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 22 January 2020, 1525 UTC, Post 1289.
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January 22, 2020
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
IN THIS ISSUE
If you’ve been inside too much lately, try Winter Field Day. This event has been garnering more interest and support over time. The event itself grew from the belief that operating practices shouldn’t be “limited to fair weather scenarios.” It’s also an opportunity to combine hobbies, like Darryl, WW7D, and Josh, WU7H, do when they use snowmobiles to get to operating sites.
The CQ 160 Meter Contest is this upcoming weekend. This CW-only contest traditionally has a lot of activity. This year’s Top Band conditions have been overall good to very good, so even if you have a compromise antenna you might give it a go, since the single-operator assisted class allows the use of “one remote receiver located within 100 kilometers of the main transmitter site in addition to the receiver at the transmitter site.”
A number of QSO parties occur the weekend of February 1, including Vermont, Minnesota, and British Columbia. I note that the BCQP website includes a helpful schedule of potentially overlapping contests so that participants can provide appropriate exchanges for those. That seems like a considerate thing to do, perhaps it will be adopted as a practice by other QSO parties. If you participate in one of these contests, report your score via 3830scores.com to participate in the new State QSO Party Challenge.
February 2 is your opportunity to compete in the North American Sprint (CW) contest. It’s a different format than most contests. Only 4 hours in duration, I’d recommend that you practice for this one, because there’s a particular QSO protocol that makes everything go smoothly. You have two 30-minute Thursday evening NCCC Sprint Practice sessions before the contest to try it out.
23 Jan – 5 Feb 2020
Normally special office or lab chairs are purchased to reduce or eliminate the possibility of electrostatic discharge. But some chairs with cushions and metal legs can generate E-fields that are strong enough to destroy or disrupt electronics! This paper from 1993 discusses the phenomenon and how it was characterized by AT&T Bell Labs personnel.
The N1MM Logger+ developers are pruning the list of contests built in to the popular logging program. They’ve put out a list of the contests that they propose to remove from the drop-down selection list when starting a new log. Larry, K8UT wrote: “…there are contests in our Supported Contests List that are obsolete/inactive and should be de-listed from the Entry window’s > File > New Log in Database – contest choices… As part of that effort we have identified 51 contests that appear to be obsolete/inactive. In this week’s Latest Update release (of the N1MM Logger+ program – ed.) we will begin trimming the menu selection list by removing contests that are tagged as obsolete/inactive. The list of those 51 proposed obsolete contests can be found in the website’s > Downloads > Program Files > Experimental Versions gallery. If your contest is listed but is still an active contest, please contact the Development Team to get your contest reinstated on the list. NOTE: This list does not include User Defined Contests (UDCs) and QSO Parties. We’ll be looking at those in the future, also.”
We’ve mentioned CWops in the Contest Update before, and how their CW Academy provides free online classes and interaction with mentors to develop CW skills. Here’s another resource for CW learning: The Long Island CW Club provides online training at all levels in the art of Morse Code.
Details of the curricula and faculty of the 2020 Contest University in Dayton, Ohio next May have been posted to the Contest University website. Contest University provides a full day, 7 AM to 5 PM, of contesting information.
The speaker for the TopBand Dinner in Dayton, Ohio on Friday, May 15, 2020 has been announced – Glenn Johnson, W0GJ. Glenn’s presentation is entitled “Mutiny on the Bands! A Review of the 2019 VP6R Pitcairn Island DXpedition” and will focus on what made the DXpedition successful on Top Band.
The Dayton Contest Dinner will be held on Saturday, May 16, 2020, with guest speaker Bryant, KG5HVO. As is tradition, the announcement of the 2020 CQ Contest Hall of Fame Inductees will be made at the dinner. Icom and DX Engineering are Platinum sponsors of this event.
According to QRZnow.com, the 17th International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) High Speed Telegraphy (HST) World Championship will take place August 20 – 24 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. These high speed telegraphy events are very popular outside the US, with younger competitors often appearing in the top results.
The State QSO Party Challenge is a contest-outside-of-a-contest. It’s a contest comprised of other contests. According to the StateQSOParty.com Team’s Overview: “This annual program will recognize all radio amateurs’ participation in the U.S. State and Canadian Province QSO parties. It will be open to any radio amateur who participates in any of our approved State QSO Party (SQPs) contests. Participants must simply submit their scores to 3830Scores.com to be included in the Challenge… Using the submissions to 3830Scores.com, each radio amateur’s cumulative score will be calculated by totaling up his/her number of reported contacts and multiplying by the number of SQPs entered year-to-date.” Periodic reporting of standings will occur on 3830scores.com, the QSOParty Groups.io forum, and on the StateQSOParty.com website.
“Using the number of QSO parties entered as a multiplier is expected to encourage radio amateurs to enter more state/province QSO parties. The first SQPs in 2020 are the Vermont, Minnesota and British Columbia QSO Parties on the first weekend of February. Therefore, the first monthly report of the State QSO Party Challenge is scheduled to be available in early March 2020.” Entrants must make at least two contacts in a QSO party for it to count as a multiplier. The full rules and other details of the Challenge are available on the website. The State QSO Party Challenge sponsors wish to thank Bruce Horn, WA7BNM of 3830scores.com for creating the SQP Activity Tracker located at 3830scores.com.
Mountaintops are great places to operate from in the January VHF Contest… but what if you’re near Evanston, Illinois? Mt. Trashmore, of course! KO9A, operating K9AA/P, reported on 3830scores.com: “I knew going into the weekend that I’d be part-time so came up with an idea to operate SO3B from home part-time then go to one of the nearby Mt. Trashmore hilltops to do a quick portable/QRP operation on Sunday afternoon…Ended up going much better than expected. The hilltop plays great…could hear 30-40 stations I couldn’t touch with rubber duck and whip antennas and QRP power. Might have to come back some day with a more reasonable station.”
Also in the January VHF Contest, Alex, N1PRW, was using freezer packs to keep the heatsink of his FT-817 cool during FT8 transmissions.
“YOTA Month A Success in the Americas” is a report by Neil, WB9VPG, is a summary of on the air activities by operators under the age of 25 during the month of December 2019. Highlights include more than 12,000 contacts made, with “Some operators using the call signs during contests such as CWops CWTs, Phone Fray, FT Roundup, and the RAC Winter Contest.”
Here’s a link you can use to quickly sign up for the ContestOnline Scoreboard. Fill in a few lines (CFM Password means “type in your password again” by the way) and you’ll be ready to report your scores in real time via N1MM Logger+ or other compatible loggers. During the contest, you can use a web browser to watch your competition’s scores.
Bodge: This word is more likely to be heard in the UK, or by “other English” speaking hams, meaning a temporary repair or temporary construction. In common usage, it has a more negative connotation, but for radio and electronics lash-ups, seems similar to a “kludge.”
Ward, N0AX, recommends this presentation by Jon Zaimes, AA1K, covering Beverage antennas. “It was presented at an FRC meeting and is available to the public. Good stuff! I got the link from K3LR.”
Steve, VE6WZ, is back with another receiving antenna video! In previous videos, he discussed how he measures and logs characteristics of his antenna system, like the impedances. Variations in those impedances is what spurred his new video: “Over the years I have noticed my Beverage feed impedance will change during the winter. My station is configured to take analyzer sweeps in the shack of any of my 12 Beverage wires. All 12 wires show the same change in impedance compared to the summer. Two days ago I did some experiments to see if this was because the frozen ground was limiting conductivity. In wet soil with the associated minerals and salts, the ionic transfer contributes to conductivity, just like salt water. When the ground is frozen solid, like a block of ice, it seems possible that this ionic conduction could be diminished. To test my theory, I add some radials to both the feed and termination and rescan the Beverage.” Steve did his measurements in -38 C winter weather…
The results from the October 2019 ARRL School Club Roundup are now available. KM4RE, the Russell Elementary Amateur Radio Club achieved first place in the Elementary/Primary School (W/VE) category, with 324 phone contacts. The Schofield Middle School’s dominance over the Middle School category (since 2016!) continued: N4SMS’s 800 contacts was the highest score of all categories to boot. In the Senior High category K5LBJ, the LASA High School Amateur Radio Club, eked out a win over K9SOU with a 1.6% point difference. In the College/University category, W5AC, the Texas A&M University Amateur Radio Club, was champion.
“WWROF and SCC are pleased to announce the results of the inaugural WW Digi contest held at the end of August 2019… Individual certificates may be printed locally using the link at the end of each entry in the Scores Database… Individual LCRs (Log Check Reports) will be sent upon request to email@example.com. Thanks to the many generous plaque sponsors for supporting this new contest. A number of invaluable volunteers supported the contest development and management in the background: Randy, K5ZD; Ken, K1EA; Tine, S50A; Steve, N8BJQ; Gator, N5RZ; Mark, N5OT; Tim K3LR, WSJT-X development team, MSHV, N1MM+, WriteLog/DigiRite and the RBN. We look forward to and even bigger and better WW Digi on August 29-30, 2020.
LoTW Takes Cabrillo Log Files, Too
Fred, K6DGW, inspired this little gem of an operating tip:
“I’ve been more than a little surprised to find that a goodly number of people are unaware that LoTW takes Cabrillo logs as well as ADIF. They’ve been going thru more work than necessary to produce and upload ADIF logs when their loggers will do a Cabrillo almost automagically.” The LoTW documentation for submitting contacts reveals that TQSL can sign Cabrillo logs for some known contests. For contests that aren’t explicitly supported, it will scan the Cabrillo file for contact information and try to do the right thing. It’s also possible to update your LoTW configuration data manually to add your own Cabrillo Spec. But chances are, the contest you’re uploading is already supported.
The Icom IC-7300 is a popular radio for mobile, portable, and field communications, and can be even more useful for contesting when equipped with an I/Q output interface module. So equipped, it could be used with an SDR to feed the spectrum display window in N1MM Logger+, for instance. (KE9V via Twitter)
The SDRPlay RSPdx SDR hardware now has an EXTIO DLL available for download, which enables it to be used with more software that can use this type of interface (such as N1MM Logger+) for I/Q data. (Mujo, S59DR in the N1MM Logger+ Groups.IO)
Sam, N3XZ, noted an article comparing two front end protectors written by W8WTS in 2014, and originally published in the Caribbean Contesting Consortium Newsletter. It compares the RG-2000 and RG-5000 front end protectors. Many station building tips and techniques are casually mentioned in back issues of the CCC Newsletters.
How Your Club Can Make YOTA 2020 A Success
This issue’s Conversation is by Ward Silver, N0AX.
By now, we should all be aware of the YOTA 2020 Summer Camp. Announced a few weeks ago, the event will be held at the Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting in West Chester, OH (yotaregion2.org/cincinnati-2020) from June 21-26. Dozens of youth operators will descend on the original VOA facility from around the Americas to enjoy a week-long event modeled after very successful YOTA camps in Region 1 (www.ham-yota.com). Afterwards, some campers may stay in Ohio for ARRL Field Day or else head back home, fizzing with know-how and enthusiasm for ham radio, to join their local club’s operation. All good — well done, YOTA 2020 team!
This is where you and your club come in. Of course, you can support YOTA 2020 through donations, and I encourage every club with an interest in encouraging youth to engage in ham radio to do so. Would there be a club without such an interest — especially contest clubs? You can find links to the donation mechanics on the YOTA 2020 home page along with updates on matching opportunities and other news. But there is much, much more to do at home.
Let’s start by encouraging young ham operators to apply, whether they have zero QSOs under their belts, or thousands. This event is for them, and they should feel like its most important element. This would be a good time to put this event on your club calendar, feature it in newsletters, websites, and social media, and talk it up at meetings. Make sure it is publicized. If someone needs help applying, be sure they get it — perhaps a “group application night” at a club meeting? Taking that first step is so important!
Next, what if they are accepted? Even though the cost of attending is subsidized by donors, the attendees still have to get themselves there and back. This would be a great way for a club to support campers, by sponsoring travel expenses as needed. Or by sponsoring a scholarship. Be sure they have everything they need to enjoy and succeed at YOTA 2020.
And what if they aren’t accepted? A club can be even more helpful by organizing YOTA events during the YOTA 2020 week. Get your young operators on the air to contact the campers in Ohio. Maybe reserve a special call sign and have a special QSL to really turn up the activity. During ARRL Field Day, why not have a YOTA-themed GOTA station? A YOTAGOTA! There are lots of ways a club can generate and maintain interest.
Finally, speaking as an old-timer of sorts, it is important to remember that this is THEIR event, not ours. We can help provide the resources they need — rigs, antennas, computers, space — and they’ll take care of the rest. By understanding their interests and providing the means for them to explore those interests, we can help make things happen without making this more about us than the youth. As experienced hams, it is our responsibility to facilitate, not dominate.
I hope the YOTA 2020 event sparks a whole series of YOTA activities in this part of the world. The Region 1 YOTA team has done wonderfully at interesting and encouraging young hams on their own terms. We certainly can do the same. Let’s spread that YOTA enthusiasm around and make it possible for younger operators to enjoy ham radio in their way, sustaining and growing the amateur service as we know they can.
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
23 Jan – 5 Feb 2020
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, Jan 22, 1300z to Jan 22, 1400z and, Jan 22, 1900z to Jan 22, 2000z and, Jan 23, 0300z to Jan 23, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: January 25.
NAQCC CW Sprint, Jan 23, 0130z to Jan 23, 0330z; CW; Bands: (see rules) ; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: January 26.
NCCC RTTY Sprint, Jan 24, 0145z to Jan 24, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: January 26.
QRP Fox Hunt, Jan 24, 0200z to Jan 24, 0330z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: January 30.
NCCC Sprint, Jan 24, 0230z to Jan 24, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: January 26.
CQ 160-Meter Contest, CW, Jan 24, 2200z to Jan 26, 2200z; CW; Bands: 160m Only; W/VE: RST + (state/province), DX: RST + CQ Zone; Logs due: January 31.
REF Contest, CW, Jan 25, 0600z to Jan 26, 1800z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; French: RST + Department/Prefix, non-French: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: February 3.
BARTG RTTY Sprint, Jan 25, 1200z to Jan 26, 1200z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Serial No. (no signal report); Logs due: February 2.
UBA DX Contest, SSB, Jan 25, 1300z to Jan 26, 1300z; SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ON: RST + Serial No. + province, non-ON: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: February 9.
Winter Field Day, Jan 25, 1900z to Jan 26, 1900z; Any (see rules for exceptions); Bands: All, except WARC; Category + ARRL Section (or DX); Logs due: February 29.
QCX Challenge, Jan 27, 1300z to Jan 27, 1400z and, Jan 27, 1900z to Jan 27, 2000z and, Jan 28, 0300z to Jan 28, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Name + (state/province/country) + Rig; Logs due: January 30.
QRP Fox Hunt, Jan 29, 0200z to Jan 29, 0330z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: January 30.
Phone Fray, Jan 29, 0230z to Jan 29, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: January 31.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, Jan 29, 1300z to Jan 29, 1400z and, Jan 29, 1900z to Jan 29, 2000z and, Jan 30, 0300z to Jan 30, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: February 1.
UKEICC 80m Contest, Jan 29, 2000z to Jan 29, 2100z; ; Bands: 80m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: January 29.
NCCC RTTY Sprint, Jan 31, 0145z to Jan 31, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: February 2.
QRP Fox Hunt, Jan 31, 0200z to Jan 31, 0330z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: February 6.
NCCC Sprint, Jan 31, 0230z to Jan 31, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: February 2.
Vermont QSO Party, Feb 1, 0000z to Feb 3, 0000z; All (see rules for FT8 guidance); Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, VHF/UHF; VT: RS(T) + County, non-VT W/VE: RS(T) + (state/province), DX: RS(T); Logs due: March 1.
10-10 Int. Winter Contest, SSB, Feb 1, 0001z to Feb 2, 2359z; Phone; Bands: 10m Only; 10-10 Member: Name + 10-10 number + (state/province/country), Non-Member: Name + 0 + (state/province/country); Logs due: February 10.
Black Sea Cup International, Feb 1, 1200z to Feb 2, 1159z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; HQ: RS(T) + club/org abbreviation, Black Sea Countries: RS(T) + ITU Zone No., BSCC Members: RS(T) + “BS” + club number, Others: RS(T) + ITU Zone No.; Logs due: February 12.
F9AA Cup, CW, Feb 1, 1200z to Feb 2, 1200z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 2m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: March 2.
Mexico RTTY International Contest, Feb 1, 1200z to Feb 2, 2359z; RTTY Only; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; XE: RST + State, non-XE: RST + Serial No.; Logs due: March 7.
FYBO Winter QRP Sprint, Feb 1, 1400z to Feb 2, 0000z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS(T) + (state/province/country)+ name + power out + temperature(F); Logs due: March 2.
Minnesota QSO Party, Feb 1, 1400z to Feb 2, 0000z; CW (CW/RTTY/PSK), Phone (FM/SSB); Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; MN: Name + County, W/VE: Name + (state/province), DX: Name; Logs due: February 15.
British Columbia QSO Party, Feb 1, 1600z to Feb 2, 0359z and, Feb 2, 1600z to Feb 2, 2359z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; BC: RS(T) + District, non-BC: RS(T) + (state/province/”DX”); Logs due: February 17.
AGCW Straight Key Party, Feb 1, 1600z to Feb 1, 1900z; CW; Bands: ; AGCW: RST + Serial No. + “/” + Class + “/” + Name + “/” + Age; Logs due: February 28.
FISTS Winter Slow Speed Sprint, Feb 1, 1700z to Feb 1, 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: February 15.
North American Sprint, CW, Feb 2, 0000z to Feb 2, 0400z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station’s call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name] + [your state/province/country]; Logs due: February 9.
RSGB 80m Club Championship, SSB, Feb 3, 2000z to Feb 3, 2130z; SSB; Bands: 80m Only; RS + Serial No.; Logs due: February 4.
ARS Spartan Sprint, Feb 4, 0200z to Feb 4, 0400z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: February 6.
QRP Fox Hunt, Feb 5, 0200z to Feb 5, 0330z; CW; Bands: 20m Only; RST + (state/province/country) + name + power output; Logs due: January 23.
Phone Fray, Feb 5, 0230z to Feb 5, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: January 24.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, Feb 5, 1300z to Feb 5, 1400z and, Feb 5, 1900z to Feb 5, 2000z and, Feb 6, 0300z to Feb 6, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: January 25.
UKEICC 80m Contest, Feb 5, 2000z to Feb 5, 2100z; ; Bands: 80m Only; 4-Character grid square; Logs due: January 29.
23 Jan – 5 Feb 2020
January 23, 2020
January 24, 2020
January 25, 2020
January 26, 2020
January 27, 2020
January 28, 2020
January 29, 2020
January 30, 2020
January 31, 2020
February 1, 2020
February 2, 2020
February 3, 2020
February 4, 2020
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