There’s a new weekly “Slow Speed Test” – A slow-speed CW Contest sponsored by the CWops Club. “For those just getting started in CW contesting and others who prefer a more leisurely pace, several members of both the K1USN Radio Club and CWops are starting a weekly one-hour slow speed CW contest, the SST.” The inaugural session will be at 0000 UTC September 14 (September 13 evening in the US), and “is designed to encourage and assist those who signed up for the CWops CW Academy to learn CW or to improve their CW skills but are not yet copying 25 WPM, as well as all others who feel like “taking it slow and easy” once per week both for their own pleasure and to help others out.” The contest exchange is name + state/province/country, see the rules for suggested frequencies. Entrants are encouraged to post their scores to 3830scores.com
One of the first “majors” of the new contest season is the CQ WW DX RTTY Contest, coming up the weekend of September 26. You can be ready for that one by participating in an upcoming RTTYOPS event, or the usual Thursday evening NCCC RTTY Sprints. If you’re already RTTY-savvy and want a workout, there’s four hours of North American Sprint, RTTY starting 0000 UTC September 20, or the faster BARTG SPRINT75 at 1700 UTC September 20.
Five QSO parties and the Wisconsin Parks on the Air event provide opportunities for relaxed contest experiences the weekend of September 19. Note that the Wisconsin event is SSB only on the HF bands.
Jim, K9YC, writes: “NCCC (Northern California Contest Club) has been doing Zoom meetings since COVID first reared its head in March, and response has been overwhelmingly positive. Our circle includes members as far north as Humboldt Co (W6JTI), as far east as Northern NV (K6DGW, K2RD, K5RC and the W7RN station at Tom’s QTH, as far south and west as Santa Cruz Co (K6XX, K6GHA, KW6S, K9YC, W6GJB), as far SE as the Sierra (WC6H, WK6I, K6LRN, K6MI), and, of course, the SF Bay area. Over the years, traffic had increased driving time to meetings, even within the Bay area, so that meetings rarely drew more than about 40 members.
Zoom meetings are regularly drawing 75-85 members; I’m now regularly seeing guys who I used to see only at Visalia or Pacificon. Rag chewing begins a half hour before the formal meeting and program, often with 20-30 members hanging on for 90-120 minutes after it has adjourned!
The same is true of our local club with few contesters. A casual Wednesday lunch gathering typically drew 8-10 hams; on Zoom that number has doubled. – 73, Jim K9YC”
The Collegiate QSO Party on the weekend of September 19 provides for bonus points for alumni working their alma maters, or an alumnus/alumna working other alumni. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, rules have been relaxed to allow a campus radio station to be operated remotely by college club members, some entry classes have been changed, and scoring has been modified. See the rules for more information.
Frank, W3LPL, and Tim, K3LR, jointly announced that “Due to health concerns caused by COVID-19, the W3LPL and K3LR teams have
made the decision not to compete in the Multi Multi or Multi Two categories during CQWW Phone and CQWW CW for 2020. W3LPL and K3LR have mutually come to the conclusion that we cannot take the risk of someone getting sick with the number of people involved in Multi Multi category operations.” According to Jeff, KU8E, W3LPL has been on the air in the MM category during the CQ WW DX Contests every year but one since 1978. K3LR, since 1994. Others have pointed out that many of the stalwart carribean multi-multi contest stations may also be dark this contest season due to travel restrictions.
Surrey Amateur Radio Communications is out with the September/October 2020 edition of The Communicator. There’s something for everyone in this edition, including an AFSK Transmitter using GnuRadio, a 23cm Antenna, review of songs about ham radio (!?), and more!
Scott, N3FJP, writes that his Amateur Contest Log version 6.7 is available on his website. New to this version is the ability to connect up to three radios, improved LOTW functionality, and more. He also notes that his son, Chris, KB3KCN, is taking a much more active role in N3FJP software development.
WORD TO THE WISE
For hams, it’s the (sometimes large) accumulated collection of tower sections, complete and partial antennas, cable, and associated materials that are just waiting to be used again.
Tim, K3LR: “Contester N6WIN and his Dad arrived at K3LR to pick up three 15 meter Yagis, seven 10 meter Yagis, one 6 meter Yagi and nine 80 meter verticals. He also got 100% of the K3LR aluminum bone pile. The old K3LR Yagis and the bone pile go to a VERY enthusiastic N6WIN and he will make everything sing again.” Sounds like that pile will be sparking joy for N6WIN soon! [Tim, K3LR, Photo]
RESULTS AND RECORDS
Bill, AC0W, NAQP SSB Contest Manager, writes: “The preliminary 2020 NAQP SSB August results are now on the NCJ website.” In the preliminary results, NN1C sits atop the Single Operator (LP) scores, while ND0C is atop the QRP pile. The Society of Midwest Contesters SMC Integrated Circuits team currently holds the top team spot.
Raw scores for the 2020 WW Digi DX Contest are available on the WW Digi DX Contest website. Contest sponsors ask that any problems or discrepancies be reported ASAP. Nearly 1700 logs were received, comprising nearly 258,000 contacts, with over 6300 call signs represented. (Ed, W0YK)
Tim, K9WX, writes: “The Final Results of the 2020 NAQP Challenge are available! The NAQP Challenge is an annual competition between three of America’s premier ham radio contesting clubs: the Northern California Contest Club, the Potomac Valley Radio Club, and the Society of Midwest Contesters. Logs for individual club members who submit a log for any or all of the six North American QSO Parties sponsored each year by the National Contest Journal are automatically included in the NAQP Challenge scoring for their club. Scoring for the Challenge rewards both high participation and high personal scores, which means that both big guns and little pistols can contribute to the success of their club.
The results have been tabulated for the August NAQP CW and SSB contests with regard to their contributions to the 2020 NAQP Challenge. The PVRC took first place in both contests and is the overall winner of the 2020 Challenge.
PVRC had 151 and 136 participants in the SSB and CW contests, respectively. Their SSB participant number is particularly impressive, 35 more participants than SMC, which took second place in both contests. PVRC also had the highest average log score for each contest. More participants and more points: the unbeatable combination for winning.
Which means, for the year, that PVRC wins the Challenge having won 4 out of the 6 rounds while SMC takes second with 2 rounds won (both RTTY contests) and NCCC takes third. This is the second year in a row that PVRC has won the Challenge.
Using DSP Filter / Noise Reduction to Copy A Potential Multiplier
N4HNH’s YouTube video demonstrates how to pull out a DX contest station using a radio’s DSP filtering / noise reduction to extract a station from noise. Learning how to do this quickly can put more multipliers in your log under trying conditions. The radio controls he adjusts to recover the signal may be named differently, or differ in implementation for your radio.
“Antenna and Electromagnetic Modeling Software” – by Steve Stearns, K6OIK, is a short overview of modeling and simulation programs available to hams, along with a table of software and links to their websites. Look in the “Supplemental Information and Files” section.
“Guy Clearance – by Hal Kennedy N4GG” is an Excel spreadsheet that calculates the clearance between Yagi antennas and guy wires on a guyed tower. Look in the “Software” section of the web page.
Both resources will come in handy to the ham building or maintaining an antenna system.”
John, VE6EY, blogged about the differences of the front-ends among the various SDR radios that he uses, particularly relating to filtering and gain. His conclusion is that it’s essential to know the design of any particular SDR to understand how to optimize the performance in the presence of strong signals.
Next time you’re working through why you’re unable to get networked gear at a remote location working over the internet with the networked gear at your control point, wondering why this is so hard… read this article on NAT traversal, and how many different things can go wrong and the strategies necessary to overcome well-intentioned and otherwise network configurations.
Noise.sh is a cloud-based “digital signal processing spreadsheet for sound design.” It features concepts of time, beat, generators, samples, and so forth, but in a spreadsheet format. Relationships between cells can be constructed, and selecting a cell plays it. Samples could include audio samples collected over the air. It’s an easy way to experiment, and the author is soliciting feedback and bug reports for this early version.
Mark, K6UFO, thought Contest Update readers would be interested in the Science Daily article “Miniature antenna enables robotic teaming in complex environments” The researchers used a 1/50 wavelength antenna with a “modular active matching network” to obtain a 3-fold increase in the 3 dB bandwidth of the antenna, and a 10 dB improvement in efficiency, compared to a similarly sized unmatched antenna.
TinySA, a $49 spectrum analyzer, is to Spectrum Analyzers what TinyVNA is to VNAs. According to a reviewer, if input signals are kept in check to avoid overload, it works effectively.
NASA has learned what it takes to keep electronics reliable in harsh environments, and you can benefit from their experience. NASA’s Inspection Pictorial Reference is “intended to provide insight to certified operators, inspectors and instructors who visually assess the compliance of flight hardware to locally applicable requirements” which includes items that hams use such as coaxial cables and printed circuit boards. An earlier pictorial reference of NASA Workmanship Standards from 2000 provides guidance at the wire and connector level.
This project for a single-bit CPU is very specialized, but it’s an exemplar for how an open source project can be well documented and supported. The project takes care to refere nce the open source tools used to construct the state and timing diagrams, applicable to many ham radio projects. Graphviz can be used for flowcharts, state diagrams, and so on. Sketchviz has a more human-drawn style. Wavedrom is a tool that can generate timing diagrams that are a pleasure to view.
Sketchviz can generate graphics like this from just a text file.
The next time you need to solder titanium to glass, but don’t have the commercial gear on hand to do so, check out this Hackaday article for how to make your own ultrasonic soldering tool, and the solder alloy composition you’ll need to join the two materials. The ultrasonic technique combined with active alloy solders can join many metals and metal oxides. The alloy chemistry behind this is relatively new, developed within the last three decades.
A New Technique for More Contacts on 10 GHz
My October 2020 QST just arrived by USPS, and the article “The Rise of Rain-Scatter Contacts” by Paul, W1GHZ was intriguing. If you’ve not read it, it describes how signals at 10 GHz are absorbed and then re-radiated by raindrops. The best part is that sometimes these raindrops can be in storm clouds that rise to over 50,000 feet, and that the re-radiated signals are of the same polarization as they were absorbed. They’re analogous to taller versions of the mountains that hams use in the west to make reflective contacts. Out here, with mountains, hams coordinate by saying that things like “I’ll be just north of Vancouver, BC, and pointing towards Mt. Baker.” It works, because it’s possible to know where the transmitting station is, where you are, and where Mt. Baker is. Mt. Baker generally doesn’t move and it’s practical to bounce signals off of it with a reasonable chance of someone else being able to receive those signals.
Fifty thousand foot raindrop-containing clouds enabled hams to make contacts exceeding 500 kilometers during the 2019 ARRL 10 GHz and up contest. This defied “conventional wisdom” that mountaintop sites were needed for point-to-point contacts, or mountain reflectors were needed to make 10 GHz contacts. Finding appropriate clouds and figuring the paths using dynamic weather information was the limiting step.
That is, until Andy, K0SM, had the inspiration and motivation to create a website that uses real-time weather information to track these moving monster signal re-radiators and display that information in a way that two stations can see a storm’s footprint for 10 GHz contacts at any particular time.
Www.rainscatter.com was born, and anyone can sign up for an account and start exploring potential paths to make contacts, depending on the weather, of course. Since the site is in “beta” the functionality and user interface are subject to change. But the built-in help system already describes in detail how to view the displayed map to locate storms, view other stations that have self-located on the map, and determine if there’s a path. Pointing the antenna, choosing an elevation, contacting the other operator to make sure that they’re listening in the right direction, and making the contact are steps that all require an operator, today. The best mode for this operating style is CW due to Doppler shifting (the clouds are moving) and frequency scattering, though FM can also work under good conditions.
The availability and use of this website by stations that have 10 GHz gear should make that band more productive during contests. It might also provide the impetus and opportunity for experimentation using other frequencies for this style of operation.
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
17 Sep – 30 Sep 2020
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A quick reminder: All radio amateurs are urged to participate in the Sunday, 20 September 2020, Hawaiian Islands Grid Madness VHF/UHF Simplex Event. The event runs from 1300 to 1700 HST. For more details, please go here: https://gridmadness.blogspot.com