8 Aug – 21 Aug 2019
Stop by the Pacific Northwest DX Convention in Everett, Washington August 9, 10, and 11 to see Ward, N0AX present, “DXing & Contesting 2.0”, and Dr. Tamitha Skov, WX6SWW’s, “Predicting a Solar Cycle,” or any of the other presentations. The complete program is here.
The World Wide Digi DX contest sponsors are suggesting some practice sessions to help those that are familiar with WSJT-X and its peers but not as familiar with contest operation. Realistically, FT modes for contesting are new to all of us. The 1-hour practice sessions will take place August 9, 16, 23, and 30 at 1900 UTC, and August 10, 17, 24, and 31 at 0100 UTC. According to Ed, W0YK, the session times are “…not ideal for some parts of the world beyond EU and NA, but scheduling gets complex and confusing otherwise.” Logs for the practice sessions will be collected and scored.
The RSGB announced a series of three FT4 contests suitable for those just starting with FT4. These are primarily UK-focused 80 meter events, as indicated by the rules and a 1900 UTC start time.
Where I’m located near Seattle, Washington, a couple of local amateurs are separated by a distance of about 3 miles. They both have impressive stations and directional antennas with oodles of gain. They have agreed on the convention of: when they’re both on the same band using FT modes, they both transmit on the same even or odd cycle to minimize receiver overload with one another. Rich, K1HTV, mentioned a similar convention in a recent post to the WSJT-X development mailing list regarding intercontinental contacts on 6 meters: “A TX sequencing convention for openings to Europe/Africa has been agreed upon by the majority of 6 meter DXers. NA stations call CQ only during the 2nd & 4th sequences (Tx even/1st check box UNCHECKED). Very strong out-of-sequence stations cause the receiver’s AGC to push very weak DX further into the noise. When all 6 meter DXers in the region are all using the same Tx sequence, we all have a better chance to decode weak DX signals. Later in the day, when it looks like we have possible propagation to Japan, the sequencing convention is reversed. North American stations call CQ during the 1st & 3rd (Even) sequence. JA DXers rigorously adhere to transmitting 2&4 to NA and 1&3 (Even) to Europe.”
Microsoft’s PowerPoint software is powerful, but with that power comes the responsibility to not let features or formatting outshine the content of your presentation to your radio club. Here’s a PowerPoint technique you can use to help orient your arriving audience: a looping introduction. It can be used as the “walk-in” to set expectations, provide context, or make announcements.
Ron, K2RP, sent me an email about the upcoming Classic Exchangeevent. It’s a hybrid of an event and contest. There’s scoring, but it’s a “no-pressure contest celebrating the older commercial and Homebrew equipment that was the pride and joy of ham shacks many decades ago. The object is to encourage restoration, operation and enjoyment of this older Classic equipment.” Phone in this case is both kinds, SSB and AM. The older the equipment used to make contacts, the higher the number of points that can be claimed. Ron also pointed out that the event has been running for more than 40 years! I asked Ron what “classic” meant 40 years ago, and what was used then: “The early records of this event are lost to history, I think. There were no internet or computers in those days to preserve this information. There are two old QST articles in the archives. The first is a report of the first “Nostalgia Exchange,” in the December 1976 issue (p. 48). It details the first event, what led up to it, and the results. There is an announcement of the second running, with the name changed to “Classic Exchange” in the same article. There is also a “Stray” in the September 1977 issue of QST (p. 57). The article refers to some early Heathkit and Harvey Wells gear, among others, reported active. There is no “official” designation now of any age requirements, but the multiplier for age gives the scoring advantage to older gear. It’s a fun time, with interesting rigs and people. Many contacts are made with non-participants, and it’s gratifying to hear comments from them, reminiscing about their early days in ham radio.” This year’s event starts September 15. Check the 2019 Announcement for the rules. In 1976, a classic old station would likely have been homebrew, or some components from a manufacturer such as National, Hammarlund, or Hallicrafters.
Eric, NC6K, encourages all DMR (Digital Mobile Radio) equipped amateurs interested in discussing contest related topics to join the new Contesting Talkgroup on Brandmeister 31021. According to Eric, it’s open 24/7/365 to anyone who would like to start a conversation about contesting: “We’re trying to set up a forum where experienced contesters can discuss all aspects of contesting, and also a place where aspiring or beginning contesters can connect with the leaders in radiosport. It’s very much akin to the many reflectors and discussion forums, but users can talk live and get more personalized and/or detailed advice, and so on. We already have some notable contesters involved, including KL0R and KL7SB from the North Pole Contest Group, and we’ve reached out to quite a few others.” He also encourages contesters who can to join the Weekly Contesting Discussion Net at 0000Z Thursdays (5 PM PDT/8 PM EDT Wednesday evenings) on Talkgroup 31021. Eric is willing to assist anyone needs help with setting up their DMR radios or hotspots to connect — contact him at NC6K@arrl.net.
What have you been up to on the bands? Plug your call into this website to find out: https://foc.dj1yfk.de/activity/. The tool uses the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) data to generate an activity report for any call. (Ward, N0AX)
Summer Solstice Short Path – From an article by Han, JE1BMJ: A type of 6-meter propagation that occurs roughly in June and July in the northern hemisphere, and around the December solstice in the southern hemisphere. The exact mechanism of this propagation path is still debated, but signals are characterized as “weak, but pure tone” with slow QSB and no flutter.
Steve, VE6WZ, has posted a new video on how he installs Beverage antennas. He covers it all: planning, clearing, mechanical issues, and electrical issues. He has a playlist going for the topic of RX Antennas.
Lee, WW2DX, made a short video of audibly copying RX1AS on 2 meter moonbounce.
You can add a panadapter to “virtually any transceiver” according to this video from QRZnow and Tech Minds. Using the MFJ-1708SDR TR switch, an outboard SDR can be connected in parallel with the transceiver. During receive intervals, the antenna is connected to the SDR and the transceiver. During transmit, the SDR’s input is switched away from the antenna and connected to ground, minimizing the signal to the SDR. The video highlights the use of SDRUno software with SDRPlay hardware to allow rig control.
Mark, K6UFO, notes that the preliminary results of the July North American QSO Party (NAQP) RTTY contest are available on the National Contest Journal (NCJ) website. “Please report any problems to me. Final results will be published in an upcoming issue of the National Contest Journal. Our next NAQP – RTTY will be Saturday February 29, 2020.”
Alternative Propagation Tools
Try alternative tools for signs of propagation where spotting networks don’t exist. For example, D4C uses the maritime VHF AIS system to look for openings to the EU on 144 MHz. Back in “the old days,” low-channel VHF television signals were used to monitor for 6-meter openings. Amateurs on the west coast listen for broadcast TV and radio stations in Hawaii to detect signal ducting.
The Morserino-32 is an open source/open hardware device for learning Morse code and a lot more. This is way beyond your grand-Elmer’s code practice oscillator, with hardware features including a 32-bit microcontroller with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and LoRa capability, a bitmapped OLED display, and USB interface for charging. The unit can act as a CW Keyer, CW decoder, a CW trainer, and even a CW transceiver in the 432 MHz ISM band! One club is using these for internet video-based CW training. You can see more on Twitter with the #morserino hashtag, or visit the morserino website. It might make a good giveaway at a club meeting or hamfest.
Jim, K9YC, has shared his 89-slide presentation from the Northern California Contest Club’s Contest Academy on inter-station interference: “It’s intended as an overview, attempting to itemize all the factors that contribute to the problem and all of the station-building measures that can minimize the problems. Read it at http://k9yc.com/Multi-Station.pdf”
It’s been a bad year for human activity in places usually protected by the sun’s magnetosphere. Declining sunspot activity and waning solar magnetic field strength means the moon and space in our solar system are more prone to the intrusion of cosmic rays. The Earth’s magnetosphere continues to provide terrestrial protection. Cosmic rays can have negative long-term biological effects on humans, including cancer and heart disease. Electronics, particularly memory devices, can also be affected.
Cable lacing is the technique of using cord to tie individual cables together to make a bundle. According to an article on thebroadcastbridge.com website, it’s a lost art! It’s not really been lost — there’s even a NASA standard for cable lacing. But its application has narrowed to uses where its unique characteristics offset the increased labor required to do it. Compared to other bundling techniques such as zip ties or wire looms, cable lacing adds little to no thickness and weight to the bundle, and doesn’t present additional “sharp edges” that can cut or be caught on conduit. Cord that is UV safe, fire resistant, more compatible with special insulation types, or has other characteristics particular to the application can be chosen. You’ll still find cable lacing in aircraft, spacecraft, machinery subject to heavy vibration, and applications involving repeated extreme temperature cycling.
It’s an odd word, but in automobile restoration circles, it means restoration and modification of a vehicle to meet the whims of the modder. Many times the modification part involves taking advantage of decades of improvements in automotive technology like disc brakes, fuel injection, more reliable electronics, and so on, while keeping the veneer of the vintage vehicle. An example: a friend of mine likes Ford Mustangs, and there are plenty of them. His 1966 convertible has had the motor rebuilt, and he “upgraded the front brakes to Wilwood power brakes, and changed the exhaust manifold to hi-po (performance) manifolds. The result is there no more smoke, no leaks, no clangs, no bangs. She is a smooth-running convertible that I would feel comfortable going long distances [in].” Some may remember the time when used cars were advertised as “good starters” and each vehicle required its own special ritual to get it moving. It’s nice to drive a vintage vehicle that also has modern convenience and safety features.
Upgrading critical components of our stations such as our logging computers often involves a “restomod” mindset. Computer technology moves faster than automotive technology. Advances and cost reduction in solid-state disk drives, processors, and memory have made very decent logging computers inexpensive. More resources means logging computers that won’t slow down while processing spots during a busy contest weekend, that won’t pause while the next contact is inserted in the log, that can decode more FT8 signals in each interval, and that support the latest hardware devices. Computers that are supported with the latest driver, software, and anti-virus updates.
The tendency is to want to stay with something that is comfortable and known to work with our sometimes specialized devices. MicrosoftWindows is by far the most popular operating system used for contest logging computers, and much of the reluctance to upgrade a stable yet slow and aging logging computer comes from Windows UI differences between versions. But what if you could make the current release of the Microsoft Windows operating system look much like Windows 7, or even Windows XP? It turns out that you can, with a utility program called Classic Shell. This utility has been available for at least a decade, and is open-source, with an enthusiastic user base. With Classic Shell, you can use the latest Windows 10 version and then pick and choose how you’d like your desktop to appear. You can also switch back to the “standard” current desktop with just a few clicks, easing into the modern experience at a rate that’s comfortable for you.
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
8 Aug – 21 Aug 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, Aug 7, 1300z to Aug 7, 1400z and, Aug 7, 1900z to Aug 7, 2000z and, Aug 8, 0300z to Aug 8, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 10.
QRP Fox Hunt, Aug 9, 0100z to Aug 9, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: August 10.
NCCC RTTY Sprint, Aug 9, 0145z to Aug 9, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 11.
NCCC Sprint, Aug 9, 0230z to Aug 9, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 11.
WAE DX Contest, CW, Aug 10, 0000z to Aug 11, 2359z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: August 18.
QRP ARCI European Sprint, Aug 10, 0800z to Aug 10, 1100z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (ARCI number/power); Logs due: August 24.
SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, Aug 10, 1200z to Aug 12, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./”NONE”); Logs due: August 18.
Maryland-DC QSO Party, Aug 10, 1400z to Aug 11, 0400z; 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 10.
4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint, Aug 12, 0000z to Aug 12, 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: August 14.
NAQCC CW Sprint, Aug 14, 0030z to Aug 14, 0230z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: August 17.
Phone Fray, Aug 14, 0230z to Aug 14, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: August 16.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, Aug 14, 1300z to Aug 14, 1400z and, Aug 14, 1900z to Aug 14, 2000z and, Aug 15, 0300z to Aug 15, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 17.
QRP Fox Hunt, Aug 16, 0100z to Aug 16, 0230z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: August 17.
NCCC RTTY Sprint, Aug 16, 0145z to Aug 16, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 18.
NCCC Sprint, Aug 16, 0230z to Aug 16, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: August 18.
SARTG WW RTTY Contest, Aug 17, 0000z to Aug 17, 0800z and, Aug 17, 1600z to Aug 18, 0000z and, Aug 18, 0800z to Aug 18, 1600z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: September 12.
Russian District Award Contest, Aug 17, 0800z to Aug 18, 0800z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RU: RS(T) + District code, non-RU: RS(T) + QSO No.; Logs due: August 31.
Keyman’s Club of Japan Contest, Aug 17, 1200z to Aug 18, 1200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; JA: RST + prefecture/district code, non-JA: RST + continent code; Logs due: September 5.
Feld Hell Sprint, Aug 17, 1600z to Aug 17, 1759z; Feld Hell; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 15, 10, 6m; (see rules); Logs due: August 21.
North American QSO Party, SSB, Aug 17, 1800z to Aug 18, 0559z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; NA: Name + (state/DC/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: August 23.
CVA DX Contest, CW, Aug 17, 2100z to Aug 18, 2100z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + type/UF(see rules); Logs due: September 15.
SARL HF Digital Contest, Aug 18, 1400z to Aug 18, 1700z; RTTY, PSK31; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: August 25.
NJQRP Skeeter Hunt, Aug 18, 1700z to Aug 18, 2100z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Skeeter: RS(T) + (state/province/country)+ Skeeter No., Non-Skeeter: RS(T) + (state/province/country)+ Power + “W”; Logs due: September 1.
ARRL Rookie Roundup, RTTY, Aug 18, 1800z to Aug 18, 2359z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; NA: Name + 2-digit year first licensed + (state/province/XE area/DX); Logs due: August 21.
Run for the Bacon QRP Contest, Aug 19, 0100z to Aug 19, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (Member No./power); Logs due: August 25.
Phone Fray, Aug 21, 0230z to Aug 21, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: August 23.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, Aug 21, 1300z to Aug 21, 1400z and, Aug 21, 1900z to Aug 21, 2000z and, Aug 22, 0300z to Aug 22, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: August 24.
MMMonVHF/DUBUS 144 MHz Meteorscatter Sprint Contest, Aug 12, 1200z to Aug 14, 1159z; Any; Bands: 2m Only; Signal report; Logs due: September 15.
ARRL 10 GHz and Up Contest, Aug 17, 0600 (local) to Aug 19, 0000 (local); Any; Bands: 10 GHz to light; 6-Character Maidenhead Locator; Logs due: October 22.
8 Aug – 21 Aug 2019
August 8, 2019
August 9, 2019
August 10, 2019
August 11, 2019
August 12, 2019
August 14, 2019
August 15, 2019
August 16, 2019
August 17, 2019
August 18, 2019
August 20, 2019
August 21, 2019
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Hawaii Island Amateur/Ham Radio News:
Doug Wilson (KH7DQ) is offering one more free Technician License Class this year. The class begins on Thursday, 17 October 2019, at the Keaau Community Center in Keaau, Hawaii Island. For details, contact Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hawaii QSO Party is set for 0400Z 24 August to 0359Z 26 August (6 pm HST Friday through 5:59 pm HST Sunday). You can find complete rules here: http://www.hawaiiqsoparty.org/Rules/HQP/HQPRules-2019-A.html
“Grid Madness 2019”, the Hawaii Island-based VHF/UHF Simplex Contest, is set for Sunday, 15 September 2019, from 1300 to 1700 HST. You can find the revised contest package here: https://gridmadness.blogspot.com
For the latest Amateur/Ham Radio news and information, please check the blog sidebars and links. These news feeds are updated daily and weekly. Thanks for joining us today.
Aloha es 73 de Russell Roberts (KH6JRM)
Public Information Coordinator
Hawaii County, ARRL Pacific Section