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.
Editor: Brian Moran (N9ADG).
Accessed on 28 November 2019, 0315 UTC, Post 1217.
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November 27, 2019
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
IN THIS ISSUE
Some “Dickensian” choices in the next 3 weeks: The ARRL 160 Meter contest, starting December 6, could be the “best of times” due to the sunspot cycle, while the week after’s ARRL 10 Meter contest is happening at the “worst of times.” Except, you just never know when you’ll get some propagation, as many in the southern parts of the US found out during last weekend’s CQ WW CW Contest, when 10 meters was hot to South America and the Caribbean (hint: about 1900z). You have to be on and ready when the band is open! If you’re willing to enter the contest in an assisted category, you can CQ on a supposedly dead band and watch reversebeacon.net to see for sure. A way to stay unassisted would be to look at the band using an SDR (but NOT a multi-channel decoder, which would put you in the assisted category) and quickly QSY to any activity you see pop up.
There are weekly events that you might want to take advantage of, especially if you find you have extra operating time over the next month or so. All times are US “local”: On Tuesday evenings, check out the Phone Fray, Wednesday is for CWT, and on Thursday evening, start with RTTY NS and switch to CW NS. There are monthly QCX Challenges that occur on Monday evenings as well.
I busted George’s, K5TR, call in the last issue. Thank you to Doug, K1DG, for bring it to my attention!
28 Nov – 11 Dec 2019
Some of the most “serious” shopping days of the year are coming up, which can be great opportunities to find small (and large) tech items for giveaways at your radio club meetings. Looks like ARRL is getting into the spirit, too, with a savings on fees for ARRL awards submitted via LoTW through the Black Friday / Cyber Monday period, to December 8.
YOTA (Youngsters on The Air), comes to Region 2! The former broadcasting site of the Voice of American in Cincinnati, Ohio will play host to what amounts to “Radio Camp” for interested youth (ages 15-25) in the summer of 2020. The ARRL Letter and ARRL website coverage notes that it is the first time this event will be held in the Americas, and that “Campers will attend workshops and activities in multiple STEM-related subjects, such as radio contesting, electronic kit building, D-STAR, APRS, satellite communication, antenna building, and radio direction finding and orienteering.” According to the YOTA website, “Youngsters on The Air is a highly motivated group of people of all ages and from all over the world working together tightly to make sure that there will still be somebody to answer your CQ call in the future. We ensure that there is a next generation of amateur radio enthusiasts which bring new energy into the hobby. ”
The FT Roundup is last year’s FT8 Roundup, renamed to reflect the inclusion of the new FT4 mode and potential follow-on FT modes in the future. This year, the contest happens the weekend of December 7, 2019. The contest sponsors are suggesting specific frequencies for particular modes – see the rules. While stations can use any legal power level, any power level OVER 100 watts qualifies as a CHECKLOG. See the rules for particular details, such as the use of multiple streams, and country-specific segments.
Version v2.1.2 of WSJT-X has just been released that addresses several regressions in version v2.1.0, and supercedes released-for-a-day v2.1.1. A list of program changes since WSJT-X 2.1.0 can be found in the cumulative Release Notes.
Rich, N1IXF, compiled a chart of where FT8 and FT4 communications are happening. These are the conventional frequencies, and DXpeditions usually publish special frequencies where they will be operating.
Rovers and some multiop VHF/UHF contest stations will be interested in the future Down East Microwave DEM V/U Xverter. This device covers ALL OF THE AMATEUR BANDS between 144 MHz and 1.2 GHz. According to the preliminary information from the manufacturer: “All frequencies convert to/from 28 MHz. The transmit output level is approximately 1 watt and will exhibit a 2 dB noise figure with greater than 15 dB gain on all bands. The Transverter will also contain an AUX RF port that will be configured as an additional 2M port for connection to a higher frequency transverter such as our future DEM MICRO-VERTER containing 4 additional higher bands of operation.” (Pete, N6ZE, via PNWVHFS)
Frank, W3LPL, posted this about FT8 to the Topband email reflector: “Topband was fairly quiet tonight with the usual dozen or so European stations. I decided to try FT8 for the first time on Topband. I’ve used it for several years on 6 meters mostly during the Transatlantic sporadic-E season but never on Topband. Much to my surprise after just one CQ, I put a string of nearly one hundred European QSOs in my log in just a few hours. This is how 160 meter CW used to be 30 years ago. Almost all of these were first time QSOs for me, and nearly half were Russians. UN1L, UA9MA and R8CA were decoded but not worked.”
There’s a new SO2R box in town, brought to you by NN1C, K1XM, and W1UE. Features of this new Arduino-based hardware/software product include:
While some have seen pre-production units at a Yankee Clipper Contest Club meeting, it’s also been tested on the air in recent contests.
N1MM Logger+ users participating in contests with contest-specific macro key definitions and call history files will find this week’s program update very worthwhile. You won’t have to manually download those files before contest start! According to Larry, K8UT:
“This week’s update includes a new feature in which N1MM+ will detect/download/install a file for you, rather than requiring you to separately open a browser, find the file and download it. I haven’t updated the website documentation yet, but here’s how it works:
For Call History Files and Sample Function Key Files:
In the >File >Open Log in Database dialog window, select the >Associated Files tab. Press the [CHANGE] button adjacent to the labels for Call History Filename or Function Key Filename.
If there is a file on the website that matches this contest name, a dialog window will open and ask whether you want to assign it to this contest. If you answer Yes, the file is downloaded and installed. If you answer No, a File Explorer window will open for you to choose a local file (the way N1MM+ has worked for years).
To prevent you from harm – for example, overwriting a Function Key .MC file that you customized with personal preferences – any existing file of the same name will be archived with a .BAK designation.
This feature should be popular with groups like CWOPS whose Call History file changes on a weekly basis.” (via N1MM Logger+ group)
Oh, and N1MM Logger+ can now answer “Oui!” to “Parlez-vous Francais?” with the new French language pack available on the logger’s website in the Tools area. Vincent, F4CVQ, is the raison d’etre.
“Contayner” is the name of a Russian Over-the-horizon radar that has reportedly been active in the amateur bands. Check out the ARRL website article with a picture of what the signals look like on a spectrum display.
From Wikipedia: “a nickel-iron soft ferromagnetic alloy with very high permeability, which is used for shielding sensitive electronic equipment against static or low-frequency magnetic fields.” In gear with power transformers, it is sometimes used to keep hum out of audio circuitry by shielding those circuits from the transformer’s magnetic field.
The Daily DX and a number of other sources mentioned Jim’s, K1IR, presentation on tower safety originally given to Billerica, Massachusetts ARS. It has also spurred an active discussion on a number of different email reflectors. This is not about technique, it’s about tower safety, what the rate of “failures” in performing tower work on amateur radio towers tells us, and some suggestions on what practices need improvement to increase tower safety.
NASA is flying some rockets as part of the Grand Challenge Initiative — CUSP. This project studies how the solar wind can reach the Earth’s atmosphere around midday via the polar regions, which negatively affects GPS satellites and radio signals. The effect corresponds to areas of higher atmospheric density, and potential atmospheric turbulence.
The results of the 2019 CW Open have been published in the November 2019 issue of Solid Copy. The CW Open is sponsored by CWops, which for nearly 10 years now has sought to promote and encourage an interest in communications via Morse code. CWops sponsors the weekly CWops test, or CWT, as well as an annual CW Open (CWO) in September, and has an extensive CW Training program, CW Academy. (Tim, K9WX)
Watch That 40-Meter Band Edge
Ward, N0AX, writes: “The band edge on 40 phone may be shown as 7125 kHz but that is the lower limit for non-spurious emissions. Several stations were calling CQ on 7127 kHz and getting a lot of answers. It’s okay for Canadian stations to be there, but that’s too low for US stations. If you want to work someone with a dial (carrier) frequency of 7127 kHz, set your XIT to 0.5 kHz and call them — they will probably hear you — and if they ask, just respond that it would be better for US callers if they would move up 0.5 kHz.”
“When I boot up my Microsoft Windows PC, the PTT and CW keying lines I am driving from a USB serial port pulse my equipment. Why? How do I stop this?” Bob, N6TV, outlines what is going on and what you can do about it in his PDF on how to tame DTR and RTS signal line changes on Windows bootup.
The results of the NXP Semiconductor design contest are in! First and second place go to HF amplifier designs for the amateur bands, and the third goes to a class E amplifier design used in a CubeSat plasma thruster application. All of the designs are available via the results article, and the first-place winner has made PCBs and parts kits available.
Amateur, But in a Bad Way
I’d like to encourage anyone reading this to take the time to watch Jim’s, K1IR presentation on tower safety. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Okay, what do you think about his comparison of the rate of injuries of amateur tower work versus commercial tower work? If you’ve skimmed the video, I hope you’ll go back and watch minutes 11 through 18 at 1x speed. After watching the entire video, I recognize that, as an amateur, I’ve been in situations involving towers and temporary antenna setups where I did not fully appreciate the risks.
It’s nostalgic to think of the old days where a call for help would go out to a bunch of people in the club. Hams would meet up, a section of tower would be partially placed into a hole with some concrete, plumbed, and the next week the gin pole would come out and sections would start going up. Many of us didn’t think about engineering drawings, soil tests, PE stamps, rebar cages, or specialized tower bases. We just wanted to get the antennas up in the air!
Those stories that so many of us have laughed at, about how so-and-so’s tower used to be guyed to his house, the apple tree, and a concrete block were less funny once time passed, that decades-old tower needed to be removed, and so-and-so was looking for help from radio club members.
Unless someone climbs towers regularly with the appropriate equipment, and observes modern safety practices, it seems that what keeps amateurs “safe” is ignorance of the true risks, and mostly luck. Unfortunately, that’s what is also reflected in the accident statistics.
If you’re planning to do some tower work, I implore you to learn the proper techniques, and follow safety conventions — don’t just depend on conventional wisdom. If you’re already doing tower work then you probably already have your methods of work down, but as in any field techniques and equipment change over time and it’s in your own self-interest to make sure you’re doing the utmost to ensure you can continue to do this work.
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
28 Nov – 11 Dec 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, Nov 27, 1300z to Nov 27, 1400z and, Nov 27, 1900z to Nov 27, 2000z and, Nov 28, 0300z to Nov 28, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 30.
RSGB 80m Autumn Series, CW, Nov 28, 2000z to Nov 28, 2130z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: December 1.
NCCC RTTY Sprint, Nov 29, 0145z to Nov 29, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: December 1.
NCCC Sprint, Nov 29, 0230z to Nov 29, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: December 1.
Russian WW MultiMode Contest, Nov 30, 1200z to Dec 1, 1159z; CW, SSB, RTTY, BPSK63; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; UA: RST(Q) + 2-character oblast, non-UA: RST(Q) + QSO No.; Logs due: December 6.
ARS Spartan Sprint, Dec 3, 0200z to Dec 3, 0400z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: December 5.
QRP Fox Hunt, Dec 4, 0200z to Dec 4, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: December 5.
Phone Fray, Dec 4, 0230z to Dec 4, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: November 29.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, Dec 4, 1300z to Dec 4, 1400z and, Dec 4, 1900z to Dec 4, 2000z and, Dec 5, 0300z to Dec 5, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 30.
QRP ARCI Topband Sprint, Dec 5, 0000z to Dec 5, 0300z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; ARCI: RST + (state/province/country) + ARCI No., non-ARCI: RST + (state/province/country) + power out; Logs due: December 19.
NRAU 10m Activity Contest, Dec 5, 1800z to Dec 5, 1900z (CW) and, Dec 5, 1900z to Dec 5, 2000z (SSB) and, Dec 5, 2000z to Dec 5, 2100z (FM) and, Dec 5, 2100z to Dec 5, 2200z (Dig); CW, SSB, FM, Digital; Bands: 10m Only; RS(T) + 6-character grid square; Logs due: December 19.
SKCC Sprint Europe, Dec 5, 2000z to Dec 5, 2200z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: December 12.
NCCC RTTY Sprint, Dec 6, 0145z to Dec 6, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: December 8.
QRP Fox Hunt, Dec 6, 0200z to Dec 6, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: December 12.
NCCC Sprint, Dec 6, 0230z to Dec 6, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: December 8.
ARRL 160-Meter Contest, Dec 6, 2200z to Dec 8, 1600z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; W/VE: RST + ARRL/RAC Section, DX: RST; Logs due: December 15.
UFT Contest, Dec 7, 0500z to Dec 7, 0800z and, Dec 7, 1500z to Dec 7, 1800z and, Dec 8, 0700z to Dec 8, 1000z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: RST + Member No., non-Member: RST + “NM”; Logs due: January 14.
Wake-Up! QRP Sprint, Dec 7, 0600z to Dec 7, 0629z and, Dec 7, 0630z to Dec 7, 0659z and, Dec 7, 0700z to Dec 7, 0729z and, Dec 7, 0730z to Dec 7, 0800z; CW; Bands: 40, 20m; RST + Serial No. + suffix of previous QSO (“QRP” for 1st QSO); Logs due: December 14.
SKCC Weekend Sprintathon, Dec 7, 1200z to Dec 9, 0000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./”NONE”); Logs due: December 15.
PRO CW Contest, Dec 7, 1600z to Dec 8, 1559z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; CW Club Member: RST + Serial No. + “/M”, non-Members: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: December 12.
International Naval Contest, Dec 7, 1600z to Dec 8, 1559z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Naval Club Member: RS(T) + Club + Member No., non-Naval Club Member: RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: December 31.
FT Roundup, Dec 7, 1800z to Dec 8, 2359z; FT8/FT4; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; W: RST + state, VE: RST + province/territory, non-W/VE: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: December 15.
EPC Ukraine DX Contest, Dec 7, 2000z to Dec 8, 1959z; BPSK63; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Ukraine: RSQ + Ukr Admin Region, non-Ukraine: RSQ + QSO No.; Logs due: December 22.
QRP ARCI Holiday Spirits Homebrew Sprint, Dec 8, 2000z to Dec 8, 2300z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + (ARCI number/power); Logs due: December 22.
4 States QRP Group Second Sunday Sprint, Dec 9, 0100z to Dec 9, 0300z; 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: December 11.
NAQCC CW Sprint, Dec 11, 0130z to Dec 11, 0330z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: December 14.
QRP Fox Hunt, Dec 11, 0200z to Dec 11, 0330z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: December 12.
Phone Fray, Dec 11, 0230z to Dec 11, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: November 29.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, Dec 11, 1300z to Dec 11, 1400z and, Dec 11, 1900z to Dec 11, 2000z and, Dec 12, 0300z to Dec 12, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: November 30.
28 Nov – 11 Dec 2019
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