Here’s the latest DX and Contest News from HQ ARRL and W1AW.
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 and by W1AW.
Accessed on 28 May 2020, 0125 UTC, Post 1456.
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May 27, 2020
Editor: Brian Moran, N9ADG
IN THIS ISSUE
I hope you had a chance to watch a couple of the Contest University sessions on May 14. If not, catch up with the materials via the Contest University website, or watch event in its entirety on YouTube.
Conditions on the higher frequencies have been improved lately, and there are more people on the bands in general. This adds up to more opportunity to practice CW, try new modes, or be more active in general. The “big” contest in the next 2 weeks is the CQ WW WPX CW contest. It’s a 48-hour affair with all of the usual categories for operators, power, and assistance. Check out the rules for some overlay categories that can give you a benefit.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially starts on June 1, and predictions are that 2020 will have a larger than usual number of named storms. If there are significant human impacts due to a storm, please be respectful of any amateur frequencies used in emergency or relief efforts.
28 May – 10 Jun 2020
The 2020 Contest University had over THREE THOUSAND attendees at various parts of the day on May 14. If you missed any of it, you can watch the 10-hour event on YouTube. Check the YouTube comments for the start times for the various sessions, and don’t forget that YouTube’s lets you stream at up to 2x the original speed via the playback options menu.
Coincident with Content University, CQ announced their 2020 Hall of Fame Inductees. Geoff, W0CG/PJ2DX, Bill, K1GQ, and Gene, W3ZZ (SK), are the latest to be venerated in this way. You can watch the streamed presentation here.
QRP Labs’ QCX kit has been upgraded – the QCX+ single band 5-watt transceiver will ship in June, featuring a new panel layout, and improved enclosure options. According to Hans, G0UPL, the QCX+ designer, the PCB has 63% more area, which means an easier build for the all-through-hole-part kit. Once you’re done constructing yours, join the monthly QCX Challenge.
The CQ WW RTTY DX Contest has added Chris, N6WM, to the contest management team, with the role of capturing the “essence of the event” and authoring the results article. According to Ed, W0YK, Contest Director, the goal is to “provide a higher quality, sports journalistic article for the contesting world” by “capturing content before, during, and immediately after the contest.”
VHF/UHF operators who want to “run the bands” in contests typically need a lot of gear. Q5 Signal’s five-band VHF/UHF Transverter for 144, 222, 432, 902, and 1296 MHz works with your 28 MHz capable transceiver to get 25 W out 144-902 MHz, and 10 W at 1296 MHz, which might help reduce station complexity. Options are available for IF and RF routing, as well as drive power, to suit your needs.
A new release candidate for WSJT-X, v2.2.0-rc2, has been placed on K1JT’s website. If you want to help the development team by running the latest and potentially greatest, scroll past the GA release, and find the section entitled “Installation packages for WSJT-X 2.2.0-rc2.” If you’re so inclined, join the WSJT-X group on Groups.io to join the discussion or follow these guidelines if you need to report an issue. The WSJT-X development team has published additional “overflow” frequencies for FT8 – see the v2.2.0-rc2 release notes, here’s an excerpt: “On a trial basis, and in response to numerous suggestions from around the world, we have added a second set of suggested dial frequencies for FT8 on three HF bands and also on 6 meters. The new suggested dial frequencies are 7.071, 10.133, 14.071, and 50.310 MHz.”
In this time of no in-person meetings, many radio clubs are meeting using Zoom or other video conferencing technology, which effectively makes any radio club as easy to attend as another! A polite email expressing your interest to attend a meeting to a club officer may get you an invite. You can also visit KB6NU’s “Compendium of online amateur radio club meetings” page to find one. Radio Club Officers: There’s an opportunity here to increase your local club membership by actively inviting those in your service area to an online meeting.
Sometimes it’s just not the right time for your Microsoft Windows 10 computer to have its operating system auto-updated. If you’d like to hold off updates for a time, you can go to the Windows Update Settings > Advanced Options and delay any updates up to 35 days. Here’s an article on the upcoming May 28, 2020 update to Microsoft Windows. (Ward, N0AX)
The real name for the nine-pin D-Sub connectors that many radios use for RS-232 CAT communications, more frequently called a DB-9. They come in two varieties, male and female. For more information on PC serial and USB ports as they pertain to radio contesting, see N6TV’s presentation from the 2020 Contest University.
Goody, K3NG, made a YouTube video on how to configure his Arduino CW Keyer’s #define statements to work with N1MM Logger+, including the appropriate settings in the N1MM Logger+ program for SO2R.
Steve, VE6WZ, leads us into the woods to see how he keeps his Beverage wires taut, and discovers a tree has fallen on one of his antennas.
John Kalenowsky, K9JK, writes: “The Spring VHF & Up Sprints are sponsored by the Central States VHF Society and managed by the program committee consisting of KA2KQM (chair), WB8BZK, and W0ZQ. This year’s events showed amazing participation levels. Here’s some info about the history of Spring VHF/UHF Sprint Log Submissions.
(1) For the 222 MHz in 1999, there were 105 scores reported but only 101 logs actually received (four participants didn’t submit a log). Also, since “rovers” submitted separate logs for each grid they visited (there was no rover category in the Sprints), that meant four logs from each of the three “rovers” but only three unique calls. I’m thinking the best comparison is to include the four that didn’t submit a log (since log submission is not required for 2020) but treat the “rovers” as if they submitted only ONE log each. That yields a count of 96 for 1999.
(2) For the 432 MHz in 1999, 113 logs were submitted from fixed stations but 10 more stations reported claimed scores but didn’t submit a log. There were also TWO rovers in 1999 (who each visited four grids) but the reporter for 432 didn’t list them the same way as the reporter for 222 did. I’m thinking the best comparison is to include the 10 that didn’t submit a log and count the “rovers” as two logs, so that yields a count of 125 for 1999.
Also, 1999 was a unique year for the Spring Sprints. ARRL ended their support of the Spring Sprints in 1998 so FIVE different organizations/people hosted the events, such as Rocky Mountain VHF+, NEWS Group, K6FV/50 MHz DX Bulletin (and I probably have the other two somewhere). That is part of the reason that the reporting was different between 222 and 432 as I noted above.
Prior to 2002, there was not a combined Microwave Sprint. From 1983 through 2001, there was a 1296 MHz Sprint. In 1987 a Sprint was added for 902 MHz, followed by the addition of a 2304 MHz Sprint in 1988 (both of which ended in 2001).
Net–net, it looks like the reported participation for 2020 is the best ever for all of the events but not as undisputable for 222 and 432 MHz.
The 2020 counts I’ve listed do include rovers and only one submission for each. 432 drew the most rovers with 16, 144 and Microwave had 11 rovers each, nine rovers posted for 222. Nine rovers reported for 50 MHz.”
The results for the 7th Area QSO Party are now available. Here’s a link to the results summary. According to the contest sponsors, overall participation was up by almost 50%! Here are a few excerpts from the results summary: “With 1,150 logs received, it is the high water mark for participation,” and “the 7QP has more entry categories than any other QSO party and probably too many.” Notable among the winners are new appearances. KL7SB in SOHX, K6SRZ in SOHC, and KH6KO in SALC for the non-7 entrants. Among the “locals”, W7VO in SOHP, W7YAQ in SOLX, K7HBN in SOLC, and a huge remote effort by the crew at N7A in winning the MM category. The full result for all categories is on the 7QP.org website. Dick, K4XU, noted that 62% of all who submitted logs used some variation of N1MM Logger+, followed by 21% using N3FJP Logger. 5% of all logs were submitted via the WA7BNM webform.
Martin, VK7GN, writes: “The results of the 2019 Oceania DX Contest are available on the http://oceaniadxcontest.com/ website.” According to the results, 1,118 logs were submitted, slightly less than the number submitted in 2018, and well down from the 1,303 logs submitted in 2017. Full results including line scores are available on the website. 2020 will mark the 75th running of this contest, with contest start times as follows:
“Dualing” Receivers for Antenna Comparisons
This one is from Frank, W3LPL, from his Contest University presentation: Use two separate instances of WSJT-X to simultaneously test two receive antennas if you have a dual-receiver radio. You can compare the signals in real time using an objective measure.
Windows Spectrum Analyser 1.1 by Steve Andrew supports the SDRPlay line of SDR hardware, and provides functionality you’d expect in a basic spectrum analyzer, with the addition of SDRPlay-specific features such as DAB mode support. Steve also includes support for an external Arduino-based tracking generator, TrackGen, which is discussed on ON7IR’s blog in great detail. (QRZnow.com)
The act of scoring logs for any contest can reveal differences between logging programs, versions of logging programs and unique situations such as entrants hand entering Cabrillo-formatted logs, or editing Cabrillo logs after they’ve been generated. Dick, K4XU, noted that logs submitted for the 7QP for just N1MM Logger+ alone represented nearly 40 different program versions. Different logging program versions can represent data in different ways, which makes log scoring more challenging for contest sponsors.
The RTL-SDR website noted that the recent online-only conference DERPCON (Denver Enterprise Risk Professionals Conference) featured a session entitled “Ham Hacks: Breaking Into The World of Software Defined Radio.” You can view it and all of the other infosec-related presentations on YouTube.
The Power of the Check Log (And How it Can Be a Springboard to New Contests)
“Have Fun!” You’ve heard it on the air. It’s supposed to be the whole point of contesting. But it can be decidedly not fun when you’re part way through a contest and you’ve found you’ve operated outside your chosen category of participation. Sometimes there’s another category you can fall into, but another option is to continue operating, and send in a check log. A check log is a courtesy to the contest sponsors to help them score the accuracy of the other logs, but it will not count for any score for you. Submitting a check log can be liberating – the stress of the competition is gone, and you can focus just on operating. On having fun.
Check logs can also facilitate a “contest within a contest” and be a springboard to new contests. For example, the World Radiosport Team Championship (WRTC) events are traditionally held during the IARU HF World Championships in July. The WRTC Teams using two transmitters simultaneously do not fall into the IARU rules for categories, yet they take advantage of the large number of participants in the IARU Contest. The exchanges are the same for both competitions. The two contests cooperate at a number of different levels. See the results article for the 2018 IARU for more information.
By piggybacking on a well-known and popular operating event, anyone could create a new competition. This “NewComp,” as we might call it, is thus relieved of one of the biggest burdens of a new contest – getting operators on the air during the contest. NewComp’s exchange should be compatible with the underlying event’s exchange. But the rules are probably going to be different, otherwise why have a different competition? NewComp can have immediate logging and scoring support by taking advantage of N1MM Logger+‘s User Defined Contest feature.
To increase the chances of success out of the gate, the NewComp organizers should probably gain the support of a few large radio clubs. Those clubs will probably want to weigh in on the NewComp contest rules and scoring particulars. The NewComp organizers would have to publicize the contest to their target audience, but that’s where the “large radio clubs” can help out as well – getting their members to participate. Targeted emails, club newsletter mentions, and posts to contest-related email reflectors could help get the job done in short order. NewComp’s organizers should also send the details of the contest-within-a-contest to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The “contest submission” instructions to NewComp participants could be as simple as “post your check log score of zero to 3830scores.com for the underlying contest, but put the NewComp-rules category and calculated score in the comments.” If a contest-within-a-contest becomes popular enough, or has enough initial support, it could even get its own 3830scores.com contest summary. For some events, the 3830-posted scores are already the official results. Finally, someone should be in charge of publicizing the results after the contest – a good results write-up provides positive reinforcement to those that operated the contest, and builds enthusiasm for the next time.
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 email@example.com
73, Brian N9ADG
28 May – 10 Jun 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, May 28, 0300z to May 28, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: May 30.
RSGB Hope QSO Party, May 28, 1300z to May 28, 1430z (ft4); ; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ; Logs due: June 3.
RTTYOPS Weeksprint, May 28, 1700z to May 28, 1900z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station’s call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: June 2.
RSGB 80m Club Championship, CW, May 28, 1900z to May 28, 2030z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: May 29.
PODXS 070 Club Three Day Weekend Contest, May 29, 0000z to May 31, 2359z; PSK31; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; Name + RST + (state/province/country); Logs due: June 7.
NCCC RTTY Sprint, May 29, 0145z to May 29, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: May 31.
NCCC Sprint, May 29, 0230z to May 29, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: May 31.
RSGB Hope QSO Party, May 29, 1430z to May 29, 1600z (ssb); ; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ; Logs due: June 3.
CQ WW WPX Contest, CW, May 30, 0000z to May 31, 2359z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: June 5.
Feld Hell Sprint, May 30, 0000z to May 30, 2359z; Feld Hell; Bands: ; (see rules); Logs due: June 3.
RTTYOPS Weekend Sprint, May 30, 1600z to May 30, 1959z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; [other station’s call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name] + [6-character grid locator]; Logs due: June 6.
RSGB Hope QSO Party, Jun 1, 0830z to Jun 1, 1000z (cw); ; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; ; Logs due: May 27.
RSGB 80m Club Championship, Data, Jun 1, 1900z to Jun 1, 2030z; RTTY, PSK; Bands: 80m Only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: June 2.
Worldwide Sideband Activity Contest, Jun 2, 0100z to Jun 2, 0159z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RS + age group (OM, YL, Youth YL or Youth); Logs due: May 27.
ARS Spartan Sprint, Jun 2, 0100z to Jun 2, 0300z; CW; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + (state/province/country) + Power; Logs due: June 4.
RTTYOPS Weeksprint, Jun 2, 1700z to Jun 2, 1900z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station’s call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: June 2.
Phone Fray, Jun 3, 0230z to Jun 3, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: May 29.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, Jun 3, 1300z to Jun 3, 1400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: May 30.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, Jun 3, 1900z to Jun 3, 2000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: May 30.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, Jun 4, 0300z to Jun 4, 0400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: May 30.
NRAU 10m Activity Contest, Jun 4, 1800z to Jun 4, 1900z (cw) and, Jun 4, 1900z to Jun 4, 2000z (ssb) and, Jun 4, 2000z to Jun 4, 2100z (fm) and, Jun 4, 2100z to Jun 4, 2200z (dig); CW, SSB, FM, Digital; Bands: 10m Only; RS(T) + 6-character grid square; Logs due: June 18.
RTTYOPS Weeksprint, Jun 4, 1700z to Jun 4, 1900z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station’s call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: June 9.
UKEICC 80m Summer Series, Jun 4, 1800z to Jun 4, 1900z; ; Bands: 80m Only; ; Logs due: May 27.
SKCC Sprint Europe, Jun 4, 1900z to Jun 4, 2100z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RST + (state/province/country) + Name + (SKCC No./power); Logs due: June 11.
NCCC RTTY Sprint, Jun 5, 0145z to Jun 5, 0215z; RTTY; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: May 31.
NCCC Sprint, Jun 5, 0230z to Jun 5, 0300z; CW; Bands: (see rules); Serial No. + Name + QTH; Logs due: May 31.
HA3NS Sprint Memorial Contest, Jun 5, 1900z to Jun 5, 1929z (40m) and, Jun 5, 1930z to Jun 5, 1959z (80m); CW; Bands: 80, 40m; HACWG Members: RST + Membership No., non-Members: RST + NM; Logs due: June 20.
10-10 Int. Open Season PSK Contest, Jun 6, 0000z to Jun 8, 0000z; PSK31; Bands: 10m Only; Name + (state/province/country) + organization membership numbers; Logs due: June 13.
PVRC Reunion, Jun 6, 0000z to Jun 6, 0200z and, Jun 7, 0000z to Jun 7, 0200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; PVRC Member: 1st year of membership + name + (state/province/country) + callsign when joined PVRC, non-Member: name + (state/province/country); Logs due: June 21.
DigiFest, Jun 6, 0400z to Jun 6, 1200z and, Jun 6, 2000z to Jun 7, 0400z and, Jun 7, 1200z to Jun 7, 2000z; RTTY75, BPSK63, MFSK16, HELLSCHREIBER, OLIVIA; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + 4-character grid square; Logs due: June 14.
Wake-Up! QRP Sprint, Jun 6, 0600z to Jun 6, 0629z and, Jun 6, 0630z to Jun 6, 0659z and, Jun 6, 0700z to Jun 6, 0729z and, Jun 6, 0730z to Jun 6, 0800z; CW; Bands: 40, 20m; RST + Serial No. + suffix of previous QSO (“QRP” for 1st QSO); Logs due: June 13.
VK Shires Contest, Jun 6, 0600z to Jun 7, 0600z; CW, SSB; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; VK: RS(T) + Shire, non-VK: RS(T) + CQ Zone; Logs due: July 1.
SEANET Contest, Jun 6, 1200z to Jun 7, 1200z; CW, SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: see rules.
UKSMG Summer Contest, Jun 6, 1300z to Jun 7, 1300z; not specified; Bands: 6m Only; RST + Serial No. + 6-character grid square + (optional UKSMG member no.); Logs due: June 29.
Kentucky QSO Party, Jun 6, 1400z to Jun 7, 0200z; CW, SSB, Digital; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2m; KY: RS(T) + county, non-KY: RS(T) + (state/province/”DX”); Logs due: June 28.
Dutch Kingdom Contest, Jun 6, 1500z to Jun 7, 1500z; CW, SSB; Bands: 40, 20, 15, 10, 6m; RS(T) + Serial No.; Logs due: June 14.
IARU Region 1 Field Day, CW, Jun 6, 1500z to Jun 7, 1459z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: June 22.
RTTYOPS Weekend Sprint, Jun 6, 1600z to Jun 6, 1959z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; [other station’s call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name] + [6-character grid locator]; Logs due: June 6.
Cookie Crumble QRP Contest, Jun 7, 1700z to Jun 7, 2200z; All; Bands: All, except WARC; RS(T) + (state/province/country) + cookie no. + name; Logs due: July 31.
RTTYOPS Weeksprint, Jun 9, 1700z to Jun 9, 1900z; RTTY; Bands: 80, 40, 20m; [other station’s call] + [your call] + [serial no.] + [your name]; Logs due: June 9.
NAQCC CW Sprint, Jun 10, 0030z to Jun 10, 0230z; CW; Bands: ; RST + (state/province/country) + (NAQCC No./power); Logs due: June 14.
Phone Fray, Jun 10, 0230z to Jun 10, 0300z; SSB; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15m; NA: Name + (state/province/country), non-NA: Name; Logs due: May 29.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, Jun 10, 1300z to Jun 10, 1400z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: May 30.
UKEICC 80m Summer Series, Jun 10, 1800z to Jun 10, 1900z; ; Bands: 80m Only; ; Logs due: May 27.
CWops Mini-CWT Test, Jun 10, 1900z to Jun 10, 2000z; CW; Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m; Member: Name + Member No., non-Member: Name + (state/province/country); Logs due: May 30.
RSGB 80m Club Championship, CW, Jun 10, 1900z to Jun 10, 2030z; CW; Bands: 80m Only; RST + Serial No.; Logs due: May 29.
LOG DUE DATES
28 May – 10 Jun 2020
May 28, 2020
May 29, 2020
May 30, 2020
May 31, 2020
June 1, 2020
June 2, 2020
June 3, 2020
June 4, 2020
June 5, 2020
June 6, 2020
June 7, 2020
June 9, 2020
June 10, 2020
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